Thursday, March 9, 2006
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
(including American Idol Thoughts)
Good morning everyone! It was a crazy day and evening yesterday, but we've still got plenty of baseball and American Idol Thoughts to keep busy.
It was poker night and it just wasn't "in the cards" for me at all. My best hand was when I was the big blind. I had 4-7 offsuit, but since I paid the blind, I checked it and saw the flop. The flop brought two more sevens, so I knew I was sitting pretty good. So, I raised a small amount, just to add a little to the pot but not enough to scare anyone off. The turn didn't help me, so I just checked and called when another player raised. On the river, a four came down. At that point, I bid fairly large, 225, knowing that anything over that and no one would call. So, I won that hand with a full house.
Later, I had a K-10 offsuit, so I called the blinds. On the flop, an Ace and a Jack landed. So, I had nothing, but all I needed was the Queen for the straight. On the turn, the Queen showed up. Someone else bid 150, and I thought for about two seconds, and then faked thinking for about another 8-10 seconds before I called the 150. When a three, or something insignificant showed up on the river, I big 500 which was not called, so I took that hand. Probably went too high, but I also figured that since the other player had called after the turn, he probably thought he might have something.
I was more aggressive on my raising this week. I realized that there are some times when you can actually buy a pot. I tried it a few times with mixed results. One time, I was the big blind with a 4-8 offsuit. After the flop, I had nothing with potential for nothing, so I raised 300, hoping no one would call and just being happy to basically take the blinds and initial calls. Unfortunately, someone did call. However, at one other point, I had something like 10-4 on a small blind and just went 200 for it, hoping it would be enough at the time since everyone else had checked to me. Oh well. It is still a lot of fun. I had a few pretty good hands, but I made a couple of bigger mistakes as well that really hurt me.
Anyway, let's get to today's postings and thoughts. I need to tell you that I am working on the AL East pitching preview and hope to have that posted within the next couple of postings. I also have a fun Q&A set up that I will hopefully be able to post either tomorrow or by next Tuesday. I appreciate your patience with me. As always, feel free to e-mail me or leave Comments below.
Twins Thoughts & Articles
Here are some links to some great Twins, and baseball, related articles from yesterday and today. Again, feel free to leave some comments, or e-mail me if anything strikes your attention or causes an opinion.
First things first, if you're in the Twins Cities, be sure to attend the Tribute to Kirby Puckett on Sunday evening at 7:00. Admission is free. Gates Open at 6:00. According to Joe Christenson, there will be a lot of celebrities at the program. Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and Eddie Murray are just three of several mentioned who plan to attend. If I lived close, I would want to be there.
Yesterday, the Twins lost 3-2 to the Cincinnati Reds. As you can imagine, Edwin Encarnacion hit another homer off Twins pitching, this one a solo shot off of Scott Baker. Baker started and gave up a run in three innings. He gave up four hits and two walks while striking out just one. He wants to be ready for opening day and just get his work in, but he also thought that struggling out of the first inning could be good for him as well. I agree. It's easy to pitch when everything is working. What makes pitchers great is still being able to get good hitters out in big situations. After playing RF the day before, Jason Kubel played in left yesterday. Luis Castillo continues to get on base. He was 0-1, but he did walk twice. Michael Cuddyer went 1-1 with two walks. Torii Hunter had a single and a walk in his plate appearances. David Gassner pitched two shutout innings, despite allowing two hits and a walk. Adam Harben got the Loss, but he gave up just a run on two hits in his two innings.
With minor league camp opening up today and tomorrow, it will be interesting to start seeing who will be sent back to minor league camp right away, or throughout the spring.
Apparently Gardy and Rick Anderson are not happy with how many pitches Johan Santana threw for Venezuela on Monday.
Here is an interesting article on the price of Kirby Puckett memorabilia. It isn't surprising to me as I have always known that the value of Hall of Fame-type players have definite trends. The value of their cards goes up slightly when they retire, and then back down to where they were. And when the Hall of Fame knocks, they go up again, only to see the prices go back down. And then sadly, a death brings the value up for a period of time as well. I was checking out ebay on Tuesday night and saw a lot of 18 Puckett cards. None of them were rookies, and my guess is that such a lot would normally go for $5-10. This lot sold for $74.50, and that was not at all out of the normal on that site. There are some crazy prices.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, spring training or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.
