Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Phillies Hurting as Opening Day Nears

Although the Philadelphia Phillies pitching rotation is intact, they still have issues standing in their way of a potential World Series Championship season.

Opening day of the 2011 MLB season is Mar. 31, and the Phillies open up their season on the fool's day (April 1st) in a three-game series against the Houston Astros.

Unfortunately, the Phillies will be without second baseman Chase Utley who is bothered by pateller tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee, according to the website. His injury makes it very hard for him to run, but he is optimistic that he will be back soon.

"I am optimistic at this point," Utley said. "I think being able to take ground balls fairly lightly, not a whole lot of intensity, just to be able to do that pain-free was important."

Along with Utley, the Phillies's closer, Brad Lidge will also be out for the start of the season with a rotator cuff strain and is likely to return in May, according to the website.

In his absence, Jose Contreras most likely be the Phillies closer while Lidge nurses his shoulder back to health.

Not to mention, the Phillies also lost Jayson Werth to a Division rival in the Washington Nationals during the off-season. The outfielder was a key component to Philadelphia's back-to-back World Series runs in 2008 (beat the Tampa Bay Rays) and 2009 (lost to the New York Yankees).

Their four aces will need to be better than ever this season with all the losses that the Phillies' lineup has endured at the beginning of their season.

Although they have taken major blows to the lineup, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are more than capable of handling the workload to keep Philadelphia's championship hopes in sight.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Philadelphia Playoff Beards are a Go

The Philadelphia Flyers are one-of-the-first-three teams to clinch a playoff spot in this year's NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Their record is 44-19-10 and also tallying 98 points, which is good enough for first in the eastern conference so far. They are currently two points ahead of the second-place Washington Capitals for the conference lead with under 10 games left in both teams' respective schedules.

The Flyers have vastly improved upon their Stanley Cup Final's runner-up season from last year. They ended that season as the seventh-seed, only winning 41 games. This year they have increased their wins by three, so far and will finish at least five seeds better than they did last year.

The Flyers will be tested in their final nine games of the regular season. They play five-of-their-nine games against .500 or better teams; the most notable opponents are the Boston Bruins on Mar. 27 and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Mar. 29.

Philadelphia will try to avenge last season finals' loss to the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks by winning this year's finals as the potential No. 1 seed in the East.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kemba-Jimmer Potential National Championship Game

With the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA "March Madness" tournament taking place on Mar. 24-25, it is only right to speculate the potential match up between two of the NCAA National Player of the Year candidates.

Both, No. 3 seeds in UConn and BYU advanced to the Sweet 16 last night after outstanding performances by their respective stars; Kemba Walker (UConn) and Jimmer Fredette (BYU).

Walker posted 33 points and 5 assists in a 69-58 victory over Big East rival, the Cincinnati Bearcats, while Fredette scored 34 points and dished out 6 assists for a cruising 89-67 win against Gonzaga.

Both players have led their teams to national rankings at the end of the regular season, but their jobs are not done yet. They both need to continue to perform at an optimal level if they want to advance to the championship game, and give their teams the opportunity to become the bride of the tournament.

The teams standing in Walker and the Huskies' way to the championship game are San Diego State (Sweet 16 match up), Duke or Arizona (Elite Eight match up) and either Ohio State, Kentucky, Marquette or North Carolina (Final Four match up).

BYU and Fredette's foes consists of Florida (Sweet 16 match up), Wisconsin or Butler (Elite Eight match up), and either Notre Dame, Florida State, Virginia Common Wealth, Richmond, Kansas or Illinois (Final Four match up).

Both stars and their respective teams have tough roads to get to the national championship game, but anything can happen because the NCAA tournament is full of MADNESS in March.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kemba Deserves to be NCAA POY

UConn's star guard, Kemba Walker in my eyes is the best player in the NCAA this year, and he should be the NCAA Player Of the Year.

Walker's performance in the Big East Tournament alone should launch him to the top of the list of Player Of the Year candidates. He led his team to a conference tournament crown, and helped his team do what no one has ever done in a conference tournament; win five games in five days to be named champions.

He averaged 26 points, and set a conference tournament record in minutes played with 190 total minutes. He also made one of the biggest game-winning shots of the tournament against the no. 1 seed in the tournament, the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Not to mention, Walker put the young UConn Huskies on his back from the start of the season and took them to a no. 19 ranking in the top 25 Coaches' poll.

Ever since the Huskies won the 2011 Maui Invitational earlier in the year (which included wins against Michigan St and Texas), Walker and the Huskies have shattered many analysts and fans' expectations for them.

Walker is third in the nation in scoring with 24.0 points a game. His track record and stats has done more than enough to state his case as the best player in the nation.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The League's MVP

The NBA's regular season is nearing the end, which means it's almost time to cast your votes for the league's Most Valuable Player.

My vote would undoubtedly go to the third-year player and Chicago Bulls star point guard, Derrick Rose. He has done more than elevate his game from the previous year. He came into the league with little ability to shoot from the perimeter, but now he his shooting tremendously.

