Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hanging Chads: Part Deux

Since so much has happened to the "Hanging Chads" over the past 24 hours, time for a "Part Deux."

Billingsley: Brilliant today in Florida. The line: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K's, and the easy win as the Dodgers blew out the Marlins 13-1. Keep it going, Chad!

Cordero: A LONG DL stint. :( "The Chief" is going to miss four to six weeks thanks to an acute tear of the latissimus dorsi muscle in the back of his right shoulder. Jon Rauch will be closing games for the Nats during foreseeable future. Get well soon, Chad!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Phoenix, Are You Scherzer?

This is actually going to be a rare Arizona-based blog... seems like all of the BIG sports stories tonight involve the Arizona teams, so that's where I'm going... one involves the Diamondbacks baseball team, the other the Suns basketball team.

First off, Arizona Diamondbacks phenom Max Scherzer (pronounced "Sure Zur") made his major league debut at home against the Houston Astros tonight and impressed everyone watching, pitching 4 1/3 perfect innings, while striking out seven in relief of an ineffective Edgar Gonzalez. Gonzalez was pulled with two outs in the third inning after allowing six earned runs. Scherzer's 98 MPH fastball and devestating curveball simply had the Astros hitters completely baffled. If you're in a fantasy league, it's strongly recommended that you pick him up as he could be in a starting role with the D-Backs very soon thanks to injuries to several starters. Even in relief, seven strikeouts can certainly help your team - I even subbed him in for Ian Snell and Derek Lowe in a few leagues today and that paid off VERY nicely!

As for a move that didn't pay off so well, that would go to the Phoenix Suns and the trade they made to counteract the Los Angeles Lakers' move a few days earlier to get All-Star forward Pau Gasol. I made a post on February 6th stating that acquiring Shaquille O'Neal from the Miami Heat flat-out wouldn't work as Shaq would not fit in well with the Suns fast-paced offense:

Shaq Diesel to Phoenix?

Five days later, I commented that the trade for Shaq would be termed "infamous."

At the time of the trade, the Suns held a 2 1/2 game lead over the Lakers in the NBA's Pacific Division. At season's end, the Suns would find themselves two games back of the #1 Western Conference seeded Lakers and scratching their heads as they went to take on the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in their first round playoff series. The Spurs won the first three games of their series, while the Suns took game four to make it a three games to one San Antonio lead going into tonight's game at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game was close throughout, but in the end, the Suns and Shaq simply could not match up or play San Antonio's slow down game as the Spurs prevaled by a 92-87 score. As for Shaq, he had a horrible game, making only two of eight field goal attempts and missing 11 of his 20 free throws. Yes, if Shaq could have just made his free throws? Sound familiar?

So, while the sun may have set on the Suns tonight, a bright star by the name of Max Scherzer may have risen out of the ashes in Phoenix as well!!!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Lakers Seal Deal in Denver!

No, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't bring their "A" game tonight to Denver - it was more like their "C" game. Lots of turnovers in the second half and some poor defense kept their opponent in the game after trailing by 10 points at halftime. In the end though, their "C" game was good enough as the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 107-101 to sweep their best-of-seven first round series.

Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers as usual with 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists, though he did uncharacteristically miss six of his 10 free throw attempts. The rest of the three-headed beast was in full effect tonight as well as Pau Gasol contributed 21 points and seven boards, while Lamar Odom had yet another double-double, scoring 14 points, while leading the team with 12 rebounds. Amazingly, this sweep by the Lakers was the first in a playoff series since the 2002 NBA Finals.

The Lakers now get to rest a little as they await the winner of the series between the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. The Jazz currently hold a commanding three games to one lead in that series.


Sunday, April 27, 2008


When my sister told me a few weeks ago that she had bought ticket for herself, Mom and I to go see Richard Marx at the Canyon Club here locally in nearby Agoura, I had no idea of several things. First off, I did not know that Matt Scannell, the lead singer of Vertical Horizon was going to be performing with him. Secondly, I had no idea until the night before the show that three of my best friends (Gwen, Sarah and John) were ALSO going to the show! Needless to say, I knew it was going to be a fun night... best of all, I knew I'd be home before midnight - something that is very rare when attending a concert for me!

Mark Castrillion was of the first three acts to play and did a very good job, closing his 30 minute mostly acoustic set with a cover of Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You." Kind of ironic, since the last concert I happened to see was Bon Jovi three weeks ago.

After Mark's set, the local band Venice took the stage. My friend Gwen has been a big fan of theirs for quite a long time, and actually I had seen them perform with her and some other friends at the same Canyon Club a few years ago. They're comprised of many members of the Lennon family, led my vocalists Kipp and Mark. They have been performing for generations, quite literally. Their set was highlighted by a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" and their song "The Family Tree."

While the warm-up acts were good, they definitely paled in comparison to Richard Marx and Matt Scannell. They took the stage just before 9:45, and played for nearly two hours straight through a few technical difficulties. At the beginning, they alternated playing their songs. Richard did "Endless Summer Nights" to open things, and Matt then took over with the second hit from Vertical Horizon's 1999 self-titled debut, "You're A God." A classic Marx ballad was next - "Now & Forever," on which Marx implored the audience not to sing as they would "ruin the song." We all got several laughs throughout the night at Richard's sense of humor. They then played a couple of their newer songs before Richard launched into his hit "Hazard."

