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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals Preview

 
New Jersey Devils vs LA Kings
 

New Jersey finished the regular season with 102 points and a 48-28-6 record. The Devils finished in a tie for the fifth most points in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Bruins. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils in points with 83, and goals with 37. Forward Patrik Elias had 52 assists to lead the team. Bryce Salvador, a defenseman, led the team with a plus/minus of +18. Goaltender Martin Brodeur finished the season with a 31-24-4 record, and a goals against average of 2.41.

In the Playoffs, the Devils; defeated the Florida Panthers in seven games (with Adam Henrique scoring the OT winner in game seven), the Philadelphia Flyers in five games, and the New York Rangers in seven games.

New Jersey's leading scorer in the playoffs is Iyla Kovalchuk; he leads the team in goals(7), assists(11), and points(18). Forward, Adam Henrique, has ended two playoff series in OT. (Panthers and Rangers.) Martin Brodeur has a 12-5 record, and a 2.04 Goals against average in the playoffs.

LA finished eighth in the Western Conference, off a 40-27-15 record in regular season play. The Kings were second to last in goals per game, scoring just 2.3 per game. LA's leading scorer during regular season play was forward Anze Kopitar. He finished with 76 points. Kopitar, also led the Kings in goals(25), and assists(51). Defenseman, Willie Mitchell, led the Kings with a +20, in the plus/minus statistic. Goaltender, Jonathon Quick, finished the regular season with a 35-21-13 record. He recorded a 1.91 goals against average, good for second in the league.

Dustin Brown, a forward, and Jonathon Quick are been the biggest reasons the 8th seeded Kings are in the Stanley Cup Finals. In the playoffs, Quick leads all goalies with a 1.54 goals against average, and a .946 save percentage. He also is 12-2 in the playoffs. Brown has 7 goals, and 9 assists for 16 points. He, and teammate Anze Kopitar, are the only players averaging over a point per game left in the playoffs. 

The Kings have rolled through the playoffs, needing only 14 games in three series to make the Finals. LA defeated; the Vancouver Canucks in 5 games in round 1, the St. Louis Blues in 4 games in round 2, and the Phoenix Coyotes in 5 games in the Western Conference Finals.


The advantage at the forward position is a wash between these two teams. LA has two great scoring lines, and a very productive third and fourth line. New Jersey has more depth at forward than LA. They also have two stars in Kovalchuk and Parise, so this is a really tight matchup.

The  Kings have a slight edge at the defensive position. Drew Doughty is a stud D-man and he leads the Kings D corps. LA also gets big contributions from veterans Willie Mitchell, and Rob Scuderi on the back end. New Jersey's defense is led by Anton Volchenkov, and Bryce Salvador. Peter Harrold is able to chip in offensively, for the Devils.

This is a great goaltending matchup between these two teams. Jonathon Quick is the best goalie in the NHL, and has been the best goalie in the playoffs. Martin Brodeur was the best goalie for many years in the NHL, and is the best goalie of all-time. This is the most important matchup of the Finals. Whoever wins the goaltending duel, will win the Stanley Cup.

The Pick: Devils in 7
LA is the favorite and they should be, as they beat the top three seeds in the West on their way to the finals, and it only took them 14 games to do it. The Kings are also undefeated in eight games on the road this postseason. The Kings have had eight days off since their last game though, and could be rusty. The Devils are peaking right now. They have the momentum from beating their hated rival, the New York Rangers, in the Eastern Conference Finals. NJ is also playing for Martin Brodeur, as he may be retiring after this series is finished.

Both teams will forecheck and play aggresive hockey, which should make for a thirlling Stanley Cup Finals. This should be a long series with multiple ovetime games, because the two teams are so evenly matched. In the end, I believe Brodeur's experience will win out in the seventh and deciding game for New Jersey.

Celtics at Heat pick

 

Celtics(+8) at Heat OVER/UNDER 178
Lebron and Wade controlled game one of this series, for the Heat. Boston could not score in the second half, as they ended up with just 33 points combined in the third and fourth quarters, or two less points then they scored in the second quarter alone. The Celtics looked tired in the second half. Their second round series against Philly looked like it took a toll on this old team. Miami was definitely the fresher team. Can the veteran Celtics recover, and put forth a better effort tonight?
The Pick: Miami 92 Boston 85

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thunder at Spurs game 2 pick








Thunder(+5) at Spurs OVER/UNDER  203
The Thunder need this game to stay in this series, and slow down the Spurs momentum. With a win, the Spurs will grab a commanding 2-0 lead on the Thunder.
THE PICK: Thunder 101 Spurs-99 under

Monday, May 28, 2012

Celtics at Heat pick against the spread




Boston(+8) at Miami OVER/UNDER 180

Boston is coming off a grueling seven game series against the Sixers, and they are banged up. They played on Saturday night and then had to travel to Miami. Miami has been off and is well rested. The Heat also have the two best players in this series. Look for Wade and James to cause havoc on the defensive end, which will lead to easy buckets on the offensive end. Boston is a veteran team and has to be running on fumes right now. It might be in there best interest to rest players, if this gets out of hand early.

The Pick Miami 90 Boston 76/ Under

NBA Conference Final Previews

 


Eastern Conference Final
#5 Boston Celtics at #2 Miami Heat
Miami is the favorite in this series, as well they should be. Boston is extremely banged up, and will need Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo to play out of there minds, in order to upset the Heat. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are both battling leg injuries for the Celtics. Boston will also be without Avery Bradley, a key cog for them, for the rest of the playoffs. Miami will likely be without Chris Bosh, for the entirety of this series.

Miami is of course led by D'Wayne Wade and Lebron James. Those two account for the majority of the Heat's offense. The Heat have no bench and will need Wade and James to continue their stellar play to beat the Celtics. Miami is well rested and will have the home court advantage in this series.

The Celtics are fielding a team that has four star players, but two of them are playing at about 60%. Boston will need an epic Rajon Rondo series to keep them competitive. The Celtics rely on their defense, but they have no one that can keep up with Lebron or Wade. Boston struggles to score, and that will be more of a problem against the Heat then it was in there previous two series. Unless Ray Allen and Paul Pierce can get HGH shots to cure their respective injuries, this will be a short series.

The Pick: Miami in 5 games. This would be a much more competitive series, if Pierce was healthy, but he can't guard Lebron on one leg. Lebron should dominate this match-up, if he doesn't, he will never win an NBA Title.

Western Conference Final
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder at #1 San Antonio Spurs
The Thunder blew game 1. They had an 11 point lead to start the fourth quarter and they allowed the Spurs to come back and win. This does not bode well for them. The Spurs have won 19 games in a row. They have won there first nine playoff games. The last team to do that was the 2001 LA Lakers, who went on to win there first 11 playoff games en route to the 2001 NBA Title.

OKC is led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. In order to come back and win this series, they will need Westbrook and Harden to play much better. The Thunder thrive when they can get out and run in the open court. If they can do this, they will make this a long series and mabe even win it. If the Thunder have to settle for jump shots, the Spurs will win this series. The Thunder have the young legs, but the Spurs have the playoff experience.

The Spurs are led by Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. If these two guys out play Westbrook and Harden, this will be a quick series win for the Spurs. San Antonio gets contributions from every player that steps on the court for them. They also have a great coach in Greg Popovich. He is far and away the best coach in the NBA, and provides his team with a huge advantage. This Spurs team has rolled through the NBA playoffs so far, and they appear to be unstoppable.

The Pick. Spurs in 7 games. The Thunder showed they can play with the Spurs, but the Spurs are too well coached and have too much depth to lose this series. This should be the best series of the NBA Playoffs, as both teams are extremely talented, can score the ball, and play hard. The Spurs experience will be the difference maker in this series.

Top 5 MLB Hitters in MLB Part 5









#5 Willie Mays
#4 Rogers Hornsby
#3 Babe Ruth
#2 Ted Williams
#1 Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb, "The Georgia Peach" is far and away the greatest hitter in MLB history. When Cobb retired, he held over 90 MLB records. He still owns the highest lifetime Batting Average in MLB history(.366). In his career, the Georgia Peach won 12 American League batting titles. A record that still stands today. Cobb, won a record nine consecutive batting titles from 1907-1915. Cobb also finished second in batting average three times. His nearest competitors have eight career batting titles(Tony Gwynn and Honus Wagner). Ty Cobb batted over .400 three times in his 24 year career. Cobb holds the records for highest batting average over a two year span(.414 over 1911 and 1912), and a three year span(.408 from 1911 to 1913).

The Peach finished his career with 4,191 hits, an MLB record, that stood until Pete Rose broke it in 1985. Some of Cobb's other records that have since been broken; most career runs 2,246, broke in 2001, most career games played 3,035, broke in 1974, most career at bats 11,434, broke in 1974, most career stolen bases 892, broke in 1977. Ty played 24 years in the MLB and was elected by 222 of  226 voters for the inaugural Hall of Fame class. His 98.2% of the vote was higher than any player on the ballot, which included; Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner and other greats. The Georgian also won the AL triple crown in 1909.

