Friday, August 31, 2007

Mets Saviour on the Way? [J. Mark English]

It could be as soon as next Monday that Pedro Martinez will give the Mets his first start of the season. D.J. Short of Mets Blog has more:

John Delcos of the Journal News has the low-down on a busy afternoon of activity with the orange and blue.

Pedro Martinez's bullpen session convinced the Mets that he may be able to make his season debut on Monday vs. the Reds.

...ironically, Cincinnati is where Martinez's first start as a Met took place...keep in mind that there is still a possibility that he could start for Single-A Brooklyn on Monday...stay tuned on that...

Martinez would essentially be replacing RHP Orlando Hernandez in the rotation, who was examined in New York and given a cortisone injection due to soreness to his right foot.

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N.Y. Giants Thank Their Lucky Stars - Strahan Will Return [J. Mark English]

Hats off to Jerry Reese (the Giants GM), who refused to give in to Strahan's hold out. Strahan may have had his reasons to hold out for a better contract, but Reese would have none of it, even at the risk of losing their best defensive player. As a result the Giants will remain in good financial shape as far as the salary cap is concerned, and can expect to have a solid defensive front going into the regular season.

For more on the conclusion of how it all played out, here is John Branch of the New York Times:

Michael Strahan will rejoin the Giants today and expects to play in the team’s regular-season opener Sunday, Sept. 9, against the Cowboys in Dallas.

Strahan had not reported to the Giants since training camp opened July 27, and told the team that he was considering retirement. He gave few clues to his intentions until he informed the Giants yesterday afternoon that he would return for a 15th season.

“He ultimately decided that he wanted to play,” said Tony Agnone, Strahan’s agent. “He wanted to contribute to the team and didn’t want to leave his teammates hanging.”

The Giants will not fine Strahan the full amount that they had threatened through the holdout — $514,368 through yesterday — but Strahan will owe the Giants “a significant amount,” Agnone said. He declined to release the figure.

The Giants had told Strahan early during the holdout that they would fine him the league-maximum of $14,288 a day.

Strahan’s contract will remain unchanged. The active N.F.L. leader in sacks, with 132 ½, Strahan, 35, is due to make $4 million in salary this season.

His decision to return came a day after the team’s fourth and final preseason game, and the day before the Giants have to cut their roster from 75 players to 53, the maximum allowed during the regular season.

The Giants are not scheduled to practice this weekend. They will resume preparations for the regular season Monday. The Giants will not only be interested to see if Strahan is in strong enough condition to play against the Cowboys, but they also are curious to see how well he has healed from a foot sprain he sustained last season, which kept him out of seven games and forced him to spend the end of the season on injured reserve.

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Video: College Football is Back Baby! [J. Mark English]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beckham Out 6 Weeks With Knee Injury [David Stefanini]

David Beckham has suffered a sprained knee, which could leave him out for the rest of the regular season. Here is the Associtaed Press with the story:

David Beckham could miss the rest of the Los Angeles Galaxy's season after being diagnosed with a sprained right knee Thursday.

The English midfielder underwent an MRI exam that confirmed he sprained the medical collateral ligament in his knee, the team said in a statement.

Beckham was injured in a tackle with Pachuca midfielder Fernando Salazar in the first half of Wednesday night's SuperLiga title match. The Galaxy lost 4-3 on penalty kicks.

He was expected to be out about six weeks, and will immediately begin rehabilitation, the team said.

That would place his return at mid-October, at which point the Galaxy would have three regular-season games remaining—against Toronto FC, New York and Chicago.

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State of the Mets: Swept by the Phils, Falling Fast [J. Mark English]

"Met Fans Your Season has Come"...

Thats what the public relations office of the New York Mets keeps reminding us. If this is the season that was meant to be, then what was meant to be is turning into a nightmare.

Last Saturday the Mets, despite their problems at home, held a comfortable seven game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. A mere five days later, that lead has been cut to two, and the red hot Phillies have found their swagger going into the final month of the season.

As summer gives way to fall, the Mets are playing the part of a dying leaf, violently falling back towards earth.

The Mets lost in four disturbing games to the Phillies. They were blown out 9-2 in game one. Their pitching staff could barely contain the potent Phillies offense as the Mets gave up 18 hits in eight innings.

On Tuesday the Mets showed a little more moxy with Tom Glavine on the mound, but as soon as he left the game with a 2-0 nothing lead, fortune favored the Phillies. They tied the game 2-2 on a rolling bunt, in which the ball remained on the fair side of the foul line. The Mets just stood and stared at the ball as the Phillies erased the magnificent work of Glavine's pitching. Then the Phillies notched the win in the bottom of the 10th with a walk homer off the crushing bat of Ryan Howard. At least it wasn't Pat Burrell, who still continues to kill the Mets as if they were his own pinata. (He hit two homer today.)

Last nigth, it was the Mets who had to mount a come back in the late innings. Conspiracy enthusiasts would have had a field day with yesterday's loss. Ben Shpigel of the New York Times explains:

The first loss here this week did not disturb the Mets too much because their healthy lead remained intact. The second one stung a little bit more, but they figured there were still two games left to salvage a split and leave in good shape. But the third one, a controversial 3-2 defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night, left them outraged, confused and one game away from being swept.

Their anger was directed at the second-base umpire, CB Bucknor, who wiped out the tying run by calling out Marlon Anderson on a runner’s interference call that resulted in a game-ending double play. Anderson tore off his helmet and screamed for an explanation from Bucknor. Manager Willie Randolph sprinted out of the dugout demanding one, too, as the Phillies, flabbergasted, started celebrating on the infield grass.

Heading into this afternoons fourth game of the series, the Mets were losers of four in a row, three in a row to the Phillies, and their lead in the NL East trimmed to just three games.

Matt Cerrone of Mets Blog sums up the frustrations of today's loss:

…this is a devastating loss, if for no other reason then because it appeared Charlie Manuel was doing everything within his power to give the Mets a win, and they still lost…not too mention the Phillies are now two games back…two…i mean, screw Pittsburgh, this game, this one right here was the most painful loss of the season, despite the team ‘still’ being in first…

…given how sad the Mets bullpen has been of late, willie chose to use Billy Wagner for a six-out save in what he clearly felt was a very, very important game…wagner allowed a home run to, yep, you guessed it, Pat Burrell, another run in the ninth, and then for whatever reason he ignored Jayson Werth, who stole second and then stole third without so much as a look over…i can only think wagner and Paul Lo Duca determined that the game was to be won at the plate…the only problem is that while they were trying to win at the plate, the Phillies were winning it by running around the bases…at any rate, Chase Utley ripped a bullet below the glove of Carlos Delgado and the throw to the plate was not in time, Tad Iguchi slide home safely and the game was over…the Phillies completed the sweep…

…man, i’m exhausted from this game…i can only imagine how the players feel…frankly, this game felt like a microcosm of this entire hi-wire, roller-coaster of a season…good play, bad play, down, out, dejected, hopeless, up, winning, hopeful, then, bam, the carpet is yanked out and i’m sitting here confused, looking at the scoreboard wishing it would change…

…well, enjoy the drama, guys, it’s only just begun, because the Mets have a pennant race on their hands with just 29 games left in the year…

There you have it folks. The Mets head to Atlanta with their backs against the wall, with much to prove, and a lot to lose. Their mettle will be tested. I'd suggest they play the song "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty on the flight down to Atlanta, and start tuning out "I'm Free Falling."They need to really pull it together over these last 29 games if they really want to prove to us Met fans that our "season has come."

