Tuesday, April 26, 2005

NBA Playoff Preview

Originally posted on "Is It Sports" by AJ, who recently wrote the position in the spotlight post for Pittsburgh. AJ is a huge NBA fan, much larger than Ryan or I. He nailed the finals matchup correctly, but went with his home town team and picked the Pistons over the Spurs. I added some comments at the beginning, in blue.

Here is the the first NBA Playoff Preview from Is It Sports? You might have noticed that so far we've only had one story on here about basketball, and it was on my fantasy team (I ended up winning the regular season title but lost the championship). I didn't even mention correctly picking North Carolina to beat Illinois in my NCAA bracket when I filled it out after a few (ok, several) drinks when I was in Panama City. One problem with us doing an NBA playoff preview is that I'm a Bulls fan, so I'd be better suited to do a 1995-96 playoff preview (I started getting more interested in the NBA again last season though); Ryan likes hockey so therefore pretty much hates the NBA, and Kevin likes the Warriors, so I'm not sure if he knows what playoffs are. So we recruited the services of my friend and commissioner of my fantasy league, A.J., who is originally from the Detroit area, to do our preview. He wrote this before the playoffs started, I was a little late with the posting, sorry about that. So here it is. - Steve

Detroit – They are the team to beat. They have won there last 11 games in impressive fashion, they are as hot as anyone right now. I know I am incredibly bias but I don’t understand how they can not be the favorite. Take Miami, give Shaq all the points you want, but do you honestly think that Dwyane Wade this year is a better basketball player than Kobe Bryant? Miami doesn’t have any other player that can break down a defense like Detroit’s. I’m not guaranteeing that Detroit will go all the way, there are a lot of teams that can beat them, it is just a matter of if they will. But they have to be the favorites.
San Antonio – How can they not be one of the favorites? Right now the big question mark is how healthy is Duncan. They have a great crew around him, but they are not good enough to win it all if Duncan is playing hurt. The addition of Glenn Robinson gives this team another go to scorer that helps to compliment Duncan, while the cast from last year helps to make the Spurs one of the deepest teams in the league. They are easily the favorite in the west.
Miami – It is Lakers syndrome all over again, two of the best players in the league and then nothing. How many playoff teams would Udonis Haslem start for? Houston, Philadelphia that’s all I can think of. What about Damon Jones? None, I can’t think of a single one. He is a decent player when coming off the bench. Now look at their bench, Laettner, Dooling, Doleac no fan since 1992, has said, “Don’t worry. Christian Laettner is coming into the game.” Zoe gives this team another dimension, but he has still not shown that he can play more then 20 minutes for multiple games in a row. All this being said, Shaq and Wade can win a title on their own. It has been done, but I’m just saying that they are that ones that have to do it.

Phoenix – It may be the most over used saying in all of sports, but defense wins championships. Now say this five times, PHOENIX WILL NOT WIN THE NBA TITLE. I would like to see you name one team in the last 25 year who have won a championship that plays as bad of defense as Phoenix. I am just waiting to watch Steven A. Smith's preview of the playoffs when he will rave about how no one in the league can match Phoenix’s offense and how great of basketball they play…then four weeks later when the finals are over it will be all about how you need defense to win championships. Just watch, it happened last year it will happen again this year.
Sacramento – This could be their year, I can’t believe I am saying this but I think they are a better team without Webber. It allows their key players to do what they do best, shoot. They have a weakened front court with the injury of Miller, and the loss of Divac, but they can shoot as well as anyone in the league.
Dallas – See Phoenix

Denver – You have to like Denver right now, they look like the team that they were supposed to be this year. However I don’t see any way for them to be able to beat San Antonio. I would give them a shot against anyone else in the league.
Indiana – They are a scary team to play. They could beat some really good teams if all there cards are played right. Reggie Miller is the last in a series of players that can win any single game by himself. 9 points in 8 seconds, there are three other players in the league right now who could possibly do that, Kobe, AI, and Ben Gordon. LeBron or Wade could be there one day, but are definitely not there yet. Indiana is a dark horse in the east.

Possible Surprises
Seattle – Not the way you want to be going into the playoffs. I would pick any team in the West over them. Like Denver they got a bad draw, they are not going to beat the Kings.
Houston – To start off no team led by either Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming will ever win a championship. First off Tracy McGrady is going to challenge the artist formally known as Air Canada as the biggest cry baby of our generation, the genius in the front office decided to team him up with Yao. Just watch Yao play five minutes and tell me that he is destined to be more than the next Kenny Anderson. I swear Earl Boykins could box him out, in fact I think I have seen it. I would just once want to see what goes on in his head during a game: Luke Ridnour just drove by me, I know I have a foot and a half on him, but blocking him would send the wrong message...I know I’ll hit him on the shoulder after he takes the shot, I’m getting tired anyways, coach will sit me if I have 3 fouls in the first 10 minutes.
Chicago – I have said for the last three years the Bulls probably have the most talent in the Eastern Conference, they have just been too inexperienced. Imagine how good this team would have been if Jay Williams didn’t like motorcycles. While they are probably the favorite to win their first round matchup I just don’t see how they can beat Miami in the second round, however it will be fun to watch them try. By the way, Ben Gordon is the next Reggie Miller.
Washington – Washington is the one team that I know nothing about, they have had so few games on national TV it is hard to get a read on them. From what I have seen, they are good enough to bring any team the full way in a series, I just don’t think they can beat Miami or Detroit.

So they might miss a week of golf
Memphis – They are an interesting team. I think they can beat anyone in the league in a 5 games series, but they just don’t have enough to make a big impact in the playoffs. I predict that they can win two games in the first round.
Boston – They are about 10 times better then they were last year, the sad part is that it is just not good enough. Their three top players (Pierce, Walker, and Davis) all the same type of player. The type that needs 20 shots a game to be effective. There are just not enough touches to go around. Walker ensured that the team will be in the playoffs for the next 3 or 4 years, but nothing more than that.
Philadelphia – AI is a winner, there is no doubt about it. By far the most mentally tough guy in the league. That being said, Weber is the absolute opposite. He has a habit of disappearing or making mistakes during big games. He did it in both championship games when he was at Michigan, and he has done it in the NBA. A winner does not complain about not getting enough touches after being with a team for a week. In the last 2 years he has gone from being in the same class as Garnett and Duncan, to being categorized with Kurt Thomas. If Detroit was offered Chris Webber for Darko right now do you think they would take it? I mean it is Darko. The mascot gets more time on the court then he does. In summary, they don’t have enough fire power to win a series with any of the top teams in the east.
New Jersey – How can you not compare them to Illinois? Kidd, Carter and the possibility of a Jefferson return. There is no one in the league that can come close to matching that. They can give Miami a run for they money, especially with a slowed down Shaq, but with even the slightest presence in the front court the Heat are going to be able to prevail.


First Round
Miami vs. NJ – Miami wins (4-2), With Shaq not at 100% NJ can sneak in a couple of wins but no more. Shaq will not let his team go out in the first round.
Detroit vs. Philly – Detroit wins (4-1), AI presents a match-up problem for the Detroit defense, this will allow Philadelphia to win one of the first two games. However every single starter presents a match up problem for Philly.
Boston vs. Indiana – Indiana wins (4-2), There is no way Reggie is going to let his team go out in the first round. Jermaine O’Neal will dominate Boston’s weak front court.
Chicago vs. Washington – Chicago wins (4-3), Probably the best match-up in the first round, two up and coming teams facing off. If they played 10 series each team would win 5. I give the edge to the Baby Bulls though.
Phoenix vs. Memphis – Phoenix wins (4-1), so I lied Memphis will only win one game. But they will give Phoenix somewhat of a challenge.
San Antonio vs. Denver – San Antonio wins (4-2), all six games are going to be hard fought, but in the end it will come down to experience, and no one has more than San Antonio.
Seattle vs. Sacramento – Sacramento wins (4-2), Seattle goes down early in the series, but comes back to win a few close ones.
Dallas vs. Houston – Dallas wins (4-3), It will be a hard fought series but in the end Dallas will come up on top. Watch for Yao or T-Mac to choke during clutch time to cost their team the series.

Second Round
Miami vs. Chicago – Miami wins (4-0), A now healthy Shaq will come back with a vengeance. Chicago doesn’t have a player who can consistently stop Shaq or Dwyane.
Detroit vs. Indiana – Detroit wins (4-2), Indiana will we out for blood in this series, but will come up short. They can't beat Detroit in a series without Artest.
Phoenix vs. Dallas – Phoenix wins (4-1), These two teams play the exact same type of basketball but Phoenix is just better at it.
San Antonio vs. Sacramento – San Antonio wins (4-2), The difference in this series is that San Antonio just plays much better defense.

Conference Championships
Miami vs. Detroit – Detroit wins (4-3), This one will be as close as the Detroit – Indiana series last year. Detroit will win any games in which Billups and Rip combined out score Shaq.
Phoenix vs. San Antonio – San Antonio wins (4-3), Another hard fought series but Duncan should be at 100% by this point. Look for Ginobili to come up big during the deciding moments.

NBA Championship
San Antonio vs. Detroit – Detroit wins (4-3), This would be one of the all time classic NBA championships, the kind that they rerun on ESPN Classic once a week. Someone unexpected will come up big during game seven. The team has that has that player will win. I think Detroit might be holding an ace up their sleeve with Arroyo. - A.J.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

White Sox-Twins Game Log II

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" we did another game log because Ryan wanted redemption for the Twins loss, and guess what? The Sox won again. They won 97 regular season games that we didn't do live logs of too. We both ate crappy dinners back then, but some things don't change. The day I'm posting this old post, October 17, 2009, I had Taco Bell for lunch, and I still watch the office. I (Steve) am in black, Ryan is in red.

Well we had so much fun doing the first game log that we decided to do it again for the final game on April 19 between the White Sox and Twins until August 15. If you noticed on the first one, I made the background color gray and put my log first because the White Sox won. The White Sox won this game too, but since I'm a nice guy, I'll put Ryan's log first and make it Twins colors so he can at least pretend they won - Steve

Time for another Game Log. They are easy to write, I’m held captive at the computer, and I’m writing about the Twins. Also, it’s a good excuse for the poor grammar and spelling. We’re just doing this on the fly!

Any who, Twins at the Sox, listening to the Hawk and Darren Jackson on the tube.

Top of the 1st
7:05 The Twins game IS on TV today. More of the Hawk and DJ. El Duque on the hill for the ChiSox. Hopefully better luck than last night.
7:07 Shannon Stewart starts the game with a single. After two bases loaded double plays, I’m not exactly optimistic.
7:09 US Cellular looks empty
7:11 And on cue, there is a double play.
7:12 Both the announcers and Steve have mentioned that it’s Joe Mauer’s birthday. Happy B-day Joe.

Bottom of the 1st
7:15 Brad “Wait, I DON’T have to give up a 1st inning homer?” Radke is on the hill for the Twins.
7:18 Two ground ball base hits. At least it isn’t a homer. What a refreshing change of pace.
7:20 Everett with a very close to being fair ball. I’ll take it as being foul though.
7:22 Everett flies out to center, Podsednik gunned down at the plate. Splendid!
7:23 Maybe the ugliest diving catch I’ve ever seen. Looked like it was slow motion.

Top of the 2nd
7:27 My “pick to click” which is apparently a Chicago thing was Terry Tiffee. My pick just clicked all the way to 2nd base.
7:28 Off El Duque’s hand. Trouble on the base paths!
7:32 Lew Ford is at the dish. I’m trying to trade with Steve for him in our fantasy league. I think of this as scouting.
7:35 Ford got hit by a pitch, which is almost bad news if we go by last night. Cuddyer better not suck.
7:40 Torii Hunter was made to look like a fool by El Duque with the bases drunk. Sharp pickoff fake by Hernandez, and the Torii just stumbled in. It was like me at any club I’ve ever been to.
7:42 Cuddyer struck out a few minutes ago, but now we have the LONGEST at bat ever with Nick Punto batting.
7:43 Popped up. We should just stop loading the bases.

Bottom of the 2nd
7:47 I’ve watched three games now, and I still haven’t seen J.C. Dye in a Sox uni.
7:48 Steve and I were discussing Timo Perez’s homer in the last game we logged. “I think that was a once in a lifetime thing”
7:49 Once again two men on. What is Radke’s problem?

Top of the 3rd
7:51 Got out of the second. Time for taquitos!
7:52 The White Sox poll question. Have I ever tailgated before a White Sox game? Well, yes, but only if you consider taquitos in front of the TV tailgating.
7:54 “Ground ball to 2nd. Iguchi sucks it up.” Sadly, I’m just gonna let that one go.
7:55 DJ is ripping on the Twins farm system for being fastidious. But “that’s where it starts with the organization.” Apparently because the kids know how to put things away, we’re a solid organization.

Bottom of the 3rd
8:02 So…. We got a new pope. That’s kinda nice.
8:03 Iguchi is killing us! But he has such a fun name.

Top of the 4th
8:08 Still no score. Still no scorn at the announcers. Usually by this point I’m livid about something. Even the not scoring with the bases juiced didn’t rile me up to bad. It was a little too expected.
8:11 Just realized this is the second time I’ve sat in my room with the lights off, watching baseball and working at the computer. Is there something wrong with me? I say no
8:13 Two on after a bunt single by Lew Ford. I’m not doing the vintage thing this game, but you totally know it was.
8:15 Double play by Cuddyer. Of course.

