Friday, October 03, 2008


Just one game into the 2008 MLB playoffs for the Boston Red Sox, and we’ve already witnessed an instant October classic.

Wednesday night’s Game 1 matchup against the Anaheim Angels (sorry, not going for that “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” crap) was a game that should be rewatched, studied, noted, even talked about for generations to come. It was an awesome display of talent and determination, with veteran players and rookies alike playing equally vital roles throughout.

Despite the incredibly late start time for the East Coast fan contingent (and a big thanks to the MLB braintrust for that scheduling genius, you bastards), I was wide awake from first pitch to final out. Hell, I had trouble falling asleep at 1:30am I was so keyed up from the game. It was that good.

If nothing else, the game was living proof that you can’t make mistakes against good baseball teams, because they will capitalize.

In the bottom of the third, Red Sox rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie booted a routing ground ball that would have easily been the third out of the inning. The next batter, Tori Hunter, singled to drive in the games first run and give the Angels a 1-0 lead. In addition, Boston’s starting pitcher Jon Lester threw seven more pitches to end the inning. Not a huge number, but it helped lead to his being pulled in the seventh for rookie reliever Justin Masterson (more on that later).

But the Angels made a few blunders of their own, upon which the Sox jumped when it counted. Their starting pitcher, John Lackey, was very much in command through the first five innings. He especially owned Jason Bay, who struck out twice and looked bad in the process.

But in the sixth, with Kevin Youkilis on first and two outs, Lackey hung a breaking ball up and over the plate that Bay crushed into the left field bleachers, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. Lackey’s target was down and away from the right-hander, a location he nailed twice against Bay in earlier at-bats.

With that one pitch, that one swing of the bat, momentum had changed. The players felt it, the fans knew it. Lester was dealing all night, but after the Sox took the lead, he struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh inning, Lester’s fastball was hitting 97 on the radar gun. The Angels went down 1-2-3 for the forth time of the night.

In a decision that made myself and many other Sox fans immediately break into a cold sweat, manager Tito Francona went with Masterson for the eighth inning, despite having a fresh bullpen of veteran hurlers. Masterson has some nasty stuff, but at 23 with only 88 innings pitched in the bigs, it seemed like a decision that would quickly bite Francona in the ass.

But it didn’t.

Masterson didn’t exactly shut down the Angels, giving up singles to Vladmir Guerrero and Hunter, but stellar defense helped end a potential threat: Hunter’s bloop single behind first base didn’t bounce far from the diving Youkilis, who snared the ball and immediately fired it to third base, nailing Guerrero by a country mile as he tried to advance from first. That might as well have been the final out of the game, because it completely deflated the Angels. Instead of first and third with one out in a one-run game, it was two outs with Hunter at first. Howie Kendrick hit a weak grounder to Lowrie to end the inning.

If that defensive pick-me-up for Masterson wasn’t enough, the Sox padded their lead in the next inning, plating both Lowrie and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for a 4-1 lead. (It warrants mentioning here that Ellsbury scored form second base after Jason Varitek laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move him over, Varitek’s first sacrifice bunt in 3 years.) With Jonathan Papelbon taking the hill in the ninth, the Game 1 was in the books.

Game 2 of the series is tonight, with Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka facing off against Anaheim’s Irvin Santana. Both pitchers had excellent seasons and are tough to hit when they’re on. Sox fans around the globe are hoping the Good Matsuzaka shows up, the one that doesn’t waste time nibbling the corners of the plate for strikes and lets his pitches do the work for him.

The Sox have now beaten the Angels in 10 straight postseason matchups, with yesterday’s victory having the added bonus of removing home-field advantage from a 100-game winner. And Boston’s postseason ace Josh Becket is scheduled to toss Game 3 on Sunday.

In Fenway.

I think I speak for the majority of Red Sox Nation when I say: Sweet.

