Friday, August 8, 2008

Your guide to shooting at the Olympics...

(This was not written by me. Robert (Mke Penguin) over at our forum kindly wrote it here for the blog.)

Here are the top storylines in Olympic shooting:

China's gold rush?
The Beijing Shooting Range Hall could well be the site of China's first gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. The women's air rifle final takes place the first morning of Games, August 9, and the host country boasts the gold-medal favorite in reigning world and Olympic champion Du Li. Later that afternoon is the final of the men's air pistol, where another Chinese athlete, Peng Wei, is world champion. But it'll only be a matter of time before China earns a medal in one of its strongest sports. The country's first-ever Olympic gold medalist was a shooter (Xu Haifeng at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics). In Athens, China won four shooting gold medals, more than any other country, and nine medals overall, one less than medal count chart-topper Russia. China's 2004 totals each improved by one from the Sydney Games, where its eight medals and three gold were the most of any country. Look for further chart climbing in 2008: at the 2006 World Championships, athletes from China won 12 medals, five of them gold, in Olympic events. In the men's rapid-fire pistol and women's sport pistol, Chinese shooters finished 1-2. Athens Olympic air rifle champion Zhu Qinan won bronze at worlds, but remains atop the world rankings in that event, while Tan Zongliang defended his 2002 free pistol world title.

A good miss
At the Athens Olympics, Matt Emmons won gold in the men's smallbore rifle prone, the event in which he was 2002 world champion. Emmons actually had the chance to become a double gold medalist in 2004, but fired at the wrong target on his last shot in the smallbore rifle three-position final, relinquishing his lead and dropping to an eighth-place finish. Katerina Kurkova, a bronze medalist for the Czech team in 2004 in air rifle, met Emmons at a beer garden following his mishap. By the summer of 2007, the two were married and are both threats to win gold at the Games. Katerina, in recent competition, was the silver medalist at the 2006 World Championships and a gold medalist at the 2008 "Good Luck Beijing".

Switch to skeet
Two-time Olympic double trap gold medalist Kimberly Rhode made her fourth Olympic team in a less familiar discipline: skeet. Rhode was the youngest member the U.S. shooting delegation at the 1996 Atlanta Games when she won her first gold medal in the double trap event at age 17. After a bronze medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Rhode returned to the top step of the podium in Athens. Beginning in Beijing, double trap is no longer part of the Olympic program, so Rhode, who will be 29 at the Games, has switched to skeet. She won a World Cup event in Santo Domingo in early 2007 but finished 10th at the "Good Luck Beijing" event in April of 2008.

Still shooting
Bret Erickson will be 47 years old in Beijing, but advancing age hasn't stopped him from expanding his trophy case. At the 2006 World Championships, he won a bronze medal in trap to complete his world medal collection (double trap gold in 1990 and trap silver in 2001). Erickson competed in his third Olympic Games in 2004 just two months after suffering a heart blockage that required CPR from two fellow shooters and the subsequent installation of a pacemaker. Following the Athens Games, he retired from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and moved to Texas, where he coaches younger shooters in addition to training. These Games will be his last as he has said he wants to be a full-time coach after Beijing.

A mind game
If it works, Professor Peter Terry of the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) may become the hottest name in shooting preparation. In April of 2007, he was enlisted by Ireland to assist trap shooter Derek Burnett with an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG was used to measure Burnett's pre-shot brain wave activity. After shooting a couple rounds, it was determined that Burnett's pre-shot activity before hits differed from misses. "We trained his brain using neurofeedback, which rewards the activity associated with his best shots and inhibits the activity associated with his worst shots," Professor Terry told The Courier-Mail (Queensland, Australia). The results were positive; Burnett would go on to win silver medals at the Beretta Grand Prix (Italy) and the World Cup event in Slovenia later that year.

Description & Scoring Facts: Shooting Events

Rifle events
In the qualification rounds, competitors will shoot at a 10-ring target. The eight highest scores will advance to the finals -- each rifle event has separate, specific rules regarding how many shots are to be taken. In the finals, the 10 rings are sub-divided into 10 score zones (10.0-10.9, with 10.9 being the highest point total). The scores accumulated in the finals are added to the qualification score to produce the top marks in the event.

Pistol events
Scored the same way as rifle events, pistol events have two separate types of targets being used. The precision events (e.g. air and sport pistol) use a 10-ring system similar to the rifle events. The rapid fire event (men only) uses a larger 10-ring target, but only the five highest-scoring rings are used. Pistol shooters are to be standing and must use just one hand, unsupported, while competing. Eight competitors advance to every pistol final but the men's 25m rapid fire pistol, which has just six finalists.

Shotgun events
In the three shotgun events, the shooters will stand at designated stations and fire at clay targets that are released on or after the shooter's command. A referee must see one visible piece fall from the target for it to be a hit and to award a point to the shooter.

parts of this entry Copyright 2008 NBC Universal. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our Men's Team does a little bit better

Because of a driving practice I had this morning, I couldn't watch the U.S. Men's team defeat Japan 1-0 in their opening game, which is considerably better than how the U.S. Women opened up their tournament.

Houston Dynamo representative Stuart Holden scored the lone goal in the game, trickling it past Japanese goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.

It was the first goal for the United States in three games, in which they played Honduras, Cameroon, and Cote d'Ivoire. The next games for the American's will be against Holland and Nigeria.

(By the way, Holland is my pick to win this tournament.)

Some other results from today's action, Brazil beat Belgium 1-0 in Group C play, Argentina took down Cote d'Ivoire, 2-1, and Holland played to a draw against Nigeria.

Holden on, U.S. wins 1-0 []
Official Topic at [FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soccer kicks off the Olympics

The United States Women's soccer team kicked off the 2008 Olympics on a horrible note, losing 2-0 versus Norway earlier this morning. The US definitely missed Abby Wambach's presence in the middle defensively, as Norway scored two goals in the first five minutes.

I watched some of this game, and it looked like the American's had the speed advantage, but Norway capitalized on their opportunities, which is what the United States didn't do. Certainly the US isn't comfortable playing from behind since that doesn't happen very often, and you can't blame the weather here because it was what the players are used to.

Here are some more results from today's action:

(Make sure you stick with Calling The Shots for all Olympics news, results, and opinions.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Griffey Jr. to White Sox? + More

The Reds and White Sox have agreed to a deal that would send Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox. Because Griffey has played at least 10 years in the majors, and 5 years on the Reds, he has the right to veto any deal.

I personally hope he vetoes it, because this will just give the White Sox more power, and they will be able to easily win the division now.

I will be updating this story if he accepts the trade and for other major deals that could be made by the 4 P.M. deadline today.

UPDATE (12:25): Griffey has accepted the trade to the White Sox. No other major trades have happened yet.

UPDATE (4:42): Manny Ramirez has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jayson Bay will be sent to Boston in the three tema deal.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breaking News: Teixeira Traded to Angels

It was just reported on Sportscenter, that Mark Teixeira has been traded to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and a minor league player. This is a great trade, as it improves the best team in the Majors, which has seen a few power problems. They now have 3 sluggers, Vlad Guerrerro, and Torii Hunter, along with Teixiera.This could be the trade that puts the Angels over the top, and help them win the Championship that has eluded them for the past 6 years.

Teixiera was traded last year from the Texas Rangers to the Braves, and this has been viewed as a bad deal because of the players the Braves gave up to get him, and they didn't make the playoffs.

Teixeira is batting .283 with 20 Home Runs and 78 RBIs, with a .512 Slugging Percentage.

Kotchman is batting .287 with 12 Home Runs and 54 RBIs with a .448 Slugging Percentage.

Obviously, the Angels got the best of this deal because what they needed was power and they got it.

Teixeira is expected to go up to Boston and play in Wednesday's game.

Trade Deadline

Here we are, 55 hours away from the trading deadline and there have already been some big deals for pitchers, mostly going into the NL Central.

The Milwaukee Brewers traded some minor league prospects to get CC Sabathia. That looks like it worked out well. Sabathia already has the lead in Complete Games in the NL, with the 3 that he got in a row. He is 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in 5 starts.

Rich Harden was acquired by the Cubs, and he still has yet to win a game with them. They have won only one of his starts and that was his first one. He is 0-1 with a microscopic ERA of 1.04 in three starts.