Bottom of the 4th
8:19 Two ground outs that didn’t make it off the grass. Nice.
8:20 And now he struck him out. But I’m slightly concerned. Still no runs? This seems like the type of game the Twins like to lose.

Top of the 5th
8:24 As the Hawk explains what a BP fastball is. The BP stands for batting practice, apparently. Needless to say, Stewart hits a BP fastball and turns it into a ducksnort.
8:29 Small ball puts Stewart on third with Mauer at the plate. Pierzynski wants to talk about how to pitch to his replacement. I suspect he said something like this. “Hit him in the f’in junk”
8:30 Mauer walks, but not after getting hit in the f’in junk.
8:32 Tiffee bounces one down the line and El Duque tags him. A little shove. I guess it makes up for not hitting Mauer in the f’in junk.

Bottom of the 5th
8:34 According to the trivia question (brought to us by Aflac) Michael Cuddyer has the highest average of any current Twin in the playoffs. That’s like Joe Crede having a multi hit game.
8:36 The cancer is on first base.
8:37 And Crede doubles in the cancer. That’s just not right. But Darren says that the ball looks like it caught a jet stream. Perhaps nobody other than a meteorologist like myself would find that hilarious.
8:40 Sac-fly by Podsednik, but Crede almost missed the plate, which would have been the second time a Sox player missed the plate, which would be almost legendary. Oh well, Podsednik is on my fantasy team.

Top of the 6th
8:44 I’ve started drinking. A hard Mike’s is good to find.
8:47 Two balls smoked by Twins hitters. DJ keeps talking about the jet stream. I keep laughing.
8:48 The good news is Cuddyer singled to load the bases, which is better than the strike out and double play he had earlier. The bad news is, the bases are loaded again.
8:50 The bad news is, Punto pops out. The good news is, it wasn’t a double play!
8:52 %$&!!!!!! Stewart flies out! I’m going to kill!

Bottom of the 6th
8:55 I think I blacked out there for a minute… Has anyone heard from Steve? He hasn’t said anything for over an hour now…
8:57 Darren Jackson sounds not unlike Will Farrell’s impression of President Bush.
8:58 And Konerko goes yard. Crackerjacks.
9:01 The Twins just made some defensive play. I’m still fuming about everything in this game.

Top of the 7th.
9:04 In case you weren’t keeping track, 4 times in the past two games… FOUR… the Twins loaded the bases and didn’t score. Then we just give up runs like it ain’t no thing. Sometimes I just get so angry.
9:06 They put Luis Vizcaino in. Does he not give up double plays?
9:07 Happy flippin’ birthday already Joe Mauer, now stop grounding into bases loaded double plays. Not that you did here. I’m just saying.
9:08 I’m somewhat preoccupied with the bases loaded thing.

Bottom of the 7th
9:10 Stretching
9:13 As with the last log, other TV is distracting me. Scrubs is one of the best shows on television, and they can score with the bases loaded.
9:14 Three up, three down. No Sox left on base.

Top of the 8th
9:18 Still no score out of the Twins. I wonder why that would be.
9:20 ANOTHER DOUBLE PLAY! Does anyone know the number for the suicide hotline?

Bottom of the 8th
9:26 Missed the first two outs. Radke is still in, and nobody is on base. That’s all I know. I’ve been yelling about the bases loaded/double play thing.

Top of the 9th
9:29 I’m a fairly big guy, and I truly think I’m going to have a heart attack.
9:31 “I hope the Twins win so you can rub it in (specific White Sox fan’s) face” Thanks Jen.
9:33 They had this big sampler pack of Mike’s in 4 different flavors. Definitely helping me get through this game.
9:35 “Trying to put some icing on that frosting..” DJ says of the bullpen. No wonder why Americans are so fat.
9:38 Saw a dog get hit by a car today. I think the little guy was going to make it, but still, made my heart jump into my throat.
9:39 Hey! Twins score! Matt LeCroy!
9:40 Pitching change. The 9th inning always lasts FOREVER.
9:44 The Office cracks me up. I recommend it, its on NBC on Tuesday nights.
9:45 Sox win, Sox win. Go to hell Chicago.

Well, as soon as the Twins decide to start driving in the runs that they put on, they’ll be fine. They got 14 hits today. 14! That led, of course, to one run which is totally unacceptable. I’m going to go drink more and not worry about this anymore. – Ryan

Another game log! And I'm actually awake at the beginning of the game this time.

Top of the 1st
7:06 - Game just got underway. Why are we doing this again you ask? Well I’ve got nothing at all to do tonight. I mean nothing. I think there’s a chance that I’ve completed my last homework assignment ever and my senior design project is pretty much finished. So thanks to the Bulls getting blacked out in the state of Indiana, we got yet another White Sox-Twins showdown, coming to you live from U.S. Cellular Field!
7:08 – Leadoff single by Shannon Stewart over “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez. Since this is only a 2 game series, the Sox are already in their 5th sweep attempt of the year, and they haven’t gotten one yet, so this doesn’t bode well.
7:12 – It’s Joe Mauer’s birthday today, and I just found out I’m older than him…
7:14 – El Duque gets out of the first, and I’m really hungry

Bottom of the 1st
7:16 – Alright, following the Hawk’s orders its time for us to select our Picks to Click. I’m going with Carl Everett and his 3 HR in the last 2 games. Meanwhile, Podsednik gets a leadoff infield hit.
7:18 – Base hit for Iguchi! I like the way this is going already
7:22 – Wow…Everett hits a no-brainer sacrifice fly and amazingly Torii Hunter guns out one of the fastest guys in baseball, Scott Podsednik, at the plate. I have to admit I’m impressed.
7:24 – Jacque Jones makes an amazing diving catch on Konerko. Why couldn’t we be facing the Indians defense?

Top of the 2nd
7:27 – Terry Tiffee steps up to the plate. Like almost every Twin player for me over the past 13 years…who?
7:28 – And of course he hits a double. Now you see why I loathe the Twins.
7:29 – El Duque, if you break your pitching hand, you have to go back to Cuba. Do you really want that?
7:32 – The old saying goes, make a great catch; hit a home run. Just replace “hit a home run” with “strike out embarrassingly” and you have Jacque Jones
7:36 – Bases loaded for Michael Cuddyer, and I couldn’t be less worried
7:37 – Cuddyer watches a fastball right down the middle. He Gone!
7:40 – If El Duque walks in a run on Nick Punto…
7:41 – Full count, and Torii Hunter gracefully slides into second like he spent an evening with his good friend Jim…Jim Beam.
7:44 – And El Duque gets out of it after throwing about 70 pitches that inning and a near horrible collision between Iguchi and Timo Perez in right. Three English words for you to learn, Tadahito, I, Got, and It.

Bottom of the 2nd
7:46 - I love this logic. Well we're going to sit Jermaine Dye tonight and he usually hits 5th, so oh well, you can hit 5th Timo. And before I can even finish typing this, Timo is down on strikes.
7:47 – Darren Jackson picked Aaron Rowand as his Pick to Click. Rowand might as well just go sit back on the bench right now.
7:50 – Well I think I’m going to make this a Taco Bell night. I’m heading over there as soon as this inning is over. Meanwhile, the “cancer” (A.J. Pierzynski, not what I’ll get from eating too many tacos) and Crede get a hit.
7:51 – Uribe pops out and I’m getting food.

Top of the 3rd
Twins didn’t score….good!

Bottom of the 3rd
8:08a – I’m back and now its time to watch the game while enjoying chalupas and Dos Equis. When I got up to Taco Bell, there was a cop car, a country music station van, and a whole lot of people just standing around staring. I have no what was going on, but I was hungry, wanted to watch the game, and remembered I’m living in West Lafayette, Indiana.
8:08b – As for sports notes in my car, the station that usually has the Sox games WMVP 1000 (which sounds crappy but comes in here) has the Bulls on (down by 2 to the Knicks…how?) and the Cubs were leading the Reds on WGN 720. There is a difference with really old announcers. You’ve got senile and lovable, but then you have just plain stupid. Harry Caray was the former, Ron Santo is the latter.
8:09 – Everett strikes out and Iguchi is thrown out in another well executed Ozzie scheme to end the inning.

Top of the 4th
8:13 – Time to eat, I’m going to run back and forth from my living room to my room to type this because even though the carpet in my room has been puked on 3 times by 2 different people just since I’ve lived here, I’m still not dumb enough to eat Taco Bell in here.
8:15 – Michael Cuddyer grounds into an inning ending double play with runners on 1st and 2nd. I love this guy! Can he face us every night?

Bottom of the 4th
8:19 – Timo Perez is averaging hitting the ball 30 feet per at bat.
8:21 – Wow this game is boring so far.

Top of the 5th
8:25 – Shannon Stewart gets a single and steals second. Scott Podsednik would be doing a lot of that too if he ever got the single
8:30 – I just realized the AL Central has a lot of talent at catcher: Mauer on the Twins, Pierzynski on the Sox, Victor Martinez on the Indians, or course, Ivan Rodriguez on the Tigers, and I even heard that guy Buck on the Royals is supposed to be good too, but I still have not seen proof yet this season that his franchise is still in existence.

Bottom of the 5th
8:36 – The Cancer just metastasized to 1st base.
8:38 – Crede hits a double and the Cancer reaches Stage IV and scores! 1-0 Sox. Hold on, let me got make sure its not raining sulfur outside...
8:40 – It’s all clear, but that Crede RBI double was a close call. Now we have a runner on 3rd for the by-product of the 2nd worst trade in White Sox history, but who knew Sosa would get on the roids?
8:41 – And Podsednik gets him home with the sacrifice. 2-0 Good Guys!

Top of the 6th
8:46 – Randy Johnson just lost to the Devil Rays. I love it.
8:48 – Cuddyer got a clutch hit? I guess if Crede can do it, anyone can.
8:50 – El Duque can cause a lot of heart attacks.
8:51 – Punto puntoes out of another RBI chance with the bases loaded.
8:52 – Hernandez manages to get out of another tough inning. Whew!

Bottom of the 6th
8:55 – Oh no Darren Jackson is doing play by play this inning
8:58 – Konerko blasts out #7 of the season! But Hawk isn’t around to call it. Oh well, I’ll do it for him, YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOARD…YES!! 3-0 Sox
9:01 – Timo singles and Rowand doubles but then gets thrown out on a bad call. The floodgates are open.
9:03 – Pierzynski comes just short of homering off his old team, but Torii Hunter makes a jumping catch at the wall to rob us again.

Top of the 7th
9:05 – Uh oh, Luis Vizcaino is in now. El Duque “scattered” 10 hits over 6 innings. Unbelievable. Ryan is typing to me in the largest font possible in frustration.
9:10 – I wonder what the record is for most hits in a game by a team with no runs scored, because the Twins are being shut out with 11 hits.

Bottom of the 7th
9:14 – Uneventful 1-2-3

Top of the 8th
9:19 – And the Twins hit into ANOTHER double play! I don’t get it, but I’ll take it.
9:22 – More boredom ensues

Bottom of the 8th
9:26 – Everett strikes out again, but they just showed that Konerko home run replay. That made me feel a lot better
9:27 – Not only are we getting hits off Radke, now we’re trying to break his knees.
9:29 – “I mean, the past two games, you guys haven’t really beat us, if you had just pounded us then, oh well, but we are just plain rancid!” Ryan’s a little bitter

Top of the 9th
9:32 – Shingo is in now to put this one into the win column yet again.
9:34 – I just made a fantasy baseball move. I got rid of Juan Uribe from my beloved Sox and picked up Clint Barmes from the Rockies, who I never heard of before this season. He’s hitting .429 with 4 HR and 10 RBI so far, and I’m just following the golden fantasy baseball rule…pick up whoever is doing well on the Rockies. Everyone thought I was crazy for picking up Vinny Castilla last year, but I think its safe to say I got the last laugh.
9:35 – “Me: I just picked up Clint Barmes. Go Rockies!
Kevin: F$&@ You!
Me: Why?
Kevin: I was gonna pick him up soon, I hate you!”
Kevin’s a passionate person
9:36 – Shannon Stewart gets another hit! Is that like number 7 of the game? Jeez…
9:38 – Here comes the guy the Hawk has nightmares about, Matt LeCroy.
9:40 – Shaky Takatsu gives up the first run of the game for the Twins to LeCroy. 3-1. Damaso Marte is coming in.
9:43 – Uh, oh. The fact that Marte is in just sank in.
9:44 – Aww man, I just realized I’m missing The Office on NBC. You need to see this show if you haven’t yet.
9:46 – Looks like Marte got Mauer out.
9:46 – The Sox sweep the Twins! So let’s see now…The Sox are 4-1 against the Twins and 4-2 against the Indians and 10-4 overall. 2 games in first all by themselves. It was Ryan’s idea to do this again today, and I’m guessing he was looking for some redemption after the first time we did this, but if your team is going to get 14 hits and only score 1 run, that is only going to lead to a long, frustrating season. Bring on the Tigers! - Steve

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

San Francisco Giants Game Log: San Francisco at San Diego (4/19/05)

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Kevin. Feeling left out, Kevin did a live game log of the Giants vs. Padres really late at night. Kevin is from Hawaii, and luckily is not fat like his famous fellow state residents.