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Tennis: Corruption? [J. Mark English]

Enough of these stories already! Everywhere you look, there's a sport that has something about it tainted. NBA has a ref fixing games. Baseball has players cheating with steroids. Football has players that are lining up for the county slammers. Hockey...well no one is watching, so who knows.

Next up, tennis! Get a load of this from Breitbart:

Match-fixing, some of which is linked to internet gambling, is not uncommon in professional tennis, according to a damaging report in L'Equipe on Thursday.

Two elite players made the claims, under anonymity, in an interview with the French sports daily claiming they have witnessed matches being "thrown" and that they had personally been offered bribes.

The allegations come in the wake of the controversy surrounding Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who is the subject of an ATP enquiry.

Davydenko recenty pulled out a match injured on the same day that large sums of money had been bet on his defeat to Argentina's Martin Vassallo Arguello.

Betfair, an internet gambling website, refused to pay out on Davydenko's defeat. Seven million dollars in wagers, 10 times more than normal for such a match, swung to Arguello even after Davydenko won the first set.

The unnamed sources in L'Equipe's report called on the sport's authorities to act, "before things get out of hand".

"I know several players who have been approached, and who had the exact same experience as me," said one player, identified only as Mister B and who claimed he had been approached physically by someone offering him 50,000 dollars to lose a match.

He added: "Not for one second did I believe it was a joke. 50,000 dollars is more than what I would have got for getting to the semi-final in this tournament, and it was tax-free cash.

"I refused his offer straight away, but I was left wondering what direction we're going in."

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Updates to the Latest News In Baseball [Michael Vinciguerra]

Greg Maddux aided the Padres to victory as they swept the Diamondbacks. Although Maddux did not record the win, this victory allowed the Padres, who were chasing the Diamondbacks for quite some time in their division, to take over first place.

The Phillies beat the Mets on a bizarre ending play to pull to within three games behind the Mets in their division. Marlon Anderson was ruled out on a game ending interference call at second base in the ninth ending. This negated the possible tying run from scoring.

Pedro Martinez is finally going to return to the MLB. He is scheduled to make a bullpen appearance when needed against the Braves on Friday before determining if he is ready to start his first full game after returning from rotator cuff surgery.

Manager Cecil Cooper, who replaced former manager Phil Garner on Monday, earned his first victory as the Astros blank the Cards. Roy Oswalt struck out nine in seven dominant innings, sending the Cards back to third place in their division.

Ben Sheets returned from the DL just in time to dig the Brewers out of the hole they are finding themselves in. Sheets outpitched Zambrano and shut down the Cubs to pull into second place in their division and 1 1/2 games out of first in the NL Central.

The Dodgers acquire right hander pitcher Esteban Loaiza from the A's, assuming more than $8 million in salary. Loaiza has pitched in two games in the 2007 season in which he won one game and has an ERA of 1.84

Manny Ramirez will be out for several days with a strained muscle on his left side. Meanwhile the Yankees continue to beat Boston. More importantly, however, is that with the Angels sweeping the Mariners, the Yankees have finally entered into a tie with the Mariners for the Wild Card spot.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kids Showing Sportsmanship Still Counts [J. Mark English]

Marc Edelman from the Sports Law Blog reminds us that 14 year olds demonstrate the purity and goodness that exists in competition. During a summer that has shown nothing but the dark side of pro athletes, kids have a way of reminding us of why we love sports in the first place:

Yesterday afternoon, at the finals of the Little League World Series, grace and innocence was personified by 12-year old Dalton Carriker, who hit his opposite field, game-winning home run to help his team from Georgia to defeat a group of boys from Tokyo, Japan. When interviewed after the game, Carriker gave the kind of quote that only a teenage boy could give after one of the greatest moments of his life. Unabashedly he admitted, "[m]y adrenaline was about to go crazy ... My legs were about to fall off. I really thought I was flying, like Peter Pan."

Moments like this remind me of the "child" like behavior of someone like Carlton Fisk hitting a game winning home run in the World Series. What is even more touching is what the American team did after they had defeated Japan. This is written by Foy Evans of the Houston Home Journal:

After the victory by the Warner Robins team there was jubilation. Our players and their parents shed some tears of joy. The Japanese players were devastated. They cried in anguish and so did their parents. The most touching thing about the game was when Warner Robins players hugged their Japanese rivals and attempted to console them.

That was drama of the finest kind and it brought tears to my eyes, too. Even in victory the Warner Robins world champions consoled the players they had defeated. I was as proud of this display of compassion as the victory itself.

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Vexations from two Phillies' Fans [J. Mark English]

A friend who is a die-hard fan of the Phillies, as well as every other sporting team from Philadelphia, forwarded me an e-mail exchange he had with a fellow Philly sports fan. I had to clean up the language a bit, but I thought it was worth posting. In the first e-mail, the writer is frustrated that his friend went to last night's Phillies/Mets game.

So jealous!! You picked a hell of a game to go to. Me, like a sucker ponied up the 15 bucks to buy the MLB online package so I could watch the games this month. I watched it last night. The Phillies are like the eternal c**k tease. They are like this chick at a bar that you try to chat up, you buy her drinks, she leads you on with that glimmer of hope that you might take her home and sleep with her, only you know from past experiences you are going to Wawa's alone before you hit your place. And right now I'm buying her drinks even though I know I'm going to get a junior Italian Hoagie and a bottle of iced tea before I nestle into the covers cold and alone...

And that sums up the entire Philadelphia fan's experience - this city has the worst case of blue b***s ever. Next time anyone gives me a hard time I'll just tell them they'd be grumpy too if they hadn't been f**ked in 24 years. B***h.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Howie Rose: Put this in the Books [J. Mark English]

  • And down the stretch we come...
  • It is high, it is far, it is gone!
  • Here's the pitch, and its going far, and its OUTTA HERE!
  • That must be a Homer because the pitcher just went D'oh!
  • And its going back back back back, gone!
  • Holy Cow!
  • It could go all the way!
Recognize some of these catch phrases? They are cheesy catch phrases used by some play-by-play people to make up for...well, a lack of imagination when calling a game. They instantly become hackneyed and reek of bland self promotion. The call by the announcer becomes less about the event, and more about himself.
The ultimate sinner when it comes to this is the Yankees announcer, John Sterling. I just did a quick search on Wikipedia and came up with these train wreck nicknames that Sterling shoves down the listener's ear during every broadcast:
Current Yankees
  • Bobby Abreu: "El Comedulce!", and "Bobby Abreu is sweet as candy..."
  • Wilson Betemit: "You can bet on Betemit!"
  • Melky Cabrera: "The Melk Man delivers!", "It's the Melky Way!", and "The Melk Man always knocks twice!"
  • Robinson Cano: "Robbie Cano! Don't you know?", "Cano can do!", and "A Ribbie for Robbie!"
  • Joba Chamberlain: "Great joba by Joba!"
  • Johnny Damon: "Positively Damonic!", "A Damonic Dinger by Johnny Damon!", "Johnny on the Spot!", and "A demon from Damon!!"
  • Shelley Duncan: "Duncan, dunked one!", "Shelley Duncan ... Hines cooks one up!"
  • Jason Giambi: "The Giambino!"
  • Derek Jeter: "Captain Clutch", "El Capitan!", "a Jeterian swing...", and "a Jeter jolt"
  • Hideki Matsui: "A thrilla by Godzilla!" "Hideki, lower decki!" "An Upper-Deki!"
  • Doug Mientkiewicz: "Man oh Mientkiewicz!", and "Dougie do right!"
  • Andy Phillips: "Fill it up, Phillips!"
  • Jorge Posada: "Jorgie juiced one!", and "Jorgie jacks one!"
  • Alex Rodriguez: "an A-Bomb, from A-Rod!", "How A-Rodian!" and "Alexander the Great conquers again!"

