Monday, July 7, 2008

Evaluating the All-Star rosters

I am not going to be one of the numberless who calls out the all-star selections. For the first time I can remember, while there will always be some deserving players left out I have little argument with these teams. I will however discuss some of the most glaring omissions and also a few different moves I would have made with the roster.

The Final Vote
Fans have a chance to vote for the 30th man on each squad till July 10th. All of the 10 candidates (5 in each league) are possible deserving candidates but I believe two from each league are especially deserving. The situation is the same in both leagues. Each league has a guy I chose to start in the game as well as a third baseman I see as a stronger candidate than the current backup. In the NL, its Carlos Lee and David Wright. Carlos Lee was in my starting National League outfield and despite his defensive shortcomings, his offensive numbers are ridiculous as always. David Wright could have made it over Aramis Ramirez in the numbers department. He is also such a great spokesman for the MLB and a huge fan favorite that his selection always enhances the marketability of this all-star game. In the Al, its Jermaine Dye and Evan Longoria. The case can be made that Dye has had more of an impact on the first place Sox, than already all-star Carlos Quentin. Quentin is absolutely deserving, but why not also reward one of the most quietly consistent guys and players in the game. With Longoria, you have a guy who has just gotten really hot as of late and didn't even start the season with the big club. They should have just replaced the undeserving White Sox third baseman Joe Crede with Longoria. People are just starting to realize he immense potential and his current production, which makes him the Rays first half MVP.

Deserving omissions not up for the Final Vote

In the NL:
As I said, I like the rosters, and I specifically like the NL team, but there are always guys who can make their case. I really think Brandon Phillips was deserving as a 2nd baseman but they had to take both Guzman and Tejada as backup shortstops. There really is not enough room for many of these guys. Both Xavier Nady and Jason Bay deserved similar consideration that their Pirates outfield mate Nate McLouth got. The one grievance where I can legitimately identify a guy to take off the roster to add a player is with Jair Jurrjens. When you have a sub 3 ERA you better be on the All-Star team. End of discussion. Brian Wilson of San Francisco and his over 4 ERA has no business being in New York. It isn't like the Giants are struggling for a representative. They already have Tim Lincecum on the team and he could have started for the National League. Unfortunately, it looks like Jurrjens and a few others got robbed because of the sentiment against rookies that they will "have time to make plenty of all-star teams."

In the AL:
I liked the AL roster slightly less, but if I am comparing it to past rosters, it was picked very well. Aubrey Huff got robbed. Baltimore was able to hang for awhile because of him. I really thought Daisuke should have been there but I have Red Sox fans telling me the opposite, so I guess I am wrong. Jason Varitek is an absolute joke on the All-Star team. If they wanted another catcher it could have been A.J. Pierzynski or they could have just picked a more deserving star. The AL team has way too many closers, but I can't give a definite guy to replace them pitching wise after I was rebuffed by Sox nation on my Daisuke idea. I would have switched out Jeter and Pedroia with Kinsler and Young, but nothing anyone can really do about that. All I have to say in closing on the American League is Joe Crede can't end up being on the team without Evan Longoria.

NL Starting Pitcher
How is Edinson Volquez not starting this game for the National League? It looks like just another example of a rookie bias in awarding any sort of awards in sports. Brandon Webb is a fine pitcher, he has had a great season, and a great career, but Volquez is untouchable. Fortunately, he does get to go to the game and he will probably be the first reliever out of the pen for the NL

Other than that, the home run derby is shaping up very nicely. Lance Berkman, Dan Uggla, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley and Josh Hamilton will be joined by three others. I think they could have done a little better selecting the Futures Game rosters, but it still should be a good chance to evaluate some top prospects. It should be a great all-star week.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fireworks forseeing the Future

