Congratulations are in order for the San Francisco Giants, who handled the Texas Rangers in five games this past week. World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, who started off the 2010 season on fire only to cool off for what seemed like an eternity, finally got hot again and just at the right time.
Perhaps more stunning is that the Giants were able to defeat the previously playoff unbeaten Cliff Lee twice in this series. While the first loss seemed more like an aberration on Lee’s part, Lee was much better in the decisive Game 5 until two singles and Renteria’s championship-winning home run broke through once again.
Lincecum, who wasn’t top notch in Game 1 either, pitched much better by going 8 innings and giving up just three hits. Brian Wilson, the league’s leader in saves in the regular season, recorded six more in the postseason while not giving up an earned run (he only gave up an unearned run back in the Atlanta series). Matt Cain also gave up only one unearned run in his 21 and a third innings of postseason pitching and Madison Bumgarner came up huge in Game 4 by pitching an 8-inning three hitter of his own.
Texas on the other hand, one of the more explosive teams in baseball going into this series, got shut down by San Francisco’s starting pitching outside of Sanchez. Their bullpen, which in Game 2 were referred to as “Walk-er, Texas Rangers” let Texas down at key moments but in all honesty, the Giants were the better team far more often than Texas ever was. They deserved this championship, their first since moving to San Francisco over 50 years ago.
The Goalie Chronicles
As I mention at times in the NHL Power Rankings, a lot of teams are either switching between two goaltenders or have benched their starter entirely in favor of the better playing backup. These controversies are occurring in the following places:
Atlanta: I’d hate to say there is a controversy here, as Ondrej Pavelec only lost his job because of his concussion-induced collapse in the season opener, but as he has returned from the injury, Chris Mason continues his quest to revive his career.
Boston: Tuukka Rask overtook Tim Thomas as Boston’s starter last season, but Tim Thomas has come back with a vengeance this season, going 6-0 and only giving up three goals in those games. Thomas will cool off in due time, Rask can try to regain some playing time once that happens.
Colorado: Well, Craig Anderson is out with a knee injury, but he wasn’t exactly playing great until he went out. Peter Budaj probably isn’t the answer either, so the job is likely still Anderson’s upon his return.
Nashville: Pekka Rinne is the starter for now after returning from injury, but Anders Lindback proved capable in the few games he had to start in Rinne’s stead. Its something to keep an eye on should Rinne falter at any point.
NY Islanders: Dwayne Roloson has played better than Rick DiPietro, but DiPietro’s huge contract still gets him a lot of starts.
Ottawa: Pascal Leclaire’s injury allows Brian Elliott to take over for now, but when Leclaire returns the job may be up for grabs.
Philadelphia: Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky has started the majority of the Flyers’ games and has done well, but Michael Leighton, out with an injury for about another month, will slowly regain the starting job. Unless Bobrovsky has something to say about it, of course.
Pittsburgh: The most surprising controversy, Marc-Andre Fleury has just been awful this season, while backup Brent Johnson has been sensational in his stead. Fleury has had very rough patches in his career and I’m sure he’ll be able to recover like he has in the past. It’s hard to go against Johnson for now though, let’s see how far Brent can take the Penguins.
San Jose: Antti Niemi has struggled hard for the Sharks, so Antero Niittymaki has played more of San Jose’s game and he has been excellent for them. The Sharks thankfully only have Niemi for a one year deal but Niemi knows he can’t play as poorly as he has.
Tampa Bay: Dan Ellis has played better than Mike Smith, but the Lightning do a much better job supporting Smith as he hasn’t lost a game yet. Ellis has gotten more starts recently so the Lightning may have figured things out for now.
Washington: It’s not really a controversy at this point. Semyon Varlamov has been continuously hurt and Michal Neuvirth has been excellent so far.
The Minnesota Chronicles
Boy, the stories out of Minnesota. Brett Favre’s ankle. Brett Favre’s busted jaw. Now, Randy Moss supposedly being waived by the Vikings after he spent his press conference on Sunday praising the New England Patriots like he was still on the Patriots.
Brad Childress’ future in Minnesota does not look good. Especially since word is coming out that owner Zygi Wilf isn’t happy that Moss got waived.
As for Favre, if a double fractured ankle isn’t going to stop him, if an alleged set of racy photos hasn’t stopped him, a lacerated jaw definitely won’t.
The Expansion Chronicles
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to be in favor of expanding the NFL overseas in the future. After the league shut down the NFL Europa league in 2007, they’ve had one regular season game in London’s Wembley Stadium between sometimes one good team and one bad team, or two bad teams as was the case this season.
In a previous article I’ve written, regarding Soccer’s popularity problem in the United States, one of the factors I explain is that, unlike in the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL, soccer’s best players do not play in America but rather in European leagues. Unless the best players play in the MLS or a similar American-based league, getting Soccer to be as popular as one of the other leagues is a very difficult if not impossible task.
Now, this situation here is somewhat different. Goodell wants to create or send a team that consists of American Football’s top players to London or another European city. This wouldn’t be like the MLS or even the old Europa league which consisted of mostly minor league-level players. I really do not know how such a venture would work from a travel standpoint alone (every team that’s played in London since 2007 has had a bye week right afterwards because of the travel). I also don’t know how well it would work from a popularity standpoint. Does Britain really want an NFL franchise? The crowds at Wembley Stadium say yes but I’m not sure if London or another European city is ready for an NFL franchise. Then again, that’s probably why Goodell is still working on building a fanbase overseas with the Wembley game among other initiatives.
Michigan State lost hard at Iowa on Saturday. Missouri lost slightly less hard at Nebraska. That leaves just five unbeaten teams, and one more is guaranteed to go down on Saturday.
Oregon, the new BCS #1 following a strong win at USC, hosts Washington who will be without Jake Locker for the game. It should be an easy win for the Ducks, but one can’t assume anything in the Pac 10.
Auburn, which fell to #2 despite a strong win at Mississippi, aren’t doing themselves any favors for those dastardly computers when they host FCS Chattanooga on Saturday. The Mocs, who are a pretty decent team in the same conference as the notorious Appalachian State, probably aren’t going to be a challenge for Auburn, at least they shouldn’t be.
The new BCS #3, TCU, visits the BCS #5 Utah on Saturday on what is the game of the week in College Football. The winner will have an excellent win to add on their resume. In TCU’s case, they may get to jump Auburn. For Utah, they may get to jump past the weekly leaped frog in…
Boise State, now the #4 BCS team, finally has a decent challenge in 7-2 Hawaii. Hawaii, the only team to defeat Boise’s final challenge in Nevada, has to go to that crazy blue turf in Boise, however, so Boise will likely get another victory here.
Akron got shut out 30-0 by Temple. They now go on the road to face Ball State. The Cardinals, whose only win on the FBS level came against Central Michigan of all teams, lost at home to then-winless Eastern Michigan. This is a good chance for Akron to finally get a win.
New Mexico lost badly at Colorado State. Their next game is at home to 2-7 Wyoming. The Cowboy’s only FBS level win was against Toledo, but their schedule has included three current top 5 teams in Boise State, Utah and TCU, all losses of course. New Mexico also has a shot to win here.
Team C > Team B > Team M means Team C > Team M right? Right?
Its seems fitting that LeBron James and the Miami Heat end up losing their season opener against the Boston Celtics, only for the Celtics to go and lose the very next night in Cleveland. Now, Miami hasn’t lost since and Cleveland hasn’t won since but it was still a nice story.