White Hat Sports Headlines

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lebron, if you're listening, it's me, Aaron.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will not win their series against the Orlando Magic, and here's why...

Lebron James.

I get that Lebron is putting up terrific numbers, there is no denying that. But basketball is a game of flows, and right now Lebron is killing the Cavs flow. He gets the ball, stands at the top of the key, dribbles around then with around 5 seconds on the clock either drives recklessly to the hoop hoping for a foul or shoots a long jumper. Because he is such a talented player he converts a large percentage of those plays, but he in turn takes his teammates out of the game. They never see the ball, so they don't know what to do. You can only set so many screens, make so many cuts before you get sick of not being able to at least touch the ball. And that not only kills your offensive flow, it kills your defensive flow. These players were all at one time the top player on their team, the alpha dog, and even the worst offensive players need to feel like they are part of the offense or their defense suffers. Just ask Ben Wallace. Players just don't play defense with the same intensity if the offense isn't flowing.

Don't believe me? Take a look...

Cavs playoff record when Lebron takes 25 shots or less: 10-0

Cavs playoff record when Lebron takes over 25 shots: 0-3

It's a lesson that took awhile for Michael Jordan to learn...dominate the game, but do it while keeping your teammates involved in the flow. If you allow them to feel like they are making contributions, they will succeed. Just look at guys like Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, Dennis Rodman and Brian Williams (or practically anyone on those Bulls teams other than Horace Grant and Scottie). Jordan rewarded them for playing hard, he gave them the ball in situations where they could succeed. All the players in the NBA are capable of playing roles and doing them well, they are the best of the best at what they do.

It's a lesson Kobe still has yet to learn. In fact, many dominant players never learn it. But Lebron is a different type of player, and I fully expect him to figure it out sooner rather than later.

It just might not be this year.

~Aaron Jackson

(Aaron is the co-producer of White Hat Sports. He is also currently a sports reporter/anchor for an ABC/Fox affiliate in Maine.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home Boys vs. The Away Boys

Oh yeah, I'm breaking out the Rock N' Jock Softball names. You like it.

So what's the deal, the Red Sox (27-20)? They are 7 games over .500 as I write this, yet they trail a kid named Anthony Swarzak in his first start. Beckett is truly dealing, aside from that bomb that Joe Creded touched off in the second, that if this game wasn't being played in a dome, would have reached Duluth. The Sox have dropped two straight on the road to the Twins and I will give some of that credit to Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey, but it seems to be a disturbing trend that the Sox just can't seem to hit on the road (10-14) and can out slug the '27 Yankees at home (17-6). My theory is that unintentionally, or perhaps intentionally, the Red Sox have built a lineup much the way that they did back in the Yawkey era. Get right handed pull hitters to drop balls over the big green wall. The heart of the Red Sox order right now is largely unbalanced. Of the hot hitters right now, the only non-righty is Ellsbury and he, Ortiz and Drew are the only regulars that are strictly left handed hitters. Look at the bench: Baldelli, Lugo, Green and Kottaras. Georgie is the only lefty on the bench, so forget a late game pinch hitter for a match up sake in the late innings. As we know, the numbers don't lie, here's how the Red Sox line up home and road splits (righty's in red):

Player Home Road

Jacoby Ellsbury .308 .306

Dustin Pedroia .364 .315

JD Drew .250 .263

Kevin Youkilis .433 .310

Jason Bay .284 .279

David Ortiz .212 .171

Mike Lowell .349 .274

Jason Varitek .347 .280 (Also is batting 100 points higher against lefties)

Julio Lugo .267 .275

So the only right handed hitter in the Red Sox line up that has a higher batting average on the road than at home is Julio "The Anomaly" Lugo. The shocking numbers to me were those of Jason Bay. I knew he had been hitting very well on the road and I figured that it would be that close, but I was actually surprised that he didn't come out into the Lugo group of right handed hitters who hit better on the road. Which leads to a quick tangent.

Jason Varitek is batting a solid 100 points better against lefties this season than he is against right handed pitchers. Isn't that enough to ditch batting from the left side all together? Wait, okay, Tek just went deep left handed. Screw it, I still say that he should just be a right handed hitter and the ditch the switch. (That could look good on a t-shirt. "Hey Captain! Ditch the Switch!"I see it in bright pink, blink blink, blinkety blink.)

