jump to navigation

Say It Ain’t So, Brett 01/24/2010

Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

While it was not all his fault, the ending was classic Favre.  To be fair, Favre had his Vikings on the cusp of the Super Bowl with less than 30 seconds left.  It was 3rd and 15 

Favre is left to ponder what if after his last pass is intercepted

 at the New Orleans 38 yard line.  Ironically, the Vikings had been moved out of field goal range with a 12 man in the huddle penalty just seconds before.  Those five yards probably made any field goal attempt difficult.  Now, Favre had to make something happen.  He took the snap, and Saints pressure forced him to roll to his right.  He appeared to have running room.  All he needed was 5 to 10 yards, call time out and put the game on the leg of Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell.  Then it happened.  Something came over Favre.  Sure, he was hobbled with a bad ankle, but he could have run the ball,  instead, he chose to throw the ball, across his body and across the field.  Mortal sins for an NFL quarterback.  The Saints intercepted the pass, killing any chance for the Vikings to win in regulation.  It was the third Viking turnover in the 4th quarter.  

New Orleans won the coin flip and took the ball to start overtime.  Favre and the Vikings never got the ball back.  The Saints drove down the field and converted a 40 yard field goal to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.   They will take on the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl in Miami in two weeks.   The Saints came into the game as the best offense in the league, but it was the Vikings who moved the ball up and down the field all night.  The Vikes out gained New Orleans 475 yards to 257.  But Minnesota turned the ball over 5 times.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but it is the last pass by Favre that will stay with him.  

Flash back 3 seasons ago.  The Green Bay Packers were tied with the New York Giants in overtime of the NFC championship game.  On the second play of OT, Favre threw 

Favre's last pass as a Packer is intercepted in OT of the NFC championship game

an interception.  It was the last pass he threw as a Packer.  The Giants kicked a 47 yard field goal and then went on to win the Super Bowl.  Disheartened, Favre retired from the game, but the thought of that last pass haunted him.  Two teams and another retirement later, here we are again.   After all the drama, the two retirements, the trade to the Jets and signing with the Vikings, Favre faces another off-season retirement decision with that last, terrible interception on his mind.  Perhaps it is karma.  The demons are back.  Probably worse than ever.  Perhaps this is the way Favre was ment to go out.  I don’t know.  I do know that he deserved better in this game.  After all the drama  of the past 2 seasons.  After tarnishing his reputation, morphing from The Gunslinger into The Diva, after all the crap in New York and the agonizing courtship with the Vikings, Favre and Minnesota should be in the Super Bowl.  What was he thinking with that last pass?  Surely a 19 year veteran knows not to throw that ball.  So now, instead of going out in glory, Favre will have to live with that last pass gnawing away at him.  Will he retire?  Probably.  Will he come back again?  Well, we will not know that for months.  Here comes another off-season Favre watch.  Will he?  Won’t he?  How many twists and turns this time?  No one knows yet.   

Why didn’t he just run the damn ball!!!????!!!  

Favre walks off after he throws a pick late in the 4th quarter of the NFC championship game. Will this be his last pass ever?


Formation Flying 01/18/2010

Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

There is a surprise entrant into this years NFL final four.  Indy, Minnesota and New Orleans, no surprise.  But the New York Jets?  Who saw that one coming?

In winning at Cincinnati and then at San Diego, the Jets got some help.   Shane Graham of the Bengals  and  Nate Kaeding of the Chargers were a combined 0-5 in field goal

Shonn Greene scores the clinching TD

 attempts.  These two kickers were among the most accurate during the regular season converting a combined 87% of their attempts all year.  Heck, even drawing the Chargers at all was a stroke of luck.  San Diego flamed out once again.  I am frankly tired of hearing about how great the talent is on this team.  Their coach is a joke and this team of entitled prima donnas again shot themselves in the collective foot with inopportune penalties at the worst times.  Despite having great talent, San Diego has never sniffed the Super Bowl with Norv Turner calling the shots, and they never will.  They fade away when the pressure is on.  There is no discipline on the team.  Kicking a challenge flag and getting your team a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty when you are in the red zone and  trying to make a comeback?  Are you kidding me?   Grow up, Chargers.  They are, again, the ‘best team not to make the Super Bowl’ this season, coming into the playoffs on an 11 game winning streak and finishing one and done in the post season.  Good riddance.

