January 2009 | Sharapova's Thigh

Chair throwing battles, streaking, heavy drinking, f-bombs being dropped left and right, Andy Roddick telling the referee to "Have some sack dude" loud and clear on live TV, a Sheman vs. Sheman championship, a Men's semifinal that was the longest match in Australian Open history(5 hours, 15 minutes), and much, much more. The 2009 Australian Open's had it all. Now to top it all off, the perfect matchup: Rafael Nadal(1) vs. Roger Federer(2).

Roger Federer is playing at the top of his game and undoubtedly will be playing his heart out for this one. He wants revenge after Nadal beat him in what many called the greatest tennis match in history, in 2008 at Wimbledon, and wants to regain the #1 ranking in the world. Nadal played in the aforementioned 5 hour, 14 minute semfinal against Fernando Verdasco and that surely took a lot out of him. It will be interesting to see if that affects his play.

Oh, and the drinking game... you chug when any of the following happens:
  • They refer to the 2008 Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal
  • Whenever they call this "the dream match"
  • When they bring up if this is the biggest rivalry in sports
  • When they bring up the Nadal semifinal affecting his stamina.
  • Arguments with the ref
  • If they say "balls" in a way that can be interpreted sexually, because we're immature assholes.

Anyway, I'm pumped for this(stop laughing at me, tennis is cool), and will likely be hammered by the time the match starts. Join me for some fun at 3:30 AM ET.

If you're looking to watch this and don't have ESPN 2, you can watch it online.

Also, if you're looking for a more serious, in depth breakdown, The Arena is also doing a live blog of this. Mine's probably going to be all over the place. I never know what the hell I'm going to do.

10 minutes until the coverage begins. I'm about 5 drinks deep and with more to come of course. I just farted and burped at the same time. And I wonder why I don't have a girlfriend, well those are just a couple of countless reasons.

And so it begins.... the coverage that is. There's gotta be a couple things here in the intro to chug to, let's see.

Highlights of the Wimbledon match... CHUG DAMMIT!

Mary Joe Fernandez... MILF!

Talk of the Nadal-Verdasco semifinal hurting Nadal's stamina! We're gonna get hammered.

Wow, they won't stop with the stamina talk. I wish I could play this drinking game with a hottie at the bar.

Great weather for this one. Dick Enberg and Patrick McEnroe with the call I'm glad to see.

I wish I had an Australian accent. Darren Cahill's keys for Federer:

Serve Well, Attack Forehand, Flatten Out Backhand, Convert Break Points.

Brad Gilbert's keys for Nadal:

Take Offense, Break Down Backhand, 1st Serve Return

Alright, I'm already all over the place with organization with this one. It's only going to get worse... sorry?

1st Set:

We're underway! Federer serving, Nadal long and Federer up 15-0. I'm not going to do individual points the whole way just so ya know. Nadal gets a point, a rare double fault from Roger. 15-30. Wow, Federer hits a pop up on a backhand. What the hell is going on? 40-15 Nadal in the 1st game. Now an awful miss... what the fuck Roger? That was piss poor. Nadal gets the 1st game.

Roger misses long again. He really just looks like pure shit early, very unexpected. Awesome rally now with some rocket shots from both of them, Federer gets the point. 18 stroke rally. A few more points happen, we've got a deuce. Advantage Nadal... good rally then Nadal hits a forehand into the net. Long rallies are likely to benefit Federer in this one. He wants to wear Rafa down. Alright, I'm about to piss my pants. Great point, advantage Roger. Piss break! Back, Nadal with a point. This deuce is taking forever. That's sure to pleasure Koz. 3rd break point coming, advantage Federer. Federer gets Nadal moving, then Nadal thinks he's going crosscourt with a forehand, Federer hits it right where Nadal is. Sexy tennis. 1-1.

Federer's really making Nadal move now. Crosscourt left and right. Now he's got an ace. 40-15. Now he gets the game, 2-1 Federer.

Nadal quickly comes back with a game of his own. I really wish I had some dry roasted peanuts with this beer. 2-2.

