Dreams Blog

April 24, 2015

A Big Night For A-Rod
Wallace Matthews (ESPNNY.com) extolled A-Rod’s performance. “terms that not only did the Yankees have no place for him to play in their field, but he would have to prove he could hit well enough to earn a part-time spot in their lineup.
This same player, who the Yankees seemed to be going out of their way to get rid of just four months ago, is the one player their lineup can not afford to be without.
Back in February, when reporters were staking out the Yankees minor-league complex and the front office was stewing about the nerve of the guy to show up early for work, what were the odds that Rodriguez would be the one and only feel-good story to come out of the Yankees season so far?
And truth be told, through all of it, A-Rod has performed a lot better than his bosses expected him to, and behaved a lot better than his bosses have, too.
Friday night, he enjoyed his first two-home run night since May 2012. He had had 56 of these previously, but none could have been any sweeter than this one, considering the backstory, the current state of the team, the future fallout of what he has done in the first 10 games, and what he is bound to do over the next 150.
He absolutely killed the first home run, a blast over the left-centerfield fence measured at 477 feet. It wasn’t only the longest home run of the season by any player so far, but also the longest home run both at The Trop in 10 years, and by a New York Yankee since Rodriguez hit a 488-foot homer in 2006.
And his second one, coming with a man on in the sixth inning and the Yankees down by two, would have been one to remember had he not hit the first one, a guided missile deep into the lower left-field seats just inside the foul pole. That one gave him 658 lifetime home runs, just two behind Willie Mays for No. 4 on baseball’s all-time home run list, and just two good swings from what promises to be the next big A-Rod drama, the squabble over the payment of his first home run bonus.
“I try not to think about that,” he said. “I’m just really focusing on trying to help the team win.”
But it was his third at-bat that was the revelation, because if Rodriguez has shown anything this season, it is that he retains the ability to hit a fastball, especially if he guesses right. Both the home runs came on fastballs, a 92 MPH heater from starter Nathan Karns and one clocked at 94 by Ernesto Frieri. But, truth be told, he has sometimes looked a little sick against the breaking ball.
Not this time.
But there’s nothing phony about the way he’s hitting right now, and nothing false about the belief that without Rodriguez, the New York Yankees would be nothing right now.
You would’ve thought it would be the other way around.”
I Was Wondering
If MLB was so intent on banning Pete Rose from all baseball activities, why didn’t they erase all of his hitting marks? Maybe they wanted to use them to spur up interest in the Jeter farewell tour.
MLB wouldn’t do that, would they?
TA-NA-KA TA-NA-KA
Wallace Matthews (ESPNNY.com) wrote, “Masahiro Tanaka’s third start of the 2015 season could not have been more different from his first two.
But the biggest difference was this: After two starts in which the majority of the pitches he threw were breaking balls and off-speed pitches, in this one, Tanaka went back to plain, unvarnished heat. For the first time all season, he threw more fastballs and fewer splitters. After throwing just four four-seam fastballs in his first start, a loss to the Blue Jays on Opening Day, and just 16 in his second start, a win against Boston in which he allowed four earned runs in five innings, Tanaka went to the old No. 1 38 times against the Rays.”
Molinaro Marinara
I agreed with Bob Molinaro when he wrote: “It’s little wonder why NFL teams are unsure about risking a high pick on even some of the most prolific college quarterbacks. Take Baylor’s Bryce Petty, who reportedly had never called a play until the Senior Bowl. I’d have to think that Marcus Mariota may be in the same boat. Quarterback is supposed to be a thinking position, but colleges are turning out robots.”
The Dopey Iggles
The Sports Curmudgeon told us how Philly was trying to corner the market in 2nd string QB’s, “Let us just say that the Eagles’ QB position is “crowded”:
Sam Bradford arrived in a trade for Nick Foles
Mark Sanchez re-signed during the off-season.
Matt Barkley is still on the roster – – but should rent not buy.
Tim Tebow is about to join the parade.
Rumors persist that the Eagles want to trade up to draft Marcus Mariota.”
Some Water Hazard
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us about, “A golfer who suffered puncture wounds to his right calf after a crocodile twice bit him at the Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course in Port Douglas, Australia.
The duffer is laying up in a hospital bed. The croc was cited for not replacing his divots.”
More Perry Patter
Ex-Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams, to Philadelphia’s WIP Radio, after he and ex-teammate Lenny Dykstra agreed to roast each other: “It will be the first time I feel like a Harvard grad.” Ringing endorsement
Here’s what $10 gets you a ticket to see these days: the Mayweather-Pacquaio weigh-in, or the Ohio State spring football game.
(A record 99,391 chose the latter.)
Dwight’s Brendan Alert
The 76,976 fans at WrestleMania XXXI in San Francisco broke the Levi’s Stadium record for WiFi usage — 4.5 terabytes of data.
On the downside, local doctors report a sudden rash of cauliflower-thumb complaints. You shouldn’t have
And in romantic news, two rasslin’ fans picked the perfect place to get engaged — at Wrestlemania XXXI.
Well, Thelma Lou always said she wanted a big ring.

