12/19/09 Daily Update – 9:00 P.M

I’ve come to a conclusion that this blog is way too cluttered and unorganized. This has to change. Starting now, I’ll be coming to the my readers a few times each day, with updates concerning various professional sports stories that go on during the day.

NFL

In New Orleans, Wade Phillips and his Cowboys have silenced the Louisiana faithful thus far, taking an early 14-0 lead. After a quarter of play, Tony Romo has thrown the ball with precision and accuracy, already accumulating over 150 yards.

Chad Ochocinco wants to honor his fallen teammate, Chris Henry, who passed away last thursday, by sporting Henry’s number 15 in tomorrow’s game in San Diego. NFL rules prohibit this, and Ochocinco will receive a fine if he decides to do this. The NFLPA stated that they were willing to cover his fine, and while this is a kind act of generosity, it is also against the NFL rules. Chad might have to take this one himself.

NBA

Is Allen Iverson’s injury worse than we think? The 34 year-old guard sat out his second straight game tonight, as the Sixers took on the Los Angeles Clippers at home. Iverson’s arthritis (in his left knee) started acting up this past week, which is nothing compared to injuries he’s had in the past. The arthritis has prompted coach Eddie Jordan to announce that Allen will sit out until December 28th at the earliest. Also, Lou Williams will make his return tonight after missing 12 games with a broken jaw.

In New York, two-time Sprite Slam Dunk champ Nate Robinson, has reportedly asked for a tade. Robinson is currently in the “D’Antoni Doghouse” after getting benched for the past eight games. This streak doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon, and it’s unclear why this benching has even occured.

MLB

Scott Rolen, a veteran third basemen who was traded to Cincinnatti last season, signed a fresh two-year deal with the club earlier today. Rolen, who grew up in nearby Indiana, had no problem accepting this contract that keeps him close to home until 2012. The seven-time Gold Glove winner will earn $6.5 million in each of the two seasons.

Milton Bradley is done in Chicago, as he was traded to Seattle for Venezuelan pitcher Carlos Silva. Along with Silva, the Cubs recieved $9 million, who get rid of a problem off the field (Bradley) who caused numerous controversial incididents last season.

Nick Johnson: A Possible Fit for the Yankees

A re-signing of Johnny Damon is slowly becoming more and more unlikely, as he and his former team are at a break in their negotiations. Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, is known as one of best “negotiaters” in sports. He, along with Damon, won’t settle for a paycut from the 13 million he made last year. And whether it’s in New York or not, Boras is excepting a three or four-year deal for the veteran outfielder.

Currently, Cashman and the Steinbrenners are pursuing other options – preferably Nick Johnson, who played the first three years of his career under Joe Torre in New York.

Johnson wouldn’t be an ideal Yankees two-spot hitter, and is nothing like Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, or any two-hitter in recent Yankee history in terms of speed. But where he lacks on the basepath, he makes up for with his ability to get on-base. Johnson ranked 2nd in the NL in OBP last season, where he spent his season in both Florida and Washington.

Despite Nick’s lack of power in 2009, he’s generally known for hitting long fly-balls to right field – a perfect attribute for any Yankee hitter. A move back to the Bronx could showcase a similar year to 2006, where he put up career highs in almost every offensive category.

Early in his career, he hit 14 and 15 dingers in consecutive seasons with the Yankees. Now, over six years later, he’s only duplicated the feat once. Obviously, he’s not a deadly power hitter, but when hitting in a “hitter’s park” like Yankee Stadium, any lefty with remote power can look like a juggernaut.

Although it might not be a factor this season, Johnson is actually a natural first-baseman and will have to adapt to the DH role if he signs with New York. Mark Texeira already occupies the first-base position, and it’s highly unlike that’ll change in the near future. But this every-day DH job could be a blessing in disguise for Johnson, as he’ll spend more time to focus on his offensive game, and less time looking awkward in the field.

And even though this native of Sacramento hasn’t been a part of a heated division race since his last stint with the Yanks, a tad of competitiveness might give him more aggression than he’s had in the past. In some situations, all a player needs need is time on a winning team to fuel their competitive fire.

Since leaving the Bronx in ’03, it seems as if Johnson has slowly lost his willingness to win. I only bring this up is because his walk-up music last season was Taylor Swift’s “Teardrops On My Guitar”, which wouldn’t go over too well in a city that’s been known to kick their athletes when they’re struggling.

Now that I give it more thought, maybe a move to the Big Apple would benefit him more than it would the actual team.

