Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dodgers Get Manny Ramirez!

In dire need of a power hitter, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Andruw Jones in the off season. As we all know, that free agent signing has not at all worked out. Jones has all of TWO home runs and 13 RBI's to go along with an abysmal .167 batting average in 192 at bats this season. Where did the guy go who hit 118 home runs in the previous three years with the Braves? We're still wondering. Today, the Dodgers decided to acquire a disgruntled Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox as part of a three team trade. With the move, it's expected that Jones' role on the bench will be firmly cemented.

In Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers get an aging superstar who still has some life in his bat. If Dodger fans were not familiar with the phrase "Manny being Manny" before, I expect over the next two months, they will become very familiar with it. Manny has battled some injuries the past two years, hurting his production somewhat. After only hitting 20 home runs last year in 483 at bats, Manny already has that number in 365 at bats this year to go with a .299 batting average. With 510 career home runs, the sure-bet future Hall of Famer is definitely a welcome addition to the Dodger line-up. I assume he will hit in the clean-up spot, taking the place of second basemen Jeff Kent.

With a 54-53 record, one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the N.L. West, the Dodgers now become the favorite to win the division. With the Angels acquiring Mark Teixiera earlier this week, the local teams here in Los Angeles have certainly come out smelling like roses! It should be a fun next two and If we're lucky) three months here in L.A. Maybe that "Freeway World Series" that I've dreamed of since I was little isn't such a far-fetched notion anymore!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Parcells, Packers & Pierce : the Killer P's...

... and there certainly is no penalty box large enough to contain all three of these "Killer P's" after what has transpired over the past couple of weeks... yes, it's time for a rare rant from me, er make that three of them all in one blog entry!

Bill Parcells has a big ego, and yes we all have known it for a very long time. Christmas came early in our nation's capital this past week as Parcells shipped the best player on the 1-15 Miami Dolphins team he took over, Jason Taylor, to the Washington Redskins for basically nothing!!! Parcells didn't approve of Taylor missing a couple of weeks of training camp time due to his time spent on Dancing With The Stars. Seriously! I still can't believe that coach Parcells is so full of himself! While the Dolphins were not nearly as bad as their record last year indicated, losing six games by three points, this "move" certainly did nothing to improve the "Fins" for 2008 and beyond. And by the way, I hear noted leader Tiki Barber is interested in playing for you, Bill!

The Green Bay Packers brass REALLY needs to man up and do what is best for the organization and for the fans of their organization. I personally have nothing against QB Aaron Rodgers, however, he's no Brett Favre. Let's go back in time a little here. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls. Over the course of the next 24 seasons (1968-1991), the Packers made the playoffs all of two times! Only five of those seasons did they have winning records. Yes, they were HORRIBLE! In 1992, guess who became their starting QB? Favre helped guide the Packers to a 9-7 record, and though they missed the playoffs that year, the Packers would make the playoffs six straight seasons (winning Super Bowl XXXI) and 11 of the next 15. Only once in Favre's 16 years as a starting QB have the Packers had a losing record. Last year, of course, Favre nearly guided the Packers to the Super Bowl. If Favre had been bad last year, perhaps I could understand them not welcoming him back with open arms, but clearly he still possesses the skills to guide this team. The Packer brass needs to swallow their pride and do what is best for the team and their fans. Do you people NOT understand what Brett Favre has done for your team? Your city? GROW UP! With Brett Favre, the Packers have a good shot at getting to Super Bowl 43. How many rookie QB's have led their teams to Super Bowl wins? Exactly.

And what is the deal with Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce? Here's a quote from him when asked about Kobe Bryant being the best player in the world: "I don't think Kobe is the best player. I'm the best player. There's a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don't cross that line but I have a lot of confidence in myself."

Hmmm... Mr. Pierce, have you checked your Webster's lately? You might want to make sure your picture isn't in there illustrating the definition of the word "conceited!"


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angels Land Big Teix!

