Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dominating Duo

     There have been some remarkable undefeated streaks, seasons and careers throughout sports history. Former heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano went 49-0 in his boxing career, winning 43 of those matches by knockout. He never lost nor did he fight to a draw in his career. The 1972 Miami Dolphins, led by head coach Don Shula and notable players Bob Griese, Larry Csonka and Earl Morrall, finished the regular season 14-0-0. They went on to beat the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. The '72 Dolphins aren't the only NFL team to finish the regular season undefeated, though. The 2007 New England Patriots finished the regular season 16-0 thanks to head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Unfortunately for New England, they lost to the New York Giants by a score of 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. Another undefeated season worthy of recognition actually happened most recently. The Baylor Lady Bears basketball team went 40-0 this year and won the NCAA women's title. The Brittney Griner-led squad went on a record-breaking tear, beating the likes of Notre Dame, Connecticut and even beating Tennessee on the road.
     But there might not be a greater undefeated run than the one put together by Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings. Called "The greatest beach volleyball team of all time" by many experts, May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings won Olympic gold at both the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. What's more impressive is that they've gone thirty consecutive sets without a loss as a duo (including their two-set win over Australian duo Natalie Cook, who won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Tasmin Hinchley yesterday). If you want even more impressive facts, check this out: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings won their gold medal in 2004 without losing a single game. Let's not forget that Walsh-Jennings won her second gold medal after having rotator cuff surgery the previous fall.
     Even though beach volleyball became an official Olympic sport at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the accomplishments set by May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings can't be overlooked. Yes, Misty ruptured her left Achilles tendon in the fall of 2008 while on "Dancing With The Stars". Yes, Kerri got pregnant soon after the games. But through all the adversity, they always manage to pull through when it matters most. They finished the 2008 Beijing Olympics with an undefeated streak of 108 matches that includes international and domestic play. The dynamic duo have also won three world championships (2003, 2005 and 2007). Judging from their most recent match against Australia's Cook and Hinchley, the dominant American team doesn't seem to have lost a single step on the sand.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Greatest Olympic Moments (Sorry, Russia)

     The Olympics are only three days away, so I've decided to string together some of the greatest U.S. moments in the history of the Olympics. Here are a few (Yes, that includes some Winter Olympic highlights as well. Note that some of these videos are in another language, i.e. Japanese, so bear with me here):

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Geek Out Stat: "A" Tomic Dawgs

