Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants get: OF Hunter Pence

Philadelphia Phillies get: OF Nate Schierholtz, RP Seth Rosin, C/1B Tommy Joseph
GM Ruben Amaro and the Phillies started the second act of their rebuilding process by trading outfielder Hunter Pence to the offense-starved San Francisco Giants, just minutes after shipping fellow OF Shane Victorino to the Los AngelesDodgers. Amaro has single-handedly fortified the NL West by addressing the needs of the two contenders for the division crown.

In Pence, SF oddly enough gets a bat and glove very similar to former Giants outfielder and financial millstone Aaron Rowand. The now former Phillie has proven to be an annual 25 homer threat, having hit an anomalous 25 every season between 2008 and 2010, with 22 in 2011 and 17 this year. He's a near lock for a performance of around a .280 batting average, 90 runs, 25 homers of course and 90 RBI. Pence has shown some plus speed, but his stolen base numbers have tapered off as he's gotten closer to 30. Defensively, he'll fit in very well alongside Melky Cabrera in left and Angel Pagan in center. The Giants could very well have the most steady defensive outfield unit in the NL West, along with their rivals in Southern California. 

Instant Trade Analysis: Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers get: OF Shane Victorino
Philadelphia Phillies get: RP Josh Lindblom, SP Ethan Martin

In another deal that's going a long way to dispatch the plentiful Ned Colletti haters, the Dodgers GM acquired Shane Victorino before the trade deadline expired today for two young pitchers, Lindblom and Martin.
Victorino, 31, is a noted Dodgers-killer, holds a .795 OPS against the team in regular season play, and a memorable 12 RBIs in 10 games over two consecutive NLCS series in 2008 and 2009.  The latter series was the Flyin' Hawaiian's most memorable, in which he stroked a .368 batting average, .842 slugging and a homer at Chavez Ravine that's only just landed right next to Matt Stairs' from the year before. Although his gaunt island countenance still haunts Angelenos dreams everywhere, it now might be the key to the first Dodgers pennant in over twenty years.

Monday Night RAW recap: Episode 1001

Location: US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
Announcers: Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole

Preface: Tonight was the start of 3 hour RAWs. Last week we saw CM Punk stand by and allow the Big Show to attack John Cena after their championship match. We also saw CM Punk lay out the Rock with a flying clothesline; disrupting the most electrifying move in sports entertainment. Was it a full heel turn for Punk? Is he now a tweener? Answers to come.

Full Disclosure: I didn't cover any of the backstage stuff that happened during RAW. I normally don't cover the minor backstage interactions and with RAW moving to three hours, I really don't have the time to address everything. Obviously the Daniel Bryan stuff was fantastic.

CM Punk promo

Wow, what a promo. What a way to start off RAW. CM Punk sat indian style Native American style on the announcers table while he confronted Jerry Lawler over what he said last week. Native American style = shit is about to get real. Jerry Lawler closed RAW last week telling the fans that CM Punk had "turned his back on the WWE Universe."

I always find it interesting when wrestlers use knowledge they gained from actually watching the show. We rarely see this. For example, the CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane triple threat match at No Way Out ended with AJ Lee taking a bump off the apron. Kane got distracted and CM Punk capitalized with the GTS for the victory. After the match Kane carried AJ Lee to the back, but we saw her smiling at Punk in the ring, as if the entire situation had been orchestrated. You're telling me that Kane didn't go back to his hotel room that night and order the No Way Out replay?

So we learned that CM Punk watches RAW because he wasn't happy with Lawler's comments to close the show. Later on we learned that AJ Lee watched last week as well because she saw the men in white coats and called Daniel Bryan out on it. Going forward I want a precedent established. Either every "superstar" watches RAW and studies the tapes or none of them do. I dislike the ambiguous nature that surrounds this.

Back to RAW. CM Punk's promo addressed everything we could have hoped for; Jerry Lawler's stilted and hackneyed commentary, Dwayne showing up for one week and immediately being granted a title shot, and the focus of the show not being on the WWE champion. I was surprised at how quickly the audience turned on CM Punk. The kindergarten crowd let him hear it. He's been your champion for the past 8 months, I think he at least deserves the opportunity to explain his actions.

I love how  turning  just means he tells the truth!  

Moments after saying he hates to be interpreted Big Show came down to the ring. Rabble, rabble, rabble, Show vows to become next WWE champion.

John Cena, not happy that other people are getting attention, runs down and clears Big Show out of the ring while CM Punk calmly watched. The WWE missed an opportunity here for the two of them to have some interesting back and forth on the mic. The segment had already gone about 18 minutes, but it's a 3 hour show now. I guess they needed to reserve enough time in the show for us to see Stephanie McMahon slapping Paul Heyman 3 times.

AJ Lee's terrible music hit and she gave us our main event for the night. John Cena vs the Big Show with the winner facing CM Punk for his title at Summerslam. It was at this point that the creative team was faced with two clear choices.

1. Have John Cena become number 1 contender. Challenge CM Punk at Summerslam. Watch as they put on another quality match and tear the house down.

2. Fail to give us a clear winner, creating a convoluted triple threat match that no one wants to see.

Vince, your creative team blows.

Non-title match up
Santino Marella vs Alberto Del Rio

"Santino Marella whose held the United States championship since March." Sorry Cole, it's not that impressive if all he ever wrestles are non title matches.

