Saturday, July 19, 2014

Houston

As you may already know, I flew to Houston last weekend to see my brother, good friend AA and catch a Red Sox game at Minute Maid Park.  (I think that makes five different ballparks where I've seen them play and nearly three times that many ballparks total)
I don't really have a whole lot to say except that we had a great time eating lots of great food and drinking beer during the three days I was there.  The ballpark is beautiful.  Got to see Big Papi hit a homer in a game they ultimately lost 3-2 (the only game of the three-game series they did lose).  Jake Peavy pitched very well again with no run support, although I disagreed with the manager's decision to let him start the 8th inning having already thrown 102 pitches and the top of the order coming up.  I was right as Jose Altuve led off with a hit and ultimately scored the game-winning run.  An Astro hit a homerun, so we got to see the train over the left field wall go choo choo and then run down the track.
Did you know this ballpark is built right behind the old Houston South Station train station?  We entered through South Station and then walking out the opposite side you enter a covered area that is a picnic area that essentially connects the station to ballpark.  Thought that was a great touch.
I took a few photos and from them you'll be able to see we splurged and sat in the club level.  What's great about that is not only do you have a seat outside that's pretty close with good sight lines but you can go back inside the club level and watch the game in air-conditioned comfort.
Below you'll see pictures from inside and outside Minute Maid Park but you'll also see a picture I took from my window on the airplane of the Atlanta skyline.  I think it's pretty cool, and if you zoom in it's even better and you can see what I think is the Georgia Dome.  The other couple of pictures are of the Astrodome, which I wanted to see before they tear it down.  Unfortunately we couldn't get very close to it. 

Minute Maid

Houston skyline

Astrodome

Astrodome

Left field and the train from our seats

From our seats

Biggio to Bagwell

Atlanta

Minute Maid

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ROAD COURSES SEEM TO BRING OUT THE "I'LL REMEMBER THAT NEXT TIME" PERSONA.

I was impressed with the racing at Sonoma this weekend past. The pole was held by Jamie McMurray, with the second spot going to AJ Almendinger. AJ was thought to be one of the favorites there, with Marcus Ambrose and Kurt Busch also being a top contender. But as the race wound down the leader and winner was Carl Edwards in the 99, this was Cuzzin Carls first road course win out of his many career Sprint cup wins. This was not without some suspense between the drivers. The two biggest complaints came against the "most popular" driver in NASCAR, drum roll please, Dale Earnhardt Jr. AJ thought Jr. didn't give him enough room and made him lose control which ended his quest for a win for the small team, and then near the end Matt Kenseth also thought he wasn't given enough room causing him to run into the safety tire barricade and totally tearing his front end off, do you think the number 88 will be marked on the dash of these two cars? Only time will tell. Jeff Gordon showed he isn't quite ready for the retirement heap yet, coming in second in a close tight final lap that showed Carl keeping the 24 at bay on the second to final turn. The aforementioned Jr. displaying road skills that have not been prevalent in his previous racing starts, came a close third with the newer tires that almost took him to the top. Pole sitter Jamie Mc. came fourth after having a great start but fading middle race, Paul Menard keeping up his resurgence over the last few races capped by his Nationwide win two weeks ago. Kasey Kahne came in 6th and drat, darn, horrors, Jimmie Johnson pulled off 7th. Kevin Harvick again had pit problems, this appears to be wearing on both the #4 driver and his crew. This writer feels there are and always will be adverse conditions between the drivers and the pit crews, that said, it should be kept between the teams, for it to make it into the media, and then, become fodder the teams have to rehash every time a race comes up, detracts from the winning ways everyone needs to win in this high caliber sport. I always have loved "go straight then turn left" be it open wheel, stock car, ARCA, or outlaw, but when you see the diverse qualities needed to drive road style, there is a real need to watch the steady improvement the stock car drivers are showing and not just a few ringers who race a few races and then don't see them til the next race. Case in point is the fine sixth place showing Kurt Busch showed at the Indy 500 and then running well at the Coke 600 and through a mechanical problem being dropped out of the running. Well we are off to Kentucky, Cya'll there and enjoy, to quote an old Bette Davis movie, "hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride".

