Thursday, May 31, 2012

8 MLS Squads Knocked Out of U.S. Open Cup in 3rd Round

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With a berth in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League on the line, you'd think MLS Clubs would take the U.S. Open Cup a little bit more seriously. But in the 3rd Round of the Tournament, the first round in which MLS clubs play, half of the 16 U.S. based MLS clubs were eliminated from the competition.

The New England Revolution blew a 3-0 lead in the 103rd minute and fell to the Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP) on penalties.

The L.A. Galaxy gave up a pair of goals after the 75th minute and came up short against the Carolina RailHawks (NASL) by a score of 2-1.

The Columbus Crew blew a 1-0 lead in the 79th minute at home against the Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP) losing 2-1.

The Chicago Fire took a 2-1 lead into the 79th minute against the Michigan Bucks (PDL) before losing 3-2 in extra time.

The Houston Dynamo surrendered a second half penalty and were shutout by the San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) 1-0.

FC Dallas got beat up by the Charlotte Eagles (USLP) at home by a score of 2-0.

Real Salt Lake was shocked at Rio Tinto by the Minnesota Stars (NASL) 3-1.

Cal FC (USASA) defeated the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN field 1-0 in extra time.

Now, this is the U.S. Soccer Pyramid. Teams from the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), U.S Club Soccer (USCS) and U.S. Premier Development League enter the tournament in the first round. The 16 teams that make it out of the first round take on the 6 teams from the North American Soccer League (NASL) and 10 teams from the USL PRO (USLP) league in the second round, with those winners taking on the MLS clubs in the third round. Losses to the NASL and USLP aren't glamorous by any means, but they're at least understandable when you consider that a lot of MLS teams aren't necessarily playing their best eleven and these guys are at least professionals. However, Chicago's loss to the Michigan Bucks of the PDL, and Portland's shutout loss to Cal FC of the fifth tier USASA are inexcusable.

Now Michigan is no stranger to knocking off MLS clubs having defeated the New England Revolution back in 2000 and almost upsetting the Tampa Bay Mutiny a round later drawing 3-3 and falling on penalties. Cal FC is a completely different story. Founded in 2010 and coached by former U.S. National Teamer Eric Wynalda, these guys have literally come out of nowhere in what is arguably the biggest upset in the history of the U.S. Open Cup during the MLS era.

But enough about the MLS's shortcomings in the tournament, there are still 8 teams that are still alive. Here's a look at the pairings for the 4th Round to be played on June 5th:

Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP) vs New York Red Bulls
D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union
Michigan Bucks (PDL) vs Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)
Sporting Kansas City vs Colorado Rapids
San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) vs Charlotte Eagles (USLP)
San Jose Earthquakes vs Minnesota Stars FC (NASL)
Seattle Sounders vs Cal FC (USASA)
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs Chivas USA

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The Seattle Sounders have won the last three U.S. Open Cups and a non-MLS club hasn't reached the finals since the Charleston Battery did so in 2008. The last non-MLS team to win the tournament was back in 1999 when Pat Onstad's Rochester Raging Rhinos stunned the Colorado Rapids 2-0.

Who Are These Guys?

The San Antonio Spurs have quietly ripped off 20 wins in a row, including 10 straight postseason games. Now we're all familiar with the triumvirate that is Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but Manu comes off the bench and I defy you to name the rest of the Spurs starting lineup, let alone their reserves. So as we get ready for tipoff of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, let's take a closer look at the Spurs' supporting cast.

First the starters:

Power Forward - Boris Diaw - A little over two months ago, Diaw was a member of the hapless Charlotte Bobcats, shooting a career low 41% and essentially playing his way out of town. The Bobcats cut the former NBA's Most Improved Player (2006) and he was promptly swept up by the Spurs. For San Antonio, Diaw scored just 4.7 points a game in his 20 appearances, but shot nearly 59% from the field and eventually worked his way into the starting lineup. Diaw has started all ten of San Antonio's playoff games averaging 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds and hitting 29 of 51 field goals.
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Small Forward - Kawhi Leonard - As a sophomore at San Diego State, Leonard led the Aztecs to a 34-3 record, a second straight Mountain West Championship, and a trip to the Sweet 16. Drafted by the Pacers with the 15th pick in the 2011 draft and traded to San Antonio for George Hill, Leonard would go on to start 39 games for the Spurs and finish fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Leonard has really stepped up his game in the postseason averaging 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds including a double-double in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Thunder in which he finished with 18 points and 10 boards.
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Shooting Guard - Daniel Green - The only player in ACC history with 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 three-pointers, 150 blocks and 150 steals, Green had a slow start to his NBA career. Drafted with the 46th pick of the 2009 NBA draft, Green was a member of the Cleveland LeBron's during the 2009-10 season, but appeared in just 20 regular season games. He ended up getting cut by Cleveland post-Decision and was signed by the Spurs in November of 2010. After appearing in just 8 regular season games last season, Green broke out in his third NBA season. The former UNC Tarheel played in all 66 games for the Spurs making 38 starts during the regular season and averaged 9.1 points a game. He's continued his solid play into the postseason scoring in double figures in six of San Antonio's ten games.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lushbucket Baseball League - Week 8 Recap