The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the A's, and even after only after 2 starts, this doesn't look like a good deal. Blanton is 0-0, and the Phillies have won both of his starts, but he has a 7.88 ERA and only lasted 2 innings in his last start that was shortened by rain.

Some of the big names that could be moved before the trade deadline are Mark Teixiera, Manny Ramirez, and Paul Byrd.

Teixiera was a trade dealine acquisition by the Braves last year from the Rangers. The Diamondbacks seem like the best fit for him. Conor Jackson can play Left Field if The D-Backs do acquire hm.

Manny Ramirez said that he is tired of the Red Sox, and the Red Sox are tired of him, and Manny dared the Red Sox to trade him, but a trade seems highly unlikely.

Paul Byrd is somebody that needs to be moved at the trade deadline or he could be placed on waivers in August and a team won't have to give up anything to get him.

Another rumor I have heard is that Justin Duchscherer could be moved, and the Tigers are interested in him.

A smaller name that could be moved before the dealine in Cubs lefty reliever Scott Eyre, The Rays, Red Sox, and Tigers have shown interest.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Top-5 Must See Events at the Olympics

(This will be my last post for the week. I'll be gone until August 3rd, but you can keep checkin' in here for other posts by the other guys here).

I am on the fence about these 2008 Olympic Games. It's hard to put behind everything that is going on in China and focus on the sports that will be showcased. We don't know what protesters will do, how they will do it, or what will happen. I haven't done much research on this topic, so my opinion probably doesn't matter, but I do know that even though the IOC has all the confidence in the world in China and Beijing, they will be trembling every day hoping nothing goes wrong.

So whether you like the Games or not, here are my top-5 must see events.

5- Opening Ceremonies, August 8 (NBC, 8 PM)

You'll probably think I'm stupid for making the Opening Ceremonies one of the top-5 events, but I'm a sucker for them for reasons I don't even know. Anyway, National Stadium (aka the "Bird's Nest) will host it as 205 countries and their athletes march in the Parade of Nations. Per Olympic tradition, Greece will go first and China last.

4- Misty May and Kerri Walsh attempt to defend their gold medal, August 12 (NBC, 8 PM)

This is must see TV for reasons I shouldn't have to explain. Please leave if you don't know what I am talking about. These two won the gold at Athens and look to defend it in Beijing. They are unstoppable and will win the gold again, barring some freak injury or something.

3- Women's gymnastics all-around title, August 14 (NBC, 8 PM)

Attempting to follow in Carly Patterson and Mary Lou Retton's footsteps, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin will go for gold in the Women's all-around championship. And for me, it is just weird because Johnson is only about two years older than me and she'll be competing in the Olympics. But that's getting off topic. This will be a little bit different than past Olympics because the scoring will be different. It will be challenging because this year there are many girls that could and can win this.

2- Michael Phelps begins his quest for 8 gold's (NBC, 8 PM)

We talk about Roger Federer or Tiger Woods being the most dominant athlete at the moment. But we completely forget about what Mr. Phelps is doing in the sport of swimming. Phelps is looking to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in one Olympics and could also break the record for most career golds. It will be tough but if anyone can do it it would be Phelps.

1- World's fastest man (NBC, 8 PM)

One of the biggest rivalries right now is the 100 meter mens battle between American Tyson Gay, and Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt. This is my number one must see event because even though the competition only lasts 10 seconds, it could be the most significant 10 seconds in the Games. The winner of this battle will come out as the fastest man, world record or not. We know these three have been breaking each others records, so this event should be great to watch.

Must See Events at Olympics
[FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who To Choose?

The Chicago Bears, winners of the 2006 NFC Championship Game, have a very big decision to make. The choice of who will start for them at the QB position in the upcoming football season. The two candidates? Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton.

The battle for the Starting QB position is very close at this point. It is so close, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith decided to flip a coin to see who would be the first string QB during training camp. Because Grossman won the coin toss, I believe he will be given a unfair advantage because he will get more time to show what he's got, which is nothing.

I really, really think that Orton deserves to start this season over Grossman because I believe he is just a better player. Orton has so much potential, which we all saw when he lead the Bears to Superbowl XLI when Grossman was sidelined for the entire season due to a injury. Also, Orton makes much fewer mistakes on the field then Grossman does.

Now, Grossman I believe, even though he won the coin toss to be the first string QB in training camp, has his back up against the wall because it seems the whole organization is growing tired of Rex. He is way to inconsistent on the field and throws way to many interceptions. So at this point into training camp, I think that the starting QB position for the upcoming NFL season is going to be Orton's job to lose.

Just a quick note guys, I will be on vacation for about a week starting tomorow, so don't expect any new blog posts (from me) until I get back. Thanks.

Brawl gets...out of hand

Normally baseball brawls are OK with me, but this one kind of crossed the line. From the Dayton Daily News:

Before the first inning was finished Thursday, July 24, at Fifth Third Field, three batters were hit by pitches.

The victims included:

• Dayton shortstop Zack Cozart, who left when hit in the head.

• Peoria's second baseman, who suffered a broken leg.

• A fan, who was hit by a ball thrown by Peoria starter Julio Castillo.

No information was available about the condition of the fan or Cozart.

The big question is should, Castillo, who threw the ball into the stands, be jailed. I saw an interesting comment on the Dayton Daily News page that said if I was having a baseball game and I threw punches, the police would come and I would probably be jailed. So that pretty much sums up my opinion. But everyone can agree that this is a brawl for the ages.

(Video from The Big Lead)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meet Bitchy the Hawk

I really don't know why I'm posting this, probably because there's been no posts today, but I saw something interesting during the MLS All-Star Game broadcast that I wanted to share.

But, that's Rob Stone (I did my own picture work!) holding "Bitchy the Hawk." I think that's how Toronto FC spells it.

Apparently he, or is it a she...?, keeps the seagulls away.

Rob was absolutely scared to death, his right hand was sweating and he wouldn't even look at the thing, it was great. He says it's one of the dumbest things he's ever done. No. 1: Hosting Around the Horn.

Anyway, besides that, this All-Star Game actually has been pretty good. The MLS won once again in a game no one in England, or as a matter of fact the World, will care about in the end.

Here are your goal scorers:

WHU -- Dean Ashton 1 (Carlton Cole 1) 26
MLS -- Christian Gomez 1 (Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1, David Beckham 1) 27
MLS -- Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1 (Juan Toja ) 43
WHU -- Dean Ashton 2 (Luis Boa Morte ) 67
MLS -- Dwayne De Rosario 1 (penalty kick) 69

MLS vs. West Ham United [MLS Match Tracker]
MLS All-Star Game [FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

EDIT: The good people over at Awful Announcing probably corrected me on the spelling of "Bitchy."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Liriano Controversy

Francisco Liriano has gone 9-0 in his past 10 starts in the minors, so why hasn't he been called up to the Twins yet? Liriano and his agent Greg Genske, think that it's because the Twins are trying to hold him back. I believe that it's truly because they do not have a spot for him up on the pro ballclub. Livan Hernandez is 10-6, and the Twins young starters like Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker who are doing great, so why call Liriano up?

Well, if they do call him up, and he keeps pitching the way he is pitching in the minors, then that would make the Twins unstoppable, and they would almost definitely win the AL Central and could breeze through the playoffs.

If they don't call him up, then he will sit in the minors and eventually demand to be traded and he will go to another team and be dominant there, which could hurt the Twins.

Or, he could be called up and suck, and be sent down to the minors again, where he goes on another hot stretch, just to be called up and suck again.

The Twins better make a decision on what they are going to do soon, before Liriano gets restless.

So how have these trades worked out?

Edgar Renteria to Tigers in exchange for Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez

When David Dombrowski first did this trade, Tigers fans thought it was a very good one, looking past the prospects we gave up. We needed a shortstop after Jim Leyland decided to move Carlos Guillen to first (he now plays third), and Renteria was one of the top players available. So far, he hasn't lived up to his $9 million contract.

Renteria has been god-awful, hitting .255 with 5 home runs and 33 RBIs. He can't hit on the road to save his life (.213). He can't hit in the clutch (.111), and kills many rallies.

