Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday Nite Wild Wild Card Finish

Every baseball fan in the country tuned in to at least one of four major league baseball games with playoff implications on Wednesday night. With the Red Sox in the American League, a win over the last place AL East Baltimore Orioles would secure them no less than a one game playoff against the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card.

The same scenario was playing out in the NL Wild Card with the Cardinals and the Braves. A playoff match between the two if both won or lost. With the Red Sox and Braves blowing respectable wild card leads in the month of September, the stage was set Wednesday for spoilers and chokers to battle it out.

To add fuel to the fire, the Red Sox division winner/rival New York Yankees were in Florida taking on the Rays while the Braves were facing their division winner/rival Philadelphia Phillies. Is it just a smidgen possible that the Yanks would take a dive to help the Rays edge out the Sox for the final AL playoff spot? Hmmmmmm.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros were hoping to help the Braves wild card chances by upsetting their division rival, the hot streaking St. Louis Cardinals. There's a lot of people rooting against Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. Why is that?

Here's a great timeline of the events that took place on Wild Card Wednesday, a night that will go down as one of the greatest season ending subplots to ever unfold on the major league baseball field.

by mlb reporter Joey Nowak

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Red Sox Horrific & Historic Collapse

A story more horrific than when you first heard the tale of Mighty Casey and the Mudville Nine, a Major League baseball team choked on the last day of the regular season and will not be participating in the Fall Classic playoffs.

The Boston Red Sox, favored by many this season as a contender for a world series championship, lost tonight's game after leading 3-2 in their top of the ninth. The Baltimore Orioles may not have earned a postseason seed with the win, but they're the spoiler darlings of the year for many a Red Sox hater as well as the team that takes their place in the AL wild card spot, the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Sux, oops, excuse me. The Sox became the first team to miss the postseason after leading by as many as nine games for a playoff spot entering September, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

When the Baltimore rains came with the O's trailing 3-2 in the middle of the seventh, a 1 hour 26 minute game delay must've seemed like a gift from the Gods for the O's. But Sox fans might call it a curse from hell as their wild card competitor, the (d-e-v-i-l) Rays, came from 7 runs back to tie the Yankees in a game with postseason implications, with the Sux, excuse me again darnit, with the Sox watching it on tv waiting out the wet delay.

It would all come crumbling down for Boston in the ninth inning as their ace closer, Jonathan Papelbon, gave up two doubles and a single to give the Baltimore Spoilers the walk-off win. The devil Rays would win and seal the Sux fate just three minutes later in Florida with a walk-off home run in the 12th inning.

Final Score
Boston 3
Baltimore 4

Monday, September 26, 2011

New York Times

After the dominating display of Raiders football superiority over the favored New York Jets, I just wanted to capture what the New York media wrote about the beatdown. Here's the Times telling it like it was:

OAKLAND, Calif. — A boisterous crowd beyond the south end zone wore black-and-silver pirate costumes and gorilla suits and chain mail, and mocked and taunted and yelled at the Jets. The fans were mostly harmless, certainly not as terrifying to the Jets as what occurred between the sidelines. Their defenders grasped at air. They lay flattened on the grass. They failed to stop a Raiders offense despite knowing exactly what was coming.

After the Jets’ 34-24 loss Sunday, when his team allowed 24 consecutive points and surrendered the most rushing yards during his 41 games as its coach, Rex Ryan tried to maintain his composure. His voice was clipped, his anger obvious, as he uttered a phrase that he never, ever expected to say.

“Our defense let us down,” Ryan said.

Those five words cut deep, like a biting wind, and no one in a hushed locker room could argue. His players dressed as if they were sleepwalking, still stunned at how easily the Raiders ran over, away from and through them, for 234 yards, for 7.3 per carry, for 4 touchdowns. To add injury to insult, Antonio Cromartie, who committed four penalties and muffed a kickoff, was taken to a local medical center with injured ribs but flew back with the team.

“Embarrassing,” defensive tackle Sione Pouha said. “It was humiliating for us to have something like that happen to us.”

And it will be worse still when they review the videotape, watching Darren McFadden zip around the edge on a 70-yard touchdown run, or Denarius Moore elude Jamaal Westerman, then juke Bart Scott, on a 23-yard reverse that put Oakland ahead to stay. It was doubly painful for Jim Leonhard, who was blindsided on a vicious block by the hulking left tackle Jared Veldheer.

“I haven’t been hit that hard in a long time,” Leonhard said.

Nor have the Jets felt, to borrow Pouha’s words, this embarrassed in a long time. The defense’s Week 1 performance against Dallas, in which it allowed 390 yards and received no game balls, was viewed as an exception against a skilled team and after an abridged training camp. The defense rebounded to throttle Jacksonville last week, when the Jaguars scored 3 points and never reached the red zone, but having two shaky games out of three concerns Ryan and his players.