Tonight, I watched the various displays that light up the night skies of the 4th every year over my Pompano, Fl home. They made me wonder where I would be watching similar displays in the years to come. I pondered my personal future, the future of our country, and the future of my friends. Pouring over all of this, the fireworks gave me a great sense of comfort and order. After all, I believe, no matter what, those fireworks will always be there on the 4th. Big and small, every shape and every color, and with every sound such explosives have been known to make, they like us and our country, shall press on. In that case, if the fireworks remain in the sky, we should never fail. The big fireworks are big dreams which continue to be fulfilled everyday. The small fireworks are small dreams, equally satisfying to the dreamer and sometimes carrying a greater impact for societal well being. For the fireworks that split off in every direction like a branched tree, they represent the ability of one to touch many. The fireworks that stick together in one solid burst portray the ability of one to strongly affect one. The loud thud of some reveals the power of one to stand alone in the spotlight for change, for freedom, and for philanthropy. The short scream of others shows the grassroots efforts for good that are possible. America, as we know it, is built upon the fabric of all of these fireworks. Francis Scott Key said, "He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a nation." I wish this for myself, all I know and hold dear, and all Americans. I believe if we continue on the road in which Key described, we will always see fireworks in the night sky. The sign of illumination every first week in July will signify that we, as Americans, kept our freedoms, our virtues, and our pride in the previous years' time. I know that wherever I watch fireworks in the future, I will be in a good place. I know that because I plan to always value the worth of being an American.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My NL All-Stars

Here are my picks for the National League All-Star team. The National League has always been my favorite league so these picks will probably be a tad better than what you saw for the junior circuit. Again I abide by all traditional selection rules (Yes, the Nationals do get an all-star, imagine that.)

C-Geovany Soto (.284, 13, 48)
There are a few guys that have had good seasons as far as NL catchers are concerned, but Soto’s season stands out for its uniqueness. No one since Mike Piazza in 1993 has won the NL Rookie of the Year as a catcher. It is such a great crop of rookies and Edison Volquez is going to have something to say about the award, but make no doubt about it, Soto is the best rookie catcher since Piazza. To see a rookie catcher come in and handle a pitching staff like the Cubs that has them in first place is exactly why Soto should see himself starting in Yankee Stadium.

1B-Lance Berkman (.361, 22, 68, 12 SB)
This is, by far, the most stacked position in either league. Pujols, Gonzalez, Fielder, Howard, Jacobs, Lee, Teixeira, and Votto could all make compelling cases to make the team and not even half of that list will make the team. This position should definitely yield the biggest All-Star snub that will be debated on hours of ESPN programming. Berkman though has stood out head and shoulders in front of a remarkable group. His all around statistical compilation should perhaps have people talking as much about him winning the NL Triple Crown as they do about Josh Hamilton winning the AL version. Add to the Triple Crown category the 12 stolen bases, which for a big man like Berkman, is unbelievable. Fat Elvis is getting it done this year for sure.

2B-Chase Utley (.298, 23, 65)
It is a two man race in the National League at second base, and Utley comes out at the break by a nose. What Dan Uggla has been able to do after struggling to start the year just speaks of his momentous hot streak ability, but Utley has picked up right where he left off last year. We could be talking about the reigning NL MVP had he not gotten hurt down the stretch last year, but Utley is once again bidding for the award his teammates love. I would say that Uggla has a great chance to be the starting DH for the game in the AL home park.

SS-Hanley Ramirez (.298, 20, 41, 20 SB)
Does 20/20 at the break equal 40/40 at the end of the season? It probably does for Ramirez, who is quietly one of the top 5 players in the game. A tremendous speed/power combination, many think he will one day he will be the first to 50/50 in a season. I would say the only barrier to this is the cavernous Dolphins Stadium, where Ramirez just signed an extension to call Miami home for quite a while. It will be great to see this Marlin in his first all-star game this season

3B-Chipper Jones (.393, 16, 46)
With respect to David Wright, this race ended after the first month of the baseball season. Jones has gotten wide notoriety for flirting with .400, and this could be the season in which he has cemented his future Hall of Fame candidacy and induction. Not many think that Jones can actually hit .400 over a full season, but he has kept it going deeper in the season than anyone has in awhile. Most importantly, there is no way he wouldn’t win the fan vote. This guy is the talk of all water cooler/fringe baseball fans this year.

OF-Ryan Braun (.278, 20, 58), Carlos Lee (.287, 18, 63), Ryan Ludwick (.284, 16, 56)
While this wouldn’t be the most aesthetically pleasing outfield in terms of defense, boy, these guys can rake. This won’t be how it works out in the fan voting, so Clint Hurdle won’t have to concern himself with the defensive shortcomings. Braun started tremendously slow, but has shown as of late that there will be no sophomore slump. Mr. El Caballo, Carlos Lee, is always one of the most consistent run producers in the league. And then we get to…Ryan Ludwick? Ludwick has already topped his career highs in HR and RBI and is the first half MVP of the surprising Cardinals. One can only wonder where this guy came from, but for Cardinal fans like myself, it’s just one final testament to the success of Walt Jocketty.

