Rui Kitada takes control

31 08 2008

Rui Kitada has taken a two stroke lead over new prospect Erina Hara in the Yonex Ladies Open in Niigata.  In a 4-under 68, Kitada carded five birdies and a bogey to get to 6-under overall – this in an effort to work her way back to the form she showed more than 2 years ago.  Kitada has won 4 times on the Japan LPGA tour, but has only won once in the past 2+ years – winning the Ladies Itoen Open last November.

Erina Hara, is a fresh-faced 20-year-old who captured her first career title at the NEC Karuizawa 72 Golf Tournament two weeks ago.  Hara started her round slowly, with bogeys on the second and fourth holes – however she quickly recovered, converting five birdies in the last 10 holes for a 69.

Kitada started the day two shots behind overnight co-leaders Yasuko Sato and Ko Woo Soon of South Korea, but her day’s excellent play saw her hitting the front.


NRL 2008 ~ Round 25 Tips

29 08 2008

Roosters vs Rabbitohs

The seasons first controversy erupted from it’s very first game this year with the now infamous “prowler tackle” by Riley Brown on Craig Wing which resulted in Wing missing 12 weeks to the she shoulder injury he sustained (he had a sore wing). The Bunnies will be fired up to make amends for their subsequent loss and Craig Wing will be out to potentially put the first nail in the coffin of the Roosters’ top 4 aspirations. Both sides have struggled for any real form over the last two months with the Roosters claiming just 2 wins from their last 8 matches while the Rabbitohs have managed 3.

Of the two though, the Roosters look the better side on paper and have a lot more to play for by finishing in the top half of the 8.

Roosters by 10

Tigers vs Sharks

Again the Tigers look ready to stumble at the end of the season always finding ways to lose games that they should be winning. This is another of those games. The Sharks, though they will deny it, will be somewhat scarred from the fallout over this week’s Greg Bird incident and should be ripe for the picking. Robbie Farah is out of the Tigers side with an ankle injury and Brett Hodgson will likely miss his farewell match at Leichardt Oval due also to injury.

The absence of these two cannot be used as an excuse with the Tigers having won matches this year including their match earlier in the year against the Sharks. They have shown they have players capable of filling the gaps. Amazingly, the Tigers have not lost any of their previous 9 games against the Shire Boys, a run stretching back to round 18, 2003.

Tigers by 10

Knights vs Storm

The Knights will tell us they want to win this game for inspirational skipper Danny Buderus who sustained a season, hence NRL career given his retirement plan, ending injury last weekend. Whoever plays hooker for them for the rest of the season will not be wearing the number 9 jersey as it has been retired for the rest of the season out of respect for one of the greatest players of the modern era. With Buderus though go the Knights’ hopes of a premiership and perhaps even a top 8 finish.

Meanwhile, the Storm boys have been on a rampage over the last 5 weeks amassing 136 points while conceding only 34 for a match average of 27 – 7(ish). Once again, they are head and shoulders above the competition at the right end of the season and should have no trouble getting through this game with the two premiership points. This will undoubtedly secure them the minor premiership for the third consecutive season.

Storm by 20

Cowboys vs Raiders

The Cowboys may as well start packing their bags for this year’s end of season trip because things are not going to get any better for them over the next two weeks. Jonathan Thurston seems to be playing a lone hand and quite rightly might decide to holiday without his team mates this year. They come into this game with no form apart from one win three weeks ago against fellow cellar dwellers, the Bulldogs.

The Raiders had yet another great win last weekend and have now got the second highest points for record in this years comp. Each week they seem to struggle to find 17 fit players to run onto the park yet every week they produce the most exciting football the NRL has seen since the Tigers in 2005. More of the same in this one.

Raiders by 16

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Goodbye Duck

28 08 2008

I know, a few days late… but better late than never.  Kevin Duckworth was always a player that whilst I didn’t follow his team, I liked what he did.

C’ya Duck, happy trails.

Overrated vs Underrated

27 08 2008

In the period between the last game of the NBA finals, and the first games of the next season, every NBA writer – be he professional or not – searches for different subjects on the game.  No different here, I guess… although the Olympics certainly provided fodder for some.  One almost overdone topic that gets done pretty much every year is “who’s overrated?”.  It’s done on mainstream media, in blogs, on chatboards and forums.

Recently I’ve read quite a few accounts of *who is*, and *who isn’t*.  Before I delve into it myself, it’s important to set definitions first.
Someone who gets a helluva lot of attention, but is worthy of it, isn’t overrated. Likewise, if a isn’t getting attention – and doesn’t deserve it – isn’t underrated. Overrated is a player who gets hype, but is not worthy of the level of hype they get. They may be a damn good player, but still fall into the ‘overrated’ class.

So… on to it. 5 players, who should be watched next season, for fitting into this conversation topic.

