Archive for April, 2010

2010 Kentucky Derby Odds, Positioning, And Prediction

They are at the post… and they’rrre off!  The 2010 Kentucky Derby runs this Saturday at Churchill Downs.  This is the 136th running of the famed race where first place will pay $1,425,200 – a far cry from a claims race.  2009 saw Mine That Bird charge from way back to win the big one.  Is there another longshot capable?

Here is the starting position, followed by the horse and jockey and current odds:

  1. Lookin At Lucky (Garrett Gomez3-1
  2. Ice Box (Jose Lezcano10-1
  3. Noble’s Promise (Willie Martinez12-1
  4. Super Saver (Calvin Borel) 15-1
  5. Line of David (Rafael Bejarano) 30-1
  6. Stately Victor (Alan Garcia30-1
  7. American Lion (David Flores30-1
  8. Dean’s Kitten (Robby Albarado50-1
  9. Make Music For Me  (Joel Rosario50-1
  10. Paddy O’Prado (Kent Desormeaux20-1
  11. Devil May Care (John Velazquez10-1
  12. Conveyance (Martin Garcia12-1
  13. Jackson Bend (Mike Smith15-1
  14. Mission Impazible (Rajiv Maragh20-1
  15. Discreetly Mine (Javier Castellano30-1
  16. Awesome Act (Julien Leparoux10-1
  17. Dublin (Terry Thompson12-1
  18. Backtalk (Miguel Mena50-1
  19. Homeboykris  (Ramon Dominguez 50-1
  20. Sidney’s Candy (Joe Talamo 5-1

The one horse and the twenty horse, Lookin At Lucky and Sidney’s Candy respectively, are starting at opposite ends of the gate, but the experts see them finishing side by side.  Garrett Gomez is a much better jockey than Joe Talamo, but starting from the inside will be tough as all of the other nineteen horses try to close to the inside.  I see (1) Lookin At Lucky getting boxed in and playing no factor in the outcome.  Sidney’s Candy will finish somewhere in the top three.

My longshot to bet is the #8 horse, Dean’s Kitten.  I like Robby Albarado atop this horse and think that it is a blessing to start in the middle.  Another longshot worth checking out is (19) Homeboykris, co-owned by New York Yankees Manager, Joe Torre.  Homeboykris should lose by twenty lengths, but if he loses by more than that, expect jockey Ramon Dominguez to be pitching out of the Yankees pen in middle relief by July.  Post time is 6:24 pm and the weather is calling for a good chance of precipitation.

Winner:  #4  Super SaverCalvin Borel lives for this day and loves the limelight.  Expect his magic to continue.

Trifecta:  #4 Super Saver, #20 Sidney’s Candy, & #8 Dean’s Kitten.

Leave a comment and let me know what you predict and good luck!

Who Is The Worst Team In Baseball This Season?

Sigh.  Rather than list the best teams in baseball for 2010, I have opted to expose the five worst.  Unfortunately when any game is played, there is a winner and there also must be a loser.  Some teams have made a habit of losing, others have found new ways to embark on the shame of a wasted season.  Without hesitation, here is my list of the five teams who stink for the year 2010.

