Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top 10 Greatest MLB Playoff Games of All Time

10. Pirates vs Braves 1992 NLCS Game 7 

The Pirates were entering this game  extremely thirsty for an appearance in the fall classic. For the Pirates it had been an 13 year drought and for the Braves, they were trying to make it two years in a row after a 33 year absence. The Pirates got a run in the top of the first from a sac fly from Orlando Merced that scored Alex Cole. The game stayed 1-0 until the sixth when Jay Bell scored on a single. The game remained 2-0 until the bottom of the ninth which set the stage for a dramatic finish. With a World Series appearance hanging in the balance, the Braves were not going to go quiet. They rallied and trimmed the lead to 2-1. With bases loaded and two out pinch hitter Fransisco Cabrera laced a single to left field. The throw to the plate was very close however Sid Bream beat the throw and the Braves were off to the World Series. This is a Top 10 Greatest game because of the long playoff drought this game sent the Pirates in. In contrast, this was the second year of a 14 year dominance in the majors for the Atlanta Braves. 

9. Angels vs Yankees 2009 ALCS Game 2 
Game 2's are always crucial games because it is the difference between 1-1 and 2-0 after the end of the game. Game #2 of the ALCS in 2009 was no exception. The Yankees drew first blood in the bottom of the second. In the third the Yankees added to their lead with a Derek Jeter solo home run. The game stayed 2-0 until the top of the 5th with a two spot capped off with a wild-pitch by A.J. Burnett that scored the tying run. The game stayed tied at two until the 11th when Chone Figgins RBI single to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. The Yankees weren't done, Alex Rodriguez's bottom of the 11th solo home run tied it up at 3. In the bottom of the 13th, Melky Cabrera reached on an error that gave the Yankees a 2-0 series lead. This ended up to be huge as the Yankees won in six games. If the Angels would have stole this game they might had been the team to go up 3-2 in the series and would have been the favorites to win the ALCS. 

8. Red Sox vs Mets 1986 World Series Game 6 
Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is known as the "Buckner game." However, Game 6 was much more than that. It was also a great game. The Red Sox took an early lead with one in the first and the second. The Sox took that 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth where New York battled back to tie at two. The Red Sox took their second lead of the game in the seventh and the Red Sox were nine outs away from winning their first World Series after trading away slugger Babe Ruth. The resilient Mets would fight back, getting 1 in the eighth to tie the score at three. In the 10th, after the Red Sox put up a two spot.  In the bottom half of the inning, with the Red Sox one out away, the Mets started the rally. After a series of events, including a wild pitch, the game was tied at 5 with Mookie Wilson at the plate. With the Buckner play, I always thought Buckner should have charged it, or how interesting it was how if Buckner keeps the ball in front of him, he likely still records the out. Well Buckner didn't record the out and the Mets went on to win when Knight crossed the plate. What people forget is the Buckner game was only Game 6, the Red Sox ended up losing Game 7 8-5 and as fate would have it, the final out was recorded with Buckner on deck.

7. Mariners vs Yankees 1995 ALDS Game 2
Game 2 of the ALDS between the Yankees and Mariners was a thrilling game to say the least. The Yankees held a 1-0 series lead but because the playoff format went 2-3, if the Mariners could steal Game 2, the Yankees would need to win twice back in Seattle. The Mariners held a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Bernie Williams doubled to tie the game at 1. In the seventh, with the Mariners trailing 3-2, the Mariners retook the lead with a two spot capped off by an sac fly by Griffey. This is where the fun started, Paul O'Neil homered in the bottom half of the inning to notch the game at 4. In extras, the Mariners were three outs away from evening the series when they got a run in the Top of the 12. However, in the bottom of the 12th the Yankees tied it up and almost won on a Ruben Sierra double. Despite the hit, Williams was thrown out at the plate. In the 15th inning,  Jimmy Leyritz hit a two run home run to give the Yankees a 2-0 series lead.

