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Posted on: July 11, 2008 6:55 pm
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Blog Cabin: Your weekend sports planner

Unless you want to watch the world championship of bicycle racing or stake out Brett Favre's Mississippi home, this weekend's sports load will again focus on baseball.

MLB


Diamondbacks vs. Phillies
Arizona comes in to the series holding a slim, one-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins and Mets in the NL East.

While Friday and Saturday will likely feature a fair amount of offensive output, Sunday's matchup will probably be the highlight of the series.

Will Brandon Webb (13-4, 3.27) be able to shut down the powerful Phillies lineup? Or, will Cole Hammels (9-6, 3.18) be able to out-dual the Arizona ace? Either way, it should be a great game to watch.

After a few shaky games in late May, Hammels has been great in his last six outings. His biggest problem has been a lack of run-support, but with Ryan Howard continuing to heat up and Chase Utley due to snap out of his recent cold spell, I've got to pick Philly to take two of three at home.


Angels vs. Athletics
Oakland needs to make a serious dent in the Angels' 5-game AL West lead. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how realistic that proposition is.

Rookie Sean Gallagher (3-4, 4.45) will make his A's debut on Friday, after recently being acquired from the Cubs in the Rich Harden deal. He'll not only battle the hot Angel hitters, he'll have to out-pitch veteran Jon Garland (8-5, 3.76), who has been at his best over his last three starts.

Saturday will feature a little better matchup, with All-Star Ervin Santana (10-3, 3.53) taking on Oakland's Dana Eveland (7-5, 3.50). Eveland will look to bounce back from a rough last outing in which he gave up nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, while walking four and striking out none... and that was against Seattle (ouch).

This series will also feature a Sunday pitchers dual, with Joe Saunders (12-5, 3.07) taking on Oakland's young ace, Justin Duchscherer (10-5, 1.78).

I'll take the Angels to win Friday and Saturday, with Duchscherer tossing his way to an Athletics win on Sunday.


Marlins vs. Dodgers
On the other end of the Arizona/Philly matchup, Florida and Los Angeles will be trying to climb out of their second-place holes, and reach the All-Star break on top of their respective divisions.

This four-game set started on Thursday, with an 11-inning Florida win, and I look for the series to progress in much the same fashion.

Look for close games with lots of late-inning heroics. Also, keep your eyes on Hanley Ramirez... that kid is scorching hot, and when he's scorching hot, he's as good a hitter as anyone in the game.

Florida takes two of the final three games.


Mets vs. Rockies

The Mets have won six in a row, and as I mentioned earlier, are well on their way to climbing back to the top of the NL East. Lesson: Never, ever, leave any New York team for dead.

I do think the winning streak will stop on Friday, when Colorado's Aaron Cook (11-6, 3.66) takes the mound, but I also expect New York to come out ahead in the next two contests.

Unfortunately for the Mets, if all my predictions are correct, they will only be hoping to hold their ground this weekend.


From the Blogosphere...

After years of wishy-washy retirement talk, Brett Favre finally called it quits in a weepy press conference this off-season. Now, Brett says he felt forced out by the Packers organization. Who's fault is it? Farvism says we should blame the media. Wait... what?

If you're trying to make you way in to Major League Baseball, the best place to find scouts in the summer time is the Cape Cod League. FSU Boston gives you a brief history of this great wood-bat league, and also lets the community know about a few big prospects who are out to hot starts.

NinerNation kicks off his series of NFC West previews by breaking down the Seattle Seahawks. Shockingly, he seems to think they could win 10 games this year.
Posted on: June 27, 2008 5:44 pm
 

Blog Cabin: Your weekend sports planner

Well, it's another Friday, which means another weekend of sports to enjoy. And what's not to enjoy, coming off the NBA draft and the flurry of trades that followed.

As for what I'll be checking out this weekend - Most of my viewing will again revolve around MLB and interleague play, but I did throw in a few other happenings in the world of sports.

MLB

Cubs vs. White Sox

Once again, the battle line has been drawn in Chicago, but this time the war rages at US Cellular Field. The Cubs handled their cross-town rivals last weekend in Wrigley, scoring 22 runs in three games. Now, the White Sox will try to return the favor, and hold on to a slim half-game lead in the AL Central?

Ryan Dempster (9-2) takes the mound, Friday, against Jose Contreras (6-6). Dempster pitched a gem last week, as the Cubs won 7-1. The pitching match-ups on Saturday and Sunday aren't too appealing, so I'd expect much the same as last weekend - a lot of scoring with Chicago fans definitely getting their moneys worth.

