Weekend Report

DODGERS BLUE AND TIGERS TAMED
PLUS, THERE'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES
INCLUDING VANDY'S NEW COACH AND BIG 10 TITLE GAME TALK

Wanna know a good way to draw some summertime 'heat' from your fans?

Try getting swept four in a row right out of the post-All Star Game starting gate!

Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Detroit Tigers -- a pair of teams that each entered last week's break some 10 games above the .500 mark -- were knocked on their collective kisters this past weekend and now we wonder aloud what's straight ahead for these two World Series hopefuls.

In the case of the Dodgers, the four games in St. Louis turned out to be an utter nightmare for manager Joe Torre and Company as LA scored a grand total of five runs while losing the first three games of that set at Busch Stadium -- and then came Sunday's major meltdown and more about that heart-wrenching 5-4 loss in just a moment in today's edition of Jim Sez.

Meanwhile, the Tigers also were 'broomed' four in a row this past weekend -- and Jim Leyland's crew only needed three calendar days to suffer that indignity, to boot. The Motowners lost a day/night twin-bill last Saturday (Game 2 didn't end till the wee hours following a lengthy rain delay) and then Sunday's 7-2 loss at Cleveland had the feeling of a team that completely surrendered (it was 5-0 after four innings and the Tigers barely fought back at all).

It's funny how one week -- and not even a complete week of baseball, at that -- can change the fortunes of a contending team:
It's one thing for hapless/hopeless Arizona, Baltimore and Kansas City to get swept three in a row while exiting the All-Star Game break as that comes under the 'so what else is new' category but you do have to worry about both the Dodgers and the Tigers who were sitting pretty seven or eight days ago and now have reason to fret.

We'll check on both of these suddenly-slumping squads in just a minute but first this very important reminder:

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Editor's Note: The National Football League Training Camps soon will be popping up all over the land and we'll have extensive in-depth coverage in the days ahead right here in our Jim Sez columns ... so don't miss out!

Plus, the NFL Preseason '10 is just around the corner -- that's right, the Hall of Fame Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys is set for Sunday, August 8th and so go ahead and sign up today for all the NFL Preseason action. Go online here for the sign-up info or call 1-800-323-4453 and speak with one of Jim's service representatives.

THE BASEBALL REPORT:

Folks, note that was no typo when you checked today for the standings in the National West -- the LA Dodgers (49-43) are indeed now in next-to-last place in the division and that despite the fact the Dodgers are a sizzling 23-6 against fellow divisional foes ... wow!

Maybe this 'lost weekend' in steamy St. Loo will be the Dodgers' so-called Waterloo of the 2010 season -- obviously nobody's burying 'em just yet even if signs continue to be shown that the cash-strapped franchise won't be importing any arms at or before this year's Trade Deadline of July 31st -- but blowing a 4-0 lead late on Sunday not only kept Los Angeles from somewhat salvaging the series but proved once-and-for-all that All-Star reliever/closer Jonathan Broxton is no sure thing despite some of his gaudy statistics.

Broxton -- if we may borrow a term often used by the late George M. Steinbrenner of New York Yankees fame -- really 'spit the bit' in Sunday's loss as he allowed two runs, four hits and two walks in a mere 1 1/3 innings of work and yet again the relievers that preceded Broxton in this one also staggered badly. If there is one thing that the aforementioned Torre is not good at as a game manager, it's handling his bullpen from season's start to finish and right now the late-inning hurlers for the Dodgers appear dazed, stressed-out and a tad worn-out too.

Not a good combo considering the likes of LHP Clayton Kershaw and RHP Chad Billingsley were torched in their starts last Thursday and Friday, respectively, with the latter giving up 7 runs and 10 hits in just four innings in an 8-4 loss while the former surrendered five runs (note that four of 'em were earned) and 8 hits in four-plus innings and there isn't exactly great depth to this rotation as no one exactly reminds you of Don Drysdale or even Don Sutton.

Maybe it's yet another bad sign that a high-quality start made by journeyman RHP Vicente Padilla -- one hit allowed in six innings -- went to waste on a weekend that just might be known for bullpen blowups as much as general offensive ineptitude.

Now, onto those Tigers:

Detroit (48-42) only spent three days in the rock-n-roll city but it must have seemed like an eternity for this Bengals bunch that was beaten by one run in both of Saturday's games and then was clocked 8-2 and 7-2 in the first and last games of this weekend series. In Sunday's unsettling loss, Tigers' CF Ryan Raburn crashed through a fence while attempting to make a catch of what turned into a thrilling inside-the-park home run by Cleveland 3B Jhonny Peralta and the Indians never looked back after pounding out a 5-0 lead after four innings.

