Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 Miss DC Pageant - This Saturday!

As many of you know, I was at last year's Miss DC pageant as my friend Kate Michael (2006 Miss DC) passed on her crown to Shayna Rudd. This year the pageant is being held on Saturday, May 31st (7:30 PM) at the historic Lincoln Theatre at 1215 U St NW. I'll be flying into DC Saturday morning and heading to the pageant that night. As per the poster above (I borrowed the pic from Kate's blog), tickets are still available through Ticketmaster and the Lincoln Theatre Box Office. It should a fun time as I see Kate and many other previous Miss DC winners. Lots of pictures to come!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

32 Points Down... Yet Hope Springs Eternal!

While four of my five most important fantasy baseball teams are doing very well at the moment (in the top 3 or 4 teams), my one team has been bitten by the injury bug all season long. First Erik Bedard went down... then A-Rod!!, then Troy Tulowitski and finally, Vernon Wells. Yes, four of my top nine picks got injured during the season's first quarter! Not surprisingly, that team sits in 8th place, 32 points out of first! For those of you who play fantasy baseball, you know that is A TON of ground to make up...

Yet why do I have hope? Because the team I've put together is now arguably the best one out of all five of my teams! I've carefully orchestrated a couple of trades where I did have a little excess, landing stars as Derrek Lee, Ryan Zimmerman and Scott Kazmir. I took a chance and picked up a couple of prospects with A LOT of upside in Clayton Kershaw and Jay Bruce. The speculation on both minor leaguers has already started to pay off as they now both are in the majors and off to impressive debuts. I also stashed away Pedro Martinez a couple of weeks ago, and he appears to be ready to pitch again. Four months of Pedro? Well, I'd be happy with three at this point, and you know just how much he can contribute if you're a fantasy leaguer.

Here's the team I've put together...

C: Soto, Olivo
1B: D. Lee
2B: B. Roberts
3B: A-Rod
SS: Theriot
OF: C. Lee, Dye, Hunter, Ankiel, Bruce
U: Teixiera, Zimmerman
SP: Vazquez, Kazmir, Bedard, Billingsley, Kershaw, Lowe, Pedro Martinez
CL: Sherill, Ryan, B. Wilson, Franklin

I have power, I have speed, I have good starting pitching and passable relievers - I actually lead this league in saves with this staff... as long as I can stay relatively injury free, I like this team and it's chances!


Lakers Put Spurs Against Wall With Game 4 Win

It was a game which probably gave many Los Angeles Lakers fans a heart attack. The Lakers jumped to a quick 22-8 lead in Game 4 of their best-of-seven playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs tonight at the Alamodome, and then watched almost helplessly as some very poor officiating helped bring the Spurs back into the game and (almost) the series. It was tied 45-45 with 2:10 to go in the second quarter before an 8-2 Laker run gave the visitors a 53-47 halftime lead.

The game remained close in the second half as the Spurs drew within a point at 71-70 with 1:32 to play in the third quarter. Kobe Bryant then made a dunk and Sasha Vujacic hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and was fouled with 49 seconds to play. Vujacic converted on the rare 4-point play and the Lakers led 77-70 entering the fourth quarter.

Both teams stepped up the defense early in the fourth quarter, and the Spurs managed to outscore (if you want to call it that) the Lakers 9-4 through the first 7:20 to trim the margin to 81-79. The Lakers then seemingly almost put the game away as Lamar Odom dunked and converted a 3-point play on successive possessions and Kobe added a slam of his own to make the margin 88-79 with only 3:26 to play. The Lakers held a 93-86 lead with 56 seconds to play. Pau Gasol was fouled as the Spurs missed on their next attempt, but he inexplicably missed both free throws. A Manu Ginobili 3-pointer trimmed the margin to just four points with 42 seconds to play. A Tony Parker layup with 28 seconds left cut the Lakers lead to 93-91. The Lakers used up all of the clock in their next possession with Kobe missing a long fall away jumper as time expired. Tim Duncan grabbed the rebound with 2.1 seconds to play and the Spurs called time-out. The Spurs had one last shot to win, but Brent Barry's desperation 3-pointer was well off the mark and the Lakers escaped with a 93-91 win to take a commanding three games to one lead in the series. Ironically, the Lakers finally caught a break from the officials as it appeared that Derek Fisher may have fouled Barry on the play.

After personally shouldering the blame for the Game three loss, Lamar Odom more than made up for it, scoring 16 points (hitting 8-for-9 free throws) and grabbing nine boards. Kobe had another nice performance, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gasol, despite his missed free throws at the end, had another strong game scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and leading the Lakers with six assists and two more blocks. The usually reliable Lakers bench was largely absent tonight though scoring 19 points total, making only 28% (7 for 25) of their field goal attempts. Fortunately, the five Lakers starters combined to make 31 of their 60 shot attempts - a robust 52%.