  1. Washington Nationals.  They are off to a respectable start, but don’t expect that to last too long.  Ivan Rodriguez and Adam Dunn both need to oil their leg joints before they can run.  The pitching staff is horrid and will only be semi-horrid when cheap-o management decides to bring Stephen Strasburg into the mix.  Too many no-names, too many washed-up veterans, and too many guys who never reached their potential elsewhere.  The Nationals will finish with the worst record in baseball this season.
  2. Houston Astros.  The slow start only magnifies the problems this team has in 2010.  Lance Berkman is back, but has nobody to help him on offense, assuming he can even get it going.  Berkman looks like he wants to compete against Kobiyashi on Memorial Day to see who can eat more hot dogs in New York.  Roy Oswalt is the ace of a staff filled with inconsistencies from the bullpen to the rotation.
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates.  I wish this team did not fall into the “worst teams in baseball” category every year.  Shamefully, it has been 17 years that they have been below the Mendoza Line and this year will be no different.  Pirate fans beware, this team is so low on the talent scale that management may try to deceive you into thinking that they are actually trying to build something in the Steel City.  Don’t be fooled, the inventory of players other teams want is so low, you can count them on one hand.
  4. Chicago White Sox.  Ozzie Guillen has run out of ways to motivate, so the White Sox brought in some new players for him to dazzle with his unique approach.  Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones are way beyond their prime and will not be contributing in July or beyond.  I guarantee you both go on the DL at some point.  This team being on this list is debatable, but cash your check in October when all the votes are in.
  5. Cleveland Indians.  Travis Hafner has been a disappointment over the past few seasons.  Don’t look for him to join Kerry Wood at the Cleveland Clinic soon.  Too many babies on this team.  Russell Branyan?  What is next, Richie Sexson or Doug Jones?   The Indians have gone the Pirates route in the past couple of years trading their marketable talent for money.  The attendance at Progressive Field ranks among the worst in baseball so far this season.  This is the same stadium that sold out four seasons in a row, now it has regressed to a reminder of old Municipal Stadium where you could buy a ticket by the flagpole in right and be in the third row by the end of the second inning.  The fans have spoken.

Honorable Mention:  Florida Marlins.  Hanley Ramirez is the only player on this team who is worth a hill of beans.  Their farm system has produced absolutely nothing, people talk about the Miami Dolphins and Heat all year, and Bobby Bowden is more recognizable by a 21-year old walking through a Florida mall than any member on the team, including Ramirez.  This team needs a complete overhaul or perhaps a new approach.  Maybe Florida could do their Spring Training in Canada to drum up excitement when the actual season starts.  Just a thought.

5 Reasons To Keep Rooting For Kelly Pavlik

Things did not go as planned in Atlantic City for Team Pavlik.  ”The Ghost”  lost his championships and Sergio Martinez danced around the champ all night.  Jack Loew and Pavlik did not make any excuses, they took the loss with dignity.  The conversations in Youngstown are swirling around gaining twenty pounds and fighting heavier and slower despite coming in as strong as ever.  Another public gripe has been the work of Sid Rumbuck, the corner cut man who could not stop blood for very long in any round.

Negativity stated, I refuse to jump ship.  I have great respect for Kelly Pavlik and below are the five biggest reasons why I will keep rooting for him.

  1. Loyalty.   Too many times when a person becomes famous, they have a tendency to forget where they came from.  Pavlik has always represented Youngstown and has vehemently stated he does not want to go anywhere else and that he is happy here.  “Defend Youngstown” instilled a sense of pride into a beaten community.  Saying it was one thing, but living it was an elevated statement.  To live in the greater Youngstown area, I admire Pavlik for staying home and representing this area with such passion. 
  2. Pride.  Martinez won the fight, but this war is far from over.  When Pavlik said he doesn’t like to lose and he will get his belts back, he hinted where his heart is.  If he opts to move up to 168, he better drop the sledgehammer and trade those monster truck tires in for a jumprope.  Pavlik can dominate at 160 as long as he can keep making the weight.  The decision that Team Pavlik is weighing is a tough one.  I think the pride factor will kick in and Pavlik will exercise the rematch clause he has with Martinez.
  3. Heart.  Roberto Duran screamed “No Mas” and wasn’t really even cut.  Pavlik took all Martinez had for the last four rounds and still didn’t get knocked out.  He didn’t quit either.  All too often in sports, an athlete is called a warrior.  Seldom does the title accurately describe the effort, even in a loss, that a participant displays.  For Pavlik to fight with limited vision and just catch punches throws him into warrior status for not quitting.
  4. Jack Loew.  Loew has been paramount to the success of Kelly Pavlik.  Nationally, people sputter and shoot their mouths off about how much better Pavlik would be without Loew.  Loew is the most underappreciated person in boxing.  He knows the game and knows what his fighters are capable of.  He is quick with a quote, fast to defend what he believes to be the truth, and understands what needs to be done to win.
  5. Champion.  Ray Mancini, Harry Arroyo, Greg Richardson, Ken Sigurani, Roland Cummings, etc.  None of them, including Boom Boom, held a title as long as Pavlik did.  In my eyes, that would make him the best.  Being a champion means you dictate what happens in your career.  Pavlik plays golf and darts with his friends, but he also spends so much time and effort on charity work.  Almost every major fundraiser in the area was not a draw unless Pavlik would show.  Using that sort of leverage in positive ways makes him a special champion. 

