Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting the Job Done

Congratulations to the Giants and the A's for winning Game 3. After watching the games today, I feel like they both actually have a shot to win their respective series.

The Giants have Game 4 tomorrow. Barry Zito's starting, and although most fans grimace when they hear that Barry Zito is starting, Zito has been pretty good this season. The Giants have won the last 11 games he's started, which is pretty impressive. Some of that has to be attributed to luck, but Zito has been better than his average Giants self. Plus, the Reds do not even know who's pitching tomorrow. Cueto's injury still looms large, Latos is ill, Bailey and Arroyo can't pitch on such short rest, and bringing in Mike Leake would cause Cueto to not be able to play in the next series. The Reds could very likely send a reliever or an ill Mat Latos out to start tomorrow, which would definitely give the Giants the edge. The Giants have to take this one game at a time and produce. Today's game wasn't production: we won the game on an error. Tomorrow, we need some offensive production. Winning Game 4 is of the utmost importance. It's win or go home.

The A's are in a good spot as well. AJ Griffin is starting tomorrow against Detroit's Max Scherzer. Griffin has dazzled this season and this will be his most important start of his young career. The A's need to continue to master the subtle facets of the game to win. They need good defense and good pitching and the offense will come naturally. They need to ride the raucous Coliseum crowd to a victory. There's not much else to say. They're at home and they quite simply need to win.

Both our teams gave us a scare after the weekend, but they're both in a good spot for tomorrow. And if both can pull of a victory tomorrow, we're looking at the possibility of both of them advancing. Bay Area baseball is at its finest right now.

And we need our teams to WIN!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Home-Field Advantage?

Unfortunately, I have been super busy the last few weeks and haven't been able to post frequently. But now, the NFL season is well into gear and the MLB Playoffs are underway. Stay tuned for frequent posts.

Now, for the real reason behind this post: why on earth do the lower seeded teams in the MLB Playoffs get the first 2 games of the division series at home!?!?!?!?!?!? It makes no sense. The team with the higher record is supposed to "home-field advantage." This year, it's more like home field disadvantage!!!

The Giants got lucky. As the 3rd seed in the NL, they get to play the first two games of the series at home, which if your team plays at AT&T Park, is definitely an advantage. However, after losing last night's game, the series is going to be very tough to win.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Cardinal Rule (over USC)

On a day in which, mostly anyway, the teams that were supposed to win won, the Stanford Cardinal pulled off the biggest upset, over #2 ranked USC. The game was by no means a fun game to watch. Neither offense was very productive and it was a defensive slugfest throughout. Stanford QB Josh Nunes struggled mightily at times, bu the defense kept the Cardinal in the game and gave Nunes a chance to deliver when it mattered. And the result was absolutely spectacular.

The star of the game was undoubtedly Stepfan Taylor. His magnificent 1st half touchdown run in which he juked several would-be tacklers and took it to the house was a thing of beauty. His nimbleness and vision were on display for the entire game. And when Nunes struggled to make throws, Taylor was the one who kept the offense chugging along.

The defense played great as well. In fact, they were the star of the show until Nunes's heroics toward the end of the game. DE Ben Gardner was a terror in the pass rush, sacking Trojan quarterback and Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley on several occasions. DB Terrence Brown kept his composure despite several pass interference calls that went against him and kept the USC receivers, including starts Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, in check for much of the game. Overall, the linebackers wreaked havoc in the pass rush and in short yardage coverage, which helped the Cardinal force Barkley to throw the long ball on many occasions. Although the defense inexplicably gave up a first down conversion on a 4th and 19 that might have crushed the Cardinal's chance of winning, they held tight for the rest of the game to keep alive the upset-in-the-making.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Super Bowl Prediction

So, in my last two posts, I broke down the NFC and AFC and predicted the division standings for each division this season. And, my predictions came down to the Broncos and 49ers in the Super Bowl.

This would be a fascinating matchup if it actually came to fruition. Peyton Manning versus one of the other finalists that desperately wanted him to be their quarterback, the 49ers. I know that the Niners deny reports that they wanted Manning last offseason, but everyone knows that they did.

And if these two teams did indeed meet up, not only would it make a fantastic storyline, but also it would be a great game. The Niners' defense would try to neutralize the Broncos' offense and the Broncos' defense would try to stop the Niners' much improved offense. It would definitely be a defensive battle, and if you like that kind of game, you would be in for a treat.

The game would most definitely come to down to the execution of the offenses. And, in my humble opinion, despite the 49ers' offseason acquisitions, the Broncos' offense is slightly better than the Niners'. Therefore, the Broncos are my pick to win the Super Bowl this year.

That's right, I am picking the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. As long as they can sneak into the playoffs, they have a great shot at winning the whole thing, with their talented defense and their elite quarterback.

Have a great 2012 NFL season and keep visiting the Sports Vibe for opinions on the 49ers, Giants, and the rest of the Bay Area teams.

Friday, September 7, 2012

NFC Preseason Predictions

And I'm back, this time with predictions for the NFC. Here we go:

NFC East:
1. Dallas Cowboys (4)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (5)
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins

In what is probably the toughest division in all of football, I see the Giants falling flat after their Super Bowl season last year. I think the Cowboys will finally be America's darling after a return to form of Tony Romo and the addition of key members to the secondary (Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne). The Eagles will live up to their considerably lesser "Dream Team" hype this season, but Vick's injuries will prevent them from winning the division. The Giants will suffer from Super Bowl hangover and struggle, especially after the losses of Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs, and other key players. Finally, I think the Redskins actually have the potential to surprise some pundits this year but they unfortunately play in a stacked division.