Game five of the series will be at Staples Center on Thursday night starting at 9 ET/6 PT on TNT. Go Lakers!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day weekend break

I'm taking a little break from the blog during the Memorial Day weekend. I hope it is a safe one for all of you.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Lakers Rout Spurs in Game 2!

For 22 minutes tonight, game two of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center was a close game. The tired and weary Spurs though were simply no match for the Lakers after that though. The Lakers went on a 9-0 run over the final 1:54 of the first half to take a 46-37 halftime lead. From there, the Lakers steadily increased their lead, taking the margin to 17 points at 74-57 at the end of three quarters. When it was all said and done, the Lakers had a blowout 101-71 win to take a commanding two games to none lead in the best-of-seven series.

Kobe was his normal dominant presence, pouring in 22 points while dishing off five assists and grabbing five rebounds. "Mr. Double Double," Lamar Odam had a 20 point, 10 rebound, four block effort, while Jordan Farmar came off the bench to add 14 points. Derek Fisher with 11 points and Pau Gasol added 10 points as five Lakers scored in double figures. As a team the Lakers shot 54.9%, while the stingy Lakers defense held the Spurs to only 34.5% shooting. Game three of the series will be in San Antonio at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT on TNT. GO LAKERS!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lakers Steal Game 1 From Spurs!

Lakers coach Phil Jackson jokingly quipped during halftime of the game one of the 2008 NBA Western Conference finals tonight at Staples Center that Kobe Bryant was running the "Bermuda Triangle offense," rather the Triangle Offense that the coach is perhaps known best for. Kobe indeed was in the Bermuda Triangle in the first half as he only tallied two points. Derek Fisher didn't score at all, and not surprisingly, the visiting San Antonio Spurs took a 51-43 halftime lead.

Early in the third quarter, things went from bad to worse for the Lakers. A 14-2 Spurs run over the first 6:06 of the third quarter gave San Antonio a commanding 65-45 lead. Even last year, prior to the Pau Gasol trade, this Lakers team probably would have wilted and closed tent under the pressure. But these new Lakers do have a healthy Gasol... and Kobe decided about this time to come back from Bermuda. The Lakers Went on a 14-0 run over the next 3:38 as Kobe scored seven points, Gasol added four, and "the machine," Sasha Vujacic hit on a three-pointer. The sleeping crowd at Staples Center was suddenly wide awake and into the game again!

The Spurs took a tenuous 72-65 lead into the fourth quarter. And as you Lakers fans know, the fourth quarter is also known in these parts as "Kobe time!" The league MVP, along with his wingmen Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom, slowly pecked away at the Spurs lead. With 3:18 to play, Odom's fingerroll tied the the game at 81. Two Kobe free throws and a jumper on the next possession gave the Lakers an 85-81 lead with 2:17 to go. The Spurs (aided by some very poor officiating) managed to tie things back up at 85 on a Tim Duncan layup with 41 seconds to play. Kobe calmly took his time with the Lakers ensuing possession, passing to Vujacic and then driving into the lane for a relatively easy 12-foot jumper with 23.9 seconds to play. Manu Ginobili's 3-point attempt with eight seconds to play was well off the mark. Vujacic was fouled with 7.3 seconds to play and sank both free throws to seal the Lakers amazing come-from-behind 89-85 win!

Kobe scored 25 of his 27 points in the second half. He also dished out nine assists and grabbed six boards. Gasol was his steady self with 19 points and seven boards to with two more blocks. Odom only had eight points and eight rebounds, but made some some VERY plays on both offense and defense down the stretch. What a game! GO LAKERS!


Revisiting Instant Replay in MLB...

This past Sunday, Carlos Delgado of the New York Mets lost a home run in a game against the Yankees thanks to an incorrect reversal of a previously correct call. Delgado's ball glanced off the foul pole and was originally called a home run by one of the umpires. The umpires then conferenced and reversed the call! Replays of the blown call were shown repeatedly on ESPN's Sportscenter that night.

Tonight, it happened again!!! And it was another game involving the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez should have had two home runs in tonight's game against the Baltimore Orioles, but the umpire ruled that one of them bounced off the wall and not a yellow staircase over the fence in right field. A-Rod wound up with a "double."

While neither blown call ultimately affected the outcome of the games, what happens when it does? And what about us fantasy leaguers? If you lose out in the home run category by two homers this year and you had A-Rod and Delgado in your lineup for those dingers, could you sue Major League Baseball if you were in a money league? Perhaps...

And let's not EVER forget the 2005 American League Championship Series game when the Chicago White Sox were incorrectly given a fourth out late in a game against the Los Angeles Angels? The White Sox rallied in that game as a result. The Angels lost all of their momentum in the series with that play and they never were heard from again while the White Sox parlayed that blown call into a World Series title. The time for instant replay in Major League Baseball is now... and in reality, that NOW has been for a long time!!!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Stern Test for NBA

While the NBA Playoffs continue, an issue which commissioner David Stern tried to sweep under the rug a few months ago has (as I predicted) resurfaced with a vengeance.

