Monthly Archives: June 2009

MLB: Mariano Rivera Saves 500th; Greatest Ever?

By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports

Let’s pretend for a minute that Mariano Rivera was actually a starter for the Yankees. After all, that’s how he was brought up in the farm system. Would they have won four championships in five years? Would they have won 10 division titles? Can you even imagine someone else closing games for the Bronx Bombers? I sure can’t.

On Sunday, June 28, Mariano Rivera saved his 500th career game, good for second on the all-time saves list. He is also only the second player to achieve the milestone behind current saves leader Trevor Hoffman of the Milwaukee Brewers. There is great debate about who the best closer is of all time and I have to say it’s Rivera. Let’s take a retrospective look at Mo’s career.

Mariano Rivera; courtesy of: blog.silive.com

Mariano Rivera; courtesy of: blog.silive.com

Mariano Rivera joined the New York Yankees in 1995 as a starting pitcher. That year, he appeared in 19 games, starting 10 before being moved to the bullpen. He finished that season with a 5.51 ERA in 67 innings pitched. Once he was moved to the bullpen, he would never look back. In 1996, Rivera was the setup man for closer John Wetteland, who won the World Series MVP that year by saving four games in the series. However, ’96 was Wetteland’s last year with the Yankees, opening the door for Mariano Rivera to step in as closer. In 1997, Rivera’s first year as full-time closer, he had a 6-4 record with 43 saves and an astounding 1.88 ERA. In 1999, Rivera had 45 saves and a 1.83 ERA and he also earned World Series MVP honors in a sweep of the Braves. Rivera had 50 saves in 2001, the second most of any season in his career, despite having a losing record. 2004 was Rivera’s best year as a closer in terms of saves, as he converted 53 of 57 save opportunities. From 2003-2008, only once was his ERA over 2. In 2007, his ERA was 3.15. Fast forward to today. For his career up to this point, Rivera has a 69-51 record, 2.30 ERA, 500 saves, and a nearly 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (973 strikeouts to 247 walks). What is more impressive is his performance in the postseason. He is 8-1 all-time in the postseason with a 0.77 ERA and 34 saves.

In fairness, there has to be a comparison. Trevor Hoffman’s career numbers: 57-67 record, 2.76 ERA, 572 saves, and a nearly 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (1074 strikeouts to 279 walks). In the postseason, Hoffman has a 1-2 record with a 3.46 ERA and 4 saves. Strictly by the numbers, Mariano Rivera is better in every catergory except saves. I think that what cements Mariano Rivera as the greatest ever is his unbelievable consistency and the fact that he plays in the American League where there is the DH, whereas Hoffman plays in the National League where the pitcher bats. Hoffman is currently in a one-year deal with Brewers and it very well could be his last season. Rivera, on the other hand, still has a good three or four years left in him, plenty of time to catch up to Hoffman if he retires after this year. Here’s to you, Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time.

Contact Information:
Christian Binder
WSOE Sports
cbinder@elon.edu

MLB: Baseball History on June 30th walks off with style

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director

Everyone loves to win a game with a walk-off home run, but how many times in row can a team win like that?  Today in history delivers milestones, a game called but not from rain and an improbable comeback. 

Here are key moments on this date in baseball. 

June 30th

1962 – The game between the Houston Colt 45’s and the Cincinnati Reds is shortened due to heavy fog.  Houston beats Cincinnati 4-3 in seven innings. 

1978 – Willie McCovey blasts his 500th career home run in the first game of a doubleheader, becoming the 12th player to hit that many homers.  The Giants are victors in both games against the Braves, 10-9 and 10-5 respectively. 

1995 – Eddie Murray becomes the second switch-hitter ever to reach 3,000 career hits in the Indians 4-1 win against the Twins. 

2000 – Despite losing 8-1 heading to the eighth inning, the Mets rally to shock the Braves 11-8.  Nine of their runs come with two outs, including a tie-breaking three-run homer from Mike Piazza.

2004 – Dmitri Young hits a two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th for the Tigers third consecutive walk-off victory on a home run, as Detroit tops Cleveland 9-7.      

 

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

Tennis: U.S. Teen’s underdog story ends in fourth round of Wimbledon

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director

Melanie Oudin was downed in straight sets in Monday’s fourth round to 11th ranked Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6, 5-7.  Despite the loss, the 17-year-old still found plenty of success.

Melanie Oudin, courtesy of: flickr.com

Melanie Oudin, courtesy of: flickr.com

Oudin (pronounced OO-dan) drew a lot of attention when she upset sixth ranked and former number one Jelena Jankovic 6-7, 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday in round three.  Coming into this tournament, she lost her only two grand slam matches.  Those first round exits came in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2009 Australian Open. 

