Thursday, July 29, 2010

O's Pick Up A Win...Make That Wynn..the Only Way They Know How

The O's dismantling began this afternoon as Miguel Tejada was traded to San Diego for right-hander Wynn Pelzer. Not quite the haul they got back in 2007 when the O's fleeced Houston for Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate and Luke Scott.

Funny that Scott was considered a throw-in at the time. Now he's one of their top sluggers.

I can say that I don't know much about Pelzer, a quick look at his stats suggest that he needs to get the walks down if he's going to advance, but he was San Diego's 7th best prospect - so he has that going for him.

Look for Josh Bell to get a good look at 3rd base for the rest of the season.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Congrats to Garza


Well done, Mr Garza. He's always had electric "stuff" nice to see him keep his head in the game long enough to close it out. Also, glad to see that ESPN set the record for number of times saying the word "no-hitter" during an actual no-hitter.

My five seconds with Matt Garza happened during the 2008 Spring Training. I was standing alongside one of the practice fields while he was making his way through the crowd signing autographs. Okay, it wasn't a crowd, it was like 10 people. Remember they hadn't transformed into the good Rays yet.

I offered him up a 2008 Topps to sign and he looked at it and said, "Yeah they took this right after I got my haircut." Ummm okay. It was an action shot of him pitching in a Twins road uniform. He chuckled signed the card and moved on.

Ever since he came to Tampa Bay he's been a bit of enigmatic wunderkind. From getting into a shouting match with Dionar Navarro on the mound to being named the ALCS MVP he's bounced all over the spectrum.

When Garza starts a game there is only one thing that is certain. He will spit. A lot. Other than that it's up in the air. He could throw 8 shut out innings or throw a hundred and twenty pitches by the fifth.

Despite a career high ERA (4.36 going into tonight's game) he's enjoying his best year in terms of winning. His 10 wins is only one off of his career high, and represent almost 30% of his career wins.

Perhaps he is starting to harness the movement that makes his pitches so hard to hit. His walks per nine winnings and his strikeouts per nine innings are both down while his WHIP is up. To me that represents more balls being put into play, which leads to fewer pitches per inning and he can last longer in the games. To point he has gone 6 or more innings in 13 of 19 starts before tonight. The no hitter makes it 14 out of 20, which my basic math puts at 70%.

Perhaps we are witnessing the coming of age of talented, but eccentric young pitcher. Bonus question for those of you still paying attention. Has any team been involved in 3 no-hitters or more in one season?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hey Look I'm Talking About My Favorite Team! And Using Words Like "Gaffer" and "Pitch"

I spend a lot of time online reading about sports. Actually, I probably spent an unhealthy amount of time on-line. It would be better if I was outside, enjoying the summer weather and exploring a new city. My time would be better spent learning about the world we live in, but you know what? I like sports, and I like reading about sports. So I will.

Even with the vast amount of time I spend reading about sports, especially the teams I follow, I still miss things. For instance, one of my favorite teams acquired a relatively popular figure and I didn’t know about it until I read another article about how a legendary player recommitted to staying with that team.

He might be a little past his prime and injuries have hampered his play in recent years, but it’s still the type of move that makes a fan think of better times. Thoughts move past disappointments of seasons’ past, coaching changes and ownership problems. Instead, the possibility of competing for trophies as soon as next season brings a dreamy smile to my face.

Is Joe Cole the answer to Liverpool’s Premier League questions? Probably not, most of their struggles last season emanated from their inability to keep the ball out of their net in the dying minutes of their matches. Perhaps, Cole’s signing suggests a willingness to outscore their opponents rather than trying to keep a clean sheet.

A team that can now boast Cole, Spanish wizard Fernando Torres, undervalued Dirk Kuyt, and long-time soldier Stephen Gerrard should, on paper, be able to compete with the rest of the big boys on British soil. Of course, the biggest factor will be health of those above mentioned attacking players.

Torres, brilliant when he’s on the pitch, has been nagged by several reoccurring injuries of late. Even in the World Cup, Scousers must have groaned when he pulled up lame towards the end of Spain’s run. He expects to be fit for their opener, but the ruptured thigh muscle on top of a sports hernia and a troublesome hamstring is starting to take their effect on the talented Spaniard.

Even he admits that the Premier League is more physical than expected and he doesn’t see himself lasting much longer. One might wonder if the Cole signing is a preemptive attempt to replace Torres should he move during the transfer period this summer.

New “gaffer” Roy Hodgson has stated that he supports Torres and wants to keep him, but that might be out of his control. With rumors swirling about an eminent signing of Wayne Bridge payroll is going to have be shed. Insua has been sent to Fiorentina and Fabio Aurellio is departing Anfield as well. Jon Cryer-doppelganger Javier Mascherano may not get the chance to don the new Liverpool kit as he may on his way to joining Rafa Benitez at Inter.

One of the added benefits of the Joe Cole signing would be Gerrard reiterating his desire to stay with Merseyside. For those of you that don’t follow the EPL imagine Cal Ripken not playing for the O’s, Martin Brodeur not playing for the Devils, Kobe not a Laker, Diana Taurasi not a member of…ummm…whatever WNBA team she plays for.
He is the centerpiece of their attack, no matter who is coaching them, the key piece in setting up Torres and Kuyt for their finishing strikes. Seeing him galloping, in his knock-kneed fashion, across the green pitch in Chelsea blue would be jarring to see.