What a breath of fresh air Jets QB Mark Sanchez is.  When asked after the game about the win, Sanchez went on and on about the

Jets rookie QB Sanchez is now 2-0 in the playoffs

offensive line, and the game plan, and the head coach, and the offensive coordinator, and the defense, and the running backs, and the receivers, you get the point.  He even actually said that it was not about him.  This is a rookie?  It was great to see someone subjugate his ego to that of the team. In contrast, 19 year veteran (and Minnesota QB) Brett Favre was asked about the Vikings win and he came back with how great it was to be in the conference finals, but that of course it was more important to him and “it means more to me (Favre)  than to anyone else in this locker room.”  Yeah, because lets not forget that it is all about Brett, all the time.  

Speaking of rookies, how about the running of Shonn Greene.  The first year back out of Iowa broke off a 53 yard TD dash with just over 7 minutes left to give the Jets a 17-7 lead and provide the cushion for the 17-14 victory.  Greene finished with 125 yards rushing for the game, following up his 135 yard, 1 TD effort against the Bengals in round 1 of the playoffs.  The Jet defense shut down the Charger offense, and held running back  LaDanien Tomlinson to 24 total yards on 12 carries.  The Jets face the AFC top seed Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game next week and will have an uphill climb.  But it was great to watch a TEAM of players who believe in each other, believe in the game plan, believe in preparation and give credit team mates and coaches.  The Jets made us remember that football is a team game, despite what Favre may think.

Chargers QB Rivers walks off after yet another San Diego playoff meltdown

viKINGS 01/15/2010

Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The time has come.  This is the reason that Brett Favre manipulated his way into Minnesota.  The journey begins now, and is a 3 game or bust scenario.  All Favre wants is another chance on the NFL’s biggest stage.  All Vikings fans want is to once and for all get the big game monkey off of their back.  All in all, not much to ask for.

We will not explore again all the events that brought Favre to Minnesota.  Lets just say that this journey has tarnished his reputation, and nothing short of a Super Bowl

The Vikings are looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since the Purple People Eaters lead teams of the 1970's

 victory will put the luster back on Favre’s career.  He is a Hall of Famer, to be sure, after he stays away for 5 seasons.  But two years ago he would forever have been known as the gunslinger.  Now, unless he can reach the mountaintop once more, his legacy will be that of the diva.  Just another self-centered manipulator who could only win the big game once.  That fact seems to get lost in all the Favre hype.  He has only led his team to the Super Bowl victory once, defeating the Patriots in SB 31, and becoming one of the biggest favorites to lose the big game in dropping SB 32 to the Broncos.  Favre could have been remembered as one of the greats to win once.  With luminaries such as Steve Young and Joe Theisman.  But the self-centered manipulation of the past few years will drop him into the likes of  Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler.  Good signal callers to be sure, but not names that come up in any conversation about all time great QB’s.  Two years ago, Favre would have been in that conversation unequivocally.  Now, his name will elicit a “yes, but….” in the conversation.  The gunslinger turned diva needs a return to the top.  It is going to be an uphill climb.

The Vikings have not won an NFL championship since Bud Grant lead them to the league title in 1969.  For those of

Will former Packer Favre help the Vikings finally hoist the Lombardi trophy

you who are too young, that’s  pre Super Bowl.  The long-suffering Vikings fans watched their team drop 4 of the first 11 Super Bowls, and have not been back to the big game since 1977.   Not exactly loveable losers, the Vikings, in fact, have 26 playoff appearances since they joined the NFL in 1961, including 18 division championships.  But the first decade of the 21st century has been their worst decade so far.  After their playoff appearance in 2000, the Vikings made the playoffs only once until the 2008 season.  The Vikings won the NFC North in  ’08 for their first division crown in 8 seasons.   They had a good defense and one of the best running backs in the league in Adrian Peterson, but were lacking an established QB.  Coach Brad Childress had worked with Favre when he was a coach with the Vikings hated rivals, the Green Bay Packers.  Childress tried to land Favre a season earlier, but did not get Favre to the Twin Cities until this season.  Now, with a second consecutive division title in hand,  the Viking fans are rooting for perhaps their most hated rival to lead them to the promised land.  And you thought politics made for strange bed fellows. 