An average Cobb season over 162 games looks like this; 162 games played, 698 plate appearances, 611 at bats, 120 runs, 224 hits, 39 doubles, 16 triples, 6 home runs, 103 RBI, 48 stolen bases, 67 walks, 36 strikeouts, .366 batting average, .433 on base percentage, .512 slugging percentage, and 313 total bases. That is just an average season over his 24 year career. That is an amazing stat line.

Ty Cobb is second all time in career offensive WAR(wins above replacement level) with 144.9 win shares. The Georgia Peaches career stats; .366 lifetime batting average first all-time, 4,191 hits second all-time, .433 on base percentage ninth all-time, .512 slugging percentage 71st all-time, 3,034 games played fifth most all-time, 11,434 at bats fifth all-time, 2, 246 runs scored second all-time, 5,854 total bases fifth all-time, 724 doubles second all-time, 295 triples second all-time, 1,938 RBI seventh all-time, 897 stolen bases fourth all-time, 3,053 singles, second all-time, 1,136 extra base hits 12th all-time, and he was on base 5,532 times good for third all-time.

I believe Cobb to be the greatest hitter of all-time and it is not even close. He was the top hitter of his generation. A generation that only used one or two baseballs per game. These balls were much different from the baseballs used in 1920 and thereafter. They were not wound tight, and they did not carry nearly as far as the modern baseball. Despite these differences, the Georgia Peach still managed to hit .366 for his career. Cobb played in an era that was much different than today's, but he was that generations top slugger. His power numbers compare favorably with the greats when you factor in the different era he played in.

Here is a story  that best sums up his career. On May 5, 1925, Cobb began a two-game hitting spree better than any even Ruth had unleashed. He was sitting in the dugout talking to a reporter and told him that, for the first time in his career, he was going to swing for the fences. That day, Cobb went 6 for 6, with two singles, a double, and three home runs. His 16 total bases set a new AL record, which stood until May 8th, 2012 when Josh Hamilton hit four home runs and a double for a total of 18 bases. The next day he had three more hits, two of which were home runs. Cobb's single his first time up gave him 9 consecutive hits over three games. Cobb wanted to show that he could hit home runs when he wanted, but simply chose not to do so. At the end of the series, 38-year-old Cobb had gone 12 for 19 with 29 total bases. The fact that he could do that shows he is by far the greatest hitter of all-time.

part 4

part 3

part 2

part 1


Friday, May 25, 2012

NHL Pick

 
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils

The Devils own a 3-2 series lead and are looking to close out NY tonight. This series should be over already, as the Devils have really dominated the play throughout in this series. Without Henrik Lundqvist's solid play in goal, the Rangers would be eliminated and golfing already. The Devils have gotten out to fast starts all series long, if they can put one past Lundqvist early they should win the game. NY needs to score first, as it has lost its last seven games win giving up the first goal of a game. The Rangers also appear tired and scoring the first goal could give them some much needed energy and momentum. Just like this series this game could go either way. Whichever goalie plays better, and makes the key saves at the right time will win this game.

The Pick NJ 2- NY 1- Martin Brodeur has a chance to get to another Stanley Cup Final at the age of 40 with a victory tonight. I think he outplays Lundqvist and the Devils advance to the Finals.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Top 5 MLB Hitters in MLB History part 4







#5 Willie Mays
#4 Rogers Hornsby
#3 Babe Ruth

#2 Ted Williams
Ted Williams, "The Splendid Splinter" is the second greatest hitter in MLB history. "The Kid" is the last player to hit .400 in the MLB. He batted .406 in 1941. Williams won two triple crowns in the American League(1942 and 1947). He was also a two time AL MVP. (1946 and 1949).  Williams' career was interrupted twice by War during his prime. He served in World War II; missing the 1943,44,and 45 seasons. He also served during the Korean War missing the 1952 season and most of the 1953 season. Williams owns the highest lifetime batting average(.344) of anyone who hit more then 500 HRs. After 19 seasons in the MLB, "The Kid" was elected to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1966 with 93.4% of the voters electing him.

Williams average season for 162 games look like this: 545 At Bats, 127 Runs, 188 hits, 37 Doubles, 5 Triples, 37 Homeruns, 130 Runs Batted In, 143 Walks, 50 Strikeouts, .344 Batting Average, .482 On Base Percentage, .634 Slugging Percentage, and 345 Total Bases. Some of these totals are lower than they should be. Williams played just 6 games in 1952, and 37 games in 1953, because he was serving in Korea.

The Splendid Splinter has a lifetime Offensive War of 122.9 this is good for sixth all-time. His career batting average of .344 is good for eighth all-time. Williams won six AL batting titles. Williams' .482 on base percentage is the best of all-time. He either walked or got a hit 48.2 % of the time he came to the plate. That is 12 percentage points higher than his nearest competitor.  Williams' .634 slugging percentage is the second best of all-time. His 521 career HRs are good for 18th in MLB history. Ted finished his career with 1,839 RBI fourteenth most in history. His 2,021 walks are good for fourth most in MLB history.

Williams is the second greatest hitter in MLB history. He put up all of his numbers, despite missing almost five years of his prime serving his country in WWII and Korea. If his career had not been interrupted, he would have over 3,000 hits and probably close to 700 HRs. He definitely would be in the top ten all-time in RBIs, and probably would have won at least one more batting title. It is hard to judge where to put Williams in the pantheon of greatest hitters of all-time, because of his missed time serving during the war. Even if you just judge him by the numbers he put up, he is definitely a top five hitter of all-time. If you judge him by adding his career averages to the five seasons he missed, he definitely is a top two hitter of all-time. I think you have to judge Ted on what he could have done in those five seasons he missed serving his country and in my judgement he is the second best hitter in MLB history.



Top 5 Hitters in MLB part 3


NBA Pick





Miami Heat(-2.5) at Indiana Pacers  OVER/UNDER 182 points
GAME 6
The Heat will be without Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman. Both players were suspended for flagrant fouls they delivered in game 5. With Chris Bosh already out hurt, we get to see the return of Eddy Curry to play center. This should be fun. The Pacers potentially could be without more important players to their team, as they could be without Danny Granger tonight, as he was injured in game 5. Indiana's David West, also hurt in game 5, is expected to play in tonight's game. The Pacers blew their chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead by blowing game 4 at home. Indiana followed up there game 4 loss, by suffering the worst defeat in their franchise's playoff history in game 5. The Pacers have had no answer for Lebron and Wade in the second halves of the previous two games played in this series. Paul George and Roy Hibbert will have to carry this Pacers squad tonight. I do not see that happening.

The Pick: Miami 92- Indiana 88

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Top 5 MLB Hitters in History Part 3



#5 Willie Mays
#4 Rogers Hornsby

#3 Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth is generally considered the greatest hitter of all-time, but that is highly overblown in my opinion. Of course The Babe was a great hitter, but he also benefited greatly from new rules in the MLB. The MLB adopted a new baseball that flew out of the park with much greater ease in 1920 and thereafter. This coincided with Ruth's ascension to greatness after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920. Another rule change in 1920, and thereafter was tossing out baseballs after they became scuffed, muddied, and discolored from being used. Before 1920, MLB games where generally played with just one or two baseballs. This obviously led to balls becoming disfigured and discolored, even lopsided. This made it harder to see the baseball, and even harder to hit the ball with any kind of power. Another rule that benefited Ruth and the rise of the Homerun; was the outlawing of the spit ball and other doctoring of the baseball by pitchers.

After the previous paragraph disparaging Ruth, let's discuss how good he was. When Ruth retired in 1935 he was the MLB'S all-time leader in HR with 714. He was also the MLB'S all-time RBI leader with 2213. The Babe, is also number 1 all-time in offensive WAR with 151.3 win shares. Ruth was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936 with his name appearing on 95.1% of the ballots cast. This was the first class of the Hall of Fame, and only Ty Cobb finished ahead of Ruth on the ballot.

Babe Ruth's average 162 game season looks like this; 544 At bats, 141 runs scored, 186 hits, 33 doubles, 9 triples, 46 HR,  143 Runs batted in,  8 stolen bases, 133 walks, 86 strikeouts, .342 batting average, .474 on base percentage, .690 slugging percentage, and 375 total bases.

Ruth is; third all-time in HRs with 714, second all-time in RBI's with 2.213, third all-time with 2,062 walks, and fourth all-time with 1,356 extra base hits. Babe's career batting average of .342 is good for tenth all-time. Ruth led the American League in offensive WAR ten different seasons, and finished in the top ten 16 times.

