Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Posts Tagged ‘Major League Baseball’

Home Runs and All Stars

Posted by mizzou1028 on July 15, 2008

I have to give a tip of the cap to Josh Hamilton for his performance last night in the Home Run Derby.  I have generally thought in recent years the event has lost some of its luster compared to what it was in the late 90s, but last night Hamilton had me hooked.  It wasn’t just his 28 home runs in the first round, it wasn’t just that he set a single round record, it was the way it was happening.  Three of his blasts were over 500 feet, and as each home run was hit the event became more of the spectacle I used to remember.  The way the Yankee Stadium crowd was behind him only added to the aura. 

Watching Hamilton last night brought back memories of the Home Run Derby I was fortunate to attend at Coors Field in 1998.  At that time the big names would all participate, great home run hitters like Griffey and McGwire.  That was of course the season Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs, and while his derby performance was unimpressive overall (four home runs and a quick first round exit, although one was over 500 feet) it was the workout portion of the day that stood out for me.  I remember standing on the walkway above the left field bleachers amongst a packed crowd, watching McGwire and others hit ball after ball up onto and beyond the walkway.  I remember balls hitting off the scoreboard, flying into concession stands, one clearing the wall entirely into the parking lot beyond.  Perhaps most vividly and even comically, I remember seeing a full cup of beer fly into the air while a fan tried to catch one of the balls (he didn’t).  For a variety of seasons it seemed as though the event had started to decline in popularity and excitement.  Maybe it was because we were disgusted that steroids likely played a role in the colossal blasts of the late 90s and early 2000s, perhaps it was because more and more often the biggest stars would back out (see Alex Rodriguez last night in front of his home fans no less).  Hamilton’s effort last night reminded me of that day because for the first time in several years of Home Run Derbys there seemed to be something to get excited about.  It seemed as the participants were actually into the event and truly were enjoying being involved, actually giving the crowd their moneys worth.  Perhaps the only unfortunate thing was that Hamilton didn’t win, losing to the Twins’ Justin Morneau in the finals perhaps due to fatigue from his first round show.  It turns out this event did not need A-Rod, and maybe it was he who missed out by declining participation in his home ballpark.

The Home Run Derby is of course a prelude to the All-Star Game, which will take place tonight.  It will of course be the final one at fabled Yankee Stadium, so that adds to the lure of the game.  There is a certain amount of irony that the American League will be managed by Terry Francona of the hated Red Sox, a reward for Boston winning the World Series last year, and that three members of the hated Red Sox will be in the starting lineup for the “home” American League.  It is also somewhat ironic that the NL will be managed by the Rockies’ Clint Hurdle, by virtue of the Rockies’ World Series appearance last year.  As bad a season as the Rockies have had, it seems somewhat odd to see Hurdle managing the National League in this event.  Regardless of this, the MLB All-Star Game is clearly the best in sports.  It is the only one where the players actually seem interested in winning the game, quite the contrast to the Pro Bowl where everyone wants to be selected to the game but no one wants to play.  The players will play hard, unlike the NBA where defense is optional anyway especially in an  all-star game, and unlike the NHL where the midseason exhibition has more scoring but lacks the hitting and physical play.  While I’m not exactly a fan of the World Series being influenced by an exhibition (the league that wins tonight will have home field advantage for the World Series), it definitely adds to the event that both teams will try to win. 

As a side note, I am intrigued by tonight’s starting pitchers, the Indians’ Cliff Lee for the AL and Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets for the NL.  If I was making the pick, I think it should be the Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay for the AL and San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum for the NL.  Of course, every pitcher that has been selected to the game is worthy of being there, and it is hard to argue against Lee or Sheets.  I am just hoping the National League can actually win one of these: the AL has won every one of these since 1996, not including the infamous tie in 2002.  Regardless, the MLB All-Star Game is always a fun event and a must see.

