Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tight Races, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. We are just a couple of weeks removed from the All Star break, and division races are beginning to heat up. Let's start with the AL East. Hands down the best division in baseball has all five teams above the .500 mark. After Boston's terrible start, they have managed to work their way up to 40-35 and 6.5 behind the Yankees. New York has been playing some great ball lately. Fresh off of a double-digit win streak, they are the hottest team in the league and I don't see them fading at all. One team that I do see fading is the Baltimore Orioles. The O's started out very strong but have been hanging on by a thread in the East. They sit at 5 games behind but I think their only hope for the playoffs will be that second Wild Card spot. I see potentially 3 teams from the East making the postseason this year, and you can never rule out the Rays or even the Blue Jays for that matter.
Another tight race is in the NL West between the hated rivals Giants and the Dodgers. Los Angeles got out to the best start in baseball but with the loss of Matt Kemp, they have came back down to Earth. LA started the series with the Giants 3 games up, but after being shutout 3 straight games by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum, the two teams are tied atop the division. It was nice to see Lincecum get his stride back after 6 straight losses. He now sits at 3-8 on the season with an ERA just under 6. On a side note, it is completely ridiculous that Melky Cabrera is behind Matt Kemp in the All-Star voting. The Melk Man is on pace for over 240 hits this season and Matt Kemp hasn't played since early April. If Melky doesn't make the All Star game, I will have lost all faith in fans voting for the "best players" to play in the All-Star game.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I truly believe you and I are as capable of predicting the outcome of the NBA draft as the so-called experts.  The same information is available.  Information is sacred and no GM is telling a reporter anything.  It's the NBA, not the CIA!
1-Anthony Davis = DUH!  2-Bobcats go Thomas Robinson of Kansas.  Their top rebounder was Boris Diaw.  They need this guy.  3-Wiz-I'm thinking Bradley Beal of Fla, perhaps the top scorer in this draft to pair with John Wall in the back court.  They already have a nice young big in Javale McGee.  4-Cavs:  Is LeBron still available?  Then I'm saying Michael Kidd Gilchrist of KY.  Their defense stinks and this kid is tenacious.  5-Kings:  They're more likely than even Portland to screw up the draft.  They had the worst defense in the league.  Gotta go with Andre Drummond, the big from UConn.  6-Blazers:  I'm going with the flow.  Damian Lillard of Weber State.  Big Sky is a decent hoops league.  This guy can sting it and for all his handling of the ball, is pretty good in the turnover department.  7-Golden State:  Another horrible organization who lives in the lottery.  Take Dion Waters of the Cuse.  Kid is a beast who attacks the bucket like DWade.  8-Toronto Raps:  Why are they still in the league?  The Toronto Star's lead story today was Portugal/Spain in Euro Soccer.  They don't care about hoops.  Austin Rivers of Duke.  They'll care about him.  9-Pistons:  I hate the Pistons and hope they screw this up.  After some scanning I'm buying what I read in the Free Press.  John Henson of UNC for some killer "D".  10:  Hornets-With Davis at one do they desire more size?  Not enamored with Grevis Vasquez at the point and though he's non-traditional, they take Jeremy Lamb of UConn.  11:  Blazers again.  I think they should take Meyers Leonard of Illinois who got better and better as the season moved along.  I think the new GM Olshey will be more conservative & go name/school recognition with Ty Zeller.  12:  Bucks-traded Bogut last season and will go center.  If Portland takes Zeller they take Leonard.  If it's the other way around.  It's the other way around.  13: Suns-Their primary goal is to aggravate Matt.  If I'm right and Lamb goes to NOrl at 10, I'm saying Terrence Ross of Washington.  I think this kid is one of the can miss guys in this draft.  See how we do??

Monday, June 25, 2012


I was wondering if the overwhelming verdict in the Sandusky trial made a difference.  Seems to me most decent folks with an operating cerebellum got the guy is a despicable pig.  I was disturbed by the blind followers who did not share his last name.  If you are a family member, there exists a certain mentality.  Some others in State College came off as supportive in a naive, disturbing way.  Hopefully seeing this piece of garbage hauled off in handcuffs will open some of those eyes.
Obviously I'm the opposite of a Red Sox fan.  Yet I can't help but feel bad about the trade of Kevin Youklis to the White Sox.  He, along with Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and a few others were at the core of ending the curse and bringing 2 World Series titles to those loyal Boston fans.  Yook was awful this year, the Chisox needed some kind of production at 3rd and the Bosox have a young hotcornerman in Will Middlebrooks.  I get the baseball side.  It just would have been cool of Youklis could have remained with the team who drafted him till the end.  Ironically, Middlebrooks attended the same Liberty Eylau high school as one LeMichael James. 
