Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 MLB Standings with 4 weeks to go

By Keith Antigiovanni

There is one month to go in the regular season and most of the pennant races are still competitive.

The defending American League champion Texas Rangers (76-59) are currently 3.5 games over the Anaheim Angels in the AL West after taking 2 of 3 in Arlington this past weekend.

The KC Royals are 17.5 games back in the AL Central but only trail the Minnesota Twins by a half game from fourth place.

The Rays are currently 9 games behind Boston in the AL East.

The surprising Arizona Diamondbacks are 5 games up in the NL West while the disappointing Rockies are 12 games back, along with the Dodgers and the Padres are 16 games out.

St louis (70-64) is 10.5 games back in the NL Central. The Houston Astros are 36 games back but continue to play hard as they try to win games.

The Atlanta Braves are second place in the NL East at 6.5 games but lead the Wild Card race by 9 games. The Marlins are 26.5 games back.

Houston Texans: Ready For the Next Step?

Today marks the 175th anniversary of the day Houston was founded. In 1960 Houston was awarded a franchise in the American Football League. The Oilers won the first two AFL titles (1960, 1961) but moved to Tennessee after the 1996 season. It appeared as if pro football in Houston was over until the NFL awarded Houston an expansion franchise on October 6, 1999.

The NFL's newest franchise, the Houston Texans, begin their 10th season in two weeks but have yet to make the playoffs.

It has been a frustrating nine years for Houston as an expansion team in their four years under Dom Capers went 18-46. The Texans drafted Fresno State quarterback David Carr in 2002. Carr struggled in his years at Houston due to a poor offensive line and the lack of talent around him.

Capers and Carr were out by 2006 and Texans owner Bob McNair brought in former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to turn the franchise around. Kubiak's decision to pass on Reggie Bush and hometown UT quarterback Vince Young was criticized as he chose defensive end Mario Williams and traded for Atlanta Falcons' backup quarterback Matt Schaub.

After a rocky 6-10 season in 2006 Kubiak's team began to improve as the Texans posted their first non-losing season in 2007 going 8-8. The following year they finished 8-8 and in 2009 the franchise achieved its' first winning season at 9-7. In 2010 Houston defeated the Colts on opening day and appeared to be the year they would take the next step toward the playoffs but the disappointing season ended at 6-10.

Kubiak held on to his job in the offseason and former Dallas Cowboys' Head Coach Wade Phillips was hired as defensive coordinator.

Houston opens the season against the Colts at home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

AAA Standings August 29

By Keith Antigiovanni

With just over one week to go in the regular season two of the four playoff appearances have been clinched while two others remain open.

Omaha (75-59) has a four game lead over Memphis in the PCL American North while the Round Rock Express (80-55) have clinched the PCL American South.

Reno (73-62) leads the PCL Pacific North by 7.5 games over Tacoma and has a magic number of two. The Sacramento Cats (80-55) have clinched the PCL Pacific South.

Two of the three divisions in the International League have yet to be won with Durham (76-57) leading the South by three games over Gwinnett (74-61) and Pawtucket (76-58) up by one game over Lehigh Valley (76-60) in the East. Columbus has already clinched the West.

The Wild Card standings have also not been clinched yet with Lehigh Valley up by only 1.5 games over Gwinnett as both teams chase division titles.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Colorado Rockies: Successors to the Denver Bears Tradition

By Keith Antigiovanni

When Denver, Colorado was granted an expansion franchise in the National League it was the result of a century's worth of success in Minor League baseball for the Mile High City.

The Denver Bears began in at the start of the 20th century as members of the Western League in 1900. The Bears did not disappoint their fans when they won the the Western League pennant that year.

Denver went on to win 2 more regular season titles (1912, 1952) and a Western League playoff title in 1952. After the 1954 season the Bears moved to the American Association became a perennial powerhouse in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's.

The franchise was so popular that the city of Denver built a stadium for them (Bears Stadium) in 1948. Bears Stadium went on to be re-named Mile High Stadium in the 1960's until it was torn down in the early 20th century.

Between 1956 and 1991 the Bears made the league finals 17 times and won the finals 7 times (1957, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982 and 1991) and won the Triple A World Series in 1957 but on July 5, 1991 professional baseball would be changed forever in Denver when the Rocky Mountain area was granted an expansion franchise which would be named the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies name was fit during the first two expansion cities when the club paid its' dues but the club would make the playoffs in 1995 as the NL Wild Card. They would also post winning seasons in 1996, 1997 and 2000 but would not make the playoffs.

The club struggled for the next 6 seasons until 2007 when the "Cinderalla" Rockies won the NL Wild Card, won the NLDS and NLCS to advance to the first World Series in franchise history.

2009 would be another playoff year as the Rockies won the NL Wild Card again. 2010 the team posted another winning season and were in playoff contention until the final two weeks.

Can the Rockies become a dominant team the way the Bears dominated the Western League/American Association? Its hard to say because the success of the MLB is dependent on payroll for the most part. There are some exceptions but teams cant win consisently without a high payroll or even a medium payroll.

