Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Miami Heat take game one of NBA Finals 92-84 over Dallas Mavericks

By Kshell

The Miami Heat took game one of the NBA Finals over the Dallas Mavericks 94-84 behind good games from the famous big three. The Heat were led by Lebron James who scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Dwyane Wade scoring 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Chris Bosh scoring 19 points and nine rebounds. The Heat also saw some production from their bench as their bench outscored the Mavericks bench 27-17. The Heat also outrebounded the Mavericks by 10 and the Heat made more three pointers than the Mavericks. It was about as dominant as you can be in an eight point victory. For the Mavericks besides Dirk Nowitzki who scored 27 points and Shawn Marion who scored 16 points and 10 rebounds there just wasn't much production. The Heat have now won five NBA Finals games in a row over the Dallas Mavericks dating back to 2006. Now the Mavericks will hope to get the split in game two in Miami to even the series up. For the Heat they continue their home dominance improving to 9-0 at home in these playoffs.

The first quarter was a grind for both teams as scoring was tough to come by. The Dallas Mavericks led the first quarter 17-16 behind Jason Kidd scoring six points on two three pointers, Jason Terry six points on a three pointer and Dirk Nowitzki scoring four points. The Heat had Lebron James lead the way with eight points and Chris Bosh scoring six points. The other two points was by Dwyane Wade. The Heat didn't receive much production from their other two starters. It was a slow quarter for both teams as the Heat shot 6-20(30.0%) from the field and Mavericks were even worse shooting 4-14(28.6%) from the field. The difference in the quarter was the Mavericks made three three's to the Heat just making the one. In the following quarter the Heat would start to knock down some three point shots.

In the second quarter was a nice back and forth contest as both teams scored 27 points for the Mavericks to lead at halftime 44-43. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored nine of his 13 points in the second quarter. Nowitzki had 13 points on four for nine shooting from the field. Then Shawn Marion scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds. The Mavericks got 12 points off the bench including making three three pointers. For the Heat they were led by Mario Chalmers in the second quarter as he scored 10 points off the bench and made three for five from three point range. The Heat big three had a nice first half as well led by Bosh who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. James had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists on four for eight shooting. For Wade he had seven points, five rebounds, three assists. The Heat in the second quarter made five for nine from three point range. This would set up a great second half in which the Mavericks blew a chance to put the game away.

In the third quarter the Mavericks began the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 51-43 lead over the Heat. That was a turning point as the Heat went on a run throughout the rest of the quarter led by Lebron James. Lebron James hit a fall away three pointer at the buzzer to give the Heat a 65-61 lead after three quarters. The Heat had outscored the Mavericks 22-17 in the quarter. For James he was three for three that quarter from three pointers to lead the Heat. Wade started to turn it around as well scoring eight points in the third quarter. The Heat after three quarters were starting to hit their three pointers making 9-21(42.9%) and outrebounding the Mavericks 36-30. That set up a a fourth quarter where the Heat's big three took over especially the 2006 Finals MVP.

In the fourth quarter the Heat pulled away outscoring the Mavericks 27-23 to win 92-84 to take game one. The Heat were led by Wade who scored seven points in the fourth quarter and James who scored five points. Chris Bosh also scored five points in the fourth. The Heat when it came down to it have three of the four best players on the court. The Heat for the game were led by Lebron James scoring 24 points, grabbing nine rebound and dishing out five assists. James shot 9-16 from the field and made four of five three pointers. Dwyane Wade scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out six assists and had two block shots. Wade shot 9-19(6-9 second half)from the field including two three pointers. Chris Bosh finished with 19 points and nine rebounds but shot just 5-18(1-9 second half) from the field. The Heat also got 12 points from Chalmers, seven from Haslem and six from Mike Miller.

For the Mavericks they had several guys let them down. Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 27 points on 7-18 shooting and 12-12 from the foul line. The Mavericks got just 12 points from Jason Terry who was shutout in the second half. In fact Terry, Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea combined to shoot 4-21 for just 14 points. The Mavericks big advantage on the Heat this series was supposed to be their depth yet it appeared the Heat were the deeper team. Nowitzki and Marion showed up but nobody else did. Jason Kidd finished with nine points all on three point shots and six assists. The Mavericks must regroup as they don't want to fall behind 0-2 in this series.

All in all, this is just game one of a very long series. I do think today's game represents why the Heat will win the series. The Heat at the end of games just have three great players to lean on while the Mavericks have just one. Like last series against the Bulls the Heat will make the Mavericks beat them by Nowitzki scoring over 40 points otherwise this will be a short series. The Heat bench stepping up won't last forever but whenever the bench steps up that is a win for the Heat. You also saw how great the Heat defense is today holding the Mavericks to just 84 points which counts Kidd hitting a three pointer with practically little time left in the fourth quarter with the game over. Now the Heat will hope to improve to 10-0 at home while the Mavericks with their backs to the wall will look to make this a series once again.


- Lebron James is inching closer and closer to his first title. Today James carried his team until Wade finally came through. James hit the dagger three pointer at the end of the three quarter that felt like it turned the game around. He had two great dunks in the fourth quarter as well.

James finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists. James has been terrific these playoffs and hit four three pointers. James took a ton of crap about the "decision" but that will be forgotton if he can win the title this season.

- Nowitzki scored 27 points and was 12-12 from the foul line. Yet Nowitzki didn't have the impact he has had in the past three series. I think Nowitzki has to average 35+ points a game for the Mavericks to win this series. I just think the Heat's perimeter defense will shut down the Mavericks guards so it will be up to Nowitzki. Nowitzki shot just 7-18(38.9%) from the field and shot under 40.0% in that 2006 NBA Finals.

Nowitzki when facing the Western Conference was able to dominate but today wasn't the case. Nowitzki had a strange 27 point outing and he's bound to have a more productive game. Nowitzki was also terrible on the rebounds having just eight while Miami had 16 offensive rebounds including five by Bosh.

- Who would have thought the Heat bench would have been more productive than the Dallas Mavericks bench? The Heat bench outscored the Mavericks bench 27-17, outrebounded them 15-8 and shot better than the Mavericks. The Heat bench shot 8-22(36.4%) from the field, 5-11(45.5%) from three's and six from seven from free throws. While the Mavericks bench shot just 4-22(18.1%) from the field, 3-10(30.0%) from three pointers and 6-10(60.0%)from free throws. All around the Heat bench just out played the Mavericks bench.

The Heat bench was led by Mario Chalmers who scored 12 points on three three pointers. Then Udonis Haslem was big scoring sevent points and grabbing six rebounds. Mike Miller hit two three pointers scoring six points and five rebounds. Even Juwan Howard in just seven minutes of playing time added two points and three offensive rebounds. If the Heat bench is playing well then this will be a short series.

- Dwyane Wade ended his slump scoring 15 of his 22 points in the second half. Wade also rebounded from shooting 3-10 to finish 9-19 shooting. Wade struggled against the Bulls last series but the Mavericks don't have guys who can contain him. After playing yet another poor half Wade had a great all around game. He basically had a typical Wade game scoring 22 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out six assists and recording two block shots.

Wade also had a beautiful alley-oop pass to Lebron James for the dunk at the end of the game. In a game where Bosh shot 5-18 including 1-9 in the second half it simply didn't matter. James and Wade were just so good it didn't matter. At the start of the playoffs most people agreed that Wade is the third best player in the NBA. If Wade plays like Wade the Heat could be celebrating a title very soon.

In conclusion, the Heat's victory over the Mavericks was expected as most teams win game one at home. In fact the last time a team lost game one at home in the NBA Finals was 2004 when the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. Winning game one is important though as the winner of game one of the NBA Finals since 1990-2010 has won the Finals 17 times. So game one winners in the last 21 NBA Finals are 17-4(.809). One of those four losses of course was 2006 when the Dallas Mavericks won game one but lost the series to the Heat in six games. The Heat looked tough at home and just appear to be clicking at the right time. The Mavericks though to their credit are tough on the road and this series is far from over. The Mavericks will have a chance to get the split in game two then have three straight at home. With the way James and Wade are playing though the Mavericks better get a move on it or their season could end very soon.

