Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dropping Links: Saturday, May 29, 2010

- Friend of the blog Bob Mantz tells us that Yankees OF Nick Swisher is engaged to Joanna Garcia, of the shows "Reba," "Welcome to the Captain," "Gossip Girl," and "Privileged." She was also in American Pie 2 and Not Another Teen Movie.

- From That NBA Lottery Pick, Sacramento Kings fans are courting LeBron James with "The LeBron Song," which is a take of the one time smash, "The Thong Song."

- Speaking of King James, Club Seat Sports has a rundown of the top five destinations for Bron Bron to win a ring.

- Kendry Morales broke his ankle while celebrating a walk-off grand slam Saturday. Tirico Suave has an in-depth look at the situation and what needs to be done to stop this madness.

- PastaPadre has an update on the many issues that have been plaguing UFC 2010 Undisputed's online play since the game's release.

Roy Halladay tosses second perfect game of 2010 season

Roy Halladay pitched the second perfect game of the season and the 20th in Major League history Saturday against the Marlins, striking out 11 in the process. The perfecto is the most impressive moment of an already impressive season Halladay is putting together in his first year with the Phillies. Doc improves to 7-3 with a 1.99 ERA.

The perfect game comes less than three weeks after Dallas Braden accomplished the feat for the Oakland A's, marking the first time in history that two perfect games have been tossed in the same month. Marlins ace Josh Johnson took the loss, but was also impressive, going seven innings and allowing one unearned run while striking out six.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

World Cup 2010, Vol 6: The Reign of Spain in Group H falls mainly on the plain Senior Soccer Analyst and Los Angeles correspondent, Josh Garcia, is back with the sixth of his continuing series examining the 2010 World Cup.

A little less than 2 weeks away and in one word I can sum up my anticipation, excruciating. I’ve been trying to avoid any coverage because it’s a tease.

If you’re a regular ESPN viewer, you’ve probably seen the commercials.

This commercial gets me so pumped that I’ve been changing the channel because the excitement is getting a little ridiculous. Now I don’t recall many World Cup commercials but I have full confidence that this is the best one of them all. Maybe I just have a Bono bias but it’s worth a watch. The one by Nike is pretty cool too, even though it includes Ronaldinho who won’t be suiting up and it’s more like a short film than a commercial.

This volume will include the last groups I haven’t discussed. Groups E, F and H, one of which may include the winner.

Group E includes the eventual home favorite and if all goes well, the team Africa will be rooting for (assuming South Africa doesn’t make it out of group stage), Cameroon. The Lions could potentially be in the semis. Cameroon has superstar captain Samuel Eto’o who should be in contention for the golden boot if they will have any chance. Cameroon’s problem is they are too aggressive with tackles. With FIFA cracking down on dangerous challenges, Cameroon defenders like Tottenham’s Beniot Assou-Ekotto will have to be on their best behavior.

The group favorite will be the Netherlands who boast more attackers than they have room for. Illustrating this point, they left off Ruud Van Nistelrooy from their World Cup roster. There won’t be a team that engages the football imagination like the Oranje. Maybe it’s their jersey color but I’d like to think its their innovation and skill that will do the trick. If they have a weakness, it’s their defense that is past their prime, and with all these stars and not enough positions, could there be some behind the scenes meltdowns?

Denmark could potentially be the surprise of this group. This team will not bow down to the Dutch and may be able to surprise them with a result. Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner filled in for the Oranje’s Robin Van Persie during Arsenal’s season and quite well scoring 12 goals and doling out 7 assists in 31 appearances. The Danes have had an impressive road to South Africa, beating Portugal 3-2 and beating rival Sweden twice. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Danes make it to the knockout stage.

Sadly, Japan is in the wrong group at the wrong time and may be happy to get 1 point out of this group. I’m a huge fan of Shunsuke Nakamura and being 31, it may be his swan song for World Cup play. He is a dynamic, playmaking midfielder who is as dangerous as anybody in the world on a free kick. The Oranje and the Lions may make Japan’s defense look silly at times, but Japan can rest easy knowing they can beat either country in baseball.

Group F features the defending champs Italy. The Azzurri are a little bit older but remain a favorite due to their style of play. They simply do not give up goals. Led by Captain Fabio Cannavaro, the Italians will look to repeat and it wouldn’t be the first time. Italy won in 1934 and 1938. The Italians have a blueprint to make it deep and it has worked, 4 times.

Paraguay is flying under the radar after an impressive qualifying campaign. They beat Argentina 1-0 to secure their place behind Brazil and Chile in their qualifying group. Paraguay will be playing with tremendous inspiration due to Salvador CabaƱas’ incredible recovery from getting shot in the head in Mexico City earlier this year. Similar to Charlie Davies, his recovery timetable will not let him compete for a spot on the team. I hope he will at least get a chance to accompany the team in South Africa. He would have been one of the premiere strikers in group F.

