Sunday Sports Grab Bag



By Jim Hurley

It's that time of the year again, folks:

The Major-League Baseball All-Star Game - whether you love it or hate it - is just a couple of days away and so here's your final opportunity to eyeball some meaningful baseball till Thursday (and note that's a rather abbreviated schedule with only seven games overall on the docket) and keep in mind this final Sunday before the break often brings such neat stuff as starting pitchers coming in for an inning or so ... it might be the only day of the year that Philadelphia RHP Roy Halladay gets a save opportunity or maybe it's Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver looking to get out a batter or two in the eighth inning of his team's matinee game against Seattle.

One thing for sure:

There is a handful of red-hot teams that would rather not get the prolonged break in play here and among them are the streaking Boston Red Sox and the born-again Minnesota Twins from the American League along with the aforementioned Phillies and Atlanta Braves hailing from the National League East along with - oh, yes -- the suddenly alive Florida Marlins from the very same division.

Hey, there's more MLB action to chat up shortly along with NCAA Football too but first this key pre-All-Star Game break reminder:

And now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners! Keep in mind we'll have the Side & Totals of next Tuesday's All-Star Game from Arizona when you check in game-day afternoon after 1 p.m. ET. Got it?  


One of the "hot topics" heading into this upcoming All-Star Game in Arizona is the exclusion of do-it-all Pittsburgh Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen (.292 batting average with 13 HRs and 14 49 RBI thru Friday's games) from the NL All-Stars and media reports claim Buccos manager Clint Hurdle and San Francisco Giants skipper Bruce Bochy - a World Series manager last year and thus the manager of the NL All-Stars this year - had a 15-minute "air it out" session via the telephone.

Hey, maybe the talk affected Bochy who managed terribly in Friday's 5-2 loss to the visiting New York Mets as some of his late-game maneuvers were highly questionable (even the oft-conservative Mets announcing team was bewildered). Again, maybe it's high time to change the whole entire process of selecting the All-Stars because Bochy really seemed to botch up a few things this year ...

Speaking of All-Stars, the AL side picked Boston 3B Kevin Youkilis to replace injured New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (knee) for Tuesday's game in the desert but - than again - our question is why wasn't Youiklis (59 RBI) part of the junior circuit's team in the first place?

The funny thing about the inclusions/exclusions that has us - and a lot of other folks, for that matter - talking these days is that seemingly little is being said about the All-Star Game being for "home field advantage" in the World Series. The Yanks have seen Rodriguez, SS Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera all pull out of the game in recent days - don't the Bronx Bombers want that Game 7 of the World Series to be in their backyard as opposed to having to play it in Philly or San Francisco, let's say?

Finally, we talked up the Twins who exited Friday's 8-5 win at the White Sox having won eight of their last 10 games and isn't it something how Minny's thrived despite the fact there are five players on the DL including CF Denard Span (concussion) who ran the bases prior to Friday's game and reported no problems.

Even with a short-handed lineup (no 1B Justin Morneau and no DH Jim Thome with the latter just getting a day's rest) the Twins whacked out 14 base hits in beating the Chisox for the sixth time in as many meetings this year and for the 28th time in the last 34 head-to-head affairs. Folks, if you happen to be keeping track than note Minnesota is playing .823 ball against the rival White Sox in recent years. Wow!


Okay, so we haven't really touched on the College Football kids much lately and so here's our opportunity deep in the heart of summertime:

Can things get any messier these days for the West Virginia Mountaineers gridiron program?

Just the other day the NCAA placed WVU on two years probation for major rules violations - still, the 'Neers won't miss any potential post-season bowl play as the sanctions include losing one scholarship player along with some recruiting restrictions and staff reductions - but this comes on the heels of the resignation of head coach Bill Stewart on June 10th after reports circulated that Stewart is the one who leaked information about the alleged driving/drinking problems of coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen (the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator).

Holgorsen will - no doubt - have an uphill battle to rescue his name in the great state of West Virginia but consider how far the folksy Stewart fell from the team he took over the Mountaineers from Rich Rodriguez for that 2007 Fiesta Bowl upset win against Oklahoma to right now.

In all, Stewart's teams registered a heady 28-12 SU (straight-up) mark but he went from being everyone's "favorite uncle" in the state to a more vilified personality with bad losses along the way (and no berths in the Bowl Championship Series in 2008, '09 and 2010) and some alleged smear tactics against the heir apparent. Too bad. ...

Our final note on this July weekend:

All the talk swirling about this now-troubled Ohio State program - and, BTW, big deal that the Big 10 school "vacated" their 2010 wins as it means nothing at all! - has us thinking about what's straight ahead for the Jim Tressel-less and QB Terrelle Pryor-less Buckeyes right here in the upcoming 2011 season and you'll note that the Columbus kids (who finished 12-1 SU a year ago) do play a pair of challenging road games the first part of this year with tilts at Miami (Sept. 17th) and at new Big 10 foe Nebraska (Oct. 8th).

Chuck into the mix the fact that the 'Eyes finish the season at Michigan - yes, new head coaches for both of these once-proud programs with Luke Fickell heading up O-State and Brady Hoke leading Michigan these days - and so it's quite possible that the 2011 Buckeyes could lose as many as four or five games and you have to go all the way back to the 2004 campaign to find the last time Ohio State lost more than three games in a single season (setbacks than to Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa and Purdue en route to an 8-4 SU season).

NOTE: It's a big Baseball All-Star Game week ahead and we'll have all the key information for you right here in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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