Monday, November 12, 2007

An Idol Becomes Eternal: Ronnie Franchise Enters the Hall of Fame

Growing up there were two things I looked forward to every year. The start of the Red Sox season and the start of the Whalers season.

Ron Francis may have been traded away from Hartford when I was only three years old, in 1991, but I still knew all about him. He was a beloved figure among Whalers fans, so much so that he was given the nickname "Ronnie Franchise."

He was a model-figure for the team and when he was traded it was the first in a series of crushing blows for Whalers fans, eventually leading up to the team moving in 1997.

Francis was born in Sault Ste. Marie, but as he has said many times in interviews, he grew up in Hartford. He arrived there as an 18 year old kid and left as a mature leader and captain who would go on to win Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh.

My favorite hockey player will always be Kevin Dineen, the great Whalers captain who took over after Francis left and led the team all the way up to their move to Carolina, but Francis is a close second.

He epitomizes everything that is great about hockey. He was a great scorer and a great leader. He is one of the most underrated players in hockey history and it is finally time for him to get his due tonight in Toronto.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

2007-2008 Men's Basketball Predictions

The season is only one day away, so i figured it was time for me to predict how I think the Stags season will go, game by game.

Fairfield is still a rebuilding team, but with one more year under Jonathan Han's belt at the point, as well as the more developed Anthony Johnson and Greg Nero locking down the inside game, the outlook for the season is bright.

The Stags season came to a disappointing end last year, but they have a lot to build on after a strong finish in the regular season.

Here are my predictions:

@Wake Forest - L - I'd love to put a W, here but it is going to be too tough for the Stags on the road.

Holy Cross - W - At home, building off of tough play against Wake, the Stags will do what they could not last year, lock-up a win against rival Holy Cross.

@American - W - Once again, the more experienced Fairfield team can keep a lead and win when it matters, even on the road.

@Cincinnati - L - A tough Big East opponent on the road, smells like a loss for the Stags.

@St. Francis N.Y. - W - They picked up a big win at Alumni Hall last year over St. Francis and this year should be the same, even on the road. Too bad the Red Sea can't storm the court this year.

@Georgetown - L - Hibbert and the rest will be too tough to handle for Fairfield.

Yale -W- In front of a sold-out Alumni Hall, coming off a difficult road trip, this one won't even be close.

Siena -W- Riding the emotion of the Yale win and a strong start, Cooley and the Gang will continue to roll right into the MAAC season.

St. Joseph's -L- Phil Martelli is a great coach and his team will hand the Stags their first home loss of the year.

@St. Peter's -W- The Stags will head to Jersey City 1-0 in the MAAC and leave with another win.

@William and Mary -W- A great team to have on the schedule, in a solid Mid-Major conference, but should not be a major problem for Fairfield, similar to last season.

@Loyola -L- Last year Fairfield went to Baltimore and handed Jimmy Patsos' team a loss, but this year it will be different. Close game, but the Greyhounds pull it out in the end.

@Marist -L- A tough five game road trip continues for Fairfield in Poughkeepsie. They may have lost Jordan, but they are still talented and will win at home.

@Iona -W- Bounce back victory over a struggling Iona squad.

St. Peter's -W- Same outcome as Jersey City, probably an even larger margin this time.

Canisius -W- Always tough to travel from Buffalo to Bridgeport, Fairfield will win this one.

Niagara -W- Stags sweep the Buffalo teams at home.

@Canisius -W- The Griffs look for revenge less then a week later, but Fairfield wins.

@Niagara -L- Stags tired after tough game against Canisius and fall to Niagara.

@Manhattan -L- In the battle of the two teams picked for sixth in the MAAC, Fairfield loses Round One.

Iona -W- Stags complete season sweep of Gaels at home.

Rider -L- Jason Thompson overcomes tough defense to help the Broncs beat the Stags.

Marist -W- No Jordan, no Whittington, no Smith for Marist, at home the Stags win.

Bracketbuster -??? Too tough to call without knowing who Fairfield will play.

Manhattan -W- Split the home and home.

Rider -W- Stags finish season strong.