If you were a Pavlik fan but decided not to be anymore because he lost, you were never really a fan.  If you are still a Pavlik fan, embrace the future with a sense of optimism.  With the recent  loss, I would make him the marshall of any parade in Mahoning County for what he has achieved, but more importantly, what is still left to achieve.

 

Pirates Suffer Worst Loss In History, 20-0

Way back, even before the days that the great Honus Wagner donned a Pirates uniform, someone envisioned baseball in Pittsburgh’s future and started a team.  Despite the fact that Pittsburgh has not had a winning season in 17 years, they managed to sink to yet a new record-low getting clobbered 20-0 by Milwaukee.  The loss was the worst in franchise history.

Gone are the Spring training games that Pittsburgh did all they could to win in hopes of dazzling the locals into buying season tickets.  The flowers are not even really growing in Pennsylvania yet, but the weeds at PNC Park were sprouting in abundance Thursday.

This game was brutal on so many fronts that expose the Pirates as a misled, uncompetitive bunch, yet again.  Management knows what’s up, they only have two bobblehead nights this season.  The Brewers bullied Pirate pitching as they banged out 25 hits.  It’s what Prince Fielder needed to get going as he hit his first long ball of the season.  It allowed Jim Edmonds to believe he still has it.  It turned Randy Wolf’s start into an early Christmas present.  Pirate starter Daniel McCutchen was quoted after the game as saying, “I felt like I was throwing batting practice out there.”  Good luck finding a job as a batting practice pitcher in your future Daniel.

Oddly enough, the pitied Pirate fan can vouch that it could have been 100-0, it is still only one loss and that the Pirates are 7-8 and still on pace to go .500.  The rest of the civilized world can scratch a team out of the playoff hunt now.  The season is over, don’t even think about going .400.

The next question would be, when does the auction start?  You know that players will be moved, probably before the All-Star Break this time.  More problems, the cupboard is just about empty and nobody will be beating the door down for Lastings Milledge or Joel Hanrahan.  Pittsburgh needs to spend a little to get somewhere, the soil can not be turned over so many times and still yield a marketable product.

For now, get your weed whackers out, because PNC Park will be full of them this year.

YSU Softball Profiles: Kim Klonowski

Kim Klonowski is enjoying Youngstown State.  She has started all 39 games this season for the Penguins softball team and has more than respectable statistics batting .316 with 5 home runs and a team-high 31 RBI.  She was a Second-Team All-Horizon League pick last year as a sophomore and always poses a threat to smack one out against opposing pitchers.

Refreshingly, Klonowski gets it.  She understands that there may not be a million dollar contract to play softball professionally.  She understands what “student-athlete” means.  She is majoring in chemical engineering and takes her education very seriously.  She also was very good-natured and a tip of the cap to her parents for the great measure of respect she shows both on and off of the diamond.

 

Paneech:  How did you settle on chemical engineering for a major?

Klonowski:  I would like to think I am a good student (laughing).  My sophomore year of high school, my dad sat me down and said “find a major“.  He is an engineer and my uncle is a chemical engineer so I got into it and looked around.  The choice was then chemical or biomedical, and YSU had chemical.  I chose YSU because they had the engineering and they had softball, so it was a really good fit for me.

Paneech:  You lead the team in RBI with 31 and have hit a few bombs this year.  What do you attribute the power to: pitch selectivity, bat speed, or mechanics?

