Friday, September 30, 2011

SEC Thru Wk 4

By Keith Antigiovanni

The SEC continues conference play this week in a primetime game between powerhouses Alabama and Florida. After an off year both teams appear to be back on top at 4-0. This game is a rematch of the 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2008, 2009 SEC title games. Coach Nick Saban has his Tide primed for another run at the National title while new Florida coach Will Muschamp is trying to prove himself.

The defending National champion Auburn (3-1) travels to South Carolina (4-0) to face the Gamecocks in a rematch of the SEC title game which Auburn won convincingly. This year Auburn is not the same team without Cam Newton and giving up alot more points.

Another undefeated team, LSU is at home against the Kentucky Wildcats. LSU went on the road and beat West Virginia.

Tennessee and Arkansas play out of conference teams. The Vols will face Buffalo at Neyland Stadium while the Razorbacks play the future SEC opponent Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium. Ole Miss also faces an interconference opponent, Fresno State in Fresno.

Georgia is trying to rebound after a poor start and will face Mississippi State. The Dawgs travel to Starkville after a 27-12 win over Ole Miss last week. Mississippi State is hoping to get on track after two close SEC games.

Overall the SEC is 34-12.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks clinch!

By Keith Antigiovanni

Texas and Arizona both clinched the AL and NL West titles respectively. Texas came into this year with the expectations of winning the division after they won the AL West and AL title in 2010. The Rangers goal is to not only return to the World Series but win the title this year.

Arizona by contrast finished in fifth place last year under interim manager Kirk Gibson.
Gibson's leadership style along with General Manager Kevin Towers helped push the Diamondbacks into becoming a contender again after two uncompetitive years.

Arizona has played well in its' 14-year history with 8 winning seasons, 5 NL West titles, 2 nlds wins, 1 NL title and a World Series title. Baseball fans recall Gibson's incredible performance in the 1988 World Series when he hit the game winning homerun in game one. That win propelled Los Angeles to the title that year after being the underdog for the regular season, NLCS and World Series. Arizona is similiar to that 1988 Los Angeles team in that respect.

Texas is another club that has improved quickly under Owner Nolan Ryan after struggling throughout most of the 2000's. The Rangers have achieved three straight winning seasons for the first time in club history since 1977-1979 and won back to back AL West titles for the first time since 1998-1999.

Texas has not always had great teams in the 40 seasons since moving to the "Metroplex" but the franchise hopes to continue putting out winning teams consistently after posting 18 winning seasons and 6 AL West titles since they arrived in 1972.

They had incredible achievements in 2010 with the victories in the first two playoff series and hope to win it all in 2011.

Although neither club is a perennial baseball power tradition has to start somewhere and both clubs appear to have the foundation to become consistent winners.

1995 expansion bowl

By Keith Antigiovanni

1995 expansion bowl V will take place this sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers.

Jacksonville enters this game at 1-1 after a 17-10 opening day win over Tennessee and a blowout defeat against the New York Jets. Carolina is 0-2 after two close defeats against Arizona and Green Bay.

Its' been an unstable past few weeks for the Jaguars QB situation after 5-year starter David Garrard was waived before the end of preseason. Josh McCown became the starter and after a poor performance in week 2 has been benched in favor of rookie QB Blaine Gabbert.

Carolina's situation is a mirror image as they start rookie Cam Newton at QB. Newton is off to impressive start with 854 passing yards and 3 touchdowns but has made rookie mistakes which include four interceptions.

Coaches Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville) and Ron Rivera (Carolina) are content with allowing their young quarterbacks as starters. Carolina's situation is understandable since they arent expected to compete in the NFC South this year but with the Colts down the AFC South is not out of reach for a team like Jacksonville which almost won the South the previous year.

The two teams have faced each other four times with Jacksonville winning 3 of the 4 meetings.
1996 Jacksonville 24-14
1999 Jacksonville 22-20
2003 Carolina 24-23
2007 Jacksonville 37-6

Both teams have also had success over the past 16 years. Jacksonville is 134-124 overall with 2 AFC title game appearances (1996, 1999) while Carolina's overall record is not as impressive 119-139 but have made 3 NFC title games (1996, 2003, 2005) and an NFC title (2003).

Houston at New Orleans

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Houston Texans, favorites in the AFC South, travel to the Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints, favorites in the NFC South in a match-up of gulf coast teams.

Houston is off to a 2-0 start for the second straight year after a 34-7 victory over arch rival Indianapolis and a 23-13 win over Miami. New Orleans is 1-1 after an opening night setback against Green Bay and a 30-13 win over Chicago at home.

The Saints offense will be a test for the Texans improved defense after the New Orleans offense has averaged 34 points per game. Houston has given up an average of only 10 points per game although both opponents thus far have struggled on offense. The Houston offense is no slouch with an average of 28 points per game.

