Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Still can't fill in your brackets?

Here's my over-thought tips to success in March Madness:

South Region: #1 Florida over #7 New Mexico.

Florida's path: Florida wins over Albany, Pittsburgh, UCLA and New Mexico.

New Mexico's path: Solid, strong Mountain West team, under ranked, hungry after being upset by Harvard last year. New Mexico beats Stanford; upsets over-ranked Kansas and Ohio State.

Upset specials: Stephen F. Austin over VCU. VCU may have tournament experience, but this team limped into March, losing the Atlantic 10 final. Meanwhile SFA hasn't lost since November 23rd. You better believe in this 5-12 matchup. The other special in the "3rd round" is Ohio State over Syracuse. No game has shown Cuse's shooting problems of late than the ACC quarterfinal between Cuse and NC State. The Orange missed their final SIX shots on ONE offensive possession.

West Region: #4 San Diego State over #6 Baylor.

SD State's path: Aztecs win over NM State, ND State, OK State and Baylor.

Baylor's path: Bears win over Nebraska, Creighton (awful if McDermott doesn't shoot well like in the Big East final) and Wisconsin (March choke artists.)

Baylor lost in the Big 12 final, which I believe was the best overall conference this year. The only reason OK State was ranked so low was because Marcus Smart shoved a fan in Texas Tech and was suspended three games, all of which the Cowboys lost.

Upset specials: Even though Oklahoma also plays in the Big 12, they've never really impressed me as a basketball program and it's that magic 5-12 matchup again. Baylor can beat Creighton if either McDermott can't score or no one else can score around him. If you watched Providence's win over the Jays in the Big East final, there was the gaping hole.

East Region: #3 Iowa State over #1 Virginia.

Iowa State's path: Cyclones win over NC Central, Providence, St. Joe's and Virginia.

Virginia's path: Cavs win over Coastal Carolina, Memphis and Michigan State.

Upset specials: I'm going with Harvard over Cincinnati...see a path here with the 12's? Providence is WAAAAAY under-ranked at #11...they're flying high as Big East champs, and I easily see the 6-11 matchup with Carolina going their way. No such luck the next round against Iowa State though. Villanova's another team that's over-ranked and limping into March. St Joe's meanwhile, beating an experienced-in-March VCU in the A10 final, could make a run over their crosstown foes in the 3rd round.

...and finally, the Midwest Region.

The toughest region of all will see #4 Louisville soar over #3 Duke in a rematch of last year's Midwest final in the same city.

Louisville's path: Cardinals win over Manhattan, NC State, Wichita State and Duke.

Duke's path: Blue Devils win over Mercer, Iowa/Tennessee (hasn't been decided yet) and Michigan.

Upset specials: All 12 seeds will win in this tournament. NC State has been a solid ACC team with TJ Warren as their leader and while the game against Saint Louis will go down to the wire, the ACC team will prevail. If you want to call a #4 over a #1 an upset, Wichita State has an unblemished record to protect against a hotter-than-hot Louisville team (did anyone else see their game against Rutgers?) The pressure is enormous.

Final Four: Louisville over Florida 76-71.

Yankee fans love March Madness, 'cause we all know once the tournament's over, it's baseball season!

Charleston 2014 Promotional Schedule Released

'14 Promotion Schedule Has Appeal for All Fans
Unique Giveaways, 13 Fireworks Shows, 4 Dog Days, Theme Nights & More Fun

CHARLESTON, SC - Highlighted by a trio of Saturdays featuring bobblehead giveaways and 13 nights with fantastic fireworks following the game, the 2014 Charleston RiverDogs promotional schedule has a little something for everyone and a lot of fun for all.
In keeping with their reputation as the Lowcountry's leader in family sports entertainment, the RiverDogs have packed 70 home dates with tons of fun and something for fans of all ages and all tastes.
The season gets underway with Opening Night, Monday, April 7, when the rival Greenville Drive come to Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park to begin a seven-game homestand. The Opening Night festivities feature an extended postgame fireworks display and fans will receive free magnet schedules.
"As our fans have come to expect, we have a fun-filled slate of promotions and theme-nights," said General Manager Dave Echols. "There will never be a dull moment at the ballpark this year.
"We've increased the number of postgame fireworks nights, our Saturday giveaways are of better quality, and we've added a few more wrinkles and some spectacular new technology that should make everyone smile as they enter and depart from Riley Park."

