Just two weeks ago, John Smoltz was the latest Hall of Fame caliber player to cling on too long to the game he loved, crashing and burning at New Yankee Stadium, and getting walloped by the Bombers for 8 runs, finishing his Red Sox career with an ERA over eight.
While the 42-year-old hasn't had a quality start all year, and peaked against the Royals over five innings, he's coming back to the NL, this time with the Cardinals. The low risk, high reward deal for the first place Cards can do little to hurt them, given the horrific August that the second place Cubs have endured.
With a decent lead in the division and hefty rotation anchored by Carpenter and Wainwright, Smoltz will try to bridge the gap to the suddenly sensational Ryan Franklin who is tied for the league lead in saves, with 30. Being a step-up man is a new business venture for the 21-year veteran, but Smoltz arguably had his best years out of the pen, when he saved 144 games for Braves from 2002-2004 with a 2.47 ERA.
Will Smoltz hit those numbers? No. Will he be somewhat formidable for the Cards? Who knows. But one thing is for sure, the guy just doesn't want to leave the game. Whether he was influenced more by Brett Favre's return on Tuesday, or the Cardinals playoff guarantee, is still up for debate.
Just two games into the newest edition of the Premier League, and it looks like we're all in store for one terrific season. Not only did Liverpool show that a loss to Spur wouldn't affect their season, as they trounced Stoke 4-0, but Burnley shocked the world with a 1-0 home win against defending champion Manchester United.
Chelsea continued a grwat form under Carlo Ancelotti with a 3-1 win over Sunderland, behind a trio of goals from Ballack, Lampard and Deco. So while Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal seemed determined to fight for the top of the table, that title for now rests in North London, as Tottenham are blowing away the competition after a 5-1 rout of sophmore side, Stoke City. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Portsmouth and Hull City look comfortably numb at the basement of the league.
The Big Result: Burnley 1-0 Manchester United
Behind a gutsy performance from keepter Brian Jensen, in which he saved the win with an early penalty stop from Michael Carrick, Burnley rode the momentum from their promotion to stun of the world's most famous clubs. While the sides are polar opposites in terms of everything from fan bases, venues and legacy, Burnely showed tonight that they do belong in the same league as Sir Alex's United.
With the departure of Ronaldo and Tevez, plus the absense of the defense corps, Untied was ripe for the picking on the road, but the inexperience and talent level of Burnely surely should have done them in. If United can't put away a team like Burnley, what could Spurs, Arsenal or Chelsea do to them right now. Until they get healthy at the back, it could be a rough start for the Red Devils.
If it Weren't for the Table...:
5. Manchester City
6. Manchester United
Man of the Round: Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur
Defoe's brilliant hat-trick led Spurs on their second big victory of the year, this time a 5-1 crushing of Hull City. The English striker has had a big month of August, scoring his goals against Hull after bringing back England from a 2-0 defacit to Holland all by himself last week in a World Cup Qualifier. With all the fire power that Spurs have up front and in the midfield, Defoe's form could wreck havoc with the rest of the Prem.
Lost for words: Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United on Burnley after 1-0 loss.
"They've been out of the Premier Division for 30-odd years - maybe it was their night because so many things happened in that penalty box it was just amazing we didn't get one."
The Absolute Stunner: Can't pass up Burnley here, but Tottenham's ability to stay consistent, sure it's early but still, could throw a wrench into the plans for the teams competing for the final Champions League spot. They've been underacheivers for a few years now, if they can put it together for a whole season, watch out, because guys like Huddlestone, Lennon and Modric are only going to get better.
The season got off to a flier this weekend in England, as a handful of clubs made it known that the storyline for 2009-2010, will be what team will round out the Big Four, and vie with United, Chelsea and Liverpool for top of the table.
With the top three clubs seemingly a step ahead of the rest, this weekend was a big opportunity for the contenders to make a move to the top and start building some momentum. Arsenal for sure wasted no time and behind captain Cesc Fabregas, obliterated Everton with a 6-0 shellacking. The win puts the target on the Gunners for the time being, and with Portsmouth awaiting them back at the Emirates on Saturday, they should stay atop the table for now.
The Big Result: Aston Villa 0 - 2 Wigan
Last season, the Villans coasted to a 6th place finish, after being the toast of the town for much of the early part of the season. This season started much like last year's ended, as Wigan rolled into Villa Park and took apart Martin O'Neill's side. With the loss of Antonio Valencia and Steve Bruce, starting the Roberto Martinez era with a win is a huge step forward for Wigan.