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the "Big Teix Sweepstakes" this afternoon, landing superstar Mark Teixiera from the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Kasey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek. The Angels have baseball's best record at 66-40, but at have times have struggled offensively. The addition of "Big Teix" assures Vladimir Guerrero some protection in the three spot, while it should also give Torii Hunter and Garret Anderson lots of RBI opportunities behind him.

Well known as a big second half performer, Teixiera already has 20 home runs and 78 RBI's to go with a .283 batting average. The Angels celebrated his acquisition by polishing off defending World Champion Boston Red Sox for the second straight night in Fenway Park, 6-2. Angels starting pitcher John Lackey took a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Dustin Pedroia broke up the no-no with a one out single. Kevin Youkilis then followed with a two-run homer to take away the shutout.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leona Scores Rare Double-Double!

Six months ago, if you said the name Leona Lewis here in the U.S., it's very likley you would have had no idea who she was. Fast forward to present day, where Leona has a number one and platinum debut album in Spirit, along with a single in "Bleeding Love" which has sold over 2.6 million downloads in America this year. FYI, it's the most downloaded song of the 2008 calendar year so far.

While Leona's sales achievements are impressive, the accomplishments of "Bleeding Love" continue to mount. It recently set all-time records for spins and estimated listening audience on the Mediabase CHR/Pop chart during it's 10 week run at the top earlier this year. This week, Leona moves into some truly elite compnay as "Bleeding Love" spends it's 10th week on top of the Mediabase Hot Adult Contemporary chart. In doing so, it becomes the second song EVER to spend double-digit weeks on top of both charts! In 1998, Natalie Imbruglia's #1 hit "Torn" spent 11 weeks on top of the CHR/Pop chart, to go along with 13 weeks on top of the Hot AC chart. Yes, this is a VERY rare accomplishment... In fact, no other song has ever spent nine or more weeks on top of both charts (though several have spent eight or more on top of both).

Congratulations to Leona on yet another incredible accomplishment! By the way, her follow-up single "Better In Time" is doing just fine, already at #33 less than two weeks since it went for adds with over 3/4 of the reporting panel playing it. Today alone, "Better" gained 162 more spins. Yes, Leona's got another HUGE hit on her hands here!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nats hit new Lowe in L.A.

After splitting the final 128 games of the 2007 season, the Washington Nationals looked at 2008 with some hope and anticipation. A returning Nick Johnson, a promising young offense led by Ryan Zimmerman, comeback player of the year Dmitri Young and the slugging Wily Mo Pena and a promising young pitching staff led by Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann and closer Chad Cordero looked to at least be a .500 team this year as they opened Nationals Park in our nation's capital.

Things started going wrong almost before they began though for this year's Nationals. Team mainstay John Patterson was released during spring training, and then the injuries began... every one of the above mentioned players has been hurt some point this year, and in the case of Johnson, Pena, Hill and Cordero, they are either done or looking to be done for the year. This week, the Nats traded arguably their best player this year, fill-in closer Jon Rauch to the Arizona Dimanondbacks... being an owner of Rauch in two of my five main fantasy leagues, this trade was especially disheartening.

Coming into tonight's matchup against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, it should come as no surprise that the Nats came in with the worst record in the majors at 38-65. Ex-Dodger Odalis Perez took on his old Dodger teammates... It was no contest from the start as Derek Lowe had his sinkerball working all night long, while Perez struggled from the get-go. Matt Kemp homered in the first inning with Juan Pierre aboard, and a scoring flyball by Nomar Garciaparra in the same frame gave the Dodgers an early 3-0 lead. Garciaparra hit a homer of his own in the fourth inning to key another three run inning for the Blue Crew. That was more than enough for "D-Lowe" as he completely stifled the Nats, allowing only a hit and a walk in hos eight innings of work. How bad was it for the Nats? Lowe had as many hits as the Nats did combined, going 2-for-3 on the night. Joe Beimel took over for Lowe in the 9th inning to preserve the 6-0 Dodger victory.