Former Yankees

From his Atlanta Hawks broadcasting days (1981-1989)

Still with me? Some people may enjoy these touching moments of insanity from a man who would do better making calls at local county fair. Remember, its the New York Yankees, the most prestigious team in baseball that has hired this loon. But we've all come to expect the hammy approach of Sterling.

The cross town rivals on the other hand have had a history of having great broadcaster that were better known for their ability to describe the details of the game. Announcers like Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner gave a voice hazy and humid summer nights. Murphy passed away a few years ago, and Kiner has retired.

The Mets have filled in their big shoes well. Gary Cohen, who did the radio broadcast with Bob Murphy on WFAN for many years, has moved on to the Mets TV network SNY.

WFAN replaced Cohen and Murphy with Tom McCarthy who could aptly be named "Gary Clone" since he sounds just like Cohen. They also brought in Howie Rose, who used to do Mets Extra on the Fan, as well as call the New York Rangers broadcast on the Fan.

Howie Rose is probably best known for the call he made when the Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. The Rangers won the series in double over time of an epic game 7 off the stick of Stephane Matteau. Howie Rose belted out "Matteau! Matteau! Matteau! Stephane Matteau! And the Rangers have one more hill to climb, baby!"

The hysterical call by Rose still gives me goosebumps to this day. Even though it sounds like he is yelling 'my toe, my toe, my toe' is so special because he was in the moment. There was no prepared thought, no practiced line, he just captured the moment within the moment.

Now he is the Mets play by play guy, along with McCarthy. Guess what? He has a catch phrase. Its "put it in the books".

ugh...sigh... Why Howie do you have to resort to the Sterling way?

After every Mets victory he claims that we must "put it in the books". Put it in the books? Which book? He never says this after a Mets loss. Does that mean that the Mets only win? Or that the book only records victories?

The night Tom Glavine picked up his 300th win, Rose called the last out with the phrase "put it in the history books." Is that a different book from the book he usually records Mets victories?

I'm very confused. I hope you are too.

Last night I tuned into the game on my drive from Maryland back to New York...The books turned into a radio library. Even McCarthy chimed in with "seven in the books here in Philly". Hmmm, so now the book is updated per inning. Then in the bottom of the 8th after Jayson Werth of the Phillies notched his ninth hit in a row, Howie Rose told us to pull out the "Phillies history records book." Now we're talking about more then a few books in the same game.

In the top of the ninth, Tom and Howie discussed how players like Rusty Staub and Howard Johnson used to keep a book to write notes in about pitchers they faced. Players would always ask Staub if they could read his book, and Staub would say no. Tom and Howie thought this was funny. I was crying.

Please put away the books Howie, and just call the game. I mean, he won't even finish the description of the play before he gets to "put it in the books." There could be an unassisted triple play to end the game, and you wouldn't know it because Howie is rattling off "put it in the books."

If your going to keep referring to this book please tell me where I can find it, Howie. What all is in the book. How many books are there? I'm so confused...

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MLB: Rounding Third [Jay Moussab]

With there star 2nd baseman returning to the lineup yesterday the Phillies crushed the Mets 9-2. With homeruns from Chase Utley, Tadahito Iguchi, and Met killer Pat Burrell and excellent pitching from J.D. Durbin the Phils actually looked like a playoff team. Willie Randolph said this about Chase Utley, "He's an excellent player. I'm not looking forward to seeing him."

The Braves destroyed the Marlins 13-2 behind Brian McCann's grand slam and a 4-6 night off the bat of Matt Diaz. Lance Cormier gets the win as Scott Olsen gets the loss.

In the AL East the Yanks get spanked by the Detroit Tigers by a score of 16-0. That was the worst road loss for the Yanks since 1907. The Yanks now face the Red Sox for a 3 game series. The Yanks are now 8 games behind in the East and 2 in the Wild Card.

The AL West might be decided this week as the Mariners are hosting the Angels who are now leading the division by 2 games after beating the Mariners last night by a score of 6-0. Hot hitting Garrett Anderson hit another homerun and drove in 3 runs. Pitcher John Lackey threw his second straight 7 hit shutout against the Mariners.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Video: Vick Apologizes... [J. Mark English]

Red Sox Back in the Driver's Seat Again [Addison Quale]

It hasn't felt this way around Boston for a long time. As long as 2 months some might say. It's the first time in a while people have felt comfortable with the Sox lead in the AL East and confident they can hold off the Yanks. A big turning point was this past Friday. The Sox swept a double header against the White Sox on the backs of Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling. And as Curt Schilling said in the post-game interview of the night-cap, "We're feeling really good. Things are clicking finally." This is actullay just a paraphrase mind you. But it demonstrates the confidence exuding from the Sox suddenly.

I think the biggest difference between the Sox now and the Sox a month back is pretty obvious. They have their ace back. Schilling was out for quite a while. And even when he came back, he was struggling a bit. On Friday night he went 6 innings and gave up only one run on a frugal 3 hits. With their ace back and feeling good. They're starting to feel good too. And now they have that 1-2-3 punch in Schill, Beckett and Matsuzaka once again. They're starting to look like the juggernaut they were in April and May. Not only that, they're boasting 16 game winner Tim Wakefield, who just might have a shot at 20 wins this year! (At the age of 40 no less.)

The Yankees are still out there though. And they should not be underestimated--as I have said all along. But they clearly do not have the consistent solid pitching that the Sox have. This is the difference between them. Yankees bats are going to have to stay hot. Though after the Sox' drubbing of the White Sox this past weekend, it's their bats who are hottest of all!

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Boston Beats Up on White Soxs [David Stefanini]

The Boston Red Soxs annihilated the Chicago White Soxs in their four game set. Boston scored 10 runs or more in every game, while never giving up more than 3.

To complete their four game sweep of Chicago, Boston won today's game 11-1. The final total for this four game series looks something like this.

Wins: 4 - 0 favor of Boston.
Runs: 46 - 7 in favor of Boston.
Run Differential: 39 in favor of Boston.

The reason I point this out is because while the Yanks have been playing sub-par teams and have been putting up amazing numbers, Boston's once untouchable lead began to shrink. I think Boston put their season on cruise control and forgot who was in their rear view mirror. The past few weeks have woken up this Boston team. After today's win and the Yanks loss, Boston goes up by 7.5 games. Once again they have the biggest lead of any division in baseball.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Backing Up Mark English [David Stefanini]

Before I say anything I want everyone to know I love dogs and I own a dog. I have a Black Lab who I love and will do anything for. Now that I said that let me begin.

I have to agree with Mark English's most recent post.

How many of us have gone to a racetrack and bet on a horse race? Is that not participating in an event similar to dogfighting. As Mark English says:

"What of horses? Surely, are not horses are just as a part of our human existence as dogs? Yet, we look down on those who participate in grey hound racing, while we cheer the horses used in the Derby racing. To make things worse, horses that are injured because we raced them, are euthanized, many times right on the race track."

