Friday, December 16, 2005

AN AMAZING ACCURACY

Randy Johnson becomes the oldest player in major league baseball to throw a perfect game. There's an old adage in baseball that a team can never have too much pitching. Randy at 40 years of age became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game, in Major League Baseball with 13 strikeouts on his way to a 2-0 defeat of the Atlanta Braves in 2004. Since entering the league, he has been among the most feared pitchers in the game. There you, it seems as if a player in his senility becomes all the more enthusiastic! However, even though he is now in his early 40's, Johnson has consistently proven himself to get better with age. An old wine!

Opposing hitters have often remarked that, because of his height and release point, it feels as though he's pitching from ten feet closer than he actually is. Combined with a 95 - 100 mile-per-hour fastball, and a slider that has been compared to that of Hall of Famer Steve Carlton's, many batters find him practically unhittable. Is he really unhittable? How can one even think of to hit him when he lives the life of seclusion?

"Mr. Snappy" after being acquired by the Yankees in 2006, inconsistent through 2005, and allowed 32 home runs to hitters. Johnson regained his dominance in late 2005, and was 5-0 against the Yankees' arch rival Red Sox. He finished the season 17-8 with a 3.79 ERA, he also was second in the AL with strikeouts.

S just predict how will he perform in 2006?

A BUST OR A BARGAIN? BEWARE BUYERS

Garciaparra has a very idiosyncratic and remarkable side arm throwing movement when making defensive plays. This motion is usually coupled with an apparently off-balance running stride, which is inefficient and above all injury-prone. In the 2005 season, a torn left groin forced him onto the disabled list for more than three months. There has been some conjecture on him moving to the outfield for the 2006 season. And it is unpredictable how good Nomar Garciaparra is going to be in 2006.

His rapidity won’t stand anywhere in front of the past statistics he has recorded. Even his scouting reports are not that notable. It is really doubtful that whether he’ll be really, really good next season, a sure bet for the Comeback Player of the Year award or again he would be limping off the field in agonizing pain. Yankees manager Joe Torre, is busy wooing Nomar, but would anybody tell him his ambiguousness? Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, remembers Nomar from back in the day, only has hunches. The Dodgers are guessing. So are the Astros. The Twins, also said to be interested in Nomar, have no clue. Nobody in baseball, or out of it, has any idea as to whether Garciaparra, a former Rookie of the Year, a two-time batting champ, a five-time All-Star with the Red Sox, has anything left. Or should I say if he has everything left? So many things could go right for a team that signs Garciaparra and so many things could go wrong.

A $10, 000 PENALTY FOR RON ARTEST

An All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, Artest has been placed on the inactive list by the Pacers. The Pacers have also fined him $10,000 for publicly requesting a trade, which is a complete violation of the new collective bargaining agreement. A release from the NBA said has made the statement that can be disadvantageous to the NBA. A public trade demand by players was a subject that was discussed at length during collective bargaining negotiations this summer and was concluded that the damage caused by these kinds of statements was commonly understood, as was the NBA's intention to hold players accountable for such statements going forward." Artest expressed his desire to be traded from the Pacers and said he wanted to play for either the Knicks or Cavaliers. Before being placed on the inactive list, Artest was averaging 19.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and a league-leading 2.63 steals in 16 games.

In November only, prior to his statement, Artest was suspended by the NBA for the remainder of the season; with 73 games remaining in the regular season plus the playoffs. This is the longest non-drug or betting related suspension in NBA history. Artest lost approximately $5 million in salary due to the suspension. Last season, Artest was suspended for 75 games - the longest non-drug ban in NBA history - for his major role in the brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004. In the 2002-03 season, Artest was suspended for initiating a quarrel with Miami Heat coach Pat Riley and fined and suspended for smashing a TV camera after a game at Madison Square Garden.

A TWO MINUTES SILENCE FOR DARRELL RUSSELL

Russell's life has come to a tragic end in a fatal car crash on Thursday morning in Los Angeles. He was a two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders. Born in Pensacola, Florida, was taken second overall in the 1997 NFL draft by the Raiders, he went on to have 28.5 career sacks. He was a passenger in a car that collided with a bus and struck several objects before coming to a halt. He made the Pro Bowl in 1998 and 1999, and also spent time with the Redskins and Buccaneers.

Some of the moments in his life in a flashback are:

- A standout at the University of Southern California.

- Rusticated for four games in 2001 for failing to obey the NFL's drug policy. Shortly after that, he tested positive for another banned substance and was again suspended for one year that later was made indefinite by the league.

- In 2002 he was convicted of videotaping the rape by two friends of a woman who had been drugged with GHB, but prosecutors dropped the charges later.

- His positive drug test in 2004 was his seventh infraction of the league's policy.

