Archive | June, 2012

All About the Pitchers

19 Jun

While the NBA season is loudly winding down and the European Soccer matches are captivating many sports fan’s attentions (during the work-day), the Major League Baseball season is hitting its stride. It’s the summer so we watch baseball, obviously.

While the baseball season is measured by wins, losses, and statistics. This year, much focus has been given to the pitching. In the last month alone, there have been a whole mix of perfect games, complete games, crazy comeback stories, and even a Seattle Mariners combined no-hitter.

Arguably, the success of a team is heavily measured by their pitching. The pitcher is the guy who really carries his team, and usually dictates the pace and success that the team will have. You can pretty much say that if the pitcher allows some runs, the team is going to have a harder time getting the W. Ultimately, if you have a “perfect” or “almost-perfect” pitcher, you should have a perfect win. Obviously, there are times when a team doesn’t score any runs to insure their pitcher or makes some fielding errors behind him, but if the pitcher was perfect, the team wouldn’t have to do much to help.

For the Yankees, its been almost all about the pitching and they have been insuring their pitchers with the perfect amount of hitting every time. Their current winning streak can be attributed to the solid pitching they have been receiving from starting guys like Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova. It’s crazy to think about how people were ready to write off the Yankees when Mariano Rivera came down with his ACL injury just a few months ago. Then, the importance of pitching was not lost on the fans, but thankfully everyone was wrong. Once again, the Yankees have built their starting rotation and bullpen rotation into a powerhouse. Perhaps their streak is so impressive because the Yankees haven’t even scored that many runs. The pitchers have really been outstanding.

R.A. Dickey is just another pitching story that is almost too good to be true. With his win vs. the Orioles last night, he becomes the 1st pitcher to throw back-to-back 1 hitters since Dave Stieb in 1988. The 35 year old has really worked his way into this starting spot after starting the season in Triple-A minor league baseball. He has been dominant as of late striking out a myriad of batters and allowing no-earned runs in his last 5 games. What’s great about Dickey is that he’s helping his team, the New York Mets, a long the way. His Win-Loss record for this season is a solid 11-1. The only loss having come in his first appearance in April. Dickey’s current win streak is remarkable.

When the story broke yesterday that Roger Clemens received a not-guilty verdict on all accounts, fans of the game are left to wonder.  Clemens is just another example of the importance we attribute to the pitcher. His 24 year career complete with 7 CY Young Awards is a model that pitchers aspire to. No one will really ever know the complete true story and the name “Roger Clemens” will always be tainted but no one can deny the impact that he has had on the game of baseball. I’m glad this story can finally be over because now we can focus all our attention on guys like R.A. Dickey, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver, and Stephen Strasburg.

Thankfully, for Major League Baseball, the Euro 2012 matches are during the day so sports fans really have no excuse. If you didn’t like Major League Baseball last week, you have some new reasons to watch. Can the Yankees keep up their win streak? Is R.A. Dickey the real deal? But probably the biggest question is, which teams will rely on their pitchers to get to the postseason and more importantly, which pitchers will show up? Since its really all about the pitchers, your guess is as good as mine.

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And just because I’m a Yankees fan

The Stony Brook Cinderella Story

11 Jun

Ok. No offense to Stony Brook University, but if you ask any college sports fan to name a sport that Stony Brook has excelled in, made a championship for, or is even just known for, they probably won’t be able to name a thing. Until now…

Stony Brook’s NCAA Division I Baseball program has just earned a spot in the 2012 College World Series and what a Cinderella story it is. Stony Brook, a member of the always overlooked America East Conference, becomes just the 1st team from New York to make it to the College World Series since 1980 and doing so after only 12 years as a Division I program. Plus, they took down two powerhouses in the last 2 weeks, Miami and LSU, in their home stadiums.

I was immediately drawn to Stony Brook from the moment I saw their 13-inning game that lasted Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. While they didn’t win that game, it was a best of 3 series, and they won the 2 that counted. Last night they beat six-time national champion LSU 7-2. They made it look easy.

