Monday, May 28, 2007

Never Forget...

Never forget those that have selflessly served this great nation and made the ultimate sacrifice - not just today, but every day. Our freedom is a precious gift, and when you see our troops fighting just remember that they are trying to preserve that gift for each and every one of us Americans. No matter how you spend this Memorial Day just be thankful for what you have and remember the heroes that have kept us free!


Before I delve into Sunday's sports, I'm presenting part 3 of my "Don't Forget To Remember Me" series. Today, I spotlight John Patterson of the Washington Nationals. Unlike my previous two spotlighted players, Pedro Martinez and Nick Johnson, John actually has played some games this year - seven to be precise, before being shelved with a right elbow injury.

Some of you may not know that John originally broke into the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002. In five starts, he posted some very impressive numbers - a 3.23 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, a .235 batting average against, and most imporantly to me, an impressive 31 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. Anytime you see a pitcher striking out more than a batter an inning (particularly if you're a fantasy player) it usually catches people's attention. Needless to say, John was a pitcher everyone wanted on their fantasy teams in 2003... Unfortunately, he was slowed by injuries that year, and resultantly was traded to the Montreal Expos - the same organization where he had come to Arizona from... John started 19 games for the Expos in 2004, and while his 5.03 ERA was hardly impressive, he still had that good strikeout pitch working for him as he fanned 99 batters in his 98 1/3 innings that year...

With that last statistic in mind, John again garnered attention in fantasy leagues as a possible sleeper in 2005 drafts... the Expos moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Nationals that year. The change in scenery must have done some good as John posted some numbers very reminiscent of those he put up his rookie year: a 3.13 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, a .233 BAA and 185 strikeouts!!! Offensive deficiencies resulted in John only winning nine games that year, but John was now finally realizing that great promise he showed us his first year up! Injuries reared their ugly head again last year though, and John only pitched 40 1/3 innings in 2006, producing a 4.43 ERA, but a very impressive 1.11 WHIP, .237 BAA and 42 strikeouts.

With such a light workload and those impressive peripheral numbers in 2006, John was someone I looked to be a big time sleeper in fantasy leagues this year... with a low-mid 90's fastball, and a devistating breaking ball, there was no doubt he had the tools to deliver some great numbers this year... Not surprisingly, John was someone I drafted late in a large number of my leagues this year... As the season started, I inserted him into my lineups, very unaware that something was amiss. Unfortunately, we don't get to see a lot of televised Nats games out here in L.A., so I had no idea that his velocity was down 4-5 MPH, and that he was having trouble controlling his breaking stuff until I started reading some of the local DC papers around mid-April.

Just before the 2007 season started, a very nice thing happened to John: he got engaged! Yes, engagements happen every day, but it's not every day that you get engaged to someone who partcipated in a Miss America pageant! A year and a half after first going out with 2005 Miss District of Columbia, Shannon Schambeau, John and Shannon began on the journey to take the BIG step... Before I found out about John's injury, I figured that maybe all of the wedding plans and arrangements were the cause of his early season pitching woes - that certainly is not the case! The injury may be a little bit of a blessing in disguise for John, as it's probably giving him more time to plan for the big event... Speaking of their wedding, which is to take place on November 10th, they have created a very nice website simply entitled "Shannon & John." The website is very professionally done and includes all kinds of interesting stuff such as photos and an "about us" page. There is also a guest book for their friends and family to sign - and if you read the comments, you'll soon find that John and Shannon are indeed two very nice people!

Now that I've taken you on that tangent, I'll just let you know that John is rehabbing that elbow and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session at RFK stadium tomorrow. If all goes well, he could be back in the rotation early next month. Before stashing him on your fantasy team's DL slot, make sure he's got his velocity back along with his command... if so, then it's all systems GO and he could end up having a HUGE impact on fantasy teams everywhere this year!


As for the games... well, let's make this a smooth transition and start off Sunday's games with the Nationals... Ex-Brave Ryan Langerhans hit a grand slam in the 8th inning to give the Nats a 7-2 win over the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and a 5-2 record on their recent road trip. The Nationals now come home to face the two National league teams most near to where I live: my Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers got six shutout innings from the resurgent Randy Wolf, while Chicago Cubs starter Rich Hill matched him frame for frame with six shutout innings of his own. I was loving this as both pitchers are on several of my fantasy teams! Both teams scored a run in the eighth inning, and the game was decided in the bottom of the 11th inning as Juan Pierre got the rare walk-off hit-by-pitch to force in the winning run with no one out. The Padres have undoubtedly the best pitcher in the National League at the moment in Jake Peavy... Last year was an injury plagued season for Jake, but this year, he has put it all together. All he did yesterday was throw seven shutout innings at the Milwaukee Brewers, giving up only two hits while striking out eight in the process. Peavy's ERA now stands at an incredible 1.47, and he leads the senior circuit in strikeouts with 85. As I'll be in DC next weekend, I'm planning on catching Peavy's next outing which is scheduled to be this Saturday afternoon... Depending on how my plans/schedule work out, I may catch Sunday's game as well.

Normally, this next item would be big news, but given how bad the Yankees have been this year, it isn't... John Lackey pitched a strong eight innings to get his major league leading 8th win, and Francisco Rodriguez survived control issues to close out the game for his 15th save and a 4-3 Angels win. With the three game sweep of the series, the Angels have built their AL West lead to 4 1/2 games over the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, the floundering Yankees now find themselves 12 1/2 games back of the AL East Division leading Boston Red Sox.


In auto racing, Dario Franchiti won a rain shortened Indianapolis 500... Though very competitive throughout, Danica Patrick never led the race (she got as high as second). Danica ended up finishing in eighth. In Nascar, it was just another day at the office for the Hendrick team as Casey Mears got his first career win - the 5th consective victory for team Hendrick. A daring move to conserve fuel ultimately led to the Mears win - he ran out of gas soon after the start/finish line!!!

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