Lots of changes for the Reds this offseason following a disappointing 2009-10 campaign that saw them finish 7th in the League. Really? 7th? They barely qualified for the Europa League. I don’t even know if they televise Europa League games in the U.S. The good news is that Hodgson’s squad can only move up this year. So they’ve got that going for them I guess.

It’s going to be an interesting season at least. I’m going to assume that they will abandon the zonal marking system that Benitiz tried to force onto the squad last year. That alone should make free kicks less nerve-wracking for Liverpool fans. If it translates to less goals allowed has yet to be determined.

Hopefully, the results will be there and Liverpool will regain their status amongst the Big Four and battle for glory again. The signing of Joe Cole stemmed a wave of despairing news that seemed to be flowing from Anfield. With just the one signing a season of trepidation suddenly turns into a season of hope.

Oh yeah I like the Simon Gagne trade for the Lightning as well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chicago Photo 5




A car accident downtown? Nope. It's part of a scene for a Hollywood blockbuster appearing at a theatre near you next summer. Jerry Bruckheimer and his cast of explosions has been playing around downtown the last couple of weekends filming the next installment of the Transformers saga.

Too lazy to head downtown early enough for the explosions and paratroopers I had to settle this far away shot of what I'm assuming will be the aftermath of an action-packed sequence happening on the very city street I get to walk down every morning.

Sorry for the poor quality, I left my better camera at home that day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why is it?

I always have computer issues when my eBay auctions end? I finally gave in and laid the big honkin' HP notebook to rest. It did well for me, but the days of lugging around a 17" screen laptop are over with.

Now I have a nice little netbook. Lite and sleek I'm the coolest kid in the coffee shop, well the coolest kid on the couch anyway. This is just a test post to see how typing is with the smaller keyboard. My fingers, being anything but dainty, seem to be adjusting well.

Hopefully, with the frustration of dealing with spotty computer performance a thing of the past, I'll be posting more often.

That is all. Now back to the All Star Game.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Our First Hockey Product of the Year!

It's July, the draft is over and free agency Christmas is over. That means it's time for companies to release their upcoming product. The first notice I received in my in-box was from our friends at Panini. Their first foray into hockey with their new NHL license is 2010-11 Panini Certified.

I don't know if it's because we've only seen Upper Deck product for the past few seasons, but I am intrigued by this offering. It's not in my price range at the moment (SRP is $10.00 for a five card pack), but I will be scouring the internets for Vinny's cards.

The product slicks advertise 10 packs per box (8 boxes per case) and each box should contain the following:


 

  • 1 Autograph
  • 2 Memorabilia Cards
  • An additional Auto or Memorabilia Card
  • 1 Mirror Red Parallel
  • 4 additional parallels or inserts
  • 50 super-premium cards per box

The release date is posted as September 22nd (or roughly the same time Ilya Kovalchuck makes a decision), just in time to catch the buzz of the season is opening.

Based on what I see I like this product. It looks like Panini is coming out of the gates strong with their new license. I'm not sure if they are using sticker auto's or not. If they are, then they've done a good job of incorporating them into the design based on the examples below.


 



Thursday, July 8, 2010

We Interrupt This Semi-Regular Blog for Some Manufactured Breaking Basketball "News"

“ :( ”
“LeBronedict Arnold”
“Sell out”
“Punk”
“I hate you LeBron. Never show your Judas face in NE Ohio and expect love again”
Those were some of the first comments posted on the Cleveland Plain Dealer moments after LeBron James announced his intention to sign with the Miami Heat on Thursday night. Needless to say, I don’t think Cav’s fans are taking this very well. The cheering you hear from the background is coming from Art Modell’s house. He’s no longer the most hated man in Cleveland.

Do I feel bad for Cleveland? No not really. It’s not like it’s out of the blue, the last week has been all abuzz with rumors of the lanky forward absconding to South Beach with DeWayne Wade and Chris Bosh. And after all, this is Cleveland aka Heartbreak City. Much like Cub’s fan they should be used to the suffering by now.

Still, I think everyone thought, or at least hoped, that James would have a last minute change of heart and stay in Cleveland. That he wouldn’t just parrot clich├ęd words about “becoming a man” in Cleveland or about how hard it was to leave. Guess what, Lebron – if you “never wanted to leave Cleveland” you didn’t have to! You could have stayed and still had a chance to win a title.

Why not just be honest and say that you’re a young, insanely wealthy gentleman who wants to play in a cosmopolitan city with your friends? You want to go to the South Beach night clubs (on your nights off) and have someone to shoulder the workload for you on the court. You got sick and tired of having to be the go-to option every game and that you’re not Michael Jordan nor do you want to be.