The native from Marietta, Georgia made a strong Wimbledon debut, posting a 3-1 record.  She was the youngest American to advance to the women’s fourth round at Wimbledon since 1993 when Jennifer Capriati made the quarterfinals. 

Oudin has won two ITF Women’s Circuit singles titles this year, tallying three for her two-year career.  Her career record in singles is 69-36. 

Radwanska will play Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. 

 

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

MLB: The latest transactions

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director

Most of the latest transactions involve players rehabbing in the minor leagues. We’re a month away from the trading deadline, and how these players perform will affect the outlook of the teams.

AL
Kansas City Royals – sent Alex Gordon to rehab in the minors.
Tampa Bay Rays – called up starter Scott Kazmir and reliever Chad Bradford. In the process, they sent starter Andy Sonnanstine to the minors and designated reliever Winston Abreu for assignment.

NL
Arizona Diamondbacks – moved reliever Tom Gordon to the 60-day disabled list.
Los Angeles Dodgers – called up starter Eric Milton from the minors rehab and sent pitcher Cory Wade to the minors.
Cincinnati Reds – called up pitcher Homer Bailey, while sending third baseman Adam Rosales to the minors.

Courtesy of: chicagotribune.com

Mark DeRosa, courtesy of: chicagotribune.com

Trades:
Chicago White Sox get: catcher Corky Miller
Cincinnati Reds get: outfielder Norris Harper

St. Louis Cardinals get: third baseman Mark DeRosa
Cleveland Indians get: pitcher Chris Perez and a player to be named later

Other note:
New York Yankees right fielder Xavier Nady may need season-ending elbow surgery. Whether or not surgery is required will be determined in the next few days.

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

MLB: June 27th in Baseball History

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director

Find out what trade made the Cleveland Indians look genius, the number of games a pitcher can lose in a row and how a pitcher should have had a perfect game. 

JUNE 27TH

1977 – Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants is the first player to hit two home runs in one inning twice in his career. 

1980 – Pitcher Jerry Reuss tosses a no-hitter, as the Dodgers defeated the Giants 8-0.  Reuss only faces 28 hitters, and if shortstop Bill Russell doesn’t make a throwing error in the first inning, Reuss would have a perfect game.

1982 – The Braves match the record for most double plays in a game with seven in their 2-0 victory over the Reds.

1993 – Anthony Young establishes a new record for most consecutive losing decisions with 24.  The Cardinals topped the Mets 5-3. 

2002 – Montreal and Cleveland make a significant trade.
Montreal Expos get: Bartolo Colon
Cleveland Indians get: Lee Stevens and three prospects: Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips. 

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

NBA: The Draft’s winners, losers and key trades

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director

Courtesy of dallasmavericks.com

Courtesy of dallasmavericks.com

For the most part, teams made good moves whether it was by trades or draft selections.  There was not too much to overly criticize due to the few questionable acquisitions.

Here are the winners, losers and key trades.

Winners

Denver – Ty Lawson, PG (UNC) from the Minnesota trade
Chauncey Billups will be a great mentor to Lawson.

Golden State – Stephen Curry, G (Davidson)
The Warriors selected arguably the best shooter in the draft.

Indiana – Tyler Hansbrough, PF (UNC) and A.J. Price, G (UConn)
You can say all you want about potential, but Hansbrough had one of the most productive college careers in history.  Price was a great 2nd round pickup.

Courtesy of: i.cdn.turner.com/si

Courtesy of: i.cdn.turner.com/si

Los Angeles Clippers – Blake Griffin, PF (Oklahoma)
The best player in the draft (pictured to the right with the white jersey) will try to help the worst franchise in basketball.

Memphis – Hasheem Thabeet, C (UConn), DeMarre Carroll, PF (Missouri), and Sam Young, SF (Pittsburgh)
The collection of these three athletes should benefit the Grizzles.

Minnesota – Ricky Rubio, PG (Spain), Jonny Flynn, PG (Syracuse), Wayne Ellington, G, (UNC), and Denver’s 1st Round pick next year (Ty Lawson trade)
The combination of Rubio and Flynn has puzzled many analysts, but it makes sense to me.  The T-Wolves can always trade one of them, especially when Rubio isn’t a given to play in the NBA soon. 

San Antonio – Richard Jefferson, SF (Milwaukee trade), DeJuan Blair, PF (Pittsburgh), Jack McClinton, PG, (Miami), and Nando De Colo, SG (France)
Jefferson is a good addition, and Blair is an underrated physical player. 