Monday, September 3, 2012

AFC Preseason Predictions

The NFL season is less than a week away so it definitely is time for my annual prediction of NFL division winners. Let's cut straight to the chase:

AFC East: 
1. New England Patriots (1)
2. Buffalo Bills
3. New York Jets
4. Miami Dolphins

We have grown accustomed to seeing the Pats at the top of the division and nothing should change here as their team actually got better in the offseason. The Bills are on the upswing and could be a surprise contender this season in their division and in the wild card. I really like what they've done this offseason, signing Mario Williams, keeping Stevie Johnson, and adding Stephon Gilmore in the draft. The Jets have all kinds of problems at multiple positions bu the most important question for them is at the quarterback position, where Mark Sanchez needs to step it up. Finally, the Dolphins have a young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who has tremendous bust potential in my mind. The Fins will be at the bottom of the division.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dodger's Trade: Season-Ender for Giants?

After the Dodgers completed their blockbuster trade with the Red Sox yesterday, acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto, many have immediately stated the Dodgers would win the West. I'm here to say, hold your horses folks.

Yes, the Dodgers got three star players and Nick Punto, and yes, Adrian Gonzalez did make an immediate impact with his 3-run homer in his first Dodger at-bat, but the Dodgers are by no means suddenly guaranteed to win the West. Things don't happen like that in baseball, where a single player is not that much better than those around him.

Remember that, according to the statistic WAR, Wins Above Replacement, even star players are likely only worth about 4 wins per season above a replacement player. And since the Dodgers have acquired Gonzalez, Beckett, and Crawford well after the halfway point of the season, they can't be worth much more than 1 extra win each. In fact, based on my calculations, since Gonzalez has averaged a WAR of 4.7 over the last two seasons and Crawford has averaged a WAR of 0.3 according to FanGraphs, and since the Dodgers have 34 games left to play this season, which constitutes about 20% of their season remaining, these two players combined will provide a boost of....wait for it...wait for it...1.05 wins. Hooray!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweeping the Dodgers

If (when?) the Giants win the NL West at the end of this season, I will look back at the three game sweep of the Dodgers that took place Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week as the turning point of their season. The Giants just won what probably have been the most important games they've played this season up to this point. I say this for two reasons: 1) it happened against the Dodgers, which increased their lead to 2.5 games in the NL West, and 2) they did it after the suspension of star player Melky Cabrera, when many had written off the Giants for good.

The sweep couldn't have come at a better time. After losing their best player all season and reeling for a couple games afterwards, which cost them the division lead by 1/2 a game, the Giants beat up the Dodgers like a team with something to prove. Backed by three consecutive dominant outings, by Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Cain, and a stellar series by the top of the order (Pagan, Scutaro [who's been a terrific acquisition], and Sandoval [who's stepped in to replace Melky in the #3 spot]), the Giants came in to the Dodger's house and shut them down, allowing only 6 runs in total over the course of three games while scoring 14.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Don't Cry Over Spilled Melk

I'm pretty sure every fan went through the five stages of grief when they heard of Melky Cabrera's suspension.
  1. Denial - "NO WAY!! Melky could not have taken PEDs."
  2. Anger - "C'mon, Melky! Get your head in the game."
  3. Bargaining - "Say it ain't so, Melky."; Appeal the suspension please!!"
  4. Depression - "The Giants are screwed."; "There goes our season."
  5. Acceptance - "Well, we can't cry over spilled Melk. The Giants will just have to take care of this without him."
And that 5th stage is where most Giants fans are at right now. The simple fact of the matter is that the Giants are gonna have to move on without Melky. The pressing question is, how on earth will they be able to do it?

Priority #1: Make sure the pitching doesn't falter. Literally, there is no room for error. Every single starter has to be rock solid. For Lincecum, that means continuing his ascent back to the typical Timmy. For Bumgarner, that means remaining as one of the top lefties in the league. For Cain, that means returning to his pre All-Star Game form after a couple shaky outings. For Vogelsong, that means keeping hishead up after the Nationals game and going out there with a vengeance. For Zito, that means trying to keep up with the rest of the rotation and maybe, just maybe, finding that bit of magic that he had in his first start of the season against the Rockies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dear Melky Cabrera,

You let us down. Big time. You were the heart and soul of this team for literally every game this season.

You captured the hearts of Giants fans everywhere. We changed your first name into all sorts of nicknames in your praise. We dressed up as Melk Men in honor of you. We cheered you on for every game, every at-bat, every moment. We repeatedly checked the stats to make sure your batting average and hits total were still among the league leaders.

We watched as you created many memories for us this season. Most hits in the month of May for a San Francisco Giant. The homer in the All-Star Game that gave you the All-Star Game MVP and capped a historic San Francisco Giant All-Star performance. The numerous multi-hit games that you gave us, day in and day out.

You were the MVP of our team for 117 games. And now, we will miss you for the remaining 45.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Other Sports

The Oympics is unique in that it is the only sporting event in which Americans will ever get the chance to watch sports on TV other than baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, and soccer. So, I've really embraced this chance to get to watch the other sports, the sports we never get to watch other than during the Olympics. And below, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite (and least favorite sports) that have come up in the Olympics that I'd never previously seen. Hopefully you get a chance to watch some of my favorites. Seize this chance during the Olympics, because you will never get a chance to see these sports until Rio 2016.

Favorite: HANDBALL
I've already expressed my love for this sport in another earlier post, but it's time to praise it once more. The game is absolutely enthralling, yet it seems as if anyone could play it. The objective is simple, throw a ball in a goal, but from what I've deduced, players cannot hold the ball for longer than 2 or 3 seconds and can't enter a 2 meter radius crease in front of the goal, so the game features fast-paced movement and throws from players who are airborne with wildly contorted bodies. While watching it, I can't help but think that if the US played this sport, we would completely dominate. If only it was popular in this country. But it's not, so the Olympics are your only chance to get a glimpse of this sport on TV. Seize it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trade Deadline Verdict

The MLB trade deadline officially came to a close today, marking the end of a frenzied period of wheeling and dealing that took over baseball for the last week and a half. And it's time to determine which NL West rival, Giants or Dodgers, made the better moves.