     The 2012 Oakland Athletics might not be able to pull off a 20-game win streak the way the team did in "Moneyball", but the A's by the Bay have proven to be just as flaming hot. They're 7-1 since the All-Star Break, 13-2 in their last fifteen games (This bit of music describes their recent play: and are currently tied with fellow surprises Baltimore and Chicago for the final wild card spot in the AL. They're threatening to overtake Mike Trout and the Angels for 2nd place in the AL West.
     Yet, this is a franchise that's still seeking a new stadium. Yet, this is a franchise that will likely be moving in the future. Yet, this is a team that ranks dead last in Batting Average (Josh Reddick leads the team in BA with .272 because Yoenis Cespedes hasn't had enough at-bats to qualify for the category) and near the bottom in almost every offensive category. Yet, this is a team that averages 20,987 people for every A's home game in 2012 (28th in MLB). You'd figure that Oakland fans would be flocking to the games to see a streaking MLB team.
     Anyways, what has been the secret to Oakland's success? Why, it's been nothing more than the pitching. In all but one of their thirteen wins in their last fifteen games, the A's allowed three runs or less in these games (By the way, none of those were shutouts). Another interesting fact during this run has been that nine of the thirteen wins were either in extra innings or by one run. SP Jarrod Parker has been impressive for the A's, pitching an ERA of three and going 7-4 this year. His WHIP is a bit high at 1.22, but July hasn't been his month this year. He hasn't been the only Athletic pitcher who's been impressive, though. Tommy Milone's 9-6 with an ERA of 3.34, 86 SOs and a WHIP of 1.20 so far while Bartolo Colon (Yes, that Bartolo Colon), despite having a record of 6-8, has thrown for an ERA of 3.88 and a WHIP of 1.25. Just as eye-opening is Brandon McCarthy, who's 6-3 with an ERA of 2.54, nine quality starts, 52 SOs and a team pitching-best WAR (Wins Above Replacement; ESPN has gone gaga over this stat) of 2.3. But the starting rotation doesn't get it done all alone.
     Former Ray Grant Balfour has helped anchor Oakland's bullpen with Ryan Cook this season. The two relievers have combined for a 6-4 record, 17 saves, 23 holds and 79 SOs this year. Cook has appeared in 42 games this season while Balfour has been in 45. While Cook's ERA may be a lot more impressive than Balfour's (Cook's ERA is 1.70 compared to Balfour's ERA of three), both pitchers have thrown for incredible WHIPs. Cook's WHIP is at 0.90 while Balfour's is at 1.02. Sean Doolittle has been notably good in his fifteen appearances as well with his ERA of 1.86.
     As a whole, the Oakland Athletics are in the Top 5 in ERA, opponent's BA, shutouts and WHIP. But there have been some bright spots in Oakland's lineup. Josh Reddick has hit 21 homers while driving in 46 RBIs. Cespedes has been just as advertised with a .306 BA, thirteen home runs and 45 RBIs. Even everyone's favorite former Tiger Brandon Inge has delivered some production, driving in 40 runs this season.
     Who knows what the next two to three months hold for the Athletics? The trade deadline is fast approaching and believe it or not, the A's are in prime position to be buyers. Could Oakland make a move and add a bat to their lineup? Yes, they have plenty of switch-hitters in their lineup. But the A's could use a productive left-handed bat since none of the switch-hitters can actually hit. Whatever way you cut it, the Athletics will definitely be a factor in the MLB playoff race come September. *Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay bow wow yippee yo yippee yay!!

*This is a reference to Oakland's home run song, i.e. George Clinton's "Atomic Dog".

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How's Tiger Woods doing at the Open?

     So you're wondering how Tiger Woods is faring so far at the Royal Lytham so far? Well, here's how I'd like to sum up his performance so far:

     Somewhere, Happy Gilmore is using it as inspiration to return to the golf game. At least it's better than "MASHED POTATOES!!"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Realigning the NHL

     With the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, the NHL is in geographical disarray. The Winnipeg Jets still play in the Southeast division in the Eastern Conference despite being in a different timezone. So on December 7, 2011, the NHL's Board of Governors approved of a realignment proposal in which there would be four conferences geographically based. teams would play six times- three home, three away- for a total of 36 inter-division games. The top four teams from each conference would qualify for the playoffs. The four survivors of the conference rounds would meet up for the third round and so on and so forth. The NHLPA delayed the plan a month later, citing the playoff format as being of concern. Here's the NHL's proposal regarding the four conferences:
      I'm going to throw my two cents in here and offer my proposals for realignment. First let's look at the teams that are rumored or could be on the move (No, that does not include any California NHL teams. Los Angeles and San Jose have passionate fanbases, mind you.):

  • Phoenix Coyotes (You know the story)
  • Nashville Predators (Del Baggio scandal, anyone?)
  • New York Islanders (Arena lease expires in 2015)
  • Florida Panthers (History of futility, 21st in attendance last year)
  • New Jersey Devils (Close to bankruptcy, ownership problems)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (Futility, financial problems)
      Now that we've gotten that list out of the way, let's check out some potential relocation cities in order of the most likely destinations to the least. Keep in mind that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't want to relocate any NHL team to these cities. Instead, he hopes to make more revenue by putting expansion teams in these cities:

