The week in sports

June 9, 2009

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A big week in sports and a lot of stories to touch on…so this week Johnny G decides again to do the weekly run-down.

The Big Unit gets the big 300th Win. I wrote an article about this last week and I was glad to see Randy pick up 300 on his first try. Too many times in sports is seems like an athlete gets close to a milestone and it takes a long time to get it done and out of the way. Nice Job Mr. Johnson

The Magic decided to not show up for Game 1 in Los Angeles and then played better in Game 2. I am not a big fan of the NBA and last night reminded me again as to why. Too many ghost calls (for both teams in my opinion, but most of which Kobe was the benefactor of) impacts the final score of the game way way way too often in NBA games. I guess this is why I am a fan of individual sports like golf, because there is no referee to blame the outcome on.

Speaking of golf, I guess Tiger Woods’ knee must be feeling better. Jack Nicklaus the host of the Memorial Tournament joked that Tiger was really struggling in his comeback from the surgery since he had only what??? A bunch of top tens and a win to his credit so far this year? I guess you can add another win to the tally now. The folks running the US Open are hoping he can keep that going in two more weeks.

Roger Federer finally breaks through in an easy coasting straight set triumph at the French Open. This now adds him to the list of tennis players to win the career Grand Slam. Many would argue that Federer is the best of all time. He now has tied Pete Sampras with 14 career Grand Slam titles. I, for one, don’t feel he is even close to done winning them just yet.

The College World Series will be starting next weekend in beloved Omaha, Nebraska. The CWS has become one of the most popular NCAA tournament venues thanks mainly to the fantastic coverage provided by ESPN of the games in Omaha. Matter of fact a few years back when the NCAA was considering moving the CWS out of Omaha, the ESPN telecast became more of a “telethon” constantly pimping the great job and the fine folks and hospitality that the city provides hosting the tournament. Omaha has now committed to building a brand new stadium which will be used almost exclusively for this tournament for the few decades. I guess it does pay to have a major network in your corner.

And since ESPN is wanting to throw it’s weight around, the SEC begins a new 15 year contract with ESPN starting this year which will televise all of their games not already picked up by CBS coverage for a smooth 2.25 Billion dollars over that time. If you’re a fan of the SEC all this means that the future looks good. If you’re a competitor of the SEC, you know this league is not going to be backing down…and if your are not on the Big 10….errrr Big 11 network already you better hope that your conference is planning on something soon with an exclusive television deal….or during National Titles games we are going to hear a lot more chanting of S-E-C, S-E-C!

Randy Johnson & more

June 5, 2009

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We’re taking a break from our typical friday fiction to do a roundup of the world of baseball.

Big Unit, big milestone

Randy Johnson expected to pitch for the Giants in pursuit of his 300th win on Wednesday night.  Unfortunately, mother nature had a different idea, and the game was rained out.  Thursday was also a wet day, but Johnson took the mound in the first game of a double header.  The weather and the early start time resulted in a much smaller crowd than you would expect for a historic game.  Johnson did not disappoint the crowd (in Washington vs. the Nationals).  He pitched six innings and allowed just two hits, two walks, and one unearned run.  The bullpen closed the door on the Gnats.  Nice job, Randy.


MLB’s amateur draft will commence on Tuesday and finish up on Wednesday.  It will be televised on the MLB Network, which I unfortunately do not get through my cable provider.  Mediacom, if you’re reading this, PLEASE add the MLB network.

Stephen Strasburg is far and away the top prospect in the draft.  Unless the Nationals balk at the demands of Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, he will be taken with the #1 pick.  Sports Weekly had an interesting compilation of the thirteen pitchers who have been taken with the #1 pick in the draft since the draft began in 1965.  1981 #1 overall pick Mike Moore has the most career wins in the group, with 161 (as well as 176 losses).  1989 top pick Andy Benes is the most game over .500 for his career (+16).  A number of the pitchers have had careers derailed by injury (Ben McDonald) or being rushed to the big leagues (18 year old David Clyde skipped the minors after being drafted by the Rangers).

I like Strasburg, but pitchers are inherently risky.

The #2 prospect is University of North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley.  Ackely will likely play center field as a pro, but has played first base this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last year.

Pitchers Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers were drafted last year but failed to sign.  Crow could not reach a deal with the Nationals.  Scheppers was considered to be a high first round talent last year before an injury put some question marks on his resume, causing him to fall to the second round.  Both are likely to go in the top ten picks.