Del Rio dominated the entire match up. After the match Del Rio grabbed the stick and said he would not compete unless it was in a match for the world title. Pretty much every tweet I saw was similar in fashion to Mr. Holzerman's here. Take the belt off Santino immediately. I'm not a Santino fan, nor am I a hater. What I am a fan of,  is championship belts having credibility. The United States title has ZERO credibility. And how can it? The belt is very, very rarely defended on television.

The WWE needs book their US and Intercontinental titles the same way they booked the Hardcore championship when they put it on Rob Van Dam in 2001. RVD defended the belt nearly every week, having excellent matches in the process. RVD claimed on his DVD that the WWE retired the belt because it started to mean too much. That sounds like a pretty good problem to have. Give the belt to someone with some actual wrestling ability and have them defend it on a weekly basis.

I love Santino but if this is how he's gonna be booked, put the belt on Cesaro, for Christ's sake.

Vicky Guererro dance segment

Vicky gave us her best Elaine Benes dance moves. Thankfully Damien Sandow puts a stop to this. But my good will towards him ends as soon as he showed us footage from last week. We get it. We all watched RAW 1000. Sandow attacked the Funkasauras and ripped off his necklace. I'm undecided how I feel about Damien Sandow, but I know for sure that I'm over Brodus Clay.

Street fight
Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus

We were treated to a very good match up on free television. Match of the year candidate for sure. I agree with Joey Styles' tweet, but I'm gonna suggest Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan was a little better than anything Danny Doring or CW Anderson ever did in ECW. This match was great and without a doubt one of the highlights to RAW.

After the match Daniel Bryan refused to leave until a doctor came down to the ring. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston sauntered down with no regard for a fellow wrestler's injuries. This provided one of the more comedic moments in RAW history. Daniel Bryan punting Lil Jimmy out of the ring was almost as good as Snitsky punting the baby. If R-Truth sold half as well in the ring as he did to Lil Jimmy's injuries, he'd be a main eventer.

Kofi Kingston vs Titus O'Neil with AW

Forgettable match, unforgettable AW comment.

 "Titus O'Neil is like Kobe Bryant in a Colorado Hotel Room... UNSTOPPABLE!"

That's not PG. I guarantee he was ripped a new one immediately after he went through the curtain backstage. Let the record show deplorable violence with a chair and Singapore cane is acceptable, referencing 9 year old rape allegations is not.

AW threw his shoe at Kofi, leading to a distraction. Titus O'Neil with the slam and victory. 

One Man Baaaaaand segment
Heath Slater vs Randy Orton

Orton returns from suspension to take out Heath Slater. Looks like Randy watched JBL last week because his clotheslines looked stiff as hell. It appears as though he's returning as a bland Face with zero charisma, average wrestling ability and no general direction,. He should feel comfortable with this role. 

Tag Team match
Jericho/Christian vs The Miz/Dolph Ziggler

Absurd amount of talent in the ring for this match. This match as well as the Bryan/Sheamus street fight made RAW worth watching this week. Great wrestling all around. These guys made each other look good in the ring.

Jericho with the Codebreaker on Miz for the victory. After the match Ziggler hit Jericho in the head with the Money in the Bank briefcase. I'm not sure if these two have an announced match at Summerslam yet, but if/when it happens, it could steal the show. 

One on One match
Tensai vs Tyson Kidd

Very quick match. Tensai with the victory getting payback from Tyson Kidd's win a few weeks ago. Albert attacks him after the bell. The referee reversed the decision after the match because Tensai continued to beat up Tyson Kidd. Nuts to that. That is one of the stupidest things the WWE does. This might be the one thing that bothers me more than matches not becoming "official"  because a competitor is attacked before the bell rings. What possible logic could a referee use to reverse a match decision after the three count? Oh he just kept hitting the guy, so that nullifies everything that just happened in the ring leading to the pin fall? I realize that it's entertainment and I might be taking things a bit too seriously, but I'm calling shenanigans on this. No amount of ass kicking AFTER the bell rings should take away a previously earned victory. 

Number 1 contender match
John Cena vs the Big Show w/CM Punk on commentary

Back and forth match until John Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on the Big Show. CM Punk made the save. He then got on the mic and declared that there was no winner. As Punk was leaving AJ Lee predictably entered to let us know we would be seeing CM Punk vs John Cena vs the Big Show in a triple threat match. RAW went off the air with CM Punk yelling in AJ Lee's face. He missed a golden opportunity here for the perfect retort

So now that CM Punk is a heel he immediately morphed into heel champion who is afraid to defend his belt mode. The WWE only knows two kinds of heel champs. Either they are completely invincible and can beat everyone with one hand tied behind their back (HHH) or they have to cheat to win and never want to defend their title (every other heel champion.) 

Grade: B

Final thoughts:  We got recaps of RAW 1000, recaps of this past Smackdown and recaps of events that took place on the current episode of RAW. Did we really need to watch the full Brock Lesnar/HHH video three times? I watched RAW last week. I didn't need to to rewatch it this week as well. I'm pretty sure the recap packages/pyro accident footage/commercials consumed 2 of the 3 hours of RAW. It got to the point where I was developing conspiracy theories of the WWE setting the fire on purpose.