Mark English also brings up the sport of hunting. "White" America has dictated for years that hunting deer is a sport. Why is that considered morally just, but dogfighting isn't? I used to go hunting every year with my father and what did we do? We go into the deer's environment, try to lure them out, and put a bullet in them. Then we bring it to the butcher and have him cut it up than take it home as dinner for my family. Why is that better than dogfighting? One could argue, well at least you don't torture the deer. But is that statement accurate? No one has a perfect shot. If you shoot and hit the deer, but not in the correct spot, the deer jumps in pain and runs off. One time it happened to my father. He hit the deer but caught it closer to its behind. It took us roughly 5-10 minutes to find the deer. When we got finally found it; the deer was in so much pain, bleeding out that my father had to shoot it again to put it out of its misery. From that point on, I told myself I will not go hunting again.

Why should that be fine to do, but what Michael Vick did ends his career, and sends him behind bars with people who killed humans?

I am not saying dogfighting is a good thing, and personally think it should be illegal. I think we have to change the way we look at other events, such as hunting and horse racing if we are going to say dogfighting is bad.

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Chase Utley rocks! [Chrissy]

I could not be more upset, furious and disappointed with Michael Vick and his counterparts. The practice of dog fighting and the associated behaviors and circumstances are reprehensible and inexcusable.

On a brighter note, someone is using their celebrity for an excellent cause and I could not be happier.

Officials said a young dog was beaten, kicked and then set on fire Thursday in the 100 block of Hirst Street in West Philadelphia. She has extensive burns all over her face.Witnesses said they saw six teenage boys torturing the animal. One witness called police. It's believed the dog is about 7 months old.

The little pit bull-boxer mix is being treated at the SPCA facility in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia... Jen Utley just happened to be at the SPCA when the puppy was brought in. She and her husband, Phillies second basemen Chase Utley, are paying for the puppy's medical bills and rehabilitation. Utley is a dog lover. After seeing the dog, she said to the facility’s workers: “You guys don't have to worry about it. Focus on the lawsuit, finding these people. Focus on promoting awareness and getting more dogs off the street.”

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Friday, August 24, 2007

What We Should Learn from the Vick Saga [J. Mark English]

Surprise, surprise. The player who was the face of the NFL only a year ago, has now become for lack of the better word, the butt of the NFL.

The National Football League has decided to suspend Michael Vick indefinitely. NFL Commish Roger Goodell declared that Vick's actions were "not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible" and regardless whether he personally placed bets, "your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."

Then Vick came out with yet another confession. Vick admits to killing dogs in his plea bargain. According to The Smoking Gun's website, the following was released from his deal with the Feds:

As part of a plea deal, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback admitted that his Bad Newz Kennels operation wagered money--which he provided--in pit bull fights. However, "Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights," according to a "summary of the facts" that was filed today in court. That document, a copy of which you'll find below, also notes that Vick "was aware" that three of his cohorts killed several dogs that performed poorly in test fighting sessions in mid-2002. The summary reports that "Vick did not kill any dogs at this time." Earlier this year, Vick, and two cronies "agreed to the killing of approximately 6-8 dogs" that fared poorly in testing sessions at his Smithfield, Virginia property. Some of the animals were drowned or hanged, and Vick "stipulated" that the animals died via the "collected efforts" of himself, and codefendants Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace.

There you have it... Vick can say adios to his career. My, how the mighty fall.

Let us not over look the real story here: race. It is an issue of race because of the way variant elements within our country's culture look upon animals.

I love dogs, and have always welcomed a dog into my family since I was a little kid. My family currently owns a boxer, who is a light in our lives. But still, a dog is a dog is a dog.

What separates the status of a dog from say a deer? At what one point in our existence did man decree that a dog has a higher place in the chain of animals then a deer? When the "white" man hunts deer, that is not an act of cruelty. Rather, it is a sport, a sport which is used as a way to keep the deer population down.

What of horses? Surely, are not horses are just as a part of our human existence as dogs? Yet, we look down on those who participate in grey hound racing, while we cheer the horses used in the Derby racing. To make things worse, horses that are injured because we raced them, are euthanized, many times right on the race track.

But horses and deer are animals that amuse the "white" man.

What is done to horses and deer is not considered torture. Surely though there are degrees of torture. We do not drown or electrocute the horses, but we do whip them, and force them to race against their will.

As Vick is condemned for committing a federal crime, for torturing an animal that our society has selectively given lawful protection too, let us not forget what some of the more serious sins against human beings that are committed against humanity that go unpunished every day.

When the former Chiefs linebacker, Derrick Thomas, passed away in 2000, he left behind a great amount of wealth earned from playing football. Most remember him as a great linebacker. But few remember him as a terrible father. The following is Herb London of the Hudson Institute:

Derrick Thomas, the nine-time Pro-Bowl linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, died of a massive blood clot Feb. 8, a little more than two weeks after he was paralyzed in a car accident. There has been an extended period of grieving for the 33-year-old fallen football hero.

One eulogy after another mentioned Thomas' tireless money-raising efforts for a reading club that assisted urban kids with reading deficiency and a variety of other charitable causes. He was a poster boy for the United Way and a recipient of the Boy Scouts' Role Model Award, the Sports Illustrated for Kids Good Sport Award, the President George Bush Point of Light Award, National Football League Man of the Year Award, the Byron "Whizzer" White Humanitarian Award and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Man of the Year Award...

...What Peterson neglected to point out was what kind of decisions Thomas made in the last 15 years. He did not point out that Thomas has seven children with five different women, none of whom was his wife. His children live in Miami, Kansas City and Lawrence, Kan. In praising Thomas's many charitable acts, the eulogies omitted the personal discipline that should accompany bringing life into the world.

Thomas was a surrogate father to many children but was not a father to his own children. He spent Christmas handing out gifts to poor kids, but he wasn't around to offer solace for his own kids. Yet this is the man who was given a trunk-load of awards, praised as a man to be emulated.

Mr. London goes on to state:

However, these are unusual times. In some American subcultures there is status in producing babies, even if they aren't nurtured by their fathers. Professional sport has become a haven for such activity. One National Basketball Association team of 12 players had 32 illegitimate children, and that may be closer to the norm than the league office would like to admit.

In the United States at the moment -- with the rate of illegitimacy leveling off -- two-thirds of the black population and one-quarter of the total population are born out of wedlock. More than 80 percent of those in prison were born as illegitimate children. This is a national disgrace.

Yet, remarkably, Thomas is held up as a model. It is models like Thomas that represent the problem. If elites believe fathering children outside of marriage without responsibility is appropriate, why shouldn't young men searching for ways to assert their manhood adopt the same method? Instead of moral rectitude, elites now offer depravity.

This is far worse of a sin then any amount of dog killing could ever compare too. Players who live as if they are invincible tarnish the lives of those around them. This is not a race issue because white players are just as guilty. Even this past Spring it came out that Tom Brady had fathered an illegitimate child.

As far as I'm concerned, Vick should go to jail because he broke the law. However, there are worse things a person can do, and there are plenty of people with greater sin on their plate then Vick, and they get to play in the NFL, but not Vick.

This is a scenario where a dogs life in many ways is given more weight then a persons life. What of the children that are ignored and left without a father to look after them? What of the mothers that receive little help from the men who took advantage of them? Are these people not more human then dogs? The answer is obvious. Yet this underground problem will remain, and no federal statutes are being used to end this abuse of the human condition.

Perhaps we should reconsider our priority's back to the dignity of a human life.

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Vick Will Not Admit to Killing Dogs [David Stefanini]

Michael Vick will not admit to killing dogs or gambling on dog fights. Vick will only admit to interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting.

