Monday, August 30, 2010

MLB Playoff Chase

The final month of the season is here and the playoff stretch run should heat up. The AL and NL East divisions are tough and tight. Will the Reds hold off the Cards and who will be the wild card teams. The Padres were suppose to be at the bottom of the NL West but lead the division heading into the final month.

In the AL East the New York Yankees and the Tampa bay Rays are tied for the best record in baseball and the division. The second place team will likely be the wild card winner. The Yankees are the defending champs with more experience but the Rays were in the World Series and lost to the Phillies two years ago. This division will go down to the last few games but I give the edge to the Rays young pitching with the Yankees getting the wild card.

The AL Central is the Twins division to win even though the White Sox acquired Manny to boost the offense it will not be enough. The Twins have been more consistant this season and the Sox have been a streaky team. The Twins have been in this position more than a few times in the last several years and know how to finish.

The AL West is the Texas Rangers with no true contenders for them or division. Rangers win the division easily unless a total collapse.

Just like AL East, the NL East is up for grabs between the Braves and Phillies. The pitching is strong for both teams, but with the addition of Roy Oswalt to go with Halladay I give the edge to the Phillies with the Braves claiming the wild card.

The NL Central has the Reds leading the Cards by five games and should expect them to make a run at them. The Cards have more experience in this situation and have played well against the Reds this season. I think they will close the gap but the Reds have not backed down all season and will prevail and win the division.

The NL West leading San Diego Padres have played above expectations from the start of the season with solid pitching and timely hitting. The second place Giants are five games back of the Padres and have a better chance at the wild card. The Padres will finish strong to win the division and I believe the Giants will be left watching the playoffs.

This is how I see the season finishing but with a month left to play anything can happen. This should make for some interesting baseball down the stretch.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Texans and Cowboys

The Houston Texans are coming off a bad game against the Saints last weekend. The defense was pushed all over the field Saturday and when they had a chance to make some big tackles they were unable to do so. It is only a preseason game so no one should be jumping off any ledges yet but they have a lot to work on this week to get ready for the Cowboys. This is the third preseason game and the starters will play into the third quarter so they need to execute better especially on defense. These two teams will play each other in week three of the regular season so neither team will show to much to each other. The Texans have got to play better up front on both sides of the ball after the Saints offense pushed the Texans defense off the line on a regular basis.

Things to watch against Cowboys:

1. Texans defensive line against the Cowboys offensive line.

2. Which linebacker will emerge as the candidate to replace Brian Cushing while he serves his four game suspension to start the season.

3. Who will return punts and kickoffs after Trindon Holliday had two
unimpressive games as a rookie sixth round pick whose only opportunity to
make team is special teams. They do have other experienced options for
returning kicks.

4. The Texans secondary must not give up big plays especially on third and long situations.

5. The kicking position seems to be a tight battle. This has been the one thing
I have paid close attention too between Kris Brown and Neil Rackers. Kris
Brown missed big kicks last season and the team signed veteran Neil Rackers
to compete with him for this season and both have been steady. The thing is
if Brown wins the job and then misses a big kick early in the season fans
will say they should have changed kickers. They still have two more games in
the preseason to decide on this but way it looks right now it will not be an
easy decision.

These are some of the things I will be looking at this weekend against the Cowboys. Dallas will be a contender in the NFC this year and after looking pretty bad against the Saints the Texans need a better showing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jordan Lyles

The Houston Astros season has not gone the way they had hoped and thus the team finally decided to shake things up by trading away fan favorites Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt along the way. They have added several rookies to the lineup such as Jason Castro, Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson. The most impressive of these players has been Chris Johnson, who continues to have a batting average of .360 after yesterdays 3 hit game. The pitching has been up and down as well this season and the most consistant pitcher has been Brett Myers. When the Astros traded Oswalt he became the ace and is the only pitcher to go six innings or more in every start this year in baseball. The Astros were then quick to give him an extension because of his solid season. He is considered the ace of the staff now but a 19 year old prospect just promoted to AAA Round Rock named Jordan Lyles may have something to say about that soon.

Jordan Lyles is the Astros top pitching prospect in their entire farm system. Lyles was the 38th pick in the 2008 draft out of high school. Jordan has moved up through the teams system rather quickly. Lyles is 6-foot-4 with a fastball that reaches 94 mph with good control of all his pitches. He started this season at AA Corpus Christi and posted 7 - 9 record with a 3.12 era. Last week he was promoted to AAA Round Rock and pitched six strong innings in his debut with 9 strikeouts. The Astros haven't said when they expect him to be called up, although next season seems to be most likely. I hope they call him up next month when they can expand the rosters for the final month. It would attrack some interest in the team to end the season even if its just one start. If he does get called up and starts a game it will be the first time a teenager has started a game in the National League since Dwight Gooden in 1984.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rihanna and Eminem Love The Way You Lie

The latest song from Rihanna and Eminem titled Love The Way You Lie is a hit on the radio and has a great video to go with it. The song and the video gives a glimpse of a relationship in which domestic violence is taking place but the victim can't or refuses to leave. They both are outstanding a telling and showing both sides of a violent relationship. The male vocal part is of course Eminem and the female vocal is Rihanna. I think its a great song for both of them since they have been on one side or the other in their own lives.