In Favre, they found an egocentric 40-year-old who has developed the habit of late of melting down the stretch.  He did it at the end in Green Bay.  He did it in New York.  In Minnesota, the Vikings started 11-1, but finished 2-3 down the stretch.   All is not bleak, however.  The Vikes secured the # 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.  That gave the Vikings a first round bye, and guarantee that they would play no cold weather games during the playoffs.  Their two NFC games will be in domes (theirs or New Orleans) and the Super Bowl, should they get there, is in Miami.  Still, the Vikings have pinned their Super Bowl hopes on a quarterback who has a  3-7  record in his last 10 playoff starts.  He has 16 touchdowns in those 10 games, but he also has 16 interceptions.  Now, the Vikings are looking to him for 3 straight playoff wins.

Anything short of the Super Bowl will be a failure of the Favre experiment for Minnesota.  The diva may need a victory in the big game to once again become the gunslinger.

Rocky Bottom 10/08/2009

Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

Cliff Lee dominated the Colorado Rockies in game 1 of their best of 5 NLDS playoff series.  Mr everything for the Phillies even singled and stole a

Cliff Lee shut down the Rockies in game 1 of the NLDS

Cliff Lee shut down the Rockies in game 1 of the NLDS

 base in the third inning.

The Rockies had chances to score in the first and second innings, but failed to come up with a timely hit.  Lee then settled in and was tossed a six hitter en route to the 5-1 win.  The Rockies must now put this game behind them quickly if they wish to have a shot at this series.  While game two is not a must win situation,  with Aaron Cook on the mound for game 2 and Jorge De La Rosa left off the roster because of a groin pull, the Rockies must find a way to win this game.  The Phillies are starting another left hander in Cole Hammels.   Colorado needs to get into the Phillies suspect bullpen. 

The Rockies looked tentative and overmatched in game 1

The Rockies looked tentative and overmatched in game 1

The Rockies looked lost in the wind blown sixth inning.  They looked lost at the plate all day.  They need to make some changes in todays line up.  The Rockies took off after Jim Tracy became their manager.  He made 2 changes that ignited the team.  One was to make Clint Barmes the every day second baseman.  The other was to place Ian Stewart at third base.  Garrett Atkins had struggled there and at the plate.  I understand the lefty-righty platoon that had Atkins at third yesterday, but the spark is needed from Stewart.  He needs to start today despite the lefty on the mound today from Philadelphia.  In addition, Ian Stewart needs to be behind the plate.  And watch for Mr late night, Seth Smith, to make an appearance in the outfield if Dexter Fowler looks lost in the moment again in the outfield.  Fowler is a good outfielder, and his speed is a plus, but the guy started the season in AA ball and looked tentative yesterday.  Expect him to start today, but watch for a mid inning substitution if a spark is needed. 

Speaking of replacement, I was surprised that yesterday’s starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez came back out to the mound for the 6th inning.  Jimenez had lost it in the 5th, but the Rocks were still in the game, down 2-0.  With a bullpen that had performed admirably down the stretch, and with the importance of each game magnified by the short series, it was not the time to work on pitcher confidence.  And the Phillies pounced in the sixth inning to put the game away.  All 5 runs were charged to Jimenez.  Tracy needed to give his team a better chance at that point.  so look for changes in the line up this afternoon for the Rockies.  The biggest tell will be the rested right arm of Cook.  If he keeps the ball down and the sinker is working, the Rockies will square this series at a game each, and head back to Colorado with their swagger back.

Fantastic Finish Friday 05/23/2009

Posted by sportretort in nhl, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

If you are a sports fan, Friday evening was for you.

