Saturday, June 16, 2007

Five Good Questions with . . . Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic about the Diamondbacks

Today "Five Good Questions" is with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic....Nick is the D-backs beat writer for the paper...

Q1. A few years back the Diamondbacks began a youth movement in which they purged themselves of many veterans. Arizona is near first place about 10 games over .500. How come the youth movement was so successful so fast?
First of all, you have to give a lot of credit to the previous regime that was in place before Josh Byrnes & Co. took over in Nov. 2005. GM Joe Garagiola Jr. and his staff – in particular scouting director Mike Rizzo – did a fantastic job in the draft to stock the system and then held tightly to those coveted young players. Players like Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Micah Owings, Justin Upton (who’s tearing up Double A), et al, are all homegrown. Then Byrnes came in and kept the team moving in the same direction, making trades for affordable, younger players like Orlando Hudson and Chris Young and beefed up the pitching staff with trades for Livan Hernandez, Doug Davis and Randy Johnson. The pitching in particular is probably the biggest reason they’ve been able to stay above .500 this season.

Q2. Arizona is the hottest team in the National League and did well on their east coast swing in which they played the N.Y. Mets. However,over the weekend the D-backs have had problems with the Boston Red Sox. What did you learn about the Diamondbacks and are they ready to "play with the big boys"?
It’s hard to really tell much from three games, particularly when Brandon Webb wasn’t one of the starting pitchers – and we all know how important he is to the success of this team – but it did appear as if they were a notch below the Red Sox, who, remember, were playing without the designated hitter. The Diamondbacks lineup doesn’t have the top-to-bottom depth of the Red Sox, and their bullpen had some trouble in two of the games. I’m sure the Diamondbacks are hopeful that their players like Drew and Quentin will be bigger threats as they get more at-bats and experience.

Q3. Who are a few quality players on the team that many people on the east coast have not heard about just because they play in Arizona?
Two young pitchers come to mind: Micah Owings and Tony Pena. Neither get a whole lot of pub, but both have done quite well thus far. Owings, who was a combined 16-2 in the minor leagues last season, has a 3.76 ERA. Although he has all of 52 2/3 major league innings under his belt, looking at the way he attacks hitters and his mound comportment, you’d think he were a 10-year veteran. Nothing fazes him. And he’ll throw pretty much any pitch in any situation. Pena is a guy whom the club converted from a starter to a reliever before last season and he really took to it right away, dominating in the minor leagues before getting a second-half callup. He has been close to overpowering pitching the seventh or eighth inning for Bob Melvin this year, effectively mixing his mid-90s fastball and hard slider. I absolutely agree with the club’s long-term vision of him as a closer.

Q4. What areas must the Diamondbacks improve upon during the season? Do you think they will be active before the trade deadline? If so, who would be someone that the team covets?
Their offense has been hit or miss all season. They’ve got to get more production from guys like Quentin and Drew. They’ve got to stay healthy, too. Quentin, Tracy, Drew, Chris Young – all have had injuries of varying degrees throughout the season. They need these guys healthy and productive. It’s really tough to tell whether they’ll be active at the deadline. They could probably use another solid reliever, but they may feel they have some guys in Triple-A – Medders at the moment, if they can get him straightened out – who can help out eventually. Another bat would help, too, but I just don’t see that kind of trade happening.

Q5. Living on the east coast I have to ask, why did the organization change team colors from purple to red? What do you think of the switch?
The team listed a few different reasons, including television stations having trouble matching their graphics colors accurately to the team jerseys, but I think it had a lot to do with the club’s new ownership group wanting to kind of put their stamp on the organization. Since Jerry Colangelo was forced out in Aug. 2004 and Ken Kendrick and Jeff Moorad have been running day-to-day operations, there have been all kinds of changes, including the team president, the GM, VPs, the PR director, and I kind of lump the color change in with all that. I like the switch. Granted, they look a whole lot like some other teams in baseball, like Houston, for example, but I think they’re pretty sharp.