C-Brian McCann (.298, 14, 45)
1B-Adrian Gonzalez (.288, 21, 68), Albert Pujols (.355, 17, 47)
2B-Dan Uggla (.289, 23, 58), Brandon Phillips (.284, 14, 51, 16 SB)
SS-Miguel Tejada (.289, 10, 43), Christian Guzman (.315, 5, 27)
3B-David Wright (.288, 16, 65)
OF-Nate McLouth (.282, 15, 53), Alfonso Soriano (.283, 15, 40), Corey Hart (.293, 14, 52, 12 SB)

Starting Pitcher- Edison Volquez (10-3, 2.24, 113 K)
This guy is just unprecedented baseball history in live action. A rookie who could start the All-Star game and win his leagues’ Triple Crown needs to be watched carefully. Pitchers like Volquez come around maybe once every 20 years. What a swap of Edison Volquez for Josh Hamilton in the off-season. I would have to say both teams should be pretty happy with what they got. Hamilton may be the best hitter in baseball this year and Volquez is possibly the best pitcher.

Rest of Staff
Tim Lincecum (9-1, 2.38, 114 K)
Dan Haren (8-4, 2.85)
Brandon Webb (12-4, 3.21)
Ben Sheets (9-2, 2.83)
Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94)
Carlos Zambrano (8-3, 3.13)
Aaron Cook (11-5, 3.38)

Brad Lidge (19 svs, 0.82)
Billy Wagner (19 svs, 1.85)
Hong-Chih Kuo (3-1, 1.94)

These guys could make their case: Russell Martin, Bengie Molina, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Mike Jacobs, Derek Lee, Mark Teixeira, Joey Votto, Mark DeRosa, Jose Reyes, Garrett Atkins, Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Reynolds, Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Matt Holliday, Xavier Nady, Chris Young, Johan Santana, Ryan Dempster, Cole Hamels, Todd Wellemeyer, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Lohse, Kerry Wood

Monday, June 30, 2008

My 2008 AL All-Stars

Well my friends, most teams are officially half way through their regular seasons. With that situation as well as all-star voting coming to an end shortly, I wanted to give my thoughts on who should fill out the 2008 teams. I have felt disappointment for years at the questionable selection of these teams and have always felt I should be the sole nominator of players. I adhere to all the traditional rules of selection such as making sure that each MLB team has at least one representative. My NL team will follow in a few days. Here it goes. Let the ripping ensue.


C-Dioner Navarro (.317, 4, 31)
You can make an awesome case for Joe Mauer to start the game and Navarro is one of many on this list that doesn’t have a chance to be voted in by the fans due to lack of popularity. Like his team, the Rays, Navarro is starting to build believers. The only overachieving hitter on baseball’s best team gets major credit for where Tampa Bay stands right now. His stats are near identical to Mauer’s and you must give him praise for a portion of the success experienced by the Rays’ pitching.

1B-Justin Morneau (.306, 12, 63)
Boston booing commence, but Morneau is my man. The sweet swinging Canadian has led the surprise Twins in their battle for the top of the Al Central. He beats Youk out in RBIs by more than 10 and only is behind his HR total by one. Both have kept their averages above .300 and are comparable fielders. In other words, Youkilis may be close but no cigar.

2B-Ian Kinsler (.323, 12, 50, 20 SB)
Kinsler is just a statistic compiler for a team with one of the better offenses in baseball. He so often leads off for that offense and starts the engine. He leads Al second baseman in every category you see here that I listed. He is the kind of player that makes All-Star arguments easy, but he might not get the nod from the fans due to a lack of notoriety.

SS-Michael Young (.280, 7, 43)
This is a close race and Young gets the nod over Derek Jeter here. It would certainly be interesting to pair Rangers teammates up the middle. Early in the year, Young looked like he would never be in position for this. While the fans will take Jeter, Young should still make the team.

3B-Alex Rodriguez (.322, 15, 43, 10 SB)
You can’t even fathom how close I was to actually putting exciting Rays rookie Evan Longoria. In the end, A-Rod just trumps E-Lo in batting average and consistency. Plus, he has no chance of being voted in by the fans seeing as he was not even on the original paper ballot. Make Willy Aybar an all-star… anybody?