Monday Night RAW moved to three hours long, but I guess that is still not enough time to feature any divas. Don't get me wrong, I HATE pointless divas matches, but I would rather watch Beth Phoenix "Ryback" the shit out of somebody than see Stephanie McMahon slap Paul Heyman three times.

CM Punk returning to be CM Punk was great. This week he finally took off HHH's blazer and went back to "Leader of Nexus" and "Straight Edge Society" CM Punk. 

Completely Arbitrary Top 5

5. AW - Doing his best to bring back the attitude era, one sexual assault joke at a time.

4. Randy Orton - Don't get used to seeing him in this spot. His return ovation is really the only reason
he made it.

3. Miz/Jericho/Ziggler/Christian - Doing what they do best, wrestle quality matches.

2. Daniel Bryan - Big part of the show. Wrestled in a great match against Sheamus and his backstage stuff with the doctor showed just how great of a character he is.

1. CM Punk - The voice of the voiceless criticizing Lawler's commentary might earn him the number 1 spot for life.

Thanks for reading. Do yourself a favor and check out this ROH promo from CM Punk when you get some spare time. I would put it right up there with anything Steve Austin or Mick Foley did in ECW. 

Don't forget to leave a comment down below and follow me on Twitter @TheRawLibrarian

Friday, July 27, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Zack Greinke to the Anaheim Angels

Anaheim Angels get: SP Zack Greinke
Milwaukee Brewers get: SS Jean Segura, SP Ariel Pena, SP Jim Hellweg (all prospects)

Angels GM Jerry DiPoto earned his SoCal front office ninja stripes today, stealthily and suddenly trading for All-Star pitcher Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers. Much like the Lakers' Mitch Kupchak and the Dodgers' Ned Colleti trading for stars Steve Nash and Hanley Ramirez, respectively, without much notification, DiPoto has made a deal that no only ranks as one of the most biggest of the trade deadline, but perhaps one of the most significant in regards to postseason play.

Team USA Basketball For Dummies

Over the next two weeks, the 27th Olympic Games will take place in London, United Kingdom. The Games traditionally overtake the current events sphere, with various websites and newspapers delivering an unnatural amount of attention to sports, both popular and obscure. Daily conversation will turn from local news and politics to how many records will Michael Phelps break and how close that gymnast was to Mary Lou Retton's perfect score. I suppose the Olympics are part sports, part human interest stories and of course, the undividable bond to politics. Either way, every four years, the average Joe with zero interest in athletics will wade into the waters of watching competitive games. For many of the sports, the learning curve is slim; there are very few that are dedicated swimming aficionados, and the greco-roman wrestling fanbase hasn't exactly grown by leaps and bounds.

Which of course leads us to men's basketball. Now I realize that if you're a regular MAMBINO purveyor, you probably have some interest in hoops. However, I've realized that in the next few weeks, unlike diving or equestrian, there's going to be quite a few people who can talk basketball up and down, all day and night.
Us being the magnanimous writers that we are, the MAMBINO team wanted to throw up a crash course post on everything you'd need to know about the US Olympic Basketball squad, and the competitive field in general.  After reading this post, those of you that are casual fans can sound like the psychopaths that reside on the digital high horse that is this blog. Presenting "Team USA For Dummies".

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trade Analysis: How Cole Hamels Signing Changes the Trade Market

Philadelphia Phillies get: SP Cole Hamels, six years, $144 million dollars

Cole Hamels signed up for six more years with the only team he's played for earlier today. It was the second biggest contract in terms of dollars ever shelled out to a pitcher. After all the gushing things he had to say about the Phillies and their fans, it is probably safe to assume that he's off the market. That means that the 19 teams that are competing for either the Wild Card or the division right now need to turn their attention elsewhere.

What it doesn't mean though is that the Phillies are going to make a run.

Signing Hamels was more of a move to ensure that he never had to deal with the temptation of free agency. He is 28 years old, won a World Series MVP (and NLCS MVP that same year), throws left-handed, has the 9th best active ERA, and 3rd best active WHIP. Dude can pitch and has done so every year of his career. If he hit the open market, he could get as much as Josh Hamilton or any other player this winter.

Instant Trade Analysis: Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers get: SS/3B Hanley Ramirez, RP Randy Choate

Miami Marlins get: SP Nathan Eovaldi, SP Steve McGough

When the worst news of a trade is that there will be less at-bats available for Adam Kennedy and Juan Uribe, any deal can be considered a win.

In a remarkable, Mitch Kupchak-esque pact, both in scope and in secrecy, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Miami Marlins' franchise player Hanley Ramirez, along with left-handed reliever Randy Choate, for two young pitchers. Ramirez had been rumored on the trading block for weeks, though few thought that the Miami front office would actually ship out the former shortstop whose prolific power bat and speed made him one of the finest players in baseball. However, if indeed the Marlins decided that Hanley, who had made the switch to third base this year because of Jose Reyes' signing, were to be traded, only a bounty of potential major league prospects would be enough to consummate the deal.

So then, how did the Dodgers acquire Ramirez for a ceiling number 3 starter and a minor league pitcher that isn't even in LA's top 20 prospects?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday Night RAW Recap: 1000th Episode

Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Announcers: Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole, Good Ol JR (for one match)

Tonight was the celebration of 1000 episodes of Monday Night RAW but maybe more importantly was also the start of three hour episodes for the foreseeable future. 

