I know I know, it's been a long time since I posted. There's been a ton of injuries to some big names, how do you fill the holes? By making these moves! Extra long list of who to pick up today, so the names could get obscure and/or terrible!
Mitch Moreland - Been talking him up for awhile now, but not many better 1B options available out there.
Travis Hafner - Get him while he's still taking a few days off from the disabled list!!
Brandon Beachy - Was good before he got hurt, stellar start yesterday, kid can flat out pitch
Seth Smith - Boring name, needs more PT, but gets it done when he's in the lineup
Alcides Escobar - You could do a lot worse...starting to steal...a lot...
Jason Bay - heating up? Baseball is a marathon, I think he can still hit...I hope
Jason Bourgeois - Needs more playing time, but gets steals
Desmond Jennings - Should get the call anytime now, speculate
Ryan Vogelsong - Don't like to recommend SF pitchers cuz the team can't hit, but he's got decent ratios, no better or worse than guys like Humber, Masterson, Cahill IMHO
Scott Baker - If this guy is somehow available, run, don't walk to the wire
David Freese - Why not? 3B is shallow
Mike Minor - Might get sent to the minors, but he's got some good stuff
Ike - love Ike, but season's over
Matt Joyce - told you to sell high, but if you didn't, you had a nice run
Dillon Gee - If you can sell, do it, next start in Arlington will be ugly
Anthony Rizzo - That didn't turn out well...
Corey Patterson - Seriously, if you got those few weeks, you should be more than happy
Jeff Francoeur - Selling window is closed, if it ever opened, just cut him loose
Madison Bumgarner - Hard luck loser, shows flashes, but just too unpredictable
Tonight we saw the United States grind out a tough victory versus Panama. It was a rematch with a team that had defeated USA in the group stage of this CONCACAF Gold Cup. As sad as this sounds, it feels good to know that there is a consistent expectation for USA soccer to win the CONCACAF and they are criticized for not producing results. As a soccer fan, I drool at the thought of a USA - Mexico match-up this Saturday. Tonight we saw many missed chances and plays stalling out over and over. Coach Bradley brought in Freddy Adu around the 67th minute, which shocked me. I had long given up on the once deemed "chosen one" for USA soccer. Freddy came in with great energy, only to have a couple of silly turnovers where it seemed like he was trying too hard to make a impact instead of letting the game come to him. This was the Freddy Adu US fans have become accustomed to. It has been 8 years since Freddy burst on the scene, yet we tend to forget he is still only 22 years old. For most of us, we still see him as an overrated asset asking for more playing time and then leaving for overseas before most thought he was ready. Freddy failed to make the World Cup squad and fell off the radar, but this USA team lacks creativity and needs help up front.
Clearly society needs to stop trying to crown young men before they truly achieve greatness. We help create monsters like Lebron James, who feel that they are entitled to championships, and forget how much sacrifice and pain one needs to endure to even have a chance at a championship. Players like Barkley, Ewing, Stockton, and Dan Marino are just some examples of great players who never achieved the ultimate success.
Freddy Adu still has the ability to bring excitement to the public when he was trending on twitter for just stepping onto the field. Freddy Adu was expected to be the face of American soccer. That caused him to become cocky and self-absorbed. Seems these days the bigger the ego, the bigger the mouth. It took a huge fall from grace and the removal from the national team before things changed for Adu. Freddy learned to keep his head down and mouth shut and has put in the work to gain the trust of his coach and teammates. His teammates seemed as excited as Adu after the game by Freddy’s performance. We tend to forget how talented this young man is and how badly USA soccer needs him. Failure either destroys a man or builds character and maybe this is a sign for a positive future for Freddy Adu. I hope Lebron was watching, because he could learn a thing or two from Freddy Adu, starting with shutting his mouth. We will be watching this Saturday and let's hope Coach Bradley has the trust to put the game in Freddy Adu’s feet.