Q5a. One extra question, what is your opinion about Barry Bonds and "The Record"?
You know, I just sat here and wrote an answer ripping Bonds, then read it and decided I wanted to defend him, at which point I just deleted both answers and started again. I guess I don’t feel strongly about this. It’s a really tough situation, one of those where it seems like any opinion is valid. I can see both sides. A lot of guys were doing steroids and he still hit the home runs. Then again, if there’s so much evidence (granted, no known failed drug test) against him, it’s hard to consider it a clean record. I guess I’m just glad that I’ve got about seven years before I’m eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame. Plenty of time to make up my mind.....

I want to thank Nick for his time....he has been traveling across the country the last two weeks with the D-Backs playing in New York then heading home for a week then coming back to New York for a series with the Yankees....

Friday, June 15, 2007

College World Series Preview - Rice and Arizona State

Today we have another doubleheader.....first up is Moisekapenda Bower of the Houston Chronicle who gives his thoughts about the Rice Owls baseball team......he is followed by Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic who covers the Arizona State Sun batting first, Moisekapenda Bower...

Q1. The Rice Owls are headed back to the College World Series again. Last season they finished third. How would you compare this year's team to that of last year's?
The Owls' pitching depth is superior this time around. Last season, All-American lefthander Joe Savery was unable to take the mound because of lingering shoulder discomfort, and while he hasn't dominated this season, he has been stout on the hill. Toss in Freshman Pitcher of the Year (as named by Collegiate Baseball) Ryan Berry and Matt Langwell, who has been virtually untouchable for six weeks, and the Owls have a strong three-man rotation. Their fourth starter, Chris Kelley, has yet to pitch in the NCAA Tournament, but he closed the season on a roll. Relievers Cole St. Clair and Bobby Bramhall, both lefthanders, have been exceptional, too. Of course, the Owls' pitching wasn't the problem when they were shut out in back-to-back games by eventual national champion Oregon State at the 2006 College World Series. Their offense has less power this season (.466 slugging percentage as compared to .504 in 2006), and the Owls have slumped at the plate in the NCAA Tournament (22 runs and a .275 average in five games).

Q2. Joe Savery is the star of this team. What can you tell the readers about Savery?
Savery has been the focal point of his teams since Little League. He was a two-sport standout athlete in high school, and has shouldered an enormous burden in his three seasons at Rice. He was the most ballyhooed recruit of the Owls' current crop of talented juniors, and is arguably the top two-way player in the nation. When one takes into account what is asked of Savery - shut down the opposition when on the mound, and hit in the heart of the order while producing runs, it's hard to imagine any one player nationally having more responsibility.

Q3. What type of coach is Wayne Graham? Does he manage "by the book" or is he a "gut-type" of manager?
Graham certainly does things by feel. Of course, he, like any other coach/manager, plays the percentages in most situations, but he does occasionally make moves that go contrary to the book. He'll tinker with his lineup depending on the opposing starter, but he doesn't automatically go lefty-vs-righty in every scenario. He shows trust in his players, and that impacts who pitches, who runs the bases, who plays defense, and who takes a bat to the plate.

Q4. What other Rice players, besides Savery, should people keep an eye on?
Junior shortstop Brian Friday may be the most versatile hitter on the team, and when he is in sync defensively, he can be brilliant. Junior catcher Danny Lehmann is an outstanding handler of pitchers and a sound situational hitter - he has only 14 strikeouts in 177 at-bats. Sophomore left fielder/second baseman/designated hitter Aaron Luna is mired in a miserable slump in the NCAA Tournament, but he was scorching at the Conference USA tournament. Junior reliever Bobby Bramhall has an exceptional changeup, and junior closer Cole St. Clair has shown a flair of the dramatic while escaping jams. He missed the first two months of the season with a shoulder injury, and while he hasn't returned to his 2006 All-American form, has been solid nonetheless.

Q5. Rice will more than likely be one of the top seeds, if not the #1 seed. What is your prediction for Rice in the tournament?
The Owls certainly have the pitching to win it all. What remains to be seen is whether they can muster the offense to win five games in Omaha. Their half of the bracket is manageable, but they will need a jolt of offense to beat a team like Arizona State in the championship series.

Now up is Jeff Metcalfe about the Arizona State Sun Devils....

