Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I just wanted to wish everyone a safe and Happy Easter. Remember what we are celebrating today... it's not about some bunny or coloring eggs.

Blessings to all, John


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Here...

Yes, it's been forever and a day since I posted a blog. Why haven't I posted in two months? Well, there are several reasons... number one though is that life has been quite stressful for me the past few months. The free time I used to have either has been spent doing other things or simply has not been available. To make matters worse, I endured a cyberstalking incident as well which quite frankly really creeped me out.

So what have I been up to? Well, number one has been taking care of me and my physical and emotional health. I've been hitting the gym five times a week now for the past month. I also started taking a pilates (yes, P-I-L-A-T-E-S) class three months ago and have been truly awed by the results. In my weight training I had hit a wall this past December. At the urging of a friend I met there, I decided to take the class. And lo and behold it began to make a world of difference. My breathing during techniques and flexibilty are much improved, and now I'm lifting 50% or more weight on every one of my machines since I started the classes! Needless to say, I'm in better physical condition than I've been in a very long time - try seven years! The past few weeks I've gotten compliments from so many people saying how good I look - everything from my posture being better to me looking broader and more muscular. Yes, the hard work has paid off! I can honestly say this is the best physical shape I've been in since about early 2002.

Emotionally, well it's been a roller coaster of late. Life has had so many ups and downs. My friend's lives have had so many ups and downs as well. Do I know anyone who is NOT stressed out right now? I don't think so! I'm sure most of you by now have heard of the tragic passing of Angels pitching prospect Nick Adenhart on Thursday. He along with two friends were killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light, slamming into the side of his vehicle. Only 23 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him! Just so tragic. May God's speed be with his family and friends.

What else have I been doing? Well, I'm trying to become the next Poker star - I think!!! Over the past couple of months, I've become very involved in the game and have done quite well. I've been entering some free weekly Texas Hold 'Em tournaments just to get my feet wet. As I write this, I'm ranked 730 out of over 750,000 players in the current one (which ends tomorrow night). Given my math aptitude and God-given gifts with numbers, it's something I seriously need to consider given the growth in popularity of Texas Hold 'Em Poker the past several years.

I'm still doing my fantasy baseball leagues, but after my heartbreaking losses last year in all five of my money leagues, I decided it was time to reassess. This past September I was also so stressed out and ultimately disappointed in my results that I also asked myself "is this worth it?" Also, one of my best friends made a very good point to me about after the season was over, asking "isn't that gambling?" At first I said "no" as playing the fantasy games for money is legal in 42 of the 50 states... However, the more I thought about it, dwelled on it and prayed about it, the more and more my conscience got the better of me. It may not be legally considered gambling, but it felt like gambling. You throw the Alex Rodriguez steroid revelations in there and that was the final straw. I'm doing ten leagues this year, which is more than enough to keep me involved in the game. But I'm also NOT doing any of the money leagues through CBSSportsline as the previous two years. Perhaps after the season is over, I'll reassess again and come to a different conclusion for the 2010 season. I don't know yet.

What else is up? Well, another trip to Nashville in June for CMA Fest week for sure... A trip to the Pacific Northwest in July is penciled in. I'm also leaning towards adding on a trip to D.C. before heading to Nashville just like last year. More to come as I figure it out more.

That is all for now. Hopefully, I will have time to start blogging on a more regular basis again soon.


Monday, February 9, 2009

A-Rod or the Grammys... and the biggest fraud is?

Which one is the bigger fraud? It's to the point now where I wonder why I even bother to play fantasy baseball or why I bother to pay attention to the Grammy awards show year after year. The one thing that baseball and the Grammy awards apparently have in common is cheating.

Baseball players take steroids. The whole world knows it now... the question now is which ones played fair and didn't? America's most hallowed player of today, Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking them between 2001 and 2003. Has anyone legitimately hit 50 home runs since Cecil Fielder did in 1990? Maybe Ken Griffey Jr. didn't cheat when he hit 56 home runs in 1996 and 1997 for the Mariners. Maybe Ryan Howard didn't cheat when he hit 58 homers two seasons ago for the Phillies.

The Grammy committee makes sure the "artist on their politcal agenda" gets full recognition in a given year, even while they're not worthy. It's been blatently bad the past three years with banner nights for unserving winners while the worthy artists either went home empty handed or were severely shortchanged. Heck, they managed to raise up THREE unworthy artists this year in Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and Adele! Yes, the Grammy awards are rigged. I said it. And sadly, it's the truth!!!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Kobe Drops Record 61 @ MSG!

... and yes, the Lakers did win the game against the Knicks tonight at Madison Square Garden by a 126-117 score. Kobe hit on 19 of his 31 attempts from the field (including 3-for 6 on threes) and also made all 20 of his free throws. In scoring 61 points, he eclipsed the famous "double nickel" (55 point) performance by Michael Jordan as a Chicago Bull in 1995 and the 60 points Bernard King put up at the Garden on Christmas Day 1984 for the Knicks. Pau Gasol's great 31 point, 14 rebound performance was all but lost amidst #24's magical night. The Lakers are going to need Kobe and Pau to man the ship as yesterday's MRI on Andrew Bynum revealed a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Bynum, who had been playing amazing of late, is expected to miss 2-3 months. Fortunately, surgery will not be required.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Steelers Win Truly SUPER Game!