NBA Finals preview + predictions

By Kshell

Well the time has finally come for the NBA we have the NBA Finals. This Finals features two completely different teams and methods to winning a title. For the Miami Heat you have Lebron James and Chris Bosh leaving to join up with Dwyane Wade to win a title. The Heat are a team who won the title back in 2006 but have struggled since then. For the Dallas Mavericks you have a team who has won 50+ games for 11 straight seasons. The one consistent guy during that stretch has been Dirk Nowitzki who is trying to win his first ever championship. Both teams come in this series red hot as they are both 12-3 in the playoffs. In fact this is the first time since 1986 that both conference finals lasted five games. Both teams have proven they can make a huge fourth quarter comeback down by double digits on the road. Both teams tied in the NBA for the best record on the road during the regular season. Now both teams in the playoffs have been tough at home as the Miami Heat are 8-0 this postseason at home while the Dallas Mavericks are 7-1 at home. So as you can see this is a hard series to predict but I'm going to try my best. Like I did in the conference finals I'll list three things that need to happen for each team to win. Then after all that I'll offer up my predictions.

Miami Heat:

For the Miami Heat to be in the Finals this time last July wouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. For those who saw them jump out to a 9-8 start or in March lose five games in a row they would be surprised. The Heat are winning despite little to no production from players #4-12 these playoffs. The Heat though in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals finally settled on a rotation. Now that they had Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller back their rotation is just good enough to win. The Heat are trying to be the first NBA champion since the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls to go undefeated in the playoffs at home. Before those Bulls it was the 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers who were unbeaten at home. The Heat have the players to pull that rare feat off. The Heat still have the two best players on the court Lebron James and Dwyane Wade while having a third player Chris Bosh who is better than most teams second best player. So now I'll list the three reasons for the Heat to win this series.

1. Lebron James needs to continue playing like the best player in the game:

You know what makes people forget all your wrong doings? Winning. Which is exactly what Lebron James is trying to do. Everyone has forgot about Kobe Bryant demanding a trade and he would rather play on Mars than for the Lakers. Then the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol and he quickly stopped that talk. Well for James he is slowly silencing his critics this postseason. Pretty hard to rag on James now as he is making clutch shots, hitting three pointers, stopping the other teams best player(Paul Pierce and Derrick Rose), and simply carrying his team. James in this postseason is averaging 26.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks a game. James is also shooting 46.3% from the field, 36.8% from threes and 78.7% from free throws. At one point in the Eastern Conference Finals James made 31 straight free throws. James and Wade scored 16 points on the Heat's 18-3 run to defeat the Bulls 83-80 in game five. Just like in game four and five of the Boston series he did again against the Bulls. Now that James is "clutch" he seems pretty tough to beat.

2. Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller have to contribute:

Both Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller didn't play a factor in the first two series. In the Eastern Conference Finals though both guys were critical in wins over the Bulls. First for Haslem who was supposed to be done for the season turned the series around in game two. The Heat were destroyed on the glass in game one and were getting destroyed again in game two trailing 23-16. That is when Haslem entered the game and scored 13 points on 5-10 shooting. For the final four games Haslem averaged 5.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG plus he is finishing the game on the court for the Heat. In that same game Miller was put in for his rebounding as well. In game four was Miller big coming out party scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds. In the final four games Miller averaged 5.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG. Those stats aren't jaw dropping numbers but for the Heat they'll take what they can get from their role players.

3. Chris Bosh needs to play like he did against the Bulls:

Chris Bosh people have joked about all year how he doesn't belong in the big three. Bosh proved in the Eastern Conference Finals that he belongs in the big three. In these playoffs Bosh is averaging 18.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG while shooting 50.3% from the field and 83.2% from the free throw line. In the Bulls series Bosh was huge averaging 23.2 PPG and 7.6 RPG. Bosh also shot 42-70(60.0%) from the field and 32-35(91.4%) from the free throw line. Bosh was agressive getting to the free throw line and scored over 30 points twice in the series. It feels like years ago when he made the statement he was scared of the moment in game three against Boston. Bosh has been stepping his game up this postseason and he is now four wins away from being a champion.

Dallas Mavericks:

The Dallas Mavericks have had a great playoff run so far. The Mavericks are 12-3 and 10-1 in their last 11 playoff games. The Mavericks have won five games in a row on the road. The Mavericks also have a chance to exact some revenge. The Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals blew a 2-0 series lead to the Heat and had a 13 point lead in game three. The Mavericks also have a roster full of guys who have been so close to a title. In fact their nine man rotation has played 103 combined playoff games and none of them have won a championship. With the way Dirk Nowitzki is playing though the Mavericks look to finally end that streak. The Mavericks role players have been huge this finals especially the bench. So now I'll give three reasons for the Mavericks to win this series.

1. Nowitzki needs to keep playing like the best power forward in the game:

This is a different Nowitzki from the guy who was scared five years ago in the finals. In these playoffs Nowitzki is averaging 28.4 PPG and 7.5 RPG while shooting 51.7% from the field, 51.6% from three pointers and 92.9% from three throws. If Nowitzki wins a title this year he will jump past Charles Barkley(I think he already has), Kevin Garnett and Karl Malone on the all-time power forward list. Those Nowitzki numbers were amazing but his Western Conference Finals numbers were incredible. He set a playoff record making all 24 free throw attempts in his 48 point effort in game one on just 15 field goal attempts. For the series he averaged 32.2 PPG and 5.8 rebounds. He also shot 49-88(55.7%) from the field, 4-11(36.4%) from three pointers and 59-61(96.7%) from the free throw line. Nowitzki has had one of the most efficient playoff series in NBA history. Nowitzki will have to keep it up because unlike James he doesn't have a Wade or even a Bosh to lean on.

2. Marion has to be able to contain Lebron James:

The Mavericks don't have many options to contain Lebron James or Dwyane Wade on this roster. One of the few options is Shawn Marion who has to stop James from taking over games in the fourth quarter. Marion is having a solid playoffs averaging 11.2 PPG and 6.3 RPG with over a block and steal a game. Marion was a multiple All-Star with the Phoenix Suns and has had plenty of heartbreak of his own with the Suns. Marion is probably the most important defender for the Mavericks this series as he draws the tough task of guarding the games best player. He won't stop James but he has to at least force James to settle for jump shots and prevent him from getting many free throw attempts. Outside of Marion the other option is DeShawn Stevenson which means the Mavericks are sacrificing a ton on offense. So Marion has to step up for the Mavericks.

3. Jason Terry has to step up on offense and not be a defensive liability:

Jason Terry was also on that 2006 Mavericks Finals team who blew the 2-0 series lead. Terry when the game is on the line will also have to cover Dwyane Wade which is a tough matchup for him. Which is why Terry has to score some points to match the total he gives up. Terry in these playoffs is averaging 17.3 PPG while shooting 47.1% from the field and 46.3% from three pointers making over two a game. If Terry can have a big series the Mavericks can stay in this series. The good news for Terry is for most of the game he can guard either Chalmers or Bibby which means he can save his energy for offense. The Bulls tried to win with just Rose being the only scorer. For the Mavericks to win someone besides Nowitzki has to step it up and Terry is the most likely guy.

Prediction: Heat win in five games

I'm picking the Heat to win this series in five games. I don't think the Mavericks have enough defenders to slow down James or Wade. Wade also had a bad series last series but the Bulls had better defenders. Wade also was the 2006 Finals MVP where he averaged 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.8 APG in that series. He shot 65-139(46.7%) from the field and 75-97(77.3%) from the free throw line. The Heat have the two best players on the court in James and Wade plus Bosh makes it so they have three of the four best players on the court. If Nowitzki doesn't go off every game the Mavericks have no chance. The Heat play better defense as well and I feel as if guys like Terry, J.J. Barrea, and Peja Stojakovic will be liabilities for the Mavericks as they can't guard anyone on the Heat. This should be a good finals as I expect every game to be close but overall I'm picking the Heat to win this series in five games.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mariners weekly recap: May 23rd-May 29th edition

By Kshell

The Mariners have put together quite the string of success these past two weeks. The Mariners even found themselves over .500 for the first time since the second game of the season. The Mariners on the week took two out of three at the Minnesota Twins then defeated the New York Yankees two out of three at home. This week was a strange week as the Mariners hitting once again didn't hit well especially the top of the order. The starting pitching unlike all season didn't pitch well either having just thrown one quality start in six starts. The Mariners bullpen was terrific once again this week which allowed the Mariners to pull within a game of first place. The American League West race is pretty tight as the difference between first place and last place is just a game and a half. Like I'll do whenever the Mariners have a winning week I'll feature the good, the bad and the awesome. This week the good list will feature plenty of relievers, the bad will feature the top of the order while the awesome will have more attention on the middle relievers.

