Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A tradition unlike any other: The Masters Preview

What a week it is, Monday was Opening Day for our respective teams and the National Championship game and this weekend is the Masters. For those of you who don’t know the Masters is my favorite major. The winner of the tournament gets the famous Green Jacket, which he is only allowed to keep for a year and then it must be returned. The Maters is the only tournament that is invite only, meaning there are no qualifiers and is the smallest field of players of any tournament. The tournament is also always played at Augusta National Golf Club. These factors and the many traditions make it the most prestigious tournament in golf.

Now the big storyline of the tournament is the return of Tiger. It is his first tournament back from his awful disease of sex addiction (if you haven’t seen the South Park episode about this you should go watch it, it’s hilarious). Personally I’m sick of hearing about it, I get it he cheated on his hot Swedish wife can we move on, so hopefully they don’t focus on that story this weekend. Now I don’t really start watching a lot of golf until The Masters so I don’t know who has been playing well recently, but I will give you some names to look for.

Tiger Woods – He hasn’t played in a while so no one knows how well he will play. I thought he should have played in a tournament before The Masters, but he decided against it. Regardless he is still the best golfer in the world and I have no doubt he’s been playing in private the past couple months. I know some people that think he will miss the cut, but I am not one of those people I think he makes it the whole weekend. While he has the ability to win it I just don’t see it happening.

Ian Poulter - Like I said I haven’t watched a lot of golf, but after talking to my Uncle and future brother in law this past weekend they both have stated that he has been playing really well the past couple weeks.

Ernie Els – Another golfer that has been playing well recently. Els hasn’t been as good since his knee surgery a couple of years ago (much like David Duval and his back), but he seems to be on his way back to competing more. I’ve always liked Ernie and hope he does well.

Phil Mickleson – He hasn’t been playing well recently but still has the ability to win a tournament as long as he doesn’t get creative.

Sergio Garcia – The Masters marks the start of his traditional can’t play in major’s campaign, but he’s probably just using these tournaments to get ready for the Ryder Cup this year.

So those are some names to look for (not really Sergio I just had to get that in) if you plan on watching this weekend. Coverage starts tomorrow on ESPN for the first two rounds and CBS for the final two rounds. Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, April 5, 2010

(Almost) The Greatest Shot Ever

The title game of the NCAA Tournament tonight was, no question, a fitting end to what has been an unbelievably good three weeks of college basketball.
I can't remember a better tournament, overall, and that would have still been the case even if Duke had won in a walk. But how classic would it have been if Gordon Heyward had hit his Evan Turner-esque prayer at the buzzer? He certainly got a good look at it.

This was because The Big 'Stache, Butler's Matt Howard, absolutely laid out a Dookie at halfcourt with a wicked pick on Jon Scheyer to get his teammate clear.

Then Heyward nailed the trajectory, hit glass, and BAM - off front rim, no good. Literally two inches less bounce, and you're looking at one of the biggest upsets in tourney history, for a small school playing in their own backyard, with tens of thousands of fans in attendance.

If that shot had gone in, it wouldn't just have been the best shot of the NCAA tourney. Nor, even, of the year in college basketball (Ohio State's Turner gets to hold on to that honor for his prayer against Michigan, unless you think Ali Farokhmanesh's double order of onions was slightly better) -- No, Heyward's shot would have been the greatest in college basketball history.

Maybe in basketball history, period. Who could top it in the NBA? Michael Jordan, maybe, but none of his buzzer beaters were from forty feet out!

Think about it. Butler, a 5 seed, the classic David despite their sterling play, versus the most hated team in basketball. A nailbiter of a game. Heyward didn't even get to catch the ball off an inbounds pass!

No, he had to drive the length of the court through a capable Duke defense and fire away on two dribbles AFTER snagging the rebound off an intentionally missed free throw (no easy feat in itself).

