Thursday April 15, 2004
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
THE BACHELOR THOUGHTS
Today, April 15th, 56 years ago, Jackie Robinson made his major league debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Take a look at this link to see just how impressive his ten year big league career was. Then step back and take another minute to try to think or remember just how much he had to endure. Put together, it makes for a pretty impressive man! Major League Baseball is celebrating Robinsonís birthday by calling April 15th Jackie Robinson day. Again, just take a moment to think about not only what his arrival in the Major Leagues meant for baseball, but also what it meant for society as a whole.
BEST IN THE WEST
Last night, the Wolves played in The Pyramid, in Memphis, TN, with the chance to win the Midwest Division, and in doing so, lock up the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. If nothing else, it would be good for the Wolves to go into the playoffs after a win.
Well, I would have to say that the Wolves showed up to play last night! They took an early lead on the Grizzlies and used a 20-2 second quarter run to take control of the game. At halftime, they were ahead 55-34 and were shooting 55% from the field. The team led by as much as 29 points in the 3rd quarter before removing their starters and letting them get some rest. The Wolves won the game 107-90 and secured that #1 seed with their 9th consecutive victory.
Kevin Garnett scored 26 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, one board away from his 72nd double-double of the season. He was 9-13 from the field and 8-8 from the line in his 31 minutes. Latrell Sprewell was 8-13 from the field for 20 points in just 30 minutes. Sam Cassell was 7-9 from the field and scored 17 points with 8 assists in 25 minutes. Wally Szczerbiak shot 7-11 for 17 points in 30 minutes. Pao Gasol led the Grizzlies with 16 points.
The San Antonio Spurs won their 12th straight game, but even that was not enough to surpass the Wolves in the standings. It was good for the second best record in the conference, however, they will hold the #3 seed in the playoffs because the Pacific Division champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, get the #2 seed. How the Lakers won that #2 spot was absolutely crazy. First, had the Sacramento Kings won, they would have had the #2 seed. However, they were defeated by the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers still had to win their contest at Portland. What a game that was!! Down by 3 points in regulation, Kobe Bryant fouled Ruben Patterson on a dunk attempt that would have iced the win for Portland. All Patterson had to do was make one free throw and the game was basically over. He missed both. With a man right in his face, Kobe Bryant threw up a prayer and it was answered! The three pointer sent the game to overtime. The game went to a second over time. With 8 seconds left, Kobe Bryant missed a jumper. Blazers point guard Damon Stoudamire grabbed the rebound, and instead of calling a time out, he took the ball the length of the court and with two seconds remaining, he hit a lay-up to give the Blazers a two point lead. After a non-shooting foul on Derek Fisher, the Lakers took the ball out with just 1.0 seconds remaining. The ball was in bounded to Bryant who turned and launched a fade away, fall on your butt, high-arching three point shot... that hit nothing but the bottom of the net, giving the Lakers the 105-104 win.
Here are the Western Conference first-round matchups:
#1 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. #8 Denver Nuggets
#4 Sacramento Kings vs. #5 Dallas Mavericks
#3 San Antonio Spurs vs. #6 Memphis Grizzlies
#2 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #7 Houston Rockets
Check back tomorrow for my predictions on the first round of the NBA Playoffs as well as my choices for the postseason awards. In the mean time, be sure to look back at my Timberwolves Predictions from last October. I may have had some correct predictions, but as per usual, I am wrong far more frequently. It's fun too look back though.
What do you think? Can the Wolves get out of the first round? How far can they go? Could they win the NBA Title? Send the your thoughts.
What is up with Henry Blanco? Last night, he was 4-4 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and three RBI in the Twins 10-6 win over the Cleveland Indians. In his last four games, he is 8-14 (.571) with three homers, three doubles, six runs and seven RBI.
Coming into this season, his batting averages the last five years were .232, .236, .210, .204, .199. But since Joe Mauer went down with a knee injury, Henry Blanco has stepped in and stepped up more than anyone could have expected! Now, I certainly don't expect Blanco to continue hitting like this. I still ask the question, "Why won't Gardy play Rob Bowen?" But for now, he had to ride Blanco until he slows down. I think the Twins would be happy, thrilled, if he hit .250 this year.
And don't worry, Joe Mauer's job is still safe when he comes back from the disabled list! This is not a Wally Pipp situation!
Nick Punto got the start at 2B last night and went 2-5. Cristian Guzman had a double and a triple in four at bats. Doug Mientkiewicz also had two hits to keep his 8 game hitting streak going. Corey Koskie hit a long home run, his second of the season.