Friday, September 19, 2008


As the baseball season approaches its final week of play, the season-long battles that have raged since April take on a new, heightened fervor across the league. Not only are teams jockeying for playoff positions, home field advantage, and general hot streaks to propel them throughout October, fans and reporters are eyeing the illustrious hardware that accompanies those ballplayers that have stepped up and led their team to the next level.

Once such player is Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. In only his second full season in the majors, Pedroia has carved out quite a name for himself throughout baseball. His gritty, hard-nosed play on the field is something to be remembered, emulated, glorified. There's yet to be a game where Pedroia doesn't come off the field covered in dirt after pushing himself to the breaking point for his team. He's the consumate Dirt Dog on a team that for years celebrated that style and attitude in many former players.

After swiping the AL Rookie of the Year award last year in dramatic fashion (batting under .200 for the month of April, only to finish well above .300 on the year), capped off by a masterful performance in a four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, Pedroia didn't miss a beat coming into the 2008 season. Plauged by injuries early in the season, Boston hopped on the back of the short-but-sturdy Pedroia as he carreid them through injuries to big boppers David Ortiz and JD Drew, even taking over the cleanup spot after Manny Ramirez wiggled his way out of the city before the trading deadline.

Pedroia's defense has been nothing but solid since his first day on the field, highlighted by too many game-saving diving stops to count (including one last season that preserved a Clay Buchholz no-hitter).

There is no questioning the desire and determination he brings to the park each and every day. Its readily apparent in his every move; from the monster down-to-one-knee swings he takes at the plate (once thought to be the Achilles Heel for the young talent) to the seeds he tosses from deep behind second base. Paired up with another young Red Sox phenom at shortstop, Jed Lowrie, a prettier double-play combiniation in Boston is hard to imagine.

So, as the season winds down and the Sox prepare for another postseason run, rumblings of "Pedroia for MVP" are beginning to reverberate throughout the cozy confines of Fenway, not to mention the reporters that determine the award's winner.

It's no surprise that the city of Boston generates much of the fan promotion for its newest hero, with a constant supply of posters and signs around the park. The latest phase includes custom printed t-shirts proclaiming his candidacy, guaranteed to be seen in droves at ballparks across the country.

But before Red Sox Nation rushes out en masse to purchase said shirt and jump on the MVPedroia bandwagon, take a moment to review the facts as presented by the wearable placard. No, not the "bulletproof" claim, which he has obviously proven time and time again with the way he hurls himself around the field with wreckless abandon.

Look closely. See it? Right there.

5'9"? Pedroia?!

I think not. Don't believe the hype, fans, and take a moment to examine the man in action for yourself. If number 15 measures in at 5'9", I'm Bud Selig.

But that just makes his season, and career, even more remarkable: the man's not the slightest tick over 5'8", yet still manages to be a force in the majors. He hangs with the giants of the game and keeps his spot at the top of the heap.

Pedroia at 5'9"? Not a chance.

Pedroia for MVP? Absolutely.

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Wrap-Up

Though the season is only two weeks old, the cream is already starting to rise to the top of the league. Blowout wins and huge stats are proving to be the norm, not fluke performances.

Dunder Mifflin 124, Family Ties 93. Family Ties suffered from a lack of a dominant quarterback performance as Bret Favre (NYJ) had a pedestrian day, amassing only 4 points. In contrast, Dunder Mifflin’s QB Jon Kitna (DET) had a huge day, throwing for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The loss knocks Family ties back to an even 1-1 on the year, with a long season ahead if they can’t score at the QB slot.

Underdogs 67, Juno Beach Loggerheads 38. QB Matt Cassel (NE) couldn’t crack the scoreboard for Juno Beach, helping the Underdogs dominate despite lackluster showings from their own lineup. Juno Beach chose to leave WR Randy Moss (NE) on their bench, which ended up logging more points than the starting lineup. Another case where the Underdogs bench (39) outscored Juno Beach starters (38).