Babe Ruth is one of the top hitters of all-time as his statistics show. He definitely benefited greatly from playing in New York. He received more media coverage than any other MLB player at the time and possibly of all-time. Almost all of that coverage was favorable, as media back then covered up any transgressions he committed, and glorified/portrayed him as a mythical like man in pinstripes. He also benefited from playing in a park that was tailor made for him and his swing. At his home park, Yankee Stadium, it was just 295 feet down the right field line. Right Center at Yankee Stadium was just 350 feet away from home plate during Ruth's time. All in all the Babe was a great player, but he is not the best hitter of all-time.

top 5 hitters in MLB history part 2

NBA Pick

Celtics(+1) at Sixers OVER/UNDER 176
The Celtics own a 3-2 series lead, and are looking to close out Philly tonight. The Celtics won game 5 thanks to Brandon Bass. While I don't Bass will have another game like that, I do think the Celtics will win tonight. No doubt this is a banged up Celtics team, but they have enough to get past Philly tonight. The Celtics know they need all the rest they can get for Paul Pierce. The Sixers just do not have enough consistent offensive fire power to win this series. They have too many stretches were they go 5 minutes without scoring. The over has hit the last three games of this series. I don't see that happening again. I think this game will be an; ugly, defensive, low scoring struggle.
The Pick: Boston 86 Philly 83

Granlund Signs




The Wild were able to sign Mikael Granlund to a three year entry level contract today. This is great news for fans of the team. This is just one step forward on a long road to the playoffs, and having a fun team to watch. The Wild still have plenty of work to do, as they try to build a roster and organization that can compete for the Stanley Cup year in and year out. Granlund, barring injury will definitely be on one of the teams top two forward lines.

The next step is using our vast salary cap space on the right players. Whether this is by signing free agents(Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Matt Carle) or trading for players remains to be seen. This summers free agent class does not have a lot of depth, so trades might be the best way to improve the roster this year.

The Wild with; Granlund and Charlie Coyle(MVP of the QMJHL Playoffs) will have two legitimate Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) candidates on the team next year. At the very least the team should be a hell of lot more entertaining to watch next season. I just hope that entertainment translates into success.

Friday, May 18, 2012

NBA Picks

Celtics(+2) at Sixers OVER/UNDER 174 pts
Take the Celtics and the points. They figured out the Sixers last game.
Celtics 89-Sixers 81  Under

Thunder(+2.5) at Lakers   OVER/UNDER 189 pts
Can't believe the Thunder are getting points. Take the Thunder.
Thunder 99-Lakers 94


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Top 5 Hitters in MLB History part 2


  



This is my list of the top 5 hitters in MLB history.

#5 Willie Mays
#4 Rogers Hornsby

#4 Rogers Hornsby
Rogers Hornsby or the "Rajah" is the greatest right-handed hitter in MLB history. The Rajah played 23 years in the MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Browns(1915-1937).  He played second base, shortstop, and third base. His career offensive WAR is 119.1. This is good for eighth all-time. The Rajah had an astounding .424 batting average in 1924. That is the highest battting average ever by a RH hitter. All told, Hornsby, hit over .400 three times in his MLB career. He also won one World series in 1926. Rogers was a two time triple crown winner for the Cardinals(1922 and 1925). he was a two time National league MVP(1925 and 1929). The Rajah was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1942. He appeared on 78.1 % of the ballots cast.

The Rajah finished first in offensive WAR 12 different times in the National League. His lifetime batting average of .358, is the second highest of all-time in the MLB. He has the highest lifetime batting average for a RH hitter. Hornsby, led the NL in batting average seven times, including 6 in a row from 1920-1925. He won; two HR titles, 4 RBI titles, and led the NL in hits four different times. The Rajah also led the NL in total bases seven different times.

Hornsby's 162 game average season looks like this: 586 At Bats, 113 runs scored, 210 hits, 39 doubles, 12 triples, 22 Home-runs, 114 Runs batted in, 10 stolen bases, 74 walks, 49 strikeouts, .358 batting average, .434 on base percentage, .577 slugging percentage, and 338 total bases.

Rogers Hornsby finished his career with; a lifetime batting average of .358, 2,930 hits, 541 doubles, 169 triples, 301 Home-runs, 1584 RBI, 1,038 walks, .434 on base percentag e, .577 slugging percentage, and 4,712 total bases. His career on base percentage is good for 8th all-time. The Rajah's career slugging percentage is good for 11th all-time.

The Rajah is by far the greatest hitting middle infielder of all-time. He was the National Leagues best player in the 1920's. His career tailed off in the 1930's, which is why he does not crack the top three on this list. For a decade though, he was the first or second best player in all of baseball. Hornsby, is one of the most underrated players in MLB history. He deserves to be mentioned as the greatest second baseman of all-time.

Part one Top 5 hitters in MLB history part 1

NBA Picks

Heat(-2.5) at Pacers  OVER/UNDER 181
Heat win 91-87- under

Clippers(+10.5) at Spurs OVER/UNDER 194
Spurs win 102 -90 under

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Top 5 MLB Hitters of All-Time part one


 

 This is my list of the top 5 hitters of all-time. I will be featuring one player a day.

#5 Willie Mays
Mays is the second greatest right-handed batter of all-time. His career offensive WAR is 131.3(WAR or wins above replacement level player is a statistic that is a single number that presents the number of wins that a player added to his teams total, above what a replacement player would add.) On a single season scale the number 8+ wins is a MVP type year, 5+ wins is a all-star caliber season, 2+ is an everday player and 0 or minus is a replacement player.  Mays was a player that could hit for average, power, and had phenomenal speed.  Over a 22 year career, his average 162 game season totals out to:112 runs scored, 178 hits, 36 HRs, 103 RBI, 18 Stolen Bases, 79 walks, 83 Strikeouts, 28 doubles, 8 triples, .302 Batting Average, .384 On Base Percentage, .557 Slugging percentage, and 328 total bases.  Some of these numbers are a little low, because Mays played four years longer than he should have. By hanging on too long, he lowered his career averages.

Willie was selected to the Hall of Fame in1979, his first year of eligibility,  with 94.9% of the voters including him on their ballots. Mays finished in the top 4 of the National League for Offensive WAR 13 straight years(1954-1966).  Willie is; third all time with 6,006 career total bases, 4th all-time in Home-runs with 660, 11th all-time with 1,903 RBIs, 7th in career runs scored with 2,062, and 7th all-time with 2,368 runs created. Mays also has; the 5th most extra base hits in his career with 1,323, the 11th most at bats with 10.881, 9th in career games played 2,992, 11th all-time with 3,283 hits and led the league in stolen bases four different times.

Mays, combined power and speed better than any player, ever. This was a man who could lead the league in Home-runs and stolen bases. Willie led the National league in HRs four different times, twice hitting more than 50 in a single season. He also finished four different seasons at the top of the National League in Stolen Bases. He led the NL seven different times in offensive WAR. Mays was also a consistent .300 hitter, who won one NL batting title in his career.

Mays produced all of these numbers as a right-handed hitter. Mays also had to face racial bigotry and racism from fans throughout most of his career. The only thing keeping Mays from being higher on my list is the fact that he only won one career batting title. He, also really fell off a cliff, in terms of production the last 6-7 years of his career. The Say Hey Kid is still the second best RH hitter of all-time and definitely deserving of a spot as high as number 3 on this list. He will have to settle for number 5 though

Top 5 hitters in MLB History part 2

top 5 Hitters In MLB History Part 3

Top 5 Hitters In MLB History Part 4

NBA Picks against the spread

Boston(+2) at Philadelphia  OVER/UNDER 172 points
Take the Celtics. They are getting two points, and they are the better team. True, the Sixers are a better home team than road team, but the Celtics are the better overall team. Paul Pierce, is due for a big game against Philly, as he has not really done much so far in this series. The Sixers are not going to make the Conference Finals are they? Boston gets it done late in the fourth quarter.
The Pick: Boston 85- Philly 81

Lakers(+8) at OKC Thunder  OVER/UNDER 196 points
The Thunder killed the Lakers in game one, as predicted here. Look for more of the same in game 2 Tonight. The Lakers have no one on their team that can guard Westbrook,Harden, or Durant. If the Lakers try to go to a zone defense, the Thunder will eat them alive with drives to the basket, and open 3pt jumpers. This is just a bad match-up for a tired and aging Lakers team.
The Pick: Thunder 108 - LA 95

