Archive for October, 2010

The Death Star begins to strike

Posted: October 28, 2010 in MLB
Tags: ,

It’s never to early to begin the off-season, at least for the New York Yankees. And they’re doing it in style, preparing to take home the World Series trophy that was once theirs in 2009 (as well as 26 other times, but hey, who’s counting?) With only two key moves so far, the Bronx Bombers are making it clear why they’ll take the ‘ship home in 2011.

#1. The firing of pitching coach Dave Eiland. I liked Eiland in the beginning when he took over for Ron Guidry in 2008. He oversaw the development of pitchers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the Yankee’s farm systems, in which the two are arguably the crucial parts to the Yank’s pitching staff. The man helped C.C. Sabathia record an impressive 1.98 ERA in last year’s postseason that guided the Bombers to a World Series title.

That all sounds good, right? Things changed with Eiland and his efforts with his staff. Being absent for “personal reasons” for an entire month in the end of the first half, right when A.J. Burnett began his slump, arguably could have been the cause of that. In addition, Yankee starting pitchers as well as some relief pitchers (cough David Robertson cough) posted horrific ERAs against the Texas Rangers in American League Championship Series. No disrespect to the guy but things like that are unacceptable for a distinguished (and well-paying) team such as the Yankees to put up with.

Courtesy of the New York Times

#2 Re-signing Joe Girardi.  When I saw this morning on ESPN that the New York Yankees and Girardi agreed to a three-year, $9 million dollar contract, I knew that there was hope left for next season. Originally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Girardi. I wanted Don Mattingly to take the head coach position over him. But my opinion has shifted since then. Even though he didn’t lead New York to the playoffs his first season, he made up for it big time the following season. The Yanks were dominant in 2009, especially within their offense, and proved to be that powerhouse organization it has been for years by beating the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

His record stands at 287-199 (.591) through three seasons in New York, but that’s not the thing that really impresses me. It’s that he’s smart when it comes to baseball. I appreciated the “Joba rules” to keep the inconsistent, at the time, Chamberlain consistent. He knew when workhorse hurler C.C. Sabathia could and could not pitch 120 plus pitches a game. Last, he was smart about his outfield/designated hitter dilemma last season: Keeping Hideki Matsui on the DH for the most part with his grandpa-like knees and rotating him in whenever ailing Johnny Damon or young gun Brett Gardner needed time out.

I can almost guarantee that the next few moves the Yankees front office will try and do are going to be putting Cliff Lee in pinstripes, resigning Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and finding a way to continue to improve their bench (Interesting call, but I think they make a move for Carl Crawford down in Tampa Bay). But their is no way the organization, or the fans, are going to deal with another World Series drought like what 2001-2008 brought.

So as the first week of the National Basketball Association kicks off, I thought it would go hand-in-hand if I threw out some [upset] predictions that’ll be sure to scare you (I need to stop with these Halloween references…)

Courtesy of Associated Press

Will the trio be smiling for that much longer?

Upset Pick #1: The Nets and Cavaliers walk away with winning records. Now I know I’m a Jersey boy but I really do like what Avery Johnson is doing in Newark, especially with Prokhorov, the other Russian Federation, at the helm of the organization. Johnson’s really disciplining the team in a way Lawrence Frank didn’t and I think that will show through their bench players as well as Devin Harris finally showing up to play. Even with their close marginal win against an aging and worn out Pistons team, Harris was able to distribute the ball well, Brooks Lopez acted like the big man he’s always been if not a bit better, and Jordan Farmar and Terrence Williams (my vote for Most Improved) both played key roles off the bench. I definitely believe this team is changing for the better.

Now for the Cavaliers, this might be just as bold of a call if not bolder. With the town having Lebron James on their “Most Wanted: Dead or Alive” list, it still faces a demise as a whole. There is no true play maker on the team, no real star to provide a solid fan base, steady revenue, and wins against perennial teams. That’s where I think analysts and the public will be wrong. After an impressive upset over Boston, power forward JJ Hickson took the role as the scoring leader, I think it’ll be like that for the remainder of the season with Daniel Gibson coming off the bench feeding him the ball and big man Anderson Varejao posting up down low snagging rebound after rebound.