Q1. You wrote that this may be ASU's best team since the 1981 team. Why is that? What are their strengths?
Arizona State hits .350 as a team, not far off the school record .356 set by the 1981 and '99 teams. The Sun Devils don't have as much power as the '81 team, which slammed 110 home runs. But they have 150 doubles to go with 75 homers and lead the nation with a 9.5-run scoring average.

Q2. Brent Wallace was the PAC-10 Player of the Year. What can you tell us about him?
Wallace hit .371 as a freshman only to be overshadowed by (teammate and son for former major leaguer Ron Day) Ike Davis, 2006 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. This season it's been the reverse. Wallace is hitting .423 and dominated the Pac-10 in every significant offensive category. He's a team-first guy from Sonoma, Calif., who grew up wanting to play for ASU. The best thing about Wallace is that no matter how eye-popping his stats, it's never about him but rather about what he can do for the Sun Devils.

Q3. Who are some of the other key players for the Sun Devils who we need to keep an eye on? Who has major-league baseball potential?
Second baseman Eric Sogard, undrafted out of high school, was a second-round pick last week by San Diego. He is a Phoenix-area player who epitomizes the kind of improvement that can occur at an elite level college program. The addition of former major league infielder Andy Stankiewicz turned Wallace (first base), Sogard, Andrew Romine (shortstop) and Matt Hall (among others at third base) into a stellar defensive unit. ASU leads the nation in fielding percentage. Others to watch include outfielder Matt Spencer, who reached the 2006 College World Series championship series with North Carolina; Davis, son of former major league pitcher Ron Davis; Romine, whose father Kevin was on the 1981 ASU title team and is the only regular returning from the Sun Devils' 2005 CWS third-place team; and the pitching foursome of Mike Leake, Josh Satow, Brian Flores and closer Jason Jarvis.

Q4. What type of coach is Pat Murphy? Does he manage "by the book" or is he a "gut-type" of manager?
Murphy, in his 13th season at ASU and going to Omaha for the third time, is a media dream. He's just as likely to go off about Springsteen or boxing as he is about baseball although get him started on respect/the game and the sport's place in the cosmos and be prepared for a long conversation. He can play traditional small ball early in a game to get a lead but certainly can't be labeled as a by-the-book coach. He makes creative use of his entire roster and during the postseason switched to CJ Retherford at third base, who has come through with his first three home runs of the season. The Sun Devils are good enough to win by playing it straight, but Murphy takes chances on the base paths to force action and loves to tinker with defensive replacements. He'll give up the designated hitter at times and let Jarvis hit in that spot, who's come through with four doubles in 15 at-bats.

Q5. What is your prediction for Omaha? Who will win it all?
ASU lost in a regional at Rice last year without getting a chance to play the Owls. The Sun Devils also came within a game of the CWS championship series in 2005, but fell short of playing Texas for the title. I like ASU's chances of getting out of its bracket into the best-of-3 final and hopefully facing Rice to make up for the missed opportunity in '06. Murphy's teams were second in 1998 and third in 2005. This feels like the breakthrough team that puts him into national-championship company with ASU's College Baseball Hall of Fame coaches Bobby Winkles and Jim Brock.

I want to thank both reporters for taking their time to is much are some links to check out...

San Antonio News-Express sports columnist Buck Harvey salutes the four-time champion Spurs...

  • Buck Harvey

  • It was a day of joy and disappointment for LeBron...
  • Bill Livingston

  • N.Y. Daily News basketball writer Mitch Lawrence rips LeBron for his game 4 performance and also takes a shot at the Spurs for being "dull"...
  • Mitch Lawrence

  • N.Y. Post basketball columnist Pete Vecsey gives his final thoughts on The Finals...
  • Pete Vecsey

  • Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell gives his thoughts on the first day of the U.S. Open...
  • Tom Boswell

  • The N.Y. Post previews the big Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees...
  • Yankees-Mets Preview

  • For those who like reading about serial killers, the N.Y. Daily News is doing a special on The Son of Sam -- 30 years later...
  • Son of Sam

  • Thursday, June 14, 2007

    The College World Series - N. Carolina & Mississippi State Previews

    Today I begin a preview of the College Baseball World Series which begins on Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.....the first round games are as follows: Rice (54-12) vs. Louisville (46-22); North Carolina (53-13) vs. Mississippi State (38-20); U.C. Irvine (45-15-1) vs. Arizona State (46-13); Oregon State (44-18) vs. Cal State Fullerton (38-23).....Oregon State is the defending champions....