The Good:

The Mariners went 4-2 on the week which saw plenty of good. This week Erik Bedard like he has all month long is pitching like the pitcher Bill Bavasi gave up so much to acquire. The Mariners relief was excellent this week as they went 3-0 with three saves on the week. Then the Mariners got a little bit of offense from their double play combination especially Brendan Ryan who has been red hot for nine games after being ice cold. The Mariners this week just found ways to win as they won three games in which they trailed including two in extra innings. One of the Mariners wins came off of Mariano Rivera who is the greatest closer of all-time. The Mariners had a winning week when Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda didn't pitch that great of games. So here were the stars of the week for the Mariners this week.

Hot Hitting:

Brendan Ryan: 12-21(.571), 3 RBI's, 2 runs
Adam Kennedy: 7-19(.368), 3 RBI's, 3 runs. He also had game winning hit off Rivera.
Franklin Gutierrez: 7-21(.333), HR, RBI, 3 runs. He robbed a home run against Nick Swisher.
Miguel Olivo: 7-17(.412), HR, 5 RBI's, 3 runs, SB

Brendan Ryan in the past nine games: 17-31(.548) with 7 RBI"s, 5 runs and a nine game hitting streak.

Hot Pitching:

Erik Bedard: 1-0, 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 4 K's
Brandon League: 3 saves, 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 2 K's
Jamey Wright: 1-0, hold, 3.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, K
David Pauley: 2-0, hold, 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 3 K's

Erik Bedard in his last five starts: 3-0, 33 IP, 1.09 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 28 K's
Jamey Wright on the season: 1-1,10 holds, 24.1 IP, 1.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 16 K's
David Pauley on the season: 4-0, 3 holds, 32.1 IP, 0.84 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 20 K's

The Bad:

I'm glad that some guys like Ryan, Olivo and Jack Cust aren't living on the bad list but Figgins still remains. The Mariners top of the order has been doing terrible for two weeks now. The 27 million dollar men which is Ichiro and Chone Figgins have done horrible this month. It's pretty incredible how the Mariners are even .500 with the way the team has been hitting. The starting pitching was very average and last weeks hero Jason Vargas got beat up pretty good this week. Then the Mariners have a problem in left field as all the youngsters out there have looked very quadruple A like with the non stop strikeouts. The main problem is Figgins who the Mariners are stuck with for two more seasons after this year at nine million a season. The Mariners need to call up Dustin Ackley now and bench Figgins in favor of Kennedy or at least put Figgins ninth in the order.

Poor hitting:

Chone Figgins: 1-22(.045). For the year hitting .193/.235/.260
Ichiro: 3-26(.115), 2 RBI's, 2 runs, SB
Carlos Peguerro: 2-14(.143), 2 RBI's, 8 K's
Michael Saunders: 0-9, run, SB, 6 K's
Justin Smoak: 4-24(.167), HR, 2 RBI's, 2 runs, 7 K's

Ichiro and Figgins last two weeks combined are 14-104(.135) which has to play a part of Smoak's recent struggles.

For the month Ichiro is hitting .204/.262/.235 with 2 SB's and 3 Caught Stealing. Yet he isn't even the worst hitter or in the worst slump.

For the month Figgins is hitting .169/.204/.202 with 2 RBI's, 5 runs and 4 stolen bases to 2 caught stealing. Time for Figgins to be benched or least moved to ninth in the order. Hard to score runs when your 1-2-3 go a combine 24-156(.154) in the last two weeks.

Poor pitching:

Jason Vargas: 0-1, 7.2 IP, 12.91 ERA, 2.61 WHIP, 3 K's

Vargas doesn't really ever have an average outing. It is either a great outing or a terrible outing much like Ryan doesn't have an average week hitting wise ever.

The Awesome:

The Mariners going 4-2 on the week and 10-3 the last two weeks is pretty awesome. The Mariners were 16-23 have battled back from the week where they blew several leads. Now the Mariners are playing like a team with their bullpen and Ryan carrying the offense. The same Ryan who was hitting .200 just nine games ago. The past two weeks has been fun to watch as the Mariners have given this team very little to cheer about lately. So I'll break down the awesome part of the week.

Awesome hitting:

Brendan Ryan: For the month he is hitting .385/.438/.492 and in the past two weeks he is hitting .515/.555/.687 while driving in 7 runs, scoring 6 runs and has a nine game hitting streak. Ryan has raised his average from .200/.276/.245 to in nine games is now .277/.350/.348 on the season nearly improving by over 100 points in every category.

Awesome pitching:

Erik Bedard: For the month he is 2-0, 26 IP, 1.04 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 25 K's and .180 BAA. Bedard has been dominant his last five starts and he'll take the hill tomorrow against his former team. The Mariners have a tough choice to make here in a month on Bedard if he keeps pitching this well. I'd love to make the playoffs with Hernandez, Pineda and then Bedard as no team would want to face the Mariners.

Mariners Bullpen: 3-0, 3 saves, 2 holds, 24.2 IP, 1.09 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12 K's. The Mariners middle relief has been great and David Pauley deserves to be an all-star.

David Pauley on the season is 4-0, 3 holds, 32.1 IP, 0.84 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 20 K's and .168 BAA. Every year they pick a middle reliever and I don't see how Pauley isn't the leading middle reliever at this point in the season.

AL West Standings:

Texas Rangers: 28-25, First Place
LAA Angels: 28-27, 1.0 GB
Seattle Mariners: 26-26, 1.5 GB
Oakland A's: 27-27, 1.5 GB

As you can see the Mariners under first year manager Eric Wedge are right in the middle of the race. Wedge does have his team playing hard as there is no quit in this team which is nice to see. The Mariners are 10-3 the last two weeks despite the top of the order hitting horrible. The Mariners just got Gutirrez back which has already been paying off. When Dustin Ackley is finally called up and eats into Figgins playing time that will help the offense again. Also the Mariners are winning despite Ichiro slumping and his track record suggests he'll snap out of this which is another hitter as well. At least the Mariners are giving us some excitement which they didn't do last year. Hopefully the hitting turns around and the pitching staff keeps pitching well. It does feel good to talk positive about the Mariners for once. It has been a great two week stretch that I hope can last a little longer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sounders end Real Salt Lake's 29-game unbeaten streak at Rio Tinto. Win 2-1.

By Money Mike

After picking up only 4 points in their last three matches at Qwest Field, the Seattle Sounders headed to Rio Tinto Stadium and put their disappointing home swing behind and ended another teams long unbeaten run on their home ground. Last night, the Seattle Sounders handed Real Salt Lake their first home loss since May 16, 2009 when the Kansas City Wizards last won at Salt Lake. The Sounders with the win are now 5-4-5 on the year and are sitting at 20 points going into the month of June which is a lot better then last year when they only had 12 points going into June, and yet a lot of you fans are just not getting it because you just continue to make ridiculous statements about Sigi Schmid and Fredy Montero.

The Sounders had a few chances in the first half, with the rain in their face, to take the lead. In the 10th minute, off a corner, the cross from Tyson Wahl found Jeff Parke who got up and flicked it toward the far post but Kyle Beckerman got his own head on it to keep it from going into the net.

In the 18th minute, the Sounders had to make an early change when Alvaro Fernandez went down with a hamstring injury. Fernandez actually suffered it during warm-ups but told Sigi Schmid and the training staff that he was fine and ready to go, but his decision aggravated his injury while he was going after a loose ball with Robbie Russell. So Fernandez was subbed out and replaced by Lamar Neagle.

In the 20th minute, RSL tested Kasey Keller with a couple of long distance efforts from Will Johnson and Jean Alexandre. The most difficult one came from Alexandre when Kasey Keller got a pretty bad jump and had trouble getting to the ball, but he did pounce on it without any issues.

The substitute, Lamar Neagle nearly made an impact at the half-hour mark. Neagle got into space behind the defense and cracked one on frame from just outside the Box, but right into the chest of Nick Rimando. Nate Jaqua also had some good opportunities in the first half but came up short.

