Friday, June 1, 2007

Dodger Blues

After outscoring the Washington Nationals by a tennis-like 15-0 score the first two days in D.C., there really was only one way for the Los Angeles Dodgers to go: down! As I predicted yesterday morning, the Nats quickly ended their 19 inning scoreless streak as the resurgent Ryan Zimmerman hit his 7th home run of the season (a two run shot) off of Dodger starter Mark Hendrickson in the bottom of the first. For the fifth consecutive start, Hendrickson was ineffective, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings. It may be time once again for the Dodgers to start thinking about putting him back in the bullpen and finally inserting the talented Chad Billingsley into the rotation. As for the game, the Dodgers were definitely black and blue when it was all said and done. Zimmerman added a two run double and Ryan Church hit a two run blast of his own in the 8th inning as the Nats routed the Blue Crew 11-4. Micah Bowie (not Matt Chico) pitched an effective 5 1/3 innings for the Nats, giving up three runs on five hits while walking one.

After the drubbing, the Dodgers headed to Dulles airport (where I should be about 22 hours from now) and flew to Pittsburgh. They take on the Pirates in the first of a three game series tonight. As for the Nats, well they definitely have their work cut out for them tonight as they face the San Diego Padres and their ace, Jake Peavy. All Peavy has done this year is produce a 7-1 record in 11 starts with a 1.47 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 85 strikeouts and a .185 batting average against. For you fantasy ballers out there, these numbers place Peavy as the number one fantasy player at most formats... The aforementioned Matt Chico draws the bad hand and gets to face the Padres and Peavy tonight. Since the Padres are the Dodgers rivals in the National League West and their closest competitor, I only have two words to say: GO NATS!!!

As I've already mentioned, I'll be in DC over the weekend, and am planning on catching a Nats game (or two) while there against the Padres... I've got a nice field level seat right behind the Nats dugout picked out for Sunday afternoon's game. I'm also planning a trip down the Potomac on the DC Ducks tour as recommended by a certain someone I know in DC during my last stay there... As for the rest of my schedule, it's pretty open. All I know is that I'm going to try to see and do as much as I can in the time I spend there... I can hardly wait!!!


No, I didn't see it, but I certainly heard about it. Lebron James single-handedly willed the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 109-107 double overtime win against the Detroit Pistons in game five of their best of seven series in Detroit last night. "King Lebron" tallied a career playoff high 48 points, including scoring the final 25 put up by the Cavs. After the game two officiating debachle, the Cavs could have just folded up their tent and given up. With James leading the way, most of us knew that this wasn't going to happen as the King simply has too much pride... The resilent Cavs now have a 3-2 series lead and look to close things out Saturday night in Cleveland. There are many defining moments in the careers of NBA players - last night was certainly one which will define the 22-year-old James' career... one which is sure to have many more legendary moments!

While on the topic of the NBA, it's about time that I have a little to say about the whole Kobe Bryant thing... Some of you may know that the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke wrote what can only be called a terrible article this past Sunday all but ordering Kobe to leave town, claiming that he is the "problem" and that the Lakers would be better off without him. All the major sports and news outlets, including ESPN caught wind of this and they just ran with it! What Plaschke (and other Times "sportswriters") fails to realize is that Kobe does one thing better than anyone in the game right now: he sells tickets and he brings in fans!!! How can you forget the 81 points he tallied, single-handedly bringing the Lakers back from an 18 point deficit in a 2005-2006 game against Toronto??? How about this season and that 50+ point game scoring streak??? If the Lakers followed Plaschke's misdirected advice, the Lakers would be doomed to sub-.400 seasons for years to come, and the Staples Center would suddenly become a much easier ticket to come by... Thankfully, Lakers owner Jerry Buss made a statement yesterday, reassuring us Laker fans that Kobe was not going anywhere and that he would work hard to give him a better surrounding cast. Lamar Odom and Luke Walton are nice pieces to the puzzle, but the Lakers need another solid player - a center or a point guard - to be truly competitive. Unlike Plaschke, it appears Buss is truly interested in winning - this is a good thing!

Kobe, like the rest of us, is human and has made his share of mistakes in life... he has tried VERY hard to right the wrongs, and works tirelessly in the L.A. community giving back at various charity events in his spare time. It would be nice if Plaschke and the rest of the Sports staff at the Times would be a little more objective about things... then again, this is the L.A. Times' Sports section that we are talking about here, so don't look for that to happen anytime soon. I will say one good thing about the Times in closing - Catherine Hamm does a VERY fine job in the Travel section of the paper... Hamm wrote an outstanding article on the trials and trivalations of flying this past Sunday - good enough that I was inspired to send her an eMail detailing my experience with American Airlines a month ago. By the way, this still remains unresolved and I'm on my third letter to American now. Hamm was kind enough to write me back, and even invited me to post my experience in the Times' travel forum...


Finally, time for another installment in my "Don't Forget To Remember Me" series... today, I spotlight Dave Roberts of the San Francisco Giants. Do you ever feel the need for speed??? There is one area that gets more neglected in fantasy leagues far more often than the rest - the stolen base category. I have to admit to being guilty of this crime on more than one occasion, this year being no exception. Roberts took the VERY long road to the major leagues, not becoming a full-time player until he stole 45 bases for the Dodgers in 2002 at the age of 30. Roberts followed that with seasons of 40, 38, 23 and a career best 49 steals last year. Unfortunately, Roberts suffered an elbow injury which required some minor surgery a few weeks ago. A fellow UCLA graduate, Roberts was originally scheduled to be out for a full six weeks but it appears that he may be only be out another two weeks. Only a select few players have stolen more than the 39+ bases Roberts has averaged the past five seasons. If you have the need for some speed and you have a free DL or bench slot, NOW is the time to grab him... more than likely, 25 or so steals will await you and your team - enough to have a HUGE impact in that category!!!


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