While I do think Renteria is better than future starting SS, Michael Holliman, he needs to get his act together and get into form. The Tigers can't afford any small mistakes from here on out.

In Atlanta, Jair Jurrjens has posted more wins than any other Tiger except Armando Gallaraga, and looks like he has a very bright future. Hernandez is an flexible option out in the outfield and has good speed on the basepaths.

Grade: C

Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Tigers for six prospects

Where to start with this one... Willis isn't even playing in Detroit anymore, he's down in Lakeland reconfiguring his mechanics and such. He has been a disaster and done nothing to help the Tigers rotation out. His $29 million dollar contract is a joke, he never was worth it, and I don't think he'll ever pitch at a superstar level again.

As of late, Cabrera has been great hitting the ball, and has gotten better at first base. His .289 average is low by his standards, but he's hitting .346 in his last seven games with 11 RBIs. He is a stud and will continue to be one of the best players in baseball.

That's it for my "mini-breakdown." I would have posted more but I got some stuff to do.

Grade: B

42 posts in we finally decide to introduce ourselves...

I guess you could call this a biography, because that's what I'm calling it on the sidebar thing. I'll let everyone else take it away...

The Profit-Z

First things first, my name is Zak. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and although it is incredibly boring, it is home. I recently graduated from high school and will be attending college in the fall. In my free time I try to hang out with my friends as much as possible, watch some t.v. here and there and get in some pickup football/basketball games. I have played sports all my life at all types of levels and feel there is no freedom like that when I am sprinting down a football field or the side of a basketball court. Sports just seem to make everything better and they are fun to boot. I am quick to judge people but give them a chance to redeem themselves. Like it or not, I am quite conceded and honestly do not find that to be a negative trait. We were all created differently so I guess that is just one of my great qualities that I was blessed with. Oh yeah, I am the coolest guy on this blog and the other guys know it so feel free to tell them if you wish ahah.


Hey guys, my name's Nick, and I'm a 14 year old who lives in Western Pennsylvania, and I love sports. I guess you could say I eat, drink, and sleep sports. I was born in New England, so I am a huge Boston sports fan (aha yes, I'm very lucky). Your also going to find that I am a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks. I've been playing the greatest sport in the world, Hockey, since I was about 5 years old, and I recently made my high school's freshman hockey team. I also used to play baseball up until this year. My favorite thing in the world to do is watch Red Sox baseball. I have not missed a single game this season and do not plan on missing any. Besides that, my hobbies are playing a pickup football with my friends, listening to music, and chillin with the ladies. I'm a pretty easy guy to talk to, so go ahead and hit me up sometime, unless of course your a New York Giants fan aha.

Chris Daniel (decides to write it in 3rd person)

Chris Daniel is a 14 year old sports fan who lives in Howell, MI. He live with his family in a house.

Nick Barnowski

That's me. I am 14-years old and also live in Howell, by Chris. I try not to be cocky with some of the stuff I've done, so if I come off like that I try not to (so I'm the opposite of Zak). I've played the great sport of hockey since age 4. I'll be a first-year midget in the fall and in the 11 seasons I have played, I've won a total of about 25 games (so I've won 5% of my games). I complain about it to my friends all the time, but there's nothing I can do about it. I also played a little bit of baseball, I was a left handed pitcher, but quit about 4 years ago. I ran a blog back in '06/'07, on AOL Journals, which led me to great things like an appearance on Channel 7 News in Detroit, and some stuff about me in the Ann Arbor News and Detroit Free Press. Now I run FYI Sports Fans and this site, and it's good to be back writing again. I plan on going to college and majoring in some sort of journalism, and I want to work at a big time news company either covering hockey or sports in general. Some things I like to do are hockey, hang with girls, etc. This is just something I do spare time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jim Larranaga Interview

Today I interviewed George Mason head basketball coach Jim Larranaga by phone. Here you can see my amateur, 14-year-old interview skills but I think I did a decent job for a regular high school student interviewing a big time college coach. I should have cut out the first part when he answered the phone, but oh well. (By the way, if your wondering, I called him earlier and he was watching game tape so that's how he knew it was me.) Click the little play button to hear it.

I'll probably post the interview in text form tomorrow after I go through it all, but I want to thank Mr. Larranaga for participating in this.

Let me know what you think.

Interview with Jim Larranaga [FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Tony Pena Jr. is better than Jimmy Gobble

The guy to your right here is Tony Pena Jr. He's a shortstop for the Kansas City Royals. He should really be a pitcher, because last night he did better than anybody on the Royals staff.

Why did Pena have to come in? (Detroit Free Press)

The Tigers had a number of hitting stars on a night when Kansas City left-handed reliever Jimmy Gobble was charged with 10 earned runs in the eighth inning, before infielder Tony Peña Jr. pitched a scoreless ninth -- including his strikeout of the Hall of Fame-bound Rodriguez.

Gobble, who was the last out in the seventh, allowed seven hits and four walks in one inning, throwing 45 pitches.

Mr. Gobble was absolutely horrible, and instead of heading back to the bullpen, KC decides to put Pena in. And what do you know, he throws a 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout of future Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez on a sick curveball I think it was.

Even after a Royals five-run rally, it wasn't enough as the Tigers won 19-4, proving that I can not accurately predict Tigers games.

Royals' Rally Comes Up 15 Runs Short Against Tigers [Kansas City Star]
Tigers give Miner tons of runs support [Detroit Free Press]
Tigers destroy Royals [FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Series Ahead: Detroit Tigers

(In honor of my favorite and hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, I am starting a new segment called "The Series Ahead." OK, lame name, but if you can come up with anything better let me know. Here I will preview the upcoming games in the Tigers schedule and make predictions. If you don't like the Tigers, that's your problem. Either put up with it, or leave a comment with a team you would like to see me preview their next series.)

Splitting the series with the Baltimore Orioles two a piece on the road coming off the All-Star break, the Tigers head to Kansas City to face the division rival Royals. We are still bitter after the Royals came in and destroyed us the first series of the year, so it should be an interesting series.

Detroit is 6.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox heading into tonights game. While there still is a lot of time left in the season, I don't see how another AL Central team is going to win the wild card (either Boston or Tampa Bay will get that, in my opinion), so a sweep here would be big for the Tigers.

Tonight (July 21): Tigers (49-49) vs. Royals (45-49); Kauffman Stadium | 8:10 PM ET

Probable pitchers:

Zach Miner, RHP (3-3, 4.23 ERA)
Luke Hochevar, RHP (6-7, 5.10 ERA)

Because of Eddie Bonine's troubles the past couple of starts, the Tigers called Miner back up from Triple-A Toledo to join the rotation. Originally he was sent down to find his lost changeup and control, but the Tigers feel comfortable enough to call him back up to the big leagues. They are hoping he can do what he did in 2006 when Mike Maroth was out, and help lead us to a second half surge. Hochevar has shown some promise, especially with his last start on July 11, defeating the Seattle Mariners, giving up only five hits and zero walks. Few Detroit hitters have faced him, and with the confidence from his last start I could see him giving the Tigers some trouble tonight. Last season Royals hitters hit .200 off Miner, but I like this years Royals team a lot more than last years. I actually think this may be a pitchers duel and could come down to how well the bullpens do. Detroit's has been shaky lately, blowing the game versus the Orioles on the 19th, and I think the Royals pull game one out.

July 22: Tigers vs. Royals; Kauffman Stadium | 8:10 PM ET

Probable pitchers:
Kenny Rogers, LHP (7-6, 4.62 ERA)
Kyle Davies, RHP (3-1, 4.59 ERA)

In Rogers' last start against the Orioles, he gave up 4 runs in 6 innings but still got the win. Rogers has struggled against the Royals this year, allowing KC hitters to a .578 slugging percentage, and holds two losses in two starts vs. them. Rogers has gone deep (for his age) into his past couple games, going 6 innings against the Orioles and 7 innings July 10 against Minnesota (he got a no-decision). Davies has not looked good as of late, not posting a victory since June 17. Part of that has been because his offense hasn't given him any run support, but walks have been a problem for Davies. Last season facing Detroit, he was 0-1 with an ERA above 3.50. Look for Curtis Granderson to produce in this game, as he hit a home run last time he faced Davies. Tigers win this one.