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The Best Place in Sports

Posted by mizzou1028 on June 3, 2008

Over the years I have had the opportunity to witness games in a variety of stadiums around the country.  Granted, there are many that I have not been to, but I have been to quite a few.  Of all the places I have watched a game, not one of them comes even close to matching the experience at Wrigley Field.  Last weekend I had the privilege of attending my sixth game in what is known as the friendly confines, and it was every bit as special as the first one 10 years ago.  This despite the fact that my Rockies managed to lose their sixth straight and looked nothing like the NL champions from a year ago. 

Wrigley Field has been around since 1914, so that alone makes it unique on the sports landscape amidst all the luxury boxes and club level seating and suites that adorn the sports landscape today.  Among the features of this venerable park are the manual operated scoreboard above the center field bleachers.  Just the sight of this scoreboard makes me realize I am in baseball heaven.  The linescore of every game is on the board, so fans won’t miss a thing going on around baseball.  Above the scoreboard one will find a flag representing every team in the National League, arranged in order of the current standings.  After the game, these are replaced with a “W” or “L” depending on the fate of the Cubs of that day.  The outfield walls are lined with ivy, another feature unique to the park and one that makes it the most beautiful outfield in the Major Leagues.  Then there is the fact that every seat, even in the nosebleed sections, is close to the action, giving the ballpark an intimate feel, hence the name friendly confines. 

During the game fans aren’t subjected to annoying jukebox promotions, scoreboard races featuring trash trucks or who knows what, or any of the extra fluff that takes away from the fact you’re at a baseball game.  The only music comes from the organist, and particularly during a day game adds to the charm of the experience.  The place is a shrine to baseball, and there is nothing extra curricular going on to take you away from the game you’re there to see.  The seventh inning stretch rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame is without a doubt the best in baseball, for it is still the only place I’ve been to where 40,000 people actually join in and sing.  The fans are also always into the game, with one of the more notable behaviors being the throwing back of opposing team home run balls onto the field. 

It’s not just the inside of the ballpark that makes Wrigley special.  The old neighborhood around Wrigley adds to the ballpark’s charm.  Take a pregame walk outside and you’ll find more sports bars than you’ve ever seen in your life, many with creative signage to lend support to the Cubs or promote fan spirit.  A walk around the outside of Wrigley Field also allows fans to really take in the unique charm of the ballpark.  Fans driving by or walking on Waveland or Sheffield Avenues can easily see the manual scoreboard and peak into the ballpark.  The home plate entrance features the signature red sign “Wrigley Field Home of Chicago Cubs.”  Everything from the vendors selling t-shirts to the statues of Ernie Banks and Harry Caray screams baseball.  Throw in the fact that the Cubs are one of the most loveable teams in baseball, a team virtually everyone wants to see do well since they haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and you have a truly unique baseball gameday atmosphere. 

To be frank, my descriptions here really can’t do it justice.  If you’ve been to Wrigley, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, you need to go.  Immediately.  No sooner had i sat down in my seat on Saturday and looked around, taking in the atmosphere, did I think about when I could get back, and that was BEFORE they had even announced the starting lineups.  Wrigley Field is baseball as it should be, and that’s reason enough to rank it the top stadium in sports.  Frankly it’s not even close. 