Throughout the night, I shuffled between the table I was sharing with my Mom and sister and the floor where my friends were. And yes, John and Sarah (pictured below), you're famous now! :) The middle of the show was very hilarious as Richard told a story about how his song and Matt's songs (done by other artists) were doing very well on the radio back a couple of years ago. Richard is good friends with Country star Keith Urban and they've written several songs together the past few years including Keith's hit song "Better Life". Meanwhile, Nashville star Gary Allan covered Vertical Horizon's third hit "Best I Ever Had." The songs were climbing the Country chart at the same time and in the beginning Matt's song was winning, beating Richard's song into the top 20... soon thereafter thought, Richard's song moved ahead and ended up spending five weeks at #1 on the Country charts for Mr. Urban. Matt's song did very well for Gary Allan in it's own right though, climbing to #7 on the Country chart. Soon after that, Matt launched into his version of his hit, while Richard sang an acoustic version of another of his #1 hits, "Should've Known Better."

The last part of the show was definitely the best though... Richard continued with his massive library of hits, singing his first hit, "Don't Mean Nothing" and then telling more stories - one involving his most famous #1 song, "Right Here Waiting." He basically the song didn't belong to him anymore as he told the story of a woman overseas singing the song during his travels one time. Richard then launched into the song... Matt then the song which put him and Vertical Horizon on the map, their first hit, the #1 song "Everything You Want." The crowd truly enjoyed the show and their three song encore concluded with Richard's version of another song he co-wrote with Keith Urban (which was another HUGE #2 hit for him on the Country charts), "Everybody." Two great singers and two great songwriters coming together... it was quite an awesome show and night!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lakers Take Mile-High Step!

It was probably their first true playoff test to date. The Los Angeles Lakers went to Denver to take on the Nuggets in game three of their best-of-seven playoff series this afternoon. The game just concluded and to say the Lakers passed their first playoff "road test" with passing colors would be a huge understatement. The Lake Show flat out ACED this exam!

With a ferious defense, the Lakers held the Nuggets to just 46 first-half points in taking a seven point lead into the lockerroom. In the second half, the Lakers D tightened the clamps down even harder, holding the Nuggets to just 38 second half points. In the meantime, the Lakers offense was working on all cylinders. A 30 point third quarter extended the lead to 19 points and effectively put the game away. The Lakers lead grew to as many as 23 points in the final period, before they settled for a 102-84 victory to take a commanding three games to none lead in the series.

Once again, the Lakers victory was a team effort. As usual, Kobe Bryant led, scoring 22 points, while adding seven assists and eight rebounds. Pau Gasol had 14 points and Lamar Odom talled 12. Derek Fisher also scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers in the pivotal third quarter to help put the game out of reach. The final dagger from "D-Fish" came with 1:53 to play in the period to give the Lakers an 81-64 lead. Luke Walton again made his presence felt as the sixth man, scoring 15 points while adding five rebounds and five assists in just 24 minutes off the bench.

Game four of the series will be on Monday night at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT and can be seen on KCAL 9 locally and TNT nationally. GO LAKERS!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Hanging Chads...

If you're a die-hard fantasy baseball player like I am, then probably two of the biggest enigmas of the 2008 season would happen to be pitchers named "Chad." One plays on the West coast, the other plays on the East coast... A perfect topic for my "coast to coast" blog.

The pitcher on the West coast is a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers named Chad Billingsley. Last night, he looked almost unhittable, striking out 12 batters! In his previous start, he struck out nine batters in just 4 innings! The problem though is that despite his dominating stuff, the "West coast Chad" also has been walking a lot of batters and conseuently giving up quite a few runs. Despite the 21 strikeouts in just 11 innings the past two outings, Billingsley has walked seven batters and allowed nine earned runs while giving up 12 hits. So, his K/9 ratio over that time is an other-worldly 17.18, but his ERA is 7.36 and his WHIP is 1.91. As a multiple league Billingsley owner, those latter two numbers hurt a lot... The season is young though, and as a 23 year old with tons of talent, I expect him to correct things and get those ratios down. It would probably be a good time to try and play up his WHIP and ERA numbers and get him in trade as it's pretty obvious he can be VERY dominant! With experience, he will only get better.

As for the East coast pitcher named Chad, that would be the guy also known as "the Chief," Chad Cordero. Arguably the Washington Nationals' MVP the past three seasons with 113 saves, Cordero has battled with tendinitis and general weakness in his throwing shoulder. His fastball velocity has consistently been in the low 80's this year, down several MPH from his usual numbers. Pitchers with arm issues and velocity issues tend to be a ticking time bomb. For the moment, Jon Rauch has taken over the closer's role for the Nats. Unless something drastically changes, I don't see this situation changing anytime soon. Needless to say, if Rauch is still available in your fantasy league you should pick him up right away. If someone is willing to give you near full-value for Cordero in trade, then I'd say do it, as things are not looking good for him at the moment.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Idol Worship of Leona!