July 23: Tigers vs. Royals; Kauffman Stadium | 2:10 PM ET

Probable pitchers:
Armando Galarraga (7-4, 3.41 ERA)
Zach Greinke (7-6, 3.90 ERA)

Galarraga has been great for the Tigers this year, coming out of no where to be perhaps the most productive pitcher for them this year, but in his last start he gave up three homers to Baltimore. He's dropped his last two starts, but I think he breaks that in this game. If he can incorporate his other two pitches in for strikes, instead of overusing the slider, he will be able to throw strikes consistently. Galarraga hasn't faced the Royals this year, so hopefully he can confuse the hitters with a variety of pitches and speeds. Greinke posted his shortest outing of the season his last start, giving up 7 runs and 11 hits in 3+ innings against the Chi-Sox. He did defeat the Tigers back on April 3, but I think this offense knows Greinke now and should be able to get the job done. Tigers win on a Cabrera go-ahead home run.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, the ESPYs suck

I'm watching the ESPY awards for unknown reasons. In one word, let's describe it: trash.

Justin Timberlake is not a comedian. He should not be up there.

[Did he just insult the Patriots? ESPN let him talk negative about a New England team?]

And now he doesn't want to talk about his Memphis Tigers and their missed free throws. Yeah, that's Mario Chalmbers laughing at him. And now all the girls are screaming at David Beckham, and he made soccer THIS MUCH POPULAR.

By the way, in that opening title sequence, with all the champions, ya know. Um, it makes me feel that the Boston Celtics and New York Giants were the only ones who won championships.

My Detroit bias is kicking in, but there's a little team called the Detroit Red Wings who won a large Cup by the name of Stanley. All we get is a two second clip there?

EDIT: I'm not funny. My friends take sympathy on me when trying to make me feel better by laughing in that sarcastic kind of tone. So from now on I'm not going to try to be funny.

At least Rick Reilly isn't there.

Harrington wins Open Championship

At first it seemed like Greg Norman would win. Then K.J. Choi. Then Ian Poulter. But in the end, it was Padraig Harrington who came away victorious for the second straight time in the Open Championship.

I can't help but feel sorry for The Shark, losing another major on the final round. It just came down to execution, he bogeyed four of his first six holes, finishing with eight. He closed with a 77, good enough for third place with Henrik Stenson.

[On a somewhat related note, I just realized that Harrington has "Wilson Staff" on his hat, which happens to be the same type of clubs I use and fail with.]

I will admit it, I seriously thought that Ian Poulter was going to win this thing. He was hitting some great shots in the middle of his round, and knocking down some tough putts, but it seemed that with every roar of the crowd after a Harrington shot, he dug himself a hole and crawled into it.

Harrington's eagle on number 17 sealed the deal for the Irishman, joining elite company in winning back-to-back British Open Championships. Only Arnold Palmer (1961, 62), Lee Trevino (1971, 72), Tom Watson (1982, 83), and Tiger Woods (2005, 06) have done that.

In my opinion, I think that this tournament has done great things for golf with Tiger's absence. This Open brought a bunch of story lines. The 53-year old Norman in contention for the first time in years. Two bright young stars, K.J. Choi and Anthony Kim saying hello to the golf world. (Choi finished tied for 16th but was leading after round 2; Kim finished tied for 7th). Padraig Harrington solidifying his spot at one of the top 3 players in the world.

And for the sport of golf in America, I think it took a step forward in surviving without Tiger, as I tuned in for most of the tournament and I'm sure lots of others did too.

Harrington captures second straight British Open title [ESPN]
Harrington Wins Open [FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Maple Bats

The MLB is looking at banning maple bats because they break often and when they break they break into huge chunks which is harmful to fans and players. Players first started using maple after Barry Bonds hit 73 Home Runs in 2001, but that's not the only reason why.

Maple bats last longer on average than ash bats, which players used to use. Ash bats last about a week then break into small splinters. Maple bats last about a month and then break into huge chunks.

The MLB did a study to see if the ball flies differently off of a maple bat than an ash bat. There is no difference, they said, except for the mentality of a hitter.

Today, I was watching the Angels-Red Sox game, and I counted 7 broken bats in the game, and on one of them, a piece of a bat prevented Mike Lowell from making a play on a routine groundball. He didn't get hit but the person who was playing shortstop did get hit by it.

I think that since there is no difference how the ball comes off Maple bats compared to Ash, and when Ash bats break they break in small pieces and Maple breaks into big pieces, then the MLB should ban Maple bats, and just make the players go back to Ash.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Are They For Real?

It seems like only yesterday that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were finishing up there 2007 campaign in last place in the AL East once again. So if I told you that the Rays were only a half game out of first place behind the Boston Red Sox half way through the 2008 season, would you believe me?

Probably not right? Well, its true. The Rays are now playoff contenders in the tough AL East division after finishing last in the AL East for the last few seasons. So what happened?

Well, part of the reason is that there offense has been on a tear this season. Guys like Dioner Navarro, B.J. Upton, and Evan Longoria have really came through when the team has needed them the most this year. We definitely cant forget about there starting pitching staff though, as pitchers Andy Sonnanstine, Matt Garza, and James Shields have been huge surprises to the team this year. As we get closer to the end of another baseball season however, the big question is do the Rays have what it takes to make it to the playoffs?

For me, I really don't think the Rays have what it takes. I believe the Rays pitching staff will not be able to perform well enough down the stretch for the Rays to be able to make it. We have seen the last week before the all star break some of the vulnerability of the Rays, as they come out of the break on a 7 game losing streak. I also believe that the Rays are in a division thats nearly impossible to win. As for the wildcard, they may have a slim chance there, but I think that it will go to a team in the Al Central division, most likely the Twins.

Now don't get me wrong, the Rays have a VERY bright future ahead of them. I just think that right now, the Rays are to inexperienced to make it to the playoffs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NFL Cutting down on Gang Signs?

The NFL has hired so called "experts" to watch game footage, to see what players are flashing gang signals to other players. This comes after Paul Pierce was fined $25,000 for flashing a gang signal at the Atlanta Hawks bench during a playoff game.

The league has stated that they have already talked to some players about their use of hand signals, but they will not say who. NFL Players already had to watch a tape on the dangers of gangs, and rookies were counseled on gangs at the rookie symposium.

Many people have already said, including some on Around the Horn, that it is too hard to differentiate between signals used to communicate with players and gang signals.

The NFL is expected to answer these questions soon.

A major without Tiger?

Yes thats right, a major without Tiger Woods. If someone would have even thought of the idea a few months ago, It would been very far-fetched to say the least. Now, with the British open getting under way today, Tiger is no where to be found at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club. So what gives?

Well, If you have not been living under a rock for the last few months, you would know that Tiger had reconstructive ACL surgery right after his U.S. Open win to sideline him for the rest of the tour year. Now, without Tiger at Royal Birkdale this weekend, it is very possible that the TV ratings could go down the gutter. At least 1/4 of all people who watch golf, if not more, only watch it because Tiger Woods is playing. I don't think those fans are doing the sport of golf any good.

Now, I'm the kind of guy that likes to look at the glass half full, so I think that Tiger's absence can actually do great things for the world of professional golf. First of all, it gives the rest of the golfers less to worry about on Sunday when they are on they are on guy in a red polo short. Also, I think it gives some of the younger golfers a chance to shine because everyone wont be focused on Tiger. I really do believe that another golf phenom can come out of this tournament on top.

As of right now, Three golfers are tied for the top spot on the leaderboard, one of them is the man that battled Tiger through an 18 hole playoff at last month's US open. Thats right, Rocco Mediate is sharing the top spot with Robert Allenby and Graeme McDowell. This is exactly what im talking about. When Tiger isn't present, it gives the other guys a chance to shine.

Will be away...

But you still will have Zak here, and new writers Redsoxfan45 (Nick, or patriotfan45 we call him on the forum) and Chris (Detroit Fan).

I just wanted to touch on the 2009 Winter Classic that was confirmed yesterday.

It will be between the defending Stanley Cup Champions Detroit Red Wings and their Original 6 rivals the Chicago Blackhawks. The game will be played on New Year's Day and televised on NBC, like last year.