Photo Credit: komonews
As Albert Pujols goes, so does Pete and the Lonesome Pine. In the blink of an eye, Pete's gone from the laughingstock of the LBBL into third place after a 6-3 win over Diaper Dooty. In other news, another win for the Donkies as we've closed the gap on the defending champs to a game and a half leading into our Week 9 head-to-head showdown. Unfortunately both of my acquisitions last week - Adam LaRoche (.190) and Ted Lilly (21.60) - are no longer with the club. We're now auditioning our second different Royals first baseman in Billy Butler and we snatched up Adam Wainwright on the heels of his 4-hit shutout of San Diego. He's since followed that up with a 6 inning 1 run win over the Phillies, so hopefully he's starting to find himself. Here's a look at the rest of the league in Week 8:

Week Top Tens - 5/29/12


1. David Wright - Mets - .373 (60/161)
2. Melky Cabrera - San Francisco .368 (74/201)
3. Carlos Ruiz - Philadelphia - .366 (52/142)
4. Jonathan Lucroy - Milwaukee - .345 (48/139)
5. Rafael Furcal - St. Louis - .340 (64/188)
6. Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh - .339 (56/165)
7. Martin Prado - Atlanta - .326 (60/184)
8. Joey Votto - Cincinnati - .325 (53/163)
9. Yadier Molina - St. Louis - .321 (53/165)
10. Omar Infante - Miami - .321 (50/156)


1. Paul Konerko - White Sox - .395 (66/167)
2. Josh Hamilton - Texas - .368 (64/174)
3. Derek Jeter - Yankees - .335 (68/203)
4. Mark Trumbo - Angels - .333 (49/147)
5. Austin Jackson - Detroit - .331 (45/136)
6. Adrian Beltre - Texas - .318 (55/173)
7. Prince Fielder - Detroit - .315 (58/184)
8. Alcides Escobar - Kansas City - .310 (53/171)
9. David Ortiz - Boston - .309 (56/181)
10. Adam Jones - Baltimore - .307 (61/199)

Tuesday Trivia

Last week's question:

The Spurs and Thunder are meeting in the postseason for the first time since the Thunder franchise moved from Seattle. How many players on the current San Antonio and Oklahoma City rosters appeared in the deciding game the last time these two met in the playoffs?


The answer is four, and all four players started Game 6 of the 2005 Western Conference Semifinals for the Spurs. The first three are obvious as the trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are still leading the way for San Antonio, but don't forget Nazr Mohammed, the former starting center for San Antonio, who now serves as a backup for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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This week's question:

Landon Donovan became the first player in U.S. Men's National team history to net a third hat trick while playing for the Stars and Stripes when he struck for three goals against the Scots this weekend. Who are the ten other players to score at least three goals in a game for the United States?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ten Observations on USA vs Scotland

In case you missed it last night, the U.S. Men's National Team put together arguably their most impressive win in recent memory as they thrashed a decent Scottish side 5-1 behind a hat trick from Landon Donovan. The U.S. got after the Scots early, and despite letting them back into the game with an own goal they never crumbled and cruised to a comfortable victory. Here's ten observations I have from last night's match:

1) For someone who is questioning his desire to continue to play soccer at a high level, Landon Donovan showed he still has plenty left in the tank. Captain America scored three times, his first hat trick for the U.S. since he scored a triple against Ecuador in a 2007 friendly, hit the post once, and assisted on Jermaine Jones' header to cap off just a ridiculous night. As I commented to my buddy last night, I cannot wait to see Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the pitch at the same time.

2) Speaking of Dempsey, the U.S. managed to score 5 goals without Deuce and without Jozy Altidore. That is a great sign for a team that for a while last year couldn't seem to buy a goal. Now you figure once Altidore gets back that he'll take Terrence Boyd's spot up top, but who's the odd man out when Dempsey returns? Maurice Edu? Jones? Jose Torres? It's a tough call, but that's a good problem for Coach Klinsmann to have.