As most of you know, former NBA official Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty last year to charges for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated. Donaghy has cooperated with FBI investigators and told them that relationships among officials, coaches and players "affected the outcome of games."

If these allegations are indeed true, it could put a black eye on what has been a season of resurgence in the popularity of the NBA. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lester Tosses No Hitter!

It has to be one of the best baseball stories in a long time. Even before what happened tonight in Boston, the Jon Lester story was a great story. In case you missed it, Lester survived a cancer scare last year and came back to help the Boston Red Sox to their second World Series title in the past four years.

Lester took on the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park, facing 29 batters, two over the minumum. The two baserunners both reached base via walks. Yes, you know what that means - he tossed a no-hitter, striking out Alberto Callaspo for the final out of the game!

For a player to come back from cancer and just pitch again in the major leagues is a great accomplishment. What happened in Boston tonight was truly miraculous! Congratulations to Jon Lester on his amazing comeback and no-hitter!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

5 Weeks at #1 for Leona!

The latest and greatest airplay charts are out, and once again Leona Lewis' huge hit "Bleeding Love" is on top. With over 10,000 spins at pop radio for a fourth consecutive week, "Bleeding Love" has already smashed the all-time chart records for most spins in a week with 10,993 and most estimated listening audience with over 74.1 million during the same week. With the next nearest song nearly 2,000 spins behind and no serious contenders, it's conceivable that "Bleeding Love" could spend 8,9 or even 10 weeks at the top of the chart before all is said and done. Congratulations to Leona on her continued amazing success here in the U.S. and all around the world! Also, don't forget to catch her on Late Night With David Letterman this Tuesday night (5/20) on your local CBS affiliate.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Lakers Escape with Game 6 Victory!

A game which was a blowout for most of 3 1/2 quarters got really close at the end... so close that the Utah Jazz actually had two chances to tie the game with less than 10 seconds to play. Both of those shots were off though, and the Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 108-105 to take game six of the best-of-seven series against the Jazz and advance to the Western Conference finals to take on the winner of game seven of the series between the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets.

Though the Jazz may have lost the game, they certainly earned my respect in this series. Unlike the Lakers first round opponent, the Denver Nuggets, the Jazz never gave up. The Lakers took a double-digit lead early, taking a 33-20 first quarter lead. By halftime, the Laker bulge had grown to 19 points at 62-43. The Lakers kept the Jazz at bay in the third period, and held an 86-70 lead with 12 minutes to play. The Jazz trimmed the Lakers lead to seven points with 5:17 to play, but Kobe Bryant hit a 3-point shot and then converted on a 3-point play on the ensuing possession to get the lead back to 13 points at 99-86 with 4:21 to go. The Jazz then staged a furious rally, connecting on 3-pointers on five conseutive possessions during a 19-6 run to cut the Lakers lead to just two at 105-103 with 16 seconds to play. Kobe Bryant was fouled immediately on the ensuing possession and made both free throws to up the lead back to four, but the Jazz then scored a layup with 13 seconds left to make it a 107-105 game. Derek Fisher was then fouled with 10 seconds to play and made the first free throw but missed the second. The Jazz then missed both of their game-tying 3-pointers and the Lakers had escaped with a 108-105 win.

Kobe led the way for Lakers as usual, scoring 34 points (including 12 in the fourth quarter) to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Importantly, Kobe made all seven of his final period free throws. Pau Gasol was steady as usual with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. As the late, great Lakers announcer Chick Hearn would have said, the last four minutes of tonight's game was "nervous time." Thankfully, the Lakers have moved forward and become the second team to clinch a trip to the NBA Conference Finals. GO LAKERS!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

First Quarter Fantasy Baseball Report Card

Well, it's May 15th and a month past tax day. It's also the traditional point in baseball circles which demarks the end of the first quarter of the season. Indeed as you look at the standings through the end of the night every major league team had played between 39 and 42 games out of their scheduled 162. In the real baseball world, some of the "usual suspects" as far as teams go are doing well. In the American league, the Angels, Red Sox and Indians are all within a game of first place, while in the National League the Diamondbacks and Cubs are once again leading their respective divisions. But who would have thought that the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would be in first place in the Eastern Divisions of their respective leagues? Conversely, did any of you think that the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies would be fighting it out for the worst record in baseball after they played a game 163 last year to determine the National League's Wild Card team?

Baseball is a fun game, isn't it? Well, fantasy baseball can be a lot of fun as well, though sometimes it can be very frustrating. As things closed out on 5/15/08, four of my five most important teams were right there in the battle for first, while one sat mired in NINTH! These are all 10 team leagues, so being in 9th place is not a good thing. So why are four of my teams doing well, and earning what I would call a grade of B or higher, while the other might get a D- from me? The eight letter word that fantasy leaguers ALL dread: INJURIES!!!

