Monthly Archives: July 2011

No guts, no glory

As I stepped into the tee box of the seventh hole, only positive thoughts were running through my brain.

“Keep your head down, stay relaxed and hit it right down the center of the fairway” I repeatedly told myself. Once the group ahead of us cleared the fairway I approached my ball with driver in hand. About 10 seconds later — after successfully keeping my head down and remaining calm — I watched as my ball sailed off to the right into the only section of trees on that particular hole.

Walking up to hit my second shot, I was presented with multiple options. Should I take my seven-iron and go for the green through the trees? Should I take my seven-iron and try to punch it out into the center of the fairway? What about using my nine-iron and trying to go over the trees? What should I do? Suddenly, I felt like LeBron James, just without the cameras, money, poor postseason performances, ignorance and arrogance James has displayed throughout his career.

Needless to say, I chose none of the above, and shanked the ball into a tree about 10 feet in front of me. Luckily, the ball bounced off the cart path twice, and rolled into the rough just outside the green on the other side of the fairway.

After playing 18 holes on Sunday, I came to the conclusion that trees and I are best friends. No matter how hard I tried not to, I still found the trees. It was meant to be. (Image via allposterimages.com)

Indecisiveness, in life, as well as on the golf course, can cost you. If you are a general manager of a baseball team in the last weekend of July, you know it’s time to push all your chips forward or lay ‘em down and wait for the next hand.

On a side note, could you imagine LeBron as a general manager – everyone would be “taking their talents to south beach!”

Here are five teams who need to make a move if they seriously want to be considered as World Series contenders.  I repeat…WORLD SERIES contenders.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers can’t depend on Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander the rest of the way. Their offense is picking it up and giving Cabrera protection. If the Tigers want to win the division, and ultimately compete for a World Series title, they need to add a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher.

Chicago White Sox: The Cleveland Indians may be ahead of Chicago but the White Sox have more of a shot of doing damage than the no-name Indians. If Adam Dunn can return to form and if the Sox are able to add a solid set-up man along with a big bat, they may run away with the American League Central.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers have an offense that can score with the best of them but they need to bolster their pitching staff. They have solid starters in Wilson and Ogando but lack the stud to compete with the rest of the American League.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels have one of the best one-two combos in baseball but still remain four games behind the Texas Rangers. The Angels need to add a quality bat and possibly a consistent fourth starter to get into the playoffs. With Weaver and Haren taking the mound, anything can happen in the playoffs.

Any N.L. Central team: The National League Central is the most jam-packed division in baseball with four out of the six teams within four games of first place and three out of the four are within one game of one another. Whichever team makes a deal to separate themselves from the rest of the pack could do damage in the postseason but the Cardinals and Brewers have the best chance to go the farthest.

Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets is sure to be in a new uniform after the trade deadline passes. (Photo via zimbio.com)

Here are five teams that can afford to stay put and compete for a World Series:

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have the best pitching staff in the big leagues and have lived up to the hype. With the best record in baseball, the Phillies lead the National League East by 6.5 games over the Braves.

Boston Red Sox: With the best offense in baseball and the second best run differential in baseball, the Red Sox have recovered from their pathetic start to grab a two game lead on the Yankees in the American League East. The Red Sox have the second best record in baseball and two pitchers that can compete with the best.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have the best run differential in baseball and have a commanding lead in the Wild Card race. C.C. Sabathia has been fantastic of late and it looks like the Yankees are headed for another deep postseason run.

Atlanta Braves: Although the Braves are almost seven games behind the Phillies, they have a 3.5 game lead in the Wild Card race over Arizona. The Braves have struggled to stay healthy and if Dan Uggla can be as good as advertised, then the Braves could be around for a while.

San Francisco Giants: The World Series Champions are without their best offensive player in Buster Posey but they still sit atop the National League West. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong lead a shutdown pitching staff that has the ability to repeat the magic on display last postseason. If the Giants make the postseason, don’t expect them to bow out easily.

In the end, all these teams, and even some not mentioned, will be looking to add players to improve their team in any way possible.

In the end, prospects are prospects, championships are championships and as the saying goes, “no guts, no glory.

*     *     *

In case you missed it, football is back! Yes, that means Rex Ryan will begin to run his mouth, Bill Belichick will start giving us the silent treatment and I will frantically prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. Find the nearest immovable object and hold on for dear life because the world of sports is about to be thrown into uncharted territory. Between the MLB trade deadline and the entire NFL offseason being squeezed into two weeks before the first preseason game things could get a little hectic.

