Monthly Archives: February 2012

Spring training – NY style

As February ends, spring training begins. Arizona and Florida become populated with professionals and hopefuls all counting down the days (37 as of Feb. 27) until the opening pitch on April 4.

Every year brings new challenges for every team. Trades break fans hearts and new hires give fans hope. The Los Angeles Angels added all-star Albert Pujols, pretty much breaking the collective hearts of St. Louis fans. The Cubs hired Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations, which of course diehard Cubs fans took as a sign from God that they will win this year. Hey, they’ve only had a bad century. They’re due, right?

But now on to the biggest baseball empire of them all: the Yankees.

Now, for most baseball fans you either love ’em or you hate ’em. It’s a rarity to get a “ehh, you know, I don’t have feelings either way.”

Coming into spring training, pitching continues to be a point of importance for the Yanks. Mariano Rivera threw for the first time in camp yesterday, but the question remains: how much longer will he pitch? Mo is getting up there in age (for an athlete), but don’t count him out yet. He’s still the greatest closer ever, but ESPN’s Wallace Matthews thinks Rafael Soriano is the man to replace him, so let’s see what So is made of in 2012.

Girardi announced his spring rotation this afternoon. Adam Warren gets the start in the team’s first pre-season game. Ivan Nova gets the start on March 3. Freddy Garcia on March 4; Michael Pineda makes his pinstripes debut on March 5. CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes on March 6. Hiroki Kuroda also makes his debut on March 7.

In addition to the two new pitchers, the Yanks also added Raul Ibanez during the off-season. His addition as a left-handed DH will definitely come in handy during the season.

Eric Chavez became a Yankee (again) this afternoon. And as the ESPN blurb put it “In other news, sun to rise in East, set in West.”

One interesting point that came out during training was that Nick Swisher, in the walk year of his contract, said he won’t seek to negotiate a new deal during the season. He said he plans on testing free agency during the winter, so he may very well not be in the pinstripes next spring.

And on to A-Rod we go. A-Rod gave a press conference this afternoon addressing his place in the lineup and his health. He apparently will be batting eighth this season instead of clean-up. Uhmm. Let’s see how long that lasts. But he did say that he is healthy. I’m sure Yankees fans will be holding they’re breathe until October on that last point.

While the Yankees are getting older (Jeter is 38, A-Rod is 36, Ibanez is 39 and Rivera is 42), they hope to continue to be the team to beat in the AL East.

We only have 37 more days until we get to find out what these Yankees are made of.

They Came, They Played, they Broke records!

February 26, 2012 at 7:30pm, the 62nd annual NBA All-Star game took place. This is where the best all around from each team, East to the West come together and compete to see what side is to be considered that year’s All-Star champion. Some of the East team included, of course, the Miami Heat trio, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, playing in his hometown, and Chicago’s own, Derrick Rose. West included Kobe Bryant, making his 14th appearance to the All-Star game, Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and last year slam dunk contest winner Blake Griffin.  Here’s what i believe to have been the top 5 highlights of the game.

5: The West team came into the game not taking any prisoners, but Westbrook was one of my favorite that night. His powerful dunks assisted with West win and my entertainment. The best dunk of the night goes to Russell Westbook! With the assist from Chris Paul in the 2nd quarter around 3 and a half minutes left, Westbrook’s powerful dunk shocks even LeBron James.

4: Mutiple records were broken and most of them coming from the West team. One including West racking up 88 points in the first half, making them the record breakers of Most Points in NBA All-Star history. Most of those points came from Durant, Griffin and WestBrook with a combined 79 points only before halftime.

3. And the winners are???? West team wins yet another All-Star Championship with the final being 152-149. The history wins are West leading 88-69 against East.

The real winners of the night are…

2. Kevin Durant winning the game’s MVP, with 36-points he tied with east’s LeBron James, but because LeBron did not come through for his team in the last quarter, West took the win, therefore Kevin Durant took that MVP. Durant played a game-high of 17 minutes and took home his first All-star MVP.

1. YES ! you guessed it, Kobe Bryant is my number one highlight of the game. Even injured, he was determined to make history that night and make history he did. Any time you beat Michael Jordan’s record then you deserve a praise. That third-quarter dunk with 4:27 left,  is what exceeded MJ’s All-Star Game points from 262 to 264 and he left that game with 271 points, finishing up the 27 points for the game. Congrats Kobe, you rock!

Twin City Dreams

Kyle Gibson, pitcher for Triple A baseball team Rochester Red Wings in Minnesota was given an Invitation to Spring training this year. 