Here's a quick overview of my leagues and my teams:

Contenders -
ANGELS (68.5 pts, 2nd place, 4.5 pts out of 1st)

Strong in pitching, good in hitting, needing a little speed. Behind my first round draft pick Johan Santana, this team has managed to post a nifty 2.94 ERA and 1.19 WHIP to date. With only 31 steals the team ranks 8th in that category. Only two teams are within 3/4 of a run of me in ERA and only two are within .07 of me in WHIP. Given that James Shields, Javier Vazquez and Zach Grienke are also on this staff, perhaps a trade of Santana for some speed will be something I may explore at some point. And this is coming from a HUGE Santana fan!

Fantasy Baseball Gurus -
WAVES (63.5 pts, 3rd place, 4.5 pts out of 1st)

This team is the perfect example why you have to discount a slow start if you feel you have drafted a good team. As Baseball HQ's Ron Shandler says "exercise excruciating patience" early in the season. Four weeks in, this team sat tied for 7th place, 29 points out of first. Why did the team get off to such a rough start? David Ortiz wasn't hitting. Mike Napoli and Carlos Pena were hitting home runs, but not for average. Andruw Jones? Well, he just wasn't hitting at all and got shown the door soon after this. My team batting average stood at .258 on that day. 2 1/2 weeks later, this team's batting average sits at .277. I've gone from 9th to 3rd in that category! It doesn't hurt that this team features the other-worldly Lance Berkman along wih a now healthy Jimmy Rollins. Did I mention exercise excruciating patience? Well, an impatient owner in this particular league dropped Robinson Cano and guess who picked him up last week and got to enjoy his 4-for-4 performance last night? :) With 42.5 out of a possible 50 points in hitting, but only 21 in pitching, it's clear that at some point, I may need to move some of my offense to help out Cole Hamels and Zach Grienke.

Boys Of Summer -
THRASHERS (56 pts, 4th place, 9 points out of 1st)

Easily the tightest of any of my five leagues. With only 20.5 points separating first to last at the moment, no team is even remotely close to out of it yet. Over the course of the past week, I've been as low as 9th and as high as 2nd. Yes, this one still has some "settling down" to do. As I may or may not have mentioned here before, this was definitely the strangest of my five drafts. Outfielders went very early and closers very late. As a result, Francisco Rodriguez fell to me at #70 in the draft and I took Billy Wagner with my next pick as all of the offensive players I had targeted for my 7th and 8th round draft picks were gone. George Sherrill was around as the draft was ending so I took him. Well, K-Rod and Sherrill have combined for 31 saves... only one other team in my league has that many total! Needless to say, I'm running away with the category, and with J.J. Putz now healthy, closers became expendable. So, I moved Billy Wagner and Ian Snell for Scott Kazmir this past week. My team leads the league with 45 saves, but is dead last in wins with 14. I have GREAT power here, but am lacking a little in batting average and speed. More trades to come here, I think... but I have a lot of optimism here as with my WAVES team, Lance Berkman and Jimmy Rollins lead the offense.

Diamond Classic -
CRUSADERS (64.0 pts, 4th place, 15.5 points out of 1st)

This is the one team of mine that got off to a truly BLAZING start. Four weeks into the season I was in first place with 71.5 points. Why have I lost 7.5 points and fallen from my perch? My pitching has gone bad. My ace, Jake Peavy has been roughed up a little of late. My sparkling ERA and WHIP of 2.78 and 1.20 have risen to 3.31 and 1.24. Unexpectedly, Brian Roberts, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre have been drains on my batting average, with none hitting above .265 at the moment. Consequently, I sit in 8th in the category today. Fortunately, my five outfielders (Rick Ankiel, Carlos Lee, Corey Hart, Jermaine Dye and Josh Hamilton) are all hitting .289 or higher at the moment. Hamilton was a draft day target of mine and this was the only one of my five leagues where I nabbed him. His 44 RBI's are a major reason why I've been near the front of this league from the get-go. Out of all of my teams, this one probably has the best balance. Good speed, good pitching, good in pretty much everything. As long as my players can perform up to expectations and I avoid injures, I expect this team to be fighting for a title come September.