April 7: Opening Night - Always THE place to be in Charleston, Opening Night features a magnet schedule with detachable RiverDogs car magnet giveaway, presented by the South Carolina Future Scholars Program. It will also be the first of 13 explosive postgame fireworks shows. Also, the first game of the year against the Greenville Drive will kick off the "Battle of the Palmetto State" rivalry series presented by Sphinx. The winner of the season-long battle will receive the Rivalry Championship Trophy, and with it goes the bragging rights as the state's best Minor League Baseball team.
May 31: Sweetright Brothers - Muppet-like characters will be in the house to entertain the kids and the kid-at-heart throughout the night.
June 1: Luau Night - Hawaiian themed night with a special performance by the Fire Circus (Luau-themed fire dancers).
June 20: Zombie Apocalypse Night - The fun is infectious on Zombie Apocalypse Night as fans are encouraged to dress as a zombie and be part of the hoard -- or come alive -- and risk being transformed during the game. Hopefully we'll find the cure before we release the hoard into Downtown Charleston.
June 24: Terrible Tuesday - Come on out for a night of long lines, terrible in-game entertainment and promotions, and the worst music you'll hear at a ballgame all year! It's Unsatisfaction Guaranteed!
July 4: Independence Day Fireworks Celebration Presented by Wells Fargo - This is simply the largest fireworks show in downtown Charleston.  After we defeat the Rome Braves, kick back and enjoy the sky light up over the scenic Ashley River.
July 16: Holiday Celebration - Enjoy it all as we celebrate a year's worth of holidays in just one night. Each inning will be a different holiday, from New Year's Eve during pregame to Christmas in the 9th frame.
July 20: Pirates & Princess Night - Youngsters will work together to find The Joe's hidden treasure.
August 2: Inflatamaniacs Appearance and Rainbows Night - A performance that brings laughs to fans of all ages as the inflatable crew brings their unique brand of hijinks to The Joe for the fourth straight year. We will also turn back the clock and tip our caps to the days when names like David Cone and Roberto Alomar called Charleston home. The RiverDogs team will become the Charleston Rainbows again, complete with throwback Rainbows uniforms, for one night only. Those jerseys will also be auctioned off during the game. It's a salute to days past, and a chance for fans to remember the Charleston Rainbows and legendary College Park.

Mondays: Dogs with a Cause and $1 Dogs and Beers - The RiverDogs partner with a local non-profit organization to generate exposure and funds for a specific cause.  Mondays are also Dollar Dogs and Beers nights, thanks to our friends at Coors, as fans can enjoy $1 drafts and $1 hot dogs in the Ashley View Pub. 
Tuesdays: Two-for-$20 Date Nights - Tuesdays can be special night as for only $20 fans can enjoy a pair of upper reserve tickets, two tacos, two small fountain drinks and a plate of nachos by showing their Harris Teeter VIC card at the box office.
Wednesdays: Guaranteed Win & Senior Wednesdays - All fans 65 and older who enter the gates before 7pm can eat free, thanks to HealthSouth, as they receive a complimentary hot dog, fountain drink and chips for coming to mid-week RiverDogs games as part of MeTV Senior Wednesdays. All fans will also be able to take advantage of an early bird special on Wednesday's purchase a hot dog, fries and a 16 ounce fountain drink for only $6 before 7pm, a $2 savings than when purchased any other time. And the team "guarantees" a win on Wednesdays. Put simply, if the RiverDogs don't win on Wednesday night games at Riley Park, the club will honor your ticket for free admission to the next Wednesday home game. All you have to do is hold on to your ticket.
Thursdays: Thirsty Thursdays - Get an early start on the weekend with $1 beers in the Ashley View Pub presented by Budweiser. Returning again this year will be DJ Natty Heavy, who spins popular tunes throughout the game much to the musical delight of those in that special area. There will also be a wing eating competition every Thirsty Thursday in the Ashley View Pub thanks to Wild Wing CafĂ©. Plus, once DJ Natty Heavy packs up his speakers and calls it a night, the RiverDogs are proud to announce a partnership with Palmetto Brewery to bring postgame concerts to The Joe after every Thirsty Thursday game. A different band will perform a free concert for everyone in attendance on the concourse adjacent to the Beer Garden inside Riley Park following the game's final out.
Fridays: Postgame Fireworks & Red Shirt Fridays - This popular night makes a return as fans who wear red to the ballpark receive $1 off their walk-up ticket on ISHPI Red Shirt Fridays. Thanks to ISHPI, fans can then choose to donate that dollar to help benefit two military themed charities: Folds of Honor Foundation, a charity that gives back the children and spouses of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country through scholarships and other assistance, and Canines for Veterans, the wounded-veteran service organization that brings "Titus the Bat Dog" to The Joe to retrieve bats during the game. Every Friday will be punctuated with explosive postgame fireworks. Fans are encouraged to secure their tickets in advance for this trendy night at The Joe.
Saturdays: Giveaways on Select Saturdays and Kids Run the Bases - To assist with families, all Saturday game times again this season have been moved up to 6:05 pm. Select Saturday games feature free collectable giveaway items to the first 1,000 fans. This year's freebies are much improved and will consist of a Bill Murray t-shirt giveaway (April 12); Tony the Peanut Man singing bobblehead giveaway (May 10); Negro League jersey giveaway (June 7); Ghostbusters bobblehead giveaway (July 5); and a Bill Veeck bobble giveaway (July 19). Plus on August 17, the club will give away a Charlie T. RiverDog coloring book to the first 1,000 fans through the gates. Following the action on the field every Saturday, all kids can stick around and run the bases, and everyone is "safe."
Sundays: Kids Club Sundays - Presented by Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, Crews Subaru and Y102.5, Sundays at Riley Park feature Free Parking and Kids Eat Free as all members of the RiverDogs Kids Club get a voucher for a free meal upon entering. The RiverDogs Kids Club, known as the RiverPups, is free to join and open to all kids 12-under. But that's not all as the RiverDogs pull out all the stops to cater to families, offering a pregame catch on the field and the popular postgame autograph session with the entire RiverDogs team and loveable mascots, Charlie T. RiverDog, Chelsea and Bark.