So here's the contrast, 5 of 6 righties have better averages at home, and 1 of 3 lefties have a better average on the road and one hitter is only 2 points different on the road than he is at home (Ellsbury). So not only are righties better at home, you can make a case that the lefties in the line up are the same or even better on the road this year, hence why the team is 4 games under .500 when they travel this season.

But offense isn't everything, the pitching staff has been suspect as well. The starters have been spotty, and who would have predicted in Spring Training that the two pitchers with the most wins in the rotation would be Penny and Wakefield? Nobody, that's like betting on Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby. Actually my buddy Zach and I were close to doing that. Every year we pick a horse to win it and then we pick a long shot to win it. We looked at the list and we saw Summer Bird as a 50-1 shot to win and we thought that it had to be a good omen because we're both huge Larry Bird fans. Then a few seconds later we saw Mine That Bird, but for karma's sake we went with the one we saw first. So we actually considered going with the biggest underdog winner in derby history to win it. Damn you Billy Koch! (He turned me onto Pioneer of the Nile during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show.)

Pitcher Home Road

Josh Beckett 4.22 6.08

Jon Lester 5.02 7.04

Daisuke Matsuzaka 6.97 12.00

Brad Penny 6.14 5.81

Tim Wakefield 3.00 4.83

Once again, 4 of 5 starting pitchers have better ERA's at home than they do on the road, which is impressive because Fenway is always known as a hitter haven, though besides Wakefield nobodies home ERA is what anybody would consider good.

So what does any of this mean, it means that the team is based around right handed hitters that in the first two months of the season have mashed the ball at Fenway and haven't done it on the road and that coupled with the sub par starting pitching has cost this team a few games on the road. In other news, Jason Varitek has hit another home run from the left side and you will probably never see the "Ditch the Switch" t-shirt.

Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I'm going to channel my inner Hubie Brown on this one.

You are an NBA superstar in a major market. You have made millions of dollars already in your career and will make millions more before all is said and done. You were named the league MVP and (if it wasn't for the refs) would be a world champion. You have a foreign accent, something many girls are attracted to.

You are Dirk Nowitzki, and the best you could get was this????????
And she's a felon that is pregnant with your kid. I don't normally feel bad for millionaires, but in this case, Dirk, I am truly sorry.

~Aaron Jackson

(Aaron is the co-producer of White Hat Sports. He is also currently a sports reporter/anchor for an ABC/Fox affiliate in Maine.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Special Kind of Feeling

Tonight's Sox game had a special kind of feeling didn't it? The Captain hit two homers, Brad Penny had his best outing as a member of the Red Sox, and David Ortiz went bridge (Eck's word for a homer, I LIKE IT!) for the first time this year. Ortiz gave a curtain call, Penny didn't and Varitek kept his head down, and went into the dugout like he always does. Eckersley hit it on the head after Ortiz's home run, he said it felt like a special game, almost a playoff game, not just another May contest between the Jays and Sox.
I completely agree with this, and to me it didn't have much to do with the fact that the Red Sox were playing the only team that they trail in the standings right now, it had everything to do with the fans reverence for David Ortiz and wanting a positive sign to get behind that he was about to turn it around. Even the most ardent supporter of the Big Fella was starting to have a tough time conjuring up reasons for his slump or answers to the nay-sayers that said he was simply washed up. Tonight, everybody got what they wanted, Ortiz hit a home run and the first major sign of his turning it around has shown up. But Ortiz's home run wasn't the most uplifting "bridge shot" of the night, it was up there, but that honor goes to three other homers hit in the game, and two that were hit in that same inning.
During the game, after the Red Sox had gone out to a commanding lead after their home run barrage, NESN showed a story about a young boy who came with his family all the way from the Netherlands to live his wish through the Make-A-Wish foundation to go to Fenway Park and meet his two favorite players, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. They showed a clip of him talking to Varitek and his face beaming the entire time and then getting some tips around the batting cage from a smiling Mike Lowell. They gave him a tour of the clubhouse and hunt out in the dugout with Julio Lugo, Dustin Pedroia in addition to Varitek and Lowell. The boy and his family then got to watch the game and witness Jason Varitek blast a couple of home runs as if Kramer had promised them to him in exchange for a signed birthday card, and then just for a little extra icing on the cake, Mike Lowell went deep as well later in the same inning.
A special night is a night that touches people to the point that they will never forget a single aspect of that moment. And tonight will be a game that I remember for Ortiz finally breaking through and the warm response that he got from the fans, for one family from the Netherlands and a young boy who got to meet his heroes and see them do something exciting.

