Monday, August 31, 2009

U.S. Open preview

This will have to serve as Case of the Mondays for the week...and while I'm hoping to post again before next Monday - especially Sportsman and TNEA, which is due Tuesday - this is going to be one more intense week of work before I can get into that weekly fall rhythm. Then we'll have consistent blog updates on NFL stuff (including fantasy and PICK 'EM!!!), as well as the baseball postseason and the start of the college football season. Fall is here, folks. SOOOOOOOO excited.
Here's a U.S. Open 2009 preview compiled by me and my dad. I'll try to post my picks against my father's as the draw progresses.

Best First-Round Matchup: No. 2 Andy Murray and Ernests Gulbis. First round? SERIOUSLY?!?! This is quarterfinal-worthy banter. What a treat for early bird fans at Flushing.
David: Murray & Gulbis
Tasty Third-Round Matchup: No. 5 Andy Roddick and John Isner. Any American-American matchup is a good draw, especially when it's popular vet versus upstart young'n. Check for No. 6 Juan Martin Del Potro and No. 25 Mardy Fish as well.
David: No. 13 Gael Monfils & No. 18 Ferrer
Tasty Quarterfinal Matchup: No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 22 Sam Querrey. Just another tough American matchup on hostile grounds for The King.
David: Del Potro & Murray
Championship Matchup You Want To See But Probably Won't: Hmmmm...lots of good choices here. I'll go with No. 21 James Blake - the man is running out of time for his breakthrough major - against either No. 6 Del Potro or No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as both are equally fun to watch. Blake-Tsonga would be particularly intriguing from a cultural standpoint: both black players of, respectively, British and French descent, playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
David: Roddick & anyone
Over/under on American men making third round: 4.5. Over or under? (Hint: 16 are in the draw, before qualies) : I've got Blake, Querrey, Isner and Roddick all making the top half third round, with Fish joining them from the bottom half, which gives me five. I think Jesse Levine and - sleeper alert! - Jesse Witten winning a pair of rounds too. Gotta take the over.
David: Over
Over/under on Roger Federer lost sets in tournament: 4.5. Over or under? He'll lose three of them on Championship Sunday. He'll lose no more than one before then, with that Bounty soft draw. Under.
David: Over
Top Ten player who will lose in first two rounds: Federer. OK, just kidding. Del Potro better mind his step with former U.S. Open champ Marat Safin - who's playing his final Grand Slam event - lurking in the second round.
David: No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko
Unranked player who could crash the quarters: I have no unseeded players in the Sweet 16, so I'll pull one out of my butt here: Marcel Granollers of Spain, out of No. 12 Robin Soderling's 2nd round and Davydenko's quarter.
David: Robby Ginepri (if happens, would come from the Nadal quarter of draw)
Biggest name to show up as a spectator in New York: How about our Commander-in-Chief? He seems to take a special liking in numerous sports.
David: A-Rod or Regis (depends on how you define "biggest")
Latest time you will leave Flushing Meadows at night: Those guys? I bet they'll get out of there at 2:45 some morning. Then head promptly to Neptune's, eat till 5 in the morning, and be back at Flushing by 10. Troopers, not party poopers they are.
David: 1:30 am
Average price of a Heineken at Flushing: With the economy the way it is, maybe they'll be forgiving on concession prices. Not likely in the Big Apple, though. Probably $7.50.
David: $6.25
Quarterfinal picks: Federer over Querrey; No. 4 Novak Djokovic over No. 20 Tommy Haas; No. 3 Rafael Nadal (how weird do "3" and "Nadal" look together?) over No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez; Murray over Fish.
David: Federer over Querrey/Roddick over Djokovic/Gonzalez over Ferrer/Del Potro over Murray
Semifinal picks: Federer over Djokovic; Murray over Nadal.
David: Federer over Roddick/Del Potro over Gonzalez
Championship pick: Andy Murray wins his 1st, in four sets.
David: Roger Federer wins his 16th


Friday, August 28, 2009

Soooo...they're NOT rooting for Mr. Wrangler Jeans?