From East to West -
CRUSHERS (46.5 pts, 9th place, 25.5 pts out of 1st)

INJURIES! Can you say injuries? I knew you could! When I went into the warroom and peaked at the draft order a couple of hours ahead of time, I was pretty stoked that I finally had a number one pick. A-Rod, the man who helped me to so much success in 2007, would be mine! As the draft unfolded, things just seemed to get better and better. Erik Bedard would be my pitching ace with the 40th pick. Troy Tulowitski fell almost 15 spots below his draft average to me with the 60th pick. Vernon Wells was my 9th round pick. The only thing that went wrong on draft day was that all the decent closers went early. So I reluctantly took Joe Borowski with my 19th round draft pick. And you know the rest of the story! Yes, "Murphy's Law" has attacked this team like a tornado... but am I giving up? NEVER! I know how A-Rod can carry a team and I saw what Bedard did last year... and I've also got perennial slow starter and second-half star Mark Teixiera on my team. Yes, there is even hope for my one "bad" team!!!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lakers Win Tight Game 5!

The final score may have read 111-104 tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz in game five of their best-of-seven series, but believe me it was a lot closer than that. The Jazz never led the game, and trailed by only 3-4 points throughout the fourth quarter.

NBA MVP Kobe Bryant nursed a sore back and became facilitator instead of scorer, not taking a single shot in the final period. Without Kobe taking control of the offense, it was his two wingmen who assumed command. Lamar Odom scored seven of his 22 points in the final period, and Pau Gasol scored six of his 21 points including a key rebound and slam dunk of a Sasha Vujacic miss with 20 seconds to play to give the Lakers a 107-102 lead. Odom also grabbed 11 rebounds, while Gasol had eight assists, six rebounds and four more blocked shots. Kobe only took ten shots in the entire game, scoring 26 points, while dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds. Derek Fisher also played a prominent role with his tenacious defense, grabbing four steals in additon to his 14 points.

Game six of the best-of-seven series is in Utah at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT and will be seen on ESPN. GO LAKERS!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Joe, it's time to bench Andruw!

OK, we're almost a quarter of the way into the 2008 baseball season and a few players have become a bit beyond annoying to some of us. Actually, there's probably one who has caused more ire than anyone else for fantasy leaguers: Andruw Jones of the Dodgers.

What can I say? 19 hits in 112 at bats for a .170 batting average???!!! He has all of ONE home run and FIVE runs batted in on the year so far. Lance Berkman of the Astros recently had almost as many hits in a week (18) as Jones has for the entire season! Yes, this is the same Andruw Jones who hit 92 home runs and drove in 257 over the 2005 and 2006 seasons for the Braves. Nagging injuries and a pre-season diet where he took off 20 pounds were thought to be the main reasons why he slumped to a .222 batting average, 26 home runs and 94 RBI's last year. He put the weight back on (plus about 5-10 more pounds) and he has simply fallen into an abyss this year. He looks completely lost at the plate, and is striking out more than once for every three at bats. If Joe Torre is as smart of a manager as he's supposed to be, he should bench Andruw until further notice and go with an outfield of Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for the foreseeable future.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sergio finally Gets His "Major!"

I remember the day almost as if it was yesterday. It was the morning of July 22, 2007 as Sergio Garcia looked poised to get the monkey of his back and win the first major of his career. A four stroke lead early in the final round of the British Open, only to see it evaporate courtesy of a balky putter. A heartbreaking lip-out of a 10 foot putt to win the tournament on the 72nd hole extended the major to a four hole playoff where Sergio lost to Padrig Harrington by two strokes. With the loss, Sergio's reputation as the "best player in the world to not win a major" grew. Would he ever win "the big one?" How would he bounce back from such a tough loss?

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon in Ponde Vidra, Florida, the site of golf's so-called "fifth major," the Players Championship. The leader at the end of the third round was an unheralded journeyman named Paul Goydos at 7-under par, with nine time tour winner, 47 year-old Kenny Perry a stroke back. Sergio sat in third at 4-under par, with another journeyman (Jeff Quinney) and defending Players champion Phil Mickelson lurking five strokes back at 2-under par. Perhaps more important than the position of the leaders was the weather forecast: wind, and lots of it. When I saw that forecast, I made two quick mental notes: Sergio with his vast experience in playing in inclement/windy conditions would likely be a serious contender. Mickelson, with his deft short game and high ball flight would most likely not be a factor.

Sergio got off to a rocky start in round four, bogeying his first hole. Fortunately for him, those ahead were also stumbling. Goydos bogeyed 2 & 3, while Perry bogeyed two of his first four holes. Mickelson double-bogeyed his first hole and was never a factor, ballooning to a 7-over par 78 in the tough conditions. Sergio continued to hang close to the leaders, posting a 37 on the front nine to lie at 3-under, only two strokes back. Perry was at 4-under par through his first nine, but things began to unravel for him soon after that. Bogeys on 10 and 11 dropped him to 2-under par. Then, a disastrous triple bogey 7 after knocking a ball into the water on the par-4 15th hole ended his chances. Perry would finish the day with a 9-over-par 81, and tied for 15th.