Being an owner of Lowe in four of my five most important fantasy leagues, this strong outing was very important personally, especially in one where aces Justin Duchscherer and Cole Hamels got torched to the tune of 12 earned runs and 20 batters allowed in just 9 2/3 innings of work between them. By the way, I am not winning any of those leagues at the moment... however, one is in second place and three others are within striking distance of the top. The league races are so tight at the moment that only eight points separate first to seventh in the one where I'm in 2nd place, 5 1/2 points out of the lead. In another where I trail the leader by only seven points, I'm actually in 6th place at the moment - FYI, this is the same league where I was down 33 points and mired in 9th place just 2 months ago. You can never give up in this game or ever rest on your laurels for that matter. Yes, it's a long season, a marathon if I must say!

With the win, the Dodgers keep pace, 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks in the N.L. West, while the Nats move to 38-66, 18 games behind the New York Mets in the N.L. East and still possessing the worst record in baseball. For the Nats, 2008 is looking like it won't be ending soon enough... for the Dodgers though, there is a lot of hope, even with a 50-52 record thanks to their division being so weak.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Harrington Goes Back-to-Back at Open

The Cinderella story of Greg Norman didn't have the happy ending so many of us hoped for. With just seven holes to play it still looked quite possible though as the "Great White Shark" was tied for the lead at 7-over-par with playing partner and defending British Open champion Padraig Harrington. Fortunes quickly changed after that for the two champions as the Shark bogeyed the 12th and 13th holes, while Harrington birdied 13 and 15 and then hit the shot of the tournament - a 5-wood approach to within five feet on the par-5 17th hole. Harrington drained the eagle putt and parred the final hole for a four stroke victory over Ian Poulter. Norman ended up tied for third with Henrik Stenson.

Did any of us expect a 53-year-old to be competing in a major, let alone leading with just seven holes to play? Probably not. It was definitely like walking back in time, seeing the Shark contending, and although he didn't win, he certainly fought valiently and got everyone's attention. Yes, the Shark shot a disappointing 77 in the final round, but in reality even a good round of 72 would have lost the tournament. Greg Norman didn't lose the 2008 British Open, rather Padraig Harrington simply took control of it over the tournament's final seven holes. Harrington's approach shot which set up the eagle on the 17th was one of the bravest, most heroic shots I've ever seen. A foot shorter and perhaps he finds the rough and is struggling for par... It's perhaps a very different tournament if that happens.

So no, there was no Tiger to be found, but the old Shark certainly gave us all as many thrills as Tiger ordinarily would in a major. Harrington becomes the first back-to-back winner of a major since Tiger himself won the Open in 2005 and 2006. Congratulations to Greg Norman on putting up such a valient fight, and to Padraig Harrington on his great win!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Shark Sighting at British Open!!!

No Tiger? No problem... we've got a Shark!!! A Great White Shark, that is! He's an "old" shark, but one that over the years has provided just as much drama as the world's current #1 ranked player. Yes, thanks for filling in for the Tiger so admirably the first three days of the British Open, Mr. Greg Norman!

As for the actual happenings at the tournament, round one saw U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate share the clubhouse lead with Robert Allenby after 1-under-par 69's in the most dreary of conditions. How bad was it on Thursday? Three of the world's best players - Phil Mickelson (79), Vijay Singh (80) and Ernie Els (80) - combined to go 29 over par! Phil and Ernie would manage to recover with rounds of 68 and 69 respectively on Friday to make the cut, but Vijay would go home after a 1-over-par 71. After two rounds, the surprising leader was K.J. Choi, whose 3-under-par 67 put him at a 1-under-par total of 139 - one stroke ahead of the 53-year-old Norman (aka: "The Great White Shark"). Norman matched par 70 for the second consecutive day in far calmer conditions than Thursday.