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More Random Thoughts

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 12, 2008

Sometimes I wonder if the national networks realize there are other baseball teams we might want to watch besides the Red Sox and the Yankees.  ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball game last night featured the Red Sox and the Twins, which is fine, it’s a good matchup.  Thing is, ESPN is showing that matchup AGAIN this evening, despite several other good games on the schedule.  It is not in any way a shock that next week’s Sunday night game will feature the Yankees and Mets.  The TBS Sunday afternoon schedule has been similar so far.  Of the first eight games on their schedule in April and May, five involve either Boston or the Yankees.  It is fairly obvious why the networks like big market teams, among the chief reasons being that a game involving two large market clubs is likely to garner a larger audience and therefore more advertising dollars.  Still, it seems appalling to me that my Colorado Rockies have been shown on national TV exactly ZERO times so far this year the season following a World Series appearance.  Now, clearly their start this season hasn’t been worthy of much national air time, but a World Series appearance should guarantee at least some national exposure during the first month of the following season.  With the exception of one Saturday regional broadcast on Fox that was shown to less than a third of the country, the Rockies have not been shown any respect by the national MLB broadcast partners, while they continue to shove the same teams down our throat every week.  I realize that some teams have more sex appeal than others, and it goes without saying that certain teams will receive more exposure than others.  That being said, as a true fan of the game I want to see the best teams, not the ones with the most tradition or star power.  It might surprise you who has the best record in the National League right now.  I’ll give you a hint, it’s a franchise that’s won two World Series since 1997, but they’ve also had exactly zero national tv appearances this year and aren’t scheduled for any in the future.  Go ahead and guess, I’ll wait.

The answer would be the Florida Marlins, who are 23-14 and have a three game lead in the NL East, better than the mighty Mets, Phillies and Braves, all of whom are loaded with national TV appearances this year.  Now, as a fan of the game, I just might want to actually watch a Marlins game once in awhile if they really are that good.  Thing is, I have no idea because I haven’t had a chance to see them.  Yet I’ve been saddled with a number of games involving the Detroit Tigers, who made a big splash in terms of offseason spending and currently sit in last place in the AL Central, behind the mighty Kansas City Royals.  It might also surprise you to learn that Tampa Bay is 21-16, only a game and a half behind Boston in the AL East.  Or how about the Oakland A’s, pretty much coming out of nowhere to lead the AL West at 23-16?  Again, I don’t know much about either team except for the stats that I see because they’re never on TV either.  It was quite amusing actually to watch the national announcers embarrass themselves last October trying to announce the Rockies’ games as they made their run to the World Series.  It was clear some of them weren’t at all prepared and hadn’t watched the team play all year, even though they proved to be a legit playoff team.  It will be amusing if the networks find themselves in the same position again this year.  I just wish the networks would vary the teams they show on occasion.  I would imagine most fans would agree they don’t always want to be stuck watching the same teams every night.

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ESPN.com has released it’s NFL power rankings based on where they feel the teams currently stand after the draft and other acquisitions.  I find it inexcusable that the Giants are down to number six after they won the Super Bowl.  To me, they should be number one at least until they play a real game in September, unless they were to completely blow up the roster, which they haven’t.  It also interesting they have the Colts at number two, ahead of the Chargers at three, even though the Chargers beat the Colts on the road in the playoffs last year.  Strangely enough, I’m not that surprised they have my Broncos at 23, because on paper it does seem like there are questions regarding multiple parts of the roster.  Many national folks don’t seem to be big fans of the team’s draft, although i think they did a good job filling roster needs, even if it’s impossible to actually evaluate the draft until these guys have played multiple seasons.  Frankly, the power rankings are fun to talk about, particularly for someone like me who is constantly in football withdrawal during the offseason, but they really mean nothing.  There will be several teams that will end up better than advertised and there will be several that will be worse than advertised.  Still, it does provide for some interesting discussion, nothing more. 

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UGH!

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 28, 2008

This has been as bad a sports weekend for the teams that I follow as I can remember.  This does not take into account the Broncos draft, which I am actually fairly pleased with (more on that later – but it might have to be in a future post).  The events in the Denver sports landscape this weekend might not really stand out on an individual basis (think the Broncos’ loss to Jacksonville in the playoffs in January ’97 – none of these single events, or even as a group, come close to comparing to THAT debacle).  That being said, it cannot be argued that anything went even remotely right this weekend for the Rockies, the Nuggets or the Avalanche. 