9:04 PM: It's 9 Oclock, past many peoples bedtimes, but not too late for a little West Coast baseball. The Giants are in San Diego playing the Dads at Petco Park. I'm doing this gamelog by myself for a number of reasons: One, I am the only west coast baseball fan out here in the Midwest, so I have no die hard Padres fans to bicker with. Two, I am probably the only one in the Midwest watching this game right now. I purchased the baseball package on my dish to watch the Giants bullpen blow games late, to watch the devil rays, blue jays, and nationals, and to jinx no hitters that aren't on national television (for example, my jinx of Odalis Perez last night.) And, Steve and Ryan did a little game long, so I feel inclined to do something similar about my Giants that no one will read.

9:08 PM: Omar Vizquel just hit a triple! It was almost an inside the park home run, but oh well, I'll take it. Looks like the Giants have a lot of injuries with Lance Niekro, Michael Tucker, and Pedro Feliz in the lineup. Snow, Alou, and Bonds are all hurt.

9:10 PM: I knew it! The Giants hold Vizquel at third and then collect two consecutive ground outs, without scoring a run. Looks like its going to be a looooong night.

9:12 PM: Look who it is! Jerome Williams pitching for the Giants. Straight out of my home state of Hawaii. He is on our list of celebrities that are from Hawaii, including Jack Johnson, Akebono, Benny Agbayani, and the Rock. Williams is lucky he's here right now, almost getting killed in bitter ethnic island gang wars. The last time I saw him pitch was when I went to St. Louis for a Sunday getaway game, where Bonds and Pujols were benched, and Williams walked the bases loaded before giving up a bases clearing double. Williams then got hurt for the rest of the season. That was way too much information, but we all know people like to talk about themselves.

Akebono...Making Fat Hawaiians Proud Everyday

9:14 PM: Brain Giles just hit a 400 foot fly out to left field. Gotta love Petco Park...the reason the Dads didn't make the playoffs last year and wont this year either.

9:16 PM: Don't worry, once the Giants fall behind in this game I wont be writing something every two minutes. Edgardo Alfonzo is batting .455! But he just flew out. I'm scared to think what the Giants record would be if he was hitting his normal .211.

9:24: Web Gem! Omar Vizquel is good for something. Sorry for the delay, my buddy Brendan called me to discuss tonight's Amazing Race episode...the 70 year old couple made it to the final four! I can now die a happy man.

9:26: Its not even a half hour into the game and the Giants are already down 1-0 on a Blum single. These Dads are good. And Lance Niekro just let a ball bounce of his chest, which will probably be an error. He's no JT Snow. Which is true, because Neikro hits homers too.

9:32: I just spent the commercial break between the second and third innings discussing fantasy baseball with Steve. Here's a glimpse:
Steve: haha
Steve: I just picked up Clint Barnes
Steve: go Rockies!
Kevin: screw you
Steve: ?
Kevin: i was going to pick him up soon, I hate you
Barnes will now go on to have a 45 home run, 130 rbi season

9:35: This game is being broadcast by FSN Bay Area. Finally, some biased announcers for my team! This is the joy of not being forced to watch games on TBS or WGN. Chip Carey, Skip Carey, Steve Stone, DJ and Hawk...there is nothing more annoying than listening to a biased announcer obsess over a team you don't like.

9:41: Another web gem! I would tell you what happened, but it is much less exciting in writing.

9:46: Omar Vizquel gets a single! I am sensing the cycle...anyone with me? Is it sad the middle of the Giants lineup went from Bonds and Alou in spring training to Neikro and Feliz now? I think so. Feliz just got a 10 foot hit...who needs power to replace Bonds.

9:48: I love Edgardo Alfonzo, even if I would have thrown a huge party had the Giants traded him in the off-season. An RBI single to tie the game at one in the 4th makes everything okay.

9:51: Michael Tucker hits an RBI single and Feliz scores. And the Giants take the lead! I knew my bitter pessimism would cause the Giants to perform. Oh crap its only the fourth. The Giants bullpen will blow it (I'm half being serious, half trying to squeeze a few more runs out of the Giants this inning). Steve is going to be mad I just got two hits, two runs, and an rbi this inning from my two fantasy Giants: Alfonzo and Feliz. We are facing each other this week in fantasy baseball. Steve is going down this week in fantasy. I wish that were true, but Randy Johnson lost...to the Devil Rays.

Speaking of Famous Hawaiians here is Israel Kamakaiwahole, known as Braddah Iz. One of the best Hawaiian vocalists ever, he died because he was too fat. He is famous for his Hawaiian rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" which you have all probably heard.

10:00: The Dads just got a double from Nevin and then an RBI bloop single over Niekro's head at first. Jerome "The Hawaiian" Williams needs to step it up...the reputation of the state is riding on his shoulders.

10:03: Oh Geez. Geoff Blum hits an RBI double for the Dads. Is there anything this guy cant do? I go to the Cubs-Dads game last week, and Blum hits two home runs in his first game of the season. Now 2-2 with an 2 RBIs against my Giants. I have a new nemesis.

10:13: That was a twenty minute half inning...I spent most of it thinking about how this season is going to feel even longer.

10:05: Oh Geez, Burroughs hits an RBI single. 4-2 Dads. Maybe if I stop watching the bleeding will stop.

10:15: Jerome Williams final rap sheet: 4 IP, 4 ER. For some reason Yahoo! says he just pitched 7 innings giving up 5 runs, and Lawrence just pitched 8.1 innings giving up 4....but we are only in the 5th inning.....reminds me of the time Yahoo! told me the Bulls beat the Cavs 49-48....when that was just the score at halftime. Go Yahoo! Sports!

10:22: What a treat! The Giants brought in Jeff Fassero. Jeff is 42, and was born in Springfield, IL in 1963. I can see his grey hair...and I don't even have HD TV. Yet he is pitching better than 24 year old Jerome Williams

10:29: I jinxed Fassero. Here's that great Giants bullpen! AN RBI triple by Hernandez (On Ryan's fantasy team) scores Klesko, and gives the Dads a 5-2 lead. By the next time I write something it should be 8-2.

10:38: To my surprise, the Giants got out of the inning only giving up one run. In the top of the 6th Tucker hit a blast to right field. But since we are playing in Petco, it landed 10 feet short of the fence. I told you I would say a lot less once we got to the Giants bullpen and they were losing. I think I'm going to go take a nap until the Giants score their next run. If it never happens, hope you enjoyed the post.

(The Next Day)

2:15 PM: So the Giants lost 5-2. Their bullpen only gave up one run! But the Padres bullpen didn't give up any. Welcome to life without Bonds. By the way, that nap was glorious.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ryan and Joel's Spring Break Road Trip: Day 6

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan, this was part 6 of 7 of his spring break road trip with his friend Joel.

Day 6 Ardmore, OK – Little Rock, AR

Everyone, especially someone who has been in college, has woke up one morning and said to themselves, I can’t believe I did that. For Joel and I, it was spending an evening in Southern Oklahoma. We grabbed ourselves some breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant (Denny’s) and gave a wary stare at the clientele. Aside from the one group of what looked like international businessmen (I was as confused as you were) everyone in there was over the age of fifty and over the weight of 250 pounds. They all seemed like good, hard working folk, but Joel and I decided to get out of there before Farmer John made us the second course.

We steered south and spent about a half hour on the road when disaster struck. Construction crews were doing something on the bridge over the Red River and had the left lane closed. I was admiring the river when I looked back at the road only to see one of those big traffic barrels lying in the middle of the street. Needless to say, I plowed right over it. The first exit in Texas is only to an adult bookstore, but we had no choice. A road worker was behind us when we pulled a Pete Rose to the barrel’s Ray Fosse and he followed us off the highway. Needless to say, he went right into the bookstore.

We hopped out of the car to look at the damage. There was nothing wrong on the outside, but we quickly realized that the left turn signal was broken. If you have ever had a broken turn signal, you quickly realize just what a pain in the butt it is, with the incessant blinking when you want to switch to the fast lane. It was a nuisance.

We finally got back on the road after finding a gas station that didn’t require prepay and went to Dallas. We didn’t really have a plan for the city, but we just went through looking for a good exit. We ended up on the south side of town and went to take a look at the Cotton Bowl which was collocated with the State Fair. It was weird, since the fair is only open one time a year, and if I’m not mistaken there are only two games played at the Cotton Bowl every year. The added result was a stadium devoid of any team character and a vacant amusement park. I’m pretty sure that at night the place is haunted.

My mom had requested a phone call from every location we stopped at (My dad left the computer signed on about 6 straight hours when we were in Overland Park. I didn’t call them that night), and since this was the most southern extent of the trip, I decided to give her a call. While on the phone, I realized I hadn’t picked up her birthday present yet. We needed a mall.

The Town East mall was a mere hop, skip and jump away from the stadium, so we went to check it out. After we got into the main walking area, we came across a well populated play area. “It’s like a Petri dish,” Joel said, disgusted. On our way out we actually went up a floor to avoid the laughing, wriggling, sneezing pile of mucus.

I found my Mom the PERFECT gift at a store that ran out of bags, so they had to borrow them from the Rave Girl store next door. I felt pretty cool. We grabbed some lunch, and reflected on the fact that we were, in fact, eating Subway at a mall in Texas.

After Dallas, it was time to circle back toward West Lafayette, and that meant a trip through Arkansas. The only thing Arkansas really has to offer is the boyhood home of Bill Clinton in Hope. After rolling through that town, you really get an idea of what humble beginnings he came from. The only four well preserved structures in town were his birth house, boyhood home, visitors center and a bank at the center of town. It was really eye opening that the level of poverty exists in America. Jesus Christ, I’m depressing myself.

We got on the highway again, drove by such towns as Arkadelphia and ended up in Little Rock. We sought out a decent hotel and came up with another Comfort Inn. It was a nice place, but we had to be buzzed into the lobby and I think Forrest Gump’s cousin was running the desk. The whole place seemed like it was getting ready for a homicide, probably of a prostitute. As it turned out, we were right in front of the State Patrol Headquarters. Perhaps the safest hotel of the trip. I’ll be back with the last day sometime soon. - Ryan

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

White Sox-Twins Game Log

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" This was our first live game log where we talked on instant messenger during the game and then posted our comments together. I (Steve) is in black, Ryan is in Red. I focused my anger mostly on Jon Garland, who wound up having a great season, and Ryan really hates Hawk and DJ. One thing to keep in mind about some of the comments that the Sox announcers made weren't too far off. Remember that this team went on to win the World Series with dominant playoff pitching. Ryan eventually gave up and watched Cops and drank (Ryan: Is this the night that Easter took all of your "hoochies," that you liked to "holla" at?). And yeah, this brought back bad memories for me of Boiler Blast, maybe the worst thing I was ever involved with.

Being diehard White Sox and Twins fans, we decided that a Sports Guy-esque running log of the first game between them of the year was in order. Unfortunately, the game was on WCIU, (which you can’t get at Purdue) which has the greatest lineup of shows of all time. It stands for Chicago’s 1st UHF station. Ryan and I decided the other day that it should be called the WUIC for UnIntentional Comedy. So anyway, here’s our first log.

6:27 – Waking up from a 3 hour nap, the Sox are already up 2-0! Why was I taking this nap you ask? Well this morning I had to participate in the “Boiler Blast” for my fraternity, where, hence the name, I had a “Blast” picking up trash at Happy Hollow Park, which is about 3 miles from campus. Our team leader told us that just picking up trash on the way back from the park wasn’t enough, so she made us walk all over the place looking for cigarette butts and then she told us that she gets PAID by the Boiler VOLUNTEER Network for us to be doing this….shady. So anyways I’m awake, firing up Comcast Sports (where Bulls games our blacked out here…stupid Indiana) and ready to watch some baseball.

6:33 – I just found out that the Sox scored their 2 runs off the first homer of the season by Crazy Carl Everett (his legal name now). After a great spring, he made for a great post-draft free agent pickup in my fantasy league…but he still doesn’t believe in dinosaurs.

6:37 – ahh crap Garland is pitching for the Sox. Let’s see, the Twins can’t hit Buehrle well, so let’s pitch our shaky 5th starter and let them wait for Buehrle tomorrow and miss out on Freddy Garcia!

6:44 – Uribe grounds out on a play 98% of shortstops beat out. Uh oh, I was right about that deep dish pizza

6:47 – Podsednik and Iguchi actually deliver to put runners on first and third! So this is how small ball is played…

6:48 – Crazy Carl picks up RBI number 3 of the game, and as of this moment, still has not been suspended

6:52 – Nick Punto….saying his name creeps me out. His name just sounds like some European language’s slang for a woman’s private region.

6:57 – Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson: “And Punto had a brain cramp!” Better than a menstrual cramp I guess

7:04 – Freddy Garcia and Shingo Takatsu commercial: “Jalapeño or Wasabi? Either way you’re going to get burned.” Kind of dorky, but I kind of like it. I loved the commercial they had last year with Takatsu and Paul Konerko. Konerko is talking all about team unity and all of the sudden Shingo comes out and asks some question in Japanese and Konerko answers it in English without missing a beat and Shingo finds his glove with a big fake smile on his face. Priceless.

