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Old 07-06-2005, 06:49 PM   #1
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Default [Sports Central Newsletter] #126 - MLB All-Star Picks

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The Sports Central Newsletter
July 2005 - Issue #126
https://www.sports-central.org
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|-- WELCOME --|

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====================================================

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

- Words From the Editor
- Hot Topics From the SCMB
- The O-Files: "The Return of Venus Williams"
- Editor's Pick: "NBA Draft Notes From the Garden"
- Shots From the Lip: "MLB All-Star Game is a Turnoff"

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|-- WORDS FROM THE EDITOR --|

Hello folks,

Happy 4th of July! Whether you need a break from the scorching sun and ubiquitous barbeques or are reading this after the long holiday weekend, we've got a jam-packed issue for you. Below, you'll find some hand-picked threads that are the buzz on the web's ultimate sports fan community, as well as newsletter-exclusive columns detailing MLB all-star picks and Venus Williams' return to glory with a surprising Wimbledon championship. Enjoy, and as always, drop us an e-mail with your thoughts.

-- Marc James
Sports Central Owner & Founder
mailto:[email protected]

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|-- HOT TOPICS FROM THE SCMB --|

What's the buzz at the ultimate sports fan community?

[MLB] Biggest bust of this season?
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12268

[MLB] Best season ever for a pitcher?
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12252

[NBA] take your pick... top free agent
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12269

[NBA] Suggestions for some NBA teams
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12242

[NFL] Which Is Your Favorite NFL Preview Magazine?
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12259

[NFL] no more Madden on Monday
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12222

[CFB] Top 10 non-conference games this year...
https://www.sports-central.org/commu...threadid=12265

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|-- THE O-FILES --|

THE RETURN OF VENUS WILLIAMS
By Brad Oremland

This Saturday, Venus Williams won her third Wimbledon singles title. She is one of the biggest tennis stars in the world, and her name is regularly in the news, so when I talk about Venus being "back," some people may wonder if she ever really went away. But if away means ceasing to be a serious contender at the most competitive events, then rest assured that Venus is just now coming back.

At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Venus Williams won gold medals in Women's Singles and Women's Doubles (with her sister, Serena). The same year, she won singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. In 2001, she successfully defended both titles. She has won 33 singles titles, 10 doubles titles, and $16 million in prize money. But Venus has been past her prime for years.

In 2002, she was overshadowed by Serena, who won four major tournaments in a row and was clearly the world's greatest player; Venus lost the top ranking and failed to win a major. In 2003, she won only one tournament, and in 2004, she won only two, failing to reach the finals of any Grand Slam event. At this year's Wimbledon, Venus was seeded 14th.

Fourteenth may not sound bad, but if you're not a tennis fan, you probably don't even recognize the names of some of the players who were ranked ahead of her at the tournament whose final she had appeared in four of the last five years: Svetlana Kuznetsova (5), Elena Dementieva (6), Nadia Petrova (8), Patty Schnyder (10), Vera Zvonareva (11), Mary Pierce (12), Elena Likhovtseva (13).

Names like Schnyder's and Pierce's probably are familiar to even the most casual of fans, but neither is a top player. Schnyder has won only one Tier 1 event in her career. Pierce's appearance in the finals of last month's French Open was the sort of fluke that only occurs on clay and while top players are injured. It was Pierce's first Grand Slam finals appearance in five years, and she was demolished, 6-1, 6-1. Neither she nor Schnyder has historically done well at Wimbledon.

Kuznetsova, Dementieva, and Petrova are all rising stars, and if you haven't heard of them, you clearly aren't a tennis fan. But it doesn't mean you've been living under a rock. Their well-ahead-of-Venus rankings say more about Williams than they do about the players themselves.

The mighty, clearly, had fallen. Just when things looked to be perfect for Venus Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis retired, Richard Williams (the father of Venus and Serena) reduced his public role, endorsement deals started to roll in everything fell apart. Jennifer Capriati made a comeback. Serena started winning everything. The Belgian Sisters, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne (who are not actually related), picked up where Hingis and Monica Seles left off. Then there was the Russian Revolution, spearheaded by last year's Wimbledon winner, Maria Sharapova. Through all this, Venus struggled with injuries; her confidence faltered and her ranking dropped.