He is hitting 33 percent of his three-point shots, which is five percent better than his sophomore year in the NBA. Rose is also scoring four more points than last year with 24.6 points a game.

Aside from his individual accolades, Rose's proven leadership and humbleness as a star player is more than enough to be named the MVP of the NBA. Despite not having newly acquired free agent Carlos Boozer for 18 games, and emotional and defensive leader Joakim Noah for 30 games this year, Rose still has led his team to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference with a 44-18 record so far this season.

Rose is not in the prime of his career yet, and he is evolving into one of the best point guards to play the game. It is scary to see what he will be like when he is in the fifth, sixth and seventh year of his NBA career.

Rose is and will be the MVP this season, edging out LeBron James in a closely knit MVP race.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

76ers Stepping It Up

With 20 games left on their schedule, the Philadelphia 76ers are switching into playoff gear.

Doug Collins has led this team to a 32-30 record so far this season, and has already coached them to five more wins than they had all of last season.

They are currently in seventh place in the East, they are only a half-game behind the New York Knicks for the sixth spot and they are four-and-a-half games behind the Atlanta Hawks, who currently own the fifth spot.
This young team (8 players are 27 or younger) has been playing exceptional basketball lately. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 15-5 in their last 20.

The Sixers have averaged 103.7 points a game over the last 20 games and have held their opponents to 96 points in the last 20 games. They have five players averaging double figures in points, and are the league's best in bench production averaging a little over 40 points a game.

The Sixers have three games against above .500 teams in their next five games. Their next game is Mar. 8 against the Indiana Pacers at 7 pm.

If they can continue their winning ways, Philadelphia could be looking at potentially claiming the fifth seed in the NBA playoffs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Vintage ACC Matchup

No. 4 Duke Blue Devils and No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels go toe-to-toe tonight in a classic battle for Atlantic Coast Conference regular season supremacy.

Duke (27-3 overall) and UNC (23-6) overall) go into their last regular season game tied with 13-2 records within the conference.

Duke is looking for their 20th conference title and UNC is trying to claim their 28th.

In their earlier meeting this season, Duke won by a of score of 79-73 at home. They were lead in scoring by senior guard, Nolan Smith (34 points) and sophomore guard, Seth Curry (22 points off the bench).

The Tar Heels received solid efforts from junior forward, Tyler Zeller (24 points 13 rebounds) and sophomore forward John Henson (14 points and 12 rebounds).

UNC was in total control of the game in the first half, outscoring Duke 43-29, but as we all know their are two halves to a basketball game. Other than Zeller and Henson, no other Tar Heel showed up for the second half of this game.

The rest of the Tar Heels shot 30 percent (12 of 39) from the field. The Blue Devils took advantage of their rival's poor shooting by outscoring them 50-30 in the second half to overcome their 14-point halftime deficit and solidified the comeback victory.

Duke-North Carolina will meet for the ACC regular season title game in the Dean E. Smith Center at 8 pm where the Tar Heels are undefeated this season.    

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flyers Soaring to the Top

With approximately 20 games left in the NHL regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers are holding down the no. 1 spot in the East.

The Flyers are 40-16-6 (wins, losses and over times) so far this season. They were the runner-ups in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-3 in the sixth game of the finals.

Philadelphia is the second leading scoring team in the NHL with 86 points and trail the Vancouver Canucks by only three points for the league's lead.

The Flyers are in a good position to make it back to the finals and possibly redeem themselves against the defending champs, who are currently in fourth with a record of 35-23-6.

The NHL playoffs are coming near, and teams are making their final moves to improve their chances in trying to become the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Champions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bibby's Impact on Heat's Title Contention

Mike Bibby forfeited a guaranteed 6.2 million dollar salary for next year from the Washington Wizards to leave the nation's capital to join the Miami Heat.

Bibby agreed to sign with the Heat for the league-minimum salary in hopes of obtaining a chance to win his first championship ring. He is a proven floor general and has some success at his position. 

The 6-foot-2 guard was a former star for the Sacramento Kings from 2001-07. He led the Kings through a tough Western conference, straight to the conference finals during the 2001-02 playoffs that ended in a game seven defeat to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Bibby was only averaging 9.4 points and 3.6 assists this season in 56 games with the Atlanta Hawks, who traded him to the Wizards in a deal for Kirk Hinrich (who the Hawks hope will bring toughness to their defense at the point guard position).

Bibby was traded by the Hawks because he was a "defensive liability," according to journalist and ESPN 1st and 10 debater, Skip Bayless.

With his new team, Bibby will most likely be the starting lead guard, placing Mario Chalmers on the bench. The Heat hope that Bibby's leadership and clutch shooting can put Miami over the top as they try to push for a championship run in June.

Many analyst still believe LeBron James and Dwayne Wade will bring the ball up the court from time-to-time during the game, but the addition of Bibby gives the Heat a player who has been in the spotlight, can lead a team and control a game and who has won many big games with huge shots in his 12-year career.

Adding Bibby does not make the Heat a sure champion this season, but it does give them much needed help at the point guard position and potential to become NBA champions and quiet all those critics and doubters.