Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mets Complete Epic Collapse!

I really can't believe what has happened actually did happen!!! A seven game lead in the division with 17 to play, and you not only lose the divisional race by a game, but you fail to even make the playoffs. As I said back On September 8th, they would either live or die with their pitching... Losing Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez proved to be too much to overcome despite Pedro Martinez providing the staff a much needed shot in the arm with five effective starts in September. Somehow, the Mets found a way to lose it. Appropriately, their lack of pitching is again what did them in - Tom Glavine was torched today, recording only a single out while giving up seven earned runs against the Florida Marlins. The bullpen pitched great today, only allowing a run over the final 8 2/3 innings of the game. Unfortunately, the shell-shocked Mets could only manage a run the entire day in falling out of the playoff race with an 8-1 loss.

Who should the Mets blame other than their horrible pitching of late? Maybe the Washington Nationals. Well, not really, but if they could have even managed to play .500 ball down the stretch against the Nats, they would have won their division... Jamie Moyer mastered the Nats for 5 1/3 innings today as the Philadelphia Phillies won 6-1 to take the N.L. Eastern Division crown. The Phillies took two of three this weekend from the Nats, while the Mets were losing two of three to the Marlins. The Nats defeated the Mets five times in six games over the season's final two weeks and they can be very proud of how they played down the stretch. After starting the year 9-25, the Nats were a .500 team the rest of the way with a 64-64 record. Not bad for a team that was supposed to lose 100 or more games this year.

As for the Mets, they wound up losing 12 of their final 17 games. In those games, they allowed 115 runs!!! Pedro pitched great, giving up only seven runs (six earned)in his three starts, covering 18 innings for a 3.00 ERA. The Mets offense didn't show up in two of those games though as they only won one of them. The rest of the starters??? Oliver Perez gave up 12 runs (nine earned) for a 4.96 ERA in his final three starts. John Maine was brilliant yesterday, striking out 14 Marlins in 7 2/3 innings, but his prior two starts were anything but good though as he allowed 11 earned runs in them. Even with yesterday's gem, his ERA the final four starts covering 17 innings was a hefty 5.82. Mike Pelfrey was hit hard in both of his stretch run starts (both coming against the Nats), pitching well enough to win one of them, but allowing nine earned runs in his 10 2/3 innings for a 7.59 ERA. Brian Lawrence was ineffective in his September 17th start against the Nats, giving up four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings (10.80 ERA). Similarly, prospect Philip Humber was ineffective in his start against the Nats last week, giving up five earned runs in four innings (11.25 ERA). Glavine had four starts including today's over that stretch: 19 earned runs in 18 innings for a 9.50 ERA!!!


The Wild NL Playoff Race!!!

Who is in, and who is out??? Well, prior to yesterday we only knew the Chicago Cubs were in... now we have two teams in...

John Maine pitched an AMAZING game yesterday, taking a no hitter into the eighth inning while striking out 14 batters... The Mets convincing 13-0 win yesterday over the Florida Marlins, along with a Philadephia Philles loss at the hands of Matt Chico and the Washington Nationals has made the N.L. East race a dead heat coming into today's games... In the N.L. West race, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a one game lead over the San Diego Padres, but have clinched the division title, while the Colorado Rockies lie one game back of the Padres, Mets and Phillies for the wild card.

The fun begins in a few minutes!!! Enjoy the games and for those of you with fantasy teams good luck to you as well!


On a personal note, today was the 8th anniversary of my Dad's passing... Cancer took him from us at only 65. This is always the hardest day of the year for me to get through and it's made a little harder this year thanks to me catching a rare cold. Dad, I know you're looking down us. You may be gone physically, but you're never far out of our thoughts...


Friday, September 28, 2007

Who Should be 2007 NL MVP?

As the 2007 baseball season winds down, it's time to start thinking about who is going to win the individual awards. While the 2007 American League MVP award can now be conceeded to Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, the National League MVP award is anything but decided. I'll list those who have been cited by various sources as the leading candidates for the 2007 NL MVP award in alphabetical order. You may vote for your choice amongst the leading candidates in my poll on the right. I'll elaborate further on each of these selections on Friday morning with their PROS and CONS.. Note: stats are through the games of 9/27/2007

Eric Byrnes (D-Backs): .288 BA, 21 HR, 83 RBI, 103 R, 49 SB
Prince Fielder (Brewers): .290 BA, 50 HR, 119 RBI, 108 R, 0 SB
Matt Holliday (Rockies): .338 BA, 36 HR, 132 RBI, 117 R, 11 SB
Ryan Howard (Phillies): .265 BA, 44 HR, 130 RBI, 91 R, 1 SB
Chipper Jones (Braves): .339 BA, 29 HR, 102 RBI, 106 R, 5 SB
Jose B. Reyes (Mets): .284 BA, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 118 R, 79 SB
Jimmy Rollins (Phillies): .295 BA, 30 HR, 91 RBI, 131 R, 38 SB
David Wright (Mets): .321 BA, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 110 R, 34 SB


Eric Byrnes - What can you say about this guy that hasn't already been said? He's ALL heart and judging by constantly high energy level, I'm inclined to believe that he does indeed drink at least six cups of coffee a day as was reported recently on Fox Sports.

PROS: Numbers are far better than any other regular on the Diamondbacks team. Only other two active regulars are hitting .259 or higher, only one other player on the team (Chris Young) has more than 17 home runs, 63 RBI's, 69 runs scored or stolen more than 9 bases. Only Young and the injured Orlando Hudson have made any sort of significant offensive contribution to the D-Backs. His stat line, hustle, playing style, leadership and intangibles are very similar to that of 1988 NL MVP Kirk Gibson. When Gibson won that award he hit .290, powered 25 homers, drove in 76, scored 106 and stole 31 bases. These numbers are eerily close to those Byrnes has put up this year. Also, Byrnes has stolen 32 bases since the all-star break, and 11 during September's crunch time. He is the engine that makes the D-Backs go and is the primary reason they will more than likely be playing into October.

CONS: He only has 21 home runs and 82 RBI's. Given the lack of consistent talent around him, these numbers aren't really his fault. Thanks to David Wright and Jimmy Rollins both putting up 30/30 seasons, his numbers may get missed by a few people. Also, if the D-Backs somehow stumble out of the playoffs this weekend, then he'll lose a lot of votes. Regardless, I think he will do no better than second in the balloting.


Prince Fielder - Big Daddy's boy certainly has blossomed this year. His 50 homers at 23 years old make him the youngest player in major league history to reach that milestone, He's also part of the first ever father/son duo to reach that figure.

PROS: His 50 home runs top the senior circuit. Has 35 doubles and two triples to go with the homers. His 119 RBI's are also impressive.

CONS: If the Brewers don't make the playoffs, it would be hard to name him MVP. Additionally, his young "supporting cast" has put up a lot of impressive numbers: Ryan Braun (.325 BA, 34 HR, 14 SB in only 440 AB), Corey Hart (.289 BA, 22 HR, 23 SB), J.J. Hardy (26 HR, 80 RBI's).


Matt Holliday - 36 home runs, 132 RBI's, a .338 batting average, 117 runs, 209 hits, 48 doubles and five triples. Those numbers are simply GAUDY!

PROS: Has helped carry the Rockies this month with his 12 home runs and 27 RBI's. He's the biggest reason they're now only a game out of a playoff spot.

CONS: His road numbers are "only": a .301 BA, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 7 SB, 53 runs. In other words, he's done most of his damage at home. People will hold his Coors Field inflated numbers against him. If the Rockies don't make the playoffs, it will make it even more difficult to hand him the award.


Ryan Howard - He got off to an abysmal start and also got hurt early. Look at his numbers where they stood on May 24th: .204 BA, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 13 RUNS and only 29 games played. Other than driving in runs, he was suffering in every category. Now look at the numbers he's put up since he came back from that early injury on May 25th: .279 BA, 38 HR, 107 RBI, 78 RUNS and even 1 stolen base in 112 games.

PROS: For four months he's been arguably major league baseball's best player with the above numbers. The Phillies, partially in thanks to his play over that time are now tied with the New York Mets for the N.L. East lead.

CONS: He just set a major league record for strikeouts in a season recording his 196th and 197th of the year last night. He has MVP company on his own team in Jimmy Rollins. Chase Utley (.331 BA, 22 HR, 102 RBI, 103 R, 9 SB) has also been a big part of the Phillies collective strong stretch run as has Pat Burrell (30 HR).


Chipper Jones - For a guy who has been battling with nagging injuries the ENTIRE season, he's certainly put up some nice numbers and was the main reason the Braves were competitive this year despite him missing 29 games. If Andruw Jones has a "normal" season, count me amongst those who would say that the Braves would have easily won their division.

PROS: Leads the league in hitting with a .339 batting average. Has put up his stellar overall numbers in 30 games or so less than the rest of the candidates.

CONS: The Braves are not going to be in the playoffs. This all but kills his chances. In spite of Andruw Jones horrible season, others such as Jeff Francoeur (102 RBI's, .292 BA) and Mark Teixiera (.320 BA, 17 HR, 55 RBI in 52 games since his acquisition) also carried their share of the burden.


Jose Reyes
- Like Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia, he's the engine that drives his team to success (or often failure). And lately the Mets have experienced a lot of the latter...

PROS: Leads the majors in steals with 78, and has scored 118 runs. Despite a drop in batting average, he's walking more, getting on base at a .361 clip as opposed to last year's .354.

CONS: A dropoff in his home run and RBI numbers from last year. Teammate David Wright is probably having a better overall season than him, and Carlos Beltran has also been a key contributor again to the Mets' success. And if the Mets completely spiral out of the playoffs, you can pretty much count he and Wright out of the running.


Jimmy Rollins - Just what has this guy NOT done well this year??? A 30/30 man, 200 hits, 136 runs, 38 doubles, 19 triples, 91 RBI's. OK, so he's not hitting .300... so what! He's had an incredible year!!!