Let’s be clear, this year’s NBA Finals have definitely lived up to the hype. With larger than life personalities on both sides, we’re privy to great story lines and excellent drama. It is amazing how much attention Lebron has garnered throughout the season and especially in this Finals series. If anything, James has become a punching bag for the media when the Heat fail while the rest of the squad gets a pass. Is it fair for us to continue to criticize Lebron for his inability to come through when his team needs him the most? Are not all people created differently? Lebron is blessed with amazing athleticism, lightning-fast reaction time, and gazelle-like speed, but he seems to be missing a very key ingredient. Call it what you want, mental toughness, intestinal fortitude, ice in his veins, balls of steel. LeBron doesn’t have it and we’ll continue to point that out and find joy in his inability to come through when the game is on the line.
We should be keen to remember that this is the same man who didn’t shake hands after being defeated by the Orlando Magic, who basically looked like he wanted to remove his Cavs jersey before the Boston Celtics eliminated his team. Not all superstars can be like Michael Jordan or even Reggie Miller. Pressure focused them, criticism drove them, and heckling brought them to a different level. Lebron came to Miami for the ride, so when he was ready to into his disappearing act, his co-pilots Bosh and Wade could keep the show going. The problem with that is Lebron will always demand top dollar and the way the team is structure, they need 25-30 points from Lebron every night to win. So this is my challenge to Lebron: prove me wrong, your back is against the wall and the pressure is mounting, show up and I’ll shut up. This is the perfect opportunity for you to overcome all your past demons and all the haters out there. In the same why I rooted against Jordan throughout the late 90s, a part of me still secretly wants to see greatness. So Lebron, I am waiting and I want to be a Witness.
Last night, we did see one player that has shown his ability to come through during the biggest moments of his life. I am not talking about Dirk or even Jason Terry. I have to say that Mario Chalmers is the most clutch player in this year’s Finals. I don’t like Super Mario, I find him annoying like a little dog that keeps barking at the larger dogs that could easily use him as a chew toy. Yet Chalmers has made a living out of hitting big shots. Last night was no different as Mario put fear in the minds and hearts of all Dallas fans. There was a point last night when Lebron took an open three and miss and my friend turned to me and said “good thing that wasn’t Chalmers taking that shot.” Mario’s buzzer beater was ridiculous, but now we almost assume shots like that will fall from him just like it did in the National Championship game against D Rose and the Memphis Tigers in 2008. Chalmers feeds off the pressure like past greats, but he was not gifted with the same talent as Lebron, We need to recognize “being clutch” as a characteristic you’re born with. Mario should be included with past playoff greats like Robert Horry and Derek Fisher who play above their heads when the stage is the brightest.
This brings me to my last point, J.J. Barea has made Rick Carlisle look like a genius after being inserted into the starting five. After watching Barea make clutch plays among the trees of the NBA, it’s only fitting to now refer to J.J. Barea as “Always Overachieving”, especially how he got Miss Universe to go steady with him. J.J. might just force Miami to start Mario Chalmers,so Bibby will stop having nightmares about being abused by the shortest man on the court. Persistence goes a long way and J.J. Barea is living proof of that.
We've had two incredibly exciting Finals series in both the NBA and the NHL this year (I can't remember the last time that both Finals were must-see events for me every night!), so sports fans can certainly be forgiven if they've forgotten that the third jewel of the Triple Crown is coming up this Saturday at the Belmont Stakes.
At first, this year's Belmont was shaping up to be another meaningless edition with no horse having a chance to complete Triple Crown, but the field actually has turned out to be pretty compelling. Kudos to this crop of owners and trainers for taking a chance and bucking the recent trend of extreme caution towards racing horses multiple times during the Triple Crown season.
The rubber match between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford is the top storyline, but having the top 7 from the Derby back for the race is compelling as well given that it's a historical first. It should be an excellent race with the potential birth of a true rivalry, but as you'll see from my picks, my guess is that we'll have a new winner in this one.