Both Head Coaches Gary Kubiak (Houston) and Sean Payton (New Orleans) took over their current jobs in 2006. Payton won his 50th regular season game the previous week against Chicago and is 50-32 since he arrived in the "Big Easy" while Kubiak has struggled to a 39-43 record.

Payton has already achieved unprecedented success for for the Saints franchise with 2 NFC title games (2006, 2009), NFC title (2009) and a Super Bowl title (2009) while Kubiak is trying to get Houston to its' first playoff year.

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 NFL week 2

By Keith Antigiovanni

Dallas Cowboys rebounded and defated the 49ers 27-24 to even their record at 1-1. Quarterback Tony Romo came back into the game after halftime to help the Cowboys to the win.

The Miami Dolphins fell to the Houston Texans 23-13 to drop to 0-2.

Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay all rebounded after opening day defeats to win. Atlanta over Philadelphia 35-31, New Orleans 30-13 over Chicago and Tampa won 24-20 over Minnesota. Carolina's Cam Newton continues to impress after a 400-yard passing game against Green Bay but is now 0-2.

Meanwhile in the AFC South Houston is on another 2-0 start after defeating Miami 23-13, Tennessee is 1-1 after they defeated Baltimore 23-13 at home, Jacksonville was drubbed 29-3 against the Jets and the Indianapolis Colts continue to struggle at 0-2.

Arizona and San Diego are both 1-1 in the NFC West and AFC West respectively. Denver rebounded with a win over the Cincinnati and the Kansas City Chiefs are 0-2.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Playoffs: AAA

By Keith Antigiovanni

The first round of the AAA Playoffs have concluded as the final four teams remain: Columbus, Omaha, Lehigh Valley and Sacramento.

The Pacific Coast League will pit Omaha against Sacramento. Omaha is trying to win its' first league title since 1990 while Sacramento won the PCL title in 2007 and 2008. Omaha has an impressive tradition of winning going back to its' day in the Western League (1902-1954) and American Association (1955-1998).

Their teams have appeared in 11 previous league finals (1952, 1955, 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990) and won four titles (1969, 1970, 1978, 1990).Despite the success Omaha has yet to win a AAA title and seek their first PCL title since they joined in 1998.

The International League final (Governors' Cup) will be the Columbus Clippers against the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs. Columbus also has an incredible history in professional baseball going back to 1902 as charter members of the American Association before they joined the International League in 1955. Columbus won the American Association title 8 times (1933, 1934, 1937, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1948,1950) won 6 AAA World Series titles (1933, 1934, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1950).

The Clippers began in 1977 and have continued the great tradition appearing in 11 Governors' Cup 11 times (1979, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2010) and winning 8 of them (1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2010). In 2010 they won another AAA title when they defeated PCL champion Tacoma.

Columbus' opponent are the Wild Card team Lehigh Valley. Lehigh lost a close pennant race to Pawtucket then defeated them in the first round of the playoffs and hopes to win its' first title in its' fourth year of existence.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Atlanta- St. Louis

By Keith Antigiovanni

This weekend matches the NL team of the 1990's (Atlanta Braves) and the NL team of the 2000's (St Louis Cardinals) in a huge series that will most likely either decide the Wild Card or create a Wild Card race.

St Louis won the first game 4-3 over the Braves in extra innings to pull within 6.5 games of Atlanta in the Wild Card race but both have been consistent winners the past 15-20 years and traditionally play well down the stretch despite the teams being too far out in their respective division races. Thanks to the Wild Card they still have a chance.

This series evokes memories to baseball fans of the exciting 1996 National League Championship Series when the Atlanta Braves won 4-3 and returned to the World Series for the fourth time in the 1990's.

St Louis stormed to a 3-1 series lead in the 1996 NLCS under Tony LaRussa who was in his first year as their manager while the defending champion Atlanta Braves were trying to get back to the World Series to defend their title and were appearing in their fifth NLCS in the past six years.

When Atlanta was faced with elimination in game five Bobby Cox's team did not panic as the Braves won 14-0 behind pitcher John Smoltz to help get the series back to Atlanta's Fulton-County Stadium.

In game six Atlanta turned to another great pitcher, Greg Maddux. Maddux helped Atlanta to a 3-1 win and then Tom Glavine pitched Atlanta to the pennant in a convincing 15-0 win.

After 1996 both clubs would continue to win as Atlanta won 9 consecutive NL East titles (1997-2005), advanced to the 4 of the next 5 NLCS (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001) and made it back to the World Series in 1999.

St Louis continued to build a strong club after the 1996 NLCS and became the dominant NL team of the 2000's with 7 division titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009), appeared in 5 NLCS (2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006), won 2 NL titles (2004, 2006) and the World Series title in 2006.

