Cubs


Quick Update

I haven’t gotten a lot of chances to write recently primarily because of work consuming about 12 – 13 hours of my day. I am out of the house at 7 a.m. most days and end up taking the train (or bus) back after 6 p.m. I am a week away from completing my initial three month contract here at Chartis and it is remarkable how quickly time has gone by. There has been plenty of chatter about converting me to a full-time employee now but I have yet to receive an offer, so I will withhold further comment on that until there is actually something to write about.

As another promising but disappointing Blue Jays season winds down, it is important to note that the Yankees have played six games in Toronto since I have moved here. The more interesting fact is that the only two games they have won from those six happened to be the ones that I attended – including the Tuesday night. Jays have to find a way to turn things around quickly as the division seems to become more and more competitive every year.

Hockey season is right around the corner with the Leafs playing their season opener against Montreal a week from today (and about 3 blocks from my work). You can already see the swarm of blue and white jerseys around downtown with people heading towards the preseason games around the same time as I leave work.

I recently searched for Maple Leafs tickets as I have never seen them play at home but the cheapest available at the moment for a Hockey Night In Canada game is $100+ a ticket for a game in February. Maybe holding out on buying a Leafs’ ticket is the best option right now as I’m afraid the hockey season will be disappointing again as a Leafs’ fan. The Maple Leafs have missed out on the postseason in each of the last five years and the primary goal for Toronto this year will be to end the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s storied history. Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf are clearly the two new stars on the team and hopefully can spark something miraculous.

This is the place where legends are made of. Just like the players who ended the Red Sox World Series drought, the players who bring home the championship to teams like the Cubs or the Maple Leafs and hopefully something good happens soon.


The Long Weekend (of Sports)

I went up to Canada for the long weekend on Thursday morning and came back late last night on a drive that lasted much longer than I had anticipated. Sure there was going to be some traffic considering the number of people coming back from their 4th of July holidays but an 8 hour drive ended up taking nearly 12 – there was a stretch early on by the border where it took well over an hour and a half to cross a one mile distance to get into the United States.

Anyway Canada was good as usual. I went to a wedding, played some basketball, cricket and Halo as well as hearing about the wacky Yankee/Red Sox series and catching the first two plus sets of the Nadal/Federer Wimbledon final. Unfortunately I had to leave to comeback and miss arguably the greatest tennis match ever played. Go catch an online clip of it if you can, I’ll put up an update later tonight.

Baseball news before the NHL stuff. Brewers really surprised me in acquiring C.C. Sabathia for four prospects and giving themselves two top of the line starting pitchers (Ben Sheets). Sheets is 10-2 with 2.77 ERA – by far the best start of this career to go with CC who is only 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA. Keep in mind though that the Indians scored two runs or fewer in 11 of his 18 starts this season. Brewers stand at 3.5 games behind the division leading Cubs but are tied for the lead in the Wildcard with their division foes St. Louis Cardinals. This race can get real interesting with those three teams having the top three records in the National League but only two spots are available to them and the race could get even more crowded if the Mets finally decide to heat up a little and the Phillies continue their decline.

As for the NHL news today that there will be second New Year’s Winter Classic Day game – this time at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. It was a fantastic game last year especially with the large crowd outdoors and I was kinda hoping they would do it at Yankee Stadium this year so maybe I had a chance to go see it but that didn’t pan out. Anyways, I’ll make sure to catch this game on tv just as I did the one last year.

Last New Year’s Day, more people tuned in to see the NHL play outdoors than any other regular-season game in more than a decade.

The Penguins-Sabres game in snowy Buffalo — the first regular-season outdoor NHL game in the United States — drew a 2.6 overnight rating and a 5 share on NBC. Each ratings point represents about 735,000 households; the rating is the percentage watching a telecast among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into a broadcast among those households with televisions on at the time. Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States.

The 2.6/5 were the best numbers since a six-game regional telecast on Fox drew a 3.0 overnight rating and a 7 share on Feb. 3, 1996.

The Winter Classic ratings also surpassed Wayne Gretzky’s final game, which was broadcast on Fox on April 18, 1999, and drew a 2.5/6. Article

P.S. The MLB All-Star game from Yankee Stadium is coming up. I’m sure this media coverage on that in the tri-state is going to be crazy. Hopefully its a memorable one.


New Beast In The AL East

I’m not sure whether to include them in book yet or not, but the story of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 Major League Baseball seems like a story written in Hollywood. Here is a team who is at 50-32 at about the halfway point of the season – Tampa lost their 32nd game on June 5th last year and won their 50th game on August 25th. At that point they were already 28.5 games behind the division leader in the AL East.

This year is a whole different story. The AL East division leader is a team who had finished anywhere but the basement of the division only once in the franchise history (4th in 2004) and stand with the best record in all of baseball. I know my brother and I would talk about it every spring training that this year might be the year that Tampa really surprises some people but every year they would get bogged down by injuries or lack of depth in their pitching staff. They usually had a decent offense to hold their own in a competitive AL East against the offensive powerhouses of the Yankees, Red Sox and when they felt like it the Blue Jays. Again, this year is a whole different story.

Where did this team come from? A record of 31-13 (.705) at home and .500 on the road, having their worst losing streak of the season (4 games) in the first two weeks of the season from April 6-9 either shows this team has yet to hit a mid season slump or is capable of bouncing back after losses to avoid long losing streaks. They have had two separate streaks of winning at least 6 games (4/22-4/27 and  5/8-5/13) already, they are 15-10 in one run games and 14-10 in games decided by five or more runs.  They are combined 9-11 against the Red Sox (4-6) and the Yankees (5-5) after 20 games. Four out of their first five series following the All-Star break are against teams that are below .500 (Blue Jays, Royals, Mariners, and Indians) with the only series being against Detroit Tigers who finally cracked .500 for the first time all season.

Tampa Bay Rays have gone 42-21 since starting of the season at 8-11, 33-17 in their past 50 games and along the way have managed to piss off the Yankees and Red Sox with a few punches and hard slides as well. What else can you really ask for from a team who who went 67-95 last year – Rays are only 17 wins away from last year’s total and it’s only the half way point of the season.

Just take a look at some of these stats:

  • Days in First Place: 21 (had only been in first about 12-15 days in their entire 10 year franchise history prior to this year)
  • Most Games over .500: 18 games (50-32 as of right now)
  • Most Games under .500: 3 games (on 4/20 when they dropped to 8-11, have gone 42-21 since)
  • Biggest Division Lead: 1.5 games (over Red Sox as of right now)
  • Furthest Behind Leader: 5.0 games (last time on 4/22)

A good majority of these stats are from http://www.baseball-reference.com. If you are a baseball fan, this is a must visit site. It really has a ton of stats and is constantly being updated.

Anyways, here is to hoping that the Rays have just as successful of a 2nd half as they did in the first and what a World Series match-up it would be if itwas the Rays against the lovable losers in Chicago Cubs. Two franchises marred with losing stretches, on the brink of greatness.