Hate to spoil it, but this was a pretty, pretty...pretty good show. Lots of nostalgia tonight and a lot of winks at the ridiculousness of past story lines. Hell, Mae Young showed up with a grown up hand representing her and Mark Henry's lovechild (seriously). If the Big Bossman were still alive, there's no doubt in my mind that he would have shown up with a Pepper doggy bag or tried to crash a funeral and drag a casket behind his police car. 

Let's do this.

Instant Trade Analysis: Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees

New York Yankees get: OF Ichiro Suzuki, $4.5 million

Seattle Mariners get: P Danny Farquhar, P DJ Mitchell

I came home from work today, to find my bearded roommate in the kitchen preparing dinner. In between cuts of green beans, I asked him, "did you hear who the Yankees traded for today?" He looked at me instantly wide-eyed, knowing that such a question is never asked without an answer that lives up to the fast twitch reaction. I told him the player was outrageously hilarious, but not because it was a star like Matt Kemp or Justin Upton. After a few wild guesses like Barry Bonds or Manny Ramirez, I let him have it: the New York Yankees had just traded for Ichiro Suzuki. He looked back, laughed, and that was that. In a trade that seemingly only the New York Yankees could make, GM Brian Cashman has found himself an outfield replacement for Brett Gardner in Seattle Mariners franchise cornerstone, Ichiro Suzuki.

Monday, July 23, 2012

State of the Garden: To Brooklyn And Beyond?

Allow yourself to be a child again, and remember that one of the roughest moments of the Toy Story movies is when Buzz Lightyear finally realizes that he's only a toy. Although, similar to other toys, he incredulously falls like dead weight whenever humans enter the room, it takes Buzz a while to realize that he can breathe without his space helmet, he cannot communicate with his home base, and he cannot fly. No matter how shiny his packaging is, he is still just like Woody and the gang. Each toy falls in line relative to the whims of Andy, and regardless of how much each toy is used, they are all part of Andy's collection.

Buzz was pretty upset when he discovered the limitations of his powers. He almost let it get to him by becoming a depressing shell of himself, but he recovered in time to make the best of his situation. He didn't go to the Vegas summer league and renegotiate his contract to put Andy in a worse position just because things weren't perfect on the home front. But even if he did, the rest of the inanimate figurines would still be happy to play for the one team they've always known.

If you consider yourself a basketball one-percenter, then you may oftentimes refer to your NBA team as part of your family and friends, using a collective pronoun that implies shared feeling and experience. In reality, we all have the mental capacity to understand that we won't ever don an official NBA (and coming in a year, 2x2 endorsed) uniform, we don't employ agents or publicists, and for the most part, we actually are compensated at the level of our worth. However, we are justified in using "we" and "us" because we invest so much of our time and money for the right to feel the glory of a win and the immense pain of a loss.

As fans, we are YOUR New York Knickerbockers. We may be the toys that stay buried in the bottom of the treasure chest that never get to see the light of day, but we're still there. So through all of our owner's faults, if Jeremy Lin decides that Daryl Morey will provide a better home for him, it is our directive to stay home, even if the grass appears greener on the other side.

Friday, July 20, 2012

2012 Olympic Basketball Primer: Group B

Can hosting the Olympics propel England to basketball
relevance in 2012?
Welcome to Part II of the 2012 Olympic basketball primer. Last week in Part I we covered Group A, which includes Team USA, a veteran Argentina team, and an up-and-coming French squad loaded with NBA talent. Group B may not be as top-heavy, but it is a bracket without a weak link and lots of teams that expect to make it out of group play. As a reminder, each team in both brackets will play all 5 other teams in their group and the top 4 teams advance to the quarterfinals.

Group B

Spain (FIBA rank: 2) is seen as the biggest threat to US hegemony in Olympic basketball. Spain won in 2006 and was barely edged out by Kobe & Co in 2008’s truly incredible gold medal game. Spain has size in the frontcourt, tons of international experience, and continuity with a team that has played together for years. On paper, Spain should be able to give the US (and anyone else) everything they can handle. Between the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, they have the best frontcourt in the world and complementary pieces to boot. Spain boasts Jose Calderon, Sergio Rodriguez, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Rudy Fernandez on the perimeter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why Blake Griffin's Injury Ruins the 2012-2013 Clippers...and Beyond

This week, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The All-NBA Second Team forward was hurt during a workout for the US Olympic team, which he had made ironically because two forwards in front of him, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh, are recovering from in-season injuries. Coach and current front office executive Vinny del Negro stated after the surgery that the Clippers were "very confident that he'll be back for training camp and get back to 100%. So, as bad as that news is, it's probably the best news that we could have gotten, which is great." As news from Vinny is so many times, that statement couldn't be any less illuminated. The injury to Griffin is relatively small, but the minimalist nature of the surgery couldn't be more different than that potentially irreparable effect that it could have on the Clippers' 2012-2013 season, and every season going forward.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Antawn Jamison to the Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers get: F Antawn Jamison on one-year, minimum salary deal

In the 36 year-old Jamison, an already ancient Los Angeles Lakers team has just gotten a little bit older, but how damning is this usually negative concept?