NHL
Devils win 2-1


Ramblings

The Kings strike again...Set an NHL record with 9 straight road wins in the NHL Playoffs....Can anyone stop this team??? Jonathon Quick, is having an amazing postseason for the Kings.....He is definitely the front runner for playoff MVP....I can not believe the Coyotes are in the Conference Finals.....They play just like the Wild....The Twins are really bad....They are on pace for 116 losses.....That would give them just 46 wins on the year.... The Twin's are one of only three teams that have yet to win three games in a row.....It is getting to the point that it's not even fun, making fun of them anymore.......So much for making hay against the Division....We gave Derek Lowe his first shutout in seven years.....and he did not even strike anyone out.....Lebron misses free throws, then does not even take a shot in the final three minutes.....The more things change the more they stay the same....The Heat bench and the other starters, besides D-Wade and Lebron are atrocious. They combined for just 23 points against the Pacers..........Chris Bosh takes a lot of flack, and rightfully so, but he is really important to the Heat.....They really struggle without him......The Pacers look like they are going to make this a better series than I thought....I'm not surprised the Wild went cheap and hired Anthony Lapanta to take over the play by play duties....This is an organization that has made numerous mistakes since Craig Leipold took over as owner.....Lapanta is almost as bad as Terhaar......He takes homerism to another level......Not to mention he sucked calling Gopher games, and has a toupee.....The Thunder are going to continue to romp all over the Lakers.....LA has no one that can guard Westbrook, Durant, or Harden.....Watching the Lakers unravel last night was fun.......The Spurs are a really good team....They are actually fun to watch unlike most of there previous squad....Eric Bledsoe is a really good player minus the fact he does not guard anyone, and almost cost me money three games in a row.....Not to jinx myself, but I have hit 10 out of 11 on over/unders....When in doubt always bet the under in the NBA playoffs...too bad I have not bet all of those....Justin Morneau comes back tomorrow.....How many games until he is injured again???? Mad Men is one of the best TV shows of all-time......I can not wait for the Wild to start it's off-season......One last Twins note......They have hit into 37 doubleplays this year in 36 games.....that is tough to do....Tiger Woods needs to start banging pornstars and Perkin's managers again, whatever it takes to get his confidence back.....The world of Golf needs him to be good....Matt Kuchar, winning the Players Championship, is not going to get anyone watching golf......Tiger also needs to start playing more tournaments, so he can get his feel for the game back......He also should stop messing with his swing.....He was doing just fine before he decided to overhaul it.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NBA Bets Against the Spread

Pacers(+6.5) at Heat OVER/UNDER 186
Miami covered last game, but barely. The Heat will not have Chris Bosh, who was hurt in the last game. Despite being the fodder for many jokes, the heat are a better team with Bosh on the floor. Indiana has to get better production from Danny Granger in this game. He made only one shot in game 1.
The Pick: Heat cover 93-86- This is a game that could go either way. I think the Heat are the better team, but this is one game to stay away from.

Clippers(+11) at Spurs OVER/UNDER 192
This is game one of the series. The Spurs are a heavy favorite in this game. The Spurs have not played for over a week, while the Clippers just ended their first round series on Sunday. The rust did not seem to hurt the Thunder yesterday, during their blowout of the Lakers. I think the Spurs will destroy the Clippers in this series in 5 games or less. Tonight, I believe the Spurs cover. The Clippers will be tired, and their two best players are hurt.
The Pick: Spurs 105-Clippers 88
Yesterday 3-1
Overall  12-6
4-5 against spread
8-1 Over/Unders

Timberwolves Summer Primer

The Minnesota Timberwolves are close to being a Playoff team in the 2012-13 season. Let's take a look at how they can get there, who they might target this off-season, and who they might let go from the current roster.

Wolves roster and the salary they are due next year and what I would do with them.

Michael Beasley- is due $8.17 million Qualifying offer- He is gone at that price.
Martell Webster- Team option at $5.7 million-gone-too much money for a player who doesn't get it.
Darko Milicic-$5.2 million this year-Gone I would amnesty him. Good riddance.
Brad Miller-Retiring.
JJ Barea $4.5 million-returns- good guy off bench.
Kevin Love-$13.67 mil-trade, just kidding-obviously keeping him.
Derrick Williams-$4.9 Mil-keep-need to find a way to get him in the starting lineup, or trade him.
Nik Pekovic-$4.6 mil-Keep him and sign him to an extension-may have the best contract in the league.
Wes Johnson-$4.3 mil-Keep him or trade him-The Wolves have a team option for his contract in 2013.
Luke Ridnour-$4 mil-keep him-good backup pg.
Ricky Rubio-$3.7 mil-keep him-he will attract guys to play with him here even with the cold weather.
Anthony Randolph-$4mil qualifying offer-I think we should keep him-he's got great talent.
Anthony Tolliver-Free Agent-possibly re-sign on the cheap-gives everything he has even if it's not much.
Wayne Ellington-3.1 mil qualifying offer-keep him- another guy that gives his all-can shoot a little bit too.

After making my cuts here is the Wolves roster for next year, with salary.
JJ Barea-$4.5 mil
Kevin Love-$13.7 mil
Derrick Williams-$4.9 mil
Nik Pekovic-$4.6 mil
Wes Johnson-$4.3 mil
Luke Ridnour-$4 mil
Ricky Rubio-$3.7 mil
Anthony Randolph-$4mil
Wayne Ellington-$3.1 mil
Total salary $46.8 million for 9 players. NBA rosters are 12 players

This leaves the the Wolves with 9 players under contract at $46.8 mil in salary.  Depending on what the Wolves do with the 18th pick in this years draft, they will need 2-3 players to fill out the roster. The salary cap for the 2012-13 season is expected to be about $58 million. This will give the Wolves roughly $11.5 mil to spend on free agents. This leaves the T-Wolves, with enough space under the cap to attract a quality Free-Agent.

Potential targets for the Wolves this off-season in order of importance.
1.Nicolas Batum SF Portland-(RFA)- This would be the perfect player for the Minnesota Timberwolves to target this off-season. He is an elite defender, which the Wolves desperately need. He also can shoot, as he made 39% of his 3point shots this season. The Wolves need someone, who can consistently make the open jump-shots Ricky Rubio creates.The only downside is he is a restricted free agent(RFA), which means Portland can match any offer the Wolves make. Portland will be close to the cap, so the Wolves could get creative and steal him away. Getting Batum, would make this team an instant Playoff contender. It would also allow the Wolves to explore trading Derrick Williams, who despite being immensely talented has nowhere to play on this Wolves squad, and he needs to play.
2.Jamal Crawford SG-UFA- Getting Crawford would give the Wolves a shooter, which they desperately need. By adding Crawford, the Wolves would be adding a scorer, and a ball-handler. This would also allow the Wolves the option of seeing if Derrick Williams can play SF on a consistent basis.
3.Courtney Lee SG-Rockets-(RFA)- Lee is a more cost effective option at SG. He is also younger than Crawford, but he is a RFA, so the Rockets could match any Wolves offer. Lee, is not as accomplished as Crawford, but he is an intriguing player to look at.
4.Ray Allen SG(UFA)-He would be second on this list if there was any chance the Wolves could get him. He would bring a veteran presence to this roster that the Wolves sorely lack. He also is one of the best shooters of all-time.
5.Nick Young SG(UFA)-He may be crazy, but he can shoot, and he has shown some promise playing with the Clippers.
6.Eric Gordon SG-Hornets(RFA)-He would be number 1A) after Batum. But there is no chance, the Hornets would not match any offer he receives. He would be ideal for the Wolves.

Other targets-Players who are intriguing, but a step below the players listed above.

1.Grant Hill SF (UFA)-He would be perfect for this squad, but he will either retire, or re-sign with the Suns.
2.Kevin Garnett PF (UFA)-He would definitely add leadership and character to his former squad, but what position would he play? Would he want to come back?
3.Steve Novak SF (UFA)-Great 3pt shooter, but that is all he can do. He can not defend.
4.Spencer Hawes C (UFA)-He has probably played his way out of the Wolves price range-great backup C.
5.Greg Oden C (UFA)- Worth a shot-Would be a great backup Center as well.
6.Joel Pryzbilla C (UFA)-Might play another year-could do worse backing up Pek.
7.Marcus Camby C (UFA)-Probably too pricey-would provide veteran stability.
8.Michael Redd SG (UFA)-Played well in spurts for the Suns. Would be a veteran off the bench.
9.Tracy McGrady SG(UFA)-He has been in the league for ever, still has something to give off the bench.
10.Landry Fields SG(UFA)- Good defender.


Monday, May 14, 2012

NBA Picks against the spread, Bonus Bets

So far I am 3-4 against the spread 6-1 on over/unders 9-5 overall
 As always, these picks are for recreational purposes. Picking every game is hard, I definitely am not betting all of these games, if betting were legal that is. All lines courtesy of Bovada.lv
76ers(+5)at Celtics  Over/Under 174 points
The Celtic's were lucky to escape game one with a one point win over the Sixers. The Celtics played terrible and still won. A lot of people on Bovada are betting the 76ers to cover this spread because they almost won on Saturday Night. I'm going the other way. Take the Celtics. They will not play nearly as bad tonight, as they did in game 1. A win for them tonight gives them a stranglehold on this series. Look for the team and the crowd to be way better in game 2. Take the under as well. The over hit last game, but the under has hit in 7 out of the last 8 NBA playoff games.
The Pick:Celtics 88-Sixers 80

LA Lakers(+7.5) at OKC Thunder OVER/Under 191
This is game one of this series. The Lakers where in a 7 game war that ended just 2 days ago. The Thunder have had over a week off. My only worry about this game, is the amount of rust the Thunder might have, after such a long layoff. I'm still taking the Thunder to cover the spread in this game. They have too many athletes for the Lakers to defend. I think the Lakers keep it relatively close for 3 quarters, but then lose steam in the fourth. Look for the Thunder to dominate the fourth quarter. This over/under is a tough one but I'm going with the over. One of these days it will hit why not this game? I think it will be close either way.
The Pick Thunder 101- Lakers 92
Bonus Bets
NHL
The Devils moneyline is +105 against the Rangers tonight. Take it. This is the best odds to make money  for this game, unless you really think the Rangers can win by 2 goals. That line is Rangers +250. The Rangers can't score more than 3 goals in a game, so that is a real risky bet.
The Pick Devils 3-NY 1- New Jersey is well rested, NY is not.
 MLB
The Indians are +125 to win by more than 1.5 runs against the Twins. Take that bet. Please. Pavano is the scheduled starter for the Twins. He is hurt right now, and not pitching well on top of that. Don't be afraid to bet against the Twins, they are 10-24 this year. You might as well make some money off them, while you watch them disgrace our town with their inept play.