6. Marlins vs Cubs 2003 NLCS Game 7 
Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS was a very special game. The atmosphere was something that doesn't get experienced all that often. The night before, the Cubs were five outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945. I think we all know what happened next. The night before, is infamously known as the "Bartman game for Chicago Cubs fans. Game 7, Cubs fans were hoping for it to be a different story. Ace, Kerry Wood was the starter and was hoping to end the nightmare for the Cubs fans. Despite the Marlins scoring three in the first, the Cubs battled back to take a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 3rd on Kerry Wood's home run. The sea saw game would have another lead change when the Marlins scored three of their own to take a 6-5 lead. The Marlins would not relinquish the lead anymore, and after building the lead to 9-5, they would hang on to win 9-6 stunning the Wrigley Field crowd. This loss for the Cubs added to the agony of the curse to the billy goat. For the Marlins, the win punched their ticket to the World Series on route to their second World Series Title.

5. Braves vs Astros 2004 NLDS Game 4 
From 1991 to 2005 the Atlanta Braves had an amazing streak of winning 14 division titles in a row. However, the Braves had a long history of underachieving in the post-season. Game four of the 2005 ALDS was simply breath taking. The Braves lead 5-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning and it looked like the Braves were well on their way to forcing a decisive Game 5. The Astros had other ideas however, Houston managed to tally four in the bottom of the eighth and squeezed across one in the ninth to force extras. In the top of the 10th we were still a long ways away from being done. This game went an historic 18 innings! In the bottom of the 18th, Chris Burke who was a pinch hitter earlier in the game, hit a home run to win the game and more importantly the series for Houston. The win that day went to 43 year old Roger Clemens who came out of the bullpen to pitch three innings.

4. Yankees vs D-Backs 2001 World Series Game 7 
Game 7 of the 2001 World Series had all the ingredients of one of the all time classic baseball games in history. The Arizona Diamondbacks were in their fourth year existence, while the Yankees were going for their third World Series in three consecutive years. Rogers Clemons was the Yankees starter and Curt Schilling went for the D-Backs. The game stayed scoreless until the bottom of the sixth when the D-Backs drew first blood on Danny Bautista double that plated Steve Finnley. The Yankees fought back to scratch across one in the seventh and eighth to take a 2-1 lead. Heading into the bottom of the ninth the Yankees were three outs away from a three-peat. In addition, the Yankees also had arguably the best closer in the history of baseball in Mariano Rivera. Unfortunately, destiny was not on the Yankees side that November night. The D-backs batted around and with the game now tied at two, Luis Gonzalez blooped a single into short center filed that eluded the drawn in infielders that won the first and to this date only world series for Arizona. 

3. Yankees vs Red Sox 2004 ALCS Game 5 
After the Red Sox stayed off elimination in the wee hours of early that morning in Game 4, the Red Sox and Yankees were set for another classic in Game 5. Mike Mussina and Pedro Martinez were the startingg pitchers in the game, however the drama didn't come until the late innings. For the second time in the series, the Red Sox came back from a deficit when they were staring elimination in the face. This time it was the bottom of the eighth when the Red Sox scored two to tie the game at four. Despite both teams putting up rallies in extra innings, the game stayed tied until the 14th when David Ortiz singled home Johny Damon to send the series back to the Bronx. Game 5 turned out to be the 2nd win for the Red Sox on route to becoming the first team to come from a 3-0 deficit to win a Best out of 7 playoff series. After completing the sweep the Red Sox went on to completing a sweep of the Cardinals to win their first World Series since 1918. 

2. Yankees vs Mariners 1995 ALDS Game 5
Forget game, the ALDS between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees was one of the best series in MLB history. Game 5 between these two teams was simply remarkable. The Mariners were coming off an amazing come from behind 11-8 win in Game 4 and were sending Andy Benes on the mound. Like it had been all series,  Game 5 was another back in fourth game. Both teams shared the lead and going to the bottom of the 8th the Yankees had the lead 4-2. David Cone was the Yankees starter that game. He was tiring late in the 8th and the Mariners trimmed the lead to 4-3. With the bases loaded, the Mariners used pinch hitter Doug Strange and he drew a walk to tie the game at four.

In the ninth, Cy Young award winner Randy Johnson came on as a reliever on one days rest. He gave up a run in the 11th to set the stage for a speechless bottom of the frame. After a Joey Cora bunt single, Ken Griffey Jr. singled as well to put runners on first and third. Edgar Martinez was next. He single handily was the only reason the Mariners were in the position in the first place with his seven RBI's in Game 4. On a 0-1 pitch he laced a double down the left field line to win the game for the Mariners. The significance of the hit is huge. Firstly, it is still to this day, the biggest hit in Mariners history. In addition, to add to the importance the hit defeated the Yankees the team everyone loves to hate. Also, Game five ended Don Mattingly's career as a Yankee.

