Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back In NYC!

I'll be out for the rest of the week. Heading to the greatest city on the planet.

Angels/Yankees series this weekend, possibly my last trip to Yankee Stadium.

Unless the World Series?

I leave you with this.

Monday, July 28, 2008

ESPN College Gameday To Kickoff 22nd Season in Atlanta

The 2008 College Football Season is a month away, which means the return of everyone's favorite pregame football show, ESPN College Gameday.

College Gameday will kickoff it's 22nd season on Saturday, 8/30, at a neutral site, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The live morning broadcast will mostly like air outside the Dome leading up to the primetime kickoff between the ACC favorite Clemson Tigers and from the SEC, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit are back again for their 13th season together.

Clemson and 'Bama have not met since 1975. It should be a bowl game like atmosphere with an even number of fans from each school.

If the start of college football isn't enough to get you excited, it's also the official start of Poon Season.

Yes, that is the Georgia Dome. Quite possibly the ugliest free standing structure known to man.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Creepin On A Come Up

To date, this is by far the most important week of the year for the NY Yankees. Three games vs. the Twins, followed by 3 games at Fenway Park.

Coming into the week I hoped for the Yankees to go 4-2.

But dam! The Yankees are hot. A 3 game sweep against Minnesota puts the Twins in the rearview mirror and the Yankees sitting alone in second place for the Wild Card.

Since the All Star Break, the Yankees have yet to lose, going 6-0. Yesterday's 5-1 win vs Minnesota gave New York their 10th consecutive home win.

A lot of New York's second half success has to do with the return of Johnny Damon from the DL and Robinson Cano pulling his annual coming out of hibernation for the second half. Cano had is 6th consecutive multi hit game yesterday.

Also, May 28th was the last time Joba Chamberlain made a relief appearance. The Yankees were in last place.

Since Joba has been in the starting rotation, the Yankees are 30-18 and in striking distance of not only the Wild Card, but first place for the Eastern Division. The Yankees are 6-3 in games which Chamberlain starts.

New York's bullpen has been doing just fine without Joba, the relievers have a combined 1.65 ERA for the last month. In his last 10 appearances, Kyle Farnsworth hasn't allowed a hit since June 22.

And now, the Yankees are looking up at the hated Red Sox, 3 games separating the two teams.

The Yankees have had trouble so far this year against the BoSox, going 4-5, and Boston has one of the best home records in baseball (36-11)

New York's rotation sets up nicely for the weekend series with Chamberlain, Andy Pettitte and the pleasant surprising pitching of Sidney Ponson.

The Red Sox will counter with Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester.

I would love a Yankees' sweep, and the way they're playing I wouldn't be surprised. But realistically I have to hope for 2 out of 3.

Funny, a couple of weeks the always heated rivalry didn't mean anything. Now, both teams are in position to lead the division.

And with the return of Big Papi, the atmosphere, excitement and emotion will be crazy yet once again for this heated rivalry.

Goodbye JT, Thanks For The Memories

It broke my heart hearing the news last Sunday night that Jason Taylor had been officially traded. It was even harder to swallow at the sight of JT in a uniform other than the Aqua and Orange.

The good news, the Dolphins and Bill Parcells held out long enough and received more than expected for the rights of Taylor.

I still find it hard to believe the talent of JT warrants only two draft picks, a second and sixth round choice.

Yeah, he might be getting up there in age, but this is the reigning NFL Man of the Year and just two years removed from the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The rebuilding process in South Beach is in full swing. But right now, you have to wonder about Parcell's approval rating in Miami. So far in his brief tenure, the Dolphins have said goodbye to fan and community favorites Zach Thomas and now Taylor. Both had spent their entire careers in Miami.

Time will tell if any of these moves will pay off. A defense anchored by Taylor and Thomas always gave Miami a chance for 8-9 wins. Last year, Miami lost 6 games by 3 points or fewer. And let's not forget Taylor single handily beat the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in 2006 when the Bears were undefeated.