    Ken Tysiac of The Charlotte Observer gives us his thoughts about the North Carolina Tar Heels.....also today, Kyle Veazey of the Jackson (Miss) Clarion-Ledger gives us the lowdown on the Mississippi State Bulldogs....I want to thank both reporters for their time.....let’s start off with Ken and his thoughts about the Tar Heels.....

    Q1. This is the second straight year that the Tar Heels made the College World Series. What is the difference between last year's team and this year's team?
    Last year's team had dominating starting pitching with Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard. Robert Woodard, who befuddled Clemson in last year's College World Series, still is a strong No. 1 starter for the Tar Heels, but Alex White and Luke Putkonen aren't as reliable. This year's team has a better bullpen, though, with Andrew Carignan as a hard-throwing closer and Rob Wooten emerging as a set-up man whose breaking stuff is baffling.

    Q2. What is the strength of this team?
    In the NCAA tournament, North Carolina's comeback ability has been its strength. The Tar Heels have come from behind in their last four wins, including rallies from six-run and three-run deficits against South Carolina in the super regional. The aforementioned bullpen is one reason for that. Opponents who get leads can't extend them against the likes of Wooten and Carignan.

    Q3. Who are some of the key players for the Tar Heels who we need to keep an eye on? Who has major-league baseball potential?
    Shortstop Josh Horton is a second-round pick of the Oakland A's. He probably will play a different position as a pro because he's not a wizard defensively, but should be an excellent third baseman or outfielder in the pros. Carignan has been clocked at 97 miles per hour on the radar gun and is a fifth-round choice of the A's. First baseman Dustin Ackley was probably the best freshman in college baseball this season and is a fantastic hitter, though he's been cold at the plate in the NCAA tournament.

    Q4. What type of coach is Mike Fox? Does he manage "by the book" or is he a "gut-type" of manager?
    It's difficult to place Fox in one of those categories. I would describe him as low-key coach whose greatest asset is demonstrating confidence in his players. They believe they can win no matter how far they get behind now, and that will make them dangerous in Omaha.

    Q5. What is your prediction for Omaha? Who will win it all?
    North Carolina is the only team I've seen in person, so it's difficult for me to judge. Rice is probably the team to beat, but Oregon State has an edge in experience as defending champion. Just like Florida in the men's basketball tournament, it's tough to pick against Oregon State.

    Now Kyle Veazey about Mississippi State....

    Q1. This is the first time in nine years that the Bulldogs are going to Omaha. Why is this team so different compared to past Mississippi State teams?
    This program had really fallen into a rut of being good enough to get to a regional and that's it, and it had started to show in things like attendance, lack of confidence in (head coach) Ron Polk, etc. But you kind of felt from the get-go that this team didn't care anything about that, and that they're a loose, joking, fun-loving group of guys. I can't even begin to count how many players I've interviewed that have said there are no cliques, no animosity, no arrogance in the locker room. I'm usually not the kind who buys into emotion over execution, but it's hard to deny it with this club.

    Q2. What is the strength of this team?
    It's a hitting team, no question about it. The pitching is adequate, but as I just got finished writing for a story for tomorrow, there is no ace, and they don't make any bones about it. The team lives and dies on hitting, and it died for a few weeks there in May when it wasn't doing that too well. Once the confidence returned to hitting in Tallahassee -- and Brandon Turner returned, too -- this was the club we saw back in March and April.

    Q3. Who are some of the key players for the Bulldogs who we need to keep an eye on? Who has major-league baseball potential?
    As for the guys who just got drafted, Ed Easley is going to be wildly successful at the next level. He's a prototypical catcher, and that's a commodity. Don't count out Jeffrey Rea, a hitting machine who is small but has always overcome the odds. As for the young guys on this team, you take one look at how Brandon Turner approaches hitting and swings the bat in BP, and you get the impression he'll be a rich, rich man one day. He's just a freshman right now.

