Monday, May 30, 2011

NCAA baseball Regionals are set

NCAA Regionals
By Keith Antigiovanni

The 16 host sites of the NCAA Regionals are set: Atlanta, Austin, Fullerton, Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Clemson, College Station, Columbia, Corvallis, Fort Worth, Gainesville, Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tallahassee and Tempe, AZ.

The teams in the NCAA Regionals are:
Atlanta: Georgia Tech, Austin Peay, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi
Austin: Texas, Princeton, Kent State, Texas State
Fullerton: Cal State Fullerton, Illinois, Kansas State, Stanford
Chapel Hill: UNC, Maine, James Madison, FIU
Charlottesville: Virginia, Navy, St. John, East Carolina
Clemson: Clemson, Sacred Heart, Coastal Carolina, Connecticut
College Station: Texas A&M, Wright State, Seton Hall, Arizona
Columbia: South Carolina, Georgia Southern, North Carolina State, Stetson
Corvallis: Oregon State, Ark-Little Rock, Georgia, Creighton
Fort Worth: TCU, Oral Roberts, Dallas Baptist, Oklahoma
Gainesville: Florida, Manhattan, Jacksonville, Miami
Houston: Rice, Alcorn State, Cal, Baylor
Los Angeles: UCLA, SF, Irvine, Fresno State
Nashville: Vanderbilt, Belmont, Troy State, Oklahoma State
Tallahassee: Florida State, Bethune-Cookman, Alabama, UCF
Tempe: Arizona State, Minnesota, Charlotte, Arkansas

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dallas Mavericks return to the NBA Finals

Mavericks return to NBA Finals
By Keith Antigiovanni

The Dallas Mavericks 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games will mark the second time in five years that the Mavericks will be in the NBA Finals but in its' 31-year history the franchise has strongly resembled the NBA's version of roller-coaster ride.

The Mavs' began as an expansion club in the 1980-1981 season and hired proven winner Dick Motta to pilot their team while they played their home games in the new Reunion Arena. Motta had previously won the 1978 NBA title and made another finals appearance in 1979. During the first three seasons the expansion Mavs took their lumps and posted a 81-165 record.

1983-1984 was Dallas' breakout year when the club made its' first playoff appearance. In 1986-1987 Motta led the Mavs' to its best season to date with a 55-27 record and a division title but was dismissed after a first round playoff exit to Seattle. The Mavericks became a perennial playoff contender for the rest of the 1980's which were highlighted by an appearance in the 1988 Western Conference Finals. The Mavericks fell to the "showtime" Lakers in 7 games but appeared to be a team on the rise. Unfortunately they regressed back to "expansion" status in 1990-1991 and became one of the league's bottom feeders during the 1990's with an overall record of 239-581. The club even tried to bring Motta back to help but he stayed only two years before another coaching change.

The Mavericks appeared to be headed for the "scrap-heap" of sports franchises' until their fortunes began to change during the 1998 NBA Draft when Coach Don Nelson traded for a German Power Forward Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki got off to a slow start in his first two seasons under Coach Don Nelson as the young Mavs' began to look towards the future and become a contender in the 2000's.

Dallas' fortunes changed again on 1/4/2000 when Billionaire entreprenuer Mark Cuban bought the majority ownership of the club from Ross Perot Jr. In 2000-2001 the Mark Cuban returned to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and advanced to the second round.

Under Cuban's ownership the Mavericks (2000-present) have the second best winning percentage in the NBA (620-282) behind the Southwest division and in-state rival San Antonio Spurs (634-366). The Mavs' have also made the playoffs 11 straight years, won or tied for the division three times (2003, 2007, 2010) and reached the Western Conference Finals three times (2003, 2006, 2011) but the crowning achievement for the franchise will be an NBA Championship in 2011.

The Mavs' now await their opponent in the Finals.

2011 MLB Standings thru week 8

2011 MLB Standings after 8 weeks
By Keith Antigiovanni

The NL West has tightened after the first interleague series with Colorado at 2nd place with a 24-23 record 3 games out of first and Arizona in 3rd place at 24-24 and 3.5 games out.
The Dodgers (22-29) and Padres (19-30) are both starting to slide further back at 7 and 9 games out respectively.

The AL West is even tighter with the defending American League champion Texas Rangers (25-24) holding a half game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (25-25).

Meanwhile over in the NL Central the St Louis Cardinals (30-20) are on an 8-1 streak and in first place 3 games up with the division rival Houston Astros at last place with a 18-31 record and 11.5 games behind.