Losers

Los Angeles Lakers – Cinemelu Elonu, PF (Texas A&M)
They traded the draft rights to Toney Douglass and Patrick Beverly and only received future 2nd Round picks and cash.

Toronto – DeMar DeRozan, SG (USC)
He has potential but not production.  I’d rather have the latter.  He was a gamble when more polished players were still on the board.

Key Trades

New York Knicks get: Darko Milicic
Memphis Grizzles get: Quentin Richardson and cash 

Orlando Magic get: Vince Cater and Ryan Anderson
New Jersey Nets get: Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie 

Courtest of: i.tsn.com/i/photos

Courtest of: i.tsn.com/i/photos

Cleveland Cavaliers get: Shaquille O’Neal (pictured right)
Phoenix Suns get: Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, 2010 2nd Round pick, and 500,000 cash 

Atlanta Hawks get: Jamal Crawford
Golden State Warriors get: Acie Law and Speedy Claxton

San Antonio Spurs get: Richard Jefferson
Milwaukee Bucks get: Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto 

Minnesota get: #5 pick in draft (Ricky Rubio), Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, and Oleksiy Pecherov
Washington Wizards get: Mike Miller and Randy Foye

 

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

College Baseball: LSU overtakes Texas 11-4 to win the College World Series

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director

Courtesy of: www.ncaa.com

Courtesy of: http://www.ncaa.com

LSU’s five-run sixth inning last night propelled the team to its 11-4 Game 3 win over the Texas Longhorns. The Tigers have now claimed six College World Series titles.

In the top of the first, Jared Mitchell, named the Most Outstanding Player of this year’s College World Series, launched a three-run home run for LSU to take a 3-0 lead. The Tigers added a run in the second and were ahead 4-0. The Longhorns collected two runs of their own in the third. Then in the bottom of the fifth, Texas tied the game with a two-run home run by Kevin Keyes. Knotted at 4-4, the tie wouldn’t last for long.

As the second batter of the sixth inning, LSU’s Mikie Mahtook doubled to right-center to drive in Mitchell. Mahtook later scored on a Derek Helenihi sacrifice fly. With the bases loaded and a 6-4 advantage, the Tigers picked up a run from Blake Dean when he became their second consecutive batter to be hit by a pitch. Sean Ochinko’s 2-RBI single capped the inning, as LSU was in command 9-4. Ochinko also homered with a solo blast in the ninth to make it 11-4.

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

College Baseball: Texas tallies victory, forces a winner-take-all Game 3

By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports

The Texas Longhorns defeated the LSU Tigers 5-1 in Game 2 of the College World Series final.  The Longhorns picked up the first run of the game in the top of the first and the second run off of Preston Clark’s second-inning solo home run.  LSU scored its only run of the night in the bottom of the inning.  Then Russell Moldenhauer responded in the top of the third with a solo home run to give Texas a 3-1 edge.  Back-to-back two-out doubles by Cameron Rupp and Connor Rowe respectively made it 4-1 Longhorns.  Preston Clark was the next batter, and he drove in Rowe with an RBI single.  Neither team scored for the rest of the contest, posting 13 consecutive scoreless half-innings.

Game 3 is tonight at 7 on ESPN.  The winner will be crowned as the champions of the 2009 College World Series. 

 

Contact Information:
Craig Filazzola
WSOE Sports Director
cfilazzola@elon.edu

NBA: Draft Predictions

By Tom Waterman, WSOE Sports 

With Thursday’s NBA Draft offering the opportunity for many teams to get the elusive superstar player they have been missing. I decided throw my hat in the ring and do my own last minute mock draft. 

1.  Los Angeles Clippers- Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
– Griffin is the consensus number one pick by everyone, and will immediately provide frontcourt stability for the Clippers with his strong rebounding and scoring ability. 

2.  Memphis Grizzlies- Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
– While his offensive game may never reach the level of a former Connecticut great, Emeka Okafor, Thabeet should be a strong defender immediately and should continue to get better offensively.  Bottom line is that he has too much upside and size to pass up. 

3. Oklahoma City Thunder- Ricky Rubio, Spain
–  Many people, including myself are still skeptical of Rubio and what exactly he will project to be in the NBA. Personally, I don’t think he will ever be like Steve Nash, but he will certainly be solid player in the NBA. Unfortunately you don’t draft just solid players number three overall. 

4.  Sacramento Kings- Tyreke Evans, Memphis
–  Evans has a ton of upside as both a scorer and as a primary ball handler. Also, Evans should be able to contribute immediately for a Kings team that desperately needs playmakers.

5.  Minnesota Timberwolves (Acquired from the Wizards) – James Harden, Arizona State
– Harden is a tremendous shooter and would fit perfectly with T-Wolves who would love to spread the floor and allow their two big men Al Jefferson and Kevin Love to operate in the paint. 