In case you haven't been paying much attention, Jamison has quietly molded for himself a remarkable NBA career, one that could eventually lead to the Hall of Fame (after former Lakers great Jamaal Wilkes made it, Antawn's career numbers certainly can stack up next to Silk's). Believe it or not, Antawn Jamison has amassed the following statistics throughout his almost 15 year major league career:

19,246 points (43rd all-time)
7,383 field goals made (44th all-time)
35,754 minutes (53 all-time)
7,740 rebounds (65th all-time)
1,071 3-pointers made (56th all-time)

Wow. Though the numbers are generally impressive, he owes a lot of his success to an incredibly stable bill of health and a willingness to tough out injuries every single night.

On the surface, this signing is too good to be true. Former two-time All-Star Antawn Jamison is coming to the Lakers on a cut-rate deal to play off the bench behind Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum? It's easy to see why Jamison chose the Los Angeles Lakers, despite a near 15 million dollar pay cut from last year. For one, Jamison has rarely been on a winning team; in his 14 seasons in the NBA, 'Tawn has been to the playoffs a sparing six times, never advancing past the second round. The chance to play alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Andrew Bynum will give him the greatest set of collective teammates he's ever had, all due respect to the dysfunctional, but highly entertaining Washington Wizards teams of half a decade ago.

Houston: Dolan Has a Problem

Before I go on, just get some background on what Jeremy Lin means to Mambino. KOBEsh and I experienced Lin's 38-point effort against the Los Angeles Lakers, the peak of Linsanity, among fellow city-dwellers in NYC's bar scene. (That's bar scene, not sports bar scene.) Read his thoughts just hours after that game, and then come back here. Or don't read it, but click the link. Because it's ridiculous that the post, one of the best to grace TGM, is only 10th on the all-time list, trailing far-less deserving write-ups like Que-Ese's on the NCAA bracket and my preview of the Exes season of MTV's The Challenge.

Jeremy Lin is a popular guy these days. The Knicks have decided not to match Houston's offer sheet, worth approximately 25 million dollars over 3 years. The pros and cons of retaining Lin's services have been articulated far and wide, by minds with more sources and words with more eloquence than mine. As I've said plenty of times before, we strive to bring you Mambinites something that you may not find anywhere else; otherwise, what's the point? If we only bring in the numbers from our friends and family, then we're better off quitting.

To summarize, here are the major reasons for why YOUR New York Knickerbockers should sign Jeremy Lin for the next 3 years:

1. He is a marketing wunderkind. Madison Square Garden stock reached its high when Lin was ripping nets and dropping dimes to the surprise of nobody but himself. The Knicks, and the NBA, reached out to a demographic that had been relatively dormant since the retirement of Yao Ming, evidenced by merchandise sales, attendance at away games, and the exponential rise of Lin's Twitter follower count. If you had listened to me and clicked on KOBEsh's post, then you would have read that tapping into a new demographic would put a stamp on a race that has been looking for one since...ever. And the Bockers would always be associated with that. It's more than just dollars and cents; it's dollars and sense.

2. He is 23 years old. Many people like to point out the obvious deficiencies in his game: he's not strong on the dribble, especially with his left hand; he has a propensity to turn the ball over when trapped by an aggressive defense; and he's not exactly a lockdown defender. But...he's 23! Why focus on the bad when there's so much good? You'd be an idiot to think that a 23-year-old who's willing to work won't improve his game over the span of his career. Even in the Mike D'Antoni point guard-favored system, 15 ppg and 6 apg in 35 games is nothing to sneeze at. His per-48s look even better: 26 and 11. And then you stack that with the cojones that Lin displayed against the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks (28 and 14), and Toronto Raptors (game-winning 3 in Jose Calderon's grill). I mean, just LISTEN to the crowd here:

3. The Knicks are not getting anything back in return for letting Lin walk! This will make me weep into my pillow every night for the foreseeable future. Why not match the offer sheet, and trade him? Would Houston really roll into the season without a point guard? Could Charlotte not use an influx of butts in seats?

But again, you could find those reasons everywhere else. Onto the good stuff:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday Night RAW recap

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Announcers: Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole

Welcome to the recap of the 999th episode of RAW.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Could You Imagine THIS Guy Main Eventing Wrestlemania? (Part 2)

A few days ago, we took a look at a few current WWE Superstars and his potential to one day become a permament fixture amongst the chandelier that is the professional wrestling main event card.
Contrary to all the haters out there, World Wrestling Entertainment has the same hierarchy that the NBA, MLB, NHL or NFL does; there are your elite performers, steady vets and of course, rising stars. Here, we take a second look at a few wrestlers in that last category, analyze their qualifications and if indeed they have the chance to main event the superbowl of wrestling, Wrestlemania, any time soon.

The Miz
Qualifications: 1x WWE champion. 3x WWE tag team champion, 2x United States champion, 2x World tag team champion, 2010 Money in the Bank winner, #1 PWI top 500 singles wrestler in 2011

TRL: I am well aware of the fact that the Miz main evented Wrestlemania 28 against John Cena AND won. Yet, his retaining his title was merely a subplot in the Rock/Cena hierarchy , and his standing in the company hasn't been the same since. More accurately, over the past few months, the Miz has become a laughing stock in the wrestling community. Ever since he
failed to catch R-truth on RAW back in February, I don’t think he has won one match since. By comparison, Brie Bella has more victories in that span and the Bella Twins aren’t even in the company anymore.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Stories of 2012 So Far...