New Zealand’s style of play may pose a problem for Italy. The Kiwis are strong in the air, and as you might have guessed for a Rugby country, they are also very physical. This is only the 2nd appearance ever for New Zealand. DC United fans might remember Ryan Nelsen who is their stand out defender and also a threat on set pieces. Nelsen played 4 years in the MLS before moving on to the EPL’s Blackburn Rovers. Celtic forward Chris Killen will provide the spark upfront. With such a surname, New Zealanders will hope that’s what he does to any defender in his way.

Slovakia will make its first appearance. A little history lesson sprinkled in, on January 1st 1993 Czechoslovakia split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. So even though Czechoslovakia has considerable World Cup history, it is technically not the same. They may be the “happy to be here” team but with skilled players such as Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and VFL Bochum’s Stanislav Sestak, the Slovaks could pull an upset or two. They play a similar style to Italy meaning if they score, they will sit on it and defend like crazy. Like the U.S. Slovakia is playing with a father-son, coach-player combo in Vladimir Weiss.

When the games are played, I expect Italy and Paraguay to move on to the knockout stage.
Group H has 3 Spanish speaking countries, which might be a useful nugget down the road when you’re at your local bar on “Trivia Night” and they pull out the World Cup category. Oh, and consensus tournament favorite Spain headlines Group H as La Roja looks to win their first World Cup. Fernando Torres is back training and if he plays, Spain will possess the best attacking duo in the tournament. David Villa makes up the other half and his star shines bright on the big stage. With the best distributor in the world, Xavi, providing pin point passes, Spain might be unstoppable. Let alone, they are stacked in the back with Pique and Puyol strong in the middle and Captain Goalie Iker Casillas between the pipes. Spain will be hard to score on and even harder to shut out. Spain is the EURO 2008 champs and were riding an impressive unbeaten streak into last year when the United States beat them in the Confederations Cup. (World Cup warm-up, of sorts)

The 2nd team to come out of Group H will be between Chile, Honduras and Switzerland. This group is going to be fun to watch and there will certainly be a lot of goals scored.

Honduras, who is luckier than France in terms of getting to South Africa, will be playing with house money essentially. They have some ex-MLS players in attack that people might be familiar with, Amado Guevara and Carlos Pavon. Along with Wilson Palacios and Edgar Alvarez, they may score some goals. Their weakness is their goalkeeper.

Chile is pretty much the same story only a little better at attacking, a little younger, a little faster, but they will also give up a few goals. (22 in qualifying)

Switzerland is the wild card, are they good? We know their U17s are. Does Roger Federer play soccer? No. Can they carry…… NO, they can’t have Swiss army knives on the field with them. The Swiss are going to surprise some people if they are in form. With a dynamic midfield and Alex Frei and young phenom Eren Derdiyok up top, it might be the perfect combination of offense to get out of this wild group.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bulls shouldn't be the only team trying to pair LeBron and Phil Jackson

According to reports, the Chicago Bulls have reached out through the ever-infamous "back channels" to Lakers head coach Phil Jackson to see if he has any desire to once again coach the team he won six championships with. Jackson can leave the Lakers after the season and the feeling is that if Jax does return to Los Angeles, he will have to take a significant pay cut.

The obvious idea here is to lure Phil Jackson to Chicago as a way to attract LeBron James. Add Jackson with Derrick Rose and Joaquim Noah, and the Windy City would be a pretty attractive destination for James this offseason.

But would LeBron really want to play in the shadow of Michael Jordan? If he were paired with Phil Jackson, the expectations would probably be even loftier.

A potential Phil Jackson - LeBron James pairing is very interesting and wouldn't necessarily have to happen in Chicago. The Clippers are also in search of a coach and are among the teams coveting James. Cleveland could also reach out to Jackson in an attempt to appease James now that they've fired Mike Brown.

One team that could certainly afford to pay a head coach something in the $12 million per year range that Phil Jackson makes is the New York Knicks. Sure, Mike D'Antoni is their current head coach, but if you could choose between the two, who would you want? The Mavericks could do the same, as they have an owner who isn't shy about spending money. Mark Cuban was even recently fined for saying he would be interested in acquiring LeBron James.

With the NBA Playoffs as boring as they have been, this all makes for interesting fodder. The smart money is probably on Phil Jackson retiring if he can't work out a deal with the Lakers, since he's teased the idea in the past. But if he were to coach somewhere else, captaining a squad that features LeBron James would undoubtedly be enticing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dropping Links: Monday, May 24, 2010

I present to you some links from around the web. Do with them as you choose.

- Eddy Curry was ordered to pay back a debt to Allstar Capital Inc. totaling $1.2 million. Now if only the courts could order he pay back the Knicks for all the money he's stolen from them.

- Club Seat Sports has compiled a list of the Top Five Game Seven's of the past decade.

- PastaPadre has a bunch of new screenshots from NCAA Football 11. The game will be released in July.