For more on the draft, check out John Sickel’s and  Andy Seiler’s MLB Bonus Baby.  John’s blog focuses on the minor leagues, but gives the draft a decent amount of coverage.  Andy’s blog is relatively new, but very informative.  Andy had previously posted a lot of draft related stuff on MinorLeagueBall before taking the plunge and starting his own blog.  Very impressive so far.

If you have an eye on the 2010 draft, check out  Summer Ball – a site devoted to the college summer leagues.  The college players play in summer league that use wooden bats – to prove their mettle with the wood (pun intended).


Manny Ramirez has gotten a lot of All Star votes, in spite of the fact that he is serving a suspension for using performance enhancing dugs.  Come on folks, don’t vote for Manny this year.

The Pirates traded Nate McClouth to the Braves.  I’m sorry, Pirates fans.  I feel your pain.

The Braves released future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine just as he was rounding into form after an injury.  This makes their free agent signing of Glavine even more moronic.  The Braves got one season out of Glavine (2-4, 5.54 ERA in 61 1/3 innings).  Few people expected such a lackluster return for their investment, but many pointed out the signs of decline (particularly in Glavine’s peripheral stats) and questioned the wisdom of signing a player who would be 42 years old on opening day of the 2008 seasons.  Most painful is the price the Braves paid.  They forfeited their 2008 #1 draft pick to their hated rivals, the Mets.  The Mets also received a sandwich pick as compensation (this pick didn’t come from the Braves, it was created out of thin air).  The Mets drafted Ike Davis with the Braves pick (#18 overall) and Bradley Holt with the sandwich (#33 overall).

The Midwest League’s Cedar Rapids Kernels have a promotion that could result in a fan winning one million dollars on June 8!  Before you get too excited – a Kernels pitcher (or group of pitchers) much throw a perfect game.  The odds of a perfect game are always tiny, but especially in low A.  Even if the pitcher does his job, it’s quite likely that the fielders will commit an error.

Last member of the 300 win club?

June 2, 2009

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This Wednesday, Randy Johnson will make his first attempt to win his 300th game, as he sits perched on the doorstep with 299 wins.  Johnson’s climb up the all time wins chart has created a lot of buzz in baseball circles as to the chances of someone else replicating the feat of 300 wins.

Records show that since the decade of the 40’s, our current decade is the second only to the 1980’s in number of pitchers reaching the 300 win milestone.  During the 80’s, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton joined the elusive 300 win club. Nolan Ryan was the only one in the 90’s, and in the new millennium, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and now soon Randy Johnson – make it a nice quadrilateral

Johnson has been a unique pitcher among this list.  He has a career 3.29 ERA to go along with his 299 wins.  That alone does not seem to be unusual.  I mean, you have to be pretty good to get this far in the win column.  The amazing part is he has consistently gotten better with age.  He is second on the all time strikeout list behind just Nolan Ryan.  He has gotten better and better and better with age.

Since turning 30 years old, Johnson has won 235 of his games and struck out more than 3700 batters.  If you measure his Earned Run Average against the league average (this is an advanced statistic called ERA+), he is +147 during that time.  Some baseball pundits say if he is not the greatest old pitcher in the history of the game, then he is right there with the likes of Lefty Grove and Hoyt Wilhelm, both Hall of Famers.

Johnson had won 49 games entering 1993, his 5th year with the Seattle Mariners.  Then he went on a historic 10 year run which included a record of 175-58 along with 5 Cy Young Awards.  He will become the 24th pitcher to win 300 games and just the 6th left hander to do so.  Johnson’s 72 victories in his 40s would rank fourth behind Phil Niekro (121), Spahn and Cy Young, with 75 each.

But enough about the Big Unit for now…..

The other side of the conversation is “can anyone else do it?”  Will there be another to reach 300 wins?

In order to get there in this day and age you need to have a number of things going for you as a Pitcher.

1-      You have to get to the bigs early

2-      You almost need to be on a good team who can help you get some wins

3-      You have to pitch for a lot of years

4-      You need to avoid injury

As the game has continued to advance through the ages, there is more specialization of pitching.  Pitchers all seem to be on pitch counts.  Five days rest is the norm.  Long gone are the days of Cy Young who won an impressive 511 times to go with his 316 losses……  So the guy who has his name on the award which goes to the best pitcher in each league very year has more losses on his record than all but as select few have in terms of wins.

….the magical 300.