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 NHL Hall of Fame Class




The NHL announced their 2014 Hall of Fame Class. The 4 players that were elected to the Hall cannot be argued against, they are all worthy of the honor. For those that would argue that somebody else deserves to go in before these four are just playing to their personal prejudices.


Dominik Hasek - Goalie. He played for 4 NHL teams. Chicago, Buffalo, Detroit, and Ottawa. Hasek won the Hart Trophy twice, the only Goalie to do that in the history of the NHL. He is the 22nd Goalie to win 300 games. He is the oldest goalie to post a 30 win season in the NHL. He was the first goalie to win the Lester B. Pearson award, and won 6 Vezina Trophies. He is the leader all-time in career save percentage. He had 81 shutouts, a 2.20 GAA, and is 11th place in all time wins. Hasek was part of two Red Wings Stanley Cup Championship teams. He won a Gold and Bronze medal in the Olympics. He also won a Silver Medal and 3 Bronze Medals in the World Championships. He was also a 6 time all-star.

Peter Forsberg - Center. One of the main driving forces on the Colorado Avalanche when they were winning Stanley Cups along with Partick Roy and Joe Sakic. He is eighth all time in points per game in the history of the game and fifth all time in career assists per game. The man played 708 games in the NHL. He scored 249 goals and had 636 assists for a point total of 845 for his career. A +/- of 237 for the career with 43 game winning goals. He won the Hart Trophy and only had 1 fight in his NHL career. Of course it was against a Red Wing, Martin LaPoint. He won 2 Gold medals in the Olympics for Sweden and has 2 Gold Medals and 3 Silver Medals from World Championships he competed in. He currently hold the position of Assistant General Manager of Modo Sports.

Rob Blake - Defense. Blake played for three teams in the NHL: Los Angeles, Colorado, and San Jose. Blake won 1 Stanley Cup while he was with the Avalanche. He was captain of both the Kings and Sharks. He has won Gold in the Olympics in 2002. Blake has won 2 Gold Medals and a Silver Medal at the World Championships. Blake won the Norris Trophy in 1998. He was also named to 6 All-Star teams. Currently, Blake is an Assistant General Manager for the Los Angeles Kings.

Mike Modano - Center. Modano played for two franchises. The Minnesota North Stars who became the Dallas Stars and the Detroit Red Wings. Modano won one Sanley Cup with the Stars. Modano holds records in the NHL for American born players. Most Goals, Points, and Playoff points in a career. An 8 time All-Star, he also won a Silver Medal in the 2002 Olympics. The man had 1374 points and 926 penalty minutes in his NHL career. He too only had one NHL fight and that was against Rod Brind'Amour. Currently, Modano is an alternate governor and executive advisor to the Stars front office.



There are two other people that are going in for their accomplishments inside the sport of hockey. Pat Burns and Bill McCreary. They are also no argument picks.

Pat Burns - Coach. Coached Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and New Jersey. Won a Stanley Cup with the Devils and reached the Finals with the Canadiens. He coached for 14 years (should have been longer), and in the 13 years he coached for the entire year, his teams made the playoffs 12 times. He actually coached the Maple Leafs to the playoffs three consecutive years. That in and of itself should have got him into the Hall seeing how bad the Maple Leafs have been in recent years. He won three Jack Adams awards, being the only coach to do that in his first years with a new team. He is being inducted posthumously to the Hall of Fame. Burns died of Colon Cancer in 2010.



Bill McCreary - Official. The official was a referee in the Finals 14 years, 13 straight from 1995 to 2007. He was also a finals referee in 2009. He refereed the 2002 and 2010 Olympics Gold Medal game. In his career, Bill refereed 1700 regular season games, 282 playoff games, and 1 All-Star game.







There are two sportswriters that are the 2014 Media Honorees: Kevin Allen and Pat Foley.

This is the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame Class. The only sad thing is that Pat Burns is not going to be there. The electors did really well this year.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

JETERS FAREWELL TOUR IN SEATTLE.

