Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are Lakers Ready to Put the Nail in the Thunder's Coffin?

Many fans are hopeful that happens sooner than later.  The bottom line is this series now has seven games written all over it. 

We all know that the Thunder are the more athletic team, but they are also the youngest.  They have been held in check at Staples Center while dominating the Lakers at home.  That's the way it goes in the NBA.  Teams do better when they're at home.  With that in mind, don't be surprised if the Thunder pull off the win in game 6 and struggle in game 7, if it gets that far.  As a fan, I would like to see the Lakers end it tonight.

Photo Courtesy:
Wikimedia Commons and Eric Kilby under CC-SA 2.0 License

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wide World of Sports Venues-April 21

The time has come for another fresh edition of the Wide World of Sports Venues!

Old Yankee Stadium
The Bronx, New York City, NY

Opened: April 18, 1923, reopened April 15, 1976
Closed: September 30, 1973 (renovations), September 21, 2008 (final game)
Demolished:2009-2010 (estimated)
Surface: Grass
Construction Cost: $2.4 Million (1923), $167 Million (1976)
Capacity: 58,000 (1923), 82,000 (1927), 62,000 (1929), 71,699 (1937), 70,000 (1942), 67,000 (1948), 67,205 (1958), 67,337 (1961), 67,000 (1965), 65,010 (1971), 54,028 (1976), 57,145 (1977), 57,545 (1980), 56,936 (2008)
Field Dimensions: Left Field-318 feet, Left Center-399 feet, Center Field-408 feet, Right Center-385 feet, Right Field-314 feet, Backstop-84 feet
Home Teams: New York Yankees (MLB) 1923-1973, 1976-2008, New York Yankees (AFL I) 1926, New York Yankees (NFL) 1927-1928, New York Yankees (AFL II) 1936-1937, New York Yankees (AFL III) 1940, New York Americans (AFL III) 1941, New York Yankees (AAFC) 1946-1949, New York Yanks (NFL) 1950-1051, New York Giants (NFL) 1956-1973, New York Generals (USA/NASL) 1967-1968, New York Cosmos (NASL) 1971, 1978
Events Attended: August 2007 Yankee game against the Detroit Tigers.  The Yankees won 9 to 3.  It was the best, and I mean the BEST, overall baseball I've had in my young life so far.  In my ongoing journey to visits all 30 MLB stadiums, I'm glad I got to see this one before it was closed down.  Like my dad has said before, say what you want about the Steinbrenners, but they know what it takes to put a quality product on the field as well as off the field in the stadium atmosphere.  The employees are very friendly and the fans are the best in baseball.  That's right.  I said it.  The one thing I'll always remember was when Joba Chamberlain, who was a rookie at the time, came out of the bullpen late in the game, there was such a rousing ovation that it felt like the whole stadium shook.  To this day, I have never heard a crowd as loud as it was on that day.  I have a feeling that is a nightly occurence in New York that has continued across the street.  That is what made Yankee Stadium the great cathedral of baseball.

Photo Courtesy:
Wikimedia Commons and Kjetil Ree under CC-BY-SA 2.0 License      

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lakers Set to Begin Playoffs?

Depending on how they start out, the answer to that question has yet to be determined, as they get set to take on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Kobe Bryant hasn't been the same through the second half of the regular season.  The same could be said for the whole team though. 

Since the All Star break, the Purple and Gold have seemed disinterested in playing quality basketball.  Their road record hasn't been as good as last year.  They have lost to teams they should have beaten.  The players will say that they'll be ready when the time comes.  That translates to we'll turn on the switch when it matters, but I've never been a fan of that philosophy.  This could be the year where that mantra could come back to bite them in the butt.

I wouldn't be surprised if Oklahoma City doesn't give them a run for their money.  While I think Phil Jackson and company will get past the Thunder, the rest of the West will not be so easy.  Even if the Lakers do survive in the Western Conference and play in the Finals, I don't think they will be on the winning side this time around against the Magic or Cavaliers.  One thing that is for certain, we should have the answers to these concerns come Sunday.

Photo courtesy:
Wikimedia Commons and Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA under CC-BY-SA 2.0 License

Monday, April 5, 2010

2010 MLB Preview-Not Too Many Surprises

Opening Day is finally here and with that comes the hope of a new beginning in the season ahead as well as dreams of playing in October.  So let's get to it with my division and playoff picks.

