By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
1. Well hello there, and welcome into another Thursday edition of The Numbers Game. I am currently writing this piece while feeling extremely under the radar, so bear with me this week as I try and perform like Jordan in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Yeah, I am reaching for the stars this week folks.
2. While sitting on the couch with nothing to do but try and rest up, I spent my Wednesday evening watching some incredible baseball around the Major Leagues. Two accomplishments occurred that I haven’t seen in my days of watching baseball: Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes in his start versus Los Angeles, and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee threw 10 innings of scoreless baseball. If I had to declare which feat was greater, I would say the 38 consecutive strikes, because I know from pitching against high school players that staying in and around the zone effectively is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. I can’t even imagine how insane it must be to do against professional hitters. Overall it was a great night of baseball that even included the Rangers and Rays coming away victorious.
3. I have come to the conclusion that the only way a team is going to be able to beat the Rangers in a best-of-seven playoff series is if they can outslug them at the plate and basically create a track meet on the bases. They are one of the few teams that can put pressure on opposing pitchers regardless of who is stepping up to the plate. That is why Tampa Bay has had zero success against Texas the past two seasons in the playoffs. Because, despite the quality pitching from the Rays staff, the Rangers were able to capitalize on Tampa’s mistakes with extra base hits and home runs while the Rays simply could not. So the only teams who can seriously put pressure offensively on Texas in a seven game series would be Detroit, New York, and possibly Los Angeles, which is why the four game series at Detroit this weekend is going to be something to watch if you are a Rangers fan.
4. Maybe I just never really paid much attention to it, but does anyone else seem surprised by how many wild pitches and passed balls there have been this season? I swear in every game that I watch there are at least three or four balls that hit the backstop. I always thought that only existed at the select ball level.
5. One of the guiltiest pleasures in all of sports is NFL schedule release day, where every fan sits anxiously in front of a TV and begins analyzing their favorite team’s upcoming season before the draft or training camp has even taken place. And to be perfectly fair I did get online right at 6 p.m. to see just how the schedule will look this season for the Leos, but I tried to limit how much I tuned into the three-hour long schedule release program on ESPN because I figured I had to draw my line somewhere. But just because it has become the American thing to do, here is my quick analysis of the Dallas Cowboys schedule for 2012.
6. After a loss on opening night to New York (the visiting team is winless in the Thursday night season openers since 2004), the Boys could go into their bye in Week 5 at 3-1 with wins at Seattle and home against Tampa Bay and Chicago. After two straight road losses to Baltimore and Cam Newton, the Boys get a huge win at home versus the Giants to improve to 4-3. After two more road losses to Atlanta and Philly to drop Dallas to 4-5, the Boys reel off three straight home wins versus Cleveland, RGIII on Turkey Day, and whoever is backing up Michael Vick in Week 13. With their record now 7-5 and needing three more wins to pretty much seal up a wild card spot, the Boys lose two straight at Cincinnati and home versus Pittsburgh to drop to 7-7. Dallas knocks off New Orleans at home on the eve of Christmas Eve and finishes off the season with a beat down of the Redskins in Washington to finish 9-7 and one game short of the last playoff spot in the NFC. Just so I can put it down on paper and recorded in the official books, my brother declares that Dallas will go 16-0. Pressure is on you, Romo.
7. One of the greatest catchers to ever play the game and an all-time fan favorite in Texas will officially hang up his cleats on Monday in Arlington. Of course I am speaking of Pudge Rodriguez, whose 13 Gold Gloves, 2,427 games, 2,844 hits, and 311 career home runs don’t even begin to tell the story of just how incredible of a ball player and a man that Pudge was in the Major Leagues. I can’t wait to see number seven retired at the Ballpark in Arlington and hanging up in left field. While I am relieved that he is retiring as a Texas Ranger, I am sad to say that we all may never see another catcher like Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez for a very, very long time.