Fishheads 104, Ambulance Chasers 59. Phillip Rivers (QB, SD). That’s all that needs to be said here, since his 50 points surely would have helped any team to a victory. Too bad Ambulance Chasers sat him in favor of Ben Roethlisberger (PIT), who logged only 8 points for the day, no match for Fishheads QB Tony Romo (DAL), who had a big night against Philadelphia.

Allocators 104, C2 77. Despite fielding a tight end that didn’t even pull in a single pass on the day (Vernon Davis, SF), the Allocators streaked to a victory behind QB Eli Manning (NYG) and WR Terrell Owens (DAL). Meanwhile, C2 owners giggled like schoolboys after seeing the word “streaked.”

Killer B’s 145, Boystown 70. This week’s massive 75-point blowout was brought to you by Killer B’s dominant lineup led by QB Jay Cutler (DEN). Only two starters were unable to log double-digit points for Killer B’s (RB Steven Jackson, STL and WR Marvin Harrison, IND), with TE Chris “The Cock” Cooley (WAS) putting up more points than the majority of Boystown’s lineup.

Keep an eye out for the Week 3 Preview.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Silva Bros Fantasy Football Preview: Week 2

Week 1 of the Silva Brothers Fantasy Football provided plenty of drama amongst the matchups, many of which had nothing to do with the injury to Patriots QB Tom Brady. From the 46-point Boystown blowout of C2 to the horrific 43-40 limp-wristed slapfight between Fishheads and Killer B’s, roster deficiencies were highlighted in many teams (prompting large bids for mediocre players on the free agent list).

Now that the opening salvo in on the books, its time to look ahead to Week 2 and see which teams can bounce back and those that will continue their winning ways.

Dunder Mifflin at Family Ties. Coming off a tough Week 1 six-point loss to Underdogs, Family Ties takes on the high-scoring Dunder Mifflin team that put up impressive numbers in their opening win against the Ambulance Chasers. Dunder Mifflin’s crew was solid across the board (Cleveland WR Braylon Edwards the only player unable to log points), while Family Ties was handcuffed by poor outings from key RB and WR positions.

Dunder Mifflin’s QB Jon Kitna (DET) takes the field against the Green Bay Packers this week, and will look to go to the air early and often in the absence of a running game. Kitna is capable of putting up big numbers, especially at home in the dome, and is a sure bet to find WR Calvin Johnson in the end zone for a strike or two.

Family Ties counters with Brett Favre (NYJ), but face yet another quandary: Start Favre against a tough New England defense that needs to up its game in order to compensate for the loss of QB Tom Brady, or go with injured Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, who could have a field day with San Francisco despite the loss of his four top receivers? Last week showed that Favre is far from done and can still sling with the best of them, but also revealed that the Jets front line is far from secure. The Patriots could send him scrambling enough to shut down his high-flying attack. If Hasselbeck is healthy, Family Ties could start him instead and hope for a big day at home for the Seahawks.

At Running Back, both teams are headed for a long day of little production. Dunder Mifflin’s Brian Westbrook (PHI) goes up against a strong Dallas defense, while Family Ties’ LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) battles turf toe in Denver. If LT can bounce back from a disappointing Week 1 and overcome foot issues on the soft grass of Mile High Stadium (and a weak Denver D), Family Ties gets the nod as Dallas easily keeps Westbrook under the 100-yard mark and out of the end zone.

Dunder Mifflin definitely has the advantage in the Wide Receive slots, with Calvin Johnson (DET) hauling in passes from Kitna. Though most Fantasy Owners stay away from QB/WR combos on the same team, Kitna has few other options against Green Bay, so expect Johnson to have a big day with a couple visits to the Promised Land. Family Ties may be able to keep up if Anquan Boldin (ARI) gets some looks over teammate Larry Fitzgerald, especially against a weak Miami secondary.

Both team defenses face strong challenges, but Family Ties takes the advantage here, fielding the tough Pittsburgh D at home against division rivals Cleveland Browns. The Steelers always dial up the intensity for this inter-division clash, and will limit the Browns in the air and on the ground. Dunder Mifflin hopes the Packers defense can contain Kitna and the Lions in Detroit, but as mentioned earlier, Calvin Johnson WILL get in the end zone a couple of times.