This is a little belated, but I did compile the information right as Brett Favre unretired for, what is it, the sixth time now? My only regret is my prediction of a Week 6 return was waaaaaaaaaaaay off base. How could I underestimate No. 4? Of course he'd make a flip-floppy decision in the course of a few weeks, not a few months.

In honor of my upcoming weekend retreat to the Cheese State for the treat of all treats - a live, offline fantasy draft (San Francisco Rockfish: Champ-ee-un-ship) - I thought I'd just remind the world of Wisconsin's disdain for Grizzly Favre by reposting a sampling of Facebook status reactions.

Nate Brenn "There's not a chance, from my standpoint. I'm going forward with the guys we have." - Vikings Coach Brad Childress, July 30, on signing Favre

Ben Breiner hmmm, Packers fans being delightfully vengeful toward ole #4. I approve

Kayla Hagens Ugh...go away Favre!

Katy Culver - Favre about to sign with Vikings. Now do y'all know why we're sick of him here? #4=LAME

Nate Carey The only thing better than pro football is pro football with spite. Thank you Brett, I eagerly anticipate watching you flounder and fail.

Jordan Schelling "When I'm done, I'm done. And you can't go back." — Brett Favre

DJ Jarvis wishes Favre would just go away

Savannah Ziegelbauer hates that my boyfriend is a vikings fan, especially today

Mick Kelly can't wait to boo when #4 runs out of the tunnel at Lambeau in a purple uniform

Lindsay Chrisler ...Does he not care at ALL about his reputation? I know he just wants to stick it to Ted T. and it'll no doubt make for some amazing football games...but come on! Last year was one thing - I understood. This year hits way too close to home. We such a good thing Brett and you went and shit all over it...boooo


Here's my two cents: first off, Lindsay makes an interesting point. I realize that to be a public figure, you have to ignore the critics for the most part in order to keep yourself sane - I get that as a lowly sportswriter, so I imagine that one of the most famous athletes in the country gets that too.

But, I precious few athletes get so attached to their city that they reach worship status.

Yogi Berra in New York. Derek Jeter's getting there.
Larry Bird in Boston. Tom Brady's getting there.
Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Manny Ramirez, for some odd reason, is getting there.

And then, you have those athletes who people literally feel attached to. We're talking about the smaller markets, because even the Birds and Kobes get swallowed up by the size of those cities. These select few athletes have become synonymous with that city's name because of what they've done for the local team and the community. I'd put Denver's John Elway, Cleveland's LeBron James, St. Louis' Albert Pujols, San Diego's Tony Gwynn, and Detroit's Chauncey Billups in that group, among perhaps a few others.

Finally, you have...Brett Favre. I lived through two Super Bowls in Denver. I've read all the books on Elway. I have two Elway posters hanging on my wall, and I'd count the Broncos as my least favorite Denver team through the years. Kyle Orton is STILL being compared to No. 7, despite there being three full-time, multiple-year starters (Brian Griese, Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler) that have separated Elway and Orton, and all three had success in Denver. AND THAT ALL BEING SAID...having lived several years in both Denver and Madison, the love and affection for Brett Favre in Wisconsin far, far, far, FAR exceeds that for Elway in Denver. The day Favre initially retired from the Packers, there was a physical pain in all the green-and-gold-blooded Sconnies on the UW campus. Many tears shed openly. I tried to feel that pain when Joe Sakic officially retired from the Avalanche after 19 years a few weeks back, but I couldn't. I'll never know how to feel towards an athlete like Packer fans felt towards Favre.

So that's what makes all of this really unfortunate, and why ESPN needs to stop sucking up to Favre's every move and start questioning why the heck he would give up his legendary status for one last flawed shot at glory. Lindsay and many other Packer fans will be forever distraught over why their Golden Boy ditched them, first for some random Jets team, and then, disgustingly, for their most hated rivals in Minnesota. It wasn't about money (he's got plenty of that), it wasn't about records (got plenty of those, too), and I don't think it's about just playing a little more football. Brett Favre doesn't play for the name on the front of the jersey. He plays for the one on the back of it. And that's plain sad, for someone once labeled an American hero.