The World Baseball Classic
There were quite a few more WBC games yesterday. Here are just a few notes on it. I keep hearing and reading about what a miraculous upset it was for Team Canada to beat Team USA 8-6 yesterday. I just don't understand obviously intelligent announcers and media people letting people think that it is a major upset. First, it is baseball. There are upsets all the time. Last year, how many times did the Devil Rays beat the Yankees? Sure, that shouldn't happen, but in any game, the better overall team does not always win. The Royals won some games last year too! Secondly, calling it an upset is really unfair to what is really a very solid Canadian team. Adam Stern is a good ball player. Corey Koskie and Justin Morneau obviously have a lot of talent and Matt Stairs has been around for a long time. Yes, Adam Loewen only pitched in Class A in 2005, but he remains one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. They brought in some other pitchers who are not big names, but let's face it, they're just as good as Al Leiter and Gary Majewski, two guys that Team USA pitched during the game. If these two exact teams played ten times, the US team would probably win six or seven of them. But it was just one game. The goal of each round of this tournament is to advance to the next round. Team USA should do that... unless they lose to South Africa and Team Canada loses to Mexico.
Likewise, the team that wins this tournament will not necessarily be the best team in the group either. If Team USA doesn't win the gold, it does not mean that their baseball is somehow sub-standard or that manager Buck Martinez did anything wrong. Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Canada and Japan all have very good teams too, teams that could certainly beat any team on any given day. To win a playoff series, or a tournament, you really just need to play well at that time. That is another reason that I enjoy the regular season more than the postseason. Also, what is up with Americans always having to be the best in sports. Why do we care about a medal count? Why did we need to send NBA players to the Olympics? Why would it be such an upset if Team USA does not win the WBC? Think about it for a minute. USA should win the most medals. USA should have the most depth on any roster. Why? There are about 400 million American citizens. Compare that to Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Canada, Cuba or the others.
Anyway, I apologize for the rant. I am really enjoying watching the WBC games or innings that I have watched so far. I was intrigued by Cuba, and when watching them play, I enjoy their aggressiveness at the plate, watching their pitchers out-think hitters, and their fielders make all of the routine plays. That Dominican lineup is incredible, even without Manny Ramirez and Vlad Guerrero. Venezuela has pitching. Canada has a good mix of players that they used to beat USA. Canada needed a 9th inning comeback to beat South Africa the night before. I enjoy watching the games. But I refuse to try to convince myself that it is anything more than an exhibition series. When it is over, I won't necessarily believe that the team that won it was the best team much less that their country is the all-out best country.
Now on to the games. Justin Morneau may not have looked great at the plate in Canada's first game, but yesterday, he went 3-5 with two doubles, two runs, two RBI. Not a bad day. Corey Koskie went 1-4 with a walk. Mexico came back to beat South Africa 10-4. For Mexico, Juan Castro went 0-5 and had a fielding error. Dennys Reyes came in for the last out of the game and got a strikeout. Venezuela came back with a 6-0 shutout of Italy, a two hitter. After Freddy Garcia went 3.1 innings, Silva pitched the next 3.2 innings. He gave up a hit, and actually walked one, while striking out three hitters. He threw 55 pitches and 36 of them were strikes. Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 8-3.. For PR, JC Romero struck out two in a perfect inning. For the Netherlands, Alexander Smit pitched one inning. He gave up a run on two hits, a walk and a hit batter. He threw 20 pitches and just nine were strikes. And one guy to watch from Cuba is Yulieski Gourriel. The 21 year old 2B is the team's third hitter. Yesterday, he went 3-4 with a double, a walk, a game-winning homer and four RBI. He has a great swing!
First though, Chris Coste was 1-2 for the Phillies.
Chris Gomez, BAL, 2B, 0-2, BB
LaTroy Hawkins, BAL, RP, 1 IP, 1 K
Matthew LeCroy, WASH, 1B, 0-2
Cristian Guzman, WASH, SS, 0-1
Quinton McCracken, WASH, LF, 1-3, K
Casey Blake, CLE, RF, 2-4, 2 R
James Baldwin, TOR, P, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Michael Ryan, ATL, RF, 1-3, R, RBI, BB, HR to lead off game against Justin Verlander
Danny Ardoin, COL, C, 1-3, RBI
Jacque Jones, CHC, DH, 1-2
Todd Walker, CHC, 2B, 0-2
Michael Restovich, CHC, LF, 0-2
Doug Mientkiewicz, KCR, 1B, 2-3, 2B, RBI
Chad Allen, KCR, RF, 1-2, R, K
Joe Mays, KCR, SP, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, HR (by Prince Fielder)
Damien Miller, MIL, C, 0-2
Todd Sears, SEA, 1B, 0-4, K
Matt Kinney, SF, P, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K
Terry Mulholland, ARIZ, P, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Bobby Kielty, OAK, RF, 0-2, BB, RBI, K
Scott Erickson, NYY, P, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
American Idol Thoughts
We're back to it. Last night, the guys sang on American Idol. After the girls sang on Tuesday night, it was the guys turn to perform last night and for the most part, they did well. It was overall a disappointing week as I did not get goose bumps from hearing any of the 16 performers. But still, I will share my thoughts on the performances. Enjoy!