Dreams Blog

April 17, 2015

A Good Week For A-Rod
Wallace Matthews (ESPNNY.com) told us that, “On Sunday night, April 13th, A-Rod came to bat with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox. Although he has succeeded in this situation more than any batter in history — he finished the pre-Biogenesis portion of his career on Sept. 20, 2013, with his 24th grand slam and surpassed Lou Gehrig as baseball’s all-time leader — this at-bat could just as easily have ended in a rally-killing double play, and the way the Yankees had hit in their first five games, that might have been the safer bet.
Instead, Rodriguez jumped on a first-pitch cutter from Clay Buchholz, whom he had hit .400 against in 25 career at-bats, including two home runs, and drove it to the gap in left-center field to clear the bases. That jump-started a seven-run first inning and sent the Yankees’ offense rolling to a 14-4 rout of the Red Sox, which helped them avert a disastrous sweep at home and 1-5 start, something not seen around here for 26 years.
Pitchers’ Protection
William Weisbaum (ESPNNY.com) informed us that, “A group of six pitchers that includes Chicago White Sox right-hander Hector Noesi has used a Kevlar padding insert in caps this season or in spring training that Major League Baseball has not approved, the manufacturer told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Sunday.
Rob Vito, CEO of Unequal Technologies, said Noesi and New York Yankees reliever Esmil Rogers have worn the company’s “Dome” insert under official New Era caps in games this season. Four other pitchers he declined to name have also worn them in the last six weeks.
Vito said the padding is a 5½-ounce military-grade composite, with one layer of coated Kevlar and another of a soft proprietary material called airilon.
An MLB executive told “Outside the Lines” on Sunday that it was looking into the use of the Dome inserts and was reserving comment. Pitchers are free to wear protective headgear of their choice, as long as it doesn’t interfere with competition or with MLB licensing agreements.
Redundancy
I agree with Bob Molinaro here: “Many television viewers – and a lot of partisans from losing teams – apparently just discovered during the NCAAs that officials miss calls. For sure, the refs are overmatched. But complaints about officiating started about 10 minutes after James Naismith tacked up his first peach basket. In other words, it’s nothing new and there’s no real solution.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is the latest to take a shot at college hoops, saying that among other things, “the referees couldn’t manage a White Castle.” Pretty good line, but isn’t this the same guy who has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for blasting NBA officials?
My solution for solving replay controversies is to get rid of replay altogether. Basketball did just fine before replay was introduced as a tedious, often badly used tool that drags out games and only sometimes rectifies mistakes. Why is a missed call in the final two minutes automatically assumed to be more important than a dubious decision earlier in the game?”
The Triangle Offense
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) wrote: “Some NBA personnel question whether the triangle fits today’s NBA. The offense produces a significant amount of midrange jump shots — the type of shot top offenses try to avoid.
Donnie Walsh, however, is a fan of the triangle.
“I think it can bring the best out of teams but you have to have some patience with it so teams can get [the hang] of it,” Walsh said.
The Pacers executive left New York due in part to a difference in philosophy with owner James Dolan. But he said Dolan and Jackson can build a winner in New York. He has confidence that Jackson will bring in players in free agency, though Walsh cautioned that New York isn’t the big draw that some believe it to be.
“That’s one of the most misunderstood things in the NBA, to be honest with you, that you can talk a veteran NBA player into coming to a city just by sitting down with him, talking to him and offering him the most money,” Walsh said. “These guys know what they want to do. They have their own agendas, and they know whether they want to go to New York or they don’t want to go to New York. And there are a lot that want to go to New York, so it isn’t like there aren’t people out there. … I don’t think it’s really up to Phil Jackson to talk them into it.”
Fisher expanded on his quotes, when he stated that he thought the Knicks could be a 63-win team next season.
“I think my point was just that whatever it is you need in order to make the jump, we have it. So we just have to make the choices that need to be made and commit to the process of doing so,” he said. “The cap space is there, the draft pick will be there unfortunately yet fortunately, and it’s up to us to do what we need to do with it and continue to work harder and getting better.”
Under-Grad
Scott Ostler (SF Chronicle) wrote: “There’s an easy way to eliminate the sleazy feel of college basketball’s one-and-done system. Universities like Kentucky should institute a one-year bachelor’s degree program, so those student-athletes can leave with diplomas. Let other students dawdle and dither for four years; these guys will walk off with a bachelor’s in Hooponomics.”
Perry Patter
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us about Lou Holtz, “Football commentator Lou Holtz, to a Notre Dame website, on why he’s leaving ESPN at age 78: “I’ve been everywhere except to bed. I’ve spoken to everybody except my wife. Somebody said, ‘Do you ever go anywhere where people don’t recognize you?’ I said, ‘Home.”
Age Is Relative
A 32-year old MLB player is just entering his prime earning years while an NBA player, at 32, is considered to be advancing in years. You don’t see that many 40-year old guys in the NBA.