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Thunderous Improvement

Let’s take ourselves back to December 14th, 2008. It’s around 9:07 P.M in San Antonio at the AT&T Center, where the Oklahoma City Thunder had just lost their 7th straight game, leaving their record at an atrocious 2-23. Something was clearly wrong with this team, but what was unclear was the fact that no one knew exactly what it was. Sure, struggles are imminent when you’re a young, developing team in the league. But any NBA team should be talented enough to will their way to victory more twice in 25 tries.

That’s beyond pathetic.

It was obvious that something had to be done for an immediate change to occur, but what was also undeniable was that nothing would turn the team around as quickly as their fans would hope. It was doubtless that the Thunder would endure a long, long season ahead, which is exactly what happened. After a coaching change, 20 different players in uniform, a league-low in three-pointers made, a league-high in turnovers, the Thunder sat at the basement of the Northwest division, going 23-59.

After their hideous start to the 08-09 season, the Thunder showed a vast improvement, winning 19 games from January to April as opposed to four from November to December. This was indubitably nothing to boast about, but something to “feed on” as the off-season approached. And although this season was quite a disappointment for Scott Brooks and his squad, there were actually many individual positives to build upon.

- Kevin Durant was 6th in the league in scoring, 24th in free-throw shooting, 18th in steals,

- Nick Collison was 34th in the league in rebounding, while Jeff Green was 37th

- Russell Westbrook was 19th in the league in assists, and 14th in steal

Although these four players make up only a portion of the team, they gave their fellow teammates a glimpse of hope, proving that they’re on the same level as some of the better players in the game.

Their off-season, which shied away from risky or drastic moves, was certainly a successful one. Via the draft, they gained a solid starting SG in James Harden(averaging 9.2 ppg, while playing decent from all aspects of the game), and reserve center B.J Mullens, who has yet to see the slightest amount of playing time.

When the 09-10 season began, many believed that the Thunder would yet again come out of the gates with a broken leg. But on the contrary, they proved the numerous doubters incorrect, winning 12 of their first 21, and currently hovering around .500 with a 12-11 record. Why such a steep improvement in less than a year?

Overall, their stats as a unit have increased noticeably.

- From 30th to 23 in turnovers

- From 9th to 1st in Free-Throw %

- From 27th to 22nd in point differential

- From 28th to 22nd in three-point percentage

But there’s not a single statistic that stands out when you look at the Thunder as a team. Although, if you look at each player separately, you see a colossal improvement.

- Kevin Durant is 3rd in the league in scoring, 8th in free-throw percentage, 11th in steals, 37th in rebounds, and 50th in blocks.

- Russell Westbrook 9th in the league in assists, and 48th in scoring.

- Jeff Green is 38th in the league in blocks.

- James Haren is 30th in the league in free-throw percentage.

- Thabo Sefelosha is 21st in the league in steals.

Now, it’s more apparent this improvement has occurred so rapidly. As you can see, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and other key contributors have improved their game remarkably this past off-season.

Durant specifically, who was passed up by the Blazers for the first pick in the ’07 draft, is now being associated with the best in the game. His progression is as transparent as a magnifying glass, and is finally translating into victories. With the assistance of his supporting cast, Durant has lead this young franchise to a 12-11 record. He, along with Westbrook and Green, have given this team the boost they need to make a legit run at the eight seed in the Western Conference.

No, their record’s not eye-opening, but under the circumstances you can easily give this team credit for their turnaround. The core of this quickly blooming group of men looks like it’ll be around for years and years to come.

Their most skilled players are only in their early twenties, which is incredible considering how much experience can do to a player in today’s game. Look four or five years into the future, and it’s clearly mind-boggling when trying to conceive how effective this team could eventually be.

Time will only tell.

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Goodbye, Hideki (along with a recap of yesterday’s BIG trasactions)

As I mentioned in my opening post, I am a Yankee fan. And it was officially announced yesterday that Hideki Matsui would be signing with the Angels as their starting DH. Although I’m saddened to see him go, I’d like to personally thank him (like he even cares or would ever read this) for what he’s done for us during the past seven years. It’s been dampened with injuries here and there, but his 2009 World Series performance will keep his name etched in Yankee immportality for decades. In the Fall Classic, he hit .615 with three home runs.

The 35 year-old former Japanese league MVP reportedly signed a one-year deal worth around $6.5 million. This signing also means that veteran slugger, Vladimir Guerrero, will most likely retire.

Along with the signing of Matsui, the Red Sox came to terms with all-star starting pitcher, John Lackey. This is supposedly a five-year deal, which gives the Sox pitching staff even more depth and talent, as they try to rebound from an ALDS exit in ’09.

