Poor Rockies

May 30, 2008

A year removed from a 2007 where they had that amazing winning stretch at the end of the season and beginning of the playoffs, the Rockies are terrible so far this season.

Not only are they 20-35, the worst record in the majors, but they lost an epic game today.

The Rockies were winning 9-1 after five innings, and lost the game to the Cubs 10-9 (it wasn’t even at Coors — it was Wrigley). Then again, the Cubs are in first place for a reason. They’re good this year.

My mind is blown

May 30, 2008

I generally try to avoid political stuff on this blog, but this has a major sports angle. One of my favorite political blogs this election season has been FiveThirtyEight.com, not because of its politics but because all of the statistical projections and data. Nearly every day, the blog updates is projection models of how the presidential election will turn out, state by state, based on past elections and recent polls.

Well, the previously anonymous author of the blog revealed his real identity — and it’s none other than Baseball Prospectus’ Nate Silver.

Wow.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. PECOTA and a lot of the other stuff Baseball Prospectus does is very similar to the statistical models at FiveThirtyEight.com. It’s just amazing when one of the best baseball bloggers is the same as one of the best political bloggers.

So here I am, looking forward to the Women’s College World Series this weekend, when I see the following from an ESPN press release on Awful Announcing: (emphasis mine)

ESPN’s coverage of the entire Women’s College World Series – up to 17 games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN360.com beginning Thursday, May 29 – will feature ESPN’s John Kruk as a game analyst on 10 games

Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

To be honest, I love softball and will watch anyway, despite Kruk. (I’ll especially be watching with UCLA in it this year, though I may have to mute some of the games.)

But John Kruk, really? Can’t they stick with Michele Smith and Jessica Mendoza, or bring back Stacey Nuveman or Jennie Finch if they need to?

I can’t stand John Kruk. He is one of the main reasons I no longer tune into Baseball Tonight on a regular basis. I used to be obsessed with that show, now I’ll tune in every once in a while and flip away a few minutes later in disgust. His over-the-top and often ridiculous analysis drives me and others away.

At least ESPN is continuing to televise the Women’s College World Series. I’ll give them credit for that. Even if they’re using it as a tool to give John Kruk a bigger profile.

It’s another busy weekend in UCLA sports.

Softball: UCLA won its first game in the NCAA regionals 8-3 over Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins (#1 seed in their region, #3 nationally) will face Nevada today at 3 p.m. (TV: ESPNU). Today’s game is huge, as the winner advances to Sunday’s final and would only have to win one more game to advance to the super regionals. The loser would have to win three games in a row to advance. Nevada’s no pushover at 44-16 and #27 in the RPI.

Men’s tennis: The Bruins won their NCAA Round of 16 game 4-0 over Florida State on Friday. #3 seed UCLA advances to the quarterfinals to face #6 USC on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Tulsa. UCLA beat USC twice during the regular season, but that won’t mean anything when the teams play each other on Sunday.

Women’s tennis: UCLA faces Arkansas in the NCAA quarterfinals today at 2 p.m. The #7 seed Bruins caught a bit of a break as #15 seed Arkansas upset #2 seed Georgia on Thursday, but today’s match will still be very tough, as Arkansas is obviously still a very good team. You can get live scoring updates here.

Men’s golf: With one round left at the NCAA West Regionals to be played today, UCLA is tied for fourth place. The top 10 teams qualify for the NCAA Championships, and at +9, UCLA is 10 strokes ahead of 11th place. UCLA is ranked #4 nationally and would have a good shot at a national championship assuming they qualify. For live results today, check out golfstat.com.

Baseball: UCLA won 10-0 against Washington State on Friday night, a key win in that the Bruins need a strong finish to have any chance of making the NCAA tournament. Today’s game is surprisingly televised live on Fox Sports Net at 1:30 p.m. For more info, I’m sure ryebreadraz will have a full recap soon at Bruins Nation.

One of the great things about interleague play are the geographical rivalries that you otherwise normally wouldn’t get to see. We get to see Angels-Dodgers, A’s-Giants, White Sox-Cubs, Rangers-Astros, Yankees-Mets, Devil Rays-Marlins, Royals-Cardinals and with the Expos moving to Washington, Orioles-Nationals.

While I don’t believe the players on the field treat the games as a rivalry, the fans certainly do. So it’s nice to see the organizations getting into the act.

The Nationals sent their mascots and other employees to Inner Harbor, a landmark/tourist area very close to Baltimore’s Camden Yards, to give away stuff and promote their team. Reportedly, Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos was fine with it, but you have to think that privately, he has to have been furious considering he was the biggest opponent to the Nationals moving to DC in the first place.

I’d like to see more of this — teams trying to get under each others’ skin and invade a local rival’s turf with giveaways, promotions and meet-and-greats with mascots and  people from the organization

(I got the photos from the excellent Nationals blog Nats320. Check them out.)

One of my favorite non-traditional sporting events of the year is the NCAA softball tournament. I got hooked on it back when I covered softball at the Daily Bruin. The games are close and intense, they’re typically over quickly (about two hours), and there’s usually some notable upsets.

For most teams, the regionals start today. Games from UCLA’s, Alabama’s and Tennessee’s regional will be televised all weekend (mostly on ESPNU but some games on ESPN2 also). ESPN has a handy schedule, and ESPN’s Graham Hays has a couple of good previews of the tournament. A couple of the regionals actually started on Thursday, with Alabama, Jacksonville State, BYU and Georgia all winning.

For those of you who don’t know, here’s the basic tournament format:

This weekend: Regionals (16 sites with four teams each, double-elimination format)
Memorial Day weekend: Super Regionals (best-of-three series at eight different sites)
Women’s College World Series: starts May 29, double-elimination until championship, which is best-of-three series.

Tampa Bay is still in first place despite their loss on Wednesday. But that wasn’t their biggest news of the day.

The Devil Rays gave Scott Kazmir a four-year, $28.5 million contract extension. This is after locking up Evan Longoria last month. It seems that the Rays are setting themselves up to compete now and in the future.

If Tampa Bay were to stay competitive all year long, it should be the best story in baseball. This team has never been competitive before — ever. The Devil Rays have never won more than 70 games in their franchise history.

As you can imagine, Devil Ray fans are very excited about being in first place. And they should be. The fans who have followed the team throughout deserve this, and it’s a fun team to watch.

And just because, here’s the True story behind Raymond, the Rays’ mascot:

Note: I know they’re the Rays now, not the Devil Rays, but I’m still calling them the Devil Rays in support of my Bugs & Cranks colleague David Chalk and his mission to keep the old team name.

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