8. Last weekend I was finally able to head out to the movies and catch “21 Jump Street” and I must say that I was thoroughly impressed from start to finish. A lot of people have compared it to a more trippy “The Other Guys” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Those comparisons do seem appropriate in terms of some of the jokes and the format of the movie. But when it comes to pure laughs and stupidity at the lowest of levels, Jump Street definitely delivers with a loud and resounding bang. And you have to love the Johnny Depp sighting towards to end of the movie, paying tribute to the old television series of the same name. Very nice touch by director Phil Lord.
9. This is why relying on your 10 p.m. news to bring you sports coverage is the worst decision that you can make. Just for clarification, the Florida Panthers of the NHL are playing the New Jersey Devils in the playoffs, not the Florida International University Panthers of the Sun Belt Conference.
10. Whatever game that the Pittsburgh Steelers bring these out for, remind me to turn off the TV and prepare for the end of the world. My goodness, those are hideous.
11. It is down to Cam Newton and Calvin Johnson for the right to grace the cover of Madden NFL 13 and I must tell all of you right now that I am petrified of next Tuesday’s results. I talked a little bit about this last week, but I do believe in the Madden curse and would rather be safe than sorry when dealing which such a matter. But I am still slightly torn with whether or not I should vote for Megatron simply because I have never seen a Lion grace the cover of the video game. Plus, after years and years of losing and No. 1 overall draft picks, it would be pretty insane to have the cover athlete on Madden 13 and get five nationally televised games in the matter of a week.
12. I have to say that the “hologram” Tupac at Coachella was one of the most fascinating videos I have ever seen in my lifetime. Even though we have come to find out that the image was a very fancy method of using CGI and various projectors, the idea of taking deceased artists and recreating them in life-like size and performance will begin getting more popular in the next few years as technology continues to be enhanced. As an avid hip-hop listener, this had me going back on my iPod and pulling up a couple old school Pac tunes the last couple of days.
13. Song of the Week: Words I Never Said – Lupe Fiasco FT. Skylar Grey. I am going back in time about a year or so, but I recently stumbled upon this song during a drive to school this week and forgot just how powerful this song was. With Skylar Grey providing one of the more perfect choruses for a hip-hop track, Lupe discusses his political outrages, his Muslim background, and some of the key social issues that dominated to news in 2011. I also recommend checking out the music video to the song because Lupe does a very good job of taking the words in his song and creating a powerful image that definitely leaves you walking away in thought.
14. I hope everybody knows that The Sports Bruu Podcast is now available for download at iTunes for free! Simply search ‘Sports Bruu’ and subscribe to the feed for your weekly edition of TSB Podcast. This week we aired the first ever edition of the segment we called ‘Ask The Married Guy’, and according to several people that I have talked to, the segment is a huge success. So if you want to hear a couple guys discuss love and sometimes sports, The Sports Bruu Podcast needs to be on your iPod.
15. During the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup run in 1999 you couldn’t find a bigger fan than myself, but after I started developing a stronger love for baseball and the NHL strike occurred in 2004, I kind of fell off the hockey bandwagon and never fully got back on. But I have realized over the past couple of years that I cannot miss the drama of the NHL playoffs and have made it a point of interest to catch parts of games every single night. Game 3 of the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series was absolutely incredible with all of the fighting and the questionable goaltending, but all in all every series has been intriguing to watch. I just don’t understand why CNBC is broadcasting games and that the Florida-New Jersey series is always on NHL Network. I still can’t find both channels and I have been looking since 4 o’clock Wednesday afternoon!
16. The NFL, NFL Network, and ESPN have agreed to not show draftees on the phone before they have been officially drafted during next week’s NFL Draft in an effort to provide more drama and suspense to each pick. I have always been dumbfounded why the league and the two networks continued to show every player on the phone way before they were officially announced, ultimately rendering the official announcement rather useless. This is a good call by the NFL and will definitely make the first round much more entertaining to watch next Thursday.
17. Well I don’t know if I was exactly Jordan in the clutch this week, but I think I put together an effort that I can be very proud of. Before I bid you all a farewell this week, today marks the beginning of a countdown to an event that I have been looking forward to for several months now. In 99 days I will be walking the beaches of Hawaii and enjoying a much-needed week long vacation. Let the countdown begin. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.