The Professor and the panel of the Judge, Dan Butterly, Paul Dalligan and the Gelding discuss the MLB playoff picture and who will win through to the Championship series. Paul Dalligan reviews the NRL and NRLW Grand Finals. The Judge looks at the AFL Commission and Chairman and says it’s time for a change. The Judge talks up the prospects of Tottenham Hotspur under Ange Postecoglou in the Premier League with their best start to a season since 1980. The Panel talks about the relevance of the Rugby World Cup and One day Cricket World Cup and the Gelding gives his tips for today’s Bendigo race meeting.
The division pennant winners (with 2014 payroll in brackets) were:
East – Baltimore Orioles ($107.5 million)
Central – Detroit Tigers ($162.3 million)
West – LA Angels ($155.7 million) * best record in the AL for wins/losses
Wild card entry – Kansas City Royals ($92.1 million) and Oakland A’s ($83.5 million)
East – Washington Nationals ($134.7 million) * best record in the NL for wins/losses
Central – St Louis Cardinals ($111.1 million)
West – LA Dodgers ($235.3 million)
Wild card entry – San Francisco Giants ($154.2 million) and Pittsburgh Pirates ($78.2 million)
The American League has already played its Wild Card game with the Royals coming out on top over Billy Beane’s A’s. The National League plays today with the Giants and Pirates playing in a winner take all game to advance in the playoffs.
The ALDS sees the Orioles play the Tigers while the Angels take on the Royals.
In the NLDS, the Cardinals play the Dodgers while the Nationals play the winner of the Pirates/Giants game.
Going on strength of payroll alone, it should be a Dodgers v Tigers World Series, however, given many teams with high payroll haven’t even made the playoffs that clearly isn’t the sole determining factor.
One thing for certain, Billy Beane knows that even $83.5 million per year wasn’t enough to get the A’s over the line in 2014!
Not much has grabbed me this week on the sporting front although I must say that the Gunners have left me feeling a little flat after a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea and a draw at home with Swansea. With a game coming up against Manchester City I will just have to focus all my attention on the FA Cup.
One thing that has piqued my interest is how the AFL pundits are prepared to make prognostications about various teams seasons on the back of one performance. Some people had North Melbourne finishing in the top four and now they are gone, Carlton’s recruiting is all wrong and they are destined for mediocrity, the Bombers were in for a poor season, but they could finish in the top four. I think the reality is that you cannot make a judgement based on one performance. Essendon had a good win last week, but they get the reality check this week against Hawthorn. The Kangaroos played badly last week, but should bounce back this week against the Bulldogs. Carlton also played well last week and if they had kicked straight should have won the game with a number of their first picked players not available. One game does not define a season and you need to wait until at least half way before you can write someone off.
I didn’t get to watch any of the Major League baseball from Sydney last week, however, the ground looked amazing and as I understand it, the game was a success so it will be interesting to see if more Major League games come to Australia.
Have a great weekend!
Poor form by Braves players who refused to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Chipper Jones. By the way Chipper just happened to play 19 seasons with the Braves, 8 time All Star, 1999 NL MVP, his number retired by the Braves and no doubt a first round Hall of Fame entrant when he is eligible.
The petulant players sent out the Brave’s mascot instead to catch the ball.
Chipper’s crime? His forecast to the media that he thought the Dodgers would beat the Braves 4-1 (which they did).
Me thinks the Braves as an organisation need to take a good hard look at themselves! A terrible way to treat a former champion.
Braves……you have struck out!
7 August 2011 213.2 – John O’Callaghan joins the Panel and says the AFL are becoming like the AOC with their skullduggery and non accountability to stakeholders. He says Andrew Demetriou should not be running the AFL. John cites tanking as an example and refers to Dean Bailey’s press conference during the week. He also talks about the clear breach of the AFL rules in the signing of Phil Davis by Greater Western Sydney. Nicole Chvastek joins the Panel to talk about Dean Bailey’s revelations on tanking and the way the AFL has dealt with it. They also discuss Jeff Kennett’s comments about Garry Lyon taking on the Football Director’s role at Melbourne for only a short period of time. Paul Dalligan talks about what is happening in the world of rugby league and this week’s round of NRL matches. In addition, he discusses the article written about him by Fred Sherman that appeared on Yahoo Sports following his recent trip to see the LA Dodgers.
