This week, I was welcomed with open arms to Sports Muze’s “Three-Point Play,” a video podcast where three different sports topics are discussed. In this particular podcast, we debated our varying predictions for the upcoming NBA Playoffs, we outlined which teams surprised us so far in the young MLB season, and we analyzed Ozzie Guillen’s controversial comments on Fidel Castro.
This is hopefully the first of many Three-Point Plays for me, and I hope you enjoy it!!
Thanks for listening!!
Three-Point Play (Sports Muze and Sam’s Sports Brief)
By Sam Brief
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, I would love to know what YOU think about these various topics!
The day that a man was accused of plotting a terror attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon, the day that The Supreme Court was asked to rule on health care, the day that Tom Brady (finally!) cut his hair?
What will 9/28/11 be remembered for?
Because last night was arguably the greatest night in baseball history.
Going in to the night, the Braves and Cardinals were tied for the NL Wild Card spot. Also, the Red Sox and
The Braves started off strong against the Phillies, the good feeling would not last long, though.
Rays were tied for the AL Wild Card spot.
The Braves were playing at home against the Phillies. The Cardinals were in Houston against the Astros.
The Rays were playing at home against the Yankees. The Red Sox were playing in Baltimore against the Orioles.
And the rest was up to fate, here’s what happened next:
7:10- The first pitches in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore were thrown.
7:19- Ryan Howard hits a double to put the Phillies up, 1-0.
7:21- Yankees go up on Rays, 1-0 after Curtis Granderson scores on an error by Ben Zobrist.
7:27- Chipper Jones hits a sacrifice fly, which ties the Braves with Philly, 1-1.
The excitement after just 17 minutes was unbelievable.
7:49- Dustin Pedroia hits a single, to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead on the Orioles.
7:54- Mark Teixeira hits a grand slam to left field to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead on the Rays.
After that dagger, all hope seemed to be lost in Tampa.
8:03- Dan Uggla hits a 3-run home run to give the Braves a 3-1 lead over the Phillies.
After a grand slam which extended the Yankees lead to 5-0, things in Tampa weren't so joyous.
8:06- J.J. Hardy hits a 2-run homer to put the Orioles up on the Red Sox, 2-1.
8:06- The first pitch in Houston is thrown for the Cardinals-Astros game.
8:20- Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon balks, which sends Marco Scutaro home, which tied the game, 1-1.
8:24- Nick Punto singles for the Cardinals, which caps off a 5-run inning for St. Louis.
8:35- Mark Teixeria hits his second home run of the game to give the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
Then, all hope was certainly lost for the Rays.
8:36- A Dustin Pedroia homer gives the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
Then, the Red Sox surely would win the AL Wild Card.
8:52- Andruw Jones hits a solo home run to give the Yankees a 7-0 lead.
9:07- A Jack Wilson error leads to a Phillies run, which cuts the Braves’ lead to 3-2.
9:07- At this point, the Cardinals are leading, 7-0.
In Atlanta, nerves were running high. Sweat was dripping down players’ and fans’ backs, and it was
The Red Sox looked sharp in the beginning against the Orioles. Like the Braves, though, this feeling would not last very long.
almost time to panic.
9:34- A rain delay in Baltimore pauses the game.
9:56- Chase Utley hits a sacrifice fly, scores Pete Orr, and now the game is tied.
Then, panic in Atlanta was at an all-time high.
10:11- Atlanta’s Jack Wilson strikes out in the bottom of the 9th a man on third.
Blew a chance at a win. Once again.
10:17- A Bases-loaded walk puts the Rays on the scoreboard and the score is now 7-1 Yankees.
10:18- Allen Craig hits a home run to seal the deal as the Cardinals defeat the Astros, 8-0.
The Braves now needed to win to make it another day.
10:23- Evan Longoria hits a 3-run home run to bring the score to 7-6 Yankees.