The Sox certainly can't afford another sweep, as Minnesota has been on a tear, and are suddenly in surprise contention for first place.

Twins vs. Brewers
Speaking of Minnesota, the red hot Twinkies take another shot at the Brewers. The Twins have swept their last three series, and have a good shot at making it four. Milwaukee has been hot as well, though, winning six of the last seven games.

Friday's starter for the Brewers, Seth McClung, has not faired well against the Twins, posting a 1-2 record and 7.53 ERA. In interleague play this year, however, McClung has been solid, with a 2-0 record and 3.14 ERA. Which McClung will show up Friday? I'll be watching to find out.

Minnesota is leading the season series 2-1. Milwaukee should have a shot to even things up, though, with ace Ben Sheets taking on Minnesota's Kevin Slowey on Sunday. Saturday will have the best pitching match-up in this series, with the Twins' Livan Hernandez (8-4) going up against Manny Parra (7-2).

Mets vs. Yankees
This is the last subway series in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium (unless both teams make it to the World Series, which is highly unlikely). Both teams are in similar positions at this stage in the season - in third place in their respective divisions, but playing well over their last 10.

The Mets are four games out of first place in the NL East, and the Yankees are five-and-a-half games behind rival Boston. Both teams could use a big boost in this series, so it should be interesting to see which New York team prevails.

The series starts with a double header on Friday. The first game will be in the Bronx and the second at Shea Stadium. Saturday we'll see Andy Pettitte (8-5) and Johan Santana (7-6) taking the mound. Despite his record, Santana has a 2.93 ERA, and is always capable of shutting down even the most potent lineup.

Angels vs. Dodgers

The Angels and Dodgers meet again this weekend, but the Angles have had the Dodgers number all season. Winning nine of the last 11 games, the Halos look to add to that win total. Joe Saunders brings his 11-3 record in to Dodger Stadium, Friday, against Chan Ho Park, 2-2. (Wait... Chan Ho Park is still in the league?!)

Park hasn't pitched well against the Angels in his career. His 5.75 ERA and 5-7 record doesn't bode well for his outing against an Angels team that can put up runs with the best of them.

On Saturday, two youngsters - Jered Weaver of the Angles and Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers - hit the bump. Neither have had spectacular years so far, but this should be an exciting game.

Sunday. Angels ace John Lackey has been lights out since missing the beginning stages of the season. Lackey boasts a 5-1 record and stellar 1.65 ERA since taking his place at the top of the rotation. Derek Lowe, on the other hand, hasn't found his stride, but is capable of dealing Lackey his second loss of the season.


PGA

The Buick Open
Obviously, this usually important tournament won't be quite as exciting with Tiger Woods on the shelf. But, with the big guy out, young, hungry players will again have their chance to shine. Bo Van Pelt holds the lead heading into the weekend, at -14, but Dudley Hart and Daniel Chopra are currently hot on his trail, at -12.

I'll be tuning in on Sunday to watch the final round and see who steps up in Tiger's absence.

Euro Soccer

Championship Game: Spain vs. Germany
I might tune in on Sunday for the 91st minute of this championship game to see what team is sliding around on their knees and celebrating. I'll take that as the winning team and switch back to baseball or maybe cup-stacking or... well, anything really.

Tennis

Wimbledon

The Championships continue this weekend with the third and fourth rounds. Unfortunately for most viewers, you may not recognize many of the names. Still, there are a few big guns left, and there will be a ton of good grass-court tennis to watch.

On Saturday, Nicolas Kiefer will face tennis terminator Rafael Nadal. Nadal has looked sharp in the first two rounds and should have no problem with the 27th-ranked German.

Another Saturday match that should be exciting is Tommy Haas and Andy Murray, the 12th-ranked player in the world. These players are pretty evenly matched, and this one could turn in to an epic battle.

On the ladies side, surprising Shuai Peng of China will go up against Ala Kudryavtseva of Russia. Both ladies made a splash by beating the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked players, respectively, in round two.

Venus Williams tries to reach the finals again and will take on Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez on Court 1.


From the Blogosphere...

The Heat need help... and they may have just got some. Check out Harst's NBA Draft grades and revised Miami depth chart.

It's only halfway through the season, but Chipper&Smoltzy is already wondering about the 2008 MLB Rookies of the Year. Could the NL player be Jay Bruce in Cincinnati? Maybe the AL guy is Joba up in the Big Apple? Make your pick!