But a total team renovation is inevitable coming off a 1-15 season. Miami will have plenty of draft picks in the next couple of years, so for Dolphans, we'll have to wait until 2010 for any excitement.

So away with Taylor and away with the impending media circus which would surround Dolphins' camp. Also, many believe Taylor quit on the team midway through last season. So even if Taylor were to suit up as a Dolphin, his heart and play would would be questioned all year.

Taylor was the last member of the team drafted by Jimmy Johnson.

Now, SS Yeremiah Bell (yikes!) serves as the longest tenured Phin originally drafted by Miami.

The 2008 Dolphins will be made up of mostly no names with nothing to lose. A dangerous combination for any opposing team in the NFL. The players Miami will market will probably be RB Ronnie Brown, O-linemen Vernon Carey and 1st overall pick Jake Long, and LB's Joey Porter and Channing Crowder.

Miami's biggest need has been at QB. This hasn't changed since a certain No. 13 retired. Look for either Jon Beck or Chad Henne to be the starter. More than likely it will Beck since Henne's a rookie, but I'm sure Henne will be named the starter midway through the season.

Here's Jon Beck's career stats at pass friendly BYU.

I've pretty much given up on Josh McCown. It's a safe bet Parcells won't deal with hacksaw injuries either.

Miami fans are hoping Michigan Alum Henne will perform similar to fellow Alum Tom Brady. OK, that's not gonna happen, we can dream, can't we. At least we can hope Henne doesn't stoop to the playing level of Elvis Grbac or Brian Griese.

So far into the rebuilding process, the Dolphins have looked to solidify their offensive line which has always been the key to any NFL team's success.

Just like any Parcell's team, Miami will be a run first offense and focus on protecting the Quarterback.

If Ronnie Brown stays healthy, Miami could pose a potent ground attack.

Like I said, the 2008 Miami Dolphins have nothing to lose and can't be any worse than last year's team.

Monday, July 21, 2008

NCAA Football 2009, Top Ten Toughest Stadiums

I have a PS2. I only play the sports games.

Since 1991, I think I've bought Madden Football every year.

Nowadays, I still buy Madden, I buy NCAA Football, NBA Live, and occasionally college basketball and an MLB game.

I do get into Tiger Woods' Golf every now and then, but I'm more of a Golden Tee fan.

Yes, college football is officially upon with last week's release of EA Sports NCAA 2009.

Again this year's NCAA Football brings us the play-by-play and commentary from Brad Nessler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, why is Chris Fowler left out?

Like previous years, I'm sure the in studio pregame brings us to the much anticipated prediction from Corso and the donning of the Mascot headgear.

With the release of EA Sports NCAA 2009 (which I still haven't purchased), the Notorious DEK asked for my thoughts on this link (the top 10 toughest college football stadiums).

It really got me thinking. A rare occasion, especially in the middle of summer.

Editor's note: I have personally attended each of these stadiums for a prime time game.

10. Nebraska Memorial Stadium (81,067)

We all know how terrible Nebraska has been in recent years. Actually, people outside of the Cornhusker state might be unaware because Husker Football has been MIA.

The much embarrassing Callahan era is finally over and the Huskers have their man, Bo Pelini (yes, the same guy who should be in his 5th year as NU Head Coach) and the football hype and energy in Lincoln has nearly reached the same level of the previous century.

The 'Skers were 4-3 in 2007, highlighted by a 49-31 shellacking in Lincoln by USC. The game was far more unbearable than what the score says. The best thing about this defeat was the fact Nebraska fans finally realized (and admitted) Bill Callahan was the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf.

Memorial Stadium is known as being the 3rd largest city in the state of Nebraska on Gameday. The Stadium also boasts an impressive streak of 288 consecutive sellouts.

From 1991 to 1998 Nebraska held a 47 game home win streak.

After a 17-13 opening game lost to Florida St. (9/7/1985), the Cornhuskers were an astounding 111-6 at home from 1985 to 2002 (losing 27-24 on Nov. 2 at home vs. Texas).

That's 111 wins to 6 loses in 17 years! Holy Shit!

