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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Random thoughts.....by Jack Handy

Damn I cant wait for the NFL!

Fantasy Football rules and needs to become our nations past time.

Diamondback Playoffs: 128 games down, 16 over, 34 games left - (.500 ball) equals 89-73 for the year. Anything better than .500 ball is going to win the division!

San Diego, to get to 89 wins, must win 22 of 37 or a record of 22-15.

Seven games left between the two teams with 4 at Petco! Dbacks win 3 or more and they win the division.

Make the playoffs and make the World Series, the NL is pathetic and wide open.

Football - soon but not soon enough!!

Coyotes - uh, I think they are trying to sell tickets.

Cardinals- 7-9 record. Good O and worse D, sorry AZ.

Damn I cant wait for the NFL!

Golf- Fed Ex? Like we need a point system and 10 million to let us know that Eldrick is King, duh.

US Open, will Roddick make a play or is it all Federerererer...

College football in 8 days, lets get some action going on the comments section.

LSU -20 vs Miss St.
Oregon St -7 vs Utah
These are the questions dancing in my head!

Damn I cant wait for the NFL!

Phoenix Mercury are in the playoffs... I think. And don't care...

NASCAR- Smitty Friend (the girl), sucks. She is no information at all - go somebody! Yeah!

USA Mens BB- Will they rule FIBA or not, they should and they have the coaches. JKidd should have 77 assists for dunks to Amare and Howard. Be ready for this quote: 'Redd for 3... good' many times.

Damn I cant wait for the NFL!

Later, Smitty

The Irresponsibility Of ESPN

The Worldwide leader had an article today on the front page talking about the US-Sweden match today (I of course can't find it now, hopefully they took it down or revised it greatly). The crux of the article was not about the US MNT's 1-0 loss to Sweden, or really anything about how they looked or played. In fact, if i had not seen the game (which i had not when i read the article), i would have no clue about the Americans stacked up against the Swedes. Instead, the article was about the fact that the US MNT had now lost four games in a row. And while this is technically correct, it is leaving out a large part of the story.

The previous three losses by the US MNT were last month in Copa America. It was not, by any means, a good showing by the Americans. But it was largely (almost exclusively actually) made up of 'second tier players'. I don't mean they were bad players, they were just really young and inexperienced. Consider this: Of the team that played in Copa America, only five players were on todays roster against Sweden, which was made up of our 'top' players. Out of 19, that's not too many. Consider also that going into the start of Copa America, the Americans had only 5 players with more than 10 international appearances. It was a young, inexperienced team that took its lumps, which is what coach Bob Bradley. Well, not to take the lumps, but to get the kids some experience.

So while technically correct that the US has lost four in a row, true fans of soccer and the US MNT will know that it is not the whole story. I just wish ESPN would be a little more representative of that...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chasing Baseball History......

Ahh, I mean a new baseball record.


Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds ties major league record with 9 straight strikeouts.

August 21, 2007

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona's Mark Reynolds was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning, ending his major league record-tying streak of strikeouts in nine straight plate appearances.

The rookie third baseman had struck out in his first two at-bats against Milwaukee starter Dave Bush on Tuesday night, tying the record for a non-pitcher set five times previously, most recently by Kansas City's Bo Jackson from September 16-19, 1988, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Reynolds struck out in his final at-bat Saturday in Atlanta, twice more on Sunday, and four times against two Brewers pitchers Monday night.

The rookie came into the game batting .273 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs for the Diamondbacks. After his first two at-bats, he had struck out 94 times in 258 at-bats.


And you guys thought I was going to post about 42 straight scoreless innings by Webby. Good Luck tonight Webby!

Live Journal Part 2

Ok, on to the top of the 6th inning. Livo hasn't pitched bad, giving up 2 runs over 5 innings. Our offense has been anemic though. Time to get it going...

Top 6th: Fielder's hit looked good, but didn't get all of it luckily. Another LONG shot, but both stayed in the ballpark and went for outs. 1-2-3 inning for Livo. Two runs through 6. So far so good for Livo, we need OUR OFFENSE!

Bottom 6th: I'm going to the kitchen to cook more often. Solo shot by CY, number 25 on the year. This kid is GOOD. Rookie of the year people, start paying attention. Double by Byrnes with one out. CoJack up, and needs a hit bad. And he got it! Byrnes only got to third, but first and third with one out, Drew up. Yeah! Double down the line, scoring Byrnes. Second and third with one out, Reynolds up. And he got hit! Bases loaded, one out, the rookie Upton at bat. Two pitches way outside, Upton ahead 2-0. 2-2 now, Upton chasing ball three for strike 2. At Bush paints the corner for strike 3, retiring Upton. Bases loaded, 2 outs, Montero up. Miggy is great in these situations... Damn it! Fly out to center field... Tie game though after 6.

