It’s MONDAY! Snap out of it! Time to hit the ground running.
The Masters Tournament was played this weekend, and a great one it was. As I predicted here on the blog last week, Bubba Watson took home the green jacket for the second time in three years. Bubba finished at 8 under par, including a round of 3-under on Sunday. That’s the way you close it out.
In the NBA, the Heat find themselves looking up at the Indiana Pacers, a half-game behind them for the top spot in the Eastern Conference race. Miami has two games to play, Indiana has only one game left, and hold the tie-breaker advantage over the Heat, who will be on the road for their final two regular-season contests. Tonight, the Heat take on the Washington Wizards, and take on the 76ers on Wednesday.
As it stands now, Indiana will face Atlanta in the first round, Miami will go against Charlotte, Toronto vs Washington, and Chicago will take on Brooklyn.
The Western Conference is yet to be decided. There are three teams battling it out for the final three position standings. Golden State is #6 this morning, holding a half-game lead over Dallas, and the Mavericks also hold a half-game lead over Memphis for the seventh spot. The Phoenix Suns are one full game behind the Grizzlies for the eight and final spot, and both of those teams have two games to play.
The playoffs begin on Friday. I’ll have my analysis and fearless predictions for the first round later in the week.
Let’s go to the Marlins, the Rays, and the rest of MLB:
TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the only player in MLB history to ever record a multi-homer game in game seven of a World Series? The answer comes later, alligator.
The Marlins are asleep at the wheel. (More on the Marlins a little later in the blog) After winning five of their first six games, the Fish have managed to lose seven in a row. They got swept by both the Nationals and the Phillies this week, and now return home to face the Nationals tonight. Here are the probable pitching match ups against Washington:
Monday Jordan Zimmerman vs Brad Hand 7:10 pm
Tuesday Stephen Strasburg vs Tom Koehler 7:10 pm
Wednesday Tanner Roark vs Jose Fernandez 7:10 pm
The team will then enjoy a day off on Thursday, before Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners invade Marlins Park for a weekend series.
The Tampa Bay Rays took two out of three against the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, and are now in Baltimore as they face the Orioles in a a three-game set. Here are the probable pitchers for the series against the O’s:
Monday Chris Archer vs Wei-Yin Chen 7:05 pm
Tuesday Jake Odorizzi vs Miguel Gonzalez 7:05 pm
Wednesday David Price vs Chris Tillman 12:35 pm
The Rays return to the Trop to take on my Yankees in a four-game weekend series starting on Thursday.
Click below for yesterday’s recaps and results in the major leagues:
Click below for today’s complete schedule in the major leagues:
Some little things I’m keeping my eye on around the diamonds:
Why is anyone surprised at the Marlins’ record so far this season? While I truly believe this team is much better than last year’s 62-100 edition, but it is unreasonable to expect anything better than a .500 team, which would be a huge improvement of 20 games (19, to be exact). Rome was not built in a day.
It is always very entertaining to see a series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, especially when the Yankees take three out of four games against the Sox. In the standings, the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays are all 7-6. Over in the Central, Detroit is 6-4, while the Oakland A’s are on top in the West, with an 8-4 record. Moneyball is alive and well in Oakland. If only they could figure out a way to get a new stadium.
The Milwaukee Brewers have the best record in the major leagues so far this season, at 10-2 and have won nine in a row. The Dodgers are 9-4 to lead the West, after sweeping the Arizona D-Backs, and the Atlanta Braves are on top of the NL East at 8-4, after taking care of the Washington Nationals and sweeping their weekend series. The Nationals lost third baseman Ryan Zimmerman yesterday. He will be out at least a month, after breaking his thumb while diving back to the bag and getting picked off.
Adrian Gonzalez is on a tear with the Dodgers, and has homered in four straight games. Speaking of “RED HOT”, the Braves’ Justin Upton is 11-14 over his last four games, with 4 homers, two doubles, and eight RBI. Freddie Freeman is also on fire so far this season, hitting .442 with 4 homers, and has only struck out four times in 52 plate appearances.
