Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thurs July 10: MLB at Midseason and Countdown to Beijing Continues

This post will be relatively short with mostly some facts from my perspective and of course our continuing road to Beijing.

MLB Midseason Report
Before I continue, I'd like to warn readers that there's not going to be much detailed analysis here and the following comments are merely from my perspective (though I have inserted several links where the writers have a much better sense of what is going on in the MLB). Baseball is a tough sport to follow and requires a lot of committment which unfortunately I have no time for.

But I respect and love the game as much as the next guy so here are the biggest stories going on in MLB coming into the Midseason Break:

I am a Yankee fan but they just haven't been doing their best this year. Yes, they have their moments in the spotlight but I think its safe to say that they could do better. The pitching has just been on and off though very recently the Yanks have been thrilling fans with their last at-bat wins. The Yanks may just end the first half of the season on the right note but they'll need to improve greatly to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, how bout them Devil Rays? Quite a comeback story because I remember when I watched them play the Yanks, fans would come to watch the New York team rather than the Rays. They've got young players like 3B Evan Longoria and they have taken advantage of the mistakes made by their AL East rivals, particularly the Yankees. Though they may not have the best players, they have been consistent and that has gotten them the lead in the AL East.

But that lead has decreased and the Red Sox are looking to replace the Rys and take over the AL East. The defending World Series champions are experienced and have big hitters with averages above .300. They expect to win and are determined to do so. Also, they've got Boston behind them and with passionate fans like that, it can't hurt right?

2. The Chicago Cubs
Okay, I don't know much about the Cubs, I haven't seen them play that much this year (thanks to the great scheduling of games by Fox Sports), but I've heard much about them. Most recently their acquirement of Rich Harden from Oakland. First place in the NL Central division, it looks like this year is their best chance for a World Series title, if they stay consistent. It's possible that they could fall to the St. Louis Cardinals late in the year. After all, they are only 2nd in the division and Albert Pujols is still a consistent hitter. The Cubs also need to watch out for the Brewers, who are pinning their hopes on newly-aquired AL Cy Young Winner CC Sabathia.

Nevertheless, Go Cubs! Certainly a team to watch after the All-Star Break.

3. NL East and West Make For Competitive Baseball (Sort of)
By just looking at the standings, both the NL East and West are the most competitive divisions, sort of. The NL East has three teams vying for the top spot -- Philadelphia, Florida and New York. Of course the NL East is never that great so maybe the NL West can give us a little more of an interesting story. Arizona and Los Angeles are tied for first place, yet both teams are below .500.

Hmm...maybe there's a bigger story here about the National League. I'll leave it with this, the American League has won the last 11 All-Star games. Does that say anything about the National League?

Meanwhile, enjoy these links about the status of MLB at the All-Star break.;_ylt=AvhsFIBelUthzOVEpU1e8uIRvLYF?slug=sh-midseasongrades070108&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

That last link from ESPN just has a lot of good baseball stuff to read and talk about.

Countdown to Beijing: Looking Back at the Last 4 Years (Part I)
Well sometimes before you look toward tomorrow, we have to look back at yesterday. Today we'll take a brief stroll through the past four years beginning with the last Olympic Games, Athens 2004.

During the Games of XXVIII Olympiad, the games returned home to the place of their birth. Competitions like archery, the marathon and the shot put took place at the historic Panathinaiko Stadium and the Ancient stadium of Olympia. Paul Hamm of the United States made an incredible comeback in the Men's All-Around competition after falling from his dismount in the vault event. Then his gold medal was engulfed in controversy after we found out that the judges made errors in the scoring. He kept the gold medal even though he was pressured by the FIG and the South Korean gymnastics team to give it up. Days later in the individual events, Paul Hamm was the unintended victim of a scoring controversy in the men's high bar event. Hamm did his routine amid boos from the crowd that reacted to the low score given to the previous competitor Alexi Nemov (see video here).

Regardless, Team USA had plenty of gold medal highlights. Carly Patterson took home the women's all-around gold medal. Michael Phelps won six gold medals and two bronzes in the pool, while breaking a few world records at the same time. Mariel Zagunis took home the first women's sabre fencing gold medal. And in track and field, Justin Gatlin won the men's 100 meters, Jeremy Wariner led a 1-2-3 finish at the 400 meter dash, while Shawn Crawford led an American sweep in the 200 meters.

The home team of Greece had highlights as well, Fani Halkia won the 400 meter hurdles, while Dimosthenis Tampakos won the rings competition in gymnastics.

There were probably hundreds of highlights that I haven't mentioned. Off the top of my head, I'll remember the first Israeli gold medal coming from the sport of sailing, the thrilling U.S. win in women's soccer, how Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won the gold medal in beach volleyball, the wins by Argentina in both football and basketball, Chile's wins in singles and doubles competition of men's tennis. The list goes on and on. But it was a great Olympic Games and will have memories that I will cherish always.

So four years later, what has changed? We'll talk about what has happened in the past Olympiad tomorrow in our continuing series of the Countdown to Beijing.

Other notes...
A rider from Luxemburg has taken over the yellow jersey in the Tour de France:

And England has put up a great start in their Cricket series test with South Africa:

Thanks for reading, I'll catch you tomorrow.

No comments:

BEIJING 2008 Tentative NBC Schedule (BLOG POSTS BELOW...)