The Dodgers certainly made the bigger splash, acquiring 3B/SS Hanley Ramirez, OF Shane Victorino, and P Brandon League. League is an excellent addition to their bullpen, an area that has been mediocre as far as the Dodgers games that I've seen. Hanley is an excellent upgrade for the left side of the infield, where the Dodgers had not been getting much production out of. And Victorino is a good outfielder, although he's past his prime.

The Giants did not make as big a splash but they did acquire OF Hunter Pence and INF Marco Scutaro. Scutaro represents a nice substitute for Sandoval during Panda's current DL stint. And then, when Pablo returns, Scutaro and Crawford can alternate depending on whether the pitcher is a righty or lefty. Furthermore, Scutaro could be the answer in the leadoff spot, where Blanco and Pagan have struggled to get on base.

Monday, July 30, 2012

10 Things I've Learned from the First Weekend of the Olympics

The Olympics got underway in the wee morning hours of Saturday, so we're a full 3 days into the swing of things and it's been a lot of fun to watch. I've been watching sports that otherwise I would never be able to see, including handball, archery, and field hockey. Here are 10 things that I've learned from the first weekend of the Olympics:

  1. Archery is surprisingly entertaining. You would never think that watching people shoot at targets would be fun, but it actually is, especially in the team competitions. In the men's team archery competition final, the US and Italy were neck and neck for much of the match, the US finally losing by one point. I was on my heels, praying that the last Italian would get an 8, which would have given the US the victory. It was compelling.
  2. All gymnastics events are not created equal. The women's floor exercise is by far the least interesting and the uneven bars is by far the most. On the men's side, parallel bars is the most painful to watch because they keep bruising up their arms. I feel like telling them to stop hurting themselves. The rings are a display of pure strength and it is truly spectacular to see the men hold themselves up in that manner, with no rigid supports.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Introducing the Golden State Oracles...

After originally hearing about the idea that was floating around the NBA that would allow teams to have corporate sponsors advertise directly on team jerseys, my thought was, Yeah right, they'd never do that. But the truth is that the measure has been approved and we could be seeing sponsorships on NBA jerseys within the next couple of years. What's more, jerseys manufactured for retail to customers would also host this patch.

This is terrible news. Yes, sports is a business, but allowing corporate logos on jerseys is flat out desperation for revenue. It totally destroys the purity of a sports jerseys. It is utterly disgusting.

The patch itself is unobtrusive, but this small development in jersey sponsorships will undoubtedly lead toward jerseys without the team name, but rather the sponsor name, just like soccer. To those who've seen the Manchester City jersey before, nowhere on the jersey is the club name, only the name of the sponsor, Etihad. NBA team identity will vanish.

And then there's the issue of overhauling history. There have been so many great players on the Lakers and Celtics, all wearing iconic yellow-and-purple and green-and-white jerseys, and now you're telling me that Kobe Bryant will be wearing a jersey with Budweiser on the front and a tiny Lakers logo in the corner instead of vice-versa?! C'mon NBA!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Go All In, A's

The Giants-A's rivalry has always been a friendly one, unlike the Cubs-White Sox or Angels-Dodgers rivalries, which are full of enmity and hatred between fans of the opposing teams. Therefore, most Giants fans do not hate the Athletics. In fact, lately, in light of the A's recent struggles and the stagnant pace at which their move to San Jose is progressing, Giants fans kind of feel sorry for the A's and their fans.

I am not, of course, totally oblivious to the A's position this season. They are actually sort of good. In a competitive AL wild card race, they're only 1.0 game back for the second wild card spot. Not bad for this point in the season.

So, Yesterday, I thought I'd take a look to see what the A's were all about. I watched the last couple of innings of the A's-Rangers game yesterday. And the A's emerged with a win, capped off by a walkoff homer by Brandon Hicks. Pretty nice, right?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tim Lincecum

I wrote back in April after the Giants extended Matt Cain's contract that I would take Matt Cain over Tim Lincecum any day of the week. And after the first half of the season, both pitchers have made me look like a genius. Lincecum currently is 98th out of 101 qualifying pitchers in the major leagues in ERA with an ERA of 5.93 and is allowing 4.39 walks per 9 innings, 93rd out of 101. Meanwhile, Cain was the All-Star game starter for the NL and has the third best WHIP in the league, at 0.96, compared to Lincecum's 1.52, 96th in the league.

I don't want to bash on Timmy too much because, like all Giants' fans, I want him to bounce back. If Lincecum was to undergo a resurgence, the Giants would be the prohibitive favorite in the NL West and could just as well rank as one of the top teams in all of baseball.

Lincecum's start against the Astros on Saturday was a tremendous first step, a first step in which he went 8 innings, only gave up 5 hits, and struck out 11. But most importantly, he only gave up one walk, which hopefully is indicative that his control is coming back. Of course, he didn't get the decision because of a poor ninth inning by Santiago Casilla (the closer situation for the Giants is another huge issue) and rookie catcher Hector Sanchez, but the point is that Lincecum pitched with control, used pitches economically, and went deep into a game whilst giving up no runs. If Lincecum can perform somewhere around this level for the rest of the season, the Giants may very well make a deep playoff run reminiscent of 2010. But you also have to remember that this excellent performance came against the Astros, who many would call the worst team in baseball.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Throwback Unis

I'm watching the Giants-Nationals game right now and I'm thinking off turning it off because of the hideous throwbacks.