Go back and check my research, I couldn't believe it either.

9. Virginia Tech Lane Stadium (66,233)

In 2007, the Hokies finished 6-1 at home. Their only setback was a Thursday night loss to (at the time) unbeaten Boston College, 14-10. As you all remember, Va Tech was up 14-0 late in the 4th quarter when Matt Ryan somehow, someway lead BC with a Flutie like comeback.

Had Virginia Tech not blown this game, they may have been in the National Championship game.

If you've ever been to a Hokie home game, you know the adrenaline flowing throughout the stadium as the Hokies emerge through the tunnel to "Enter Sandman."

8. Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium (76,129)

On a personal note, Mad Town ranks as my favorite Big 10 Tailgate school (Definitely top 10 overall). During timeouts and between crucial plays, the PA jams to House of Pain's "Jump Around." The entire stadium jumps up and down, you can't hear yourself think and at the same time you worried about the entire stadium collapsing. Freakin cool.

The Badgers were perfect at home in 2007 (7-0). They're currently on a 14 game home winning streak since a 2005 home defeat to Iowa (20-10).

Since 2004, Wisconsin has been jumpin around at home with a 25-1 record.

7. Oregon Autzen Stadium (53,800)

Autzen Stadium may not have a large capacity, but with the upper tier hanging almost directly over the field, the fans' cheers land directly on top of opposing teams.

Compared to other major schools around the country, Autzen Stadium may lack in quantity, but with the noise on the field, quality is like no other.

Eugene, Oregon may be famous for Nike founding father Phil Knight, but also was the location for every fraternity member's favorite movie, Animal House.

In 2007, the Ducks finished 5-2 at home with losses to Cal and Oregon St.

Oregon has not been undefeated at home since 2000.

6. Oklahoma Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112)

The Sooners protected their house in 2007, going 7-0.

OU has won 19 in row at home since a shocking 17-10 opening season loss to TCU (9/3/05).

Norman is crazy on Gameday. The Chicks are freakin hot! But the only thing holding Norman back is the state law of beer being only 3.2%! Yeah, you really can drink a case of beer.

5. Tennessee Neyland Stadium (102,037)

Good ole Rocky Top! If you're not wearing orange and white on Gameday in Knoxville, or any other day for that matter, you're probably not alive to be reading this. This is SEC country. You know you're on UT campus when all the streets are named either Pat Summit or Peyton Manning.

2007, the Volunteers were perfect at home (7-0).

2006 they were a shocking 5-2 with home losses to LSU and Florida.

4. Penn St. Beaver Stadium (107,282)

For those of you who think JoPa and the Nittany Lions are washed up, Penn St has finished 6-1 at home the past two years. They were perfect in 2007 (7-0), making them 19-2 at home in the last three years.

Beaver Stadium may be one of the most intimidating stadiums in the country and when the "White Out" occurs, look out! Definitely one of the most intimidating sights in all of college football.

Students camp out in front of the main gate weeks before a home game attempting to get the best seat in the house, aka Paternoville. JoPa has even been known to show up to the campsites delivering pizzas.

3. Ohio St Ohio Stadium (102,329)

Buckeye Mania is rampant in the state of Ohio. We've all heard about the riots which occur in Columbus, win or lose a big game. I don't think I've ever seen a town so passionate about their hometown team (which makes it so fun to see the Buckeyes lose in two straight National Championship games.)

I've personally seen a female Buckeye fan punch the lights outta of a male Michigan fan, at 6AM!

Upon leaving the Columbus Airport, I've seen a sign that says, "Thanks for visiting Columbus, unless your from Michigan."

Ohio St was 6-1 in 2007, a 28-21 upset by Illinois.

Since 2008, the Buckeyes are 40-3 at home with losses to Illinois, No. 2 Texas (2005), and No. 16 Wisconsin (2004).

2. Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)

Home to "The Swamp", "Gator Bait", and "The Chomp", this may be the only campus in the country where the mascot roams freely on campus. Yes, there are real live alligators present.