At least people would still respect your honesty. In the meantime, don’t worry about this notion that you’re the most hated player in the NBA. That’ll pass. Well, everywhere but in Cleveland that is. They’re not going to treat you with respect. They’re going to say bad things about you and your family. There will be boos. Loud boos. Long boos. Profane boos. You will hear the heartbreak of 12-year-old fans in those boos. That is the price you have to pay. Hopefully they won’t drown out the noise of the waves crashing on the beach by whatever South Beach mansion you rent next season.

Despite what Chris Bosh tweets, what we witnessed tonight was not “sports history”. It might be marketing/entertainment history, but it does nothing to change the way the game of basketball is played. No records were broken tonight, no milestones reached or dreams achieved. What we saw tonight was a rich man choose which one of six richer men gets to sign his paychecks next year.

If there is karma in sports (and I think there is) the Heat will self-implode due to injury or ego and miss the playoffs. The Cavs, buoyed by a town rallying around them, will make it to the Eastern Conference finals before succumbing to the eventual champions Orlando Magic.
Speaking of champions, what happens if the Heat don’t win next year? Or the year after that? Who does the blame fall on? LeBron is already positioning himself as second fiddle to Wade. Bosh is just along for the ride so you know he isn’t going to get any blame. Who is going to get the ball when the game is on the line?

Thankfully, I can go back to not caring about basketball for the rest of the year and worry about important things like who is going to be on the third line for the Lightning or who the O’s are going to draft with their number one pick next summer. Also, which team would say no to a BJ Upton and Wade Davis for Cliff Lee trade?

Thursday’s media spectacle drove home the point that sport is business. Loyalty is not dead, but its heart beat is getting weaker. I’m not a LeBron hater, I just don’t like the way he went about this. After all, he managed to sour people’s hearts while raising money for the Boys and Girls Club. He knew he wanted to play with Bosh and Wade all along, and there’s something whimsical about that. Especially if the story of them making a back at the 2008 Olympics is true.

However, if that story was true, why not have all three announce it on the first day of free agency? Wouldn’t that show that they were serious about sharing the spotlight? Then he would have avoided all of the negative press of the last week. Cleveland fans wouldn’t have been strung along for seven days holding out hope.

So future LeBron’s of the world take note. Learn what not to do when it’s your turn on the free agent market. Treat your fans with respect. Don’t underestimate them, don’t make them hate you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2010 Topps Trade Bait

So I bought a couple of packs of 2010 Topps Series II while I was at Target the other day (slapped on top of groceries who notices an extra $6 bucks?). I'm sure once I have money again I'll work on completing the base set, but as of now I have no interest in the inserts I received. So I offer them to you, my loyal readers.



What you see here is:

2010 Topps Attax Justin Verlander
2010 Topps Attax Chase Utley
2010 Topps Attax Josh Johnson

2010 Topps Turkey Red Kosuke Fukudome
2010 Topps Peak Performance Catfish Hunter
2010 Vintage Player in a Recent Design Gimmick Babe Ruth
2010 Cards Your Mom Tosses Non-Original Back Willie McCovey
2010 Legendary Lineage Yogi Berra / Jorge Posada

As usual, make me an offer and I'll probably accept it. First come, first serve

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So This is What it's Like to Have Stable Management

The first nine hours of NHL Christmas have passed us by. Much like on Santa's Day fans are sitting back, exhausted after enjoying their new acquisitions. Some fans got the sexy, pricey toy (Ottawa - Sergei Gonchar), some got nothing (Caps fans) and some got socks and books (Tampa Bay).

I'm cautiously optimistic about Steve Yzerman's first day in free agency. There are two moves that I love - Dan Ellis for 2 years and $3 million and trading Andrej Meszaros for more than a bag of pucks and a slap on the ass on the way out the door. (They actually got a 2nd round pick from Philly).

One move I like, but am a little uncomfortable about the price tag. Extending Marty St Louis for four more years almost guarantees he retires as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Paying him $22.5 million for those four years is interesting to say the least.

For the longest time, I would say up until two seasons ago, I was a big proponent of trading St Louis. I figured his value was at it's highest and his best days would be behind him. Now I'm not so sure.

While Vincent Lecavalier wears the "C", St. Louis has emerged as the leader in the locker room. When he vented at the end of the season and pondered his future, or lack of, with the team the fan base was thrown in a panic. If he had forced a trade, the Lightning might have netted a solid return, but the heart of the team would have been ripped out.

When I heard that Meszaros was being moved I sent a text to my buddy Link stating that it freed up cap space for a new Steven Stamkos contract. Little did I know that the money would instead be invested in St Louis. The good news is that the Bolts still have plenty of room under their self-imposed cap to sign Stamkos to a longer term deal.

Perhaps the best move Yzerman made today was to not get involved in the over bidding for defensemen such as Gonchar, Dan Hamhuis, Paul Martin and Anton Volchenkov. All of those blue liners signed multi-years deals for at least $4.5 million per year deals. In other words - the same type of deal they traded away to Philadelphia.

There are still a lot of holes to fill on the team most notably up front. Not re-signing Kurtis Foster could come back to haunt the Bolts as they don't currently have a big shot on the power play (something that spread the ice out and gave Stamkos a lot of space), but there are still many months until the first puck drops in anger. Plenty of time for Yzerman to continue his careful rebuilding of this organization.