The Rockies have not had a great April.  Of course, they had an awful April last season and made the World Series, so it’s way too early to hit the panic button.  However, this team has now lost 7 of 8 after getting swept by the Dodgers in LA this weekend.  On Friday night starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t even make it out of the third inning in a game where the Rockies’ offense had given him four runs of support in that time frame.  The Rockies eventually lost the game in 13 innings after many failed opportunities offensively (including Matt Holliday hitting into an inning ending double play with two runners in scoring position in the 9th).  On Saturday Mark Redman got lit up for TEN runs in the first inning!  Imagine walking into a bowling alley, thinking to yourself that it’s a  nice bonus that TVs everywhere you look are showing the game while you’re going to bowl, then seeing a Dodger grand slam sail into the night sky the first time you look at the screen.  That’s a glimpse of my Saturday night.  The second time I looked at the screen I saw it was still the bottom of the 1st and the Dodgers had already put up a 10 spot.  Needless to say I wanted to throw up.  Then there was today’s game.   Jeff Francis pitched extremely well, surrendering just two runs in seven innings while striking out six, and the Rockies had chances to win.  Thing is, the offense never capitalized.  In a 2-2 game, Troy Tulowitzki continued his struggles (batting a whopping .157 – OUCH) by grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in the 8th, and then the Rockies left runners at 2nd at 3rd in the 10th.  Enter Manny Corpas, who was given a contract extension in the offseason after doing a great job in the closer role last year.  He has lost it this season after blowing four saves already.  Corpas actually pitched a scoreless ninth today after giving up two singles, so it wasn’t entirely unreasonable for Clint Hurdle to leave him in there for the 10th.  This proved to be a bad idea: a four pitch walk to Rafael Furcal, a walk to Mark Sweeney (who has exactly 0 RBIs and is batting a horrid .063 this season), then runners at 2nd and 3rd after a sac bunt.  After Hurdle elected to intentionally walk the red hot hitting Russell Martin to load the bases, Corpas could have redeemed himself with a double play groundout.  Nope, he gave up a sharp single to James Loney, and the Rockies got swept.  Now, a 10-15 record is certainly no reason to hit the panic button especially after last year, but right now they can’t even see the taillights of the division leading Diamondbacks.  It’s no coincidence Arizona made a big offseason splash in adding elite starter Dan Haren, while the Rockies made no big moves to the roster.  Granted, the Rockies did spend some money to keep their own players, including Tulowitzki (who will rebound).  Still, it seems like maybe they stood and watched while other teams around them got better.  To be fair, they’ve been on the road much more often than they’ve been at Coors Field, and that 22 inning marathon in San Diego can’t have helped.  Maybe a friendlier May schedule will be the catalyst for a turnaround.