The fact is that Venus has not been considered a serious threat to win a grand slam event in more than a year, possibly two. This Wimbledon seemed like a last chance for Venus to prove she still mattered. The stage was set: Capriati is gone again, Serena played hurt, Clijsters didn't play at all, and Henin-Hardenne lost in the first round. Venus beat Sharapova in the semifinals and advanced to face top-seed Lindsay Davenport without having dropped a set.

How low is a fourteenth seed? On Saturday, Venus became the lowest seed to win a women's singles title at Wimbledon. How unlikely was the comeback Venus waged after dropping the first set and falling behind by a break in the second? She is the first women's champion at Wimbledon in 70 years to have faced match point and gone on to win. How grueling was the match against Davenport? The final broke Wimbledon women's finals records for most games in a third set (16), most games in a match (39), and longest match (2:45). The third set didn't set a time record, but it was the longest since 1949. The longest point of the match, 25 shots, brought the crowd to its feet well into the third set.

If Venus had faced a lesser-known up-and-comer her victory might have seemed insignificant. But by beating Davenport number one in the world and the top seed in the tournament in an epic three-set marathon, Williams clearly re-established herself as one of the game's elite players. That's good for Venus, but it's great for tennis.

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Brad welcomes your feedback: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)

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====================================================

|-- EDITOR'S PICK --|

There have been 13 new articles posted on Sports Central in the last week. Check them all out at: https://www.sports-central.org. The Editor's Pick is:

NBA DRAFT NOTES FROM THE GARDEN
By Seth Birkman

If the 2004-05 season ended five days ago, then the 2005-06 campaign unofficially began last night with the 58th annual NBA draft, held at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. SC was there, with notes on what its like to experience the draft first-hand.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...the_garden.php

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|-- SHOTS FROM THE LIP --|

MLB ALL-STAR GAME IS A TURNOFF
By Mike Round

It's that time of year again in baseball the Home Run Derby and the All-Star game. For me, both are an increasing irrelevance. The Home Run Derby lost any credibility it had with the steroid use fiasco and the All-Star Game has run its course in its current format, despite the well-intentioned attempts to make it meaningful.

If MLB wants to keep the tradition of the game, then why not make it at the start of each season overseas, say Japan? That way the fans get to vote at the end of each season rather than in May and June and the game gets overseas exposure. Managers and players will gripe for sure, but then what's new there?

In the spirit of the times, here are my all-star picks for 2005.

CATCHER

In the AL, Jason Varitek stands out with his usual solid season, though he benefits from being surrounded by a hot lineup in Boston. 13 HRs and a .929 OPS are way above what any NL catcher can offer. Paul Lo Duca in Florida calls a good game, is a leader, and gets on-base, but he's streets behind Varitek.

All-Goat Jason Kendall of the A's. 73 hits of which 60 are singles. Billy Beane wanted more bang for his buck.

FIRST BASE

Texas's Mark Teixeira is also lucky to have quality bats around him, but he plays great defense and has 22 homers in the bank. He can only get better and stands out in the AL. Derrek Lee just edges Albert Pujols in the NL on the strength of carrying the Chicago Cubs on his bat all year. A .381 average with 24 homers, 66 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.177 is simply amazing.

All-Goat Jim Thome. No power no homers and too many trips to the DL.

SECOND BASE

Baltimore's Brian Roberts takes the AL spot after emerging from the shadow of Jerry Hairston, Jr. to claim a regular spot leading off. 101 hits, 16 steals, and 13 homers is more than anyone could have predicted from what was previously an unheralded player. He's been the spark for a hot lineup in the first half of the season. Jeff Kent is at the other end of his career in the NL, but he's been his normal self in LA. 15 HRs and 58 RBIs is exactly what the Dodgers needed in an under-performing batting lineup.

All-Goat Bret Boone in Seattle. Age has caught up with him.