Carlos Silva pitched five strong innings before struggling again in the sixth inning. It appears as though he tires at about the 75 pitch count. This should not be surprising as he is still adjusting to life as a starter. It probably is just a matter of him getting through a sixth inning, maybe as much mentally as physically, to get past that issue. I really think Silva will be fine.
Aaron Fultz pitched two perfect innings. Closer Joe Nathan was brought in to pitch the 9th inning despite the Twins 10-3 lead, just to get him some work. Well, it took a lot of work. Nathan really struggled, giving up a home run a hit and a walk and recording just two outs. After a four pitch walk of Jody Gerut, Ron Gardenhire went to Juan Rincon, who struck out Casey Blake to end the game and record the save. Many will make a big deal about Nathan's performance. It wasn't good, but we see this so often with closers. They don't pitch as well in blowouts. Even a pitcher like Nathan, who was the Giants top reliever last season, pitched primarily in close, tight situations. Whenever he finally gets a save situation, I truly believe that he will be just fine.
The Twins are now 4-4, two games behind the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers... Just 154 games to go!! Any thoughts on the Twins? E-mail me.
ROCHESTER REPORT - The Redwings won two more games yesterday. In Game 1, Matt Guerrier pitched six perfect innings. He gave up two hits in the 7th before Jesse Crain was brought in for the save. It didn't happen. He gave up two hits before Earl Snyder hit a 3 run homer to put the Pawtucket Paw-Sox in the lead, 5-4. It was the first homer that Crain had given up in his minor league career. However, he came back to strike out the next three batters. In the bottom of the 7th, Justin Morneau singled in a run to tie the game and the team won in the 9th inning. Jason Bartlett went 3-5 with a double and a homer. Justin Morneau was 3-4 with a walk. Michael Restovich went 2-3 with a homer, two walks and two RBI.
In Game 2, Dave Gassner went to 2-0 with 5 1/3 scoreless innings. (Gassner came to the Twins organization as the player to be names later in the Bobby Kielty/Shannon Stewart deal) That was followed by 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball from Jeromy Palki. The Red Wings won 4-0.
AA New Britain was rained out again.
The D-Train, Dontrelle Willis, just keeps on rolling. Last night, he improved his record to 2-0 with 5 shutout innings against the Montreal Expos down in San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, he also went 3-3 at the plate, meaning that he has had hits in seven consecutive at bats. The record for a pitcher is a hit in nine consecutive at bats. The numbers are impressive, but his swing is probably even more impressive. I see him take a nice level swing. He hits pitches on the outer half of the plate to left field. And, when he got a pitch on the inner half? Well, I don't know if you saw the highlight or not, but he hit that ball a LONG ways!!! Also for the Marlins, my man, Miguel Cabrera knocked his 6th home run nine games. Hee Seop Choi hit his fourth. The World Champion Marlins are "surprising" people with their 8-1 record.
Another surprise has been the play (if that's what you want to call it) of the Philadelphia Phillies. Like so many others, I predicted that the Phillies would win the NL East. I still believe they have the talent and will win the division. Yesterday, they were rained out. That may have been a good thing. The Phils are 1-6 right now, and if they don't improve very soon, Larry Bowa will be the first coaching casualty of the season.
The Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays again yesterday. The Tigers are now 6-2. The Blue Jays are just 2-6. Could Carlos Tosca be in trouble too? Maybe, but not yet. He is not in as much imminent danger as Bowa. By the way, ESPN put out their power ratings and the Tigers were ranked 10th? Crazy? I think so. But, could this be the year that Carlos Pena busts out? I also think so!
Kevin Brown beat the Devil Rays for the third time already this season yesterday for his 200th career victory. Mike Mussina won his 200th game last week. The duo becomes the first set of teammates to both accomplish that milestone in the same season. If healthy, Kevin Brown is arguably the Yankees best starter (I may still argue Javy Vazquez). If he is not healthy, the Yankees could struggle. OK, they still won't struggle.
In December, I named Braves pitcher John Thomson the SethSpeaks Pitcher and thought the Twins should have signed him. Instead, he signed a two year, $7 million deal with the Braves. Last night, he won his first game as a Brave with an 8 inning, 1 run, 7 strikeout game in the Braves 6-1 victory over the Mets. Speaking of the Mets, it is going to be fun to watch Mike Piazza playing 1B. So far, it's been ugly!
First, Billy Koch gave up two homers and four runs to blow a three run lead in the 9th inning to the Royals. Then in the bottom of the inning, Curtis Leskanic and Jon Adkins blew the save opportunity as the White Sox won 10-9. The AL Central teams may not be great, but they are all better than most people want to think. There is strong parity in the division, and some teams that will refuse to give up. That means that the pennant race, and well, the whole season, will be fun to watch!
