What You Need To Know About #NBAAllStarWeekend

Toronto Shine:

When it comes to all-star game affairs, nobody can do glitzy better than the National Basketball Association.

And this weekend’s festivities in Toronto, the first time the NBA has agreed to stage the three-day gala outside of the United States, will afford Canadians their first opportunity to witness all the excess up close and personal.

From Drake and Shaq to Kevin Hart and Snoop Dogg, anybody who is anybody can be expected to be on hand to take a well-publicized bow, either at Sunday’s game at the Air Canada Centre or by attending one of the countless star-studded parties that are staged to court everybody’s inner Basketball Jones.

“If you’re a limousine owner, this is the weekend you look forward to,” said Brian McIntyre, the now-retired media information director for the NBA who has been at almost every all-star game since 1978.

Read: Get ready for a glitzy NBA all-star weekend in Toronto – The Globe and Mail

NBA All-Star Game Events Schedule:

Friday, Feb. 12

(All times Eastern)

9:30 a.m.: Rising Stars practice, NBA TV

11:30 a.m.: NBA All-Star Media Day, NBA TV

1:30 p.m.: Hall of Fame Announcement, NBA TV & NBA.com

6 p.m.: The Starters | NBA TV

7 p.m.: NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, ESPN

9 p.m.: Rising Stars Challenge, TNT

11 p.m.: Rising Stars Challenge news conferences, NBA.com

Saturday, Feb. 13

(All times Eastern)

11 a.m: NBA All-Star Practice, NBA TV

1:30 p.m.: The Starters, NBA TV

2 p.m.: NBA D-League All-Star Game, NBA TV

7 p.m.: TNT NBA Tip-Off, TNT

7 p.m.: Commissioner Adam Silver media availability, NBA TV & NBA.com

8 p.m. : All-Star Saturday Night (Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest, Slam Dunk Contest), TNT

10:30 p.m.: All-Star Saturday Night news conferences, NBA.com

Sunday, Feb. 14

(All times Eastern)

11:30 a.m.: NBA Legends Brunch, NBA.com

5 p.m.: NBA GameTime, NBA TV

7 p.m.: NBA Tip-Off, TNT

8:30 p.m.: NBA All-Star Game, TNT

The Chase:

Wednesday Night, Golden State handed the Suns 112-104 defeat tomaintain their edge over the ’95-’96 Bulls in the Grand Prize Race towards immortality.  The reigning champs notched victory 48 in only their 52nd game.  Twenty yars ago, the Bulls started 48-5 on their way to a record 72 win season.

The ’95-’96 Bulls squad that Kerr was on had an average win-margin of 13.2pts in those 48 wins.  These Warriors are doing it at 14.7pts.

“Satisfying is not the word,” Kerr said.  “It’s shocking really.”

But he sounded subdued, not awed. The team’s 48-4 start notwithstanding, it has been a difficult past few months for Kerr, 50, who continues to endure painful headaches from a spinal fluid leak caused by back surgery over the summer……

Read: Steve Kerr Leads Warriors’ Chase of a Record He Helped Set – The New York Times

Is Pujols Under-Valued?

GettyImages-456707440

Just last week, baseball celebrated the life and career of perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter who ever played the game. Hank Aaron’s 82nd birthday offered yet another opportunity to appreciate a brilliant career, one filled to the brim with “black ink” — representing times he led the league in various categories.

Now, as Spring Training 2016 approaches, we turn our eyes to the greats of the game today. And while it’s easy to focus on the staggering wave of young talent, let’s take a moment to appreciate the man who is by nearly any reasonable measure the best right-handed hitter since Aaron hung them up.

No, that’s not Miguel Cabrera — not yet, at least. And while A-Rod is certainly in the conversation, it’s not him either.

It’s Albert Pujols.

Somehow, despite 560 home runs and an eye-popping contract, Pujols doesn’t seem to get the reverence he’s due these days. But even as Cabrera has thrived into his early 30s, and even as Pujols has begun his decline phase, Cabrera has not yet caught up to Pujols.