Here is the story from ESPN:

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will not admit to killing dogs or gambling on dog fights, as detailed in his indictment, when he enters a guilty plea in a Richmond, Va., federal court Monday, a source close to the case has told ESPN. Instead, the one count of conspiracy that Vick will plead to will admit guilt to the charge of interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting.

The source told ESPN that Vick's defense team met with federal attorneys Thursday afternoon to determine the "summary of facts" to which Vick will plead, and that his attorneys believed they had a deal. The source said Vick maintains he never killed dogs and never gambled on a dog fight.

He will admit he was present when dogs were killed, but that he did not personally kill any of the dogs.

The allegations of killing dogs and gambling were part of the picture painted by Vick's three co-defendants, all of whom have pleaded guilty.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

59 Year Old Grandfather Makes the Football Cut [J. Mark English]

We've had some bizarre headlines of late. The Texas Rangers outscored the Baltimore Orioles 30-3. And now we hear that a 59 year old gentlemen, Mike Flynt, has made the cut for the Division III school, Sul Ross State University out of Alpine, Texas.
Don't believe me? Find for yourself with this story form the Edmonton Sun:

Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: Getting kicked off the college team before his senior year.

So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?

Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt’s only concern was if he was eligible.

Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Thursday with the coach saying he’s made the Division III team’s roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.

Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he’s a grandfather and is retired. He’s eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.

“I think it was Carl Yastrzemski who used to say, `How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’ I’d be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that’s how I feel,” said Flynt, who has made a living out of physical fitness.

“That’s been my approach to this whole thing. I feel that good. I’m just going to find out if I can perform and make a contribution to the team.”

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Jerome Bettis: I Faked an Injury [J. Mark English]

Either the former Steelers running back is a genius for avoiding being cut by faking an injury, or he is a genius for creating a stir around a book that probably would not have done so well without this controversy. I guess you could call it a win/win for Bettis. Here is more from USA Today:

Jerome Bettis, the No. 5 rusher in NFL history, claims in a new book that he faked a knee injury during training camp in 2000 so the Pittsburgh Steelers wouldn't cut him and install Richard Huntley as the starter.

Bettis was worried offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride favored Huntley over him and the Steelers were ready to let Bettis go, partly so they wouldn't have to give him a new contract. Huntley had just signed a $4 million, three-year contract.

"Man, did I do a nice job of acting," Bettis wrote in the book, The Bus: My Life in and Out of a Helmet. "The thing is, I wasn't faking that I had an injury. I was just faking that the injury happened on that short-yardage play. I had to fool the coaches and the team's medical department into thinking the injury had occurred on that play. Otherwise, the Steelers would have had their reason to cut me and my salary."

Teams cannot cut an injured player during camp unless they reach an injury settlement with him.

"I effectively negated any funny business they were trying to pull on me," Bettis wrote in the book. "I took the pressure off a head coach (Bill Cowher) who was probably trying to get rid of me."

Bettis' recollection may be more anecdotal than fact-based.

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Red Sox Holding On...For Now [Addison Quale]

It seems that the Red Sox have held off the latest Yankee surge toward the top of the AL least for now. After being ahead 14 games in early June, that lead was cut to 4 games in recent days. The two teams seem to have reached a holding pattern as of late--mired about 4-6 games apart. Can the Red Sox hold off the Yanks down the stretch? That's the big question up here in Boston. Without supporting their arguably best pitcher thus far, Dice-K with more than a run per game, it may be hard. The Sox offense has looked anemic lately. Unlike that of the Yanks. But of course, it's the Yankee pitching that's got folks worried down in the Bronx. For all their surging the past month, the Yankees still are not in possession of a playoff spot--a game and a half behind Seattle for the Wild Card. The two rivals still have 6 games left to play--with a three set coming next week. My bet is that the Sox are going to hang on. But just barely.

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Brandon Webb Finally Allows A Run [David Stefanini]

In the first inning of last nights game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona pitcher Brandon Webb, allowed one run. It was the first run allowed in 42 innings of work for Webb.
The streak started all the way back on July 20th against the Chicago Cubs. In the sixth inning of that game Webb allowed two runs; from that point on he didn't allow a single run until last night. Over that stretch his ERA went from 3.38, which is still very good, to an amazing 2.63, where it currently stands. Put his great ERA alongside his 14-8 record, and we have a Cy Young candidate.
Webb's 42 consecutive innings without giving up a run left him 17 innings shy of the all-time record held by, Orel Hershiser. Since 1940, only four guys have had longer scoreless inning streaks.
Though Webb did give up a run, he still won the game which is his sixth straight. He pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, and only allowed five hits. His next start will be on the 28th against the San Diego Padres, who currently trail the Diamondbacks by 3.5 games. Webb will more than likely be pitching against Jake Peavy. Peavy is 14-5 with an ERA of 2.33. Right now he looks to be the front runner in the Cy Young race.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Photo: Met Fan Risks Jail Time to Hug Jose Reyes [J. Mark English]

...Oh yea, and Reyes also set the New York Mets team record for stolen bases with 67 on the season thus far, eclipsing the mark set by Roger Cedeno back in 1999.

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Rangers Beat Orioles 30-3 [David Stefanini]

I didn't make a typo typing in the score. The Texas Rangers became the first team in 110 years to score 30 runs in a game. The Rangers scored five runs in the fourth inning, nine in the sixth, ten in the eighth and six in the ninth. The last time a team scored 30 was when Chicago scored 36 runs in 1897.

Now the most shocking part of this is that Wes Littleton recorded a save. I said that correctly, in a game where the final score was 30-3, a relief pitcher recorded a save. Wes Littleton pitched 3 scoreless innings to record his first save of the season. When Littleton came into the game the score was 14-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Marlon Byrd and Travis Metcalf each hit grand slams, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Hernandez both hit two home runs and recorded seven RBI's.

Obviously, we will probably never see something like this happen again. It was 110 years ago when we saw something like this. I doubt anybody reading this was around back then.

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Sad Death Brings to an End a Sad Life [J. Mark English]

This is a tragic end to the life of Eddie Griffin:

Former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin died last week when his sport utility vehicle collided with a freight train in a fiery crash, the Harris County medical examiner's office said Tuesday.

Investigators used dental records to identify Griffin, 25, who began his tumultuous pro career with the Houston Rockets in 2001. He was waived by the Timberwolves in March.

"The cause of death and manner of death, which also includes toxicology results, is pending," said Beverly Begay, chief investigator for the Harris County Medical Examiner's office.

Griffin, a five-year veteran who was the No. 7 pick in the 2001 NBA draft, had battled alcohol problems since coming out of Seton Hall. He was suspended by the league for five games in January for violating its anti-drug program.

"Basketball was never an issue with him. He needed more life lessons, and unfortunately he was never able to reach his potential," former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said.

Eli Manning Fires Back at Tiki Barber [J. Mark English]

Great, this is just what the Giants need...more locker room drama. This is from the Lynn Zinser of the New York Times:

For most of his closely scrutinized Giants career, quarterback Eli Manning has chosen to let the debate about his laid-back personality and his leadership skills swirl without adding much in his defense. He has stayed true to his low-key demeanor, hoping one day his on-field success will render the debate moot.

So it was notable that Manning decided to fire back at one of his detractors Tuesday, although he did so in his own understated style. Without so much as raising his voice or arching an eyebrow, Manning acknowledged the former running back Tiki Barber’s comments that Manning was “uncomfortable” with leadership and he shot right back at Barber.