3) Jermaine Jones (1 goal, 2 assists) needs a nickname because obviously he's here to stay. I'm thinking something like Wreckless Jones since he's almost always good for a card-worthy foul or two. Or Germany Jones since he was born in Frankfurt, and Germany and Jermaine kind of sound the same. Either way, another solid performance for the Schalke 04 midfielder.

4) Playing in Italy has done wonders for Michael Bradley's game. Is there anyone out there who still thinks that he only had a spot on the team because his dad was the coach? And his goal was absolutely ridiculous. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to watch:

5) I really like what Jose Torres brings to the table. His combination of footwork and his passing ability are reminiscent of the days when we had Claudio Reyna running the show. Between him and Bradley, the U.S. really seemed to dominate possession last night which is something we don't normally see. Now it just remains to be seen where Torres fits into things once Dempsey and Altidore return to the lineup. Still, you'd be hard pressed to say that Torres doesn't at least figure to be in the rotation.

6) Geoff Cameron is horribly unlucky. In his last two games for the U.S., Cameron has been red carded and scored an own goal. Still, it was good to see him bounce back from the miscue against Scotland and turn in a decent shift. It will be interesting to see who partners up with Bocanegra (Cameron, Onyewu, Goodson, Parkhurst) when the games start counting.

7) Fabian Johnson may be the solution at left back for the United States. Although he wasn't really tested last night by the Scottish attack, his ability to run the wing is something Jurgen Klinsmann likes and he's one of the few players in the U.S. pool that actually look comfortable on that side of the field.

8) Joe Corona made his U.S. Senior National Team debut in the second half coming on as a substitute for Torres. Personally I would've liked to see Wondo get into the game, but I can't really argue with the decision to get the 21 year old some minutes. It's important to remember that these matches are both to get the players used to playing together and for Klinsmann to evaluate what he's got, and in that regard, it's important for him to get players like Boyd and Corona (virtual unknowns) playing time so he can see if they're ready for big time competition.

9) The U.S. has now won five straight matches, the most they've won consecutively since 2008 when they won six in a row. The difference is that those wins came against the likes of Barbados (2), Guatemala, Cuba (2) and Trinidad & Tobago. This stretch includes wins over Slovenia, Italy and Scotland.

10) The U.S. has still yet to concede a goal scored directly by an opponent this year as Geoff Cameron is the only player to put a ball into the U.S. net in the last four matches. With all of the questions surrounding the U.S. back line, this is really a pretty impressive feat. That said, I'd still like to see the defense play a little bit better. It's my feeling that it's not so much great play from the defense that's caused this run, but solid goalkeeping and missed opportunities from the opposition. That said, if we continue to score 5 goals a game, it probably won't matter how well we defend.

The U.S. will look to make it six wins in a row on Wednesday when they host Brazil at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Kickoff is set for 8 pm Eastern time and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Winless Toronto FC is Champions League Bound

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The 2012 MLS Season has been nothing short of a disaster for Toronto FC. The Reds have failed to earn a single point through 9 matches getting outscored 21-7 over that span. Yet despite their struggles, Toronto's going to be playing in the Champions League for a fourth straight season after they defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2012 Canadian Championship Final. After drawing 1-1 in the first leg of the Championship Round, 21 year old Bermudian Reggie Lambe broke a scoreless tied in the 83rd minute of the second leg to send Toronto through to the Champions League. Toronto becomes the 21st team, and fifth squad from MLS, to earn a berth in the upcoming Tournament with only the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship - which will produce the final three tournament berths - yet to be decided. Toronto is looking to build on a strong showing in the 2011-12 Champions League where they reached the semifinals before falling to Santos Laguna (Mexico).

Here's a quick look at the 21 teams who have qualified for the 2012-13 Champions League that will begin play on July 31st.

Tigres de la UANL - Mexico - 2011 Apertura Champion
Santos Laguna - Mexico - 2012 Clausura Champion, 2011 Apertura Runner-Up
Guadalajara - Mexico - Non-finalist w/ Best Regular Season Record in 2011 Apertura
Monterrey - Mexico - 2012 Clausura Runner-Up

Los Angeles Galaxy - USA - 2011 MLS Cup Champion, 2011 MLS Supporters' Shield Champion
Seattle Sounders FC - USA - 2011 MLS Supporters' Shield Runner-Up, 2011 U.S. Open Cup Champion
Houston Dynamo - USA - 2011 MLS Cup Runner-Up
Real Salt Lake - USA - 2011 MLS Supporters' Shield Third Place

Toronto FC - Canada - 2012 Canadian Championship Champion

Isidro Metapán - El Salvador - 2011 Apertura Champion
Águila - El Salvador - 2012 Clausura Champion
FAS - El Salvador - Non-Champion w/ Best Aggregate Record in 2011-12 Season