Read: Pujols is the greatest right-handed hitter since Hank.

ArtDunk

What do I have to do for you to make me a sandwich Wednesday…

larrybrown_smu

No Larry, it’s now 3x’s

Good coach? Sure.  Only guy to win a NCAA and NBA Title – says so right here on the label.  Yet, it seems to also come with a warning – may be hazardous to your postseason.  He is the king of implosion.  Just ask UCLA and Kansas.  UCLA’s 1980 Final Four was vacated because of the use of ineligible players – at Kansas it was recruiting violations – and now SMU.  Word is the 76ers are also banned from the postseason because of the association with Larry Brown.

Is Larry the only guy? No.  While I am sure he is being taken to task for his latest indescretion, he is not the only one.  Let’s not forget Calipari also has left programs on the sanctions-alter, and UNC seems to have a different scandal every recruiting class.  It appeared to me to be inevitable.  SMU has a history and SMU president R. Gerald Turner pushed hard to hire Larry Brown to make basketball relevant, where they have not before – Irony is Mr.Turner being the co-chair of the Knight Commission on Athletic Reform.

In other words, same ol’story for SMU, Larry Brown and college athletics – maybe we should stop pretending that collegiate sports are not big-business.


For the last #StrikeZone Tuesday of the season, here is the #DraftKings PERFECT LINEUP:

92915_perfectlineupX2


RavensSaintsLions

Going from winless to winning is a thing.  It can happen.  Let me take you back to a time when Lifehouse was “Hanging by a Moment” – Harry Potter was looking for his Sorcerer’s Stone – and the professional football club from our Nation’s Capital was becoming the butt of late-nite jokes.  It was Schottenheimer’s only year in Washington and they had started 0-5 – then they beat the Panthers and rolled off 5 straight, before finishing the season 8-8.

That is mediocre, but let’s also remember the NFC West a few years ago and the NFC South last year – 8-8 could get you into the playoffs.  So, here’s to you – Lions, Ravens and Saints, because we have also seen teams get off to fast starts and blow it down the stretch – so keep your head up and gosh-darn-it you guys aren’t the 49ers, go out and win one!


This is the new Red-Menace and should also be the number 1 team in the country.  Crazy, maybe, but remember that is just a term of Art – Did you watch what Michigan did to BYU Saturday?  These same Utes beat those guys and also did something I have not seen in a long, long, long, time in Eugene – hammering Oregon 62-20!  62! In Oregon!  Show me another team in the country that has two wins that look that good.  I’ll accept the season is early, as long as you accept that pre-season polls are stupid.  The rest of my, would be top 4, if the season ended today for the playoffs are in order: UCLA, OleMiss and Notre dame.

Speaking of Michigan – We all believed that Harbaugh might have a little Miracle-Max in him.  He turned Stanford around.  He made the 49ers contenders.  We just all gave him a pass this year, because the Wolverines were not supposed to be any good, etc…It might be time to stop assuming Michigan will lose to Michigan State and Ohio State. These Wolverines are much, much better than last year’s group. The Wolverines still need to prove they can play at this level consistently – but if they keep improving, they could make things very interesting in the Big Ten East.

You have to admire Charlie Strong and what he is doing at Texas.  You see, Texas has been close to a breakthrough since making redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard the quarterback and Jay Norvell the primary play-caller, but another special teams gaffe cost the Longhorns on Saturday. Against Cal on Sept. 19, a missed extra point that would have forced overtime, resulted in a 45–44 loss. Against Oklahoma State, a dropped punt snap allowed the Cowboys to kick a game-winning field goal and escape Austin with a 30–27 victory.

Longhorns fans can complain about the officials—and yes, we all appreciate the irony of Texas fans complaining about the Longhorns not getting calls—but if they can clean up their special teams, it may not matter which calls Texas gets or doesn’t. At some point, Texas has to break through with a win—doing that this week against TCU would obviously be huge, but will be terribly difficult—but the Longhorns are on the correct path.