Just kidding, I would never turn off a Giants game. But the uniforms are terrible. The red socks that are a part of the Giants' ensemble clash with the overall gray appearance of the rest of the uni. Furthermore, the white cap shines in stark contrast with the rest of the dull jersey. I don't understand it.

The Nats' jerseys are even worse. They seem totally devoid of color, like they've been bleached or something. the only lettering on the uni is a capital 'W' in what is quite possibly the most boring font ever.

Don't get me wrong, usually I love throwbacks. I cherish the Broncos' yellow and brown uniforms and I do enjoy the Eagles' yellow and blue jerseys. But, there is a line when it comes to baseball throwbacks. And the Giants and Nationals have crossed it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"It was a team effort... and it turned out perfect."

In quite literally the best-pitched ballgame I have ever seen, Matt Cain threw the 1st ever perfect game in Giants franchise history on Wednesday night. It was so special. Right from the get go, Cain was rolling, and it slowly began to cross every Giants fan's mind, Cain was about to pull it off.

I have grown accustomed to the pitching prowess of the San Francisco Giants, so much so that as I watch the first inning game of every game unfold, I am always thinking no-hitter. Until the opposing team gets a hit, I'm thinking no-hitter. When Matt Cain pitched against the Pirates last month, I believe it was, in the game where the only hit he allowed was a single to opposing pitcher James Harrison, I was thinking no-hitter up until that point. Even in Tim Lincecum's starts this season,from the moment he steps on the mound until he gives up that single to the leadoff batter, I am always thinking no-hitter.

Never has my thought process paid off in such a grand manner.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Ignorant Fan's Soccer Enlightenment

It has been well documented on this blog that my two least favorite sports to watch are basketball (because they score too much) and soccer (because they score too little). However, with the NBA Finals looming, I will be exposed to more basketball than I ever wanted to be exposed to on ESPN and other sports news sources. My reprieve from all this hoops: Euro 2012, ironically.

I have watched at least 10 minutes of every match, including a few which I watched for the entirety, and despite my initial thoughts of this is boring, they keep passing, I have come to enjoy the tournament. I'm not a seasoned soccer fan by any means, but I do enjoy watching the Dutch finesse, the Ukrainian fervor, and the Russian attack, although I have absolutely no idea if these traits are trademarks of these nations or if I just seem to have picked up on the wrong things. Either way, I enjoy this new sport.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The New Giants Outfield and Other Thoughts

Thoughts on the season so far for the San Francisco Giants....
  • I cannot say enough about how the Giants struck gold with their new outfield (Melky, Pagan, and Blanco). Let's start with the star in left field, Melky Cabrera. Melky Cabrera is the hottest hitter in the NL, with 51 hits in May, tying the Giants record for hits in a month that Randy Winn set back when he was a big part of the team. Melky has totally revitalized the lineup. The Giants' 3-4-5 spot with Cabrera, Buster Posey, and Angel Pagan, actually strikes fear into opposing pitchers' hearts. Cabrera has also instantly become a fan favorite. The Melk Men who roam AT&T Park are awesome and nearly every fan loves to watch Melky swing the bat.
  • Moving to center field, Angel Pagan has also stolen the hearts of Giants' fans. With his excellent defense and consistency behind the plate, he has been a constant presence on the field and in the batter's box. After moving out of the leadoff spot to make room for Gregor Blanco, he has added another layer of solidity behind Buster Posey as the #5 hitter in the lineup to create a great 3-4-5 punch. He has also set a record of his own, with a 25-game home hitting streak, a Giants record.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Warriors Move to SF

I don't always blog about basketball, but when I do, it's about something as important as the relocation of the Golden State Warriors.

After owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber told fans exactly what they've known for two days now, it is now official that the Warriors are planning a move to a brand new waterfront arena near AT&T Park on the San Francisco Pier after their Oracle Arena lease ends in 2017.

This comes as no surprise to anyone. When Lacob and Guber bought the team, immediate speculation about a possible move to SF created some buzz. What I'm more interested in is if this move will spark a mass exodus out of Oakland. The Oakland A's have long been pursuing a new stadium in nearby San Jose. The Raiders have been linked to a possible move to Los Angeles, and even if that doesn't happen, everyone knows they want a new stadium.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Melk Man y El Caballo Loco

After last season, it was clear that the Giants needed offense. Brian Sabean knew this, and he made two major moves to bolster a pitiful lineup by trading Jonathan Sanchez to the Royals for Melky Cabrera and trading Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez to the Mets for Angel Pagan. Needless to say, both have been absolutely tremendous acquisitions.

Pagan has been a solid leadoff hitter, with a respectable OBP of .308 and an OPS of .753. But those stats don't tell the whole story. Personally, my favorite part of Pagan's all-round game is his work ethic. He constantly tries to outrace infield rollers and choppers, something that many pro baseball players don't bother to do anymore. While patrolling the outfield, Pagan almost always makes each catch with two hands to secure the ball, another thing many big leaguers neglect to do. These and other subtle facets of Pagan's game make him one of the better leadoff men in the league.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Giants Update

This is generally a high point in the sports calendar with the NBA playoffs and NHL playoffs underway and the baseball season well into the grind of things. However, for me, this has been one of the slowest times of the year, just like February. As many of you already know, the NBA is not my sport. And since the Sharks are out of the NHL playoff race a little earlier than I anticipated, I'm not following hockey that closely either.

And that leaves me with baseball, which I've been following as closely as a human possibly can. I've tried to catch at least the first and last innings of every Giants game and have watched quite a few in their entirety so I am well versed as to how the Giants season is going. And I'm here to tell you it's going just alright.