    Q4. Over 12,000 fans attended the game on Saturday night against Clemson. What does it mean for the Starkville area and the Miss. State campus for the team to make it to Omaha?
    It means everything. Mississippi State has had football success but has never been a sustained power, and the economic disparity in the SEC still has the odds stacked against it. There has been recent success in basketball, but still not at the postseason level. Baseball, ever since the 1980s, has been the sport at which this fan base has been able to poke its chest out. MSU baseball is one of the nation's top programs. And to get back to that level of postseason success that was once so commonplace here, well, it's such a great feeling for MSU fans. The fan support this weekend wasn't a surprise, really. People have been waiting to go nuts over this team for a long time.

    Q5. What is your prediction for Omaha? Who will win it all?
    I don't let predictions interfere with good, unbiased journalism, so allow me to diplomatically duck this question. I do think Arizona State is a team to watch out for in the other bracket. And unfortunately for the team I cover, my gut says a North Carolina team that's back from the national title series last year is going to be a team to watch out for in the top bracket. But why not Mississippi State? If it plays as hot as it has these past two weeks, it's as good as any of the other seven clubs.

    I want to thank both reporters for their is much appreciated...tomorrow we will hear from M.K. Bower of the Houston Chronicle about the Rice Owls and Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic about the Arizona State Sun are a few links to check out...

    For the best coverage of the College World Series, go to the Omaha World-Herald at the link below...

  • Omaha World-Herald

  • The U.S. Open opens today at Oakmont, which is near Pittsburgh....the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has every eagle, birdie, and bogey covered...
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • The Cavs do need a miracle to win even just 1 game, and they may have a start with the nuns who cheer on the team...The Plain Dealer's Laura Johnston has it covered...
  • Laura Johnston

  • The Washington Post's Michael Wilbon writes how King James needs some more soldiers if he wants a bigger kingdom...
  • Michael Wilbon

  • Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Guest Columnist - Brian from OneMoreDyingQuail gives his All-Star Selections

    My newest, bestest friend, Brian, from the blog onemoredyingquail is today's guest columnist as he provides his selections for this year's All-Star Game in San Francisco...I encourage you to check out his blog
  • 1 More Dying Quail

  • What you see below is proof positive that I should never, ever be in charge of putting together an All-Star team. Two starters for the Yankees, a team that until a week ago was dead in the water? Are you serious? And I'm a Red Sox fan! This should be illegal. Rest assured, it used to be worse – at one point, if you can imagine it, I had two Devil Rays in the starting nine.

    Yes, I feel I know a lot about baseball – why do you ask? But anyway…all this crappiness shouldn't stop me from trying to put together the perfect squad, right? Right. So here we go, two teams – first the starters, then the reserves, then the pitchers. In a perfect world, we'll end up with a pair of 25-man rosters representing every team in the American and National Leagues. I refuse, however, to sink so low as including someone the likes of Mark Redman. I'll take a minor leaguer first.
    American League - Starters
    Catcher – Jorge Posada, New York Yankees (.358 BA, 7 HR, 40 RBI) - (photo)
    First Base – David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (.330, 11, 42)
    Second Base – B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Devil Rays (.320, 9, 41)
    Third Base – Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (.304, 24, 63)
    Shortstop – Orlando Cabrera, Los Angeles Angels (.335, 3, 35)
    Outfield – Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians (.285, 11, 32)
    Outfield – Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins (.308, 13, 49)
    Outfield – Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers (.367, 13, 56)

    - Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians (.319, 12, 54)
    First Base – Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (.273, 17, 46)
    Shortstop – Michael Young, Texas Rangers (.284, 4, 36)
    Center Field – Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Devil Rays (.304, 6, 38)
    Utility – Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox (.336, 8, 32)