In the 48th minute, Salt Lake nearly put themselves in front, Erik Friberg's header landed in the direction of Fabian Espindola who took a couple of touches before cracking a left footed effort from point blank range which took a deflection and Keller parried it wide. Espindola, the majority of the time, has been on the wing taking on James Riley and I tell you what, Riley has had a lot of problems with Espindola in this match.

Keller would come up big again in the 51st minute. Seattle still couldn't get the ball out of danger and they nearly payed for it. After a shot deflected off Patrick Ianni, Jamison Olave pounced on the rebound and got a head on the ball, but Keller came out and got a hand to it to redirect it off the crossbar.

Seven minutes later, Olave turned from a near hero to a goat. Mike Fucito got behind Olave. who was the last defender on that play. Olave reached back through Fucito to get the ball and brought him down and if that wasn't a red card, then I don't know what is. Since he was the last man back there for RSL, the referee had to give a straight red card, which he did and RSL had to play the last half hour with 10 men.

In the 71st minute, the Sounders took advantage of the straight red and opened the scoring. Off a corner from Tyson Wahl, Nate Jaqua headed the ball down to Fredy Montero who managed to push it to Patrick Ianni at the doorstep for the tap in to put the Men in Rave Green up 1-0.

Real Salt Lake continued to pour pressure on the Sounders for an equalizer, but in the 84th minute, they end up conceding a 2nd goal. Lamar Neagle received a pass from Tyson Wahl and curled a right footed shot over Nick Rimando and into the far upper 90 for his first goal for the Seattle Sounders. Remember, the Sounders signed Neagle in 2009, but he never played for them that year. He signs with the Charleston Battery in 2010 and scores 12 goals in 19 matches for them. Then he moves to IFK Mariehamn and scores 2 goals in 5 matches. He returned to Seattle for a preseason trial and he just continued to score goals during the preseason so the Sounders had to sign him and now in his 6th appearance for the Sounders, he scores his first MLS goal and even better, he puts the Sounders up 2-0.

With two minutes to go, Salt Lake pulled one back. A throw in from 17-year old Luis Gil found Nelson Gonzalez in the box and the Argentine spun away from Patrick Ianni and slotted the ball past Kasey Keller into the far post. Keller was unhappy with Patrick Ianni after that one and why wouldn't he be unhappy? Looking at the replay, what the fuck was Ianni doing? Trying to trip Gonzalez and draw a penalty? Just being lazy? Either way, there is no excuse for letting him get by you for an easy goal. This is why you have defenders and luckily for Patrick Ianni, that was the only goal Real Salt Lake would get because they came close to coming away with an equalizer in stoppage time just like last year. If that were to happen, they would've been talking about that one play and Ianni would've been a goat for that one mistake. The Sounders now head to Chicago to take on the Fire. In the first meeting between the Sounders and the Fire, and of course I was at that one, the Sounders took all three points with a 2-1 win. The Fire are still looking for their first win since their 3-2 win at home against Sporting Kansas City on March 26th, and I'll talk more about the matchup when I preview the matchup next weekend.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Patrick Ianni 1 (Fredy Montero 4, Nate Jaqua 1) 71'

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 1 (Tyson Wahl 2) 84'

Real Salt Lake - Nelson Gonzalez 1 (Luis Gil 1) 88'

Misconduct summary:

Real Salt Lake - Will Johnson (caution; Reckless foul) 27'

Real Salt Lake - Jamison Olave (ejection; Denied Goal Scoring opportunity (foul)) 58'

Real Salt Lake - Chris Wingert (caution; Reckless foul) 65'

Seattle Sounders FC - James Riley (caution; Dissent) 81'

Seattle Sounders FC - Tyson Wahl (caution; Reckless foul) 90'


Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl; Erik Friberg (Roger Levesque 80'), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 18'); Mike Fucito (Fredy Montero 69'), Nate Jaqua

Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell (Nelson Gonzalez 76'), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Andy Williams (Luis Gil 86'), Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy; Jean Alexandre (Chris Wingert 62'), Fabian Espindola

Is it time to finally forgive A-Rod?

By Kshell

The fans were hurt when he left us for a big payday. They couldn't believe how we lost another superstar in this town. After losing in the ALCS fans wondered out loud if he was on the team could we have finally reached a World Series? They couldn't believe how he betrayed the team and held the team hostage. The player I'm talking about of course is Ken Griffey Jr who demanded a trade after the 1999 season despite having one more year left on his contract. Not only did Griffey Jr demand a trade he demanded a trade to only one team which was the Cincinnati Reds. That meant the Reds were in no position to give the Mariners anything close to fair compensation. When the dust had settled Griffey Jr. was traded to the Mariners to be closer to his family(even though he lived in Florida) and the Mariners were robbed. They received Brett Tomko, Mike Cameron and two minor leaguers who never played in the major leagues for them. The Mariners lost that year in the ALCS to the New York Yankees in six games a team Griffey Jr historically has dominated. Yet when Griffey Jr came back to Safeco Field he was given a standing ovation. While Alex Rodriguez despite leaving the team 11 years ago still continues to be loudly booed for doing something everyone would have done in his shoes. So I beg the question when is it time to finally forgive A-Rod and move on?

While with the Seattle Mariners Rodriguez was a four time all-star, batting champion and pulled off the 40/40(40+home runs, 40+ stolen bases) season. While in 1996 Rodriguez finished second in the MVP race where had either Seattle writer voted him first or second he would have won the MVP and again in 2000 he took third in the MVP race. Rodriguez was a key player on two playoff teams including one team that went to the ALCS where he had a good series. The memories he gave the Mariners fans shouldn't go away and I'm happy to say I saw one of the games greatest players of all-time in person on my team. For the Mariners in seven seasons but in reality only five seasons he hit .309/.374/.561 and hit 189 home runs, drove in 595 runs, scored 627 runs and stole 133 bases. In the playoffs he also performed for the Mariners in a playoff loss to the Orioles he hit .313/.313/.563 with a home run back in 1997. Then in 2000 when he was the man against the White Sox he hit .308/.308/.308 with two RBI's in the three game sweep. Then in a loss to the Yankees in the ALCS he hit .409/.480/.773 with two home runs, five RBI's and four runs scored. So Rodriguez was big time for the Mariners as well. I can understand why at first fans were upset with him for leaving as I was too.

I still remember when Rodriguez left the Mariners for division rival Texas Rangers. I was a freshman in high school at the time and it made me so mad that for the third straight year the Mariners lost a future hall of famer. When the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets both pulled out of the Rodriguez sweepstakes I thought for sure he was going to stay in Seattle. Then out of left field the Texas Rangers gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. I was only 15 years old and was a Mariners fan so I couldn't understand the decision at the time. The Mariners offered him three years at 60 million and two option years making it a total of five years for 100 million. Rodriguez would have been a fool to turn down 10 years/252 million dollars making him the highest paid player in sports history. Rodriguez is a guy who grew up poor without a dad, a guy who finished second in the MVP race in 1996 making $442,334.00 so he needed to be paid what he was worth. I can understand the initial anger towards Rodriguez who left the Mariners an ALCS team for a last place Rangers club in our own division. What Rodriguez did was very professional in my opinion unlike the two previous guys who departed the Mariners.

I'll bring up a quick scenario for you guys to judge who truly is the "bad" guy. Player A demanded a trade to only one team and one team only despite still having a year left on his contract. By demanding a trade to only one team that team was forced to receive some crappy pieces. Player B complained his entire last season and underachieved for various reasons. He was even involved in an altercation with a teammate that season. Player C busted his ass to get the Mariners to within two games of the World Series and finished third in the MVP race. Player C didn't let his free agency be a distraction at all and the Mariners received two first round draft picks for him. Now after reading that clearly player C did the Mariners the least amount of wrong even though he is the only one of those three who receives boo's. Player A is Ken Griffey Jr and player B is Randy Johnson for those who couldn't figure it out. Now I'm not saying Rodriguez means more to the franchise than those two because well he doesn't. I'm also not saying you should boo those two either because that is just dumb. I think it's time we finally let it go on Rodriguez who played his heart out for this team. His last game ever as a Mariner in Yankee Stadium in game six of the ALCS he went four for five with a home run. After that game he sat in his locker crying knowing that could have been the last time he ever played for the Mariners. He gave the Mariners everything he could and I wish instead of booing him the fans would cheer him as a sign of thanks.