Gedeon McKinney - When a Man Loves a Woman
Mr. Motown. I love the man's smile! He put together an excellent, very controlled performance. He showed great range and vocal strength. Then he ended on a nice run with an extended note. I thought it was a wonderful performance.
Chris Daughtry - Broken
A little slow at the start of the song actually. It was a good song choice, I thought, for him. He was good, he just wasn't great. He didn't present the Wow Factor at all last night.
Kevin Covais - Vincent
Again, it is clear that Randy and Paula want Kevin to continue. They overlook a lot of his flaws that Simon then gets booed for pointing out. He is a good singer and has a very nice voice. He was actually very good. However, I don't think that the song was very difficult and didn't show much range, if any. He is still so stiff out on stage. Also, the song was not well known, which I do think hurts him.
Bucky Covington - Wave on Wave
Sounds like a country song, then he turns it into somewhat of a rock song. His twangy voice actually worked pretty well with this song. However, I really don't think he has a great voice at all. I am not sure why he is still in the competition. But he does look like he enjoys himself.
Will Makar - How Sweet It Is
Vocally, I thought he was quite good. The first half of the song, he sang very well, but stayed in a fairly low key. I was thinking that he was showing little range. However, in the second part of the song, he actually went up about a half-octiave and really pulled it off. He still did not do great, and it is a song that I don't think a lot of people will go out of their way to vote for.
Taylor Hicks - Takin' It To The Streets
It's really the same story for me each week with Taylor, I think. He has a good voice and really looks like he is absolutely having a blast on stage. You can almost literally see his joy in his performance. Vocally, he is very good. He is also quite entertaining. However, he is entertaining because of his quirkiness and awkwardness, not because of any performance talents.
Elliott Yamin - Heaven
Before he sang, Elliot acknowledged that he has lost hearing in one of his ears. That makes the fact that he is so good and on vocally even more amazing. Vocally, I think that he is the best out here. I love the song, and think he did great. His only real problem is that he is pretty boring on stage, and I wonder how that will work as the other genres are brought in for the Final 12.
Ace Young - Butterflies
The first week, I thought he was great, and creepy. Last week, he messed up a great Daniel Bedingfield song really bad and I ranked him last. This week, he went with a Michael Jackson song and did it in falsetto. The first time I heard it, I was in a bar playing poker and thought it was great. When I came home and watched it on tape, I realized that he did a very nice job overall with the falsetto, but he was off-key quite a bit. Also, when it comes to voice, I don't think that he is as good as Sway was. And those eyes are still very creepy.
SethSpeaks Ranking of the Top 10 Performances (from last night)
1.) Elliott Yamin
2.) Gedeon McKinney
3.) Ace Young
4.) Taylor Hicks
5.) Chris Daughtry
6.) Kevin Covais
7.) Will Makar
8.) Bucky Covington
Who I think will be the two eliminated contestants on tonight?
1.) Will Makar - I thought he was strong this week, very solid. But I also think that how the guy judges spoke to him, and the fact that he really doesn't measure up to a lot of the others, he will be ousted.
2.) Bucky Covington - I actually thought that Bucky performed his best yet last night. That said, I still could not justify putting him ahead of anyone else on the list based on performance. Also, I think he has been low on the list the last weeks too, so it should be his time.
Remember, tonight is the elimination show, two guys and two girls will be eliminated from further competition. Will I be even close to right in my predictions? We'll see. If you've made it this far, be sure to check out the thoughts on last night's episode over at Curlio.com. Also, check out The Baseball Savants site for his thoughts on the show and the performances!
Tell me what you think. Were any of my opinions completely off-base? How would you rank the performances? Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today!
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