13 Days to the 143rd Kentucky Derby

The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby is now only two weeks away, and there continues to be a lot of speculation as to which horses will be bypassing the race and whether or not those next in line will have their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run on May 6.

With all of the Derby prep races now over, Girvin, Classic Empire and Santa Anita Derby winner (almost always the horse that becomes my Kentucky Derby sentimental choice) Gormley still lead the points list. Yesterday it was announced that the rumors that Cloud Computing would bypass the race came to fruition with trainer Chad Brown removing the

horse from the list. Taking his place as number 20 of likely starters is Untrapped, the sixth place finisher in April 15’s Arkansas Derby.

After an encouraging Arkansas Derby run and a third place finish, Continue reading

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Dismal Week Sends Dodgers Reeling

Seven days ago the 7-5 Dodgers were set to embark on a week that would see them play six games with two of 2016’s worst teams, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. After already going 3-2 in five games against these two teams, it seemed that the Dodgers would start to flex their muscles against two teams that appeared to have themselves begun 2017 by playing over their heads and ready to bounce back to reality. A week later, it seriously looks like it is the Dodgers who were playing over their heads, now suffering a very painful bounce to their reality, a 1-5 record for the week, 24 runs allowed over two games to Arizona, and a pitching staff in shambles.

The week began with a poor start from the $48 Million man Rich Hill, who by the end of the day wound up back on the disabled list, as we ALL knew he would, and with a future

that I have often described now being accepted by not just more and more fans, but apparently by the Dodgers as well. You cannot fight history – those ignoring it are doomed to repeat it – and repeat it they are doing. Continue reading

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UNC and the Myth of the “Student” Athlete

Watch any NCAA sports programming and you are bombarded with tributes to the noble, valiant STUDENT ATHLETE, the scholar who sacrifices his or her study time and physical and emotion well-being by giving up any and all free time to pursue the difficult world of amateur athletics. What hogwash. For the schools and for the NCAA, the student-athlete is a money-making pawn, with small schools and non-revenue-producing programs the scorned and largely abandoned stepchildren to the major programs in the massive revenue sports of football and basketball. To reap the benefits of the millions and millions of dollars winning schools regularly see flowing into their coffers, there is little regard for academics, or rules in general, that could prevent that flow of riches.

But the NCAA and Division I schools have their own more powerful enemies, and those enemies are to a lessor extent the NFL, and to a massive extent, the NBA, professional

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leagues that now make it their standard operating procedure to rob the best schools of the best players at every opportunity, changing forever the traditional hold that schools have had over their “Student” athletes. It is now the norm, as far as basketball is concerned, that the very best players are automatically “One and Out” from most schools, and while some have had the wherewithal to keep their players for two, three, or even the old usual four years, it is now accepted across the land that Continue reading

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Angels’ Starting Staff In Shambles

Despite including two miraculous comebacks in which the Angels became the first team since 1991 to win consecutive games in which they were behind by five or more runs in the seventh inning or later, making their record 2-0 when trailing by at least three runs entering the ninth inning while the rest of baseball is 0-59, over the or last four games, Angels starting pitching has now totally fallen apart.

In each of their last four games, Angels’ starters have failed to last more than five innings, each allowing five or more earned runs, and in a total of 18.2 innings pitched, Ricky

Nolasco, Jesse Chavez, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker have combined for an ERA of 12.06, allowing 26 hits and 21 earned runs over that span.

With news about Garrett Richards not good and with a giant void in the starting staff looming for tonight’s game against Kansas City, veteran relief pitcher J.C. Ramirez, Continue reading

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Angels’ Start Strong Despite Weak Pitching

The past couple of seasons in my pre-season previews I’ve picked the Angels to do far better than the professionals covering MLB were predicting, and for a variety of reasons, from overrating talent to in some cases almost unprecedented strings of injuries, I was proven very, very wrong. This year, I took a much more realistic look at the team and of the AL West, and saw the Angels as, at best, a fourth place team. The primary reasons for this were the unstable and far from deep status of the team’s pitching, especially the starting staff, and due to the fact that Texas, Houston, and also Seattle, all looked to be deeper and more talented teams. After a week of the 2017 season, the Angels are in first place, despite continued problems with their starting staff, and due to a bad start by Texas and a horrid one by Seattle, capped off by yesterday’s astounding Angels’ comeback win.

Until yesterday, since the 2011 season there had been 2,530 games where a team went into

the ninth inning with a lead of six runs or greater, and that team had won 2,529 times. Make that 2,529-2 now, after the Angels scored seven runs in the ninth to make it a complete comeback from 8-1 and 9-3 deficits, pulling out a 10-9 victory.