If it Weren't for the Table...:
2. Manchester United
4. Manchester City
Man of the Round: Emmanuel Adebayor
The new front man for Manchester City wasted no time in christening his start up north, scoring in the third minute of a 2-0 victory for City over Blackburn Rovers. The goal not only was huge for Adebayor, but it started a new page in the history of the Citizens and at least for the time being, shows that City's makeover could be a legitimate contender.
Lost for words: Harry Redknapp, Tottenham Hotspur, after beating Liverpool 2-1.
"Last season we beat them, I'd just arrived and I admitted at the time I didn't quite know how we beat them, they battered us. This time, we were the better team and we deserved that win. I thought we outplayed them."
The Absolute Stunner: Remarkably, Round 1 ended without a single draw, a good sign for Arsenal, who seemed to cling to a few too many draws last season, and Didier Drogba's late winner could prove to be a good omen for Chelsea.
The speedy Jamaican is at it again. Usain Bolt once again broke his own record at the 100 meters, hitting a freakish time of 9.58 seconds Sunday at the Berlin World Championships. A year to the day after setting the Olympic record with a 9.69 time amidst a celebratory strut to cap it off, Bolt didn't let up this time.
Just how fast is 9.58 seconds? Well to convert it to a 40-yard-dash, he would mathematically run a 3.53 time. Given that that number doesn't show the endurance factor of a 100m sprint, but just crunching the numbers to get that time, is baffling. In comparison, the fastest 40 time ever recorded was Darrell Green's 4.02, and that was never officially verified.
At this point, you have to start to wonder, just how fast will he go? At only 22-years-old, the Kingston native has a lifetime ahead of him, and beating American rival Tyson Gay by 0.13 seconds puts Bolt surely in a league of his own. Carl Lewis set the 100m record at age 27 in 1988, and he's considered the best ever. Give Bolt five years and another chance at glory in London's 2012 Games, and there's nothing short of the sky limiting the worlds fastest man.
Lastly, what makes Bolt so great, is that he's doing it all without a taint of doping. The record was shroud in doping scandals with tracksters like Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery getting their records stripped, but Bolt has done it himself, you got to love that.
Michael Vick signed with the Eagles on Thursday, was introduced Friday, and takes the field today for the first time under Andy Reid. It's been well over two and a half years since the once megastar took a snap, and it sure has been a long journey for the guy.
While Vick has gotten everything from hate mail, to PETA picketers, to threats over the boycott of his games by disgruntled fans, I ask why. Sure, killing dogs and bankrolling a cruel sport of dog-fighting isn't anyone's idea of proper behavior, but the guy has been through enough, served his time and should not be excommunicated for life. He didn't do steroids, didn't bet on the game, nor kill or rape another human being.
He spent 18 months in prison, lost tens of millions of a once lucrative fortune, and since become one of the most hated men in America, not just the sports world. Meanwhile Donte Stallworth killed a man while driving drunk and high, yet has faded into a vat of public immunity potion, when compared to Vick.
It's time to get off Vick's back and let him go prove to us that times have changed. Has he become a better man? Andy Reid doesn't know, Tony Dungy doesn't know, and Vick probably can't even answer that truthfully. But how are we going to ever find out if he's ready to move on, if we don't give him the chance?
The angry comments and protests over Vick's signing are becoming purely insane now. It's time to move on and stop whinning. Reading this morning's Los Angeles Times proved to be the last straw on my annoyance of anti-Vick talk. Here's a letter to the editor in today's edition:
For years I've been a Packer fan, but this year will be different, as I will now root hard for two teams each week -- my Packers, and whatever team is playing the Eagles.
Los Angeles Times
I don't get it. How can you really hate a man that much? Stallworth killed a man and served a few weeks in jail, what are you going to do next year when he's running routes? Going to petition for another merger?
If I was an Eagles fan, I would be doing backflips right now. Think about how fast and dynamic that offense will be. With guys like Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brian Westbrook and an All-Pro QB Donovan McNabb at the helm, their offense could almost surely be unstoppable if they can gel.
All of you on Vick's back after so long, well you can go have yourself a grilled hot dog...better make that a tofu dog.
Despite just finishing a decade long unbeaten streak on American soil to Mexico just weeks ago, it's hard to fathom that Uncle Sam's Army has never triumphed at the Mexican Cathedral of soccer, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. A nasty combination of high altitude, near deadly smog, and about a million screaming fans form the biggest home field advantage in the world, so it's no wonder than only once has the US escaped Mexico with at least a draw.