7:07 – I could be wrong, but I think Matt LeCroy was my high school shop teacher.

7:11 – I just took a few minutes to explain the intricacies of The Hawk to Ryan. When I mentioned his home run call, he said, “heard it already today.... dammit.” Hopefully we’ll be hearing it some more. I really would love to see the Hawk make the Hall of Fame for broadcasting one day. He’s filled with entertaining anecdotes, knows the game well, not afraid to rip the team when they’re down, and invented his own half golf, half obscure language about baseball. Just thought I’d give my opinion because I know Ryan is.

7:12 – Uribe flies out deep to left. I think more deep dish would have helped. It’s either one or the other Juan, you decide.

7:17 – I bench Lew Ford on my fantasy team, and he now has 2 hits. Woo-hoo! But I had to play him instead of Everett (3 RBI already), Andruw Jones, Adam Dunn (playing in Houston), and Burnitz (playing the Brewers) so I’m not too worried.

7:25 – Well we got a tied game now. Please see my 6:37 entry.

7:32 – Still too angry at Garland to type anything.

7:35 – Boxing commercial – Andrew Golota vs. Indiana Brewster. Indiana Brewster? Does he have red pig tails and steal religious artifacts?

7:37 – After that last hit, LeCroy just asked the first base coach, “I made it to first base, where’s the keg?”

7:39 – Seriously, why couldn’t the game be on TV yesterday so I could have done this running log with a better than AA pitcher on the mound for the Sox?

7:42 - Ryan: defribullator?
Ryan: how do you spell that?
Steve: one L?
Steve: I'm guessing you're talking about LeCroy
Ryan: haha…yeah

7:44 – Are we sure that Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede weren’t separated at birth?

7:46 – Timo Perez puts the Sox in the lead with a shot over the baggy! Crap, any minute now I’m going to wake up and this computer file won’t exist.

7:51 – I just sarcastically asked my roommate Jimmy if he had Timo Perez on his fantasy team, which he has been checking religiously all week this week and, knowing him, will completely forget about by Mid-May.

7:53 – Oh that sucks for Radke coming out right now. All he has to do is stay in there a little longer and Garland will surely put him back in the win column.

7:55 – Uribe throws his bat in the Twins dugout…no one is hurt. Crap, now the Sox have to resort to the home run derby car bomb to get their first pennant in 46 years.

7:58 – Uribe regroups and blasts the ball past Punto and puts the Sox ahead 5-3. Excellent.

8:00 – The Sox score on a broken bat semi-popup by Podsednik where Uribe is forced at 2nd. For some unknown and very stupid reason, Crede (yes I regret not making note of him actually getting a hit) was running, and that’s why he scored. 6-3 Sox.

8:04 – Well it looks like the Twins are having some issues with catching the ball. Their 2nd grade little league coaches should be fired immediately. Podsednik scores. 7-3 Sox.

8:12 – I took a minute again to laugh at the WCIU show lineup again….And the inevitable Twins rally is on.

8:17 – Is Mulholland wearing his age (45)?

8:18 – AND YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOARD….YES! Konerko puts the Sox up 8-3.

8:22 – Toriiii Hunter makes the game 8-4. The fans remove their parkas and drop their Jesse “The Body” Ventura campaign signs to clap.

8:23 – Damaso Marte comes out in favor of Cliff Politte. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

8:27 – They finally get Lew Ford on strikes, who was 3/3 coming into that at-bat and of course I had him on my fantasy bench.

8:29 – “He Gone!” as the Hawk says. And we’re going to the 9th up by 4.

8:36 – I really wish this game was on WGN, so I could be making fun of Cleopatra 2025 commercials between innings.

8:37 – This is the difference between Ozzie and Jerry Manuel. Politte is actually having a good game, so low and behold, they kept him in! Manuel would have used 7 different relievers by this point. I wonder what Good Ole Jer’ is doing now anyways. The last Sox manager, Terry Bevington, is the manager of the independent league Shreveport Sports, and I’m not joking one bit.

8:41 – Bartlett doubles and Mauer is up with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, I’m still worried like a good Sox fan should.

8:43 – Mauer gets a hit off Konerko’s glove. 8-5 and I’m definitely still worried. Better bring in Shingo.

8:44 – And Shingo is coming in. If he pulls what he did against Cleveland the other day, he’s going back to Japan in a crate.

8:47 – He Gone! Shingo strikes out LeCroy and the Sox take another in the Baggydome.

The Sox have been pretty impressive so far this season. Their pitching has been solid enough to make up for games where the offense isn’t clicking and their lineup has been producing much like they were expected to by White Sox management, but no one in the media. I’m still pretty frustrated with ESPN for not even mentioning this team in their season preview. Sure, we’re only 5 games in, but nothing in those 5 games (4 wins over the Twins and Indians) shows me the Sox are inferior to the “favorites” to win the division. Things can definitely change, the hitting can stop, the pitching can get hurt, but for now, let’s give these guys a chance and see what they're made of. - Steve

5:54 -This was originally supposed to be Steve and I bickering back and forth as the game went on, but instead, he’s doing something involving alcohol, the souse. Anyways, this game is being broadcast on CSN Chicago, so if I get perturbed with the commentators, you’ll know why.

5:58 – Shingo Takatsu commercial for the Sox. I wonder why they don’t have him saying anything…

6:00 – Ken Harrelson and Darren Jackson bringing us this game from the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, featuring Aaron Rowand and the Chicago White Sox versus Matt LeCroy and those tough Minnesota Twins. Pete and Darren sure know how to pick out the superstars.

6:05 – They are showing us highlights from the Cubs game. A couple things:
Jeromy Burnitz, even though he hit a homerun in this one, will suck and suck hard for the Cubbies this year.
Carlos Zambrano should stick to pitching, as sliding isn’t really his bag.
Bonnie Hunt doing assistant play by play? Was Cybill Shepherd unavailable?

Top of the 1st
6:09 – Why can’t they just call it the Metrodome like everyone else?
6:10 – “And El Duque was El Duque.” I’m not sure what to make of a comment like that. Podsednik flies out to right off of Brad Radke, and I can officially breathe easier.
6:12 – Cuddyer boots it. Yeah, he’ll be a serviceable replacement for Cory Koskie.
6:13 – And Carl Everett homers, the Sox are up 2-0. Brad Radke, veteran though he is, is a little too good at giving those up.
6:16 – The commentators make the astute observation that the Twins defense has gone downhill. Guzman is playing in Washington, Koskie is in Toronto and Mientkiewicz is two teams removed. The Twins are still relying on a good defensive outfield, but more on their pitching. What the Hawk and Darren failed to mention was that our offense is drastically improved. They conclude, “We always look for holes in this tem, but they keep kicking our butts.” So true.

Bottom of the 1st
6:20 – John Garland going for the Sox tonight. As Steve said the other day, “the less Garland the better”. Of course Shannon Stewart and Jason Bartlett ground out quickly.

Top of the 2nd
6:23 – Have you tried these Cheeze-it Twisterz? Gifts from God, really.
6:25 – White Sox star Aaron Rowand grounds out to Little Nicky Punto bringing up the Cancer, A.J. Pierzynski. This brings the commentators to a rant on how they would be better off with A.J. Pierzynski. I suppose they are right. Joe Mauer did come from a pretty awful draft class and is pretty much unheralded.
6:27 – A.J. Pierzynski pops out to third.

Bottom of the 2nd
6:30 – “2-0 good Guys…” Assh---.
6:31 – Minnesota star Matt LeCroy flies out to right.
6:32 – Jacque Jones lets go of the bat and flings it into the White Sox dugout. Nice shot! Nobody’s hurt though, laughs all around.
6:34 – Jones singles, bringing up Lew Ford. If he doesn’t get it going this year, I’m coming after that little dork.
6:35 – Steve is online now. “You were right, Lew Ford looks like a total dork.”
6:36 – Steve is cracking up. “They’re talking to Frank Thomas again!”
6:37 – Ford with the infield single. “Vintage Lew Ford”, says the Hawk.

Top of the 3rd
6:41 – Are they really comparing this White Sox staff to the Atlanta staff of the 90’s? Are you kidding?
6:42 – Podsednik aboard. He’s on my fantasy team, but I’m not playing him tonight. Screw him.
6:44 - Iguchi doubles. More than any other Japanese player in the league, he looks like an extra in a Kung Fu movie.
6:46 - Sac fly from Everett, and they had Iguchi at third after a nice throw from Jacque Jones, but the tag was missed. Michael Cuddyer ladies and gentlemen.

Bottom of the 3rd
6:49 – “3-0 good guys….” Assh---.
6:51 – Little Nicky Punto doubles on a duck snort. I’m not sure what that means either.
6:54 – Darren reminds us that Johan Santana was, in fact, hittable during the first half of the season last year. Thanks Darren, for giving the White Sox faithful hope.
6:55 – Still talking about Santana. 0.45 ERA for an entire month? My goodness, that’s even better than I remember.
6:57 – Bartlett lines into a double play. “Punto had a brain cramp,” the Hawk explains.

Top of the 4th
7:00 – Steve and I have this conversation about Matt Lecroy.
Me: LeCroy doesn’t do anything. He eats a pulled pork sandwich and grabs a cold one until its his turn to bat
Steve: he should have been on the Cubs like 4 years ago
Me: We let them have Ron Coomer
Steve: When they had Ron Coomer and Matt Stairs and all the other fat white guys with goatees that looked like they belonged in a bar
Me: Greatest softball player of all time [Coomer]
7:02 – Inning’s already over. I was too involved in reminiscing about Coom-dogg. Someone tell me what happened.

Bottom of the 4th
7:04 – According to MLB, Sox superstar Aaron Rowand and the clubhouse cancer both flew out. I knew you wouldn’t sleep unless you knew.
7:06 – Minnesota superstar Matt Lecroy doubles! Honestly, there is nothing scarier than having Lecroy on the bases if you are a Twins fan.
7:07 – Steve: “See, and that's why he was mentioned in the promo.”

Top of the 5th
7:10 – Dan Plesac is now on a sports show on CSN Chicago, in case anyone missed him.
7:12 – Other than Carl Everett, Radke seems to be doing all right. Uribe flies out to left. It is a little disheartening that we can’t seem to score any runs.
7:13 – Podesdnik grounds out. It is a little annoying that they cant get the football lines off the field. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, especially since the Vikings aren’t even using the dome until August.

Bottom of the 5th
7:16 – Lew Ford had to get beat up as a youngster. But he singles to right. Vintage Lew Ford.
7:18 – Cuddyer with the infield single. Twins baseball.
7:22 – The Hawk and Darren explain that the Twins are having trouble with Garland because he’s working the inside part of the plate so well. I beg to differ. I think it’s because the Twins can’t hit.
7:23 – Shannon Stewart goes yard! Three run homer! We’re tied baby! Looks like I’m not drinking early tonight after all.
7:26 – Steve: “I wonder if I would kick ass if I bought a jeep.” The context is irrelevant.

Top of the 6th
7:30 – Iguchi, according to Darren, needs to learn the change-up after coming to America. And English.
7:32 – Steve and I have become sidetracked on a conversation about Jeeps. Not being in inflammatory type, I’m going to let it go. For the over all tone, though, remember Steve will be working for GM.

Bottom of the 6th
7:35 – Indiana Brewster vs. Illinois Golota? WTF? Boxing in Chicago? I’m Terribly confused.
7:36 – I just realized how lanky Garland is. Lecroy lines one over a leaping Iguchi, which is my favorite karate move.
7:37 – Darren is now doing play by play. Sneaky.
7:38 – Torii Hunter lines one off the baggy and Lecroy hustles to third, where Al Newman is waiting with a defibrillator.
7:41 – I had a hell of a time with that word. Steve says “I’m guessing you’re talking about Lecroy.”
7:42 – Lew Ford reaches first and loads the bases on a questionable play by Joe Crede. Vintage Lew Ford. Moments later, Cuddyer grounds into a DP.

Top of the 7th
7:43 – Steve, on Cuddyer: “He should just change his name to Crede.”
7:45 – Timo Perez goes yard. Anyone can homer of Radke.
7:46 – The Hyundai homerun replay recaps the Perez homer. I think everything is sponsored on this network. Wait… the Perez homer? Sickening.
7:48 – The Subway A.J. Pierzynski at bat brought to an end by the Nike Torii Hunter outfield put out.
7:49 – The Hawk is back from his smoke break.
7:52 – Gardenhire is pulling Brad Radke. Hopefully they don’t put in Jesse Crain.
7:53 – They put in Jesse Crain.
7:55 – Uribe flings his bat into the Twins dugout! Wouldn’t this be a fun way to start some brawls? But seriously, everyone is OK, laughs all around.
7:56 – Uribe singles and gets an RBI. The key, apparently, is to throw your bat at the opponent before batting, and you’ll always single.
7:59 – The Twins have now brought in J.C. Romero. Darren mentions that he is a good one. Apparently Darren doesn’t follow a lot of baseball.
8:00 – RBI for Podsednik, wild throw by Romero. He’s a good one all right.
8:02 – Cops is on too. I may have to switch back and forth.
8:03 – Wild pitch by Romero, Podsednik scores. I’m definitely switching to Cops.