Top 7th: Livo back on the mound for the 7th, as he should be. 6 innings, two runs, 79 pitches so far. Good outing, let's keep it up. Double to lead off for the Brewers. And Another gapper to left center, scoring a run. The Brewers got the momentum after getting out of the jam, and come right back to take the lead. The Dbacks needed to score more runs last inning when they had the chance. Single for Milwaukee, first and third, no outs for the Brewers. And Livo just got yanked in favor of Tony Pena...

Pena's first batter popped out to short, advancing no one. Need two more outs. Pena has struggled lately, and almost just hit someone in the helmet there. He needs to close this inning with no more runs, but just went behind 3-0 to the batter. Walk, and now the Brewers have the bases loaded with just 1 out. The Dbacks need a double play bad. And for Pena to throw some strikes... And he gave up a grand slam. There goes the game, and the Dbacks streak of consecutive series won. 7-2 Brewers.

Pena got the last two batters to finish the inning, but the damage is done.

Bottom 7th: Scott Linebrink comes in to pitch for the Brewers, and Jeff Salazar pinch hitting for the Dbacks. He grounds out, Cy reaches on an error, then goes to 2nd base on it. Runner in scoring position with one out. Walk to O'Dog, 1st and 2nd with one out, Byrnes up. Pop to center, CoJack up. And three straight strikes to CoJack, all looking...

I think i'm done with this live journal, this sucks... Back after the game with some thoughts.

Live Journal

6:35, PST: 5 minutes until gametime. Still haven't figured out exactly how i'm going to do this, so the shape of this could change throughout. Bear with me.

Dbacks are coming off another bad loss last night, and need to bounce back tonight. We got Livan Hernandez pitching against Dave Bush. Let's get out to an early lead and let Livo do his thing...

Top 1st inning: Livo looked good. First two batters flied to right, with a pretty good play on the 2nd one by rookie Justin Upton. He got Prince Fielder to pop-up to end the inning. Keep an eye on Livo's left collarbone though, he seems to have a little pain in it...

Bottom 1st: Bad attempt at a bunt by Chris Young (CY), but i like the idea. Quick 1-2-3 inning though, with Byrnes striking out on a couple of filthy pitches by Bush.

Top 2nd: Don't like the walk Livo gave. And as i write that Estrada pounds one back up the middle. 1st and 2nd with two outs. And another shot up the middle, scoring a run. 1-0 Brewers. A walk and two hits all with two outs. That's supposed to be the Dbacks specialty of late. Estrada goes to third on a error to CY. Pop up to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd: Nice hustle by Conor Jackson (CoJack) to leg out a deep infield hit to third. Drew can't even advance the runner. Fundamental baseball fellas... Mark Reynolds (The Sheriff) had a decent at bat, fouling off a lot of pitches, but struck out looking. CoJack still at first with the rookie Upton up. Groundout to short. Not a good way to utilize an inning opening base hit...

Top 3rd: He should have been out i think... Called out, but he was safe. Lucky break for the Dbacks. 1-2-3 inning for Livo.

Bottom 3rd: Time to score some runs Dbacks. That was a HORRIBLE strike 3 on Montero, not to mention an extremely late call on it. Miggy got hosed. Another 1-2-3 inning. Our bats look terrible the last three games...

Top 4th: 1-2-3 inning by Livo again. Pitching well so far, except for the one walk (which always seem to haunt the Dbacks...).

Bottom 4th: Byrnesie battling for a basehit, nice work. Let's get him home! He should be looking to steal here. And there he goes, no throw. 2nd base, 1 out. Gotta get him home now. Damn it CoJack! Fly to short right, not even enough to move up Byrnes. Fundamental baseball! Damn it again! Stephen Drew just hit it a mile, just foul though. Walk to Drew (could have been strike 3. This ump is all over tonight). The Sheriff has to get it done here... Damn it again! Reynolds is now 0-6 with 6 K's in this series. He is the streakiest hitter i've ever seen. Dbacks strand 2.

Top 5th: Great effort by Byrnes, almost got the runner out at 2nd. Great job fielding by Livo on out 2. And a gapper to left center, plating another run for the Brewers. Inning over on a popup, Dbacks have to get the offense going.

Bottom 5th: 1-2-3 go the Dbacks. This is getting scary how bad they have looked last night and tonight against the Brewers, a team whose starting rotation cab be described as 'really, really bad' lately... Not good.

Moving the rest of the game to a new post, as this one is getting LONG...

Trying Something New Tonight

Alright kids, I'm gonna try something new tonight. I'm going to keep a live journal of the Dbacks game, starting at 6:30 Pacific Time tonight. Yes i know it's a blatant rip-off of the Sports Guy from ESPN, but what can i say, it's a good idea. So tune in tonight, as i'll be updating frequently throughout the game. This could turn out to be a disaster...