OF-Josh Hamilton (.312, 19, 79), Jermaine Dye (.306, 18, 49), Manny Ramirez (.289, 16, 52)
First, Jermaine Dye is the best hitter on the surprising Al Central leaders. Josh Hamilton is the most surprising performer in baseball and he has emerged as a superstar talent in Arlington. If the Rays would have held on to him, they would be running away with the AL East right now. Hamilton has an outside shot at winning the Triple Crown as well. Manny Ramirez gets pushed for a starting spot by his Red Sox teammate J.D. Drew, but we give Manny the nod because he is the established guy that the team leans on more.

DH-Aubrey Huff (.275, 14, 45)
David Ortiz will definitely win the fan vote to start, but he has been hurt quite a bit this season. Huff is experiencing success he hasn’t seen since his early days in Tampa Bay. I think most people who follow the game wrote him off a couple of years ago. He definitely has a lot to do with a Baltimore team that has a winning record.

C-Joe Mauer (.321, 3, 32)
1B-Kevin Youkilis (.313, 13, 50), Jason Giambi (.262, 17, 46)
2B-Placido Polanco (.320, 3, 28)
SS-Derek Jeter (.284, 4, 35)
3B-Evan Longoria (.270, 15, 47)
OF-Carlos Quentin (.288, 19, 61), Milton Bradley (.323, 16, 49), J.D. Drew (.304, 15, 48), Grady Sizemore (.268, 19, 45), Magglio Ordonez (.307, 12, 50)

Pitching Staff
Starting Pitcher-Cliff Lee (11-1, 2.34)
After a year of great turmoil, Lee has to be comeback player of the year. Lee was demoted to the minors last year, found is command, and now outshines guys named Carmona and Sabathia in the Cleveland rotation. He leads the American League in wins and is second in ERA.

Rest of the staff
Joe Saunders (11-4, 3.06)
Justin Duchscherer (8-5, 1.91)
Scott Kazmir (7-3, 2.28)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-1, 3.21)
Roy Halladay (8-6, 3.12)
Felix Hernandez (6-5, 2.83)

Francisco Rodriguez (32 svs, 2.04)
Dan Wheeler (19 holds, 1.93)
Joakim Soria (21 svs, 1.29)

These guys could make their case: Jose Lopez, Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede, Adrian Beltre, A.J. Pierzynski, Bobby Abreu, Curtis Granderson, Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen, Luke Scott, B.J. Upton, John Danks, Shawn Marcum, Gavin Floyd, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettite, Vincente Padilla, Rich Harden, George Sherrill, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Troy Percival, J.P. Howell, Scott Linebrink, Scott Shields

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some MLB thoughts in the Quiet Before the Storm

Well I haven't posted anything here in awhile, but really what is there to say these days? Traditionally, the most boring part of the sporting year is upon us. We have just wrapped up the NBA Finals, the Summer Olympics and football seem like a glimmer on a far off horizon. My interest in the College World Series has been nearly obliterated now that Miami, one of the most talented teams of the last 20 years and my personal favorite were shockingly eliminated last night by Stanford. The great U.S. Open has come to an end and with it the drama in golf the rest of the way has died with Tiger Woods' season ending knee surgery. Wimbledon may pacify some for moments in these "dog days". I will occupy a few Saturday nights in the upcoming weeks with some UFC and other MMA samplings. Does anyone care about this soccer stuff going on in Europe? Seriously if anyone pays even moderate attention to it I would love to here about it. So that leaves baseball. Being here in the summer is just one of the reasons "America's pastime" is the greatest sport. It sustains us when our only other sporting activities might be preparing for fantasy football drafts that will happen in the late, late summer. Here are some small thoughts on the season so far to occupy some of your time.

1. John McLaren Fired
For the manager of the MLB's worst team record wise it looks as if this was long overdue. The reason why of course is while they are record wise the worst their talent had the prognosticators saying an AL West title in 2008. I think the major problem was keeping McLaren as the permanent manager after last season. He replaced a burned out but successful Mike Hargrove last year and finished out to some acclaim. Still, the Mariners made little effort to go outside of the organization and mix things up with any of the numerous qualified candidates. Jim Riggleman will take over for McLaren as interim manager. Now despite Riggleman having prior managerial experience, the road won't be easy with a possible fire sale coming for the Mariners near the July 31st trade deadline. While Riggleman may be a fine baseball man, I rarely agree with interim guys getting the permanent job or in-house candidates getting promotion. If the team didn't do well under a coaches' boss, why would you keep the status-quo. Here is hoping the Mariners learn from prior experience and look outside the organization this off season.