Gibson, a right handed pitcher from Mizzou and fellow graduate of Greenfield-Central High School was drafted in the 2009 first round by the Minnesota Twins. The ‘miracle’ pitcher, as he was soon dubbed by the NaplesNews message board is sure to return to Florida with a vengeance. Gibson was given a similar opportunity this past year to show his stuff at spring training but after rehabilitating the stress fracture in his forearm, Gibson wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues. But with constant training and much training Baseball America  has named Gibson the number 1 prospect for the Twins this offseason.

As a Greenfield Alum we all look forward and have high hopes for our Cougar all-star. Mizzou polished his talents up and led him to be the number 22 overall pick in the 2009 draft. I know I’m ready to see him play in the Big Leagues, but who knows what i’ll do when I see him pitching against my beloved red sox. My house might soon become a house divided! 

 

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NBA All Star Game 2012

The NBA All Star game was played on February 26th in Orlando, Florida.  This highly touted game was watched by professional basketball fans everywhere and the anticipated match up of EAST VS WEST was not a disappointment.  The stars that were representing the East team included Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, and Carmelo Anthony.  The West team had high profile names like, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant.  Early predictions gave the East the upper hand but when they were down 21 points, it became apparent that Durant and Bryant were not ready to take a back seat to Wade and James. The East team as able to cut this deficit to one point and although their comeback was not enough, the real story was the intensity of the final quarter of the game.  The final score was 152-149 and it was the second highest scoring all-star game in history.

Monday afternoon, the Laker website reported that when Dwayne Wade fouled Kobe Bryant, it resulted in a nasal fracture.  Fans are impressed because in a true competitive spirit, Bryant kept playing and broke the all-star scoring record by beating Michael Jordan’s mark of 262 points.  Kobe ended the game with 27 points which brings his total points scored in all-star games to 271.  LeBron James is far younger than Bryant and has 207 points which leads us to believe he will one day hold the all-time scoring record. 

All-Star games provide a break from the intensity of the NBA season and the players don’t always take it as seriously as people would like.  In last night’s game it was clear that there was some pride on the line and  LeBron James said it best.  “Being a competitor, no matter All-Star Game or not, you don’t want to be blown out”.  For Kobe to suffer an injury in a game that does not matter is exactly the reason they don’t put all that they have into the games.  It was fun to see the teams battle in the end and the amount of points scored was probably a better example of that than anything. 

San Francisco Giants Spring Training Update

Things are going well for the San Francisco Giants so far in Arizona this year. That’s not to say however that there haven’t been a few hiccups. This weekend was the first time that the Giants had hitters facing their pitchers, and there was a couple of times were fans watched nervously as athletic trainers ran out onto the field to check on the Giants players. Both Matt Cain, one of the Giant’s Pitchers, and Pablo Sandoval, 3rd Base, took hard pitches that left the trainers worried.

Besides being a little sore for a few days, both players are expected to be fine. Cain iced his calf just to be safe, while Sandoval brushed off his injury, saying no other treatment was needed.

Other than that small scare, Spring Training has gone well for the Giants. One of the biggest things that both the team and fans are excited about is to finally have their whole team together, healthy again. The 2011 season was full of injuries, from their Catcher Buster Posey, who has been out since late May because of a collision at home plate, to having one of America’s favorite closers, Brain Wilson, back on the mound. Also back is 2nd Baseman Freddy Sanchez, who has just returned after fully recovering from his shoulder surgery.

So far, so good, it seems for the San Francisco Giants.  The key to this season is to keep everyone not only in shape, but healthy. A healthy team could mean big things for the Giants in this upcoming season.

 

jacfitzgerald

Kevin Durant wins MVP over LeBron James


Sunday nights NBA All-Star game seemed to save this years NBA All Star weekend. Performances by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant were absolutely outstanding. However, Kevin Durant ended up winning the MVP award by a hair over LeBron James, helping the West team win over the East team 152-149. It was a close race for the MVP award as both performances were immaculate and Kobe set a new scoring record, but in the end, you can only have one MVP.

Both players tallied up 36 points during the game. Durant played a total of 37 minutes raining three pointers and dunks left and right. He had a 14-25 shooting record, seven rebounds, and three assists while, LeBron had six rebounds and seven assists but failed to bring his team to a victory.