Living on the border I have the chance to catch most any team I want in Seattle. This past week my family;(jake dasnake, my wife May, my daughter Taral, and my son in law Mark) took in Jeter's farewell tour. Three of us are rabid Yankee fans, and Mark is a rabid Oakland fan, but despite his shortcomings we love him anyway. The games were the picture perfect version of fans support, every at-bat Jeter had was given a rousing ovation, and with Suzuki playing the support was even more so. The games were good and the right team won all three games.
There is a lot of Yankee support on the west coast and a lot of it coming from Canada. The media was there as they seem to be following him like puppy dogs to every stadium to pick up any little nugget he may drop.  I don't mind these farewell tours as the players who receive them are quite worthy, and I think that staying on the same team for close to 20 years has gained them this right of passage. Chipper and Mariano are two of the latest over the last few years.
The new Safeco Field is a lot different from the old Kingdome.  Back then you could catch a player getting out of his cab and catch an autograph.  That is what happened 20 years ago when Jeter was in his first season.   I caught him coming from his cab and got him to sign a bat I was putting together of Yankees.  That wasn't going to happen this time, not by a long shot, but the fun I had watching the other people going after him made my day.
There are a few things I remember from a lot of games and this series did not change that, outstanding fielding by both teams and the roof closing.  If you never remember anything from a game I tell you the sight of umpteen tons of steel moving slowly along a track over your head, you will remember that. All in all good weather, good camping, and good gamesmanship this was quite an enjoyable time.

In Memoriam: Tony Gwynn

I’m still in shock that Mr. Padre – Mr. San Diego as far as I’m concerned – is gone. Tony Gwynn, the best player the San Diego Padres ever had, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer of the salivary gland. He was 54 years old.

Losing Tony so young hasn’t just been devastating for me, but for everyone that calls the San Diego area home as well as those who once lived here. We didn’t lose the face of the local MLB franchise. We lost an icon.

Tony was the best hitter in my lifetime, and I was around when Rod Carew, Pete Rose and Bill Madlock were the dominant hitters in their eras. But Gwynn was much more than that. Tony became the pillar of our community. He gave his time and money to local charities, did local advertising for businesses, and made many appearances on television and radio to talk baseball.

There are too many favorite Tony Gwynn moments to mention. There was the Captain Video nickname he picked up early in his career when it became known he used game tape to study his hitting technique and opposing pitchers. There was the time Gwynn appeared on The Jim Rome Show, back when Romey was only on radio, and he did a funny imitation of Rickey Henderson talking in the third person that made us instant fans of Rickey upon his arrival in San Diego. Who can forget the ground ball he hit to Ryne Sandberg that turned the tide in the 1984 National League Championship Series? Or that bomb he hit to right field in Yankee Stadium off David Wells in the 1998 World Series?

In an era when major league baseball stars had bodies built by performance enhancing drugs, Gwynn had one built by Betty Crocker. He gave hope to pudgy men that they too could play professional sports at a high level yet not look like the stereotypical athlete.

Or as Jim Rome has said many times over the years, “Fat guys with skill rule!”

Tony Gwynn was special. He could have left San Diego whenever his contract came up, but chose to stay even when the money offered by the Padres wasn’t as much as what he could have made in larger markets. Gwynn could have rode off quietly into the sunset when he retired after the 2001 season, but he became the head coach at San Diego State University and continued to preach baseball gospel to his students as well as fans of both the Padres and Aztecs.

San Diegans will never forget Tony Gwynn for all the wonderful things he did for our community, and we were lucky to have him.

Monday, June 16, 2014

JIMMIE (YAWN) JOHNSON WINS HIS FIRST RACE AT MICHIGAN.

I like Jimmy Johnson, I think he is an asset to the sport, but darn, enough is enough, the media fawns over him if he does not win, the media fawns over him if he wins. Chad and Jimmy are a great team, but I for one would like to see some of the other teams pull wins out, this was a classic example of the Chad and Jimmy show, good planning all race and then holding on at the end. Pole sitter Kevin Harvick came close by placing second by one second, this was the third win out of the last four races to the 48 team, and the fifth in a row for Chevy and Hendrick Motorsports, Keselowski pulled out third, Paul Menard added to his Nationwide win by placing fourth, followed by Kahne, Gordon, and Jr. Speaking of Nationwide and Paul Menard, his win was well received as it is his second win in this series, and after a tire problem took Joey Logano out of contention the win gave Chevy the win in their back yard. On the truck scene the Camping world series race was won by Bubba Wallace in the KBR truck, lots of fun coming up at NASCAR Sonoma this weekend, I was there in '10, Jimmy won there then, Marcus Ambrose made a big mistake, I hope that does not happen this weekend, I mean Marcus, I don't want to dump on Jimmy, nudge nudge.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Your NBA Champions/Game Of Thrones Mashup