Klonowski:  I pretty much credit bat speed and mechanics.  [Coach Brian] Campbell has done alot with us to make sure we hit inside the ball and drive right through it and that has definitely been the difference.  I am getting comfortable hitting for power, but when you get one out you are lucky.

Paneech:  I came to a couple of games this year and quite frankly, it was freezing.  Do you think that the season should be moved back a month to play in more favorable conditions?

Klonowski:  No, I think you have to learn to play in the elements, no matter what.  When you play a game in the cold, it is a disadvantage to everyone who is playing in it.

Paneech:  Do you follow Major League Baseball?

Klonowski:  Yes, I am a Tigers fan, but Albert Pujols is my favorite player.  My favorite Tiger is Miguel Cabrera.

One Word Answers

Favorite TV Show:  Real Housewives of Orange County.

Fast Food:  Wendy’s.

Biggest Phobia:  I am a germaphobe, big time.

Best Movie Ever Made:  A League of Their Own.

Favorite Soft Drink:  Diet Coke.

Worst Habit:  I am constantly putting on hand sanitizer.

Favorite Cereal:  Cinammon Toast Crunch (every morning).

Musical Preference:  Rock, like Shinedown and Fallout Boy.

Worst Class Ever Taken At YSU:  Organic Chemistry 2.  It was so hard!

Best Class Taken At YSU?  All of my engineering classes are real cool.

Quotable:  “This year’s team has alot of fight.  We can be down a few runs but one person sparks a rally and everyone goes, it is very contagious.  We never give up, and that’s great!”  

Pavlik Loses War To Martinez In Unanimous Decision

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Kelly Pavlik trained hard, came into camp in great shape, and had more muscle mass than he ever had before.  Making weight was an issue because of the size.  Adding weight, Pavlik may have made himself slower as Sergio Martinez scored a unanimous 12-round decision.

Pavlik showed heart by finishing the fight, but the night belonged to Martinez who raised his record to 45-2-2 and became the new champion in thunderous fashion.

After the fight, Pavlik said, “He caught me with a nice left hand and he cut me pretty good.  I wasn’t shocked by how aggressive he finished the fight.  It was hard to make the weight, but I hate losing, we will definitely go back to work and get ready for a rematch.  He was a smart fighter and doubled up with the jab alot.”

The first round was pretty uneventful as most traditionally are.  The two fighters spent the majority of the round feeling each other out.  Martinez danced around Pavlik and connected often enough to win the round.

In the second round, Martinez widened a cut on the side of Pavlik’s left eye that may have originated in round one.  Martinez then went into cocky mode as he dropped his hands to his side a couple of times before retaking a boxer’s stance.    Martinez wins the round however, to take a 2-0 lead in rounds.

In round three, Pavlik landed a couple of good shots and the round could be scored either way.  Martinez was doing a good job controlling the action to this point in the fight, but Pavlik was getting closer to landing shots of his own.

Round four was another round for Martinez, who was smiling as he was landing each punch.  Pavlik was slower than Martinez, and had yet to deliver a trademark Pavlik power punch.

In round five, Martinez continued circling Pavlik but the champ started landing.  Pavlik landed his best punches of the fight and staggered Martinez about two minutes in.  The momentum felt like it was starting to shift toward the champion.

Round six saw more of the Martinez cockiness disappear,as he was much less glitzy than the first four rounds.  Another round for Pavlik who was obviously starting to slow down Martinez and was landing shots much more frequently.

In round seven, Martinez hit the canvas in what Martinez argued may have been a slip, but the ref delivered a standing eight count and Pavlik had his most dominant round of the fight picking up a 10-8 session. Martinez continued to slow and Pavlik continued to pick up steam.

The fight seemed even heading into the eighth round.  Pavlik and Martinez were close on the cards.  Martinez was working harder but Pavlik seemed like he was picking up a pattern and connecting more frequently than the earlier rounds.  The judges would have a tough one to score in the round.  At the end of eight, I had the fight scored evenly.

