Tagged: Kobe Bryant

Aren’t the Yankees supposed to rule the Winter Meetings?…


After more than a year of speculation and news about the Albert Pujols contract negotiations, he shocks the world and accepts Arte Moreno’s $250 million to go to Anaheim.  I guess you can blame the Yankees for this one.  Don’t they always get the blame?  If the Yanks hadn’t gone on a spending binge several years to secure the services of then-Angels first baseman Mark Texeira, the Los Angeles Angels would not have been in the market for a top shelf first baseman.  Albert, of course, is more than top shelf, he is THE top shelf.  Still, I was surprised by the move.  The Angels have Mark Trumbo returning, a player they control, and a healthy Kendrys Morales.  I am sure that there are other areas of the team that could have used upgrades.

The Angels did follow up immediately with the signing of top free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I had a feeling that Wilson would be headed to the West Coast despite the Miami Marlins pursuit of the former Texas Ranger.  He leaves the top of the rotation for perhaps the #3 or #4 slot with the Angels.  The Philadelphia Phillies have been recognized for the best rotation, but the Angels cannot be too far behind with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and now Wilson leading the rotation.  I don’t know who the #5 starter is for the Angels off the top of my head, but does it really matter?  You could probably go grab Mark Langston out of retirement and throw him in the rotation…it wouldn’t matter.

This has to be a reactionary move by owner Arte Moreno.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to re-capture the LA market once a reputable, financially-sound owner or ownership group takes control of the team.  After being considered the class of the AL West for years, the Angels have become an understudy for the Texas Rangers.  Today’s moves clearly re-establish the Angels as the class of the AL West, and perhaps of the American League.

I do feel bad for the St Louis Cardinals and their fans.  As an iconic player, the fans deserved to see Albert play his entire career in St Louis.  Stan “The Man” Musial is beloved to this day, and Albert is the first Cardinals player that could have rivaled Musial after his playing days are over.  Now, Albert will never be automatically thought of as a Cardinal.  He’ll carve out a legacy as an Angel, and will give us reasons to remember him in Anaheim.  A very disappointing day for the Cardinals.  No offense to Lance Berkman, but that’s a big drop-off from Albert.

The Miami Marlins had looked like the crown prince of the Winter Meetings with their acquisitions of Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle, but they were torched on the last day by the Angels.  It’s been a good off-season for the Angels, who earlier picked up a new backstop in Chris Iannetta.

Meanwhile, I can hear crickets at Yankee Stadium…

A little bit of nothing…

The Yankees did win the posting for Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, but based on the reports I’ve read, the Yankees will have difficulty signing him.  The leading speculation is that he’ll return to Japan for another season and then sign with the Boston Red Sox next winter.  That would really stink if the Yankees lost a prospect to their bitter rival.  But from Nakajima’s perspective, Boston could offer him a starting role at shortstop (something the Yankees could not do) and their manager has tremendous experience with Japanese players.  The posting I want the Yankees to win is for pitcher Yu Darvish, but reports indicate the Yankees interest is lukewarm.  Of course, that could always be a ploy to help keep posting bids down, but the lukewarm comments certainly proved to be accurate for the Yankees interest in C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.

I remain hopeful that the Yankees have started the groundwork for a successful acquisition of a pitcher like Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, or Kyle Drabek.  Brian Cashman may feel that he doesn’t need to do anything with a 97-win team, but I heard a GM on MLB Radio say that if you’re standing pat, you are getting worse.  I agree that you need to consistently seek upgrades and for the most part, the Yankees stood pat last season.  Catcher Russell Martin was huge, but at the time of the signing, it was very low key.  Same with the signings of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  It’s been a very long time since Yankees fans have had a reason to feel great excitement and joy for a player acquisition like the Angels experienced today.  Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are getting older and certainly not better…

I know, we’re Yankees fans, we want it all…

Go New York!…

Now that the NBA is back, I am at the crossroads.  I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan in recent years, primarily because of my appreciation for Kobe Bryant as a player.  But as funny as this sounds as a Yankees fan, I am tired of backing a team that is always expected to win and often does.  I want a team that has suffered so that when the team does win, there is greater satisfaction.  As a result, I am switching my allegiance to a team that has my favorite player, Amare Stoudemire as well as my second favorite player, Carmelo Anthony…the New York Knicks.