- CNBC's Darren Rovell wonders what the sports stadium of the future will look like.

- Game On! says Coach K has no interest in coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cross him off the list of huge names the Cavs will undoubtedly be courting to try to retain LeBron James.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

George F. Will's Men at Work digs deep into the intricacies of baseball

George F. Will's Men at Work is considered by many to be one of the most notable baseball books ever written. Originally published in 1990, the book has been reissued in paperback form, with a new introduction.

The book is certainly not for the casual baseball fan, as Will dives into the deep end of analysis and examination that each great manager and player does. To illustrate this, he relies on interviews and discussions with Tony La Russa, Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser and Cal Ripken, Jr. Throughout the book, you'll get rare glimpses into the pregame preparations of a manager and his staff as they study each player and scenario with incredible detail.

In Men at Work, Will proves that baseball is more than just a game full of talented athletes. These men are also scholars in their own right. The most successful batters have studied each pitcher they will face, learning all of their tendencies, while the pitchers have done the same homework on the batters.

There is no situation that goes uncovered by George F. Will. If you want to learn more about the game than you ever thought you could know, this is the book for you.

Dropping Links: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some links for you to peruse on this beautiful Sunday afternoon...

- Marion Jones made her WNBA debut and only Bob's Blitz seemed to notice. He's got some photos and stats, including her zero point performance.

- Club Seat Sports has a preview of the Orlando Magic v. Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Final, which begins today at 3:30 pm ET.

- PastaPadre has more details on the Fight Camps mode in the upcoming UFC Undisputed 2010, which hits shelves Tuesday, May 25.

- The Tigers beat the Red Sox on a walk-off walk yesterday and Detroit4Lyfe has a complete breakdown.

Video: Lookin At Lucky wins the 2010 Preakness

I pay very little attention to the "sport" of horse racing but I thought I'd toss up some video of yesterday's Preakness for those of you out there that may be interested.

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

(Hat tip to Fang's Bites for the clip.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dropping Links: Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yes, everyone, I'm still alive. Here are some links from around the web to check out late tonight or as you settle in at work on Monday.

- Dallas Braden, previously known only for being over-the-top angry at A-Rod for violating a fake rule that no one ever heard of, tossed a perfect game today. Just a few days after re-igniting the "battle" with A-Rod, he will now go down in the history books for something more than saying "that's not how we do it in the 209." His grandma even got in on the fun, saying, "Stick it, A-Rod." When asked about the feat, A-Rod replied, "Good for him, he threw a perfect game. And better yet, he beat the Rays."

- Bob Mantz tells us how Mike Francesa got caught in a little bit of a lie surrounding the Lawrence Taylor case, saying he had spoken to police in New Jersey who couldn't tell him anything about the case. That's probably because it happened in New York.

- The Hall of Very Good scored a nice interview with Gary Carter. Definitely check it out.

- This one is from the other day but Club Seat Sports has the Ten Worst Tattoos in the NBA.

- PastaPadre has some impressions on the UFC Undisputed 2010 demo.

(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Video: Phillies fan gets tasered after running onto field during game

This has been EVERYWHERE today so why not toss it up here? We've seen this sort of thing happen before: a fan runs onto the field, security chases him down, while the cameras don't show the guy. Thanks to YouTube (until someone inevitably removes it) we can not only see a fan rushing the field, but also getting tasered. (Or is it tased?)

(Video link via

Pat Riley might coach again, depending on how good the Heat look

Pat Riley announced yesterday that he's agreed to remain the President of the Miami Heat, saying he's signed a mutliyear contract. He also gave the impression that Head Coach Erik Spoelstra would be back, citing his current contractual commitment and that he "did a great job in accomplishing what we wanted to accomplish."

When pressed further, though, Riley admitted the possibility of him returning to the sidelines. From the Sun Sentinel:
"If some free agent were to say, 'I will come here but you must do this,' well, hell, if that happens that day, then I might have to give it some thought."

Where Riley had previously closed the door on talk of such a return, including at his induction of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, he this time left the door ajar.

"Why should I give you an answer to that?" he said. "That if I do something two months from now or whatever it is, then I'll get lambasted for doing it or not doing it."
This is shocking, isn't it? Riley tries to be defensive but then hints that it could happen in two months, conveniently when the free agent signing period begins. So he's basically saying that if Dwyane Wade comes back and the Heat can sign, say, Chris Bosh, he'd love to return to coaching.

I'm being a little hard on Riley, probably, I'll admit. But let's remember that this is the same guy who replaced Stan Van Gundy in 2005 after Van Gundy "resigned." The team promptly won the NBA Championship.

Then, as perhaps now, Riley saw an opportunity to coach a very good team and jumped at it, tossing his old protege out of the way. If the Heat sign a big name free agent and can keep D-Wade, it's a safe bet that Riley will return and Spoelstra will "resign."