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Old 04-08-2002, 05:26 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #74 - Baseball's Winners in 2002

The Sports Central Newsletter
April 7th, 2002 - Issue #74

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor 04.07.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- The Lancaster Report 04.07.02
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Marquee Matchups (MLB, NBA, NHL) 04.07.02
- Feature article: Baseball's Winners in 2002



Hello folks,

In the last week, we've launched a new column on Sports Central entitled
"The Jock Strip." Here's a little bit of background:

"The Jock Strip is a sports editorial cartoon series "for the
athletic supporter" and is the creation of Portland, Oregon's Greg
Turner and St. Louis, Missouri's Ken Karl. Their cerebral, often
hilarious, take on what's happening in popular sport culture is a
colorful addition to any sports fan's day.

These two self-proclaimed jocks have teamed up and combined their
love of sports and drawing to give you The Jock Strip right here at
Sports Central."

You can read this week's Jock Strip, which pokes fun at Giants star Jeff
Kent, at:, as well as the

Is Barry Bonds something else or what? Forget all the talk about a letdown,
he's trying to break his own records now! More on that later in this issue.

Until next time,

- Marc James
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Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia
or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports
Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from
baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers,
have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your
thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes.

In this issue, we're featuring another sports trivia question.


Since the NBA draft lottery's inception in 1985, who is the only team
NOT to make a lottery selection?

A) Lakers
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B) Jazz
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C) Knicks
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D) Bucks
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Note: If the text below each choice is not a clickable link, you may reply
to this newsletter with your selection. It will depend on your e-mail



Have a sports complaint, prediction, or opinion? Send it to us at
mailto:[email protected] and we'll publish it in the next issue!



In this issue of TLR, the NBA playoff races are looked at in full length.
Big games in the Association in the next week are also looked at, as well
as Barry Bonds' fantastic start.


By Ross Lancaster

First of all, let me start by saying congratulations to the Maryland
Terrapins who won the national championship on April 1. They played
outstanding all season, and in the end, there was absolutely no question
who worked the hardest and earned the crown.

With the college basketball season and March Madness over, the main focus
now shifts to the stretch run of both the NBA and NHL seasons, and their
playoff races. The NBA races will be the focus of this week's TLR.

--> NBA Outlook: Eastern Conference

The conference-leading Nets are up on the Pistons by three games and will
clinch the Eastern Conference with six games to play for both teams.
Boston is in sole possession of third and will likely finish there as no
one is close in front or behind the Celtics. Four through seven are
separated by just two games as Orlando is one game in front of Charlotte,
who is just a game in front of both Philadelphia and slumping Milwaukee for
seventh. The eighth spot is also tied up as Toronto, who seems to be
playing better without their superstar, is tied with underachieving

The most crucial matchup comes when Toronto will play Indiana on Wednesday,
and quite possibly that game being for the last playoff spot. Another
crucial game comes on Tuesday night when the 76ers face the Bucks, that
game being for the sixth spot in the conference. While the playoffs in this
conference should be good, they will be far inferior to those in the
Western Conference.

--> NBA Outlook: Western Conference

In the superior West, all eight spots are virtually clinched, but what
makes this conference so good is that the top six teams are most likely the
top six basketball teams in the NBA. While they are separated by 11 games,
that is just a factor of how much these teams have beaten each other up
inside the conference. In first, are the Sacramento Kings, who have been in
that spot all year and are three and a half up over the next closest in the

Tied for second are the Lakers and Mavericks, but the second playoff seed
will go to either Dallas or San Antonio as the Midwest winner will get that
spot. In fourth, are the Spurs, who recently came off of a 13-game winning
streak, but have been average since. Rounding out the "elite six" are
Minnesota and Portland, who have been slumping a little, but can cause bad
problems for any of those top four at any time.

The seedings are actually pretty much irrelevant in the West, except for
one factor: playing the Lakers. If the Lakers hold their ground at the
third spot, the luckiest teams in the West will without a doubt be the one,
four, and five seeds, since they will avoid Los Angeles until at least the
Conference Finals and are given two rounds for somebody else to possibly
beat the two-time defending champions. Get ready, because the Western
Conference playoffs are going to be something special.

--> Barry's the Man

Also, in Major League Baseball, Barry Bonds, as unbelievable as it seems,
has gotten of on the kind of track that will top his 73 homeruns from a
year ago. Four bombs in two games? Five in four? These are the kinds of
numbers that we put up on Playstation 2, not the kind that can actually be
achieved! Oh, and by the way, unlike last year, the Giants are 4-0 so far
this season. I hope we all realize that we could be watching the greatest
ever to play the game.