Oh, I had one cent left to give. It's that I lived in Madison for about, hmmm, 15 minutes or so before concluding that Favre was kind of a jackass and was all about Brett and nobody else. know...don't say I never told you so. Sorry, Sconnies. I'll be rooting against the Vikings like the rest of you.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


. Technically, it's Case of the Mondays, because arguably the most incredible, unbelievable, leave-your-jaw-wide-open-unable-to-speak spectacular moment in Denver sports history - and probably the most unbelivable moment in all of sports this year - occurred at 11:38 local time. Where I am, it was 12:38, so it's Tuesday. But Coors Field ROCKED while the bell was 22 minutes from tolling midnight. So, dammit, we're callin this Case of the Mondays.

I'm writing this at 2:05 am - about 90 minutes after the Rockies' indescribable 6-4 walk-off victory against the Giants. I'm still in shock. I'm a little numb. Probably delirious. Not sure how I'm going to function at work tomorrow, especially since I can't sleep thinking about the next three games on the ol' sked. But before I pass out from what's going on in LoDo, here are some bullet-point thoughts:
  • Broncos who?
  • I didn't realize Todd Helton had reached the Albert Pujols point where you just walk him automatically - even if the bases are loaded in a one-run game.
  • But I did love Helton staring down Barry Zito after doing just that to tie the game up at 1. That was Zito's third free pass handed out to TH. Some veteran pitcher, ya hack.
  • Yet another great play by Tulowitzki in the field to save a hit in the 10th. Of course, the announcers went nuts on ESPN during Top 10 when it was showed, which is well and good - but honestly, we Rockie fans are used to it. That's what Tulo does.
  • Troy Tulowitzki > Derek Jeter. At least now he is. In the words of Matt Berry, you heard me.
  • Of course, Tulo's boneheaded running error in the bottom of that inning can't go unnoticed. Runner on 2nd (a pinch-runner, by the way, so Helton's now out of the game), nobody out, Tulo singles to right. I guess he figured that if there was a play at the plate, either the game was over or CarGo would be out, so he should take second on the throw.
  • But you've got to have more awareness than that. And besides, even with CarGo was held up and the ball was cut off, why didn't Troy scamper back to first? That killed the inning. Killed it.
  • I do know that Tulo's playing through a bad leg injury. And Dex Fowler may have to do the same after fouling one off his knee in the 14th. Yikes.

  • Cy Young boy Tim Lincecum pinch-running, and closer Brian Wilson batting for himself in the 11th. Ummmm...what's wrong with this picture?
  • The exchange after that was hilarious: a terrible bunt by Wilson, Yorvit Torrealba making a horribly short throw to second, but Barmes makes a great dig and throws to first in time to nail a surprised Wilson. Threat over, inning over.
  • But yeah, I mean, what's wrong with this picture? MLB, one way or the other here. Pick a DH for both leagues or neither. Preferably both leagues, but either way, make a decision. We're waiting. Somebody wake up Bud.
  • Seriously, who are these Broncos characters? And where'd they go? Haven't heard much about them recently.
  • Plus Brandon Medders lining to third with the bases juiced and two out in the 13th. Medders is the Giants', like, fifth reliever. Just adds to the awe of this game.

  • All right, quote time: here's Drew Goodman's exact words in the bottom of the 14th:

  • "Ryan 1 for 6. In the air, deep right-center field, way back...ROCKIES WIN IT! GRAND SLAM, RYAN SPILBORGHS! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! HE'S SPRINTING AROUND THE BASES! WOW! WOW!"
  • And with all the passion illustrated with the all-caps. Perfectly executed by the long-time Rockies play-by-play man. Unlike that obnoxious "See Ya!" bullshit that's been 15 years overdone by the YES network buffoon.
  • First walk-off grand slam in Rox history? Wouldn't have thunk it.
  • Jim Tracy damn near collapsed when Spilly's blast cleared the bullpen wall. He is SO cool. Might be my favorite coach in Colorado, with regards to George Karl.
  • And Tracy keeps saying it: "WE DON'T QUIT". Ah, the anti-Carmelo Anthony 2008 speech. (Sorry, Melo! Still love ya)
  • On the other hand, San Francisco Giants: Just go home. Quit. Seriously. You have a better chance of making the 2009 MLB playoffs as the Washington Nationals, the New England Patriots, and the Saudi Arabian team in the Little League World Series. It's true.