The "Shark" is perhaps best known for his heartbreaking losses over the years in the Masters than his two British Open wins... Norman recently married tennis star Chris Evert and credits her for the sudden resurgence in his play. Today's conditions were nearly as bad as Thursday's, and despite them, Norman managed a 2-over-par 72 for the third round lead - by two strokes over Choi and defending Open champion Padrig Harrington. Other than the VERY troublesome 10th hole (which he double-bogeyed), he played very steady golf, with three birdies and three bogeys to go with 11 pars.

So can he do it and become the oldest player by five years to win a major? Will it be another story of heartbreak to add to the long list of sad Sundays for the Shark? I for one will be rooting for the Shark. In a year that has seen so much drama in the golf world, a win for the Great White Shark would truly be a story even bigger than Tiger's win on one leg in the U.S. Open!

The drama of the fourth round begins at 8am ET/5am PT on your local ABC station.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Getting Better In Time

Well, as some of you may know, it's the "official" radio adds date for the latest single by Leona Lewis called "Better In Time." The song has already garnered enough support at radio to crack the top 50, debuting at that position on Sunday on the Mediabase pop chart. Though I don't think the song is going to be the huge (10 week at #1) hit "Bleeding Love" was, I do expect "Better In Time" to be a very big (top 5) hit that will help push sales of Leona's Spirit album towards double platinum status here in the U.S.!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Josh Hamilton = WOW!!!

If you weren't impressed by the staggering 95 RBI's that the amazing Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers had put up at this year's All-Star Break, perhaps tonight might have convinced you to be truly IMPRESSED. The annual Home Run Derby was held tonight at Yankee Stadium in New York, and Mr. Hamilton got on a roll that amazed even the greats of the game like Reggie Jackson. He even had the Yankee fans rooting for him. And trust me, the Yankee fans don't root for anyone not in their beloved pinstripes - EVER!!! Hamilton hit three balls over 500 feet and ended up belting a record 28 home runs in the first round - 20 more than the next closest competitor!!! WOW!!! At one point, he hit 13 in a row over the fence. Unbelievable! Perhaps more unbelivably, he didn't win the contest, losing 5-3 to Justin Morneau in the finals. But what a show he put on for us!

If you haven't heard of Josh Hamilton, or know of his story, I strongly suggest you read up. It's truly an amazing story of perseverance and triumph. Congratulations to Josh on his incredible record-shattering performance tonight and also for keeping things in proper perspective throughout. Despite what he did, he remained amazingly humble - what an example!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

R.I.P. Tony Snow

After a long battle with cancer, former White House press secretary and Fox News reporter Tony Snow passed on this morning. He was only 53. Tony brought a positive zest and zeal to his work and it very much came through when you watched him on television. He was someone I truly could relate to, and someone I had the utmost admiration for. His passion for his job and his country remind me of another great journalis we lost far too young recently - Tim Russert.

President Bush said of him "America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character. It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work. "All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with his brave struggle against cancer."

Tony is survived by his wife Jill and their three children. Please keep the Snow family in your thoughts and prayers. Tony, you'll be missed!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Yes, It's My Birthday!

And while I'd rather not say how "old" I'm turning (you can click on my profile if you really need to know), all I'll say is that I feel (and act) a heck of a lot younger!

So what did I do for my special day? Well, I actually started the celebration a couple of days ago, taking in an Angels game in Anaheim against the Toronto Blue Jays with my sister Lisa and my brother-in-law, Steve. What was supposed to be a pitching duel between aces John Lackey and Roy Halladay, turned into a lopsided game save for a Vladimir Guerrero two-run home run for the good guys. Down at one point 7-2, the Angels got their rally monkeys out, but the rally fell a little short as they ended up losing 7-5. Still, the Angels are doing just fine, maintaining a six game lead over the Oakland A's in the American League West as I type this.

Today was a mellow day... no flying to D.C. this year to go track down Tiger Woods or seeing Miss D.C. Kate Michael throw out the first pitch of a Nationals Game. And by the way, get well soon, Tiger! Instead I took it easy, reading a gazillion birthday eMails from friends and family. Later, I went to the gym for a long workout and then had dinner with my Mom, Lisa and Steve - and we were actually celebrating two birthdays tonight as Steve's birthday is on Thursday.