Here's to a fun second half. Enjoy. 

1. Mike Trout’s arrival as a future stud has turned into Mike Trout’s arrival as a present stud. He’s got a chance of leading baseball in steals, runs, and average while missing almost a month.
2. Bryce Harper hasn’t been quite the same as Trout, but he’s been pretty good too. He has 27 extra base hits and 8 steals. Not bad for a 19-year-old.
3. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are a combined 5-10. Halladay will be back in less than a week. Lee has the 4th best xFIP in baseball.
4. Not one, but two somersaults from Aroldis Chapman. He also wasn’t bad when you take out the theatrics. Chapman struck out 52 in his first 29 innings while not allowing an earned run.
5. The MVP in the NL for the first half of the season was Andrew McCutchen. He has single-handedly made the Pirates a playoff caliber team when they haven’t tasted the postseason in two decades.
6. Albert’s April. Pujols had 0 home runs, 4 RBI, and a .217 average. The buy-low opportunity was there as Pujols has since turned it around.
7. Pujols is not the only guy that has turned these around this season. Francisco Liriano had an ERA over 11 in April, but got it under 3.00 in the month of June while striking out a hitter per inning.
8. Matt Kemp’s April. If we could get the car up to 88 MPH, a Pujols for Kemp swap at the end of April would be nice.
9. The Nationals rotation. Baseball’s best ERA at the break and the team needed it. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth were hurt and ineffective for most of the first half, which pressed the promotion of Harper sooner than the organization would have liked.
10. More no hitter! Aces Matt Cain and Jered Weaver both threw no-hitters. Cain had a perfect game. Journeyman Philip Humber also threw a perfect game and has not done almost nothing right since.
11. 37-year-old R.A. Dickey is the best pitcher in baseball and absolutely nobody saw it coming. Dickey leads the league in wins and WHIP. He’s also going to have a chance at the strikeout crown as the Mets figure out a way to have him pitch more than every fifth day in the second half.
12. Trevor Bauer’s much-anticipated call-up and unorthodox routines have resulted in downs and ups to date for fantasy owners.  
13. The Red Sox loss to the Yankees on April 21st. It’s been a hard first half of the season for the Red Sox, but no loss could summarize more than the 9-1 blown lead on April 21st. Thankfully Humber’s perfect game stole the show nationally from a historic collapse.
14. The emergence of Ernesto Frieri at the back end of the Angels bullpen. The Padres better hope that Alexi Amarista or Donn Roach develops into a decent player because if they had waited longer on Frieri they could have had multiple suitors at this point in the year.
15.  Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez was the move of the off-season. Not for the Royals.
16.  Not far behind is the Josh Reddick for Andrew Bailey swap. Reddick is on pace for 37 home runs and 15 steals. While Bailey is on pace for a 0.00 ERA. That explains why trading for Sanchez has been worse for the Royals.
17.  Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda was the anti-climatic move of the off-season. Montero has been ehh in Seattle and Pineda might throw from flat ground in September.
18.  It is still a wait-and-see, but the Nationals can’t complain about what they got in the Gio Gonzalez trade. No starter has been stingier about giving up home runs (0.35 HR/9) this season.
19. One of the more under the radar free agent signings of the off-season was Josh Willingham signing a three-year deal with the Twins. He is on pace for 36 home runs and 114 RBI.
20.  Jose Bautista has 27 home runs and could lead the league in home runs again. Fair to say he wasn’t a fluke in 2010.
21. Mark Trumbo has quietly helped carry the Angels back into the playoff race and gotten himself to an All-Star game. Believe it or not, there was a time this year where Trumbo couldn’t crack the lineup. Lost in all that Trout has accomplished in his first season, Trumbo is a top thirty player.
22.  Prince Fielder’s departure and the PED controversy that surrounded Ryan Braun all pre-season have of course led to Braun’s struggles. Oh no wait. They haven’t. Braun’s 50-game suspension was lifted and he is once again a top-five fantasy player.
23.  98 runs, 34 home runs, 94 RBI, 15 steals, and a .293 average for Edwin Encarnacion since the start of last year’s second half.
24.  86 runs, 16 home runs, 85 RBI, 0 steals, and a .298 average for Adrian Gonzalez since the start of last year’s second half.
25. Brandon Belt is finally getting a chance to play everyday in San Francisco. The results have not been spectacular, but Belt is going to be a mixed league play from here on out.
26.  Eric Hosmer has the sophomore blues. Let’s not panic just yet though. His walk rate has improved, his strikeout rate has improved, and his BABIP is due to improve.
27. The Trouts and Brauns of the world don’t come up everyday. For those managers that believed Jason Heyward would eventually hit, your faith has been rewarded. Heyward is healthy and has already matched his 2011 home run output and surpassed his 2011 steals output.
28. As the defensive lineman Julius from Remember the Titans said “attitude reflect leadership.” The Miami Marlins have a new park, several new faces, and a Dolphin-Go-Round in left center field. They also have Ozzie Guillen who wasted no time getting the Miami community acquainted with his mouth. The Marlins are in fourth in the NL East, but that didn’t stop them from acquiring Carlos Lee.
29.  Speaking of the Marlins new park, according to ESPN Park Factors it’s the 8th best park for runs in the big leagues this year.