PROS: The above numbers. No one in the league is amongst the league leaders in as many of the categories as he is. At the top of the order, he's the engine that ignites this team and has done so all year long.

CONS: Competition from his own teammates. The aforementioned Howard arguably has been the NL's best player the past four months. The aforementioned Utley and Burrell have also helped bring the Phillies into a flat-footed tie with the Mets as I write this. He's not the only 30/30 guy this year, so he will lose votes to that man - a Mr. Wright.


David Wright
- Take away some runs and triples and add some RBI's and batting average to Jimmy Rollins' numbers and you get Wright's 2007 numbers. Another 30/30 guy! His overall numbers are every bit as impressive as Rollins'.

PROS: If you take out his homerless April with a .244 batting average, the numbers he's put up the past five months look even more impressive. Has hit a sizzling .359 since the All-Star break with 61 runs scored.

CONS: Like Rollins, he has competition from his own team in the form of Reyes and Carlos Beltran. If the Mets manage to lose the division or miss the playoffs entirely after leading for so long, expect some votes to be lost.


As for my overall take on things. Well, if I had to pick one guy I think will win the award, I think it's going to be either Rollins or Wright. I think the key to determining the winner will be which team wins the National League East race. If the Phillies win, then it's Rollins' award, if the Mets win then it will be Wright's award. The loser may end up finishing third in the balloting. Eric Byrnes would be my #2 guy, assuming the D-Backs don't somehow stumble out of the playoffs this weekend.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nats Sweep Mets @ Shea!

Who woulda thunk it??? With a two game lead and seven home games left - three against the Washington Nationals, a makeup game against the St. Louis Cardinals and three against the Florida Marlins, many were conceding the National League East race to the New York Mets. As I've been preaching for awhile now though, their pitching has been nothing short of bad lately. Pedro Martinez has been fine of late as has Oliver Perez, but outside of that the entire staff has underachieved.

The Nationals admittedly got a little bit of a break in missing Pedro and Perez these past three days. Last night they took on Mets prospect and 2004 first round draft pick Philip Humber. For three innings last night the Nats were humbled by Humber and the rest of his Mets teammates. Nats starter Mike Bacsik got off to a very rocky start, giving up a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran and a solo shot to Moises Alou (who extended his hitting streak to 30 games) in the first... a Luis Castillo single plated another run in the second inning to make it a 4-0 Mets lead. Beltran struck again in the third inning, hitting another homer and knocking Bacsik out of the game. You have to admire manager Manny Acta's managerial ability - it's very rare that you'll see him leave his young pitchers in the game if they are getting pounded. Of late, his skillful managing has probably been the key to the Nats recent success. Joel Hanrahan then took over for Bacsik and escaped further damage in the inning.

For three innings, Humber was masterful in limiting the Nats to three hits. Things began to unravel for him in the fourth though. Austin Kearns walked to lead off the inning and Ryan Church then clubbed his 15th home run of the year deep into the right field stands to trim the Mets lead to three. Humber was able to regroup after that, retiring the next three batters in order. In the bottom of the frame, the Mets got to Hanrahan for a run as an Alou single plated David Wright. In the top of the fifth, the Nats offense took over the game. Ryan Langerhans walked and Felipe Lopez singled to right to end Humber's night. Joe Smith was then brought in to relieve Humber and was completely ineffective. Ronnie Belliard doubled, Ryan Zimmerman singled and Austin Kearns singled. Suddenly, it was a 6-5 game. Mets manager Willie Randolph then pulled Smith and inserted Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano struck out Church, but left a ball right in Wily Mo Pena's wheelhouse and he didn't miss it, doubling into the gap in left center field to score Zimmerman and Kearns. The resilient Nats had come from five runs down to take a 7-6 lead!!

And the Nats wouldn't look back. They would add two runs on a Church double off the struggling Mets closer Billy Wagner in the ninth. Chris Schroder, Jonathan Albaladejo, Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch and Luis Ayala each pitched an inning of scoreless relief. For the Nats, the 9-6 win was their fourth straight victory. A 5-2 Philadelphia Phillies win over the Atlanta Braves last night drew the Phils within just a single game of the Mets in the NL East race.

Speaking of that Phillies/Braves game, did any of you see what Jeff Francoeur did to the Phillie Phanatic prior to the game last night? Well, Francoeur appears to still be very young at heart - he took the keys to the Phanatics little buggy that he uses to travel around the stadium in... the Phanatic soon found his keys were missing and that Francouer had them in his possession. Francoeur would only give the keys back after the Phanatic did the Braves' "Tomahawk Chop!!!" Finally, the Phanatic relented, doing a couple of very weak little chops with his right hand. With that Francoeur gave the Phanatic his keys back and everyone was happy... :) It was definitely one of the more fun, and lighter moments that I'll remember from the 2007 season.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nats Spoiling Mets Party!

The Washington Nationals playoff hopes were doused long ago, but they've been playing for something else all season long after their 9-25 start - R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Many were saying they would have a good chance at tying the 1962 New York Mets and their record for futility of 40-120. Some of us that have followed the team for some time knew better, and manager Manny Acta made sure that nothing like that was going to happen. Since that awful start, the Nationals have quietly become one of baseball's most pleasant surprises, putting up a 61-62 record over their past 123 games. Another win last night over those same Mets would get them to an even .500 mark over the past 4 1/2 months.

The Mets had a seven game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies two weeks ago in the National League East race, and many conceeded them the division title at that time. Not me though... Back on September 8th, a poster on my favorite fantasy baseball site, Ron Shandler's Baseball HQ made the following statement:

"6 game lead w/ 22 to go, with apologies to Howie Rose I think it's safe to say "Put it in the books"!!!

To which I responded:

That would be a grievous error to make, given the following...

Some numbers since 8/1/07:

Oliver Perez: 5.22 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (and only a 25/22 K/BB ratio the past 5 starts)
John Maine: 7.07 ERA, 1.77 WHIP (finally coming back to earth)...
Tom Glavine: 2.87 ERA, 1.43 WHIP (that ERA should be A LOT higher)
El Duque: 4.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP (got torched last time out)
Billy Wagner: 6.43 ERA, 2.21 WHIP (a tired arm???... these are very un-Wagner-like #'s)

Not to mention Delgado's out for 10 days or so... Unless these guys can suddenly turn it around, the Mets 6 game lead is anything but safe especially with three games against both the Phillies and Braves next week. If I were a betting man, I'd say their lead is no more than 4 games by the end of next weekend (Sept. 16).

The key to their success (or failure) the coming three weeks may indeed be the effectiveness of Pedro Martinez.


As we know, the Mets increased their lead to seven games by September 12th, but then lost five straight. By September 18th, their lead shrunk to 1 1/2 games as the Phillies won six straight games themselves. And who has been one of the few bright spots for the Mets the past few weeks? Well, Pedro Martinez, of course! Pedro's allowed three runs or fewer in all four of his starts since he came off the disabled list. The only other pitcher on their staff to pitch decently over that time is Oliver Perez. Indeed, the effectiveness of Pedro and Oliver the past few weeks has basically kept the Mets in first place.

Early in the season, the Mets dominated the Nats, winning eight of their first 12 contests. The Nats though took two out of three against them in their last homestand and took game one of this weeks three game series at Shea Stadium on Monday.

Yesterday, the Mets had their ace, Tom Glavine going. For his second straight start though, he was pounded. Austin Kearns slugged a three-run homer in the first and Tony Batista then added a solo blast to give the Nats a quick 4-0 lead. Jason Bergmann pitched an effective 5 2/3 innings for the Nats, giving up three runs and seven hits. By the time he left, the Nats had a fairly secure 6-3 lead. Galvine only last five innings, giving up six earned runs and nine hits. The Nats tacked on four additional runs in the final three innings to take a 10-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

The unthinkable then almost happened... the Mets rallied, and rallied, and rallied... Paul LoDuca singled to lead off the ninth against Nats reliever Jesus Colome. After pinch hitter David Newhan struck out, Chris Gomez walked. Jose Reyes then crushed a ball deep into the right field stands for a three run homer. Suddenly it was a 10-6 game. Luis Castillo then singled, and "the Chief," Chad Cordero was brought in to close things out. Chad just didn't have it last night as David Wright singled and Carlos Beltran walked. The ageless wonder, Moises Alou then smacked a ball down the right field line for a 3-run double. Suddenly we had a 10-9 game. Jon Rauch then came in to try and save the game. He got the dangerous Carlos Delgado to strike out swinging and then ended the game on a harmless LoDuca pop out to right field. WHEW!!!

With the win, the Nats are now at .500 (62-62) over their past 124 games, and are starting to finally earn some much-deserved respect amongst their peers... As for the Mets, they were fortunate that the persuing Phillies lost. At the moment their NL East lead is two games over the Phils and three games over the "never say die" Atlanta Braves.


Also of note, Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers slugged two homers yesterday in a 9-1 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals to give him 50 on the year. At age 23, he becomes the youngest player ever to hit 50. Additionally, I believe he now becomes part of the first-ever father/son duo to hit 50 homers. Prince's father, Cecil "Big Daddy" Fielder, hit 51 homers for the Detroit Tigers in 1990. Congratulations to Prince on this HUGE accomplishment!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More Rascal Flatts @ Hyundai pictures!

By popular demand, I've posted a bunch more pictures from the Rascal Flatts and Jason Aldean September 15, 2007 performances at the Hyundai Center on a new flickr account. There are 107 pictures total... I would have had more postable Rascal Flatts pics, but I kept having "obstruction" issues. ;) Hope you all enjoy them!