Even before my plane from Melbourne had touched down at LAX, the Los Angeles Times was telling me that the city had fallen out of love with the LA Dodgers. That, “now batting for the Dodgers, well who cares” and, even worse, that the current Dodgers team had become “unwatchable”.
I felt like a soccer fanatic on a pilgrimage to Barcelona, only to be told that the city of unbridled passion could no longer find any passion for Barca F.C. But when it takes a day of your life simply to get to LA, as an Australian baseball fanatic I wasn’t going to have my spirits dampened by a cynical press.
So on a balmy June night I headed straight from LAX towards my date with the Dodgers. Being from a country where the sporting stadiums are usually a line drive from the CBD, I had thought my taxi driver was lost when he started driving up a mountain. But then I saw it, the baseball Mecca in the Mountains of Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers baseball sanctuary high up in the hills of Los Angeles.
I had arrived at a time of high anxiety for the Dodgers – in fact it wasn’t even known who owned the team as it was the subject of divorce proceedings filed between high profile husband and wife Frank and Jamie McCourt. Whilst bitter divorce cases usually involve houses, cars or the occasional speedboat, given that this was LA perhaps the fact that this divorce involved a tug of war over a Major League Baseball team wasn’t so surreal after all.
Due to the financial woes of the McCourts the players weren’t even guaranteed to be paid their salaries by 30 June 2011. During the 18 hour flight from Down Under I had nightmarish visions of arriving at Dodgers Stadium only to hear the Dodgers players were on strike, and having instead to occupy my time in LA with the dreaded “Secret Celebrity Homes” tour.
On arrival at ths stadium I was elated to find a crowd of nearly 40,000 whose passion for the game and their beloved team quickly embraced me. In a 3 hour flurry of excitement a Major League Baseball game delivers something for everyone. It is no surprise that Australia’s favourite pastime cricket has now shifted its focus from five-day epics and day long marathons to a shortened three hour 20/20 style format. This is no doubt inspired by the Americans who work more magic into their three hour sporting spectacles than David Copperfield could ever manage.
Every Dodgers player arrived at the plate to a musical interlude that reverberated around the stadium. I particularly enjoyed the arrival of Dodgers infielder Juan Uribe to Rihanna’s “Whats My Name”. It was an ironic choice of song name given this era of self promotion, where too many players often talk about themselves in reverential third person tones. The ultimate irony of the song choice however was that Rihanna was the last flame of the Dodgers’ biggest star Matt Kemp, before she (reportedly) started batting for the other team. Big Matt obviously bears no ill will about her departure from his life, or change of team, given that every time he goes to work he is now loudly reminded of her.
Even the romantics in Dodgers Stadium were catered for with “Kiss Cam”, where the cameraman between innings would zoom in on a couple in the audience and they would kiss to the roar of 40,000 people. Cupid missed only once, when his arrow zoomed in on a middle-aged couple where, as the man leant in for his obligatory kiss, the woman pulled away like he was breathing fire. The local media would have you believe her loss of passion was sadly symbolic of the attitude of LA fans to their Dodgers, but thankfully the reality I experienced in Dodgertown was far different.
Over two nights I saw dominant performances from Dodgers’ pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, local pitchers raised through the Dodgers farm system. However, the most exciting player I saw however was Devaris “Dee” Gordon at shortstop, another local product who lit up the Dodgers grand stage of baseball with a combination of fleet footedness, rocket armed throws and a hot bat bordering on a .300 average for the season.
It is one thing we certainly love in Australia, the home grown kid made good, and the Dodgers fans were certainly singing their approval from the same songsheet. Deep in the game and with the local hero Kershaw due up at the plate, the Dodgers Manager Don Mattingley stuck with Kershaw and didn’t call for a pinch hitter, his loyalty rewarded when Kershaw pounded in the winning runs. The Dodgers pitchers take their hitting very seriously, another sign that while the local media seemed to have given up on the team, the players were still competing feverishly in every aspect of the game.