Rafa sets Roger up perfectly and misses a wide open shot. That will be as big of a blunder as he makes. Then 2 points later he hits a pop up. This is why I'm an idiot. Nadal with an UNREAL forehand. Challenge shows it's out though. Still, impressive. 40-30 Roger. As McEnroe is saying, Nadal's really moving well but these long rallies might make a difference. Roger with the game, 3-2. We've got a good one.

Federer with an incredible backhanded lob shot with Nadal up at the net. Again, stamina talk. FUCKING DRINK! Nadal with a weak serve and Federer destroys a forehand. 4-2 Federer.

Nadal just gave me an "OH SHIT HE DID NOT DO THAT" moment like all the people watching one of those And One events. "OH BABY! OH BABY! DA PROFESSOR!" Now another great winner, crosscourt backhand on a full sprint. As Cahill called it, "2 ridiculous points in a row for Nadal." Rafa gets the game, 4-3 Federer.


Rafa grunts so loud and Roger sounds like he's in the library. I picture every return from Federer with "SHUT!"(shot), "THE"(shot), "FUCK"(shot), "UP"(shot). 4-4.

And stuff happens, Federer with an ace to finish the game, 5-4 Federer. This is going to be a long match.

McEnroe just said, "That ball Dick has so much action." Somehow, that seems to apply to the immature "balls" sexual connotation we discussed in the drinking game instructions. You know what to do.

Right now, whoever is serving is going to win the game. Nadal was serving, game Nadal. 5-5.

A highlight reel shot from Federer. Federer with a nice cutter on the forehand but Nadal got to it and ripped a backahnd, Federer with an almost diving backhand at the net for the point. Nadal though takes the lead in this game, 30-15. Nadal with the game. That one is all on me for the comment about whoever is serving is going to win the game right now. 6-5 Nadal.

Nadal serving for the set, 15-0. 40-15 now, let on the 1st serve. McEnroe's saying about Roger, "He's questioning himself. Questioning his strategy." Nadal misses with a backhand, 40-30. Wow, what a point to finish the set... Nadal wins. 7-5.

2nd Set:

Nadal up 1-0. Gilbert's saying how Federer pretty much gave that set away. Federer's serve % is way down. He's serving now, 30-0 Nadal. There's an ace for Federer, his 4th of the match as Enberg points out. 30-30. Roger with another ace. Ref called it out, challenge shows it was in. Whenever I hear or say, "It's in" now, I think of McLovin banging that chick in Superbad. 1-0 Federer.

Nadal's now yelling things in Spanish out there. He just hit about the hardest backhand you'll ever see. As Enberg more or less said, he took the swing of a cleanup hitter on a 3-1 count. Destroyed that bitch. 1-1.

This great rivalry and the Wimbledon talk all in the same sentence. Double chug!!!!

I wouldn't advise going from 2 Dos Equis Ambers, to a Screwdriver with a few shots in it, to a few Budweisers. It's not good when I'm still drinking AND have a major headache already. 2-1 Federer.

Highlight reel point by Federer to make it 40-40. Sorry I was getting a beer and am behind. 3-2 Nadal. Federer's not looking very sharp which is a shock to me. I figured he'd be at the top of his game today.

The rivalry talk, AND Wimbledon again! BOOZE BABY, DRINK IT IN! 1st double fault for Nadal. Federer gets the game, huge! 3-3. I'm not going for anybody in particular in this by the way. Well, I want Roger to win this set so this match is badass.

Justin and I are talking about Aussie women. I love the accents, but I prefer a little more skin tone. Anyway, a hot chick with an Australian accent creates a major pants tent for me. 4-3 Federer.

I get the vibe McEnroe is rooting for Federer. Insane hovering slice from Federer. Nadal hits it right into the net. Federer's picking it up. Deuce! Nadal thinks Roger's going to make him run with the forehand but goes crosscourt. Advantage Roger. Nadal follows with an Ace to even it up. Great point, advantage Federer. The crowd's getting really into it now. The neverending game. Back to even on the deuce, 4 deuces. 5th break point... Federer wins. 5-3 Federer.