John's pics from Rascal Flatts/Jason Aldean @ Hyundai 9/15/07


Week 3 NFL Rankings

Another week of games is in the books and that means it's time to update the rankings... here's how I have the 32 teams ranked this week with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (3-0)
2.(2) Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
3.(3) Indianapolis Colts (3-0)
4.(4) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
5.(7) Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
6.(10) Green Bay Packers (3-0)
7.(9) Houston Texans (2-1)
8.(5) San Diego Chargers (1-2)
9.(6) Chicago Bears (1-2)
10.(12) Tennessee Titans (2-1)
11.(8) Washington Redskins (2-1)
12.(18) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
13.(11) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)
14.(16) Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
15.(13) Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
16.(14) Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
17.(15) San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
18.(27) New York Giants (1-2)
19.(23) Carolina Panthers (2-1)
20.(24) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
21.(17) Denver Broncos (2-1)
22.(20) Detroit Lions (2-1)
23.(21) New Orleans Saints (0-3)
24.(19) Cleveland Browns (1-2)
25.(26) Oakland Raiders (1-2)
26.(22) Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
27.(31) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
28.(30) New York Jets (1-2)
29.(25) St. Louis Rams (0-3)
30.(29) Miami Dolphins (0-3)
31.(28) Buffalo Bills (0-3)
32.(32) Atlanta Falcons (0-3)

Still Feels Good!

Well, it probably doesn't feel good today if you're a Dodgers fan, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, or a New Orleans Saints fan for that matter. However, if you're a fan of Country stars Rascal Flatts well then today is the day you've been anxiously waiting for... I just purchased my copy of their new Still Feels Good CD (the Target special edition with a bonus disk and five extra tracks) and am giving it a spin as I type this... a review is forthcoming!


Monday, September 24, 2007

De-Charged by Favre!!!

The San Diego Chargers went into yesterday's game against the undefeated Green Bay Packers needing a win and a strong performance out of league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson to restore some of their confidence. After being thrashed 38-14 by the New England Patriots last weekend, a win over Brett Favre and company would go a long way to putting the skip back into the Chargers' step.

The game turned out to be an epic see-saw battle. The Chargers went in front 7-0 on a 27 yard pass from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson just about midway through the first quarter. A 28-yard Mason Crosby field goal at the 2:40 mark of the first quarter cut the Charger lead to 7-3. Favre then drove the Packers the length of the field in their next two possessions, tossing scoring passes of five yards to Donald Driver and Bubba Franks to give the Packers a 17-7 lead with 2:48 to go in the first half. Rivers then drove the Chargers, hitting Buster Davis with a nine yard scoring toss to make it a 17-14 Packer margin going to halftime.

For the most part, the second half was a defensive struggle. The Chargers took the lead again 21-17 on a 21 yard screen pass to LaDainian Tomlinson six minutes into the 3rd quarter. For L.T. it was the lone highlight in a very long day as he would only gain 62 yards on 22 carries. Only tight-end Antonio Gates with 113 yards on 11 receptions broke the triple-digit barrier for the Bolts.

The Chargers held their four point lead until very late. The Packers drove the length of the field midway through the fourth quarter and then were stopped at the one yard line with 5:50 to go in the game. The Chargers managed to move the ball 27 yards in six plays, but were forced to give the ball back to Favre and the Packers with 2:18 to go in the game. After an incompletion, Favre found Greg Jennings wide open on the left side of the field and he scampered 57 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. That scoring pass was a very significant one as it was the 420th one of Favre's brilliant career, tying Dan Marino for #1 on the all-time list. With just two minutes to go in the game and trailing by three points, the Chargers desperately needed to put a drive together. That wasn't in the cards though as Rivers was intercepted on the fourth play of their next drive by Nick Barnett. Barnett took the ball all the way to the Chargers two yard line to all but seal the victory for the Packers. Two plays later, Brandon Jackson scored on a one yard run to give the Packers a 31-21 lead. The Chargers did drive the ball into scoring range with their next possession, scoring on a 44 yard field-goal by Nate Kaeding. The ensuing onside kick though was unsucessful and the Packers improbable start to the 2007 season continued.


As for the other early games, the defending Super Bowl Champion Colts cruised to a fairly easy 30-24 victory to go 3-0 as well. In Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis had HUGE days in a 56-21 Eagles rout of the Detroit Lions to secure their first win of 2007. The New England Partiots soundly defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-7 as both Tom Brady and Randy Moss had another big day, while the Pittsburgh Steelers was also very convincing in a 37-16 rout over the San Francisco 49ers.


The afternoon games featured a matchup in the nation's capital between the Redskins and the New York Ginats. The Redskins completely controlled the first half, jumping to a quick 17-3 halftime lead on a Clinton Portis one yard run, and an eight yard pass from Jamie Campbell to Chris Cooley. Shaun Suisham's 47 yard field-goal with four seconds to play ended the first half scoring.

The second half was just horrible if you were rooting for the Redskins like me... The Redskins went three and out with their first three possessions and then fumbled the ball away on the second play of their fourth second half possession. In the meantime, the Giants offense suddenly came to life scoring three touchdowns in a 20 minute span to start the third quarter. Ruben Droughns scored on two one yard touchdown runs to tie the game at 17. With just 5:33 to go in the game, Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress with a 33-yard pass to give the Giants a 24-17 lead. Campbell proceeded to drive the Redskins down to the Giants 35, but a crucial fumble on third down took them out of field goal range with just 2:33 to play. The Giants quickly went three-and-out with their next possession. Campbell then quickly drove the Redskins down to the one yard line, connecting twice to Santana Moss and on a 20 yard pass to Antawn Randle-El. Unfortunately, the Skins couldn't punch it in, with LaDell Betts getting stopped on fourth down and with that the game was all but over. It was definitely a hard loss for the Redskins faithful to suffer.


In the late game, it was close for a half as the Chicago Bears took on the Dallas Cowboys. The defenses controlled the first 30 minutes, with each team only managing a field goal. The Cowboys defense continued to pester Rex Grossman and the rest of the Bears offense in the second half, while Tony Romo and Marion Barber III ran all over the vaunted Bears defense. Romo connected on scoring passes to Jason Witten and Barber in the third quarter, while Cedric Benson scored on a one yard run for the Bears in between. The Cowboys took complete command in the fourth quarter. After a 44 yard field-goal by Nick Folk, Anthony Henry intercepted the mistake-prone Grossman and returned the ball 28 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 27-10 lead. Barber scored again late on a one yard run to finish off the Cowboys impressive 34-10 win.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

ANGELS claim AL West!

John Lackey pitched a strong seven innings to record his 18th win, and Francisco Rodriguez notched his 38th save, the last out being recorded in left field on a flyball to Garret Anderson as the Angels defeated the Seattle Mariners 7-4. The Angels are the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot. Congratulations to Mike Scioscia and the entire Angels team on a job well done!!! Bring on the Yankees - well, we hope so. I don't think any of the other major league teams would dare say that!!!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Off To Disneyland!

Hey all:

Well, I'm off to the wonderful world of Dinseyland today. So, this will be amongst my shortest entries here. I probably won't be back until REALLY late. Hopefully the rain will stay away today! Lots of pics to come!

Talk to you all soon!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Hunt for (Red) October

With only ten more days to go in baseball's regular season, not a single team has actually clinched a playoff spot. Yes, that's the way of the world in Major League Baseball these days, and quite frankly it's a lot more exciting that way!!!

In the American League, it's pretty clear which four teams are likely going to be playing in October. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched a tie for the playoffs last night with a convincing 9-5 home win over the Seattle Mariners. Vladimir Guerrero paced the Angel attack with three hits including his 26th home run of the year in the fourth inning after Mariner reliever Jorge Campillo knocked him down with a pitch. The frustrated Mariners then had Campillo intentionally throw at Guerrero his next time up, knocking him down with a fastball which whizzed by his head, causing both benches to clear. Campillo and manager John McLaren were then immediately tossed. At one point in August, the Mariners were only 1 1/2 games behind the Angels for the A.L. East Lead, but they then proceeded to lose 15 of 17 games to fall out of the divisional race. With the loss, they are now 9 1/2 games behind the Angels and seven games behind the New York Yankeees for the wild card.

As for the other likely A.L. playoff teams, the Boston Red Sox maintain a narrow 1 1/2 game lead over the Yankees, while the Cleveland Indians have reduced their magic number down to three. The Detroit Tigers have VERY slim playoff hopes still as they are 7 1/2 games back of the Indians and 5 1/2 games back of the Yankees for the Wild Card.


Things are much different in the National League... as NOTHING has been decided, or is anything close to being decided other than you can stick a fork in Los Angeles Dodgers! :(. The Blue Crew lost their FIFTH straight game yesteday afternoon to the resurgent Colorado Rockies. Derek Lowe got pounded for six runs in only three innings, while Matt Holliday homered for the 11th time in his past 12 days to pace the Rockies to an easy 9-4 win. For the Rockies, the win was their fifth straight and kept them 4 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card spot.

As for the rest of the contending teams, the Padres trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by only 1/2 game in the Western division... Things are almost as tight in the other two divisions. The Chicago Cubs hold a 1 1/2 game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central division, while the New York Mets hold a 1 1/2 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies and a 4 1/2 game lead over the resurgent Atlanta Braves in the Eastern divison. The Braves looked all but out of it a week ago, but the recent slump by the Mets, along with a five game winning streak have put them back into things...

Ten more days to go (at least) and so much left to decide... yes, the hunt for October is getting VERY exciting!!!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Hawpe To Dodgers' Step

While a few friends and I were out belatedly celebrating my good Dave Gomberg's birthday at BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, where we all stuffed ourselves with some great food and some of their world-famous chocolate chunk pizookie for dessert, the Los Angeles Dodgers once again were faced with a must win game against the Colorado Rockies. One of the great things about BJ's is that the restaurant is filled with video screens showing the various sporting events going on. I had a perfect view of last night's Dodgers game and things were looking pretty good. Despite two homers by Matt Holliday, the Dodgers held a 5-4 lead through six innings. Matt Loney continued his hot hitting for the Dodgers, driving in three runs with a pair of singles and a ground out. For the second night in a row, the Dodger bullpen was entrusted to protect a lead, and just like the previous night, Jonathan Broxton gave up a two-run homer in the 8th inning. The only differences being it was by Brad Hawpe and not Ryan Spilborghs and this one actually gave the Rockies a one run lead going into the ninth. Todd Helton had ended the previous game with a walk-off home run off of closer Takeshi Saito. Manny Corpas pitched a scoreless ninth for the Rockies to give them the improbable 6-5 win. For the Dodgers it was their fourth straight loss, and dropped them 5 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres for the N.L. Wild Card spot. Just five days ago, the Dodgers were only 1 1/2 games out of the Wild Card slot. For all intents and purposes, you can just about stick a fork in the Dodgers' 2007 playoff hopes.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

RASCAL FLATTS @ Hyundai Pavilion!

