Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fraud vs. Fraud

I've been saying all along that the Tampa Bay Rays, formerly the Devil Rays, would be proven to be "frauds." I used as evidence the 2-game series against the Yankees in July, where they played 19 innings and scored a whopping 1 run.

Yankees 7, Rays 2. So now, in their last 28 innings against the Yankees, the Deviled Eggs have scored 3 runs. That's a shade over 1 per game against the Yankee pitching staff, which, "as everybody knows," "isn't good enough."

Of course, it's probably too late. The Rays' remaining schedule is a killer that will likely allow the Boston Red Sox to repeat as American League Eastern Division Champions, and the Chicago White Sox-Minnesota Twins loser in the AL Central Division to be the AL Wild Card.

But it doesn't help the Yankees, even with Mike Mussina winning his 17th game (Number 267 for his career, surpassing Bob Feller, and notching career strikeout Number 2,786), and Joba Chamberlain and Dan Giese coming off the Disabled List to pitch solidly in relief of the Moose.

So now that the Yankees appear to be out of it, now is when they start playing like champions again. Swell. It's Fraud vs. Fraud.

Speaking of frauds, Alex Rodriguez hit home run Number 548 last night. That ties him with Mike Schmidt for 12th on the all-time list -- 8th if you take out steroid users. Then again, if you take out steroid users, then A-Rod gets taken off as well.

Schmidt was often booed by his home fans. But he also won a World Series. In fact, he won a World Series MVP award, a.k.a. the Babe Ruth Award. And he did that at age 30.

Ahead of A-Fraud on the home run list are Hank Aaron, who won a title at 23; Willie Mays, also 23; Frank Robinson, 31; and Reggie Jackson, 26. A-Fraud is title-less, and 33 and not getting any younger.

True, also ahead of him are Ken Griffey Jr, who's never won one (but has another decent shot now with the White Sox), and Harmon Killebrew, who never won one (although he got to Game 7 of a World Series). But if it's a late inning and there's 1 out and 2 men on and you're down by a run, who would you choose? If the pitcher is a righthander, I'm going with Junior. If it's a lefty, I'll take the Killer. A-Fraud? A-in't gonna happen.


Another fraud was the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, losing their season opener at Rutgers Stadium to Fresno State University of California, 24-7.

Apparently, our order from the NCAA Bakery of a season-launching cupcake didn't arrive.

I'm not surprised Fresno State scored 24 points on the road. But RU should've done better than a measly 7 in Piscataway. I mean, now that Ray Rice is a Baltimore Raven, who's the top running back, Alex Rodriguez?

Next game, Thursday night, September 11, at home against North Carolina, a team not to be overlooked. September 11. Let's hope Rutgers doesn't go down in flames like the World Trade Center did that day in 2001. Of course, if it does, the difference will likely be that it's self-inflicted. Maybe Greg Schiano should've gotten out while he could. (No, that's just the frustration talking. Stay, Greg, stay.)


My Premier League picks didn't turn out any better. I got these right: Arsenal 3-0 over Newcastle, Portsmouth 3-0 over Everton (I guess the real Everton was the one that choked against Sunderland), Middlesbrough 2-1 over Stoke City, and West Ham 4-1 over Blackburn.

I got these wrong: Wigan 5-0 over Hull City and Manchester 3-0 over Sunderland. And while these were ties, I have to count them as losses. I haven't yet earned the right to say that a team that I picked to win on the road, and then managed a draw on the road, counts as a "win." So I have to count as losses the scoreless ties West Bromwich Albion managed against Bolton and Liverpool got against Aston Villa. Still, after losing David Gerrard to injury for at least this game, the Reds have to feel good about coming out of Birmingham with a point.

Then there was the real shocker: Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur. Even though they're in the same city, it's got to be embarrassing for Chelski to not get a win at home against Spurs. Though an Arsenal fan would prefer to see Tottenham lose every game, such Gooners have to be realistic and accept that any game Chelski walks away with less than 3 points is good for the Gunners.

Manchester United and Fulham were not scheduled for the weekend.

Total for the week: 4-5. Total for the season: 14-15. For someone like me, who's never paid attention before, it's no disgrace. But it needs to get better.

And in Glasgow, at Celtic Park, Celtic 2-4 Rangers. Loss, though it doesn't count in the records above. I don't care: All teams called "Rangers" suck!


Days until Rutgers plays again: 8.

Days until East Brunswick kicks off: 9.

Days until the last regular-season game at Yankee Stadium: 18. (10 home games left.)

Days until the Yankees' season ends: 26. (Barring a miracle.)

Days until the Devils drop the puck: 37.

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