Now, last year I had a problem with the timing of this. Putting it right on New Year's Day (as you know) interferes with the rest of America's college football viewing. It could even interfere with mine. But what am I saying, there no way Michigan is going to reach a game on that day.

Anyway, last year's game did get very high ratings by NHL standards. And with this year it being the most known team in the NHL, and an up and coming Blackhawks team (not to mention their both from the Original 6), I think that this game could get even higher ratings than last year's game.

As for the venue, Wrigley Field, I would rather prefer it be at Comerica Park because that's only an hour away from me, but you can't always get what you want. I think Wrigley could be a nice place to have the game. Certainly it will be cold enough in Chicago during January with Lake Michigan right there, so I don't think that will be a problem. I think that Soldier Field would be better, but there could be scheduling conflicts with the Bears (assuming they make the playoffs), and in America, the NFL > NHL.

This should be a great game to watch. Hopefully it will have the same drama as last years, only this time I'll be able to see my favorite team (and the defending Cup Champions!) in it.

If you know how to get tickets, let me know.

Blackhawks, Red Wings meet in the great outdoors []

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All-Star Game Recap

Well, the game ended 16 minutes after Nick made that post. Finally after 14.5 innings, the game ended when Michael Young hit a sacrifice fly to score Justin Morneau on a very close play at home, shown above. Bud Selig had to be thinking about ending this one in a tie. Besides Tim Lincecum, every pitcher pitched! The game took 4 hours and 50 minutes, and by the time it was over less than half the fans were still there.
The NL started the scoring in the 5th with Matt Holliday's solo home run off of Ervin Santana. They got another run with Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly scored Hanley Ramirez in the 6th to give the NL a 2 run lead.
The AL tied it up after a 2-run shot by J.D. Drew, the eventual MVP. In the 8th, Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly off of Jon Papelbon to score Miguel Tejada and give the NL All-Stars the lead. During the home half of the 8th, Evan Longoria doubled to left field to score Grady Sizemore and tie up the game at 3.
In the 10th, the AL had the bases loaded with no outs, but could not capitalize. Then in the 11th, Dioner Navarro was thrown out at home by a perfect throw from Nate McLouth to Russell Martin and the game stayed tied at 3.
Then, in the 15th, the AL had the bases loaded with 1 out, when Michael Young hit a flyball to Corey Hart, whose throw took two hops to reach the plate and Justin Morneau barely beat the tag, and the AL won, 4-3.

Bud Selig is melting

It's 1:21 as I post this, and the MLB All-Star Game is in the top of the 15th inning.

Scott Kazmir is now in which is ridiculous. We know Francona won't put Kazmir in there for too many pitches.

What happens next?

Does the AL forfeit if they don't score?

This is an example of why the MLB should get rid of the home field advantage rule. Now, you could face the possibility of one team losing home field advantage because one side has ran out of pitchers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

National League Preview


1. Hanley Ramirez SS
2. Chase Utley 2B
3. Lance Berkman 1B
4. Albert Pujols DH
5. Chipper Jones 3B
6. Matt Holliday OF
7. Ryan Braun OF
8. Kosuke Fukudome OF
9. Geovany Soto C

Ben Sheets SP

The National League has a lot of power all throughout their lineup with Hanley Ramirez at the top and Geovany Soto at the bottom. They have some of the great young players in the game with Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Chase Utley, and Soto. They also have great young pitchers, such as Tim Lincecum, Edinson Volquez and Aaron Cook.

A question I have about the National League will be their pitching. Many of the pitchers they have on their team pitched on Sunday so that could come back to hurt them.

My Prediction:
American League 10, National League 8

All-Star Game Thread
[FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Papelbon wants to ruin Rivera's moment (AL ASG preview)

In case you haven't heard, here's Jon Papelbon talking about who should close out the All-Star Game tonight (8 EST, FOX). (Via Big League Stew.)

If Terry Francona puts Papelbon in (assuming there's a save situation), that would be great for the rivalry. Could you imagine the reaction from the fans in Yankee Stadium? It would be something. Almost as good as Chase Utley's remark about the boos from Yankee fans last night.

Anyway, this should be a very interesting game. Both managers, Francona and Clint Hurdle look committed to winning this game, although it means more to Francona because the Red Sox will actually be playing a meaningfully game in September. (By the way, I hate the home field advantage rule.)

Here is your AL starting lineup:

1- Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2- Derek Jeter, SS
3- Josh Hamilton, CF
4- Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5- Manny Ramirez, LF
6- Milton Bradley, DH
7- Kevin Youkilis, 1B
8- Joe Mauer, C
9- Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Cliff Lee will be the starting pitcher.

The AL has a pretty good lineup, I like the 3-4-5 slots and putting Pedroia in the 9 slot. I hope Ian Kinsler plays more than Pedroia, although I don't know if Francona will let that happen.

I think that this will be a good game, particularly because of the home field advantage rule, and because of the talent each side showcases. The American League will win because of the strong relief pitching the staff has, in my opinion.

AL - 8
NL - 6

All-Star Game Thread
[FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

R.I.P Todd Doxey

"EUGENE, Ore. -- A redshirt freshman on the University of Oregon football team has died after trying to swim the McKenzie River during an inner-tube trip down the river.

The university said in a statement that 19-year-old Todd Doxey was with several teammates Sunday afternoon in the Cascade Range stream.

It said that most of the party started down the river, but Doxey decided to jump off a bridge.

He swam across the current toward a boat ramp. But, the Lane County sheriff's office says, he tired and couldn't hold his head above water.

A fisherman in a drift boat retrieved him and began administering CPR.

He was listed initially in critical condition but died about 8 p.m. Sunday at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene.

Doxey was a graduate of Hoover High School in San Diego."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hamilton lost?

So he hits 28 home runs in the first round, takes the second round off, hits three in the final round and loses to Justin Morneau?

Well that sucks.

It looks like Hamilton got a little tired and so did his pitcher, Clay Counsil, but what can you say, the man is 71 years old.

Congrats to Morneau and congrats to Hamilton. His story reached out to millions of people tonight and he has a new fan in me.

I also want to add in that 10 Home Runs were hit while the Gold Ball was in play, earning $170,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

We'll be back here tomorrow for the All-Star Game with a Live Blog possibly and some more posts.

Did Rick Reilly just say that?

I might have just been hearing things, but I am pretty sure Rick Reilly just told everyone who was watching that he's surprised there are no blacks at the Home Run Derby.

Rick Reilly: "I question the selection ... no disrespect, but we got eight white guys here. This is like a Kiwanis club meeting. Five of the last eight last champions have been Hispanic and we don't have a Hispanic player out here. Five of the top 25 home run hitters active, and none of them are here -- no Griffey, no Howard, no Tejada, no Abreu, no Pujols, no Manny. So I was very surprised ..."

Now what if it was the other way around?

Well, he was not very good tonight. Stick to print, dude, because trying to be funny on TV may actually hurt you more than trying to be funny in the back of a magazine.

Here's the video:

Stephen A. Smith is sick of Brett Favre

Stephen A. Smith is quite a character. Quite frankly (that show didn't last), he's the most annoying out of all the talking heads on ESPN. Check out this vid, it's S.A.S. on Brett Favre (via Awful Announcing).

Although I agree with him that all the Brett Favre news is on way overkill, calm down there buddy. I don't even know why ESPN put him on there, but we ask ourselves that question anytime we see him up on our TV screens. He should stick to the basketball department.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Home Run Derby Field Set

Aside from ESPN and Chris Berman making the Home Run Derby ridiculously hard to watch (back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back [getting annoying?], back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back), one of my favorite events is the Home Run Derby (Monday, 8 PM EST, ESPN). The field was set today, here are the competitors:

Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (14 home runs)
Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians (23)
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (16)
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (21)
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (25)
Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins (23)
Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (22)
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (23)

I would love to see Sizemore win (favorite player). All of these guys have a legitimate shot to win this, but I will go ahead and say Berkman will win this.

Twins' Morneau one of eight Home Run Derby competitors [ESPN]
Home Run Derby Discussion [FYI Sports Fans - Forum]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What was he thinking?