The Giants offense had been producing for much of the start of the season but their bats have cooled off lately, with the exception of Angel Pagan's, who has a nice solid hitting streak going that is enough to make many of us forget about the loss of Pablo Sandoval. But, all in all, the last few games, ever since the series against Miami where San Francisco was swept, the bats have been pretty stagnant. Some of it has to do with opposing pitching, but the Giants bats have just seemed less impressive as a whole.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

AJ Jenkins??

To be totally honest, I had never heard of AJ Jenkins before in my life until the 49ers drafted him with the 30th overall pick and made him their #1 draft pick this year. Granted, I don't watch a lot of Big 10 football, but Jenkins was never mentioned in any mock draft I have read or any related draft article on the internet. I had absolutely no clue about this guy.

Turns out that Jenkins is a good receiver with above average hands and quick feet. However, he does not possess a powerful frame that you would look for in a #1 receiver.

Even though I'm not too thrilled about this pick (I really wanted San Francisco to move up and take David DeCastro or at least grab Cordy Glenn at their spot), I don't doubt that the 49ers made the best decision for themselves. After seeing how Aldon Smith panned out last season after many criticized his selection, I have a new level of respect for Trent Baalke and the 49ers front office. If they selected AJ Jenkins, they truly believe that he can be their franchise changing wide receiver.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who's Out After Sharks Collapse

Remember how my last post was about how the Sharks stole Game 1 of their series. Well, they couldn't manage to steal another. In what is possible one of the worst playoff exits in recent memory for San Jose fans, the Sharks played terrible hockey and ended up losing the series without winning another game. They couldn't hold their 1-0 lead in the 3rd period in Game 5 and went on to lose in regulation, with Niemi surrendering two goals in the last 7 minutes of the game.

With the sharks playoff failure in mind, the question now falls to the front office management: who's out? A disappointing playoff exit such as this one always brings about buzz that a star player or coach is about to leave the team. Who will it be?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sharks Steal One in St. Louis

The Sharks were outplayed, outfought, outgunned, outhustled, and overall out-hockeyed for a little more than 4 periods Thursday but still managed to steal the game in the 2nd overtime on a beautiful goal from the slot by Martin Havlat. The Sharks were totally overwhelmed with the Blues' defense and fast break offense throughout the game but they held strong behind a monumental effort by goaltender Antti Niemi, who basically kept the Sharks in the game during the 1st overtime and much of the entire match.

The game was a grinding, low-scoring one, and I will be one of many to tell you that the Sharks did not look good. But the important thing is that they got the win, which is the only thing that really matters in the playoffs.

Good teams play well most of the time and win most of their games, great teams win even when they are not on top of their game. Now, that doesn't mean great teams don't play well, and that also doesn't mean I'm calling the Sharks an elite team. They are not one, at least not this season. What I am saying is that if the Sharks want to make a Stanley Cup run this postseason, they have to win games where they struggle in addition to games where they dominate. You're not always going to play well, but if you win, it doesn't matter.

I'm glad that the Sharks got the win; now they must focus on playing well tomorrow. If they win tomorrow, they clearly will have the upper hand in the series. A loss reduces their series advantage to a slim one at best before returning home to the Shark Tank.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ode to Zito

Since the Giants have the day off today, I feel like it is the perfect time to thank Barry Zito for a game well pitched yesterday. Who would have thought that Zito would get the first Giants win of the season? Who would have thought he was going to pitch a complete game shutout? Who would have thought that he would have a better WHIP than both Lincecum and Cain through their first start? Nobody.

If I told you at the beginning of the season that the Giants would average 6 runs a game through their first four games, you would have called me a liar. Nobody thought that all of a sudden, the Giants' bats would come to life and the Giants' arms would fall asleep. This team's strength is supposed to be the pitching, but pitching quite literally stank throughout the first 3 games. And then Zito starts the 4th game, throws a complete game shutout 4-hitter and turns around our season. And he had this great pitching performance, his best as a Giant, in notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field in Colorado!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The 82nd Game

The San Jose Sharks triumphs and struggles throughout this decade have been well documented by hockey fans everywhere. They have missed the playoffs just once since the 1997-98 season and have won the division outright 6 times in that span, including each season for the past four seasons. They have scored monumental upsets and pulled off blockbuster trades. They won the President's Trophy, which is awarded to the team with the most points in the season in 2008-09, and even made the Western Conference Finals last year, the very cusp of the Stanley Cup finals. However, amidst all this greatness, the San Jose Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup. They have never even been Western Conference Champions. Where does all this greatness go? To waste?

No, but...

The Sharks' nucleus of stars is on the decline. They have perhaps 3 more years in which they will have a legitimate shot at winning with this group of players. They must win soon.

They're lucky to even be in the playoffs right now. This season was an anomaly among all the other great seasons the Sharks have had in the last couple of years. They literally sucked this year. Sharks fans aren't used to this kind of hockey, losing hockey. Nobody is sure why it happened. But speculation is out there. Are their stars too old? Should Todd McLellan be fired? Should Thornton and Marleau be traded? 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gregg Williams Tape

Alright, so I did hear about the Gregg Williams' tape on ESPN today. And I can't say it didn't disturb me. It did. But that's probably mostly because I'm a Niners' fan. And after hearing Gregg Williams instruct his players to target the Achilles' heel of each of San Francisco's skill players, I'm a bit shaken. But not because the speech was so bloodthirsty. Because it was about the Niners. I don't know what our team would've done without Smith at the helm and Gore in the backfield. They probably would've lost. But this story is not about the Niners, it's about the NFL as a whole.