I can't wait to get my hands on NCAA '09 so I can run wild with Superman, um, I mean Football Jesus, um, I mean Tim Tebow.

In 2007, the Gators were 6-1 losing a heartbreaking game to War Eagle and the Auburn Tigers, 20-17.

Since 2004, Florida is 24-2 at the Swamp.

1. LSU Tiger Stadium (91,600)

Nicknamed "Death Valley", the stadium's nickname derived from "Deaf Valley." No explanation needed here. It's freakin loud!

Last year's epic 4th quarter comeback against Florida the crowd's noise measured at 129.8 decibels!

The reigning National Champions were 6-1 at home in 2007, losing the overtime to thriller to Darren McFadden and Arkansas, 50-48.

Since 2003, the Tigers are 32-3 at Death Valley.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

M-TRI "Elephants"

I have to give a mad shout out to boy Max Triolo, aka M-TRI. He's a mad DJ, Producer, rapper, comedian, hell, you name it, straight outta Brooklyn.

For everyone who thought OG Rap was dead, you gotta check out his new video, "Elephants." This video is from his new album "Max Talkin' Real Ism" scheduled to be released this fall.

This is real, original rap straight from the birthplace of Hip Hop.

According to M-TRI, "Elephants" has been getting nice responses and spins on underground Hip Hop radio stations in NYC, Jersey and Canada.

I met M-TRI during my time in NYC. He's one of my best friends in NYC and is one helluva an entertainer.

He also showed me the art of true street graffiti.

Try not to act too surprised he's white.

For upcoming shows, events and music, check out his Myspace.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What The Deuce?...Again

No smoking...Unless it's a joint.

We all know Amsterdam is notorious for being able to purchase legal marijuana and smoke in their coffee shops.

I know, pretty freakin sweet!

But just recently, Amsterdam has followed the rest of the world and outlawed smoking in bars, restaurants, AND Coffee Shops! Don't panic! It's still alright to smoke weed in the lucrative coffee shops, but not tobacco.

Whoa, man.

Let's see...You can smoke weed and get high as fuck in my establishment, but if you light up a cigarette, you're gone!

I have no problem with this. In the US, it has become common to see crowds of people outside in front of bars smoking cigarettes. The idea of this law was started to protect guests and employees from second hand smoke.

I guess this throws out the old urban legend that smoking one joint is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes.

So good for you Amsterdam. Way to stick to your guns. There's nothing wrong with having to step outside to smoke tobacco, just as long as you still have a safe and legal place indoors to relax and smoke some high quality THC.

What The Deuce?

If you haven't heard or seen, here's the controversial cover of this week's New Yorker.

It's pretty alarming at first sight, but like all works of art, the cover has deep meaning.

According to cover artist Barry Blitt, the July 21 cover, "The Politics of Fear," is to be viewed as a parody in an attempt to show how "scare tactics and misinformation" are being used to attack Barack Obama's campaign.

“I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous,” Blitt stated. “It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is.”

Blitt makes a very strong point, but maybe a little to creative for the average American.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hey Papelbon...You're A Douche!

I never really cared for Jon Papelbon, but now, he's Public Enemy No. 1.

For the record, here are Papelbone's exact words from Monday's All Star Media Day:

"If I was managing the team, I would close," Papelbon said. "I'm not managing the team, so it don't matter."

"We've both earned that right; us, by winning the World Series and having the opportunity of having our manager there and our team being represented, and Mariano by what he's done for this role, we're in Yankee Stadium and blah, blah, blah," Papelbon said. "It's not that easy. Everybody thinks it's a cut and dry answer, but it's not."

Blah, blah, blah...Sounds really freakin arrogant!

What the hell was the guy thinking!

And then to hop in the back of a pickup with his pregnant wife and cruise up sixth avenue in NYC! What the hell do you think was going to happen during the parade?

What do you think the response will be everytime you pitch in NYC the rest of your career?

Do you think you and your family will ever be able to walk the streets of NYC ever again?

Not only is he arrogant, he's an idiot!