Yes, the much rumored about Leona Lewis appearance on American Idol finally took place last night during the results show, and from all accounts, she simply brought the house down! Leona gave the best U.S. performance of her hit "Bleeding Love" that I've ever seen and heard, hitting an amazingly high note towards the end of the song. It's received stellar reviews pretty much EVERYWHERE! Yes, even the critics are starting to warm up to Leona!

Not too surprisingly, the Idol performance has pushed "Bleeding Love" back ahead of Madonna's "4 Minutes" and into the #1 spot (by a wide margin) on iTunes. Leona's album "Spirit" has already sold over 300,000 copies here in the U.S. in only two weeks, and you just know that the Idol performance will bolster the week three sales.

On the airplay front, "Bleeding Love" continues to do incredibly well. It cracked the 10,000 spin barrier on Pop radio on Tuesday and 100 million in estimated listening audience the next day. It's now setting the Hot AC chart on fire, picking up unheard of 100+ spins a day gains in crashing the top 20 this week. She's currently at #16 there and is a shoo-in to get to the top 10 next week. Even the Rhythmic stations are taking notice of Leona as she's already up to #11 on that chart. Lastly, she's even attracting the older adult crowd, moving up to #17 on the Adult Contemporary chart as of this morning. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the sky seems to be the limit here for Leona Lewis and her hit "Bleeding Love" here in America!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nuggets Get a BIG Dose of Kobe!

The "MVP" chant was in full-force almost from the beginning for the Lakers' Kobe Bryant in their game tonight at Staples Center in game two of their best-of-seven playoff series against the Denver Nuggets... Unlike Sunday's performance where he had an off shooting game, #24 was simply "en fuego" all night long, scoring 20 points in the first quarter and 25 in the first half to help give the Lakers a 59-49 halftime lead.

The Nuggets though were not done, and actually went on a 21-10 run over the first 6:33 of the third period to take a one point lead at 70-69. The Lakers stormed right back though, going on a 20-9 run of their own to close the quarter, reestablishing their 10 point halftime margin. The Lakers withstood one last Denver run in the fourth quarter as Allen Iverson scored six points as part of a 14-9 run to trim the Lakers lead to 98-93 with 7:16 to play. At that point, Kobe decided to do what the only the very great ones are capable of doing - he almost single-handedly took over the game! Over the next almost five minutes, he scored 17 points during a 22-8 Laker run. Yes, it was VERY reminiscent of what #23 in the Chicago Bulls uniform did so many times in the 1990's... After scoring his 49th point with 2:22 to play in the game, Kobe was pulled to more MVP chants from the crowd. The Lakers then cruised the rest of the way to a 122-107 win to take a two games to none lead in the best-of-seven series.

As for Kobe's night, the 49 points only tell part of the story. He was extremely efficient from the field, making 18 of his 27 shot attempts including 5-for-9 on three pointers. He was also 8-for-9 from the foul line and even managed to dish out 10 assists when he wasn't scoring. Both totals being one short of career playoff highs. Pau Gasol had a double-double of his own, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Luke Walton had another great game off the bench with 17 points, 7 rebounds and five assists.

Yes folks, Showtime is BACK in L.A.!!! The Lake Show featuring Kobe, Paul & L.O. travels to Denver this weekend. Game three of the best-of-seven series will be shown at 5:30 ET/2:30 PT on TNT. GO LAKERS!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When Tires Go Flat...

... nothing like starting the day driving to work, and about 10 minutes in wondering why your car feels like the wind is blowing it back and forth. The only thing is, there was no wind. I soon realized what was happening - one of my tires was going flat. Fortunately, traffic was light, and I was near an off ramp, and managed to get to a gas station where I took the regular rigth rear tire off from my Honda Accord and put on the spare. It didn't take me that long, but still it wasn't the way to start a day. That said, I'm thankful it didn't happen another two miles up the road where there's a VERY steep grade!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Lakers Gasol Up on Nuggets!

I said it at the time of the trade, and I will reiterate it today. The Los Angeles Lakers acquision of Pau Gasol a few months ago may go down as the best in-season player move the Lakers organization has ever made. Mitch Kupchak has gone from looking like a goat to genius in a short six months, and Kobe Bryant for the first time in a very long time seems to be totally content playing here in Los Angeles.

Prior to yesterday's game between the Lakers and the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center, I had heard from ESPN and other sources that the officiating had been especially poor in most of the earlier playoff games held this weekend. Sure enough, as I got on the road to visit family yesterday and listened to the first several minutes of the game on the radio, what were the Lakers announcers griping about despite the Lakers getting out to an early 26-16 lead with less than a minute to play in the first quarter? Yes, the officiating! From buying into Vlade Divac-like flops by Nugget players and calling ticky-tack fouls on the Lakers it was apparent from the outset something was up.

After about three minutes or so of watching the game, I was convinced that the refs were trying to give the game to the Nuggets. And not surprisingly the Nuggets proceeded to go on a 27-9 run over the next seven minutes of action to take an eight point lead midway through the second quarter. The "officiating" got so bad that I even turned the game off, telling my Mom "the refs are trying to throw the game." Despite the "officiating," the Lakers though managed to go on a little run of their own, outscoring the Nuggets 11-4 over the next three minutes. The refs decided to then call a "phantom foul" on Allen Iverson against Kobe to give him his third one of the game with 2:51 to go in the half. Coach Phil Jackson took a risk and left Kobe in the game for more than two minutes before benching him with 35 seconds to play in the half. Led by Pau Gasol's 18 points, the Lakers took a narrow 58-56 lead into the lockerroom. In addition to picking up three fouls, Kobe had a miserable first half offensively, scoring four points on just 2-for-9 shooting.