Has there ever been a more exciting Super Bowl game? Well, I've seen a lot of them in my lifetime and I think this definitely was the best one ever, even if the team I was pulling for didn't come out on top.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers were not too surprising a representative for the AFC, most of us were pretty shocked that the Arizona Cardinals made it amongst all of the NFC teams. I for one wasn't all that surprised by the Cards run - they were sleeper team to make the playoffs before the 2007 season started. It only took them an extra year to deliver on my hype.

Super Bowl XLIII had a little bit of everything. Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to a quick 10-0 lead early, but Kurt Warner quickly pulled the Cardinals back to within 10-7. As the first half ended, the Cardinals were poised to take the lead, but James Harrison intercepted a Warner pass intended for Anquan Boldin and returned it a record-breaking 100 yards to give the Steelers a 17-7 lead going into halftime.

The Steelers momentum carried into the third quarter as they took a 20-7 lead on Jeff Reed's second short field goal of the game.

In the final period, Warner and the Cardinals showed why they were in this thing in the first place. Perseverance - the story of Warner's football career and his team's in 2008. A drive culminated with a Larry Fitzgerald touchdown catch from one yard out drew the Cards to within six points at 20-14. The teams exchanged kicks the next two possessions, but the Cards managed to back the Steelers up against their own goal line. On third down, the Steelers were called for holding in the end zone for a safety. Suddenly, we had a 20-16 game with just under three minutes to play. After the ensuing free kick, Warner struck quickly, finding Fitzgerald down the middle for a 64 yard touchdown. The seven point underdog Cardinals were suddenly up 23-20 with 2:37 to play.

The Steelers would take off seconds on the ensuing kickoff return to leave "Big Ben" and his teammates two minutes and thirty seconds to either tie or win the game. play. For most NFL quarterbacks, 2:30 is not a lot of time. Indeed, when it's pressure time very few are able to rise to the challenge and not crumble. I mentioned recently that the two quarterbacks I most fear in the NFL with two minutes to play and the ball are the Colts' Peyton Manning and "#7" on the Steelers. With Roethlisberger at the helm, I almost knew what was going to happen because I've seen him do so many times in his five years as a pro. There's a reason "Big Ben" won a record 51 regular season games in his first five seasons. The guy has a HUGE heart! Sure enough, he did what we all know him to do. "Big Ben" meticulously drove the Steelers 78 yards in nine plays, culminating with six yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just 35 seconds to play. Holmes did an absolutely AMAZING job getting his toes down while making the acrobatic catch which would ultimately end the Cardinals Cinderella story and result in he being named the game's MVP.

Warner and his offense had one last gasp, but with five seconds to play he was stripped of the ball as he tried to pull one more miracle play off. It wasn't meant to be. The Steelers got their record sixth Super Bowl ring in an absolutely amazing 27-23 game. The stars truly shined. It's a shame someone had to lose this game as I think it will go down in history as the best game EVER played!


Saturday, January 31, 2009

All-time favorite "IDOL" songs?

In it's first seven seasons, the show American Idol has discoved A LOT of talent. Kelly Clarkson got the show off and running in the show's first season as the champion and scored a huge #4 pop hit with "A Moment Like This" at the end of 2002. Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry have had some huge success with multi-platinum albums and #1 hit singles at their respective core formats. To date, more than thirty songs from Idol alumni have cracked the top 10 at either Pop, Hot AC, Adult Contemporary or the Country formats. Pretty amazing stuff. As a fan of the show, I do wonder if anyone from season 8 will be able to match the numbers of any of the aforementioned artists.

With the above in mind, I decided to compile a list of my all-time top 25 singles to date from "Idol alumni"... here goes... feel free to post me your list.

1. "Jesus, Take The Wheel" - Carrie Underwood
2. "Home" - Daughtry
3. "Wasted" - Carrie Underwood
4. "Just A Dream" - Carrie Underwood
5. "Breakaway" - Kelly Clarkson
6. "I Wonder" - Kellie Pickler
7. "Before He Cheats" - Carrie Underwood
8. "Behind These Hazel Eyes" - Kelly Clarkson
9. "Last Name" - Carrie Underwood
10. "All-American Girl" - Carrie Underwood
11. "Since U Been Gone" - Kelly Clarkson
12. "So Small" - Carrie Underwood
13. "Don't Forget To Remember Me" - Carrie Underwood
14. "No Air" - Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown
15. "It's Not Over" - Daughtry
16. "Because Of You" - Kelly Clarkson
17. "A Different World" - Bucky Covington
18. "Walk Away" - Kelly Clarkson
19. "Some Hearts" - Carrie Underwood
20. "Miss Independent" - Kelly Clarkson
21. "Wait For You" - Elliott Yamin
22. "I Told You So" - Carrie Underwood
23. "Tattoo" - Jordin Sparks
24. "8th World Wonder" - Kimberly Locke
25. "Over You" - Daughtry


Friday, January 23, 2009

No Access to ALLACCESS...