Bottom of the 7th
8:04 – Stretching
8:05 – My roommate and I have a Cops drinking game. Drink every time something is censored, there is a cop with a moustache, a guy with no shirt on, a cop makes a non scientific drug reference or a minority is actually the onscreen majority.
8:06 – Seattle’s finest bust a topless guy.
8:07 – Back to baseball. Punto strikes out. Back to Cops.
8:08 – The arrested fellow does not understand his rights and has dope. I just think it’s hilarious when an old female officer says something like that. The Twins will lose every now and then, but you really can’t miss with a show like Cops.
8:11 – Back to the game and Bartlett is on 3rd after a double by Mauer. About time, Joe. Here comes superstar Matt Lecroy. “He iiiiis dangerous,” emphasizes the Hawk.
8:13 – Lecroy flies out. Back to Cops.

Top of the 8th
8:15 – Fort Worth’s finest busts a guy. “I didn’t know what was going on. Wrong place at the wrong time I guess.” The guy freely admitted that he knew stuff was missing out of it and that the console was punched. I can’t wait until Qyntel Woods is on this show.
8:18 - Konerko homers off the geriatric Terry Mulholland. I’m so done with this game.

Bottom of the 8th
8:21 – Torii Hunter hits a homer. Great. Too bad we decided to cough up like 11 of those ourselves.
8:23 – Pitching change, back to Cops. They’re making drug busts in Cincinatti, Probably one of the lamest segments of any Cops episode.
8:24 – Guy getting tased: “that ain’t funny!”
8:26 – In Minneapolis, Lew Ford strikes out. Vintage Lew Ford.

Top of the 9th
8:28 – Thank God this is almost over.
8:29 – Back to Cops. I think I accidentally hit the SAP button on my remote. The only thing that could make these criminals more unintelligible was to listen to them in Spanish.
8:32 – I don’t have a SAP button. Why is this in Spanish?
8:34 – There it is. I do have a SAP button.

Bottom of the 9th
8:35 – 8 hits for the White Sox. 12 hits for the Twins. 8 runs for the White Sox. 4 runs for the Twins. Perhaps you can see why this game is so frustrating.
8:37 – A lady in Las Vegas is crying about something. It has to be an act. She has a neck tattoo.
8:39 – The dynamic duo admit that the Twins beat themselves in this one. Bartlett doubles and won’t let this one end.
8:42 – Mauer hits an ugly single, Bartlett scores, and I’m intrigued by baseball again.
8:43 – Takatsu is coming in. Terrifying.
8:45 – They arrested Ving Rhames in Jacksonville! He didn’t pull over because he had to use the restroom. I would let that excuse go.
8:46 – The arresting officer used the word “roaches” several time. Hilarious.
8:47 – Twins superstar Matt Lecroy strikes out swinging, ending the game. In other news, spell check gives me no problems with Shingo Takatsu. Curious.

Well, that’s it. The Twins drop below .500 and my first televised game is a loss, 8-5. After finally seeing these guys, I can see a few problems. Defensively, they are terrible in the infield. Offensively, they can’t seem to execute in the clutch. Maybe having Morneau in the lineup helps on both accounts, and they will probably pull it together down the road. However, if they don’t improve, it’s going to be a longer year than was expected. - Ryan

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Ryan and Joel's Spring Break Road Trip: Day 5

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" this is day 5 of Ryan and his friend Joel's spring break road trip

Day 5 Overland Park, KS – Ardmore, OK

The strange thing about Tuesday was that we spent about four hours in Kansas, from Overland Park all the way to the Oklahoma border south of Wichita, and I can’t tell you anything that we saw. There was a thirty mile stretch of interstate where the only exit was to “cow pens”. I’m not making this up, there were rusty old cow pens right along the freeway, and there was an overpass to get to them. I had never seen a gravel onramp before then. Only in Kansas, or my baby cousin’s sand box, I guess.

Irrelevant, but I still wanted to point it out; there was a roadside oasis on that stretch that said I was six and a half feet tall. Had to mention it.

We pulled into Oklahoma City thinking that we were just going to end up there for the night. We took our time, taking in the bombing memorial – very powerful – and looking around. It’s a nicer city than people give it credit for, really, and what with the bombing, and the tornado a few years back – you can definitely tell where it went through – this town has gotten kicked in the teeth so many times, I’m just not going to crack any jokes.

Joel and I went through Oklahoma so we could stop in Norman, home of both the Storm Prediction Center and Oklahoma University, a great meteorology school. As Joel said very eloquently; we’re dorks.

The plan was to visit the SPC first, maybe get a tour, then go to the University and see how roundly it kicked Purdue’s butt in terms of quality. The SPC, curiously enough, required a week notice before they let in tour groups. I guess they’ve had a problem with people sneaking in and creating tornado watches. We went across the street to the National Weather Service office (the SPC and weather service are different, I’ll spare you the details). They had a security guard at the door that had to buzz us in. Is there a weather tampering problem that I’m not aware of?

We actually got into the high security installation and took our tour. Since this is sort of a sports website, I’ll skip over the details and get to the University. Everything about this school was superior to every other I had been to. There wasn’t any large scale construction. The roads weren’t in disrepair. Historic buildings were actually preserved, instead of just being old. And the stadium was huge! This was definitely a football school above all else. The stadium was about eight stories tall and pretty much every item we could find emblazoned with an OU also had “football” written on it somewhere.

As with the day before, we needed to find a computer to find our status in the NCAA tournament. We figured we would just be creepy as in Omaha and use the free library computers. This time, however, all the computers were password protected. I was heartbroken. The fact remained, however, that we needed to get ourselves in one of these pools, otherwise the entire month of March would be ruined. We persevered. We found a 7-11, which I had no idea actually still existed, and asked for directions to public library. I haven’t been to a public library in years, so I didn’t really know what to expect, particularly from one in Oklahoma.

What I found were some of the scariest haircuts I had ever seen. The dorky teenage librarian looked like he took his cue from Flock of Seagulls, and I could have sworn Poison had stopped in to check out the new releases. We quickly checked out a pair of computers, Joel next to an impatient mother of about forty and a guy doing his taxes that was just as overwhelmed as we were. I got a computer at the end of a bank next to a guy watching something with Steven Segal, or more likely, Patrick Swayze in his mullet years. It was good to see the arts weren’t dead in Norman.

Our original plan was to stay in Oklahoma City that night. After seeing the most literate Normans, we decided to keep plugging along to Dallas. We set our sights on Ardmore, along the Texas – Oklahoma border. We got there, and along the freeway, there were several chain hotels. Joel was uncomfortable with staying in a place with rooms that opened to the outside, (maybe from watching Joy Ride?) but we had no choice. The most respectable looking hotel was a Holiday in, that had a creepy “nightclub” called Gusher, which had an eerily similar logo to the old Houston Oilers emblem, but with oil suggestively coming out of the top of the derrick. Adding that extra touch of class, the hotel restaurant was a Denny’s. I guess, though if you don’t have anything nice today, don’t say anything at all, so I’ll let Ardmore off the hook. Back with Day 6 later - Ryan

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ryan and Joel's Spring Break Road Trip: Day 4

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" This is Part 4 of Ryan and his friend Joel's Spring Break road trip through the great plains

Day 4 - Brookings, SD – Overland Park, KS

There is a guy, a man we have dubbed “the Master”, who uses campus library computers for less than pure purposes. He’s not exactly discreet in his dirty undertakings, otherwise Joel, several others and I would not have picked up on this. Needless to say, when we got to Omaha and needed to sign up for our tournament pools, we felt a little dirty using the computers at Creighton University.

Ever since we picked up two copies of the USA Today, we had been bantering back and forth through southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Iowa, even stopping in virtually the middle of nowhere to fill in the brackets. How could anyone take Louisville with the performance they showed against Memphis? How was Washington a 1 seed? How did the Big 10 get 5 teams in? Of course, these questions were swiftly answered. Francisco Garcia made one dumb mistake, Washington didn’t deserve the 1 seed and the Big 10 got 5 teams in because they deserved it.

Eventually, we escaped death in the streets of downtown Omaha and made it to Creighton. The school, as with the city, was entirely under construction, and we parked, unsure of whether or not the car would be covered in concrete when we came back. The good news was, Creighton fit with North Dakota St. and South Dakota St., in that they weren’t nearly as attractive as Purdue. The bad news was, we had to trudge uphill to get to the library. After some directions received in the Union (the library was in the biggest building on campus) we found our computers. We looked around nervously and quickly, quietly, checked our e-mail. We quickly found out everything we needed, and scurried out of there, trying not to make eye contact.

The next few hours were pretty non-descript, except we got lost and ended up on the bad side of Omaha; we later determined there wasn’t a good side. Again, Missouri was pretty dull, except for the fact that the entire state was ON FIRE. Smoke billowed from a grass fire that had absolutely no fire breaks or anything. For all intents and purposes, this thing was out of control. We couldn’t see anything in front of us and it smelled terrible. More, even than in western Wisconsin, it felt like we were driving one of the deepest parts of hell.

We eventually made it to Kansas City and drove to the Kansas side. We rolled into the town of Overland Park, the town with the highest per capita amount of Larry King fans (Overland Park, Kansas, hello!). Speaking of per capita, I think the average net worth of the denizens was half a trillion. Those were some huge houses in town there. Clearly a wealthy suburb, and the hotels reflected it. We ended up staying at a Comfort Inn with a steeple and pillars. A room there would have ran around a hundred bucks, but through some sweet talk and puppy dog eyes, we ended up with a twenty percent discount.

We were definitely outclassed at this place. I rode up the elevator (they had an elevator!) with a couple of guys who were in town on a business conference. I had a big laundry bag with all my clothes and toiletries. Fairly awkward.

We strolled into the nicest hotel room of the trip. It had a refrigerator. Office chairs. A lamp with internet access. The service there was excellent as well. We were looking for a good local Kansas City style restaurant. The deskman responded, “Well, most people would recommend restaurant X, but I wouldn’t. Well, you might like it if you like expensive food that tastes like crap.” Too bad the Mets didn’t get this kind of advice before they signed Cliff Floyd. Some people would recommend Cliff Floyd. You might like him if you like expensive players that play like crap. To be fair, I guess the Mets do have a tradition of expensive players that play like crap.

That’s about all I got for day 4. We’ll see when I get around to Day 5. - Ryan

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Happy Opening Day!

Originally posted on Is It Sports? This is probably the post we linked to the most on the old site...

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Is It Sports? 2005 MLB Preview

Originally posted on Is It Sports? Well here it is, our largest post ever, the 2005 baseball preview, with full breakdowns of each time by 3 different people. I'm in black, Ryan is in blue, Kevin is in orange.

Who is going to win it all this year? We'll break it down for you right here
Steve's Picks
First of all, I'm back! After weeks of senior design, exams, spring break, and more senior design I finally have time to write original stuff for this site. Don't worry though, I still managed to watch countless meaningless White Sox spring training games on Comcast Sports during that time, so I've seen a lot of different teams play guys that matter for 2 or 3 innings a game, then a whole bunch of single A players younger than me. Here are my predictions:

1. New York Yankees - Once again, the Evil Empire has what it takes to win the division title. They have a solid lineup from 1 through 9 and a greatly improved rotation with the additions of Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and Jaret Wright. They are definitely built for the long 162-game haul, but as they've proved the last 4 seasons, they aren't always the best pick for a 7 game series...
2. Boston Red Sox - The whiniest fans in sports finally got their World Series title last year, so now its time for them to shut up. The BoSox are going to learn very fast that everyone will be bringing their A game to oust the defending champs this season, and with Pedro's great locker room presence and the extreme pressure of crazed Boston fans to win gone, it could be a long season in Beantown. They are definitely still solid enough to be a major player in the wild card race, even if Curt Schilling's ankle is held together with children's kindergarten paste.
3. Baltimore Orioles - The O's were a respectable team last year, but no one really noticed because everyone was focused on the Yankees-Red Sox drama and the fact that the Devil Rays didn't finish last for the first time ever. Their young stars aren't great but are good enough to start and they are backed with solid returning veterans Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, and Javy Lopez. The addition of Sammy Sosa is guaranteed to inject some enthusiasm among their fans and juice up their lineup.
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Led by the best manager in baseball, Lou Piniella, these young Rays could surprise some people...if they had at least one pitcher I've heard of. I really like their lineup though, which features rising stars like Aubrey Huff and Rocco Baldelli. Carl Crawford, who is only 23 and hit .294 with 59 SB last season could become the best leadoff hitter in baseball for years to come.
5. Toronto Blue Jays - I'm looking at their depth chart....who are these guys? Who is their star player? Vernon Wells? Shea Hillenbrand? Wow. The pitching hopes ride on Roy Halladay who (just to put things in perspective) battled Esteban Loaiza for the AL Cy Young award just 2 years ago. It's too bad they aren't going to capitalize on their new baseball monopoly in Canada.