The Lakers halftime lead would have been much larger if the referees had called the game fairly - the Nuggets took 22 free throw attempts to the Lakers' SEVEN in the first half!!! Perhaps Comissioner Stern sent a memo to the officiating crew at at halftime, as the officiating was much more equal in the second half.

Kobe and the rest of the his Lakers teammates, and most especially Gasol, made sure the refs weren't going to have any bearing on the result of this one as they went on a 15-4 run to begin the second half to stretch the lead to 13 points. The Nuggets would never get closer than nine points the rest of the way as the three pronged monster of Kobe, Pau and "L.O." went crazy over the game's final 24 minutes. In his first ever playoff game victory in 13 tries, Gasol truly had a game to remember, finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and three blocked shots. Kobe pitched in 28 second-half points to finish with 32 despite only shooting 9-for-26 from the field. L.O. added 16 points, 14 boards and six assists, while Luke Walton chipped in with 17 points and five assists off the bench. Final score: Lakers 128, Nuggets 114.

Game two of the best of seven series will be played at the Staples Center at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT on Wednesday night and can be seen on TNT nationally and Prime Ticket locally.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Danica Makes History in Japan!

LPGA player Natalie Gulbis probably knows very well what Danica Patrick had to endure in not winning a single one of her first 49 IndyCar starts. Like Danica, Natalie had a lot of success prior to turning pro, winning lots of events growing up and coming close to winning many times as a pro - even losing an event in a playoff in 2006. Until yesterday, Danica's highest finish also had been a runner-up. On July 29th of last year, after six years of playing on the women's golf tour and being more known for her stunning looks than her playing ability, Natalie finally got the monkey off her back and won the Evian Masters in France for her first LPGA tour title. So effectively ever since that day, the monkey has resided squarely on Danica's back. When would the female auto racer known better for her good looks than racing prowess finally break through? Well, that day turned out to be today!

Ironically, Danica followed Natalie's lead and took her first IndyCar series win off of American soil as well. Using a fuel conservation strategy, Danica managed to hang in the top 10 of the Japan 300 throughout, but didn't lead anytime during the first 197 laps. Just 11 laps from the finish she sat in 8th place. Helio Castroneves took the lead on lap 196 after Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon had to pit. Danica then took the lead from Castroneves on lap 198 with a pass on the outside and then pulled away for a victory margin that nearly ended up being nearly six seconds at the conclusion of the 200 lap event.

Congratulations to Danica on breaking through and getting a very well deserved first win! Hopefully, this will be the first of many and it will finally put a stop once and for all to the unwarrented comparisons Danica was getting to a certain tennis player who never won a single event and was rarely competitive.. After yesterday, perhaps the monkey can make it's rightful return to Anaheim where the Los Angeles Angels baseball team can make some good use of it! :)


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Leona Nabs #1 U.S. Pop Airplay Spot!

Another day, another chart conquered for Leona Lewis and her massive hit "Bleeding Love." Today the song ascended into the #1 spot on the U.S. Pop (Top 40) radio airplay chart on Mediabase. Given that it's still gaining about 200 spins a day nationally, and no other song on the chart is gaining more than 125 a day at the moment, don't look for Leona to give up the top rung anytime soon. It's going to be a very long run at the top for pop music's newest star! Congratulations to Leona again on yet another great accomplishment!!!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Ducks Stay Alive!

The defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks found themselves in a very unfamiliar situation tonight as they faced an elimination game against the Dallas Stars. During their 2006-2007 title run, the Ducks never faced such a game. In order to continue their title defense, the Ducks would have to win three straight games starting with tonight's game at the Honda Center.

The Ducks played like a team with a purpose all night long, one with the heart of a champion. Corey Perry scored a goal 8:25 into the first period to give the champs a 1-0 lead. The Stars tied it up a little more than 10 minutes later on a Mattias Norstrom score. After one period, the game was tied at 1.

The rest of the game though, it was all Ducks as they took advantage of two power plays to take control. Ryan Getzlaf scored 11:03 into the second period on a traditional one man advantage to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead. Teemu Selanne converted on a 5-on-3 advantage less than a minute into the third period to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead. Mike Ribiero answered Selanne's goal for the Stars less than four minutes later to narrow the Ducks lead to a goal. A Sean O'Donnell goal at 12:05 gave the Ducks a 4-2 lead to effectively put the game away. Todd Marchant added an empty net goal with 1:24 to play to close out the scoring in the Ducks 5-2 win.

Stellar goaltending by Jean Sebastian Giguere (40 saves in 42 shots) and great penalty killing (Dallas was 0-for-7 on power plays) complimented the Ducks offensive outburst. Game six of the series will be in Dallas at 9PM ET/6PM PT.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Leona Makes Spirited Debut!

