Friday, October 21, 2005

THE SOUL OF THE SOX TEAM: OZZIE GUILLEN

Ozzie Guillen has induced a new life in the long-suffering baseball teams and fans of Chicago White Sox. He brought his team to its first World Series in 46 years — and a chance to win its first championship since 1917. The 41-year-old Venezuelan is baseball's most invigorating, activist skipper. He's erratic in and out of the dugout, open to a fault at times, despicably hilarious and, talks faster than any alley shot from cannon. He played shortstop for the team for 13 of his 16 big-league seasons. He has a strong passion for the sport with high baseball instincts. He went against conventional wisdom in forming his playoff roster, leaving off talented rookie pitcher Brandon McCarthy in September/October to let 36-year-old Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, to play for the team. Guillen lets his starting pitchers work as long as possible, which led to four consecutive complete games (and victories) from starters against the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Championship Series. He is a crazy fellow who is also a leader of a team, not by the virtue of team but due to his meticulously hard work. This crazy man took care of the Gus Polidor’s family , the former Venezuelan major leaguer who was assassinated in 1995. This crazy man contributed $200,000 and spent the 1999-2000 offseason helping release and relief efforts after a Venezuelan mudslide killed thousands. This crazy man is an emotional fellow whose tears rolls down when asked about countryman and 1950s Sox shortstop Chico Carrasquel, who died in May. Though Guillen has spent the last 25 summers in the USA, he has never lost some of the habits of Venezuela ( kissing his sons and macho players on the cheek after a big victory).

THE GRANDEUR OF 101ST WORLD SERIES TITLE

The White Sox in their first World Series since 1959 are looking forward to snap an 87-year title drought. With these anticipations they seem to borrow a page of victory from the Boston Red Sox. Last season, the Red Sox snapped their first world championship since 1918 after besting the St. Louis Cardinals, and this season the White Sox will attempt to claim the Fall Classic title when they open the World Series against the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday. The cursed Bostonian team made four trips to the World Series before ending their 86-year drought in 2004. Relatively the White Sox has to deal with a great deal of futility. The White Sox since defeating the Giants four games to two in 1917 to earn their second world championship, managed to reach the playoffs just five times before this season. Their entry as playoff contenders also includes the "Black Sox" scandal in 1919, where eight players were expelled from baseball fraternity for fixing the series. The White Sox squad has entered the 2005 edition of the World Series as a less favorites; their victory can be contributed to the performance of their starters who helped the squad to fetch a dominating win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League Championship Series. The Sox, who posted four complete games in a row, have not used their bullpen since Game One of the ALCS that took place on October 11. For the Astros future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens has returned to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2003 and the sixth time in his career. He will team with Andy Pettitte, the second-winningest postseason pitcher of all-time. In this case I am not trying to underestimate the White Sox; even they do have multi-faceted offense. They form an unusual team. When Chicago last hosted the World Series back in 1959, there were just 16 teams, no divisions, no wild cards and no Astros. And this season the two teams are vying to earn the spotlight. I am sure what baseball fans are wondering. Who will prevail? It figures out to be a ferocious fight for Fall Classic with loads of drama in the offing.

CRITERION OF BUILDING A PERFECT TEAM

Unarguably good team chemistry is easy to form and sure to come particularly if the teams have a tandem like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the way. Forming a good team is now nothing less then a fantasy. Had it been an easy process then every couch potato in America would become eligible to work as an NBA general manager. Moreover, it's not as simple as picking a guy whose strengths directly complements another player's weaknesses. Apart this the other aspect that always remain under consideration is team chemistry, salary caps and most important, feasibility. Undoubtedly we would really love it if the roster filled with Tim Duncans, Kevin Garnetts and both O'Neal’s (Jermaine or Shaquille) agree to form one indomitable team. Also if you ever wish to see a perfect team, you just need to retrospect the Bulls of 1990s.

Let’s start with superstar (Michael Jordan) and his running playmate (Scottie Pippen), now surround them with a host of identical teammates; Voila! The outcome is a winning team. I hope you have not gorgotten that we are not making our winning team for one season, since history will soon forget a one-time champion. To always remain highlighted in the history of the record books, our preferable team should win three or four. Let’s determine our fantasy team:

For the starting position the ideal prospects are: SF -- LeBron James, SG -- Gilbert Arenas, PG -- Chauncey Billups, C -- Joel Przybilla, PF -- Al Jefferson

At the bench: SG -- Raja Bell, SF -- Shane Battier, SG/SF -- Josh Howard, PG -- Rick Brunson, C -- Nenad Krstic, PF -- Reggie Evans, SF -- Eric Williams.

