As we head into what will be a glorious weekend of sports that includes NBA and NHL playoffs and game after game of MLB action, here are a few of the stories that really piqued my interest as I prepare myself to hit the shower and shave the old beard in my attempt, however feeble, to impress the ladies with my presence this weekend.
Rich Harden lasted just 3.2 innings on Friday against the Marlins as he was pounded for six hits, four walks and five runs as he left with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP through his five starts. Amazingly, he has 37 K in his 24.2 IP, good for a stupendous 13.50 K/9 mark despite all the struggles with the strike zone. He is a real mixed bag right now. He has lasted six innings in three of his starts but has failed to make it out of the fourth inning in the other two.
One is going up, the other going down. Hanley Ramirez finally returned to the action on Friday, his first appearance since injuring his hand on Monday when he was hit by a pitch. He struck out in his lone at-bat. Down south in Texas, Josh Hamilton and his sore rib cage has finally resulted in the team placing him on the DL (retroactive to April 27th meaning he will be eligible to return on May 12th). As a result, Andruw Jones just may be looking at an increase in playing time, and as crazy as it sounds, he might actually deserve it. Through 32 at-bats this season he is batting a fantastic .344 with a 1.304 OPS thanks to a total of three home runs and five doubles. He has also scored 12 runs in only 11 games, and just maybe he has turned the corner after looking about as useful as pocket lint last season.
When was the last time you caught Bull Durham starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon? Do yourself a favor if its been a while, see it again. When the talk about classic sports movies, there may be no finer example on celluloid about baseball.
Ryan Theriot hit one home run last season in 580-AB. On Friday he went deep for the first time this season, in just his 22nd game, as he socked a grand slam. At the other end of the spectrum we have Carl Crawford who has the most at-bats this season without going deep (92). Only slightly better than him is Alex Rios who has gone deep just once in 101 ABs and Jacoby Ellsbury who has one tater in 94 ABs. As for Rios, what the hell has happened to his power at the dish? After going deep 24 times in 2007 Rios regressed to just 15 long balls last season and now sits with a grand total of 16 home runs in his last 736 at-bats. I don’t want to write the guy off, especially since I drafted him in multiple leagues this season, but that lack of pop is distressing, especially considering that he has swiped a mere two bags in 24 games this season.
The matchup everyone was hoping to see this NHL post season will happen as the Washington Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 2. Three of the most luminous stars in the game will face off in Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While Crosby has been great in his young career, his star is in danger of being eclipsed due to the play of Ovechkin and Malkin, two of the three finalists for the Hart Trophy this season (the NHL MVP). It will be one hell of a series with other stars like Mike Green and Alexander Semin also involved, so if you are one of those people who still are unsure about the game of hockey, this could certainly be the series that pushes you to the opinion of this writer – it is a great game, perhaps the best that can be viewed in person with it’s combination of skill, speed and physicality.