First year in Minnesota, worst year in the history of the franchise…

Despite my relocation to Minnesota, I remain committed in my support of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.  And despite their 2-10 record, I am still a Vikings fan.  On the bright side as a Vikings fan, I won’t have to wait long to find out who the Vikings select in the NFL Draft in April 2012.  At this point in the season, you’re pulling for losses, hoping the team can overtake the Indianapolis Colts for the worst record.  But of course, that’s a moot issue if the Colts can’t win a game. This is probably one of the first years ever that I’ve accepted and embraced that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl.  It’s easier to say that when your team was left for dead long ago.

I need one of my teams to step forward and win a championship.  It’s been a drought since 2009, and I need something to cheer about!



The Machine is Moving Again!…


When the season started, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes were 4th and 5th in the starting rotation.  It’s the 2nd of June, and both pitchers stand with 7-1 marks.  Given the struggles that Javier Vazquez has experienced and to a lesser degree, A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes are the primary reasons the Yankees are in the thick of the AL East chase.  With Vazquez starting to pitch much better and knowing that Burnett and Sabathia will come around, the pitching potential for the remainder of the year is very bright. 


Today’s game was an all-around team effort as most of the starters played a role in scoring.  Mark Teixeira was 0-for-5 but it was a success to have him on the field given the ball he took off the foot yesterday causing him to exit that game prematurely.  Hughes went 7 innings, giving up 6 hits while striking out 7 in the 9-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.  Chad Gaudin pitched 2 innings of scoreless relief. 


The game also marked the return of Jorge Posada who was penciled in at DH.  Posada was 1-for-3 with a run scored. 


The hitting star of the game was, of course, Robinson Cano.  Robby went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s.   He also hit his 12th home run of the season in the 7th inning.  He is batting .373 for the season and has been superb batting 5th behind Alex Rodriguez in the batting order. 


Both Boston and Tampa won again tonight?  Bummer! 


In a statement of the obvious, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers threw the third perfect game of the season even if the record books won’t show it.  Unfortunately, first base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call in the 9th inning when he ruled Cleveland’s Jason Donald safe at first even though Miguel Cabrera’s toss to Galarraga beat Donald to the bag.  Galarraga settled for the one-hitter, but it was the perfect game with the imperfect umpire.  “I just cost that kid a perfect game,” the ump said after the game. “I thought he beat the throw.  I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”


I was saddened to see Ken Griffey, Jr.’s decision to retire today.    Until he left Seattle for Cincinnati, Junior was on track to have a historic career.  Injuries took their toll on Griffey during the Cincinnati years and he was never the same.  He departs with 630 career home runs, but he would have been in the land of Ruth, Aaron and Bonds had he stayed healthy.  I wish Junior the very best in his post-playing career.  Thanks for the memories! 


Well, it is once again time for another wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  We had hoped for a Stanley Cup Final involving her Boston Bruins and my San Jose Sharks.  However, both teams fell victim to the number 4 in their respective conference finals.  The Sharks were swept 4 games to none by the Chicago Blackhawks, while the Bruins blew a 3 games to none lead on the Philadelphia Flyers.  Nevertheless, our respective NBA teams have made it to the finals so it gives us the opportunity to place another bet.  Besides Julia needs a team other than the Red Sox if she ever hopes to win a wager again!  😉  Seriously, if the Boston Celtics win the championship, I will be the not-so-proud recipient of a Celtic championship t-shirt and of course proof will have to appear on my blog.   If the Los Angeles Lakers win, Julia will be seen wearing a purple and gold championship Lakers t-shirt.  For me, this is about revenge given the Lakers’ loss to the Celtics two years ago.  Kobe Bryant has had a tremendous career, but he needs a championship victory over Boston to add to his legacy.  So, here’s hoping that Kobe and the gang are victorious in their championship drive!  Let’s go Lakers! 



Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad…


A “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” kind of weekend…



On Saturday morning, when I saw the Mets starting pitcher (an unknown, at least to me, by the name of Fernando Nieve), I figured that the Yankees were going to have an offensive field day.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the Yankees just don’t play very well against pitchers they’ve never faced before.  Nieve, a former Astro, got his first win since June 25, 2006 by allowing only 4 hits and 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings. 




Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte looked pathetic. 


Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images


Former Yankee minor leaguer Omir Santos hit a two-run homer in the second inning to set the tone for the day.


Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images


The Mets pounded out 17 hits enroute to the 6-2 victory.  Every Mets starter had at least one hit, and Gary Sheffield homered against his former team for the second straight day.  It was not a fun game, and it was obvious that the Yanks had mentally checked out of this game.  When you watch the Boston Red Sox, they never give up and battle to the end.  So, it was disappointing to see the Yanks throw in the towel…


Give Up.JPG


On Sunday, after the Yanks disappointing performance the previous day and Johan Santana on the mound for the Mets, it didn’t look promising.  My only hope was for A.J. Burnett to try and keep it close so that perhaps Tex or A-Rod could come up with a key hit in the later stages of the game.  What I saw shocked me, to say the least.  When you analyze the line scores for the two starting pitchers, you’d assume that Burnett must have had a bad day…

Pitcher A


















Pitcher B


















Fortunately, Pitcher A was the Mets’ Johan Santana, who suffered the worst start of his career.



Nick Laham/Getty Images 


A.J. Burnett pitched a terrific game.  Of course, it helps when your team stakes you to a 13-0 lead after only four innings.  But the Burnett of the last few starts, excluding the debacle in Boston, is the pitcher the Yanks thought they were getting in the off-season when they signed him to the big contract.


AJ Burnett.JPG 


As the Mets did the previous day, the Yankees pounded out 17 hits, including three by catcher Francisco Cervelli.  Jose Molina who?…




The Yankees got the scoring started in the second inning with run-scoring singles by Cervelli and Derek Jeter, as well as a two-run single by Johnny Damon.  I guess he is over his “fluttering eye” issue…



What, no homers?  Don’t worry; they were on the way…



In the 4th, the Yankees scored 9 runs and ran Santana out of the game.  The weekend birthday boy, Hideki Matsui, hit a two-run homer to start the scoring.  Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon knocked in runs with an infield single and a double, respectively.  Jeter scored when Alex Rodriguez hit into a double-play.  Robinson Cano followed with a two-run homer, scoring A-Rod.  Melky Cabrera capped the scoring with a two-run double, but he ended the inning attempting to stretch out the double to a triple.



Sipkin/New York Daily News


Four innings, a 13 run lead, and Johan Santana in the showers…the game was effectively ended at that point.  The Yanks did pick up a couple more RBI’s by Ramiro Pena and Robinson Cano in the 7th inning, but the Fat Lady had already sung…


Its Over.JPG


Phil Hughes looked like he was going to ruin the shutout in the 9th inning, when he allowed two base runners.  But he settled down, and got the final outs.  So, thanks largely to Friday’s gift from Luis Castillo, the Yankees won the Subway Series, two games to one.

The Red Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen’s Bank Park, 11-6, so the Yankees closed the gap back to two games. 


Jimmy Rollins´ solo home run gave the Phillies the lead in the seventh inning. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer, Philly.com 


The two teams have a much needed break on Monday, before they resume interleague play.  The Red Sox return home to Fenway Park to face owner John Henry’s former team, the Florida Marlins.  Meanwhile, the Yanks will see old friend Nick Johnson when the Washington Nationals travel to Yankee Stadium.  Of course, I wonder who the manager of the Nationals will be…Manny Acta or someone else…


Manny Acta

Brian Blanco/AP


It’s been a great day…almost perfect, in fact!  The only thing that could be better would be the crowning of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as the 2009 NBA Champions!


Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson

Chris Carlson/AP


Go Lakers, but more importantly…

Go Yankees!