We can count all the instances of happenstance
and bad luck and rule that a coach and team ultimately had as good a chance of winning as they did of losing. But eventually we must draw the line somewhere. We have chosen as a society to draw that line at the final score. Bill Parcells certainly understood all of the factors that decide the outcome of a football game, and he still spoke the words that ring true in football and in life. “You are,” Parcells famously said, “what your record says you are.”

tnsad2For Tennessee fan – the answer lies in something Jones said a few minutes after the question about the two-point conversion chart. (Jones said the Volunteers have a standard chart, but if they do use the one made famous by Dick Vermeil, they ignored it at Florida.) Jones was trying to explain how his team would bounce back from the loss when he said this: “It doesn’t define who we are.”

Yeah it does, unfortunately.

Football final scores are the results of thousands of small decisions and the outcomes of those decisions. Sometimes those decisions are out of a coach’s control, and sometimes teams are plain unlucky. Jones didn’t send a 12th player out with the field goal unit Saturday. Somebody just got excited and ran onto the field at the wrong time. If that doesn’t happen, Medley kicks a 50-yarder. Maybe he makes it, and the honeymoon for Jones continues in Knoxville. Jones probably couldn’t have known that two timeouts called before fourth downs Saturday to get the desired personnel on the field would cause Florida counterpart Jim McElwain to rethink kicking and put his offense back in. Both decisions led to Florida first downs, and the second—late in the third quarter—led to a Florida touchdown.  It must be painful for Vols fans to always be looking to next year for their breakout game – to make a statement – maybe they will find a smarter coach…

In honor of all sad fans across the country – may these pictures say a 1,000 words of sadness:

ausad2

aubsadness

arksad

arksad2

name of site - hunter thompson style

“I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4” – OR – “Pair up in threes” – #RIPYogi

It’s Deja-Vu all over again…

It is inevitable.  The older I get, the more heaven seems to load up on talent – it’s a helluva team up there.  Yogi, went from Northern Italy, to St.Louis, to New York, to one of the best catchers of all time.  For my money, it is him and Roy Campanella for the title, to quote Casey Stengel: “you can look it up.”  Need more proof – how many baseball players have a cartoon character named after them?

With that said, Yogi Berra passed at the age of 90, Tuesday evening. Yogi died 69 years to the day after he had made his major-league debut, on Sept. 22, 1946; against the Philadelphia Athletics, Yogi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 4-3 Yankees win. Yogi won 10 World Series titles as a player.  That is an all-time record, and one more than the great Joe DiMaggio.Logo_alt#2

Berra’s record of 75 World Series games played may never be threatened, much less actually broken. Consider Derek Jeter, who played 20 years for maybe the best team of his era, wound up playing 38 World Series games, barely half of Berra’s total. The only active players who have appeared in more than 15 World Series games are Yadier Molina (21), Matt Holliday (16), Buster Posey (16) and Albert Pujols (16). Furthermore, if the 28-year-old Posey (the only one of them not yet 30 years old) plays in the next eight World Series (through 2022), and all of them extend to seven games, he would still be three games shy of Berra’s record.

Not everyone makes the Hall of Fame, fewer still become icons – Lawrence Peter Berra’s legacy transcends baseball.  He was one of the greatest players, for one of the greatest teams, in all of sports, and for the lucky ones who knew him, they say he was a better person.  Beyond his success on the field, was the quality of the man.  So, when you come to the fork in the road, take it, because if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.


In memoriam – more Baseball

Here is last night’s #DraftKings Perfect Lineup – 9-22-15…maybe I should have took the other side of the Mets v. Braves game for the #sleeper pick.

92215_perfectlineup

Baseball’s first 20-game winner

Jake Arrieta became baseball’s first 20-game winner and he did it with style, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout and striking out 11 in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Brewers. He became the first major-leaguer whose 20th victory of a season was a shutout with double-digit strikeouts since 1993, when Jack McDowell’s 20th win met those parameters.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to become the majors’ first 20-game winner in a season, with all the victories coming for the Cubs, since Larry Jackson did that back in 1964. (In 1984, Rick Sutcliffnulle was the first big-leaguer to reach 20 wins, and he won his 20th while pitching for the Cubs; but Sut had won his first four games that season while pitching for the Indians.)

Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 1.88, second-lowest in the majors to Zack Greinke’s 1.65. But Arrieta is putting some pressure on the Dodgers’ right-hander: in each of Arrieta’s last five starts, he has thrown at least eight innings and has allowed no more than one run. The last major-league pitcher who strung together five straight games like that was Roger Clemens in 1997; the last to do so this late in a season was Orel Hershiser in 1988, when he tossed five straight shutouts and then a 10-inning scoreless outing in his last six starts of the season, fashioning the major-league -record 59-inning scoreless streak that Greinke had challenged earlier this season.

It’s a Bird in Toronto

Greg Bird’s line-drive three-run homer in the 10th inning cut through the tension at Rogers Centre and lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 10th home run of the season for the Yankees rookie, who replaced the injured Mark Teixeira down the stretch. Bird became the first Yankees rookie to hit an extra-inning home run in a road victory since July 14, 1962, when Tom Tresh belted a two-run homer in the 10th inning off Angels rookie (and future Cy Young Award winner) Dean Chance in New York’s 9-8 win at nullDodger Stadium. (The Angels were the Dodgers tenants for four years in the early 1960s.) Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek that year when Kubek, the Yankees regular shortstop, spent most of the season in military service.

Bird has now hit eight home runs in September, tying Chris Davis for the highest total by any American League player this month. Bryce Harper leads the majors with 10, while Nolan Arenadoand Yoenis Cespedes have smashed nine.

Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the tenth, his 35th of the season, joining teammates Josh Donaldson (39) and Jose Bautista (36) at that level. Prior to this season, the last big-league team that featured three players with at least 35 home runs was the 2006 White Sox, with Jermaine Dye (44), Jim Thome (42) and Paul Konerko (35). The lone previous season in which a Toronto trio achieved that feat came in 1998; the three players were Jose Canseco(46), Carlos Delgado (38), and Shawn Green (35).

Crazy-ness in Detroit

Fans leaving Comerica Park on Tuesday night must have been thinking of that old adage: there’s a chance at the ballpark you’ll see something that you may not have seen before. Here’s the recap of the Tigers-White Sox game:

Detroit starter Daniel Norris, in his second game since returning from a recent injury, was removed from the game after he retired Chicago’s first 15 batters of the game. His was the first perfect-through-five start by a Tigers rookie since Armando Galarraga did it – no, not in his 8.2-perfect-innings effort against Cleveland in 2010 – but in 2008 against the Royals. The last major-leaguer to be taken out after at least five innings with a potential perfect game still intact was Houston’s Bob Knepper in the final game of the 1986 season, as the Astros readied their starters for that year’s postseason.single logo_small

After four relievers extended the potential no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning, Tyler Saladino ruined the bid with a triple. He became only the second major-leaguer in the last 20 years to spoil a potential no-hitter with a ninth-inning (or extra-inning) triple, the other being Baltimore’s Jerry Hairston, Jr., against the Rangers in 2002. The odd thing: Hairston’s blow leading off the ninth also ruined a potential combination no-hitter in a game in which Texas starter Aaron Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches, Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings, and then Joaquin Benoit threw no-hit ball until Hairston’s triple.

The Tigers won, 2-1, in the 10th inning, on a walkoff triple by Rajai Davis, the second walkoff triple in the majors this season (Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon had the other on August 18). The last Tigers player with a walkoff triple was Ramon Santiago in 2011, but prior to him you have to go back to Mickey Stanley in 1968.

Mike and Albert

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, in a gripping 4-3 victory in Houston. The home runs were the 40th of the season for Trout and the 36th for Pujols – it was the first time that baseball had seen back-to-back homers by a pair of players, each of whom had already belted 35 homers that season, since 2006 – when Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome of the White Sox did it.