US vs. Sweden

In case you feel like i'm getting paid by either the US Soccer Federation (USSF) or MLS, let me assure, i am not. I just really enjoy good soccer, and the US and MLS are finally starting to play some of it. So tune in tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11:30a Pacific Time to Fox Soccer Channel to see the US MNT take on Sweden in Sweden. It should be a good game, as the US has most of it's senior-level players with it, and Sweden is a good team. Enjoy...

Monday, August 20, 2007

At Least It's Entertaining...

Even when the Dbacks get blown out (9-0 final score), they at least find a way to have fun and make it entertaining. For the second time in a week, a position player for the Dbacks threw up a scoreless inning. Augie Ojeda did it the first time in relief of the horrific ballgame tossed by both BK Kim and Joe Kennedy i talked about here. Jeff Cirillo, who was a pitcher in high school and college, but who now is a utility infielder/pinch hitter, entered in the ninth inning of tonight's game and pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and walking a batter. Showing off a decent knuckle ball and an impressive change-up, Cirillo didn't look too bad out there.

It's good to know, that even when they are getting destroyed, the Dbacks can still have a little fun and keep it loose out there...

Now That's A Goal.

The quality of the video sucks, but this, my friends, is how you score a goal. And for the record, that is the hated Cuauhtemoc Blanco from Mexico's National Team. He seems to be doing ok for himself in MLS, a la Beckham and Juan Pablo Angel, as talked about in my previous posts...

Special thanks to The Offside Rules for pointing this out...

Enigmatic much?

You see, people wonder how the Dbacks can be winning the division by 3.5 games and yet still be outscored for the year. Tonight's game is the perfect example. When the Dbacks lose, they lose BIG. As in 9-0 in the 4th inning big.

Doug Davis was terrible tonight, not being able to find the strike zone to save his life. The weird thing is, i'm beginning to expect this from the Dbacks. They are fantastic about 90% of the time, winning more one run games than any other team in baseball. They are also very susceptible to losing big.

All in all, it's hard to complain with how well the Dbacks are playing. But it's still somewhat disconcerting that we lose SO big when we lose...

Vick To Plead Guilty

I have written very little about this, mostly because it makes me sick to think about what he did and partly because i wanted to wait to see how it all played out, but we got our answer today.

Michael Vick is going to plead guilty in exchange for a plea deal, according to his lawyer.

The terms of the deal will not be released until his hearing next Monday, but chances are good it will involve some jail time. Prosecutors were seeking 12-18 months for Vick, but it remains to be seen what was actually agreed upon.

Great article here about Michael Vick from ESPN's Pat Forde, one of my favorite writers over there. Vick had it all and was on top of the world, but jeopardized it all for some cheap thrills. What a disgrace...

Red Bull New York 5, LA Galaxy 4

Wow. Do you remember in my post on Saturday when i told you to watch this game? Well i hope you took my advice, because it was FANTASTIC. Some people are calling it the greatest MLS game ever, though i think that might be a little hyperbole. Regardless, it was a game the MLS will be showcasing for a long time as an example of what the league is capable of. End to end action, lots of shots and goals, Beckham doing his free kick thing, and a lot of current, new, and up and coming stars getting into the act.

The game itself was much more fast-paced and fluid than most MLS games tend to be, mostly i think due to the quality of players involved in this game.Their truly were some great talents on display, and not just David Beckham. There was Landon Donovan for the Galaxy, doing what he does best, taking a ball 60 yards through the defense and scoring a goal. Even Joe Cannon, despite giving up five goals, looked spectacular at times with some great saves in goal.

On the other side of the ball, there were three people who stood out. Clint Mathis, in place of an injured Claudio Reyna (who is another great talent), looked fantastic, scoring one rocket goal off of a volley and setting up the game winner with his shot from outside that was put in on the rebound by Juan Pablo Angel. And speaking of Angel, for those of you who don't know (all of you), he was probably the biggest signing of the year in the MLS other than Beckham. Since joining Red Bull New York, he has scored 12 goals in 14 games, including two in this one. Similar to Beckham, Angel is an aging star that came to the league looking to make a big impact. He has done that, turning into a goal scoring machine.

And finally, also playing for RBNY, was Jozy Altidore, who you have heard me talk about before. At just 17 years old, this kid is quickly becoming one of the best players in the league, as well as getting plenty of international attention. A star on the US Under-20 team at their World Cup last year, Altidore has continued his torrid goal scoring pace, notching two in this game against LA and getting robbed of at least one or two other goals. Jozy looks a step faster and a touch smarter than most players on the field, and at just 17 is amazing to watch. Unfortunately for fans here in the US, i don't expect him to be around next season. Much like many of his young teammates on the U-20 team, Altidore i expect will be looking to make a move to Europe after the end of the MLS season. And who can blame him, as he wants and needs to go up against better competition than he is finding in the MLS so he can mature and evolve as a world class player.