Alajuelense - Costa Rica - 2011 Invierno Champion
Herediano - Costa Rica - 2012 Verano Champion

Olimpia - Honduras - 2011 Apertura Champion, 2012 Clausura Champion
Marathón - Honduras - Non-Champion w/ Best Aggregate Record in 2011-12 Season

Municipal - Guatemala - 2011 Apertura Champion
Xelajú - Guatemala - 2012 Clausura Champion

Chorrillo - Panama - 2011 Apertura Champion
Tauro - Panama - 2012 Clausura Champion

Real Estelí - Nicaragua - Champion w/ Better Aggregate Record in 2011-12 Season

Friday, May 25, 2012

Driver 7th Pro Athlete to Win Dancing With the Stars

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Congratulations to Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver who this week became the 7th Professional Athlete in 14 seasons to win Dancing With the Stars. Driver joins the following athletes who have also won the competition:

Hall of Fame Running Back Emmitt Smith (season 3)
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Olympic Speed Skater Apolo Anton Ohno (season 4)
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3-Time Indy 500 Winner Hélio Castroneves (season 5)
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Olympic Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi (season 6)
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Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson (season 8)
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and recently retired Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Hines Ward (season 12) 
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Now normally I'm not into reality TV competition type shows, but I've got to say, my wife had me watch the freestyle portion of this season's competition and it was pretty impressive. Here's a look at Driver's freestyle dance that earned him a perfect 30 out of 30 and essentially won him the competition:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Midweek Mailbag

So Agudelo is now playing for Chivas USA, and in return they get Heath Pearce, money allocation, and future considerations. Who got the best end of this deal, Chivas or the Red Bulls, and do you see this helping Juan Agudelo's development as a player? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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I really think this is a great move for both sides. The Red Bulls have been devastated by injuries this year, particularly on defense, and Heath Pearce gives them exactly what they need to shore up what has become a very inexperienced backline. With plenty of firepower up front in Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, Juan Agudelo basically became expendable and Chivas USA is a perfect landing spot for him. The Goats have scored just 8 goals in 12 games so far this season and Agudelo gives them a legitimate weapon in his prime. This is also exactly the opportunity that the 19 year old Agudelo needs to continue to develop as a player. Stuck behind Luke Rodgers for much of 2011 and Kenny Cooper in 2012, Agudelo hasn't gotten the minutes you'd expect for a player with his potential. The move to the west coast finally gives him the opportunity to take his next steps forward as a player.

Ok, so Chelsea wins the Champions League title this past weekend after a very exciting game that went all the way past extra time and into PK's. Now they get to play Champions League ball even though they only managed a 6th place finish in the EPL this year. Now that relegates Tottenham to playing Europa ball, and knocks Liverpool out of playing in Europe at all, correct? The whole thing seems a bit convoluted if you ask me, but then again what do I know? Do I have it right? Do Liverpool fans have yet ANOTHER reason to hate Chelsea? Is there any other possible way for the powers that be to manage a situation like that? And has their even been a situation like this before? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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First of all, what an unbelievable run for Chelsea. I didn't even give them a puncher's chance against Bayern Munich, especially with the game in Munich, but as they say, that's why they play the game. Anyhow, as you mentioned, there are consequences as Chelsea, the 6th best team in the English Premier League this past season, wins the Champions League title and the automatic berth into next year's tournament that comes with it. Because England can only send four teams tom the Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur, the 4th place team in the Premier League had its spot in the Champions League revoked dropping them into the Europa League tournament instead. Now the Europa League is slightly more complicated. England gets 3 automatic berths there typically reserved for the winner of the Carling Cup (Liverpool), the 5th Place Premier League Finisher (Newcastle) and the 6th Place Finisher (Chelsea). With Chelsea's spot vacated, Spurs slot in nicely, so no one's really getting robbed of an opportunity here. Liverpool fans can rest easy. 

Interestingly enough, Liverpool is actually the reason there is a contingency plan in place for a situation like this. In 2005, when Everton finished fourth, and fifth place Liverpool won the Champions League, there was no provision in UEFA's regulations for such an unlikely scenario where the champion wasn't an automatic qualifier for the next tournament. UEFA had simply presumed that any team good enough to win its marquee tournament would also have qualified for next season's competition by conventional means. As a result, the rules were rewritten so that if the circumstances of 2005 were repeated, the reigning champ's entry would take precedence over the weakest league qualifier, with a maximum of four clubs permitted from a single country. It's a tough break for Spurs, but considering they choked away a third place finish in the EPL they really have no one to blame but themselves.

