Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ramiro Pena may soon be the player who replaces Derek Jeter at shortstop

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes about Derek Jeter's possible replacement at shortstop in 23-year-old Ramiro Pena... "Jeter's decreased range at shortstop, especially to his left, has been an increasingly hot topic around baseball - which the Yankee high command has pointedly chosen to ignore, because there didn't appear to be any bona fide prospects in the system. That, however, all changed this spring with the emergence of 23-year-old Ramiro Pena, whose dazzling glovework has made him the frontrunner to win the utility infielder's job until Alex Rodriguez comes back in May." ...
  • Bill Madden
  • Kentucky Derby champ Alysheba dies

    For the second time in a week, a former Kentucky Derby champion horse dies...the report below is from

    LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Alysheba, winner of the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and chosen 1988 Horse of the Year, has died. The champion stallion was 25.

    The charismatic star, dubbed "America's Horse" by racing fans, Alysheba was euthanized Friday night following a fall in his stall at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions, where he was buried Saturday.

    The son of racing legend Alydar became a sensation for trainer Jack Van Berg and owners Dorothy and Pamela Scharbauer during a brilliant career that included a win in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic. He retired as horse racing's all-time money winner with more than $6.6 million in earnings from 11 victories in 26 lifetime starts.

    Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who piloted Alysheba to victory in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, called him "the most talented horse I ever rode."

    The talent became evident during Alysheba's stirring Derby win over Bet Twice. He stumbled in the stretch before catching himself to run down his rival in the final yards.

    Only upon replay did McCarron realize how close his trip had come to disaster.

    "Falling didn't even go through my mind," McCarron said. "I kept thinking there's only one horse left in front of us that was going to prevent us from getting the roses. He just did an incredible job of righting himself. I was focused on keeping my balance and trying to stay on his back."

    Van Berg wasn't surprised. Alysheba had a sense of balance and athleticism rarely found on the track.

    "He just had unbelievable ability," Van Berg said. "He got a little gust of wind or whatever and got knocked down and he stepped up before Chris knew what hit him. He was remarkable."

    Alysheba backed up the Derby win by taking the Preakness. His bid for a Triple Crown ended with a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Belmont, a rare dull performance from a horse who won fans over with his consistency and durability.

    Being a bit of a showoff helped. Van Berg said he would get a kick out of seeing Alysheba hop around the paddock before races, preening for the audience.

    "He was hard to handle sometimes, but the adrenaline would get flowing and he knew it was time to go," Van Berg said. "He could do things you wouldn't believe."

    Namely, bring it every time.

    "He always ran his race," McCarron said. "You could count on him giving his best effort, even if he got in trouble or the track condition wasn't to his liking."

    One of his greatest performances may have come in defeat. Alysheba lost to 1986 Derby winner Ferdinand in a photo finish at the 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic, a setback that likely cost him Horse of the Year honors.

    McCarron said the loss may have been a blessing. Rather than retire to the breeding shed, Alysheba returned to the track as a 4-year-old in 1988, winning six stakes races and getting a measure of revenge in the '88 Classic, beating Seeking the Gold in the early evening gloaming at Churchill Downs.

    McCarron remembers seeing signs in the winner's circle proclaiming: "Alysheba for President." The horse certainly seemed to feel like one, carrying himself with the pride of a winner.

    "He looked majestic on the track," McCarron said. "He'd stop and let people take photographs. I believe he loved it."

    Alysheba retired to stud in Kentucky in 1989 before being sold and sent to Saudi Arabia. He arrived at the Horse Park last fall, joining Cigar -- who broke Alysheba's career earnings record -- in the Hall of Champions.

    "He had an aura about him," park spokeswoman Lisa Jackson said.

    McCarron said he saw Alysheba two weeks ago and offered his old friend mints while standing out in his paddock.

    "He looked fantastic," McCarron said.

    The stallion fell in his stall, injuring his right hind femur, and was euthanized Friday night at a medical center in Lexington.

    Kathy Hopkins, director of equine operations at the horse park, said Alysheba fell due to a chronic degenerative spinal condition.

    "Complicated by his advanced age, this trauma resulted in severe pain," Hopkins said. "The resulting pain and suffering, and the inability to stand unaided, led to a joint decision for euthanasia."