2. The Cardinals are sliding
The St. Louis Cardinals just got swept by the Kansas City Royals. THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS! This certainly isn't 1987. Even with a five game winning streak the Royals are still 31-42 and 10.5 games out of a underpreforming AL Central. I fear the end of a great early season start may be ending for the Cardinals. With Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright on the DL along with a host of others it would be unreasonable to expect anything from this team. You can only get by on relievers who were converted to starters for so long. The out of nowhere Ryan Ludwick can only do so much. All that talk of a possible early return for pitchers Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter seem like a cruel joke to Cards fans right now. The truth is this team has ridden some hot players for a great start and with these players now either injured or simply cooled down, I feel the end is near. You may try to tell me they lead the NL wild card and are only 4 games back of the Cubs but I simply say it is not enough consolation. The Cubs started the season out far more talented than the Cardinals and they remain so. Also getting hot and nipping at the Cardinals heals are the Brewers, winners of their last four. They had problems putting the pieces together the first two months of the season, but now they are firing. I would hope this is just cynical pessimism from one doubtful Cardinals fan, but I am too logical to actually buy into that hope.

3. The Rays are impressive and so are the Marlins
It was just a matter of time. I alerted all the doubters that one day this franchise would rise from being a blip of Vince Naimoli's financial holdings. I brag about this team quite a bit and many may be getting sick of it, but this franchise is constructed better than any of have seen. The pool of talent for both today and the future is unparalleled in baseball. They continue to lead in the wild card and hang in the discussion for the AL East division. The Yankees are closing fast, but you have to think no matter how many teams enter the fray of contention, the Rays will be there all year long. Tonight, in a matter of minutes, the Rays will be looking to grab the sweep at home against the Cubs, possibly the best team from the NL. The attendance for this series and last weekend has been phenomenal. We are at the beginning of the monster attendance I have stalwartly predicted since day 1. We are in the first of what I hope will be many seasons watching baseball succeed in St. Pete, Tampa, or wherever they choose to plant their baseball cathedral along the bay. I couldn't be more proud to be able to say that this is the first team I was able to cover professionally. And talk about the Marlins. This is a team I wrote off on this blog a couple of weeks ago and perhaps that is good news for the Cardinals. They have hung in there with a tremendous Phillies team and lie two games back of the division lead. They have had injuries and not always the best pitching and defense but somehow they win. I won't try to act like I know why, I simply do not. I will say while I doubt the long term viability of major league baseball in South Florida, this team needs to receive more attention.

4. Rogers Hournsby must be rolling over in his grave watching second basemen Chase Utley and Dan Uggla placing 1-2 in home runs for the National League

5. I think the off season trade of Josh Hamilton for Edison Volquez is one of the better trades and finest stories we have seen in the last five years in baseball. How amazing would it be if Josh Hamilton would win the AL Triple Crown and Volquez would tackle the NL Pitching Triple Crown. Don't scoff friends, it just might happen.

In due time, I will have my AL and NL All-Star Teams posted on here and of course other ramblings on the MLB as we work through this sports desert together.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert: A man we thought we knew

I still can't even wrap my brain around the fact that he is gone. Loosing the most influential political journalist of the last 20 years at a time of great political uncertainty just can't be. This was my first thoughts on his passing. It became apparent throughout the next couple of hours that we had lost far more than a journalist. Anyone who had watched Meet the Press at least semi-religiously since his assumption of the chair in 1991, got the feeling that Tim Russert was a people's person and a great guy. No one and myself included could have seen the true depth of this man from the vantage point of our television sets. As the night grew darker on Friday, the reports of Russert's genuine care for people outnumbered reports of his acumen as a broadcasting institution by the hundreds. People flooded the airwaves from all areas of politics to tell the stories of Russert the family man, the caring friend, and the man who cared for their own families in almost a supernatural way. He was always there as the helping hand in every area of life and career for his colleagues. We, as outsiders, saw him as both gregarious personally and concise professionally. The extent the viewing public saw his character wasn't even close to the real thing. How a man was able to put so much time into his family, his profession, and his friends is unfathomable and enviable.