In the NHL, the Blackhawks return home to Chicago for game 3 of their Western Conference Finals.  After dropping the first 2 games in the best of 7 series in Detroit, the Hawks need this game to stay in the series.  And they get off to a fast

Patrick Sharpe tallied the game winning marker for the Blackhawks

Patrick Sharpe tallied the game winning marker for the Blackhawks

 start.  Midway through the first period, Chicago has a 2-0 lead.  About the time Chicago scores their second goal, the city of Cleveland begins to rock.

In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers are tipping off game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic.  The Magic came from 16 points down to steal game one, and the Cavs are trying to salvage a split before the series shifts to Florida for games 3 and 4.  The Cavs jump out quickly, amassing a 14 point lead at the end of the first quarter on their way to opening up a 23 point lead.

Back to Chicago.  The first period ends with the score 2-0 Blackhawks.  They then add a goal 45 seconds into the 2nd period, increasing the lead to 3-0.  Looks like the Hawks are on their way to an easy victory.   Detroit scores a power play goal with 5:22 left th the period.  Then they score again two and a half minutes later and the 22 thousand folks at the United Center start squirming in their seats.  Finally, with just 59 seconds left in the period, Detroit knots the score at 3-3.  The action is fast and furious in the 3rd period, but there is no scoring and the regulation time ends 3-3.  Overtime is on the way.

As the Hawks and Wings play to a stalemate in Chiago, the Cavs once comfortable lead is slowly evaporating.  The large lead has been widdled down to 6 by the Magic at the end of the third quarter.  That is about the time OT begins in Chicago.

This is the second straight game in this series to go into overtime, with Detroit winning game 2 with an overtime marker.  This time it is the Blackhawks who make short work of the Wings as Patrick Sharp takes a pass just to the left of the Wings net and buries the game winner 1:52 into overtime.  The Hawks avoid the 3-0 hole and now will skate into game 4 with a chance to tie the series at 2.

As Sharp’s heroics are ending the hockey game in Chicago, the Magic are attempting to take a strangle hold on their

The Cavs LeBron James hit the last second 3 pointer for the win

The Cavs LeBron James hit the last second 3 pointer for the win

series against the Cavs.  With just under ten minutes left in the game, the Cavs hold an 82-73 lead.  Things are going to get interesting.  Over the next 3 minutes, the Magic hold the Cavs scoreless and tie the game at 82.  The score remains tight to the end and with one second left the Magic’s Hedo Torkoglu made about an 11 foot jump shot to put the Magic up 95-93.  Cleveland calls timeout, but all seems lost.  The time out allows the Cavs to advance the ball to mid court, but with one second left all there is time for is a desperation catch and shot.  It appears that the Magic will have a 2-0 lead in the series heading home for game three.  Then the miracle happens.  LeBron James catches the inbound pass at the top of the key, turns and lofts a rainbow towards the basket.  The buzzer sounds while the ball is in flight and James finds gold at the end of the rainbow.  His shot finds nothing but net, and the 3 pointer gives the Cavs a 96-95 victory as the stunned crowd of over 20,000, silent as could be just seconds before erupts into bedlam!  The Cavs grab momentum heading to Florida.

There is nothing like playoff action! And the last channel button on your remote.

Golden Nuggets 05/18/2009

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

It’s the biggest event in Denver since…….well, since the Rockies run to the World Series two years ago.  Make no mistake about it.  Denver is a GREAT sports town.  And the Nuggets run to the NBA Western Conference Finals has the

Carmelo Anthony (15) and Kobe Bryant (24) provide the marquee matchup in the Western Conference Final.

Carmelo Anthony (15) and Kobe Bryant (24) provide the marquee matchup in the Western Conference Final.

 Denver fan base all worked up.  The fact that the opponent in the best of seven series is the hated Los Angeles Lakers only adds fuel to the fire.  Denver has always been, and will continue to be a Broncos town, but the city’s second oldest franchise is back on the national scene, making their first appearance in a conference finals in a quarter century.