30.  It has been a bad year for veteran pitchers used to dominating, but no pitcher has fallen farther than Tim Lincecum. Lincecum’s walk rate is up by more than one walk per 9 innings and his velocity has never been lower.
31.  Kevin Youkilis was traded in part because Will Middlebrooks emerged, but also because he looked done at age 33, but has looked good so far in Chicago.
32.  Although he’s stayed on the field, it is apparent that Justin Morneau will never even be a fraction of the player that won the MVP in 2006. He is 9 for 85 (.105) against lefties this season.
33.  Coors Field is a great place to hit. As a consequence of this, Rockies pitchers easily have the worst ERA in baseball, which doesn’t help players like Drew Pomeranz gain value in fantasy baseball. The Rockies are willing to try anything as evidenced by their 4-man rotation with a 75 pitch limit.
34. Josh Hamilton is a great hitter. He hit 4 home runs in a game against the Orioles on May 8th. He has already surpassed his home run output from 2011.
35. As always injuries have been a great excuse for fantasy teams and real teams that don’t meet expectations. Perhaps nobody has been more missed than Evan Longoria. When it’s all said and done, he will miss more than 3 months.
36.   The all-injury team also includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Kemp in the outfield.
37.   Robinson Cano is the best player on the Yankees and it isn’t even close. He also is now an easy top five pick for 2013.
38.  Troy Tulowitzki was most likely picked ahead of Ellsbury and Longoria as a 27-year-old at a thin position. Unfortunately he might not be back until September.
39.  The Phillies tandem of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley take the first and second base spots on the All Injury Team – although fantasy owners had ample time to prepare for their absences so be careful before crying foul. 
40. At catcher (at least he’s catcher eligible) Victor Martinez is also a player that fantasy owners had plenty of time to prepare for the absence. Martinez could be back as soon as August – well ahead of his original schedule.
41.  The list of pitchers is long as usual, but the hardest injury for fantasy teams to take on was Brandon Beachy going under the knife. At the time of his injury, Beachy was getting strikeouts and leading the NL in ERA. Roy Halladay, Dan Hudson, Cory Luebke, and Brandon Morrow could also be added to this team.
42. One of the more frustrating stories of the season (even for this Red Sox fan) was Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls. Retirement will have to wait.
43.  Jake Peavy has been a great story. He has 120 innings at the break – a mark he hasn’t reached since 2008.
44.  Derek Jeter is still really good. He’s been mixed league worthy and is hitting over .300. Defense is another issue.
45. The best shortstop this season though has been Ian Desmond. Desmond has an excellent chance to finish with over 20 home runs and 20 steals. He was likely undrated in your mixed league.
46.  Jason Kipnis had been the best second baseman until Cano caught fire. Kipnis is almost a lock to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases. He might have gone undrafted in your mixed league.
47. A.J. Burnett has 10 wins for the first place Pirates and the team hasn’t lost a game he’s pitched since May 2nd.
48.  With a pace of 22 home runs and 15 steals and an average over .300, Paul Goldschmidt has put a tough April behind him and is translating a promising minor league career to the Majors. Ditto for Bryan LaHair who is an All-Star.
49. Alex Rios is hitting 91 points higher than he did last season.
50. David Wright is hitting 97 points higher than he was last year.
51.  Roy Oswalt is back pitching in Texas but pitching for the Rangers now. His signing got more fantasy hype than Oswalt could ever back up as he is a spot starter in mixed leagues.
52. Yu Darvish actually has delivered on the hype for fantasy owners. He is tenth in strikeouts and will be an All-Star.
53. The expectations for Matt Moore before the season were unfair. He hasn’t delivered, but still shows great promise striking out 96 in 99.2 innings.
54. In his first season with the Tigers, Prince Fielder has been the same kind of player he has been his whole career. He is hitting .299 and on-pace for 300 RBI, but the team is in the middle of the standings.
55. Michael Fiers has been brilliant for the Brewers in 7 starts and even better for fantasy owners striking out more than hitter per inning. Not to be out done, his teammate Marco Estrada has 55 strikeouts to 10 walks and a 1.02 WHIP.
56. Michael Young is hitting just .263 and on track to not be a top 100 player for the first time since 2002.
57. After getting a huge deal to resign with the Reds, Joey Votto is not letting up at all. His average, on base, and slugging are all better than they were in 2010 when he was the NL MVP.
58. Perhaps the only story topping the Pirates as a first place team is the Orioles as a playoff contender. No bigger reason for that than Adam Jones. Two seasons ago, Jones had 19 home runs and 7 steals. At the all-star break, Jones has 20 home runs and 11 steals.
59. Jim Johnson has also been fantastic for Baltimore. He leads all of baseball in saves and has blown just one in the first half.
60. The Nationals will have to make a tough call on the innings, but Stephen Strasburg is clearly the same pitcher after Tommy John Surgery. He leads the NL in strikeouts.
61. Coming back from TJ isn’t always as easy as Strasburg would have us believe. Adam Wainwright’s ERA is 2 runs higher than it was in 2009 and 2010 before surgery.
