April 8, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Louisville vs. Michigan in NCAA title game: Tonight Louisville will take on Michigan for the NCAA basketball championship. With March Madness coming to a close, it’s been an exciting tournament to say the least. Wichita State, a No. 9 seed reached the Final Four. Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered a terrible and potentially career-ending injury. And tiny Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world, reaching the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. With one game left, I’ll stick with my bracket pick and go with Louisville to win it all. Michigan has been on an impressive run in the tournament, beating a slew of very good teams but the Cardinals haven’t lost a game since early February. My guess is that Rick Pitino wins his first title at Louisville on Monday.

Former 49ers QB Alex Smith will meet his former team in Week 2 of the Preseason.

NFL preseason schedule set: The NFL released its preseason schedule this past week. While there are plenty of intriguing matchups, my favorite might be the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. That, of course, will pit former Niners quarterback Alex Smith against his former team. The bad news is that since it’s only Week 2, Smith’s action could be limited in the game against San Francisco since coaches typically shorten the play of their starters. But one reason Smith may play a bit more than normal is because he’ll still be learning the offense and needs all the practice he can get. Regardless of how long he plays, though, the game is sure draw a lot of attention.

Dwyane Wade could sit out until playoffs: Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has been sidelined with a knee injury and word broke this past week that the guard could miss the team’s remaining regular season games. At 60-16, Miami has only six games left. The problem for the Heat, though, is that Wade has been out since the end of March, missing the team’s last four games. If he can’t play in the next six, that would be a significant break from game action for him. Miami should be able to win its first round playoff series even with a subpar Wade, but it’s not an ideal situation as the champs prepare to defend their title.

Yu Darvish just misses perfection: At this stage in the season, pitchers are generally ahead of hitters. Still, what Yu Darvish nearly accomplished was pretty impressive. The Texas Rangers pitcher took a perfect game into the ninth inning and after recording the first two outs, he was as close as you can get to perfection. But the next batter, Marwin Gonzalez, singled up the middle to break it up. Losing a no-hitter is one thing, but losing a perfect game is another. There have been nearly 300 no hitters, but only 23 perfect games in Major League Baseball history. Darvish was agonizingly close to joining an elite group.

Darrelle Revis and Jets still at odds: Cornerback Darrelle Revis could be traded any day now, but that doesn’t mean the New York Jets are willing to let him sit back and relax. According to ESPN, the team is reportedly insisting he participate in the team’s offseason conditioning program to begin in the middle of this month. The move sounds ludicrous as Revis isn’t likely to be playing for the Jets this fall, and could thus be a huge distraction. But if you’re not expecting him to show up, think again. Revis is due to collect a $3 million bonus for showing up. His contract states that he would forfeit money if he fails to participate in offseason events – even non-mandatory ones. The chances are slim that Revis isn’t participating if he’s still a member of the team.

Mike Rice fired as Rutgers coach: Rutgers’ basketball program took a bit of a hit this week when it was announced that head coach Mike Rice was fired after video surfaced of him berating and being physically abusive towards players. The video also cost athletic director Tim Pernetti his job. The move will surely mean more scrutiny of college coaches and their behavior toward athletes. And in the end, that’s a good thing. Much was made of the fact that the players didn’t complain about the rough practices, but then again, it’s easy to understand why. No kid that’s worked his entire life to earn a scholarship and play basketball at the highest level would want to risk that by speaking up. It’s a shame that it took so long, but firing Rice was the right move in my opinion.

May 16, 2012

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Sizing Up the Texas Rangers

By: Matt Bowen

Coming into the 2012 MLB season, the Texas Rangers came up on the short end of back-to-back trips to the World Series. As the cliché goes, the third time is the charm and the Rangers sure do look like they’re planning on making it a reality.

Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers have started the MLB season on fire.

Given, it’s only six weeks into the MLB season, but the Rangers look to be the cream of the crop. Currently sitting at 23-12, the team from Texas simply looks better than every other team in baseball.  Most impressively, they are currently 13-6 on the road. Every team knows that to be considered successful they must win on the road and the Rangers are doing just that.

This Rangers team is a well-rounded blend of stellar pitching and a deadly offense. Joining the club this season is Japanese sensation, right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish. The Rangers paid a hefty price (around $111 million) when they acquired Darvish from his former team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters but so far, he’s been worth every penny. He has posted a 5-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. Darvish has a nasty variety of six pitches and he’s proven that by striking out 51 batters thus far. The most amazing thing about him, he said in an interview that he can throw all six pitches with his off-hand, inclusing a left-handed fastball that can hit 82 mph on the radar gun.

As for the offensive side of the Rangers, the team is led by All-World outfielder Josh Hamilton, who is on a torrid pace this season. He already has hit 18 home runs and knocked in 45 RBI while batting .402. At this rate he’s on track to knock in over 200 RBI, which has never been done in the history of baseball. The current record is 191 held by Hack Wilson in 1930. While it’s a bit too early to start thinking that Hamilton is going to plate 200-plus RBI, it’s certainly something that brings wonderment to the imagination. If Hamilton can stay healthy, he’s on his way to having a historic MVP season.

The Rangers organization, led by Hall of Fame hurler Nolan Ryan has set the standard for all MLB teams. They have set the pedestal very high but carry themselves very well as they’ve become the precedent of baseball.  By continuing their winning ways they’ll find themselves with a ring at season’s end.