1 Comment

Filed under All Posts

Sleep-Deprived Thoughts

I have some good news, and some bad news.

Before I give you the option to choose which one you would like first, I have an announcement to make: I am officially a Michigan State Spartan. After attending orientation, enrolling in classes and receiving my student ID card, I am officially taking my talents to East Lansing.

Say what you want about Sparty, but one thing is for sure: He is a heck of a lot cooler than a wolverine. (Image via spartan-football.com)

Speaking of orientation — among the things I learned about Michigan State University — I was reminded about three hours into the program that the body needs sleep. Looking back, running on two hours of sleep was probably a bad idea. Slap-happy Justin was in full effect.

For example, after orientation, I headed to Starbucks with my girlfriend to have a little something to eat before a late lunch. Before walking into Starbucks I initially wanted to ask my girlfriend if she wanted to share a muffin with me. Then, I thought “split a muffin” sounded better. What came out of my mouth was profane word — a combination of the two — yeah, you get the picture.

Now back to the good and bad news. And no, you still don’t get to choose which one you would like first.

The good news is, I slept the rest of the day and have fully recovered.

The bad news is, because I had to go to orientation (apparently it’s important) and was exhausted, I have multiple things to discuss in this post. It may be a bumpy ride, but bare with me.

No NFL, No NBA = No Problem

Before Sunday, detractors of the Women’s World Cup were saying “With no NFL and no NBA, sports fans are reduced to watching women’s soccer.” If you were lucky enough to tune into the USA vs Brazil quarter-final match-up you witnessed an instant classic.

After falling behind 1-0 on an own goal in the second minute, Brazil tied the game up in the 68th minute on a penalty kick clouded by controversy.

The foul called leading to the penalty kick and red card to Rachel Buehler was a questionable call at best. Maybe I’m biased because I’m an American and played center back but that was a close one. The first penalty attempt was saved by Hope Solo only to have the kick be re-taken because a U.S. player entered the box early. Marta — widely regarded as the best women’s soccer player in the world — scored to tie it up on the second attempt.

The game headed to extra time where Brazil took the lead in the 92nd minute of a fantastic finish by Marta. Replay showed the goal was offside but what was done was done. The U.S. faced the daunting task of coming back from a goal down while playing with 10 players.

Abby Wambach heads home the game-tying goal in the 122nd minute against Brazil. The United States would advance to the semi-finals with a 5-3 victory in penalty kicks. (Image via nydailynews.com/AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Abby Wambach did the unbelievable in the 122nd minute by heading home a perfect cross from Megan Rapinoe to send the game into a penalty shootout. The U.S. advanced to a semi-final meeting with France on Wednesday with a 5-3 victory in PKs.

As the number one ranked team in the world, the victory –especially the way they won — over Brazil is something to celebrate but not the ultimate goal. Hopefully the U.S. team is able to re-focus quickly as France won’t be an easy out.

Seconds after Wambach’s goal the comparisons to Landon Donovan’s goal erupted. Personally, I don’t think you can compare the two. Both were equally as impressive, memorable, and important.

The Wambach goal gave the U.S. Women’s National Team two epic moments — the other being Brandi Chastain in the 1999 Women’s World Cup — in my lifetime that will never be forgotten.

The U.S. Men’s National Team has only provided one. Yes, I am looking at you Landon Donovan, don’t let me down in 2014 or I may just have to write something about your squeaky high voice or your noticeable receding hair line. Just kidding…but really.

A Mid-Summer Joke

For a game that counts, I couldn’t think of more of a joke. In fact, I think the whole MLB All Star break is a joke. Maybe it has to do with Chris Berman and Joe Buck boring me to insanity with their announcing but I think it goes beyond that.

The Home Run Derby has to be one of the most over-glorified events in the world of sports. It’s a televised batting practice, that’s it!

I understand the kids love it, as they should. Watching their favorite major leaguers hit towering home run after home run must be exciting. I’m sure many of them dream of being in that situation when they grow up.

For the rest of us, those of us who know better, the Home Run Derby is stupid. How so many people “oooohhhh” and “aaahhhh” over the Home Run Derby is beyond me. Heck, I’d much rather watch the celebrity soft ball game or the futures game.

Also, the amount of players that have participated in the Home Run Derby and then struggled with their swing in the second half is concerning. If my team is in contention for a playoff spot, there’s no way I want my star player participating.