The Cardinals dominated the Astros, 8-0, and then watched in the clubhouse as the Braves completed their collapse.
The Rays then had a new life.
10:33- Chipper Jones hits a deep fly ball in what looks like a game-winning hit, but Michael Martinez makes an
amazing catch to rob him. The score remains 3-3 in the 11th inning.
10:47- With a 2-2 count, 2 outs, down to their last pitch of the season, pinch hitter Dan Johnson hits a home run for the Rays to tie the game, 7-7.
The Rays then had a new(er) life.
10:58- The Red Sox- Orioles game resumes in the bottom of the 7th.
11:18- Boston’s Marco Scutaro is running home, barely gets tagged out at the plate, and the Red Sox lead remains 3-2.
11:28- Hunter Pence hits a blooper into right field to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.
It is now complete: After the Braves lost, their season was over. This capped off the second-worst collapse in MLB history.
The Braves were now 3 outs away from completing one of the most epic collapses in MLB history.
11:40- The Braves’ Freddie Freeman grounds into a game-ending double play, the Braves lose, 4-3.
The Cardinals were now in the playoffs. Their comeback and Braves collapse was now complete.
The NL Wild Card race is now over.
11:59- With a man on second, Baltimore’s Nolan Reimold hits a double to tie the game, 3-3 in the bottom of the
12:02- Only 3 minutes later, Robert Andino hits a single to left field to bring Reimold home. The Orioles had now won, 4-3.
The Red Sox walked off the field, heads hung low, the entire city of
It's over: The Red Sox season abruptly ended after blowing a 3-2 lead in Baltimore. 3 minutes later, the Rays won to put the cap on the AL Wild Card race to end the biggest collapse in MLB history.
Boston scowling at them fiercely. After building a stellar all-star lineup during the offseason, they had let the entire city of Boston down.
12:05- Only 3 minutes after the Red Sox walked into the clubhouse, they watched as Evan Longoria hit a walk-off home run to seal the deal. The Rays had defeated the Yankees, 8-7 in a miracle comeback.
The Rays were down 9 games in the Wild Card, they were down 7-0 in this game, heck, they were down to their last strike, but they just wanted it so badly.
After what many are calling the greatest night in MLB history, the Red Sox and Braves have completed the 1st and 2nd biggest collapses in MLB history.
On the other side, the Rays and Cardinals have come back from down 9 games (Rays) and down 8.5 games
Go crazy: Just like that, the Rays were in the playoffs after an Evan Longoria walk-off home run.
(Cardinals), to pull of miracle comebacks.
On September 1st, the Rays had a 1 in 278 million chance of making the playoffs.
This week is my favorite week of the entire 2011 MLB regular season. And it was for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and every year since I started watching baseball.
Simply, these races are so exciting, so exhilarating, so mind-boggling, and so…good that I just can’t
Collapse: The Red Sox are playing terribly in September, and are on the verge of blowing their 9 game wild card lead. As of now, the Red Sox would not make the playoffs.
stop talking about them.
As of today, the Braves lead the Cardinals by 1 game in the NL wild card race, and the Red Sox and Rays are tied in the AL wild card race.
There is a reason why I mentioned the NL race before the AL one. Over the past week, all of the talk has been about the Red Sox collapse, how they were winning their division on September 1st, and now are in danger of missing the playoffs. How, on September 2nd, they held a 9 game wild-card lead that is now a tie. How they are 6-19 in September, how the Rays are breathing down their backs with a strong September (15-10). If the season ended tonight, the Rays would win the AL wild card, and make the playoffs. Even though it is a tie, because of head-to-head play, the Rays have the advantage.
This gets all of the attention.
Disappointment in Atlanta: The Braves are on the verge of blowing an 8.5 game wild-card lead, and it
On the other side, on September 1st, the Braves lead the Cardinals by 8.5 games for the NL wild card. The Braves then went 9-16 in September, and the Cardinals went 16-8 in September to cut the Braves’ lead to 1 game.
