Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 Arena Football Playoffs

By Keith Antigiovanni

The 2011 Arena Football regular season is complete after 19 weeks as eight teams will compete for the honor of becoming Arena Bowl champions.

The marquee Western conference game will feature the top seeded Arizona Rattlers against the defending Arena Bowl champ Spokane. Since 2010 Spokane dominated the series (5-1) including a first round playoff game in 2010 until Arizona's win in week 16 a few weeks ago. The Rattlers were a dynasty in the 1990's and 2000's when they made 5 Arena Bowls and won 2 under former coach Danny White. White is now the GM and Kevin Guy is now Arizona's coach.

Dallas Vigilantes and Chicago Rush will face each other in the second Western playoff game. The Vigilantes have bounced back from a poor 2010 season and have picked up where the Dallas Desperados (2002-2008) had left off as a perennial playoff team while the Rush look to return to the Arena Bowl for the first time since they won it in 2006 (Arena Bowl XX). These teams were division rivals this year and this game will add to the rivalry.

Jacksonville is again the number one seed in the East after they won the South with a 14-4 record but they hope not to repeat the disappointment of 2010 when they went 12-4, won the South and lost in the first round. Their opponent will be division rival Orlando. Orlando was also a dynasty in the 1990's and 2000's with 7 Arena Bowl appearances and 2 Arena Bowl titles.
Jacksonville has put together a record of 26-6 since the Arena League returned two years ago but will they become the new Dallas Desperados or will they get over the playoff hump?

Cleveland enters the playoffs as a division champion for the first time in club history since 1997 but that was three cities ago. They will play another Southern team, the Georgia Force. The Force re-joined the league after a two year hiatus. The Force came close to a title in 2005 when they were defeated by John Elway's Colorado Crush and then were upset in the conference title game in 2007 after being heavy favorites to return to the Arena Bowl.

Friday, July 22, 2011

2011 MLB Standings thru July 21

By Keith Antigiovanni

Texas went on a 12-game win streak to take a commanding lead in the AL West with the Anaheim Angels at 3 games back after winning two of the three games between the two teams.

The KC Royals continue to struggle with their small payroll at 40-58 and last place.

The Tampa Rays hold third place in the AL East at 52-45 after dropping 2 of 3 to both the Yankees and Red Sox at home in pivotal series. The Rays will have to play much better the remainder of the season to overtake at least one of the big market clubs.

Arizona has cooled off somewhat after a hot streak before the All Star Break but maintains second place in the NL West at 4 ganes back. The Colorado Rockies now find themselves 10 games back after a split series with Atlanta while the Padres sweep over the Marlins puts them in fourth place now over the Dodgers who reside in last place.

St Louis is one game back in the NL Central at 51-47 and must take at least 2 of 3 this weekend from the Pirates to get into a tie for first. Houston is at 33-65 but won 2 of 3 from the Nationals this week and hopes to build on that success.

Atlanta is in 2nd place in the NL East which also puts them 1st in the Wild Card standings. The Braves are only 4 games out but know as long as they continue to win they can put pressure on the Phillies and continue to get a Wild Card spot.

Florida is in last place at 47-52 but has won 15 of 26 games since Veteran Jack McKeon took over as manager. McKeon is most likely a transitional manager who will put the Marlins on the right path before another manager comes in for next year. Whatever progress he can make this year will hope to build towards next year.

Monday, July 11, 2011

All Star Break Standings

By Keith Antigiovanni

The defending AL champion Texas Rangers continue to lead the AL West in their attempt to return to the postseason this year. The Anaheim Angels trail the Rangers by one game after an inconsistent first three months of the season. Both Texas and the Anaheim are anxious to return to the playoffs. Texas wants to prove they were not a fluke in 2010 and get a second chance at a World Series title while Anaheim wants to prove 2010 was a fluke for them when they missed the playoffs.

The small market KC Royals are in last place in the AL Central at 37-54 and appear to be going nowhere. The once proud Royals have had not a winning season since 2003 and not win a division title since 1985.

Another small market franchise, the Tampa Bay Rays are holding strong in the AL East at 49-41 but are also financially disadvantaged and will have to go 51-21 after the break to get to 100 wins which is not a guarantee to make the playoffs out of the division.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are still 3 games back but continue to play hard under manager Kirk Gibson. The Colorado Rockies are treading water in third place but could still make 2007 like playoff run. The Dodgers are now in fourth place (41-51) after a sweep of the Padres (40-52). Both teams continue to struggle in the front office.