1. Chicago White Sox - I obviously am a White Sox fan, so why not? I think the division will be very tight between the Sox, Twins, Indians, and Tigers but I think the Sox seriously have what it takes to win the division title. They are going to miss Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee, but Jermaine Dye is a decent replacement along with a now fit and healthy Carl Everett who has been crushing the ball so far this spring. Tadahito Iguchi is proving he belongs in the states as well and will be a major improvement at 2nd base. Throw in the fact that they have their best offensive catcher since Carlton Fisk and a 5 man rotation that contains pitchers most baseball fans have actually heard of along with a great closer and you got yourself a solid ball club that's going to win some games. Check out my full White Sox preview here.
2. Minnesota Twins (Wild Card) - I'll say something nice about the Twins for a change. I noticed that only 3 major players on their team (Shannon Stewart, Carlos Silva, and Joe Nathan) have played for a team other than the Twins. You have to give them a lot of credit for winning 3 consecutive division titles with all homegrown talent. I also think that because of this they don't get enough respect because on paper they don't look like some crazy fantasy team made up of guys that have had success with other teams each year like the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, or even the White Sox. Big acquisitions usually cause a lot of excitement between the media and ticket buyers so they'd rather see and talk about the crappy Orioles and Sammy Sosa than see a much better Twins team with a bunch of underexposed stars. Still, I think the White Sox's small ball takes the division this year but it will be very close and the Twins will take the wild card.
3. Detroit Tigers - The Tigers keep their turnaround going with the addition of Magglio Ordonez and Troy Percival. I couldn't decide who to pick between the Tigers and Indians for 3rd, so I went with the Tigers mostly because I'll probably be seeing a lot of them this summer. I'm looking forward to some more warm afternoons at a deserted Comerica and its 32 oz. beers.
4. Cleveland Indians - I don't know...the Indians have gotten a lot of hype on TV and I'm just not buying it. The 2004 Indians reminded me a lot of the 2000 White Sox, but not nearly as good (because the Sox won 95 games and the Central title). They had a bunch of backups from other teams and their own minor leaguers put together an impressive run. So naturally, I'm going to predict that the 2005 Indians will be like the 2001 White Sox and come back to Earth. And if they have the same 12 win dropoff the Sox had, well that will make them 68-94.
5. Kansas City Royals - Overheard at Royals headquarters: "I have an idea! Let's trade Mike Sweeney and replace him with some guy that was born in 1984!"

1. Los Angeles Angels (I refuse to write Anaheim) - Now that the A's have gone and shot themselves in the foot, they're the only team left in the division with some semblance of pitching. They lost Troy Glaus in the off-season but his replacement, Robb Quinlan, put up impressive numbers in limited play last season. I can see age related injuries plaguing this team all season and if there are too many it could cost them the division title
2. Texas Rangers - The Rangers were one of my favorite teams last year, and not just because Mark Teixeira was the biggest free agent pick up I've ever had in fantasy sports. I always back teams with tons of young talent, and the Rangers are loaded. The one problem is, they once again have absolutely no pitching and I think they'll be on the wrong end of too many 12-11 games to take the division this season
3. Seattle Mariners - The Mariners definitely improved by adding Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre to their infield, but just like the other teams in the division, they have no pitching. AARP President Jamie Moyer will be on the mound on opening day. I will however give a big Oak Lawn shoutout to Bobby Madritsch, who's from my hometown. Well at least they'll have the Royals to push around.
4. Oakland Athletics - Why?!?! Why get rid of BOTH Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder?!? Now they are left with the suddenly shaky Barry Zito and Rich Harden, along with some other young guys they acquired in Moneyball trades. Their lineup is mediocre at best, and it will be interesting to see how many games they'll win without their 2 big guns in the rotation. And just for the record, "cheap owner" doesn't mean "small market." The Bay Area has over 7 million people and is the 5th largest market in America. Would you call the Mets, Angels, and White Sox small market just because they're the newer team in town?

1. Atlanta Braves - Until the Braves don't win a division title, its complete insanity to ever pick against them. They are better this year than last too with the addition of Tim Hudson and moving John Smoltz back to the rotation and picking up Dan Kolb as their new closer. They have a solid lineup once again and....blah blah blah I can go on and on about how good they are but isn't it amazing how whenever they lose a good player they just immediately replace him and keep going? It's kind of like the run Saturday Night Live had from the late 80s to the early 00s. We lost Chris Farley, oh well we've got Will Ferrell warming up on the bench....
2. Florida Marlins - The Marlins had a great idea after winning the 2003 World Series...they decided NOT to dismantle the team! And guess what? They had another winning season. And this year they added Pedro Cerrano, oops I mean Carlos Delgado. They are also coming back with 5 good starters featuring their young guns Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, and AJ Burnett, and the ageless Al Leiter.
3. New York Mets - The addition of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran will make the Mets better, but still not anything playoff worthy. Beltran proved last year that he's an amazing playoff hitter, but he needs to actually be in the playoffs for him to perform that way. My other note on them is that Kris Benson's model wife vowed to sleep with the entire Mets team if Kris ever cheats on her. Imagine the peer pressure that must be on him with his teammates. If some of the team goes out for drinks after the game, they're probably literally shoving drinks down poor Kris's throat and pushing him at groupies. Just something to keep in mind.
4. Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies are a good team in a tough division. Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu highlight a pretty strong lineup but I just don't think they're quite as good as any of the teams I listed above. I think they're probably still good for about 83 wins and you can't completely rule them out of a playoff run.
5. Washington Nationals - Despite the fancy curly W hats that I love so much, they're still the Expos, and unfortunately for Vinny Castilla, these are the Washington Nationals, not the Colorado Nationals. I have already decided that my firstborn, no matter if it is a boy or a girl, will be named Terrmel Sledge Pallotto.

1. St. Louis Cardinals - The runaway NL Champions from last year are reloaded and ready to cruise to another division crown. I fully expect Mark Mulder to dominate the National League just like he did in the American League. The only position that they are shaky at is catcher, where they are starting the unproven 22 year old Yadier Molina. But Pujols, Walker, Edmonds, Rolen, and the gang should take them deep into the playoffs again.
2. Chicago Cubs (Wild Card) - The Cubs thought it was a good idea to trade Sammy Sosa for Jerry Hairston Jr. over the off-season. Ok....They did pick up Jeromy Burnitz to replace him but they're still going to miss Slammin' Sammy. Overall they have a pretty good lineup and they have a great pitching staff as long as they can actually stay healthy for a change, which I highly doubt. They will, however win the wild card mostly because of the unbalanced schedule. The NL East and West both have 4 pretty good teams while meanwhile in the Central the Cubs will have the luxury of kicking the crap out of the Reds, Astros, Pirates, and Brewers all season. Let's not forget that they're still the Cubs so Cub luck will come into play during the playoffs and the jinx will continue for the 97th straight year.
3. Houston Astros - Unable to hang onto Carlos Beltran, the Astros head into the season with Lance Berkman on the DL and an extremely inexperienced outfield. Their infield is still pretty solid and Bagwell and Biggio can start for my 1995 All Star team any day. This 3rd place pick is contingent on Oswalt, Clemens, and Pettitte staying healthy for most of the season. If not, this spot goes to Cincinnati
4. Cincinnati Reds - The Reds are like the Rangers of the NL. They have a lot of young talented hitters let by all-time single season strikeout champ Adam Dunn but they aren't quite as good as the ones in Texas. Texas doesn't have a sputtering future Hall of Famer that will tear his hamstring if you blow on him either. The Reds actually have some pitching, but not much. I think they could surprise a lot of people this year if their young stars blossom even more. PS: I will always miss the final years of Riverfront Stadium with the 393 foot centerfield fence topped by the Mysterious Black Wall
5. Pittsburgh Pirates - Let's face it, the Pirates suck. Sometimes I forget they're even in the league. They showed a little bit of promise with strong seasons last year from Jason Bay, Craig Wilson, and Oliver Perez, but they're still a long way from even sniffing competitiveness. I guess on the bright side for Pittsburgh, they should be glad that they have a major league baseball team based almost soley on the fact that it was a major city 125 years ago.
6. Milwaukee Brewers - The smallest market in baseball, and it shows. Ben Sheets must really like Miller Beer, because any Bud fan playing in Milwaukee would have gone insane by now. They can hang their hat on the fact that they stole a motivated Carlos Lee (who's in a contract year and therefore gone from Milwaukee this winter) away from the White Sox for a .244 hitting leadoff man. Fun Useless Fact: The Brewers and Padres are the only 2 major league teams that have appeared in a World Series but never won one.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers - The NL West will probably be the most competitive division in baseball this year. The Dodgers held a pretty good lead all season last year until their ill-fated Brad Penny trade that almost derailed their entire season. This year the Dodgers have regrouped, and although they lost their MVP candidate Adrian Beltre, they picked up Jeff Kent, Jose Valentin, and J.D. Drew and finally got rid of the overrated Shawn Green. The starting pitching is pretty good and they've got Gagne to finish off any tight games. Just like a Gagne save, the Dodgers win this division by 1.
2. San Francisco Giants - Will Barry Bonds ever play again? If not, put them behind the Padres on here, if so, they have a very good chance of winning the West. They have a solid enough team to stay in the hunt until Barry gets back in the lineup. I don't know if any 40 year old coming off a major surgery has ever been so important to their team's success and to the sport itself.
3. San Diego Padres
- This is another interesting team. They opened up Petco Park with an amazing turnaround season led by young stars such as Khalil Greene, Sean Burroughs, and Jake Peavy and backed by veteran acquisitions like Brian Giles and David Wells. They are returning basically the same 87-win team as last year except Woody Williams will be playing the part of over the hill veteran that can still be dangerous. Don't rule out the Fathers as your sleeper NL West champs.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks - When you finish a season 51-111, you need to make some changes, and the D-backs did just that. Richie Sexson and Steve Finley are gone, and Shawn Green and Troy Glaus are in. Glaus was a major signing for them and will be a key to their success if he stays healthy, and as I said earlier, I'm not impressed with Green. Even though they lost Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, they basically traded in 1 legendary starter for 3 very good starters in Javier Vazquez, Russ Ortiz, and Shawn Estes that will consistently help them win instead of counting on winning only every 5th game. They will be the most improved team in baseball, but still will be buried in 4th place in this tough division.
5. Colorado Rockies - The Rockies will be the worst team in baseball this year hands down. Good hitters become great hitters when they hit that thin air, and good pitchers become mentally unstable wrecks with 5.90 ERAs. This year, the Rockies don't even have any good hitters besides Todd Helton to become great hitters but since all their no-names get to play in Coors Field too, maybe Dustan Mohr, Clint Barnes, and Garrett Atkins will produce the stats to become household names....until they go play for a different team.

Playoffs Divisional
Yankees over Twins (3-2)
Angels over White Sox (3-1)
Cardinals over Dodgers (3-0)
Braves over Cubs (3-1)

Yankees over Angels (4-1)
Cardinals over Braves (4-2)

World Series
Cardinals over Yankees (4-3)

So there you have it. My pick is for the Cardinals to rebound from last year's World Series sweep to come back and hand the Yankees their 3rd World Series loss of the decade. For this to happen, the playoff chokemaster, Tony LaRussa might need to be fired midseason, but he does have 1 ring with the 1989 A's, proving that anything truly can happen. Here are my award predictions:

MVP: Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles
Cy Young: Randy Johnson, New York
Manager of the Year: Ozzie Guillen, Chicago
Unexpected Home Run Derby Contestant: Carlos Pena, Detroit

MVP: Andruw Jones, Atlanta
Cy Young: Mark Mulder, St. Louis
Manager of the Year: Dave Miley, Cincinnati
Unexpected Home Run Derby Contestant: Carlos Lee, Milwaukee

Ryan's Picks
You know, this is a refreshing change of pace. I haven’t written a strictly sports column in about forever. I’ve become to Is It Sports what Tilt is to ESPN. Not really sports, but I’m still here anyways. Well, without further ado, here are my predictions for the year in


1. New York Yankees
– It’s pretty hard to pick against the Yankees, ever. They’re the Duke of MLB, no matter how much I hate them, I always pick them to win it. They’ve got the best talent in the league, not just the division, so any reason to pick against them is merely speculation. Will the aging pitching staff stay healthy? Will the steroids bug bite the Yankees harder than it already has? If the Yankees lose a couple games in a row, will George Steinbrenner’s head explode?

2. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card) – I don’t know if anyone has told you yet, but the BoSox won the World Series last year. And if you look at their roster, it’s impossible to fathom how. How could Theo Epstein have possibly known that David Ortiz was the answer at DH after the Twins gave up on him? Epstein is a genius. They have too many in Boston. But I digress. The Red Sox’ talent is nowhere near the Yankees, and it never has been.
3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays – Wait, hear me out. The D-Rays have quite the cache of young talent, like Carl Crawford and Aubrey Huff in the outfield and a relatively solid bullpen with Dannys Baez and Jesus Colon. I know Steve doesn’t want to think about it, but this is pretty much all the Twins had when they made their turn around. The excellent defense will be a good security net for Dewon Brazelton and Scott Kazmir as they learn the ins and outs of the AL East. This is a team that will have many 3rd place finishes in the years to come.
4. Baltimore
Orioles – I don’t know what the Orioles’ problem is, but I suspect it has something to do with Peter Angelos. He’s always been about signing the big bats, but I can’t remember the last time he signed a decent pitcher not named Sidney Ponson (and calling Ponson decent these days is generous). Sammy Sosa will help, sure, but he’s not going to hold opponents under 15 runs a game. If I were the GM of that team I’d try to deal for another starter, quickly, without sacrificing a competent bull pen.
5. Toronto Blue Jays – Where do I start with this team? Well, they have a few qualified pitchers in their rotation, as well as Miguel Batista, who when on is nasty. On the other hand, they invited Tim Verducci to camp to help bolster the outfield and are now batting Corey Koskie at cleanup. Take it from someone who’s been there: Koskie should not be the crown jewel of your lineup. Good luck Toronto.