Despite the heroics of yesterday, the Angels should, by all counts, be reeling right now, Continue reading

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Inconsistent Dodgers Ready for Cubs Rematch?

After two embarrassing losses to open their series in Colorado, the Dodgers’ came back today to end their two-game losing streak and to beat a lefty for the first time this season, as they eased by the Rockies 10-6 in a thoroughly entertaining but at some times laughable game, where the tumultuous wind in Coors Field played havoc with almost every batted ball. I remember some amazing games years and years ago in Candlestick Park where the San Francisco wind ruled, and today’s game was the closest thing I recall to those games. One of the Dodgers’ announcers, I think it was Joe Davis, referred to that infamous game where the wind blew a Giants’ pitcher off the mound, and though he did not remember the details, I remember that game well, and it was star relief pitcher Stu Miller who suffered

through that still-remembered event. No player was blown about today, but no one really knew, for much of the game, just where any fly ball might land, or what zig or zag the wind would give any grounder. It was not classic baseball by a longshot, but as I said, a game thoroughly entertaining to the viewer.

So, the Dodgers now take their 4-3 record to Chicago for the Cub’s home opener to start a three-game series that represents a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series Continue reading

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Odd pitching Matchup to Close Dodgers-Padres Series

That Brandon McCarthy is in the LA Dodgers’ starting rotation to start the 2017 season is something few would have imagined anytime last year. The 33-year-old McCarthy who signed a four-year, $48 Million contract with the Dodgers prior to the 2015 season has made only 13 starts and 14 appearances over his first two years as a member of the Dodgers, due to suffering first a torn elbow ligament and then shoulder problems. In his two LA seasons, McCarthy has gone 5-3 but with an ERA of 5.29. As the Dodgers have purged the majority of the long list of potential starters they signed over the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, starters who were almost without exception miserable failures, whether due to injury or just lack of the ability to pitch at the major league level, somehow

McCarthy remained (salary), and despite a less than overpowering spring (1-2, 5.63 ERA), he is back in the rotation and draws today’s starting assignment.

Being right-handed has to also (salary) be a factor, as the rest of the Dodgers rotation now includes three left-handers with only McCarthy and Kenta Maeda throwing from the right side. In addition, the next guy in waiting who would take the spot of any bottom of the rotation guy who has problems, physical or otherwise, is another lefty, Alex Wood, who looked very impressive yesterday in relief. And, of course, the Dodgers’ number two starter in waiting, 20-year-old phenom Julio Urias, Continue reading

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Dodgers Tested in SD? With a Catcher Pitching? Hardly

The Dodgers looked not just like World Series winners yesterday in their opener against the Padres, but like a team that could go 162-0, but consider the competition. The rebuilding Padres, with a roster that includes three inexperienced Rule-5 must-keep-on-the-roster players, a starting outfield that has play who have appeared in a total of exactly 189 major league games between them (166 from one of them, Travis Jankowski), but conversely with a starting staff that is four/fifths aging or past-their-prime or never-were veterans, and that has on the staff a guy, Christian Bethancourt, that just last season started 35 games behind that plate and who pitched in two games while playing in the field in 71, not to mention 80 others over the prior three seasons.

So, yea, Clayton Kershaw, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Yasmani Grandal and the rest

(Save for Chris Hatcher) had great days yesterday, but wait a while before ordering World Series seats, or booking flights to Cleveland or Boston.

Sure, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges might all blossom into excellent everyday players by the end of the season, and Bethancourt might even become a major league pitcher, but as of now the San Diego 25-man roster barely resembles that of a major league team. Continue reading

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Angels in 2017, Likely More of the Same

After a bitterly disappointing 2016 season featuring injury after injury to one pitcher after another and a fourth-place finish 14 games under .500 despite a potent offense and sparkling defense, it unfortunately looks like 2017 may well end with a similar finish for the LA Angels,

And that likelihood is due, again, to the status of the team’s pitching staff. Last season, they lost the now retired C.J. Wilson with a shoulder ailment, and three starters went down with torn elbow ligaments, Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano. Heaney and Tropeano each underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2017 season. Richards, whose tear was less severe, underwent stem cell therapy and has made a seemingly miraculous recovery, which could result in less surgery and more conservative

treatment for many injured pitchers in the coming years. Richards had a solid spring, and if he can stay healthy, should resume his prior status at the top of the Angels’ rotation.

Joining Richards in the rotation are the inconsistent Matt Shoemaker and still top prospect Tyler Skaggs, who made his return from elbow surgery in the second half of 2016. Those three should form the basis of a decent rotation, were it not for the fact that Continue reading

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