Jimenez with the bat

Ubaldo Jimenez lifted his September record to 3-0 (he had previously beaten both the Blue Jays and the Yankees) and added a nice little cherry with an RBI single as the Orioles shut down the Nationals, 4-1, and, coupled with the Astros’ loss, shaved a game off Houston’s Wild Card lead. Jimenez’s single produced the first run of the game, and Baltimore never relinquished the lead. He became the second American League pitcher this season to be credited with both a victory and a game-winning RBI in the same game; back on July 21, Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns hit a home run for the game’s only run in his victory over the nullPhillies.

Jimenez became the 25th American League pitcher in 19 years of interleague play to achieve that daily double – but the amazing thing is that of the 25 pitchers who did it, seven of them have at least one Cy Young Award on their mantles: David Cone, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana,Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and R.A. Dickey. Even more remarkably, among the other guys who did it was Jon Lester. As we all know, Lester didn’t get his first major-league hit until this season, but in a game at San Francisco in 2010, he was credited with the game-winning RBI in his victory for the Red Sox with a sacrifice fly.

The RBI was the second of the season for Jimenez, who knocked in a run in a game at Philadelphia on June 17. Since the designated-hitter rule was enacted in 1973, severely limiting their opportunities to hit, only eight other American League pitchers have driven in a run in two different games in the same season. But three of those eight others also pitched for the Orioles -Mike Mussina in 1999, Kris Benson in 2006 and Zach Britton in 2011.

Rangers perform sacrifices

Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning, but other than that, it was mostly a rat-a-tat-tat attack of sacrifice bunts (three), sacrifice flies (four) and heads-nullup base-running that allowed the Rangers to beat the A’s, 8-6. Sacrifice flies have been recorded as a category separate from sacrifice bunts since 1954, and over those 62 seasons, there have been only two other major-league games in which a team had at least three sacrifice bunts and at least four sacrifice flies. The Astros used that combination to help beat the Braves, 7-5, in 2009, while the Braves found that four sac flies and three sac bunts weren’t enough to win in a 12-inning contest that was won by the Padres, 11-10, in 1991.

Goldschmidt’s has 30 HRs include 7 vs. Dodgers

A. J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs off two different Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks went on to rout the Dodgers, 8-0. Pollock’s home run chased starter Alex Wood, and Goldy’s greeted reliever Chris nullHatcher. It was the 30th boundary belt of the season for Goldschmidt, who also has 21 steals. He became the fourth player in Arizona’s 18-year major-league history to be admitted into that 30/20 club, joining Chris Young(2007), Mark Reynolds (2009) and Justin Upton (2011). It was Goldschmidt’s seventh home run against the Dodgers this season, the most by any Dodgers opponent in a season since 2004, when Barry Bonds and Vinny Castilla each hit eight and Jeromy Burnitz seven. Still some distance away from the record of 13 home runs hit against the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, by the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock in 1956.

Iwakuma brings it in K.C.

Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Royals and struck out 10 batters over seven innings in the nullMariners’ 11-2 win at Kansas City. Iwakuma became the third different Mariners pitcher this season, joining Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno, to win a game in which he did not allow a run and had a double-digit strikeout total. Only two other major-league teams have had three different pitchers provide such victories this season-the Indians (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber) and the Nationals (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez).

Cardinals win another low-scoring game

The Cardinals took a 3-1 decision from the Reds on Tuesday, marking the 31st time this season that they have won a game in which they scored no more than three runs. Only one other major-league team in the last 20 seasons has won as many games of that type (the Giants won 31 such games four years ago). And in the long history of the Cardinals’ franchise, the only other year in which they won as many as 30 games in which they scored three-or-fewer runs was 1968. In that season – the one in which Bob Gibson fashioned his other-worldly 1.12 ERA – St. Louis won 41 games in which they scored no more than three runs (with Gibson having started 14 of those games).

Mahtook(LSU) blasts Fenway

Rookie Mikie Mahtook belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the icing on the Rays’ 5-2 victory at Fenway Park. Mahtook has now hit five home runs this season; his previous blasts came in games at Toronto, Seattle, Chicago (against the White Sox) and nullDetroit. Mahtook, Washington’s Denard Span and San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco are the only players this season who have hit at least five home runs, all on the road.