Federer serving for the set, 15-0. 40-15 Federer. For the set... Got it! 6-3 Federer. 1-1.

3rd Set:

Darren Sproles will test FA I see. I can't see the Chargers letting someone outbid them after letting Turner walk as well. I don't think Sproles would have the same success as an every down back though. Grabbed another beer, out of Budweiser so back to the Dos Equis Amber. My head is spinning. Nadal serving, Nadal with the 1st point of the 3rd set. 40-15 Nadal. 40-30 now. Federer misses wide with a backhand, Nadal with the 1st game of the 3rd set.

Dick Enberg going on and on about the Wimbledon final last year. DRINK! Nadal looks like he's going to get the point but Federer shows some incredible speed to get to a drop shot from Nadal, then Nadal tries to lob it over Federer's head but doesn't hit it far enough, Federer smashes it. 1-1.

We've reached the 2 hour mark. Discussion of Nadal and the stamina questions... drink. 40-30 Rafa. Nadal misses badly with a backhand and we've got another Deuce. Nadal gets the game and takes a 2-1 lead in the set.

And because this blog is bare and I'm crazy about Jessica Alba, here's a random picture:

"Point of the championship" says Enberg. Federer returns a couple of Nadal smashes, but eventually hits one into the net. Then he follows it with an Ace. Federer wins the game, 2-2. And it's 4 AM here in Colorado.

If you haven't voted in our poll for the Hot Ladies Tournament field, you should do that. It's right under the Thighnal 4 pic(which if you click on takes you to the 2008 bracket). A crazy point ends in a game won for Nadal. He leads 3-2.

"Great rivalries in sports", they're comparing the Federer-Nadal one to others. If you read the drinking game instructions, you know that means you chug. Federer covers a shitload of range and then Nadal hits a shot straight into the net with a ton of court wide open. 30-30. Hey whaddya know, a Deuce. Federer gets the game, 3-3.

Nadal serving, Federer 30-15 advantage. Now Federer with a crappy shot straight into the net. 30-30. According to Enberg it was only a 60 mph(slowest of the night) serve Federer was returning as well. 40-30 Nadal. 4-3 Nadal. He's calling for the trainer though.

Federer dominates a game, Nadal doesn't look right. It appears he's tiring. 4-4.

Nadal's clearly not 100% as he's serving and Federer gets the 1st 3 points. Looks like the semifinal match is indeed making a difference on his stamina. Gets a point to keep the game alive, 15-40. That's followed by Nadal's best point in awhile, 30-40. Federer hits a forehand straight into the net, Deuce! Big comeback by Nadal. McEnroe's talking about how Federer's been very passive in his return on Nadal's serves. UNBELIEVABLE POINT! You'll see this one on Sportscenter. "The most physical point of the match", McEnroe says. Federer got the point. Back to Deuce. Nadal follows with an ace for the advantage, and then gets the next point. Game Nadal, 5-4. If he wins this match, that game will be likely be a big reason why.

I missed the last game but Federer apparently won it. 5-5.

40-40, Federer had the game and blew it. Nadal challenges a shot... out, point Federer and he has the advantage. This match is just unbelievable. It's living up to the hype unlike the Super Bowl will I imagine. Deuce again. Advantage Nadal on another awesome point. Wow, what a point from Federer. This is just kickass. Deuce again. Nadal with a point, and another. Nadal with the game, 6-5.

I have the worst headache in the history of live blogs. Way too much changing up of booze. Huge turnaround in this game, 30-40, Nadal 1 point away from winning the set. Of course Federer follows with an outstanding serve, Deuce, again. One of the best points of the match that Federer wins to get the advantage, then Nadal quickly with a point, now an Ace from Federer. This is effing intense. Deuce again, my God. Another unreal point from Federer, now an Ace and we've got a Tiebreak!

Justin just brought up an interesting point: "When the Aussie voice says 'deuce', it sounds like 'douche'. Federer with the 1st point, but then flies out to center field on the next one.