If you look at this match up on paper, the Lakers will walk away with this series.  They are bigger along the front line boasting two 7  footers in Andrew Bynam and Pau Gasol.    Nary a Nugget over 6’11”.   In addition, the Lakers won 3 of the 4 regular season encounters.  Also, the Nuggets are 2-19 all time in the Staples Center against the Lakers ( including 0-2 in the playoffs) and LA has the home court advantage in the series.  The thing about the playoffs is that they are not played on paper.

The Houston Rockets did not have a prayer, on paper, against the Lakers in the last round.  And that was before they lost their star center Yao Ming to injury in the first game of the series.  All the Rockets did is extend the Lakers to 7 games.  They played with more heart and guts than the Lakers.  And they extended a series that should have been over in 5.  And they exposed the Lakers biggest problem.  The health of Andrew Bynam.  The big center had a knee injury towards the end of the regular season, and is not close to 100% physically.  The Rockets showed the Lakers are a much different team when Bynam struggles.

Then there are the Nuggets.  Everyone will point to the match up between Nugget Carmelo Anthony and Laker Kobe

The play of Nugget Billups  (7) is the key to the series

The play of Nugget Billups (7) is the key to the series

Bryant, both teammates on the USA Olympic team.  And these two are the star among stars on their teams.  I feel, however, that this series will turn on 3 things.  First, the Nuggets are playing defense at a higher level than they have in years, and that must continue.  The Lakers are 7-0 in this years playoffs when scoring 100 points or more, and 1-4 when they fail to reach the century mark.  The Nuggets have held their playoff opponents under 100 points in six of their ten playoff games.  The Nuggets must continue to play good D.  Second,  the Nuggets must continue their hot 3 point shooting.  They hit a sizzling 37.1% from behind the line during the regular season.  They have stepped that up to 42.9% during the first two playoff rounds.  Third, the x-factor in this series will be the leadership of Chauncey Billups.  The Nuggets have not had a floor leader like this during their last four failed playoff appearances.  Billups in the first two rounds of the playoffs has averaged 22.1 points per game, is 66 0f 69 from the free throw line and,  most importantly, has dished out 73 assists while committing only 17 turn overs.

Make mine Nuggets in 6.

Hockey Forrest 05/06/2009

Posted by sportretort in nhl, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

It is the age old question.  If a tree falls in the forrest with no one around to hear, does it make a noise?  That is the question currently facing the NHL.  In round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the league has it’s best individual match up, as well as a series that includes the last two Cup champions. 

Hockey considers itself the forth major sport in the US.  But with the majority of  TV coverage limited mainly to

Super stars Crosby and Ovechkin face each other in round two

Super stars Crosby and Ovechkin face each other in round two

 regional networks, is that a fair assessment?  Broadcast coverage of the NHL is limited at best during the first two rounds of the playoffs.  NBC covers two games a week, one each on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  It will pick up coverage during the Cup final series.  The only other network coverage is on the Versus network (channel 603 on DirecTV), which carries games in all time slots played.  There is hope, however for the league.  Amid concerns that the current economic downturn would mean that playoff games would be contested in half empty venues, fully 40 of the 44 first round games were played to sellouts.  In addition, Versus reported a 22% increase in US viewership this year compared to last.  The April 19 game between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on NBC was the most watched opening round broadcast TV game since 2001, according to the NHL.  While the numbers are small compared to NFL and MLB playoff numbers, the increase is encouraging.

Now we come to the round two showcases.  Washington – Pittsburgh features the two biggest young stars in the game today.  The Capitals Alex Ovechkin and Penguins Sidney Crosby match up is akin to a Kobe – James match up in the

