All Sorts of Sports

July 16, 2009

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Zach Johnson

Local favorite Zach Johnson (or ZeeJay, as I refer to him) stormed into contention on Sunday, shooting a 12 under par in the final day of the John Deere Classic to finish in a three way tie for second place.  This is not quite as impressive  as it sounds, as Zach (and the rest of the field) were forced to play 36 holes on Sunday.  23 of the players in the Deere then boarded a flight across the Atlantic so that they could play in this week’s British Open.  Oh, sorry, Goodman, The Open.

Matt Cassel

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has cashed in on his strong 2008 season with the Patriots by signing a 6 year contract with the Chiefs that will pay him as much as $63 million – with $28 million guaranteed.  This seems like an awful lot of money to pay to a player who still just has one good season under his belt.  I’m really not sure how much downside there would have been by waiting until after the 2009 season – or even after week 8 of the season – to see how Cassel performs outside of New England.  Cassel is definitely a feel-good story, though.  He did not start even one game during college.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t a good quarterback; it was simply that he was sandwiched between Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.  Only an injury to Patriots QB Tom Brady allowed Cassel a starting opportunity.

Pedro Martinez

 The Phillies signed Pedro Martinez to a one year, $1 million deal, with the opportunity to earn $1.5 million more through incentives.  Martinez currently has an ailing shoulder, but should be ready to go in early August.  His presence should give the Phillies a boost in their quest to repeat as world champs.  Pedro’s Hall of Fame caliber career has been derailed by injuries.  I doubt that the 37 year old can make a serious run at 300 wins – he currently stands at 214 – but getting above 250 should erase any doubts about his Hall of Fame status.  Interestingly, Pedro’s next loss will be the 100th of his career.

Danica to NASCAR?

Rumors have been swirling for quite a while about Danica Patrick jumping from Indy to Nascar.  The flames were stoked a bit when she visited Stewart-Haas racing recently.  The race team – 50% owned by 2 time champion and current points leader Tony Stewart – is believe to be interested in adding a driver next year.  Patrick would definitely earn a ton of sponsorship money from Stewart-Haas, and she might be able to learn a lot under the wing of Stewart, who himslf made the jump from Indy to NASCAR.

In other NASCAR news, Jeremy Mayfield has tested positive for meth for a second time.  Also, Mayfield’s step-mother – with who he has a very strained relationship – has filed an affidavit accusing Jeremy of a long history of meth use.  NASCAR is asking for Mayfield’s indefinite suspension to be reinstated.  A judge had previously granted an injunction against the suspension – although Mayfield was not able to race, because no team was willing to give him a ride.

NBA

You won’t  see a lot of NBA news in The Soap Boxers, mostly because Goodman and myself are not big fans of the defenseless game played by the professionals.  However, there are a few interesting stories this week.

The perennial losers known as the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in signing Allen Iverson.  A prolific scoring machine, Iverson has had a tendency to rub teammates and coaches the wrong way, downplaying the importance of activities such as “practice”.  The Clippers might give Iverson the best chance to keep his career alive, although the move might not make a lot of sense from the team’s perspective.

Magic backup center  Marcin Gortat was upset when the team matched the contract he had been offered by the Dallas Mavericks.  The NBA essentially has a right of first refusal, allowing teams to match another team’s offer to a particular player in order to retain the player’s services.  Gortat will be paid a total of $34 million over the next 5 years.  In Orlando, he will back up superstar center Dwight Howard.  If he had been able to sign with Dallas, he would have likely been the starter.  This story might not be done, thought.  It is possible that the Magic are signing Gortat simply so that they can trade him (perhaps to the Mavericks)?

Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics are slowly approaching.  For those of you who have been wondering if there will be a “fantasy” style contest for the Olympics on The Soap Boxers, the answer is a resounding YES!  Get your cheat sheets ready.  Some aspects of the contest will include:

  • A limit on the number of US athletes on your team
  • Limits on the number of atheletes from medal-rich sports (speed skating)
  • Points awarded based on gold, silver, and bronze medals.

I ran a similar contest with a few friends for the 2008 Summer Olympics – it was a lot of fun.

Sunday sports section

May 17, 2009

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Golf

My favorite golfer, Iowa native and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, shot a course record 60 in the third round of the Texas Open.  That’s just one shot off the PGA record of 59, which has been accomplished just three times in the history of the PGA.  The dream round vaulted Johnson from a seven shot deficit to a three shot lead.  A long rain delay caused play to be halted before all players had completed the third round.  The third round will be completed and the fourth round will be played today.

NASCAR

This is Tony Stewart’s first year as driver-owner, and he became a co-owner of Stewart-Haas racing during the off-season.  Many experts felt that it would take Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman a bit of time to get comfortable with their new team (similar to the way they felt Stewart would struggle last year with Toyotas).  Stewart has proved them wrong to this point, as he is second in point, just behind Jeff Gordon.  Newman is also having a good year, eight in points.  On Saturday, Stewart picked up his first win of the year in NASCAR’s All-Star race.  It doesn’t count for anything in the standings, of course.  There is a cash prize for the winner, though – a million bucks.  Seriously, you could put Tony in a Yugo and he might win a race for you.  Dude can drive.

Horses

Jockey Calvin Borel shocked many observers (including kosmo) by jumping from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird onto Kentucky Oaks winner filly Rachel Alexandra.  The move paid off, with Rachel Alexandra holding off Mine The Bird to win the Preakness.  Observers were left to speculate whether Mine That Bird would have been the victor had Borel been aboard.  Borel can’t win the Triple Cown, but he does stand a chance of being abord the winners of all three Triple Crown races this year.

NBA

The two teams that many experts assumed would face off in the NBA finals are instead facing elimination in the conference semi-finals.  The Boston Celtics, playing without Kevin Garnett, are being tested by the Orlando Magic.  On the other side of the country, Kobe Bryant is trying to push his L.A. Lakers past a Houston Rockets team that is playing surprisingly well without All-Star center Yao Ming and fellow big man Dikembe Mutombo, both of who are out for the playoffs with injuries (Mutombo has announced that he will retire.)

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps jumped back into the pool and promptly lost.  He finished second in a 100 meter backstroke race to Aaron Piersol.  Piersol is no slouch, though – he is the world record holder and two time defending Olympic Champion in the event.  Phelps is making major changes to his program and will be featuring a different array of events in the 2012 Olympics.  After the 2012 Olympics, I expect him spend his retirement years playing golf in Florida with other retirees.  Or maybe not.

Raul Ibanez

36 year old Raul Ibanez of the Phillies is off to a very hot start, hitting .368 with 13 homers and 35 RBI and a sky-high 1.168 OPS.  The raw numbers may be shocking, but the fact that Ibanez has excelled after moving from Seattle to Philadelphia should not be a surprise.  Phildadelphia is a much better hitter’s park, and he has better production in the lineup.  Somewhat akin to Jason Bay’s move from Pittsburgh to Boston, where he also added protection and joined a team with considerably more offensive weapons.