When Rodriguez makes it to the baseball Hall of Fame he'll go in as a New York Yankee. Whenever they show his highlights though they'll show some of his moments with the Mariners which for a franchise who had nothing going for themselves prior to 1991 is a great thing. When you walk in the Mariners current Hall of Fame you'll see Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dave Niehaus and Alvin Davis. Those guys are solid but unless you are from Seattle it shows how bad our franchise is. Eventually you'll see Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson and Ichiro in there which will make our Hall of Fame seem legit. Well if the fans forgave Rodriguez having possibly the all-time Home Run king in our own Hall of Fame would look pretty cool. As long as the fans keep booing him though I doubt the Mariners would risk the PR nightmare of having Rodriguez featured. He will be remembered as a Yankee but he is a hired gun to them. He grew up as a Mariner as the #1 pick coming out of high school, to the kid who scored the tying run in 1995 when David Cone walked Doug Strange, to the man who became the most feared Shortstop hitter in baseball history from 1996-2000. I think time heals all wounds and it's time to stop booing Rodriguez like he personally did something wrong to us.

In conclusion, the Rodriguez who played in Seattle before he became a hollywood type figure in New York was a guy I could respect. He was a guy who worked hard every game, unlike Griffey Jr. on routine groundballs he would always run them out. He didn't care about stats either in game three of the 2000 ALDS against the White Sox he had a sacrifice bunt to move the runner along. His dad walked out on him as a kid and when he became famous his dad wanted to be a part of his life. Rodriguez wanted no part of the man who made life hell on his mom. In fact to this day Rodriguez says he only has one "dad" and his name is Lou Piniella. Rodriguez speaks highly of Piniella, Niehaus and owes his entire career to Edgar Martinez. The Mariners aren't even rivals with the Yankees and Rodriguez has never burned the Mariners in a big playoff game either. He currently has 622 career home runs at 35 years old. There is a very good chance he'll break Barry Bonds career home run record which is 762 home runs. It would be nice if the Mariners can celebrate that moment with Rodriguez. So fans he has been gone for 11 years now. Time to move on and remember the good times he gave the Mariners. I'm just happy and lucky to have watched a player who is as great as he is play for my favorite team. So fans stop booing A-Rod and surprise the nation while cheering him.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Barcelona claim their 4th Champions League title.

By Money Mike

In front of over 86,000 fans at Wembley Stadium and over 300,000,000 viewers around the world watching the match live on TV, Barcelona came out on top with goals by Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa as they defeat Manchester United 3-1. You look at the final stats and you'll be like, "what the f***!!". Shot attempts; Barcelona - 22, Manchester United - 4. Fouls; Manchester United - 16, Barcelona - 5. Time of Possession; Barcelona - 70%, Manchester United - 30%. You look at the stats and you can definitely say that Manchester United deserved to lose this one.

In the early stages of the match, despite Barcelona having more possession of the ball, Manchester United we're putting a lot of pressure on goalkeeper Victor Valdes and they nearly broke through when Gerard Pique's backpass was nearly taken away by Chicharito Hernandez, but Valdes scrambled to clear the ball out of danger.

In the 15th minute, United got caught and were lucky to get away with it. Xavi with a chip into the danger area which found Pedro, who nipped in at the near post, but his touch just went wide of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar who was playing in his final game of his career. About five minutes later, David Villa tested van der Sar with a right footed effort from the edge of the area, but van der Sar kept it in front of him, it wasn't easy though.

In the 27th minute, Barcelona drew first blood as Xavi and Pedro hooked up again and this time a settle pass by Xavi did the trick. Xavi got behind Michael Carrick and slotted the ball trough to Pedro, who had plenty of time to set up and strike it low into the near post as van der Sar had no clue where he was going and Barcelona took a 1-0 lead.

In the 33rd minute, Manchester United came right back to level it up. Fabio won the ball after a good challenge on, I believe it was Sergio Busquets and fed it to Wayne Rooney who had room to run at the Barcelona defense. Rooney slotted it to Ryan Giggs who looked to have been in an offside position on the pass, but the linesman kept his flag down and Ryan Giggs fed it back to Rooney at the top of the area for a first time hit into the left corner to level it up at one. Rooney has picked up his game lately and started scoring a lot of goals again after all the criticism early in the season.

In the second half, the equalizer didn't seem to hurt Barcelona as they started to pour a lot of pressure on the Red Devil defense early and often and in the 54th minute, they got rewarded for it.

Andres Iniesta fed the ball to Lionel Messi who took a couple of touches before ripping a low left foot drive through the back line and past Edwin van der Sar to put Barcelona ahead to good. It was Messi's 53rd goal in all compititions this season and his 1st on English soil. 15 minutes later, Barcelona put the match out of reach......

In the 69th minute, David Villa curled a right footed effort over van der Sar and into the back of the net to claim the Champions League title for Barcelona and end all arguements that the Barcelona squad from 2010-2011 are one of the great teams that have ever played the game.

My thoughts on this match:

Now, this isn't the first UEFA Champions League that I've watched, but this is the first UEFA Champions League final that I've watched on live TV. There were a lot of things about this final that were way different than the group stage matches and the knockout round matches. This match was played on a Saturday just a week after the conclusion of the Premier League season, and normally, the Champions League matches are played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which they still are, but starting last season, the final itself was played on a Saturday, but I didn't keep any track of that. I mean I wasn't really paying attention to the schedule, so I ended up missing that match. Before then, the final was played on a Wednesday, so unless I was sick, there would be no way I would catch it live, and watching replays on ESPN Classic were boring because I already knew who won those matches. So, I think it's good that they started scheduling finals on a Saturday. And also, I think this match was worth watching.

Scoring summary:

Barcelona - Pedro Rodriguez (Xavi) 27'

Manchester United - Wayne Rooney (Ryan Giggs) 33'

Barcelona - Lionel Messi (Andres Iniesta) 54'

Barcelona - David Villa (Sergio Busquets) 59'

Misconduct summary:

Barcelona - Dani Alves (caution; Reckless tackle) 60'

Manchester United - Michael Carrick (caution; Reckless tackle) 61'

Manchester United - Antonio Valencia (caution; Barging over an opponent) 79'

Barcelona - Victor Valdes (caution; Delaying a restart) 85'


Barcelona - Victor Valdes; Dani Alves (Carles Puyol 88'), Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Eric Abidal; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Pedro Rodriguez (Ibrahim Afellay 90'), David Villa (Seydou Keita 86'), Lionel Messi

Manchester United - Edwin van der Sar; Fabio (Nani 69'), Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick (Paul Scholes 77'), Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung; Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney

Friday, May 27, 2011

A couple of match previews for Saturday. Sounders vs Real Salt Lake + Manchester United vs Barcelona

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders head to Rio Tinto Stadium to face CONCACAF Champions League runners-up Real Salt Lake, who have still not lost a league match at Rio Tinto during regular season play. Last year, they nearly suffered that first loss against the Sounders in week three when Steve Zakuani and Tyrone Marshall scored for the Sounders, but goals by Will Johnson and Alvaro Saborio kept Salt Lake's unbeaten run in tact. These two sides draw both of their matches last season after each coming away with a split in 2009. Salt Lake's Arturo Alvarez and Alvaro Saborio are both on international duty and won't be with the club this weekend.

Injury report:

Seattle Sounders FC - Really, no new injuries here. Sigi Schmid says Brad Evans will be available for Saturdays match after recovering from a adductor strain

Real Salt Lake - The men out for Real Salt Lake are Javier Morales with a left ankle fracture dislocation and Paulo Jr. with a right hip flexor strain. Danny Toia is listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. Fabian Espindola has a right hamstring strain and is listed as probable and Collen Warner is also listed as probable with a left ankle sprain.

Key matchups:

Will Johnson vs Osvaldo Alonso - I think this is a real midfield battle between one of the greatest goalscoring midfielders I've seen (Will Johnson) and a guy who has played more of a defensive midfield role (Osvaldo Alonso). I don't see why these two won't be matching up against eachother.

Fredy Montero vs Jamison Olave - Now these two players know each other very well. They're both from Colombia. They both were teammates at Deportivo Cali. And now, these two are matching up against each other again. I think this matchup decides it with Fredy still due for a breakout game.

