Archive for April, 2008

Oh, Roger

April 28, 2008

Wade Boogs had Margo Adams; Steve Garvey had…several women, and even old teddy bear Charles Krault had a road companion, so does it really come as a surprise that Roger Clemens allegedly had a 10 year relationship with country singer Mindy McCready?  According to the New York Daily News, the Rocket met McCready when she was just 15, and then the two carried on an affair for 10 years before it was allegedly ended by McCready in 2006.

Is this a big deal?  Probably not, but Clemens is suing former trainer Brian McNamee, and McNamee’s lawyers appear primed to attack the character of the Rocket.  In the end, it does not look good for Clemens.  Most believe that he used steroids and the fact that he “misremembered” being at the now famous Canseco cocktail party,  the fact that Andy Pettitte is all forgiven because he told the truth already painted the former Red Sox into a corner.  Now, that he has been linked to McCready and once again, will deny it, will not help him both in real court and the court of public opinion.

Clemens needs to go away more than ever, but something tells me he will continue to dig in.  I don’t know who is more denial:  Clemens or O.J. Simpson.

John Furgele

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Giambi is Yankees’ Biggest Problem

April 22, 2008

Forget about what to do with Joba Chamberlain.  The Yankees’ biggest problem has been Jason Giambi, who dating back to last year is batting just .174 in his last 53 games.  No longer fortfied with steroids, the Giambino has proven that he is done.  He also cannot play first base.  The other day, Andy Pettitte picked off a baserunner, but old Jason made a poor throw—again—to second base, and the runner was safe.

Giambi is in the final year of a seven year contract.  The Yanks shoould cut him loose and admit that the Giambi Era was not their finest moment.  Shelley Duncan, currently ripping the cover off the ball at AAA Scranton deserves a chance at first base.

If the Yankees were wise, they would move Derek Jeter to first base next year.  He turns 34 in June, and and 6-3 and athletic, he would pick up the position well.  When Jeter was hurt, watching Alberto Gonzalez play shortstop made it obvious that The Captain does not have the range anymore.  I never believed the sabremetricians when they stated that Jeter had the worst range of any American league shortstop, but seeing Gonzalez made me believe it.  Jeter, despite being a team guy would likely balk at moving there. 

Jorge Posada will be 37 this year and despite catcher production falliing off dramatically after age 35, the Yanks gave him a four year deal.  Right now, he can’t cacth because he has a tired arm, even though tests have shown nothing, but that’s what you get with a 37 year old—problems. 

Will the Yankees make a run to the playoffs?  Sure?  But, this team needs some serious retooling, sooner rather than later.

John Furgele

This is Classic Baseball?

April 17, 2008

Everybody raves about the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, especially since the Red Sox have finally won a couple of World Series.  But, is anybody watching the games?  It takes three hours to play 5 1/2 innings.  The Mets 5-2 defeat of the Washington Nationals has been over since 9:45 PM and the Yanks and Sox play on…..and on. 

Last Friday, Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang pitched a complete game two hitter and the game still took 2 hours and 59 minutes to play.  The Sunday game which exceeded 4 hours set baseball back 10 years. 

Yesterday, baseball celebrated the 61st anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Much talk was made of the fact that only 8 percent of Major League Baseball players are black.

When regular season games take 4 plus hours to play, why would anybody expect young blacks—or any race for the matter to take up the sport.

John Furgele

 

Woods Not Winning Actually Good for Golf

April 14, 2008

-Now, the media can rest.  Had Tiger Woods won the Masters on Sunday, talk of a calendar Grand Slam would begin to dominate the airwaves.  Thanks to Trevor Immelman, this won’t happen.  Immelman’s wire-to-wire victory quells all of that talk.  To expect one golfer to win all four majors in one calendar year borders on absurdity.  It has never happened, and in its country club counterpart, tennis, it has happened only three times, the last in 1969.  If Woods wins one major per year, he’s done his job; two would be a sensational season.

-At 2-10, the Detroit Tigers may be done as far as making a run for the playoffs.  True, you can’t win a division in April, but you certainly can lose one or play your way out of of it.  As mentioned before, the Tigers pitching is atrocious, and you can’t win without it. 

-The St. Louis Cardinals, which came into 2008 with low expectations are not only 9-4, but they lead the National League in ERA.  Pitching coach Dave Duncan is the best in the game, and like him or hate him, Tony LaRussa is a Hall of Fame manager.  This is a challenge that LaRussa absolutely loves.

-Versus announced that NHL ratings were up this year.  Unfortunately, they went from a .2 in 2006-2007 to a .3 in 2007-2008.  For comparison, Saturday’s third round coverage of the Masters drew a 6.1 on CBS and ESPN’s Friday second round coverage drew a .9, three times higher than hockey.  The NHL is now a second division sport like it or not.  It’s a good game, and has never been a popular one across the United States, but I don’t remember it ever being this unpopular.  That’s too bad.

-Though ignored by almost everyone, the NHL playoffs are as good as any sport.  Last night, New Jersey beat the Rangers 4-3 in overtime; Boston beat Montreal 2-1 in overtime; Calgary rallied from 3-0 to beat San Jose 4-3; Philadelphia shut down Alex Ovechkin and shut out Washington 2-0 to even that series.  Year after year, the NHL playoffs provides drama, upsets, and unlike the NBA, the road teams actually win games.  The Rangers-Devils have the Rangers up 2 games to 1, with the road teams winning all three games.