The Coach – Larry Brown.

CHARGERS TOMLINSON’S RECORD-SETTING GAME

Every time LaDainian Tomlinson manages to slices through a crease, dashes up the sideline or swings out of the backfield to catch a pass, it becomes a factor for every team to feel jealous to see how talented and diversely productive the San Diego Chargers running back really is. Recently running back LaDainian Tomlinson set an NFL record by scoring a touchdown in his 18th consecutive game to become the seventh player to run, catch and throw for a TD in the same game. Tomlinson fetched this victory against the Oakland Raiders. Tomlinson, who was not covered by any defenders, caught the ball around the 20 and trotted into the end zone. He kept the ball as a souvenir while he was at the sideline and surpassed the record set by Baltimore's Lenny Moore from 1963-65. Tomlinson added a rushing TD in the first quarter, which completed his NFL record for consecutive games with a running touchdown to 18. In the second quarter he took a handoff from Brees, and threw to Justin Peelle for a 4-yard score and his second TD pass of the season. With this achievement he joined David Patten (2001), Walter Payton-1979, John Henry Johnson (Pittsburgh-1960), Keith Lincoln (San Diego-1965), Dan Reeves (Dallas-1967), and Harmon Wages (Atlanta-1969) as the only players to pull off that trifecta.

This achievement has also made LaDainian Tomlinson unquestionably the NFL's best running back who has established himself as the league's pre-eminent triple threat.

EDMONTON’S COURTESY

Edmonton is in true terms is a hockey city. There are only selected cities where hockey runs in the blood of plays and fans at the same rate of knots and Edmonton is one of them. The recent ceremony which saw the retirement of Paul Coffey's jersey makes it evident that the Edmontonians knows how to honor the game and its stars. The best and only way to portray Edmonton as a hockey city, particularly for those have never become the part of the city's love affair with the game, is to suggest images of a college football Saturday in the Deep South. The pageantry and circumstance that greet the gridiron gladiators in those southern cities has nothing on the goings-on in Edmonton, especially in the days leading up to a big game. As a matter of fact, the city’s festivities during the hockey matches derive a fair amount of civic pride from the Oilers franchise. As such, it is only just that past heroes are respected whole-heartedly and past glories are celebrated with great pomp and show. The retirement of Paul Coffey's No. 7 was magnificent theater — strikingly emotional yet simple. The ceremony started when Coffey emerged to a standing ovation and took a skate around the boards, with his stick held high over his head in his right hand. Intermittently, he tapped the stick against the glass. At the ice he was welcomed by former teammate Kevin Lowe, the current GM of the Oilers. Al Hamilton, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr and Wayne Gretzky. Extempore speeches were given, tears were shed and Coffey’s contributions were recalled. The ovation thundered down as the city welcomed their prodigal son home for the final time. The moments were made very special in a special hockey city elucidating the special bond the city shares with its hockey franchise.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

TORRE TO CONTROL YANKESS GEARS

Though Torre has two years left on his current deal with the Yankees but still he considered ending his 10-year tenure after the Yankees' first-round loss to the Los Angeles Angels. His formidable team won the World Series in 1996 and from 1998 to 2000. of lately he decided to remain at Yankees helm ignoring their latest play-offs disappointment. George Steinbrenner who has always been very quick and impulsive in firing Torre’s predecessors also shared a public falling out in August when Steinbrenner criticized Torre's team selection. Openly demanding and critical of his players, coaches and managers, Steinbrenner has changed managers nearly every year particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. The Yankees who won the World Series in Torre's first year with the team in 1996 and have reached the play-offs every season since are officially biggest financial bust in sports history. Owner George Steinbrenner let his general manager Brian Cashman spend close to $210 million on the payroll and they couldn't get out of the first round of the playoffs. Joe Torre did a masterful job managing his club. In the late '90s, Torre got the most out of players who could handle postseason pressure. Now its better New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and manager Joe Torre should turn their attention to 2006 and focus on their center fielder and middle relievers. The Yankees' up-and-down season is finally over. The burning question for Yankees fans and the team is whether Joe Torre's reign as manager is over?