Here's a rundown of the field:
6 - Nehro (4-1): Had a nice run in the Derby to finish 2nd, seems to have drawn a good post position, and should be well-rested 9 - Animal Kingdom (2-1): He's the favorite for a reason, and the extra distance could be key if he's charging hard at the wire 10 - Mucho Macho Man (10-1): Experts seem to think the extra distance will be an issue, but I'm going off of feeling on this one - bad luck (i.e. lost shoe) was his downfall in the Preakness, so if things go right this time, maybe he can take the race? Jockey change is a little concerning as well, but Dominguez is as solid as they come 12 - Shackleford (9-2): Really proved himself in the Preakness, so you can't count him out
1 - Master of Hounds (10-1): Ran well at the Derby, but will the trips back and forth to England take a toll? 4 - Santiva (15-1): Another one who had a strong run at the Derby, and should be well rested 5 - Brilliant Speed (15-1): The last of the strong Derby runners, has the pedigree for the extra distance 11 - Isn't He Perfect (30-1): Another one where I'm going with my gut - ran poorly at the Preakness, so it's kind of strange that the connections decided to run so soon again...maybe they know something we don't?
Stay Aways 2 - Stay Thirsty (20-1): Struggled in the Derby and prior races, but could have home track advantage? 3 - Ruler on Ice (20-1): Hasn't won a stakes race, probably outmatched 7 - Monzon (30-1): Strong pedigree, but no results to back it up 8 - Prime Cut (15-1): Another new runner, late decision to enter indicates concern/hesitancy?
With a smaller field, I think I would concentrate my bets a bit and hope for a big payday (consider at your own risk!!):
$6 Win - 10 (Mucho Macho Man) <-- should be an excellent payout if he finally runs his best $2 Show - 11 (Isn't He Perfect) $2 Exacta Box - 9, 10, 12 (Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford) $1 Exacta Box - 6, 9, 10 (Nehro, Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man) $0.10 Superfecta Box - 6, 9, 10, 12
I spent four years in Texas attending UT. During that time, I witnessed a strong rivalry between Houston natives and Dallas natives. Some of the greatest rivalries between two cities, organizations, or teams have years of history battling on the field and off with their fans. Ones that immediately come to mind are Boston Red Sox versus the Yankees, or Texas Longhorns versus the Oklahoma Sooners. It always makes me laugh when teams like the Mets think they have some kind of rivalry with the Yankees or that the Texas Longhorns really care about Texas A&M (which we don’t, and only feel embarrassed when we lose to them).
But Houston and Dallas? Here are two cities that only share one division in the four major sports. They have never really been at their peak in the same decade in the same sport ever. For the longest time, the Dallas Mavericks were just the joke of the league, in the same way the Nets are now. And let's face it, the Astros and Rangers basically have the same history of never being relevant for long periods of time in the MLB, and barely have any memorable competition against one another. Houston has no hockey team, and the NFL comparison right now is pretty one-sided. As much as I grew up hating the Dallas Cowgirls, I can’t deny that they have had great success under the flashy Jerry Jones. Houston is still recovering from losing their Oilers to Tennessee, but there's hope that the young talent on both sides of the ball can finally get them into the playoffs this year. There better not be a lockout because I can’t wait to see what Andre Johnson will do next (who I still think is the best WR hands down in the NFL).
So now we have Dallas in the NBA finals once again against the most talented and hated team in the entire league. Yet Rocket fans around the world have created their own Dallas hater wagon, looking to their 2006 hero Dwayne Wade to once again keep the Mavericks from a championship.
I was always puzzled by this, but I realized it’s the same way Met fans will root for the Red Sox just because they don't want the Yankees to win. Or the way the Minnesota ViQueens cheer on the Bears to beat the Packers. But Yankee fans could care less if the Mets win because they know they are not in the same league when it comes to historic greatness. What I don't understand is that the Rockets are clearly overall the better franchise over the Mavs. So why are Houston fans so threatened by a single title by the Dallas Mavericks? Maybe the 2005 playoffs when Houston took the first two games in Dallas but lost the series still hurts, but honestly who cares since the Mavs failed to even make the finals that year. What it boils down to is that Houston cannot afford to lose their one trump card. With the Cowboys far superior than the Texans, the only defense to the Dallas fan trash talking is a retort that the Mavs have never won a title. So although I hate the Heat and wish the rest of the world would join me, Houston fans, I understand. And as a Chinese American, I hope one day Yao can bring the Rockets another title.