“Whatever you can say bad about our defense, we were,” said linebacker Calvin Pace, who expects a verbal flaying on Monday. “Some bad things are going to be said to us, from Rex to Mike Pettine, but we deserve that.”

The Jets could have envisioned dozens of more appealing ways to begin a critical three-game road stretch that continues next Sunday night at Baltimore, and the week after at New England. The Patriots might not be the class of the division, after a loss to Buffalo launched the Bills into first place in the American Football Conference East.

The Jets (2-1) “have a lot of issues to correct,” according to Leonhard. The correction process will begin Monday, if not sooner, and it will be hard for Ryan to find anything redeeming about how his team played, especially in the second half. He tried, though, singling out Mark Sanchez, who threw for a career-high 369 yards and 2 touchdowns. But the Jets’ offense sputtered, going nearly 30 minutes without scoring after failing to convert a critical fourth-and-2 at the Oakland 37. With 2 minutes 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the score tied at 17-17, Sanchez misfired on a quick slant to Plaxico Burress.

Almost immediately, the game turned, on two plays that highlighted the Jets’ defensive futility and lack of discipline. First, Moore seemed to elude the entire defense on his 23-yard scamper, sprinting past three players before falling into the end zone.

And then, Cromartie combusted for the final time. It was a measure of his miserable game that his four penalties, which went for 46 yards, were not his most egregious mistakes. On the ensuing kickoff, he booted the ball, which was recovered by Taiwan Jones at the Jets’ 13. Two plays later, Michael Bush scored from a yard out, and in less than a minute, the Jets went from being tied to down by two touchdowns.

The collapse was shocking and swift, and the Raiders, a week after allowing 35 second-half points in a loss to Buffalo, enjoyed the turnabout.

“You know, Coach Hue always says that we are building a bully,” McFadden said of Raiders Coach Hue Jackson, adding, “It doesn’t matter who we are playing against and that is what we want to go out there and try to do — go out there and bully them.”

All week, Leonhard said, the Jets focused on not giving McFadden, a versatile speedster, an opportunity to utilize his quickness on the edge. So, what happened? On his 70-yard burst, McFadden zipped outside, en route to a 171-yard day. Before Sunday, that had been the most rushing yards allowed by the Jets to an entire team during Ryan’s tenure.

Pace seemed bothered that they “lost to a team that was not as good as us, that was inferior to us,” though it was difficult to discern in just what areas the Jets could flaunt their superiority. Not offensively. Not in special teams. Certainly not defensively.

The Raiders were averaging 160.5 yards rushing coming into the game, so the Jets braced for them to run, expected them to run, planned for them to run. Still they could not stop them.

“It’s extremely frustrating to know that you have to stop certain aspects of their game in order to win, and series after series you go out there and don’t do it,” Leonhard said. “It’s extremely frustrating to game-plan for a team and let them dictate what they want to do.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Raiders Ground Jets At Sold Out Coliseum

Denarius Touchdownus

The New York Jets were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Today's Oakland Raiders were looking for anyone to take out their frustrations on. Last week's loss to the Buffalo Bills was one they know they should've won. Today they played like a team with a nasty taste in their mouth.

The Raiders played today like someone had stolen something from them on the road last week. They simply weren't taking any chances this week as they protected their house against suspect visitors from the east. The only thing these visitors would take away was a whupping as the Jets were knocked around and upside down while the Raiders robbed them of their gold.

RB Darren McFadden ran for 171 yards against the media-hyped Jets who led early but couldn't hang with the Raiders in the second half. The Raiders fans brought their A-Game as they screamed and hollered the Jets offense into believing they'd awakened a monster. They had!

I was tired of hearing the story of Jets QB Mark Sanchez's last visit to the coliseum where he was caught on the sideline eating down a hotdog. Today's 34-24 Raiders win gave football fans and media some new on-field hotdogging to talk about. Like McFadden's 72 yard burst around the left end for a touchdown or any of his tackle breaking, cutback faking runs.

D-Mac will be on the lips of all espn analysts tonight while rookie Danarius Moore is seen as the 2011 version of last year's Jacoby Ford (out with an injury). Moore ran a receiver reverse and made a cutback that juked two Jets defenders before zooming past the defensive secondary for a classic diving touchdown (see above). Speed Kills!

Yes football fans, the Oakland Raiders put on a show in front of a sold out house today, and not one paying customer felt cheated or wanted a refund. The place was hopping with Raiders offense, defense, special teams and Silver&Black groupies. One of the best concerts I've attended in quite some time. It was .........electrifying!