I do understand that the Red Sox collapse is probably greater than the Braves collapse but still, how come no one at all talks about the Braves-Cardinals race?
My guess is that it is because there is more interest in the Red Sox, who are often more scrutinized, than the Braves. This is why ESPN talks about the AL Wild Card race for 5 minutes, and the NL race for 30 seconds.
Recently, there has been unnecessary amounts of chatter regarding MLB playoff realignment. The proposal is that instead of there being 1 wild card spot for each league, there be 2 wild card spots for each league.
Right now the Rays are tied with the Red Sox, and the Cardinals are 1 game back of the Braves. Everyone is talking about these tight races, and there are tons of excitement around the nation
Pumping up the crowd: B.J. Upton the Rays are electrifying the MLB with a strong September. The Rays are now tied with the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race.
regarding this situation. I don’t know if there has been anytime all season than what is unfolding currently as I write.
If this proposed playoff realignment goes through, then the current situation would look like this:
All of the divisions would be clinched, and Red Sox and Rays would both have clinched a Wild Card spot, so the AL race would be non-existent. The Braves and Cardinals would have clinched their Wild Card spots and, because all of the NL divisions have been clinched, the games would be flat, and have no meaning. No one would be talking about the MLB playoffs because all of the divisions are clinched, and if the Wild Card race isn’t gripping, there is nothing to talk about. The last few weeks of the 2011 MLB season would just be boring, dull, and tedious.
Sleeping on the job: Do you want MLB games to look like this at the end of the year? So, don
So, then why would the MLB discard the amazing thrill and unbelievable races that having only 1 wild card spot provides?
The last week of the MLB season would go from the most action-packed week of the season to the least.
In other words, the last week of the MLB season would go from the best of times to the worst of times.
Hi! On Wednesday, I introduced a new segment on the blog, called The Weekly Word. This is where YOU send me your questions (with name and location), and I will answer them every week on The Weekly Word. Here is my first go-round:
Tom B. (North Carolina)-
Who will be in the Super Bowl, and who will win?
I think that from the AFC, the Jets will go to the Super Bowl. They looked really good in the first two weeks. A comeback victory against the Cowboys showed their ability to win tight games, which was also displayed last year by the “Cardiac Jets.” Today, they blew out the Jaguars, and I think their
Saints fans saw this image after Super Bowl 44, and can expect to see it again after Super Bowl 46.
amazing defense mixed with a solid offense and the key offseason addition of Plaxico Burress can propel them to the Super Bowl. From the NFC, I’m going to go with the Saints. They have looked sharp in their first two games, and even though their defense was terrible against Green Bay, they were great against the Bears. Also, in the second half against the Packers, they really picked up their game. Any team with Drew Brees taking snaps is a contender, and Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram are great additions to their offense. Expect Jets vs. Saints in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI. Also expect the Saints to win, their overall balance and experience will serve them well on their road to a second championship in the past 3 years.
What’s your take on all of the week 1 injuries in the NFL?
Simply, many of the players a just out of shape. After the lockout, many players were not in top shape, and this led to injures. A decrease of physical activity leads to an increase in proneness to injury.
Rams running back Steven Jackson highlighted the unusually extensive week 1 injury report.
Many, many players got injuries week 1 and there were almost as many week 2, including season-ending injuries to Jamaal Charles and Nick Collins. In the words of Reggie Williams, “In this game all you need is speed, strength and an ability to recognize pain immediately.” Well, the speed, strength, and ability of players to recognize pain was lost during the lockout with a lack of physical activity, and that is why almost 30 players left the field week 1 with injuries.
What are your thoughts on the idea of a pitcher wining both the Cy Young and League MVP?