Anyway... 2-1 Federer apparently. 2-2 now, and we're 3 hours into the match.

3-3 now. This is a complete coin flip. Nadal's taking over now, and gets a point that brings the crowd to their feet. 6-3 Nadal. Double fault from Federer, Nadal wins the set!

4th Set:

I have Tal Bachman's "She's So High" stuck in my head. She's so highhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Adam just posted a good comment which requires you to drink, yes, we're still drinking... "Federer serves to start the 4th set with new balls." 1-0 Federer.

A couple more great points from Fed. 30-15. A couple plays happen, 2-0 Roger.

2-1 Federer. I know, my analysis is fading. Nadal serving, 15-30.... 2-2.

Nadal is stepping it up. Federer's serving, 30-40. Arguing! Drink! Federer with a great backhand and we've got yet another Deuce. Um... just an unreal point from Nadal. That was stunning. We're back at Deuce, now advantage Federer. We go back and forth. Now break point for Nadal, and now Federer with the point. Deuce again. YOU'VE GOTTA BE SHITTING ME! One of the greatest points I've seen in my lifetime, just unfuckingbelievable. Dick Enberg screamed, "Oh come on!" McEnroe screamed "No way!" Cahill followed with "That's insane!" My feelings exactly to all of those. Then Federer comes back with the point, now Nadal with the advantage again. This is ridiculous. Now Federer gets Nadal running the wrong way on a backhand, advantage Federer. Federer misses a backhand with plenty of open court. 7th Deuce of this game. Finally, Federer wins the game and takes a 3-2 lead in the set.

I don't care if you're not a fan of tennis. This is just a remarkable sporting event to watch and you're missing out if you don't watch this. It will surely be on ESPN Classic very soon.

I went to take a piss, it's 40-30 Federer. He gets the game, 4-2.

Federer shuts out Nadal in the next game, 5-2. He's kicking some ass now. We're looking at another 5 hour match.

They keep having these like promos for the match in the middle of it, talking about their rankings, rivalry, the anticipation, etc. Um, do you really need to keep advertising this match? We're 4 hours into it almost. I'm pretty sure everybody's already watching and not stopping anytime soon.

Nadal wins a game, but then Federer closes out the set 6-3.

5th Set:

Nadal serving and dominates. 1-0 Rafa.

Now Federer serving and dominates. 1-1.

Nadal serving... domination... 40-0... 2-1 Nadal.

Wow. Nadal gets the game with Federer serving and he now has a 2 game advantage, 3-1.

As Cahill's saying, Federer's shot looks really flat right now and he's starting to hit everything into the net. Now he misses badly with a forehand. Nadal's taking this match over and can smell the title. Federer with another awful forehand. He's giving this set to Nadal. 40-0. Federer is climbing back though. He just ripped a forehand that barely stayed in, absolutely perfect shot. 40-30 Nadal. Nadal goes up the middle with the serve and Federer hits it right into the net. 4-1 Nadal.

Nadal is 2 games away from his 1st Australian Open title. Federer says not yet bitch! Shuts him out in that game, 4-2 Nadal.

Federer keeps hitting it into the net with the backhand. 40-0 Nadal. And game Nadal. 5-2.

I thought Federer just had a point that they ruled long, but the challenge showed the call was right. Double fault now, wow. 0-30, Nadal is 2 points away from the Aussie Open title. 2nd serve, Nadal long with the return. 15-30. Federer misses a forehand with open court long. He's tired. Championship point. 2nd serve coming. Nadal long. 30-40. 2nd serve coming again. Federer stays alive with a great rally. Deuce! Arguing! Point Nadal after some discussion. Championship point again. Another good rally... FEDERER IS LONG! RAFAEL NADAL IS THE 2009 AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHAMPION!

Wow, just wow. What a match. Federer ran out of gas surprisingly when everybody thought that would be Nadal after the 5 hour, 14 minute match in the semis against Verdasco. Rafael Nadal justifies his ranking as #1 in the world, and he's only getting better. Meanwhile, Federer looked great all tournament but age is going to start catching up to him. Rafael Nadal is the face of tennis and the guy to beat. If Federer can't beat him, I don't know who can right now.