It's honestly too bad he was even in the position to have to throw up a half court shot. On Butler's next-to-last possession, Brian Zoubek's 7'1" frame forced Heyward into a desperate fadeaway. Honestly, I thought he got a better look at his game ender than he did on that shot.

It's a little early to criticize Butler for that play, but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway. They played such a great game, and coach Brad Stevens handled Duke so well, that it was a HUGE disappointment to see their last play -- to win a national title, no less -- turn into a frantic halfway drive and foiled shot with six seconds still to go.

With Zoubek having four fouls, I can't see how you don't drive straight to the hole and try for the old fashioned three point play.

Then again, hindsight is 20/20.

I'll just say this. That was one of the finest college basketball games I've seen in a long time. When you combine it with other epics such as Xavier-Kansas State, or Northern Iowa-Kansas, or Maryland-Michigan State, I think there is a clear case for the 2010 edition of March Madness as the finest ever.

Even if Duke won.

Buehrle For The Win

What a play. Great way to start the season, a 6-0 whitewash of the Indians with throwback play from Mark Buehrle (7.0 IP, 3H, 3K, shutout) and Paul Konerko and contributions from the new guys, too. JJ Putz, welcome to Chicago. Gordon Beckham, welcome to superstardom.

Now I'm excited for baseball.

Opening Day: White Sox Thoughts & Predictions

Okay, here we are less than two hours away from opening day. I'm going to make some predictions for the season, as well as some for today's game. But first, I gotta say I am so glad baseball season is finally back. Yes it drags on in August and September when your team is not going to make the playoffs (or if your team is so far ahead in the division that they will make the playoffs and you just want the playoffs to come) but its nice that it is here to fill the NFL void that I have. Now on to my predictions:

Todays Game vs. Indians

Final Score: 6-2 White Sox
Pick to Click: Alex Rios 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Buehrle's line: 7 IP 2 ER 5 K 2 BB
Westbrook's line: 6.1 IP 5 ER 6 K 4 BB

Season Predictions:

Pierre: .305 AVG .355 OBP 55 SB 90 R
Beckham: .310 AVG .380 OBP 23 HR 25 SB 50 2B 85 RBI
Quentin: .280 AVG .385 OBP 35 HR 110 RBI
Konerko: .275 AVG .355 OBP 25 HR 80 RBI
Rios: .295 AVG .340 OBP 30 HR 80 RBI 25 SB
Pierzynski: .290 AVG .325 OBP 14 HR 65 RBI
Ramirez: .295 AVG .350 OBP 25 HR 75 RBI
Teahan: .265 AVG .325 OBP 20 HR 60 RBI
Jones: .245 AVG .290 OBP 15 HR 45 RBI

Kotsay: .275 AVG .320 OBP 6 HR 20 RBI
Vizquel: .220 AVG .285 OBP 1 HR 10 RBI
Castro: .230 AVG .290 OBP 15 RBI
Nix: .235 AVG .310 OBP 15 HR 35 RBI

Buerhle: 3.85 ERA 18-7
Peavy: 3.25 ERA 21-5 (Cy Young)
Danks: 3.50 ERA 15-10
Floyd: 3.90 ERA 14-12
Garcia: 4.35 ERA 13-13

Pena: 3.90 ERA
Williams: 5.10 ERA
Thornton: 2.25 ERA
Putz: 2.75 ERA
Linebrink: 3.30 ERA
Santos: 3.75 ERA
Jenks: 3.00 ERA 40 S

White Sox Record: 101-61
Prediction: World Series Champs

Optimistic? Yes, but accurate as well! Let's go go White Sox.

Go Butler

Damn, ACL injuries are rough.

As if I needed yet another reason to root for Butler tonight...

Trivia: White Sox Players from 2005

Can you name all the players on the White Sox 2010 opening day roster that were memebers of the 2005 World Series team?

Answers will be in comments Wed

NHL Trivia

Which three men made comebacks in the NHL after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto?

Answers will be in comments on Wed