In case you didn't know, Leona Lewis' debut album Spirit came out in the U.S. this past Tuesday, and given the huge success of her single "Bleeding Love," the huge first week sales of the album are not at all surprising. In it's first week, Spirit sold over 205,000 copies and debuts at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Additionally, "Bleeding Love" remains #1 on Billboard's Pop 100 chart for a third week, and returns to the #1 spot for a second week on the Hot 100 chart. With sales of nearly 225,000 units, the song also returns to #1 on the two Billboard digital sales charts... Finally, "Bleeding Love" is about to hit #1 on the pop airplay chart - currently, it sits 223 spins behind the Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown duet "No Air." With "Bleeding Love" gaining about 150 spins a day on the current leader, look for it to hit #1 on Saturday. Congratulations to Leona on her continued amazing success here worldwide and now in America!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lakers Crown Kings to Claim #1 Seed!

When it really mattered the most, the Los Angeles Lakers sucked it all up and played some of their best basketball of the season over the season's final week at the Staples Center. A rout of the Clippers on Thursday night, a win over the former #1 seed, New Orleans the next night and then a blowout victory over San Antonio on Sunday afternoon set the stage for last night's game against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers were more than ready for the challenge as they blew out the visitors, leading by 14 points at halftime and by 29 after three quarters. None of the Lakers starters played as much as 29 minutes, and they all sat on the bench and got to savor their victory and securing of the #1 seed in the Western Conference with a record of 57-25. The final score: Lakers 124, Kings 101. In a season that began with so much turmoil, it's been quite an amazing run. Is another NBA title in the cards? Well, the Lakers will have to get through four opponents starting with either the Dallas Mavericks or Dnever Nuggets, and the Eastern Conference features the Boston Celtics (with the best overall record in the NBA) who beat the Lakers in both of their meetings so nothing is assured. One thing is for sure though - "Showtime" is back in L.A. and our Lakers are fun to watch again!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back from New York!

And what a fun time it was!! I saw and went in the Empire State Building, was in Times Square, went for a couple of taxi rides (now that was an experience!), and even took in Johan Santana's first start as a Met in Shea Stadium. I'll be posting pictures and lots of updates on my travels in the coming days... and oh yeah, more Leona Lewis updates as well! :)


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vacationing in the Big Apple!

I'll be making a few entries when I can... for now taking some time off for R&R in the Big Apple!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hunter Leads Angel Walk-Off!

It was a strange night at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. The Angels went into the top of the ninth with a 2-1 lead over the visiting Cleveland Indians courtest of a Torii Hunter solo home run in the eighth inning. Francisco Rodriguez (aka: K-Rod) came in to close the game for the Halos and clearly wasn't right. K-Rod quickly gave up the lead, and left the game with ankle soreness. Scot Shields allowed another run to score, and the Angels trailed 4-2 headed to the bottom of the ninth.

As any fantasy baseball player will tell you, Cleveland Indians closer Joe Borowski is about as shaky as you get (I own him in one league, and I have him benched this week). Well, Borowski was his usual rocky self, and loaded the bases with one out. Hunter came up again, and for the second time in as many innings deposited a shot deep into the left field seats. A walk-off Grand Slam home run for Torii Hunter and the Angels and a dramatic 6-4 win! WOW!!! Welcome to California, Torii!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

BON JOVI & DAUGHTRY @ Honda Center

What a night it was, what a concert!!! It's great when you can go to a concert and it's all about the music and having a good time, without even a hint of any sort of political message. Such was the case at the Bon Jovi & Daughtry show I attended on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim. It was the second of three sold out L.A. area shows for the rockers.

Chris Daughtry, and the rest of his band Daugthry came on stage just after 7:40 pm. The crowd, which was made up predominately of Bon Jovi fans, nonetheless REALLY took to liking Chris and the band from the beginning.

Daughtry has had quite a remarkable run of success since finishing fourth in American Idol 5 a year and a half ago. A #1 and four times Platinum debut album, with three (going on four) top 10 pop hit singles. The band launched quickly into their current (and #11 hit) "Feels like Tonight" and played for almost 45 minutes. I must say the sound quality and acoustics throughout the night were outstanding, and made Chris and the band sound great even on his non radio hits. His third hit "Over You" drew a great response, and Chris told a little story of how he "knew this song was meant to be a hit on the radio"... Sure enough it did make it to #6 on the pop charts late last year. They also played his very first hit, the #1 smash, "It's Not Over" to a rousing ovation.

Chris and the band closed things off kind of catching everyone off guard as they started playing a cover of Mötley Crüe's classic, "Home Sweet Home." The crowd really went wild, and by that time even the rabid Bon Jovi fans were TOTALLY into it as he was covering a song from "their era," the 80's. Smartly, they used the song as a lead-in to arguably their most successful single to date, "Home" which was a #1 hit at both Adult Contemporary and Hot AC, along with a #3 hit at pop radio. The songs spiritual overtones and message even made it a HUGE hit on the Christian charts where it just missed the top 10. Out of all of Daugthry's songs, this was the one that definitely will be their signature song for years to come - pretty much everyone in the crowd knew all of the words! It won't be soon before long before they are headlining their own shows - they are truly THAT good!