Time to separate the men from the boys. We're almost a third of the way through, there's got to be some desperation out there in your leagues and if you can take advantage of some impatient owner, this is the time!
Hanley - It took Pujols one weekend to get his mojo back. I think Hanley will have a pretty sweet summer and can still get to 20 HRs.
Longoria - He's been struggling, but he'll go on a tear.
Pedroia - This team is too talented, he will start hitting again
Ubaldo - Last start was very promising, the window is about to close so if someone wants to get rid of him, I'd take a chance.
Soria - Normally I don't care for big name closers, but if someone is looking to dump Soria, I'm buying.
Cahill, Humber, Collmenter, Lohse, Tomlin - All part of the "Can't strike anyone out, but somehow, I still get wins" group. I would move these guys to anyone who's willing to pay a good price
Dan Haren - It's almost the ASB, count your winnings and walk away
Matt Joyce - Doubt anyone will bite, but if someone is willing to give you one of the guys I mentioned above for a guy like Joyce, I would do it!
Alex Gordon - I like him, but if you can get good value, do it
David Ortiz - Another player who I like a lot, but his value will never be higher.
This week's Cash & Trash:
Corey Patterson - Don't look at the name, just the numbers
J.J. Hardy - If you need pop from the SS position (and who doesn't), Hardy looks like he's about to start one of his streaky stretches
Mitch Moreland - not sure how he's under 50% owned in Yahoo! leagues, this lineup is just dirty
Dillon Gee - I hate recommending any Mets, but sure, why not the G-man
Allen Craig - 2B eligible, that's all you need to know
Masterson - Looking pretty awful lately, reality is setting in
Derek Lowe - Can't remember the last time he was good
Chone Figgins - a very one dimensional player: bad
Darwin Barney - Another guy who's back to reality
Orlando Cabrera - Not sure if people own him, but they probably shouldn't
Just two days ago, Alexandre Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks was getting negative media attention for what became known as "The Bite". When the referees were trying to break up a fight between Burrows and Patrice Bergeron, Bergeron decided to put his finger in Burrows' mouth. Critics were saying that Burrows went ahead and took a bit out of Bergeron's finger. From what I saw, Burrows was just trying to get a dirty gloved finger out of his mouth because his hands were being held by the referee. Yes that's right, Bergeron still had his glove on when he was "bitten" by Burrows.
After the game, Bergeron said "Oh yeah, he did. He cut me a little bit on my finger." If the critics are going to compare someone to a baby, it should be Bergeron and not Burrows! This is a guy playing a sport that sees players playing through broken hands, separated shoulders, and frozen pucks to the face and Bergeron is crying over a little bite through his glove.
To make things even better, Burrows escaped suspension because the leauge decided that there wasn't enough evidence of the bite. During the pregame, the commentators said that this would serve as extra motivation for the Boston Bruins because they wanted to get back at Burrows. However, Burrows not only played in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals but absolutely dominated all 60 minutes and 11 seconds of it! Burrows tallied a total of 3 points in yesterday's game, scoring the first goal of the game, assisting the second goal for the Canucks made by Daniel Sedin, and scoring the overtime game-winner in 11 seconds (second fastest overtime goal in Stanley Cup Finals history)!