In 2009, two of baseball’s most prominent starting pitchers were Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Lee pitched the Phillies to their second straight World Series birth, while Halladay performed tremendously as his Blue Jays sunk to the bottom end of the AL East yet again. Yesterday, it was reported that Halladay was very close to getting traded to Lees’ Phillies, while Lee would be traded to Seattle for prospects in the same deal. Here’s how the three-team trade currently looks, although it’s not final.

To Philly: Roy Hallady (from Toronto), P Phillippe Aumont and OF Tyson Gillies (both from Seattle)

To Toronto: OF Michael Taylor, C Travis d’Arnaud and P Kyle Drabek (all from Philadelphia)

To Seattle: Cliff Lee (from Philadelphia)

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is Lebron Overconfident?

There have been numerous situations where Lebron James has been recognized as cocky, or full of himself. Is it me, or does he have no humility? Yes, it seems as if some interviews and earlier in his career he gave more respect to those that have come before him and set the stage, but now it’s as if he wants all the attention. A prime example of this was when he did his “dance” after sealing the deal against the Chicago Bulls last week. Was this uncalled for? I think so. But was it in bad taster, or just James trying to have fun? In my opinion, Lebron has shown over and over that he’s a bit cocky. Maybe if he learned a bit from players like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, he wouldn’t “act out” as much.

I’ll have an article on this later in the week. Feel free to agree or disagree with me on the issue.

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Week 14 NFL Pick ‘Em (4:05 games to 8:20 game)

It looks like some of my earlier picks aren’t going as planned. But the show must go on, and so must my picks. Here are my choices for the remaining five games.

St. Louis at Tennesse, 4:05 est – Vince Young might be inactive for this one, but either way, I can’t see the Titans giving in to the 1-11 Rams. Chris Johnson as been an absolute monster since Vince Young has entered the starting lineup, and you can’t see him letting up against this awful St. Louis team. 38-14, Titans.

Washington at Oakland, 4:05 est – Last week, we watched the Raiders come from the basement of the AFC West and take down the reigning Super Bowl champs. Although they’re streaky, they’ll have enough to outwill Jim Zorn’s team in front of a routy home crowd. Look for Gradkowski to have another successful game, while the Skins have more trouble playing well in the latter half of the game. 21-14, Raiders.

San Diego at Dallas, 4:15 est – T he Chargers have shown that they’re contenders to make a run for their conference crown in January, so it’ll be tough for Dllas to compete with them. In my opinion, the Cowboys have beaten one “good” team all year, and aren’t going to do damage to an above average defensive team if they’re passing attack isn’t absolutely lethal. Romo is going to have to work tremendously hard if he wants to steal one away from San Diego. I beleive that this won’t happen, and LT will show signs of how deadly he once was, scoring multiple touchdowns on the ground. 24-14, Chargers.

Philadelphia at New York, 8:20 est – If New York could motivate themselves and feed off of this home crowd, the Eagles shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the G-Men. But if they play carelessly, like we saw on Thanksgiving, it could be a long upcoming week for the boys in blue. McNabb and his Eagles have won three straight, all against teams .500 or below. Although momentum is great, the Giants have the sixth ranked defense in the league, which has to come up big if they want to stop McNabb’s passing attack. The home crowd will be the deciding factor in this one, as the Giants win by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. 23-18, Giants.

Published in: on December 13, 2009 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Week 14 NFL Pick ‘Em (1:00 est games)

How’s it goin’, world? I’m back, and coming to you with my first edition of NFL Pick ‘Em. There are a few very intruiging matchups this week that could go either way this week, so it should be fun. Let’s get it started.

New Orleans at Atlanta, 1:00 est. – I give the edge to New Orleans on this one. After a shaky win thanks to a questionable fumble call, they’re going to be out for blood. Atlanta’s run-game will continue to struggle, and New Orleans will have no problem taking this one. 42-21, New Orleans.

Green Bay at Chicago, 1:00 est – Chicago, coming off a must-win against St. Louis, might have some momentum coming into today. Unfortunately for them, I’m not sure it’s enough to overcome the scorching Packers. Aaaron Rodgers has been having the best season of his short career, and looks to improve his record to 2-0 against the Bears this season. Cutler will have yet another “off” week, and Green Bay will win their fifth straight. 35-13, Green Bay.

Broncos at Colts, 1:00 est – In my opinion, this game should mean a lot more to Denver than Indianapolis. If they want to take over the top spot in the AFC West in the upcoming weeks, they’re going to have to kill the undefeated season for the Colts this afternoon. The Colts have been playing it close at home, and this is the week they finally take a fall. In the past two weeks, the Broncos have outscored their opponents 70-19. This is exactly what they needed leading up the the game in Indiana, and I believe that Brandon Marshall and the Broncs shock the world today. 24-20, Broncos.