    Starting Pitcher – Danny Haren, Oakland Athletics (7-2 W-L, 1.58 ERA, 76 K)
    Starting Pitcher – Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox (9-0, 2.88, 67)
    Starting Pitcher – John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels (9-4, 2.60, 67)
    Starting Pitcher – Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals (3-6, 3.16, 68)
    Starting Pitcher – Chad Gaudin, Oakland Athletics (6-1, 2.43, 51)
    Starting Pitcher – C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians (9-1, 3.09, 89)
    Starting Pitcher – Erik Bedard, Baltimore Orioles (4-4, 3.72, 103)
    Relief Pitcher – J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners (18 saves, 1.23, 31)
    Relief Pitcher – Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels (19 saves, 2.36, 37)
    Relief Pitcher – Bobby Jenks, Chicago White Sox (17 saves, 2.59, 23)
    Relief Pitcher – Brian Tallett, Toronto Blue Jays (2-1, 1.80, 20)
    Relief Pitcher – Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins (14 saves, 1.98, 28)

    National League - Starters
    Catcher – Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers (.299, 7, 40) - (photo)
    First Base – Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers (.298, 23, 51)
    Second Base – Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (.302, 11, 48)
    Third Base – Miguel Cabrera, Florida Marlins (.333, 14, 47)
    Shortstop – Jose Reyes, New York Mets (.310, 2, 28)
    Outfield – Matt Holliday, Colorado Rockies (.352, 10, 46)
    Outfield – Ken Griffey, Jr., Cincinnati Reds (.284, 15, 36)
    Outfield – Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks (.319, 9, 33)

    Catcher – Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants (.308, 6, 33)
    First Base – Dmitri Young, Washington Nationals (.342, 6, 33)
    First Base – Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (.299, 15, 40)
    Shortstop – Edgar Renteria, Atlanta Braves (.325, 9, 33)
    Outfield – Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (.276, 12, 28)
    Outfield – Jason Bay, Pittsburgh Pirates (.286, 11, 45)

    Starting Pitcher – Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres (7-1, 1.97, 95)
    Starting Pitcher – Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (8-2, 3.57, 96)
    Starting Pitcher – Rich Hill, Chicago Cubs (5-4, 2.71, 74)
    Starting Pitcher – Brad Penny, Los Angeles Dodgers (7-1, 2.26, 54)
    Starting Pitcher – John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves (7-3, 2.83, 69)
    Starting Pitcher – John Maine, New York Mets (6-3, 2.78, 66)
    Starting Pitcher – Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers (6-3, 3.21, 54)
    Relief Pitcher – Takashi Saito, Los Angeles Dodgers (17 saves, 1.73, 32)
    Relief Pitcher – Billy Wagner, New York Mets (14 saves, 1.65, 36)
    Relief Pitcher – Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres (18 saves, 2.16, 17)
    Relief Pitcher – Jose Valverde, Arizona Diamondbacks (21 saves, 3.33, 29)
    Relief Pitcher – Francisco Cordero, Milwaukee Brewers (22 saves, 2.05, 37)

    So who comes out of this mess with the win? The counterintuitive choice would be the National League. The Senior Circuit representatives have dropped 15 of 19 since 1988, including the last nine that didn't end in a tie, which I believe is what those folks who believe in statistical analysis refer to as a "trend" (or maybe it's a "fluke" – I really don't know). My heart says that choosing the National League is the way to go – all streaks have to end at some point – but my brain is telling me to take the dominant American League (home field advantage, baby!), so that's the direction I'm headed. AL 7, NL 3, with Upton (photo) announcing his presence with authority and winning the MVP.

    I want to thank Brian for his time and effort with his is much appreciated...

    Here are today's links
    For one time the referee does not call a foul on Bruce Bowen....

  • Buck Harvey

  • Akron Beacon-Journal’s Terry Pluto writes how everything is not going the Cavs way in the series...
  • Terry Pluto

  • Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander throws a no-hitter last night against the Milwaukee Brewers...
  • Detroit Free Press

  • Washington Post’s John “Junior” Feinstein writes about who is better - Tiger or Roger?...
  • John Feinstein

  • Detroit Free-Press’ Mitch Albom writes about his interview with Jack Kevorkian...
  • Mitch Albom
  • Blogger gets booted from NCAA event

    Here is a new issue for bloggers.....on Sunday The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Brian Bennett was submitting a live blog during game 3 of the Louisville-Oklahoma State Super Regional game in Louisville, Kentucky when he was told by an NCAA representative in the bottom of the fifth inning that blogging from an NCAA championship even is against NCAA policies....Bennett had done live blogging during the previous two games.....the NCAA official then revoked Bennett’s credentials and asked him to leave....