In the first half the West team dominated the court leading by nearly 20 points the entire time. The second half was much more exciting and extremely unexpected, but hey, that’s the beauty of basketball. Both LeBron and Durant’s efforts seemed to inspire the rest of their teammates especially in the fourth quarter of the game. The final closing seconds came down to the East’s chance to tie with the West but fell just short of a basket. Thanks to Durant and LeBron, the 2012 NBA All Star game was definitely the type of game fans wanted to see and this will be one to remember.

 

Round of applause to Kevin Durant for winning the MVP award!

Unicycling

Most people associate unicycles with a circus, but over the past decade unicycling has evolved into an extreme sport. When I was in middle school I was part of a circus at my school, I started practicing the unicycle and found that I was actually pretty good at it. For those of you whole don’t know what a unicycle is, it sounds exactly how its spelled…a bicycle with one wheel! It’s an extremely hard skill to pick up and requires a lot of practice on your balance. After learning the basics of unicycling, I became very interested in learning more about the sport. There are so many events and contests that involve unicycles. Some are; artistic free style, unicycle hockey, unicycle basketball, street and trail unicycling, road races, mountain climbing. Personally, my favorite event to watch is the street and flat top competitions. Individuals get to show what tricks they’ve been working on and some of them are mind blowing.

This sport is most popular in Australia and New Zealand although it has become very popular in the United States over the past few years. Unicyclists have created their own community within our society. Every year there are conventions around the world for unicyclists as well as worldwide championships  held in various locations each year. This year the ‘Uninats’ will be held in Melbourne, Australia. The neat thing about these competitions is that any person can participate in them no matter their skill level. Some are amazing unicyclists, while others don’t have much experience. If you like extreme sports, I challenge you to try this one out and see if you can master it. Who knows, it might be a great way to get to class on campus or a new way play basic sports with your friends!

Christian Watford 

Netball was invented in England by an American named Dr. Toles (netball.asn.au).  The game was adapted to suit the needs of the women who became interested in the game itself.  The clothing they had to wear created a lot of problems for them as they were wearing long skirts and shirts that were very restrictive.  It was not always called Netball.  In the beginning it was called, “Women’s Basketball” (netball.asn.au).  There was a fairly quick increase in interest of this particular game.  In fact, an Australian Women’s Basketball Association was created in August of 1927 and this was very impressive considering women were not as liberated as they are today.  It was impressive that they established such a following for this sport.  Australia has remained dominant in this sport throughout the decades.  Even recently, “Australia has claimed the World Championship title in nine of the 12 World Netball Championships held since 1963, including the 2007 World Netball Championships where they defeated New Zealand 42-38 in Auckland” (netball.asn.au). 

A youtube video instructed me on how this game is played.  The court is broken down into thirds and the center third has a small circle where the ball is brought back to each time a goal is scored.  There are seven people on the court and the positions are very specific and they can’t all score.  The seven positions are called, goal keeper, goal defense, wing defense, center, wing attack, goal attack, and goal shooter.  They can’t go in all parts of the court.  The game at the international level is broken up into four 15 minute quarters.  It is different from basketball in a lot of ways.  A player can’t dribble the ball, once the ball is caught, it has to be passed within three seconds to an eligible receiver of the ball.  Second, the basketball does not have a backboard and the goal itself is low.  It seems very fast paced and would require a lot of concentration because each person has a limited role.

Netball was inv…

During the summer of 2010, I spent eight weeks in London interning at a sports website. I had to write articles about different, lesser-known sports. I wrote about parkour, rollerskiing and a bunch of different sports, but my favorite would have to be landyachting.

No, not lady aching, as some people probably read that. I don’t even know what lady aching would be, but I probably don’t want to know.

Landyachting is basically a combination of sailing and go-karting. It’s more physical than either sailing or go-karting, mostly because you have to control the landyacht with your hands and your feet. At first it’s a little tough. You have to steer with your feet, but you increase or decrease speed by releasing or pulling on the rope for the sail. It’s a little bit like windsurfing, but not really.

You can definitely gain some speed when you participate. The expert that I went to for my lesson had a record speed of 86.4 mph. Imagine that wind wiping through your hair, or what will probably be more accurate, detaching your hair.

The day that I went landyachting, it was rainy and cold (basically a regular day in London in May) and had on the lamest fleece ever. I was freezing the entire time, but it was awesome.

Though it is a beach sport (preferably wet so you get more speed), you can do it in parking lots, but where’s the fun in that?

The sport is popular in England, which apparently is the weird sport capital of the world (Gloucestershire cheese rolling? Really?) There are numerous clubs in England and some in France, as well. There is even a British Federation of Sand and Land Yachts.

Legit.

I think I smell a new Olympic sport.