1. Rangers vs Cardinals 2011 World Series Game 6
This game deserves the #1 spot because it simply had it all. The Rangers had a chance to win their first World Series in franchise history and the Cardinals were trying to force Game 7. The game was back in forth all night and the Rangers posted a three spot in the Top of the seventh to take a 7-4 lead. The Cardinals showed no quite, getting one back in the eighth setting the stage for a dramatic ninth inning. During the game, the Rangers were one strike away twice, however, the Cardinals would bat around to score two runs to send the game into extras. In the Top of the 10th the Rangers would re-take the lead thanks to Josh Hamilton's two run home run. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Cardinals would battle back yet again to score two in the bottom of the tenth that was capped off on Lance Berkman's single to centre. In the bottom of the 11th David Freese smacked a home run to send the game to a deceive Game 7. The next nights Game 7 marked the first Game 7 in baseball since the All-Star Game decided home field advantage in the World Series. This game the Cardinals set a few records including being the first team in the World Series to score in the 8th, 9th 10th, and 11th innings of a baseball game.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mets spiraling out of Control after 9-1 Loss to Pirates

The New York Mets have hit a new rock bottom in 2015 on Sunday as the Mets fell to the Pirates 9-1 and in the mean time were swept right out of Pittsburgh, well in the process only scoring  four pitiful runs on their way to being outscored 21-4 in the three game set. 

The next six weeks for the Mets leading up to the all-star break could make or break their season. The Mets have now lost five out of their last 6 games and in huge danger of that whole being deeper if this team can't get their act together soon. This slump has came just after the Mets lost five in a row. There was three game winning streak sandwiched in there but lets not kid ourselves: two of those wins were against a brutal Brewers team and the other was a 14 inning win over the Cardinals a game they could have lost. The Mets have simply been in a slump for a couple of weeks now. 

To make matters worse, the Nationals have gone in the polar opposite direction. Yesterday, the Nationals completed the series win with a 4-1 win over the Phillies to improve the Nats record to 19-5 over the last 24 games. 

Things are going from bad to worse for the Mets in a hurry. The Mets were also dealt bad news over the weekend when third baseman David Wright announced that he had a setback in his recovery from injury. Wright was diagnosed
with Spinal stenosis and the injury needs to be taken with huge caution. In fact, from the sounds of it, the injury could be just as worse as a football player having a concussion. It is hard to speculate when he will be back because of what kind of injury it is. Spinal stenosis deals with the back when the spine in narrow. Not sure about anyone else, but just thinking about Spinal stenosis is painful! 

With the offensively challenged Mets heading back to a pitchers ballpark, things don't look that promising. A crucial six game home stand is on the horizon for the Mets starting today and anything below a 4-2 home stand based on who the Mets are playing (Phillies 3, Marlins 3). Their games the Mets simply have to win if they want to remain in the hunt who have now sunk to 2.5 games back of the division with the Braves right on their tales. 

There are 44 games remaining for the Mets in the first half of the season, realistically if the Mets could go 23-21 in the next 44 and go in to the break with a 47-42 mark would be considered a successful first half for the Mets all things considered. In contrast, a losing record for the Mets could spell the beginning of the end for the Mets this year and might decided to be sellers at the July 31st trade deadline. 

Bartolo Colon will try to get things back on track today as the Mets will entertain Philadelphia on a special 1:10 ET first pitch on Memorial Day. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

French Open 2015

The French Open at Roland Garros begins Sunday Morning and it is shaping up to be a compelling tournament. Defending Champion Rafael Nadal will be the seventh seed this year but still will be capable of winning in Paris. He is a very strong player on clay and will be one of the favorites to win again.