- In 83 NFL games, Russell had 229 tackles, 28.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and one interception.

- the car in which he was traveling and was destined to meet his doom was driven by his USC teammate Michael Bastianelli.

A RISE IN STIPEND

There is good news for all the big-market clubs in the NHL. They've got more money to spend next season. The salary cap for N.H.L. teams will rise next season, to $40 million to $45 million from the current $39 million. If the cap goes to $45 million, the maximum salary for a player would rise to $9 million from $7.8 million. The salary cap that is based on league revenue was set up after a sour player shut out that swabbed out all of last season. I am sure, the folks in the NHL fraternity would be probably looking at next year when the cap possibly coming down or staying the same. It is a different landscape. It doesn't sound like it's going up a whole lot if it ends up on the lower end but if it ends up on the higher end it would have a little more room to spend providing the budget would permit us to go to that number. The current projections call for revenues to be just over $2 billion this season. Under the CBA, the next season's salary cap is based on the previous year's revenue total. One clause is that if attendance dwindles in the coming months and revenues instead total $1.9 billion, the cap would be $39.8 million next season. Not all clubs will use the new limit next season. Some teams have budgets and won't spend to the new maximum.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

THE END OF FOOTBALL JOURNEY FOR SOME NFL GREATS

There are number of standout players whose careers are expected to wind up this season. For the past 10 seasons, it was only Curtis Martin could accomplish 265 yards rushing in two games. This season, playing on a 2-10 team that has scored only one touchdown in a month, Martin’s only goal is to do it in the four games the New York Jets have left. That would make him the first NFL running back ever to start his career with 11 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. This would be a great accomplishment for this football team and for the guys that are on this team, the team will touch the summit if a high draft pick will net Reggie Bush as Martin’s successor. Apart Martin there are also many unsung heroes who spent their career primarily in the nation’s largest media market including Marshall Faulk, the 2000 MVP, Brett Favre and Steve McNair, Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis, Troy Vincent, Rodney Harrison, Bryant Young, Zach Thomas, Jonathan Ogden. And, of course, that guy known simply as “T.O. the end of football journey here doesn’t necessarily mean that all will retire or that some might not even return to All-Pro form. It is also possible that their career would get an extension and they end up elsewhere. Lewis, for example, is only 30 and could bounce back from his second injury-curtailed season in four years.

The virtual certainty of Brett Favre, (QB, Green Bay, 36) is that he might retire if coach Mike Sherman is fired. Rodney Harrison, (S, New England, 32) is almost impossible for a DB of his age. Still, he’s a Patriot and there’s the Tedy Bruschi example. Ray Lewis, (LB, Baltimore, 30), will be back, probably as fierce as ever, if not quite as good. Bryant Young, (DE, San Francisco, 33) is the last player remaining from the ’94 champions. He was having an outstanding season until injuring a knee. If he recovers, he might go somewhere else and who knows?

MANNY RAMIREZ FOR MIGUEL TEJADA: A BLOCKBUSTER TRADE

The Red Sox after gauging their interest in a straight up, Tejada-for-Manny Ramirez swap gave the nation an instant spark to hope for the best. With Tejada having four years and approximately $49 million remaining on his deal with Orioles and Ramirez with three years and $57 million left with the Red Sox, the platform is all set to host an epic swap. The Orioles now would need the Red Sox to throw in a starter or reliever before the transaction could be taken into consideration more seriously. It seems that it is difficult for the Orioles to decided whether Tejada is elated or gloomed and whether or not he had a real bad day or he intends of making the Orioles' lives dejected until he is moved.

But Tejada should know how important he is and what’s his worth since multiple teams contacted the Orioles on Friday and presented enough interesting offers that even the panorama of Ramirez launching home runs at Camden Yards did not stood anywhere.

Late in the month of October, it was surfaced that Ramirez had asked the Red Sox to trade him due to his grudges against the city, which intervened in his private affairs. The Red Sox promised the slugger they would make a good-faith attempt to trade him. On the other hand during the Winter Meetings, Orioles superstar Tejada expressed his desire to play for some other team, due to Baltimore's inability to contend in the American League East. While Ramirez and Tejada, two of the game's best offensive players, looks like a great match, an issue that has popped up is that Orioles that have been labeled as non-contenders Would Ramirez even accept a trade to the Orioles? The O's are cool to the proposal. Ramirez has full proscription power over any trade, and the Orioles find it hard to believe he'd agree to come to Camden Yards. Ramirez is keen to play for the Angels who've been looking for a run producer ever since Paul Konerko re-signed with the White Sox. But Tejada's sudden declaration that he wants out of Baltimore has created a nuptials of convenience with the Red Sox.