The following is from ABA web page:
According to the American Bar Association Commission on domestic Violence in 1995-1996 study in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, nearly 25% of women and 7.6 % of men were assaulted by a current or former spouse or dating partner/acquaintance at some point in their lifetime. ( based on survey of 16,000 participants, equally male and female)

Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,00 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002
* of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% were crimes against spouses.
* 84% of spouse abuse victims were females and, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse were female.

Some of the information I found on that site was from years back but the point is that it has been a problem for a long time and with all the access to media outlets it seems that more and more celebs are even falling victim to domestic violence. The song and video are good but its something that a lot of people even the singers involved have experienced and should not be taken lightly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Texans Positions to Watch vs Cardinals

The Houston Texans first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals is tomorrow night and the things to watch this early are the position battles. The positions that most will be watching are the running backs and the corner backs.

The running game wasn't very effective last season and Steve Slaton had trouble hanging on to the football before having to undergo neck surgery late in the season. This season he is said to be back to his rookie playing weight and having a good camp. The competition will come from Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Arian Foster earned the starting spot after Slaton had his problems last season and will be looking to prove he deserves to hang on to it. Ben Tate is a rookie out of Auburn who has power and breakout ability and will get a good bit of carries to try and move up the depth chart.

The corner back positions are gonna have a new look after Dunta Robinson signed with Atlanta in the off season. The team drafted Kareem Jackson in the first round and will be a starter but will miss the game because of a death in the family. Brice McCain will start in place of Jackson. This is his second year and will be looking to improve on a pretty good rookie season. Glover Quin is the other starting corner and entering his second season as well. Quin was very impressive last season after earning the starting job mid way through the year and held most opposing receivers in check while not allowing a touchdown against him. Lets see if they can both improve on last season.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Astros Rookie Chris Johnson

The Houston Astros have made some changes to the roster in the last few months by calling up some young rookies and making a few trades. The one player that stands out so far out of these changes is Chris Johnson. In 46 games this season Johnson is batting .356 with 5 homers and 32 runs batted in. He has been the most consistant hitter on the team this season and is only twenty five years old. It seems like he is getting on base or driving in a run every time he steps to the plate. The last couple years the team has talked highly of his play in the minors but for whatever reason they were reluctant to give him a chance in the bigs until this season. At times he has made some errors at third base but is expected to be a better than average at the position. He is definitely one reason why fans should be optimistic about the direction the team is headed in. This experience Johnson and the other young players are getting the rest of this season could make them a much improved team next season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

NFL Preseason

The NFL preseason kicked off last night as the Cowboys played the Bengals. Its only one preseason game but the Bengals did not look good at all. The Cowboys won the game but struggle some on offense as well. The game was shown on NBC and was the highest rated preseason game in six years. There were a combined eight sacks and 16 penalties, 12 by Cincinnati for ninety yards. Dallas picked off three passes and recovered a fumble; Cincinnati also recovered a fumble.

The day before Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Smith the all-time leading rusher gave an emotional speech while thanking former teammates. Jerry Rice, the all-time leading receiver and touchdown scorer spoke of his 20 year career and achievements. Others inducted on Saturday were Dick Lebeau, John Randle and Rickey Jackson.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Look Astros

The Astros traded Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman last weekend to begin the rebuilding process. Roy struggled in his first game with the Phillies and Lance Berkman had his struggles with the Yankees in his first two games. Though they both are two of the best players in Astros history it was the right move to trade them.

J.A. Happ was impressive in his Astros debut. He gave up two hits in six innings and didn't allow a run. His fastball had more velocity than expected and seemed like his arm injury from earlier this season is behind him.

Brett Wallace took over at first base after Berkman was traded to New York and had one hit in his first six at bats. He was a first round pick in the 2008 draft by the Cardinals.

Jason Castro was called up two months ago after being drafted by the Astros in the first round of the 2008 draft. They also called up third baseman Chris Johnson about the same time and he has been the most successful young call ups to date. He was hitting over .330 with 4 homers since his arrival.

Wesley Wright made just his third start as a pro over the weekend and it was his best so far. He pitched seven innings and gave up just two runs to get the win.

The Astros may have traded two of greatest players in franchise history but their future is looking a little brighter than it did prior to the trades. Maybe one of these young players will be consider an Astros great someday.