It was 2nd grade in Ms. Penfold's class, and she had just assigned to us our first written assignment. At the time, I still had trouble with English but thanks to my childhood best friend, David Rosen, he asked our teacher if we could do the assignment together. It was a short assignment -- a 100 word biographical blurb plus illustration on anyone we wish. David picked Arthur Ashe. It was a name that I would never forget because I think that was the only thing I learned in 2nd grade. David went on to write a masterpiece of an essay and gave me the easy route of drawing Mr. Ashe. My finish product was something of a mix of Garry Coleman (RIP), Squanto, and a cabbage patch kid, but this isn't about my artistic abilities. It was this assignment that would open the doors of my sports world to tennis.
As an Asian-American, I would consider myself more Asian than American. In fact, I've been known to have alot of Chinese pride. So when Li Na won the French Open today becoming the first Chinese-born to ever win a Grand Slam, I can confidently say that I celebrated the victory with 1.3 billion other people.
The effects of this victory on China is huge largely due to the fact that Li is one of the first athletes from China to follow a different contract policy. All athletes in China have to give a large portion of their earnings back to the government because the government supervises and pays for all their training, coaching, expenses, etc. But Li was under a new policy where she gets to keep more of her earnings but had to figure out everything on her own. Her victory will resonate to many of the athletes in China now, and many Chinese nationals are looking at this as another step towards total government reform. Though honestly, anything that happens where the Chinese government is deemed the "loser" is a step towards reform.
In my belief, this victory is HUGE. Since Michael Chang won his one and only Grand Slam at the French Open in '89, we have not had an Asian winner in tennis. If you don't know anything about that French Open, then you owe it to yourself to watch the clip below.
Chang took down the Goliath of men's tennis at the time with a leg cramp (and an underhand serve!) in the semis, and then go on to win the Grand Slam becoming the youngest ever to do it at 17! Though Chang was born in America, the ripple effect of his victory in China (and even in the US with more Asians interested in playing the sport) is tremendous. A part of me believes that Michael Chang had some effect on Li Na's decision to become a professional tennis player.
So why thank Arthur Ashe? I hope in the time that you've been reading this, you've been secretly wikipedia-ing everything I wrote and learned about Arthur Ashe. Becoming the first ever African-American to win a tennis grand slam, he paved the way for many others including Li Na. He's no Jackie Robinson, but his victory at the US Open of '68 could not of timed more perfectly with the civil rights movement in America at the time. So thank you for paving the way. Thanks for opening the doors to many other nations to play tennis. And just like your victory helped to change a nation's laws of racism and prejudice, I hope that Li Na's victory will be an agent of change for China.
Brian Cardinal was trending on twitter after subbing in.
Honestly I have never disliked a team as much as I do with the Heat. Maybe it comes from how this team was formed, or the jealousy of my favorite team not getting Lebron, or the fact that I really never liked Lebron’s power style of basketball and his demeanor in pressure situations. The truth is, I am a Lebron James hater, and I cannot deny it. The Heat are clearly more athletic and talented, and should have had no problems winning last night. Last night, I turned to my roommate, saying the game was over. I did not know if I could watch the rest. That was right after Wade drained a corner three to put the Heat up by 15 with around 7 minutes to go. Then we saw a great magic act from the entire Miami Heat team. Just like that, they disappeared, Wade seemed to have mentally checked out of the game, thinking his 36 point production was good enough for a long day's work. Lebron spent more time dribbling out the shot clock to take long contested threes. There was a sequence where Lebron took a bad three and the Heat got the offensive board only to wait out the 24 seconds for the same exact bad shot.
I hate to kick Lebron when he is down, but clearly the man is not made from the same stuff as Kobe and Jordan. He loves the bright lights of stardom, not the heat of pressure moments of playoff games. Everyone always likes to point to that one game where Lebron single-handedly destroyed the Detroit Pistons, going for 25 straight points. He was the one-man show; everyone thought he would have multiple championships by now. Let’s be honest, that year he was barely old enough to drink, he was not even supposed to be there. Lebron and the Cavs had no pressure at all, and were eventually embarrassed in the finals. Like I said during the Bulls series, Lebron needed to win with ease otherwise he would become invisible like he did in the 2010 Celtics series. I stand by my belief that Lebron needs to win with his back against the wall to silence his critics, but unless we see Wade close out games like its 2006, the Heat will have a tough time putting the Mavs away.