With all the media surrounding the roger Clemens perjury trial, why is he testifying before elected government officials? Since when has the federal government cared about drug usage with sports? Why don't they go after Hollywood types for drugs if it's that big of an issue to them? I just see our tax dollars going to an odd place and I missed why Clemens, and Bonds for that matter, receive so much federal attention. - The Dude, Chesapeake, VA
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It's a legitimate question. With everything else going in the country, why did our Congress use its resources to address steroids in baseball? But, these are people we elected so I guess you get what you vote for. Or don't vote for. Anyhow... Agree or not with Congress's involvement, the fact remains that Clemens, and Bonds for that matter, were alleged to have made false statements while under oath. In Bonds' case, he was found guilty of obstructing justice stemming from his grand jury appearance in 2003. And then currently Clemens is on trial for six felony counts involving perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice. Two jurors have already been dismissed for falling asleep during the trial so that should tell you everything you need to know about whether people care or not.

That does it for this week. As always a special thanks to everyone who wrote in. And remember, as the great G$ Meyer says Reading is for Winners, especially when you read Smitty's Mailbag.

Got a question for the mailbag? Click on the link at the top of the page or email us directly at

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Top Ten Bayou Sports Moments

As my time in Louisiana draws to a close, I can't help but reflect on the Top Ten Games that I was able to witness during my time here. For the purpose of this list I limited myself to games that I was able to drive to rather than ones I saw when on the road. Here we go:

1. November 30th, 2009 - New Orleans Saints 38 New England Patriots 17 - Touted as a potential Super Bowl Preview, the 10-0 Saints hosted the 7-3 Patriots on Monday Night Football and the atmosphere did not disappoint. This was my first Superdome experience and the place was just nuts, there's no other way to describe it. New England took a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter and then Drew Brees just took the game over finishing 18 of 23 for 371 yards and 5 touchdown passes to 5 different receivers.
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2. January 1st, 2010 - Florida Gators 51 Cincinnati Bearcats 24 - After suffering their only loss of the season in the SEC Championship game to Alabama, Florida took on previously unbeaten Big East Champion Cincinnati in the 2010 All State Sugar Bowl. It was Tim Tebow's last game as a college player and boy did he go out on top. Tebow completed 31 of 35 passes for 482 yards and 3 touchdowns to go along with 51 rushing yards and another touchdown as the Gators jumped out to a 37-3 lead and never looked back.
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3. March 24th, 2011 - (2) Florida 83 (3) BYU 74, OT - Already mentioned getting to see Tim Tebow's last game as a college player, and in this game I was able to see Jimmer Fredette's last game with BYU when the Cougars took on the Gators in the Sweet 16. While he didn't have a great night shooting the basketball (11 for 29 including 3 for 15 from long range), he still finished with 32 points and 5 assists in a losing effort and I've got to say it was pretty impressive. But ultimately, Florida's size and speed was too much for the Cougars as they were led by Senior Alex Tyus's 19 points and 17 rebounds and SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons' 16 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
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4. March 18th, 2010 - (9) Wake Forest 81 (8) Texas 80, OT - Ishmael Smith's jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining gave Wake Forest a one point victory over Texas in the First Round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. This was the fourth game my buddy Scott and I sat through on this particular day and it was by far the most exciting. The 6'0" Smith finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists while fellow future NBAer Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in 20 points and 15 rebounds. Texas featured Avery Bradley (Celtics), the now infamous Dexter Pittman (Heat), Damion James (Nets) and Jordan Hamilton (Nuggets), but were led instead by freshman J'Covan Brown's 20 points. James missed a free throw (he finished 7 for 8 at the line) with 9 seconds to play in regulation that could have won the game for Texas.
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5. November 5th, 2010 - New Orleans Hornets 96 Miami Heat 93 - Now if you follow the blog at all you know I'm not a fan of the Miami Heat, particularly after 'The Decision' and the party that ensued where LeBron famously said they were out to win at least 8 Championships and that it was going to be easy, etc. So while this game was just a regular season game it featured a 4-0 Hornets team and a 4-1 Heat team and actually seemed to have a playoff atmosphere about it. The Hornets jumped out to a huge early lead going up by as many as 14 late in the first quarter, but Miami battled back as they so often do even taking the lead late in the game. But Marco Belinelli made a pair of free throws to give the Hornets the lead once again, then Trevor Ariza drilled a three for some breathing room and Eddie House misfired on a last second effort to give New Orleans the win. Chris Paul finished with 13 points, an absurd 19 assists and 5 steals for the Hornets while Chris Bosh managed to grab just 1 rebound in 34 minutes for Miami.
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6. November 22nd, 2008 - Ole Miss 31 LSU 13 - My first trip to Tiger Stadium. Yeah, it was a day game, and yeah 2008 wasn't one of LSU's better seasons, but there were still 92,649 fans in attendance which was pretty impressive. The tailgating wasn't bad either. As for the game, Mike Wallace (Steelers) led the way for Ole Miss with 99 receiving yards and a pair of scores while the vaunted quarterback duo of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combined to go 14 for 32 with a pair of interceptions and 16 rushing yards on 11 carries. 20 of those rushing yards came on one scramble by Jefferson.
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7.  July 24th, 2009 - Houston Astros 5 New York Mets 4 - This one makes the list because I'm an Astros fan and this was the first time I'd been to a regular season Astros game where I'd even gotten to see them score let alone win. With Mets ace Johan Santana on the hill, a win in this one seemed unlikely, but Mike Hampton connected for a line drive 2-run home run into the Crawford Boxes in left and then Chris Coste, starting at first base for the injured Lance Berkman, delivered a 2-run double and the Astros hung on for the implausible 5-4 win. I caught the next two games of the 3-game series as well and Houston was outscored 18-6 making the memories of this game that much fonder.
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8. March 18th, 2010 - (1) Kentucky 100 (16) East Tennessee State 71 - Top seeded Kentucky completely overwhelmed the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament champion Buccaneers in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The tournament favorites got 29 points including 8 three-pointers from Eric Bledsoe and 17 points and 11 assists from point guard John Wall as the 'Cats broke the 100 point barrier for just the fourth time that season. Seven members of that Wildcat team are already in the NBA: Patrick Patterson (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Bledsoe (Clippers), Wall (Wizards), Josh Harrellson (Knicks), DeAndre Liggins (Magic) and Daniel Orton (Magic). Wall would end up being the first overall pick in the 2010 draft and the one thing that really stood out about him was just how fast he was. Granted he was playing against East Tennessee State, but still. Definitely worth the price of admission.
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9.  March 24th, 2011 - (8) Butler 61 (4) Wisconsin 54 - For the second year in a row Butler worked its magic in the NCAA Tournament and I was there to see them knock off Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. Butler led by as many as 20 in the second half before Wisconsin finally came alive, but it was too little too late. Butler held Badger forward Jon Leuer (Bucks) to just 1 for 12 shooting and got 20 points and 12 rebounds for the 2011 Academic All American of the Year Matt Howard. Jordan Taylor was the only player to score in double figures for Wisconsin finishing with 22 as the Badgers were held to just 30.4% shooting.
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10. October 24th, 2009 - LSU 31 Auburn 10 - From a good game standpoint, this game was awful, but it was the only night game I had the opportunity of seeing at Tiger Stadium, and the atmosphere was incredible. 92,654 screaming fans and they had a LOT to cheer about. Auburn didn't get into the end zone until the final seconds of the game, and otherwise it was all LSU. Auburn gained just 193 total yards and turned the ball over three times while Jordan Jefferson accounted for 3 touchdowns and 268 all purpose yards for the Tigers.
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27 Invited to USMNT Camp