SHORTSTOP

Back to Baltimore in the AL for the ever-reliable Miguel Tejada. Last season, it was 150 RBIs and this year is more of the same. 19 HRs, 60 batted in, and tremendous leadership. Sammy Sosa could take note. Michael Young in Texas and Derek Jeter in New York have had stellar seasons, too. In the NL, Felipe Lopez in Cincinnati has emerged from a thin crop. Batting .317 with 13 HRs is a career year so far.

All-Goat Christian Guzman has been shocking in Washington. Batting .201 is an embarrassment.

THIRD BASE

A-Rod has been his usual self in the batters box, but his glove has been poor. Still, 20 homers and 66 batted in will get him on any all-star team. In the NL, Aramis Ramirez in Chicago has followed on from last year batting .300 with 17 dingers. His days of being labeled an underachiever are long since behind him.

All-Goat Mike Lowell's game in Florida has totally collapsed in the last year.

OUTFIELD

The usual riches in the outfield in both leagues. Starting in the AL with the Angels' Vlad Guererro, who has battled injury to hit .350 and record an OPS of 1.014. The guy can also play the field as well as any. Manny Ramirez rebounded from a slow start and is carrying his team. The average might be down, but 19 homers and 68 RBIs is just the norm for a great hitter. Hideki Matsui has been a consistent force in New York and gets the final spot for the rugged and determined way he plays the game. If he's not re-signed, the Yankees will have made (another) dumb move.

In the NL, Andruw Jones has carried the Braves all year. Great defense and 26 homers on a young and beat-up team is just what Bobby Cox wanted to stay in a divisional race. Bobby Abreu is often overlooked, but he plays the field well, runs, and hits. What more can you ask? 52 batted in and an OBP of .433 is a stellar year in anybody's book. Carlos Lee in Milwaukee just edges Pat Burrell for the last spot. The Brew Crew isn't a great team, but Lee hasn't let that affect his game. His 72 RBIs leads the majors.

All-Goat Carlos Beltran has been a miss so far in New York, but even worse than him is Corey Paterson in Chicago. This was supposed to be his breakout year. He's hitting around .230 and doing a good impression of Raul Mondesi without the arm. Sammy Sosa should just retire.

PITCHING

Roy Halladay already has a Cy Young at home and he may be bagging another AL award soon. He's 11-4, but more impressive than that is an ERA of 2.40 and a WHIP of less than 1.00. Halladay has a fastball that hits over 95 on the gun and he can mix his pitches. Even better, he hardly ever walks anybody. If he played south of the border, he'd be on everyone's lips.

The NL is rich in starting pitching and with due apologies to Dontrelle Willis, Chris Carpenter, Pedro Martinez, and Jake Peavy, my selection is the aging wonder that is Roger Clemens. He may only be 6-3, but wins is no reflection on his year. An ERA of 1.50, 104 Ks, and an OBA of .182 is staggering for a man of 28, let alone a man who has a son old enough to play ball himself. Clemens just defies the rulebook. Just when you think he's done, the guy finds some more in the tank. He may have lost a few mph off the fastball since his days in Boston, but he's still the games best pitcher. He's wasted in Houston.

All-Goat Randy Johnson just edges fellow Yankees Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano. The Big Unit has shrunk overnight to a Shriveled Unit.

CLOSER

Mariano Rivera is nearly as old as The Rocket and he's also nearly as durable. Written off after blowing two saves in April in Boston, he's rebounded and hasn't blown one since. That's remarkable as the Yankee pen is diabolical. Joe Torre has managed to keep him relatively fresh for October, but he may be fishing by then. An OBA of .150 and a WHIP of less than 1.00 will get you a lot of saves.

At the other end of the age scale is Chad Cordero in Washington. 28 saves, including five in six days in June indicates a rubber arm for the former Cal State Fullerton closer, but he's on the verge of being over used having thrown over 40 innings already. His ERA is less than 1.00, so he gets the NL vote ahead of Jason Isringhausen and Billy Wagner.

All-Goat Dan Kolb in Atlanta. Can't strike anybody out and walks too many, a recipe for demotion after getting a big contract from the cash-conscious Braves.

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Mike welcomes your feedback: mailto:[email protected]?subject=SFTL
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)

====================================================

(Thanks for reading! Next issue will arrive on 08/07/05.)

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