Manchester United vs Barcelona:

Here's a match that all of you should catch at 11:30am on FOX. Manchester United and Barcelona, the UEFA Champions League final at Wembly Stadium in London, England. I'm definitely watching this match because you have a two teams with lots of firepower on their team, with Lionel Messi, David Villa, Pedro Rodriguez for Barcelona and on the other side with Manchester United, you got Chicharito Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Nani and all those guys. So, it's gonna be a busy soccer day, with the Sounders and RSL and Manchester United and Barcelona. We also have the friendly match here in Seattle with Mexico and Ecuador, but won't be able to catch that one, so apologies to all of you that were expecting a recap of that match. The only ones that will be recapped tomorrow are Seattle against Salt Lake and Manchester United against Barcelona.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kevin Hartman keeps the Sounders off the scoresheet. Dallas win 1-0.

By Money Mike

In the final game of three straight matches at Qwest Field. The Sounders were the better side from the first kick to the final whistle, but all the bullshit calls made by Boldomero Toledo plus great goalkeeping by veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman resulted in a 1-0 Sounders loss. FC Dallas has now gone 489 minutes without conceding a goal. The last goal Dallas conceded was a 51st minute goal by Landon Donovan in a 2-1 home victory on May 1st.

The Sounders started off bright in the opening minutes, but in the 17th minute, the defense ends up getting caught on the break.

After Seattle was dispossessed, Brek Shea's vertical run from midfield was met perfectly by Andrew Jacobson who slid the through the defense to Shea who beat Jeff Parke and calmly placed it past Kasey Keller and into the far corner for his 4th goal of the season and an early 1-0 FC Dallas lead.

Seattle nearly pulled one back in the 18th minute, but Erik Friberg's attempt was cleared by Zach Loyd.

In the 42nd minute, Fredy Montero chipped a pass into the area for Mauro Rosales who was able to chest the ball down and strike it with his right foot, but Kevin Hartman stood his ground and kept the ball in front of him.

In the second half, Dallas had a shot to go up by two but the attack broke down when Brek Shea's attempted pass to Fabian Castillo was poorly executed.

In the 64th, a long throw in found the head of Mike Fucito, but Kevin Hartman tipped his effort off the crossbar. Fucito had a chance on the rebound but Hartman came up big again.

The Sounders after picking up only 4 points in their last 3 home matches now head to Real Salt Lake on Saturday. On the other side, FC Dallas look to keep their clean sheet streak alive as they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo.

Scoring summary:

FC Dallas - Brek Shea 4 (Andrew Jacobson 2) 17'

Misconduct summary:

FC Dallas - George John (caution; Delaying a restart) 44'

Seattle Sounders FC - Zach Scott (caution; Unsporting behavior) 82'


FC Dallas - Kevin Hartman; Jackson, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Zach Loyd; Marvin Chavez (Ricardo Villar 89'), Daniel Hernandez, Andrew Jacobson, Eric Alexander (Bobby Warshaw 74'), Brek Shea; Fabian Castillo (Ruben Luna 64')

Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leonardo Gonzalez; Erik Friberg, Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle 83'), Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 64'); Fredy Montero (Nate Jaqua 75'), Michael Fucito

The Yankees are coming to town

By Kshell

For the first time since the Los Angeles Angels swept the Seattle Mariners in a series back in August of 2007 there will be a buzz at Safeco Field. When the New York Yankees come to town there is always packed crowds at Safeco Field but this year will feel different as the Mariners behind first year skipper Eric Wedge are playing good baseball. The Mariners have gone 8-2 over the past 10 games which saw their pitching staff dominate. This series will feature a contrast in styles as the bronx bombers like to play long ball while the Mariners like to keep games low scoring. I'm glad there will be finally an energy at Safeco although I'm aware it will feel like the Washington Huskies-Nebraska game at Husky Stadium where the visitors will have plenty of fans. Most of these "fans" for the Yankees are your classic bandwagon fans who are born and raised in Washington yet root on the evil empire. Still I'd rather see that than 18,000 fans like we have seen all year. These two teams had a nice rivalry from 1995-2003 which saw them square off in the playoffs three times against each other.

It was the first playoff meeting that is the most famous especially in Seattle as baseball was saved. The reason these teams will play at Safeco Field is because of the 1995 ALDS which saw the Seattle Mariners make their first ever postseason appearance against the New York Yankees who was the first ever American League Wild Card participant. This was a wild series which saw three classic games. In game one the Yankees won 9-6 despite Ken Griffey Jr going deep twice. Then in game two was the heartbreaker that many thought crushed the Mariners. The Mariners blew a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning then after Griffey Jr hit a home run in the 12th inning they blew the lead again. Ultimately the Mariners lost on a walk off home run in the 15th inning and were coming home down 0-2. In game three behind Randy Johnson striking 10 Yankees the Mariners won their first ever playoff game. In game four the Mariners were trailing 5-0 when Edgar Martinez hit a three run home run to cut the lead. Then with the game tied at 6-6 Martinez hit a grand slam to give the Mariners a 11-8 victory. Martinez set a postseason record with seven RBI's which set up the game that saved baseball in Seattle. In game five Randy Johnson pitching on one days rest allowed a run in his third inning of work in the 11th so the Mariners trailed 5-4. With first and third and nobody out Edgar Martinez lined a double down the left field line which scored Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr from first base to win the series. That is when baseball in Seattle was saved and a rivalry was born.

Well after 1995 the Mariners made the playoffs three more times and had six more winning seasons through 2003. While the Yankees went on a run winning four of the next five World Series and five of the next six American League championships. In 2000 it was the Mariners who were the Wild Card team facing the Yankees for the right to go to the World Series. After winning game one in New York the Mariners lost the next three. The Mariners did win game five when Edgar Martinez hit a home run off Jeff Nelson in the fifth inning. Then in game six the Mariners had a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning when Arthur Rhodes blew up once again. The Yankees won 9-7 against the Mariners in what would be Alex Rodriguez final game as a Mariner. In his final game he went 4-5 with a home run and two RBI's and two runs scored. The following year the Mariners tied a major league baseball record with 116 wins as they once again squared off with three time defending World Champions Yankees. The Yankees won both games in Seattle then the Mariners won game three in New York. Once again the Mariners saw a late inning lead disappear in the Bronx as they led 1-0 in the eighth when Rhodes gave up a home run to Bernie Williams. In the bottom of the 9th closer Kaz Sasaki gave up a walk off home run to rookie Alfonso Soriano giving the Yankees a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Yankees would kill the Mariners 12-3 to finish off the Mariners. The rivalry was hot at that point. I remember going to a game in 2002 where my dad paid $100 a ticket for us to watch the game. That game the Mariners lost 4-3 on a sunday when you guessed it Rhodes blew the game. Rhodes was a great reliever for the Mariners but had his problems against the Yankees. That is all in the past now as the Mariners face the Yankees this weekend at Safeco.

The Mariners this weekend will be throwing their top two pitchers at the Yankees which should get the fans excited. On Friday you'll see Michael Pineda(6-2, 2.16 era) going up against A.J.Burnett(5-3,4.02 era) on Friday. This is a matchup of two power arms and for Pineda a chance to make some noise all across the nation. This will be Pineda's first real pressure game as he has never faced an opponent like the Yankees. For Burnett you don't know what you are going to get. Last year he lost to the Mariners as he went seven innings allowing 12 hits and six earned runs. For his career against the Mariners he is 2-2 with a 3.83 era. Then on Saturday the Mariners will be throwing reigning Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez(5-4, 3.01 era) against Ivan Nova(4-3, 4.29 era) in a matchup the Mariners should like. Hernandez has dominated the Yankees the past two seasons. Last year against the Yankees in three starts Hernandez went 3-0, threw 26 out of a possible 27 innings while posting a 0.35 ERA while striking out 31. In Hernandez last four starts against the Yankees he is 4-0 and has thrown 35 out of a possible 36 innings and has allowed just two earned runs and has struck out 34 guys. For his career his 5-3 with a 2.73 era against the Bronx bombers. As for Nova like Pineda will be making his first career appearance against the Mariners. Then on Sunday afternoon the Mariners will be throwing Jason Vargas(3-2, 3.86 era) against veteran Bartolo Colon(2-3, 3.77 era) in what should make for an interesting series. Vargas last year against the Yankees went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and for his career he is 0-1 with a 6.05 era against the Yankees. As for Colon he has had plenty of battles with the Mariners including two starts in the playoffs. Colon for his career is 14-11 against the Mariners with a 4.13 era. In the 2001 ALDS he went 1-1 with a 1.84 era against the 116 win led Mariners. The Mariners seeing how they are throwing their two best pitchers and avoided C.C.Sabathia have a great chance to win this series and gain more momentum going forward.

In conclusion, I'm just happy that there will finally be a buzz at Safeco Field. If you live in the Seattle area and are a Mariners fan please make it to the game. I'm tired of the last few years where the Yankees and Red Sox fans taking over our crowd. I remember growing up laughing at southern California fans when they would take over their crowds. Let's take back Safeco Field fans and make this a playoff atmosphere. I would say the Yankees are clearly the better team but the Mariners should be slight favorites in Friday nights game, overwhelming favorites in Saturday's game and underdogs in Sunday afternoons game. Still if the Mariners win two out of the three that would put them at .500 on the season which everyone would take. I'm excited to see how young Pineda does in a big moment in front of a national audience. This is a chance for the Mariners to make some noise this weekend and show the baseball world we are for real. I'm excited for the Yankees coming to town and I hope city of Seattle shows up to support this team.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seattle Sounders FC vs FC Dallas preview

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders get ready for their final match of three straight at home as they play host to the runners-up from last years MLS Cup, FC Dallas. Last year, these two teams came away level pegging the two times they faced each other. The first match down at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco ended 2-2 after some controversy that led to a game tying PK Goal at the end of stoppage time. The next match at Qwest Field ended 1-1 after David Ferreira, who went on to win MVP, equalized off a left foot volley. Seattle are 1-0-3 against Dallas and are looking to head to Salt Lake with a 2-0-1 homestand.

Injury report:

FC Dallas - Edson Edward has a right knee ACL tear and he is out. Speaking of the MVP David Ferreira, he has a fractured ankle and he is gonna be out for a long time. Bryan Leyva has an ankle injury and he is also out. The guys listed as questionable are Jiar Benitez, Maykel Galindo, and Milton Rodriguez.

Seattle Sounders FC - For Seattle, of course, no Zakuani and no O'Brian White. Brad Evans is questionable. Erik Friberg is now listed as probable. And Mauro Rosales is no longer on the injured list.

Key matchups:

Fabian Castillo vs Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - Ferreira maybe gone for a while but Dallas have another weapon. Fabian Castillo, the youngest Designated Player in MLS History, only 18-years of age. He comes in from Deportivo Cali where he made 18 appearances and scored 3 goals and so far this season with FC Dallas, he has made 9 appearances and scored 2 goals. With MVP Ferreira gone, it's going to be Castillo who will test his fellow Colombian.

Marvin Chavez vs Tyson Wahl - I like this matchup here between Chavez and Wahl. Chavez is very good at creating goals and Tyson Wahl has done very well defensively since taking over for Leo Gonzalez and he also provides an attacking option for the Sounders.

Fredy Montero vs George John - Here's another good matchup, Fredy Montero, who is still due for a breakout game and former Washington Husky George John. I think now is the best time for Montero to bring his A Game, and all of it, against George John. This matchup should determine the result.

Monday, May 23, 2011

USA announces their 2011 Gold Cup squad.

By Money Mike

With the CONCACAF Gold Cup now a couple weeks away, some teams have still yet to unveil their squad, while the others are all set and ready to go including the United States national team. USA head coach Bob Bradley earlier today, announced his squad for their friendly match on June 4th against Spain and also for the Gold Cup, and after looking at the squad, I must admit, I'm a little disappointed in his work. Looking at the squad, of course there are players that definitely deserve a spot on the roster like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Juan Agudelo, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, etc. And there are players that I just do not understand why they are on the roster or how they made the roster. I mean, looking at the squad here, you'll understand what I'm talking about here...

United States 2011 Gold Cup squad:

1. Tim Howard (Everton; England)

2. Jonathan Spector (West Ham United; England)

3. Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne; France)

4. Michael Bradley (Borussia Monchengladbach; Germany)

5. Oguchi Onyewu (A.C. Milan; Italy)

6. Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96; Germany)

7. Maurice Edu (Rangers; Scotland)

8. Clint Dempsey (Fulham; England)

9. Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; MLS)

10. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy; MLS)

11. Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; MLS)

12. Jonathan Bornstein (UANL Tigres; Mexico)

13. Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04; Germany)

14. Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa; England)

15. Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls; MLS)

16. Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht; Belgium)

17. Jozy Altidore (Villarreal; Spain)

18. Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; MLS)

19. Robbie Rodgers (Columbus Crew; MLS)

20. Freddy Adu (Caykur Rizespor; Turkey)

21. Clarence Goodson (Brondby IF; Norway)

22. Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution; MLS)

23. Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers; England)

Players that should've made the squad:

Timmy Chandler:

- I don't get this at all, he's only 21, he now has a starting job at right back with FC Nurnburg. Bob Bradley what the hell did you not like that made you decide to leave him off the squad. He made his debut against Argentina and did very well all around the pitch. He made his second appearance for the U.S. national team against Paraguay, and again, didn't disappoint. Every was expecting him to make the Gold Cup squad and now I look at the list and he is not there.

Alejandro Bedoya:

- This guy graduated from Boston College in 2008, went straight to Europe and quickly earned a starting job at Orebro SK in Sweden. Since he began in 2009, he's made 58 appearances and scored 8 goals for that club. Now, he didn't make the World Cup squad in 2010, and nobody expected him to make it either, but no Gold Cup either?

Teal Bunbury:

- Why is he left out? Another young player that was expected to make the roster and I don't see his name. Teal Bunbury had a good rookie season with Kansas City last year and I know he came back from injury at the start of the 2011 MLS season but he's still having a good year. This guy is very good on the ball, he finds ways to burst through a trap and he has that goalscoring potential. Leaving him off the roster - STUPID MOVE!!

Edson Buddle:

- Why is Buddle left out? Didnt you see him domintate in 2010 while he was with the LA Galaxy? He is a goalscoring threat, and the US team only has three strikers because Bob Bradley just ditched him because he's not thinking straight.

Players who made the squad that absolutely did not deserve a spot:

Jonathan Spector:

- This guy had a crappy 2010-2011 season at West Ham. He was only useful for cup matches because he scored in those matches, but in the League, he sucked. Pretty much the reason why he lost his job at right back and also why he shouldn't be on the U.S. team.

Freddy Adu:

- God damn, this guy is a worthless soccer player. How the fuck did he make the squad. Ever since he left for Europe, it was like, nobody wanted him anymore. Look, in 2004, he gets drated by D.C. United at 14-years of age, he makes 30 appearances and scores 5 goals that year, and everybody started to love him when he was at D.C. from 04'-06'. Get's traded to Real Salt Lake in 2007, but then he opts out of his contract and moves to Europe (TOO DAMN EARLY!!). He signs with Benfica and he just struggles. He gets loaned out to AS Monaco to try to pick up his game, that didn't work. Next season, he's loaned out to Belenenses and he sucked over there, then loaned out to Aris FC, same story, he sucked. Seriously, I can't believe he's on the roster, especially after he's proven to be worthless.

Jonathan Bornstein:

- Here's another guy that doesn't deserve to be on the roster. The last two times he's capped for the United States, he was terrible defensively, and he also keeps giving the ball away. So let me get this straight, you add him on the roster so he can continue to play like shit? If the U.S. wins the Gold Cup, then maybe I'll take back everything I said, but if not, I think it's time Bob Bradley stepped down.

Seattle Mariners weekly recap: May 16th-22nd edition

By Kshell

This week saw the Seattle Mariners climb out of last place for the first time since April 8th. The Mariners had a great week with their pitching staff going 6-1 on the week with the only loss being 2-1. The Mariners split with the Minnesota Twins at home, then swept a two game series against division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who were throwing Jered Weaver then Dan Haren. Then the Mariners played some interleague play down in San Diego as they swept the Padres as the Mariners starting pitching allowed one earned run in 23 innings. The Mariners starting pitching has flat out been dominant this week. The Mariners also welcomed back gold glove winning centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez. This week like I did two years ago I'll recap the good(entire five man starting staff), the bad(no pitchers) and the awesome(elaborate more on this pitching staff) which will be a fun write up.

