Thursday, August 16, 2012

All about the Benjamins

It has been a Red Sox season of ups and downs.  However, mostly downs.  With one of the highest paid rosters in the MLB, the Boston Red Sox are pushing the blame off of their shoulders and on to first year manager, Bobby Valentine's.

An off-season that was filled with rumors, gossip and the blame game, I believed the Sox would put their egos and paychecks behind them and come out this season as one of the MLB's most feared opponents.

It has been just the opposite.

The Red Sox are 6th in the American League Wild Card race, finding themselves 6.5 games back.

As optimistic as I try to be, at times my optimism rubs me the wrong way.  And with a month and a half left in the regular season, the Red Sox don't seem to be changing their ways anytime soon.  Especially after a meeting, consisting of eighteen players led by Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez that occurred in July became known to the public this week, as the Sox met with management in an attempt to get Bobby V fired.

Now, when the hiring of Bobby Valentine happened, I was completely against it.

Although I have nothing before this year to dislike Bobby V for, I just believed that the Sox did not need the media attention and the celebrity like approach that Bobby V extinguishes.

However, after hearing about the Red Sox complaining about the coaching, I have had no reason but to side with Valentine.

Baseball is not a sport that a player can blame a manager for the way he or his teammates are playing.  Terry Francona managed this team the way a manager should.  Controlling the players in a coach like manner, yet keeping a close enough friendship with them all.

After a tough season like 2011, firing the manager seems to always be the easy way out.  However, after a long and unexciting season in 2012, the Sox management have to be reconsidering their attempt at furthering this clubhouse by hiring a new manager.

The 2012 Red Sox still have enough time to turn it around and make a run for the playoffs.  However, teams that make a late season run for the playoffs, usually aren't the teams that blame the coaches and each other for other peoples problems.

I still remain a strong member of Red Sox nation, however, no matter how this season ends, changes need to made to further this organization in a successful manner.

Just look at teams of the past.  2004 was not that long ago, and that was a professional baseball team, on and off the field.  And they will forever be World champions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Are you ready for some Football?

With one preseason game in the books, the Patriots are closing down on the final few weeks until the 2012-2013 NFL season begins.

Coming off a Superbowl loss to the New York Giants that seemed to hurt worse than the first time they got the best of us, Tom Brady, the New England Patriots and the millions of fans that bleed red, white and blue every Sunday are looking for revenge.

Finding themselves ranked second in preseason power rankings polls, behind the 2011 Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers, the Patriots will have a lot to prove, and will do so in New England Patriot fashion.

Arguably their best team in recent years, the Patriots high-powered offense will strive and reign as one of the best offenses in the league.  With arguably the best QB to ever play the game (yes, I said it), and young Tight-Ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who have yet to reach the prime of their careers as they enter their third NFL season, the role of the offense needs to act as the older brother to the defense.  Hoping their hard work and success as an offense will create a fire underneath the belt of the defense, whose struggles last season remain the highest cause of concern entering the 2012 season.

However, after one preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints, many young defensive player such as Dont'a Hightower, Jerod Mayo and Chandler Jones succeeded as powerful influences on the defensive side for New England.

Although young and inexperienced, their role in the Patriots defense can boost this team above expectation.

Only several weeks away from the season opener and the jitters are already starting to set in.  I can already imagine how fun, interesting and victorious this season will be for the Patriots and New England.

I can speak on behalf of Patriot Nation and say, I am ready for some football!

Back on Top

Rory McIlroy, 23, took the reign's as the number one golfer in the world after his record breaking first place finish in the PGA Championship this past weekend.

After shooting a 6 under on the final day of the tournament, McIlroy won by a record breaking eight strokes.

Going into the PGA Championship as the third ranked golfer in the world, behind Luke Donald and Tiger Woods, Rory jumped the two after a combination of poor performances by Donald and Woods and an incredible performance by McIlroy.

23 years old myself, it is incredible to see someone, who is in fact several months younger than myself, be considered the best golfer in the entire world.

One of the most interesting things I like about golf remains the individuality of the sport.  With the exception of the help from each golfers caddie, who in fact does a lot more than most assume, the golfer takes the credit or the win and the heat for the loss.

Being such an individual sport, the idea of a power ranking system that manipulates every aspect of every golfers performance throughout the year, creating a list of the world rankings from best to worst I find extremely interesting.

While baseball and hockey remain my favorite sports, I personally believe Josh Hamilton remains the best MLB player and Claude Giroux will continue as the best in the NHL.

While I believe my knowledge about sports is accurate and intelligent, not everyone in the world can agree on a ranking system of the best athletes among team sports.  However, golf remains a sport whose statistics of individual performances creates a realization of the best to the worst.

Whether you agree or disagree, it is the most accurate realization of individual success in a professional sport as you can imagine.

And right now, a twenty-three year old from Northern Ireland is in fact, the best!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gold Medal Game

Although my interest in sports remains very diverse, there are very few sports that can compare to hockey and baseball, in my personal opinion.

But I like to give everything a shot.  Which remains a reason I have taken such an interest in the Olympics.  It gives you the ability to learn a lot more about the sports that only remain popular during the several weeks of the competition.

Today, the U.S. Women's soccer team faced the number one ranked team in the world, Japan.  I had told myself that I wanted to watch it, however, forgot that it was on this afternoon.  Luckily, I was at my friends house who threw it on right when the match was starting.

For the next two hours I sat on the edge of my seat and remained more interested in a soccer game than I ever have felt before.

It was a back and forth game, that the Japanese could have easily taken advantage of and won, however, the U.S. battled and kept the lead after their first goal eight minutes into the match.