Here is the full list of seeds for the second Grand slam of the year:

 1.   Serbia Novak Djokovic
 2.   Switzerland Roger Federer
 3.   United Kingdom Andy Murray
 4.   Czech Republic Tomáš Berdych
 5.   Japan Kei Nishikori
 6.   Canada Milos Raonic
 7.   Spain Rafael Nadal
 8.   Spain David Ferrer
 9.   Switzerland Stan Wawrinka
10.   Croatia Marin Čilić
11.   Bulgaria Grigor Dimitrov
12.   Spain Feliciano López
13.   France Gilles Simon
14.   France Gaël Monfils
15.   France Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
16.   South Africa Kevin Anderson
17.   United States John Isner
18.   Belgium David Coffin
19.   Spain Tommy Robredo
20.   Spain Roberto Bautista Agut
21.   France Richard Gasquet
22.   Uruguay Pablo Cuevas
23.   Germany Philipp Kohlschreiber
24.   Argentina Leonardo Mayer
25.   Latvia Ernests Gulbis
26.   Croatia Ivo Karlović
27.   Spain Guillermo García-López
28.   Australia Bernard Tomic
29.   Italy Fabio Fognini
30.   Australia Nick Kyrgios
31.   France Adrian Mannarino
32.   Serbia Viktor Troicki

For those who are not familiar with tennis, they're are four major tournaments on the ATP circuit. These tournaments are generally referred to as the "grand slams." The four grand slams are Australian Open, (Melbourne) French Open, (Paris) Wimbledon (London) and the U.S. Open (New York).  With every major, there are 2,000 ATP ranking points available for the winner. 

Once again, ESPN2 will bring court to court coverage of the main matches that are going on through out the day. For Canadians, tune in to the TSN family of networks for their multi court coverage of the action at Roland Garros. 

The one thing I really enjoy about tennis is the competitiveness a lot of the athletes have. This year there are easily about eight players in the field that I wouldn't be surprised if they got to the championship match. 

In addition, I also enjoy how many countries are represented in the game of tennis. Just within the top 32 seeds alone, there are 19 countries represented. 

Call me a bit of a homer but my favorite player is Milos Raonic. He is seeded sixth in the French Open and is coming off a Quarterfinal appearance in the Australian Open in January. 

The French Open will have 128 players paying in the Men's singles main draw. Therefore, the first player to win seven games in two weeks will be crowned a champion. It is a single elimination format which means the draw will get decreased quickly down to 32 players pretty quickly. The Final will be on June 7th. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Whitecaps 1, FC Edmonton 1

Last night, I attended the Vancouver Whitecaps game at B.C. Place as the Caps started their journey towards qualifying for the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup competition. 

The Amway Canadian Championship is a five team tournament that will decided who represents Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League next year From there, the winner of the CONCACAF Championship goes to the FIFA Club World Cup. The draw placed the Whitecaps with a two legged affair with the NASL's FC Edmonton. In past years, the Whitecaps have got past Edmonton pretty easily with 5-1 and 5-2 aggregate wins respectively in 2012 and 2013. 

This year, it will be anything but easy for the Whitecaps. FC Edmonton took advantage of an early turnover by the the Whitecaps and Tomi Ameobi made it 1-0 for the visitors in the fourth minute. 

Throughout the game, the Whitecaps seemed quite sluggish. Edmonton, was getting to a lot of the loose balls and at times, it very easily could have been 2-0. 

Fortunately, the Whitecaps were able to muster up more scoring chances in the second half. After a handful of close chances, Gershon Koffie was able to put the Whitecaps on level terms with his highlight reel goal in the 87th minute. 

The first leg ended up 1-1, which means it will be a very interesting second leg next Wednesday in Edmonton. This is the first time Edmonton FC has secured a result on the road against a MLS club in this competition. 

According to Football database, the Whitecaps are ranked 758th in the world. In contrast, FC Edmonton is ranked a lonely 1,882nd. They're are 2,102 teams in the ranking system. 

Despite not getting the win, the Whitecaps still have to like their chances on advancing. They might start a stronger starting eleven next week as a couple of regulars were sitting out with the Whitecaps crucial game against the Seattle Sounders looming on Saturday. 

Personally, I enjoyed the game quite a bit last night. It was still a noisy crowd even with the game not being a capacity crowd. Because the game was not an MLS game, tickets were 30% off with a promo code. 

With more finish from the Whitecaps next week, I believe the Whitecaps will be able to advance to the Canadian Championship Final this August. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Inconsistent Mets have Lost six of their Last Eight

The Mets continued their inconsistent hitting on Sunday as they dropped a second consecutive 1-0 defeat to the hands of the Washington Nationals. Sunday, it was Doug Fister's chance to silent the Mets bats on route to clinching the series win for the Nats.