    On Monday night I emailed Bennett to get his side of the story.....he responded with the following:
    I've been advised by the newspaper not to do any interviews on this subject at this time. Thanks for your interest, Brian
    The following links have more detail about the incident including Bennett’s take....

    Brian Bennett describes the incident....

  • Brian Bennett Blog

  • This is the report which appeared on
  • ESPN

  • Courier-Journal reporter Rick Bozich reports on Bennett being asked to stop blogging.....
  • Rick Bozich

  • Sopranos
    Why are so many people upset with the Sopranos ending?....I have heard and read how people were disappointed
    because there was no “closure” and things were no “tied up”......what????.....I thought the ending was excellent.....the closure was the fact that life goes on for Tony Soprano.....Tony will always have to deal with indictments, the feds, looking over his shoulder as who may be trying to whack him, and just the plain old simple family issues that we all face everyday.....

    Even the lyrics indicate that Tony is “the chosen one” and somehow he always survives the problems he faces.....throughout the series, Tony survived two incidents where he was shot, a troubled marriage, partners who flipped on him, are the lyrics:

    You woke up this morning
    Got yourself a gun,
    Mama always said you'd be
    The Chosen One.

    She said: You're one in a million
    You've got to burn to shine,
    But you were born under a bad sign,
    With a blue moon in your eyes.

    You woke up this morning
    All the love has gone,
    Your Papa never told you
    About right and wrong.

    But you're looking good, baby,
    I believe you're feeling fine, (shame about it),
    Born under a bad sign
    With a blue moon in your eyes.

    You woke up this morning
    The world turned upside down,
    Thing's ain't been the same
    Since the Blues walked into town.

    But you're one in a million
    You've got that shotgun shine.
    Born under a bad sign,
    With a blue moon in your eyes.

    The following link is writer/creator David Chase’s take on the final episode....

  • Newark Star-Ledger

  • Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Five Good Questions with . . . Adam Rubin of the N.Y. Daily News about the New York Mets

    Today's "Five Good Questions" is with Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News....Adam has been covering the New York Mets since 2003 and was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of his time.....he is the author of the book "Pedro, Carlos and Omar: The Story of a Season in the Big Apple and the Pursuit of Baseball's Top Latino Stars."....

    Q1. Going into the season, starting pitching was a big question for the Mets. However, the staff has been solid. What does the staff have to do in order to hold up all season and into the post-season?
    Really, just stay healthy. Orlando Hernandez already has been to the DL once, and Mets fans will remember him coming up lame on the eve of last year's division series with a strained calf muscle. The Mets should receive a jolt when Pedro Martinez returns, which is projected to be sometime in August. He just threw off a mound June 5 for the first time since rotator cuff surgery. Jorge Sosa has done a solid job with that rotation slot in the interim.

    Q2. A few years ago Oliver Perez pitched some dynamite ball for the Pirates but had problems the last two years and was even in the minors at one point last season. What have the Mets done to revive his career?
    Really, pitching coach Rick Peterson has done wonders with Perez psychologically more so than mechanically. Perez was so confused with the Pirates, his velocity declined to the upper-80s because he was fighting himself on the mound while thinking too much. Also, he's not as prone to combusting when bad things happen. Those high-walk games look like a thing of the past as a result.

    Q3. What is the latest on Lastings Milledge? Does he have a place with the Mets this season or do you see him being traded during the season? Also, it was reported last season that Milledge had a bit of an attitude - has that changed?
    As far as on-field stuff, Milledge has a sprained foot ligament that's kept him out for about a month. He has the boot he was wearing, but is still probably a couple of weeks away from returning to competitive action. Off the field, Milledge did a great job rehabilitating his image with teammates and outside observers during spring training. I'm afraid he lost some of that when word of his rap project with explicit lyrics came out last month. The Mets aren't going to give him away, but it's not too hard to project that Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez are the Mets' corner outfielders of the future, and that Milledge eventually figures to wind up with another organization.