As his playing partner Perry fell out of contention, Goydos almost gained command of the tournament. Birdies on 10 and 12 got him to 7-under par, right where he began the final round. Sergio had birdied 11 and 12 himself moments earlier to get to 5-under par. A bogey on 13 pushed him back to 4-under par, but he righted the ship with a long birdie putt at 14 to get to 5-under par. Under the radar, Quinney made some waves on the closing nine. Birdies at 11,13 and 16 got him to 5-under par as well. It had become a three horse race. Goydos though then had some struggles of his own, bogeying both 14 and 15 to fall to 5-under par. He did right the ship though, with a birdie on 16 to get back to 6-under par.

As the players approached the 18th hole, they all basically knew what they needed to do. Sergio and Quinney both found the rough with their tee shots. Sergio's ball found some VERY deep rough and it took all of his strength to punch the ball out into the fairway to give himself at least an opportunity to get up and down for par. Quinney's approach found the bunker at the back of the green. With a horrible lie, it was pretty much a guaranteed bogey for him. Sergio then pulled off two of the best shots he's ever hit. His approach shot stoppped about seven feet behind the pin and he made a confident stroke with his putter and found the bottom of the cup. Quinney's 4-under total put him in third place. Sergio was in the clubhouse with a 1-under par 71 and a 5-under par total.

Goydos simply needed to par the 18th hole to win, but his tee shot found the rough as well. He hacked out to about 50 yards from the green, and then chunked his approach shot to 15 feet under the hole. His par putt never had a chance, and with the bogey, he finished at 5-under par as well and fell into a sudden death playoff with Sergio.

For only the second time in tournament history, the Players Championship was going to a playoff. And there could not be a more appropriate place to begin a playoff than the famous island green of the 17th hole. It's 128 yards of sheer terror. With the winds gusting, a little luck was a necessity if you wanted to escape with a score of par. Both Goydos and Sergio escaped it the first time on Sunday with pars, Sergio's shot barely staying dry as he two-putted from the fringe 45 feet away.

In the playoff, Goydos won the draw and hit first. As the ball came off his club, it looked good, but as has happened so many times over the years, a gust of wind ballooned his shot and caused it to drift right and short. Goydos had found the water. All Sergio would need to do is find the land to secure the tournament. Much easier said than done as I'm sure you know. Well, Sergio hit what can arguably be called the shot of his life, landing his ball just to the right of the center of the green 20 feet away and then having it trickle with the aid of the wind to within 4 1/2 feet of the hole. Finally, the demons could be exercised. Two putts later, Sergio claimed his first "major" title and the $1,710,000 paycheck that went with it.

Even though he's only 28 years old, Sergio Garcia has been through a lot in his career. Will he be the next to challenge Tiger Woods? Well, I'm not sure if he's there yet. As he accepted the 2008 winner's trophy from Mickelson he said "thank you Tiger for not playing this week." Everyone in the gallery got a kick out of that comment... One thing though was very evident though throughout the day... The joy that the 19 year-old kid displayed in almost winning the 1999 PGA Championship (won by Woods over him by a single stroke) was back! On Sunday, he made the important putts - six of them being eight feet or longer. He pumped his fist confidently each and every time he made a putt. For those of us who have seen him go through so much, it was so nice to see him FINALLY triumph. Congratulations to Sergio on a great tournament and win!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Carrie Underwood Inducted into Grand Ole Opry!

I just wanted to give a quick note of congratulations to country music star Carrie Underwood on her induction into the Grand Ole Opry! Fellow Oklahomian Garth Brooks presented Carrie with a 14-inch bronze and oak wood replica of the Opry’s vintage microphone stand as she became the latest member of this exclusive fraternity. The presentation and Carrie's performance of three of her songs was shown live on GAC TV from 8-9 pm ET/5-6 pm PT on Saturday night.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Lakers Hit Sour Note in Utah

There was a reason the Utah Jazz made the playoffs this year - their 37-4 record on their home court also known as the Salt Palace. That mark was the best home record of any NBA team this year. One of those four defeats came at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lake Show was hoping to add another loss to the Jazz home ledger, and for a few minutes tonight, that looked like it might happen. The Lakers jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead over the first 2:53 of the game. The Jazz stormed back though, going on a 15-3 run over the next six minutes to take a four point lead. The Lakers managed to forage ahead one last time at 23-21 on a Ronny Turiaf dunk with 1:24 to play in the opening period.

From there, the Jazz took control of the game. A 28-15 run put them up by 13 with 2:32 to play in the first half. The Jazz took a 52-43 halftime lead. The Lakers tried to rally in the third quarter, but could never trim the margin below six points. After three quarters, the Jazz led by seven at 79-72. The Jazz extended the lead to 12 points at 86-74 with 9:02 to play in the final period. The Lakers though would rally, going on an 18-9 run to cut the Jazz lead to 95-92 with 3:21 to play. The Jazz and Carlos Boozer would put the game away though as he made three consecutive shots over the next minute and a half, while a turnover and two Laker misses on three-pointers pushed the lead back to nine with 1:57 to play. The Lakers simply ran out of time and ended up losing 104-99.