Atlanta also remained an NL power in the 2000's by posting the 2nd-best record next to St Louis.

Both clubs are winning again in the 2010's as Atlanta made the playoffs in 2010 as the Wild Card for the first time since 2005 and St Louis posted a winning record that year.

Now in 2011, both teams are competing for what is most likely the final playoff berth in the NL. Atlanta has a chance to shut the door this weekend and St Louis has a chance to keep the door open for the next two weeks.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Big-12 Standings After Week 1

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Big-12, after a stormy off season and with a stormy season approaching, is undefeated with all 10 teams winning.

Texas opened the season with a 34-9 victory over Rice as Coach Mack Brown tries to get his team on track while in-state rivals Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor also took care of business.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were also winners over Tulsa and Louisiana-Lafayette respectively. Missouri had trouble with but won 17-6 over Miami (Ohio). Kansas beat McNeese State handily and Kansas State defeated Eastern Kentucky. Iowa State also won over Northern Iowa.

Just days before the season opener A&M tried to get out of the Big-12 for next year and join the SEC but now four teams: Texas, OU, Texas Tech and OSU said they will not stop A&M from going to the SEC however Baylor, Kansas, K-State, Missouri and Iowa State have filed a lawsuit to stop them because of the television contract with FOX.

Texas and OU are now flirting with the possibility of joining the Pac-12 along with Tech and OSU while the other five could join the Big East if the Big-12 Conference ends and of course A&M could go to the SEC. Stay tuned to your favorite college football soap opera, as the conference turns.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Triple A Playoffs Begin

By Keith Antigiovanni

The first round of the AAA Playoffs are set in both the Pacific Coast and International Leagues with the winners to face each other in the Triple A baseball championship in

The Round Rock Express (87-57) will face the Omaha Storm Chasers (79-63) in the American Conference playoffs. The Express are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and seek their first PCL title. The Express had previously won the Texas League title in 2000.

In the Pacific Conference the Reno Aces (77-67) face the Sacramento River Cats (88-56).

Meanwhile in the International League playoffs will feature the Southern division champion Durham Bulls (80-62) against the Western division championn Columbus Clippers (88-56). The two clubs are also the past two AAA winners.

Both clubs have been very successful over the years. The Clippers have made the league finals 11 times and won 8 IL titles overall since 1977 while the Bulls have been to the finals 6 times and won 3 IL titles since 1998.

The Pawtuckey Red Sox (81-61) will play division rival Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (80-64) for the right to go to the Governors's Cup (International League Finals).

Recent AAA winners are:
1998: New Orleans Zephyrs
1999: Vancouver Canadians
2000: Indianapolis Indians
2006: Tucson Sidewinders
2007: Sacramento River Cats
2008: Sacramento River Cats
2009: Durham Bulls
2010: Columbus Clippers

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 SEC update week 1

By Keith Antigiovanni

After winning the past 5 BCS title games the Southeastern Conference is off to another great start after the conference went a collective 10-2. Only Georgia and Ole Miss kept the SEC from posting a perfect record.

Of all the teams, LSU's was the most impressive with a 40-27 victory over the runner-up Oregon Ducks in Arlington, Texas. Georgia's opponent was also tough even though they are not an official BCS team but the Boise State Broncos defeated the Dawgs 35-21.

The defending BCS champ Auburn came from behind against a scrappy Utah State team, Alabama won impressively over Kent State 48-7, Mississippi State has picked up where they had left off with a resounding 59-14 win over Memphis and Florida beat Florida Atlantic 41-3.

South Carolina and Kentucky also won on opening week over FBS opposition while Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas all won easily over FCS teams. The Volunteers beating Montana, the Razorbacks beat Missouri State and the Commodores over Elon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Freshmen Year at College

By Keith Antigiovanni

Twenty years ago today (September 2, 1991) I was was a freshman at the University of San Diego. I still remember my parents helping me move into my dorm room at Maher Hall. Maher Hall was the freshmen men's dorm until it became co-ed recently.

Many things have changed in the world, the country, the state and the city since then. Our President was George Bush the elder. President Bush was serving the third year of his term while his Vice President was Dan Quayle from the overhyped potato spelling story.

California's Governor was former San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. Wilson had just been elected Governor during the 1990 election and was sworn in on January 7th, 1991. Our Mayor was Maureen O'Connor, probably the last of San Diego's successful and respected mayors to date.

Our sports teams included the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Padres, San Diego Sockers, San Diego Gulls and of course SDSU, USD, UCSD. Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk was a Sophomore at SDSU.

The Soviet Union was on the verge of extinction despite a coup by Communist hard-liners to take over the government the end of the Cold War was near and NAFTA was just a bad idea instead of a trade agreement.