Thanks to all of you that read the live blog. 6:15 AM right now my time. I think I might sleep until the Super Bowl.

Wow, I just came back on here... Federer can't finish his speech as he's in tears. The crowd's going nuts with a standing ovation but Federer's still crying. Nadal just came up and gave him a hug, now he's talking again. Now Nadal's up there and telling Federer how he's one of the best in the history of the sport and Federer's on the side in tears again. This is quite a sight. You get the feeling Roger was hit with an "It's over" sort of feeling, that he's not on top of the game anymore.

BallHype: hype it up!

If you're a fan of tennis or sports for that matter, you're very aware of the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal Australian Open final set for Sunday morning at 3:30 AM ET. Federer's playing like he did when nobody could beat him in his prime, and Nadal came into the tournament ranked #1 and has done nothing yet to prove that ranking wrong. It's going to be a superb match, and I might actually be more excited about that than the Super Bowl to be honest.

I could go on and on about that match but I'm a little drunk and the purpose of this post is to point out that that they're not the only Men's singles championship at the Australian Open this weekend. Let's take a very quick look at the competitors in the "Women's" championship match that actually begins in a couple hours(3:30 AM ET):

Serena Williams

Dinara Safina

Um... yeah. Something's not right there. Either these are men, or they're more familiar with Victor Conte than Barry Bonds.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thigh-Fiving These Links 1/30/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 1/30/2009 08:15:00 AM | ,

Thigh Five From Sara Jean Underwood!


  • Puppy Bowl Live Blog On The Way (PSaMP)
  • Get Fired Up! Jock Jams Volume 1 (Ice Ice Babies)
  • Can You Find Waldo At Obama's Inauguration? (Brahsome)
  • Reasons For Everybody To Watch & Like Friday Night Lights (YepYep)
BallHype: hype it up!

Thigh of the Week: Heidi Klum

Posted by Matt Clapp | 1/30/2009 08:00:00 AM | , ,

Heidi Klum

Yeah, I know. We're complete douchebags for taking this long to recognize this stunning beauty. I'm ashamed of myself. I actually thought we had her in the 2008 Hot Ladies Tournament, gave her TOTW, or something... but no, NOTHING. Well, we put up the "Guitar Hero: World Tour" video of her playing the game in lingerie, but we didn't have any pictures of her on here.

Anyway, you all know the German babe. Too many magazine covers to count, a bunch of television shows, movies, blah blah blah. She's one of the most popular supermodels of all-time, and she's still got it at 35.

I'm just going to stop because you're surely just looking at the pictures anyway. A special 10 pictures(double what we usually post for TOTW) were posted as a way of making up for her omission from the site. Enjoy.

BallHype: hype it up!

Super Bowl Week: Thursday

Posted by Poorly Acquitted | 1/29/2009 01:32:00 PM | , , ,

Betting line holding steady at 7. It will move off of 7 by game time. Having a round "football" number as the betting line just leaves way too may bets open to push. My guess is that it jumps up to 7.5 before dropping down to 6.5.

I heard a dude on the radio the other day say that the Steelers were a bad franchise. I proceeded to call into the radio station and get 5 seconds into a rant before I got kicked off. I accomplished my goal, the Radio Jocks took my point and drove it home. They just used cleaner language. I hate the Steelers with every part of my body, but they are probably one of the top 5 sports franchises in the United States. Longevity in pro sports, especially in the salery cap era, is so difficult. The Steelers have been good forever. Has there been a better, more consistent franchise in the last 45 years?

For the record:
1.) NY Yankees
2.) Pittsburgh Steelers
3.) Detroit Red Wings
4.) LA Lakers
5.) (tie) Boston Red Sox, Dallas Cowboys

If the build up and hype of the game annoys us, imagine how the players feel.

If the Cardinals win, will Jerheme Urban become the first Division III player to bring home a Super Bowl ring?

Yes I had to mention Jerheme. Trinity is a small school and it's freaking amazing for all Trinity Tigers to watch him.