Final Score
Jets 24
Raiders 34

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jets Coming To Oaktown - Not Up In Here

September 25
Oakland Coliseum

Judgment Day


A huge, dead satellite tumbling to Earth is falling slower than expected, and may now plummet down somewhere over the United States tonight or early Saturday, despite forecasts that it would miss North America entirely, NASA officials now say.

The 6 1/2-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) was expected to fall to Earth sometime Friday afternoon, but changes in the school bus-size satellite's motion may push it to early Saturday, according to NASA's latest observations of the spacecraft.

read on: NASA's falling satellite

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Women Making Sports History

This past Sunday the professional golf world saw the emergence of a player that'll take Tiger off the tongue of tournament watchers for a spell.

Alexis "Lexi" Thompson, a 16-year old phenom who's talents have been described as "an anomaly," won the Navistar L.P.G.A. classic tour event to become the youngest Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament winner............ever!

The high school sophomore not only won by 5 strokes, a tournament record, but did it with her Dad caddying for her. Any teenager in sports, or any challenging event, will tell you the potential pressure a competitive Dad can put on you.

Imagine if you'd brought your Dad along in the backseat when taking your driver's license road test, brutal. And here this teenager brings her Dad along not to cheer, but assist in her quest for a professional golf title? Priceless!

This gifted young lady has more than just talent going for her. Lexi's accomplishment shows her personal maturity, discipline, love and respect for the game and those who've supported her along the way. Her dad Scott was wearing sunglasses to hide the tears of joy as he hugged his little lady champion in celebration.

As a parent remembering teary-eyed moments while witnessing achievements of my own children, I can only imagine the flooding feeling of emotions Scott Thompson felt as he watched his little princess succeed in fulfilling her dream on such a huge stage. I'm sure the moment goes on Scott's top 5 greatest days of my life list, because the success of a child is the hope, wish and ultimate success of a parent. Success in sports and overall life.

Great job Dad!
Congratulations Lexi!
A Thompson Triumph!

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that people are cheering for your kid like that,”

“Just finishing with my dad on the bag, it was the best experience,”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Raiders Lose A Thriller In Buffalo

Two things were missing for the Raiders today. Special Teams and defensive cornerback Chris Johnson's coverage skills. On special teams the once speedy #89 Nick Miller looked slow, off-balance and indecisive as he fielded at least four returnable kick-offs and a few punts for little gain. Seemed he was always either slipping down, diving down or just plopping down untouched for little gain at the end of every return. As much as I've praised the potential threat of Nick in the past, he showed not an echo of threat in this outing.

The experts were right, the Raiders will sorely miss the services of pro bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. His replacement in the defensive backfield, Chris Johnson, couldn't cover a wheelchair without getting a penalty today. He just couldn't play the Bills speedy receivers one-on-one.

The Raiders defense as a whole were exposed. Very little pressure on the quarterback, unable to tackle effectively in open space, allowing big runs and passes throughout the afternoon. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like Peyton "freakin" Manning shreddding the Raiders defense with precision passes.

On 4th and 1 with 14 seconds left in the game, Fitzpatrick connected for a six yard touchdown straight down the middle to yet another wide open receiver. The play was designed to lead the defensive backs away from the middle of the field. It worked so well I'm surprised the receiver didn't drop the pass out of shock from seeing no Raiders within fifteen yards of him.

The positive of this game was the offense. Great quarterbacking, great running, great coaching and great protection up front as the Raiders put up 35 exciting points. The problem was Buffalo putting up 38. Penalties were down as the Raiders showed outstanding discipline and resilience on the road in a loud stadium. Still, there's no excuse for not finishing the game. The Raiders didn't finish what they started.

The game was a thriller of the week with many lead and momentum changes. Buffalo's Fred "WHO" Jackson ran like a running back who hasn't gotten any respect or love from the media. After romping for 117 yards today and doing it with toughness and speed, Mr. Jackson should get his just due respects.

The Raiders had some new guys step up. WR Danarius Moore showcased his special receiving talents with a long jump ball for a 50-yard touchdown and another beautiful play where he jumped and snatched a ball away from a defender who was on the verge of intercepting it. Other receiving spotlight was on Derek Hagan who continued what he'd started in preseason being the sure hands goto guy for QB Campbell.

Bush, McFadden and Reece all did enough out of the backfield to sustain long drives. Red Zone execution was near perfect. Again, RB Darren McFadden powered, snaked and sprinted over, around and through defenders. McFadden is basically the nuts and bolts of the Raiders offense. DMac finished the game with no blown parts.

In a game where the Raiders led 21-3 early, the 38-35 loss has some positives to take from it. But in order to avoid a repeat of this painful letdown, the Raiders must focus on fixing their defense. Maybe its time to abandon the on-on-one match-ups and play more zone. The Buffalo Bills made adjustments on offense at half-time, the Raiders must learn how to adjust their defense accordingly.