And again, I never want to hear people calling Dirk soft. Dirk played a gritty game last night. His silky smooth J was not so smooth, but just like the rest of his teammates, he kept calm and played to what Miami was giving him. Clearly the Heat’s speed on defense is the best in the league, and I have to give them credit for closing out on shooters and forcing the ball out of Dirk's hands. But when it counted, it was the German who game through. Nowitzki made the final 9 points. The Mavs believe in their leader, and Dirk takes that responsibility and expects to come through, something I have yet to see from Lebron. The Mavericks’ age and wisdom has proven to be worth far more than young legs and energy. Miami put on a show last night for 3.5 quarters. There were off-balanced shots and highlight dunks. If it was anyone's team in the finals besides Dallas, we might have seen another Andrew Bynum incident, but not this Maverick team. They never seemed to be rattled. No matter what happens in the rest of the series, last night was truly amazing. We saw one star overcome past demons while another continued to be haunted by the same ghosts he tried to run from by leaving Cleveland.
No, that's not a typo for pedophile. And give yourself a pat on the back if you took the time to google it and learn a new word today. It's a new word that I learned today thanks to ESPN's broadcast of the annual National Spelling Bee. As I sat there playing along with the students, it became more and more engrossing as the competition went on. The words were getting harder and more mess-ups happened. I was intrigued by some of the spelling prowess of some of these tweens but what got me hooked was tuning in to see if the next contestant would misspell their word. Now I can spend the rest of this post arguing why a spelling bee shouldn't be broadcasted on the Entertainment Sports Programming Network but let's leave it for another day. What's up for discussion today is what's the most popular sport where the spectators watch and wait for something bad to happen?
For the sake of the argument, let's just say a Spelling Bee is a sport. Who remembers the winners? The only kids I remember are the ones featured below.
Racing. I was never a big racing fan as I didn't see the logic in racing around a track for a couple of hours to determine who's the best, but this past weekend's Indy 500 finish might just get me hooked.
This is a no-brainer (no pun intended): boxing.
Last but not least, this one is a personal favorite of mine. To those who don't watch it for the artistry and technicality of this sport, you probably watch it for this.
One of the loneliest positions in sports has to be the hockey goalie. You are the last line of defense, which is why goalies in hockey are given credit for wins and blamed for losses. Unlike pitchers, you do not have a catcher coaching you through the game, and unlike soccer goalies, you face 3 to 4 times more shots on goal. Lastly, your forced to dress differently, and I am not talking about a different color jersey or a larger lacrosse stick. No. In hockey you have to wear a face mask, glove, a stick resembling a large plank of wood, and shin guards that make every goalie look like they have the body type of Eddy Curry.
At least now with the media, not even pads and a mask can hide Henrik Lundqvist’s stunning looks. Goalies are not as much of a mystery as they used to be, but they still hold the weight of their team, and rarely do their teammates hold up their side of the bargain. Just take Lundqvist for example, who has won an Olympic gold medal and viewed as one of the best goaltenders in the game. Yet he never seems to be able to get out of the first round of the playoffs. This is because every time the NY Rangers take the ice, its hard not to believe that the ice isn't tilted, similar to how it felt watching Manchester United play Barcelona last weekend.
Yesterday we saw a great Game 1 Stanley Cup Final match. We saw two goalies both play amazing games. 70 shots and only one goal for both teams. The problem was, too many times Tim Thomas was left alone to do too much, stopping two 1 on 1 chances and eventually having to deal with a 2 on 1 that proved to be the difference. It is so easy to point at the goalie and say it's all his fault. Clearly this night’s hero was the man who gave up the game-winning shot.
Bruins defense, you owe Tim Thomas a game. Hopefully they can redeem themselves in Game 2. I guess this series is going to be a dogfight; one the city of Vancouver did not seem ready for.