Monday, July 22, 2013

Nationals Lose (...again!)

Greetings Sports Fans--DC Homer here (...yawn!)  Sorry about that--quality "sports" has pretty much been on vacation here in the DC area--you know, the "sports town" of the Mid-Atlantic area.

Me, Scott, John, Keith (sports columnist, NJ "Daily Record")
Anyway, a couple of my friends hung out with me this weekend and in between several dozen beers (60-minute IPAs) and the volume of single-malt Scotch (Mccallan 18) known only to God, we managed to take in the "sweep" game of the Nationals-Dodgers series (Dodgers won 9-2).  To say it was hot out there is an understatement, so we decided to hang out in the air conditioned bar and after 8 beers and 6 Scotches, we finally made it to our seats (3rd base line, row "C") in the 6th inning, just before it started to rain.

George Washington of the
Racing Presidents
Talk about sitting on your hands--the fans were as limp and lackluster as the team in red on the field (any surprise that the Nats fired their batting coach today?).  I guess this is the price of success--egos and pressure.  The Nats just ain't got it this year and it looks like we're back to our pre-Cinderella (2011) .500 form.  (...yawn!)

Oh, and since I don't want to violate the BoSox Tavern rules, I have to let you know I was also at the July 3rd snooze fest against the Brew Crew (a 4-1 loss).  I guess the highlight of that game was my boisterous butt chanting Ross Detwiler's name to every between pitch chant ditty:  "Let's Go Det-wiler!"  "R-O-S-S DET-WILER!"  He was my player of the day, much to the chagrin of the fans sitting within 5 rows and 20 seats around me!

(Sorry for all the pics, I just bought a new iPod...and besides, I had to do something to spice up the pretty sucky blog story!)  :-)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

No Choke Job Last Night

It might seem like a shock to some of you, but ever since Robbie Rogers was traded to the L.A. Galaxy I’ve become a fan of the team. Sometimes they break my heart by dominating their opposition only to give up the game winning goal after the 90th minute. Other times they manage to find a way to win.

Last night against the Vancouver Whitecaps was no different. The team was already down three of their top players in Robbie Keane (hip pointer), Landon Donovan (US National Team) and Robbie Rogers (hamstring), but held their own in the opening minutes. In the 19th minute, brutal defensive coverage allowed Camilo to score on a breakaway and the Galaxy found themselves down 1-0. At that point I openly questioned whether or not some members of the Toronto Maple Leafs defense moonlighted as MLS players since this breakdown looked eerily like Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarson getting caught out of position.

The Galaxy came back in the 29th minute on a disputed goal by Jose Villareal, who buried home Omar Gonzalez’s header. Initially the refs did not call it a goal, but then reversed course to make it a tie game. Not everyone agreed with the referee’s decision, including a possibly inebriated bachelor attending the game with Lakers guard Steve Nash as you can see here from this live television clip from Time Warner Sports.

The game remained tied until Gyasi Zardes broke the tie with a SportsCenter worthy goal in the 57th minute, but I don’t think I took a single breath as the teams played four minutes of injury time after 90 minutes. It was only after the final whistle blew when I relaxed, knowing that the Galaxy won the game and moved up to third in the Western Conference.

Phil Phil Phil!

I don't blog often about golf, maybe in great part because I only play often enough (rarely) to maintain my status as near awful; but I do watch it some and pretty much always take in the majors plus the Players Championship.
I've always been a Phil Mickelson fan because the guy is all class, always has his priorities in order, plays left handed like I do and is never, ever a boring watch in a major.  Us Phil fans have long suffered -- initially waiting for him to finally win any major (he now has four -- three Masters and a PGA) and then watching him come in 2nd an unbelievable six times at the US Open, most recently this year and quite often being his own worst enemy.  We've never suffered much watching Lefty play at The Open (the British) because he has rarely played well there -- I want to say 1 top 5 and 2 top 10s.  As I am writing this he is sitting in the clubhouse with a three-shot lead without anyone having a chance to take it away from him.  Whodathunkit?!
He started the day two over par, five behind leader Lee Westwood but only three behind 2nd and 3rd place players.  Phil went out and mostly collected pars (yes, the same Phil) while everyone else stayed a little ahead of him and some fell away like Tiger.  Phil does pick up a birdie in a couple places, has one bogey and with four holes to play is within one shot, I think, with a score of par for the tourney; but then he proceeds to birdie three of the last four holes, while Westwood and Scott and anyone else with a chance faded back.  So when it looked like Phil could get into a playoff when he had a couple holes left to play, he ends up sitting in the clubhouse with a comfortable lead watching the last four or five pairs gain no ground.
So Phil is going to now own three of the four majors and, as he said, if six seconds (second place finishes) counted as a win, he'd own all four.  It should be remembered that he won this tourney when all of the real contenders going into the final round were all legitimate contenders -- at least four guys who'd won majors and a half dozen of the very best in the sport who'd never quite won one, like Westwood, Poulter, Garcia, Stenson and Mahan.  If Phil hadn't won, which I wasn't expecting, I was going to be content with just about any of these other guys winning it; but congrats to someone who deserves it more than anyone.
It should also be mentioned that the young Japanese amateur, Hideki Matsuyama, has finished in the top 10 in the last two majors.  Wow.