Good fight Raiders, but the outcome is simply unacceptable. The only reason I was able to watch the Sunday Night NFL game in which the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 35-31, was because the team across the bay let one get away in overtime to America's Team. They led the Dallas Cowboys by 14 points early, before QB Tony Romo got juiced by the large Cowboys fanbase occupying seats at Candlestick. Way to go Niners, way to go.

Protect Yourself At All Times!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Miss Angola Wins Miss Universe Crown

While the Raiders were bullying the Broncos into submission on Monday night, the beautiful Leila Lopes, Miss Angola, classily claimed the crown of Miss Universe 2011.

Meanwhile, Miss France, a very sore and dejected loser, badmouthed the new Miss Universe and implied possible favoritism from the Brazilian host country sharing ties to Portugal with Angola. Apparently the French contestant lacks the style, inner beauty and grace of a Universe Champion.

Congratulations Ms. Leila Lopes
and the country of Angola

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Raiders D-Line Bullies Broncos

Raiders 23
Broncos 20

Penalties a Punt Return and a limited Passing Game couldn't keep the Oakland Raiders from bullying their way to a Monday Night victory over division rival Denver Broncos.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Raiders Broncos 2010

At Denver's Invesco Field last season the Raiders Dominated the Broncos.

This season could easily be a repeat as the Raiders, hungry for a game 1 win, travel to Denver for their season opener next Monday Night. It's a game that no Raiders fan,, or football fan for that matter, will wanna miss. Raiders vs Broncos on Primetime TV.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Movie Review: KATYN

1940. After Germany's invasion of Poland, Joseph Stalin ordered the liquidation of the Polish officer corps, slaughtering nearly 22,000 men in Katyn Forest. Based on this horrific, historical event, Katyn tells the affecting story of four fictional officers and their families as they struggle to uncover the truth. (from the back cover)

Based on the novel "Post Mortem" by Andrzej Mularczyk

This foreign movie held me captive throughout. As families waited for the truth about their loved one's being held prisoner, they held onto the lies being fostered by the captors. Visually stunning in its filming and thought provoking in its subject matter. Why massacre thousands of Polish military leaders one-by-one with a single shot through the head, then blame it on the Germans? Long-term Russian occupation and brutality is my guess.

This review is from: Katyn (DVD)
This movie is nothing short of excellent. The look, the language and the lessons are not to be missed. Polish Director Andrzej Pajda does an excellent job of putting fictional clothes on an atrocious, factual event that was almost lost to history.

Its the story of a little known genocide (22,000 slaughtered) that took place during WWII in Katyn Forest. Its the story of how war tears apart families and compromises allegiances. Its the story of a country's occupation by foreign invaders and its national resistance toward that oppressor. Finally, its the story of crimes against humanity and the lingering effects on those left behind to mourn their loss.

Pajda was so adept at weaving together the warring threads of three countries (Poland, Germany and Russia) that viewers might find themselves peeking between the soldier's seams to determine who's wearing the uniform. The Politics and Propoganda become apparently real as the movie comes to an unforgettably emotional climax. I was also impressed by the subtle linkage of one family's story with that of another family. I didn't expect to make sense of some things I saw early in the movie, only to have their meanings illuminated later. The power of an Excellent film!

Katyn Memorial

The DVD Extra which shows an interview with Director Andrzej Wajda is priceless. Here's what he had to say on the importance of education and developing one's self:

"Developing one's self through one's interests or work, making movies, creating an identity, the fact that one searches for people who think alike, is dangerous to any authority because authority always wants subjugation; to agree to everything. It wants an easy society."

On Patriotism: "Those who preach it the most, are the least suitable for it. They have the least, so to say, heart, courage, and judgment to take advantage when the time is ripe."

Friday, September 02, 2011

Pot Party & Prison Purchase In The News

Just a normal day reading through my daily newspaper. I share three news items that caught my attention. Maybe they'll catch yours:

It just so happens that this weekend a Medicinal Marijuana 3-day Festival is being held in downtown Oakland (Oaksterdam.) The festival has the city of Oakland's licensing and consent. Oaksterdam was a pioneering force in lobbying for legalized medicinal marijuana.

This Holiday weekend Californians will honor the "Sticky Icky"with a festival that will make former hippies teary-eyed with nostalgia. Warning to you tye-dyed hipsters looking for a blast from the past moment. The Weed of 2011 is Not, I repeat Not your 60's Acapulco Gold or Panama Red.

Its stronger, faster acting and longer lasting, and will put your wheezing baby-boomer ass in the hospital faster than you can say Jerry Garcia. You Feel Me?

Don't be greedy!