Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jeremy Lin debut!

Oct 29th, 2010.

Jeremy Lin has become the first Chinese American to ever play in the NBA.  He is, of course, not the first Chinese person to play in the NBA (Wang Zhi Zhi 2001) and definitely not the first Asian American (Wataru Misaka 1947-48 - also the first non-Caucasian in the NBA).  While there have been a handful of random players with some Asian descent over the years, Jeremy's only the 2nd American who is full Asian to make an appearance.

In his first game, he played for 2:32 minutes to raucous cheers and managed to register one steal off a jump ball.

Friday, October 29, 2010

World Series Game 2: Texas gets Cain-ed. 2 down, 2 to go!

Giants 9 - Rangers 0

Shockingly, the Giants have scored an amazing 20 runs over the first 2 games of this Series.  Consider the fact that they've only scored 30 runs total in the 2 playoff series (10 games) up to this point.  After putting away Game 1 with a 6 run 5th inning, they scored 7 runs with 2 outs(!) in the 8th inning to secure Game 2.  The Rangers helped the Giants' cause by walking 4 straight batters (2 with bases loaded) in that progression.

But the real story of this game was the dominance of Matt Cain.  Though Lincecum has been the face of Giants' pitching, Matt Cain has been the most successful arm this postseason.  In 7 and 2/3rd shutout innings pitched in Game 2, he only allowed 4 hits.  In fact, in 3 postseason games (21 1/3rd innings), he's allowed no earned runs.  NONE.

Looking forward, SF fans should still prepare themselves for the likelihood that Texas will finally start swinging the bat back home in hitter-friendly Arlington.  Josh Hamilton is only 1 for 8 with no RBIs so far.  We can't expect that to continue.

Still, the good news is that only 11 teams in the last 51 to go down 2-0 have come back to win the title.  That means, historically, we have a 78% chance of winning it all.  It seems a difficult task for Texas, since the Rangers have to win 4 of the next 5 games.  But, momentum is a funny thing in baseball, and it could change with one swing of Hamilton's bat.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

World Series Game 1: One down, three to go!

Giants 11 - Rangers 7

That's why they play the games.  Cliff Lee was being worshiped by ESPN talking heads and experts everywhere as one of the best postseason pitchers of all time.  He was supposed to be virtually unhittable.  Nobody locates a fastball like he does, he's the most consistent pitcher Nolan Ryan's ever seen, etc.  Last night, the Giants battered him for 8 hits and 7 runs and chased him out of the game after 4 and 2/3 innings.  Though Juan Uribe hit another game winning HR, this time a 3 run shot in the 5th, Freddy Sanchez was the most impressive Giant on the night, hitting 3 doubles and getting to 2nd base a 4th time after a Vlad G error and finishing with 3 RBIs.  With this game in their belt, I think now they truly have a good chance to win it all.  Had Cliff Lee dominated them and taken away home field advantage in the first game, it would have uphill vs a superior offensive squad the rest of the way.  The Rangers are still ultra dangerous though - it will be tough for the Giants to score enough runs to keep up.  After all, Texas scored 7 runs in a losing effort.  And the SF fan's greatest fear is that they used up all their offense in game 1.  But hey, that's why they play the games.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NFL Week 7 Projections / Record

Jaguars at Chiefs - A listless performance vs Tenn gives no indication they can win at Arrowhead.
Eagles at Titans - I'm taking Iggles in a close one.  X
Bills at Ravens - Only a Bills-Panthers matchup might be fun to watch.
Browns at Saints - Colt looked better than expected.  I'd let him play out the string.  X
Redskins at Bears - Cutler gets back on track vs soft Wash secondary.  X
Bengals at Falcons - Carson Palmer looks like a shell of his old self.
Steelers at Dolphins - For pure strategic reasons, there's no reason to ever pick against them.
49ers at Panthers - Its interesting that the niners won't play their 2nd division game until Wk 10.  X
Rams at Buccaneers - Its time for Tampa Bay to get back to their winning ways, haha.
Cardinals at Seahawks - I hope Max Hall will have vastly improved during his bye.
Patriots at Chargers - Upset.  SD still has Patriots' number at Qualcomm.  X
Raiders at Broncos - Tebow scores again.  X
Vikings at Packers - Packer nation exults in Brett's low point of season.
Giants at Cowboys - Just when you think its over, Cowboys win again.  X

Week 7 record: 7-7

Season record: 59-45

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Giants in the World Series!