On the other hand, the All Star Game frustrates me. I understand the whole concept of trying to decide home-field advantage and trying to make the All Star Game mean something, but it’s time to stop trying.

The players don’t take the game seriously and quite frankly, they shouldn’t have to. The MLB season is one of the longest, most grueling seasons in sports. If I’m an MLB player, and in the All Star game, the last thing I want to be doing is busting my butt and risking injury for home-field advantage in the World Series.

If you don’t believe the players take the game as a joke then you didn’t watch Heath Bell’s entrance into the game in the 8th inning. Bell, the closer for the San Diego Padres sprinted from the bullpen and then slid feet first on the grass right before the pitcher’s mound.

Even worse, a record 84 players were announced as All Stars this year.

So you’re telling me it makes sense to make the All Star Game worth home-field advantage in the World Series even though some of the best players don’t participate in the All Star Game and those that do participate take it as a joke? Pardon me, but that just sounds idiotic.

If you don’t believe home-field advantage is worth something then keep this in mind: The team with home-field advantage has won 20 of the last 25 World Series and the last 8 World Series game sevens.

Tell me you wouldn’t tune in to see Heath Bell-like stunts, field players pitching to pitchers or field players batting on the opposite side of the plate. Those scenarios could be possible if the MLB wised up and made the All Star Game what it should be, a fun, meaningless game of baseball.

A Vacation Well Earned

Unlike Major League Baseball, when I take a vacation, I don’t have to participate in the a ridiculous All Star Game.

Before opening day, I picked my division and wild card winners. At the All Star break, I correctly picked the entire American League. In the National League, I picked three out of the four playoff teams correctly and just switched the NL East winner(Braves) and the Wild Card winner(Phillies).

With MLB being on break, the NFL and NBA still in a lockout, I couldn’t have picked a better time to take a vacation. I will be gone from Wednesday until the following Monday. If you miss me, you can follow me on twitter @JustinDacey14  where I will be tweeting sporadically about what is going in the world of sports.

1 Comment

Filed under All Posts, Baseball, Soccer

The Captain

Derek Jeter, known as “The Captain” and “Mr. November” was already a lock to be selected to Cooperstown before sending hit 3,000 into the left-field bleachers with a home run.

Jeter’s Saturday performance — 5-5 with a home run, and a single knocking in the game-winning run — will go down in history as one of the greatest moments in the history of baseball.

Jeter became the 29th player in MLB history to record 3,000 hits and became the first player in Yankee history to accomplish this feat.

Derek Jeter belts a home run into the left-field stands for hit number 3,000. Jeter became the 29th player in MLB history and the first Yankee to accomplish this feat. (Image via http://joeposnanski.si.com)

With 12 All-Star appearances, five gold gloves, and the only player in MLB history to be awarded the All-Star MVP award as well as the World Series MVP award in the same season,  Jeter’s accomplishments speak for themselves. He is one of the greatest baseball players — as well as one of the greatest winners — that we will ever see.

The Sandlot quote “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” describes Jeter in a nutshell.

If you think you can find a better quote to describe Derek Jeter then go right ahead, but you will only be disappointed. Jeter — like the rest of us — will eventually pass away, but he will never die, at least not to me.

Many people expect athletes to be role models and hold them to their standards only to be let down. Derek Jeter is every bit a role model as he is an athlete.

Growing up, Jeter was my favorite baseball player, my hero, and my idol. When I played little league I played on the New York Yankees. You can bet I was number two and played shortstop. You can bet I pretended to be Derek Jeter at the batting cage. You can bet I dreamed of becoming the next Jeter.

Jeter’s loyalty, team-first attitude and will to win is something everyone should strive to replicate. Jeter loves to play baseball and we love to watch him.

I wasn’t fortunate enough to watch Jeter’s 3,000th hit live, but even after watching the replay numerous times, I still get chills. This evening, SportsCenter showed the Top 10 moments of Derek Jeter’s career and I couldn’t help but reminisce on all the incredible moments I have been lucky enough to witness.

Even though this offseason was a bit tense for the Yankees and Jeter, I’m glad the two reached an agreement. Watching Jeter circle the bases for hit number 3,000 wouldn’t of been the same if he wasn’t in a Yankee uniform.

Everyday Derek Jeter laces up his cleats and trots out to shortstop — whether you’re a Yankee fan or not — is a treat for baseball fans everywhere. The day Jeter finally decides to call it quits will be a bittersweet moment, but for now, lets just enjoy the rest of Jeter’s legendary career.

1 Comment

Filed under All Posts