Todd Haley proved in the NFC Championship Game that he's a great gameplanner and play caller. The Eagles blitzed in the first half, but the Cards first 30 plays were so well scripted and blocked that they managed to get out to that big lead. Jim Johnson went in and adjusted at halftime and changed up the blitz looks for the second half (like he always does) and won the game of cat & mouse in the 3rd Quarter. Haley however pulled it together for the last couple of drives and the rest is history.

I'm really interested to see how Haley matches up against Dick LeBeau. The young guy versus the wizend vet. Of course it comes down to the players executing, but those two have as much to say about the outcome of the game as anybody.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thigh-Fiving These Links Birthday Edition

Posted by Matt Clapp | 1/29/2009 06:00:00 AM | ,

Thigh Five From Josie Maran!
  • Report: Feds Have A Positive Urine Test From Barry Bonds (MLB FanHouse)
  • 101 Sports Blogs & Bloggers You Should Be Following On Twitter (Hail Mary Jane)
  • Ray Emery Fights Trainer On Bench (Total Pro Sports)
  • Joe Torre's Tell-All Book Is Already Becoming A Movie. Funny Stuff (Cuzoogle)
  • Interview With Author Of "Passing Game" Murray Greenberg (Hugging Harold Reynolds)
  • Handball Coach Goes After Ref (NESW Sports)
  • Big Ben Is A Human Wrecking Ball (PSaMP)
  • Robin Lopez Is Just A Kid At Heart (The Sports Culture)
  • Famous Finishes: Alonzo Mourning Hits Game-Winning Jumper To Beat Celtics In 1993 Playoffs (Hip 2 Da Game)
  • Hilarious new site that bacon lovers will eat up (Bacon Haikus)
  • Don't Eat The Salmon At Outback Steakhouse (The Jebbica)
Other Good Stuff
BallHype: hype it up!

Happy 1st Birthday To Us

Posted by Matt Clapp | 1/29/2009 12:00:00 AM |

Our friend Brooks passing out on the couch where Sharapova's Thigh was born.

A year ago today, Rad McDude and I sat on the couch of our old apartment, talking about starting a sports website. We had no idea what we were doing. I talked with a friend Natalie that day who told me she had a blog on Blogger and how she loved it. I asked her how much it costs to start a blog on there, having no idea you start one of these babies for free. That's how out of the loop I was.

So we decided to give that a try, but of course needed a name for the blog. Being the diehard sports fans that we are, we wanted it to be a sports focus, but open to other topics such as hot ladies, beer, video games, movies, etc. You know, most things that pathetic males in their mid 20's are interested in. I was the first to blurt out a name: "Hmm. Sharapova... Sharapova's Thigh?"

Laughing, Rad responds with something like, "Sharapova's Thigh? What the fuck?"

We sat there laughing for a few minutes and decided that we're going with this cheesy name. Really though, I get reactions from people thinking we have some crazy obsession with Maria Sharapova. Not at all. It was simply just a random name associated with an attractive lady that happens to be a superb athlete that I'm a fan of. I played tennis in high school and love the sport. As a matter of fact I"m watching the Aussie Open right now and it's not the same without her in it. That's not because she's gorgeous, but because she's an incredible tennis player that would be playing to defend her title and kicking some ass out there I'm sure. Now I'm stuck watching Sirpeena Williams and Dinara Safina who is more manly than her brother Marat.

Back to the blog, I wasn't even planning on doing much with it. I figured it would just be something I randomly do when I feel like ranting about sports every once in awhile, but it became addicting. I got some good responses from friends who urged me to keep going with it, so I did.

But this isn't just my blog of course, and it wouldn't be nearly what it is without the help of all the other contributors...

If not for Rad McDude, there's no way I do this site. Everyday for weeks he kept saying how we need to get on this, and he finally got me to do it. Yes he hasn't done any writing since the early days, but there's no doubt he played a huge part in this site. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure he's told every single person in the town of Fort Collins about it.

