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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Updates! (Sort of)

After declaring this blog dead a couple of weeks ago, i've decided to take that back slightly. I will still be doing almost all of my primary writing over at They provide me with a much better site and bigger audience than this blog. However, i will still be updating this blog somewhat.

Anything i write over at Fanster, i will create a post for here with the title and a link, so you can still find me writing easily. Also, i will occasionally post articles here that may not necessarily fit onto the Fanster site, such as pieces about the US Men's National Soccer team, and the occasional post about the Hawkeyes. So, keep checking back here i suppose...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vacant Space Here

As you may have noticed, i really haven't been writing here much at all as of late. Actually as of the last six months or so. I can't really say it's because i've been busy, or anything like that. Mostly i've just been lazy, and when i do write, it's been for the new and improved Phoenix sports website, Fanster

So... This is my semi-retirement from this site. I had a lot of fun writing here, but it never really took off the way i was hoping. Then again, what sites do. It takes a lot i suppose, and a one person site with a narrow focus has the odds stacked against it. 

Which is exactly why i think Fanster has a great chance to succeed, and why i will be doing my writing exclusively over there from now on. It is a great site, very well designed and with a lot of great writers and content. I am lucky they let me on very early in their development, and have given me a lot of support. 

So for the few folks who still visit this site now and then, thank you for your support. It's been fun. Please continue to support me as i write over at Fanster. The important links are below...

Thanks again everyone...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dbacks Problems Run Deep

In the middle of the 3rd game of the season, i got upset at what i was watching and what i had seen, and questioned the ability of this Diamondback team to make a run at a division title. Just 4 games later, after the 7th game of the season, i am no longer questioning this team. I'm declaring them dead. 

This team has WAY too many problems that need fixing for anyone to consider them anything more than a 'project'. The fact that we didn't see this going into the season is an indication not on the team's ability to cover those flaws up, but on our insistence to quickly gloss over the issues and assume they would get better. I got news for anyone out there reading this: Their issues have not gotten better. In fact, they may have gotten worse. 

It doesn't matter how well the starting pitchers pitch (Davis goes 8 innings with 2 earned runs and Haren went 6 innings with 1 earned run in the last two outings), if the Dbacks can't score they aren't going to win. In the Dbacks only two wins, they threw up 9 runs in each. In their other 5 games they've put up a combined 6 runs. Scoring one run a game will not get it done, no matter how good your starting pitchers are. Ok, so how is this different from last year? How is is possibly worse? 

Last year the problem was an issue of timely hitting. The Dbacks got hits, got men on base, but couldn't move the runners and couldn't get the hits when men were in scoring position. This year? They can't even get men on base! The Dbacks have one hit from their right field position the entire season. One hit. From the Eric Byrnes/Justin Upton combination. Which is only slightly worse than the three combined hits they have from the catcher spot. Conor Jackson, the team's best hitter last season, is batting .214. 

And what about the small ball? Through three games the Dbacks hadn't even attempted a stolen base. Through 7 games they have two stolen bases and one caught stealing. With the speed of Chris Young, Justin Upton, Felipe Lopez, Eric Byrnes, and Mark Reynolds (who's faster than you think), they should be running a lot. Instead, they actually might be running less than last year, attempting just three stolen bases in 7 games. 

And let's not forget the other glaring problem with last year's team, the bullpen. To date this season, the ERA's of our bullpen are 15.75 (Buckner), 9.82 (Rauch), 2.25 (Pena), 8.10 (Gutierrez), 3.86 (Schoeneweis, 5.40 (Sltaen), and 0.00 (Qualls).  To be fair, Qualls has the least amount of work (2.0 IP) than anyone on the staff other than the left handed specialist Doug Slaten (1.2 IP). Not exactly a stellar round-up of ERA's. Does anyone on this staff not scare you when they come into the game? Qualls maybe, MAYBE, but it's hard to say with only two innings of work. He wasn't exactly a rock last year. 

Again, it's only 7 games into the season, but something would have to dramatically change in three different parts of the game (hitting, small ball, bullpen) for the Dbacks to accomplish anything this season. That is too much to overcome in the span of one season, when nothing improved in the off-season. As a result, let it be known that i'm the first to call this season over. The Dbacks are heading for a 90-loss, last place finish in the West season. I take no joy in this, and wish it would be different. I had a lot of optimism going into the season. But the Dbacks have managed to break that optimism in a span of just 7 games. No easy feat...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is Game 3 Too Early To Declare The Dbacks Season Over?