Oh, and the final out of the Red Sox 8-3 win over Toronto, tied a Major League record for put outs by an outfielder when Jacoby Ellsbury hauled that can of corn in. It all goes to show, you never know what you're going to see on any given night, in any given ballpark.

Sterling Pingree

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Breakdown

Well, that just happened.

Just days ago things were going great for the Boston sports fan. The Bruins, down 3-1 in their series with the Hurricanes, began to show why they were one of the two best teams in the NHL all year. The Celtics, constantly seeming to be on their last legs and down 2-1 to the Magic, fought back using heart and tenacity that hasn’t been seen since the days of Bill Russell. The Red Sox, despite struggling starters and a non-existent Big Papi, were continuing to win. To top it all off, the Sox, Bruins and Celtics all pulled off wins on the same night two times in a 4 day stretch.

Then it began to fall apart. The Sox entered their final west coast trip of the year, losing two of three to both the Angels and Mariners. The Bruins entered game 7 with all the momentum in the world, but ended with Scott Walker entering the realm of Bucky Freakin’ Dent with his game winner in overtime. The Celtics hit the bottom of their tank late in the fourth quarter of game 6, then had just enough left to tug fans along until the fourth quarter of game 7 when the Magic showed their potential.

Sterling and I witnessed that aforementioned game 7, not just from any seats but from loge box 17, 10 rows from the court. The view was great and the seats were amazing, but there was one issue that surfaced as the game went on. We were amongst all season ticket holders. While many fans were just happy to be at a game 7, these fans were mostly silent midway through the fourth as Mickael Pietrus did his best Ray Allen impersonation. They had blank faces, unsure of what to do next. This wasn’t just a game for them; this was part of their lives. For 49 games these seats were there whenever they needed a break from real life. At times they were their home, a part of their daily routine.

We've all heard of life imitating art, but last night was life imitating sports. The Sox aren't even at midseason, and although the Bruins lost they have a bright future. The same cannot be said for the Celtics. They are getting older, and their future, like their fan's expressions last night, is partially blank and unsure. They have multiple important free agents that they won't be able to afford. The big three have more miles on them than Black Beauty, my 1999 Oldsmobile Alero. And like Black Beauty you can see the rust, parts sometimes aren't working and it isn't as fuel efficient as it once was.

The good news? Right now, Black Beauty is still running fairly smooth on a daily basis. But I know the inevitable breakdown is coming and it could happen at any moment. The only question is how many road trips are left before it happens.

~Aaron Jackson

(Aaron was formerly the co-producer and writer of White Hat Sports, now Sterling's Sports. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for an ABC/Fox affiliate in Maine.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Papi Stinks"

"I'm sorry guys. I don't feel like talking right now. Just put down, 'Papi Stinks.'"-David Ortiz

He's David Ortiz. Big Papi. Senor October. And right now, he stinks.

Current Batting Average: 208
"Papi Stinks"

Current OBP: 318
"Papi Stinks"

Current Slugging %: 300
"Papi Stinks"

Current Home Run Total: 0
"Papi Stinks"

Maybe his wrist is still hurting. Maybe he misses Manny. Maybe he was on steroids. Maybe the pressure of Boston is finally getting to him. Maybe he is just getting old. Maybe the hole in his swing, the hole that Minnesota cut him for, has reappeared and pitchers are taking advantage. No one really knows.

One thing I do know is there are very few people that enjoy seeing Ortiz struggle. Fans and players alike all love the big man and hope he can rebound. While I feel the same way, I am not quite as optimistic, and heres why.