“I’m not going to lose any sleep about what Tiki has to say,” Manning said between training camp practices Tuesday afternoon. “I guess I could have questioned his leadership skills last year about him calling out the coach and having articles about him retiring in the middle of the season, that he’s lost the heart. It’s tough as a quarterback to read that your running back’s lost the heart in playing the game and it’s the 10th week.”

With the slyest of smiles, Manning added, “I’m just happy for Tiki that he’s making a smooth transition to the media.”

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English is Back: Catching the Baseball Fever - Again [J. Mark English]

I'm back from vacation, I'm rested, and ready to start watching baseball again on a nightly basis. I've taken a break from the monotonous bseason, to focus on other things such as going to the beach, boating, drinking with friends and just freeing my mind.

Now its time for me to start scheduling in time to watch every Mets game, set the TIVO to record Baseball Tonight, and gear up for the pennant races, all of which seem to be going down to the wire.

What a time to pick up things up again. Last night the Mets played a seesaw game against the San Diego Padres. The Mets lit up pitcher Chris Young, who has sparkled this season. They got to him early behind the resurgent hitting of Carlos Beltran who has finally regained his 2006 form. After being up 4-1, they gave up the lead, and were forced to battle back. Newcomer, Luis Castillo drove in the winning run against the imposing closer, Trevor Hoffman. Castillo is a testament to the type of the moves the Mets have made over the past couple of weeks.

Instead of trying to give up a lot to get a bonafide starter, they instead gave up very little to get a solid second baseman with speed, great defense, and a guy who will put the ball in play with Jose Reyes on the bases. He makes the Mets pitchers better because he solidifies a strong defense. Maine, Perez, Glavine, and Hernandez can relax more with a defense like the Mets have between the bases, because they know that any ground ball will more then likely produce an out.

Pedro Martinez meanwhile looms off in the distance and provides hope that if he is able to return the Mets will feature a lofty pitching staff heading into the playoffs.

Meanwhile the Yankees suffered last night from a guy who put in a monstourous game, provided by Garret Anderson, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California. Anderson drove in a whopping ten runs, leading the Angels past the Yankees 18-9.

Many will point out that the Yanks are being inconsistent against the good teams. No big deal. As long as the Yankees can continue to rake up victories against teams that are sub par, and just play around .500 against the good teams, the Yankees will make the playoffs.

I wrote them off earlier this season, but that was a mistake on my part.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vick's Fall From Grace [David Stefanini]

Here is a great story by Pat Forde, about the rise and fall of Michael Vick:
From the desperately tight spot he now occupies, you wonder whether Michael Vick can grasp how far he's plummeted. How much he's lost. How much he's given away.

Once -- not long ago -- he was the most spectacular football athlete in the world. Now, thanks to agreeing to a plea bargain on Monday, he's the perpetrator of the most spectacular fall from athletic grace in recent times.
Yeah, a lot of sports stars have done worse things. (If there are two things we've learned this summer, it's that Americans adore pets and animal activists are phenomenally vocal.) But few fallen sports stars had so much to forfeit.

This was to be his time. His era.

On the night of Jan. 4, 2000, fresh into the new millennium, Florida State beat Virginia Tech for the national title. And in defeat, Michael Vick took over football in the 21st century.
Finish reading the article here.

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Pedro, Chavez Look Good in Rehab Start [David Stefanini]

Pedro Martinez finally had a rehab start to be pleased with. He allowed 2 unearned runs over 5 innings. His fastball topped out at 89 mph, which is an improvement from his previous starts.
After the game Pedro talked about his pitches, "I was very pleased with the way my sinker was working and also the curveball. It was very steady."
This was by far Pedro's best outing since his injury. His sinker and curveball were working very well, but I feel he is still having trouble locating his fastball and changeup. Expect Pedro to make another start for St. Lucie's within a week. If you are optimistic, Pedro could return by the first week of September. If you are a realist, Pedro will likely rejoin the Mets in the middle of September.

Endy Chavez, who is also working his way back from an injury looked very good as well. Chavez went 3-4 and scored a run. He didn't have his usual explosive speed, but he will get that as time moves on. He still needs to get his confidence. Once he is healthy, he will be a great addition for the Mets.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Michael Vick Will Plead Guilty [David Stefanini]

This is so sad. Michael Vick will plead guilty to his dog fighting allegations. Here is Larry O'Dell with more:
Michael Vick's lawyer said Monday the NFL star will plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, putting the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's career in jeopardy and leaving him subject to a possible prison term.

The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines most likely would call for less.
"After consulting with his family over the weekend, Michael Vick asked that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him," lead defense attorney Billy Martin said in a statement.

"Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter."

Vick's plea hearing will be Aug. 27, Martin said.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from the Falcons' training camp but has withheld further action while the league conducts its own investigation.

Vick is charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

Martin's announcement came as a grand jury that could add new charges met in private. Prosecutors had said that a superseding indictment was in the works, but Vick's plea most likely means he will not face additional charges.

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Mets Extend Lead, Yanks Shrink Lead [David Stefanini]

In the AL East, the New York Yankees continued to keep winning, as Boston continues to play good baseball, not great. Boston's loss combined with the Yankees' win, leaves Boston with only a 4 game lead in the division. When the All-Star break rolled around it looked as if Boston was going to run away with their division and easily make it to the playoffs. But then the Yanks started playing like the Yanks. Ever since then it seems every week the Yanks cut a chunk out of Boston's lead. I once thought the Yankees would never be able to catch Boston, now I am not to sure.
Now lets take a look over at the NL standings. What do we see? The New York Mets have a bigger lead in their division than the Boston Red Sox. With the Mets win, and the Phillies loss yesterday, the Mets have extended their division lead to 5 games over the Phillies and 5.5 over the Braves. If this team could just stay off of the DL they would have a 10 game lead in the division. Think about all the main components that have been on the DL at some point in the year for the Mets. Beltran, Pedro, Sanchez, Alou, Chavez, Milledege, Gomez, have all missed considerable amounts of time for the Mets. In the case of Beltran, he played several weeks injured because the Mets simply had no one to fill in for him. Now they lose Easley, Castro, Lo Duca, and Delgado to injuries. Delgado is probably going to return tomorrow but the other three guys will not. The Mets need to keep their winning ways now that the tough part of the schedule roles around. They have to face two of the best pitchers in the game, Young and Peavy, on back-to-back nights. Then they have a series against the Dodgers, Phillies, and Braves. Those two series against the Phillies and Braves can all but lock up the division for the Mets or on the flip side, put the Mets on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. If they can win those series or sweep one of them, they will have a nice cushion going into September.

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Johan Santana Sets Twins Record [David Stefanini]

Johan Santana looked untouchable during yesterdays 1-0 win over the Rangers. Its not that Johan looked untouchable, he literally was. He pitched 8 innings and gave up only 2 hits, but that's not the big story. The story is he struck out 17 batters in those 8 innings. Yes, 17 K's in 8 innings. That is a new career high for him, and sets a Minnesota Twin's record. When I heard Johan was pitching a game like this, I went to MLBTV to watch the rest of the game. I found myself, like many other people, yelling at my computer for Santana to come out and go for 20 K's. However, when you think about it, its a good decision to take him out. There is no need to press him for another innings when you have a great closer who is ready to close the game. This marks the 37th time in his young career that Santana has struck out at least 10 batters. His 17 strikeout performance put him in 2nd in strikeouts this season only behind Erik Bedard.
Can you imagine if Santana was on a team that played in New York? Or for that matter any team that had a lineup that could produce runs? Santana would win 20 games easily every year. Instead he has to go out and if he gives up a run or two, he is in serious jeopardy of losing the game. I think Johan should demand a trade in the off season. The Twins will be able to name their price for Johan. It's only fair that he gets on a team that can support him and his talent.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

USC Heads Into Season Ranked #1 [David Stefanini]

Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans are once again the top team in the country. The AP released their pre-season rankings and here are a list of the top 10 teams in the nation.