Game four of the series will be on your local ABC station starting at 3:30 ET/12:30 PT on Sunday.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Payola & Chart Rigging: Part Deux

More to come on this issue... We have Rihanna's record label attempting to buy another Hot 100 number one hit with her current single, "Take A Bow." It's quite distressing that a respected publication such as Billboard would make itself so subject to this sort of manipulation. For all intents and purposes, there are some weeks (Leona Lewis' current and legitimate #1 hit "Bleeding Love" not withstanding) where the song purported to be the #1 hit on the chart is in fact not even close to that.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lakers Roll to 2-0 Lead!

With Kobe Bryant finally winning his first MVP award, many thought that he and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates might have a letdown against the Utah Jazz tonight in game two of their best-of-seven round two playoff series tonight at Staples Center. The Lakers did have a letdown, but fortunately it only lasted about 4 1/2 minutes into the game.

The Jazz kept it close early, actually leading 13-12 with 7 1/2 minutes to play in the first quarter. The Lakers then went on a 21-5 run to close the quarter to take a 33-18 lead. From there, the Lakers were never seriously challenged until late in the fourth quarter when the Jazz cut the lead to 99-94 with 5:58 to play. But, just like in game one on Sunday afternoon, the Lakers then put the Jazz away just as quickly as they had inched close. Sasha Vujacic hit a 20 foot jumper and Derek Fisher connected on his fourth three-pointer of the night to stretch the margin back to 10 points. The Jazz desperately tried to get back into the game in the closing 1:01, fouling the Lakers six times! It didn't work though as the Lakers made 11 of their 12 free throws, and finished with a 120-110 victory to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.

The usual suspects did their thing for the Lakers tonight. The newest league MVP had 34 points (11-for-18 from the field, 11-for-12 from the line), eight rebounds and six assists. "Mr. Double Double," aka: Lamar Odom had 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Pau Gasol had a "quad 5"... scoring 20 points while grabbing five rebounds, dishing out five assists, and blocking five shots. "D-Fish" scored 22 points including the aforementioned four three-pointers. "The Machine," as Vujacic is called by his teammates, scored 12 points off the bench.

Game three of the Series will be on Friday night in Utah at 9:00 ET/6:00 PT and can be seen on ESPN. GO LAKERS!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

KOBE finally Nabs MVP!

Whether it was in Sacramento, Denver, Boston, or most especially the Staples Center the chant throughout the 2007-2008 NBA season when Kobe Bryant came off the court or did something special was the same: "MVP, MVP, MVP!!!" For whatever reason, up until today, Kobe had failed to ever win the award. Today, it FINALLY happened as he was named the league's Most Valuable Player for the first time receiving 82 first place votes and 1,100 total points. New Orleans' Chris Paul with 28 first place votes and 894 points was second, with Kevin Garnett third (15, 670) and Lebron James fourth (1, 438).

Kobe's scoring was down this year - he only averaged 28.3 points per game (down from 31.6 and 35.4 the previous two years). His rebounding was up though as he secured a career second-best 6.3 per game. He also had his second best season in steals, averaging 1.84 per game. Although his 5.4 assists per game were only average in terms of his career numbers, people around the league will tell you he definitely made his teammates all-around better players. The Lakers posting their best season in the post-Shaq era by far with a 57-25 record is testament to the impact he had.

Congratulations to Kobe on finally being named the NBA's MVP... an award that is VERY well deserved!


Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Yes, I do have some Spanish in me... so I do want to wish everyone a very happy Cinco De Mayo! Also, I want to wish a very Happy 90th birthday to my Grandma!


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lakers Begin Round 2 on High Note!

For one quarter this afternoon, the Utah Jazz were able to hang with the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. The problem for the Jazz though is the NBA game is four quarters. The Lakers only led 25-24 after one period, but Kobe Bryant and company gradually built their lead until it reached 13 points at halftime. The Lakers lead continued to grow until it reached 19 points at 68-49 with 7:33 to play. The Jazz though were persistent and slowly pecked away at the Lakers advanatage, trimming the Lakers lead to 79-72 by the end of the third quarter. The Jazz would stay close, getting to within four points at 91-87 on a layup with 4:44 left to play. They would get no closer though, although even three minutes later they were still down by only six points at 96-90. The Lakers then finally closed things out, scoring five points over the next minute to give them an insurmountable 101-90 lead. FINAL SCORE: Lakers 109, Jazz 98.

Who were the heroes for the Lakers? The usual suspects continued to dominate. Kobe went off for 38 points, making 21 of his 23 free throws and grabbing six rebounds, while dishing out seven assists. Pau Gasol contributed 18 points and 10 boards, while Lamar Odom almost matched him with 16 points and nine rebounds. Sasha Vujacic scored 15 points off the bench in just 17 minutes of action, and Ronny Turiaf added four blocks in his 18 minutes.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Replacing Tulowitski & J-Roll?