Send us your feedback:
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You are welcome to post your thoughts on the message boards at:



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 04/01/02 - 04/07/02:


COLUMNS: The Jock Strip
By Greg Turner and Ken Karl

The Jock Strip is a sports editorial cartoon series "for the athletic
supporter" and is the creation of Portland, Oregon's Greg Turner and St.
Louis, Missouri's Ken Karl. Their cerebral, often hilarious, take on what's
happening in popular sport culture is a colorful addition to any sports
fan's day.


NBA: Getting ready for the playoffs
By Jared Spinelli

Commissioner Stern runs frantic around NBA offices. Teams that have already
qualified for the playoffs are summoned to "battle." The leader of some
teams that haven't qualified for the postseason are talked to by the
Commissioner. It's that time of the year again - the playoffs are coming.
This is a look at the final week of the NBA's regular season with a unique


NHL: Rocket items auction provokes national outcry
By Josie Lemieux

Since he died in 2000, Maurice "Rocket" Richard is not only remembered for
his legendary career, but also by 250 priceless objects. An auction was
held this week, requested by the Rocket's family. No effort was made by
anyone to keep these precious relics in Quebec. Following the population's
fury, governments moved. Close call, says SC's Josie Lemieux.


TENNIS: Comeback of the people's champion
By Michael Cecilio

Many had already long forgotten about her. Those who hadn't forgotten had
probably thought she was as good as washed up. As she tries to pick up from
where she left off at Roland Garros in 2000, Mary will attempt the hardest
and most challenging comeback of her career to date, writes SC's Michael


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: College football's East Coast bias
By Piet Van Leer

Before the season even begins, the inherit East Coast bias is so dominant
that not only do teams out West have a problem competing in the BCS, but so
do their Heisman hopefuls, says SC's Piet Van Leer.


COLLEGE B-BALL: Let the silly season being
By Sean McDonald

Think college basketball is over now? Think again. No, there won't be any
exciting last-second shots from Creighton in the next few months, but there
will still be college basketball news. SC's Sean McDonald writes that March
Madness extends into the summer with the firing of coaches and players
turning pro.



COLUMN: Amico Report: Making a living
By Sam Amico

Long before the basketball world began to genuflect at high schooler LeBron
James' every move, there was Randy Livingston. In case you never heard of
him, Livingston was once called the best high school player in the country.
In fact, he was supposed to be the best high school player to come along in
a long, long time - maybe ever.


COLLEGE B-BALL: Next year's top five teams
By John McManus

With March Madness and the 2002 NCAA Tournament behind us, it is not too
early to start thinking about the 2002-03 college basketball season.
Here's an early preseason top five list and a few prognostications about
which underclassmen will go early or stay in school.



By Peter Friberg

With the 2002 season now underway, it's time to start thinking baseball.
SC's Peter Friberg helps you get in the mood with his all-original
previews. Don't miss the concluding part, Part 6: NL West.


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--> Major League Baseball

By Ross Lancaster
Record: 0-0

This issue:
New York Mets (Jeff D'Amico) at Chicago Cubs (Matt Clement)
Wednesday, April 10; Wrigley Field; Chicago, Illinois; 7:00 PM EST; ESPN

The Mets got off to a rocky start by losing three to the Pirates, but got
back on the right foot by beating the Braves on Friday. The Cubs have also
not done well as of late, going 1-3 against the likes of the Reds and
Pirates. However, there is no doubt this game matches up two of the game's
best power hitters in both Mo Vaughn and Sammy Sosa.

The pitching matchup of Jeff D'Amico against Matt Clement may not sound
attractive, but they are two underrated middle-of-the-rotation pitchers who
can pitch very well. Also, this one will be nationally-televised, so look
for it on ESPN.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Pitching - Cubs
Hitting - Mets
Fielding - Draw
Infield - Mets
Outfield - Cubs
Manager - Mets

Prediction: Mets 6, Cubs 4


--> National Basketball Association

By Ross Lancaster
Record: 3-1

Last issue:
Predicted: Lakers 101, Spurs 94; Actual: Lakers 96, Spurs 95

This issue:
Dallas (52-22) vs. Sacramento (56-19)
Sunday, April 14; Arco Arena; Sacramento, California; 9:00 PM EST; Local

Just two years ago, putting this game as a game of the week would have been
comical. However, the changing times for these two teams are beside the
point as these two are competing for home court in the tough Western
Conference. This game is a rare matchup of the league's best home team
facing the league's best road team, seeing as how they have at least beaten
each other once at the other's home.