Mo Vaughn went from crushing 30-40 home runs a year with a great average to completely irrelevant after 10 seasons.

Carl Everett, while he had a longer career than Vaughn, had a 9 year span during the heart of his career where he hit double digit home runs each year, then fell apart (unless you look at his one year with the White Sox.)

Danny Tartabull also had 9 years of double digit home run production, then completely fell apart (again, other than one year with the White Sox.)

Richie Sexson had 10 years out of eleven (the outlier year he only had 90 at bats with Arizona) where he had double digit home runs before his average and slugging percentage fell apart.

Tony Clark had 9 out of 10 years (the outlier year being with Boston) where he had double digit home runs every year, then fell apart (other than one year with Arizona).

Heres where all of this hits home...

David Ortiz has hit double digit home runs now for 9 years in a row.

~Aaron Jackson

(Aaron was formerly the co-producer and writer of White Hat Sports, now Sterling's Sports. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for an ABC/Fox affiliate in Maine.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pat Neshek Interview

Pat Neshek is the set up man for the Minnesota Twins; right now he is coming back from Tommy John surgery. He was a few votes away from making the 2007 American League All-Star team. He has one of the best websites for autograph collectors and for baseball fans in general. He was kind enough to take the time and talk about all things baseball and music.

Sterling Pingree: You are rehabbing down in Fort Myers right now, how is it coming along and is there any chance that we see you back with the club in September?

Pat Neshek: Nope I will not be back this season...I will be back 100% around November sometime. Right now everything is going as planned and I feel great.

SP: This is the final season of the Metrodome. As someone who has never been there, I am fascinated by the building. For someone who’s never been there before, explain what playing inside the Metrodome is like for the home team and what is the perception of it around the league?

PN: The perception is the place is a dump...it is but for me I love the idea that a game will be played on time and at a nice 70 degrees every night. It's also very loud if there are fans cheering us on...I would imagine it's a hard place to play if you are an opposing player.

SP: The Central Division this year is crazy; predictions for the division winner are all across the board. Last year it was decided in a one game playoff this year it looks like it could happen again. Break it down, how do you see the American League Central Division playing out this year?

PN: Well I have to pick us on top...If you count the Twins out of it I would say it will be a game between the White Sox and the Royals this year.

SP: A World Series prediction?

PN: Not being able to pick my own team I'm going with the Cardinals Vs. Blue JaysI just hate people who pick the same teams every year...blah blah blah Red Sox blah blah blah Phillies blah blah blah Yankees...it gets old because nobody ever backs up how awful they have predicted things over the years...Twins last, Twins second to last...we pretty much get 1st or 2nd every year in the Central and people never get the hint.

SP: I’m looking at a shot of David Ortiz right now in a pregame interview and in his locker I see a full log of Kodiak and 6 cans of Old Spice deodorant spray. What might we find at the top of Pat Neshek’s locker?

PN: At the top are my hats, bazooka bubble gum under the hats, old spice deodorant...not spray though...On the right hand side are my gloves.

SP: I have always wondered how relief pitchers picked their entrance songs. Whether it be Keith Foulke coming into Mother by Danzig or Todd Jones coming in to Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows. Now I know you're into metal, what have you come into and was it a long process coming up with the right song?

PN: Basically it's whatever a guy wants to come into he can pick. I came out to ruin by Lamb of God in AAA and Chimaira - Implements of Destruction with the Twins. Not sure what I'll come out to next year, I think I'm going back with Ruin by Lamb of God.

SP: If you ever think of changing, I've always said that if I was a reliever I would come into the game with Harvester of Sorrow by Metallica blaring, I'll let you use that one if you want.

PN: Nice pick by the way, I like it when guys are original and pick songs nobody else would.

SP: You have a website www.patneshek.com, I check it out multiple times a day, I have an account on it. It gives fans access to a major leaguer like I have never seen before. How did this site come about and what is your vision for it?

PN: I wanted people to know the real story of a baseball player...not the sensationalism garbage that people read about everyday. In a way I wanted it to be about a regular guy in the big leagues since I knew I wouldn't get any media coverage being a relief pitcher.