1. USC
2. LSU
3. West Virginia
4. Texas
5. Michigan
6. Florida
7. Wisconsin
8. Oklahoma
9. Virginia Tech
10. Louisville

Honorable mention goes to Rutgers who starts the season as the 16th ranked team in the nation in both the AP and USA Today poll.

Looking at this list it is hard not to be a fan of Virginia Tech. After the tragedy that struck their campus, and sent fear through college students around the country, I am rooting for Virginia Tech to have a great season to help contribute to the healing process.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Vick Hasn't Made Up His Mind [David Stefanini]

Michael Vick is still negotiating a possible plea deal. My thoughts on this is, if he is really thinking about agreeing to a plea deal that shows he is guilty. If Vick is truly innocent why would he even be considering taking a plea deal? Also, my other question is, if the Feds have as much evidence, as it seems they do, why do they keep extending the deadline for him to make a deal? If he is guilty, nail this low-life to the wall and make an example of him. Don't let him dictate how this ends up. Show the world and the rest of these multi-millionaire superstars that they are not above the law.

When this story first broke about Vick and his possible connections to dog fighting, I was a big supporter of Vick and To a certain extent I still am. He is still innocent until proven guilty and that's just a simple fact that most people are having trouble with. But after looking at the evidence they have on him and looking at what dog fighting really is, I hope justice prevails. If he is guilty, he should be banned from the NFL for life. The last thing I would want is for him to agree to a plea deal, say he did what he is accused of, go to jail for a year, then have the NFL accept him back in a matter of a year or 2.

If Michael Vick is guilty than he should not be allowed back in the NFL, period. I hope the truth comes out, and if Vick is guilty he should be taken for all he is worth.

It seems we are going to have to wait at least a few more days for Vick's decision. People close to Vick say, an announcement as to whether or not he will accept the plea deal will not come this weekend. At the very earliest, an announcement looks to be made sometime early next week.

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Latest In Baseball News [Michael Vinciguerra]

Brandon Webb allowed just two hits in the D'Backs' 4-0 victory over the Braves. Webb's complete game shutout extended his scoreless streak to 42 innings. In other words, Webb has not given up a single run over a span of 42 innings pitched. That's incredible! Webb is 18 innings away from breaking Orel Hershiser's record of pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings.

Jacque Jones' 2 run homer was the deciding factor in the Cubs' 2-1 victory over the Cardinals. This victory by the Cubs ended the Cards' 5 game winning streak and enabled the Cubs to gain first place in their division after the Brewers lost later that night. Poor Brewers. That young squad needs to get their act together. I still have high hopes for them this season.

The Indians and Yankees both won on Friday. The Indians' victory caused them to gain first place over the Tigers in their division while the Yankees victory kept them on pace with Seattle for the Wild Card. The Yanks are a mere .5 (not even a full game) out of the Wild Card. How many people can raise their hand and honestly say they saw that one coming.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Zambrano Signs Extension With Cubs [David Stefanini]

It looks as if one of the biggest names in free agency this upcoming off season has been taken off the market. Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs have agreed on a 5 year extension worth roughly 91 million dollars. Here is with more:

Carlos Zambrano's long wait paid off. The Chicago Cubs' talented and emotional ace agreed Friday to a $91.5 million, five-year contract extension that features a 2013 option that could make the deal worth $110.75 million over six seasons.

Zambrano skipped a shot at free agency and its lucrative payday to stay with the only club he's ever known.

"Not everything is about money, you know," Zambrano said. "I know if I got to free agency there were a lot of things that would come to me and offer me. I feel comfortable here. I feel good here and my family feels good here."

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

NL East, The Power of the NL [David Stefanini]

The NL East is the only formidable opponent for the AL. The Mets, Braves, and Phillies all have lineups that can compete against the AL. No other team in the NL can come close to these three lineups.
The Philadelphia Phillies have a great lineup, but no pitching. I do not expect them to win the East, but I do expect them to be in it until the very end. This division is very competitive and these top three teams are going to hurt each other equally as much. This will allow the Phillies to hang around, but never catch the Braves or the Mets for the top spot.
The Atlanta Braves have a great team. If they can not catch the Mets for the NL East title, they will be in the Wild Card. At the trade deadline they acquired Mark Teixeira who has been a great pickup for them. Putting him alongside Kelly Johnson and the Jones' gives them all the power they need. Also, their pitching staff has two very good pitchers. They don't have a great pitching staff, but John Smoltz and Tim Hudson can more than hold down their own. Their bullpen is what hurts them. Their closer, Bob Wickman, isn't reliable and getting the ball to him in the 9th isn't easy. Octavio Dotel throws hard, but he has been getting hit hard this season. It also doesn't help that is is on the 15-day DL List. Look for the Braves to win the Wild Card, but fall a game or two behind the Mets.
The New York Mets, my favorite team, will win this division. Now that Moises Alou is back and healthy, this lineup is as good if not better than the Atlanta Braves. I loved the addition of Luis Castillo at the trading deadline. The only move left to make is to take Shawn Green out of right field and put in Lastings Milledge. Once that is done, there team will be complete. The only thing that concerns me is the pitching. Not the starters, because they have been much better than anyone thought at the beginning of the year. If/When Pedro comes back they will have a decent starting pitching staff. Their bullpen is what scares me. Right now Billy Wagner is having an amazing season. He blew only his second save of the year early this month against the Marlins. Other than that he has been nearly flawless all season long. But in the innings between the time where the starter comes out and Wagner gets the ball, there is no one that Willie Randolph can bring in and make me feel comfortable. They are going to have to address this issue somehow before the playoffs start.
If the playoffs started today the Mets would be the #1 seed in the NL. So, though they have a tougher schedule than the Braves and the Phillies, they are going to be the favorite in all of those games. Look for the Mets to win this division.

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AL East, Red Sox Are To Strong [David Stefanini]

The Boston Red Soxs are to powerful. The Yankees have gone on a tear recently, but they will not catch Boston. The Red Soxs got Curt Schilling back and their pitching staff went back to having 4 aces. They have a 5 game lead on the Yanks. I doubt the Yankees will catch them.
Now onto those Bronx Bombers. What a run they have been on since the All-Star Break. They were once considered dead and forgotten, now they are tied for the Wild Card and closing in fast on Boston. I do not think they will catch them though.
I think no matter who wins this division the Wild Card will be given to one of these two teams. The Yanks lineup is to powerful not to make the playoffs and the Red Soxs have been the best team in MLB all year.
I think the ALCS is on a crash course for these two teams. I think Boston will end up in the World Series again this year. I think the Yanks will end up with the Wild Card, and a meeting with Boston in the ALCS.

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AL West, A Two Team Race [David Stefanini]

This is a "what you see is what you get" division. The Angels have been in first place throughout the season and will more than likely stay there.
The Seattle Mariners have more important things to worry about than the Angels, like the Yankees closing in on them for the Wild Card. The Mariners have been one of the hottest teams in baseball recently, and have taken control of the Wild Card. Until a few days ago, when the New York Yankees got into a virtual tie for the lead.
I think this pattern will stay true throughout the year. The Mariners are going to be battling with the Yanks for the Wild Card, but will turn up empty in the end. The Angels should be able to pull away from the Mariners.
Look for the Mariners to be watching the Angels come October.

