MLB Trades and News Featured in Podcast #17

Sports Microscope PodcastThere have been a flurry of MLB trades in the last few days as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. One of the biggest saw the Colorado Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and a couple of prospects. In Podcast #17, host Gene Gumbs tells you why this was a poor trade for the Rockies and a bad sign for the future of the franchise.

The Kansas City Royals, New York Mets and Anaheim Angels have been very busy as well. Jonathan Papelbon finally got his wish and was shipped out of Philadelphia, but Cole Hamels is still waiting to find out where he’ll land.

Your host also laments the embarrassing effort the Boston Red Sox have put out the last few days. There is real worry in Red Sox Nation that this season could go from bad to ludicrous. Is it time to bring up all the young pitchers and send Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley to the sin bin?

Also in MLB trade deadline episode:

  • The Minnesota Twins need to make a move
  • Are the San Francisco Giants the best team in the NL?
  • A-Rod’s performance this year shows he never needed PEDs
  • Did the Mets do enough?
  • KC moves put them at the head of the class
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy and thanks for listening!

Peyton Manning – End of an Era?

broncoslogoAs I sit here watching the Indianapolis-Denver football game, I can’t help but wonder if we are seeing the final snaps of Peyton Manning’s career. He’ll be 39 in a couple of months, and he truly looks his age today. I know you have to give a lot of credit to the Colt defense, but Manning has looked a little unsure of himself and missed some throws you expect him to make. Heck, he overthrew a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders on consecutive plays. His passes have also seemed to wobble a bit.

Let me be clear – I am not saying he should retire. I am just wondering how he will feel about his performance at the end of the day, and if he really wants to do this again. I’ve heard it said that he loves to practice, so maybe the idea of another training camp and the daily grind doesn’t phase him. But if he does decide he’s had enough, he certainly has nothing to prove – nearly 70,000 career yards (2nd all-time) and 530 touchdowns (1st all-time) guarantee him quick entrance into the Hall of Fame in Canton.

How ironic it would be if his last game is against the team that drafted him, and that let him go in favor of Andrew Luck who, despite a couple of interceptions, looked like a quarterback that is going to fixture in the playoffs for years to come. And if Manning does retire, perhaps the only thing he’ll look back on and regret is his 11-13 mark in the playoffs.

He said earlier he intended to play next year, but recently acknowledged he’d have to give it some serious thought at the end of the season. I, for one, hope he comes back and gives it at least one more year. Give the fans around the country a chance to say goodbye if he does feel the end is near. He’s earned it, and I know there are football fans across the country that would like to have the chance to say thank you.

Wesleyan Men’s Basketball Drops NESCAC Opener

Joe Edmonds goes up for a layup late in the game Friday night.

Joe Edmonds goes up for a layup late in the game Friday night.

ESPN brings dozens of Division I basketball games into our homes every week. While that is a wonderful things for sports junkies, those of us in New England have a opportunity to see some excellent basketball in our own backyards. The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is one of the best Division III leagues in the country – not just in basketball, but across the board in the 13 men’s and 14 women’s sports that it sponsors championships in. You’re really missing the boat if you don’t take the time to take check them out.

Friday night was the 2014-15 conference openers, and I had the chance to broadcast the men’s basketball game featuring Colby College of Waterville, ME and the Wesleyan University Cardinals of Middletown, CT. In a game that literally came down to the last shot, the visiting Colby Mules escaped from Wesleyan’s Silloway Gymnasium with an 82-80 win.

Wesleyan, which had a six-game winning streak snapped in the loss and fell to 10-3, led by as much as nine in the first half and held a 44-37 advantage at the half. The Cardinal front court of Rashid Epps and Joseph Kuo combined for 17 points and and seven rebounds in the period. Sam Willson led the Colby attack with 15 points.

Colby, which improved to 8-5 in the win, outscored Wesleyan 14-5 in the first six minutes of the second half and took the lead at 52-51 on a Connor O’Neil three with 13:50 left.

The two teams traded baskets and the lead for the next few minutes until back-to-back layups from Luke Westman and Willson gave Colby a 64-60 lead with 7:19 left in the game. Willson’s bucket have him 26 points, but it was his final bucket and his team had to rely on other’s down the stretch.

A BJ Davis basket for Wesleyan with 5:15 left tied the game at 66-66, but a Wesleyan foul on the next Colby possession resulted in two free throws for Westman. He canned them both to give the Mules the lead for good.

Colby stretch the lead to 78-72 with 1:27 left after a three-pointer by John Gallego, and the Cardinals appeared to have run out of time. With Colby leading 79-73, Kuo made a layup for the Cardinals to cut the gap to four. Davis then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and drained a three to cut the Colby lead to 79-78 with :53 remaining.

