Thursday, July 30, 2009

L.A.mar: Odom Agrees to Return to Lakers

When your simultaneously getting text messages from Kobe Bryant and Dwanye Wade, you know your a coveted basketball player.

6'10" Foward Lamar Odom is all too familar. Odom, a key part of the last season's championship campaign with the Lakers, has reportedly agreed to deal with the Lakers worth $33 million over four years. This news comes after more than three weeks of contract discussions in which Dwayne Wade's Heat tried to sway the Laker Forward to sign with Miami.

Odom provided a postseason punch off the bench for his Laker squad, averaging 12.3 points, third-best on the team, and 9.1 rebounds, second-best on the team, during the playoffs.

The Odom resigning may have saved what was almost a shaky offseason for L.A. The reigning champs lost their star defender and incredible athlete Trevor Ariza and were mighty close to losing legendary coach Phil Jackson to retirement. On the plus side, the Lakers have made a key acquisition thus far, adding Houston's fiery Forward Ron Artest.

After a potentially troublesome few weeks or so, only one question remains in L.A.

Two-peat, anyone?

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Cheating Champions: Report Claims Manny & Ortiz Part of '03 Steriod List

Let's flashback to 2004. How can we forget the year that the Red Sox snapped the 86-year Curse of the Bambino on the backs of their two golden sluggers, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. The Boston Red Sox were on top of the baseball world.

From the viewpoint of Red Sox Nation, to undermine the importance of that miracolous season would be a travesty of fanhood. Call it tainted, you've committed Cardinal Sin.

Until today.

According to sources close to the New York Times, the names of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are inscribed on the list of 103 players who tested postitive for performance-enhancers in a test conducted in 2003 -- one year prior to the year in which the Red Sox heros, Manny and Big Papi, anchored the team in their successful quest to "reverse the curse."

The accusations leave many fans scratching their heads. The tag-team, the dynamic duo, the most feared one-two punch in baseball -- the guys that were the first pair of American League teammates to yank 40 home runs, have 100 RBI, and bat .300 since Babe and Lou did it for the 1931 Yankees -- tainted? And what can we say of the rings both adorn on their fingers thanks to the '04 curse-reverse and '07 dominating run?

Amidst the chaos, Red Sox Nation is left with only one valid argument: everyone was juicing. Tell me a guy who wasn't on something during this time frame, they shout -- a credible assertion.

But for those fans who looked up to Manny and Big Papi as baseball gods -- champions of the sport -- the shouts only leave echos bouncing off the Green Monster, leaving in their wake an overwhelming aura of despondency and disappointment on America's greatest pastime.

February 2009: Ortiz: "I know that if I test positive by using any kind of substance, I know that I'm going to disrespect my family, the game, the fans and everybody, and I don't want to be facing that situation."

Like it or not, Ortiz is now facing that situation.

Video courtesy of Youtube User t10127

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MLB Clearinghouse: Phils land '08 Cy Young Winner, Halladay Still Lingers in Toronto

When 46-year-old Jamie Moyer -- a 25-year veteran who currently sports a 5.32 ERA -- leads your ballclub in wins, that usually indicates your team is in fairly dire need of some pitching help. I think the Philadelphia Phillies got the memo.

After agressively pursuing Toronto's Roy Halladay in recent weeks, the World Champion Phillies made noise yesterday by abandoning the Halladay route and opting to go after 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. Lee, 7-9 with a 3.14 in 22 starts thus far, comes off a 22-3, 2.54 ERA campaign last season with Cleveland.

The Phillies sent Triple-A pitcher Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson along with Single-A pitcher Jason Knapp to Cleveland in exchange for Lee and OF Ben Francisco. When asked how he felt about the trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said, "We gave them four very good baseball prospects, and that hurts. When you want to acquire talent, you have to give talent, and that was part of the deal here."