The idea of this possibly happening with Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander excites me. I am pretty sure that you’re talking about Verlander here. He leads the MLB with a 2.29 ERA, and a whopping 24 wins! Verlander also leads the Majors with 244 strikeouts and an 0.91 WHIP. Now, after all that, how can one
There is no problem with a pitcher who is as good as Justin Verlander winning Cy Young and MVP, and it should happen.
say that he isn’t worthy of winning both AL Cy Young and AL MVP? It doesn’t matter to me if they are a pitcher, shortstop, or right fielder, Justin Verlander is more valuable to his team than any other player in the league, and that is the definition of an MVP.
What are your thoughts on the new kickoff rule in the NFL this year?
I can’t stand the new NFL kickoff rule. By moving kickoffs from the 30 to the 35 yard line, the NFL has almost ruined the single most exciting play in football. Kickoff return studs such as Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs won’t get the chances that they usually get. If you look closely at a game, you will find that most kickoffs nearly go through the goalposts! That should only happen in video games! I know in week 1, there were a few return touchdowns from Randall Cobb, Darren Sproles, and Percy Harvin, but I expect that number to die down drastically given that there is a 34% increase in touchbacks from last year. I find this new kickoff rule just obnoxious, and I hope it doesn’t last too long.
What are your thoughts on the idea of super conferences being prevalent in college football?
I like this idea very much. I think a great proposal would be to have 4, 16-team, super conferences: The
With Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC, the super-conference idea becomes more of a reality.
Pac 12 (or 16), the Big Ten (or 16), the ACC, and the SEC. I would also hope that a total conference realignment would prompt the NCAA to ditch the BCS and introduce a playoff system. I hope that super conferences do become prevalent in college football very soon.
He is no doubt the most underrated player in the MLB today.
He is no doubt the most underrated player in MLB history.
But most of all, he is no doubt the best player in MLB history.
When Ichiro was in Japan, he played out of his mind, and adopted this abnormal hitting style.
I’m not saying this according to statistics or even championships won, I’m saying it based on his mad skills.
Ichiro Suzuki came into the MLB in 2001 from Japan, where he played for the Orix Blue Wave, and dominated other Japanese teams. He also adopted a very different and controversial hitting style.
In 2001, he decided he wanted to take his talents to America, and see how he would do against Major League pitching. Many MLB teams though, said that he is to wiry and will not fit the style of power hitting. They doubted Ichiro and didn’t want him.
The Japanese owned Seattle Mariners decided to sign him in 2001 as a part of an effort to bring more attendance among Asian-Americans to their games.
In 2000, the year before the Mariners signed Ichiro, they were 91-71. In 2001, Ichiro’s first year on the team, they were 116-46, tying the 1906 Chicago Cubs for an MLB record for most wins in a season.
In the same season, Ichiro became the second player in MLB history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year (Fred Lynn, 1975). Not only was he the best rookie in the American League (AL), but he was the AL’s best player! In that season, Ichiro proved all of the scouts who said that he could not hit American pitching wrong. He hit an astounding .350 with 242 hits.
Ichiro also electrified the league in 2 other ways: base running and fielding.
In 2001, he recorded 56 stolen bases, more than he had gotten in any season in Japan. It’s not just that statistic, though. Ichiro exhilarated fans with
One of Suzuki
the fact that he would always get 1 more base than what was thought. A simple ground ball to the shortstop that would get anyone else out, Ichiro would get to 1st base safely. Running around the bases with wild speed is one of Suzuki’s specialties.
Also, there is his fielding. In 2002, Ichiro posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, a rare feat, no errors at all what so ever. Again, it wasn’t just the statistic. It was how he would throw laser beams from right field to 3rd base with no bounce. How he would make diving catches and rob home runs, while making it look unbelievably easy.
Ichiro Suzuki is just plain special.
So far, in each year of his career, Ichiro has won the Golden Glove. He is a 10 time All-Star. He has both the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP awards under his belt. He is a 2 time AL Batting Champion. He is a 3 time Silver Slugger Award winner. He holds a single season MLB record for hits in a season (262, in 2004). He holds an AL record for consecutive stolen bases (45).