Yesterday, A's OF Jermaine Dye hit two homers and drove in four runs in the A's 9-4 win over the Rangers. Dye was injured last year and when he played, he was one of the worst hitters in baseball. He was certainly due for an improvement. So far, so good! He is now hitting .344 with 5 homers.
Rockies rookie second baseman Aaron Miles was given the 2B job out of spring training, but Rule V pick Luis Gonzalez was taking a lot of playing time from him. Well, in last night's 14-4 Rockies win over the Diamondbacks, Miles made a little statement about his job. He went 3-5 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. Fantasy players, if you're looking for a sleeper, you may want to look at the Rockies Joe Kennedy. He showed glimpses a couple of years ago with the Devil Rays, and has started out well for the Rockies.
Wes Obermueller won his first game for the Brewers with 6 2/3 shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants.
David Aardsma (Giants), Chad Cordero (Expos) and Ryan Wagner (Reds) are all relievers in the big leagues right now. They were all first round picks in the June 2003 baseball draft. What does that mean? Well, to me it means that the Twins should not feel like they are rushing Jesse Crain!
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
The American Idol performances were moved from Tuesday night to Wednesday night because of the President's Address. There were eight who performed, and I will discuss my thoughts as I watched each. I will then rank them by how I think they performed. Finally, I will try to predict the final three and who will be eliminated. Just a couple of thoughts first though. Of the eight, half of them chose animated movies as their favorite, including two who chose Finding Nemo. Now, as you know, I loved Finding Nemo, but they all lied! No one picked American Pie. No one picked real movies. They picked movies that are G rated so that people can go rent them! Quentin Tarantino was a guest judge last night. He was pretty good (considering how weird he is). He was even honest, which is good. Finally, is anyone sick of the Paula Abdul using the same dumb sayings? I mean, how often can you hear "you have a light about you." What does that mean? Anyway, enough of that stuff, let's get to the analysis:
George Huff - Against All Odds
Great voice, but I think he was flat, or below the correct notes, most of the song
Jennifer Hudson - I Have Nothing
Nearly perfect performance! Very strong! She still scares me.
Jon Peter Lewis - Jailhouse Rock
Good song choice because his voice is not good. He needs to be quirky. He just has a lot of fun and the crowd digs him!
Diana Degarmo - My Heart Will Go On
Two or three spots she was really, really bad. But, the overall performance was really, really... OK?
Fantasia Barrino - Summertime
She is so good. She was so controlled too. The Macy Gray comparisons are pretty obvious. I have to admit that I really don't know that song. Here are the thoughts of my cousin, Chris Sieling on Fantasia's performance:
Fantasia's version of Summertime was the best version of any song of any singer of any season of American Idol. It wasn't even close. It brought my wife and I to tears. There are two other great versions of that song. The Janis Joplin version and the Ella Fitgerald version. Two of the greatest singers of the 20th Century. I would go as far to say that Fantasia's version is the third best version I have ever heard and deserves comparison to the previous two.
Jasmine Trias - When I Fall In Love
Definitely a different rendition of that song, but I really thought she was great!
John Stevens - From Casablanca soundtrack
Good song choice. I thought he sang just a little bit too high, but he was much better than he has been in previous weeks.
LaToya London - Song from Westside Story
Simply put: They saved the best for last!
How would I rank the performances?
1.) LaToya London
2.) Fantasia Barrino
3.) Jennifer Hudson
4.) Jasmine Trias
5.) John Stevens
6.) George Huff
7.) Jon Peter Lewis
8.) Diana Degarmo
Who will be The Bottom Three?
Diana Degarmo, Jasmine Trias, John Stevens
Who will be eliminated?
Do you have any thoughts about American Idol? If so, e-mail me.
THE BACHELOR THOUGHTS
Last night's episode of The Bachelor provided a lot of information. I won't say too much for those who taped it and hope to watch it later. But, We (as in me) really like Mandy C and Mandy J!! Jesse Palmer had an individual date with his first impression winner, Trish, who no one seems to like. Late in the show, we found out who The Spy was, and it shouldn't have been surprising. Again, I don't want to give away too much, but if anyone would like to discuss last night's episode, e-mail me.
Welp, that is it for today. Be sure to check back tomorrow for a very exciting entry. I invite any questions or comments you may have about this site, about baseball, about fantasy sports, about basketball, about me, about anything... by simply clicking here to e-mail me.
I hope you have a wonderful day! Be sure to check out the Archives to see what I choose to write about.
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