The implications for Williams are great. The audio evidence is pretty damning; he clearly tells his players to target the following players:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Matt Cain vs Tim Lincecum

When the ESPN notification popped up on my phone yesterday alerting me that the Giants had signed Matt Cain to a 6-year, $127.5 million contract, the largest for a right-handed pitcher, I jumped out of my chair and pumped my fist like Tiger Woods does after he sinks a putt. At that moment, I imagined the damage our pitching staff could do if it remained intact. And the Giants took the most important step Monday to keep this staff intact, inking Cain until 2017. This pairs Lincecum and Cain until at least 2013 and sets a precedent for the kind of contract Lincecum should receive when he becomes a free agent. I definitely hope that Tim resigns with the Giants in 2013, but I think that Matt Cain was the more important extension this year. Why? Because Matt Cain is more consistent.

From a quantitative perspective, Lincecum has a better career ERA than Cain (2.98 over 3.35) and about 100 more strikeouts in 50 fewer games. However, Cain has a higher WAR than Lincecum (23.4 over 23.2) and has been far more consistent throughout his career. Lincecum's ERA has fluctuated greatly from season-to-season whereas Cain has stayed with in the ballpark of 3.00 for most of his years. Cain has also had some of the worst run support in the league throughout his career, which accounts for his poor win-loss record. However, Lincecum clearly had the edge in career statistics.

Then why do I prefer Cain?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Niners Dodge a Bullet

In the end, the best course of events happened for the San Francisco 49ers. They signed Alex Smith. That was what they were expected to do after last season, and that is the direction they'll be heading in 2012.

I have to admit, I really wanted Peyton Manning. When word came out that the 49ers were one of the three finalists for Peyton, everyone instantly labeled them the favorites because they had the best team out of the contenders. But when Peyton signed with Broncos yesterday, 49ers nation nearly suffocated. Alex Smith was visiting the Miami Dolphins. we had just been spurned by the Great One himself, Peyton Manning. We were going to have to start Colin Kaepernick. After losing out on Manning and considering our interesting but dangerous situation, I think any fan would've been happy with Alex Smith.

And the 49ers dodged a bullet today when they officially announced the signing of Alex. I am overjoyed that he came back. Which is not something you normally say when a just-about-average QB with one good season under his belt resigns with your team for $8 million a year.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Today begins the round of 32, when everyone starts to shun their bracket and just root for the underdog in every game. By now, nobody has a perfect bracket (the best brackets on ESPN and Yahoo! Sports have 2 picks wrong at the least). Norfolk State and Lehigh took care of that for us. For me, my national champ lost in the first round. And I've gone 21 of 32. I'm definitely out of the running here.

But what I am happy about is the fact that my post about my bracketology prediction method for the most part worked. All the #1 and #3 seeds advanced just like I said. Yes, two #2 seeds were upset, but that's a once in a blue moon occurrence. 3 of the 4 #4 seeds advanced (Michigan lost to Ohio, start of a new rivalry?). There were two #5 vs #12 upsets, one of which I predicted correctly. And then the rest of the games are tossups, of which the wrong side of the coin came up for me. I am ashamed of the Gonzaga pick, but the rest bode no shame.

So where do we go from here?
The tournament just got a lot more interesting, with two #2 seeds losing. This gives the #1 seeds in those regions, Kentucky and Michigan State, easy paths to the final four. In the South region (Kentucky's region), #3 Baylor looked shaky against South Dakota St, and then #5, 6, 7, and 9 are out. The biggest tests for Kentucky will be #8 Iowa State and then presumably #4 Indiana. The Indiana game would be the biggest challenge, seeing as Indiana already beat Kentucky earlier this season. If Kentucky doesn't falter there and then gets past the winner of the bottom half of that region (which is expected), the Wildcats are Final Four bound.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bracket's out!

Alright, so those pesky play-in games are over and I can finally create my bracket. I spent a good hour contemplating the matchups and this is what I came up with:

Note: The bracket will only be viewable starting tomorrow after the first game of the tourney begins.

I am a very methodical bracketologist, at least for the first round of predictions. I have a list of steps that I follow to fill out my bracket. The most important rule in these steps is to never have preconceived notions that a team is going to win. Instead of writing in the winner first, I consider each matchup individually. This ensures that each game is given the proper consideration and the most likely winner moves on in the prediction.

I have a protocol that I follow for the first round. First, I always pencil in all the #1 and #2 seeds as victors; there's almost never an upset there. Then, I pencil in all of the #3 seeds, unless I strongly believe that a #14 can beat one of the #3s. I was very tempted with Belmont this year but I decided against it in the end, even if I do think that Georgetown is a perennial choker. If Iona had won, I would've penciled them in against Marquette, but they didn't and I ended up without a #14 over #3 upset, which is ok. Then I move on to the #4 seed games. Unless I have a strong feeling that a #13 has what it takes to knock off a #4, I write in all the #4s in the second round. This year, I believe Davidson has the best chance to pull off the victory, but I have them losing to Louisville still.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Play-In Games

I hate play-in games. Or as the NCAA likes to call it: The First Four. I hate them. They're holding up my bracket. I can't complete it quite yet because I'm reduced to racking my brains over whether BYU or Iona is going to win to face Marquette.

These play-in games are a huge inconvenience. They used to not matter when there was only one play-in game between two 16-seeds. Back then, when the tourney field was just 65, the winner of the play-in game in Dayton did not matter, because they were going to lose to whichever #1 seed they ended up facing anyway. Now, these play-in games have a huge impact on the brackets and are making life very difficult for bracketologists  and fans (like me) everywhere.

The two play-in games that are keeping me awake at night are Cal vs. USF  for the right to play Temple and Iona vs. BYU for the right to play Marquette. These games have serious implications for the rest of the tournament. If Cal beats USF, then I believe they will lose to Temple. However, if USF wins, I think they'll beat Temple. A similar situation occurs in the BYU vs. Iona game. If BYU wins, they're gonna lose to Marquette hands down. On the flip side, if Iona wins, I have them beating Marquette and then Murray State (for now - subject to change)  much like VCU made their run last year.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Peyton Saga

Where will Peyton Manning play next season? That's the question every football fan across the nation is asking themselves right now. That's the question every ESPN pundit has been trying to break down since the Colts locked up the #1 overall pick in January. Peyton is the most polarizing free agent since LeBron James. And we're all awaiting his Decision.