Got out to the Olympic Trials late yesterday afternoon(Sun) to catch the men & women's 400 and the final of the men's 100.  I might not be a big track and field fan, but was caught up in the atmosphere at Hayward Field.  Folks were absolutely riveted and as usual, wired in because of their passion and knowledge.  In 2008 Bryshon Nellum was shot in the leg during a drive by.  Now the USC stud is heading to London to represent his country in the 400 meters.  I was happy to see Sanya Richards Ross get a chance for redemption.  I recall her in tears on the track 4 years ago in Beijing, a beaten favorite, having to settle for a Bronze.  See if she can't bring home the gold this summer.  I was along the fence near the grandstand and her smile circling the track was worth a million bucks. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Best is Still to Come, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. With the first day of the US Open in the books, Tiger Woods is sitting at 1-under and second place on the leader board. For the first time since 2002, Tiger shot under-par in the first round of a US Open. Trailing only Michael Thompson at 4-under, Woods has set himself up nicely for the rest of the Open.
The Game One victory for the Thunder was once again overshadowed by the Heats loss and Lebron's "inability" to play in the fourth quarter. I have news for you, although James didn't have the game he wanted, he still dropped a 30 spot for the fourth game in a row. He needed some support from somebody other than Shane Battier, and Chris Bosh needs to quit settling for 20 foot jump shots. But in Game Two, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh came back with a combined 40 points added on to Lebron's 32. After having double digit leads multiple times, Kevin Durant just continues to prove that he is a true All-Star and a MVP caliber player. The athleticism of Oklahoma City compared to everyone else in the league is just ridiculous. Just when you start to key in on KD, here comes Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The Heat big three and the Thunder big three gets the job done in completely different ways. Miami ended up squeaking their way to a Game Two victory to even up the series. The action now moves to South Beach for the next three games. That is the problem I have with the 2-3-2 format. If the first two games are split, then the other team all of a sudden has the home court advantage but that is just my opinion on it. Game Three is set for Sunday night in Miami, and I couldn't be more excited.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Did the Thunder win last night?  Did Miami lose?  Keep those facts in mind.  It's one game.  Erik Spoelstra and his braintrust have to figure a few things out.  Open, good percentage jumpers are okay, but settling like they did most of the 2nd half is fatal.  Lebron looks like he kind of gets it.  There were periods when he harkened back to last Finals and caved to pressure.  Then on occasion he seemed to understand the value of using his physical advantage and even got to the line 9 times.  Kevin Durant seems wise beyond his years.  The kid was magnificent with the money on the table.  I keep having the word "moxie" flash in my head.  There is a confidence we witness with elite athletes.  Tiger over a big 5 foot par putt.  Brady delivering a 3rd and 9 pass on the numbers in the red zone.  K.D has shown that type of high level brilliance pretty consistently this spring.  Russell Westbrook might be an entity unto himself.  Not sure we've seen a point guard quite like him with his athleticism, strength and upside.  He had 11 rebounds.  And 27 points.  Nick Collison made a tremendous contribution.  Really provided the West Champs with a jolt.  I'd be surprised if OKC lost any games where they score over 100.  That's my magic number.
"Goodfellas" is one of my all time favorite movies.  Always felt that should have captured best picture over "Dances With Wolves".  The lead character in the flick was Henry Hill played exceptionally well by Ray Liotta.  Hill died today at age 69.  Turned 69 yesterday.  Lived the life of a big time scum bag, ratted out his associates to save his own ass, went into witness protection and still lived a life of crime.  His loss makes the world a better place.  We're talking addition through subtraction.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Down to the Wire, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. Four straight wins by the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Spurs have propelled them into the NBA Finals. The only question now is who their opponent will be. Looking at the first five games of the Heat-Celtic series, it was almost identical to the Western Conference Finals. Going back to Boston it looked like the series was all but lost for Lebron and the Heat, but never underestimate the power of Lebron James. With a 45 point - 15 rebound performance, James led the Heat to a 98-79 Game Six victory. Lebron was keyed in from the get go like I've never seen him before. He had a different attitude about himself that he had with Cleveland. He knew that their backs were against the wall and he just put the entire team on his shoulders. I don't care if Boston plays their best in Game 7, if Lebron James performs the way he did in Game 6, the Celtics might as well just pack up their bags right now. But  let's just say James doesn't drop another 45, a big component of this game will be Chris Bosh and his ability to make big plays. Bosh has been a non factor in his first two games back from his abdominal injury, but he will have to rise to the occasion in Game Seven in order to advance to the Finals. Although James and Wade have been the two superstars of the Heat this season, I feel that Bosh is the key to this teams success. When he is in, they just seem to have a certain type of rhythm that is very hard to stop once it gets rolling. Game Seven tips off on Saturday at 8:30 eastern time. I think that the Heat will come out with more intensity than the Celtics, and keep the foot on the pedal for 48 minutes. My prediction is Heat 101 -- Celtics 88.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I wondered about the pulse of old Supersonics fans about this great run by the Thunder, now based in Oklahoma City.  I think it became clear last night.  After OKC roared by to eliminate the Spurs in game 6, I logged onto my Twitter account(@Sportstalk953) to chime in on the issue.  In a stunning development I offered up a few sarcastic comments to poke at the Seattle faithful.  I was told to "die in a fire"!  The bitterness & anger just exploded via social media.  I'm curious as to how this is playing in Portland as they watch a stud like Durant become arguably the league's best player while Greg Oden's career with the Blazers is over?