FAREWELL TO BUSCH STADIUM


The revered Busch Stadium after has now almost seen its 40-season run come to an end with the Cards on the road. To make the farewell more memorable St. Louis has set out to win a pennant in stadium's final season. Mark Mulder is the St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher in the National League Championship Series. The Busch Stadium would have never witnessed another match had been the Cardinals would have lost on Monday night in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Busch Stadium is scheduled to be demolished following this baseball season. It will be replaced by a new 46,000-seat ball park which will also be named Busch Stadium. The facility has hosted six World Series and has witnessed numerous memorable moments.

Now, no matter when the final game at Busch takes place, fans will know it's the end. If St. Louis overthrows Houston for the pennant, the postseason game would return to the facility in either Game 4 or Game 5 of the World Series scheduled to take place on Oct. 26 or 27. But no matter what, there is no scope of uncertainty. The things will fall as they are destined. Pujols' home run, already one of the most memorable in postseason history has already given an assurance to the Cardinals fans. Pujols three-run, ninth-inning shot off Astros closer Brad Lidge extended the '05 campaign. For Cardinals players, their main concern is to win the franchise's first World Series championship since 1982. Veteran closer Jason Isringhausen, holds more memories of Busch than most of his teammates. He came to games at the park when it still featured artificial turf.

NEW DRESS UP IMAGE FOR NBA

The new trend has attracted many reviews from around the NBA. The NBA announced issued memos to the NBA teams that a new dress code will feature "business casual" attire. The league has prohibited items such as sleeveless shirts, shorts, sunglasses while indoors, and headphones during team or league business. Chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player's clothes have also been banned by the league. The policy has also made mandatory for the players on the bench who are not in uniform to wear sport jackets, shoes and socks.

Though its nobody’s concern that what the players wear whenever they are engaged in team or league business, the league is coming on way too strict. Sometimes, getting on the plane, with the distances the professional players fly, one need to be comfortable. But since NBA is a big organization around the world, the league’s attitude should be accepted by the player’s gracefully. Some people come to these games looking wrong and this is not what professionalism is all about.

RUNNING BACK ONTERRIO SMITH LITIGATED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

Running back Onterrio Smith has been sued by a woman who has allegated him for sexually assaulting her last year. An interesting incidence about this episode is that the 21-year-old woman has not been identified in the lawsuit, for fear of retaliation. The only identification is that the lady lives in the Twin Cities. When she was physically attacked she received injuries and the worst of all humiliation. Now, to somehow compensate the situation she is seeking $150,000 in damages. Though the mental trauma she has received is lifelong. Moreover her physician has described her as an ``individual with disabilities.'' She has also formed mental impairment stemming from fetal alcohol syndrome. During the alleged assault, it has been reported that the woman met Smith through a friend, who was in an adjacent room in the Eden Prairie apartment.

It is a matter of shame for the professional player who has left no stone unturned to bring the notoriety to the baseball fraternity by committing such heinous acts. To add more to his reprehensible acts Smith was also suspended for the season weeks after he was trapped at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with several vials of dried urine and ``The Original Whizzinator,'' which is promoted as a way to beat drug tests.

BRUINS DEFENCEMAN BRIAN LEETCH, THE 69TH PLAYER IN NHL HISTORY TO REACH 1,000 CAREER POINTS

Leetch is a solid veteran presence who will replace the departed Sergei Gonchar on defense. He signed a one-year contract with the Bruins on Wednesday. NHL Rookie of Year in 1989; won Norris Trophy as top defenseman in 1992; Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoffs' MVP in 1994 when he helped lead NY Rangers to 1st Stanley Cup title in 54 years, accomplished one more feat, he gained 1,000th point of his career and became the 69th player of NHL history to do so. Though the joy of the moment was largely overshadowed by the Bruins' exasperating 4-3 loss to the Canadiens, Brian Leetch joined a very prestigious fraternity of the achievers. Leetch reached the 1,000-point plateau in career scoring. He became only the seventh rearguard in NHL history to reach 1,000, joining Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Al Macinnis, Phil Housley, Larry Murphy and Denis Potvin. Brian Leetch scored on a power play and assisted on Nick Boynton's goal in the second period. Leetch was originally drafted by New York as their first round choice, ninth overall, in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft.