Tim Russert is one of those rare unique individuals that when he passes it causes you to step back and examine your own life. I spent the majority of yesterday pondering the comments of the people who were close to him. I thought about how he maximized every day and showed such a concern for others. He put the up most effort into his family, his religion, and his passions. Tim Russert, to me, is the ideal American. I would like to emulate his patriotism and his set of values. If we all could invest a little more into others' lives and be a tad more knowledgeable on the issues that face us as Americans, I believe the country would be much improved. I think Barack Obama summarized my sentiments most when, in his statement yesterday he said, "And I hope that even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard he has set in his professional life and family life are standards we all carry with us in our own lives." Barack, that would be an America for Change indeed.

The readers of this blog and myself as sports fans especially relate to Tim Russert the sports fan. He embodied every meaning of the word "fanatic" for the Buffalo Bills and was a enthusiastic season ticket holder for the Nationals when Washington finally received a professional baseball franchise once again. He would travel to big time sporting events around the country most often with his son, Luke. So many yesterday and today and in the coming weeks will recount how they often shared a ballgame and a beer with Russert. For most, that experience was more than just a game, it was a building block of friendship that Russert had remarkably formed with so many. Hearing the statement released yesterday by the Buffalo Bills, I realized how much Tim represented his hometown NFL team. I hope when I see the blue and red on Sundays in the fall from now on I will always be reminded of Tim Russert's story. "Go Bills!"

The road to the Presidential election in November will be rockier now and more clouded just simply because of his absence. He loved the prospects of this upcoming election and we loved his analysis of it. Americans can only hope that someone will be there to be both tough and fair in their political explorations, but they will never be Tim Russert. The qualities that John McCain highlighted in his statement yesterday were his ability to be tough and fair and that he loved his country. These are all the things that made him a great journalist but also a great person. Tim Russert may be gone, but his career and the lessons we can learn from his life, will never leave my heart.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kneejerk Weekend Reactions

I am sorry to my loyal readership, I have been overrun for several days making an update to the blog necessary. I am writing from the Roger Dean Stadium press box right now and I should probably be reviewing my notes for tonight's Hammerheads game. Here are the quick bits of reflection since my last posting.

1. The MLB draft: I was very disappointed there was only one potential draftee in attendance at the Milk House on Thursday. He wasn't even one of the premier prospects. I don't know who dropped the ball on that one but they need it to be more like the first year's coverage next year.

Other than that I think the Rays made a mistake with Tim Beckham over Buster Posey but only time will tell. I hope widely reported financial concerns over Posey did not influence their decision. I was also very disappointed with the Cardinals selection of Brett Wallace. It is a stretch to even see this guy be able to field his position at first and he will most likely be a DH at the pro level. Even if he could play first, it would seem that Albert Pujols has that position on lock for about the next 10 years. I know Wallace is a tremendous hitter and the MLB draft isn't about need, but this is taking that philosophy way too far.

2. I guess the Marlins aren't dead in the water as I have previously predicted. They continue to defy the odds and the numbers with that terrific offense and Josh Willingham has started taking batting practice again. As I am writing this now, it looks as if the Fish have found another gem to buoy the rotation as they recalled Ryan Tucker from Carolina and he looked sharp. By the way, in case you were wondering, the dead in the water reference was a pun intended.

3. Despite all the hoopla that occurred between the Red Sox and Rays up in beantown, it looks as if it only has brought the Rays closer together. They have systematically beat down the Rangers in two games and look to go for the sweep in a couple of hours. You have to love the story going down in the Sunshine State and it will only intensify next weekend when the Marlins travel to St. Petersburg.

4. It looks like the handlers in charge of Big Brown made a desperation move with that acrylic on his hoof. He was out of it all race and just couldn't make his move to the inside. Trainer Rick Dutrow doesn't seem to be the nicest guy in the world either and the way he avoided the press after the Belmont was disgraceful. 30 years and counting...

5. It was another great night down at Mark Light Field last night. A great game and once again a great atmosphere. I would love to see the same enthusiasm for Marlins baseball that is shown at Canes games. I guess for right now, this eternal baseball optimist can still dream.

6. Thank you for finally conceding Hillary. It has been a longtime coming.