One fact that's key is folks saying Oklahoma City supporters haven't had to live through the rough years.  Don't forget, Portland got their franchise in 1970 and won it in 1977.  Pretty quick.  Sure, this is only the 4th season of the Thunder but in year one they did go 23 & 59 before getting progressively better each season.
Some MLB thoughts.  Anyone notice the Pirates have snuck above the .500 mark?  I didn't until this morning, and ironically they lost yesterday to the Reds.  They're doing it with the most anemic offense in baseball this side of Oakland, but the stingiest pitching & defense outside of Washington!  Breakout season to this point for big righty James McDonald.  This is just his 2nd healthy full season in the rotation.  Good stuff with about a kay an inning and his control has reached a career best.  He's allowed only 48 hits over his 71 innings of work.  See how he holds up during the fast approaching dog days.  Now in year two as the closer, Jack Hanrahan hasn't been hit by sophomore jinx with Bucs.  Well over a strikeout an inning, but some control issues with 12 walks over his 21 innings of work.  They have one legit stick in Andrew McCutchen.  Only batter hitting over .275 and an on base percentage higher than .330.  Can't imagine these shortcomings don't do them in, but good times in a great baseball city!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I know in this age of screaming opinions on twitter, radio and TV about sports or politics, it's generally seen as sign of weakness to admit error.  I'll always insist it reveals character and strength.  In 1998 I was doing a version of this show twice a week on Monday and Friday nights from 5:30-7pm on local public radio.  I was astonished at the outcry over Casey Martin's pursuit of the right to ride a golf cart to pursue his dreams.  Really?  My take then was if you let members of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders carry me around like an Egyptian Pharaoh, perform sexual favors and feed me grapes, I ain't hitting those kinds of shots.  We heard the typical hysterical whining.  What's next?  Some guy is gonna sue for the right to pitch in the major leagues or play football.  How'd that turn out?  Better yet, how many on the PGA or any other pro tour on planet earth are using a golf cart in competition?  I tried to explain this was a unique case and not a door opener.  I was even more astonished that actual golfers took stances against Martin.  I felt they belittled their own mad skills by even insinuating mere mortals could approach their talent by riding a golf cart!  Congratulations to Casey on this magnificent accomplishment.  And happy riding!
Lot of talk about folks amazed the Spurs could reel off that kind of win streak then when it matters most, lost 3 in a row.  Pretty simple answer no??  They weren't playing the Thunder, in the NBA version of the Final 4.  This is not only a terrific team, but check the roster.  Top 4 players, Durant, Westbrook, Harden & Ibaka are 23, 23, 22 and 22.  Find me another match historically?  This team made the West Finals a year ago and followed up with a tremendous regular season.  Their graph is pointing severely north.  I'll call this a very mild surprise they've reeled off 3 straight, but logic pointed to a 50/50 prop to win this series.  This is not stop the presses stuff, just a natural progression from a team well constructed to grow and win.  For the record, because of that youth & the quality of San Antonio, this series is not yet in the bag.
Quick thought on Tiger's win a the Memorial over the weekend.  Forget the "he's back" nonsense.  As long as Woods is healthy, he's got a shot.  He's facing a ton of really, really good players.  A hundred guys capable of taking him down on a given weekend.  Beyond Phil, none would have what you could accurately refer to as Hall of Fame credentials.  None that are currently in their prime anyway.  See how he fares next week at the Olympic Club in Frisco when the US Open gets rolling.