Overall - 16-9 (11-5 MAAC)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

NLCS Game 1 Reaction/ALCS Game 1 Prediction

I've definitely change my mind about the way that the NLCS will go. I thought that the Arizona Diamondbacks, behind ace Brandon Webb, would jump out to a 1-0 lead with a Game 1 victory and then head to Colorado up 2-0. Now it appears that Jeff Francis and the Rockies are the better squad and they will be returning home to Corrs with at least a split of the first two games.

Francis' excellent performance and the Rockies 5-1 victory changes the entire outlook of the series. The Rockies offense has not cooled down one bit and they have now won 18 of their last 19 games (14 of 15 in the regular season, 4 straight in the playoffs). This is the hottest team in baseball and frankly I'd be nervous to face them no matter what team I am. The Red Sox and Indians better watch out, because if Colorado can keep rolling through this series, they may pull a St. Louis Cardinals and continue to roll right though the World Series.

As much as I am rooting for the Red Sox to win the World Series and think that they could shut down the Corrs Train to win it all, I admit that the Rockies winning would be a great story. Todd Helton is one of the best players of this era, probably top ten, maybe even top five. He is one of the best hitters for average, up there with Ichiro. But he constantly has the stigma of "Corrs Field" riding over him. A World Series ring would do a lot for his credentials.

Meanwhile Dan O'Dowd has turned around a franchise that has seen a little success, but has never been near where they are now. With excellent drafting and trades, the Rockies are now a team that can contend year in and year out. There make-shift pitching staff has done the job, keeping the opposing team's score low enough for the amazing offense, made up mostly of young players who will be the team's core for years to come, to win games decesively. Manny Corpas has proven to be a un-hittable closer, both in the playoffs and the regular season. Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki and the rest of the cast of regulars are slugging this team to victory, but the pitching hasn't been too shabby either.

This is a team I liked for two years down the line, maybe with the addition of another pitcher or two, same as the D-Backs, but both teams have shocked everyone and now baseball fans are left with an exciting series. Hopefully people will tune in and find out more about two teams that had great years, mostly under the radar.

One other thing from this series was the disgraceful behavior by the Diamondbacks fans. I know it was just a handful of fans and I know that it happens all over the place, but come on. It was the right call and to delay a game for that long was just ridiculous. Booing is one thing, but throwing full water bottles onto the field near players was wrong. Express your displeasure with boos, but don't throw things on the field. The D-Backs have been an amazingly successful franchise, having been around for just ten years and having a shot at their second World Series within their grasp. These fans should behave better than they did.

Moving on to the ALCS, the series everyone is talking about.

The Red Sox and the Indians are two teams that had great seasons, just like the Rockies and Diamondbacks, but both have been in the spotlight longer.

Josh Beckett and C.C. Sabathia are both Cy Young contenders and tomorrow's game should be exciting.

My prediction: 6-2 Red Sox, Bobby Kielty continues his success against C.C. with at least two hits and two RBI.

On the NL side, the Diamondbacks will not be able to salvage the second game of the series, as the Rockies take the game 7-3.

Enjoy the games tomorrow night.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Torre, A-Rod Eras in Bronx Appears to Be Over

As a Red Sox fan, I couldn't help but smile after the Yankees fell to the Cleveland Indians today in the Bronx, ending their season.

As a baseball fan I couldn't help but feel sorry for Joe Torre, one of the game's best managers, ever, as he seemingly finished his career in New York with a walk to the dugout, head down, as the Bronx faithful gave him a final cheer.

Torre has not lived up to the Boss' expectations the past few years and while he has been able to scrape by the past few years without that elusive fifth World Series ring, this year seems to be his last.

Loyal players like Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter stuck up for their manager, a player favorite, but it probably won't be enough to save him, as The Boss wants one thing: rings.

As I watch Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS (yes I own the DVD set with all the ALCS and World Series games from that year) I remember how close it came to the end of Torre in New York as he helped the Yankees become the first baseball team ever to blow a 3-0 series lead. He survived that set-back but won't survive this one.

Steinbrenner said Torre was managing for his career in New York and with the loss, it appears that he will be out of a job.

Joe Girardi, Don Mattingly and maybe even Tony LaRussa will be the top candidates to replace Torre, though I think it is Girardi's job if he wants it and he should take it.