NHL Conference Finals Preview

#8 LA Kings vs #3 Phoenix Coyotes
The Pick: LA Kings in 5 games
This should be a physical and intense series. These two teams are division rivals. They are also playing for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup. Despite the relative obscurity of both teams, this should be an entertaining and extremely well played series.The Coyotes have the home ice advantage, but the Kings have the better team.

The Kings are looking to become just the second eighth seed to ever make the Stanley Cup Finals. LA has lost just one game so far in these playoffs. They are led by Goalie Jonathon Quick; 9-1, a goals against average of just 1.60 per game, and a save percentage of 94.7 %. He is the playoffs leader in all three of those statistics. In the Playoffs, you only go as far as your goalie can take you. Nothing else really matters.  Offensively the King's are led by their Captain, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar. Brown has 7 goals in just 10 playoff games. The King's D corps is led by the offensively gifted Drew Doughty. LA also boasts savvy playoff veterans on the back end in; Willie Mitchell, and Rob Scuderi. LA plays a tough game. They like to forecheck hard and grind the game out in their opponents defensive zone. The Kings may be the most balanced team left in this years playoffs. They definitely have more all around talent then the Coyotes.

Phoenix has gotten to the Conference Finals for the first time in it's  franchise's history. The Coyotes play an extremely defensive style. They often do not forecheck, instead they look to clog up the neutral zone and force turnovers between the two blue lines. They also often collapse on the defensive end in front of their goalie. This all leads to them spending the majority of the game getting out-shot. It is not exactly pretty to watch, but it has worked so far. Mike Smith, Phoenix's goalie, has been their best player all season. He has been arguably the best goalie of these playoffs. Single-handily winning games by himself. The Coyotes have been good on the Power-Play and they have been good at scoring goals at just the right time, capitalizing on opponents mistakes and burying them. Can a team really play this way and make the Stanley Cup Finals? I say no.

#6 New Jersey Devils vs #1 New York Rangers
The Pick: New Jersey in 6 games
These two team are also division rivals. They also play just across the river from one another. This could be the best series of a playoffs full of great series already. Just a month before the Playoffs, in the last regular season meeting between these two teams, this happened. Devils-Rangers Line Brawl. I don't think we'll see a line brawl in this series, but we will see; intense, agressive, physical playoff hockey. This series should be awesome.

The Devil's, of all teams, may be the most exciting team to watch left in the playoffs. They play an offensive style of hockey that the other 3 Conference Finalists do not. They have; three balanced scoring lines led by Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Patrik Elias, A solid D corps, and possibly the greatest goalie of all-time in, Martin Brodeur. The Devil's think offensively and like to get up and down the ice. They also have a physical team that can cycle the puck in the opposing teams zone to create scoring chances and wear down the other team physically and mentally. It is hard to play when you are stuck in your own zone without the puck, for the majority of the game. New Jersey is also well rested having 6 full days off after dispatching Philadelphia. I think the Devil's depth, and the fact that they are well rested will be the keys in a Devil's series victory. 

The Rangers are a blood and guts hockey squad. They leave everything they have out on the ice after every game. The Rangers play a very tight defensive style game. NY loves to block shots and hit the opposing team. The Rangers have had two grueling 7 game series in their first two playoff rounds, and I think fatigue will start to set in the longer this series goes. The Rangers have trouble scoring goals, as they have not scored more than 3 in there last 13 games, but NY does not allow many goals either. The Rangers have not given up more than 3 goals in any of their14 playoff games tying an NHL record. The Rangers are led by; Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, a solid, but not deep D corps, and forwards Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. In the end I think a lack of depth and fatigue will do in this Rangers squad.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ramblings

The Heat are favored by 8.5 points.....Take them.....Indiana was in a bunch of close games against Orlando, who didn't have Dwight Howard....Lebron and Wade will torch them.....Over/under is 188 take the under, because this one will be a rout midway thru the 3rd quarter.....Scott Diamond and someone named P.J. Walters(??) have the two best starts for the Twins so far this season.....That's just funny.....Jose Bautista has 10 HRs in 10 games at Target Field.....So much for the excuse, that it is hard to hit the ball out of Target Field...The opposing team never has trouble....Either our pitching staff sucks or our hitters....Or both.....Trying to name half of this Twins team, is damn near impossible....If you want to watch Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund, both play for Team Finland against Team USA tomorrow morning at 7:15 in the World Championships......Ecstatic that the Vikings got their stadium.....It's been a long time coming......The Wilf's need to put a retractable roof on it......football should be played in the elements not inside.....Let's put our shitty cold weather to use....The old Vikes did, and they would kill the the warm weather teams at home.....Plus football in the snow is awesome.....Don't Print that: Art Vandelay is having a benefit at the Oakdale Prom Center this weekend...He played on the 65 Gophers rowing team....Just one race but still worth mention to fill column space.....A liitle birdie told me ex-Twins second baseman Steve Lombardozzi has a son that plays for the Washington Nationals...No shit Charley....I can't believe Charley "shooter" Walters still has a job....Someone should take him out back behind his beloved Prom Center, and put him out of his misery.....Common Man too.....I don't know which guy is worse......Jeremy Fowler, who covers the Vikings for the Pioneer Press ,is the only guy from that paper worth reading...Mike Russo, LEN III, Jerry Zgoda, and the chick that covers the Gophers BBall team are awesome for the Star-Trib....Souhan, Hartman(who I think is dead, Weekend at Bernies?), and Scroggins are awful for the Star-Trib....Boxing is 25 thousand times better than the UFC.....Talk about a dying sport, I think 6 people watched the last UFC fight on Fox.....If you want to watch two guys humping each other in their underwear, give Carl Pavano and Joe Mauer a call...or wait until they're alone in the Twins Locker Room.... .Josh Hamilton has the most HRs of any player in MLB history through 34 games  with 18.....It will take Joe Mauer the rest of his contract (9-10 years) to match that....I'm ready for Deolis Guerra...He is the last guy left from the Johan Santana trade, and apparently after four years is ready to contribute as a set up guy.....that was a great trade.....I'm beginning to buy into Coach Kill.....Why??? I don't know, but he seems like he knows what he is doing......The fact that he is following Tim Brewster certainly helps in that regard......I'm ready for the Jamaal Crawford era of the Timberwolves to begin....

NBA Round 2 Thunder/Lakers

Oklahoma City Thunder vs LA Lakers
The Thunder will not have played for over a week, by the time this series begins. While they may be rusty in game 1, they will definitely be well rested. The Thunder match-up well with the Lakers. Kendrick Perkins can guard Andrew Bynum by himself. Without needing to double team in the post;  the Thunder can help on Kobe Bryant, and Serge Ibaka can roam the paint looking for blocks and deflections. Kevin Durant will shoot right over Ron Artest and the Lakers have no one to guard, let alone stay in front of Russell Westbrook and James Harden on the defensive end. If Westbrook displays the same maturity he showed in the round 1 sweep of the Mavericks, this could be a short series. The Thunder play the same way as the Nuggets; up and down "run n gun" style basketball. The one exception being: The Thunder have more talented players. Seeing as how the less talented Nuggets took the Lakers to seven games, I don't think this series gets past 5 games.
The Pick: OKC Thunder in 5 games

Round 2 Heat vs Pacers

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers
Miami is the heavy favorite to take this series. You will not get an argument from me. I would be surprised if this one goes more than 5 games. Miami is too talented for the Pacers, and too athletic. Lebron and Wade will carve this Pacers team up. I'm not a fan of the Heat, but the door to the Finals is wide open for them. Indiana will need huge games from Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger, if they are to extend this series to 6 or 7 games. I do not see that happening, despite Miami's weak interior defense.

The Pick: Heat in 5 games

Grizz/Clippers game 7 preview/pick

1-3 against the spread 4-0 on over/unders.