In the end, the Quarterbacks will determine the winner of this game. If Kitna gets up and over Green Bay’s defense, Dunder Mifflin will easily take home a Week 2 win. Family Ties can only hope whichever QB they put on the starting roster will have the better day, and pray that the Packers keep Kitna contained.

Other games this week:

Juno Beach Loggerheads at Underdogs. With the loss of starting QB Tom Brady, Juno Beach quickly snatched up New England’s reserve Matt Cassel. Unfortunately, he’s no match for Underdogs QB Donovan McNabb, even against a tough Dallas defense. If Underdogs swap out RB Willis McGahee (BAL), who did not play Sunday, for Ricky Williams (MIA), who’s facing a weak Arizona defense, they can expect a nice two-game winning streak.

Fishheads at Ambulance Chasers. All signs point to the Fishheads rebounding from an abysmal Week 1 and taking the victory behind QB Tony Romo (DAL). Ambulance Chasers can keep it close with Dallas D and if they swap out TE Heath Miller (PIT) for Dallas Clark (IND), but it won’t be enough.

Allocators at C2. The Allocators are weak at the QB position, fielding Kurt Warner (ARI) against C2’s Peyton Manning (IND), who looks to have a payback week after an opening day loss. If Allocators go with Chicago RB Matt Forte, who could run wild in Carolina, instead of the banged-up Joseph Addai (IND), who’s questionable after a head injury and facing a tough Minnesota defense, they could keep it close. But give the win to C2 behind Manning and TE Jason Witten (DAL).

Killer B’s at Boystown. This might be the closest matchup on the schedule this week, and come down to Defenses. Killer B’s QB Jay Cutler (DEN) is no match for Boystown’s Drew Brees (NO), but a tandem RB punch of Julius Jones (SEA), taking on the 49ers, and Steven Jackson (STL) will devastate Boystown’s Willie Parker (PIT) and Jamal Lewis (CLE). Though Boystown fields the Bears D against Carolina, Killer B’s Ravens defense could pull in some points in Houston.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Wrap-Up

Underdogs 78, Family Ties 72. Though it wasn’t the closest game of the week, it was probably the best fought-out one on the books. Underdogs eeked out a win behind the resurgent arm of QB Donovan McNabb (PHI), who slung for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Family Ties received little support from their big dogs, with RB LaDanian Tomlinson (SD) failing to find the end zone, and WR Anquan Boldin (ARI) unable to break the 100-yard mark.

Dunder Mifflin 101, Ambulance Chasers 57. In the biggest margin of victory for the week, Dunder Mifflin benefitted from solid outings up and down their roster. The Ambulance Chasers, on the other hand, suffered from lackluster performances from both starting wide receivers, logging a grand total of 0 points. Its not a good day when your kicker lands the third-most points for the week.

Boystown 135, C2 89. Boystown takes the Most Points prize for Week 1, racking up 135 behind stellar performances from QB Drew Brees (NO) and RB Willie Parker (PIT). Those two players alone amassed enough fantasy points to beat half the league. C2 had a solid outing from their entire lineup, but was no match for the six TDs from Brees and Parker.

Juno Beach Loggerheads 91, Allocators 51. Juno Beach has got to feel good about notching a win this week after losing starting QB Tom Brady (NE) in the first quarter. RB Michael Turner (ATL) stepped up in his absence and put down the Allocators, who fell victim to unproductive days from QB Kurt Warner (ARI) and RB Edgerrin James (ARI). RB Joseph Addai (IND) and WR Torry Holt (STL) were no-shows, sealing the Allocators fate.

Killer B’s 43, Fishheads 40. In the lowest scoring game of the week, the Killer B’s squeaked out a win over the Fishheads despite a poor showing from starting QB Derek Anderson (CLE). The best story about this matchup is that both team’s bench players logged more points than their active roster. The outcome would have been the same, but the score a more respectable 67-60. Time to evaluate your starters, boys.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Torn Brady

It’s not often that a single play defines the entire season for a team in any sport. What’s even rarer is when that play occurs in the first quarter of the opening game.