Stony Brook is led by head coach, Matt Senk, who has been there since 1991. He has taken the program from a Division III baseball program to a team who just made the College World Series. Stony Brook has stars too. They are led by Travis Jankowski, Maxx Tissenbaum, and freshman, Kevin Krause. In fact, one of their star players, Jankowski, was just selected in the Major League Baseball draft with a few other teammates as well.

Stony Brook now has the daunting task of trying to be just the 2nd #4 seed to win the College World Series. If there is any team up to the task right now, I would say it is Stony Brook Baseball. They even earned the respect of the over 10,000 LSU fans who showed up to watch their heavily favored LSU Tigers. After the game, the fans stayed around to cheer on Stony Brook and even give the team high fives and hand shakes. Making it to the College Baseball World Series is just another example of how far Stony Brook has come.

So if you’re looking for a good sports story right now, look no further then Stony Brook Baseball from Long Island, NY. For many of my readers, that’s right in your backyard. Stony Brook Baseball is shocking the College Baseball World as we speak and hopefully this is just the beginning of their Cinderella story.

Brian Banks Looking Towards the Future

1 Jun

Here’s a story that is probably going to make you cry. About 10 years ago there was this 16 year old high school kid named Brian Banks. He went to Long Beach Poly High School in Long Beach, California and had been offered a full scholarship to play football at USC. With a few more years of high school left and then a few years in college, this kid was pretty much NFL-bound. However, in the Summer of 2002, his life plans changed.

Brian Banks was accused of rape by a high school classmate, Wanetta Gibson for what she said occurred in the high school’s stairwell. Despite the lack of evidence in the case, Banks’ attorney felt that there was no way he would emerge non-guilty and even though he denied the rape, he finally plead guilty. After his plea, Banks got six years in prison.

When Banks finally got out of jail he still had to wear a GPS tracking ankle bracelet and registered as a sex offender (because of his “rape history”). It was difficult for him to get a job but he was just happy to be out of jail.

Here was this guy who was living his life as a convicted rapist and yet there was never any proof that he actually committed rape. But Banks continued to try and make a life for himself in any way that he could.

Then one day last year everything changed.  Banks received a Facebook friend request from Wanetta Gibson, the woman who accused him all those years ago. She had sent him a message saying she wanted to put this all behind them. Banks agreed to meet Gibson but he was smart about it. And thank goodness he was. When Banks met with Gibson, he did so in the office of a private investigator and secretly videotaped everything that she said. Gibson clearly stated on the tape, “No, he did not rape me.” The reasons why Gibson chose to meet with Banks in the first place are a little off but the point is that Banks finally had the evidence he needed to prove his innocence. The turn of events over this past year were pretty weird but also lucky.

Over the last year, Banks worked together with the California Innocence Project in San Diego to try and get his rape conviction flipped.

On Thursday, May 24, 2012, about 10 years after he was convicted, Banks got his future back.

My heart aches for Brian Banks for so many reasons and I’m sure yours does too. But what is so amazing and inspiring about this story is that Banks could easily sit here and try and make you feel bad for him.  But he is not sitting here, complaining, and dwelling on the past. He is still set on pursuing his dreams and not letting the last 10 years get in the way.

For Banks, things are already starting to look up. The last few days have been full of good news for Banks. This week he received calls to work out for the Miami Dolphins, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Washington Redskins. The best part of it all, Banks actually has a shot at making an NFL roster. He is listed at 6-ft-2 and 245 lbs.

As the world can see, the Brian Banks story is not yet done being written. The only way he can go is up now. Even if he doesn’t make the NFL, Banks already has numerous job offers and he will no doubt be successful regardless. He has already proven that he can make it through tough times and a great deal of adversity.

So, good luck Brian Banks, I know you will be successful in whatever you pursue but you better believe that if you make an NFL roster, I will be cheering for you every step of the way.

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For more on the Brian Banks story  visit this website: brianbanks.org