LA at Memphis(-8) Over/Under 177. Home teams almost always win game 7's in the NBA, and the Grizz are the healthier team right now. LA might seem like a good value bet, because they are getting eight points, but take the Grizz.  LA looked like a shell of itself in game 6, and Chris Paul is definitely banged up. This will be the downfall of the Clippers. Without Paul healthy, this Clips team has no one that can create there own shot. Blake Griffin is also hurt for the Clippers. Memphis has gotten back to what made them successful; getting the ball in the post to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. This duo has destroyed LA the last two games on the boards and in the paint. Look for more of that in game 7. If the Grizz can get off to a quick start, this one could be a rout.
The Pick :Memphis 97 LA 84.

NBA Round 2 sixers vs celtics

Sixers vs Celtics- The 76ers became just the fourth 8th seed in NBA history to win a playoff series, by defeating the #1 seed Chicago Bulls in six games. They where greatly aided in this effort by Derrick Rose's injury in game 1. Boston defeated the Atlanta Hawks in six games during round one. The Celtics did not allow the Hawks to score more than 87 points in a game in round one.

The Celtics defense should be too much for the Sixers too handle, although The Sixers did have good showings against the Celtics during the regular season. This is a different, all be it banged up Celtics squad. If the Celtics can avoid injuries they should handle this series.
The Pick Celtics in 6 games


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Game 7 previews

NHL
Washington Capitals at New York Rangers:
The Rangers are undefeated in game sevens at home(4-0) all time. The Capitals are just 3-7 all-time in game sevens. The Capital's, with Alexander Ovechkin, are 2-3 in game sevens. Home teams are 86-57 all time in game sevens. The Capital's are looking to become the third team in this years Playoffs to overcome a 3-2 series deficit. No team has scored more than 3 goals in a game in this series.

Alexander Ovechkin has two goals and two assists in five game sevens all-time. He will have to be the key for the Capital's in this game, if they are to prevail. He is the best player for either team and he will need to be an offensive and defensive force for the Caps.
 
These two teams play the same exact way on the ice; blocking shots, hitting, and defensive style hockey. This has led to a great series so far. Every game, but game one has been a one goal game. The first goal of this game will be huge. Whoever gets it will most likely win this game.

Henrik Lundqvist, will need to be huge for the Rangers to win. The Vezina favorite has never defeated Washington in a playoff series. This is a huge game for him to prove that he can get it done in the playoffs. Marian Gaborik, also needs to show up for the Rangers in this game. His lack of effort in this series has been shameful. With a good game seven, he can put that talk to bed.

THE PICK: Washington 3 New York 2. I wanted to pick New York, because my picks have been unlucky this past week, in hopes of jinxing them.  But I really believe Washington will win this game, so that is the pick. Bet New York, because I'll probably be wrong.



NBA-
Nuggets at Lakers ODDS Lakers 5.5 point favorite OVER/UNDER- 194
Home teams have won 80% of game sevens all time. The Nuggets, are looking to become just the ninth team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit. The Lakers will get Ron "Metta World Peace" Artest back from suspension in this game. The Lakers have played horribly the past two games. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol specifically have looked out of sync. They will both need to play to their talent level, if the Lakers are to win this game and series. The Nuggets need to continue to play "run n gun" basketball, and not get caught up in the nerves that a game 7 brings. Javelle McGee and the "Manimal" Kenny Faried need to continue to control the paint area for the Nuggets, if they are to win this game.
THE PICK: Lakers 97 - Nuggets 90. Kobe will will his Lakers team to victory. Bynum and Gasol will play better, after getting called out by Kobe, after game 6. Look for the Nuggets to tighten up now that it is game 7. The Nuggets are a young team that doesn't have a lot of game 7 experience.
NBA picks against the spread-0-3
NBA Over/unders 3-0

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NBA picks against the spread

Bulls (+3.5) at Sixers- The Sixer's are favored in this game by 3 1/2 points. This is a really tough call. The Bulls played well at home in there game 5 win, but do they have enough offense to win this game in Philly? The Sixers where shut down in game 5 by the Bulls suffocating defense, but they have played better at home in this series and throughout the season(21-14 at home including playoffs). The Sixers are 3-2 against the spread in this series. Joahkim Noah is a gametime decision for the Bulls.
The Pick: Philadephia 83-Chicago 78. The Bulls will not go down without a fight in this game, but look for the Sixers to hit some of the open shots at home that they missed in Chi-town in game 5. This is the 76ers best chance to close out this series. Coach Doug Collins will have his squad ready
OVER/UNDER is 170- The Under has hit the last three games. This is the lowest projected total for the series yet. I would take the under, as I don't think either team has the firepower to run away from the other. Neither team, is looking to get into a fast paced game.

Hawks(+7) at Celtics- Atlanta needs a win to extend this series to seven games. Boston needs a win to close out Atlanta at home and get some much needed rest, for its veteran laden team. The Celtics are 11-3-1 against the spread in there last 15 home games. Boston is 3-2 against the spread in this series, 1-1 at home. Al Horford is starting again for Atlanta and he made a huge difference in there game 5 win at home, but this Celtics team knows how to close out series at home.
The Pick: Celtics 89- Hawks 78- The Celtics do not want to fly back to Atlanta for a game 7, and there defense has led to Atlanta shooting only 40% from the floor. This is the last run for this Celtics group and they will come out hot.
OVER/UNDER is 174-The under has hit in three of the five games so far. I would take the under in this game as well. The Celtics defense is phenomenal, but they have trouble scoring at times. Atlanta has yet to score more than 87 points in a single game this series.


Lakers(+2) at Nuggets- LA is a slight underdog according to Vegas. I do not see this Denver team forcing a game 7 in this series, which they would do with a win. The Nuggets are too young to be favored over this veteran Laker team. Kobe has the flu, but do you really think he is sitting this game out? I think he has a huge game for the Lakers. Andrew Bynum will also have a big game for the Lakers, after he let Javalle McGee get the bettter of him in game 5. The Lakers need this game to get some rest before there series with the Thunder, who haven't played for 4 days already, and are resting at home.
The Pick-LA 102-Denver 96-Kobe wills this squad to victory, despite his illness. Take this bet. The Nuggets survived game 5, because the Lakers took them lightly. This will not happen in game 6. Bynum and Gasol will control the paint, and the Lakers will advance.
OVER/UNDER-197-This is tough, both of these teams can score 100 points on any given night, but I would take the under. I think the Lakers will control the pace of play in this game more than they have in this series so far, and they like to play a slower game than the run n gun Nuggets.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

quick takes 5/9/12

Looks like the Vikings will have a new Stadium to play in......Thankfully...I still believe Football will be a dead sport within 30 years....After all these guys killing themselves, what parents will allow there kids to play Football??? This will eventually dwindle the pool of potential NFL players, which will dilute the talent level and entertainment value of the game......These events, combined with all the lawsuits filed by ex NFL players against the NFL, will lead to the end of the NFL...If  someone can invent a helmet that prevents or drastically decreases concussions, they will be rich beyond belief.....I don't believe that is possible, but you never know with modern technology......This hypothetical helmet may be the only way to save Football.....The farther the Devils advance in the NHL Playoffs equals a greater chance Zach Parise signs with the Wild.....If he wins a Stanley Cup, he is more likely to play where he wants to live year round, instead of signing with a team that is a contender(Detroit).......Mikael Granlund is playing great for Finland at the World Championships.....So is Jonas Brodin, for Team Sweden.....Granlund will sign with the Wild two days after the World Championships end....Wild prospects Charlie Coyle, and Zach Phillips are dominating the QMJHL hockey playoffs for the Sea Dogs....They are first and second in points, goals, and assists and the team has lost just one game so far thru two and a half rounds ......The future is bright for the Wild.....Twins Starters are last in the MLB in: ERA, Home-runs allowed, hits allowed, runs allowed.....They have the fewest strikeouts in the MLB, the fewest innings pitched, and the fewest Wins......You could put Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth in there prime on this team, and they would still have a hard time winning with pitching like that......Chris Paul is amazing late in the 4thquarter and OT....I absolutely hate Blake Griffin....I don't know if it is because he is a ginger, or his incessant pouting on the court, or both.........The same goes to Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin....minus the ginger part....Kobe Bryant looked amazing last night....Where is Pau Gasol been though???? I love watching Rangers coach, John Tortorella's press conferences....amazing.....Also Amazing Bill Romanowski, trying to explain that he never met to injure any player while he played in the NFL.....Not only did he sucker punch a teamate during training camp, ending that players career.....He kicked a guy in the head, ripped Tony Gonzalez's helmet off and punched him on the field, spit on JJ Stokes, and broke Kerry Collins jaw in the pre-season with a helmet to helmet hit....Not surprised ESPN had him on to defend the NFL....This is the same Network that thinks more of Skip Bayless on TV is a good thing...The people that watch First Take are either; racists, morons, people who watch NASCAR for the Crashes, tea-party members, ambulance chasers, or all of the above....The LA Kings are going to the Stanley Cup Finals....No way Bettman, lets Phoenix advance any further....He got the team sold finally....His job is done there......Adrian Peterson is a beast.....To come back that quick from a torn ACL and MCL is disgusting....Too bad he plays for a shitty team, that wastes his talents....Josh Hamilton had more HR's in one game (4) then Joe Mauer will all year....Just Watch....
 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tonight's picks

NHL:

Washington 2 NYR 1 in OT. Ten of the eleven games the Capitals have played in the Playoffs have been one goal games.