Deep in the game and with the game hanging in the balance, a recorded interview with Tommy Lasorda was shown on the big screen. After 6 decades of loyal service as a player, manager and now club ambassador, Lasorda would appear in any dictionary where “Dodgers Legend” is defined. Everyone in the stadium listened intently to the great man, whose simple words contained more passion than you would find at any Spanish film festival. He finished with the immortal words that “….to me this place is not Dodgers Stadium, it is blue heaven on Earth”.
In a city where the hills are treated like Scrabble racks, his words are appropriately captured as a backdrop to the stadium.
Late in the game, and after polishing off a few hot dogs washed down with the always fantastic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I got talking to a local about those damn fine “Dodger Dogs”. I was told that not only are they the best hot dogs in baseball, but they are proudly made at a local farm where the recipe is a more closely guarded secret than Coca Cola. The dreamy eyed fan even pointed towards the farm somewhere in the distance, as if I could gaze across the hills like a kid outside the gates of Disneyland and suddenly spot the magical land of hot dog heaven.
It was a fitting moment that not only do these fans love their baseball team, they also even talk up their hot dogs as if they are the most treasured culinary treat on earth. On a balmy June night in Dodgertown they were as I woudn’t have traded that Dodger Dog for anything served up by a Michelin-starred French chef.
On leaving Dodgers Stadium and gazing out at the hills around me I asked a local resident whether locals like the fact that the only thing many people from overseas may know of LA is Hollywood. That surely the locals would want the world to know that there is so much more to their fine city than the glitz and glamour of showbusiness.
I was however immediately told that “every person in this city loves Hollywood – because we tell the world its stories”.
And on two nights in June 2011 I saw a few stories of my own. A tale of bitter divorces, backroom dealings, players playing with passion but with the threat of no pay, and through it all their fight to emerge victorious from the dark shadow cast by a scornful local press. An epic worthy of Universal Studios indeed.
With my first child due to arrive next month, my next trip from Down Under will surely be more Mickey Mouse than Mickey Mantle. It was an honour and a privilege while I could to be able to spend some time with the true fans of baseball in Dodgertown. Now to see if my local stadium will try and replicate those Dodger Dogs.
3 July 2011 208.2 – Mark Fiorenti thinks Harry Kewell will sign with Melbourne Victory. John O’Callghan is back for the second time for the year as a special guest. He advises that the annual Olive Branch Achievement Award has not been awarded again since it was given to Kevan Gosper. There is also a discussion about Father/Sons in AFL and in sport in general that is propmpted by an email from Chris from Barwon Heads. John O’Callaghan talks about the AFL players wanting more money and says their grab for more money is misconceived. Paul Dalligan comes on to talk NRL and State of Origin. He also talks about having the chance of sitting in the LA Dodgers press box during his recent US visit. He says he has heard more noises in doctor’s surgeries and libraries that in the press box. John looks at Bernard Tomic’s announcement that he is considering living in Monarco. He doesn’t believe that either he or any other athlete needs to pay back any money that has been put towards helping the athlete. Sean Callanan talks about his trip to the USA and assisting the Minnesota Timberwolves with a product known as Sports DP.
1 May 2011 200.1 – A milestone 200th show for Sportzfan Radio – Sportzfan Stan starts the show by taking a swipe at the AFLPA with their quest to get 27% of future AFL revenues. Stan is not happy with it as it seems too much. Dan Butterly comes on the show to talk US sport from Phoenix, Arizona. He looks at the NBA & NHL playoffs, the NFL draft and the problems with the lockout and Major League Baseball especially the takeover of the LA Dodgers by MLB. The Gelding talks racing and explains why his selections won or lost. The ladies from the Tennis club did well with a 1st and 2nd. John O’Callaghan highlights prior Sportzfan Radio stories about the annual Olive Branch Achievement Award presented to Kevan Gosper, the research on the age grouping of footballers both of which were also featured in the Age. Mordiboy joins the show from the golf course and discusses the highs and lows of golf over the last four years including the story broken by him about Tiger Woods.