Things are about to get busy for the U.S. Men's National team as they prepare for three friendly matches - vs Scotland (5/26), vs Brazil (5/30) and at Canada (6/3) - prior to kicking off World Cup Qualifying against Antigua & Barbuda on June 8th. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has invited 27 players to camp as the team gets ready for its busy stretch. Here's a look at the invitees:


Tim Howard - Everton - A staple in net for the Americans, the 33 year old Everton netminder just wrapped up another solid season in the English Premier League. Howard played every minute of all 38 regular season games for Everton posting a record of 15-12-11 while contributing 12 clean sheets as Everton finished the year in 7th place. Howard last appeared for the National Team in the 1-0 upset win over Italy in February. He has 73 appearances and 26 shutouts in his international career.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lushbucket Baseball League Recap - Week 7

Seven weeks in the books in the LBBL and now everyone has played each other once. At the end of the first round, the defending champ maintains a two game lead over the Donkies, but the real surprise is that there's only one other team over .500. Gotta love parity.

Anyhow, finally cut ties with Eric Hosmer this week in favor of Washington's Adam LaRoche. We're almost to the end of May and Hosmer still isn't hitting .200 so the writing was on the wall. Also lost my first player to the DL this week as Neftali Feliz went down, but thankfully Ted Lilly and his 1.79 ERA were still available. Here's a look at the rest of the league in Week 7:

Tuesday Trivia

Last week's question:

19 year old Bryce Harper hit his first Major League home run last week becoming the youngest player to homer in a Major League game since Adrian Beltre (40 days younger than Harper) did so back in 1998. Who is the youngest player ever to homer in a Major League game?