Dreams Blog

April 10, 2015

Opening Day
I’m afraid that we will see many more L’s on the Yankees scoreboard.
Visiting teams used to arrive at the Stadium expecting to lose, but not now. They arrive looking to fatten their stats and records.
If you ask a prize fighter what is the biggest thing he can do in a match, they’ll tell you that if you break the opponent’s will to win the rest is easier.
Tanaka’s performance in the opener left a lot to be desired. He looked as though his elbow was paining him and he wasn’t able throw as well as he once could and Bluejays hitters were waiting on a weak heater.
I know that this was only game one, but Tanaka’s absence from the rotation could be ominous.
A Slightly Broken Egg
Wallace Matthews (ESPNNY.com) discussed Joe Girardi’s take on the Masahiro Tanaka injury, “What he does know is that the UCL tear is still there — they do not heal on their own — and admitted that just getting Tanaka through the spring relatively healthy was a victory in itself.
“It’s better than the alternative,” Girardi said.
When he was asked to describe his reaction the first time he heard Tanaka had suffered a UCL tear, Girardi was quick to interject the word “slight,” as if that would change the fact that the ligament is, indeed, torn. And of course, the only “slight” injuries are those that happen to someone else. Only Tanaka really knows how slightly injured his elbow really is.”
If the Yankees were a Broadway show, they might have closed after an opening as disastrous as this one. Their ace got bombed, their offense never fired, and even the vaunted new infield defense failed them. A day that started out in sunshine, pomp and circumstance ended in disappointed
grumbling from the sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium. It was the fourth straight Opening Day loss for the Yankees, who are now 2-6 in openers during Joe Girardi’s tenure as manager.”
Perry Patter
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) wrote, “It’ll be a cold day in hell when the Cubs win the World Series, you say?
Would you settle for a warm day in Antarctica instead?
The South Pole continent registered its highest temperature in recorded history — 63 degrees — last week. And the latest odds on the Cubbies are down to 16-1.
Ottawa Senators fans threw McDonald’s hamburgers onto the ice in honor of Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond’s heroics in goal.
Just be glad the guy’s nickname isn’t, say, The Hammer.”
Sure-fire sign that your team’s star pitcher arrived at spring training grossly overweight: He just underwent Papa John surgery.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ex-Mr. Universe and former California governor, got stopped by police in Australia for riding a bike without a helmet.
“If he got a concussion,” asked NBC’s Seth Meyers, “how would you know?”
A record 115 players opened the season on MLB disabled lists — or enough to stock more than 4½ teams.
Wrote Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “My disabled-list starting rotation: Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Cliff Lee and Jose Fernandez.”
