This and That
Each week I'll give my thoughts on the world of sports:
• The Manny Ramirez story is a sad one. He was given a 50-game suspension for violating major league baseball's drug rules. Whether you believe his story or not, the bottom line is he is taking accountability for his action. This is on his shoulders and the Dodgers got off to a great start with him in the lineup. This is hurting his teammates, the fans, the organization, manager Joe Torre. Ramirez let them all down big-time. He will be back in July and we will see how he responds when he returns. My guess is he will be fired up and perform well to make amends for this. It is another black mark on baseball, and fans have to be disappointed to hear this saga over and over again.
• The Diamondbacks blamed a slow start on manager Bob Melvin and it cost him his job. You can't fire 25 players, so you get rid of the skipper. The fact that the team wasn't hitting, the front office allowed Orlando Hudson to go elsewhere and star pitcher Brandon Webb was sidelined, well, that didn't seem to matter much when it came to letting Melvin go. It is so easy to fire the coach or manager in sports, and it seems unfair. Melvin was a good manager, leading his team to 90 wins in 2007. I believe he will resurface to manage another team.
• What a way to start the season for Alex Rodriguez. He came back from hip surgery, and in his first at-bat of the campaign, on the very first pitch, Rodriguez hit a home run. Are you serious, do you think a Hollywood script writer could have done it better? His presence gives a Yankee team that needed a boost a major lift psychologically. When you see the numbers the substitute third basemen put up, you understand how important his presence is in the line-up, both with the bat and the glove.
• LeBron James has showed us time and time again this season that he is the star of stars. The MVP, King James put on quite a show in game three against the Hawks Saturday night. 47 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists WOW! When it is all said and done, I really feel LeBron will leave the game of basketball hailed as the crème de la crème, the best ever to lace up the sneakers. That's right, up on top over Michael the Magnificent, Mr. Jordan. Watching Michael play, I never thought I would make a statement like that.
• The NBA playoffs are often about guys stepping up. Just look at what happened Sunday afternoon. The Rockets were down two-games-to-one and Yao Ming was lost for the series with a broken foot. Former Oregon star Aaron Brooks picked a great time to have his career-high, scoring 34 big points as the Rockets took charge early in a 99-87 victory over Kobe and company. The series is tied 2-2 and it has been physical and interesting. Shane Battier has been a major factor and he nailed five trifectas on Sunday. I still like the Lakers to prevail, but Phil Jackson's team is battling for its life.
• Tiger Woods simply looked human on Sunday in the final round of The Players Championship. He really struggled and never got rolling in Tiger fashion. He finished over par for the day as Henrik Stenson walked away with the championship. Woods shot a 73 and ended up eighth for the tournament. Tiger started the round tied for second.
• Keep an eye on the New York Mets. Jerry Manuel's team has been hot, winning seven straight games. Several starting pitchers have come through while the bats have come to life.