That's similar to Kobe Bryant in the NBA All Star Game telling Karl Malone not to help him out with a pick on Michael Jordan because Kobe wanted the spotlight guarding MJ.

That would be like Mike Vanderjagt saying he should attempt the winning field goal over Adam Vinatieri.

Or if some third year player said he should take the winning shot in a playoff game over Robert Horry in his prime.

Towards the end of the 50 minute interview, the stupidity of his statement finally burned through his thick, stubborn head.

Papelbon grabbed the Boston reporter's tape recorder, held it to his mouth and said, "This is Jonathan Papelbon, closer of the Boston Red Sox. Mariano Rivera will be closing the 2008 All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium. I'm making a statement right now, saying I don't want it, I want him to have it. I said all that earlier, but that's the way I feel about it."

Just a little too late. Sorry buddy. You can't get away with those previous comments and think everything's all fine and dandy.

While your at it douche bag, why don't you say Giuliani didn't do such a great job, Willis Reed was faking, and every borough outside of Manhattan sucks.

As I fondly remember the 1999 All Star Game at Fenway Park, Boston fans chanted "Yankees suck!" everytime Derek Jeter was at bat.

All this coming about a week after a man was attacked by Red Sox fans with a baseball bat, while stuck in traffic with his family because his car had New York state license plates.

And later come to find out the victim really isn't a baseball fan.

New York Daily News: Jonathan Papelbon says he should close All Star Game instead of Mo.

Derek Jeter And Letterman's Top 10

Like most of baseball fans, I missed Derek Jeter's appearance on David Letterman Tuesday night.

From Yankee Stadium, Jeter gave the Top 10 Perks of Being an All Star.

Definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Bronx Tale

What a night!

Just when you thought nothing could live up to Josh Hamilton's Ruthesque performance from Monday, the 2008 All Star Game became an instant classic.

Overall, NYC and Yankee Stadium represented the Mid Summer Classic just like that, a Classic. Hamilton stole the show in Monday's Home Run Derby with an epic performance for the ages. The red carpet parade up Sixth Avenue was freakin sweet. Hall of Famers galore. And of course a game for the ages in The House That Ruth Built.

Probably the only thing missing was the absence of longtime Yankee Stadium PA announcer Bob Shepherd, a Stadium staple.

Tuesday also failed to bring an emotional pregame ceremony similar to the 99 game at Fenway when Ted Williams rode around the field in a golf cart. George Steinbrenner doesn't have that kind of cred.

I thought for sure the starting lineups would trot out one by one from Monument Park.
I already had chills and my eyes were starting to water. So of course I was greatly disappointed when the starters did the regular walk out from the dugout. And why was there a lady standing at the top of the dugout cuing each starter? I'm sure they could hear their names being called and knew what to do.

I later heard a rumor that MLB canceled the Monument Park walk because of Shepherd's absence.

But still, no Tino, no Paul O'neil, no Jim Leyritz, no Bernie, no Cone or Wells? Not even Scott Brosius or Aaron Boone.

I will give Terry Francona major props. Pulling A-Rod and Jeter in the middle of an inning so they could receive standing ovations. Classy. Francona even batted Jeter second in the order over his own player Dustin Pedroia. And of course, giving Rivera the call with one out in the ninth. Maybe the only thing I would hold against Francona, not selecting Mike Mussina.

As for the game itself, it looked as if the game would end in two hours and really lacked any excitement. Then J.D. tied the game with a line drive two out homer to left. Jonathan (prick) Papelbon's appearance in the 8th, the crowd booing, chanting for Rivera and "overrated."

Mariano Rivera's highly anticipated appearance in the ninth was awesome! Even before, seeing Joe Girardi in the bullpen catching Rivera's warmup pitches. When Rivera made his patented walk in from the bullpen with "Enter Sandman" blaring through the stadium speakers, FOX cut to a commercial half way through. What the hell are you thinking!

Yeah the game was way to long, but for anybody who stayed up to the end, it was worth it. Great pitching, great defense, and an unfortunate night for the Marlins' Dan Uggla.