Brett Favre picked a bad time to come back from retirement. After just over 4 Months of retirement, Brett now has "the itch" to play again. He announced his comeback yesterday, with a bombshell thrown in there: He doesn't want to play for the Packers. Shortly after that, the Packers issued a statement saying that "if Brett wants to play, he can play on our team as a back up." They also said that he will not be released from the team.

The only other option for Brett is a trade but, unfortunately, the Packers have also said that they will not trade Brett Favre and, there have not been any inquiries from other teams about trades.

This issue is very confusing, not just to me and other sports fans, but also to the Packers front office. Mike McCarthy, Packers head coach said this: "He [Brett] continually, from [June] 21 to July 8, told James Campen that he was not going to play. So that's a pretty important piece of the puzzle." On July 8, Brett Favre told the Packers that he was committed to play.

My opinion on this mess is that the Packers should just let Favre go. Let him go to another team and ruin his legacy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Interview with the president of the FITA

I haven't started publicizing this yet, but as you all know the Beijing Olympics are coming up (8.8.08). I recently did an interview with Uğur Erdener. Mr. Erdener is the president of the International Archery Federation. Here is the contents of the interview (our questions are in bold):

What is your favorite thing about working for the International Archery Federation?
I find it particularly enjoyable to work with our professional and volunteer personnel on formulating plans for the growth and development of FITA and archery into the future. We have to establish the essential elements of our sport and work to enhance the nature of our competitions and the public's awareness of the beauty, excitement, and precision of our sport. These plans can encompass an action for next week or more likely our 5-year development plan. FITA's development plan is a serious effort to raise the public's awareness of archery, to solidify our Olympic position, and to develop the sponsorship necessary to achieve these goals and for new goals beyond our current 5-year plan.

How important are the Olympic games to the sport of archery?
In a word, VERY. The Olympics provide archery with its greatest exposure to the viewing public. This is the means by which we can reach even greater numbers of viewers and therefore also reach greater numbers of potential participants. The Olympic Games are the single largest or greatest series of sporting events in the world. For archery to be a part of this is a great honor and a great opportunity. We need to use this Olympic experience as a marketing and development tool to further the aims of FITA in the sporting world. The Olympics provide a unique experience and an opportunity unlike any other.

What are you looking forward to in this years Beijing games?
I fully expect that the archery event at Beijing this year will be our best yet. First of all, we will have a record number of nations participating in the archery competition and this is indicative of the growth and development of high quality archery around the world. This growth is very much in line with one of the primary objectives of the Olympic Movement.
Next, I am very pleased with the cooperation we have achieved between FITA and the Beijing Organizing Committee. Our own staff, especially including our two technical delegates, have worked very diligently, efficiently, and cooperatively with the members of the Organizing Committee responsible for archery. The quality of the people in the organizing committee for archery is very high and very experienced in the archery world and these factors have made our preparations run very smoothly. The Organizing Committee has constructed two very spectator-friendly stadia for archery, and these will greatly enhance the immediacy and intimacy of the spectators with the action on the field.
With all this planning, preparation, and execution of details within the overall plan for our competition, I believe that this year's Olympic archery competition in Beijing will be the best ever, drawing more media and spectator interest, and providing a springboard for future growth and development of our sport.

I'd like to thank Mr. Erdener for his time and for taking part in this interview.

Hopefully there will be some more to come leading up to the Olympics!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Breakfast at Wimbledon

The men's Wimbledon Final is taking place right now between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Nadal is currently up two sets to love (6, 4; 6, 4).

I'm not that all into tennis, but I do know that Nadal is in complete control and hitting some great shots. He's been getting to some hard returns by Federer (he hit one turned around on his backhand) and his defensive play has been amazing. If he can control the tempo of the match (which he has been doing) then he has a very good chance to knock the 5-time champ Federer.

As for Roger, the problem for him has been his shot accuracy, making a lot of un-Federer like shots that miss long and to the side. He just needs to get back to playing the same type of dominating tennis he played in the earlier rounds.

I think that Federer takes one set from Nadal. Nadal wins and breaks Federer's run at Wimbledon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

On behalf of the Calling the Shots blog and FYI Sports Fans website, I would like to wish you all a safe 4th of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wimbledon Buzz

Normally the Men's side of Wimbledon gets the most buzz because of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, etc, but this year, it's the Women's side of the game that has caught most people eye.

It's been the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus. In my opinion this has been one of the greatest things for womens tennis in the past couple of years.

Even with the stars knocked out in the early stages, like Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic, they still have the sisters to fall back on and keep Wimbledon to a great excitement level for fans. We've all seen it before but not in some recent time, we know we want to see Venus and Serena play each other in the finals, and with both of them in the semifinal matches there is a very good chance we could see that again.

Not only is it good for tennis, it's good for the future of American tennis. We have no -kova's or -pova's or -vic's. The Williams sisters give us something to cheer about for American tennis. And with them being the only American's left on both sides, and with no men reaching the final 16, and United States women not up to standards, that's what tennis fans need.

I'll be going up north to the great place of Higgins Lake, Michigan (hold out your left hand; it's right below the bottom of your middle finger). So no posts from me today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My All-Star ballot

Internet problems have delayed my posting the past couple of...hours. But with All-Star balloting closing, here is who I have voted for.

(Edit, that didn't turn out the way I hoped.)

While I'm here I guess I will explain my reasoning behind all of my picks. Stats are from before Tuesday (the 2nd) night's games.


1B - Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (.314, 12, 63)

I know a lot of people are taking the Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis over Morneau, but Youk only has one more homer than Justin, and Morneau leads all AL first basemen in batting average and runs batted in.
Probable starter: Youkilis

2B - Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers (.324, 13, 50, 23 SB)
People can make the argument the Brain Roberts is better than Kinsler right now, but I don't see it that way. Roberts does have better defense but the All-Star game is basically about numbers. Kinsler is first in average, first in home runs, first in RBIs, and first in stolen bases among all AL second basemen.
Probable starter: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

3B - Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (.316, 16, 44)
A couple of weeks ago I would have picked Joe Crede of the Chicago White Sox over A-Rod, but the recent Madonna rumors have sprung me to vote for the Yankees third basemen (just kidding). Of course he's not off to the ridiculous start he had last year, but his numbers are still good enough to earn my vote. First in all AL hot corner representatives in average, home runs (tied), not to mention second in steals.
Probable starter: Rodriguez

SS - Michael Young, Texas Rangers (.287, 7, 44)
Young is always the lone Ranger representative in the All-Star Game, except for this year. Even with some teammates joining him on the team, he is still quietly putting up and excellent season with the team from Arlington. His .287 average is good enough for first among all AL shortstops and is also first in RBIs while second in home runs.
Probable starter: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

C - Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (.323, 3, 34)
While the power numbers aren't there, the second part of the "M&M" duo in Minnesota is still putting up consistent numbers at the catcher position. The .323 average is sixth in the majors and he leads all AL catchers in RBIs. No brainer, Mauer is the man.
Probable starter: Mauer

OF1 - Milton Bradley, Texas Rangers (.321, 16, 49)
As with his teammate Josh Hamilton, the story of Milton Bradley this season has been remarkable. Who would have thought the blow-up king of the MLB would be leading AL outfielders in average? Bradley is also tied for fourth in home runs among AL outfielders and ninth in RBIs.

OF2 - Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (.308, 19, 80)
You can't say enough of what Mr. Hamilton has done in a Rangers uniform. He is a legitimate triple crown threat, within the top 10 of all American League players in batting average, in the top 10 in the majors in home runs, and leads everybody in RBIs. I'd call that an All-Star first half.