SP: You are renowned as the greatest autograph signer in Major League Baseball, it seems like all celebrities and athletes have a philosophy on signing autographs for fans, what is your philosophy when it comes to signing autographs?

PN: To make sure when I die there aren't too many of my cards out there that are unsigned.

SP: You make yourself so accessible to the fans, what is the craziest fan story that you have?

PN: Wow there are tons...I like the TTM (Through the mail) letter I got from the brother of a girl and said it was her birthday and he would make her do anything if I left her tickets. It turns out she was on the Olympic Curling team and beat the brother up when she found out. He sent pics of her and autographs of the curling team...I was pumped.

Thanks a lot for taking the time Pat. The best of luck with your rehabilitation and I hope to see you back on the mound soon!

Sterling Pingree

Monday, May 11, 2009


Be sure to check back here tomorrow for my interview with Minnesota Twins Relief Pitcher, Pat Neshek. It was a fantastic interview, this is a much more real look than we get from most players. No cliches here, Pat tells it straight.

If you like it, be sure and comment on it!

Sterling Pingree

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mannywood? Manny Did!

Manny Ramirez has been suspended for 50 games for taking a banned PED. The first question in anybody's mind is and should be "What did he take?"

The answer may surprise you, he took a women's fertility drug. Now it gets weird because his friends came out before the information that it was a women's fertility drug and said that he was taking something to "enhance" himself in the bedroom. The problem with Manny taking a females fertility drug, besides it being illegal in Major League Baseball, is that when a man takes it, he takes it because it's used as a masking agent to mask steroids use. So to me it's not so much what he took that caused the positive test, it's why he took what caused the positive test because I doubt that Manny is trying to emulate the Octo-Mom (though nothing would surprise me really. Manny was breast fed until he was 4, who knows).

The thing that I find amazing about this is that among all the people who said that they saw this coming (once he left Boston), the only person who came out publicly and said this was once again the Massiah of Steroids, Jose Canseco. He came out in one of his speaking engagements this Spring and said that he believed that Manny had probably taken something to produce the numbers that he has. Jose was right again, people said he was crazy when he named A-Rod as a user, and people thought he was even more nuts when he said that Ramirez had taken something. The problem is that Jose Canseco is killing every stitch of goodwill that has been thrown his way because every time he's done a radio interview recently he's hung up on people who he feels disrespect him in the interview. Between that and getting dominated in MMA fights he's killing a dead reputation that should be getting the Lazarus treatment based on the fact that the wild claims that he has made are being found to be true.

The interesting part to me is that the goodwill and home runs that Manny brought to the Dodgers last fall made him the savior cometh in Dodger Blue. T.J. Simers has written a thousand puff pieces about Manny since he arrived, he's ripped the Boston fans for being cry babies and all the while never saw this coming. Did he investigate into this? Did he break the Manny story? Has he written a piece on it? No, he was too busy writing about the 3rd best player on the Lakers. Two other staff writers broke this story, I'm just throwing it out there that this differentiates this case of Manny Ramirez from the A-Rod steroids scandal, it's that someone like Selena Roberts was hunting down A-Rod and people like Simers are too busy praising Ramirez to dig into the batter box with him.

Where do we go from here, right now all we know is that Manny isn't going to play until July 3rd, and it's because he flunked a test because he took a women's fertility drug that he used as a masking agent. Now it's up Major League Baseball and the media to dig into this further to see what he was masking. That will be the most telling, all we know right now, is it's not good. This just the tip of the iceberg. For everyone who asked if Manny took ped's and said that Manny would.

You're wrong.

Manny did.