Dog Days: Bring your pooch to the park on four special Dog Days that are April 13, May 11, June 1 and June 22.
Kid's Opening Day: For the third consecutive year the RiverDogs kick off the first Sunday of the season with a day dedicated to kids with free RiverDogs Vapor apparel with youth t-shirts for the first 1,000 youngsters is set for Sunday, April 13.
Youth Baseball and Softball Night: Presented by McDonald's on Monday, May 12, those playing youth baseball and softball will parade around the field before the game and take in a night of professional baseball. This makes for a special night for them, and what a parade they make!
Education Day: Teachers have fun with their students at The Joe on April 9 and April 30, with a rare 11:05 am scheduled start times.
Business Man's Specials: Take a client or a co-worker for a special 12:05 "meeting" at The Joe on July 21 and Aug. 13.
Military Appreciation Nights: Presented by ISHPI, we salute our men and women who help protect our many freedoms on May 29, July 19 and Aug. 27.
Nurses Night: As part of National Nurses Week, the RiverDogs will salute our local RNs on Thursday, May 15.
Boy Scout Night: The devoted scouts of the Lowcountry will receive their well-deserved recognition and will be treated to an overnight campout at The Joe following the game on Friday, May 30.
Air Force Night: The U.S. Air Force sponsors three nights of fun at Riley Park (April 11, June 5, and July 18) with a special swearing-in ceremony scheduled for the June 5 date.
Larry Doby Heritage Weekend and Salute to Negro League Baseball: This is the RiverDogs' annual salute to some of the game's great players including South Carolina native Larry Doby, on June 7-8.
Girl Scout Night: On Saturday, June 21, the RiverDogs will call all Daisies, Brownies and veteran Girl Scouts to Riley Park for a night of baseball and activities.
Irish Night: A night similar to March 17 when everyone at The Joe is Irish on Sunday, May 4.  Bagpipes, pots of gold and Gaelic games will take over for a night where we want everyone to wear green.
Firefighter Appreciation Night: Tri-county firefighters and first responders will be saluted, courtesy of ServiceMaster, on Wednesday, May 28.
Big Splash Day: Be prepared to get wet, plain and simple, on Wednesday, July 9 with a 12:05 pm first pitch.