But that’s exactly what happened Sunday in New England when QB Tom Brady took a nasty shot to his left knee from Chiefs S Bernad Pollard less than 10 minutes into the game. Brady screamed as he hit the turf, where he remained as trainers and coaches rushed to examined the injured superstar.

That agonizing howl of pain yelped simultaneously from Brady and the scores of Pats fans defined the entire 2008/2009 season for the Patriots: Done. Finished. Cooked.

Painfully, unequivocally, absolutely over.

Even though Brady’s pass resulted in a 28-yard connection to Randy Moss, the completion of the play eerily mirrored Brady’s future, and possibly the future of the Patriot’s 2008 season: Moss fumbled the ball as he went down to avoid contact, and the Chiefs recovered.

Millions of Patriots fans around the world waited in dire anticipation as Brady lay on the field, hoping and praying to see him spring back to his feet, the seemingly gruesome hit just a minor nick. But no such luck. Brady was helped to his feet and even though he managed to leave the field under his own power, was clearly hobbling and struggling not to put much weight on the injured leg.

He would not return to the game. And, according to latest updates from the Patriots, will not return this season either. The injury requires surgery that will keep Brady on the Injured Reserve list indefinitely.

The Patriots were easy favorite picks to contend for the championship this year, building a strong resume over last season. They amassed an 18-1 record, marred only by a surprising upset in the Super Bowl. Brady threw a record 50 touchdown passes. Moss hauled in a record 23 touchdown catches.
But an ominous cloud hung low as training camps opened up this year. Brady was nursing a hurt foot, the same foot he was seen wearing a boot on after last year’s Super Bowl, and missed all of the team’s four preseason games (all losses, by the way). The injury was revealed to be a cracked bone the week before New England’s season opener, yet Brady was named the starting quarterback.

And to top it all off, for the first time in 57 games, coach Bill Bellicheck left Brady off of the injury list, despite the foot issue. Was this the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Something did, because Brady’s season is done, and so is his third-longest consecutive games streak of 128.

And so may be the Patriots season.

Fantasy Impact. Are you kidding me? Look at that picture above: Brady’s knee is totaled. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the major fantasy football websites crashed Sunday as hordes of mortified Brady owners ransacked the waiver wire to see which backup QBs were available.

Unless you were lucky enough to snag a decent backup, or your league is small enough that not all the second-tier starters were drafted, you have a rough season ahead of you. Pray your supporting cast can make up for the loss of the #1 QB in the league, or get ready to ransom your lineup for some points players.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Silva Bros Fantasy Football Preview: Week 1

Silva Brothers Fantasy Football finalized its 2008 Draft this past Sunday, paving the road to scheduling matchups and, ultimately, “friendly” rivalries throughout the league. With questionable picks up and down the board (Westbrook at #2?), its time to examine Week 1 matchups.

The Underdogs, rebounding from a dismal 4-9 record in ‘06 to go 9-3-1 last year, are lead by aging veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb. Questions of his durability abound, as well as the heart of the Eagles franchise itself. Though McNabb desperately wants to prove himself out the gates and show fans (and critics) that he’s still a #1 QB threat in the league, the question lingers if he still has the ability to tap the resources of his youth, much less rely on the tools of teammates.

Family Ties, looking to recover from a somber 4-8-1 mark last season, also has questions at the QB role for its first week. However, this is a dilemma most teams would love to face: do you start Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck and hope the “tight back” that’s kept him out of preseason games is past, or do you go with proven veteran Brett Favre, who dons a new shade of green this year? Both QBs come with questions (Hasselbeck’s durability, Favre’s ability to quickly learn the Jets offense), but both are proven on the field and led their team to division pennants last season. A true real-life definition of a win-win situation for Family Ties.