Upset Pick #2: The New York Knicks make the playoffs. I’m serious, I really am not that bias to New York-New Jersey teams…for the most part. With that key off season acquisition of Amare Stoudemire, the only place for the Knickerbockers to go is up. Mike D’Antoni is a coach that consistently made the playoffs with a stocked Phoenix Suns team, and I believe Donny Walsh is using that as a template to build his own empire. Danillo Gallinari is turning himself into a nice ball player coming from Italy, watching his ppg increase from 6.1 to 15.1 in a year, with Wilson Chandler being dual-threat, scoring and rebounding machine off the bench and a matured Raymond Felton heading the front court of this team.
Which leads to my last pick…

Upset Pick #3 The Miami Heat will choke…badly. Now I know badly is up for interpretation but I just don’t see this Super Friend trio working out. We’ve heard this scheme that Lebron will take the lead with Dwayne Wade being his sidekick and Chris Bosh maintaining the paint, but it’s as if right before the game they sit down and say, “Am I going for 30 points tonight or is it you?” “No it was you last night let me!”. This so called “unstoppable force” was not meant to be. Three soon-to-be Hall of Famers playing in South Beach with only one of them having won a  ring in their entire careers. It was a horrible loss against the Celtics the other night, in which they had 17 turnovers, 15 by the trio, and barely cut the lead down in the 4th quarter but watched 3-point king Ray Allen perform what he does best.

I know they beat Philadelphia, but only by 10! A Philly team that was led by rookie Evan Turner (supposed leaders Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand barely showed up to play). We’re going to constantly here that it’ll take “time to gel” or “we need more game time to get used to each other” and all that other jazz, which is relatively true. And they will win games . A lot. But a more experienced Celtics team or the Orlando Magic will wipe them out in the Conference finals or semi-finals.

Now with these bold predictions, we can only wait and see how they pan out. I may go 3-0 or 0-3. Either or I think it’s going to be a verrry interesting NBA season. So soak it in while you can because with a potential 2011-2012 lockout, I’m pretty sure the saying goes “you never know what you got till it’s gone

My view from the Stueckle Sky Center press box

Last night, I had the privilege of watching and help write the Boise State Broncos versus the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs game in the embellished Stueckle Sky Center. I know, bask in it.

It was a strange game for the Broncos on that cold, Tuesday night. With ESPN2 providing a national broadcast and the game being played on a weekday, nonetheless a school night, there was more to the oddness of how the game played out.

Quarterback Kellen Moore completed 20 of 28 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns and an interception, but notched a few other statistics as well. Not only did he complete a 54-yard-punt in the 2nd quarter (the first in his career) but caught a first-career seven-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Austin Pettis in the 3rd quarter.

Things weren’t just uncanny for the two scoring powerhouses, but for the entire offense as well. Two Bronco touchdowns were scored off of fumbles, one being a o yard recovery by tight end Kyle Efaw and another in which running back Jeremy Avery recovered his own fumble and ran it for 26 yards to the end zone.

Maybe it was the strange game day date or it’s close proximity to Halloween (I figure I’d just throw that in there) but things were a bit unusual for the Broncos win. But hey, a win’s a win.

Old man Favre

Courtesy of Minneapolis Star-Tribune

That is the question…
Well I figured I kick off this blog, which I have been meaning to post on for the past two weeks, something Vikings-related.

As we may, well hopefully, know Brett Favre came out of retirement (yet again) to bring the Minnesota Vikings the Super Bowl trophy they have dreamed of having ever since the idea that #4 dawned a purple and yellow jersey for the first time in 2009.

The dismal ending to the 2010 NFC Division title game was just a nightmare for a Vikings fan like myself. A classic Favre routine of throwing a game-ending pick to seal the deal for the New Orleans Saints, who would then go on to win their first Super Bowl (something Minneapolis has yet to experience…) The overall game was a horrible performance by the Vikes as they were their own worst enemies with the constant fumbling of Mr. Adrian Peterson, juvenile unforced penalties, and…well you know how the rest goes.

Flash forward to preseason, August 2010. Favre was swayed by head coach Brad Childress after numerous trips down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in which after an ankle surgery and a “bit” of aging, wanted to return the Vikings to dominance and claim that Super Bowl trophy that was once in grasp.

Things have not turned out as ideal as they were planned. Unlike his majestic 33 touchdown, seven interception season he put up as a 40-year-old, Favre’s true color began to show as he stands at a mere seven touchdowns, an [un]surprising 10 interceptions, and an overall quarterback rating of 68.0. To add to this mess of a situation, Favre is yet again questionable to play as he suffered two ankle fractions in the loss to the Green Bay Packers.

It boils down to this: should Chilly start Favre? The team holds an embarrassing league-low record of 2-4 at the Week 7 mark and shows no sign of promise, especially with the injuries amounting in their secondary and offensive line. Is it time to give Tarvaris Jackson another shot? Or do the Vikings give Favre another 20-something cortisone shots in his ankle to go in and play like the Super Bowl winning quarterback he once was, or the 41 year old grandpa he is now. (Fact: Brett’s daughter, Brittany gave birth to a son last April, making #4 the only grandpa in the league. I wish I could make this stuff up)

It’ll be interesting to see how the week unfolds, as well as the tension filled relationship between Favre and Childress plays out. In my honest opinion, you need to give Brett at least another game to truly believe in benching him. With a prestigious career such as his, it would be a slap in the face to the man to entice him to come back for another season to only bench him half way through the season. And then again, our backup quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson…

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?