The list goes on and on… and on… and on.
Ichiro Suzuki is just supernatural.
People may look at 2 reasons why he isn’t the best player of all-time: his stats and his team’s performance.
Let’s start with the stats. Ichiro’s stats are great, not best player of all-time great, but they are amazing. I mean, if 2,373 hits, 401 stolen bases, and a career batting average of .320 in the Majors isn’t enough for you, I don’t know what is. Now, as I said before, these stats aren’t stats of the best player in MLB history. So right now you might be convinced that he’s not the greatest in MLB history, but he still is.
We’re forgetting that Ichiro played 7 years in Japan before coming to the MLB. In those 7 years, he bat .359 with 1242 hits and 196 stolen bases.
If we compare Ichiro’s hit total with Pete Rose’s (which is the most hits of all-time), we can see that in the MLB, Rose has 4,256 hits compared to Ichiro’s 2,373.
Again, you are most likely thinking that Ichiro is not nearly as good as Pete Rose.
If Ichiro started playing for the Mariners at age 22, which is when Rose started playing. Based on statical analysis done by ESPN, Ichiro would have averaged 200 hits per season during his first 5 years in the Majors, if he wasn’t playing in Japan.
That would mean that now, at age 37, Ichiro would have had 3,575 hits. When Pete Rose was 37, he had 3,164 hits. Now, I don’t know if Ichiro will finish his career as strong as Rose finished his, but to this point, Ichiro is better. If you had to pick one player in the world to beat Rose’s record, this is the guy to pick.
Another reason why Ichiro Suzuki is the best player in MLB history.
The second reason why people would disagree with me is that he has not led Seattle to any World Series Titles, nor have the Mariners done great during the Ichiro era.
Once again, think again.
In the 10 seasons before Ichiro came to Seattle, the Mariners had a winning percentage of .500. In the 10 seasons during Suzuki’s reign they have a winning percentage of that improved by almost .200 from the previous 10 years. He has helped his team to improve. Also, as I said earlier, in his first season with Seattle, his impact was heard right away, as Seattle won an MLB record 116 games. A lack of postseason success may be the only blemish on
He is the symbol of struggle and misery for Cubs fans all over the world. He has recieved numerous death threats. He is the single most hated man in Chicago today.
But Steve Bartman deserves absolutely none of this.
In 1945, Billy Sianis placed a curse on the Cubs after they prohibited him from allowing to take his goat into the stadium. Sianis said, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." The Cubs haven't been to the World Series since.
October 14, 2003: The Cubs are one victory away from winning the NLCS over the Florida Marlins and advancing to their first World Series since 1945. The entire city of Chicago was buzzing with nerves and excitement. This was perhaps the biggest game for the Cubs in more than 60 years.
In the top of the 8th inning, the Cubs were leading 3-0 and it looked like they were going to win. Louis Castillo hit a foul ball to left field.
Moises Alou was pursuing the ball and he was going to catch it, the Cubs would win the game, go to the World Series and win for the first time since 1908. The whole city of Chicago would rejoice, and the Cubs would be the champions of the world.
Then, a fan, Steve Bartman went for the ball, deflected it, and Alou didn’t make the catch.
The Cubs then went on a collapse, allowing 8 runs in the inning.
During the 8th inning collapse, there was an error on a ground ball by shortstop Alex Gonzalez, which, if he made the play, would have ended the inning with the Cubs up 3-1.
Nobody pointed to Gonzalez as the reason why the Cubs lost, though.
Bartman was escorted out of the stadium while getting bottles thrown at him and angry fans screaming at him.
The Cubs lost the game 8-3, and eventually, the series.
Bartman was now public enemy #1.
He didn’t deserve to, though.
First of all, any fan’s reaction when they see a ball going toward them is to try and catch it. Bartman wasn’t looking at Alou and whether Alou would catch it, his eyes were simply trained on the ball and he tried to catch it.