In no particular order…

  1. Paul Pierce: Overrated. Yes, he had an amazing finals.  Yup, he was nigh-on unguardable.  Uh-huh, Finals MVP (deservedly… even tho’ my personal pick was Ray Allen).  But does he believe his own hype?  I mean, it’s one thing to be confident… another entirely to name yourself the best player in the world.  This, from a guy who’s yet to make an NBA second team, let alone an All-NBA first squad.
    I don’t think he’s as good next season as he was in the finals.  Don’t get me wrong – damn good player.
    Just not as good as some (including Pierce himself) would have you believe.
  2. Greg Oden: Overrated. Don’t misunderstand me, I think he’ll end up being a very, very good player.  Maybe a center for the ages… but as it stands at the moment, he’s overrated.
    The hype surrounding a player who’s never even taken a step within an NBA game is unbelievable.  You’d think it’s the second coming of Wilt.
    It may end up being the second coming of Wilt… but at this point in time, we just don’t know – let him play a few years first.  Given that, way too much pump for a first-year guy.
  3. Chris Paul: Underrated. I know a lot of people will just be going “wow” by now.  Calling Greg Oden overrated and Chris Paul underrated?  Especially given the season he had, and the attention he recieved for that season…
    Well, I’m going with it anyway.
    Paul had an amazing season, one of the best ever for a point guard, yet some people shied away from comparisons with some of the game’s more legendary point men.
    Because of his relative youth.  He hasn’t had the longevity that his predecessors have had, but in one season he blew way past two of the best point guards in recent history in Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, and in one of the toughest seasons in living memory, amassed an amazing stat-line leading his team to right up near the very top of the league.  21.1 ppg, 11.6 apg.
    Not sure why we cannot enjoy and appreciate that season for what it was: one of the best played by a point guard in the history of the game.
  4. Tracy McGrady: Underrated. Yes, I know… a guy who cannot get his team into the second round of the playoffs, how can he be underrated?  Well, for years T-Mac has suffered through that.  Has been the recipient of many derogatory nicknames like ‘Kobe-lite’ (my personal fave).
    And rightly so: after a heap of hype in his first half dozen years, of inevitable comparisons to Kobe (where he’s been found wanting at every turn), Tracy McGrady has settled into a cycle of ‘almost’.  And us, the fan? We have learnt to sit back on T-Mac, always expecting him to fail at the highest levels.  And largely, he’s done… or rather, his teams have performed – as expected.
    What we’re ignoring is what he did with his team last year, largely without Yao Ming.  We’ve become so complacent on McGrady that he’s actually come full circle, and is now… underrated.
  5. David West: Overrated. The take on David West for pretty much all of last season was that he’s a terrific player, and oh-so-underrated.
    It got so that you couldn’t talk about the Hornets without someone saying – “David West.  Underrated.”
    Every time.
    Every single bloody time.
    People talked about how much he’d improved, what a fantastic player he’s become.  Well… sorry to pop the bubble, but whilst he did improve, it was only a marginal improvement.
    In his 5th year, he improved 2 points, half a rebound, and half a block per game… playing a bit over a minute more per.  Thing is, he was a good player before last season.  Most of the Hornets were. They just did more with what they had last season.
    West just came into the spotlight more with a) some big performances, and b) with New Orleans actually taking the center stage last season.  Over-hyped on being underrated = overrated.

Feel free to rip me.  Disagree.  Welcome the discussion…

This year?

26 08 2008

MLB Weekly Review 8-25-08

Is this “next year” for the Cubs?
If you’re a fan of the Chicago Cubs or just a fan of baseball, you’ve certainly heard the phrase, “there’s always next year.” With the Cubs currently owning the best record in baseball, this really could be their year.
Not only do the 80 wins by the Cubs top all of baseball, their 49-19 home record makes the friendly confines of Wrigley Field someplace that opponents don’t want to be in October. They are also one of only six teams that do not have a losing record on the road.
The Cubs could very well be facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the World Series.

The Angels still hold a commanding 17 game lead in the division despite losing 7 of 9 games recently. They’re starting to look vulnerable losing 2 against Tampa Bay, 2 against Minnesota, 2 against Cleveland and even dropping a game to the lowly Mariners. They will still make the playoffs with ease and their magic number is only 16.
With the Angels, Cubs and Rays looking to hold onto their division leads, 3 other races are a little bit closer.

The Dodgers trail the Diamondbacks by 3 games and the division will be decided very shortly. LA heads to the desert for a 3 games set this weekend, followed by a 3 game series with San Diego and then they play host to Arizona for 3 more games.

The Phillies will also decide a lot in the next couple of weeks. They currently trail the Mets by 0.5 games and host them for 2 games this week. Philadelphia then heads out on a tough road trip, which includes 4 games at Chicago, 3 at Washington and 3 more at New York.

The only race closer than New York and Philadelphia is Minnesota and Chicago, who are tied for the American League Central lead. The Twins are in the middle of a brutal 14 game road trip that started off with a split vs. the Angels. The race will likely come down to the last week of the season when Minnesota hosts Chicago for a 3 game series.
Denard Span has been a spark plug at the plate for the Twins, but no one has been as hot as Grady Sizemore and Matt Holliday.
Sizemore is batting .333 over the past week with 6 runs scored, 1 triple, 2 homeruns, 10 RBI and 4 stolen bases.
Holliday is hitting .417 during the same span with 7 runs, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI and 3 stolen bases.
On the other side of the field, Rich Harden and Ricky Nolasco have been lights out.
Harden pitched the Cubs past the Reds and Nationals this week. He picked up 2 wins, going 7 innings in each outing. He scattered 4 hits while allowing only 1 run. He didn’t walk a single batter and struck out 21.
Nolasco was equally impressive with 2 wins on the road vs. the Giants and Diamondbacks. He went 7.1 innings vs. Arizona and logged a complete game against San Francisco. He gave up 5 hits and 2 runs. He recorded 21 strikeouts and 2 walks.

the Baseball Consigliere


25 08 2008

Congratulations to the US Olympic Men’s Basketball team, winning the gold in Beijing.

Sold Out? So what…

24 08 2008

Recently read a book by the enigmatic Max Deale – Sold Out, So What?

Very, very interesting read – and I’ll be doing a few more pieces on it… but as a bit of a teaser, here’s an interview Max Deale did with Fox Morning News in LA.