There are few frontrunners in this one. I have heard people telling me that Peyton's gonna play anywhere from Miami to Minnesota, but it's yet to be seen what Peyton himself wants to do. Early on, the favorite was Washington. Now, Miami's fans are making a big push through a PeytonToMiami campaign to try to lure the QB. Here's a breakdown of all 32 teams and their likelihood of landing Peyton Manning:

Arizona Cardinals - One of the likely destinations that has been thrown out there, the Cardinals would be a good fit. They have a clear #1 receiver and have made it to the Super Bowl before with an aging veteran quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons - Next to no chance Peyton lands here. The Falcons have a legit QB already in Matt Ryan.

Monday, March 5, 2012


It's alright, guys, we made it through February. The most uneventful month of the sports calendar is over. After the NFL season ends and before March Madness starts, we as sports fans have got nothing. 2012's edition of February brought us Jeremy Lin.... and that's about it as far as intrigue in the month of February. But here, in March, it all starts over again for a whole 'nother year of sports.

The headliner of course is the NCAA tournament. After the conference championships conclude this week, the NCAA selection committee will get together this Sunday (selection Sunday) and pick the teams for this year's bracket. We've already seen some great games so far this championship week, including Tennessee St vs. Murray St, Creighton vs. Illinois St, and the one I watched today: St. Mary's over Gonzaga.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Return of Buster Posey

With the Giants having reported to spring training, all eyes now fall on Buster Posey and his surgically-repaired left ankle. Reports have come out saying that, although he has spent less time behind the plate than would be expected of a catcher, he has shown that he can still bat and catch like the pre-injury Buster Posey. That in and of itself is more important to the success of the Giants than all of Brian Sabean's offseason moves put together.

Buster Posey is the single most important player on the Giants, without question. The pitching staff as a whole is very important, but if you take out any pitcher from the rotation or bullpen, there is another pitcher waiting to take his place straight out of the minors. Eric Surkamp showed last year that he can be a major league starter. Heath Hembree has been generating buzz this offseason and looks to be a key part of this year's bullpen. The pitching staff should still produce even if injuries pile up like last year.

The lineup is not so safe, however. Take Buster Posey out of the equation and our biggest bat becomes Brandon Belt, who only has one season of experience and struggled to hit during that season. This is our lineup without Buster Posey:

Friday, February 10, 2012


With the football season over, my focus turns to hockey. The Sharks are playing pretty average as of late, so you can just say that I've been bored at the lack of intriguing sports stories floating around right now. College basketball doesn't really get interesting for me until March. Soccer doesn't interest me unless the US is playing or it's the FIFA World Cup. The NBA doesn't interest me - well, ever. Until last week that is.

Last week is when I heard about Jeremy Lin. Unlike most people, I knew who Lin was. I remember reading a Sports Illustrated article about him when he was the star of the Harvard basketball team. I remember his run with the Warriors last year where he played sparingly under one-and-done head coach Keith Smart. I don't remember much else. And then, last week, Lin returned. He had a monstrous game against the New Jersey Nets, exploding for 25 points, going 10-19 with 7 assists as well. He followed that up with a 28-point performance against the Utah Jazz in his first start. Then, against the Wizard, he put up 23 points including a monstrous uncontested dunk that capped his breakout week.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The A's, Giants, and San Jose

The Oakland A's have made it clear they want out of Oakland. They have refused to renovate the Coliseum at all. I went to an A's game two years ago and the stadium was terrible (I was able to see Ken Griffey Jr. pinch hit though). Furthermore, the A's have traded all their talent, just like Billy Beane does when his stars start to shine. Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey are all out of Oakland. This is Oakland's way of protesting to MLB to let them move. Their obstacle: the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants own the territorial rights to San Jose, and as a result, the A's would have to make an agreement with  the Giants in order to play there. The Giants have a lot to lose, including their most valuable asset, the fans. However, here in the Bay Area, we feel like the Giants won the World Series yesterday. the Giants are the best show in town, not the Oakland A's. Giants fans outnumber A's fans approximately 10:1 based on my observations. And that is enough consolation, in my opinion, for the Giants to give up their territorial rights (for a fee), and let the A's move to San Jose.


Having watched the film Moneyball when it came out last year, I have wanted to read the book by Michael Lewis, which I had heard was quite good. And after finally reading it this weekend, I must say I have to agree.

The book was amazing. It was like a dive into the world of the sports executive. The ideas presented in the book were mind-blowing: the fact that players were being valued by how they looked playing the game rather than how they produced on the field, that baseball clubs were taking risks on high school players when they were largely unproven, that the disparity in riches in baseball did not make a huge difference as long as the poor teams used their money wisely. The scene that captivated me the most, both from the movie and book, was the scene where Oakland A's manager Billy Beane orchestrates a trade for Ricardo Rincon of the Cleveland Indians. Beane discovers that there is one more suitor for Rincon other than the A's, the Giants. Beane offers his own reliever, Mike Venafro, to the Giants to lower their interest in Rincon. At the same time, after realizing that he probably can't pay for Rincon, he lures the Mets into a trade where he receives enough cash to pay for Rincon for the remainder of the season.

This scene blew my mind. Beane's character was so manipulative that he was able to implement his ideas and create a successful baseball team considering the amount of money that he had.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ranking the All Star Games

With two pro sports All Star games occurring this coming weekend (NFL and NFL), I thought it would be appropriate to rank the 4 major sports league's all star festivities.