-As good as the 2007-2008 NBA regular season has been, the season has stalled waiting for the playoffs to begin.  Simply put, the NHL and NBA regular seasons are too long.  The best thing to do would be to cut 10 games off the regular seasons, which would see all teams play 72 games.  Of course, that will never happen.  It may be just me, but the final 8 games of the NBA regular season seem to take 8 weeks. And, to be fair, Major League Baseball should play a 144 game regular season and get the playoffs started in the last week of September and have the World Series finished by October 20. 

-The AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in their first year in Allentown, PA have started the season 0-11.  The Pigs relocated from Ottawa, Ontario (they were the Ottawa Lynx) and being south of the border has not been kind to them.  At least the Detroit Tigers are playing better than the Swine.

John Furgele

 

 

Masters Great, But Let’s Not Get Carried Away

April 10, 2008

In golf, there are four tournaments worth watching and they are the Grand Slams.  As far as television goes, there might not be a better view than Sunday at Augusta.  But, as far as majors goes, I only rank the Masters as the third most important major.

Unlike the others, the Masters is an invitational and not all qualified players get to play the famed course at Augusta National.  Unlike the others, the event never shifts sites, limiting how challenging or difficult the major can be.  The United States Open, The Open Championship (British), and the PGA Championship rotate courses each year which makes it more of an even competition.

The U. S. Open is the toughest challenge in golf.  More often than not, the winner has to survive the course to be crowned champion.  The Open Championship uses four different course and the PGA Championship is often referred to as U.S. Open Light—they use the same courses but make them a bit more forgiving.

Players like Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw and Jose Maria Olazabal have won at Augusta but nowhere else.  Does that mean they are lesser players?  No, but it does mean that their game is best suited for Augusta and perhaps not so for the other three majors. 

The Masters is run but the members of Augusta National, meaning that they have to invite you to play.  In one way that’s kind of neat because they don’t take orders from the USGA or R&A or the PGA of America.  In another way it’s bad because they can invite a 75 year old former winner and not invite a player who is 55th on the current money list.

The Green Jacket is great, but if you gave me a choice of which majors I would want to win, I would go U.S. Open, British Open, Masters, PGA.  Of course, if I won two Masters and nothing else, I’d sleep very well. 

The Masters can be hoity-toity to say the least.  It took them forever to let blacks in as members (and still, they only have three), and they still don’t have any women members.  And, they can come off a bit self-righteous.

But, come Sunday, I’ll be watching.

Johnny Furgele

Good and Sick

April 8, 2008

Kudos to Kansas for their furious comeback in last night’s NCAA Championship Game.  They needed a three and Mario Chalmers stepped up and drained a high pressure shot that will rank right behind Keith Smart’s in 1987 and Michael Jordan’s in 1982.  Both Smart and Jordan made shots with their teams down one point and the makes gave Indiana and North Carolina one point victories.  Chalmers’ three was simply scintillating, and even though it merely forced overtime, it, in essence took all the air out of the Memphis balloon.  The Jayhawks played the overtime possessed, while the Tigers seemed to play it in shock, disbelieving that the game had gotten to this point. 

It was one of those games where both teams were likeable and both had what I term “rootability.”  This Kansas team reminded me a lot of the 1988 championship squad.  That team was dubbed “Danny and the Miracles,” because they had the big stud in Danny Manning and seven other role players.  This team didn’t have that one true star, but their balance and unselfishness is what you love about college basketball.  Chalmers snagged the Most Outstanding Player award, but Darrell Arthur led the Hawks with 20 points and certainly made his presence felt in the overtime. 

As good as one can feel about Kansas, I do feel sick for those Memphis kids.  All year long people talked about the Tigers woes at the free throw line.  They came into the tournament shooting just under 59 percent for the season.  During the tournament, they actually improved that percentage to just under 62 percent and leading 60-51 with 2:12 left, all they had to do was can the free shots and Memphis would have celebrated a first NCAA title.   Now, these kids will have to hear about “choking” at the line in the biggest game of the year—how unfair.

As we know, star guards Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose combined to miss four of their last five from the line, setting the stage for Chalmers (the new Alaska Assassin) heroics.  For the game, the Tigers shot 63 percent, going 12 of 19.  Oh, Kansas was 14 of 15, a robust 93 pecent clip. 

You hate to see a game decided by mistakes, but that is the reality here.  And, Memphis’s free throw problems are just another reason why the last two minutes of a college basketball can last for an eternity.  Nine times out of ten, you’re yelling at the TV to stop fouling, but last night you saw why teams will foul and foul, hoping that they can get a reprieve, and that is what Kansas got.

It was a great game, calling it a classic is perhaps a bit too much, but after a two ho-hum semifinals on Saturday, we got the drama that sports fans crave. 

On one hand, a warm feeling, on the other, a sick one.  That’s what keeps us coming back to these events.

John Furgele

 

 

All About the Guards

April 6, 2008

Coming into tonight’s NCAA Final Four, the two best big men in America were Kevin Love of UCLA and Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina, and because of that, most expected a UCLA-North Carolina National Final on Monday.

But, in the college game, it is all about the guards.  If your guards play well, so does the team, and tonight we saw the teams with the superior guards blow out the teams with the superior big men.  That is college basketball and Memphis and Kansas proved that again tonight.

On paper, the Kansas-Memphis final looks like a fantastic one, but in the college game, you live with guard play, you die with guard play.  Something tells me that one of these teams is going to be off with its shooting and the result will be another final that lacks the drama sports fans want to see. 

Memphis appears to the more consistent team with its guards, but Kansas’ guards are very athletic as well.  I just hope that both teams are on and we have some bonafide drama in the closing moments.

John Furgele