As for the Nuggets, I feel bad saying this but I really don’t care to watch Monday night.  There were times this season where this team had really re-awakened by NBA interest.  They have the ability to compete with anyone in the league, and a 50 win season is an impressive accomplishment.  As tough and competitive as the Western Conference is, I really thought it didn’t matter where anyone was seeded because all eight teams were good.  It is clear though that this team will never win when it counts unless major changes are made.  The Nuggets have given three lackluster performances against the Lakers in this playoff series.  Check that, lackluster may be a kind way to describe game three at the Pepsi Center.  There is no reason for Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson to go 10 for 38 from the floor in a playoff game, many of the shots from point blank range.  The players’ body language says this series has been long over, right from the technical fouls  Iverson took in game one due to frustration.  From what I have seen, there are only three players who have consistently played hard in this series: Linas Kleiza, Eduardo Najera and J.R. Smith.  It is not a coincidence that Nuggets have held up best when these guys have been on the floor, even if that’s not saying much.  Anthony has given absolutely no effort whatsoever on the defensive end, and while Iverson has shown up offensively for the most part, his defense hasn’t been much better than Anthony’s.  There is a reason why Anthony’s draft class mates LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have both reached the NBA Finals while Anthony has never made it out of the first round.  They are leaders, and he is not, pure and simple.  Anthony has never understood that being a complete player means giving full effort in all areas, including the defensive end.  I’m wondering if it’s time to chuck out Anthony, let Iverson finish his career with a true contender, and try to put the team’s resources into building a true winner.  For the Nuggets to have the kind of payroll invested that they do, they need more results than an annual first round exit.  The Nuggets are missing a true veteran leader who can bring the talent together, a guy who does not constantly need the ball in his hands to succeed, someone who can lead by example.  It is clear that the Anthony-Iverson experiment isn’t working.  Both guys continually need the ball, and while they both get their points, their presence together has not led to the same results as other top duos in the league.  Or better yet, think of the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili trio in San Antonio.  The Spurs have stockpiled championships because these stars can all play together and each understands his role.  Maybe it’s time for the Nuggets to blow up the roster with the exception of Kleiza, Najera and Smith and start over.  They have way too much money tied up in Anthony, Iverson, Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby to settle for these kind of results.  Maybe George Karl isn’t blameless either, but I’m never one to think a new coach will solve anything, especially in the NBA, where the players run the show anyway.  I remember when the Nuggets were 11-71 and a complete embarrassment, so I do appreciate a 50 win season and a playoff appearance.  I also expect some semblance of progress, and this will be the fifth consecutive first round playoff exit, with the Nuggets never winning more than one game in any series.  I know there’s another game left, but it’s clear the chance of the Nuggets winning this series is zero percent.  Let’s just say if I was a season ticket holder, there would be zero percent chance of me renewing my seats for next season unless major changes are made this offseason.

Now, surely Avalanche-Red Wings should be fun right?  For years this was the premiere rivalry in sports.  Not just the NHL, but in sports.  Every playoff series these teams squared off in during the late 90s and early 2000s was extremely intense.  The rivalry had everything: bloody fights, close games, great players on both sides, nasty trash talk and a true hatred among the fans.  In recent years as the Avalanche have faded into relative mediocrity and the NHL has faded into complete obscurity, the rivalry has died.  Despite the fact the Avalanche don’t stack up well with the Wings as a six seed this year, I still couldn’t contain my excitement for this rivalry to be renewed with another playoff meeting.  Surely an intense Avs-Wings series could at least be some small help in getting the NHL back on the mainstream sports landscape right?  How could you not get excited about Sakic, Forsberg and several of the old names squaring off against their nemesis?  Well, that too is short lived.  Forsberg has missed the first two games of the series with an apparent groin injury, and the Avs have been outscored 9-4 in losing the first two games of the series.  Jose Theodore has proved he is no Patrick Roy, having been angrily yanked from the first two games after giving up four goals in each one (all in a total of less than four periods of playing time in the two games).  The Avs look hopelessly outmanned, and while I was not at all familiar with the Wings’ Johan Franzen, I now despise him as much as I despised Darren McCarty in the old days after Franzen has lit the Avs up for five goals in the first two games.  Maybe a return to the Pepsi Center Tuesday will help the Avs, after all this is still a seven game series and the Avs have a chance to even things with a couple of wins at home.  It’s not quite like the Nuggets where the chance is zero percent.  Still, goaltending is what wins playoff series, and Theodore is shaky at best right now.  As great as he was in the first round against Minnesota (and he basically won the series for them) he has been awful in round two.  Will Peter Budaj be in net for game three?  The fact that this is even a question does not bode well for the Avalanche.  One thing in hockey though is that a playoff series can turn on a dime.  It actually happened for the Avs against Detroit in the 1999 second round.  Detroit blasted the Avs in the first two games at old McNichols Sports Arena, only to see Colorado win four straight, including three at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.  The Avalanche can only hope that history will repeat itself this week, and that they don’t end up following the Nuggets by getting unceremoniously broomed out of the playoffs. 

At least the Broncos had what appears to be a good draft.  That discussion will be saved for another time, because it doesn’t seem quite fair to lump that with a depressing weekend of bad sports all the way around.  That is, unless the rest of the weekend is an omen and these guys all prove to be busts in three years.  Hopefully that won’t prove to be the case. 