1. Minnesota Twins – Instead of filling up space here, I suggest you read the previous posts found here and here.
2. Cleveland Indians – The Indians always scare the hell out of me. They were the ones who dominated the division before the Twins got there. Then, while the Twins were on top, they were the only team we didn’t dominate at any time. Then, this season they go out and sign Kevin Millwood to be their third starter. The only thing I have against their team is Juan Gonzalez. Signing him was ill conceived. Nonetheless, with players with whimsical names and dangerous bats like Coco Crisp and Jhonny Peralta (he even spells his name dangerously!) this is a team that could make some noise this year.
3. Detroit Tigers – I would have put these guys fourth, but who am I to disagree with my roommate (read below). They made incredible progress last year, but really didn’t do anything this off season. Now they have two closers perilously close to spontaneous combustion in Ugueth Urbina and Troy Percival, and Pudge Rodriguez and Dmitri Young are about their only offensive threat. Any progress they make is through the maturation of some other role players, but that’s going to take more time. At least they win more than twice a week this year.
4. Chicago White Sox – The following is written by my roommate and Chicago White Sox fan Kellen, so you know there isn’t any personal bias : :As a White Sox Fan this is gonna be one hell of a year because our best player is the manager Ozzie. If that’s your best player you are gonna finish in the bottom of the division. Plus we have no pitching to help us down the road. So my prediction for the year is we are going to finish 4th in the division right behind the Tigers 3rd, Indians 2nd, and I have the Twins winning the division like they should. DAMN THIS IS GONNA BE A ROUGH SEASON”. So there you have it. I don’t think I want to say any more than that.
5. Kansas City Royals – Zack Greinke is going to be brilliant someday. Is that day now? Absolutely not. Additionally, Ken Harvey and Angel Berroa will be dangerous bats somewhere. Is that time now? Absolutely not. Some day, they will get out of the AL Central cellar. Is that year now? Absolutely not.


1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
– Remember when Kelvim Escobar was a prized free agent acquisition? What a weird time that was. This year is interesting out West if a starting rotation with a history of underachieving underachieves again. If they play to their potential, the Angels run away with the division. The only hole I can find is on the bench. I’m curious to see what happens if any of their starting lineup goes down for an extended period of time. Will they start the monkey at any point during the season?

2. Texas Rangers – I’m tired of hearing about how good their hitting is and how bad their pitching is. I’m tired of hearing about Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira blasting home runs and Ryan Drese and Chan Ho Park giving up twice as many. Let’s instead talk about their defense. *cold shiver* Never mind, that gets left in the vault until Halloween. Too scary.
3. Seattle Mariners
– Just like the Rangers, their line-up is fairly intimidating, with Beltre, Sexson and Boone providing the heavy bat, and Ichiro and Randy Winn hitting the singles. The only problem it that they plan to start last years Little League world champs in the other positions. Except pitcher, of course, where Jamie Moyer has started throwing underhand and the average age is 45. It’s like they meant to sign up for the father son softball league. The off season they signed the bats instead of the pitchers though, a strategy that always works. Just ask Peter Angelos.

4. Oakland A’s – Perhaps its karma. After this steroid hullabaloo that consumed three former A’s sluggers, they seem poised to garner last place in the division. Sports Illustrated claims that with the departure of Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, the A’s are going to focus on their offense. That’s going to be something of a problem. Their most productive players are…. Jason Kendall? Eric Chavez? Bad news in Oakland.


MVP – Vlad Guerrero (LAAOA)
Cy Young – C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland)
HR Derby ringer – Justin Morneau (Minnesota)

ALDS – Twins over Red Sox, Yankees over Angels
ALCS – Yankees over Twins

1. Atlanta Braves – They keep winning their division, but I don’t disdain them like I disdain most dynastic teams. I kinda want the Twins to meet them in the World Series because it’s pretty much a guaranteed championship for Minnesota. They don’t have any fantastic talents at the plate, but the lineup is balanced. What will win the division is their phenomenal pitching staff. They have enough pitching to overcome any hiccups or surges by teams below them.
2. Florida Marlins (Wild Card) – I have serious issues with a team that wears teal doing this well, but I’m forced to say so. They don’t go the typical three deep in their rotation, they have 4 pitchers that I would trust in a big game. They signed Pedro Cerrano … Carlos Delgado … and have a time tested line up. The fish are going to make a serious run at the Braves, which is always dangerous for whomever they meet in the playoffs.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
– The Phillies have always been an enigma, ever since Game 5 of the ’93 World Series. You didn’t know what would happen in Game 6. You didn’t know what John Kruk or Larry Bowa would do in the following years. This year, their status is much easier to figure out. They have a balanced, talented lineup, and their pitching sucks. Doesn’t get much clearer than that.

4. New York Mets – The Mets last year had so many holes, people STOPPED making fun of them, and just felt bad. Now, seeing as they needed about fifteen new players, and went out and only signed about three players, who cost as much as ten decent players, I don’t see why so many people expect them to turn it around this season. Having Pedro Martinez doesn’t mean that David Wright can field a ground ball, and Carlos Beltran doesn’t necessarily make a team a contender (see, Kansas City Royals). This is not a team that excels in the clutch, and wont at all this year.
5. Washington Nationals
– This team is like, the all star team for people to be traded in July. They have several good role players and some halfway decent pitching. They also have Nick Johnson as their starting 1st baseman and Endy Chavez starting in center. They have practically no chance to win this division, so keep an eye on them when the trading deadline rolls around.


1. St. Louis Cardinals – These guys are just like the Red Sox of the National League. They have a bunch of good role players with very few dynamic, all star, take over the game type of players. They went out and acquired Mark Mulder to bolster a rotation that was about as breathtaking as their lineup. The other teams in the division can’t even approach the Cardinals this year. The problem is, just like it was for the Mariners a few years back, that they won’t be tested down the stretch and will lose, yes lose, in the NLDS.

2. Houston Astros – The Astros have a brilliant Yankees pitching staff, with Roy Oswalt to boot. In truth, the ‘Stros only got the number two spot in the division because I could have pulled names out of a hat. Lance Berkman and Morgan Ensberg are reliable in their roles, but Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Brad Ausmus should be withering to dust any day now. If one or two members of the rotation goes down, the ride is over for the Astros, and they are looking up at the Reds and Brewers.
3. Cincinnati Reds – This is another team that I think will open some eyes this year. It’s really Ohio’s year. They have three good outfielders in Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns and Ken “how many times can I tear a hammy” Griffey, and Sean Casey holding down first. Their rotation holds five guys that pitch within their capabilities and a vastly improved bullpen. Assuming that Pete Rose doesn’t come out with a book, this should be a great year for the Reds.

4. Chicago Cubs – Some people like these Cubbies. They aren’t as bad as, say, the Royals, but they aren’t exactly the Cardinals either. They have, of course, the pitching, which reminds me of rubber bands wound too tight. Prior’s could snap and sideline him for the season, as could Wood’s. So much in this division depends on the health of players with historic injury problems that it’s nearly impossible to line them up in any discernable order. The reason the Cubs get dropped so low is that they actually plan on starting Jeromy Burnitz. Yes he had good stats last year, but they were in COLORADO. I had 30 dingers there in 1999! So really, it’s disbelief in Andy McPhail’s logic that leads me to this pick.
5. Milwaukee Brewers – Now that this team is out of the AL and Bud Selig isn’t contracting anyone, I really like this team. I think Geoff Jenkins and Ben Sheets have been good in the last few years, and Junior Spivey and Lyle Overbay were great additions last year. Carlos Lee is another great addition to this team. They don’t have the injury history of the rest of the division, and if that holds true, they could find themselves fighting for second place, and I cant believe I wrote that either.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates – Oh those poor Pirate fans. The Bucs have very little talent, and worse, they don’t have the commodities to trade they usually do. It’s going to be a long season in western PA. But hey, they still have the Steelers!

1. San Francisco Giants – Again, I may not be the best person to write about these guys, but I think with or without Barry Bonds, they have the pitching overtake a division full of fairly light hitting teams.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – I think the Dodgers are going to have some problems. They are going to feel the changes they made over the off season. Their rotation is passable in this division, but I don’t think Eric Gagne and the acquisition of J.D. Drew or Jeff Kent will lead them to the pennant this year. Not with Jayson Werth and Hee Sop Choi in the lineup every day.
3. San Diego Padres – I remember sitting in a hotel owned by some family friends in Rapid City, South Dakota watching the Little League World Series. One of the sons in that family, who was about 15, was watching the game with me. I’ll never forget what he said when Sean Burroughs came up to the plate, “Man, that kid is a horse!” So what happened? Why isn’t this guy slugging forty homers a year? In any case, the offense on this team is about the same as San Francisco and Los Angeles, but their pitching doesn’t quite match the 1st and 2nd place teams.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks – There is that guy from high school that went off to college and just got flat out fat. You just look at them and say, “What happened to you?!” I find myself saying the same thing about the Diamondbacks. Didn’t you just win the World Series, like, 4 years ago? What happened to you?! They need to know that Troy Glaus and Shawn Green are definitely not the answer.

5. Colorado Rockies – In case you haven’t heard, the Rockies just acquired Byung-Hyun Kim. And that was an improvement. Of course, they have good offensive stats because they play in one hell of a hitter’s park. They, however, didn’t bother with pitching or finding anyone that can hit outside of Coors Field. Sounds like trouble in Denver this year.


MVP – Carlos Delgado (Florida)

Cy Young – Jason Schmidt (San Francisco)
HR Derby Ringer – Geoff Jenkins (Milwaukee)

NLDS – Marlins over the Cardinals, Braves over the Giants

NLCS – Marlins over the Braves

WORLD SERIES – Yankees over Marlins (in 5)

Kevin's Picks
Before I begin, a few random thoughts. First, this is the second time I am typing a lot of this. Gotta love power supply failures. Maybe someday I'll remember to periodically save what I write. Secondly, last year my preseason pick was for the Houston Astros to beat the New York Yankees 4 games to 3 in the world series. At the All-Star break all I could think about was what a bad pick that was as the Astros slipped well below the .500 mark. At game 7 of the AL and NL championship series all I could think was what a great pick that was. Even though they both lost their game 7's, it just goes to show this guy can be on target sometimes! So expect my two world series teams to lose in their championship games. Thirdly, Sports Illustrated is out of their mind. Please read their 2005 MLB preview. A few things on this. One, Sports Illustrated is nuts. Yes both will make the playoffs, but will this be the world series match up? Probably not. Two, they make this prediction of two division winners making the series (Yankees and Braves) after posting an article about how the wild card has won the world series the last three seasons. Third, way to go SI. What a bold prediction of the Yankees winning the world series. I think the last ten years SI has made that same pick. Fourth, I will be receiving a very small social security check before the Braves win another playoff series (look at the last four seasons). Fifth, its not 1999 anymore Sports Illustrated. Now that I got that out of my system, time to make some picks!

1. New York Yankees - I know, I know, what an unrisky, boring pick. I think its a safe bet they will win the division, since the Yanks finishing first and the Bo Sox second has only happened the last seven straight years. For more on safe bets, see my NL East, Atlanta Braves prediction. The Yanks pitching staff, in my view, should finally not under perform. Randy Johnson should win more then 20 games and contrary to popular belief I have Piano winning at least 15 (No bias there with both being on my fantasy team). The rest of the staff (Brown, Mussina, Wright) should put up a 5.00 ERA and win 15 games, because of the ridiculous offense in the Bronx. By the way, Gay-Rod should have a big season too.
2. Boston Red Sox - I think the Red Sox will have a world series hangover this season. Its finally time for this bunch of idiots to stop over performing (I love that word). They got very lucky winning the world series last year, so the luck has to run out sometime. Schilling's ankle is an issue (now that he's no longer on my fantasy team), Clement is somewhat of a question, and they have to play the Yankees 19 times. The best way to end a curse is to compile a $120 payroll. Nobody can ever feel bad for them again, and I sure won't when they miss the playoffs. At least they will always have Fever Pitch.
3. Baltimore Orioles - The Portland Jailblazers of baseball! Sammy Sosa breaks a wine bottle over his wife's head. Sidney Ponson is beating up judges on the beach in Aruba (I guess he's allowed to since he's a knight there), and Rafael Palmiero is either taking steroids or viagra...he gets them mixed up sometimes. The Orioles have one of the best offenses in baseball, but should win all 38 games against the Blue Jays and Devil Rays, and then lose all the rest by a score of 12-10. Angelos is too busy feuding over the Washington Nationals to realize his non-criminal pitching staff is too busy dealing with puberty to compete. Go O's!
4. Toronto Blue Jays - A lot of pressure rests on the Jays this season. They are Canada's ONLY hope. No Expos, no NHL, no Vince Carter, no nothing. That is of course unless Roy Halladay returns to Cy Young form and Vernon Wells gets more than 200 hits. Oh wait, that did happen two years ago and the Jays still sucked. Sorry Canada, karma is a bitch. Maybe you shouldn't have printed those T-shirts with the American flag upside down after winning back to back championships in 92 and 93.
5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays - When is the NHL going to come back? I love that Martin St. Louis. Seriously though, the D-Rays have no hope, and Lou Piniella will probably have a heart attack this season. They are a young team, but still are lacking power hitting and pitching. I wonder if they are going to bring the Stanley Cup to Tropicana Field?