The U.S. added another gold medal to their total medal count after beating Japan 2-1 in an exciting and enjoyable soccer match.  I truly enjoyed watching the U.S. win their third gold medal in the past three Olympics.

But not as much as I like U.S.A.'s forward, number 13 Alex Morgan.

It's Official

After several great years in Florida with the Marlins, Josh Beckett packed his bags and grabbed a one-way ticket to Boston in 2006.

From that day on, I became an incredibly large Beckett fan.  The perfect mentality of what I believe a pitcher should represent.  Beckett was fearless when first coming to the Red Sox.  He wasn't afraid to try and throw it by you, or right at you.

With two World Series rings it is hard to criticize Beckett for his career as a Red Sox, however, with the shenanigans from last seasons pitching staff not caring and drinking too much, as well as not taking care of their bodies, this year was a year that needed to put the negativity behind them and come out throwing the ball the way they can.

Thus far this season it has not been that.  So far this season Beckett is 5-9 with almost a 5 era.  Not the first 2/3 of a season that Beckett along with Red Sox Nation was looking for.

I stayed strong all season, claiming that Beckett as well as Jon Lester would turn it around and start taking control of hitters.  Yet, the trade deadline has passed and the Red Sox didn't make any significant moves to get rid of some pitchers in exchange for others.

With two months in the regular season to go, it is solely up to the pitching staff who decides how far this team plans on making it into the fall.

The Red Sox lineup can hit the ball well, however, none of that matters when your pitchers are letting up just as many runs, and sometimes more.

However, now is the time.  If the Red Sox plan on making an end of the season run like the Tampa Bay Rays did last season, this is the time the team needs to put their egos and paychecks behind them and start working as a team.

If that can happen than Red Sox nation will be watching baseball come October.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Four Shots for One Win

As late-afternoon rolled around the Eastern time zone on Sunday, the sun was setting several hours away in England, although it had already set far behind Adam Scott hours before.

Coming into the final four holes on the last day of the Open Championship, Adam Scott held a promising lead as he ventured to his first British Open victory.

The lead was so promising that I left the room after seeing he was 4 strokes ahead of Ernie Els heading into the 16th hole.  And a mere hour later I would find out from an alert on my cell phone that Scott had blown the lead and Els had taken the win.

It was unimaginable that a professional golfer who only needed to par one of the final four holes to settle for at least a sudden death chance against Els would let that chance slip out of the grip of his club.

In a mere sense, a man whose made a living exceeding exceptions amongst the most predominant golfers in the World, needed to be average for one hole in the final four, and failed.

Scott bogeyed each and everyone of the final four holes of the Open Championship, handing the prestigious trophy over to the hands of long time veteran, South Africa's Ernie Els.

Although Els performance, whose long, respected career should not be mistaken for nothing but excellence, played well enough to deserve the trophy after posting a final score of -7, after a sensational two shots under Sunday performance.

While golfers such as Scott finished Sunday with a 5 over par performance, Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker, both finishing tied for 3rd place, posting Sunday scores of 5 over par (Woods) and 4 over par (Snedeker), Els' performance on Sunday needs to be respected as victorious, and well deserved.

As the age of many professional golfers of todays day seem to become younger and younger, the competition for major championships continues to increase as a mere toss-up to whose ever is on their A game that weekend, and whose mistakes turn into misfortunes.

While Els did not post a score of a tremendous fete in any day of the Open Championship, he appeared to be the least likely to fail in anyway of the four day tournament, as his worst day of the weekend he finished an even par.

However, with three majors down in this years golf season, the players, as well as fans, look forward to August for the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup in late September.  And like every tournament thus far this season, the possibility of victory remains unanimous until the final hole on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Your Sox Will Always Be Red"

After a June 25th trade to the Chicago White Sox, third basemen, Kevin Youkilis exchanged his pair of red sox and a slice of Italian from the North End for a pair of black sox and a deep dish pizza.  After a promising career in Boston, winning two World Series and a Gold Glove after switching from third to the other side of the diamond, Youk's eight year career in Boston came to an abrupt end after the emergence of highly prospected third basemen, Will Middlebrooks.

However this past Monday, July 16th, Youkilis made a much anticipated return to the park and city he once called home.

As I looked forward to the first at-bat that Youk would take, I started to imagine the response in which Youkilis would receive.  Although I had imagined the sea of fans that filled the seats of Fenway on monday would show their appreciation of the eight year career that Youk spent, I was interested in keeping a close eye on the reaction of his ex-teammates.

Batting second in the line-up, it was a mere two minutes after the first pitch of the game until Youkilis would step into the box.  As imagined, the crowd gave Youk a welcoming home applaud, in which he respectively deserved.

The fans stood, applauded, and Youkilis removed his batting helmet in respect.  As NESN surveyed the Red Sox dugout, all of the players which accompanied Youkilis in a Red Sox jersey throughout his career joined in the applause.

As the camera began to continue through a crowd, I saw a young fan holding a home-made sign that read, "Your sox will always be RED!"

Clearing my mind of the drunk fans screaming, players applauding and the announcement of number 20 approaching the plate, my mind could only process the home-made sign of a kid no older than 8 years old.

However, before I could imagine the career that Youukkkk had in Boston any longer, he had lined a single to centerfield and eventually scored a run by an aggressive style of base-running that Youk had always exhibited.

Kevin Youkilis always wore his heart on his sleeve.  That's if you could look past the dirt covered uniform.

He is the epitome of what a baseball player should be.  And will continue to be that in a different color pair of sox.

Welcome home Youk.