The victory allowed the Tribe to register its first four-game series home sweep over Detroit in 19 years and the Tigers were let down by the #1 through #5 hitters in the order who finished the afternoon going 3-for-18 with a pair of RBI. Maybe 3B Don Kelly (.229) -- say what -- isn't a prototypical leadoff hitter and that was evident on Sunday and Cleveland's rookie hurler Jeanmar Gomez made his debut after being rushed up from Triple-A Columbus by allowing zero earned runs in seven solid innings of work.

In all, the Tigers banged into six double plays in the lost weekend and that included a pair on Sunday.

Once upon a time, Detroit was flexing its muscles inside the AL Central but now this new week begins with Leyland's crew 1 1/2 games back of the Chicago White Sox and dead-even tied with 49-33 Minnesota -- and somehow the post All-Star Game results weren't quite up to snuff for a team that may need another bat or two come month's end.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES

Raise your hand if you've ever heard of Robbie Caldwell.

The 56-year-old native of South Carolina is the new head football coach at Vanderbilt where he replaces good friend Bobby Johnson who strangely stepped aside last week after eight years on the job -- and all of 29 wins. Johnson didn't exactly do Caldwell or the Southeastern Conference school any great favors by quitting some three-plus weeks before the start of fall practice with the season-opening game against Northwestern just around the bend on Sept. 4th.

Maybe it doesn't matter as to the reasons why Johnson (29-66 at Vandy) called it quits but a little notice wouldn't have hurt as this club must be patched up in a hurry after going 2-10 last year and note that included a season-ending eight-game losing skid.

Caldwell claims he is going to 'tweak' Vanderbilt football just a bit -- he simply does not have the time to make wholesale changes this close to the season -- and so that leads to the speculation that Johnson might have known he was a goner at the end of 2010 and this way he's able to get his buddy a head coaching position that might not otherwise have become available,

Hey, we're just saying.

In other College Football News & Notes ...

Is the soon-to-be new-look Big 10 going to be playing its first-ever conference championship game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay?

There are discussions to that end with the first Big 10 title tilt slated to take place in early December 2011 and that begs the question as to what is going on with this ancient conference?

Once upon a time, this buttoned-down league didn't play title games and rarely agreed to play weeknight games (mostly Thursdays) on ESPN but now the Big 10 is changing its tune and a game at potentially frosty Lambeau could be both a big-time money-maker at the gate and on TV where the possibility of watching -- let's say -- Ohio State play Nebraska in a snowstorm would have plenty of eyeballs tuning in. So, stay tuned ...

Speaking of the Big 10, most so-called experts agree that if the Michigan Wolverines don't go bowling this year for a third consecutive season that third-year head coach Rich Rodriguez will get axed but is the maize-and-blue boss-man paying any attention to all this heat?

Maybe not as word is filtering in that Rodriguez once again will employ a two-headed quarterback system when he sees fit -- that's returning starter Tate Forcier and fellow sophomore Denard Robinson -- but the whole destiny of this 2010 team might well rely on a defense that is switching to a 3-3-5 look under defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

The Wolverines love what they've seen from CB Troy Woolfolk and active DL Ryan Van Bergen but note that Woolfolk did miss some practice time with an injured hand (also missed the annual spring game) and now Michigan coaches claim that this year's stop unit sports improved depth -- it better! ...

Last September we won our Upset of the Month (Ohio State +7 over USC 15-18) and our Blowout of the Month (Air Force -17 over New Mexico 37-13)! Click here to get on board for more September Sizzlers in 2010!


Finally, what will life be like this year for the Cincinnati Bearcats?

The post Brian Kelly Era will begin with a Labor Day weekend game at San Diego State and Butch Jones' squad will be looking at junior QB Zach Collaros to follow up on the good things he showed while starting four games for Tony Pike in 2009.
Collaros won't be looking over his shoulder pads at any genuine competitor here -- backup Chazz Anderson may be #2 on the team's depth chart but he's far behind the more polished Collaros at this point -- and if the team's spring game was any indication than maybe Cincy won't miss a beat at this position: Collaros completed his first 11 passes in the spring tilt and wound up completing 18-of-20 passes for 218 yards and two TDs and don't expect the former Central Michigan head coach Jones to change much from last year's high-octane offense that recorded 47, 70, 47 and 49 points in four of the team's 12 wins.

Meanwhile, the 'Cats are excited about the prospects of Collaros chucking it to WR Vidal Hazelton who came to the Big East school after sitting out last year following his transfer from USC. It's quite possible that Hazelton will be the team's 'new Mardy Gilyard' and so don't exactly write any obits for Cincinnati even if Mr. Kelly is off to Notre Dame.

NOTE: Catch our MLB News/Notes plus look for our daily NFL and College Football goodies all this week right here in Jim Sez.

 

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