Girardi reminds me of a young Torre, a good player who will be an even better manager, liked by fans and players.

Mattingly should stay in the Yankees organization, helping Joe G replace Joe T, but he may be able to pick up a managerial job of his own somewhere else.

With LaRussa out of St. Louis, I can see Torre spending a few more years in baseball their, in a huge baseball town with appreciative fans, where he once played. He can retire there with less pressure and finish his career on a good note, maybe even leading the Cardinals to another World Series victory.

Meanwhile I can see LaRussa heading up to Seattle to join Walt Jocketty as the two of them continue their dominance as great baseball minds, using Ichiro Suzuki and the rest to take over the AL West from the Angels, who desperately need a power hitter or two, as proved by the loss to the Red Sox, where their offense looked very over-matched.

As for Alex Rodriguez, I think it is time for him to get out of the Bronx and I think he feels the same way, even if he didn't say it. He will never be a "True Yankee" after never winning a World Series ring, and I don't think he ever will be.

A-Rod can't seem to take the pressure and I think he will opt out. He put that clause in for a reason and without the Rangers picking up his contract, Yanks GM Brian Cashman said they wouldn't go after him.

My prediction is this: The Red Sox will trade Manny Ramirez for a third starter, sending him to somewhere like the Chicago White Sox for Jon Garland or Javier Vazquez or to the Angels for Kelvim Escobar or Ervin Santana or even to the Dodgers to bring back Derek Lowe or for someone like Chad Billingsley (if the Dodgers would trade Billingsley, it would be worth Manny and a prospect, like Craig Hansen).

Mike Lowell will leave the Sox to free agency to go back to the NL to finish his career, and Curt Schilling will leave as well, heading somewhere like Arizona to serve as a Number Two starter in an easier league. With Ramirez, Lowell, and Schill gone, the Sox can afford to spend a lot of money on A-Rod and add him to the lineup.

The Sox will have Beckett, Matzusaka, Garland/Vazquez/Escobar/Santana/Lowe/Billingsley/???, Wakefield, and Lester/Buchholz in the rotation and a 3-4-5 of Ortiz, Rodriguez, and Drew (who can hopefully step-up) and Jacoby Ellsbury starting in leftfield as the replacement lead-off hitter for Johnny Damon they hoped to find in Coco Crisp, who will be a great number nine hitter.

The Sox are already a World Series contender and should win this year, but this off-season they will still be very active, finally ridding themselves of the headache (but great hitter) that Ramirez is, adding an all-time great (maybe the best ever) in A-Rod, and adding a third starter they will need to replace Schilling. Schilling cannot pitch three more years in Boston, but if they win the World Series this year, he could do that somewhere else and earn a Hall of Fame plaque. The Sox need to make room for Ellsbury, a budding superstar, and also for Buchholz, a future Cy Young winner. The future is bright this yea and in the future for the Sox.

No matter what, it should be an interesting off-season, but first comes a couple great Championship Series.

Go Sox! Go D-Backs! I predicted it on WVOF, now its time for it to happen.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Rangers

During tonight's game five I realized something. This is the most emotionally attached I've been to a sports team since the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series.

I've always been a Rangers fan, since the Whalers left Hartford at least, but former Mirror Sports Editor Dan Akeson really made me attached to this team. His connection and live and die with the team attitude made me become emotionally attached as well. Tonight's loss hurts, but the Rangers have not yet lost at MSG in the playoffs and that will continue.

Buffalo will get what they deserve. Damn Chris Drury.

The Rangers

During tonight's game five I realized something. This is the most emotionally attached I've been to a sports team since the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series.

I've always been a Rangers fan, since the Whalers left Hartford at least, but former Mirror Sports Editor Dan Akeson really made me attached to this team. His connection and live and die with the team attitude made me become emotionally attached as well. Tonight's loss hurts, but the Rangers have not yet lost at MSG in the playoffs and that will continue.

Buffalo will get what they deserve. Damn Chris Drury.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Random Sports Thoughts

I planned on posting a blog every day, but spring weekend kind of put those plans on hold for a few days. But now I will really start to try and make a post every day.