OF3 - Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox (.284, 19, 61)
It's a shame this man isn't in the ballot (you have to write him in), because he really is putting up a great season so far for the south siders. He is hitting for average and also has the power numbers to back it up, tied for first in home runs and tied for 3rd in RBIs. While it may take some extra typing to vote for him, definitely do.
Probable starters: Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners

DH - Aubrey Huff, Baltimore Orioles (.277, 14, 47)
It looks like David Ortiz will be the starter here, but he's not even playing. The dark horse here is Huff. When you look at it, Huff has better numbers than Big Papi and the best numbers of all the designated hitters. His .277 BA is good enough for 4th of all DHs and has the most RBIs and second most home runs of all DHs.
Probable starter: Ortiz


1B - Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (.361, 22, 68)

I don't know which one is the easier pick, Berkman, or Chase Utley. Berkman's stats do all the talking, second in the majors in batting average, third in home runs, and tied for second in RBIs. Rumors also say he will take part in the Home Run Derby, which I think he has a good shot to win.
Probable starter: Berkman

2B - Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (.298, 23, 65)
My first half National League MVP, Utley is certainly following in the footsteps of previous MVP winners Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. While Dan Uggla has been a nice surprise for the Florida Marlins, Utley's numbers are second to none, first among all second basemen in average, home runs, and RBIs.
Probable starter: Utley

3B - Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves (.393, 16, 46)
.393. .393!!! That is a ridiculous stat which itself puts Chipper into the All-Star Game. Along with the best batting average in the big leagues, he is second in all NL third basemen in home runs and sixth in RBIs. We'll see if his injury bug holds up just enough so he can start in the Midsummer Classic.
Probable starter: Jones

SS - Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins (.298, 20, 41)
Certainly the cream of the crop of all shortstop in the NL, Ramirez has had an excellent season so far for the contending Marlins. While he is sixth among all NL shortstops in average, he has had the 4th most at bats and guys ahead of him like Rafael Furcal, Jack Wilson, and Jeff Keppinger, who all have under 180. He packs a lot of punch, first in SS home runs, and second in RBIs.
Probable starter: Ramirez

C - Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves (.298, 14, 45)
This was a hard one, as it is a toss up between Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto and McCann. Either one would do, but McCann's power numbers have me favor him over Soto. Third in all NL catchers in batting average, first in HRs, and third in RBIs.
Probable starter: Soto

OF1 - Carlos Lee, Houston Astros (.287, 18, 64)
As always, Lee is putting up a very good season with the Astros. 13th in average, fourth in home runs, and first in RBIs among all NL outfielders is good enough for an All-Star start. There could be many arguments for guys like Nate McLouth (Pittsburgh Pirates), Pat Burrell (Phillies), and Matt Holliday (Colorado Rockies), but Lee, in my opinion, has put together the better all-around season so far.

OF2 - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (.278, 20, 58)
A late charge in the ballot race has Braun close to Kosuke Fukudome for the third outfield spot. He deserves that spot. Tied for first in all NL outfielders in homers and second in RBIs. The average is at a respectable spot, but still good enough to earn a starting spot.

OF3 - Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals (.284, 16, 56)
This one was the toughest choice for me. I considered taking McLouth for this spot, but after reviewing the numbers Ludwick was the way to go. His .284 average is higher than Braun's and he has put up some good power numbers, 7th in home runs and 3rd in RBIs among all NL outfielders.
Probable starters: Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs
Ken Griffey Jr., Cincinnati Reds

Of course all of these picks are debatable, but that's what the ballots are all about.

Hopefully I have something about NHL free-agency Days 1 and 2 later on tonight.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Big Weekend

So I go away for a couple of days and a whole bunch of stuff happens that I don't know about.

* One of the main issues of the weekend was the "no-hitter that wasn't." Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (we'll call them the LA Angels) tossed six innings of no-hit ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers while reliever Jose Arredondo added two more no-hit innings.

The Angels lost 1-0. Two errors cost them.

The issue here is whether the Angels should get credited with a no-hitter in the record books. They didn't get credited with the no-no because it was no completed in a full 9 innings, they only pitched 8. And since the Angels were the visiting team, Arredondo or whoever the Angels might have sent out there didn't get a chance to pitch.

I am on the fence with this one. I want to call it a no-hitter, but because they only pitched eight innings is why I can't. There has been a couple situations of where this has happened, Silver King in 1890 (way, way back), Andy Hawkins in 1990, and most recently Matt Young in 1992.

Either way, it is still a pretty rare occasion, but still a big L in the win-loss column.

* Floyd Landis, aka, I'm-a-fricking-dumb-cyclist-who-thinks-it's-cool-to-cheat-during-the -biggest-bike-race-ever-and-ruin-the-reputation-of-my-sport, lost his 2006 Tour de France crown and will (again) venture into our minds as an irrelevant athlete (I can't even call him an athlete anymore.) Here's part of the story:

A three-person panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a previous panel's decision, ruling his positive doping test during the Tour two years ago was, indeed, valid. Landis also must pay $100,000 toward the legal fees of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

"I am saddened by today's decision," Landis said in a statement. "I am looking into my legal options and deciding on the best way to proceed."

He has 30 days to appeal to the Swiss Federal Court.

In its 58-page decision, the panel at sports' highest court said the lab that analyzed Landis' positive test results used some "less than ideal laboratory practices, but not lies, fraud, forgery or cover-ups," the way the Landis camp had alleged.

In the end, the panel saved its harshest criticism for Landis, who it said essentially tried to muddle the evidence and embarrass the French lab, and continued on that course even after the evidence was shown not to exist.

"Appelant's experts crossed the line, acting for the most part as advocates for the Appelant's cause, and not as scientists objectively assisting the Panel in the search for truth," the decision read.

The decision comes just six days before the start of the 2008 Tour. Landis won the 2006 edition after a stunning comeback in Stage 17, a rally that appears now to be fueled by synthetic testosterone.

Good. Guess that's what cheating gets ya. While I totally agree of Floyd losing his Tour title, I also hate to see this happen to the sport of cycling. I like watching the Tour for the most part and it should be interesting seeing who wins this years event.

* Spain won the UEFA EURO 2008 championship, defeating Germany. Xavi was named the best player, and boy, do the Spanish know how to party. I mean, only one person DIED and 52 arrests were made in the post game celebration.

(Edit: I can't find video, I guess you'll just have to imagine it.)

* They are tearing down Tiger Stadium today. I'm not going to get all teary about it, but it certainly is a sad day in Detroit as the stadium on the Corner is a big part of the history of Detroit sports.

Seats from the old ballpark were available to the public and I was fortunate to grab some (well, my dad was). They're sitting in my basement right now. Here's the Detroit News article on it (LINK).

That's all for now. Tomorrow (or maybe later tonight) I'll post my All-Star ballot and some other stuff so stay tuned.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Gone for the weekend

You're stuck with Z-man for the weekend, because I won't have a computer anywhere near me in a camp site, unless they have WiFi. But I doubt it.

Actually, Zak is away makin' it rain or watching that practice (which may or may not be one of his plans to make a profit this summer) for Senior Week. So...this site may be vacant for the weekend, but I'll try and fix that. Maybe another FYI staff member will help us out.

The big story of the day is ESPNs crap program they put out for all of us last night during the NBA draft.

Stuart Scott is, and was, horrible last night with many errors, like, you know, saying Eric Gordon went to Illinois and constantly reminding us that there were in fact many freshman picked in the first round. May we remind you that the NBA has an age limit.

Jeff Van Gundy made sure every Exec. felt good afterwards by assuring that every pick was a great one and it should turn out just fine. He was too nice. Not every pick was great. Ask New York fans (you heard the boos), and there were some other questionable choices (DJ Augustin to Charlotte when Raymond Felton is running the show?)

Jay Bilas was great as usual and was the only one of the talking heads up there that was actually knowledgeable.

I didn't really have a problem with Stephen A. Smith but some of the repeated questions got annoying.

Let's rally for TNT to host the draft instead of ESPN.

I'm not very good when it comes to the NBA so sorry for the lack of writing on this post, just wanted to share my opinion on the whole ordeal.

'Don't BILL-shit Me'

To begin things, if you do not understand my title then extend your ten second attention span and read the rest of this entry. Today, Marshawn Lynch of the Buffalo Bills had his license revoked in court because he hit someone while driving last month and DID NOT REALIZE IT. That is where my title pun comes in, creative, yes I know. According to judge Thomas Gagola, Lynch "constituted a reckless disregard of human life or property." Let me remind you, this was a little past 3 a.m. when Lynch hit a woman in his Porsche Cayenne and simply kept on going.

Lynch claims that it was raining very hard and that the pedestrian was "dancing in the street." Supposedly, he had slowed down to let her cross and kept on going without realizing he had hit her.

The suspension of the license was for an unstated amount of time. Way to go Marshawn, setting a great example for young drivers!