After a Colby timeout, Westman made a layup with :29 left to put the Mules ahead 81-78.

The next Wesleyan possession was a testament to tenacity, but heartbreaking all the same for the hometown fans. Davis missed a jumper, but Joe Edmonds grabbed the offensive rebound. He kicked it outside to Harry Rafferty, who had a three-point shot blocked by O’Neil. The rebounded went out of bounds off Colby, giving Wesleyan another chance with :12 left.

Rafferty missed another three off the inbounds pass, but Kuo grabbed yet another offensive rebound. He threw it out to Jack Mackey, who missed a trey, but Edmonds secured yet another offensive rebound and was fouled with :04 left. For those of you scoring at home, that’s FIVE chances.

Edmonds made both free throws to close the gap to 81-80, and Wesleyan fouled Westman on the inbounds pass to send him to the line for two shots (both teams were well over the limit by then). Westman made the first but missed the second. Edmonds grabbed the rebound with :3.5 left and raced to half court, but was unable to get his desperation shot off before the horn sounded.

The four or five hundred people in the building were treated to a wonderful game. I don’t care where you go, you will be hard pressed to find a game more exciting than what I saw tonight. There are no scholarships in Division III. There were 30 players on the two benches playing for the love of the game tonight. And every fan in Silloway Gymnasium tonight loved what they saw.

Looking Ahead to the 2016 HOF Class

cooperstownsignWith the announcement today that Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio were inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame, I thought I would take a quick look at the 2016 ballot listed on Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball fans can’t get enough of this stuff… so why not?

The only new player on the ballot next year that is a slam dunk is Ken Griffey Jr. Trevor Hoffman will be included next year and will definitely get some support,but he’s not getting elected in his first try. Outside of maybe Jim Edmonds, the rest of the first-year guys in 2016 are likely to not get enough votes to stay on the ballot after the first year.

Mike Piazza was close this year, and I think the weak ballot next year means the Hall will be opening their doors to him. Ditto for Jeff Bagwell and, perhaps, Curt Schilling. If the voters are feeling really spunky, maybe Tim Raines gets enough in his ninth year to make it.

I’ve already made my feelings clear on Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds – they belong in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think they’ll make it next year, but I can see momentum building that gets them in in two or three. Let’s remember there were rumors about Piazza, Bagwell, and others, yet the voters seem to be taking it out on two guys. Very hypocritical, if you ask me.

I am also hoping Bud Selig considers lifting Pete Rose’s ban before he leaves office at the end of the month. I would love to see him open Pete’s way to the Hall, while still keeping him from actively participating in current baseball activities. His on-the-field performance earned him a chance to be in the Hall. His off-the-field betting means he shouldn’t be allowed to be a manager or front office executive.

2017’s first-year members aren’t real strong either – unless you count PED guys Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. So, there is definitely a chance that the rest of this strong class from the 2015 ballot, including someone like Mike Mussina, will make it in the next two years.

Why Not an FA Cup for Baseball?

FA_Cup_logo_(2014)Ok, I know this idea is WAY out there, but I would love to see Major League Baseball start a version of the British soccer FA Cup. I got to thinking about it on Sunday when I was watching Yoevil Town take on legendary Manchester United on Fox Sports 1. The game was scoreless for the first sixty minutes or so, before United woke up and finally won 2-0. It was the equivalent of a AA team from the Midwest somewhere taking on the Boston Red Sox. David vs. Goliath. Who doesn’t like watching something like that and rooting for the underdog?

For those not up on the FA Cup, it is essentially a 14-round, one-and-done tournament open to professional soccer clubs of all levels. What that means is teams from the lowest levels of the “minor leagues” have the chance to take on the giants like Arsenal and Liverpool. It starts with preliminary qualifying for all the lowest-level teams and progressing on from there. In each new round, a higher-level league that got a bye in the previous round is inserted into the draw. The Premier League teams don’t enter the fray until the ninth round.

Just imagine the baseball rookie leagues playing off against each other for one to advance to the next round. The winners advance to the next round where the independent leagues join the tournament. They next round could add low A, the next high A, etc. What a blast!

I know the baseball collective bargaining agreement and the egos of some of the sport’s prima donnas would make something like this virtually impossible. People will scream about doing that while the regular season is going on. Umm, guess what? The FA Cup is played during the seasons of their leagues – and soccer is a much more physically demanding sport. So, it could be done.

While many would debate it these days, baseball is our national sport the way soccer is to England. The FA Cup has history going back to 1871. Tradition and passion are wonderful things, and something the British have in spades when it comes to soccer.

A man can dream, can’t he?