Dallas has been somewhat hot of late, going 3-1 on a four-game road swing,
and beating Boston very badly at the Fleet Center. Sacramento also has
finished a road trip, going a blistering 6-0 in their time away from home.
Unfortunately, no national TV on this one, so this will be a treat for the
Dallas and Sacramento areas to watch.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Draw
Defense - Kings
Guards - Mavericks
Forwards - Kings
Center - Kings
Bench - Mavericks

Prediction: Kings 110, Mavericks 102


--> National Hockey League

By Lee Manchur
Record: 2-2

Last issue:
Prediction: 3 Edmonton, 2 Dallas; Actual, 3 Edmonton, 1 Dallas

This issue:
San Jose Sharks (42-25) vs. Los Angeles Kings (38-25)
Saturday, April 13; Compaq Center; San Jose, California; 6 PM EST; Local

By the time this game is played six days from today, this game could have
huge playoff implications. The Los Angeles Kings (38-25-11-4; 91 pts)
currently sit tied for sixth in the Western Conference while the San Jose
Sharks (42-25-8-3; 95 pts) are third.

Each team has four games remaining in the season, with the Sharks having
the easier of the two schedules, facing Minnesota, Columbus, and St. Louis
before their date with the Kings. Los Angeles, meanwhile, faces teams all
fighting for their playoff lives: Dallas and Vancouver before the San Jose
game, with a match versus Anaheim on the final day of the season.

On the ice, the Kings have the best power play in the NHL. In goal, Evgeni
Nabokov is not having as spectacular of a season as his rookie one, but
Felix Potvin is also playing steady. While the Kings pride themselves on
their offensive game, the Sharks are still a tad better. However, Andy
Murray is a great coach and will have the Kings ready to play the final
stretch of the season. The difference in this game could be a sell-out
crowd at the Compaq Center, cheering on the home-team San Jose Sharks.

Neither team has played extraordinarily well lately; the Sharks are just
one game above .500 in their last ten, and the Kings are two above .500 in
the same span. However, with playoff spots and playoff positioning on the
line, this is shaping up to be a great contest. If San Jose plays just .500
hockey the rest of the season, the Kings will still have to win all of
their remaining games to catch up for the Pacific Division title. However,
should that happen, this game will mean the difference between third and
seventh come April 13.

Just remember, no matter who you're cheering for in the NHL during this
crazy time - anything can happen!

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Sharks
Defense - Draw
Goaltending - Draw
Power Play - Kings
Penalty Kill - Draw
Coaching - Kings
Intangibles - Sharks

Prediction: Sharks 3, Kings 2


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Baseball's Winners in 2002

Baseball's just a week old and Barry Bonds has a staggering 5 homers, Pedro
has been shelled by the Jays, Jason Giambi heard boos on his home debut,
and A-Rod has a batting average of Al Leiter proportions. It's been a
strange week in many ways, but it won't be a strange season. The New York
Yankees will claim the big prize come October.


By Mike Round

After a shambolic offseason that failed totally to build on the momentum
gained by last year's epic World Series, the bat and ball game is back.
Financial and labor questions apart, it promises to be another season to
enjoy, with some tight looking divisional races, another potential homerun
record, and, in the NL at least, an open looking pennant race.

--> American League

First thing's first: who are going to win the divisions? The AL East looks
pretty uncompetitive, with the Yankees dwarfing their rivals. Hardly a
world-exclusive selecting a Yankee divisional title - right up there with
"Elephant Crushes Ant - Read All About It."

The Sox have upgraded during the offseason with the acquisitions of
pitchers John Burkett and Dustin Hermanson and outfielder Johnny Damon, but
the lineup still has too many question marks and the whole shooting match
depends on the health of Pedro Martinez, who is showing signs of spending
prolonged spells on the DL again this year. Compare the shaky rotation in
Fenway to the Yankees headliners of Clemens, Mussina, Pettitte, and Wells.

The AL Central looks poor, with the White Sox, Twins, and Indians fighting
it out at around .500 by season's end. Most neutrals will be rooting for
the Twins, if only to shove it up Bud for his crass handling of the
contraction issue. The Twins' rotation is the best in the division and
their little ball, base-stealing style manufactures many a W. They can see
off a fading Indians and overrated White Sox.