Bob Bradley is sending the big boys down to Mexico City this time around, a far cry from the MLS-based side that lost to Mexico 5-0 in last month's Gold Cup Final. Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and phenom Jozy Altidore will lead the attack on Wednesday, while Carlos Bocanegra and newly signed A.C Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu will bolster the back.
It will be the first time since the dramatic loss to Brazil in June's Confederation Cup, that the top flight American squad will do battle, and clearly, they're the group that needs to be sent.
“We are excited about the challenge and the opportunity,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who guided the U.S. to a second-place finish in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. “Mexico is a very good team, and we are all aware of their great success playing in Mexico City. Every game in qualifying is important, and this is a chance to gain further ground in the group. Our team continually tries to raise the bar, and certainly the chance to win for the first time in Mexico is a welcome opportunity.”
While Mexico thrashed a team of unknowns in July, that game should have little, if any, carry over. The US comes into the match atop the table in the CONCACAF Qualification well on their way to punching their ticket to South Africa. Mexico on the other hand comes in struggling in the group stage, and is clinging to the 4th place playoff spot by just a point over El Salvador, while being a point behind Honduras for the automatic bid to South Africa that the third place spot ensures.
Regardless, this is still a huge game for the Americans. Sure, they showed up big in June's FIFA tournament, but the elephant in the room is the winless record south of the border. If Bradley can get the boys to put up a charismatic performance like they did against Egypt, Spain and the first half against Brazil, it will be huge. Even coming away with just a draw would go a long way in preparing for next year's World Cup, allow for some stepping forward as a soccer nation, and possibly putting a big dent in Mexico's hopes of going to South Africa.
I'd really like to see Altidore and Dempsey set the tone of the attack and go right at Mexico like did with Spain and Brazil. If they can come out early showing that they're not intimidated of the atmosphere and the hype of playing in Azteca, they could have a helluva chance. Without a doubt this is the most talented American team we've ever seen, now seems like a great time to get the win.
It's just about that time of year, and so with the opening of summer camps around the nation, it's time to unveil the Sporting Globe's innagural College Football poll, the Splendid 7.
1. Texas (projected 13-0)
Soft schedule to start and finish, with a stretch away from Austin with Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State all in a row serving as the only test. They'll be in Pasadena should they avoid a trap at Baylor.
2. Oklahoma (projected 11-1)
They should score about 50 points per game, and if they can outscore Texas, they should win the Big XII, and head west. Bradford will be poised to add on to his Heisman legacy, and win a title to go with it.
3. Florida (projected 13-0)
Even without Harvin, the Gators are down right scary. Tebow's guts, Meyer's brain, and only four road games equals a shot at a Dynasty. Not having to face Bama or Ole Miss just adds to the probability.
4. Alabama (projected 10-2)
They say defense wins championships, if so, then Bama will definitely be in the fold. Having to replace Parker-Wilson at the helm of the offense won't be easy, but Glen Coffey and Julio Jones should add some punch. If they get by Va Tech, then Ole Miss will be the only team standing in their way.
5. Ole Miss (projected 10-2)
Behind the best QB in the SEC according to some in the Spurrier camp, the Rebels and Jevan Snead and Dexter McCluster should be out to prove that last year's performances against Florida and Texas Tech weren't flukes. Early tests at South Carolina and Vandy should set the tone for their season.
6. USC (projected 10-2)
A treacherous road schedule with games at Ohio State, Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame, and Arizona State doesn't do them any favors. Reaching the Rose Bowl will be a mighty task behind unproven guys like Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley on offense, and an unproven defense.
7. Oregon (projected 10-2)
Jeremiah Masoli and LaGarrette Blount lead the nation's best and fastest running attack, making for very difficult matchups via the spread offense. If Masoli can play like he did in 2008, watch out, because other than an early road test at Boise State, the Ducks get the big boys at home: USC, Cal and Arizona State.
On the outside, looking in: Ohio State & Penn State
Since I was a kid, I've always been drawn to the badass athlete. While girls tend to flock to the "badboy" boyfriend who typically turns out to be a super asshole, I think it's a fair assumption that guys have a soft spot in their heart for the "badass" ballplayer that screams "douchebag" to the opposing fan, or at least I know I do.