The Phillies, however, are not are not going to dwell on losing quality prospects apt to bolster the team's future. With a 7-game lead in the NL East, it's fair to say the Phillies are all ready taking aim at October. There's no question that Cliff Lee will throw a curve of his own into the NL Pennant race.

Amidst all the commotion, it's 6'6" right-hander Roy Halladay who casts his steady gaze toward the horizon -- his dream of throwing a postseason pitch will likely be delayed yet another year.

Images courtesy of and

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Going Nowhere: Two Hyped-Up Stories Likely to End in Disappointment

Sometimes in sports, it's better to expect the unexpected.

Brett Favre and Roy Halladay. They're on television broadcasts, the front page of the sports section, and the homepage of sports websites. Heck, if someone told me I could find Favre or Halladay at my local supermarket, I wouldn't be shocked.

After weeks of drama surrounding the two icons of their respective sports, recently both players are making headlines once again. They're not going anywhere.

In the case of Favre, it just simply wasn't to be. After an unsettling season with the New York Jets last year, Favre reports he will elect to stay retired and not sign with the Minnesota Vikings. This comes after the 39-year-old Favre expressed interest back in May in making yet another return to the game he couldn't leave. And yet, after weeks, months even, of discussion, banter, surgery, and rumors, the only place Favre is going is home to his Mississippi ranch.

Roy Halladay knows a little something about going nowhere, too. Scheduled to make $15.75 million next season in the final year of his deal with the Blue Jays, the Toronto clubhouse has experienced mounting pressure in recent weeks to deal the big right hander before Friday's fast approaching non-wavier trade deadline. As GM J.P. Ricciardi continues to turn down offers and a number of teams are now showing dwindling interest, Ricciardi was quoted saying, "My gut is we don't move [Halladay]... Nothing is close. Nothing is happening." And, like Favre, this comes after weeks of fervid deliberation about where Halladay would land and who's division race he would so dramatically impact.

Some people feel cheated. After hours of gazing at the television set, staring into a monitor, reading a popular newspaper column, the excitement surrounding the Favre and Halladay stories has all but faded into oblivion. Almost as if part of the burning passion, the wild enthusiasm, the blazing flame that resides within the heart of every sports fan was stolen, out of the clear blue, and reduced to little more than a glowing ember. After all he's been through, everyone believed Favre would suit up in a purple jersey this season. As a result of all the rumors, everyone anticipated waking up one fine morning and learning about the blockbuster Roy Halladay deal.

Score two for the unexpected.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MLB Division Races Heat Up: AL Focus

As the summer crawls along and October feels closer with each passing day, a number of MLB teams have focused their persistent gaze on the postseason. With division races as tight as ever and big names being thrown into the trade market pool, it's fair to say that in four of the six MLB divisions, it's still anybody's game. Let's take a peek at the AL races.

In possibly the most scrutinized division in baseball, the AL East, the streaking Yankees find themselves 2.5 games up on their archrival Boston Red Sox. The Yanks are 9-1 in their last 10 games and boast the second best record in baseball.

The AL Central race is equally riveting, as three teams find themselves in what should be quite a race down the stretch. The Detroit Tigers currently hold a two-game lead over the Chicago White Sox and a three-game lead over the Minnesota Twins. No ballclub appears to being grabbing this division very winnable division -- the poor play that has befuddled the Central is an adequate reason as to why the Tigers have the lowest winning percentage of any division-leading team.

Out West the race boils down to two teams -- the division-leading Angels and their 2.5 game back counterpart, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have been a pleasant surprise this season, featuring a plethora of quality starters and capable bats in the middle of the order. Both teams are playing well as of late: the Angels are 8-2 in their last 10 while the Rangers are 7-3.

Although the AL Wild Card race is not as exciting as the National League's, there is an opportunity for a surprise team to steal a postseason ticket. While the Red Sox currently lead the Wild Card race with a 2.5 game lead over Texas, the Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins all find themselves with 9 games of a faltering Boston squad who are just 4-6 since the All-Star break.

Be sure to check-in tomorrow for the NL Focus!

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