1) NHL All Star Weekend
The best part about the NHL all star game is the fantasy draft that occurred on Thursday. It has a playground style feel to it, with two team captains alternating picks. It is always interesting to see which player will be picked last (I regret to say that this year's was Logan Couture of our beloved Sharks) and which player will be picked first. One gripe I have with this format is that captains tend to pick their teammates first, which takes the prestige out of the first pick. However, it is still the most intriguing format for an all-star game.

Furthermore, the NHL skills challenge is also interesting. How fast is Zdeno Chara going to shoot this year? Find out in the hardest shot competition. What crazy stunt will be pulled off in the breakaway challenge in the absence of Alexander Ovechkin? The skills competitions are fun to watch and I look forward to them in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Digesting the 49ers loss

The reason this post is not coming to you immediately after the 49ers game is because I needed to give myself time to digest the loss. And after giving myself 3 full days, I realize that I really don't want to talk about that loss. But I will.

First of all, I do not entirely blame Kyle Williams. He made two terrible mistakes, yes, but he also is only a 2nd year player who was drafted in the 7th round out of Arizona State by the old coaching regime in San Francisco. The fact that he is even on the roster is a testament to how much this team desperately needs a wide receiver (more on that later). Basically, he's here because there's no one better than him. So I can't possibly blame him for his mistakes when the 49ers should have had a better player in his position anyway. Of course, we had Ted Ginn, but it was clear after Williams made a diving fair catch earlier in the game that he is a very risky punt returner and he should have never been placed in that precarious position.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Halftime Thoughts

This game definitely is nothing like last week's. Its a grind-it-out affair in terrible weather. The 49ers look completely dysfunctional on offense right now, except for that 73 yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. Alex Smith is 2-for-7 and needs to pick up the pace. The defense is playing fine as a whole, but the secondary must cover better, simply put. Victor Cruz is running amok all over the field and accumulating plenty of yards after catch.

Overall, the 49ers should be happy that they're only behind by 3. The Giants will get the ball first in the second half and the 49ers defense must hold strong in order to give the offense a chance. This game looks like it will come down to a key turnover. Someone will eventually have to score in order to secure this game. I'm revved up for the second half of this one for sure despite the gloomy day.

Go 49ers!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hold On Folks

Everywhere I look, people are already gifting the NFC Championship to the New York Giants. Most, if not all, of the ESPN analysts are giving the Giants the win. 49ers supporters are in the minority, and this is unbelievable. Everywhere I go, people are saying that the Giants are the hottest team. I beg to differ on that account. The 49ers just came off their biggest win since 2003. They hung with and eventually beat one of the most gifted offensive teams in the New Orleans Saints. Yes, the Giants are probably a more complete team, but the 49ers have proved themselves in my eyes. They have a shot, and a very large shot at that, of beating the Giants and making it to the Super Bowl. To prove this, let's break down each matchup going into Sunday's game and award points on a scale of 1 to 10.

Giants passing vs 49ers pass defense
The Giants have three dynamic receivers in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham and they could pose serious problems for the 49ers' secondary. They also have Eli Manning, whom I now consider one of the premier passers in this league. The 49ers have a decent secondary, however, including Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rodgers and Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson. The 49ers linebacking corps is one of the best in the league, featuring Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman on the inside. They also have one of the best pass rushes in the league, featuring sack machine Aldon Smith and total beast Justin Smith, who will have to overcome the Giants shaky offensive line. Solely because of the advantage in the receiver vs secondary matchup, I'll give this one to the Giants.
Giants: 1.5 points

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Impressions from the 49ers victory

When all that had to happen on the field was done happening, when Alex Smith connected with Vernon Davis with 9 seconds left in what will be penned in football lore as "The Grab," when the 49ers defense finally failed and the 49ers offense had enough for 1 final drive, — when all the drama had ended and a victor emerged  the world had just witnessed the most amazing game in the history of football. The game featured everything: hard hitting defenses, prolific offenses, big plays, dramatic turnovers, an array of emotions, a 4th quarter that can never be forgotten. There was something about that game that cannot be expressed or quantified that simply captivated the heart of every football fan across the nation.

It was one of the hardest hitting games that I've seen. Donte Whitner singlehandedly knocked out Pierre Thomas to stall the Saints first drive just yards from the goal line, gain control of the ball, and set the tone for the rest of the game. The 49ers defense did not let the Saints run the ball at all and the Saints only rushed for 37 yards.

Monday, January 2, 2012

NFL Playoff Predictions

The euphoria hasn't passed yet. With the 49ers clinching the No.2 seed and a first round bye in their defeat of the Rams yesterday, I believe they have a chance to win the Super Bowl. However, they're not my pick to win it all. Here are my predictions for the NFL playoffs.


Wild Card Round
Cincinnati Bengals over Houston Texans
Yes, I know, the Bengals haven't looked good as of late, but neither have the Texans. The Texans currently are starting their 3rd string QB, TJ Yates, and I don't have Matt Schaub-like confidence in Yates' abilities. The Bengals have Pro Bowl WR AJ Green, who will likely be at full strength for Saturday's game, and Rookie of the Year candidate Andy Dalton. The Bengals have the 10th best rush defense to counter the Texans' illustrious running game led by Arian Foster. If Cincinnati can stop Foster, the Bengals will win this game.

Pittsburgh Steelers over Denver Broncos
Let's face it, defenses have figured out Tim Tebow. And when you pit Tebow against a stellar defense like Pittsburgh's, they don't have a chance. Pittsburgh's D is tops in total yards and passing defense and 8th in rush defense. As we witnessed in Denver's game against Kansas City, Denver is dysfunctional on offense. Even though the Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league, you still have to score points to win a game. If Denver's defense can't generate turnovers, something they've struggled at throughout the year, it'll be hard to beat Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.