  • It is about this time I'm pondering: "what if this exact game happened between two teams wearing Yankees and Red Sox uniforms?"
  • I'm thinking the following truths: the roof in Bristol would explore; ESPN would pre-empt all its programming (including its beloved LLWS) for the next 16 hours to show highlights; Bill Simmons would be composing a 60,000-word column as well as a book to be sold in stores at a Barnes & Noble near you next May; Buster Olney's head would explode; Peter Gammons would have a heart attack; and did I mention the roof in Bristol would explode? Yes, yes I did.
  • That's not to knock ESPN's coverage of this game; it was great hearing the two anchors lead it off for the 1 pm SportsCenter. I'm just saying, Yankees-Red Sox is, well, it's getting old.
  • Neil Everett, whom I hate, had two priceless lines on SportsCenter.
  • The first was while ESPN showed the box score, right after Eaton's RBI walk: “Well, if you’re hanging around lower downtown Denver around midnight on Monday looking for something to do, you could catch this wild Rockies game now in the 14th inning, the Giants took a three-run lead in the top of the 14th, but then Adam Eaton walked with the bases loaded, and now…Ryan Spilborghs…(long pause)…has JUST HIT A WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM HOME RUN TO WIN IT FOR THE ROCKIES! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”
  • And this, “Me and Stan (Verrett) are watching this, and we have chicken skin, hair raising on the back of our necks”
  • Neil, you moved up a few notches in my book. Keep it up, dude.

  • Let me ask you: how is ESPN NOT moving mountains to get a Dodgers-Rockies game on national television this week? HOW?!?!
  • Or how about Giants-Rockies on FOX on Saturday? Yo, Fox, check the fucking standings! CUBS ARE 62-60, EIGHT GAMES OUT! METS ARE 10 GAMES UNDER .500!!!!!
  • And Dodgers-Reds? DODGERS-REDS? Who’s setting these matchups and are they triple or quadruple the legal limit when they’re doing so?
  • Whatever. Bring on a Rangers-Rockies World Series. Can't wait to see jobs lost at MLB when that happens.

  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEAT LA.
  • BEA
  • (That's 15.5 'beat LAs'. Same as the number of games the Rockies were back of the Dodgers on June 3.)
  • Attention Dodgers: Rockies in your rearview mirror are closer than they appear.
  • I don't honestly think the Rox get more than a game in this series. An incredibly physical, taxing series with the G-Men just ending, the Dodgers had the day off, the pitching matchups are severely in LA's favor...
  • That being said, that puts the pressure on the Dodgers. Should the Rockies get 2 of 3, the noose is gonna tighten even more around LA.
  • Oh, and one more thing: Print 'em up. That's right, playoff tickets. Print 'em up. That's all I gotta say about that.

Have a good one.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Trivia Answers, New Question

Four active left-handed batters have more hits than Todd Helton. Name 'em.

Ken Griffey Jr. (2749 hits, as of Monday morning)
Garret Anderson (2,469)
Johnny Damon (2395)
Jim Thome (2129)

(Helton has 2094. Bobby Abreu's on his tail at 2080. The active leader among righties is Derek Jeter with 2701, and Omar Vizquel's 2699 leads switch-hitters)

Albert Pujols now has nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons to begin his career. There are only six active major league players, besides Pujols, with nine 100-RBI seasons in their entire careers. Name 'em.

Thome, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Carlos Delgado (Junior has 8)

Pitcher A: 141 IP, 10-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 125 K, 16 homers allowed in a hitter's park
Pitcher B: 150 IP, 9-9, 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 134 K, 8 homers allowed in a hitter's park
Pitcher A makes $16.5 million this season
Pitcher B makes $750,000 this season
Name 'em.