April 19: The 9th Annual Run, Forrest, Run 5k Race presented by Fleet Feet Sports, is a unique 5K race that features a finish at home plate and a post-race meal and party prior to the RiverDogs game.
June 21: 13th Annual Kindness Beats Blindness silent auction will be held, in which the proceeds benefit MUSC's Storm Eye Institute.
June 23: The All-Lowcountry High School Baseball and Softball team recognition and player of the year ceremonies, in cooperation with The Post and Courier.
July 4: Independence Day Fireworks Celebration Presented by Wells Fargo is simply the largest fireworks show in downtown Charleston. After we defeat the Rome Braves, kick back and enjoy the sky light up over the scenic Ashley River.
July 15-18: Charleston RiverDogs Baseball Camp presented by Kickin' Chicken is for all kids ages 6-13 on July 15-17. Have your child learn the fundamentals of the game from RiverDogs players and coaches. Then on July 18, there will be a special hitting clinic for those youngsters who want more special instruction from RiverDogs players on the art of hitting.
August 1: The 6th Annual Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame Night, where the RiverDogs enshrine the newest member.
Aug. 15: Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame Night: On this special night, we welcome the newest members into the hallowed halls of the Lowcountry baseball's elite.
Aug. 28: Fan Appreciation Night concludes the 2014 regular season with a game against the Greenville Drive in style with tremendous discounts all over the park and a mesmerizing fireworks display as a fitting swan song for the year that was.
Fans may contact the Box Office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) for tickets and additional information.

Being posted with permission from the Charleston Riverdogs organization. The original article can be seen HERE.

Masahiro Tanaka Ranked Second In Baseball America Top Rookies Of 2014 List

Whether you agree with it or not Masahiro Tanaka is considered a rookie this season and is eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award for the American League. With that being said Matt Eddy of Baseball America has released their Top Rookies of 2014 list and Tanaka is ranked second behind, you probably didn't guess it, the Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. I really expected to see Oscar Tavares of the St. Louis Cardinals here to be honest, a real shocker to me.

The article is free to all, the list and the write ups, so be sure to click the link above and go check out Mr. Eddy's work, he does a great job as well as the whole staff of BA. Notable Yankees rookies like Zoilo Almonte, Dellin Betances, Mark Montgomery, Manny Banuelos, Dean Anna, and  John  Ryan Murphy did not make the list.

Alfonso Soriano At 1B Experiment Seems To Be Over

Earlier in the offseason there was talks of Alfonso Soriano taking ground balls and working out at first base to improve his versatility and to ultimately win more playing time. Soriano even went as far as to bring his own first base glove to spring camp this year but the experiment seems to be all but over. Manager Joe Girardi said today that Soriano is unlikely to get a start there or play at first this spring, despite him taking ground balls there in camp.

Kelly Johnson still seems like the likeliest of options as a backup at first base and also expects to start there on Saturday, per Girardi in the same interview. It would have been nice to see Soriano get some work at first base to see what kind of an athlete he could be at first, and a lot can change between the end of the season and now obviously, but for now that dream will have to be filed away next to the one of Mariano Rivera playing center field in Yankee Stadium before he retires.

New York Yankees Spring Training News & Notes 3/19

Adam Warren and Hiroki Kuroda three bullpen sessions today to Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli mentioned more about learning how to speak Japanese and less about the hitting, which is fine by me because I think his stat line speaks for itself.

Speaking of Warren he will be pitching in relief on Friday in relief of CC Sabathia, a sign of the fifth starter decision? Vidal will also pitch in relief tomorrow of David Phelps, all signs point to Warren and Nuno headed to the minor leagues or the bullpen and not to the fifth starter position.

Brendan Ryan, Russ Canzler, and Scott Sizemore all took full batting practice outside today while trying to come back from injuries. Ryan is penciled in to start tomorrow while it will likely be Friday before we see Sizemore at the earliest. No word on when Canzler will get back into action after a sore hip sidelined him.

Preston Claiborne was scratched from today's spring training game and instead pitched two innings in a minor league game. You should have said the two innings part before you said the scratched part, scared me a little, but what can you do.

Chad Jennings with the assignments from Yankees camp today:

Today’s second string: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Casey Stevenson, 2B Dean Anna, SS Yangervis Solarte, 3B Eduardo Nunez, LF Zelous Wheeler, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Zoilo Almonte, DH Austin Romine
· Scheduled relievers: Danny Burawa, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral and Shane Greene (with Yoshinori Tateyama and the minor league guys also making the trip)
· Tomorrow’s travel squad to Fort Myers:
Pitchers: Matt Daley, Chris Leroux, Fred Lewis, David Phelps, Yoshinori Tateyama
Catchers: Francisco Cervelli, Jose Gil, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine
Infielders: Dean Anna, Eduardo Nunez, Brendan Ryan, Scott Sizemore, Yangervis Solarte, Mark Teixeira, Zelous Wheeler
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Adonis Garcia, Antoan Richardson, Ichiro Suzuki
Minor league pitchers: Branden Pinder, James Pazos, Manny Barreda, Caleb Cotham
Minor league hitters: C Tyson Blaser, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Carmen Angelini, UT Ali Castillo, LF Ben Gamel

Nova's gem leads Yankees to fourth straight win over Braves, 7-0

Ivan Nova threw 6.1 shutout innings and Carlos Beltran hit 2 RBI Singles today as the Yankees won their fourth straight game over the Braves, 7-0. When looking at this performance, it's important that we remember that it came against Atlanta's A-lineup, so yea, it was completely legit. Definitely something to get excited about. 