The Cleveland Indians continue to lead the AL Central at 30-16 while the surprising Kansas City Royals remain in 3rd place at 22-25.

The "small market" Florida Marlins (27-19) are only 1 game out in the NL East while the Atlanta Braves (27-23) sit just behind them in 3rd place at 3 games out.

The other "small market" Florida team the Tampa Bay Rays (26-23) had a tough week and now trail the "big market" New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox but are only 1.5 games out and in good shape after almost two months into the season despite the predictions of complete failure.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Texas Longhorns Prepare For Another Run to Omaha

Texas Longhorns Baseball
By Keith Antigiovanni

The Texas Longhorns accomplished three of their annual goals this weekend (May19-22) when they took two of three games from the arch-rival Texas A&M Aggies.

UT managed to clinch a tie for the regular season Big-12 Championship and won the number-one seed in the Big-12 Tournament by virtue of a 2-1 tie-breaker over the co-conference champion Aggies. Both teams finished with identical 19-8 conference records. They also won the annual Lone Star Showdown with Texas A&M.

Texas will now prepare for the Big-12 Tournament which starts this Wednesday (May 25) and goes thru next Sunday (May 29). The Horns regular season co-championship is the 7th time they have finished first in the 15-year history of the Big-12. UT had previous won in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 while A&M's shared title was its' fourth (1998, 1999, 2008).

Both schools have had their share of success in the conference tournament over the years with the Horns winning it four times (2002, 2004, 2008, 2009) and the Aggies winning it twice (2007, 2010).

However both teams finish in the conference tournament they are most likely "shoe-ins" for the NCAA Tournament which will culminate in Omaha at the 65th annual College World Series and first at the new TD Ameritrade Park.

Texas' Head Coach Augie Garrido by now is used to getting his teams ready for Omaha and will most likely use the conference tournament as a dress rehearsal for the Nationals while at the same time keeping his team focused on Omaha. Garrido is the all-time leader in wins for NCAA Division 1 baseball coaches. He has led UT to the CWS six times (2000,2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009), finished as runner-up twice (2004, 2009) and won twice (2005, 2009). Garrido won the CWS three previous times (1979, 1984, 1991) with the Cal-State Fullerton Titans.

Garrido's Aggie counterpart Rob Childress does not boast as impressive of a resume but has done an solid job in College Station since he arrived six years ago. Childress has led the Aggies to two regular season conference titles (2008, 2011) and two conference tournament wins (2007, 2010). He has also led A&M to the NCAA Regionals the past four years and twice to the Super Regionals (2007, 2008). Childress has also had success with another program (Nebraska) during his eight year tenure (1998-2005) in Lincoln. He led the Cornhuskers to four conference tournament wins, four NCAA Regionals, four Super Regionals and three College World Series appearances. The Aggies are trying to return to Omaha for the first time since 1999.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 MLB Standings

MLB Standings thru first 7 weeks
By Keith Antigiovanni

After 7 weeks of play most of the division races are tight

With interleague play coming up in the next few weeks we will see which teams take advantage of the interleague schedules and which teams do not

In the NL West division:
Colorado is 21-18 only a 1/2 game out of first place
The troubled Los Angeles Dodgers are holding steady in third place with a 19-23 record and 4 games behind while the San Diego Padres (18-23) and Arizona Diamondbacks (17-23) are fighting to stay out of last place but are only 4.5 and 5 games out of first respectively.

Meanwhile in the AL West:
The defending AL Champion Texas Rangers are in first place after a recent slump with the perennial contender Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or is the the Anaheim Angels of LA?) in 2nd place only 1/2 game behind.

In the NL Central:
The St Louis Cardinals are 1.5 games behind the division-leading Cincinnati Reds
Like the Dodgers the Houston Astros are undergoing a mid-season ownership/front office change and have struggled to a 15-26 start and last place in the division.

In the AL Central:
The surprising Kansas City Royals are 20-20, six games behind the surprising Cleveland Indians and currently in third place.

In the NL East:
The Atlanta Braves without Bobby Cox struggled in April but are now righting the ship and currently sit in third place (24-19) only 2.5 games from first place.
The Braves NL East rival Florida Marlins are in second place only 1 game behind at 24-16.

In the AL East:
In the offseason the so-called experts once again picked the "small market" Rays to fall apart but the scrappy club from Florida's "West Coast" is leading the overhyped and overpublicized AL East division by three games with a 24-17 record.