Pitcher A is A.J. Burnett, who needs to be put in timeout along with Jorge Posada
Pitcher B is Ubaldo Jimenez, who has earned the quote from another major leaguer: "If you don't know about him yet, it's your own fault."

And now, for one more trivia question, of the tennis variety:

Name the 11 American citizens who have won a Grand Slam singles title in my lifetime, which dates back to the 1987 French Open. Hint: note the American CITIZEN part.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Three Tricky Trivia Questions of the Week

Wanted to postscript today's Sportsman and The Next Erin Andrews of the Month with an apology that we haven't been posting more often. July has been a surprisingly busy time here, mainly ridden with travel to everywhere from Fort Dodge to Chicago to Madison. So it's been tough to find time on the blog. But I promise, once football season of all varieties gets started up (NFL, fantasy, college, high school), there will be more frequent posts. I promise.

Now, here are three fun trivia questions. No fair using the Internet.
The first is courtesy of the Comcast SportsNet broadcast of tonight's Cubs-Rockies game.

Four active left-handed batters have more hits than Todd Helton. Name 'em.

Question numero dos is courtesy of Jayson Stark on Tuesday's "Mike and Mike in the Morning".

Albert Pujols now has nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons to begin his career. There are only six active major league players, besides Pujols, with nine 100-RBI seasons in their entire careers. Name 'em.

And your final pop quiz inquiry of the day is courtesy of yours truly. One of those hidden-identity-name-the-two-compared-players deals. Enjoy.

Pitcher A: 141 IP, 10-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 125 K, 16 homers allowed in a hitter's park
Pitcher B: 150 IP, 9-9, 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 134 K, 8 homers allowed in a hitter's park

Oh, and one more thing...
Pitcher A makes $16.5 million this season
Pitcher B makes $750,000 this season

Name 'em.

If you like, post your guesses as a comment to this entry. I'll have the answers later this week.


"Nothing in the law that says we can't double down and drive"

This YouTube clip is so funny, I'm going to forgive the fact that there is a tiny bit of explicit language in it. Enjoy.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Sportsman of the Month: July

Roger Federer

TNEA of the Month: August


We're going outside the box for this month's The Next Erin Andrews candidate (and for those who haven't been following along, here's a link to get you up to speed). The August candidate needs but one word of introduction...everybody now, haaaaaaaaiiiiiiii...


I got hooked on I Survived A Japanese Game Show! this summer, mainly for the silliness and the mini-drama between contestants (but never out-of-hand-reality-show drama). Yes, there were a few cute girls on the show, like Jamie whose smile lights up a room but romance with Drew lit up her team, or Linda who's like that classic girl that doesn't turn your head the first time or the tenth, but you eventually realize she's a cutie. Either of these ladies would actually make a fine candidate for this monthly honor based on their looks and spunk.

But we're going with the oldest member of the 12-person competition, 36-year-old Cathy, for two reasons. One, she's a soccer mom who live for her children's sports, so we know she could hold her own on the sidelines. And two, um...SHE NEVER LOST.

Even the Japanese version of the game show (Majide!) recognized that she was impenetrable in all the team games. You see, there are two teams of 6 players, and one contestant goes home each week. Should one team lose two more players than the opponent at any given time, then the larger squad must give one of its players to the other side. Cathy went from the Green Tigers, over to the Red Robots and back...and no matter what, the team Cathy was on ALWAYS WON. This, I guess, is the equivalent of, say, Robert Horry who goes from team to team and might not be the star player or the MVP, but always seems to win.

She's gotta get her props for that.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Riverside Rant of the Week: Screw you, MLB

Let's play the "Team A vs. Team B Hidden Identity" game, shall we? I'm going to list the profiles of two different teams, and you tell me which squad deserves more attention on national TV as we hit the dog days of August, cool? Cool.