The NFL handed Cleveland GM Ray Farmer a four-game suspension for sending texts to sideline personnel during games.
Banned from watching the Browns play? You call that punishment?”
Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine installed a maize-and blue fire hydrant — rival Michigan’s colors — then let some dogs get a leg up on it.
“Go ahead, hit us with your best shot,” wrote Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press. “These colors don’t run.”
Comedy writer Alan Ray, on Twins pitcher Ervin Santana’s 80-game PED suspension: “Teammates suspected something at spring training: It was his 95 mph changeup.”
Molinaro Maranara
Bob Molinaro (Hampton Roads Pilot) wrote, “Judging from his still dark hair (hmm), you might never know that, at 68, Mike Krzyzewski is the oldest of the Final Four coaches – a year north of Wisconsin’s white-haired Bo Ryan. UCLA legend John Wooden retired at a mere 64, though in 1975 that seemed relatively ancient. Different times.
On ESPN radio, Charles Barkley explained why he has no use for Twitter or other social media: “The Internet is where losers go to feel important.” Discuss among yourselves – or on Twitter, if you’d like. (ed: well excu-u-use me)
Like A Rock
The Sports Curmudgeon talked about a potentially high draft pick (ed. like Neb. DE Randy Gregory) on a slippery slope, “If a potential high draft pick tests positive at the Combine when they know months in advance of the date and time of the “sampling”, then that potential high draft pick is dumber than soup.
The SC pointed out that the NFL “Suits” think they can do anything. “Any team that relocates within the US must give up one home game in each of their “transitional years” to play in London – or potentially elsewhere overseas. The “transitional years” are the seasons between the announcement of the relocation and the actual move into the new stadium in the new city. Considering that 3 teams are reportedly interested in moving to LA, that makes a few teams eligible for playing in London in future years.
Any team that gets a Super Bowl game in its stadium will have to give up a home game to a London/international venue during a 5-year window as part of the deal.”
Scott’s Jots
Scott Ostler (SF Chronicle) wrote, “The Sacramento Kings signed Sim Bhullar to a 10-day contract, and the 7-foot-5, 360-pound center is the first NBA player of Indian descent. So can we call him Mahatma Grande?”
Cote’s Notes
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) wrote, “A major show-jumping competition concluded Saturday on the sands of Miami Beach. I don’t wanna say those horses are pampered, but an “equine psychotherapist” was on hand. Seriously. Am picturing a typical session. Sad horse sighs as it lays on couch. Psychotherapist: “Why the long face?”
By the way, ever wonder how the tradition of cutting down the nets began in basketball? Turns out it was started by the American Association of People Who Sell Basketball Nets.”