Juan Uribe's 8th inning HR was the series winner.

Brian Wilson's 5 out save clinched it.

Things are aligned for the Giants this year.  The NL won the allstar game for the first time in over a decade just in time.  Hopefully a pitcher's park will boost SF to a 2-0 lead.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giants good, MLB bad

Giants advance past the Braves to the NLDS vs the Phillies!  (Thanks in part to Cody Ross.)  Just wanted to get that in there.

So I always get asked why I care about the Giants when I dislike MLB so much.  Well, they've got a point.  Although I don't follow them as religiously as UCLA ball or US Soccer, I follow 'em cause they're the team I grew up watching.  But unless its the Giants or perhaps a Yankees-Red Sox playoff game, I'm not watching MLB.  That's one problem MLB has.  People watch their own teams, but not the sport itself.  Its why last night millions watched a meaningless and ultimately boring Titans-Jaguars MNF game instead of the Yankees-Rangers ALDS game 3.  Don't get me wrong, I flipped back and forth to see the Yanks get destroyed in the 9th, but that was more than enough for me.  MLB needs to understand that their entire brand is important.  The NFL?  They do.  Its part of the reason why there's a midweek change to hopefully curtail helmet to helmet hits.  Baseball would've never done that.

I decided to post a few emails I've sent during this postseason:

Being reminded its a 5 game 1st round series:
Ridiculous.  162 games to make the playoffs and MLB thinks you only need 5 to see who's better.  absurd.

Watching teams celebrate after winning the first round:
Why do they celebrate with bubbly after winning a playoff round?

After being told the answer is tradition:
Baseball loves tradition more than common sense.  its pretty much the root of everything that's wrong with it.

After realizing that the 2nd round hasn't started after almost a whole work week has gone by:
Why the heck haven't the mlb 2nd round started yet?  What are they waiting for?  Are they trying to compete for viewers with college and the nfl this weekend?  Are they waiting for the rain and snow in Nov?  This is the dumbest sport out there.

After seeing pitcher Halladay run the bases with a track jacket on:
Why is he allowed to wear that jacket when no one else does?  What makes him so special that he needs to wear a jacket?  Oh, he's a pitcher?  He's not just another field player?  So why can't there be DH in the NL?
-Yeah, that's really how my brain thinks.

After reading a Posnanski article:
So Selig has always argued that his sport doesn't need fixing because the number of different teams that have won the WS in the last decade, etc.  Seriously makes me want to puke everytime I hear him interviewed.  So I read Posnanski's article just now in which he argues that baseball's better off with one less playoff round because its a crapshoot anyway.  Apparently, the better record team in the playoffs have a 117-102 record, just over 53%.  That's astounding.  And ridiculous.  I'd completely agree with him, IF every team played every other team in their league an equal number of times.  Heck, if every team played every team in MLB and equal number of times, you wouldn't even need the playoffs.  Best record wins championship (EPL style).  Otherwise, shorten the regular season, allow 16 postseason teams, lengthen the playoff rounds to 11 games, and the best team should win.