____________________________Team A________________Team B
Current record_____________
Division rank______________T-2nd__________________3rd
Its division leader has...______Best record in MLB________12th-best record in MLB
Playoff standing____________Co-wild card leader________3 games out of division lead Playoff years since 2005______1______________________1
World Series since 2005______1______________________0 Power Ranking____11______________________19
Team payroll rank__________21st ($72.4 mil)___________23rd ($67.6 mil)
Census population rank______16th largest______________15th largest
*all statistics as of Aug. 1

So you've got the A team that's five games ahead of the B team, is sitting in a playoff spot, and plays in a much more competitive division. Both teams have appeared in the playoffs recently, but only Team A has been to a World Series during that trip. Team A is also eight spots ahead of Team B in the latest rankings. The two teams have similar payrolls and play in similar TV markets (so, this is not a Boston vs. Tampa situation where the markets are vastly different.)

So, you'd obviously think that Team A should be on national television much more than Team B, right? Guess what, guys and gals: Team B is going to be on national television FOUR TIMES this month. Team A? Once. ONCE. And that's only if you consider MLB Network national television - in fact, that lone game is against the Cubs, whose games are mostly on WGN or Comcast Sportsnet anyway. But the point is, Team A will not appear on Fox, TBS or ESPN in August.

Go ahead and guess the two teams' identities. While you're mulling it over, here's a fun picture that'll make you laugh. Look real closely at the text graphic at the bottom:

Haha, Mark Buehrle's a stud! Hitting hos all over the place. Anyway, Team A is, of course, my beloved Rockies. Team B is Minnesota, which has a couple of stud players in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and has been a perennially successful team. But sorry Twin Cities, your team being on national TV four times in August kind of makes me want to barf.

Think I'm being too harsh on Minny? Fine. In fact, I just as easily could have played this game with the Atlanta Braves (53-51, 3rd place, 13th power rank, no playoffs since 2005, and 21st-largest media market - all weaker than the Rockies). Atlanta will be shown to America five times this year. Hope the U.S. likes old guys named Chipper and bespectacled catchers, because that's about all there is to like about the team that TBS deemed not attractive enough to continue following.

Then you've got Boston (eight times), which has officially replaced the Yankees as America's SUDAT Team (Shove Us Down America's Throat). Yanks are on five times since YES just isn't enough; Cubs are on five times, thank goodness they didn't tank; Mets and their sub-.500 record are on four times; Philly and the Dodgers are each on five times, understandable considering the defending champs and current top record and baseball are among those two.

But actually, you have no idea how glad I am that the Cleveland Indians take their 43-61 record to a national stage twice during this pivotal month. That's right, 43-61. No, really, I was so pumped when I saw I'd get two chances to watch a team that decided "you know what? let's just spit on our fans by letting go of a Cy Young winner and an All-Star catcher who swings both ways and can also play first base when not behind the dish. Who needs 'em?"

Oh, and you've got the Reds on twice too. You know, the 45-58 Reds who have been "just one year away" for about 28 years. And then, the Royals. The same Royals that are 23 games under .500. Yep, they were on Fox today. I'm sure their 14 fans were thrilled.

By the way, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Kansas City are 18th, 25th and 27th on the media market list. All lower than Denver. None of those franchises are higher than 15th on the league's payroll list. None of those cities has more than three teams in the four major pro sports, either (Cincy and KC have just two each - no hockey or hoops). Last I checked, Denver has four.

I think you get my drift. It continues to be absolutely deplorable that Major League Baseball and the networks that carry the product ignore the Colorado Rockies. Absolutely deplorable. Honestly, that's an understatement. I'd use better vernacular to describe this fact if I possessed it...or if I wanted to allow successive expletives on my blog.

What's funny is, the Nuggets were on national TV 19 times this year. 19! That's a quarter of their games!!! And they hadn't won a playoff round in a couple decades until this season! So we know the NBA department at ESPN can find Denver on a map. Besides, the Broncos have always received more than their share of attention in the past, and when the NHL was hot, the Avs were one of the three or four premier teams in the league. Apparently, the MLB department needs the heads-up that yes, hardball is played in the Rocky Mountains.

That's all I gotta say. Makes me wanna puke.