Monday, October 17, 2005

FERNANDO ALONSO CELEBRATES THE CHINESE GRAND PRIX VICTORY

World champion Fernando Alonso won the season-ending Chinese Grand Prix to clinch Renault's first Formula One constructors' title. The Spaniard defeated McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen for his seventh title this season and eighth overall. Before being flagged off, he sung the song in team spirit “We are the Champions.” An incident-packed Chinese Grand Prix ended in style 24-year-old Alonso. All in all it was it was a good season all through the year for Alonso and his team. Raikkonen had a frustrating time in China but still he came to felicitate Renault and his team on their title. Raikkonen's team-mate Juan-Pablo Montoya was forced out when a drain cover punctured his radiator. Raikkonen made a move in the final laps but finished second, four seconds behind. Toyota's Ralf Schumacher was third. Michael Schumacher ended third in the standings with 62 points.

SOX’S PUNCHED WORLD SERIES TICKET FIRST TIME SINCE 1959

The Chicago White Sox have finally earned their first trip to the World Series in 46 years taking advantage of yet an additional remarkable break to knock the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 to win the American League Championship Series. The new AL champions made the franchise's first Series since the Go-Go Sox of 1959. As a matter of fact not even the incidence of Shoeless Joe Jackson caused this much of buzz among the team and fans, as this World Series ticket has enthused the fans. On the NLCS front, the Astros and the Cardinals are in a serious jam.

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski played a pivotal role. He topped a grounder to the right of the mound with two out in the eighth and Rowand on first. Jose Contreras pitched Chicago's fourth straight complete game. After nearly a half-century, the White Sox will get a fair chance at their first title since 1917. This is also an opportunity for the team to give a shot at some long unsettled recovery when they lost the most infamous World Series ever, when Shoeless Joe and his "Black Sox" fixed games against Cincinnati in 1919 and black listed the sport. The hiatus of 46 years between Series appearances is the longest in major league history. The Chicago Cubs will end up with an even longer one, if they ever get back. The Cubs have also become the first club to pitch four complete games in a single postseason series since the 1956 New York Yankees pitched against the Brooklyn Dodgers. This Saturday will play the winner of the Houston Astros-St. Louis Cardinals NL Championship Series.

ATLANTA HAWKS CENTER AND FORMER IU PLAYER JASON COLLIER DIED


Let’s send our send our heartfelt condolences to the Collier family. Jason was a very skilled big man that could really shoot the ball throughout his college and NBA career. He was one of the few players who was truly professional in his approach. To some people, Jason Collier was just a former first-round pick, backup NBA center that never reached his full potential, but he was a true fighter who lived the dream many are trying obtain by his play in the NBA. The 28-year-old player died early Saturday after he had trouble breathing in his home. The autopsy on the 7-foot, 260-pound player has been performed but other tests are yet to be conducted. A five-year NBA veteran, Collier spent the last two seasons with the Hawks after playing his first three years with the Houston Rockets. He was the epitome of hard work, dedication and perseverance, and more outstandingly compassion, kindness and selflessness.

COWBOYS INSTANT ANALYSIS

Week-6. Status-Cowboys 16-13 overtime win against the Giants. Even after four turnovers and allowing New York to tie the score with 19 seconds left in regulation, the Cowboys triumphed. The Coboys this season have certainly fed off emotion than in the past. In the previous season, it looked as if the players were just tried to follow Bill Parcells' game plan and not twist anything up. Now with more talent and confidence, the plays are being toned up. Moreover, the Cowboys are led by the incomparable Drew Bledsoe. The Cowboys held the NFL's highest-scoring offense, a powerful attack which averaged 34.0 points per game, to one end-zone visit. The Cowboys wasted their chances, too. Manning wound up throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey that forced overtime. Luckily Dallas won the overtime coin toss and never gave the ball back. It seems Giants-Cowboys rivalry has becomean under-the-radar variety. The Dallas dominance in the series was built during the Giants' 15-year gap from competitive football.

BRETT HULL RETIRED


Phoenix Coyotes right wing Brett Hull has ironically retired at a time when the NHL has opened up the game for its star players as Hull had long hunted for. He after establishing as one of the most colorful and dynamic scorers in NHL history retired as the third highest goal scorer in NHL history. Hull after spending 17 months away from hockey because of the lockout wasn't able to do up his game to where it needed to be for him to be more competent and effective. He is the fifth future Hall of Famer to have his retirement subjected to the lockout, teaming with Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Scott Stevens and Al MacInnis.

Hull was a fabulous athlete and a fervent player who never hesitated to speak his mind. His achievements further strengthen the Hull family legacy of hockey greatness. Brett Hull did a tremendous amount for the game of hockey. Hull, who scored 741 goals and 1,391 points played playing just five games with the Phoenix Coyotes this season.