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NL West, House of Surprises [David Stefanini]

Raise your hand if you thought the Arizona Diamondbacks, without Randy Johnson, would be have the 2nd best record in the NL (behind the New York Mets). Neither did I. The NL West is a very close division. The Diamondbacks have the most wins in the NL, but they are .001 percentage points behind the NY Mets for #1 seed in the NL. Their lead-off hitter is a guy who can hit the ball out of the park, and that's about the only place he hits it. If it isn't a home run its an out, I think he is playing his own HR Derby.
3 games behind the Diamondbacks are the San Diego Padres. The Padres have an amazing pitching staff, but can't seem to get the bats going. They don't give the pitchers enough runs to get them wins. However, they hold a half game lead in the wild card over the Atlanta Braves.
The Colorado Rockies are third in this division 5 games out of first. I don't think they are a serious contender.
The LA Dodgers, this was the team most people expected to win this division. Instead they go 4-10 in the month of August so far and find themselves 6 and a half out of first place, 3 and a half out of the Wild Card. Brad Penny has been a great pitcher for them all year, but this team can not score any runs. Thy went 3 games in a row without scoring a single run!
So who should come out on top in this division? I think the San Diego Padres will. They start a series against the Astros tomorrow, which should lead to a nice series win for the Padres, but after that it gets hard. They have to play the Mets and Phillies on the road, then come home for a huge 4 game set against the Diamondbacks. I think the goal for them as to be to steal a series win away from either the Mets or the Phillies.
The Diamondbacks are running into the Braves tomorrow, so the Padres should be able to make up games this weekend. They have the Astros who they should be able to run over, and the Diamondbacks should lose most of the games against the Braves.

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AL Central, Things Have Always Been Tight [David Stefanini]

What a great race this should be down the stretch. As opposed to the pathetic NL Central, the AL Central has been a good division all year. The big three in this division, the Tigers, Indians, and Twins, are separate by 6 games. The Tigers and Indians are tied for the lead, and the Twins are 6 back.
So who will come out on top? The Detroit Tigers' pitching has been terrible since the All-Star Break and their hitting hasn't exactly been lighting it up either. At one point in the season, it looked as if the Wild Card would clearly come from this division. Now the Tigers/Indians find themselves in a virtual tie for third in the Wild Card. More bad news for the Tigers, they have to go to the Bronx to play a 4 game set against the red hot Yankees. Whereas the Indians get to go to Tampa to play the stone cold Devil Rays.
The Indians are coming off a 5-2 win against the Tigers last night, but they are not playing good baseball recently. Over their last 10 games they are only 4-6. That's not the way you want to be playing in the middle of August. However, the Indians have a better schedule remaining in August. They play a 3 game set against the Devil Rays, then play the Tigers, Royals, and Twins. They should be able to win 5 out of 6 against the Devil Rays/Royals, and can put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division if they can win the series against the Tigers. They should have no problem beating the Twins, unless that guy named Johan is pitching.
That leads me to the Twins. Personally, my favorite team in this division. It hurts me to say this, but they don't have a chance at winning this division. Unless Johan Santana can pitch every other game, there isn't enough talent on this team to compete with the Tigers and Indians. I would expect the Indians to have a lead in this division heading into September.

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NL Central, Things Getting Tighter [David Stefanini]

The St. Louis Cardinals, who looked to be out of it from the first week of the season, moved within 3 1/2 games of the first place Milwaukee Brewers last night. The Cardinals are 2 games behind the Cubs for second in the division, and are 6 games out of the wild card.
The Cardinals were as big of a disappointment as the New York Yankees this season. But now they are close to first in the standings. Now, lets not get carried away as to how good the Cardinals are playing. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but still remain 3 games under 500. Also, lets look at how they started this month. Five consecutive losses. So, by no means of the imagination are the Cardinals a team to be reckon with.
The real reason for this recent surge back into the playoff hunt is the horrendous play of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers are 3-7 in their last 10, and now have to deal with life without Prince. Prince Fielder was suspended 3 games for "inappropriate and aggressive conduct" in an argument with an umpire.
The fact is this, the NL Central is a horrible division. The Cubs were a good team up until Soriano went down. If they can somehow stay in the playoff picture until he comes back then they will be in good shape to win this division at seasons end.
The Brewers are to young and are not yet ready for a playoff push. The Cubs don't have one of their top players; so their not sprinting towards the playoffs either. The Cardinals are the defending champions who are starting to win some games. Look for the Cardinals to make things interesting in the upcoming week or two in this division. I wouldn't be surprised is they are atop the division by the end of this month.

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Selig Will Not Punish Giambi [David Stefanini]

Bud Selig has said he will not punish Jason Giambi for admitting he used steroids. My question to Selig is, why not? Punish Giambi for cheating! I liked Jason Giambi, and he was one of my favorite players. But he deserves to be punished for this.
What kind of message is this sending to the youth of the country? "Hey kids, if you use steroids nothing will happen, other than you will sign a ridiculous contract and be one of the richest players in the game." Yup, I definitely will not use steroids because of that message.
Selig said Giambi was very cooperative with Senator Mitchell's investigation. Also, Selig wrote to Giambi saying this:
"In the days since your interview, your representatives have discussed with my office your commitment to off-field charitable activities. For example, your agent has informed my office that you intend to donate $50,000 to the Partnership of a Drug Free America."
There was more mentioning of other charities Giambi donated to, but it made me sick to write it. You are able to buy your way out of cheating in the game of baseball. You can't directly pay Selig, but as long as you donate your money, nothing will happen. This is just more great commissioning from Bud Selig.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Michael Vick Pledged Allegiance to Al Qaeda? [David Stefanini]

If you read the headline you are probably asking yourself what the hell am I talking about. Well here is what I am talking about:

Embattled NFL quarterback Michael Vick, facing federal charges related to his alleged participation in dogfighting, has been hit with a "$63,000,000,000 billion dollar" lawsuit filed by a South Carolina inmate who alleges the Atlanta Falcons star stole his pit bulls and sold them on eBay to buy "missiles from Iran," FOX News has learned.

Jonathan Lee Riches filed the handwritten complaint over "theft and abuse of my animals" on July 23 in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va.

Riches alleges that Vick stole two white mixed pit bull dogs from his home in Holiday, Fla., and used them for dogfighting operations in Richmond, Va. The complaint goes on to allege that Vick sold the dogs on eBay and “used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government.”

The complaint also alleges that Vick would need those missiles because he pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year.

“Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes,” Riches writes in the complaint.

I refuse to believe this is true. A person who is in jail wants 63 billion dollars? Gimme a break. I just thought I should point this out because the world seems to hate Vick, and anything negative makes people happy.

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Yankee Legend Passes Away [David Stefanini]


Phil Rizzuto, the Hall of Fame shortstop who went on to fame for his unique broadcasting style, died Tuesday. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by the Yankees. Rizzuto had been in declining health for several years and was living at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J.

Rizzuto, nicknamed "The Scooter," was the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame prior to his death. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1994 by the Veterans Committee.

Rizzuto, noted as one of the best defensive shortstops in the history of the game, was the American League MVP in 1950 and played in five All-Star games. In his MVP season, Rizzuto hit .324 and scored 125 runs. He played for the Yankees from 1941 to 1956 (missing three years because of World War II, when he was in the U.S. Navy). The Yankees won seven World Series titles during Rizzuto's career.

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Yankee Great, Phill Rizzuto Dies at 89 [J. Mark English]