Nashville 2 Phoenix1. Nashville has completely dominated the play in this series, but because of Coyotes Goalie Mike Smith, they find themselves down 3-1 in this series. I feel they find a way to win this game tonight, and stave off elimination.

NBA:
Spurs 99- Jazz 91- The Spurs have dominated this series much to my surprise. Look for the Jazz to fight hard, but the Spurs are just too good for them.

Grizzlies 106-Clippers 101- This has been an extremely close series. I think the Grizz pull this one out to even the series.

Bonus MLB pick
Angels 7-Twins 0- Twins will get under 5 hits tonight. The team faces Weaver, who no-hit them just 5 days ago. The Twins set a modern day MLB record, with just 9 hits over a four game span last week. This time frame is from 1900-2012. This includes the dead-ball era when teams routinely played 2-1 and 1-0 games. Take a bow Minnesota.

Vikings Stadium

Today or late Tonight is D-Day for the Vikings in Minnesota, as both the House and Senate are expected to vote on a bill for a new Stadium. It has been over five years, but the time has finally come to decide whether or not we want the Vikings in Minnesota.

The Vikings are Free Agents. If the bill does not pass, they will have one more season in Minnesota. They will then be free to move or play wherever the Wilf's can make the most money. LA is looking for a team and that is the best bet, as to where the Vikes will play, if they do not get a new Stadium. The Metrodome, is a decrepit building and the Vikings generate the third fewest revenue out of the 32 teams in the NFL. There is no debate that the Vikings need a new Stadium. The debate is, whether in a recession can this State afford to pay for another Stadium?

I believe the State of Minnesota can and should pay for a new Stadium. The new Stadium will provide badly needed jobs for construction workers, hospitality workers, etc. Passing the bill will allow Downtown Minneapolis to have two of the nicest Stadiums in the whole of the United States. The Vikings have been an institution for over 50 years in Minnesota and the States surrounding Minnesota. If the bill does not pass they will be gone, and with them, millions of dollars that people from the Dakota's and Iowa spend every year in Minneapolis when going to Viking games.

The loss of the Vikings will further hurt the State of Minnesota's economy. The State currently collects upwards of 20 million dollars in income tax alone from the players of Minnesota and the players of opposing teams. Can the State really afford to lose that kind of money? Hospitality workers, bars, and restaurants will also lose money if the Vikings leave. As much as I love Hockey,  people do not gather at bars to watch the Wild. People do gather at bars even in this recession to watch every Vikings game. Win or lose. Bar's and restaurants will lose lots of money from these patrons once the Vikes leave. This means people in those industries will lose there jobs, as well as people employed by the Vikings. The last thing this State needs is more jobless citizens.

In closing, the politicians of Minnesota, need to vote what they themselves think. They should not be voting no just because passing this bill will make the Governor of Minnesota look good. The time for politics is over. The time to do your job is here. Vote yes, or Vote no, but vote with your conscious and not what you think will get you re-elected in November.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Failure part 2




1991 Minnesota Twins
The 1991 Minnesota Twins began the season as afterthoughts. They entered the year coming off a 74-88 record, which was good enough for 7th and last place in the AL west. The only significant moves in the offseason were the additions of local veteran starting pitcher Jack Morris[1], aging OF/DH Chilli Davis and veteran 3b Mike Pagliarulo.

The team started slowly as expected, before catching fire  as the year went along and were a surprise runaway winner of the AL West winning the division by 8 games over the Chicago White Sox. Led by Kirby Puckett, Chilli Davis, Morris, Scott Erickson and closer Rick Aguilera the Twins  entered The A.L.C.S. against the Toronto Blue Jays as underdogs despite boasting a better record than the Blue Jays in the regular season. The Twins were able to advance to the World Series behind the A.L.C.S. MVP Kirby Puckett.
In the World Series the Twins where matched against the Atlanta Braves who also happened to finish last the previous year in the N.L. West.[2] This was the first time in MLB history that a team, which had finished last in there respective division the year before had made the next years World Series and both teams accomplished this feat.

This World Series is often referred  as the greatest World Series of all time as with 5 games being decided by a final run including the last two games of the series in Minnesota. Four of the games were decided in the last at bat including the final two games and  3 of the 4 home games for the Twins.

Both,  Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris cemented there legacies in this World Series for Minnesotan’s and throughout the United States: Puckett with a game saving catch in game 6, and the game winning homerun in the bottom of the 11th inning off Braves lefty Charlie Liebrandt.  This sent the series to a 7th and deciding game. In game 7,  Jack Morris put on what I believe to be the single greatest pitching performance off all time considering the circumstances and what was at stake. 10 innings of shutout baseball! 10 innings!!! If he did this for the Yankees or Red Sox he would definitely be in the Hall of Fame.  Morris wasn’t perfect that day but he held the Braves scoreless thanks to great pitching, great defense and a little luck.[3]  
This was a great day, as I remember a sense of pride and feeling of accomplishment in the fact that my team won that I haven’t felt sports wise too often since then.

The 1992 Twins were actually better than the 1991 team, despite not re-signing Jack Morris, but so were the 1992 Chicago White Sox leaving the Twins and us fans to watch the playoffs from home. This is something the franchise would get used to as they would not see the playoffs again until 2002
Since 1991 the Twins have won a total of one playoff series,[4] were nearly contracted from baseball and are currently on an embarrassing 9 game playoff losing streak to the New York Yankees. [5] Sweet.  PS the Twins have had a lot of success in the last 10 years, but just like the Vikings they have been just good enough to break your heart. 

After the Twin’s won the 1991 World Series, Minnesota sports fans were treated to the first cold weather Super Bowl in N.F.L. history, in downtown Minneapolis. This game is infamous for Thurman Thomas misplacing his helmet…not exactly a classic Super Bowl moment. The Washington Redskins prevailed over the Buffalo Bills 37-24, marking the Bill’s second of four straight losses in the Super Bowl.

The last of the four major events  Minnesota hosted over this one year span was the 1992 Final Four. The four participants were: Duke, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Indiana. Duke defeated Indiana by 3 points in the first Semifinal while, Michigan defeated Cincinnati in the other Semifinal. In the championship game,  Duke led by Christian Laettner(future Minnesota Timberwolves bust)  defeated Michigan , which was led by the fab five 71-51.

With these four events in the book , the greatest one year span in Minnesota sports was now over.  What has followed since?? Only the two most heartbreaking losses in Viking’s history, the North Stars leaving, The Timberwolves almost leaving and being unable to get past the 1st round of the playoffs for most of the late 90’s early 2000’s, the Twins almost getting contracted from the M.L.B., various threats of the Viking leaving, and more recently, injuries to literally every star player in the local market.


[1] Morris is from St. Paul
[2] The Braves were in the NL West until the beginning of the strike shortened 1994 season
[3] Lonnie Smith oh Lonnie Smith thank you again. Smith’s baserunning gaffe, in which Chuck Knoblach and Greg Gagne fooled him into hesitating between 1st and 2nd base on a sure run scoring double kept the game scoreless.
[4] 2002 A.L.D.S over the Oakland A’s
Part 3 the Vikings coming later this week 

No hit, and No Heart. Twins Grades for the 1st Month of the Season

 UGLY. Ugly or ugliness is a term referring to a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in unfavorable evaluation. This is the best way to describe the Minnesota Twins this season. The last two nights the Twins have been unbearable to watch, as they made Angel's Starting Pitcher, Jerome Williams look like Bob Gibson on Tuesday night. Of course, last night they were no-hit for the fifth time in Twins franchise history, by Jered Weaver, of the Angels. The majority of the team took bad at-bats, and seemed like they were trying to get no hit last night.

This is more than a funk. The Twins are unquestionably the worst team in baseball.They are on pace to lose 121 games this season. Just terrible. Ex GM Bill Smith really tore this team apart during his short time running the front office; Getting nothing of value for Johan Santana, signing Nishi, the Japanese player to a huge contract and getting nothing out of that, and poor drafts. The future is not bright for this squad either, as bad drafting has left the Twins with very shallow Minor League depth, and very few MLB prospects at the AAA or AA level.

The worst thing about this Twins team is not the 6-18 record or the horrible pitching, it is the lack of effort. The Twins should be ashamed at how they have played this season: Bad at-bats, poor fielding, incompetent baserunning, horrendous starting and relief pitching are hallmarks of this team so far. With all that said, lets get to the grades.