I have to admit that three years ago at this time, I barely even knew who Rascal Flatts was. Since I wasn't really raised on Country music, it really took me a while to find out about them. Yes, I listened to and liked some of the Country acts that had crossed over to pop such as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Lonestar and a few others, even purchasing several of their albums and singles... But it wasn't really until Keith Urban's "You'll Think Of Me" crossed over to multi-formats and Carrie Underwood caught my eye and ear on American Idol 4 almost three years ago that I truly opened my eyes to Country music. Early on during AI4, Carrie mentioned one of her favorite groups was Rascal Flatts, so I took a listen and quite surprisingly was liking pretty much everything I heard of theirs. It wasn't long before I owned all of their studio albums... For those of you that don't know them, Rascal Flatts is comprised of three members: Gary LeVox (lead singer), Jay DeMarcus (bass guitar), and Joe Don Rooney (guitar).

Needless to say, I was REALLY looking forward to this past Saturday night's show at the Hyundai Pavilion in San Bernardino. I even specifically joined their fanclub just so that I'd have the opportunity to purchase some really good seats. Very few of the concerts I've previously attended were built up by my friends and others like this one was. It was going to take quite a show to live up to all of the hype... Two and a half months ago, I was invited by a friend to see Brad Paisley at the same venue. We were a little disappointed though when the VIP seats we had ended up way back in row 18, after his fansite had promised seats in the first six or so rows. Such would not be the case this time though. When I picked up our VIP Tickets at will call about an hour before the show, I found we were on the right of the orchestra in the eighth row!!! In a nutshell, it meant we'd be able to walk right down by the stage and have a bunch of fun in "the pit" with fellow Flatts fans if we so desired - and that's exactly what we did!!!

The Rascal boys were also very wise to choose one of the most promising young Country acts to open for them in Jason Aldean. Aldean got his forty minute set started a little after 8 pm with songs from both his self-titled debut and his great new Relentless CD. Although the mostly female crowd was undoubtedly there to see Rascal Flatts, they were very appreciative of the energetic set delievered by Jason. Among the highlights of the set were his hits "Hicktown," "Amarillo Sky" and his raucous anthem "Johnny Cash." The crowd really went wild when he played his number one hit "Why." I have to admit, I didn't really know what Jason was going to bring to the table in terms of stage presence and talent, though I should have known after his song (and video) "Johnny Cash" came out that I was going to be in for a treat. If you ever get the opportunity to see him, definitely do so. He's immensely talented!

A few minutes after 9pm came the moment we all were looking forward to... the lights went out and the boys went right into "Me And My Gang." One of the great things about the show is that there was both a pit and a catwalk which was extensively used by all three of the guys. As a result, I was surrounded by a good number of screaming (and very pretty) girls the entire time! "Fast Cars and Freedom" was their next song and Gary got REALLY close to where I was (check out this extreme closeup!)... I almost got crushed by a few girls, but I can't say I was complaining at all! Yes, it was that kind of night... and the fun was just beginning!!! "I Melt" was next up, followed by their current and latest #1 hit single "Take Me There."

They then played a cover tune - James Brown's "I'll Feel Good" in which Jay took the lead vocal and did a little dance to the adoring female fans' delight. Another of their number one hits, "My Wish" was up next.

The band then did something which I thought was really neat - they launched into a set of several songs that weren't big hits on the charts, but rather personal and fan favorites. Although I'm really into their stuff, I wasn't all that familiar with tunes such as "Pieces," "To Make Her Love Me," and "Yes, I Do." I did know their song "You" quite well however, even though it wasn't a big chart hit... I really enjoyed this portion of the show as the girls around me were singing along loudly to every song...

As enjoyable as that set was, the final 50 minutes of the show was just beyond incredible... to say I was amazed would be the understatement of the year. They played "Stand," "Feels Like Today," and then probably my favorite song of theirs, "Bless The Broken Road." About this time, I moved slightly to the right to get a better view of things and closer to the stage (which I would soon be touching). And OK, I have to admit
that I also moved there to get closer to one particularly attractive girl (above) I had noticed during "Bless The Broken Road" - she would later get in the way of several of my pictures as she turned out to be as big of a shutterbug as me! I certainly didn't mind her getting in the way at all though. I was simply having an awesome time enjoying the great music, being in amidst the other great Flatts fans and especially being next to this beautiful girl... The picture above to the right and the two pictures below probably give the best perspective as to where I was standing in the pit (that's her in the lower picture on the left side. ;) ) Oh how I wish I could have just swept her off her feet. And yes, I did get to talk to her after the show. I found out her name is Jacqueline, but she was seeing someone... I know. Oh well... she definitely helped make the night even more fun and truly unforgettable for me... and for that, I don't think I can ever thank her enough.

Getting back to concert, the next song in their awesome set was their very first hit, "Praying For Daylight." They then played their huge multi-format #1 smash "What Hurts The Most"...

There was also a real touching moment towards the end of the show as Gary brought up a little girl from the pits during the performance of "Life Is A Highway." The guys then did something REALLY classy at the end of their hour and a half show, bringing up several of America's finest from the U.S. Marines on stage... the crowd went absolutely wild, and many (including Jacqueline) stayed long after the show to pose for pictures with them. Although I didn't personally get any pictures with the Marines, I did manage to shake hands with a couple of them. Simply put, none of us really wanted to leave!!! I can't ever remember being to a concert where I just had such a good time, enjoying all of the songs and the great people around me... This was truly a night that I'll never EVER forget! I can't wait until they come back to play here in SoCal again!


Dodgers, Mets Attacked By Rockies, Nats!

This is the time of year where a game or two or a series or two can define a season. In the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets, the past several days might just be remembered historically for both teams as the time the 2007 season got away. It's kind of ironic both of these teams are faltering at this crucial stretch considering that the two teams were 2006 first round playoff opponents - the Mets winning their best of five series in three straight games.

The Dodgers came into yesterday's day-night doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies three games behind the San Diego Padres for the N.L. Wild Card spot. The Rockies hopes were even slimmer coming in to the series, starting the day five games back of the Padres. Given the history of Colorado's Coors Field, this figured to be a very high scoring series. Home plate umpire Tim Welke did his best to make sure that game one would not be your typical scoring fest at Coors, employing a very generous strike zone throughout. Starting pitchers Jeff Francis and Chad Billingsley were almost constantly in trouble, allowing baserunners in practically every inning. Thanks to some fortuitous double-play grounders and questionable third strike calls, only four runs would be scored in game one. Billingsley allowed only two runs in his 5 1/3 innings of work - Matt Holliday singled in Cory Sullivan in the fourth and Todd Helton scored Sullivan with a single of his own in the sixth. The Dodgers managed ten baserunners against Francis, but only scored once - a solo home run by Olmedo Saenz with two out in the seventh knocked Francis from the game. Francis was the big beneficiary of Welke's big strike zone, fanning a career high ten batters. Joe Koshansky quickly erased Saenz' run, scoring Brad Hawpe in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-1 Colorado lead. LaTroy Hawkins, Brian Fuentes and Manny Corpas kept the Dodgers in check the final 2 1/3 innings to seal the victory in game one.

The second game of the twinbill was much more typical of what we've become accustomed to over the years at Coors Field. Each team tallied three runs in the first inning. It was the beginning of what would be an epic see-saw battle. Matt Kemp plated Juan Pierre with a double in the third off of Rockie starter Mark Redman to give the Blue Crew a one run lead. Matt Holliday then slammed a one out two-run homer deep to left-center field off of David Wells in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Rockies their first lead at 5-4. The Dodgers would strike right back in the next inning. James Loney homered to deep right off of Rockie reliever Matt Herges to tie the game. Herges was pulled after giving up a single to Ramon Martinez and a Mike Lieberthal walk. Jeremy Affeldt quickly retired the first two batters her faced, but Tony Abreu then lashed a triple into the left field corner to make it a 7-5 Dodger lead. Russell Martin hit a solo off of Jorge Julio in the top of the eighth to increase the Dodger bulge to three. In most places a three run lead with Jonathan Broxton and Takeshi Saito is just about as sure a bet as you can have, but this is Coors Field we're talking about so as we have known for a very long time now, the normal rules don't apply. Addtionally, Broxton had been quite shaky coming into last night's outing, allowing five earned runs in his prior eight appearances coving 5 1/3 innings for an 8.44 ERA. Broxton's slump continued into last night as Ryan Spilborghs homered deep to center after a Garret Atkins single to trim the margin to one. Unlike Broxton, Saito had been nothing short of incredible for the Dodgers of late, allowing only TWO hits and not a single earned run in his previous 15 appearances covering 15 innings. With a 1.21 ERA, he was within an inning of eclipsing Eric Gagne's Dodger record 1.20 ERA set back in 2003. Saito quickly retired the first two Rockie batters before Holliday singled to right. That brought up the dangerous and very hungry Todd Helton to the plate. Helton only had one hit in his first eight at bats of the twinbill - an RBI single in game one. Saito quickly got two strikes on Helton, but then left a pitch out over the left inside part of the plate. And Helton didn't miss it, crushing the ball into the right-center field stands for a dramatic 9-8 Rockie victory. With a Padres win, the Dodgers and Rockies now both lie 4 1/2 games back of them for the N.L. Wild Card.