1. Chicago White Sox - What a pick. I'm tired of seeing the Twinkies in the playoffs and choking. The White Sox have assembled a better overall hitting team than the Twins, and a better overall pitching staff. They will go 14-5 against the Twins this year, losing only the 5 games Santana starts. I like El Duque and Contreras, and Freddy Garcia is pretty cool too. Look for Konerko and Thomas to have a lot of 3 run home runs with Podsednik and Iguchi hitting in front of them. Overall, the Sox are a team built to win games, not put up stats, and they should do that nicely in the weak AL Central (yeah that's right Steve and Ryan, I said it....WEAK).
2. Minnesota Twins - Gotta love small market teams. Unfortunately, the Twins staff is pretty weak behind Santana. I don't think Radke deserved that 5 mil a year contract. The Twins will keep things close with the White Sox, but Jacque Jones and Torrii Hunter do not scare me as power hitters. The Twins have a nice closer in Nathan, but with them staying the same and the White Sox improving, they can't pull it off for a fourth straight season.
3. Detroit Tigers - The Tigers have made some nice improvements over the last two seasons that will bump them up to third place in their division. However, they still have not added a premiere starter. They cant lure any free agent starters into the 8 mile. Its almost like they are the Colorado Rockies. They tried to get Derek Lowe, but I don't blame a guy for wanting to live in the OC instead. I like the Magglio deal. If his knee is good, and he is the old Mags, they have him locked up for a long time. If not and he misses 25 games, they let him go and forget about it. Percival is a nice pick up, but how is he going to save any games if they are always behind? Once the Tigers either sign two quality starters or their young arms perform to potential, then come talk to me about a division crown.
4. Kansas City Royals - The Royals could very well play as the team they were two seasons ago. Injuries limited them incredibly last year. I think without that bad luck, the Royals will have an okay season, but they have just watched most of the teams in their division improve, and hard work and team play wont be good enough anymore. Mike Sweeny should have a great year, but I will say this many more times throughout this preview, where is the starting pitching? That's right, the Yankees and Red Sox bought it all.
5. Cleveland Indians - Cleveland. The arm pit of America. My thoughts on last years Indians: Over performers. They will all sink back down to reality this season, especially with all the hype ESPN is giving them. I think last place is deserving for this team. Travis Hafner wont hit 30 home runs again. Jake Westbrook wont win 15 games again. And the Indians wont beat anyone. I'm sorry Drew Carey, but Cleveland does not rock.

1. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - What a team Anaheim has put together. Vlad Guerrero is the best player in the American League. I like the addition of Finley and Cabrera. I like Byrd joining the pitching staff. I don't like letting Troy Glaus go. He won them a world championship, they will miss him. Escobar and Colon pitched below potential last year...look for improvement this year. Finally Francisco Rodriguez, F-Rod, K-Rod, whatever you want to call him is the best reliever in baseball. He will average two strikeouts an inning this year, and the Angels will run away with the division. By the way, now people that live in Los Angeles and cant see Disneyland from the windows can finally start rooting for you. Good job on the name change Anaheim.
2. Seattle Mariners (Wild Card) - The Mariners had a rough season last year. Everything went wrong for everyone except Ichiro. This year they should return to form, especially with the additions of Sexson and Beltre. Their pitching staff has questions, but as the Angels in 2002 did, I think this staff can survive a playoff run. Moyer is a great veteran for young guys like Pineiro and Meche. I really like this team to make a deep playoff run, because all the offensive pieces are there, and their pitching has great potential. However, they wont be able to outpace Anaheim, making the playoffs instead because of a late season push.
3. Oakland Athletics - Being formerly from the Bay Area, I am also an A's fan, but not as much as my love for the Giants. It really hurt to see Mulder and Hudson go. I thought they could have got the same from St. Louis for just Zito. I don't understand it, but I have never understood Billy Beane, and it has usually worked out for them. The A's finally missed the playoffs last year, and they should do the same this year with a very inexperienced pitching staff. I like Charles Thomas, Byrnes, and Chavez on the offensive side, but there's only so much they can do to carry this team. Oakland has been demoted to rebuilding mode again. Ah, how I loved the late 90s. I want the Bash Brothers back! Maybe Randy Moss can join the staff. That leads me to a correction: I like the A's to finish third, unless Moss joins the A's in memory of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Then I like them to finish first.
4. Texas Rangers - Everything I said about the Indians can be cross applied here...expect for the whole armpit of America thing. Arlington aint that bad. But then again, what is? The Indians have a lovable, young, monster offense. The only problem is I don't know if Kenny Rogers can carry the team and win 15 games again. If only one of these young guys like Mench, Texieria, or Blalock under performs, they will find it difficult to compete in a competitive AL West. Back to the cellar for Mr. Bush's Rangers. Maybe they should all get on roids again. I guess that means I'm believing Canseco.

1. Atlanta Braves - I really don't want to pick them. I don't think anyone ever does. But thirteen straight seasons as division champ? I guess I have to. Why couldn't they have stayed under .500 after May last year and fallen off the face of the baseball world? Instead they played very well, and because of that have been able to add Hudson and Kolb. Smoltz will rock as a starter again, but it doesn't really matter because the Braves get any starter to do great. Offensively, the Braves will be weaker without Drew. The only problem is no one is scared of the tomahawk chop in October anymore. To be honest I don't even know why I am picking them to win the division, I think every team in this division will do better than them, but I have to, because even though it doesn't make sense, they will win the division. Don't ask me how.
2. Florida Marlins - I love Florida's off season moves. Carlos Delgado is an amazing player, and actually has protection and quality players around him. The Marlins have the best middle of the order in baseball, with Cabrera, Delgado, and Lowell. Not to mention two impressive front men in Pierre and Castillo. I think Florida will get a grand slam almost every game. Pitching wise, the mystery of Josh Beckett continues. If he doesn't put a good full season together soon, he will become that forgotten World Series MVP in a few years. That game 6 in Yankee Stadium was the greatest individual sports performance I have ever seen. They added Al Leiter, but lost Carl Pavano. Both are great pitchers. With the addition to the lineup, they will be a playoff bound team. Who needs 13 straight division titles when you have two world championships in the same span? Plus, if I go to the University of Miami law school this fall, Ill be a fish fan.
3. Washington Nationals - I may be the only one, but I love this Nationals team. It is much better than any team Montreal has had in the last decade. Livan Hernandez and Esteban Loaiza should perform great with little pressure. I also like the lineup with Jose Guillen, Vinny Castilla, and Christian Guzman. This team very well could finish better than the Mets and Phillies, it just depends on how they deal with playing in a new town in a football stadium. Ill take a gamble on this one, but don't remind me about this come September.
4. Philadelphia Phillies - A lot of people think this team will be a lot better without Larry Bowa bringing them down. I just don't see how they can compete in this division with that pitching staff. Thome and the rest of the offense is great, but they did lose Kevin Millwood and Eric Milton, and only replaced them with Corey Lidle. A 4th place finish should open the eyes of management to what a mistake that was. I really don't have anything else to say about the Phillies.
5. New York Mets - Hahaha. Here's the thing, the Mets can keep spending money, but its never gonna turn into a winning ball club. Not anymore. That's what the trends have shown. From a fire sale to spending way too much money on Beltran and Pedro, all over a TV Network? Nuts. They have a nice pitching staff, and some quality offensive players, and I could go through each of them and tell you how good they performed with other teams and together that means the Mets will make the playoffs, but it really doesn't matter because they are Mets now, and as Mets they will be overpriced, under performing players.

1. St. Louis Cardinals - This team just did themselves a huge favor by trading for Mulder. They answered the only question I had about them repeating as division champs. Their staff perhaps over performed last year, but well see how they do. If anything, they can win games late because of their monster offense, and Mulder should be a good number one. I am skeptical if Carpenter and Marquis will have years as good as last, but it could happen. They lost Renteria and Matheny, but with an offense like that they should have no problem running away with the central again.
2. Chicago Cubs - Oh, those poor Cubbies. All Cubs fans will tell you that on paper the Cubs have the best team in the NL. That may be true, but it doesn't really matter when Wood and Prior are always injured, and their star players choke in the clutch. They don't have a closer, they are counting on Burnitz to put up Colorado type numbers, and Todd Hollandsworth should not be a starting left fielder in the majors. At least they will sell out every game. I almost feel sorry for the Cubs. Wait, no I don't. The Cubs can look forward to an entire year of bragging from the south siders.
3. Houston Astros - As much as I want to seem like a genious for picking the Astros to win the world series last season, they only made it as far as they did because of a midseason pickup known as Carlos Beltran. Without him, they aren't the same team. I like Pettite to return to his Yankee form, but they don't have a true 4th and 5th starter, and Berkman is still a question because of an off season injury. As the Cubs, the Astros have the potential to win the division. Unfortunately, the team keeps getting older, and their are too many missing pieces for them to overtake the Cardinals.
4. Milwaukee Brewers 5. Pittsburgh Pirates 6. Cincinnati Reds - Do I need to say anything about these three teams? No I don't.

1. San Francisco Giants - I cant say much without being a homer, but I like the Giants chances of winning their division this year. With or without Bonds, they have a nice offense with Alou focused on producing runs. Everyone over performs on the Giants, but they never stop or have a bad year as long as they have that SF on their hat. The pitching staff is decent, with arguably the best pitcher in baseball Jason Schmidt, two veterans in Tomko and Reuter, and two up and coming youngsters in Williams and Lowry. Once Bonds does come back, the team should be terrific. I also love the off season acquisition of Benitez. The Giants were a closer away from the playoffs last season. They may be old, and only have one year left to make a push at a title, but they still have time. Yeah I was pretty biased in what I just wrote. Oh well.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks (Wild Card) - Don't laugh, but this Arizona team improved tremendously this off season despite losing Randy Johnson. They've instead replaced him with three decent starters in Ortiz, Vazquez and Estes, a nice addition to the young arm of Webb. Offensively, they have the best player in baseball Troy Glaus, so they are guaranteed to win. Shawn Green could hit anywhere from 15 to 40 homers. Overall, Arizona has the players to either dominate season long or get hot at the end and steal the wild card. Ill take the latter. And yes, there is life after Schilling and Johnson.
3. San Diego Padres - The dads did a real nice job last season of coming back to prominence. The only problem is that's as far as I see them getting. The staff is great with Peavy and Williams, but they are relying on has-been bats of Klesko and Giles. I see the Padres finishing around .500 this year, realizing they will never be a playoff team. They will probably blame their oddly shaped Petco Park for the lack of home runs. Either way, San Diego is not as good as the ESPN hype.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers - I can't believe the Dodgers won the division last year. That is evidence of how I could be wrong this season. Jose Lima? Wilson Alvarez? Last years Dodgers were crazy. I don't think they are as bad after the off season as everyone says they are. They added JD Drew and Jeff Kent..thats almost 60 home runs. Sure, they lost Beltre, but he only had one good season. The problem lies within the starting pitching. They cant rely on washed-up starters to carry the team. Odalis Perez and Wilson Alvarez just don't cut it for me. The Dodgers will sink back to reality. Believe in blue.
5. Colorado Rockies - What a horrible off season. The Rockies lose Vinny Castilla and Jeremy Burnitz. Then added no one. I don't know why Todd Helton wants to stay so bad. They are paying Jason Jennings nearly 5 million a year just for getting to the 4.00 mark in era, which I guess isn't bad for playing in Colorado. This is one of those teams I just cant see making the playoffs, for a long time. Oh how the Marlins are showing them up in the race to be the best 1993 expansion team.

That's it. Just some unbiased, balanced predictions. Now for the playoff picture:
AL East: New York Yankees AL Central: Chicago White Sox AL West: Anaheim Angels Wild Card: Seattle Mariners
NL East: Atlanta Braves NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals NL West: San Francisco Giants Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks

ALDS: Seattle Mariners over New York Yankees (3-2) Anaheim Angels over Chicago White Sox (3-0)
NLDS: Arizona Diamondbacks over St. Louis Cardinals (3-2) San Francisco Giants over Atlanta Braves (3-2)

ALCS: Seattle Mariners over Anaheim Angels (4-3)
NLCS: Arizona Diamondbacks over San Francisco Giants (4-2)

World Series: Arizona Diamondbacks over Seattle Mariners (4-3) Wild cards...game 7s...such safe bets.

World Series MVP: Troy Glaus, Arizona
NL MVP: Barry Bonds, San Francisco
NL Cy Young: Mark Mulder, St. Louis
NL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Arizona
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Larry Walker, St. Louis

AL MVP: Vlad Guerrero, Los Angeles
AL Cy Young: Randy Johnson, New York
AL Manager of the Year: Ozzie Guillen, Chicago
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Sammy Sosa, Baltimore

Its in writing now. Don't let me tell you in October I had the Yankees wining it all.

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