The West promises to be the best division in the AL, with a potentially
epic battle between the Mariners and the A's. The A's rotation is straight
nasty, with Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito headlining. Between
them they racked up 56 wins last year and are all on the upswing. Cory
Lidle is set for a breakout season, too, and would be a number two starter
on many rosters. The loss of Giambi will hurt the offense and it will have
to be a collective effort on behalf of the line up to replace his numbers.
Frank Menechino, Terence Long, and Ramon Hernandez will need to step up and
be counted.

Seattle won't win 116 games again this year, as Oakland will make a better
start to the season and Texas and Anaheim will be improved, but they'll
make the postseason with their workman-like lineup and steady, if
unspectacular rotation. But I'm yet to be convinced this club, in its
present form, can go deep in the playoffs. The rotation is exposed in
October, lacking an automatic go-to guy, and runs dry up in the postseason.
This isn't a team ready to beat the Yankees in October - or even the A's.

So in the AL, it's:

East - New York
Central - Minnesota
West - Oakland
Wild Card - Seattle
ALCS - New York over Oakland

--> National League

The NL looks far more open, with three potential divisional races and seven
candidates for pennant glory. In the East, Atlanta has juiced up a poor
offense with the signing of Gary Sheffield, a perennial whiner, but fine
player. Add to that a fit-again Rafael Furcal and underrated Vinny Castilla
and you have a rejuvenated offense. The rotation still looks strong, even
with questions over Grad Maddux's health. Jason Marquis could be one of the
best in the NL within two years and John Smoltz is slated to be the closer
of present. This is still a pitching ballclub.

The Mets have had an aggressive offseason as they finally try to get over
the hump that is the Braves. Roger Cedeno, Robbie Alomar, Mo Vaughn, and
Jeremy Burnitz have been brought in to help Mike Piazza get some offense
that has enough question marks to leave you with the deja-vu feeling of a
Braves division again this year.

The Central is the best division in the game, with the Cardinals, Cubs, and
Astros having legitimate claims to the NL pennant. In St. Louis, Big Mac
has gone, to be replaced by the steady and underrated Tino Martinez. The
offense is still a loaded gun, with J.D. Drew, Alber Pujols, Jim Edmonds,
and Martinez sat in the heart of the order.

If Drew and Edmonds can stay off the DL, this team can be serious
contenders. Despite the loss of Rick Ankiel, the rotation is strong,
headlining Matt Morris (22-8 last year), Daryl Kile, and Woody Williams
with a fit-again Garrett Stephenson. Jason Isringhausen is a great addition
as closer, a spot where the club struggled last year. The Cardinals might
have not only the best fans in the NL, but the best team, too.

Down in Houston, Jimy Williams has resurfaced to lead a team way stronger
than the one he had in Boston. A strong rotation, featuring youngsters Wade
Miller and Roy Oswalt, as well as veteran Shane Reynolds, is backed up by
power at the plate in Lance Berkman, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Richard
Hidalgo, and Daryle Ward. Overall, the Cardinals take it in as close race.

The Cubs will score runs with Sammy Sosa, Fred McGriff, and Moises Alou in
the heart of the lineup, but can Alou stay off the DL? Where will runs come
from in the rest of the lineup? Jon Lieber and Kerry Wood are a good one-
two punch, but the rest of the rotation has question marks. Good ballclub,
but this is a brutal division.

The West sees the Diamondbacks and Giants matched up in another head to
head. Arizona took it all last year on the strength of an unequalled one-
two punch of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling and some smart veteran
hitting in clutch games. Besides Luis Gonzalez, there's no real big-time
threat in the lineup, though Erubiel Durazo has great potential, assuming
Brenly gets him in the lineup every day.

The rotation is spotty after the top two, and closer Byung-Hyun Kim had a
nightmare World Series. I prefer the Giants, who look more balanced in the
rotation, have more offense, and Rob Nen to close. Having said that,
Houston and St. Louis both look stronger than anything the West has to

To sum up then, it's:

East - Atlanta
Central - St Louis
West - San Francisco
Wild Card - Houston
NLCS - St. Louis over Atlanta.
World Series - New York over St. Louis

--> Individual Awards

AL Cy Young - Mike Mussina, NYY (finally wins 20 games)
NL Cy Young - Matt Morris, STL (joins Johnson and Schilling in the elite)
AL MVP - Jose Cruz, Jr., TOR (longshot, but set for a breakout season of
better than 30-100-30)
NL MVP - Vladimir Guerrero, MON (despite playing in Canada, this guy has it
all - power, RBIs, steals, and a glove)


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Special thanks to our newsletter editor, Lee Manchur! Visit his web site:

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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 04/21/02.)

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