After I got home, I answered a bunch more emails, got a birthday message from my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, and then watched some baseball. Some history was almost made at Dodger Stadium tonight as Hideki Kuroda retired the first 21 Atlanta Braves he faced. Mark Teixiera ruined the perfecto though, lining a double into right field to open the eighth. Kuroda then retired the next six hitters to complete a one-hit 3-0 shutout of the Braves. With the win, the Dodgers moved into a first place tie with the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West. Speaking of the Braves, some good news to report... "Frenchy" is back. After only spending three days in the minors, Jeff Francoeur was called back up to the big club today. In his three games down, he hit .538 (7-for-13). Jeff didn't arrive in L.A. in time to start the game tonight, but I'm sure he will be back in the lineup tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone again for all of the birthday wishes!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nadal beats Federer in Epic Wimbledon final

I have to admit that it's been quite a while since I've really gotten into a tennis match. With "A-Rod" rarely making it to a grand slam final these days, my interest in tennis over the past few years has waned A LOT! Since there weren't any baseball games to be found this morning on TV, I decided to have some "Breakfast at Wimbledon." As it turned out, the finals match today pitting Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went into my lunchtime and boy was I glad that I tuned in!

The match was truly remarkable as each player hit some remarkable shots under the intense pressure of a worldwide audience... Nadal took the first two sets 6-4, and then the rains took over in the third set. When play resumed a couple of hours later, Federer made a heroic comeback, winning the third set in a 7-5 tiebreaker. The five time defending champ then staved off two match points in the fourth set after being down 5-2. Federer came back to win that set in a second tiebreaker by a 10-8 score.

The fifth and final set was epic as well. The rains came again to further extend it. The players both held their serves though the first 14 games. Nadal finally broke through in the 15th game to take an 8-7 lead (there is no tie-breaker in the fifth set). Nadal then held his serve to capture the championship in the longest match in Wimbledon finals history - four hours and 48 minutes. What a match! You can't really say there was a loser today as both players were champions in every sense of the word. Well done, and congrats to Nadal on winning his first Wimbledon!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Francoeur Sent to Minors :(

Just when you didn't think the 2008 baseball season could get any worse for the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Francoeur, it did yesterday as "Frenchy" was optioned to the Braves Double A Mississippi affiliate. Jeff got off to a nice start this year, and as of April 27th was hitting .294 with three home runs and 19 RBI's to go with a .500 slugging percentage and only nine strikeouts in his first 102 at bats. Included in his hot April start was his career night - a two home run, seven RBI effort against the Nationals in Washington on April 12th.

Since then though, it's been tough going for my second favorite Parkview High School (Georgia) graduate. A .207 batting average to go along with 53 strikeouts and 22 RBI's in the 60 games since was enough to convince the Braves brass to send him down. For the year he's hitting only .234. Of course, that is a lot better than his ex-teammate Andruw Jones, who posted a .222 average for the Braves last year, and currently sits well below the Mendoza line at .159 while flailing away for the Los Angeles Dodgers - he struck out four times in five at bats yesterday in his post-DL return against the rival San Francisco Giants.

Three years ago this coming Monday (which happens to coincidentally be my birthday), Jeff made his major league debut, clubbing a three-run homer in a 9-4 Braves victory over the Chicago Cubs. The Braves are coming to L.A. next week and I was hoping to catch Jeff, major league batting leader Chipper Jones, and the rest of the team as they faced the Dodgers in a three game series beginning next Monday night. I may still go, but now I'm not so sure.

From what I understand, the plan is for Jeff to spend 20 days down at Mississippi and then he will be called back up to the big club. Hopefully, he will get his swing and focus back and be the player that has shown so much promise in his first two years as a major leaguer.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

I just wanted to wish everyone here a very safe and Happy Independence Day! 232 years ago on this date, America declared it's independence. Remember our founding father's and everyone who has served over the years to protect our flag and our freedom.