This is where the fight took a turnJack Loew’s prediction earlier in the week had him looking like a genius to this point.  Loew had stated that it would take Pavlik a few rounds to get the rhythm of Martinez timed up and that by round five, Pavlik would connect.  What Loew didn’t expect was for Martinez to open cuts on Pavlik’s face making it hard for the champ to see.

In round nine, Martinez bloodied Pavlik pretty badly.  The cut from earlier in the fight on the champ’s left side and a new cut, much bigger on the right side had Pavlik’s face a pool of blood by round’s end.  Big round for Martinez, arguably a 10-8.

Round ten was a big round for Martinez.  Landing huge shots, the doctors checked Pavlik at the end of the round to see how severe the cuts were and decided the fight could go on.

The last two rounds were target practice for Martinez.  Pavlik was fighting hurt or lacking vision for a good part of the end of both rounds.  At the end of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth rounds, the blood was streaming down both sides of Pavlik’s face.

Give credit where credit is due, Martinez showed up big on this night.  Unfortunately, Martinez is linked to Lou DiBella.  At the post-fight press conference DiBella was like a drunken pirate who just found the treasure chest on a map he found in a trashcan somewhere.  He gloated, took a few verbal shots at Loew who did well restraining himself, and just carried on and on and on.  Bob Arum even looked disgusted while DiBella rambled.  The one thing DiBella said that was respectable was that the decision of a rematch was totally in the hands of Team Pavlik.  “If Kelly decides to move up to 168, we would consider a fight at 154 against [Antonio] Margarito.  It is in the hands of Top Rank.  Pavlik was gracious enough to give us a chance, and we would do the proper thing by honoring his rematch clause.”

On the potential rematch, Loew remarked that, “I don’t have an answer yet, obviously.  Cameron Dunkin, Mike Pavlik, Bob Arum, Kelly, and myself will sit down over the next couple of weeks to make a decision.”

Pavlik’s cutman, Sid Rumbach said Pavlik would need a dozen stitches inside and at least two dozen stitches outside to close the cuts suffered during the fight and Pavlik went to the hospital immediately after leaving the ring, thus missing the press conference.

Undercard Results From The Pavlik-Martinez Fight

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All-in-all, the Kelly Pavlik vs Sergio Martinez undercard had plenty of good stuff.  It was a step forward for many of boxing’s future stars as well as some current fighters.  Kudos to Top Rank and Bob Arum for presenting a very good undercard.

In the opener, Dominic Guinn scored a 7th round TKO over Terrell Nelson.  The fight had a good pace for heavyweights and Guinn landed the big blows when he needed to.  Guinn improved to 33-6-1 while Nelson fell to 8-10 as a pro.

A battle of 142-pound fighters saw Vincent Arroyo hand Jeremy Bryan his first pro defeat in 14 fights.  Arroyo had a mad flurry in the fourth round knocking Bryan down.  The ref could have counted to 40 instead of 10, either way, Arroyo improved to 10-1 with seven KO’s.

Ronald Hearns, son of Thomas “Hitman” Hearns ran his record to 25-1 with an impressive first-round TKO over Delray Raines.

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Chris Hazimihalis then took out Ramon Ellis to extend his unbeaten streak to 2-0.  After his debut in December, when he admittedly came out nervous before unwinding, Hazimihalis came out full steam ahead in picking up the impressive win.

Undefeated Chris Jones (21-0) looked impressive in carving up Hector Munoz (18-3-1) in five rounds.  Jones claimed the NABA Welterweight Title with the win in front of a very partial Philadelphia-based crowd.  Jones tagged Munoz frequently and when he wanted to in posting the impressive TKO victory.

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In a battle of 160-pounders, Josh Snyder challenged Matt Korobov of Russia.  Snyder gave Korobov everything he had and both fighters landed several big shots in a very entertaining contest.  In the end, the judges awarded a unanimous decision to Korobov who ran his perfect record to 11-0.