Back in our nation's capital, the Washington Nationals are definitely trying to close old RFK Stadium out in style - and they are also doing their best to spoil the Mets title run. Just a week ago, the Mets held a seemingly commanding seven game lead over the Philadelphia Philles in the N.L. East race. A few days earlier, I had told a few people on Ron Shandler's BaseballHQ site that the Mets pitching beyond Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine was very tenuous at best and that I wouldn't be at all surprised if they lost several games off their lead down the stretch. Flash forward to a week later. The Phillies went into last night winners of five straight games, while the Mets had lost four in a row, including a humiliating 12-4 loss to the Nationals on Monday night. That big seven game lead now was only 2 1/2 games for the Mets.

Early on, it looked like the Mets would finally put an end to their losing skid as they pounded Nats starter Joel Hanrahan for four runs in the top of the first inning. Hanrahan continued to struggle and was pulled after only pitching three innings, giving up five runs on seven hits, while walking two. Mets starter John Maine continued his post-July struggles, giving up three runs to the Nats in his first four innings. The Mets tallied two more runs in the top of the fifth inning to give Maine a 7-3 lead. The gritty Nats finally got to Maine in a big way in the bottom of the fifth. After a Nook Logan single and a Felipe Lopez walk, Ryan Zimmerman was caught looking at a called third strike. Wily Mo Pena continued his heroics for the Nats, plating Logan with a single to center. Austin Kearns singled to right to score Lopez to cut the margin again to two. Ronnie Belliard then delivered the knock-out blow, slamming a three-run homer deep into the left field seats to give the Nats an 8-7 lead. Maine mercifully was pulled after that pitch. D'Ángelo Jiménez added an insurance run for the Nats in the bottom of the sixth to give them a 9-7 lead. Several times, I've commended Nats manager on the job he's done this year. Since their 9-25 start, the Nats had played very respectable .500 ball (58-58) going into last night's game. Acta may have done his best managing job of the season last night, employing NINE pitchers! Chad Cordero quickly recorded two outs in the ninth and then got into trouble as the Mets plated Shawn Green on a Jeff Conine single. "The Chief" ended the game in style for the Nats, striking out Ruben Gotay to end the game and sending the 19,966 in attendance home very happy. With a Phillies win, the Mets once gaudy seven game lead in the N.L. East race is now only 1 1/2 games.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Super Bowl XLII Poll Results / Wk 2 NFL Rankings

Well, the 2008 Super Bowl poll produced some interesting, yet somewhat predictable results...

Indianapolis Colts 2 (9%)
Chicago Bears 1 (4%)
New England Patriots 7 (31%)
San Diego Chargers 2 (9%)
New Orleans Saints 0 (0%)
Baltimore Ravens 0 (0%)
Philadelphia Eagles 0 (0%)
Dallas Cowboys 4 (18%)
Other (specify with a comment) 6 (27%)

The two teams which received the most votes also seem to have played the best football so far two weeks into the season. The New England Patriots have been nothing short of dominant the past two weeks, while the Dallas Cowboys have put up an NFL leading 82 points. One could also make an argument for the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers as well, as they've only allowed 10 points total their first two games, while scoring 60. The Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts not surprisingly are 2-0, defeating their nemisis, the Tennessee Titans by just two points on Sunday... Some other early good surprises would be the 2-0 Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans. As for the 2-0 teams least likely to keep things up, well I'd have to say the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions would fit that bill, as none of these three teams looked very impressive in the season's first two weeks. The Broncos in particular have been a disappointment to many, having to rely on the foot of Jason Elam to pull out victories against the lowly Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders.

As for the disappointers... well the New Orleans Saints would have to top that list... an 0-2 start with a sputtering offense and a defense which has given up 72 points??? This team is not looking at all like the Super Bowl team many of us (including me!) predicted it would be... The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are also off to unexpected 0-2 starts... I think there is some hope for the Eagles, especially once Donovan McNabb gets to close to 100%. As for the Giants, I'm not so sure. I think they will miss Tiki Barber a lot more than most people thought...

So, who is the worst team in football?? Well, the Raiders probably would have been the early choice for that honor, but they've actually led both of their games late in the fourth quarter this year... At this point, the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons would probably have to share that honor with the two teams combining for only 23 points in the season's first two weeks.

I'll go ahead and try to rank the NFL's teams from top to bottom. Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles into consideration... two of my "sleeper teams" for 2007 (the Redskins and Texans) both crack the top 10:

1. New England Patriots (2-0)
2. Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
3. Indianapolis Colts (2-0)
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)
5. San Diego Chargers (1-1)
6. Chicago Bears (1-1)
7. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
8. Washington Redskins (2-0)
9. Houston Texans (2-0)
10. Green Bay Packers (2-0)
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
12. Tennessee Titans (1-1)
13. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
14. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
15. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
16. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
17. Denver Broncos (2-0)
18. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2)
19. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
20. Detroit Lions (2-0)
21. New Orleans Saints (0-2)
22. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
23. Carolina Panthers (1-1)
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
25. St. Louis Rams (0-2)
26. Oakland Raiders (0-2)
27. New York Giants (0-2)
28. Buffalo Bills (0-2)
29. Miami Dolphins (0-2)
30. New York Jets (0-2)
31. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)
32. Atlanta Falcons (0-2)

Feel free to comment on the poll results and/or my review and rankings... hopefully your team(s) is/are in the upper half at the very least!


Redskins Stun Eagles!

Do you ever get a "gut" feeling about something? Deep down you know that even if it doesn't sound logical or right that the feeling is just overwhelming. It happens to me a lot when deciding on picking players in my fantasy baseball and football leagues, and it also happens to me sometimes in the real games. Such was the case with last night's game pitting the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were 6 1/2 point favorites, but something inside me just told me that the Redskins were going to win...

The game started out as a defensive struggle, with the Eagles leading 6-3 on two David Akers field goals late in the first half. On the final drive of the half, the Redskins scored with just nine seconds to play as Jason Campbell hit Chris Cooley with a 16 yard pass. Shane Suisham's PAT made it a 10-6 Redskins' halftime lead.

The teams would exchange field goals again in the third quarter to make it a 13-9 Redskins lead heading into the final frame. The Redskins began the fourth quarter with the ball and would find paydirt again as Clinton Portis would score on a six yard touchdown run to the left corner of the end zone with 12:02 to play. With a 20-9 lead, it would now be up to Joe Gibbs' defense to seal the victory for the Redskins.

The Eagles would drive the ball on their next possession, but would have to settle for a 22-yard Akers field goal with 6:30 to play. The Redskins would then go three and out and give the Eagles one last chance to score. As with the previous drive, the Eagles effectively moved the ball against the Redskin defense, but once again when they got to the red zone, the defense stiffened. Donovan McNabb had a wide open Kevin Curtis at the end zone on third down from the Redskin nine yard line with 1:13 to play, but he missed him... A fourth down incompletion sealed the game and gave the Redskins an improbable 2-0 start to the 2007 season!


Monday, September 17, 2007

Patriots Crush Chargers

It was billed as a possible Super Bowl XLII matchup, and with all of the press surrounding the New England Patriots and the "cheatergate" scandal, last night's game pitting the Pats against the San Diego Chargers was definitely a game which figured to be worthy of all of the hype. Early on though, it became very clear that the Patriots were out to prove that their success over the past several years was legitimate.

Apparently, the Chargers just decided not to show up as the Patroits moved the ball at will all night long against their defense, while their offense sputtered. The first two possessions of the game were typical of how the night went. A seven play, 69 yard drive which resulted in seven yard Tom Brady pass to Benjamin Watson on the game's first possession gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead. It would be the first of five consecutive possessions which would see the Pats advance the ball to the Chargers 35 or beyond. Charger quarterback was intercepted on his very first pass attempt of the game deep inside of Charger territory. For one of the rare times though, the Patriots were unable to convert as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 41-yard field goal. The Chargers would then go three-and-out with their next possession. The Pats then drove the ball 75 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a 23 yard scoring pass from Brady to Randy Moss. It was 14-0 Patriots after the first quarter and it would only get worse from there for the Chargers.

In the second quarter, the Patriots would again drive the length of the field, but would have to settle for a 24-yard Gostowski field goal. The teams then exchanged three-and-outs... On the game's next possession, Rivers had a pass intercepted by Adalius Thomas, who would take it to the house 65 yards away for a 24-0 Patroit lead with 5:17 to go in the second period.

The game was all but over at that point. Each team put up two touchdowns on offense in the second half to make it a 38-14 Patriot rout. The Patiots had many stars... Brady was an efficient 25-for-31 for 279 yards and three scores, two going to Moss, who finished the night with 105 yards. Given the Chargers' huge early deficit, league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson didn't get to run the ball nearly as often as usual, only producing 43 yards on 18 carries... the lone bright spot for the Chargers was tight-end Antonio Gates who caught seven passes for 77 yards and a score.


As for the rest of the games, the Super Bowl champion Colts eeked out a 22-20 win over the Tennessee Titans, while Houston, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Arizona all scored upset wins... The most exciting game of the day in terms of points and offense was undoubtedly the game pitting the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. Carson Palmer was machine-like, going 33-for-50 with 401 yards and SIX touchdown passes for the Bengals, but incredibly it wasn't enough as the Browns tallied 51 points in a wild and crazy 51-45 contest. "Ocho Cinco" was the recipient of 10 of those receptions for 209 yards and two scores, well "the Housh" also scored twice. Derek Anderson's numbers for the Browns were almost as gaudy as Palmer's, as he was 20-for-33 for 328 yards and five touchdowns. The 11 combined touchdown passes were one short of the NFL record for a game. Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius each caught two Anderson passes for scores, while Jamal Lewis ran all over the Bengal defense, accumulating 215 yards on 28 carries with a score.


Tonight, the Washington Redskins visit Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. It should be an exciting game, especially given that the Redskins' star running back Clinton Portis appears to finally be fully healthy, while Eagles QB Donovan McNabb is not back to 100% yet and their passing game seemed quite out of synch last week in Green Bay. The Eagles may be favored to win this game by almost a touchdown, but don't be surprised if the Redskins pull off the upset.