NFL Week 6 Projections / Record

Seahawks at Bears - The good Cutler returns.  X
Dolphins at Packers - Only if Rodgers plays.  X
Chargers at Rams - Amendola fever!  Not enough to win though.  X
Ravens at Patriots - Ravens and Jets are class of AFC.  X
Lions at Giants - I don't know why, but I like this Lions squad.  But Calvin J and Best aren't healthy.
Falcons at Eagles - Eagles peck em to death with McCoy.
Browns at Steelers - After a crazy offseason, Big Ben's return sure is a quiet one.  Thanks Brett.
Saints at Buccaneers - I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints lose.
Chiefs at Texans - Chiefs defense is for real.  X
Jets at Broncos - Okay.  I guess I was wrong.  Jets are contenders.
Raiders at 49ers - This should be SF's 4th win of the season.
Cowboys at Vikings - Is anybody really buying Favre's misdirection elbow act?  Of course he's playing.
Colts at Redskins - People think its gonna be close.  Colts by 2 TDs.
Titans at Jaguars - This'll be the first time I've seen CJ this year.

Week 6 record: 9-5

Season Record: 52-38

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jermaine Jones debuts!

Finally, after over a year since US fans first heard about the possibility of Jermaine Jones joining the US side, JJ debuts on the field in a US kit.  After the 2009 season, one German publication (Kicker?) had him rated as the top defensive midfielder in Germany.  Even if that was an exaggeration, he was clearly an effective midfield presence in Bundesliga.  There's no doubt in my mind that had JJ been healthy for WC 2010, we would not have conceded that Gerrard goal or the early heartbreaking one vs Ghana, since both were Clark's fault.  Is he the missing piece we've always been looking for?  No.  He's not the striker we hope Jozy will someday be.  He's not a new defensive stalwart for the future.  But what he does provide is a reliable and skillful CM for this next cycle next to Bradley.  I'm know a lot of experts are worried about how to deploy JJ with Bradley and Edu in the mix.  For me, he is a clear step up from Edu, therefore he starts.

Against Poland, Bob Bradley played what appeared to be a very fashionable 4-2-3-1.  Holden and Feilhaber were the attacking wings with Dempsey tucked in below the lone striker, Jozy.  We created quite a few chances including JJ's beautiful left-footed pass over the top to Jozy, which was coolly slotted home.  Jozy did miss a couple more good opportunities however, which should serve to remind us again how much he still has to learn, attitude included.  Dempsey and Holden were particularly solid on this day.  Back to JJ - he was clearly comfortable both on the ball and defensively which allows the wings to stay wide and the forwards to stay, well, forward.  His field vision and distribution is inarguably much better than Edu and probably even Bradley.  Again, I don't think there is much debate here.  He should start in every major game we have until he can't play anymore (or he begins showing some crazy cancerous attitude or something unforeseen like that).  Hopefully it lasts through the next WC, when he'll be 32.

Against Colombia, Bradley decided to experiment with a 4-3-3.  It was horrendous.  JJ, Bradley and Edu cannot all play at the same time.  I'm not expert on football formations, but when Chelsea uses a 4-3-3, they at least have one primarily offensive midfielder, like Lampard in there with Essien and/or Mikel stationed behind him.  Our 3 were all more apt to be defensive minded and tried to occupy the same space in the middle.  It was ugly.  And boring.  It wasn't until Bob went back to a 4-4-2 in the 2nd half that our attack improved.  Other observations: Eddie Johnson's best move is to receive a ball with his back to the goal and dribble expertly backwards.  He's terrible.  I'm tired of watching him.  Brek Shea wasn't as useless as so many writers thought.  I'd have no problem giving him another look - definitely January camp.  Eric Lichaj is likely the future at RB.  Spector plays hard, but he's just too slow to defend the flank.

Since we probably won't see the full squad again until maybe even March, here's another starting lineup, as if there hasn't been enough this year.