Today I'll start with just a few interesting thoughts from sports over the weekend.
  • NFL Draft: The draft has become an event that is looked forward too almost as much as many sporting championships. Its a day that begins a new NFL season, all teams are 0-0 and all are looking forward to the future. Unless you are a Dolphins fan (haha Dan) you can hope for a good season this fall or at least a better future with a young star. As a Patriots fan I am really happy about this draft. I really wanted to see them take a linebacker at the end of the first round (Paul Posluzny more specifically), but I am happy with Brandon Meriweather, as long as Belicheck takes away his gun. He can eventually be a replacement for the aging Rodney Harrison. But the biggest accomplishment the Pats made was bringing in Randy Moss for a fourth round draft pick. The reward is high, the risk low, as Moss is one of the best receivers in football. Hooked up with Tom Brady and looking to show the doubters that he is a winner, I expect a resurgence in his career and a Super Bowl parade in Boston once again.
  • Red Sox-Yanks: The Red Sox are firing on all cylinders when it means the most. These games against the Yankees are always important and to start 5-1 is huge. Yes, it's early in season, but they have the most wins in the AL and are looking good. I am looking forward to the return of Jon Lester, who is a great success story. Manny is finally heating up and we may have found our starting second baseman in Alex Cora, although I still think Dustin Pedroia is a starting-caliber guy. Josh Beckett=AL Cy Young winner, no doubt about it.
  • Rangers Overtime Win: The Rangers outplayed the Sabres in Game Two, but still got the loss. Coming back home at MSG they were in a must-win situation. In a great game, the Rangers overcame horrible, one-sided officiating to pick up a major win. Now the Rangers need to keep it going on Tuesday and bring the series back to Buffalo tied at two games.
  • NBA Playoffs: I can't get interested in this. There is too much else in sports going on, the NBA just basically sucks. Maybe I'll watch a couple finals games. But I am rooting for the Bulls to win it all, because of Ben Gordon.
It was a great weekend in sports and here at Fairfield and with baseball heating up and the hockey playoffs, it should be a great week as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How Much Do Sports Matter?

I was thinking this morning about how much time I spend watching, reading about, writing about or listening to sports. Since I was young I have always spent most of my time during the day doing something that had to do with sports. Whether it was playing football with my friends, watching SportsCenter, or reading Sports Illustrated, sports was almost always part of my life.

Now as the sports editor of The Mirror, I am somehow thinking about sports even more than before. Sports is always on my mind. When I'm sitting in class trying to survive the boring lectures, I begin to think about the Red Sox game from the night before or the Rangers game that will be on later in the day. When I wake up, I watch SportsCenter and check, to find out what has happened in sports overnight, which usually is nothing.

When I'm doing homework or anything on the computer, I constantly check, waiting to see what happens next in the world of sports. When I read for fun, its usually a sports related book. I read Sports Illustrated and Sporting News from cover to cover each week.

Sports is a way for many of us to escape from the reality of our lives. It's a way for us to avoid the eight page research paper, which I should be writing right now.

But for me, it's my dream that sports becomes my life. I have always wanted to be a part of the sports world and in a way that has already happened for me, at least as part of the Fairfield sports world.

One day I hope to be sitting in an office, of a newspaper or magazine or sports Web site, writing about what goes on in the day in sports. I want it to be my article that someone like me checks on to find out how the Sox did the night before.

I can't imagine how amazing it would be to get paid to report about sports. I already spend so much time focusing on sports, it would be crazy to get paid for doing something that I love so much.

Hopefully one day I will get a dream job as a sports writer somewhere, but for now I'll just enjoy sports like I have all my life.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's a Beautiful Day

The sun is shining, the temperature is perfect, and the Red Sox just swept the Yankees at Fenway Park for the first time in 17 years. Spring is FINALLY here and I am really excited about the baseball season, but today I really don't feel like talking about baseball. The NFL Draft is on the way and the NBA Playoffs just got started, but neither of those are interesting to me right now.

The only team on my mind other than the Sox are the New York Rangers.

The NHL Playoffs may be the most exciting of any sport to watch. Baseball is great, football always brings excellent games, and once and awhile I'll enjoy an NBA game, but hockey always seems to give seven exciting games in each series.