By the way, among the players from the past whose first five major-league homers came away from home are Hall-of-Famers Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell (first six) and Hank Aaron (nine). But none of those Hall-of-Famers holds a candle to the all-time major-league record-holder for home runs, all on the road, from the start of a career. That would be Johnny Hodapp, an infielder who, while playing with the Indians, hit 22 home runs, all on the road, from 1927 to 1931. The streak ended when, after being traded to the White Sox in 1932, his first home run with his new team was hit at Comiskey Park.

Marte + Ramirez and 75 RBIs

Starling Marte knocked in two runs and Aramis Ramirez one, lifting the season total of nullRBIs for each player to 75, in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Rockies in Denver.  Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates with 95 RBIs, and though Ramirez has not produced all of his RBIs for the Pirates, Pittsburgh is one of the two National League teams that have at their disposal three players who have 75 RBIs this season. The other such team is Cincinnati, with Todd Frazier (88), Jay Bruce (83) and Joey Votto (75).

nullErvin = Johan

Ervin Santana came through again for the Twins on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to one run over seven innings and earning well-deserved credit for Minnesota’s 3-1 victory. Santana is now 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Old minor-leaguer clocks home run, sends Mets to defeat

Hector Olivera clocked a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth inning and the Braves went on to defeat the Mets, 6-2. Olivera, a 30-year-old rookie, became the second 30-year-old rookie in the last 11 days to smash a home run against the Mets; on September 12, Olivera’s teammate Adonis Garcia connected. Prior to the last two weeks, only four rookies on the far side of 30 have homered against the Mets over their 54-year existence, the oldest being the Phillies’ Chris Coste, at 33, in 2006.

Friday Dregs

Iguodala comes through for Kerr and the Warriors

Andre Iguodala didn’t start a game during the 2014-15 regular season and he hadn’t started a game during this year’s playoffs until Steve Kerr sent him to the floor to begin Game 4 of the Finals. Iguodala proceeded to score 22 points and grab eight rebounds, both tied for the Warriors’ team high, as Golden State topped the Cavaliers, 103-82, to deadlock the series.

Over the last 45 years, the only other players who started an NBA Finals game without starting a game during either the preceding regular season or earlier in that year’s playoffs were Terry Teagle (1991 Lakers), Marcus Camby (1999 Knicks) and Manu Ginobili (2013 Spurs). Ginobili (24 points in Game 5) and Iguodala (on Thursday night) are the only players among them who either scored 20 or more points or pulled down as many as eight rebounds in their first start during that year’s Finals.

Convincing road victory for Golden State

The Warriors’ 21-point margin of victory in Game 4 was the largest for any road team in an NBA Finals game in which they entered the game trailing in the series. The previous high was 16 points by Miami in its 109-93 Game 4 victory at San Antonio in 2013.

Cleveland off the mark from downtown

The Cavaliers made only four of their 27 three-point field-goal attempts in Game 4 (14.8 percent). There have been 474 instances in NBA playoff history in which a team launched at least 25 shots from three-point range; only four other teams that took 25 or more three-point shots made as low a percentage of them as did the Cavaliers, with the last such team doing it 18 years ago, when the Bulls made four of 27 three-point shots (14.8%) in an 87-80 loss at Miami in Game 4 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals. The only other team to hit such a low three-point percentage (minimum: 25 shots) in a Finals game was the Bulls, who made only three of 26 three-point shots (11.5%) in losing Game 5 of the 1996 Finals at Seattle, 89-78.

Not many turnovers in Game 4

The Warriors (seven) and Cavaliers (nine) combined to commit only 16 turnovers in Game 4. That is the second-lowest total of turnovers in a NBA Finals game in any of the last 15 years. The only Finals game with fewer turnovers during that time (2001-2015) was the opener of the 2013 Finals, when the Spurs (four) and Heat (nine) combined to turn the ball over only 13 times.