American League

AL East

New York Yankees 99-63
Boston Red Sox 97-65*
Tampa Bay Rays 95-67
Baltimore Orioles 76-86
Toronto Blue Jays 74-88

Bottom Line-While the Red Sox beefed up their pitching staff, I'm not sure they have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Bronx Bombers but they have more than enough to win the Wild Card once again.  I do see Adrian Beltre having an improved offensive year and he won't be the only Adrian in the lineup after July 31.  The Rays will draw the short end of the stick because they're in the wrong division.  If they were in the Central, it would be a different story. 

AL Central

Chicago White Sox 89-73
Minnesota Twins 89-73
Detroit Tigers 83-79
Cleveland Indians 71-91
Kansas City Royals 64-98

Bottom Line-That's right.  For the third year in a row, there will be a one-game playoff in MLB.  162 games will not be enough. What better way to christen Target Field, but Joe Nathan's elbow injury will come back to haunt the Twins as the hard nose White Sox will find a way to win on the road in front of a sell-out crowd in Minneapolis.

AL West

Texas Rangers 92-70
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 89-73
Seattle Mariners 84-78
Oakland Athletics 82-80

Bottom Line: In the weakest division (wink wink) in the American League, everyone will finish with a winning record.  When I did my Angels Forecast last month and said their reign at the top would end, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't win again for the sixth time in seven years.  So while I'm sticking with the Rangers, Ian Kinsler starting the season on the disabled list could spell trouble as well as Ron Washington's admission of cocaine use last year.  It would behoove Texas to get off to a fast start.

*Wild Card winner

National League

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies 98-64
Atlanta Braves 94-68*
Florida Marlins 83-79
New York Mets 74-88
Washington Nationals 65-97

Bottom Line: The Phillies are the class of the National League.  It's not even close.  They are the Yankees of the National League because the rich have gotten richer with the acquisition of Roy Halladay. 

The Braves will end up winning the Wild Card in Bobby Cox's final season.  What a sendoff it would be.  Oh and Jason Heyward is the real deal. 

The Nationals have only one thing to look forward to: the arrival of Stephen Strasburg in June, but he won't be enough to get Washington out of the cellar.
NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals 88-74
Chicago Cubs 83-79
Cincinnati Reds 82-80
Milwaukee Brewers 78-84
Houston Astros 68-94
Pittsburgh Pirates 65-97

Bottom Line: The Cardinals have the best manager and the best player in the division. 

The Cub's curse will continue. 

Cincinnati will be the surprise team of the division with the debut of Aroldis Chapman in June.

NL West

Colorado Rockies 93-69
Los Angeles Dodgers 87-75
San Fracisco Giants 83-79
Arizona Diamondbacks 81-81
San Diego Padres 67-95

Bottom Line-The Rockies have made remarkable runs in 2 of the last 3 seasons, reaching the World Series in 2007.  Jim Tracy did an outstanding job as the interim manager last year after Clint Hurdle was dismissed.

The Dodgers are no longer the team to beat in the West.  Frank McCourt says his divorce will not affect the Dodgers, but come on.  Here is all you need to know about the Dodgers playoff chances this year: Vicente Padilla is the Opening Day starter!


AL Division Series

Yankees over Rangers
Red Sox over White Sox

NL Division Series

Phillies over Cardinals
Braves over Rockies

AL Chamionship Series

Yankees over Red Sox

NL Championship Series

Phillies over Braves

World Series

Phillies over Yankees

Photo courtesy:
Wikimedia Commons and UCInternational under CC-BY-SA 3.0 License


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wide World of Sports Venues-April 1

Hammond Stadium
Fort Myers, FL

Opened: 1991
Surface: Grass
Construction Cost: $14 Million
Capacity: 7,500
Field Dimensions: Left Field-330 feet, Centerfield-405 feet, Right Field-330 feet
Home Teams: Minnesota Twins (MLB Grapefruit League Spring Training) 1991-Present, Fort Myers Miracle (FSL) 1991-Present, GCL Twins (GCL)
Events Attended: None

Maryvale Baseball Park
Phoenix, AZ

Opened: January 1998
Surface: Grass
Capacity: 7,000
Field Dimensions: Left Field-350 feet, Centerfield-400 feet, Right Field-340 feet
Home Teams: AZL Brewers (Arizona League) 1998-Present, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB Cactus League Spring Training) 1998-Present
Events Attended: None

Photo courtesy:
Hammond Stadium-Wikimedia Commons and Johnny Spasm under CC-BY-SA 3.0 License