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An exciting sports time

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 9, 2008

Big game Thursday night for the Nuggets, as they play on the road at the Golden State Warriors.  The Nuggets find themselves in what amounts to a play-in game for the playoffs, tied with Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot in the west, with four games to play for each team.  After Thursday’s head to head meeting, the Nuggets are at Utah and finish with Houston and Memphis at home, certainly not an easy schedule.  The Warriors host the Clippers and Seattle and have a road game at Phoenix.  Connecting the dots leads to the clear conclusion the Nuggets are pretty much toast if they won’t win at Oracle Arena on Thursday.  The Nuggets find themselves in this position because they blew two games they should have won over the weekend to Sacramento and Seattle.    I still maintain they can do some damage if they do manage to get in the playoffs, but they are going to have to shore up their defense, and they can’t take any more nights off.  Ownership has invested too much in this team to see them crumble this way.  Thursday’s game could even go a long way toward determining the future of coach George Karl as well as some members of the team.  There is simply too much talent for them to miss the playoffs, but it’s looking like that could end up happening. 

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For those of you who claim not to be fans of hockey, I recommend you start watching tonight.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs are one of the best experiences in sports.  In hockey, more so than any other sport, there is a tremendous difference between the regular season and the playoffs.  Not to say that the regular season isn’t important, because it is, but the playoffs take on a whole new intensity.  Guys have to practically be on their death bed not to play.  Players are willing to sacrifice everything for their teammates.  I certainly realize that it’s hard to find the channel that carries the games, and it’s hard to find coverage with ESPN shoving highlights way behind the NBA and whatever else they carry on their network.  Just do yourself a favor and watch a game involving Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.  I for one am very excited to see my Avalanche back in the playoffs after a year absence, which could be a good thing as the Nuggets may miss the NBA playoffs.  Seriously though, take a look in at some of the NHL playoff action this year, for it is as exciting as any other time in sports.  I’d like to see any sports fan who actually gives the Stanley Cup Playoffs a chance and still tries to pretend they don’t enjoy watching hockey.  Anyone who would claim that is simply not a fan of sports, period. 

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I am definitely excited for the start of baseball season, especially after the amazing run the Rockies made to reach the World Series last season.  I do find everyone’s expectations for the team amusing however.  Just because they made the World Series last year doesn’t mean they’ll get there every year, or even be assured to be in the mix.  There are a lot of other good teams out there that improved themselves this offseason, including the other contenders in the NL West (Arizona adding Dan Haren, the Dodgers adding Andruw Jones).  That being said, the Rockies do have a lot of talent and should field another competitive team.  It was certainly encouraging to see them invest some payroll to keep guys like Tulowitzki and Corpas this past offseason.  I just hope that when Matt Holliday becomes a free agent in 2009, that the Rockies will make sure they keep him.  Unfortunately with MLB’s economic structure, the odds are Holliday will cash in big with the Yankees or some other big market team.  Here’s hoping that the Rockies will stay committed to keeping this team together and can figure out a way to keep Holliday for the long haul.  He’s already delivered a pair of clutch home runs in this opening homestand alone, and appears to be on track for another great year.  Regardless whether the Rockies make another run at the playoffs or not, this will (hopefully) be a fun team to watch for a number of years, and that makes it much more fun to follow baseball season during the summer.