Kazmir limits the Rangers to one hit, again

Scott Kazmir threw eight innings for the Athletics as they topped the Rangers, 7-0, and the only hit he allowed was a fifth-inning single by Elvis Andrus. It was the 11th major-league game this season in which a pitcher had a scoreless outing of seven or more innings without allowing more than one hit. Kazmir is the only pitcher who has had two such games and both were against the Rangers in Oakland. He pitched seven scoreless innings versus Texas on April 8, allowing one hit (a bunt single by Leonys Martin leading off the game).

nullCuddyer’s first walkoff RBI since 2006

Michael Cuddyer‘s second go-ahead RBI of the night came on a game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth inning and gave the Mets a 5-4 triumph over the Giants. Cuddyer, who hadn’t produced a game-ending RBI since he hit a walkoff homer for the Twins on April 19, 2006, played 1140 major-league games in the interim. Cuddyer entered Thursday’s game with the longest current streak of consecutive games without a walkoff RBI among active major-league players, a distinction that now belongs to San Diego’s Clint Barmes, who has played 1090 games since the only walkoff RBI of his career (a game-ending homer for the Rockies off Trevor Hoffman in the 2005 season opener).

Trout and Pujols both homer for the Angels

Mike Trout homered in the sixth inning and Albert Pujols hit a four-bagger in the ninth to help the Angels beat the Rays at Tropicana Field. It was the fifth game this season in which both Trout and Pujols homered, tying them with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison for the most such games for any major-league teammates this year.

nullMarcum tosses a gem

Shaun Marcum pitched seven innings and limited the Mariners to two hits in the Indians’ 6-0 shutout on Thursday afternoon. Marcum joined Trevor Bauer (April 9) and Corey Kluber (May 13) as Cleveland starters who have won games this season in which they had a scoreless outing of at least six innings without allowing more than two hits. The only other major-league teams that have had starts of that kind by three different pitchers this season are the Athletics (Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmirand Drew Pomeranz) and Giants (Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Chris Heston).

nullGonzalez allows a run

The Rangers’ Chi Chi Gonzalez saw his career ERA balloon to 0.42 by allowing one run in seven innings versus the Athletics as he suffered his first loss in his third major-league game. Fernando Valenzuela posted a 0.33 ERA through his first three starts in the majors (in 1981), but since then, the only other pitcher who accumulated at least 20 innings through his first three major-league starts while pitching to an ERA as low as Gonzalez’s is Pat Combs, who had a 0.41 ERA to that point of his career for the 1989 Phillies.

Balls in the DiRT

No. 715

Hank Aaron

April 8th, 1974

The Hammer! A few times and far less often than we hope, do our heroes maintain themselves thru the stains of time.  Too often, they seem to creatively find ways to shatter those illusions, like a soft-grip of a favorite snow-globe of our youth.  Those delusions are ours and not theirs.  Rare is a hero that sets off on a knight’s quest towards one of baseball’s Holy Grail’s, only to carry with him a quiet dignity of fotitude and stoicism that relies more on substance than of flash – and for that we must always give thanks to Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron.  Give him the unconditional love he deserves.  Remember 715.  Remember a man that did not masquerade or exploit his talents to gain his seat at the table, he earned his place in the Pantheon.  Celebrate The Hammer!

He is a Saint and an example of all that is good within us and what we can achieve by just putting our head down and getting to work – regardless of outside distractions.  It is a shame, that on that night, in the 4th innning, what he felt after hitting Al Downing’s pitch over the left field wall, was not joy at the accomplishment, but relief.  Babe Ruth was larger than life, with larger appetites, and while he was gregarious and still maintains a popular place in the church of baseball – The Hammer was a contrast of muted poise.  Babe Ruth would have embraced it all, the energy, the party; where as Hank – under constant harassment by the media and fans, appeared as concerned with it all as a man does with a child asking for a new balloon.  There were more flamboyant superstars during Aaron’s 21 year career that shined brighter and preferred to hover in the spotlight –  while Hank comfortably went to work in the shadows that they’d cast.  He was just a man, doing his job and wanting to live a normal life, like anyone else.