The Rangers did not dissapoint in round one, blowing out the Atlanta Thrashers and proving that hockey does not belong in the South. As a former Mirror editor put it so well, "What's next, baseball in Helsinki?"

Anyways, now the Rangers have the tough task of facing the Buffalo Sabres, starting with two games in upstate New York. The Sabres are a very exciting team to watch and no matter how the series turns out, it should be an enjoyable one. But I would be much happier to see the same Rangers team that shut out Atlanta 7-0, than the one we saw earlier this winter, when it looked like the Blueshirts might not even make the playoffs.

The Sabres feature quick, exciting, goalscorers, including my favorite non-Rangers player, Chris Drury, from Fairfield Prep. Drury is a guy made for the playoffs, as featured in an excellent Sports Illustrated article, which all sports fans should read.

He is a free agent after the season and Buffalo probably won't be able to bring him and fellow center Daniel Briere back next season. If Drury does hit the market, I'd love to see the Rangers make a play at him. Drury could be a leader that the Rangers need, both on and off the ice and a key player for many years. Put Briere along side Jagr and you have the makings of a dominant line.

Back to the Sabres though. Drury is joined by Briere, who had a team-high 95 points in the regular season and Thomas Vanek, who had 84 points along with other high scorers, including Jason Pominville. The defense is solid as well, backed up by a good goaltender, Ryan Miller.

The Rangers have improved a lot since the mid-season, when things looked very grim. Sean Avery has brought character and charisma to the team and ignited a fire in the Rangers that has yet to burn out. It will be hard for the Rangers to keep going in Buffalo, but it can be done.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bring Out the Brooms

The baseball season never really starts until the Red Sox and Yankees square off for their first series of the year. This weekend has been a great one for Boston fans, with two wins coming in two exciting games.

On Friday the Sox battled back to overcome a good performance by Yankees' pitcher Andy Pettitte to take the lead in the eighth inning, scoring off of the Yanks great closer, Mariano Rivera.

Rivera's blown save sparked a lot of nervousness throughout the Evil Empire, but as much as I would like to say that Mariano's days of glory are over, I have a feeling that it's not. Rivera is still throwing as hard as he did in years past and last year he struggled a bit early in the season as well.

There are few closers in baseball that I would want to have over Mariano Rivera. Jonathan Papelbon is about at that level, especially because of his age. Personally I would take Paps over Mo right now, but I think many would still take Rivera.

When you look at the struggles most other teams have closing games, Red Sox and Yankees fans should be happy to have great closers.

Saturday's game was one that the Sox had to win. Eventually the Yankees will get Chien-Ming Wang and Carl Pavano back, and will probably sign Roger Clemens (although I still hope the Sox will get him). The Sox will not have the chance to face pitchers like Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright later in the season and they need to grab these wins while they can.

David Ortiz proved once again he is one of the best hitters in baseball, with 4 RBI. Josh Beckett put in another good performance, not nearly as great as he has pitched all year, but it was enough to move to 4-0. Papelbon and the bullpen were dominant once again, proving that the decision to move Paps back to the closer role was a necessary one.

Now the Sox will look to sweep the Yankees at Fenway Park for the first time in 17 years. Once again the game will be nationally broadcasted, on ESPN, which is great for me, because its rare that Sox games are on TV here in Fairfield.

Daisuke Matsuzaka has had three great starts so far, but needs run support tonight. Hopefully Papi, Paps, Daisuke, and the Sox can pull out another big victory, to get the 18 game series started right.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Angry Sox Fan

Baseball is finally here. But I am not a happy Red Sox fan right now. I suffered through my math class, knowing that I was going to be able to watch the first Sox game of the season only a hour later. I got to the TV, turned it on, and ESPN News was on instead. For some reason, even though Fairfield isn't in the Sox blackout region, the game is blacked out. And the Yankees won. Its all their fault, if the Yanks hadn't played before, forcing ESPN to blackout that game, the Sox game would be on right now.

Instead I'm stuck listening to the game, which is weird without Jerry Trupiano. Listening to baseball can be fun, but I was really looking forward to finally watching a Sox game again.

And the Sox are down 2-1 to the Royals!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Final Four Predictions

The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining daily, baseball is almost here, and the Final Four is this weekend. Spring is by far my favorite time of the year and I cannot wait to watch three great basketball games this weekend, with a couple baseball games in between.