Get Off Theo Epstein's Back

The MLB All-Star snooze fest caused me to look at the state of the National League Central. It is by far the toughest division in the Senior Circuit. The Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds are all in position to make the playoffs. The Brewers have been one of those teams that have disappointed and is looking like a lost year from them. However, the team that caught my eye were those lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs. Yes, they are looking like they are going to have another losing record. And while that does make me happy, Astros fan here, I am impressed at what Theo Epstein and his band of merry men have started in the Windy City.

Friday, July 05, 2013

At it again

You can treat this as a chapter 2 to Brent's recent post regarding New England being the epicenter of the sports world last week.  What he left out was the Red Sox, which I filled in to some extent in the comments of that post.  Well, add to that that they went 8-1 on this recent homestand (sorry, RJ, as part of that was sweeping the Padres, which I'll return to in a second) and now suddenly have the best record in baseball and I believe their best record ever on July 4th.
My brother was kind enough to give me and my Cousin Aaron his tickets to the July 4 game as he had plans with his young family.  Thanks, Bro, for giving up your seats in the right field bleachers on arguably the hottest day I've ever sat at a ballgame.  LOL  We had a very good time, gave my new car it's first roadtrip, and watched the Sox win (excuse me, there's a f'ing mosquito in here) and it was a nice excuse for cold beer and hanging with Cuz.
Authentic World Series plaques

Obviously the Bruins had a headline week last week playing in the Cup Final.  Now  comes new that they've traded Tyler Seguin to Dallas in a seven-player deal, Nathan Horton is off to Columbus, Andy Ference to Edmonton and now a headline that they've signed Jerome Iginla to a one-year deal.  I'm not sure about these deals -- Iginla should be a good fit, as will Lui Eriksson but the Bruins gave up a franchise player and did not get one in return.  They've added to their depth, replaced the losses of Peverley, Seguin, Horton and Jagr; added a good? young two-way defenseman and got a couple of prospects but still in my opinion do not have the sniper they sorely need, nor did they get a high draft pick that could result in that franchise player (which incidentally is what I understand Calgary offered them before the draft, although the 6th pick may not have gotten them that player).  We shall see, we shall see.  Would love your thoughts on this.
Then there's the Celtics.  Will they trade Rondo too?  But the big recent news is the signing of young phenom head coach from Butler, Brad Stephens.  I know it's just TV interviews but from those interviews I really like this guy and everyone  lots of experts are saying this is a once-in-a-generation head coaching prospect.  Danny Ainge needs to give him a team, so we will see.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

He Said It: Mikhail Grabovski

"I play in the [expletive] Russian KHL, I make lots of [expletive] points and what's going to happen? He make me [expletive] play on the fourth line and he put me in the playoffs on the fourth line and third line again," Grabovski spewed. "Yeah, I don't score goals. I need to work more about that. I know that. But if you feel support from your coach [you'll find success]. I don't feel any support from this [expletive] idiot." – Mikhail Grabovski, July 4, 2013, per Jonas Siegel, TSN.

I don’t blame Grabbo for burning his bridges on his way out of Toronto. Even in the dark times of this franchise’s history he always gave it his all and never backed down from larger opponents. He deserved a better fate than to play third and fourth-line minutes for a coach that doesn’t seem to know how to get the most out of all of his players.

Remember Joffrey Lupul in Anaheim? That scenario is playing itself out again with Grabovski, and now Leafs Nation is left wondering if general manager Dave Nonis is really this stupid or is he being held captive in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre while head coach Randy Carlyle calls the shots.

It was merely a coincidence that I had started drinking at 9am this morning when news leaked that the Leafs were using a non-compliance buyout to shed Grabbo’s $27.5 million contract, which had four more years to run. Presumably, this gives the Leafs more cap space to make a run at more than one free agent. It can be argued that this is the dumbest move that Nonis has made since he took over for Brian Burke, but let’s withhold judgment until tomorrow. If Nonis signs Stephen Weiss, David Clarkson and/or Rob Scuderi, then I’m okay with this move. Anything less, including paying Tyler Bozak the equivalent of 8 million tins of Kiwi shoe polish over the next eight years to masquerade as a top-six center, and there will be lots of furious anger from Leafs Nation this coming weekend.

I’m sad to see Grabbo go. Part of me wishes he’d sign with a division rival like the Detroit Red Wings just to make Carlyle’s life a living hell a handful of times a year. But whomever signs him will be getting a great second-line center that can score 20-30 a year if he’s given more ice time than the ice girls. Hopefully he’ll find a team that will appreciate his talents more than Carlyle ever did.