There is no other way for me to put it. Tonight’s title-clinching game was the most brutal ending of a season since The Red Wedding on Game of Thrones. It wasn’t just another 20+ victory for the San Antonio Spurs. It was the annihilation of a Miami Heat team that was not only overhyped, but could only go as far as LeBron James could carry them. We remember how that worked out in 2007, don’t we?

Five titles in fifteen years is an amazing accomplishment in the modern era of the NBA. Even more amazing is that head coach Gregg Popovich has reworked his game plan over the years to adapt to the times. Once upon a time, the offense ran through David Robinson. Then it was The Big Three – Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili – and a commitment to team defense that carried the team to an NBA title what seemed like every other year. Now The Big Three are considered role players, and youngsters like Patty Mills and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will lead the team through the rest of this decade with an offense that is reminiscent of Showtime in L.A..

What’s scary about the Spurs isn’t their scoring or their commitment to play together as a team. It’s that after nearly two decades of winning basketball, they have kicked the NBA title window back open years after many people thought it was closed forever.

Will this team be back for a third straight NBA Finals appearance in 2015? A repeat title? If The Big Three and Coach Pop come back, I’m betting on it.

How are you spending this Father's Day

First off, this doesn't have to be a sports related post and your comments don't have to be sports related.  I'd truly like to know how you're spending this Father's Day.  Secondly, you don't even have to be a dad to comment.
My daughters have moved on to lives of their own.  One is married with two young children and will be spending this Father's Day with her husband, the father of her children.  My youngest daughter just moved to Dayton, Ohio within the last week, taking the big leap on her life's journey.  I did get two wonderful phone calls today.
So my adopted son, Todd above, are going to be spending this Father's Day watching some sports, of course.  There is plenty to watch on this particular Father's Day but there could have been even more to watch had the Stanley Cup Finals gone more than five games.  If we had three games out of five go to overtime, with the Kings winning it all in 2OT in game 5, imagine how much fun games 6 or 7 might have been?
But today is still the U.S. Open golf tournament, which I always enjoy watching, although I'd enjoy it much more if Lefty were actually in contention.  Mixed in with watching that I will be watching the Nascar race from Michigan, where the #43 is starting 4th?  I'd take a Petty blue car in victory lane for a Father's day gift...that would be awesome.  Then every four years the World Cup happens.  So I'll be keeping an eye on that a little today since the U.S. isn't playing until tomorrow.  Too bad a good U.S. team is in the Group of Death but, hey, if you want to be the best, what better way to start than beating a couple of the best.
The Red Sox, who have been playing better of late during their roller coaster, less than good season, will be playing this afternoon.  Very few things are better on Father's Day than watching the Sox.  Then tonight is game 6 of the NBA Finals with the Spurs leading 3 games to 1.  I will peek in on that a little tonight.
I hope you all have a great Father's Day, enjoying it in whatever way you like best.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

R.I.P. Malcolm Glazer





Thank you Mr. Glazer. You purchased my favorite NFL team and made them a power for the late 1990s until the mid 2000s. We won a Super Bowl with you at the helm of the team. May you rest in peace. And us Bucs fans do forgive you for purchasing that English football team that shall not be named.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The NFL Pinkiller Lawsuit

8 players have filed a new lawsuit against the NFL for giving them painkillers without telling them all the side effects that the medicine could do to them. Allegedly. Also alleged is that the team doctors gave them the medicine without a prescription and that team doctors did not take good enough care of injured players, with the most serious allegations being that the doctors allowed players to play with broken bones. The doctors knew that the bones were broken, but fed the players painkillers so they could play and did not worry about the broken bones, like Jim McMahon's neck or Keith Van Horne's leg. Allegedly.