Here it is, in his own words, from Hank Aaron’s autobiography, “I Had a Hammer” about that night:

When I was alone and the door was shut, I got down on my knees and closed my eyes and thanked God for pulling me through.  At that moment, I knew what the past twenty-five years of my life had been about.  I had done something that nobody else in the world had done, and with it came a feeling that nobody else has ever had – not exactly, anyway.  I didn’t feel a wild sense of joy.  I didn’t feel like celebrating.  But I probably felt closer to God at that moment than at any other in my life.  I felt a deep sense of gratitude and a wonderful surge of liberation all at the same time.  I also felt a stream of tears running down my face.

Aaron retired after the 1976 season with the Brewers and ended with 755 Home-Runs.  He is a sports hero we deserve, and we should remind him how much we appreciate all that he exemplifies, what is good within us.  It isn’t about shouting, asking where your 15 seconds of fame and notoriety are, despite being attached to the digital freeway, looking for instant gratification, and validation.  It’s about grace, quiet dignity, hard work and perseverance – that in time, we too have a shot at being exceptional – it may not mean we will be an all-timer – but it does mean we can walk with our head held high, knowing we gave it all we had – just like the Hammer!



 

Go Home Hostess, you’re drunk!

Baseball is back and this seamhead is pumped – at least for a while.  Meaning the Rockies, of course they are 2-0 and in first place, all by themselves – regardless if we have seen how this story usually ends in June.  It’s just 83 more W’s for my prediction to come true, as I wrote here back in February.  Just remember, Crazy is a term of Art – Insanity is term of Law, and I am still not insane – I have a sticker to prove it.

But what we have decided to do, is provide some help with your Daily Fantasy Baseball needs:  It will not be as full-blown as our NBA coverage until next year, but it will help you get an idea of who to consider – so without further ado….

Consider that 4 players for the Colorado Rockies have a batting average of .500 or better against Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta and that Tulo, in 14 plate appearances against Peralta has 3 singles and 4 walks.  The other 4 are Nolan Arenado, Nick Hundley, Justin Morneau and Corey Dickerson.  The issue being for some is the possibility of rest.  No Rest for these guys? Then we could look at a road sweep to start the year before welcoming the National League Champion Cubs (sarcasm) for the Home Opener Friday.

Consider staying away from Pujols and Trout against Iwakura of the Mariners.  In 26 and 27 at-bats, both Trout and Pujols hit below .200.  However, if they can get to him, it is usually for xtra-base-hits.  In Trout’s 5 hits he has 4 singles and 1 HR and Pujols’ 5 hits are for 2 singles and 3 doubles.  What you have to consider, is the price worth the performance?

Consider neither pitcher for the Orioles or the Rays are gonna stop anyone from htting the ball around the yard and consider that Oakland could shell Texas Rangers’ pitcher Ross Detwiler.

Consider Daniel Murphy and his excellent matchup against Jordan Zimmerman.  Murphy is 16 for 50 against Zimmerman with 5 doubles, 3 HR’s and only 2 strikeouts.  Others that have good matchups are both Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton and Christian Yellich against Shelby Miller – both are a combined 6-11 with 2 HR’s, 2 singles and a double.

Consider these guys by position, for your lineup today that have the best matchup and best potential:

1B

Daniel Murphy

Steve Pearce

Jose Abreu

Justin Morneau (if he plays, took a throw to the neck last night)

2B

Robinson Cano

Ian Kinsler

Adam Rosales

3B

Josh Harrison

Chris Johnson

Mike Moustakas

Nolan Arenado (if he plays)

SS

Hanley Ramirez

Juan Uribe

Tulo (if he plays)

C

Salvador Perez

Welington Castillo

Nick Hundley (if he plays)

OF

Lorenzo Cain

Andrew McCutchen

Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton

Desmond Jennings (4HR’s against M.Gonzales but strikes out 19.4% against him)

Shin-soo-choo

Ben Revere

Corey Dickerson

P

Carlos Carrasco

Anibal Sanchez

Brandon McCarthy