The last fight before the main event featured another local favorite in Glen Tapia as he faced James “Shotgun” Winchester in a 152-pound battle.  Tapia bloodied Winchester with some big shots in the second round.  Winchester wasted more energy taunting than fighting at various stages of the contest.  All three judges scored the four-round fight 40-35 in favor of Tapia who jumped to 6-0 with the win.

Hazimihalis Runs Record To Perfect 2-0

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Chris Hazimihalis knows about being fortunate enough to fight on big boxing cards.  In just his second fight, Hazimihalis again was on a Kelly Pavlik Top Rank undercard with a big audience.  The foe challenging Hazimihalis was Ramon Ellis from  Philadelphia.

Hazimihalis wasted little time making a first impression knocking Ellis to the canvas in the first round.  The ring nerves that Hazimihalis had a problem with in his first fight were nowhere to be found.  Hazimihalis caught Ellis with a powerful short overhand right that sent Ellis down in the middle of the ring.  Once Ellis rose, Hazimihalis went to work using a strong corner flurry to end the fight in the first round.

The fight was stopped at 1:28 of the first round.  Campbell, Ohio had plenty of representatives in attendance including family and friends of Hazimihalis who ran his record to a perfect 2-0 in impressive fashion.

After the fight, Hazimihalis was happy he put on a good show in front of so many media members and onlookers.  ”Jack [Loew] wanted me to come out fast, it is how I trained for this fight.  I wanted to stay relaxed, and I was very relaxed for this fight.”

Hazimihalis went on to add, “I will take them any way I can get them.  I wanted to fight my hardest with this opportunity and show everyone exactly what kind I fighter I am.”

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YSU Men’s Basketball Team Announces Signing Of Josh Chojnacki

Youngstown State Head Coach Jerry Slocum proudly unveiled the signing of Josh Chojnacki to a National Letter of Intent.  Chojnacki (pronounced “shuh-NAK-ee”) comes from Erie, PA., where he was a standout for Mercyhurst Prep.  The 6’9″ recruit was named a Class AA First-Team All-Pennsylvania selection last season.

Last season, Chojnacki averaged 21.6 points and 11 rebounds per game and finished his career as the second leading scorer in Mercyhurst Prep history compiling 1,321 points and as the school’s all-time rebounder with 775  in his four letter-winning years. 

“In the Horizon League, when you have a post player that can step out and hit the perimeter jump shot, which Josh does extremely well, and have the ability to score around the basket it makes for a very special player,” Slocum said.

Chojnacki, who joins Kendrick Perry in the 2010-11 recruiting class, carried a 3.9 grade-point average in high school and plans on pursuing a degree in business while attending YSU.

“Youngstown State has been recruiting me since my junior year and I felt a real connection with Coach Slocum and (Assistant) Coach (Michael) Wernicki,” Chojnacki said. “I liked the campus, and it’s close to home so my family can see me play.”

YSU Announces Hiring Of New Women’s Basketball Coach

Youngstown State University announced the hiring of Bob Boldon as the new Lady Penguins basketball coach.  Boldon, who grew up in Louisville, Ohio, was a standout point guard for Walsh University.  Coach Boldon has ten years of experience coaching basketball, five at the Division I level.  His most recent venture was in the role of top assistant coach for Division I Florida Gulf Goast University.

Boldon is in a unique situation with the new task he has accepted.  On one hand, there is nowhere to go but up as the Lady Penguins are coming off an 0-30 season and hold the longest losing streak in Division I.  On the other hand, he will have to establish his ways to two other coaches recruits while trying to sign a few student-athletes to attend YSU.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to be the next head coach at Youngstown State University,” Boldon said.  “Mr. Strollo has a great vision not only for the future of the women’s basketball program, but the entire athletic department.  I am excited and honored to be a part of it.  I am also thrilled that my family and friends will have an opportunity to share in the excitement of re-establishing a winning tradition for the women’s basketball program at YSU.”

Boldon has coached at Akron, Walsh, Gannon, Wilmington, Lambuth, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.  His track record would suggest he is a good fit for the current situation of YSU basketball because he seems to go into struggling programs and turn them around for the better.