If you're a music fiend like me, then you're very well of the radio industry site Since Wednesday morning, the site has NOT been updated! On the site you can view the top 50 songs at any format and get the latest industry news. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with all of the ClearChannel layoffs that were announced earlier in the week, but one thing is for sure: there are a lot of frustrated music fans out there right now... here's hoping the site is up and running and back to normal soon!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Becomes 44th U.S. President

Whether you voted for him or not, today was a very special day for our great nation and one Barack Obama. Outgoing President George W. Bush passed the torch to America's now 44th President at noon today. A record crowd of an estimated 1.8 million people crowded Washington D.C. to see the inauguration.

As our Country enters a new era, let us pray for outgoing President Bush, new President Obama, and most importantly, our nation. I do wish the very best for our new President and sincerely hope that our nation propsers these next four years under his leadership.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Remembering Ricardo Montalban

For those of us who happen to be of hispanic descent (I'm half spanish, half german), Ricardo Montalban was a true role model to me growing up. My most vivid memories of him were from his car commercials - I'll never forget the phrase "soft Corinthian leather," his television show Fantasy Island, and his role as Khan on Star Trek.

More than anything though, he was a source of inspiration and hope to anyone of hispanic origin. His movie career spanned an amazing seven decades! A devoted husband, he and his wife Georgiana were married for 63 years until her passing late in 2007. He was also a strong man of faith, often stating that his Catholic religion was the "most important thing" in his life.

We didn't just lose another actor today. We lost a great man, a great human being, and a great role model. A true icon who spanned three generations. Rest in peace, Ricardo, and thanks for everything you did for not just minorities, but for humankind in your time here. I'm sure that as he entered the gates of heaven, the words "well done, good and faithful servant" were spoken.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good Luck D-Lowe!

As a Dodger fan, I knew this day was coming... it wasn't a matter of if, it was when and where. Most of us knew that when he pitched on October 13, 2008 against the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Philles that the guy known as "D-Lowe" had likely made his last pitch as a member of the Blue Crew. As happened so often in his career as a Dodger, Lowe left that game leading only to see the bullpen give it up. In this game (divisional playoff game 4) he left after five innings leading 3-2. The Dodgers would eventually lose that game 7-5.

In four years as a Dodger he was only 54-48 in the won-loss column. To look at his record alone would be very misleading. Twice in those four years, D-Lowe received the worst run support of any NL pitcher. With a better offense behind him, you're talking about a guy who would have won 16-20 games every year rather than only once. Over his four years as a Dodger he posted ERA's of 3.61, 3.63, 3.88 and 3.24. Yes, D-Lowe was a model of consistency - the one steady and reliable force the Dodgers had on their staff. Not as flashy as Chad Billingsley, not as hyped by the media as much as the perhaps more talented Brad Penny, D-Lowe just did his job. He took the mound every fifth day and gave the Dodgers a chance to win just about every time.

After his requisite thrashing at Busch Stadium on August 6th - he just never has pitched well there for some reason (fantasy leaguers take that as a note for the 2009 season), he was almost perfect... In his final 10 regular season starts as a Dodger, Lowe gave up EIGHT runs... yes, EIGHT earned runs allowed ih his final 64 regular season innings - a stellar 1.13 ERA to go with a 6-1 record over that time. The Manny may have gotten all of the credit for the Dodgers championship run last year, but reality is that Derek Lowe played a pretty big role himself.

Today, Derek Lowe signed with the Atlanta Braves - 4 years, $60 million dollars... Yes, that is a whole lot of cash and I must say it's well-deserved. Braves fans, you can rest assured you're getting a good one, ok almost a GREAT one if you want the truth... a money pitcher (he gave up all of two earned runs in each of his three playoff games this year). Our loss is your gain. Good luck, Derek... you'll be missed here, though rest assured, there will ALWAYS be a spot on my fantasy teams for you! Without you, I would have been a pretender and not a contender in a lot of leagues these past few years!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Jim Rice finally Gets His Due!

We all pretty much knew that all-time stolen base and runs scored leader Rickey Henderson would be a shoo-in to be amongst those announced to be elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame today. Not surprisingly, Henderson garnered nearly 95% of the votes to easily be inducted in his first year of eligibility.

What wasn't so certain was what would happen to former Boston Red Sox superstar slugger Jim Rice. Last year, in his next to last year of eligibility, Rice received just over 72% of the votes - 3% short of the 75% needed for induction. The most feared American League power hitter of the late 1970's and early 1980's, Rice finally got his long overdue nomination today with 76.4% of the votes. Four times in the pre-steroid era, Rice slugged 39 or more homers for the BoSox, including 46 in 1978. Rice also drove in 139 that year, one of four seasons in which he drove in over 120 runs. A career .298 hitter, Rice also tallied 200 hits on four separate occasions, hitting .320 or better three years. Yes, the credentials were always there, it's just nice that he is FINALLY a member of the Hall and will now sit alongside his contemporaries like George Brett and Mike Schmidt. Congratulations, Jim on this long overdue honor!