I'm thinking a little more Dick Butkis or Ronnie Lott than Milton Bradley or Mike Tyson. A guy who is so passionate and fiery that it overtakes them, without being so crazy that they're not lovable. Sure, Derek Jeter makes the ladies melt and gets along with all the guys, but it's too much of lovey dovey admiration for me. I want to cheer for some grit, not a role model for high class like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
So what makes one a badass? A few things, but let's start with a name. If you're a running back about to plow through the line, what sounds scarier? Going to toe-to-toe with Ray Lewis or prancing up to Donnie Edwards? Osmond jokes aside, Ray Lewis takes the cake. I've talked about this at length with fellow blogger, Matt Clapp, and we've pretty much agreed that the Major League trilogy had the best badass names in all of sports movies. While I get chills at the name Carlos Liston (Major League III), Clapp gets weak at the knees for Pedro Cerrano. Put one of those names on the body of an Adam Morrison or Patrick Kane, and we got problems.
Secondly, the position matters. Other than the meanest punter I ever saw, the Chiefs' Louie Aguiar, a kicker just doesn't have the hardware to be badass. Linebackers, safeties, closers, and sluggers practically own the moniker. Ryan Theriot and Dustin Pedroia just can't be badasses, they can't.
Lastly, a badass needs the tenacity and a mean streak to make you love them, and have everyone else hate their guts, see Carlos Zambrano. He perfectly fits the role of "guy I'd like to have on my team," because I know for a fact, if he didn't wear Cubs blue, I'd hate his guts. There's just something about that snarl that makes Zambrano, Jack Parkman, and Brian Cushing(above) that makes you rosy red at the cheeks when they play for your team, and bitter like George Constanza to Lloyd Braun, if they play for the other guys.
Ah, do I love me a badass, if we only had more Nick Swishers and Francisco Rodriguezes in the world, I'd want one on my side. As long as my team doesn't get Sean Avery, I dig the signing of the "bad" one.
Here I am, more than half way into the summer, and the blog has regretfully taken a backseat to life. With work and vacation, blogging has been hard to come by. So now is where I catch you all up with me, as I dig myself out of my gorge and try to get off the blogging world's PUP list.
In the nearly two months since my last post, there has been a whirl wind of sports news, events, and revelation. From the Manny-Ortiz probe, to the Jake Peavy trade, to the Mark Buehrle perfecto, this has definitely been a summer of wonder.
In what has been a season of unsung heroes (Juan Pierre, Zack Greinke, Randy Wells and Jason Marquis), it's been the big stars have stolen the show. Manny Ramirez has been a walking current even topic, and I still find it odd how much love he remains to get despite the dirt that has sprinkled his career of late. But hey, pinch-hitting grand slams and a city that loves the bad boy superstar doesn't hurt, right?
Speaking of bad boy superstars, how about Mark Buehrle, love him or hate him, his record of 45 straight batters retired is phenomenal. Too bad that his team just so happens to be the most classless team in all of sports, sans Oakland Raiders. What a surprising summer it's been.
But surprise is not always good or intriguing it is downright unfair. The summer of death hit the sporting globe numerous times during hiatus, taking our super stars like Steve McNair and Arturo Gatti, and leaving us with Mike Vick and Jeremy Mayfield.
While Vick is unemployed and looking for work, Real Madrid has been snagging world class talent left and right. Ronaldo, Kaka, and Benezema headline a summer shopping spree as this group of Galacticos tries to join Barcelona in the exclusive list of teams claiming to have the world's best midfield.
Meanwhile, the English teams look to remain powerful, and as I saw for myself last month, Chelsea looks on top form. For the second time, I got the opportunity to watch a European football match, and this one just so happened to be historic. Six years ago I witnesses a newly Beckhamless Manchester United toy with Club America in the LA Coliseum, but this time it was real, hardcore European football. For the first time, Inter Milan's gaffer Jose Mourinho faced his old boys, Chelsea. The atmosphere, and match in general put the MLS to shame, and this one didn't even count. Hands down one of the most memorable sporting events I've been to.
As the old world's football starts in the coming days, our football is a month away, and the college gridiron is as up for grabs as ever. All summer long, I've been trying to picture the polls, and I can't. Will Florida be a contending despite their losses? Will Texas and Oklahoma both be in the top 3? How about 'SC, where do they fit? Ah, I can't wait.
Anyways, football is for the fall and summer ain't over yet. Here's to everyone enjoying the rest of their summer and to one great baseball stretch run. Cheers!