    Q4. What areas must the Mets improve upon during the season? Who are some hot names they may try to acquire during the season?
    Bullpen help would be the key, though Guillermo Mota's recent return from a 50-game steroid suspension should provide a boost. It would be easy to throw out names such as the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano, but I'm not sure the cost would make sense for a rental player, especially if Martinez shows he can resume his late 1990s form like he predicts.

    Q5. How would you compare this year's Mets team with last season's? After losing Game 7 of the NLCS, has that experience made this team mentally stronger?
    The Mets are just as determined, if not more. The teams are fairly comparable, with the exception of the late-inning roles leading up to Billy Wagner. Aaron Heilman had Duaner Sanchez as an eighth-inning tag-team partner early last year, then Mota later. Mota may reassume that role. Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano have done nice jobs, too, to provide an alternative as Heilman struggles to match his success from last year.

    Q5a. One extra question I have to ask, what is your opinion about Barry Bonds and "The Record"?
    It's hard to celebrate something you believe may be tainted. Hopefully by the time Bonds is eligible for Hall of Fame election we'll be more informed.

    I want to thank Adam for his is much for a few interesting links....
    The Cavs are in a familiar position, but the Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston writes that they need a new plan if they want to win four of the next five games...

  • Bill Livingston

  • San Antonio Express-News columnist Buck harvey writes about Robert Horry...he didn't need to hit a last second shot, but his all-around effort helped the Spurs go up 2-0....
  • Buck Harvey

  • Angry fans flood HBO site after many are disappointed with Sopranos ending...
  • Deadline Hollywood

  • Before Mel Kiper there was BLESTO scouting based out of Pittsburgh...after 44 years, the scouting office of two people has closed its doors in the Steel City...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports columnist writes about the old scouting service...
  • Ed Bouchette
  • The Sunday Baker's Dozen

    A Triple Crown may not have been at stake at yesterday's Belmont Stakes, but a historic victory by filly Rags to Riches was the big news....Newday's Paul Moran has the story....
  • Paul Moran

  • What's going to happen to Tony Soprano?....everyone has a thought, even LeBron James....the Cavs may be down 1-0, but The Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston writes that King James is not nervous....
  • Bill Livingston

  • Tonight is the last episode of The Sopranos so there is no better place to get the latest on our Jersey mobsters than from a New Jersey newspaper....
  • Newark Star Ledger

  • Kansas City Star sports columnist Jason Whitlock would rather be at home watching what happens to Tony Soprano than being at The Finals...
  • Jason Whitlock

  • L.A. Times basketball writer Mark Heisler writes that LeBron may be Jordan-esque, but he is not Jordan....
  • Mark Heisler

  • Former Spur Sean Elliott breaks down game 2 in today's San Antonio Express-News....
  • Sean Elliott

  • Washington Post sports columnist Tom Boswell writes about this week's U.S. Open in which the spotlight will be on Phil Mickelson after his meltdown last year on the 72nd hole....
  • Tom Boswell

  • New York Daily News sports columnist gives his take on Roger Clemens' 2007 debut....
  • Mike Lupica

  • Houston Chronicle baseball writer Richard Justice writes about Clemens and other baseball tidbits in his blog Sports Justice....
  • Richard Justice

  • Indianapolis Star's Mark Alesia writes how former Ohio State star Greg Oden not only has an agent as the NBA draft nears, but he also has a media coach in order to improve his image...
  • Mark Alesia

  • For NASCAR fans, the Charlotte Observer has a nice racing site that you may want to bookmark....
  • Charlotte Observer

  • Newport News Press sports columnist David Teel writes that silence is golden when involving Michael Vick....
  • David Teel

  • Think you had a bad week?....we can't forget about the week Paris Hilton had....but the Associated Press reports that many of the Hollywood star are not offering up their support to the hotel heiress...
  • Associated Press

  • Finally here is my take on The Sopranos....Tony will live but will be a broken man spiritually as one of his two kids will be accidently killed because of his feud with the N.Y. bet is that Meadow gets whacked...