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Tommy "Buckshot" Brown hit his first major league home run at the age of 17 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. A versatile defender, Brown debuted at the age of 16, and played 9 seasons in the majors splitting time with the Dodgers, Phillies and Cubs. Brown finished his career with just 31 homers, but did once hit 3 homers in a game in 1950.

This week's question:
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The Spurs and Thunder are about to meet in the postseason for the first time since the Thunder franchise moved from Seattle. How many players on the current San Antonio and Oklahoma City rosters appeared in the deciding game the last time these two met in the playoffs?

Weekly Top Tens - 5/22/12


1. David Wright - Mets - .415 (56/135)
2. Melky Cabrera - San Francisco .360 (62/172)
3. Matt Kemp - Dodgers - .359 (42/117)
4. Rafael Furcal - St. Louis - .350 (57/163)
5. Carlos Ruiz - Philadelphia - .347 (43/124)
6. Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh - .340 (49/144)
7. Jonathan Lucroy - Milwaukee - .339 (41/121)
8. Ryan Braun - Milwaukee - .333 (51/153)
9. Omar Infante - Miami - .326 (43/132)
10. A.J. Ellis - Dodgers - .321 (34/106)


1. Josh Hamilton - Texas - .379 (58/153)
2. Paul Konerko - White Sox - .367 (51/139)
3. Derek Jeter - Yankees - .343 (60/175)
4. David Ortiz - Boston - .333 (53/159)
5. Austin Jackson - Detroit - .331 (45/136)
6. Elvis Andrus - Texas - .317 (53/167)
7. Asdrubal Cabrera - Cleveland - .309 (43/139)
8. Billy Butler - Kansas City - .308 (49/159)
9. Miguel Cabrera - Detroit - .307 (51/166)
10. Adam Jones - Baltimore - .307 (54/176)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Feeling the Heat

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The Miami Heat dropped their second straight playoff game to the Indiana Pacers tonight as the gaping hole left by injured starting power forward Chris Bosh was exposed once again. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise though. The Heat were just 4-5 without Bosh in the lineup during the regular season compared to 41-15 with him. Let's take a closer look at those 9 games:

3/01/12 - W @ Portland 107-93
3/02/12 - L @ Utah 99-98
3/04/12 - L @ Lakers 93-83
4/18/12 - W vs Toronto 96-72
4/19/12 - W vs Chicago 83-72
4/21/12 - L vs Washington 86-84
4/22/12 - W vs Houston 97-88
4/24/12 - L @ Boston 78-66
4/26/12 - L @ Washington 104-70

The four wins?

1) LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 71 points in the win over the Blazers.
2) The Toronto Raptors starting 5 consisted of Amir Johnson, Alan Anderson, Aaron Gray, Ben Uzoh and DeMar DeRozan.
3) The Bulls were without Derrick Rose.
4) The Rockets entered the game losers of 6 of 7 and were without Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin.

So it's hardly an impressive resume. And now on top of it, the Heat have just been absolutely punished by the Pacers inside the last two games getting outrebounded 50-40 in Game 2, and then 52-36 tonight. The big man combination of Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf, Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard and Dexter Pittman has produced these two less-than-impressive lines:

Game 2: 60 minutes, 3/13 FG, 7 points, 12 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 7 fouls
Game 3: 57 minutes, 4/10 FG, 15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 7 fouls

It looks even worse when you compare it to what Indiana's Roy Hibbert has been able to do BY HIMSELF in that same span:
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Game 2: 33 minutes, 2/6 FG, 8 points, 11 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls
Game 3: 33 minutes, 9/16 FG, 19 points, 18 rebounds, 1 turnover, 4 fouls

So yeah. Hibbert has 29 rebounds. Haslem/Turiaf/Anthony/Howard/Pittman have 24. In about half the minutes. Not good. The Heat are going to need one of their big men to step up in this series or Miami's in real trouble. You can expect LeBron and Wade to play better in Game 4, but Indiana goes 10 deep and they're getting contributions from everywhere. Miami? They had the Dexter Pittman experiment. Pittman started Game 3 and was yanked after 3 1/2 minutes and didn't return. In that span he had 2 shots blocked by Hibbert, he was outrebounded by Hibbert 3-0, and he committed a foul on Hibbert going for a rebound. That is not how you earn more playing time, and if the Heat's role players keep turning in performances 'Like a Bosh', expect more results like you saw tonight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Evaluating the Fantasy Baseball Keepers

We're about a month and a half into Fantasy Baseball this year. Let's check out and see how the Lushbucket Baseball League's Keepers are doing. For those of you not in the league, we get three keeper players per year. The round that you originally draft the player is the round you get him if you "keep" him. If you didn't draft him the previous season, but want to keep him, then he slots into your first available draft pick. The round the players went in this year's draft is listed in parentheses.