There may not be an exciting underdog to root for like last year's George Mason, but you really could not ask for a better Final Four. All four teams are very talented and all three games should be exciting.

My bracket is awful this year, two out of four Final Four teams, but my champs, the Kansas Jayhawks, let met down once again. So this year I don't really have a team to root for, but Georgetown is really growing on me. As a UConn and Big East basketball fan, I'd like to see the Hoyas back at the top of the nation.

I think that whoever pulls out a win in the Ohio State-Georgetown game will win the National Championship. Florida is a very talented team and I think they will get by an equally talented UCLA squad, but I think the size of the Hoyas and Buckeyes will stop the Gators try for a second straight National Championship.

Here are my predictions for Saturday night's games.

Ohio State vs. Georgetown:

This is a very tough matchup. Both teams have good players at almost every position and two very big guys in the middle who play similar games. Roy Hibbert of Georgetown vs. Greg Oden of Ohio State is a very intriguing matchup, but I think Hibbert may be able to shut down the freshman sensation.

Mike Conley Jr. is another extremely talented Buckeye freshman. I have been impressed with his play all tournament long and think that he will eventually be a good NBA point guard, because he has the ability to drive, shoot, and pass.

The Hoyas need a big game from Jeff Green, who has size and the ability to take defenders off of the dribble. His drive to win the game against Vanderbilt was amazing. The Hoyas showed me a lot in their win over UNC, I thought they were done, but instead they came back and won big. I picked Georgetown to make the Finals on my bracket and I'm sticking with them now.

Georgetown Wins

Florida vs. UCLA:

Another very good matchup. I really dislike the Gators, but you can't deny how talented they are. I am picking Florida to win, but in a very close game. If Aaron Afflalo can shoot like he did against Kansas and the tough Bruins defense can lock down Florida, they have a chance to win as well.

Billy Donovan is going to have the 1 million dollar offer from Kentucky hanging over his head, but I really do not think it will affect him or his team. The Gators are experienced and have been in this position before but so was UCLA.

The difference is, the Bruins no longer have Jordan Farmar, who probably wishes he could get back with Afflalo and his teammates to try and get revenge on the Gators for last years finals loss. The Bruins need a big game from Darren Collison, who is Farmar's replacement. He has picked up a lot of experience this year and looked good against Kansas, but it will be tough for UCLA to beat the Gators.

Florida Wins

Check back tomorrow for my baseball predictions, starting with the American League tomorrow and the National League on Sunday. Also look for a breakdown of Monday's National Championship Game.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

AFC and NFC Championship Predictions

Its come to that point in the year where football is the focus of the sporting world. March Madness is close but still far, baseball is a few months away, hockey is heading into its All-Star break, the NBA is nearing midseason, and college football already has crowned its champ. For many sports fans football has been their focus since the season started, but for some the playoffs are when they put aside everything else and are zoned in on football.

The AFC and NFC Championships are both intriguing matchups this year, with the AFC featuring a huge rivalry between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, while the NFC features the leagues best team in the regular season and a team that is carrying its city on its back. The Bears will look to prove they are the best in the NFC, while the Saints try and continue a feel good story.

My predictions:

Brady's time to shine: The playoffs are when Tom Brady and the Pats are at the top of their games. I don't think it will be any different this year. The Colts are a very talented team, but the Patriots will not be stopped. Peyton Manning will throw two touchdowns and Mr. Clutch Adam Vinatieri will kick a couple field goals, but Brady will still lead the Patriots to victory.

Prediction: Patriots 31, Colts 27

Saints go marching into Miami: It has been a storybook season for the New Orleans Saints and we all know how a story ends, with a happy ending. While they Bears will prove to be a difficult task for the Saints, I don't believe that Rex Grossman and the Bears offense will be able to put enough points on the board to beat the Saints, who are playing with house money and have all the confidence in the world right now. Sean Payton will draw up a good game plan that Drew Brees, Deuce, Reggie, and the rest will execute well, doing just enough to stop the Bears' mighty D.

Prediction: Saints 24, Bears 17

No matter what, we can look forward to two great games tomorrow.