The next big question in this matchup lies at the Wide Receive slot, but only for Family Ties. The sure-handed Chris Chambers (SD) is the safe pick as the #2 receiver, but San Diego is sure to rely more on the legs of LaDainian Tomlinson than the arm (and surgically repaired knee) of Phillip Rivers. It would come as no surprise if Family Ties rolled the dice on Laveranues Coles for the season opener, banking on a career resurgence led by the arm of new QB Brett Favre. An injured Coles put up six touchdowns last season in limited play, two more than a healthy Chambers hauled in for all 16 games.

The Underdogs counter with Santonio Holmes (PIT) as their secondary wideout, who’s always a threat to get behind safeties and score. Facing the slow secondary of Houston, Holmes is all but a lock to find the end zone at some point as he did eight times last season. If Pittsburgh has any trouble establishing its running game, no longer a one-man show behind Willie Parker, Big Ben Roethlisberger might take to the air towards Holmes and veteran WR Hines Ward.

Keeping on the Pittsburgh theme, Family Ties features the Steelers defense that is historically a tough wall to break through. The Houston Texans, Pittsburgh’s visiting opponent in Week 1, doesn’t have a clear-cut #1 running back or wide receiver, making them vulnerable to the Iron Curtain D. Though the Underdogs field the highly-touted Vikings defense, Minnesota takes on a tough Green Bay squad at Lambeau. Expect Pittsburgh to put more points on the board than Minnesota.

Family Ties hold a distinct advantage at the RB position to open the season, sending out LaDainian Tomlinson (facing the Carolina Panthers) against Adrian Petersen (at Green Bay). Though both tough backs that are capable of breaking long runs after initial hits, LT gets the nod as the Chargers make their running game presence known at home.

Though CBS Sports gives the Underdogs the slight edge in this matchup, a few savvy roster moves by Family Ties holds the true outcome for these Week 1 teams.

Other games this week:

Ambulance Chasers at Dunder Mifflin. Look for TJ Houshmandzadeh (CIN) to step up for the Ambulance Chasers in the absence of a healthy Ocho Cinco. And, if Marian Barber (DAL) can break free from Cleveland’s defense, he could have a big day that might overcome Dunder Mifflin’s Carson Palmer (CIN) QB stats.

C2 at Boystown. This one all lies on the health of C2 QB Peyton Manning (IND). If Manning is close to 100%, he’ll easily surpass Boystown’s Drew Brees (NO) on the stat sheet. However, a weak receiving corps for C2 might spell a season-opening defeat if Reggie Wayne (IND) and Greg Jennings (GB) continue to put up usual career all-pro numbers for Boystown.

Juno Beach Loggerheads at Allocators. Can QB Tom Brady (NE) singlehandedly put up numbers to surpass Allocators’ dynamic duo of Terrell Owens (DAL) and Torry Holt (STL)? He’ll have to if Juno Beach intends on winning. And for God’s sake, Allocators, change that hideous logo!

Fishheads at Killer B’s. The Killer B’s may have to look to bench QB Jake Delhomme (CAR) to take the starting reigns in Week 1 if Derek Anderson (CLE) isn’t cleared to play from his preseason concussion. Neither is a match for Fishheads QB Tony Romo (DAL), however. But with Fishheads WR Chad Johnson (CIN) nursing a torn labrum in his shoulder, Hines Ward (PIT) may get the starting nod, so don’t chalk up a W just yet.

Those Pesky Former Devils

The Tampa Bay Rays.

That's all I really need to say here, isn't it? Don't those words alone inspire disbelief and awe in the same breath? Baseball's long-running sad story of futility has been turned on its head this season, and is showing no signs of letting up. Here's a team that no one expected to climb out of the cellar they've grown so accustomed to living in, shooting up the ranks in what has to be the toughest division in baseball to claim first place for a majority of the season. First frickin' place! And they've done it without any semblance of a superstar or grisly veteran to show them the way. Nope, just a great collection of young talent playing as a team. They're the anti-Yankees.