Red Wings-Ducks will feature hard hitting action

Red Wings-Ducks will feature hard hitting action

NBA or a Manning – Brady NFL dual. With the added dimension that these two do not like each other.   And in the first two games of the series, these two mega-stars have not disappointed.  Game one, a 3-2 Washington win features a goal by each player.  Alex the Great lead his team to a 2-0 series lead with a hat trick in game two.  Not to be outdone, Sid the kid answered with 3 goals of his own in the 4-3 loss.  The series now switches to Pittsburgh for games 3 and 4.  Viewership should be up for this series.  In what may be the most exciting team match up in round 2, the 2007  Cup champion Anaheim Ducks are contesting the defending Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.  This series features hard hitting, fast skating and an energy level that creates excitement all game long.  After a Detroit 3-2 victory in game one which featured the game winning goal in the last 50 seconds of regulation, game two went to the Ducks 4-3 in triple overtime, sending this series to Anaheim tied at one game each.  Game 3 went to the Ducks 2-1, but an apparent game tying goal by Detroit with one minute left was disallowed when it was ruled that a referee’s whistle had stopped play before the goal.  Hockey fans will not want to miss a second of this match up.  In addition to these two series, the big market Chicago Blackhawks have moved past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1996.  These three series should help viewership  continue to increase in round two.

This increase of viewership has to continue.  Hockey needs to drive the type of numbers that will make it attractive to more main stream TV outlets.  A better broadcast agreement would help, but at the very least a cable/satellite agreement that will allow for exposure into more homes is needed.  The NBA has agreements with TNT and ESPN, for example, which allows for potentially larger exposure.  Something akin to this, and the money such agreements would bring to the league is what is needed for the NHL to be considered one of the big boys in US sports.

Chops Night In San Jose 04/20/2009

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The eight seeded Anaheim Ducks defeated the top seeded San Jose Sharks 3-2 Sunday night to take a 2 games to none

Ducks Bobby Ryan scores the first goal in game two.

Ducks Bobby Ryan scores the first goal in game two.

 series lead in their best of seven NHL first round playoff matchup.  Both games were played in San Jose.  The Sharks are now in danger of becoming the eighth top seed to drop a series to the 8th seed since 1994.  The series shifts to Anaheim for games 3 and 4. 

Sundays victory by the Ducks featured the first ever Stanley Cup Playoff goals in the career of 3 Ducks players.  Bobby Ryan, Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller each picked up their career first markers.  All three played earlier this season for the AHL Iowa Chops in Des Moines.  Ryan opened the scoring just 3:45 into the first period with a power play goal.  He took a rebound off Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov and beat him  to his stick side.  The shot, however, was just wide and bounced off of the left goal post.  Ryan then dove, and while airborne redirected the rebound with his stick from behind Nabokov and into the goal. (See Ryan’s goal at http://www.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?hlg=20082009,3,152&event=S.J29)

The Sharks Ryane Clowe tied the score at one 5:38 into the second period.  It was the first goal in the series for the

Former Chops Bobby Ryan (top left), Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller (bottom)

Former Chops Bobby Ryan (top left), Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller (bottom)

Sharks, who lost game one 2-0.  The score remained tied at one until 9:44 of the third period when Ebbett took a rebound off the boards behind the San Jose goal and slapped an odd angle shot off Nabokov as he moved from the left of the goal to the right to cover the near post.  The goal gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead.  They made it 3-1 three and a half minutes later when Miller stuffed a rebound off Nabokov just left of the net through traffic past the goaltender’s glove and just inside the far post.  The Ducks then held on for the 3-2 win.

Random notes from a weekend of Sports:

Clean Sweep.  Saturday was a rare day in Chicago sports.  It was the first time in 17 years that both the Bulls and Blackhawks won playoff games on the same day.  The NBA  Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics 105-103 in overtime while the NHL Blackhawks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2.  In addition, Baseball’s Cubs defeated the St Louis Cardinals 7-5 with a walk off 2 run homer in the bottom of the 11th and White Sox beat the Rays 8-3 making the Chicago teams 4-0 for the day.

Rocky relief.  The Colorado Rockies are off to a 4-7 start.  While the schedule has been brutal (series against the Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs and Diamondbacks) with only 3 games played in Denver so far, pitching has been poor for Colorado.  The team era of 5.74 is too high, and only Jason Marquis has been consistent among the starters.  He is 2-0 with a 1.93 era in his two starts.  The bullpen has been a horror show, allowing 53 hits in 36 2/3 innings of work  including 11 home runs and has only 2 saves in 4 opportunities.  This team will hit and score runs.  But it will go only as far as the pen will take it.  It is early, but improvement must be significant.  And soon!