Steve Bartman reached for the ball, and deflected it out of Moises Alou's reach. We learned an important lesson from this, "Be careful what you reach for."
If you look at the footage of the play, you can see that about 4 fans go for the ball. Anyone of them could have touched the ball, it just happened to be Bartman.
The fact that the Cubs lost the game isn’t Bartman’s fault, it’s the Cubs’ fault.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T give up 8 runs in an inning.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T make an error on a play that could have ended the inning.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T lose game 7 to the Marlins.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T affect the Cubs’ chances to make it to the World Series.
Steve Bartman IS 0% responsible for the Cubs not making it to the World Series.
Even today, Bartman remains as the scapegoat to Cubs fans all over the world, people just over-exaggerated the play, and didn’t look at the big picture.
In fact, in 2008, the Associated Press quoted Alou saying, (In reference to the Bartman play) “You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn’t have caught it anyway.”
Even Alou knows that it wasn’t Bartman’s fault. He later said “It’s time to forgive the guy (Bartman) and move on.”
Following the incident, the Cubs released this statement:
“The Chicago Cubs would like to thank our fans for their tremendous outpouring of support this year. We are very grateful. We
would also like to remind everyone that games are decided by what happens on the playing field — not in the stands. It is inaccurate and unfair to suggest that an individual fan is responsible for the events that transpired in Game 6. He did what every fan who comes to the ballpark tries to do — catch a foul ball in the stands. That’s one of the things that makes baseball the special sport that it is. This was an exciting season and we’re looking forward to working towards an extended run of October baseball at Wrigley Field.”
Even the team itself recognizes that it’s not Bartman’s fault.
The city of Chicago won’t move on until the Cubs win a World Series. Fans just have to realize that the 2003 Chicago Cubs, not
Steve Bartman: The scapegoat of Chicago- but, he shouldn't be.
Steve Bartman, are responsible for them not making the World Series.
He is as honest as ballplayers come these days, and it is finally paying off for Jim Thome.
Last night, in Detroit, Jim Thome hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, the first player ever to do that.
On Monday, Thome became the first player in MLB history to hit both his 599th and 600th home run in the same game.
Thome’s legacy will not completely be about the fact that he hit 600 home runs and is one of the great players to ever step on the baseball diamond. People will remember him as one of the nicest, most genuine, and most honest players to ever step on the baseball diamond. Even though Thome played in the midst of the PED era, I think there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Thome passed on the ‘roids. He is as clean and as honest as they come.
In addition for his honesty, Thome is known around the MLB as one of the nicest, kindest players in the big leagues. In May, Sports Illustrated conducted a survey, asking 290 MLB players who they thought the nicest player in baseball was.
Jim Thome got more votes than any other player, taking 21% of the vote. 2nd place was Phillies OF Raúl Ibañaz, with only 7% of the vote. This shows that Thome definitely gets the recognition he deserves.
Indian religions believe in the concept of “karma.” This says that when you do a good deed, good things happen to you, and when you commit a sin, bad things happen to you. Karma definitely applies in this situation. Jim Thome definitely deserves reaching this feat, because though acts of kindness and honesty, he powered through and hit number 600. Even though he is at the unripe age of 40, he still got the feat of 600 home runs past him.
President Abraham Lincoln was once known as “Honest Abe” due to him being a truly honest President in a world of corruption and dishonesty. This relates to Thome, because in the world of baseball, with steroids and plenty of dishonesty, Thome remains clean and honest. He is one of just a few bright spots in an otherwise murky world of
Jim Thome always has a smile on his face, and puts one on everybody around him.
Thome is now complete; he is one of the best power hitters of his time, with every one of his accomplishments without the influence of steroids, and all while keeping a smile on his face, and putting one on everyone around him.
Abe Lincoln sure was an honest guy, but we can forget about honest Abe, because now, it’s all about honest Jim.