It's a rhetorical question, and asked mostly in jest, but listening to the the third game of the opening series against the Rockies, it's becoming apparent the Dbacks have not solved any of their problems from last year. Just three games into the new season and the Dbacks are showing signs of the same bad habits that plagued them the second half of last season: They can't hit consistently, their defense isn't great, they can't play small ball, and their bullpen is getting killed.

In game 1, the Dbacks scored nine runs, but 6 of them were from the home run. They also managed three doubles, accounting for one more run. In game 2 the Dbacks managed to not put up a single run, and only had one extra base hit courtesy of Stephen Drew. Through 5 innings so far today, the Dbacks have just one run, again courtesy of a home run. In the last three innings alone the Dbacks have gotten their leadoff man aboard, only to leave him stranded at 1st base. In nine at bats they haven't been able to advance a runner a single base!

That's not even mentioning the pitching yet. Today Davis just left after 5 after giving up 4 runs. Webb was erratic (that's being kind) in game 1, and it came out today he has some shoulder stiffness and will miss his next start. If Webb misses any serious amount of time, you can forget this team even having a chance. In Game 2 Haren was fantastic, allowing just one run over 7 innings. Of course, he was relieved by Jon Rauch, who promptly gave up two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. Now would be a good time to mention that a) Rauch was AWFUL after he gave over to the Dbacks last season, and b) he had the highest ERA (16 something) of any pitcher in Spring Training in 2009 (cannot verify this, but this stat courtesy of Schulte on the Dbacks radio broadcast).

Rauch didn't play in game 1, but that didn't stop Doug Slaten and Scott Schoenweis from each giving up an earned run in just 2/3 of an inning. Admittedly, Tony Pena and Chad Qualls both looked pretty good getting the last 7 outs of game 1. If there is any silver lining or hope to the bullpen, it's that these two provide a solid 8th and 9th inning for the Dbacks over the course of the season. 

Oh, and did i say something about small ball? The Dbacks have yet to even attempt a stolen base. For a team who told us all offseason they were going to get back to playing small ball and running the bases, that's a scary start to the season. 

Despite the title of the article, i am by no means giving up on the Dbacks already this season. But it is scary, and disturbing, that through two and a half games they have yet to show any progress at correcting the problems that plagued them last year. Not a good start to a season with high expectations...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Your New NFLPA Head: DeMaurice Smith

Yesterday in Hawaii the NFLPA elected Lawyer DeMaurice Smith as the new head of their union. Smith beat out former players Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong, as well as sports attorney Davd Cornwell. Cornwell became a very late candidate after receiving written support from three player reps. 

Despite the fact he is not a former player, nor has any specific ties with the NFL, i think Smith is the right man for the job. As i detailed here, the NFLPA needs a strong leader heading into negotiations with the NFL owners over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Smith appears to be that leader. 

According to reports, Smith had a very detailed and specific plan outlined for the direction he would like to see the NFLPA go in. Specifically, it mentioned health care and opportunities for former players, an issue that has been a very large criticism of the NFLPA in recent years. Smith also has assembled an impressive team of advisers to help him with the business side of things.

The NFLPA now turns their head towards the impending CBA negotiations. Smith has already stated his desire to get in touch with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as soon as possible, and has also mentioned his desire to avoid a lockout in 2011, which is a possibility if a new CBA is not agreed upon. You can read about what the main issues regarding the CBA will be here and here

As always, be paying close attention to how this proceeds. It has the potential to drastically affect the NFL as we know it...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Michael Bradley Scores Again

Two years when i started this site one of my first posts was about the U-20 Men's National Team playing at the U-20 World Cup. At the time, i was proclaiming to anyone and everyone who would listen that Jozy Altidore was the future of soccer in this country. He played superbly in that tournament, and i chronicled his adventures.

But as i went back and read that article i wrote, there was a couple of sentences tucked in about another player on that team that i came away impressed with: Michael Bradley. At the time he was just 19 years old and known mostly for being the son of Bob Bradley, the senior team head coach. He was just coming onto the national scene and gaining a reputation as a player. 

Two years later, he has fully arrived. If it wasn't his 30 goals for Dutch side Herenveen last season, it was his two goals against Mexico in World Cup qualifying. And it it wasn't those two goals, it's the pace he's continued since that time with his Bundesliga team Borussia Moenchengladbach. Bradley has scored five goals so far this season, including these two he put in today (Videos are a little slow to load):

I all but switched my allegiances from Altidore to Bradley last summer after watching Bradley dominate the Dutch league. With the way he is playing in the Bundesliga and his performance against Mexico, i think it's official. 

Michael Bradley is the face of the new generation of American Soccer. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Friday!

It's 3pm on a Friday, which means it's almost time for the weekend. As such, it's time for the Happy Friday Post!

Enjoy your weekend everyone...