We now know what fuels Shawn Chacon's fire

Shawn Chacon will not be pitching for the Astros anytime soon. He was released by the club after an altercation that all of you pretty much know about by now.

Maybe the Yankees will pick him up, seems like something they would do.

Now, some beautiful artwork.

EDIT: That's awful.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Todd Jones just wants to have fun - and disturb us in the process

From MLive:

About an hour into Wednesday night's rain delay, closer Todd Jones emerged from the Tigers' dugout, dressed as Magglio Ordonez, uniform and wig included.

Jones picked up a bat and strolled onto the tarp. Then, after mimicking Ordonez's pre-at-bat routine, he sent an imaginary pitch over the wall, jogging the bases in a similar style to Ordonez's trot after his game-winning home run during Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS.

Jones stuck one arm in the air as he ran to first and later slapped the hand of an imaginary third base coach -- all to the delight of several thousand drenched fans.

Here in Motown we call him the rollercoaster, but if he can do this and close out ballgames like early this morning, it's alright with me.

Check out the vid:

The blog formerly known as The Gun Show (sorta)

We're lookin' for a new start. And like the Tampa Bay Rays, we're hoping that a new name can help us out here.

So this blog is now called Calling the Shots. The name comes from Zak, oh, excuse me, "The Profit- Z", his old blog on AOL which he no longer runs (does that make me "The Revenue- N? I don't think so.) I don't know what point I am getting to, I guess just letting you guys know we are still apart of a site called FYI Sports Fans, which is currently being worked on but you can check out the forum at Anyway, enough of that.

* About an hour ago Jermaine O'Neal was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Some noise before the draft tomorrow night?

* Speaking of draft, Pat Riley has implied that they are probably going to skip over Michael Beasley with the No. 2 pick (assuming that Chicago takes Derrick Rose, which they will). I think he's out of his mind, Beasley is Elton Brand and then some, but it may just be a ploy and hopefully they do take him. You can't pass up a talent like that, no matter how bad you need a point guard to compliment Dwayne Wade.

* Fresno State won the College World Series yesterday (it's 1:00 am). To me, this needs to be publicized more. Yeah yeah, college baseball isn't as popular as the other college sports, but this "postseason" I guess has been nothing short of amazing and what Fresno has done is unbelievable. As I said in an earlier post, a No. 4 seed is like the equivalent of a 13-16 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. We know how big a Cinderella like that is, well the shoe fit tonight with Fresno. Congratulations.

* Germany ousted Turkey's run in EURO 2008 today, winning 3-2. And because of a power failure, none of us were able to see it.

* Gary Sheffield just won the game for the Tigers. Slowly crawling up to .500 and this is a big win considering they waited out a 2-hour rain delay and won it in this fashion.

Pic from Wimbledon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sundin in Florida?

Aside from the Stanley Cup Final, the NHL is now entering my favorite part of the year: free agency. Perhaps the craziest day in hockey is July 1, when free agents can start signing with teams.

Last year brought many big signings. New York got Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. Philadelphia nabbed Daniel Briere, while Detroit bolstered its defense by signing Brian Rafalski.

This years bundle also has some big names like Marian Hossa, Kristian Huselius, Brad Stuart, Sean Avery, and Ryan Malone. But this years big kahuna is center Mats Sundin.

Many teams are in contention to sign the 37-year-old star, most notably the Montreal Canadiens. I have also read that the Florida Panthers may be a dark horse in the race, with some courting by former teammate Wade Belak.

Montreal GM Bob Gainey is supposedly heading to Sweden to meet with Sundin and try and get him to go to Montreal. Sure, why pass up the sun and beaches of Miami and live in Montreal? OK, that was stupid, I'd rather play in Montreal.

I'll have more on this later hopefully, I just wanted to get something up here after getting home.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Couple of things

The plane from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport takes off at 5, and I have to be out of here in half an hour, so I'm using my time to make this post.

* Three big league managers were fired this week: Willie Randolph (New York Mets), John McLaren (Seattle Mariners), and most recently, John Gibbons (Toronto Blue Jays). For each of those skippers, er, former skippers, playoff aspirations were within reach. Didn't happen. Each of these were understandable because to put it bluntly they did not do their job.

I do have a problem (as many people do) with the Randolph firing. The way they did it was classless and gutless. I'm sure by now you know what happened and I don't need to reiterate it, but it bugs me how Omar Minaya did it in that fashion. Jerry Manuel is the interim manager. I do not think that the Mets will make the playoffs this season, the Phillies offense will carry them to the division title and the other teams in the National League (Cardinals, Brewers, even the Marlins) will have a better chance to compete for the Wild Card position. Unless Manuel can restore order in that clubhouse, I don't see it happening.

John McLaren's team has been the most disappointing for me (next to the Tigers). As of now they own the worst record in the big leagues (26-47) and had some big expectations at the beginning of the season. I picked them to win the American League West. Now the Erik Bedard trade looks like the Orioles got the better of it and the pitching staff is one of the worst in the league, sporting a 4.65 ERA. Jim Riggleman takes over for the Mariners. Honestly, I have no idea who that is so I know nothing about this replacement. Good luck.

Cito Gaston takes over for the Blue Jays. He led the Blue Jays to two World Series wins back in 1992 and 1993, so this has potential. The Jays are 10 1/2 behind the AL East leading Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays are ahead of them. As with the Mets and Mariners, this team had big expectations for this year and so far have failed to live up to them, digging deeper and deeper with every game. The pitching staff is phenomenal, it's the offense that needs work. They are 10th in the AL with a .257 batting average, next to last in home runs, and last in slugging. The only thing I can get of is beg and plead Bud Selig to get them out of the East, but I don't see that happening.

* The NHL Entry Draft was last night in Ottawa, and Tampa Bay bolstered their offense by taking forward Steven Stamkos with the number one overall pick out of Sarnia. Stamkos will play alongside former number one pick Vincent Lecavalier, forming a 1-2 punch that should be deadly for years to come. Here's how the Top 10 rounded out:

1. Tampa Bay -- Steven Stamkos, c, Sarnia (OHL)
2. Los Angeles -- Drew Doughty, d, Guelph (OHL)

3. Atlanta -- Zach Bogosian, d, Peterborough (OHL)
4. St. Louis -- Alex Pietrangelo, d, Niagara (OHL)

5. Toronto (from NY Islanders) -- Luke Schenn, D, Kelowna (WHL)

6. Columbus -- Nikita Filatov, lw, CSKA 2 (Russia)
7. Nashville (from NY Islanders via Toronto) -- Colin Wilson, c, Boston University (Hockey East)

8. Phoenix -- Mikkel Boedker, lw, Kitchener (OHL)

9. NY Islanders (from Nashville via Florida) -- Josh Bailey, c, Windsor (OHL)

10. Vancouver -- Cody Hodgson, c, Brampton (OHL)

Obviously I like the Stamkos pick, but some other picks I liked were Toronto's pick of Luke Schenn and Boedker of Phoenix. My Red Wings took Thomas McCollum, a goalie, with the 30th pick. Looks like our goalie of the future is this guy, or Jimmy Howard.

There were many trades too. Ollie Jokinen went to Phoenix for two defensemen, which further makes me love what Phoenix did yesterday. The Flames made some moves, trading away center Alex Tanguay to the Montreal Canadiens, then basically filled Tanguay's spot by picking up Michael Cammalleri from the Kings in a three-team trade.

* Curt Schilling's career may be over. He announced that he is having season ending surgery that might force him to hang up the cleats. Should have listened to the doc, eh? Anywho, like most people, I will remember the bloody sock and his amazing playoff performances, and I think he deserves a shrine in Cooperstown.

* The EURO 2008 tournament has been a great one. Turkey has had some excellent come from behind victories and will face Germany in the semifinals. The other semifinal match will be determined today, as Holland takes on Russia and Spain will play Italy.

I think Turkey's run ends as Germany will take them down off a Ballack goal (he's been on a tear). The Dutch will defeat Russia today and Italy will take down Spain. That will set up a rematch of the "Group of Death" game and I think the Netherlands momentum will carry them to the title game to play Germany.

I can't pick against the Dutch right now, so I am going to say the Netherlands will win it all after a 3-2 win.

EDIT: As soon as I get home tonight, I learn the Dutch lose. I was wrong. Screw it.