    Alysheba is the second champion horse to be euthanized in the past two weeks. Lil E. Tee, who upset heavily favored Arazi to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby, was put down at Old Frankfort Stud in Lexington on March 18 at age 20.

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    It's all about The Cuse

    After tonight we will have the Elite Eight...and here are the last four teams who will complete that bracket...

    South Regional in Memphis
    7:25 #3 Syracuse (28-9) vs. #2 Oklahoma (29-5) {Oklahoma -1}

    At times this season it looked like The Cuse was headed for another disappointing season...then came the Big East tourney...I love The Cuse and their warrior mentality...point guard Jonny Flynn (photo) is one bad ass...the Sooners have been steady all season...Blake Griffin is a force...but I am just stunned that he is such a horrible free throw shooter...this will be a nip and tuck game all the way but The Cuse will win...

    9:55 #4 Gonzaga (28-5) vs. #1 North Carolina (30-4) {Carolina -9}
    The Zags have impressed me in this tourney...they could have buckled against Akron when the Zips had the Zags in a close game...then Gonzaga put the foot on the accelerator and smoked Akron...and what a finish the Zags had against Western Kentucky....we all know about Carolina...what is there to write about them...hmmm, it would not surprise me if Gonzaga wins this game...but I think Carolina edges them by 1 point...take Gonzaga with the points!!!...

    Midwest Regional in Indianapolis
    7:05 #12 Arizona (21-13) vs. #1 Louisville (30-5) {Louisville -9}
    The bracket broke just right for Arizona to get into the Sweet 16...Louisville dominates in this game...give the points and enjoy The Ville in an easy win...

    9:35 #3 Kansas (27-7) vs. #2 Michigan State (28-6) {MSU -1.5}
    The Spartans have a lot of talent, but at times they seem to go into a funk at least twice during the course of a game...I just can't put my finger on what is their problem...Kansas has had an incredible year after losing all starting five from last year's title team...Sparty wins and cover the points...

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Villanova to beat Duke in the Sweet 16

    One half of the Sweet 16 goes at it tonight...whoever wins this round of games is half way to the six wins needed to be declared CHAMPIONS!!! are my predictions:

    East Regional in Boston
    7:25 #4 Xavier (27-7) vs. #1 Pitt (30-4) {Pitt -7}

    The Panthers have not looked like a number one seed so far...Sam Young (photo) had a monster game with 32 points against Okie State...even though the Panthers have struggled at times, their beefy center DeJuan Blair has not been in foul trouble in the first two games of the tourney...look for Pitt to win this game, but take Xavier with the points...

    9:55 #3 Villavova (28-7) vs. #2 Duke (30-6) {Duke -2}
    Duke caught evern break in the last minute of their win over Texas this past weekend...Duke has not impressed me all year, but somehow they are sitting with 30 wins again...Villanova may have had their scare of the tournament with their comeback against American...the Wildcats whooped UCLA on Saturday...Villanova wins in a slight upset...

    West Regional in Glendale
    7:05 #5 Purdue (27-9) vs. #1 Connecticut (29-4) {UConn -7)
    The Huskies have looked mighty impressive so far...they jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Texas A&M and never looked back...Purdue will provide a battle for most of the game...but in the last 10 minutes the Huskies take over...UConn wins and give the points...

    9:35 #3 Missouri (30-6) vs. #2 Memphis (33-3) {Memphis -4.5}
    Real quick, name me the head coach of Missouri!!!...if you said Norm Stewart, you are is Mike Anderson...and the Tigers are one of the quietest 30 win teams in the last 5 years....I like Memphis a will be close, but in the end, Memphis wins and barely covers...Mizzou on a teaser will be a good...

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Kobe Bryant's wife forces maid to stick hand in a bag of dog crap?

    This was just reported by TMZ:

    Kobe and Vanessa Bryant are striking back at the maid who accused Vanessa of various abuse on the job -- including an alleged incident where the maid was forced to stick her hand into a bag of dog crap.