Buffalo at Kansas City, 1:00est – When you first look at this game, the obvious thought is “I really don’t care.” But this could be big for those hardcore fantasy owners out there. Look for Ryan Fitzpatrick to hook up with T.O for two TDs, as the Buffalo defense keeps the Chiefs in the backfield for most of the contest, running away with their third away victory of the season. 24-6, Buffalo.

Cincinnati at Minnesota, 1:00 est – This could quite possibly be one of the best games you’ll see all season. It’ll definitely be an offensive battle, even though each of these defenses’ have been very essential to their teams thus far. Favre and Palmer will both throw for 300+ yards, but Minnesota’s run-game will be too much for Marvin Lewis and Co, as the Vikings take this one by a touchdown. 35-28.

Carolina at New England, 1:00 est – After an upset loss to Miami last Sunday, the Patriots won’t let up this afternoon, putting a classic Pats beating on the mediocre Cats. I’m not positive Brady will throw the ball excessively because of his shoulder injury, so don’t expect to see New England’s passing game rack you up an enormous amount of fantasy points. Instead, watch their defense anchor the attack as Brandon Merriweather takes two picks to the house, while the linebacker corp keeps Delhomme on his toes throughout the entire game. 45-21, New England.

New York Jets at Tampa Bay, 1:00 est – It’s been an extremely disappointing season for Tampa Bay, and expect to see it only get worse. Kellen Clemens and Thomas Jones will give the New York fans something to scream about, as the Jets win their third straight. The Bucs have looked particularly unmotivated and sluggish this season, and that will only continue today. 44-20, New York.

Miami at Jacksonville, 1:00 est – It’s been a bumpy road for Miami to say that least, but expect to see the Dolphins that beat Buffalo, Carolina, and most recently New England. Chad Henne passed for 335 yards last week and played with great poise and determination. If the Dolphins play like their fans hope, you’ll see a similar type of performance from the rookie today, as he and the Fish extend their winning streak to a season-high two games. 21-6, Miami.

Detroit at Baltimore, 1:00 est – Coming off a tough MNF loss to Green Bay, the Ravens will cap off this short practice week with a Lion bludgeoning. R Squared(Ray Rice) will carry the offense on his back, accumulating over 100 rushing yards for the first time since October 4th. With Stafford out, expect the powerful Ravens defense to continuously swarm the Duante Culpepper. 30-16, Ravens.

Seattle at Houston, 1:00 est – Even though both of these teams believe that they have a shot at the playoffs, they don’t. In reality, the only people who care about this game are fantasy owners, the players themselves, and the fans in Houston and Seattle. Expect to see each team lack offensive firepower throughout the contest, while Slaton and his Texans cap off a comeback with a fumble to end the game. Writing about this game is about as motivating as a fourth quarter speech with two minutes left while your down 20. Excruciating to say the least. 13-7, Seattle.

That’s all for now, guys. I’m exhausted. But don’t worry, I’ll be back with more predictions for the later games.

Published in: on December 13, 2009 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hello

What’s up, world? I’d like to introduce myself to those who are actually following me(which is most likely none since I started the blog minutes ago). But in case there are a few who stumbled upon this when searching Google for meaningless information, I’d like to dedicate the next paragraph to you.

My name is Nick, and I’m from the NY/NJ area. I’m currently a high school student, but think that my knowledge of sports goes waaaaaaaaay beyond that of your average high-school student. Although I’m young an “inexperienced”, I set my goals high and reach for the sky. And if you think that was corny and weird, you’re probably right. But that’s just who I am. The use of sarcastic humor is something you’ll almost always see in my entries mainly because that’s a bit of who I am as a person.

Sports have always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was young, all I wanted to do was play for the Yankees. And when I suddenly realized that the possibility of that was growing slimmer and slimmer, I decided that journalism would be an easier way to make it on the field in a Major League ballpark.

As for being a sports fan, I’ve grown fond of three particular pro teams and one college team. The Yankees, Packers, Knicks, and Rutgers in that exact order are the teams I choose to root for. And while it might be extremely difficult, I’ll certainly try my best to show as little bias as possible. I’m willing to do a lot to improve as a journalist, and hopefully it shows.

In this blog, I’ll be giving my two cents on different sports issues daily. I’ll be posting game recaps, rankings/top ten lists, opinionated editorials on trades and transactions, and much more. So, if you’d be so kind, please check back once a day for more delightful entries from yours truly.

That’s all for now. As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “I’ll be back.”

Published in: on December 13, 2009 at 4:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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