Ilive@unc is the not about to call Charlotte a playoff team, but he does think this draft was a step in the right direction. Take a look at his thoughts on the Bobcats' draft.
Posted on: June 20, 2008 7:13 pm
 

Blog Cabin: Your sports weekend planner

Well, it’s definitely not the biggest weekend in sports, but there are a few fun things going on in the athletic universe.

Major League Baseball


White Sox vs. Cubs
Things have already kicked off in Chicago, with the Cubs winning the first game of the series on a walk-off homerun from Aramis Ramirez. These two teams are at the top of their respective divisions for a reason. They both have had solid pitching, and have lineups that are capable of giving those pitchers decent run support.

Look for an 8-7 or 7-6 game on Saturday, followed by a close, but much lower-scoring contest, when Javier Vazquez and Ryan Dempster hit the bump on Sunday. Dempster is 8-2 on the season, with a 2.76 ERA, while Vazquez sports a mediocre 7-5 record, but has fanned 93 batters so far this season.

Twins vs. Diamondbacks

If the Twins look in the rearview mirror, they’re going to see a Tiger team edging up fast. And while Minnesota has been playing good ball, the Tigers are the team with the should-be All-Star lineup... and that linup is starting to come alive. Even with a decimated pitching staff, Detroit should have no trouble taking two of three from the lowly San Diego Padres, this weekend.

If the Twinkies want to hold on to their second-place spot in the AL Central, they absolutely need to win this series against the NL West-leading Diamondbacks. The Twins will have their work cut out for them, though. They will face Randy Johnson, Micah Owings and Brandon Webb. Webb will be looking to bounce back from an awful last performance, in which he gave up 7 earned runs in only 3.1 innings. Owings, meanwhile, could be trying to help his team with more than his arm; serving as designated hitter for the interleague series.

Angels vs. Phillies
The weekend’s second battle of first place teams kicks off Friday in Philadelphia, with the NL East-leading Phillies playing host to the top team in the AL West; the Los Angeles Angels. The Halos have played spectacular on the road, posting a 21-12 record away from home.

Philadelphia has cooled off after winning seven of eight to start the month. The team now holds a slim, two-game lead over the surprising Marlins. They will likely struggle against Angel pitchers Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, before facing Jered Weaver on Sunday. Cole Hamels takes the mound for the Phils on Sunday, so I’ll say they go 1-2 in the series, and retain a one-game lead over Florida.

Other Action


-The Olympic torch makes its way to Tibet on Friday... What could possibly go wrong? You might see more coverage of this on the news than on the sports stations. I’m just hoping that we don’t have to hear about Chinese police brutalizing protesters, or monks lighting themselves on fire.

-NASCAR is in Sonoma on Sunday, for the first road race of the season. For a lot of fans, this is not a must-see race, but I think it’s an interesting blend of open-wheel and stock car. I probably won’t watch the whole event, but I’ll probably give it a couple looks as I flip from game-to-game.

-The NHL draft will be held this weekend, and for hockey fans, this is obviously a pretty huge deal. The Tampa Bay Lightning have the first pick this year, and have already said that they plan on taking forward Steven Stamkos. Listed at just under 6-feet and 176 pounds, Stamkos is a skilled two-way player with exceptional speed, who produced 197 points (100 goals, 97 assists) in 124 games with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League over the past two seasons.

-The PGA Tour is in Cromwell, Conn. for the Travelers Championship. It’s obviously a huge letdown from the U.S. Open, but it still has some appeal. Young players, and even some old guys, should be in contention for the win. This course also offers a lot more scoring opportunities then Torrey Pines did. And, of course, Tiger-haters can rejoice at the fact that someone else will have a chance to win.

-The College Baseball Word Series is in progress in Omaha, and the Championship teams will be determined this weekend. The five remaining teams are Georgia, Stanford, Fresno State, North Carolina and LSU.

-Saturday, MMA fans will probably want to check out the finale for the seventh season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter series. The final match will be part of a three-hour card featuring Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove taking on middleweight champ Evan Tanner. I’m not a huge fan of mixed martial arts, but it’s free, and past finales have been pretty solid.






Posted on: June 13, 2008 7:22 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2008 7:55 pm
 

Blog Cabin: Your Sports Weekend Planner


Coming up...


Unfortunately, I missed Griffey’s 600th homerun by one at-bat, last weekend. I went Sunday, and he hit the thing on Monday, in his first plate appearance. The saddest thing is; the area where he hit the ball was exactly where I was camped out with my wife and friend.

We had it all planned out, too. I was going to hurl my wife on top of everyone in the row in front of us. My buddy, meanwhile, would tackle anyone coming in our direction, leaving me to make the catch... I'm sure it would have been mine.