BJ's Upton Here:
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Jacoby Ellsbury (8) - .192, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB (on DL)
Curtis Granderson (14) - .257, 13 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB
Adam Wainwright (21) - 6.16 ERA, 2-4, 39 K

Midweek Mailbag - Soccer, Soccer & More Soccer

Carles Puyol is looking at maybe having surgery on his knee, and will most likely not be fit for the Euro 2012 tourney. I know he's just one guy, but he's pretty well the anchor of that back 4 for Spain. How big of a loss would it be to not have him when Spain tries to defend their Euro title? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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Tough break for Carles "don't call me Carlos or Charles" Puyol. Any time you lose one of your starters, particularly one of your team leaders, it's a blow. Fortunately for Spain, they're incredibly deep in the back. Even without Puyol they can trot out an imposing back line consisting of Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid) and Álvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid). Puyol is 34 now and the reality is that Spain was going to need a plan to move forward without him in the near future anyways. Now they're just going to have to do it a little bit sooner than expected. The bigger concern in my mind for Spain is that they will be without their leading scorer from their World Cup run as David Villa continues to recover from his broken leg suffered with Barcelona. Spain will have to get production from somewhere else on the field or teams like the Netherlands or Germany will be able to upset the defending champs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Trivia

Last week's question:

Chris Davis recently became the first position player to be a winning pitcher in an American League game since Rocky Colavito accomplished the feat in 1968 for the New York Yankees. Davis recorded 2 strikeouts (Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adrian Gonzalez) in two scoreless innings of work. How many strikeouts did Colavito have in his win?

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Outfielder Rocky Colavito worked 2 2/3 shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers striking out one in the Yankees' 6-5 win. Colavito came on in the 4th inning in relief of Steve Barber after New York fell behind 5-0, but the Yankees rallied for 5 runs in the bottom of the 6th to take the lead and hung on for the win. Colavito actually appeared in a game as a pitcher earlier in his career as well when he tossed 3 scoreless innings for the Indians, also against the Detroit Tigers. Colavito came on in the 7th inning in relief of Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm in a 3-2 game and didn't allow a hit the rest of the way, but the Indians couldn't push the tying run across in the bottom of the 9th. He struck out one in that appearance as well.

This week's question:
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19 year old Bryce Harper hit his first Major League home run this week becoming the youngest player to homer in a Major League game since Adrian Beltre (40 days younger than Harper) did so back in 1998. Who is the youngest player ever to homer in a Major League game?

Weekly Top Tens - 5/15/12


1. David Wright - Mets - .389 (47/118)
2. Rafael Furcal - St. Louis - .370 (51/138)
3. Matt Kemp - Dodgers - .359 (42/117)
4. Bryan LaHair - Cubs - .356 (37/104)
5. Jon Jay - St. Louis - .343 (36/105)
6. Carlos Ruiz - Philadelphia - .340 (35/103)
7. Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh - .339 (40/118)
8. Melky Cabrera - San Francisco - .338 (49/145)
9. Daniel Murphy - Mets - .333 (47/141)
9. Starlin Castro - Cubs - .333 (48/144)


1. Josh Hamilton - Texas - .400 (52/130)
2. Derek Jeter - Yankees - .367 (55/155)
3. David Ortiz - Boston - .346 (47/136)
4. Ryan Sweeney - Boston - .333 (37/111)
5. Paul Konerko - White Sox - .331 (42/127)
6. Elvis Andrus - Texas - .326 (46/141)
7. Austin Jackson - Detroit - .318 (41/129)
8. Asdrubal Cabrera - Cleveland - .316 (36/114)
9. Dustin Pedroia - Boston - .313 (46/147)
10. Mike Moustakas - Kansas City - .306 (34/111)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lushbucket Baseball League Recap - Week 6

The boys only hit .254 this week, but it was enough to beat Frank 9-0 sending the Donkies into second place. Still not getting production up and down the lineup though and I'm thinking it's getting to be about time to cut ties with Eric Hosmer. I really thought the Royals first baseman would break out this year, but he's actually got a lower batting average than Albert Pujols right now and this year that's saying something. I'm a little concerned about Heath Bell and his 10.03 ERA as well, but at least he got me a pair of wins out of the Marlins pen this week. Anyhow, here's a rundown of Week 6: