Hit and Run: I’m too hot to come up with a theme

World Cup Soccer

Hope Solo shall have none of your silly goal scoring nonsense. (Photo: Getty Images)

We hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend! I’m still unpacking and cleaning up gear from the Great Island Campout of 2011, in which I did not end up on Princess Kate Watch and did not get to celebrate Brad Richards signing with the Maple Leafs.

And tonight? It’s warm! Summer warm! Finally! Also building heat is Team USA, who defeated Columbia 3-0 yesterday in Women’s World Cup action in Germany. The win clinches them a spot in the quarter finals. They face Sweden tomorrow at 2:45 ET.

Back to hockey for a minute… Continue reading

Stop making me care about interleague!

Yankees

See, outside of October, this is just weird. (Photo: Reuters)

I know I’m supposed to let go my puritan ways and appreciate the “fun” and “excitement” that is interleague baseball. Yet after 14 years of interleague, I still find it weird. Not fascinatingly weird. Just uncomfortably weird. Is it just me?

My reasons are painfully obvious, but here they are for the record. Continue reading

Hit and Run: Things Which Are Ridiculous

 I wanted to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup last night, but couldn’t, because it was on Versus, which I don’t have. (NBC opted for Celebrity Minute To Win It, with Steve-O and some other guy from Jackass. If that’s a bigger ratings draw than the Stanley Cup, the NHL still has a lot of work to do.)

I believe I have made my displeasure about playoff games being on cable channels known before, but I still find it ridiculous.  So since I’m battling some serious writer’s block, here are other things which I am finding ridiculous today.
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Ladies… Links: Something To Read So You Can Ignore Don Cherry

Bruins

The Bruins Saturday night in Vancouver. Boston will try to get back into the Stanley Cup Final series tonight with Game 3 at home. (Photo: Getty Images)

Just a quick hit to give you something to read between periods tonight.

Know how I always talk about the East Coast’s love for all things Boston? Here’s an article from the Globe and Mail that backs up my point, but only to a certain extent. See, what I got out of this was a) Bruins fans in the Maritimes consist of old guys who are missing their own teeth and b) the Maritimes consist solely of Nova Scotia…oh, wait, they threw PEI a bone. So this story drove me crazy all day. Yeah, I know it’s customary for Canadians in my part of the country to kvetch about how the rest of Canada views us. When national publications talk East Coast, they’re really just talking about Halifax (so we think). And the national CBC is even worse, as when they talk about the East, it seems to end at the Quebec border. Grrr.

So here’s a footnote to that Globe article. New Brunswick is home to two Bruins greats: Don Sweeney, who spent the better part of 15 seasons with Boston, and Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL colour barrier. For the record, I know far more Bruins fans out here than actual Canucks fans (apologies to those cheering them on because they’re the last Canadian team standing).

And many of them are women.

Here’s something to make you smile, speaking of Boston: one kid honouring his uncle’s memory with an assist from the Red Sox. I can’t hate on them when they agree to do stuff like this.

This is from a few days ago, but Star Wars fans will enjoy this tale from our pal Andrew Bucholtz at Sporting Madness.

And now back to some seriousness: keep Nathan Horton in your thoughts, OK? God, I hate seeing anyone being carried off on a stretcher.

The value of your catcher

With the Giants losing Buster Posey to a broken leg and torn ankle ligaments, the conversation about whether or not players should be allowed to collide with catchers is once again front and center. Of course both Posey and the Giants GM have come out saying that the league needs to examine the situation.

The problem is – there isn’t really any rule governing the situation, so there’s no rule to tweak or overturn.

But the Posey situation has brought up an interesting point – should you have one of your offensive superstars playing behind home plate? Isn’t it bad business sense to put the future of your offense in the hands of some guy from the other team charging home plate?

Posey’s ankle is going to require some reconstruction and there’s some that say there’s no way he’s going to be able to squat on it or come out of a crouch a 100 times again on that surgically repaired ankle.

The Twins gave Joe Mauer $184 million and are having to go prolonged stretches of this season without him because his back and knees aren’t able to handle the stress the position puts on them.

Apparently Posey has spent time working first base – a typical spot for a superb hitter with minus offense (Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols). It would be hard to imagine the Giants would rather have Aubrey Huff in the game than not find a spot for Posey in the lineup.

What do you think? Are you for or against collisions at home plate? Should teams put more thought into whether or not they have an offensive star behind home plate?

 

Beauty Hurts: Disabled List Hotties

Is it just me, or does the disabled list seem a bit full for only six weeks into baseball season? Maybe it’s because my Cardinals are already missing their ace pitcher, 2/3 of the starting infield and just barely avoided being without their entire outfield in today’s game.  But it isn’t just St. Louis, many of our favorite baseball hotties are currently out of action. Starting with …

David Wright

Out Until June 1

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Vacation Hangover Links

I’ve been back from my vacation in New Orleans* for about 48 hours now, and I’m not entirely adjusted, so please enjoy these links.  Somehow they are all about baseball, but that wasn’t intentional.

*The picture above was taken on my vacation.  That’s New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams 2nd from left, with the GM and President of the franchise, appearing at Jazzfest. I was a little disappointed that no players appeared with them, but Monty Williams is quite nice looking in person.

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When is it ok to panic?

Why is it that baseball slumps always seem worse than slumps in every other sport? Is it the daily losing that gets to our psyche? That daily reminder of suckitude that doesn’t allow you to forget about the losing?

Baseball has the longest season and therefore stretches of losing have less of an impact than in other sports, yet I never take a string of losses so hard as when my baseball team does it.

The Brewers are in the midst of a 1-8 stretch. Picked to possibly win the division this year, Brewers’ fans hopes were high heading in to the season. DL stints for Corey Hart and new acquisition Zach Greinke meant we had to temper expectations a little in April, but now we’re heading towards mid-May, the Brewers bats have been silent, and as a fan I’m starting to get depressed.

I haven’t reached the level of some fans, who’ve already given up on the season and are asking when the team will start putting Prince Fielder on the block and become sellers.

However, I’m also not in the “it’s only May” and “every team goes through this” group either. The awful defense and lack of hitting are real concerns.

It’s mid-May and the Brewers are in fifth place and 5.5 games back of division-leadingSt. Louis, who they just lost two of three to. I’m starting to panic. This was supposed to be an “all-in” season. Management mortgaged the future, traded away a bunch of prospects and basically made the push to win now or forever hold their peace. And yet, here we stand.

Even last week’s return from the DL of Greinke was ruined by shoddy defense.

I figure there’s got to be something I (or Brewers fans) in general can do to bust the slump. I haven’t watched a full nine innings in about 10 days because I get disgusted by the fourth inning and turn it off in favor of season 4 of The West Wing on DVD.

We’re going to the game tonight for Greinke’sMilwaukeedebut. Do I need to wear a tinfoil hat? Dress like Bernie Brewer? Pray to Jobu over a dead chicken (or bucket of KFC)? Perform a no errors dance in the parking lot near the Hank Aaron statue?

Am I too far off? Is it to early to contemplate panic? 87 or so wins is probably going to take the NL Central this season, but in order to make that pace, the Brewers have to win about 60% of the rest of their games – something they haven’t come close to doing so far.

So Ladies… when do you panic? And what are you favorite slump-busting traditions?

Brewers sign Braun thorugh 2020 – too much?

The Brewers yesterday added five years to Ryan Braun’s contract, putting him under club control til 2020. He had already signed a contract in May 2008 that had him in Milwaukee til 2015. The new contract keeps him in Milwaukee until he’s 36.

The deal in 2008 was and is the biggest contract for a player with less than one year of Major League service.

The new deal is worth $105 million for five years, with a mutual option for a sixth year. It is the biggest deal in Brewers’ history.

Including 2011, that means Braun will be making $145.5 million for 10 years.

The deal including $10 million in signing bonuses and though the details were not dicussed, also allows the club to defer some of the money, leaving them some wiggle room for signing free agents as they may need.

The deal is reportedly for $19 million in ’16, ’17 and ’18, $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020. The mutual option for 2021 is reportedly worth up to $20 million. There is a $4 million dollar buyout and the deal includes a no-trade clause.

Over the course of the whole ten year contract Braun is earning an average of $21 million per year, which is the second-highest ever salary for an outfielder, says ESPN’s Buster Olney. Olney also reports that this deal makes Braun one of just seven ever players to be signed through age 36 while spending their entire career with their original team. The others are Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton.

Troy Tulowitsky, who was the runner up to Braun in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting, is the only other major leaguer signed through the 2020 season.

But what do we think about signing a player for the majority of their major league career?

Though the contract does include deferred payments meant to help the club, it does tie up a lot of money for a small-market club for the next ten years. It could handcuff the Brewers in future negotiations.

The Brewers are taking the risk that Braun not only maintains the kind of offensive output he’s known for, but doesn’t get injured – for the next ten years.

The timing is interesting, because while Braun is having his hottest start to the season, 2010 was by far his worst year statistically in the majors. It’s calculated risk, but risk nontheless. They have secured one piece of the puzzle and cemented him as the cornerstone of the franchise. They now know exactly where they stand financially as the continue to try to field a team around him.

Does the benefit a small-market team gains in marketing a “face of the franchise,” outweigh the possible downfalls of such a long contract?

Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) like their icons. People love Robin Yount and the fact that he spent his whole career in a Brewer uniform. Brett Favre was a god. There hasn’t been an annointed Brewer for a very long time. After years of losing, the franchise has a new owner and appears to be committed to placing a winning product on the field every season.

But are those off-field reasons enough to justify locking a player up for 10 years?

The same questions were raised when the Rockies extended Tulowitzki – who was under contract thorough 2014 at the time they added six years to his deal.

Mr. Mondays (yes, we have three!)

Red Sox

See? The Red Sox still remember how to smile. (AP Photo)

It’s the Monday of a four-day work week for me. Don’t those Mondays seem like the very longest of Mondays? Ugh. And for that reason, I wish I had this post up for you sooner. Forgive me. How about I make it up to you with not one, but three Mr. Mondays!

Let’s start with a belated Happy Patriots’ Day to the good residents of my geographical neighbours in Maine, and further on in Massachusetts. The Red Sox celebrated the day by beating up on the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1. It was like the War of 1812 except, um, not really. At all.

But hey, how about Jed Lowrie who had four hits including a two-run homer! I haven’t done the research, but at .516/.545/.774, is it safe to say that Jed is off to his Best Start Ever? It’s just a shame he’s Scutaro’s backup. The win is Boston’s third in a row, so maybe we’re finally seeing the team we were warned about all along.

See who else made our Monday after the jump.

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Ladies… Linkups: With Added Opening Weekend Smugness (just a little)

Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins battling the Huskies' Kelly Faris (Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

How can a weekend recovering from the flu be your best weekend ever? When you spend it on the couch with your hubby diamond surfing through the MLB Extra Innings free preview. Yankees game only on at 5? Let’s see how the Pirates are doing in Chicago! Painful to watch? Let’s see how Melky Cabrera looks in baby blues! Wait, can we go back to Texas again? Because that was awesome.

Honestly, I’d get nothing done if I had the baseball package for my dish.

Anyway, it’s another busy Monday. Here are some quick links to get you through the day:

Tonight: UConn. Butler. No, none of us picked these guys in the Championship. But kudos to unofficial winner CuteSports! [NCAA]

Tomorrow night, Notre Dame faces Texas A&M for the women’s basketball title. Skylar Diggins had 28 points last night as her Fightin’ Irish downed the Connecticut Huskies 72-63, ending their run for a third straight championship. [ESPN]

When is a story about pants awesome? When they are these pants! Yes, the Norwegians are BACK! By the way, Canada is 3-and-0 at the Men’s World Curling Championship in Regina. [Globe and Mail]

You guys, Aramis Ramirez needs a hug. [Onion Sports Network]

Guess who’s first in the AL East as of this afternoon? The Orioles! Guess who’s last? Here’s a hint. I’m told THEY’RE THE BEST TEAM ON PAPER!! [It's early.]

Move away from the panic button and have an excellent week!

Your wait is over.

The rotation that will haunt our dreams. (AP Photo)

High socks. Eye black. Dusty mounds. Cliff Lee. Baseball is back for reals, and we at Ladies… couldn’t be happier. Many of us have spent the last few days figuring out how to weasel out of whatever we’re going to be up to at the time our respective favorite teams are playing. Me? TWO HOUR MEETING when Mike Mussina throws the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium. How am I supposed to sneak my phone in to listen to the game? ARGH! (although Games Mistress told me there was lots of rain expected in New York Thursday, so I may get my wish after all.)

It’s Opening Day for these Ladies… faves. Let’s see what they’re up to today:

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Hit and Run: With Spring in our Step

Photobucket

Here's Marquette, whose victory over Syracuse last night made me cry. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s Monday. How are your brackets looking? Like hell? Thought so.

First of all, a warm welcome to our special guest Ladies… Bracket Brawl participants: Melissa_thistle, Courknee35, Big10Bias and fellow Canuck/friend of the blog Andrew Bucholtz (you will go read his blog The 55-Yard Line now, won’t you?) Our current leader isn’t in our Ladies… group – due to technical difficulties, we had to create another group on ESPN.com so one gal could get her picks in. That gal is Buffalita, leading the pack with 460 points and picking Ohio State to win it all. CuteSports and Raven round out the Top 3 at 440 and 430 points respectively. Any hopes I had of repeating last year’s surprise success have been flushed down the proverbial toilet. I blame Butler.

Best of luck heading into Thursday! Sweet Sixteen will be hopefully be sweet for some of you.

So what else is going on? Continue reading

Your Annual “Ladies… On A Break” Post

Red Sox,Mets

A few of us could tolerate being here right now for our spring break, even with the overcast Florida skies. (Photo: AP)

We’re taking their annual blogging break to recharge our batteries. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in a week with all the fun that March has to offer: MLB Spring Training, NHL and NBA playoff position jockeying, and of course, March Madness (including our annual Bracket Challenge where I will defend my title as Unexpected Champ. I’m the Canadian. How does that even happen?)

Enjoy the next seven days!

When Injuries Happen

When news came, first speculatory Wednesday and then confirmed on Thursday, that St. Louis Cardigan pitcher Adam Wainwright had injured his elbow and would require Tommy John surgery, ending his season, many NL Central fans breathed a sigh of relief.

Wainwright was the ace of the Cardinals staff and his loss has a big impact on the other teams expected to compete for the division title – namely the Brewers and the Reds.

So when speculation started that Wainwright was done for the season, over at a Brewers site I write for, the reaction was mostly “man, that sucks – but it’s good for us.” But there were also a few “cheers.”

Most notably, Hall of Fame reporter Hal McCoy reported that the Reds’ Jonny Gomes openly celebrated upon learning Wainwright’s fate. Gomes has since denied that’s why he was celebrating and McCoy has removed the story from his blog.

But it made me wonder – what’s appropriate in this kind of situation?

As a fan, it’s difficult not to have a little private “YES!” moment when you learn that ZiPS projections are for the Cardinals to lose 5-6 more games without Wainwright, leaving them third in the division.

But is that wrong?

I feel like most every Brewers and Reds fan had a similar reaction to mine privately, but would not admit it. It’s not a very tasteful way to handle the situation. Singing and dancing is probably taking it too far, but if had been reported that Gomes showed joy upon learning about Wainwright, he’d probably still have been ripped and called “classless.”

No fan wishes harm upon an opposing player (at least, I hope not.) I had nothing to do with the ligament problems in Wainwright’s elbow, so does my private excitement about what the injury could mean for my team make me a bad person?

I was at a game in 2008 when Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo tore his ACL. Fans from the opposing team actually cheered as he was removed from the game. Clearly, that’s probably a little extreme as far as celebrations go – but where is the line drawn?

I’d probably have been pretty upset at any reaction from the opposing fans, to be fair – we get so defensive in situations like this.

So what do you guys think? Is any kind of happiness or celebration wrong? Or is it just human nature to look at the injury in the way most beneficial to you?

How I Crafted Like A Champion (or “A Peek Into The Demented Mind of Lady Bee”)

Craft Like A Champion

Can you guess what I made with this classic baby yarn?

It’s been a head-spinning 24 hours of breaking news: Forsberg’s retirement (*sniff!*), pitchers and catchers reporting (YES!) and Arcade Fire‘s tremendous Grammy win (OUI!). So dizzying that one needs to sit down, take stock, maybe do a little knitting to calm down.

While one of us Ladies… checks on Games Mistress to she how she’s faring through this Pujols drama (CAN’T YOU SEE YOU’RE KILLING HER, ALBERT?!), let me tell you how I made out in our Craft Like A Champion Challenge.

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So THAT happened.

null

I don’t even know if this should be an Advent Calendar of Hotness post or what. I’m a Phillies fan and I still don’t know what just happened. All I know is that Cliff Lee turned down a whole shit-ton of money, and I know that the rotation is absolutely disgusting and I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS.

I went to my first baseball game in 1993 when the Phillies played the Rockies. Back then, the Phillies literally gave away tickets to games in packages of hot dogs. Seriously, I remember 14 year old Maggie negotiating with her dad that if we bought TWO packages of hot dogs, my siblings could come to the game, and if we bought THREE, Mom could come too.

Halladay.
Hamels.
Oswalt.

…And Lee?

I can’t even.

Look, I know the world hates the Phillies and everything because they’re the new Red Sox or Yankees or Patriots or whatever, but this is…mindblowing.

Advent Calendar of Hotness – Day 8

I am just going to make the “day 8″ part of this, so it’s a good thing today’s ACoH selection has become very familiar to all of us over the last two months.  Ladies (and gentlemen, if you are so inclined), please enjoy the following views of NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey:

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Advent Calendar of Hotness – Day 6

Yankees

Hughes proved his worth in the bullpen in 2009 when the Yankees last won the World Series. Ah, those were good times.

Ah, crap, so we’re a day behind. Let’s just get my requisite Yankee selection out of the way, shall we? It’s Phil Hughes, he who won back his role as a starter in 2010, and he who was sadly on the mound in Game 6 of the ALCS when Joe Girardi decided that intentional walks were the Best Idea Ever. No, I am not bitter.

The California native had, in my view, one of his best seasons in pinstripes in 2010. His 4.19 ERA was, well, meh, but Phil went 18-8 with a not-too-shabby 146 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.25. If only AJ Burnett was that reliable.

Check out the pitcher who hasn’t had a truckload of money dumped in front of his house after the jump. Continue reading

Support for the ‘stache

Yankees

Just try to top the "State Trooper Giambi" look, as sported by Mike Mussina a few years back.

It’s been well-documented that we at Ladies… have a love/hate/complicated relationship with the moustache (and why is it so often associated with the mullet?), but this is clearly a case in which we wholeheartedly support its existence. As you may be aware, we are halfway through Movember, a movement designed to bring awareness to men’s health and specifically prostate cancer.

Community support always makes our hearts melt, so we salute the numerous athletes who have taken up the moustachioed cause. Continue reading

Hit and Run: Crazy Endings Edition

Saints

I mean, what else would you expect on Hallowe'en? (AP Photo)

There just something about Hallowe’en that brings out the crazy. Dressing like a zombie. Dressing like Gaga. Drinking booze that is clearly coloured by artificial susbtances and possibly has floating eyeballs. Eating far too many mini Coffee Crisps. These jackets. Whatever bizarre behaviour you engage in is perfectly acceptable on October 31st, or at least the Friday or Saturday closest to it.

The sports world was also full of crazy on the weekend. For instance… Continue reading

7 Things I Learned Before the Seventh Inning Stretch of Game 1

1. Cliff Lee is not invincible. Which seems kind of obvious, but didn’t it sort of seem like he was for a few weeks, there? It appears the baseball gods do not take kindly to media designated storylines such as  “The Year of the Pitcher.”

2. Fox seems to have abandoned the  “solemn and momentous occasion” theme they’ve used for both the All-Star Game and the World Series the last few years in favor of their standard blaring trumpet sports theme.  So they’ve obviously been reading our All-Star liveblogs.

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Cliff Lee is the devil

(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Just to summarize:

8 innings pitched

122 pitches

2 hits

0 runs

1 walk

13 K

Bee’s line

1.3 glasses of merlot (contemplated drinking straight from the bottle at 7-0)

1/3 bag of Lays’ reduced salt chips

28 swears

8 middle fingers (mostly for Josh Hamilton)

 

Damn you, Cliff Lee. Damn you to hell.

(I hate that you’re so awesome.)

And Then There Were Four

Why yes, that is a picture of Placido Polanco stuffing Raul Ibanez’s glove down his pants.  Thanks for noticing!

Enough goofing around: the league pennants are upon us, Fox has to start acting like the MLB playoffs aren’t something that just gets in the way of its football coverage (although to be fair they have a truly awesome NLCS promo which I can not find on the web but which prominently features a couple great Cardinal playoff moments plus Bartman), and fans whose teams win this series can buy shirts that don’t look kind of pathetic. (Unless you are a Rangers fan — you’re allowed to buy a Divisional Series Champs shirt if your team has never won a playoff series before.)  Two teams swept their way in, one team needed all 5 games, and one would have swept if it were not for the heroics of one Rick Ankiel (it is, apparently, a good post season for Cardinals nostalgia).  Anyway, here’s who we have left:

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The Ladies… Slightly Tardy MLB Playoff Predictions

 

Maybe we aren’t late. Maybe we just wanted to wait for Roy to be awesome.

Yes, three of the four divisional playoff series played their first games yesterday, and yes, Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Reds and totally ruined any chance I had of writing a “but it’s only Game 1 so it hasn’t got really exciting yet” lead in to this post, but some of us Ladies have once again decided to make fools of ourselves by predicting the MLB playoffs. But at least now the post will be illustrated by photos of actual 2010 playoff action, so that’s a bonus.

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Ladies and Gentlemen…

…Roy Halladay. Do I even need to say anything else?

HI EVERYONE ROY HALLADAY THREW A NO HITTER IN HIS FIRST POSTSEASON APPEARANCE AND I HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO USE PUNCTUATION

PS IT WAS ONLY THE SECOND ONE IN A LITTLE THING WE LIKE TO CALL HISTORY

PS NUMBAH TWO: OH AND HE THREW A PERFECT GAME THIS YEAR ALREADY.

For real, I kind of think my husband would be okay if I left him for Roy. Actually, I kind of think he might leave me for Roy. I’m not sure I blame him.

Down To The Wire

Say goodnight, Ozzie. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It seems like only yesterday we were squealing with delight about the arrival of the 2010 Major League Baseball season. Now here we are in the final weeks of the regular season. Some fans will be packing away their Pirates and Mets tees away with their capri pants and strappy sandals, reflecting on a season that should have been. But others will be biting their nails and rocking back and forth on their couches, popping Tums and living in fear that the stupid Rays will take the AL East (OK, maybe that’s just me)

Here’s a quick look at how the race to the postseason is looking heading into tonight’s games, and how this prognosticator (HAHAHAHA!) sees it going down:

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