Uggla set an All Star record with 3 errors, 3 strikeouts, an 0-4 night and grounded into a double play. Ouch!

How about all the plays at the plate! Wow! Dodgers' catcher Russell Martin really made a name for himself, and I'm sure he'll now be considered as the best defensive player in the game. Martin even threw out Ian Kinsler trying to steal second. Kinsler had been caught stealing only once all year! Kinsler has 23 stolen bases up to the break.

Another guy making a name for himself, Rockies' pitcher Aaron Cook. All Cook did was get out of a no out bases loaded jam in the tenth inning. Cook went on to pitch three scoreless innings.

The biggest, and maybe the best defensive play of the night, happened in that tenth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Justin Morneau hit a slow roller to short. Miguel Tejada made an incredible play and throw to first to get Morneau by a half a foot and keep the NL's hopes alive.

How about Michael Young driving in the winning run in the All Star Game for the second time in the last 3 years!

When all said and done, the American League was victorious again, unbeaten in the last 12 All Star Games,with a 4-3, 15 inning marathon victory. The one negative, Boston's J.D. Drew winning the MVP at Yankee Stadium. It was pretty funny seeing the fans' reaction win Drew hit the tying homerun in the seventh inning. They weren't sure whether to cheer or boo.

To be honest with you, I didn't want the game to end. It was so much fun to watch. I guess it would have been better if the starters were all still in the game and not the reserves stealing the show and playing the majority of the game.

During one of the aerial shots of both Stadiums, Joe Buck informed the viewing audience, "There's the new Yankee Stadium, just a short train ride away from the current stadium." What? A short train ride? How bout a short walk. I'm guessing Buck has never rode the Subway.

More 2008 All Star Game highlights.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stuffing The Ballots

Every year at this time always seems to be question for debate, the MLB All Star Game rosters are announced. And as usual, there are obvious snubs and players not deserving of the honor.

This year is no exception.

With fans giving the opportunity to voice their opinions and deciding on the starters, the All Star Game is becoming more and more of a popularity contest.

Fans are allowed to vote up to 25 times, which means the popular teams-the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs-will have a significant number of players represented.

This year, Cubs and Red Sox fans have overwhelmingly stuffed the ballots. I'm certain there are many fans' of these teams who not only vote 25 times for themselves, but also vote for their relatives, friends and even their dog.

The Red Sox have won 2 titles in the last 4 years making them one of the best teams in the game. However in recent weeks the BoSox have fell off the chart and are now 4 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. Big Papi is out, Dice K seems to already thrown out his arm, Manny's struggling, Schilling's career could be over (hopefully, and I bet now he wished he would have signed with the Rays last winter).

Then that leads us to Boston's captain, catcher Jason Varitek. About two weeks ago, Varitek was the leading vote getter for the AL. Since then, fans have wised up and voted for the best catcher in the game, Minnesota's Joe Mauer, to surpass Varitek.

Varitek will still represent the Red Sox even though he's flirting with the Mendoza Line, batting around .218. Two-FREAKIN!-18! I haven't done the research, but I'm guessing this is the lowest batting average ever for a player on the All Star Roster.

There are more catchers than teams in the AL with a higher batting average than "Tek." Hell, there are a lot more pitchers with a better batting average than Tek.

Maybe the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Ivan Rodriquez, Jorge Posada or Victor Marinez, to name a few, should have got the nod.

Another Boston player, second baseman Dustin Pedroia solidifies the case of Boston fan stuffing the ballot. Yeah, Pedroia been on a tear of late, but how does he get the start over the Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler. All Kinsler has done is lead the league in batting average at .338.

As for the outfield, Manny and Ichiro are having sub par seasons but get the start based solely on their popularity (and of course Manny being a Red Sox).

Let's see. Maybe Johnny Damon (batting over .320, but now on the DL), Kansas City's David DeJesus (.316 BA), the Tigers' Magglio Ordonez (on the DL) and Curtis Granderson. Granderson has sparked the Tigers back into contention and last year became only the second player ever with 30 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in a season. Wow!