One more thing to add about the game was the atmosphere. With 66,000+ fans in Giants Stadium, it was the largest crowd to ever see an MLS game. While admittedly most were there to see Beckham, it was both TEAMS that put on the show, combining for a highly entertaining game that left the crowd satisfied. It was also a very boisterous, noisy, and soccer savvy crowd, which i enjoyed listening to through the TV. They knew when to cheer, when to boo, and showed respect not just for Beckham but the Galaxy as well. Most reports and stories have described the atmosphere as 'electric', and as far as i can tell that's about dead-on.

Oh, and as for Beckham? Two assists on four goals, could have been three as his corner led to the 4th goal for the Galaxy. His free kicks from outside the box in the second half looked a little shaky as they kept hitting the wall, but blame it on him getting tired because he had not played a full match in months. His corners once again looked deadly, as did some of his through and release balls to the forwards. Beckham should rack up assists like crazy in this league, especially with LanDo up top finishing those through balls.

The Galaxy return to action this Thursday against Chivas USA at 7pm Pacific Time on ESPN2. I know i sound like a broken record, but tune in. You don't want to miss this, trust me.

Finally, a few links related to the game from some sites i enjoy for soccer. Check them out!

Game Highlights, via YouTube

About That LA-NY Goal Fest The Other Night..., via The Offside Rules

Live From New Jersey, via That's On Point

Sunday, August 19, 2007

File That Under "Helping Your Own Cause"

The Dbacks have been throwing around a motto in their clubhouse lately, 'Anybody, anytime'. Last night, it truly was an anyone. Micah Owings, the rookie pitcher who has been fourth in the pitching rotation for the Dbacks all year, is having a pretty good last month after struggling a bit around the middle of the season. Last night he was at his best, putting a game that will be talked about for years. His line? 4 for 5, with a single, a double, and two home runs, for six RBI's and four runs.

Oh, you wanted his pitching stats? How about 7 innings pitched, 7 strikeouts, no walks, three hits, and three runs allowed? That good enough for you? All good for a 12-6 Dbacks win, with 5 of the runs for the Braves coming late against our relief pitchers.

Owings has, since he started the season, always claimed he is a good hitter, and indeed is often praised for his approach to hitting not just at the plate but during batting practice and down time as well. He has always prided himself on actually being able to hit, not just 'hitting good for a pitcher'. Last night was the perfect example of this. Stepping to the plate in the 2nd inning, Owings scalded a ball down the left field line, driving in two runs with the double, then moved to third on the same play after an error by the Braves. He scored two batters later with an Orlando Hudson single to center.

Then things got fun. Leading off the 4th inning, Owings crushed a 415 foot home run to left field, with the ball landing (no joke) about 20 rows into the seats. Stepping to the plate again in the 6th inning, the opposing pitcher apparently thought Owings' effort up to that point had been a fluke. So Buddy Carlyle threw him a fastball right down the middle of the plate, which Owings promptly deposited in dead away center field, a towering 446 foot shot. 446 feet! For perspective, the night before Mark Reynolds, who has maybe the most power on the team behind Tony Clark, muscled a 453 foot bomb into the seats, which was the 6th longest home run in the history of Turner Field. Our pitcher was only 7 feet behind that.

In the 7th inning, Owings once again stepped to the plate, and hit a broken bat single back up the middle for yet another base hit, making him 4-4 at that point, and driving in another run, his sixth of the night. Owings had one more chance at the plate, and needing a triple for the cycle, hit a hard shot to first that was caught on a pretty good play to retire Owings for the first time of the night. With his 4-5 effort, Owings raised his Batting Average for the season to .273.

As for the records? His 6 RBI's were the first for a pitcher since 2002. The last time a pitcher hit two home runs in a game was Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins just last year. His 11 total bases were the most by a pitcher since 1942. He is the only pitcher ever to have four hits, four RBI's, and score four runs in a game. All that led to this quote from the opposing pitcher Carlyle, who gave up both home runs to Owings: "He hit the ball 900 feet tonight. It's kind of frustrating that it's the pitcher that did all that damage". All in all not a bad night, especially when you consider he tossed a 7 inning, 3 hit gem in there as well.

With the win, the Dbacks won their 9th series in a row, tying the record for most this year. 15 in a row is the all-time record, which is possible with the way the Dbacks have been playing, but hard with the schedule they have coming up. But if there's one thing i've learned watching this team, it's that they tend to defy odds and find a way to win. If a pitcher can have a night like Owings did, then it truly is anybody, anytime.