Sterling Pingree

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Allen Conspiracy

The Celtics won game 7, so it's pretty much splitting hairs to complain or talk about the horror that was Tony Allen's performance at the end of regulation in game 6. It was a triple overtime game, one that Bulls fans will probably think of the way it, the way Red Sox fans will remember the ALCS game 5 comeback last fall. It's a fun memory, but ultimately you were disappointed to lose the series. The problem with this game is that it wasn't on the up and up. Why you ask?
That's right I said it, and I don't mean the innocent way Tony shaved points in Blue Chip where "We won the damn game. Who cares about the spread, it's just for the damn gamblers ain't it?" The only problem is that the real life Tony, in this case Allen, shaved 6 points, up by 6 with a little more than a minute to go. I think you have to be good to shave points, you have to be able to control the game to effectively shave points. In Blue Chips, Tony was a freshmen but he was still the best player on the team. He could control the game and control how many points he was shaving and allowing the other team to get close, but not too close, just enough for the other team to cover the spread. Tony Allen doesn't get enough minutes to effectively shave points. There are two guys on this team that could shave points and those two are Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce and neither of them did.
While the Celtics were in Chicago for games 3 and 4, there were reported death threats made against Tony Allen's life. It has happened before also while the C's were in Chicago, from which Allen is a native. Most times guys get cheered when they return home or have to get 50 tickets for family and friends, not Tony Allen, he gets threats against his life? Please? When does this ever happen, there is somewhat of a precident with this and in Chicago nonetheless. Two summers ago Antoine Walker got robbed when he returned to his Chicago home. Either there is something weird going on in Chicago, or Al Capone is fixing Bulls games, in which case we might need to reevaluate the Michael Jordan era. (More on this in a moment.)
The Celtics had battled back from a double digit deficit in the 4th quarter and then taken the lead down the stretch. The Celtics were getting an all-time scoring effort out of Ray Allen, Big Baby (Glen Davis doesn't even exist anymore really, he's just Big Baby, I see him legally changing his name in the near future) was scoring consistently down the stretch. Then why on earth would Doc Rivers take Big Baby out for one of the most crucial minute and half stretches of the season? Unless.......DOC WAS IN ON IT AS WELL.
I can completely see a conversation between Doc and Tony before the game that went something like this:
Tony: "Doc, you gotta help me. I'm involved with some really bad people. You gotta put me into the game, they own me."
Doc: "Who owns you?"
Tony: "Mikey. I've gotta shave points tonight or else I'm going to be dropped off the Sears Tower."
Doc: "Mikey huh, okay I'll see what I can do."

I swear it had to have happened like this and how do they both know who Mikey is? Doc Rivers, is also from Chicago! That's right, the two people that could lose that game for the Celtics, are both from Chicago. If Doc doesn't put in Tony Allen, the Celtics win game 6 in regulation and Tony Allen might be dead. Instead he puts him in to save his Chicago brethren and boom, the Celtics lose the game and have to win a do or die game 7.

I even have a theory about who Mikey might be. That's right, you guessed it, Michael Jordan. Before you dismiss this completely, name the two greatest athletes in the modern era who have a reputation for gambling? Pete Rose and Michael Jordan. The Pete Rose story has been well documented, Michael Jordan however is known to play high stakes poker all night in Vegas and play $1000 a hole with his buddy Charles Barkley. Bill Simmons has a conspiracy theory that I find very interesting in which he believes that when Michael Jordan retired in 1993 and decided to play baseball he was actually suspended by David Stern for gambling. Not to mention that the biggest gambling controversy in the last 20 years happened just last year and it involved the NBA, does Tim Donaghy ring a bell? He was owned by gamblers and fixed games, playoff games. Is it such a stretch that perhaps there are other referees and/or players that might brush up against organized crime? If Michael Vick can make millions of dollars and do something as stupid and gruesome as arrange dog fighting, anything is possible. But what does Tim Donaghy have to do with this game? Tim Donaghy graduated from Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Pennslyvania. Who also graduated from O'Hara High? That's right, Ed Malloy and Joey Crawford, who were 2 of the 3 officials for game 6 of the Celtics-Bulls series. So now the tentacles of the Chicago gambling are spilling over into Havetown, Pennslyvania.
So where does this leave us, is Michael Jordan the Godfather of the NBA? Does he have anything to do with the 1985 Draft Lottery? Is Michael Jordan buying Chicago boys and was Tim Donaghy a scapegoat for a larger conspiracy? Is Tony Allen actually Tony from Blue Chips? (Allen doesn't have the jumper, but I could definetly see Tony Allen flunking TV and getting his girlfriend pregnant.)

Sterling Pingree