ANOTHER STORY OF RELOCATION

The Sonics have played in Seattle since the 1967-68 season. After 10 home games this season, they rank 22nd among the league's 30 teams with a 16,187 average and now they could be could be the next NBA franchise to relocate when their lease expires in 2010, if the Washington state legislature votes declines to fund the construction of new arena or renovate KeyArena. Despite renovations 10 years ago, KeyArena is the smallest arena in the league with a seating capacity of 17,072. Whether they get a new arena or renovated KeyArena, the Sonics want increased revenue and a lease that keeps them from having to pay construction debt. The franchise wants both issues resolved before they agree to a long-term deal to stay in Seattle. At this moment of time they don’t seem to let the go issue like an ordinary stance. This time they want a commitment for funding to be made in 2006, because they said it takes four to seven years for the necessary planning and construction to be completed. The franchise has already lost $58 million since 2001. Not only this if the Sonics personnel sell out all 41 home dates, including all 58 suites purchased at KeyArena this season, they still would lose money under their current business model. Everybody thinks in terms of 2010 as being a long way out and the problem can be if not forgotten can be procrastinated.

Seattle's other two professional sports franchises, the Mariners and Seahawks, are both housed in venues that were built since 1999. The funds for the construction of their venues were raised from primarily via a tax on hotel rooms and rental cars. The Sonics' proposal to the state legislature for $200 million for KeyArena expansion was denied last year.

BUSH’S VERSATILITY HARD TO PASS UP

Nicknamed The President, Southern California running back Reggie Bush, the Heisman Trophy winner, has denied making a decision about leaving the Trojans after his junior season based on which team might draft him. On December 10, 2005, after winning the most prestigious award in all of college football, the Heisman Trophy, beating finalists Vince Young and teammate Matt Leinart by a wide margins he is expected to be the top pick if the Texans or San Francisco get the first selection. Most remarkable for his running speed and evasiveness, for which he has been even named "a human highlight reel" and "electrifying," Bush habitually breaks off impressive runs - often dodging, hurdling, and spinning away from defenders in the process. At 5-11 and 200 pounds, he bench-presses 400 pounds and averages 8.9 yards a carry. Not only his running but also his receiving skills are equally good. And something that impresses scouts almost as much as his running ability is that he is well schooled and groomed in picking up the target. In other words, he is flawless.

Bush grew up in Spring Valley, California. His father was a campus security officer and his mother was a deputy sheriff at the county jail. Bush etches the number "619" on top of his black under eye markings as a tribute to the area code of southeast San Diego county. Any team that will acquire Bush will be in a good situation to utilize all of Bush's enormous talents and incredible versatility as a runner, receiver and return man. He will be a receiver, a return guy, or a running back. The thing that's special about Reggie is his speed and his ability to make people miss.

Hey fans! Keep your fingers crossed since being a top prospect going into the draft, he might not go to a very good team, and Bush has succeeded like success. He don't know what it's like to lose.

AFTER THE LOCKOUT

The NHL lockout, the bitter labor dispute that wiped out all of last season has now left the fans yearning for hockey. Particularly the Philadelphia Flyers, who are being discussed in the supermarket, in restaurants and every nook and corner of the city. The loyal fans of the team cannot wait to see them back. The NHL, which was dormant for more than 10 months, maintained its popularity in U.S. market, particularly in Philadelphia and it seems if any fans would forgive the unprecedented cancellation of an entire season, it could be only Flyers fans. After all, the Flyers have flourished here since 1967, and the lineup of hockey heroes – from Bobby Clarke to Bill Barber to Bernie Parent – is as long as the memories of demanding fans. In August, The Sporting News even named Philadelphia the nation’s top hockey city.

The Flyers in their match up with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday sold out 15 of 17 home games. An average of 19,578 fans per game had filled the 19,523-seat Wachovia Center, the fourth-highest home attendance in the NHL. And the fans who were unable to make it to the stadium watched the game on television. Otherwise, the TV ratings are never advertised but reportedly this time the TPR of the game had jumped 60 percent from the 2003-04 season. Even the commercial sales raised and several new sponsors involved with the team.

In October, the league set an attendance record for the initial month of a season by drawing an overall average of 16,820 fans per game. Last month, that figure held fixed at 16,818 per game, up from 16,244 in November 2003. The most prevailed opinion that is being considered for the increase in attendance is due to a series of rules changes that have produced more goals, the elimination of the red line, reduction in size of the goalies’ equipment and implementation of shootouts after the five-minute overtime to eliminate ties. The zero-tolerance policy has led to more power plays and, consequently, scoring is up about 30 percent from 2003-04. Philadelphia has embraced hockey being back above and beyond everybody’s expectations. The Flyers have qualified for the playoffs for 10 straight seasons, but haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1975. But there is a substantial rise in their season-ticket sales.