Anyway, some notable offensive performances this afternoon came from Brett Gardner, who went 0-for-1 with three walks, Brian Roberts, who went 1-for-2 with a run, and Alfonso Soriano, who went 1-for-4 with a single. So yea, while there wasn't a ton of notable offense in this W, I guess it was still pretty good. Nova had a rare dominant performance and Beltran, who hasn't been great this spring, hit the ball hard more than once.

New York Yankees @ Atlanta Braves 3/19

The New York Yankees are traveling to take on the Atlanta Braves today in the latest spring training exhibition game as a part of the Grapefruit League. Ivan Nova will be on the mound for the Yankees at 1:05 pm ET in a game that looks to be  not televised today unfortunately. If anyone knows of the game being televised on MLB TV or something please tell the rest of us in the comments sections, thank you.

Potential 2014 Milestones For Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter has averaged 100 runs or so a season in every year that he has been healthy and currently sits in 12th place on the All Time list for runs with 1876 runs scored in his career. If Jeter scores another 100 runs this season that would be good enough for 8th on the all time list passing the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Tris Speaker, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays.

If Derek scored those same 100 runs in 2014 he would become the Yankees All Time leader in runs scored passing Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

124 runs also gives him 2,000 for his career.

Derek Jeter's hit parade basically took a season off in 2013 leaving him with 3,316 hits and a ninth place ranking on the list. Jeter will probably not be good for 200 hits this season like he was in 2012 but using what I consider to be a modest 150 hit projection we can see that Jeter would be among some big names. 150 hits makes Jeter have 3,466 for his career and sixth on the all time list. Jeter would pass Honus Wagner, Carl Yastrzemski, and Paul Molitor.

Derek Jeter heads into 2014 ranked 38th on the all time doubles list with 525 doubles. Jeter has an average of 33 doubles per season for his career so adding 30 doubles to make an even 555 doubles for his career moves him up to 25th all time. Jeter would pass the likes of Chipper Jones, Frank Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Dave Winfield, Rogers Hornsby, Tony Gwynn, and Manny Ramirez.

Derek Jeter is nine doubles behind Lou Gehrig's 534 doubles for the most on the Yankees All Time list.

Derek Jeter is the active leader in games played and ranks #37 on the all time list. Another 100 games this season or more and he will jump another 10 slots or so on the list.

Yankee Stadium Legacy: #12 Red Ruffing

Red Ruffing was one of only two pitchers to win over 200 games in a New York Yankees uniform. Ruffing won 231 games with the Yankees from 1930 - 1946. Ruffing started in 1936 winning 20 games for the first of four straight seasons. Ruffing also had a 7-2 World Series record with a 2.63 ERA and won six Fall Classic rings. The Yankees and Ruffing won the last four World Series of the 1930's.

FYI if you are confused by the picture above, Ruffing could hit too. Cool!

12 days until Yankees Opening Day.

Quick Hit: Pineda Locks Down 5th Starter Spot?

I think it is safe to say that Michael Pineda may have locked down the fifth starter competition yesterday with 4.1 scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. Pineda has pitched an even nine innings this spring and has not allowed a run while making major league hitters look silly with his slider. Pineda threw 60 pitches today, 45 of them for strikes, and struck out five batters in his 4.1 IP with no walks and four hits. Sorry David Phelps but I think the time is now, finally, for Pineda.

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/19

On this day in 1989 the Yankees traded catcher Joel Skinner and a minor league player to the Indians for outfielder Mel Hall. New York was looking to replace the injured Dave Winfield after the future Hall of Fame outfielder missed the season due to back surgery.

On this day in 2002 as the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, more commonly known as the YES Network, makes it's debut as a regional cable TV channel. The Yankees owned network will televise Bronx Bombers games as well as covering the then New Jersey Nets games in the NBA.