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Random thoughts

Posted by mizzou1028 on February 14, 2008

Is it me, or there something wrong with the picture of Congress getting involved in steroids and more specifically the investigation of Roger Clemens?  Now, I certainly want to see baseball, and in fact all sports, be played on a even field as much as possible.  There is no doubt that steroid use was at least common if not rampant during the mid-90s and early 2000s in baseball, and there are a number of players who used and will not get caught.  That is a reality of the situation.  I would like to think that efforts have been made in recent years to clean up the game, and to make sure that no one is gaining an unfair advantage.  Particularly in the cases of Bonds and Clemens, it would be unfortuante if records were set while utilizing the advantage of steroids That being said, does it really matter at this point if Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens used steroids a decade ago?  What I’m most concerned with is whether the game is clean now.  It is fair to say that Congress’ involvement in this issue, at least to some degree, has helped MLB clean up its steroid policy.  But really, shouldn’t Congress have better things to worry about?  I couldn’t help but notice while watching some of the hearing involving Clemens that many of the politicans asking questions seemed to be playing to the camera as much as or more than Clemens and Brian McNamee.  Now I realize that one of the biggest reasons for Congress to get involved in this issue is MLB’s antitrust exemption, and they would certainly have an ability to revisit that issue.  I just think Congress should have better things to worry about than MLB and steroids; it’s not like the rest of the problems are solved and there aren’t things where Congress might be better served to spend their time.  It is unfortunate that MLB and the players union couldn’t police themselves, forcing Congress to step in. 

 As as side note, it will be interesting to see how Clemens, as well as Bonds, are affected when their time comes for Hall of Fame consideration.  We’ve already seen the issue adversely affect Mark McGwire, who was thought to be a shoo-in prior to not exactly giving himself a ringing endorsement at a Congressional hearing several years ago.  McGwire has only garnered 25 percent of the vote each of the first two years he’s been eligible.  It will be interesting to see if Bonds and Clemens, or anyone else who may be clouded by this issue, gets the same treatment.  I’m not sure if I believe Clemens or not, just as I’m not sure if anything will ever be proven against Bonds.  The point is that the issue will certainly continue to cloud these players and others. 

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As for some leftover thoughts on the Super Bowl, I think that game really reminded me why I love sports so much.  It’s not just because the underdog won the game, or because it was competitive or even because the Patriots got what many (including me) thought they probably deserved, which was to not be the first team in history to go 19-0.  It’s because of guys like David Tyree.  The Giants receiver had all of FOUR catches during the regular season for a total of 35 yards.  In the regular season meeting between the Giants and Patriots, he caught two passes for three yards.  He did not tally a catch and barely played in the Giants’ playoff wins against Tampa Bay and Dallas.  He caught one pass for four yards in the NFC Championship game against the Packers in the freezing cold at Lambeau.  He had a disastrous practice the Friday before the Super Bowl, with reports of no fewer than six dropped balls.  Yet in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, against a New England team that was on the verge of history, Tyree came up with not only a touchdown catch that put the Giants up 10-7, but also came up with what might ultimately go down as the greatest catch in NFL history, holding the ball against his helmet while Rodney Harrison was viciously trying to rip the ball away.  Not to mention the fact that on the same play Eli Manning escaped from what seemed like three sacks on the play.  Sports is all about guys like Tyree, who can shine under the lights when the pressure is on. 

Tyree’s performance and confidence was a reflection of the team’s attitude heading into the game.  Everyone got all over Plaxico Burress when he predicted his Giants would win 23-17 (which incidentally was much closer than my final score of 34-31, although I was one of the few who actually picked the Giants to win).  It turns out Burress was too generous.  The Giants’ pass rush really has to be commended, as it was clearly the difference in the game.  The Giants were able to do what many teams could not, which was put pressure on Tom Brady.  As the game wore on it became easier and easier to feel that the Giants might actually pull it off.  Even when the Patriots took a 14-10 lead with 2:45 to play, the Giants still showed confidence in their body language.  The poise they showed on that final drive, trailing an undefeated team, in the biggest game of any of their lives, reminded me of why sports is so great.  It makes me want to fast forward to early September so we can get the next football season underway.  Thankfully, there is the NCAA tournament and baseball season between now and then.  But the next time someone tries to tell me that sports is not a worthwhile endeavor, I will simply pop in a tape of the 4th quarter of the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl, to show them that every game is truly unique and you can never ever be totally sure of what we’re going see when a game is played. 

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