Lastly, I just wanted to give a big congratulations to the Chicago White Sox' Jim Thome. Yesterday, he hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 9-7 comeback victory. The home run was significant because it was Thome's 500th of his career. Jim has always been a class act and is perhaps the most liked baseball player in the game today... He sets a great example for all of us. Well done, Jim!


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tiger Roars At TOUR Championship

As the sun rose yesterday morning at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia it was very clear that Tiger Woods was going to win the first ever Fed Ex Cup. The only question was would he be able to maintain his three stroke lead over Mark Calcavecchia and the rest of the 30 man field and win for the second straight week. After a shaky start, where he had a bogey and four pars on the first five holes, Tiger put on a breathtaking display of accurate driving and pin-seeking iron shots, birding six of the next 11 holes. A bogey on 17 would drop him to "only" 23 under par, and his nine stroke lead over "Calc" and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson was pared to eight - pars on 18 by Tiger and "Calc" would make that the final margin of victory.

Yes, it was that kind of week for Tiger and that kind of year. His 257 total matched the third lowest aggregate score in PGA Tour history and gave him his seventh win of the year and 61st of his career, one behind Arnold Palmer for fourth on the all-time list. Tiger took home a check for $1,260,000 in winning the tournament and also took home a $10,000,000 annuity for winning the FedEx Cup. Two weeks ago, it appeared Phil Mickelson might be ready to make another run at Tiger after beating him head to head at the Deutsch Bank, but after with wins over the elite of the elite each of the past two weeks, there is no question that Tiger will still be the man to beat going into 2008.


U.S. Retains Solheim Cup!

Going into the singles matches this morning, Europe led the U.S. team 8 1/2 to 7 1/2 in the 2007 Solheim Cup in Sweden. In the singles matches though, the U.S. women dominated, with Nicole Castrale winning her match 3 and 2 to secure the cup. It's the first time since 1996 that the U.S. has won the cup on foreign soil. Congratulations to the U.S. Women's team on a job well done!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nomah, "Kids" Bite D-Backs!

For the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra, 2007 has been a very trying season. After tying for the team lead in home runs with a year ago with 20 despite missing a quarter of the season, the former A.L. batting champion went into last night with only six longballs this year. Of late, "Nomah" has also lost playing time thanks to the continued hot bats of up and coming stars James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Last night, "Nomah" and the young guns made sure that the Dodgers' post-season hopes remained alive against the Arizona Diamondbacks starter, Doug Davis.

Brad Penny started the game for the Dodgers and was pretty shaky throughout, walking in a run after giving up two hits and hitting a batter in the first. The Dodgers came right back in the bottom of the inning as Rafael Furcal would single and later score on a Loney double.

Both pitchers would cruise through the next two innings, but would run into trouble in the following two. The D-Backs would manufacture a run in the fourth as Chris Young singled, stole second, advanced to third on a Russell Martin throwing error and then scored on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly. Martin would atone for his error in the bottom of the inning as he would drive in Jeff Kent with a run-scoring single.

In the fifth, the D-Backs would strike again, as Mark Reynolds would hammer a ball deep into the left field seats to score Conor Jackson. For the third straight time though, Davis gave it all back and then some thanks to some shoddy defense as Pierre would walk and move to third after another Loney single. Kent grounded into a double play to score Pierre to make it a 4-3 lead for the D-Backs. "Nomah" then drove a ball deep to center field for his seventh homer of the year to tie the game. Davis should have escaped without further damage, but a crucial error on a Martin grounder by Drew extended the inning... Kemp would make him pay, lining a triple deep to right to score Martin. Ethier then drove Kemp in with a single to right and Davis was through for the night. As it turned out, so was Penny's night but that turned out to be just fine for the Blue Crew.

With that the game was pretty much decided as both bullpens pitched very well; the only score coming on an Ethier single which plated Nomah in the bottom of the seventh inning. Mark Hendrickson, Rudy Seanez, Joe Biemal and Takeshi Saito would combine to pitch four scoreless innings and give Penny his 16th win of the year. Saito lowered his ERA to 1.21 in picking up his 39th save. With another scoreless inning, he could actually best the 1.20 ERA put up by Eric Gagne during his magical 2003 season. With the win, the Dodgers pulled within 4 1/2 games of the Diamondbacks for the N.L. West division lead and remained 1 1/2 games behind the victorious San Diego Padres in the N.L. Wild Card race. This afternoon, Derek Lowe takes on Livan Hernandez in game two of this crucial series.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Published Again!

Hey all:

Well, I submitted another of my recent blog entries to the website and again I've been published. It's a slightly refined version of my recent entry here on the red-hot Garret Anderson of the Angels, and the not-so-hot reigning MVP, Justin Morneau of the Twins. Have a look here:

Angel Garret Anderson is Hot, Justin Morneau of the Twins is Not

Please make comments on it if you feel so led and pass it on to friends who you think might enjoy it.

Have a great weekend!


Dodgers Get Well(s) vs. Maddux

When the Dodgers recently acquired pitcher David "Boomer" Wells, many people (myself included) were very skeptical. With a very high 5.54 ERA, very few questioned his release by the San Diego Padres a month ago. The 44-year-old "Boomer" made his fourth start for the Dodgers and once again made the naysayers like me look bad - a good thing if you're a fan of the Blue Crew! Then again, it probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise as former teammate Greg Maddux said he can "step it up a notch when he has to."

Ironically, Maddux took on Wells last night in the rubber game of the three game series. The game was all but over early as the locals hit Maddux hard and often. James Loney continued to be red-hot for the Dodgers, doubling in Rafael Furcal to score the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. Loney would be the future first ballot Hall of Famer's nemisis again in the third inning as a slow grounder up the middle found a hole to score Furcal and Juan Pierre to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. After a Jeff Kent single, Luis Gonzales would single in Loney for their fourth run. In the bottom of the fourth, Matt Kemp led off with a single for the Dodgers. After a ground out by Tony Abreu, Wells knocked Maddux out of the game with his second hit of the game. Furcal then squeezed in Kemp with a perfect bunt down the third baseline against reliever Kevin Cameron. Loney would strike again, scoring Furcal with a solid single to right. That closed the book on Maddux. 10 hits allowed, six earned runs and one strikeout, to go with no walks allowed. Other than the lack of walks, it was not your typical Maddux performance.

Conversely, "Boomer" was very much on his game last night. Through five innings, he had as more hits himself (two) than he had given up (one). He tired in the sixth though, giving up three more hits - After a Josh Bard single, Morgan Ensburg hit a long home run deep to center. Moments later, Mike Cameron crushed a ball the other way, deep into the right field pavilion. Wells would pitch out of further trouble, but that was the end of his night. From there, the Dodgers bullpen of Scott Proctor, Jonathan Broxton and Takeshi Saito masterfully took over, pitching three hitless innings to secure Wells' third win as a Dodger. The Padres pen was very good as well, pitching no-hit ball over their final four innings of work, but it was too little, too late for the Padres. The Dodgers 6-3 win pulled them within 1 1/2 games of the Padres for the N.L. Wild Card spot.

Tonight the Dodgers begin a crucial three game series against the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks at Chavez Ravine. Doug Davis takes on Brad Penny in the game which begins at 10:40 ET/7:40 PT.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Anderson Hot, Morneau Not

For several years, the Los Angeles/Anaheim Angels' Garret Anderson was about as reliable a hitter as you could find. Every year between 2000 and 2003, "G.A." put up 28 or more home runs, drove in 116 or more, and hit .286 or higher, putting up highs of 35 homers, 123 RBI's and a .315 batting average over that time. In other words, he was someone you had no problem taking in round seven or so of your fantasy drafts. In 2004, the injury bug hit G.A. for the first time, and mysteriously for over 3 1/2 years, he could not shake it, coming down with one nagging injury after another over that time. From 2004 thru 2006, he only averaged 16 homers and 85 RBI's - a far cry from his heyday... 2007 began similarly to the previous three years, and his numbers took an even more precipitous drop as injuries plagued him worse than ever. Through the games of July 24th, G.A. had only hit 4 home runs and driven in 20 runs, while playing in only 50 of the Angels' games. Many were saying his career was finished.

Conversely, in Minnesota, it looked like a star was being born in the Twins' Justin Morneau. The controversial 2006 MVP award winner put up 34 home runs, 130 RBI's, 97 runs and a .321 batting average last year. I say controversial because the Red Sox' David Ortiz clearly had a much better season than Morneau with his 54 home runs, 137 RBI's and 115 runs and a .287 batting average. Unfortunately for Big Papi, the Red Sox didn't make the playoffs last year, so that probably killed his chances... And no, I haven't forgotten about Derek Jeter. A .344 batting average with 118 runs scored, 97 RBI's and 34 steals? Those were MVP worthy numbers for sure! And yes, the Yankees did make the playoffs last year... It can even be argued that Morneau's own teammates, 2006 Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana and 2006 batting champ Joe Mauer were more valuable players to their own team, let alone to the rest of the league. But I digress... After a two homer night on July 23rd, Morneau was looking like he just might be a repeat MVP winner. With 28 home runs, 85 RBI's and a .293 batting average in his first 94 games, it looked like he might just slug 45 homers and drive in 150 this year... a star was being born, or so we thought...


Baseball can be a funny game... just when you think you have it all figured out, something always comes along to throw a monkey wrench into things... Here's where Morneau and Anderson's 2007 numbers stood as of 7 1/2 weeks ago:

Morneau: .293 BA/28 HR/85 RBI/63 RUNS (thru 7/23/07) - 93 G
Anderson: .292 BA/4 HR/20 RBI/31 RUNS (thru 7/24/07) - 50 G

Other than in batting average, it was clear from the above numbers that only one of these guys was producing fantasy-worthy numbers, and one was battling injuries again. In fact, if you were a Morneau owner, you probably were very pleased with his continued production. Anderson, on the other hand, was nothing more than the so-called "waiver-wire fodder."

I'll now post two more lines up - they are the lines of the two above players in the games since the above stats were put up...