I still remember the day before on sunday when the Dallas Cowboys coached by Jimmy Johnson and their young quarterback third-year player out of UCLA Troy Aikman defeated the Cleveland Browns 26-14 in Bill Belichick's Head Coaching debut with the Browns. The Cowboys would go on to an 11-5 record, make the playoffs for the first time since 1985 and enjoy their first taste of post-Tom Landry success that season en route to becoming a football dynasty and the "Team of the 1990's" with 3 Super Bowl championships (1992, 1993, 1995).

Speaking of football, it used to be so easy to follow it on sundays. CBS had the NFC games, NBC had the AFC games. CBS's top announcing team was Pat Summerall and the verbose John Madden while NBC had current Padres' annoucer Dick Enberg and Bill Walsh. Sunday night games became common the year before and were split by TNT and ESPN and of course Monday Night Football was on ABC (where it should be) with Frank Gifford, Al Michaels and Dan Dierdorf.

There was no internet, no fantasy reports, no scoring graphics during the game, just the game itself.

Major League Baseball was on CBS during saturday afternoons although not every saturday which made it hard to follow with Jack Buck (Joe's daddy) and John Madden's MLB counterpart, the equally verbose Tim McCarver.

That season is known as the rise to power for the Atlanta Braves in the 1990's and 2000s which began in the 1991 season as the Braves beat the Dodgers in the NL West, defeated the Pirates in the NLCS and played in what is one of the greatest World Series I've ever seen against the Minnesota Twins. I still remember trying to watch the game in my dorm room which only had 3 channels (KGTV, KFMB, KPBS) and couldnt believe I was watching two teams who had been in last place for the 1990 season playing each other in the 1991 World Series.

After a few weeks in my dorm room with a couple of friendly, laid back Orange County surfers we agreed that maybe I could find a better room since my roomates loved to stay up late and party (and I did not). A trade was worked out when I moved down the hall in exchange for a surfer to be named later. The new room was located near Father Mike McKay's room and the washing machine.

My new roomate was the exact opposite of the surfer guys who knew seem to know around at USD after only a few weeks. In fact the new roomie was so quiet that no one at Maher knew him or recognized him. An interesting note is that when I mentioned earlier about their not being an internet I may have been fibbing because my new roomie was always on the computer. One day I asked him why he's always working on the computer and he told me he was talking to people on there.

Of course my first reaction is that he was joking but he claimed his computer was hooked up to a moden which allowed him to talk to people. At the time I thought it was interesting but thought he might have been bored and like to make up stories.

As an avid TV viewer that first semester was very frustrating because of the limited channels but I remember trying to watch a new family program with this this fellow named Tim Allen who had his own show named "Tool Time". Because of the reception I had trouble trying to figure out what the show was about and thought it would never last. Of course it lasted until 1999 and the show was called "Home Improvement".

Incoming freshmen, in between you getting homesick, partying, studying, etc remember whats going on around you today as you begin your freshmen year at college because 20 years later (in 2031) you might be typing about what was it was like 20 years ago in the year 2011!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 SEC Preview

By Keith Antigiovanni

The 2011 Southeastern Conference opens this weekend.

In 2010 the SEC West was the dominant division going 30-18 against the SEC East after the SEC East spent most of the 1990's and 2000's as dominating the series.

The defending SEC and BCS champion Auburn will not have an easy time repeating with powerhouses Alabama, Arkansas and LSU all in the West. Alabama finished 10-3 but blew a huge lead against Auburn in the "Iron Bowl" as Coach Nick Saban sets his sights on getting back to the BCS title game after winning the BCS title in 2009.

Arkansas had a surprising 10-3 season which helped them get to their first BCS Bowl. LSU also had another outstanding season going 11-2 after they won the Cotton Bowl. Mississippi State finished 9-4 and beat Michigan convincingly in a New Yeras' bowl game. Ole Miss went 4-8 and finished last in the SEC West.

Meanwhile the story was different in the traditionally competitive SEC East. The South Carolina Gamecocks finally broke thru and won their first SEC divison title but were annihilated by the Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers in the 19th annual SEC title game in Atlanta (56-17).

The three traditional SEC East powers (Georgia, Florida, Tennessee) also struggled despite winning every SEC East title since the conference split into two divisions in 1992. Georgia and Tennessee both had to win their final games to qualify for a bowl and both struggled in the low level bowls.

Meanwhile Florida had a tougher time than expected without Tim Tebow as they finished 8-5. The season ended on a positive note when they beat Penn State in their bowl game. Despite the bowl victory Coach Urban Meyer decided to step down after only 6 years at Florida.

Kentucky finished the regular season at 6-6 and dropped their bowl game as well and Vanderbilt had a terrible year at 2-10.