To top it off, despite their historic turnaround, everyone still expected them to falter as the season wore on, especially after they dropped seven games in a row heading into the All Star break. But what did they do after that lull? How about a 24-11 record that turned a half-game deficit into a 4.5 game lead over Boston.

And you can't root against these guys, either. No hot-heads on the squad, no showboaters, no troublemakers (well, maybe Cantu after those cheap shots on Crisp, but a brawl is a brawl). Ownership didn't go out and buy a winning team (which, as the Yankees have shown time and time again, doesn't always work), they stuck with the farm system, brought up good, young talent, made some key acquisitions along the way, and suddenly have a team to be reckoned with.

Even with the recent rash of injuries to key players, they're still winning. Joe Maddon has done an incredible job of coaching the squad and keeping them focused throughout the season. It would be easy for a team of young players like this to let their successes go to their heads, the pressure bog them down, or turn flat when injuries spring up. But they haven't succombed to any such mental ailments, and most of that credit has to go to the skipper. Manger of the year, hands down.

As expected, I'm very torn here. I mean, of COURSE I want the Red Sox to win the division, glide through the playoffs and sweep the World Series for the third time in five years (no, I didn't buy furniture from Jordan's, but I know some that did). But I have to admit, its been alot of fun to see a city at the top of the AL East this late in the season that isn't from New York or Boston. After how many years of those two juggernauts battling it out for the top spot, seeing new, young blood going toe-to-toe with dynasties, and winning, has been one of the best things for baseball since Cal Ripken saved the sport after that devistating strike.

(Did I just admit I'm happy Boston isn't in first place AND praise Cal Ripken in the same paragraph? Someone slap me.)

So, I encourage all baseball fans to sit back and enjoy what's left of the 2008 season, paying particular attention to these Tampa Bay Rays. No matter how far they go in the playoffs, and trust me, it'll be farther than you think, they're fun to watch.

And to think all it took was severing their ties to the Devil.

Side note: The Rays and my Red Sox have an awesome hate-hate relationship going. Started back in 2000 by, who else, Pedro Martinez when he drilled the first batter of the game (Gerald Williams) and started the first of many bench-clearing brawls, the Sox and Rays have had many skirmishes and beanball battles over the years. And its been awesome.

I'm sure its a bit condescending on my part, but the bad blood between these two squads is infinitely different than that the Sox have with the Yankees. Maybe its because the Rays have been the whipping boys of the league for so long and we never really had to take them seriously, or maybe its just because they haven't been around long enough (or, more to the point, been meaningful long enough) to take notice. Whatever the reason, I always get a kick out of these incidents moreso than when the Yankees start something up.

This season had a great brawl early on between Crisp and, well, the entire Rays bench. Crisp had gotten beaned by Shields in retaliation for an incident earlier in the season, and Crisp had enough. He charged the mound, dodged a wicked wild right hook from Shields, and landed a glancing blow before getting tackled and pummeled by the rest of the Rays team. Several great pictures emerged from that brawl, the best of which is seen here.

Despite what it looks like, Crisp actually dodged that punch with some Matrix-esque like moves. One of the best brawls I've seen.

New life?

It's pretty sad that I haven't posted anything substantial here in almost a year. The sports world has been overflowing with great stories, huge controversies and amazing events since my last significant post, and I haven't laid one word to paper (or internet, in the case) about ANY of them.

And for that, I apologize.

It's not because I don't feel these events aren't worthy of my time or deserve any sort of coverage (because, you know, this blog is read by thousands of internet visitors a day). There are a thousand different excuses I could throw out there as to why I've been MIA, and none of them can be considered legitimate. So I won't waste your time or mine.

But I do need to post something here. I do need to put some thoughts down, as minuscule and uninspiring as they may be, so I don't "lose it". Just hope I'm not too late.

And, of course, once I started writing this posting, it started taking on a life of its own. Intead of bulleting some ideas just for the sake of getting something up on the site, I'm gonna break it down into separate posts like the topics deserve.