  • Quebec City
  • Seattle
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Brooklyn
  • Houston 
  • Hartford
  • Las Vegas
  • Hamilton
     The reason why I have Hamilton at the bottom of my list is because the only way that Southern Ontario gets an NHL team is if Jim Balsillie buys a team. The NHL has blocked him from doing so on numerous occasions (i.e. the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators), so it's highly unlikely that Hamilton will be housing a relocated team soon. Yes, Hamilton has seen steady population growth recently and is also in terrific economic shape, but what the NHL's trying to say to Balsillie is "no" means "no". Plus, there would a major gripe from Toronto and Buffalo due to territorial competition. I mean, why do you think David Stern blocked the city of Anaheim from getting the Sacramento Kings? Also, notice how there's not a "2nd Toronto team" on my list. The same thing goes for Toronto as it does for Hamilton, although Toronto's a much bigger city than Hamilton. Now reverting back to the four-conference proposal, the conferences would be unbalanced. Two conferences would consist of eight teams and the other two would have seven. So my first proposition would be to make like the NFL and have a 32-team league and add two expansion teams. The 32 teams would be split into two conferences: Eastern and Western. They would be further divided into eight 4-team divisions that would look like this (Based on every team's current location):

Eastern Conference

Division A:
  1. Montreal
  2. Toronto
  3. Quebec City
  4. Ottawa
Division B:  
  1. Carolina
  2. Florida
  3. Tampa Bay
  4. Nashville
Division C:
  1. New Jersey
  2. New York Islanders
  3. New York Rangers
  4. Boston
Division D:
  1. Washington
  2. Buffalo
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Philadelphia
Western Conference
Division E:
  1. Vancouver
  2. Calgary
  3. Edmonton
  4. Winnipeg
Division F:
  1. Los Angeles
  2. Seattle
  3. Anaheim
  4. San Jose
Division G:
  1. Detroit
  2. Chicago
  3. Columbus
  4. Minnesota
Division H:
  1. Phoenix
  2. Dallas 
  3. Colorado
  4. St. Louis 
     Sorry Red Wings fans, but I still have Detroit in the Western Conference. Neither Chicago nor Colorado are coming to the Eastern Conference with you, so you'll just have to deal with the ol' 10:00 PM game in Vancouver or Anaheim under this proposal. Other than that, this proposal works fine in terms of travel. Dallas is no longer the timezone lonewolf of the division and travel should be cut down for the Stars. Canadian teams get their own divisions and St. Louis now plays in a easier division as does Nashville. This proposal is flawed, though. 32 teams might be too much for the NHL to financially handle. While the idea of a division exclusive for Sun Belt teams is cute, a majority of the Southern region aside from Tampa Bay, Dallas and Carolina could care less for hockey. Another issue is the lack of division rivals. Yes Philly would still be in the same division as Pittsburgh along with Chicago/Detroit, the Canadian teams, the California teams and the New York teams (Don't forget Boston and the New York Rangers). But Buffalo and Toronto won't see each other as often and there wouldn't be as much of a rivalry between Seattle and Vancouver. Same goes for Winnipeg/Minnesota and Toronto/Boston or Montreal/Boston. One point you could make, however, is the fact that some of the best NHL rivalries happen outside of division lines (Remember the good ol' Wings/Avs rivalry of the late 90s and early 00s?). 
     My second proposal consists of moving the Nashville Predators to the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference. It would basically be a four-team swap amongst divisions. Nashville would take the place of Winnipeg, who would move to the Northwest Division. Winnipeg would take Vancouver's spot as the Canucks would head to the Pacific Division. The Dallas Stars would be swapped out as they would move to the Central Division. This proposal actually sounds reasonable in terms of traveling and competition. Nashville no longer has to worry about Chicago, St. Louis or Detroit. Their only concern would be Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals and that's not saying much. But Vancouver doesn't gain any good rivalries from the swap as they leave Edmonton and Calgary's division. There's also the uncertainly behind the Phoenix Coyote's ownership. Will Greg Jamison be the one to purchase the Wile E. Coyotes? If Jamison does, will he move the team? When will the sale happen? There's too many unanswered questions being asked at this point.
     ...Or you could just have the Winnipeg Jets and the Detroit Red Wings swap divisions. There, Wings fans. In this proposal, you get to have your cake and eat it. Now those poor Chicago Blackhawks fans won't have a good division rival. But hey, you'll get to boo Sidney Crosby more often, right? I mean, who doesn't love to boo "Cindy Lou Who" Crosby?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All-Star Moments