One of the really good guys in the game, Raul Ibañez, reached a career milestone on Saturday. The Angels’ DH blasted a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Mets, his 2,000th career hit. Ibañez may not end up in Cooperstown after his career is over, but he has made quite an impact on the game and a hall of fame person.
I refuse to join in on the bashing of the replay system, because it should have been obvious to everyone concerned that there is NO PERFECT SYSTEM. If some calls are corrected, great. If some calls are missed, so be it. Managers need to get over it.
Injuries are in the news, as are the inordinate number of season-ending injuries lately, especially among pitchers.
One of the factors for the large number of Tommy John surgeries for pitchers (20 so far this season) could be due to the scheduling of games, both in the spring and during the regular season. More and more, we are beginning to see pitchers undergoing second Tommy John surgeries, like Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy of the Atlanta Braves just had. Up to now, that was unheard of.
It is very difficult to get 162 regular season games into roughly 180 days. Sunday night games, followed by late night travel and a game on Monday takes a toll, even though teams have been sending their starting pitcher for that Monday ahead a day early. Spring scheduling can also be a factor, with additional night games, multiple games in a day, and spring trips to different locales. That idea of starting the regular season a week early in somewhere overseas is probably to blame as well. Could it be that with all the PED testing, pitchers are trying to come back way to early? Maybe there is something to the healing quality of some of the banned PED’s. Who knows?
My feeling has always been that a lot of these injuries can be traced back to youth baseball. Kids are competing year-round in tournaments, showcases, as early as eight years old, and these pitchers are putting undue strains on their young arms, throwing sliders and a complete assortment of pitches way too early. The damage that is done at that early age cannot be undone by “pitch counts” and otherwise managing workloads later in high school, college, or when they get to the professional level. This is probably even more of a problem in foreign countries, such as the Dominican Republic, where prospects are considered over-the-hill at 17. Pitch-speed is valued way too high, especially at a young age. There is probably such a thing now as too much training for young pitchers. Weight training and the strain and stress it puts on young bodies is also to blame. Something needs to change, and the change has to begin at a much earlier age.
More from MLB:
What’s up from the gridiron?
Here’s the latest on the Miami Dolphins from Armando Salguero:
2014 MIAMI DOLPHINS Home schedule: Buffalo, New England, NY Jets, Kansas City, San Diego, Green Bay, Minnesota and Baltimore.
2014 MIAMI DOLPHINS Road schedule: Buffalo, New England, NY Jets, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland (in London), and Jacksonville.
Here is the 2014 draft order. The Houston Texans are on the clock.
The NFL Draft is just over a month away. Mark your calendars for May 8th, at 8:00 pm.
What are the Dolphins going to do with the 19th pick in the first round? Most people would point to the offensive line, especially after last season. Names to watch along the OL as possibilities in the first round include:
Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
Taylor Lewan OT Michigan
Zack Martin OT Notre Dame
Morgan Moses OT Virginia
Two names that intrigue me in the first round for the Fins that are not offensive linemen:
CJ Mosley LB Alabama
Eric Ebron TE North Carolina
I understand the glaring need to improve the offensive line, but regardless of need, if Mosley is available for them at #19, that is the guy I would pick. He will be a difference-maker throughout his career. The Fins have helped themselves in free agency, and there is a lot of depth and talent to choose from in the offensive line in later rounds.
For the latest news from around the NFL, here is NFL NATION:
In our "NOT THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT BULB ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE" item today, we bring you Aldon Smith:
Aldon Smith arrested at LA airport after telling authorities he had a bomb
Of course, we can all continue to sleep at night, knowing full well that Aaron Hernandez remains in jail, where he belongs.
Manny Navarro and Susan Miller Degnan have the latest from Coral Gables, and the University of Miami.
From FIU, David J. Neal of the Herald has the latest in his blog:
Here’s the latest from Tallahassee and the Seminoles:
From Gainesville and the University of Florida:
The Central Florida Knights are in the house:
THE ANSWER TO TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the only player in MLB history to ever record a multi-homer game in game seven of a World Series?
Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra did it in game seven of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Yogi hit .360 in that series, with three homers and 10 RBI. Of course, he was behind the plate for Don Larsen’s perfect game in game five of that series.
Behave yourselves, and always remember that tomorrow will bring us a brand new day.