In 2011 the Rockies are struggling again and appear to be thinking about 2012 after a disappointing season in 2011. If you are a Rockies fan then stay tuned. This team may have another "Cinderalla" season next year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

AAA Standings on August 22

By Keith Antigiovanni

There are only three weeks left in the regular season with some pennant races almost over and others still very much competitive.

Omaha has a 5 game lead over Memphis in the PCL American North with a magic number of 11 while Round Rock has a 12 game lead over Alburquerque in the South with a magic number of 4.

Reno leads Tacoma by 7.5 games in the PCL Pacific North with a magic number of 9 while Sacramento continues to lead Las Vegas in the South by 13 games.

Meanwhile in the International League, Pawtucket and Lehigh Valley are in a tie for the International League North while in the South Durham has a 6 game lead over second-place Gwinnett and a magic number of 11. Columbus has a more comfortable lead in the West by 12 games over Louisville and Indianapolis.

Monday, August 15, 2011

AAA Standings August 15

By Keith Antigiovanni

There is just under a month left in the 2011 regular season. The four division leaders in the Pacific Coast League are: Omaha, Durham, Reno and Sacramento.

Omaha (66-55) leads the PCL American North and is 4 full games up on Memphis while Round Rock (77-50) leads Albuerque by 10 games in the PCL American South.

Reno (67-54) leads the PCL Pacific North by 5.5 games over Tacoma and Sacramento has a "comfortable" 9 game lead over second place Las Vegas.

Meanwhile in the International League: Pawtucket is in first place (69-52) but only by half game over Lehigh Valley in the North. The South is also close with Durham 1.5 games in front of Gwinnet. The West is almost secured for Columbus with a 12.5 game lead over Indianapolis.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Resurgent Rattlers of Arizona

By Keith Antigiovanni

Arizona's return to the Arena Bowl on friday marks not only the culmination of a great season but the return by one of the sports' truly great franchises.

The Rattlers began as an expansion team in 1992 and were led by former Dallas Cowboys' and ASU quarterback Danny White. White's coaching ability helped forge a 69-33 records in the 1990's (1992-1999) which included 7 straight playoff years, 4 division titles, 6 semi-final appearances, 2 Arena Bowls and 2 championships (1994, 1997).

The 1994 team finished 8-4 and second in the West but went on to upset Orlando 36-31 with Arena Football great Shedrick Bonner behind center. Three years later Bonner was hurt and would not play in the Arena Bowl XI but White's team came thru again with backup Donnie Davis leading the Rattlers to a second league championship over Kurt Warner's Iowa Barnstormers.

The 2000's would be also be a successful decade for Arizona but also very frustrating. The Rattlers began the decade (2000-2004) with an overall record of 52-22, 5 straight trips to the playoffs and 3 consecutive Arena Bowl appearances which ended in defeats.

After the third in 2004, Coach Danny White was relieved of his duties and went on to coach another expansion team, the Utah Blaze in 2006. Meanwhile the Rattlers experienced their first sub .500 year in 2005 since their expansion season of 1992. 2006, 2007, 2008 were not good years either as the team posted a combined 20-28 record although the team made the playoffs in 2008 but exited early.

The Arena Football League went on hiatus in 2009 but realigned and returned in 2010. Arizona also returned and went 10-6 to make the playoffs for the 14th time in franchise history but had another early playoff exit.

In 2011 under Coach Kevin Guy the Rattlers had the best regular season recordin the league at 16-2, won its' first divisiontitle, semi-final appearance, and conference title for the first time since 2004. After 19 years of play Arizona has posted an overall record of 174-100 (.635).

Today Arizona seeks its' third Arena Bowl championship and first since 1997 in its' sixth apperance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 MLB standings with 2 months to go

By Keith Antigiovanni

The defending AL champion Texas Rangers continue to lead the AL West with a 66-51 record and are 1.5 games in front of the Anaheim Angels. Texas is trying to get back to the playoffs so they can return to the World Series and show that last year was not a fluke.

The KC Royals are last place in the AL Central thanks to the lowest payroll in the Majors (36 million).

The Tampa Rays are also struggling in third place in the AL East thanks to the big payroll Red Sox and Yankees. Until baseball gets a salary cap this situation will continue.

Atlanta has played very well thus far in the NL East despite being 8.5 games but the encouraging news is they lead the Wild Card and own a 5-4 lead over the Phillies this year despite having half their payroll. The Braves hope to continue to win, get into the playoffs and will match up well with anyone they face.

St Louis after a four game sweep over the weekend needs to win 2 of 3 in their current series to stay within striking distance of first place in the NL Central. The Astros are in last place with 28 games out but gained a bunch of prospects after they traded two of their everyday starters.

Arizona has also made progress the past few weeks and sit only 1/2 game back of first place while the Rockies, Dodgers and Padres have all faded from the playoff race in the NL West/