And the best team in baseball, the Rays, only have two players represented! They'll probably get Evan Longoria, but what about Carl Crawford? Crawford homered in last year's game.

And what's an All Star Game without Vladimir Guerrero! Is that a misprint? Guerrero, last year's home run derby champion, not in the All Star Game! Does he still get to defend his title.

And with Big Papi out, let's hope the DH goes to the Yankees' Hideki Matsui. Matsui's batting .323.

Even Boston did have players get the shaft. Dice K is 9-1 and third baseman Mike Lowell is batting around .300.

But the biggest snub maybe Mike Mussina for the Yanks. Mussina has stepped up as the Yankees ace this year (11-6), after everybody dismissed his career last year. Many lobbied for Mussina to even start the All Star Game in his home stadium.

On to the National League. The Chicago Cubs have always been the lovable losers and this year everyone thinks the 100 year drought will come to an end. But lately the Cubs, have well, looked like the Cubs, going 8-11 in their last 19 games. And now the Brewers' have added CC Sabathia and now what once looked like a runaway for the Cubbies has all the sudden turned into a three team race.

The Cubs will have 7 players in this year's All Star Game. Geovany Soto, who should runaway with the rookie of the year, received the nod as the starting catcher. Soto gets the start over LA's Russell Martin (.305 BA), Atlanta's Brian McCann (.293 BA), and San Fran's Bengie Molina (.293 BA). All three with better averages than Soto. Martin and McCann were selected to the team.

With every MLB team guaranteed to have at least one player represented, the Washington National's lone man is SS Cristian Guzman. A major problem with this, fan favorite Jose Reyes is left off the team.

Another NY Met fan favorite also left off the team (for now) is third baseman David Wright. Of course Chicago's Aramis Ramirez gets the spot over Wright.

The outfield for the NL is a complete mess. Begin with the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano. Soriano won't be on the team because of injury and Fukudome really hasn't played like an All Star, there's probably at least ten outfielders left of the roster batting better than Fukudome. You can argue that the Japanese population stuffed the ballots for Fukudome, but then why was Hideki Matsui left off the AL roster?

How does Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth (.279 BA, 16 HR) get the spot over teammate Xavier Nady (.323 BA, 12 HR)? Also questionable omissions: San Francisco's Aaron Rowand (.300, 8 HR), Milwaukee's Corey (I wear my sunglasses at night) Hart (.299, 14 HR), and Houston's Carlos Lee (.292, 20 HR, 70 RBI).

And if it is about a popularity contest, where is Ken Griffey Jr.? He just surpassed 600 runs, this could be his last season. You need him in this game.

So there you have it. That's my rants and raves.

I've always like the idea of giving the voice to the fans and letting them select the starters. But when you think about it, with the internet, who knows how many times a crazy fan is voting for the same players. Remember back in the day, like ten years ago, when you actually had to attend a MLB game, get you own ballot, punch the holes out for the starter at each position and then mail in your ballot?

This may have been more time consuming but those All Star Games were just that, All Star Games!

And now, the All Star Game is more than an exhibition, it's for home field advantage in the World Series. So you really want the best players representing each league.

And don't we see enough of the Cubs and Red Sox already? We all know about ESPN's love affair with the Red Sox, it seems like they're on ESPN every other night. And the Red Sox occasionally appear on FOX's or TBS's Game of the Week.

Of course the Cubs have WGN.

Season stats or career stats, for that matter, no longer are factors which determine an All Star. What team you play for and national exposure is the new criteria.

I guess if you're the American League, you should consider losing the game giving you a better chance to win the World Series on your home field. We all know the AL is way better than the NL. The AL has won 3 of the last 4 Titles, sweeping the NL in all 3 World Series.

I think the National League will keep the game competitive because their pitching is nasty, but the AL has far too much fire power.

Make it 11 for the last 12 (2002 was the tie).

My only question with the All Star Game, where are the stars?