I like the 4-2-3-1.  Best XI if we played Mexico tomorrow:

Gooch just looks rusty and hesitant still.  Bornstein can perhaps make an argument to start but Aston Villa seem to like Lichaj, so I do too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NFL Week 5 Predictions / Record

Jags at Bills - The stage is set for a great game from Mojo.
Buccaneers at Bengals - Benson finally breaks out this season.  X
Falcons at Browns - Last week's 49ers scare helps Falcons refocus.
Rams at Lions - Shaun Hill out duels Bradford for Lions' first win.
Chiefs at Colts - No team will even reach 4-0 this year since the Colts are ticked after losing to Jags.
Packers at Redskins - GB will regret not dealing for Marshawn Lynch, but not this game.  X
Bears at Panthers - With Cutler out, this contest is up in the air.  Bears by a hair.
Broncos at Ravens - Ravens secondary slow down Orton's newfound air attack.
Giants at Texans - Houston surprisingly dominates NY on both sides of the ball and blow them out.  X
Saints at Cardinals - Hmm, Drew Brees vs Max Hall.  Who should I pick?  X
Titans at Cowboys - After bye, Romo and the boys kick it into gear.  X
Chargers at Raiders - Oakland can't keep up with Rivers.  X
Eagles at 49ers - Defense plays well at home.  49ers reel off 3 in a row from here.  X
Vikings at Jets - Favre will make darn sure that Moss has a TD and the jacked up Vikes steal this one.  X

Week 5 Record: 6-8

Season Record: 43-33

Friday, October 8, 2010

SF Giants in the playoffs!

After a 7 year drought, the Giants finally made the playoffs, just edging the Padres even though they were down 6.5 games at one point in late August.  The NL West crown came down to the last 3 game series vs SD with the title and a playoff spot was finally secured on the last day.

Game 1 vs the Braves was the best debut for a pitcher ever.  Tim Lincecum threw a 14 strikeout, 2 hitter complete game.  Overall, though the Phillies are the easy favorite to win it all, I think the Giants' are the only team to pose a real threat in the NL because of their dominant starting rotation.  Why not?  Maybe these Giants will be the 2nd team of mine to ever win a championship for me (while I was a fan).  [The niners being the other].

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ryder Cup, love it, hate it

The Ryder Cup is my favorite golf event, if we win.  Its my least favorite when we lose.  When you see a grown man like Hunter Mahan cry after losing the pivotal anchor match, you know what it means.  After losing 5.5 points out of a possible 6 in the 3rd round to go down 9.5 to 6.5, the deficit was just too much to overcome.  And definitely not worth blaming Mahan for.

Can't wait for 2012.

I find it interesting that the Europeans are so passionate about winning, even though they're actually representing an entire continent.  You'd never see Americans get all worked up about playing for North America.  Ha!  Actually, I'd find it a little embarrassing that you'd have to resort to rooting for your local rival.  Anyway, its also interesting that we also play the President's Cup every off year, which is essentially US vs the non-european countries.  I guess world citizens everywhere just all bond over trying to beat USA.  Personally, I'd like it better if we combined the tournaments into a US vs Everyone else.  Or maybe each country can have a group of 4 and play a tournament that way.  We'll call it the World Cup.

NFL Week 4 Predictions / Results

49ers at Falcons - New OC opens things up for SF, and Atlanta suffers letdown after big win.  X
Jets at Bills - Bills ownership not trying to win, neither will the players.
Bengals at Browns - Cincy defense dominates the day.  X
Lions at Packers - Rodgers runs up the score after last week's frustrating loss.
Broncos at Titans - Titans are surprisingly emerging as force to be reckoned with.  X
Seahawks at Rams - I'm pulling for the Rams so badly.  X
Panthers at Saints - Poor Panthers will suffer Brees' wrath.
Ravens at Steelers - Steelers can't possibly go 4-0 without Big Ben, can they?
Texans at Raiders - Embarrassed Texans take it out on Cable's crew.
Colts at Jaguars - The Jags would've been better off drafting Tebow and handing him the keys.  X
Redskins at Eagles - Marquee matchup of the week.  McNabb gets booed, Vick gets the W.  X
Cardinals at Chargers - Rivers will throw till his arm falls off.  They win in blowout.
Bears at Giants - Giants rebound from 1-2 start and bring the sky high Bears back down to earth.
Patriots at Dolphins - Patriots defense gets gashed by Dolphin running game.  X

Week 4 Record: 7-7

Season Record: 37-25