• Recapping the opening week Silver Boot Series betwen the Rangers and Astros

    The opening night of the baseball season came to an exciting start for the Astros and their fans as a young, overachieving team dominated the Rangers, a potential playoff team. The Astros lit up Rangers southpaw, Matt Harrison, scoring six runs off him in less than six innings. Bud Norris looked to be in midseason form, allowing two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and Erik Bedard channeled his 2007 self, shutting the door by allowing but one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings. The Astros looked like a team poised to shock to baseball world, but perhaps the Rangers just had a terrible game or the Astros just severely overachieved because the next two games exemplified baseball’s polar effect.

    The Rangers proceeded to win the series by giving up seven total hits to the Astros over the next 18 innings, quelling the worry of troubled Rangers fans still scarred by the loss of Josh Hamilton. Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando proceeded to completely shut down the strikeout-prone Astros offense, as the Rangers staff K’ed 30 Astros hitters shut them out in consecutive games. In the series, the Astros also managed to break the record for the most strikeouts by a team in its first three games of the season, with 43.

    Not all was bad for the Astros during the series, though. Some of the positives taken from the three games were the emergence of consistent starting pitching and the continuation of Jose Altuve’s consistency. After Bud Norris' solid performance in the series opener, Lucas Harrell held the Rangers to one earned run and six hits in the second game. In game three, Phillip Humber allowed one earned in 5 2/3 innings. In addition, Altuve is hitting .417 and gives fans hope for the Astros to send a worthy player to the All-Star game. In order to get back on track the Astros clearly have to get more disciplined at the plate (especially the middle of the lineup) and the bullpen cannot continue causing all quality starts by Astros starters to be all for naught.

    For the Rangers, former Astros great and member of the “Killer B’s,” Lance Berkman, returned to Houston to pester his former team. He went 6-for-10 over the three-game series with three RBIs. Everyone knows about Yu Darvish’s 8 2/3 perfect innings and Marwin Gonzalez, a career .236 hitter, knocking a single up the middle to dash all hopes of history being made in Houston on opening week. Twitter exploded with clever puns like, “Yu mad?” and “Yu can’t always get what Yu want.” Others, such as sportswriter, Bill Simmons, stated his blunt outlook on the Astros future – “Don't worry, we'll get to see someone throw a perfect game against the Astros this season.” In order for the Rangers to return to the playoffs, others in the lineup have to make up for the offensive loss of Josh Hamilton and Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis need to return to form and become more consistent.

  • The Winners and Losers after the NHL Trade Deadline

    The NHL’s April 3 trade deadline is officially a day past us, and there was a flurry of action over the last 36 hours right before the deadline. Almost every team in the league made some kind of move, whether it was a buy or a sell. Here is a look at the biggest winners and losers after the madness.

    The Winners:

    Pittsburgh Penguins (28-10-0)

    My goodness is GM Ray Shero aggressive. They were already arguably the best team in the league before they acquired skilled and physical winger Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames. But wow – look at their roster now. It’s looking more and more like the Pens and the Blackhawks are on a no-turning-back collision course in the Stanley Cup Finals. Pittsburgh also traded for Dallas Stars’ center and longtime captain, Brenden Morrow, in exchange for talented 19-year-old
    defensive prospect Joe Morrow (no relation). My only concern for the Pens is their long-term flexibility. They gave away a boatload of prospects to acquire two aging veterans who likely won’t be around for too long. Sure they could win the cup this year (and even repeat next year), but I’m beginning to think the following four to six years could be a question mark.

    Minnesota Wild (21-13-2)

    They are a darkhorse contender in the west right now, but trading for Buffalo winger Jason Pominville bolstered their position pretty quickly. He’s another young, 25-point winger that will compliment Zach Parise and Mikku Koivu excellently. It was a great deal for the “State of Hockey.” The Wild only had to give up a backup goalie, Matt Hackett, and forward prospect Johan Larsson. They now have a bundle of tricky wingers with dangerous play-making ability, so watch out
    Anaheim and Chicago. At their best, this team can now skate with any in the league.

    The Losers:

    Buffalo Sabres (14-17-6)

    Alright, so you might be in the toughest division in hockey. You are miles away from any playoff hopes. What do you do? Trade your second leading scorer (Jason Pominville)?? This deal made absolutely no sense to me. There are two main reasons why this deal is a stinker for the Sabres. One – giving away Pominville removes a key playmaker on their top line, which only throws more burden on Tomas Vanek (who was single-handedly keeping them in it for the first two months).
    Two – Buffalo absolutely did not need a goalie in this trade. Matt Hackett only has four starts this season anyway. Ryan Miller is the man between the pipes for this franchise, no questions. This is a disappointing end for a club that had high hopes for this season.

    Dallas Stars (16-17-3)

    Only for now. They scrapped a significant offensive portion of their team, but they got quality prospects in return from several different clubs including Vancouver, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Colorado. They are officially in rebuilding mode, which will take them 3-6 years to recover from but, hey, look how Edmonton is doing right now. They are focusing on the future. Check back in on them in a few years and you’ll see them near the top of the west, alongside Edmonton and Colorado.

  • Red River Rivalry series highlights weekend of Big 12 Baseball

    It may be first place in the Big 12 vs. last place but it is Oklahoma against Texas so it is the series to follow this weekend. The No. 10 Sooners (25-5, 5-1) enter the weekend in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings, facing the Longhorns (16-11, 2-4) who are tied with TCU (13-16, 3-6) for last in the nine-team league.

    The Longhorns have not dropped a series to the Sooners since 1998, and desperately need to win this weekend to boost their tournament resume as well as
    halt the fall out of conference contention. Their backs will be against the wall though, with the Sooner’s bringing Dillon Overton to the mound as well as defending Big 12 Pitcher of the Week and former Texas running back (but not really) Jonathan Gray, who sports a 1.34 ERA for the season.

    If Texas wins the series, they will be 4-5 or 5-4 in Big 12 play with a good chance to improve their record in the coming weeks against the Kansas
    Jayhawks and West Virginia Mountaineers, which should help them return to the postseason. If the Sooners take the series, they should be able to carry their momentum to at least playing host to an NCAA Regional. The series begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the Longhorn Network and continues at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on FOX Sports Net with the series finale starting at 2:00 p.m. Sunday on LHN.

    Other series in the Big 12 for the weekend include Oklahoma State at Kansas (16-11, 3-3). The Cowboys (21-6, 3-2) look to remain in striking distance of the Sooners to make Bedlam even more important in mid May. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-14, 4-5) travel to Manhattan to take on Kansas State (20-10, 3-3) in a series both need to have any serious NCAA Tournament aspirations.

    Finally, the Mountaineers (16-13, 3-3), who are coming off seven straight wins, travel to Waco to take on Baylor, who surprisingly find themselves below .500. If the Bears (14-15, 3-2) are to turn things around it will start with continued production by Grayson Porter, who blasted two homeruns en route to winning Big 12 Player of the Week last week.