62. I know he is in the minors, but what about the season of Billy Hamilton? With 100 steal potential, he will change the way that a fantasy lineup can be made when he is ready.
63.  To continue on the trend with minor leaguers tearing the cover off the ball, it’s good to see Anthony Rizzo succeeding in Chicago. The next best hitter that needs to get the call is Wil Myers. He has 27 home runs at two levels this year.
64.  Adam Dunn is crushing the ball again. And also blowing the pack away in strikeouts. Dunn has 134 strikeouts at the break, Carlos Pena is second with 110, but don’t overlook the fact that nobody (not even Joey Votto) has a better walk rate.
65.  Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke will be on the trade block. With new contracts to play for look for a monster 2 and a half months regardless of what happens. 
66. In a contract year, Michael Bourn has already established a new career high in home runs.
67. Everth Cabrera is 15 for 15 in steal attempts.
68. Alex Gordon has dropped off tremendously at the plate with a pedestrian 5 home runs and .777 OPS. He does have 27 doubles which is good for second in baseball.
69.  David Ortiz will not shut up about his contract, but the Red Sox will deal with it given that McCutchen, Hamilton, and Votto are the names that are ahead of him in OPS.
70. Fernando Rodney has 38 strikeouts to only 5 walks. And a bow and arrow.
71. Trevor Plouffe hit more home runs in June (11) than Justin Upton has hit all season (7).
72.  Ryan Zimmerman hit 3 home runs in his first 57 games this season. He received a cortisone shot on June 26 and has hit 5 home runs in 11 games since.
73. Carlos Gonzalez is on pace for more than 115 runs and 115 RBI. He is without question the best player in fantasy baseball over the past 2 and a half seasons.
74. Dan Haren has been terrible and it might be because of a bad back. Hopefully he can come off the DL and be Dan Haren.
75. It’s been a typical season from catchers. Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Brian McCann (although heating up), Buster Posey, Miguel Montero, Joe Mauer, Alex Avila and Matt Wieters are all giving less than that we expected.
76.  On the flip-side, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Wilin Rosario have been pleasant surprises.
77.  Chris Sale has made an incredible transition to the starting rotation. Daniel Bard has not. It’s funny how we grouped the two together at the start of the year.
78. Johnny Cueto has a 2.33 ERA since the start of 2011. Only Jered Weaver has a better ERA in that time.
79.  Ryan Vogelsong is tied for the Major League lead in quality starts with 15.
80.  Yovani Gallardo also has 15 quality starts. And a 3.74 ERA. And a 3.90 xFIP. Quality starts isn’t always a great metric to measure a pitcher.
81. Saves are unpredictable as usual. Only 13 of the players that were expected to be their team’s closer before the season started have been their team’s closer uninterrupted by injury or lack of performance. With the trade deadline looming, expect a few more changes to happen.
82. James McDonald has the fifth best ERA in all of baseball. Of course three of the players in front of him are Ryan Dempster, Chris Sale, and Vogelsong. 
83. Vogelsong and Dempster have stranded more runners than any pitcher in baseball (84.2%).
84. Austin Jackson is hitting .332 with a .953 OPS. Yet he has just 7 steals.
85. Brett Lawrie is living up to expectations as a 20/20 threat in his first full season. He will need to pick it up in the home run category, but has made up for a lack of power by scoring 51 runs. He has 27 runs in 31 games since being moved to the leadoff spot.
86.  Hanley Ramirez is hitting .245 for more than a season now. Based on his 84 games played this season, I’m ruling out injury as an excuse. One thing that hasn’t helped is the fact that he’s getting infield hits about half as much as he used to and therefore is making less effort to put the ball on the ground.
87. Craig Kimbrel is nastier this year than he was as the best closer in baseball last year. Opposing hitters are batting .116 against him.
88. One of my preseason darlings, Cameron Maybin, hit a ball 485 feet but hasn’t done much other than that. He is hitting just .212.
89. The new Wild Card is changing the way that head-to-head leagues manage the playoffs in September. All but 5 teams are within 6 games of a playoff spot in the NL, and all but three teams are within 3 games of a playoff spot in the AL.
90. Look out for Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio stole 20 bases while only being caught once in the season’s first half, and played in less than half of his team’s games. He could still steal 50 this year.
91. The pitchers are still controlling the era. The league ERA is right at 4 on the dot, which is actually higher than last year, but more than a quarter of a run lower than 2009.
92. Rafael Furcal has missed just 3 games and could play in over 100 for the first time since 2009.
93. Josh Johnson and Erik Bedard have made 17 starts for the Marlins.
94. The injury prone keep the momentum going! Ben Sheets is trying a comeback with the Braves.
95. Kerry Wood is…Kerry Wood is in commercials for State Farm for some reason.
96. Ubaldo Jimenez has the second worst xFIP in baseball (Barry Zito has the worst).
97. Max Scherzer is striking out more than 11 batter per 9 innings and has an xFIP of 3.28 (11th in baseball).
98. Desmond Jennings is learning from B.J. Upton. After showing much promise last year, Jennings has been injured, striking out more, walking less, and hitting for a terrible .231 average.
99. Kenley Jansen has 63 strikeouts in less than 40 innings.
100.  Ian Kennedy has seen his ERA go from 2.88 last year to 4.26 this year.