Poorly Acquitted saved my ass last year. Without him, there's no way we get through the 2008 Hot Ladies Tournament. He's been posting consistently since the beginning days of the site and made things a ton easier for me. Thanks bro.

Fly joined the team a bit later on and has been an outstanding addition. Hilarious commentary, great arguments, and he's always coming to me with great stuff he finds around the web.

The banner you see at the top was one of Baron's many amazing works with photoshop and all that stuff. He also did a lot with this template to make it look as nice as it is. I have no clue how to do any of these things, so without him, we'd have a plain template, and a header with just text at the top. He also made the Thighnal 4 logo, and a few other terrific graphics for the site. Additionally, he's written some nice blogs about college sports.

Justin listens to my rants about the blog daily when most people would tell me to shut the hell up. He's been writing a bit more lately, and particularly excels with baseball content like you saw with the Dodgers blog yesterday.

I've already written more than I planned so I'm going to cut it short but have to of course thank Koz(the poomaster), Bz, Yossarian, Sunrise, and Roddick's Knee for the work they've done with the site. I wish all of you would post more because you all write kickass stuff.

Anyway, I just want to conclude this celebration by saying thank YOU. I hope we keep producing content that keeps you readers/hot thigh viewers enthralled and returning for more. I'm not stopping with this anytime soon and we're not anywhere close to where we want to be.

Happy 1st Birthday Thigh.

BallHype: hype it up!

Will Manny be back in LA? Dodger fans sure hope so.

2008 Outcome: 84-78, finished 1st place in the NL West. Advanced to the NLCS (Lost to the Phillies in 5 games.)

What They've Lost: Greg Maddux (retired), Jeff Kent (retired), Derek Lowe (signed with Braves), Brad Penny (signed with Red Sox), Takashi Saito (signed with Red Sox), Chan Ho Park (signed with Phillies), Andrew Jones (released).

What They've Done: Re-signed free agents Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake. Signed new free agents Brad Ausmus, Claudio Vargas, Mark Loretta and Guillermo Mota.

The Dodgers also let Angel Berroa, who spent quite a bit of time at SS for them, walk and have yet to do anything about Nomar Garciaparra, Joe Beimel or Manny Ramirez.

Needs: Outfield, starting pitcher

The Talk: Most of the Dodger talk this off-season has been centered around one man, Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers have reportedly offered Manny one or more contracts so far this off-season and continue to wait to see what he is going to do. The Dodgers front office has not been shy about saying they want Manny back on their club. Agent Scott Boras seems to be holding out hope that a new large market team will become interested in Manny, driving up his price, but that seems unlikely. Eventually it looks like Ramirez will end up back in LA.

The Dodgers also let Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Greg Maddux walk from the NLCS team last year and will need to sign at least one free agent starting pitcher. They had been mentioned in relation with John Garland, but with him off the market, Randy Wolf looks like the best bet to land in LA. He would join a rotation of Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw and either Claudio Vargas or a young guy.

Free Agent Signing/Trade Prediction: Randy Wolf

Wolf spent some time with the Dodgers in 2007, going 9-6 in 18 starts before dealing with injuries. Reports say the Dodgers think he is a good fit and are interested in bringing him back. Wolf has always had the stuff to be a great pitcher but has struggled with injuries his whole career. Last season he struggled with the Padres for the first half of the season, but appeared rejuvenated after a mid-season trade to the Astros. The Dodgers will hope he can continue that success and stay healthy.

Young Player To Make 2009 Impact: Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers have had a plethora of young guys come up and make huge impacts for their team over the past few years. They had one of the top systems in baseball for a long time and now it is producing a whole lot of results. Nearly all their good, young, ready players are now up with the big club, however. Kershaw showed some flashes of being a very good pitcher for the Dodgers last year. This year seems like the year that he will show why they felt comfortable letting Lowe and Penny go.

2009 Outlook As Of Now: The rest of the NL West still looks really awful on paper. The Dodgers seem to be the heavy favorite going in as long as nothing crazy happens before opening day. The D-backs, Giants and Rockies all have solid young cores but all 3 seem incomplete and at least a year away from seriously competing.