Well, now that my missed opportunity is behind me, I have to look forward to this weekend. I know I won't have a chance to catch history, but there’s still a lot going on in the world of sports.


MLB

Interleague play is back this weekend, giving us some very interesting matchups to look at.

Rays vs. Marlins
I wouldn't have said this at the beginning of the season, but these may be two of the best teams in baseball. Both teams have capable offenses, but pitching has been a real key for the clubs.

It’s starting to look like the Marlins got the better of that trade with Detroit in the offseason. Rookie Andrew Miller - one of the prospects they received in the trade - has four more wins than Dontrelle Willis, who’s now pitching in Single A. Although we won’t get to see Miller this weekend, we will get a chance to check out young Ryan Tucker. The rookie takes the mound, Friday, bringing a 1-0 record, and an ERA of 1.80. I got to see him last Sunday, and it seemed like he could be a very solid young arm.

Tampa Bay (38-28) and Florida (36-30) are both contenders for their respective divisions, so this should be a good series. The only thing missing will be Carl Crawford, who will be serving a suspension for his involvement in last week’s brawl with Boston.

Reds vs. Red Sox
Two teams going in different directions - Boston is atop the AL East at 42-27, while Cincinnati is in the cellar of the NL Central, 11½ games behind the Cubbies.

Why do I want to see this series, you ask? The only thing they have in common is Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. both hitting milestones this year.

There’s still plenty to watch for, in this one. Griffey has been hot... or at least better then he has been in a while. Wouldn’t it be great to see these two Hall-of-Famers go homer-for-homer to see who ends up on top? C’mon, it could happen.

The Reds also bring young stars Jay Bruce and Edison Volquez in to the series. Volquez, especially, has been a treat to watch this season. Acquired from the Rangers in the trade for Josh Hamilton, Volquez is lining himself up for a Cy Young this season. He’ll enter Saturday’s contest with a 9-1 record and paltry 1.56 ERA.

Oh yeah, and look for the Red Sox to hang about 10 runs on once-dependable Aaron Harang.

Cubs vs. Blue Jays
The Cubs sit with the best record in the majors, and this weekend, they’ll ride a four-game win streak in to Toronto. The Cubs haven’t been at their best away from Wrigley, and the Jays will have their best arms waiting. “Doctor” Roy Halladay will take the ball on Saturday, and will probably go 9 innings, before handing it directly to Sunday-starter Jesse Litsch.

It will be interesting to see if the Cubs can hold up, especially with Alfonso Soriano out for a few more weeks.

US Open Golf

I’m guessing the Open will eat a large portion of my weekend. (Could be worse!) I've been paying close attention to the first two rounds, and it’s been a pretty strange leaderboard so far. Many young players are going to make the cut, leaving a few of the veterans out in the cold.

As I write this, notables behind the cut line include Mark O’Meara, Justin Rose, Vijay Singh, and last year’s winner, Angel Cabrera.

Obviously, the biggest question remaining is whether Tiger Woods or Phil Mickleson can make a run. They had a late tee time on Friday, but it doesn't look like they will have to make a huge push to the top. If they can shoot -2, they should be sitting pretty heading into Saturday

Torrey Pines has played tough in the first two rounds, and probably will get tougher as the weekend progresses.

NBA Finals - Game 5

Can the Boston Celtics close out the Lakers for the franchise’s first championship in 20 years? Can Kobe and the Lakers play a full 60 minutes of basketball?

I definitely can't wait to find out.

This series has seen both teams come back from 20-plus point deficits. The difference is that Boston won their game 4 comeback, while Los Angeles fell just short in game 2.

It’s good to know that both teams are going to in it at the end, but it can also be a little predictable. I say tune in for the last six minutes and enjoy.

Who am I kidding? I’ll be watching.

Kobe was the next Jordan until the Lakers went down 3-1, and I think that Sunday’s game will be the last. If it does look like it’s going in that direction, I fully expect Bryant to start back-handing his legacy-killing teammates right there on the court.

Somewhere... I can hear Shaq laughing.


From the Blogosphere...

Footballprophet returns to the list with his Diaries of a Crime Scene Analyst. This week, it's the second part in the story of JC, a toddler who was growing up in a meth lab.

Who's the greatest guitarist of all time? Da Fan in Japan has a bracket going. Cast your votes!

For the top minor league baseball prospects, take a look at pizza's phantastic blog. (Yeah, that's really what it's called.) This member ranks the top 40 prospects who are on their way to the pros.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com