Player A: .303 BA/12 HR/57 RBI/29 RUNS - 46 G, 178 AB
Player B: .256 BA/1 HR/20 RBI/17 RUNS - 47 G, 176 AB

It would presumably follow that the "Player A" stat line would belong to Morneau and that "Player B" would be Anderson... But guess what??? It's just the opposite!!! In a nutshell, Anderson has outhit Morneau by 47 points, hit 11 more home runs, driven in 37 more runs and scored 12 more times!!! Anderson has been nothing short of amazing of late, while Morneau has looked more like a Mario Mendoza impersonator (albeit with a better batting average).


So what gives here? Why is Anderson putting up good numbers for the first time in over 3 1/2 years? Why has Morneau been so unproductive of late? I can answer one of those questions... as for the other, it's just about anyone's guess.

For the first time since 2003, Anderson is finally 100% healthy! It also doesn't hurt that he's in a lineup full of speedy and high on-base percentage guys like Reggie Willits, Chone Figgins, Orlando Cabrera, and of course slugger Vladimir Guerrero. Now the Angels are 9 1/2 games out in front of the Mariners in the American League West race, so they will be more than likely clinching the title soon. Once that happens, expect some of the regulars such as G.A. to get some time off. So, expect some drop-off in his numbers in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the ride... and WELCOME BACK, G.A.!!!

There are lots of theories behind Justin Morneau's slump. He's had a couple of injuries himself this year, but seemed to be just fine after that two home run performance on July 23rd. I saw him play against the Angels on TV several weekends ago, and to me he seemed to be reaching for the ball an awful lot, taking many weak swings in the process. It almost defies statistical probability for a guy with his previous power history (one home run every 16 or so at bats), to only hit one longball in 176 at bats. On that pace, he'd only hit three or four homers in an ENTIRE season! 7 1/2 weeks with one homer? That's not the Morneau we've come to know the past several years. I have to think at this point that Morneau is either a)hiding an injury or b)playing along with the rest of the Twins not named Santana and has given up. I'd prefer to think that it's the former. Regardless, if you own him in a fantasy league (unless it's a keeper), it's time to give him the old "heave ho" and go with someone who might produce for you these final 2 1/2 weeks - James Loney and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Wily Mo Pena of the Washington Nationals, and Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals would be amongst those I'd recommend if you're looking for some production down the stretch.


Chad Leaves Padres Hanging

The San Diego Padres thought they were going to be facing sinkerballer Derek Lowe last night at Dodger Stadium, however, an injury to Lowe forced the Blue Crew to press Chad Billingsley into service for an emergency start. Several times, the Padres got baserunners on against Billingsley, but only a Termel Sledge double-play grounder in the fourth (which scored Khalil Greene) would do any damage. In six innings, Billingsley gave up five hits and four walks while striking out five. Padre starter Justin Germano also allowed nine baserunners in his five innings, but he didn't do quite the same job as Billingsley in stranding them. James Loney was public enemy number one for Germano, hitting a double and a home run before knocking him out of the game with a single in the bottom of the sixth. Prior to Loney's single, Jeff Kent hit his 20th homer of the year. On the night, Germano gave up five earned runs along with an unearned run on eight hits and a walk, striking out two. From there, the bullpens took over and neither offense was heard from again. The Dodgers cruised to a 6-1 victory, the 11th win of the year for Billingsley. The win pulls the Dodgers into a 3-way tie with the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies 2 1/2 games back of the Padres for the N.L. Wild Card.


Apparently the cross-town Angels not only can't be stopped, they can't even be contained! Yes, they're even hotter than that guy that used to don #23 for the Chicago Bulls at the moment... specifically, it's Garret Anderson who is putting up Jordan-like numbers of late. Last night, G.A. went 3-for-6, bashing his 16th homer of the year, while driving in five runs as the Angels destroyed the Baltimore Orioles by an 18-6 score. Vladimir Guerrero drove in four more runs with two singles, while Chone Figgins went 2-for-4, scoring three times, and stealing two more bases as he lifted his batting average to .347. Kelvim Escobar had a rare sub-par outing for the Angels, giving up six earned runs in his 5 1/3 innings of work, but it was good enough to give the Cy Young Award candidate his 17th win of the year. With the win, the Angels remained 9 1/2 games of the Seattle Mariners in the A.L. West race, lowering their magic number to clinch to just nine.


Out in Boston, where the New England Patriots "camera-gate" scandal has been grabbing all of the headlines, it was nice to see their clutch guy work his magic again and steal the headlines at least for a night. David Ortiz - "Big Papi" to you and me - single-handedly beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night, hitting a three-run home run to erase most of a 4-0 deficit in the third inning, and then lofting a long fly ball barely into the seats in right field with one out in the ninth for a dramatic walk-off two-run homer to give the Red Sox a 5-4 victory. For Big Papi, it was his ninth career walk-off hit, and first of the year. With the win, the Red Sox remain five games up on the New York Yankees in the A.L. East race.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dodgers Get Peavyed!

The Dodgers began a critical six game homestand last night with the first of three games against the rival San Diego Padres. Perhaps a little unluckily, the Dodgers drew the Padres ace and also known "Dodger slayer" Jake Peavy. In 17 previous starts against the Dodgers prior to last night, Peavy had only lost once, winning eight times while posting a 2.28 ERA. If the Dodgers were going to win, starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza was going to need to be at his best. Unfortunately, he wasn't as he walked four batters, allowed six hits and six earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work. Home runs by Brian Giles, Khalil Greene and Kevin Kouzmanoff would help stake Peavy to a 6-0 lead. Meanwhile, the probable NL Cy Young award winner cruised, allowing only two runs in seven innings of work, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five. James Loney would hit his 10th home run of the year off Peavy in the third, and Jeff Kent would single Loney in for the Dodgers' second run off him in the 6th. Neither bullpen was all that effective as Peavy ended up earning his 17th win on the year in a 9-4 Padre decision. The win keeps the Padres 2 1/2 games in front of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Wild Card race. The Dodgers and the surging Colorado Rockies are 3 1/2 back.


The news for the other L.A. area baseball team is much better as the Angels continue to cruise. An easy 10-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles lifted their lead in the American League West over the Seattle Mariners to a season-high 9 1/2 games. The two main cogs - Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero played together for the in a game for the first time since August 21st. "Figgy" went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI's and two steals in lifting his batting average to a robust .345. "Super Vlad" launched two mammoth 2-run homers deep into left-center field to give him 24 longballs and 114 RBI's on the year. With their win and the Mariners loss, the Angels magic number to win the American League West now stands at 10.


I'm very happy to say there's some really good news to report in Buffalo. Bills' tight end Kevin Everett apparently is going to walk again after all... something which is an unexpected, but very pleasant development. A large part of this miracle can be owed to the efforts of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The Miami Project has done a lot of research on paralysis and has developed a new procedure which has been shown to greatly lessen the effects of a trauma to the spinal cord. Within minutes of Everett's injury in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, doctors ran "an ice-cold saline solution" through Everett's system, putting him in what's called a "hypothermic state." The procedure has been shown to greatly reduce the swelling around the spinal cord, thus limiting the amount of permanent damage caused of this kind of injury. The doctors don't forecast a complete recovery, but things appear much better than they did even 24 hours ago. The miracles of modern medicine never cease to amaze me. I continue to hope and pray for his recovery.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kudos To Wily Mo Pena!

A little less than four weeks ago, the Washington Nationals acquired outfielder Wily Mo Pena from the Boston Red Sox. Blessed with enormous power, but also a propensity to strike out a lot, Pena had never had an opportunity to show his stuff and play every day until now. Although many sports commentators and fantasy analylists were a little skeptical, I called it a "very good move" by the Nationals in my Nats Acquire Wily Mo Pena blog entry from August 17th. I also said "if you're in need of a power hitter in your fantasy league, it might be worth your effort to take a chance on Wily Mo!"

So what has Mr. Wily Mo Pena done since he became a Washington National??? Well, all he's is done is produce these numbers in his first 21 games: 7 home runs, 13 RBI's, 13 runs, a .264 batting average and a very impressive .569 slugging percentage... Now he's been batting mostly 6th and 7th in the lineup so far, so he really hasn't had a lot of opportunities to either drive in or score runs. Still, these numbers when projected out to a 162 game season are very impressive: 54 HR, 100 RBI's and 100 runs. Needless to say, if you took my recommendation to pick him up that Friday when he was acquired by the Nats, or if you picked him up four days later as my #1 Diamond In The Rough you're probably very happy at this point.

Personally, I did follow my own advice, picking him up in several leagues where I needed power. Thanks, Wily Mo, for making me look good!!! I hope you can continue to produce big numbers the rest of the way, and help the Nats end the year on a very high note. After a horrific 9-25 start, the Nationals are 56-54 their past 110 games and look like they will very much be a contender when they move to their more hitter friendly stadium in 2008. With Wily Mo, Ryan Zimmerman and Dmitri Young in that lineup, this is a team that could put up some serious power numbers as well in '08!

Never Forget...

... what happened six years ago today. For most of us, the tragic images are etched forever in our minds. I remember having just woken up a little before 6 a.m. PT, watching the local news on KTLA (channel 5) and the reporters talking about a plane "crashing" into the one of the two towers of the World Trade Center. Minutes later, on live television I watched in horror as a second plane came into the picture and hit the other tower. We all know what happened later that morning with the towers' subsequent collapse, the subsequent attack on the Pentagon, and a third plane (headed towards Washington, D.C.), which was heroically downed by it's passengers.

The threat of terrorism is something that we cannot escape. Never forget why our soldiers are overseas fighting the scourge of terrorism, and protecting our precious freedom. Remember that today and every day as we commemorate those that innocently and tragically lost their lives on 9/11/01.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Tiger, Federer Roll On...

For the second week in a row, Tiger Woods went off in the next to last grouping of a PGA Tour event. Unlike last week though the result would be different... Of course, the fact that Phil Mickelson wasn't at this week's BMW Championship at Cog Hill made things a little easier for Tiger this week. Still though, he had to put up some low numbers as there were a couple of golfers named Steve Stricker and Aaron Baddeley who weren't about to back down for the world's number one ranked player.