The forty-five minute set by Daughtry went by very fast... even more surprising was the intermission - it was all of 15 minutes! Yes, you definitely get your money's worth when you see a Bon Jovi concert.

Jon Bon Jovi and the rest of the band hit the stage precisely an hour after Daughtry had. From the moment they took the stage, the sold out crowd was TOTALLY into it as was the band... Since I grew up in the 80's and knew practically all of the words to the songs, my fear was that I might not have a voice at the end of the night - I don't think I would have cared if I had lost my voice though, as it was an absolutely incredible show put on by New Jersey's favorite son and his bandmates... can you believe these guys have been doing this for 25 years? Jon and the band have always kept their perspective, and several times throughout the show he smiled and let the audience know just how thankful he was for everything and most especially, the fans!

The band launched into their current hit "Lost Highway" off their album of the same name, and basically went non-stop for two hours straight! Of course, they played all of their signature hits. "Born To Be My Baby," their first #1 hit "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Summertime" were amongst those songs which led the early part of the show. One of the great things about their hits is that almost the whole audience knew knows all of the songs. While Daugthry had one song, the whole audience knew, Jon and company had about 15!

Later, they launched into "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" and then played Jon's huge solo hit "Blaze of Glory." Towards the middle of the show, they really brought some HEAVY artilery, playing "In These Arms," "It's My Life" and the #1 hit "Bad Medicine." The whole crowd was REALLY into it during this rockin' sequence... They then slowed things down and Jon took a little break as he let Richie Sambora sing another of their #1 hits, the ballad, "I'll Be There For You."

After Jon's break, the band did some of their more current stuff including "You Want To Make A Memory" and his two Country crossover hits, "Til' We Ain't Strangers Anymore" and "Who Says You Can't Go Home." No, there were no appearances by Leann Rimes or Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles though it would have been cool if one of them had shown up. One thing that was REALLY cool though was when Jon actually went into the audience and shook tons of fans hands!

They then caught everyone a little off guard as they launched into a cover of Tom Petty's hit "I Won't Back Down." The cover though (not surprisingly) was VERY well received. The band closed things out in style, with three songs that EVERYONE knew very well: "Have A Nice Day," "Keep The Faith," and their biggest hit of all, "Livin' On A Prayer."

The very boisterous crowd of course demanded an encore and they got it about five minutes later as they launched into a very spiritual song called "Hallelujah." Then next did another of their many signature songs, "Wanted Dead or Alive." For the very end, I thought they would launch into their very first hit, "Runaway," but Jon threw me and the rest of the people around me a curveball when they launched into a song off their new record called "I Love This Town." Other than not hearing "Runaway" or their huge hit "Always," I have to say I pretty much heard everything I wanted to hear, and only wish that I had atteneded a Bon Jovi show sooner - yes, as a HUGE Bon Jovi fan, this indeed was my first. Lord willing, it definitely won't be my last!

You can go to their official website for other recaps of the show and a complete set list with comments from attendees..

Bon Jovi 4/5/08 Honda Center Show Set List

Watching the iTunes chart...

This Leona Lewis has some staying power, I must say... withstood the six weeks of suppressed downloads forf Mariah and now is about to repass Madonna for the #1 spot. WOW!


Bruins, My Bracket: TOAST!!!

For the second year in a row, the UCLA Bruins lost in the semi-finals of the NCAA Tournament, and also for the second year in a row the opponent I picked for them to play in the finals also lost. Last year it was Georgetown, this year North Carolina. So once again, I'll not be rooting for ANYONE in the NCAA final Monday night. It was another fun year for the Bruins, but their 78-63 loss to Memphis in the Alamodome in San Antonio leaves a bad a taste in our mouths AGAIN... Three final fours in the past three years and no championship banners to hang from Pauley Pavilion to show for it. Perhaps next year we will finally add one to the right of the 1995 banner.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Early Fantasy Baseball Returns...

Yes, it's REALLY early here in the 2008 baseball season, but as we come to a close in week 1, some good new to report in my fantasy leagues. I'm in five CBS Sportsline money leagues and to this point, THREE are in first, one is in 6th and one is in 8th place. Can we end the season now? :)

Long story short is that the season is a long one, but it is certainly nice to see my teams getting out of the gate well this year!!! The key though will to be to keep managing the teams for another 25 weeks!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lakers Rally Past Refs, Mavs!

For a quarter, the game between the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center appeared like it was going to be a close, see-saw battle throughout. And with All-Stars Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitski back for their respective teams, it also meant the teams would be close to full strength. Sure enough, the teams played to a 31-31 tie after one quarter.

The Lakers scored the first basket of the second quarter, and then the officials decided to put their blinders on. Was there a Donaghy sighting? I think so! Consecutive HORRIBLE calls - one on a Gasol travel where he was clearly pushed hard and fouled, and then a subsequent play where the Lakers Sasha Vujacic was purposely elbowed by a Maverick player and NO FOUL WAS CALLED totally changed the momentum of the game. The poor officiating deflated the Lakers and they quickly fell prey to a 16-0 Mavericks run over a 4:05 span. Down 47-33 at that point, the Lakers did manage to rally somewhat over the closing half of the period to trail 64-54 at halftime.