Dreams Blog

April 3, 2015

2-Seamer 4-Seamer
I asked a pitcher that I know how these pitches behave and he told me. The four-seamer is held at the back of the horseshoe on the cover of the baseball and is thrown hard without any wrist movement. The ball will have a natural rising movement. The 2-seamer is held across the seam with the base of the thumb just touching the second seam. The pressure put on the index finger or middle finger as the ball is released could make the ball to move in or out depending on the hitter. This pitch puts stress on the pitcher’s ulnar ligament
Hitting Coaches
Both the Yankees and the Mets began their Spring camps with new names in these positions. The Yankees have Jeff Pentlind and the Mets have Kevin Long.
I don’t know that much about Pentlind but, as a player, the highest level that he reached was AAA (1-yr). I think he’s a wait-and see project. He has no hitting philosophy, he said.
I was sorry to see Kevin Long go- so were the Yankee hitters. But Curtis Granderson was glad to see him.
Who seems to be doing better- the Mets or the Yankees?
Phew, I’m Glad It’s Over
Bill Plaschke (LA Times) wrote, “The UCLA basketball players gathered in their tiny locker room here Friday afternoon looking like they had just endured a difficult test.
They stretched. They yawned. They rubbed their red eyes.
“Man, I’m glad that’s over with,” Tony Parker said.
“Really stressful, glad to be done with it,” Gyorgy Goloman said.
Turns out, they weren’t talking about the previous day’s dramatic South Regional victory. Stunningly, they were actually talking about real tests.
Shortly after the UCLA players awoke Friday following their 60-59 victory over Southern Methodist, nearly half the team was herded into a converted suite at the nearby Hilton Gardens Inn to take UCLA’s second-quarter final exams.
They were arranged at separate desks. They were monitored by proctor Veronica Rodriguez-Mora, a learning specialist from the school’s athletic department. They were given tests similar to those given their fellow students back in Los Angeles, and allowed the same amount of time to complete them. Then they climbed on the bus and drove to the arena and attended practice in preparation for Saturday’s round-of-32 game against Alabama Birmingham.
“That’s pretty crazy, huh?” Goloman said”
Perry Patter
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) wrote, “Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, on scatter-armed QB Tim Tebow’s workout for the Eagles: “I won’t say how the passing drills went, but there are now two cracks in the Liberty Bell.”
Baltimore Ravens behemoth John Urschel co-wrote a paper, published in the Journal of Computational Mathematics, titled “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.”;
And to think, some of his O-line brethren can’t even remember the snap count.”
The Minnesota Vikings have signed Babatunde Aiyegbusi, a 6-foot-9, 351-pound lineman from Poland.
Club officials are still deciding whether to put him at tackle, guard — or both at the same time.
At TheOnion.com: “Kentucky cancels practice for NBA draft suit-fitting.”;
Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press, on why actress/Kentucky fan Ashley Judd kissed Dick Vitale: “It was the only way she could get him to shut up.”
Kevin Harvick became the first NASCAR driver in 41 years to start the season with four consecutive top-two finishes.
A one and a two, and a one and a two? Just call him the Lawrence Welk of stock-car racing.”
NCAA Hypocrisy
The Sports Curmudgeon knocked it out of the park with this. “Here is a paragraph from the NCAA website:
“Amateur competition is a bedrock principle of college athletics and the NCAA. Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority. In the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.”
Let me be clear. I can believe that paragraph in its entirety when it applies to Division III teams such as Linfield College football or Division II teams such as Philadelphia University basketball or even to Division I schools in places like the Ivy League or in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. I cannot swallow the piety of that paragraph when it comes to the big-time schools that are participating in the basketball tournament for real especially in light of the recent revelations of academic shenanigans at Syracuse and UNC. Make no mistake, those were not actions taken by “deranged boosters” or some “rogue recruiter”; the events at Syracuse and UNC were genuine academic fraud perpetrated by or condoned by coaches, players, athletic departments and faculty.
The NCAA cannot maintain that amateurism is a “bedrock principle” and that in the “collegiate model” the athletes are “students first” so long as those kinds of activities are not crushed when they are discovered. The hypocrisy level in that statement is so great that it immediately brings to mind a quote from William F. Buckley, Jr.:
“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”
It would seem as if the NCAA continues to live with one abiding hope in terms of continuing to play the smoke-and-mirrors game with the American public. That one abiding hope was expressed by Noel Coward:
“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
Coaches Meet
The Sports Curmudgeon wrote about the spring meeting for NFL coaches, “All 32 NFL coaches showed up for a “photo-shoot” at the Spring Meetings. This is news because more often than not at least one of the coaches does not make an appearance and most often the absentee is Bill Belichick. I did not see any reports if he showed up wearing a hoodie – after all this was in Phoenix and not in Lower Kalskag, Alaska (population 294) – but there was a report that said Andy Reid showed up for the photo wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. If the Hawaiian shirt fit Andy Reid, it might be a map of the Hawaiian Islands with a scale of 1:1…”