Cog Hill has always been a very familiar and friendly venue for Tiger. He won amateur titles there, and also three previous times on the PGA Tour. With birdies abound on Sunday, Tiger would need to bring his "A-Game" if he wanted to overtake the co-leading Stricker and Baddeley. Baddeley would take sole possession of the lead with a birdie on the first hole to get to 16-under par. Tiger would get back within a stroke of Baddeley on the third hole with a birdie, while Striker would go on to bogey that same hole ten minutes later to drop two back. Things changed quickly though as Stricker would come back with a birdie on the fifth hole, and Baddeley bogeyed the par-3 sixth. Suddenly, there was a 2-way tie for the lead.

For the next hour and a half or so, the three players took turns making birdies and exhanging the lead. All three players managed to birdie the 7th, 8th and 9th holes, with Stricker scoring his fourth straight birdie on the 10th hole to forge to 19-under and a one stroke lead over both Woods and Baddeley. Baddeley then birdied the 11th to pull into a tie with Stricker. It was then that Tiger decided to "turn on the jets"... After a disappointing tee shot, Tiger was left with a long 50-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 12th... Remarkably, Woods holed the putt, causing both of his opponents to be a little distracted. Woods drained another long 20-foot putt for birdie on the next hole to assume the lead alone. Stricker then proceeded to bogey both the 12th and 14th holes to effectively take himself out of the tournament. Woods then reached the par-5 15th hole in two shots and nearly holed out his 25-foot eagle putt before settling for a birdie. At 21-under par, he was now two strokes ahead of Baddeley. Another birdie on 16 answered a Baddeley birdie on 15 to keep the margin at two strokes. Suddenly, Tiger was chasing after a 62 or even 61... Poor Tiger could only manage pars on the final two holes, settling "only" for an 8-under-par 63. Baddeley would par his final three holes, while playing partner Stricker would wind up at 18-under and alone in third. For Tiger, it was his 60th win of his career and 6th of the 2007 season.


One of Tiger's best friends in the atheltic world is tennis pro, Roger Federer. For the fourth straight year, Mr. Federer took home the U.S. Open title, dispatching the #3 ranked Novak Djokovik in straight sets. Although it sounds like it was an easy victory, it really wasn't as Federer fought off seven set points and had to win the first two sets in tiebreakers. For the world's #1 ranked tennis player, it was his 12th career Grand Slam title - ironically, it's the same number of Grand Slam titles as his friend Tiger has Major golf victories... I guess the only question now is which one of these incredible athletes will get their 13th major title first??? Well, we will have to wait until next year for that one to be answered!!!


'Skins, Chargers Grit Out W's!

Week one of the NFL season is almost in the books, and it's become clear after only one week that some things have stayed the same, while others have changed a lot. As I figured, the New England Patriots had no problem at all handling the New York Jets. Tom Brady threw for 297 yeards and three touchdowns, including one to the newly acquired Randy Moss in a 38-14 Patriot romp. Moss had a HUGE day for the Patriots, catching nine balls for 183 yars. He's quickly looking like a huge fantasy bargain if you managed to get him in your draft. The other "no brainer" pick for me amongst the morning games was in Cleveland, where the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the Browns. The "Dog Pound" had nothing to bark about as Ben Roethlisberger threw four touchdown passes and the Browns turned the ball over five times in a 34-7 Steeler romp.

I had hoped to devote a lot of my attention to the St. Louis Rams game against the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars game against the Tennessee Titans. Unfortunately, neither of these games was all that exciting to watch, so my viewing went elsewhere... Just as last year, the Rams potent offense could do nothing against the Panther defense, losing a 27-13 decision as jake Delhomme torched the Rams defense for three touchdown passes. Only Torry Holt had any sort of fantasy worthy numbers for the Rams, scoring once with 73 yards receiving. Meantime, the Jaguars potent running offense was stymied against the Tennessee Titans as they inexplicably only ran the ball 18 times, while throwing it 30 times! Perhaps if they had gone to their strong running game a bit more (Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor), they would have been able to pull the game out. As it was they lost to the Titans by a 13-10 score. The Titans actually had more running plays (49) than the Jaguars had total plays (48) in the game.

There were three very exciting games amongst those played in the morning... The Green Bay Packers won a very sloppily played game against the Philadelphia Eagles by a 16-13 score as the Packers took advantage of a muffed punt with less than a minute to go, scoring on a 42 yard Mason Crosby field goal with just two seconds to go.

In Buffalo, the Bills had a game get away from them, but more importantly one of their players was seriously hurt in an on field helmet-to-helmet collision at the beginning of the third quarter. Tight End Kevin Everett was taken off the field on a stretcher after tackling Broncos kickoff returner Domenik Hixon. Everett had a "lenghty surgery" last night and only has had "sparse movement" in his extremeties according to his agent. One can only hope and pray that he can somehow regain full movement. The game still went on, and it ended dramatically as Jay Cutler drove the Broncos down to the Buffalo 25 yard line with 12 seconds to play. The Broncos quickly got their kicking team on the field, and snapping the ball with barely a second to spare, Jason Elam hit the 42-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 15-14 win.

In our nation's capital, the Redskins took on the Miami Dolphins and got into a see-saw defensive battle. After a scoreless first quarter, Shane Suisham gave the Redskins a 3-0 lead with a 31-yard field goal a little less than three minutes into the second quarter. As the half ended, the Dolphins would take the lead as Trent Green would pass to Justin Peete for a 1 yard score. Clinton Portis promised all of us that he was good to go for opening day, and judging by yesterday it appears he indeed was just fine. Portis opened the second half scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run a little more than three minutes in to give the Redskins a 10-7 lead. On the day, Portis ran the ball 17 times for 98 yards. The rest of the way, the game turned into a battle of field goals... Jay Feely kicked one for the Dolphins with 3:37 to go in the third quarter to make it a 10-10 game. The Redskins would come back to take the lead on a Suisham 44 yard field goal with 5:30 to go in the game. The Dolphins came right back though as Feely answered with a 36 yard field-goal with 1:55 to go. The game would go to overtime... the Redskins won the coin toss, and as it turned out that would be very important. The Redskins simply just ran all over the Dolphins in the overtime period. After a touchback on the kickoff, Portis quickly gained twenty yards on two carries to get the ball to the 40 yard line. After two short gains, Jamie Campbell hit TE Chris Cooley with a 10 yard pass to convert a key third down and seven. Ladell Betts then gained ten more yards on the very next play to move the ball to the Miami 37. Three plays later, Portis would pick up nine yards on a third down and four play to move the ball to the Miami 22. The conservative Joe Gibbs decided then and there to try and win the game for the Redskins. Suisham was brought in and nailed the 39-yard field-goal straight through the uprights for a 16-13 Redskins win!


As for the afternoon games, there was only one game that really interested me - the game featuring the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears... It was a game pitting one of the NFL's best defenses against one of the best offenses... As in baseball, where good pitching tends to stop good hitting, the good defense had control over the good offense for most of the day. The Chargers were unable to move the ball effectively in the first half, managing only 70 yards in eight first half drives. Their lone first half foray into the red-zone resulted in a the Bears' Alex Brown blocking a 33-yard Nate Kaeding field goal attempt a little more than 10 minutes into the first quarter. The Bears then went three-and-out with their next possession, but Charger quarterback made his lone mistake of the day as he was intercepted by Brown on a pass inteneded for all-pro receiver Antonio Gates. The Bears then drove the ball down to the Charger 10 yard line before settling for a 27-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

The Bears also managed to keep the NFL's Most Valuable Player in check the entire day, making many fantasy owners a lot unhappy. LaDainian Tomlinson only managed 25 yards rushing on 17 carries on the day... Fortunately for the Chargers, they were able to adapt to the Bears defense just enough to come out on top. With L.T. being effectively taken out of the game, the Chargers decided to make Gates the focal point of the attack - which made me very happy, seeing that he's on a good number of my fantasy teams! Gates caught nine passes on the day for 107 yards including the Chargers first points of the game. Those that see the Chargers a lot know that L.T. not only can run and catch the ball, but he also can throw it. Sure enough, the Chargers were driving and on a play which looked to be a running play to the right, L.T. instead threw the ball to a wide open Gates for a touchdown and a 7-3 Charger lead with less than a minute to go in the third quarter. For Tomlinson, it was his seventh career touchdown passing.

From there it was simply a matter of the Chargers just not making any more mistakes... the Bears offense looked, well pardon the pun, but just plain "gross, man"... as Bears QB Rex Grossman could never move the ball effectively against the Chargers stingy defense. On the day Grossman was only 12-for-23 with 145 yards, throwing an interception and getting sacked three times. The key error though wasn't Grossman's, but rather running back Adrian Peterson's. Peterson fumbled the ball away just into Charger territory with 13:45 to go in the game. From there, the Chargers quickly moved the ball down the field, going 57 yards in eight plays, capped by a very nifty 7-yard touchdown run by Tomlinson with 9:09 to go in the game. The Bears could only garner a single first down in their next possession... After punting the ball away, the Chargers took over with just a little more than six minutes to play... The clearly tired Bears defense was unable to stop the Chargers as the home team ran out the clock with a twelve play drive...


They definitely decided to save the most exciting game for last though... as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants in a 45-35 shootout! Tony Romo and Eli Manning each threw four touchdown passes, each going well over 300 yards passing... Romo was someone I strongly recommended picking up on draft day, and boy did he more than live up to my hype, as he threw for 345 yards on only 24 attempts! Terrell Owens caught only three balls on the day for 87 yards, but two of them were scoring passes. Tight-end Jason Witten also had a big day, catching six balls for 116 yards and a score. The fantasy star of the game though was Plaxico Burress as he caught eight passes for 144 yards and three scores...


Tonight, two games are on the slate as the Baltimore Ravens take on the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals. Are you ready for some football???