6. Minnesota Timberwolves- Brandon Jennings, Playing in Italy
– With Tyreke Evans already off the board, I see this pick coming down to a trio of guards with Johnny Flynn, Stephen Curry and Jennings. The T-Wolves know they are still a few years away and will draft Jennings who could develop into what Stephon Marbury once was for them. 

7.  Golden State Warriors- Jordan Hill, Arizona
–  I really like Hill’s size and his rebounding ability, and he should fit really well with the Warriors and their young nucleus of talent. 

8.  New York Knicks- Demar DeRozan, USC
– Everyone thinks the Knicks are going to take a point guard. They probably will, but they don’t need one…because Chris Duhon averaged 11 points and 7.2 assists per game last year at the point.  DeRozan a very talented wing player would be a much better fit for the Knicks, possibly in a Shawn Marion type role for them. 

9.  Toronto Raptors- Stephen Curry, Davidson
–  I don’t see Stephen Curry being able to handle the point in the NBA, but with that being said I still think he can be an effective two-guard due to his basketball I.Q. and his jump shot.  

10.  Milwaukee Bucks- Johnny Flynn, Syracuse
–   With the Bucks trading Richard Jefferson this week, I know they would have loved to select DeRozan, Johnny Flynn is a good backup choice as he will fill the need of a scoring point guard that has been vacant since Mo Williams left. 

11.  New Jersey Nets- Earl Clark, Louisville
– The Nets are continuing to add talented big men after landing Robin Lopez in last year’s draft. 

12.  Charlotte Bobcats- Gerald Henderson, Duke
– This might be a hard selection for Michael Jordan considering he would have to pick a “dookie”, however Henderson is the right choice for a team I see making the playoffs this year. 

13.  Indiana Pacers- Jrue Holiday, UCLA
– Unlike in previous years where the Pacers have been rather conservative with their draft selections, I see the Pacers picking a player who probably won’t contribute immediately but has a good amount of upside.   

14.  Phoenix Suns- James Johnson, Wake Forest
– Johnson would be a great value pick here for the Suns who are clearly entering a rebuilding stage after losing top notch players such as Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson, and are now discussing trading Shaquille O’Neal.

Those are my lottery predictions for Thursday’s draft, but those are certainly subject to change if a trade were to occur that would cause a domino effect on the draft and thus make my mock draft useless. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Contact Information:
Tom Waterman
WSOE Sports
swaterman@elon.edu

MLB: Interleague play – the real test for NL fans

By Adam Lawson, WSOE Sports

Ah, June.  Summer is here, and interleague play is in full bloom, for at least a few more days anyway.  You know what that means, right?  Time for fans of National League teams (and the Yankees) to pull their hair out.  While the numbers suggest that the two leagues are closer this year than in recent annals in terms of interleague record, the fact still remains clear that the Senior Circuit has a lot of work to do to catch up to the AL.  Call me crazy, but as a fan of an NL team (Tomahawk chop, baby!), I love interleague play.

Courtesy of: braves-express.com

Courtesy of: braves-express.com

Aside from the fact that fans who have relocated in years past to cities where the only baseball team around plays in the opposite league can actually get to see their team play on occasion, Interleague play provides teams with a chance to prove themselves.  If you’re an AL team, you better prove that you can win, because everybody else will, and if you don’t you will lose ground.  Ok, I admit it, it may not be that fun for AL teams.  But cry me a river.  Because on the NL side, teams get a chance to gain ground on a near-nightly basis, simply because the rest of the league is losing.  Look at the last weekend for example.  My Braves, I won’t attack the umps here, managed to gain ground on the Phillies by taking 1 of 3 at Fenway.  The Mets lost 2 of 3 to the O’s and moved a game closer to the NL East leader as well, because the Fightin’ Phils (sorry, Andy) lost all three at home to the Toronto Blue Jays.  Meanwhile, the Marlins are making the rest of the division fear for their lives because they took 2 of 3 from the Yankees, who lost a series to the Nationals as well recently (that’s right the Nats!).  But then again, the Yankees are the exception to the rule.  They won 2 of 3 against the Mets only because Luis Castillo can’t catch.  They lost the two series mentioned above, and they got shut out by a rookie last night as Tommy Hanson had all sorts of trouble but managed to pitch 5.1 scoreless innings.

As Interleague play comes to its conclusion this weekend, it will be time to go back to the norm, where you have to win series to game ground in the National League (Imagine that).  But, for the next five days, we get to enjoy a slice of baseball heaven.

Contact Information:
Adam Lawson
WSOE Sports
alawson2@elon.edu