The Mavericks, in spite of some inspired play by Gasol maintained their double digit margin late into the third period. "The Machine," as Sasha Vujacic is known to by his teammates thanks to his deadly outside shot, buried a three-pointer with 1:33 to play to give the Lakers momentum headed to the fourth quarter.

In the closing period, Jordin Farmer and Vujacic hit on consecutive three-pointers. A Farmar free throw, layups by Luke Walton and Lamar Odom, along with a jump shot by "L.O." got the Lakers to within a point at 94-93 with 7:39 to play. From there it was a battle of wills. The Lakers finally took their first lead (103-102) since that early second quarter edge on an Odom lay-up with 2:20 to play. The Mavericks scored four points on free throws over the next minute to take a three point lead. The Lakers rallied once again though. Odom scored yet another layup to draw the Lakers back within a point. Dirk Nowitski missed a jumper, and Pau Gasol converted a three point play with a layup and free throw on the ensuing possession to put the Lakers ahead to stay with 40 seconds to go. A Nowtiski turnover, and two subsequent Kobe Bryant free throws effectively put the game away. Final score: Lakers 112, Mavericks 108.

With the win the Lakers clinched a playoff berth and moved into the #2 position in the Western Conference playoff race. The Lakers box score looked like most of us would like to see it, and that's with someone other than Kobe doing all of the scoring. Odom was extremely efficient, scoring 31 points on 12-for-14 shooting, and also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. Gasol scored 25, and led the team with seven assists, while Kobe "only" scored 25 points, and grabbed 10 boards to go with his 6 assists. No other Laker scored in double digits, but Farmer and Vujacic each had nine points, including the aforementioned key 3-pointers. The Lakers travel to Sacramento to play the Kings at 9pt ET/6pm PT on Sunday.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Leona Lewis!

Just a quick note here to wish Leona Lewis a VERY happy 23rd birthday! What's there to celebrate? Well a great singer with a great song and an album coming out in America just five days from now!

The radio story for Leona's hit "Bleeding Love" continues to get better and better as it's gained a crazy 759 spins at top 40 radio stations nationwide the past three days, including 260 the past day! The callout scores are in from and in her third week, Leona scored a 4.10, ranking #1 for the second time in three weeks surveyed!

Mainstream Top 40
12+ : By Rank
Report Date: Apr 3, 2008 @ 6:44 AM

Rank Artist Title Pop (Fam) Fam% Burn% (Fam)
1 Leona Lewis Bleeding Love 4.10 91 14
2 Madonna & Justin Timberlake 4 Minutes 4.06 71 9
3 Jordin Sparks w/ Chris Brown No Air 3.98 94 26
4 Rihanna Don't Stop The Music 3.92 98 37
5 Sara Bareilles Love Song 3.89 98 38
6 Timbaland f/ OneRepublic Apologize 3.86 99 53
7 OneRepublic Stop & Stare 3.85 94 25
8 Miley Cyrus See You Again 3.84 95 34
9 Daughtry Feels Like Tonight 3.83 96 24
10 Chris Brown With You 3.77 95 36

Look for her to get to #7 in spins and #5 in estimated audience when the final charts are published by Mediabase on Sunday night. Additionally, "Bleeding Love" just cracked the top 25 at Rhythmic and is finally starting to garner airplay at the Adult Contemporary formats, cracking the top 50 at both Hot AC (#43) and AC (#42) This week... look for a swift rise up the charts on these formats now that they're catching on.

Tomorrow morning, Leona will appear on ABC's Good Morning America. Be sure to be tuned in between 7am and 9am ET/PT to see her perform "Bleeding Love" on the show.


Lake Show gets Gasoled Up!

For the better part of three weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers have been sputtering both offensively and on defense. Without all-star forward Pau Gasol, the "Lake Show" was only 5-4, and had failed to limit any opponent to under 100 points. Last night, Gasol returned to raucous cheers at Staples Center as the Lakers battled the Portland Trailblazers.

For a half, the Blazers kept things interesting, hitting a barrage of 3-points to manage a 50-50 tie. Gasol looked a little rusty offensively, but his defensive presence really became evident in the second half, as the Lakers limited Portland to only 13 points in the third quarter. The Lakers went into the fourth quarter with a 10 point lead and extended it to 86-68 with 7:37 to play on a Kobe Bryant three pointer. The Blazers rallied over the next 2:45, going on a 13-2 run to trim the Laker margin to seven. Kobe single-handedly doubled that margin and put the game away over the next 50 seconds, connecting on consecutive three point shots, converting the the latter into a four point play after being fouled. From there, the Lakers cruised to a 104-91 victory.

Kobe finished the game with a double-double, scoring 36 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to go with seven assists. Coach Phil Jackson wanted to limit Gasol to 25 minutes, but he played 32 instead... Pau's 10 point, seven assist, six rebound effort was a good one considering he hadn't played in so long. The other three starters along with Jordan Farmar also tallied double-digit points. With the win, the Lakers extended their lead to a game over Phoenix in the Western division and remain the 3-seed in the conference, 1 1/2 games behind the New Orleans Hornets. On Friday night they take on the Dallas Mavericks at Staples and hope to build on their two game winning streak. All I know is it's nice to have Gasol back, as for the first time in quite a while the Lakers team looked confident in everything they were doing on the floor. When they get Andruw Bynum back, there's no telling just how good they are going to be!