Starting Pitchers: F
Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks, Jason Marquis, Francisco Liriano and Anthony Swarzak have combined for just 3 wins in 24 starts so far this season. These same guys have combined for 14 losses. The Twins Starting staff has the fewest innings pitched and the worst earned run average (ERA) in the Major Leagues. Jason Marquis leads the Starter with two wins. Carl Pavano has the best ERA at 4.91. Frank Liriano is allowing 2.22 baserunners per innings pitched. That is very hard to do. Congrats Frank. Not one person on the pitching staff has more than 17 strikeouts. That is hard to believe. The total staff ERA is an even 7.00. Garbage. Sadly, this is by far the worst Starting Pitching staff in the MLB.
 
Relief Pitching: C-
This has been another sore spot for the Twins this season, although it is not all their fault. Having to come on in the third or fourth inning to relieve for the Starters every game has taxed this bullpen to the breaking point. The bullpen has a combined 3-4 record. Closer Matt Capps has four saves, but an ERA of 5.00. RP Jeff Gray is tied for the team lead with two wins. Gray also has the best ERA on the team at 1.69. He has been allowed to pitch only 10 innings so far this season, for some reason. The bullpen has a combined ERA of 3.74. As a team the Twins have the worst ERA in the MLB at 5.77. Just Awful.

Batting: C-
The Twins started out the month hitting poorly then picked it up in the middle of the month only to fall flat again the last few games. Without the great performances of Denard Span and Josh Willingham, this grade would be lower. Willingham has been a pleasant surprise leading the team in: Home-runs(5), Runs Batted In(15), and On Base Percentage(.429). Span leads the team in Batting Average, hitting .327 so far this year. That is the positive. Here is the negative: The Twins are 24th in runs scored out of 30 teams, they have the third fewest home-runs so far, have grounded into the third most double plays(Joe Mauer) and are hitting just 250 as a team. The Twins are also the least clutch team in the MLB. Hitting just .232 with runners in scoring position.

Joe Mauer is hitting .302 which is okay for an MLB regular. That is not acceptable for a guy making the kind of money Mauer is. Denard Span the Twin's leadoff hitter has a higher slugging percentage than Mauer. Mauer still does not swing at the first pitch of any at-bat. Pitchers know this, so they often throw it right down the middle and get strike one on Mauer. Carlos Gomez has more home-runs at Target Field than Joe Mauer in about 650 fewer at-bats. Garbage. Mauer should also be held responsible for the lack of leadership on this team. The teams highest paid player, he shows no fire and just goes through his routine the same everyday, despite his teams abysmal play.

Danny Valencia has regressed for the second year in a row. He still has horrible at-bats most of the time. Justin Morneau has played OK. He has four home-runs, but is hitting just .230. Morneau also has just one hit off left-handed pitchers this season. Jamey Carrol is hitting just .200, but he has played every game this season for some reason. Clete Thomas had one stretch recently where he struck out in 15 out of 18 at-bats.
Alexi Casilla has a .286 On Base Percentage, one of the lowest in the Majors.

Fielding: D+
The Twins are the tenth best fielding team in the American League. They have committed 14 errors on the year. They are just below the American League average in fielding percentage at .984. The Twins, though are a slow team, and do not get to as many batted ball as they should. Advanced fielding statistics have them as the second worst fielding team in the American League.




To Failure examining the Minnesota Sports Curse part 1


To Failure

One man’s attempt to document and make sense of the curse of Minnesota sports.

Welcome to Minnesota home of the 2011 WNBA champions your Minnesota Lynx. Please do not continue reading if you consider that a “real” championship. In order, to be considered a champion your sport must have more support then George Zimmerman in a Harlem neighborhood right now. I just wanted to get that out of the way and that seemed to be the easiest way to do it . The fact that the Lynx where given a parade makes me violently ill. Even if the amount of people who showed up to this parade, suspiciously resembled the amount of  homeless people in Minneapolis, it still makes me sick. This just goes to show how desperate and starved for a winner Minnesotans are. This is going to be a painful, agonizing, horrific, and hopefully cathartic look back at Minnesota sports and the curse/failure that permeates many of the teams , and followers of these teams. Before talking about the present,one must first look back at the history and the events that have led us to where we are. 

Not Counting the Minneapolis Lakers, our five major sports teams(Vikings, Wild, NorthStars,Timberwolves, and Twins) have won a combined two Championships. Both by the Minnesota Twins. The Vikings have lost all four Super Bowls that they have been in, and there last four NFC Championship games. The Vikes have lost some of the most heartbreaking games in NFL history. Our NHL teams have lost both Stanley Cup Finals they have been in. The Timberwolves, for seven consecutive years, were defeated in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs. The Twins have lost 12 straight postseason games, including nine in a row to the Yankees.

I have been watching, reading, and digesting Minnesota sports pretty much since I can remember. I first started reading the sports section at about the age of five, so long ago that Charley Walters the “shooter” was actually good. This was way before he started mailing in his columns; with total BS, lies, and updates on his friends and the Oakdale Prom Center.

Most of my first memories are sports related: Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant, the Twins winning the World Series in 1987, getting lost at the huge parade that followed, watching my beloved North Stars on pay per view, loving the high school hockey tourney and religiously rooting for the Edina Hornets because they had the same colors as MY North Stars. Getting Dino Ciccarelli's autograph at Mangini’s . I can still tell you  where I was(my grandma’s) and my reaction(astonished, appalled) when  I was informed  the stars traded him and Don Beaupre for Mike Gartner. This was my first introduction to the bitter side of sports. I was 5 almost 6.
 History:
Let us start with the greatest year in Minnesota sports history April 1991-April 1992. I might as well get the good stuff out of the way first, and quite frankly this was an amazing time to be a 8/9 year old kid, who loved, and still does love sports. This was such a great year for Minnesota sports fans that we are still suffering for it 21 years later. I believe after this year the the failure of Minnesota sports began. We used up a decades worth of great times in a one year span, and the Sports Gods are still making us pay.
  
From April 1991-April 1992: The North Stars went on their run to the Stanley Cup Final, Minneapolis hosted the 1992 Super Bowl between the Redskins and Bills, the 1992 NCAA Final Four, and of course the 1991 World Series between the Twins and Braves.  I believe the Minnesota sports curse/failure has roots in this great year. It’s as if the Sport’s God’s have punished us for having so much success over this one year.  I have not forgotten the Vikings of the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. I just believe that they have their own specific curse, of which I’m not sure where the root lies. More on them later.

Just imagine, the ecstasy and joy for a kid whose whole life and mood was/is highly tied to how his local sports teams are doing.

 1990/91 North Stars
Let us start this journey with the Minnesota North Stars. The Stars where always an exciting and fun team to watch they just were never very good during the late 80’s. I remember the debauchery and bloodbaths that marked the rivalry between the Minnesota North Stars[1] and Chicago Blackhawks in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This was a real rivalry between two teams that quite literally hated each other. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baHY18HpLwQ . Just search Stars Blackhawks brawls on Youtube to see or refresh your memory. Pregame brawls, numerous fights, and great hockey are the legacy of this rivalry.

The Stars took the Blackhawks to the brink in their opening round playoff series in 1990 losing in 7 games against the heavily favored ‘Hawks. This gave fans hope for the upcoming 1990/91 season. The 1990/1991 started slowly as usual for the Stars, but they were able to turn it around, as the calendar flipped to 1991. Despite finishing with a below 500 record, the Stars qualified for the playoffs. Once again they would be playing the their arch enemies the Chicago BlackHawks in the first round.

The pinnacle of the North Stars-Blackhawks rivalry was this 1991 playoff series between the two teams. The Blackhawks were far and away the best team in the NHL during the regular season. They were led by their Calder [2]winning goalie Ed Belfour,  Steve Larmer, and Jeremy Roenick etc. The North Stars where lucky to squeak in to the playoffs as the 4th seed out of the Norris Division.  The North Stars won the 1st game of this series in O.T. on a Brian Propp rebound goal. After stumbling in games 2 and 3, the Stars roared back winning games 4,5,6 in a row and chasing Belfour from the nets early twice during the series. From a points perspective this is still the biggest upset in NHL history.  The BlackHawks finished the season with 106 points, while the Stars finished with just 68.

After that the Star’s went on a magical run making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, before succumbing to Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Despite being massively sad about losing, and blaming the loss on myself for being at my grandparents cabin(I dragged my parents to a local bar to watch their satellite feed of game 6)instead of at home, the future looked bright for the franchise.

The Stars would lose in the first round of the playoffs to Detroit the following year, miss the playoffs the next and be gone forever after 1993. The Stars leaving was the single worst thing I had ever had to deal with up until that point. This event gave me a hatred for Norm Green that will live on forever, but did not ruin my love for hockey. Minnesota professional hockey teams have won a grand total of two playoff series in the 21 years since that magical run of 1991. The 1991 North Stars won 3 playoff series that year alone.

Part 2 tomorrow


[1] The fact is the Minnesota North Stars should be the name of our current NHL team. The Wild is quite possibly the worst name in team sports. Meanwhile the Dallas Stars keep our name and our history. If Cleveland can be the Browns and retain there history after there previous team left why can’t we? As always Gary Bettman you are amazing.
[2] Calder trophy goes to the NHL rookie of the year.