The Dodgers starting rotation seems to have taken a hit from last year's NLCS squad. If they can ink one more starter and get good things from Clayton Kershaw they should be fine though and they could get an unexpected boost from Jason Schmidt at some time during the season.

More than anything however, their chance of repeating last year seems to rely heavily on bringing Manny Ramirez back. The Dodgers struggled through the first part of the season as a .500 team before the trade but looked like a powerhouse afterward. The Dodgers lineup is filled with a whole lot of good young players who figure to only get better. Andre, Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney and Russell Martin have all solidified their spots as consistent regulars with great upside, but the dodgers struggled to find consistent power and run production before Manny came to town.

As always the bullpen in LA looks like a fairly strong one. The Dodgers seem to have success with nearly anyone they throw into their pen. Johnathon Broxton will take over as closer with Corey Wade, Guillermo Mota and Hong-Chih Kuo in support.

As long as the Dodgers can bring back Manny and nothing disastrous happens, I'd pencil them in as repeat division champions in the NL west.

Hottest Thigh Association: Alyssa Milano

Not only does Milano have a very hot thigh, but she also completes herself as every sports fan's dream girl as she is also a huge sports fan herself. She has said baseball in particular is her favorite, and despite being born in New York she is a huge Dodgers fan. She can often be seen at Dodger stadium with good seats cheering her team on. She has designed and modeled a lot of sports apparel for nearly every team, but she is not shy about telling you the Dodgers are the team close to her heart.

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Thigh-Fiving These Links 1/28/09 Edition

Posted by Matt Clapp | 1/28/2009 08:00:00 AM | ,

Thigh Five From Melissa Wheat!
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Next up in our "Random Retro Baseball Player" series, we look at the wild and crazy Pascual Perez...

Years Played: 1980-1985, 1987-1991.

Teams Played For: Pittsburgh Pirates(80-81), Atlanta Braves(82-85), Montreal Expos(87-89), New York Yankees(90-91).

Positions: Pitcher(207 Games, 193 Games Started).

Bats/Throws: Right/Right.

Career Line: 67-68, 3.44 ERA, 1.214 WHIP, 110 ERA+, 822 K, 21 CG, 4 SHO, 1244.3 IP.

Best Season: I'm torn on this one as you could make good arguments for two seasons. Feel free to show your opinion...

1983: 15-8, 3.43 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 114 ERA+, 144 K, 7 CG, 1 SHO, 33 G(All Started), 215.3 IP.
1988: 12-8, 2.44 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, 147 ERA+, 131 K, 4 CG, 2 SHO, 27 G(All Started), 188 IP.

Awards/Leaderboard: NL All-Star(1983)

Led NL in WHIP in 1988(0.941).

Led NL in K/BB ratio in 1989(3.38).

Fun Facts: He has two brothers that were also MLB pitchers: Melido(Played from 1987-1995, 78-85, 4.17 ERA) and Carlos(Played in 1995 and 1997-2000, 40-53, 4.44 ERA).

His nickname is "I-285". He got that nickname because he got lost on Atlanta's Interstate 285, causing him to miss a start while with the Braves.

I thought I was as skinny as you could possibly be(if you have food accessible of course) at 6'1", 170 or so. Pascual played at a height and weight of 6'2", 162.

He's probably best known for his crazy antics on and off the field. For example, he'd do the Shooter McGavin move where he'd act like his hand was a gun and shoot the opposing players. He'd also sprint into the dugout after an inning when pretty much every other pitcher not named Turk Wendell walks, he'd slam the baseball into the dirt of the mound, he'd peek through his legs to see if a runner had a big lead off first base, and do many other things that made him look like he was on crack out there. That leads to the next fun fact!

In 1984, Pascual went on a date with the white lady in the Dominican Republic, his homeland. He was arrested for cocaine possession.

In 1992 at the age of 34, he failed a drug test while a member of the New York Yankees. He was suspended for a year for violating the league's drug policy. He never pitched again.

Let's not end on a sad note though. He has some of the coolest Jheri curls you've ever seen.

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