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Fantasy Explosion!

Always nice when one of your fantasy baseball teams goes off for an offensive outburst... when it happens in the first week of the season though, it REALLY stands out!!

G. Soto C CHC 2 v MIL 8 (F) 1-4, 0.250 BA, HR, RBI, R
K. Suzuki C OAK 0 v BOS 5 (F) 1-3, 0.333 BA
M. Teixeira 1B ATL 10 v PIT 2 (F) 1-4, 0.250 BA, HR, 2 RBI, R
B. Roberts 2B BAL 9 v TB 6 (F) 1-3, 0.333 BA, HR, RBI, R, BB
A. Rodriguez 3B NYY 2 v TOR 5 (F) 1-4, 0.250 BA, HR, 2 RBI, R
T. Tulowitzki SS COL 3 @ STL 8 (F) 0-4, BB, CS
R. Ankiel OF STL 8 v COL 3 (F) 3-5, 0.600 BA, HR, RBI, 2 R
J. Dye OF CHW 2 @ CLE 7 (F) 1-4, 0.250 BA
T. Hunter OF ANA 1 @ MIN 0 (F) 2-4, 0.500 BA
C. Lee OF HOU 9 @ SD 6 (F) 1-5, 0.200 BA, HR, RBI, R
V. Wells OF TOR 5 @ NYY 2 (F) 3-4, 0.750 BA, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
C. Delgado U NYM 13 @ FLA 0 (F) 2-5, 0.400 BA, RBI, 2 R
J. Loney U LA 1 v SF 2 (F) 2-3, 0.667 BA, 2B, RBI, BB

Totals:19-52, 0.365 BA, 7 HR, 12 RBI, 11 R, 3 BB, CS

Too Many Things on TV!

My head is spinning tonight as there are just WAY too many good things to watch on TV... the Lakers are on, American Idol is on, I have my pick of about five different baseball games thanks to the free week trial of MLB Extra Innings that my local cable provider is offering this week. Go Lakers, Go Dodgers, Go Angels!!!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

U.S. Airwaves Bleeding For Leona!

The amazing run of Leona Lewis' hit single "Bleeding Love" continues here in America. After hitting #1 on FOUR different Billboard charts last week, "Bleeding Love" has now launched a full-fledged assault on the #1 spot on the U.S. pop radio airwaves! There's lots of fierce competition on the pop radio airplay charts, but as you'll see, Leona and her smash hit (currently #10 on the Mediabase Top 40 pop chart) seem to definitely be up to the challenge!!!

Top 40
Mediabase - Published Panel
Past 7 Days - by Spins
Updated: Tue Apr 1 12:47 PM PST

1 1 CHRIS BROWN With You 10592 10760 -168 65.545
2 2 SARA BAREILLES Love Song 10588 10500 88 59.037
6 3 JORDIN SPARKS No Air (f/Chris Brow... 8622 7735 887 51.776
3 4 FLO RIDA Low (f/T-Pain) 8573 9349 -776 52.595
5 5 MILEY CYRUS See You Again 8230 7737 493 47.426
4 6 RIHANNA Don't Stop The Music 7974 8973 -999 51.778
7 7 BUCKCHERRY Sorry 7409 7434 -25 33.375
9 8 USHER Love In This Club f/... 6927 6044 883 40.172
8 9 MARIAH CAREY Touch My Body 6856 6178 678 36.681
12 10 LEONA LEWIS Bleeding Love 5959 4542 1417 42.393

For those of you that aren't familiar with the charts, the main number you need to pay attention to is the 1417 in the next to last column. That's the number of spins "Bleeding Love" has picked up on the U.S. pop radio airwaves over the past week. Yes, Leona's picking up on average over 200 spins a day! Today alone, it picked up an incredible 237 spins!

To make a long story short, "Bleeding Love" is the hottest song on the pop chart at the moment as the Mediabase "Jump" chart clearly shows:

Top 40
Mediabase - Published Panel
Past 7 Days - by Move
Updated: Tue Apr 1 12:47 PM PST

Rk ARTIST Title Move
1.LEONA LEWIS Bleeding Love +1417
2.MADONNA 4 Minutes +1290
3.JORDIN SPARKS No Air (f/Chris Brown) +887
4.USHER Love In This Club f/Y. Jeezy +883
5.RAY J/YUNG BERG Sexy Can I +877

Yes, "Bleeding Love" is growing at an even faster rate than the much-anticipated new Madonna release, "4 Minutes" and every other song out at the moment!!! At it's current rate of growth, it could very well reach #7 on the big chart by this weekend! "Bleeding Love" is all but assured of a top 5 peak, but it's looking more and more like there's just about nothing left to stop this classic song from hitting #1 on the U.S. Pop radio airplay charts! Perhaps as soon as the end of this month, Leona Lewis will have a #1 U.S. Pop airplay crown to add to her ever-growing mantle!

And a week from today, Leona's debut album Spirit will be released for all of America to enjoy. I get the feeling that "Bleeding Love" is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak in terms of Leona's potential here in the U.S. and globally.