     The MLB Midsummer classic is upon us. Here are some of the greatest All-Star Game moments in MLB history:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Justin Verlander Facts

     I'm bored out of my mind. So here are some Justin Verlander Facts. You might've known these things about JV:

  • Chuck Norris is Justin Verlander's grandfather.
  • Achilles didn't die by getting shot in the heel by Paris. It was a 100 MPH Verlander fastball that killed him.
  • Brad Penny dated Karina Smirnoff, but Justin Verlander plowed through Kate Upton.
  • Justin Verlander once got bit by a rattle snake...... After three days of pain and agony...... The rattle snake died.
  • When Justin Verlander does a push-up, he isn't lifting himself. He's pushing the earth down.
  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Justin Verlander and his heater.
  • The reason why Chicago's called "The Windy City" is because Justin Verlander sneezed there.
  • Justin Verlander is the reason why Waldo is hiding. 
  • Justin Verlander delivered Tim Tebow.
  • Justin Verlander once urinated in a semi truck's gas tank as a joke. That gas tank's now known as Optimus Prime.
  • Justin Verlander is the reason why Lebron traveled.
  • While Chuck Norris can rotate the earth fast with a roundhouse kick to a person, Justin Verlander's fastball can create galaxies and universes.
  • The only things that will survive a nuclear war are cockroaches, Dick Cheney and Justin Verlander. Cheney would later be killed by a 101 MPH Verlander heater.
  • Justin Verlander once lit a fart on a dare. The result was the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
  • Jesus drinks Miller Lite. Justin Verlander drinks a dozen Red Bulls.
  • Justin Verlander can win a game of chess using only one pawn and a breaking ball.
  • Earthquakes occur when even the ground trembles every time Justin Verlander's around.
  • Justin Verlander murdered the kid who invented the 69 joke with a 100-MPH fastball in the top of the 9th. Why? Because only Verlander knew the kid's deep dark secret...
  • Seal Team 6 didn't kill Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed and no-hit by Verlander's heater to win the game for the Tigers..... And America.
  • Justin Verlander's tears can take rust off of ships.
  • Justin Verlander doesn't care for the "MarineLayer".

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!!

     Happy birthday America!! I know you're feeling in the dumps as of late, but I hope this will cheer you up!!

Happy Independence Day to you all and to all a good, free night!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some Quick Notes

     I got some short but sweet thoughts on some interesting newsbits here. The stories are real, but the extra fluff is just plain silly. Let's go!

  • Future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur has signed a 2-year, $9 million contract to stay with the New Jersey Devils. The netminder got offers from two other teams; the Chicago Blackhawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm surprised the Philadelphia Flyers didn't call. Their goaltending's fun year after year. Susan Lucci should play a role.
  • Dwight Howard has told Orlando Magic officials that the only team that he wants to be traded to is the Brooklyn Nets. Stan Van Gundy on Howard's request: "I told you so!"
  • Tiger Woods passed Jack Nickulas for 2nd on the PGA all-time wins list Sunday, shooting a final round score of 69 to win the AT&T National by two shots. It's Tiger's third win of the year and it puts him in a position to reclaim the No. 1 ranking in golf. My thoughts on this is as follows:
  • Rafael Nadal, the second-ranked tennis player in the world from Spain, was surprisingly ousted from the second round of Wimbledon by Czech Republic's own Lukas Rosol in five sets. Roger Federer can now breathe a big sigh of relief.
  • San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was reportedly stabbed at a party in San Jose on Friday. The injuries were minor and Smith is said to be recovering just fine. There are no current suspects at the moment. Admit it, you probably read this story because you thought it'd be Alex Smith, the quarterback. Anyways, best wishes to Aldon Smith on a speedy, hitch-free recovery.
  • Anthony Davis was the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft as he was picked by the New Orleans Hornets. He also trademarked his signature unibrow before the draft. Something tells me that Mr. Davis is one heck of a businessman.