St Louis is tied for lead in the NL Central was able to get Pujols back as the team won its' recent two games before the All Star break. Meanwhile the Houston Astros are also going thru an ownership transition and are 19 games back in the NL Central. The Astros have been a solidly winning franchise in the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's but are having their worst season since they were an expansion club in the 1960's.

The Atlanta Braves (54-38) are in second place in the NL East but are in good shape and if they continue to win will be in good shape for a Wild Card berth. The Braves dropped 2 of 3 to the Phillies just before the break but have gone 5-4 against them and have no fear of their overhyped rival.

The Florida Marlins were the second place team in the NL East until a collapse in June and now reside in last place but have played better of late and are at 43-48. The Marlins won the 1997 and 2003 World Series championships but Marlins' fans were not expecting a third championship this year as veteran manager Jack McKeon tries to right the ship for the remainder of the year.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7, 2011

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Arkansas Razorbacks enjoyed their best season since joining the SEC in 1992 from the old Southwest Conference (SWC).
Arkansas made it to a BCS game (New Orleans) for the first time and almost pulled off the win against Ohio State.

Since Coach Bobby Petrino was hired after the 2007 season the program has improved steadily going from 5-7 in 2008 to 7-5 in 2009 with a bowl win to 10-2 in 2010 and a BCS appearance. The Razorbacks have also beaten arch-rival LSU the past two seasons one of which propelled them into the Sugar Bowl this past year.

Will Arkansas be able to challenge for a SEC West title or will finally win the SEC title?
The 'backs have come close over the years with division titles in 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2006. Three of those years they managed to advance to the SEC title game (1995, 2002, 2006) but came up short each time.

Overall, the Razorbacks have posted a 79-51 regular season record since 2000 and have won two bowl games (2003, 2009) but in the competitive SEC moderate success is not good enough to compete for the conference title every year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2011 SEC Preview

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off a 9-3 regular season in 2010 and a bowl win.
Alabama had a tough schedule last year and finally ran out of momentum in their 3 losses.
The game that was the most frustrating was the game after Thanksgiving against Auburn where Alabama had a huge first half lead only to blow the game in the second half.

Because of that game Alabama was kept out of a BCS game.

Alabama is 84-48 since 2000 and won the SEC West twice (2008,2009) and SEC title (2009) since Nick Saban arrived before the 2007 season.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

AAA Standings On July 4th weekend

By Keith Antigiovanni

There is no change in the division leaders of the Pacific Coast League which include:
Omaha (46-37) Royals
Round Rock (48-34) Rangers
Reno (49-33) dbacks
Sacramento (50-32) A's

The International League leaders are:
Lehigh Valley (49-34) Phillies
Gwinnett now leads the South (46-37) Braves
The Clippers have the best record of either league (57-27) Indians

Saturday, July 2, 2011

MLB Standings on July 4 Weekend

By Keith Antigiovanni

With one week to go before the All Star Break, MLB's official midway point, all 6 divisions remain competitive.

The Arizona Diamondbacks trail in the NL West by 3 games while the Colorado Rockies are 6.5 games back in third place. The struggling Dodgers and Padres continue their struggles with ownership problems and payroll issues respectively.

The defending American League champion Texas Rangers continue to lead the AL West by 2 games over the Anaheim Angels. Both the Rangers and Angels have had their struggles but are playing better now.

St Louis is back on track after a tough two week stretch in June when they were struggling and Albert Pujols getting injured against the Royals. St Louis is back in first place alone in the NL Central and is currently riding a four game winning streak.

Meanwhile the Houston Astros continue to struggle in the NL Central at 16 games out but is hoping to use the 2011 season to rebuild.

The KC Royals began the year with some success but have fallen to last place in the AL Central. This is not a surprise considering they have the lowest payroll (36 million) in the Majors.

The Atlanta Braves are also riding a current 4-game winning streak as they chase the Philles in the NL East. Atlanta has the third best record in baseball (48-35) but knows that they must continue to win in order to make the playoffs.

The Florida Marlins like the Royals have also fallen to last place in their division. The Marlins are another "small market" team which has trouble competing because of its' low payroll