The 2008 baseball season has had it's normal share of injuries to star players. As most of you know, A-Rod has been out of action for a bit now and there's really no way to replace the 2007 AL MVP on your fantasy team - you have to just take your lumps and try to survive being without him.

Another guy who had a great season in 2007 was the Colorado Rockies' Troy Tulowitski. 24 home runs, 99 RBI's, 104 runs scored, seven steals and a .291 batting average. Some very nice production from the shortstop position. "Tulo" went down this week and will miss 6-8 weeks with a groin injury, so he's rendered useless and unrosterable in leagues that don't have a DL slot. In most 5x5 10 team leagues, he went around the 50th spot on average. I felt very fortunate to land him at #60 in one of my leagues. Now that he's down, I need to replace him. There are some decent options out there and actually I did manage to grab the Red Sox Julio Lugo as a fill-in for now.

In another league where I've lost Jimmy Rollins for a bit (he may be back in another week or two), the Chicago Cubs' Ryan Theriot has done well as his replacement. However, the more experienced Edgar Renteria is now also available in that league. I'm thinking of making the switch, but am not sure if I should. What do you think? Please vote in my poll, and give me your thoughts if you feel led to. Hopefully, I will make the right move!


Friday, May 2, 2008

One Month In...

Well, we're a month into the baseball season now, and if you're a fantasy player it's time to start making evaluations of your teams and players and start addressing the weaknesses of your teams and making them better through trades or free agent pickups.

As for me, I'm pretty happy with the results so far in my five most important 10 team rotisserie leagues. Interestingly, the teams where I went against conventional wisdom and took an ace starting pitcher early (Johan Santana amd Jake Peavy) are both in first place as I write this. As for the other three teams where I have no true "ace," two are in sixth place and one is in eighth.

The above said, it's a very long season. If you're a Justin Upton, Pat Burrell or Rafael Furcal owner, it's probably time to sell high. Conversely, it wouldn't be a bad idea to try and trade for David Ortiz, Carlos Pena and others that have gotten off to a slow start with the bat.

I'll talk more baseball this weekend, time permitting.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cust Giveth, Cust Taketh Away!

It truly was a feast or famine series for the Oakland A's hitters as they faced the co-division leading Los Angeles Angels. In game one of the series, the A's pounded out 16 hits, while defeating the Halos 14-2. The next two nights, the A's could only manage a single run TOTAL as the Angels won 2-0 and 6-1 behind the pitching of Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana.

The Angels called up their top prospect, Nick Adenhart to pitch against the A's Justin Duchscherer in the final game of the series at the "Big A" in Anaheim... Adenhart and "Duch" both pitched perfect first innings... From there though, things kind of unraveled. Adenhart completely lost the strike zone in the second inning, walking four hitters, while giving up two hits as the visitors scored four runs.

The bottom of the second inning was very eventful for the A's and especially one Jack Cust. Cust came into the game with the 4th lowest batting average of any qualified batter in the majors at .176. He also had only hit one home run in 68 at bats. After clubbing 26 home runs and driving in 82 in only 395 at bats while hitting .256 last year, many (including myself) were expecting big things from Cust this year. Despite his low batting average, Cust at least was still getting on base, walking 22 times for a very respectable .385 on base percentage.

Getting back to the game, Duchscherer appeared to be ready for his second straight perfect inning as Garret Anderson hit a lazy flyball to Cust in right field. Inexplicably though, Cust dropped the ball! Anderson reached second base on the play. Duchscherer clearly got rattled by the play, and the floodgates opened as the Angels pounded out five consective hits. The big blow was a 3-run homer by Erick Aybar. When the third out was finally recorded, the Angels held a 5-4 lead.

Given Cust's error and his slow start with the bat, he could have just hung his head and sulked... instead, it turned out to be a career night for him. After walking in his first time up to bat in the second inning, he grounded a single up the middle in his next at bat in the top of the third. His third time up he connected on his second home run of the season to give the A's a 7-6 lead in the fifth inning. That homer was the start of an eight run outburst for the A's. Cust walked as he came up for a second time in the inning and scored on a Darren O'Day wild pitch to give the A's a 14-6 lead. Cust singled again in the 6th inning, and singled again in the 8th inning for his first career four hit game. Once the dust was finally settled, the A's had a 15-8 win, and were back into a first place tie with the Angels, just as things were before the series began Monday night.

For the night, Cust came up to the plate six times, and the Angels never retired him! With his perfect night, he raised his batting average 46 points to .222, and his OBP 38 points to .423. As many of you know, Cust is a VERY streaky hitter. When he gets hot, he gets RED HOT, so it may not be a bad idea to pick him up and get him into your lineups if you're a fantasy leaguer.