    The Bryant's lawyers, Loeb & Loeb LLP, just released the following statement on behalf of the couple:

    We have learned that a former employee of the Bryants, Maria Jimenez, has filed a complaint against our clients. Ms. Jimenez's outrageous allegations of improper conduct are totally unfounded and patently false. The Bryants intend to vigorously defend against these untruthful allegations and are confident that the baseless nature of the allegations will be proven.

    Give me Tyler Hansbrough over Blake Griffin

    - Give me Tyler Hansbrough over Blake Griffin anyday...don't get me wrong, Griffin is a darn good player, but he is horrible at the free throw line...with the game on the line I would want the ball in Hansbrough's hands instead of Griffin...that is why Hansbrough is my Player of the Year...
    Hansbrough 21.2 ppg; 8.1 rpg; 85% free throw
    Griffin 22.5 ppg; 14.4 rpg; 58% free throw

    - Kansas head coach Bill Self is my Coach of the Year...think about it, he lost all starting five players from last year's national title team and all he has done is go 25-6 this season...

    - Since winning back-to-back titles, Florida's Billy Donovan has missed the Big Dance the last two years...maybe he is not the next great head coach that we all thought he was just two years ago...

    - One of the best blogs is The Money Shot...G$ often writes about his upcoming wedding and how the life of being a groom sucks...this is some funny shit...check out his latest rant on March 18th...
  • Money Shot

  • - Kelly Clarkson was always been a thick girl, but now she has become fat...however, I do like how she is handling it...she admits she likes to eat and is unapologetic about it...

    - Add crumbled feta to spice up any meal...

    - People might as well realize that Charles Barkley will never change - and that is a good thing...

    - I was disappointed that Detroit Tigers star outfielder Magglio Ordonez supports Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez...Chavez is an idiot...

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    LeBron James does yoga

    Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer writes how yoga is a big part of LeBron James' regime... "When James first came into the NBA at the age of 18 he didn't even tape his ankles, sometimes ate McDonald's an hour before tipoff and his main use for ice was cooling beverages." ...
  • Brian Windhorst
  • 30 years ago Magic's Spartans beat Bird's Sycamores

    Larry Keith wrote this article in the April 2, 1979 edition of Sports Illustrated after Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans beat the undefeated Indiana State Sycamores led by Larry Bird... "Last Monday night, in the championship game, Michigan State confirmed a notion that had been gaining credence as the NCAA tournament progressed and State rolled to one easy win after another. The Spartans, despite a 21-6 regular-season record, are a superb team—perhaps even a great one—largely because of their perfect mix of superstars in the spotlight and supernumeraries in the shadows. Together, they accomplished what Earvin Johnson and Gregory Kelser could never have done by themselves—indeed, what no team had been able to do this season. The Spartans caged Larry Bird and ended the 33-game winning streak of Indiana State 75-64 to win their first national basketball title." ...
  • Larry Keith
  • Sunday, March 22, 2009

    The greatest sports figure to play in the Steel City

    Because of work, I took a little break from blogging over the last few weeks but now I am ready to start up again...Stiles Points will be doing a new feature called, "The City's Greatest" in which I will ask your opinions about various athletes, sports moments, and other items focusing on a specific start, the first question involves the City of Pittsburgh:

    Who is the greatest sports figure to ever play in the City of Pittsburgh?

    Please take a minute to vote and leave a comment about why you voted for that sports figure...I have provided the names of some Pittsburgh sports figures, but you can vote for someone not listed below...the criteria is based on however you, the reader, interpret it to be...there are no wrong responses...the purpose is to share views and have a spirited debate...

    Who is the greatest sports figure to ever play in the City of Pittsburgh?
    Jerome Bettis
    Barry Bonds
    Terry Bradshaw
    Roberto Clemente
    Joe Greene
    Mario Lemieux
    Willie Stargell
    Honus Wagner
    Other free polls

    A-Rod involved with hookers and former Manhattan madam Kristin Davis

    The New York Daily News reports that a former New York City madam supplied hookers for Alex Rodriguez... "A former Manhattan madam who supplied Eliot Spitzer with hookers also counted Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez as a customer - and found him so charming she dated him herself for free, former employees of the call-girl agency tell the Daily News. A-Rod wooed ex-madam Kristin Davis (photo, above) with flowers, jewelry, persistence and heated e-mails, according to the sources." ...
  • New York Daily News