The Good:

There was plenty of good this week for the Mariners who went 6-1. The Mariners starting pitching has been great this entire month of May. This week saw Erik Bedard go eight innings for the first time since 2008, Felix Hernandez tie a career high with 13 strikeouts in a game and Jason Vargas tie a career high with nine strikeouts. The Mariners also received some nice hitting from two veterans who had been slumping and one youngster in Carlos Peguero. The main story was the Mariners starting pitching which saw them throw 53 innings(7 2/3 innings a star) in seven starts allowing just four earned runs for an ERA of 0.68 while striking out 58 hitters. The Mariners starting pitching had one of the best weeks in franchise history.

Good Hitting:

Carlos Peguero: 5-20(.250), HR, 5 RBI's, 2 runs
Miguel Olivo: 6-20(.300), HR, RBI, 5 runs, SB
Brenden Ryan: 5-12(.417), 4 RBI's, 5 runs

Good Pitching:

Michael Pineda: 2-0, 14 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 16 K's
Jason Vargas: 1-0, 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 9 K's
Erik Bedard: 1-0, 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 9 K's
Doug Fister: 8 IP, 1.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2 K's
David Pauley: 1-0, 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 4 K's
Felix Hernandez: 1-1, 16 IP, 1.68 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 22 K's

Seattle Mariners starting five: 5-1, 53 IP, 0.68 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 58 K's

The Bad:

Well this week there won't be a single pitcher on my bad list which is nice to see. Instead you'll see the Mariners go 6-1 despite the top of the order slumping. The Mariners went 6-1 this week despite their best two hitters Ichiro and Justin Smoak slumping this week. While the other member of this list seems to live here as his contract appears worse and worse every day. The Mariners still aren't hitting but the starting pitching has been so great they won games. Hopefully with Gutierrez up and soon Dustin Ackley they can start hitting some.

Hitting Slump:

Ichiro: 5-26(.192), RBI, 2 runs, two caught stealing
Justin Smoak: 6-28(.214), 2 RBI's, 2 runs, 10 K's
Chone Figgins: 5-30(.167), 2 runs, 7 K's, Caught Stealing

Chone Figgins on the season has been a disaster. He's hitting just .212/.250/.288 with only nine walks to 20 K's. He also has just seven stolen bases to five caught stealing. He is totally useless and needs to be benched and turned into a Mark McLemore type utility guy. If Jack Zduriencik gets fired Figgins will be the main reason.

The Awesome:

The Mariners starting pitching dating back to last week have produced nine straight great starts. The Mariners have two pitchers with ERA's in the 2's, Hernandez is at 3.01 and two others in the 3's. Other than the week League blew up the Bullpen has been pretty solid as well. The starting pitching has saved this club so I'll break down each starting pitcher and what they've done on the year plus their hot streaks.

Michael Pineda: 9 starts, 6-2, 58 1/3 IP(6 2/3 IP a start), 2.16 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 61 K's, .194 BAA. Not only should Pineda be ROY but he should be on the all-star team.

Felix Hernandez: 11 starts, 5-4, 77 2/3 IP(7 IP a start), 3.01 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 77 K's, .225 BAA. Hernandez is having another great year with no run support. With him and Pineda the Mariners have the best 1-2 punch in the American League by far.

Jason Vargas: 9 starts, 3-2, 58 1/3(6 2/3 IP a start), 3.39 ERA, 1.2 WHIP,41 K's, .253 BAA. Vargas has been on fire lately going 3-0 in his last four starts pitching 30 2/3 IP with a 1.46 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 20 K's. In his last three starts he has gone 23 2/3 IP allowing just one earned run.

Doug Fister: 9 starts, 2-4, 58 1/3(6 2/3 IP a start), 2.93 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 35 K's, .274 BAA. Fister has been the hard luck guy going 16 IP allowing just three earned runs his last two starts and received two no decisions. Fister has been pitching great all season long.

Erik Bedard: 8 starts, 2-4, 45 2/3(5 2/3 IP a start), 3.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 41 K's, .236 BAA. Remember when Bedard was terrible? In his first four starts he was 0-4, pitched just 18 2/3 IP(4 2/3 IP a start), 7.71 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7 home runs allowed and struck out 17.

Now Bedard in his last four starts is 2-0, pitched 27 innings(6 2/3 IP a start), 1.33 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 24 K's. He has also allowed zero home runs. Bedard is pitching like the Bedard Bill Bavasi thought he traded for in 2008.

As you can see this Mariners pitching staff has been terrific and carrying this team. If the Mariners can get a few more hitters Eric Wedge can see his team back in the playoffs. Wedge has a tough job putting out a successful lineup but it sure is easy with this starting rotation. The Mariners have the best starting rotation in the American League. You have two aces(Felix and Pineda), a former ace(Bedard) and two great back end of the rotation guys(Vargas and Fister). Just sneak in the playoffs then do damage should be the Mariners goal.

AL West Standings:

Texas Rangers: 24-23, First Place
L.A. Angels: 24-24, 0.5 GB
Seattle Mariners: 22-24, 1.5 GB
Oakland A's: 22-25, 2.0 GB

So there you have it guys the Mariners are out of last place. The pitching staff has been great and hopefully some hitters can turn it around. When Ackley is finally called up Wedge should bench Figgins for Kennedy. Figgins is horrible and killing this team. The Mariners top of the order which includes Ichiro is making 27 million yet neither is stealing enough bases. The pitching has been great but if the Mariners want to make a run they need to get another stick or two. As is I'll enjoy this week seeing our starting pitching dominate all seven starts. I hope the Mariners fans are finally taking notice and more than 15 thousand people show up for the next home game. Also the Yankees are coming to town so please fans don't sell your tickets to Yankee fans. I'm sick and tired of this split crowd non sense. Hopefully the Mariners pitching can continue this roll they are on.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jeff Parke comes through with a late winner against Sporting KC.

By Money Mike

Coming off a disappointing result last week, a draw against a last placed team would've been disastrous for the Seattle Sounders, but in stoppage time, Jeff Parke came up with a clutch goal in the 92nd minute when the Sounders needed it most and for the 2nd straight year, Sporting Kansas City come to Qwest Field and give up a game-winning goal in stoppage time as the Sounders defeated KC 1-0. With the win, Seattle moves into a three-way tie for second place with Portland and FC Dallas with 17 points.

Sporting looked dangerous in the first couple minutes of the match, in the 5th minute had a go with his weak right foot. A low drive that was knocked down by Kasey Keller who then held on to the rebound that Omar Bravo miss-hit.

In the 20th minute, Mauro Rosales earned a free header off the Alvaro Fernandez cross, but his effort went over the crossbar. That was one of two good chances in the first half for the Sounders, the other chance was Rosales setting up Osvaldo Alonso who struck the ball first time with his left foot, but he just put a bit too much air under it.

The Seattle backline did very well shutting down Omar Bravo. And Teal Bunbury, who played college soccer with Steve Zakuani at the University of Akron, didn't do much either. Speaking of Zakuani, he was in attendance for the match along with O'Brian White.

Michael Fucito, a second-half sub, nearly burned Kansas City with another late goal again after receiving a pass from Nate Jaqua but his shot was well blocked by Matt Besler. And a lot of fans were heading to the exits thinking that the Sounders weren't going to putt it off, but in the 92nd minute, they were wrong.....

A corner kick from the left of Jimmy Nielsen, was sent into the middle of the penalty area and Jeff Parke who outjumped the Kansas City defenders and directed a header inside the far post for a late goal and the Sounders first ever home win in the month of May.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Jeff Parke 1 (Tyson Wahl 1) 92+'

Misconduct summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez (caution; Delaying a restart) 44'

Sporting Kansas City - Ryan Smith (caution; Dissent) 49'

Seattle Sounders FC - Servando Carrasco (caution; Tactical foul) 51'

Seattle Sounders FC - Mauro Rosales (caution; Reckless tackle) 64'

Seattle Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Tactical foul) 84'


Sporting Kansas City - Jimmy Neilsen; Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza; Davy Arnaud, Craig Rocastle, Ryan Smith (Chance Myers 86'); Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury (C. J. Sapong 73'), Omar Bravo (Graham Zusi 76')

Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Servando Carrasco (Nate Jaqua 55'), Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez, Mauro Rosales (Michael Fucito 69'); Fredy Montero (Patrick Ianni 93+'), Roger Levesque