A week ago after after the Mets fell to their cross-town rival Yankees, it just seemed like a bump in the road that every team has over the course of a 162 game schedule. However, after a 2-5 week that saw the Mets lose to under .500 ball clubs, this stretch has suddenly turned into a unhealthy valley.

Last week when I looked at the Mets schedule, they were starting a stretch where they were going to be playing ten out of their next sixteen games against teams with a losing record. It looked like a chance to build on their surprising 14-5 start. Now, it seems like the Mets are a couple of losses away from being in a big slump.

Eventually, the Mets injuries were going to catch up to them. The Mets have a total of nine players placed on the Disabled List right now including third basemen David Wright and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. I liked the move of calling up Dilson Herrara. I wouldn't be concerned about his .100 batting average as it is a very small sample size to judge him just yet.

It will be interesting to see what Manager Terry Collins does with his pitching rotation if anything this week. With the defending AL East Champions Baltimore Orioles coming to town for a quick two game series, there is an opportunity for the Mets having off days today and Thursday. Currently, Harvey is next scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Phillies. It might be over thinking things a bit to move him up to Wednesday, nevertheless I would be very intrigued if he could dominate American League hitters the same way he does to National League hitters.

The Mets will get back at things tomorrow night when Bartolo Colon will try to get back in the win column. Baltimore will counter with ex Astros pitcher Bud Norris. First pitch is 7:10 ET at Citi Field.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

My Life as a Sports Fan

Being a sports fan in Canada is not always the easiest. The sports landscape mainly focuses on Toronto sports and besides from Hockey and curling, most of them aren't covered wall to wall they way they are covered in America.

Growing up, my four favorite teams were the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Grizzlies, Seattle Mariners and Green Bay Packers. 

Doesn't seem like a bad combination, since 1993 (the year I was born) these teams have created 4 conference Champions with two Champions. (Packers in 1996 and 2010) It is too bad I was a bit too young to remember the 1996 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, but for some reason it doesn't bother me. Maybe it's because it doesn't seem right cheering for the Packers. It feels like an easy way out. Feels like I'm cheering for the Red Wings of the NHL or the Celtics of the NBA. Not like there is anything wrong with cheering for these teams but the Packers losing is just as painful and winning is not as rewarding. This could be because this team has a lot of history and I expect the Packers to go far in the playoffs every year. However, until there is a team that is unique to me, there is no point worrying about it. 

Unfortunately, not winning enough Championships isn't the main heartbreak I have. In 2001 the Vancouver Grizzlies vacated the city of Vancouver and headed to Memphis. In 2001 I think I was too young to care. I was still seven years old and at first they kept a similar logo and jersey pattern but since they have altered their colors slightly. Over the years, it didn't keep me from not seeing how they were doing but the team feels completely Memphisized now with their moves and playoff fever in Memphis. It isn't Vancouver's team anymore despite them still being called the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies signing of Vince Carter in the off season hurt because if the Grizzlies would have just drafted Vince Carter in the 1998 draft instead of Mike Bibby, the Grizzlies might still be in Vancouver.

The team I have watched a lot lately is the Phieniox Suns. Up until they traded a lot of their team at the trade deadline, they had a lot of players I enjoyed watching. In addition, I have also been to a game in 2009 that I had a lot of fun at. 

I would get into the Mariners debacle but I don't see the point. They divorced me from my enthusiasm of cheering for them and if cheering for a different team that keeps my stress level down like the Angels, I'm all for it. 

The Canucks have been the only team worth cheering for. Yes, the losing hurts but I love knowing they will always have something interesting going on in the media. No Stanley Cup in 45 years but that shouldn't take away from their remarkable era of hockey where they have made the playoffs in 11 out of the last 14 years.

Over the last few years, I have started to watch a lot of European soccer. Mostly watching the English Premier League and Champions League, I have noticed it is a great cultural experience. With relegation and promotion in the EPL, it makes the entire season so crucial on top of other things. The team I kinda like in the EPL is Tottenham Hotspur. They are knocking on the door of the Champions League but still seem a long ways away. The Spurs are also a big club so the threat of relegation is not very good.

Now that I have completed college I am hoping to be on blog spot way more often doing posts about what topics I feel comfortable with. I really enjoy the numbers of sports and the business side to everything therefore I am really looking forward to it all.