May 2009 | Sharapova's Thigh

Breaking Type Stuff: Nadal Eliminated

Posted by FlyAtTheThigh | 5/31/2009 10:00:00 AM | , ,

I'm not a tennis guy, but I know a mega upset when I see it. The 23 seed, Robin Soderling, has defeated Rafael Nadal in the 4th round of the French Open. I believe Nadal had won this event five straight times. Maybe six. I have no idea. When Clapp wakes up, I'm sure he'll have more worthwhile information.

The Cavs lose on Saturday, Nadal on Sunday. It is the weekend of the upsets (both in the players/teams and the commissioners).

Clapp: Wow, just wow. I'm a huge tennis fan, and I'm well aware of how much Nadal has dominated this tournament. Not only that, his win in Melbourne this year showed that he's an improving player that is clearly on top of the world. This is a -huge- upset. If anybody else wins at Roland Garros other than Nadal these days, that's a huge upset in itself.

Now it's time for Roger Federer to step up. When Nadal beat him in Melbourne, you could tell Federer thought his days as the top tennis player in the world were over, as did those of us that watched. Well, if he could find a way to win this now, it would be a major boost for his confidence, and it would be outstanding for tennis. Tennis needs this rivalry right now, and it appeared it was on its way to becoming quite one-sided in favor of Nadal. If Federer can win the "Nadal Open", the rivalary will be plenty worthwhile for a bit longer. Ideally of course, he'd do it against Nadal, but he won't complain if he can find a way to win this.

That's especially the case since with all of the amazing things Federer's done on the tennis court, he's never won the French Open.

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On Saturday night in a very important NCAA baseball game in the regionals, the Texas Longhorns beat the Boston College Eagles 3-2 in 25 innings, making it the longest game in NCAA history. The previous record for the most innings in an NCAA baseball game happened in 1971, in a game between Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State.

This game contained plenty of other incredible statistics and nuggets as you would expect. Here are some that really stood out to me, and feel free to post any others I don't have on here:

  • The game lasted 7 hours, 3 minutes. It ended at 1:05 AM local time(central time).
  • There were 683 pitches thrown.
  • There were 192 plate appearances and 171 at bats.
  • Texas pitcher Austin Wood threw 13 innings and 169 pitches out of the bullpen.
  • Wood did not allow a hit for the first 12 1/3 innings.
  • Wood allowed 2 hits, 0 runs, 4 walks, and struck out 14 in those 13 innings pitched.
  • 120 of Wood's 169 pitches were strikes.
  • Texas' Michael Torres and Travis Tucker each had 12 at bats, so they now share an NCAA record for most at bats in a game.
  • Tucker hit the game-winning single in his 12th at bat.
  • Texas scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning, then not again until the 25th. So it took them 23 innings to score another run.
  • Boston College's Mike Belfiore had an amazing pitching performance as well that was overshadowed by Wood's. He pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowed 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, and struck out 13 over 129 pitches in relief.
  • Texas' Austin Dicharry recorded the win, and pitched 5 2/3 of 1-hit ball with no runs allowed.
  • Boston College only had 1 extra-base hit.
  • There were 42 strikeouts.
  • 7 pitchers did not allow a run.
  • Texas left 24 runners on base.
  • Boston College only had 8 hits.
  • Boston College did not commit an error.
  • Boston College did not attempt a stolen base.
  • Texas had 91 at bats and 103 plate appearances.
  • There were 4 runs scored through 6 innings, then none for the next 18 innings.
  • There were no triples and only 1 home run.
Link to the box score and play-by-play

Note: I found many of those statistics myself cracking numbers in the box score, and I'm no math expert, so it's possible I could've miscalculated something. If I did, please correct me and I'll make the necessary changes. I still can't figure out how they calculate credit card processing fees.

Here's a couple quotes from the coaches after the game that I found interesting as well...

Texas coach Augie Garrido, who holds the Division I record for career victories, on Austin Wood's pitching peformance:
"In my 41 years of coaching, the effort by Austin Wood was the best pitching performance I have ever seen."

Boston College coach Mike Aoki:
"I've never been a part of anything like this. In fact, nobody in college baseball has been part of anything like this."
Link(Google-Associated Press)

I'm a baseball nut, so when I heard there was a game going on in the 21st inning, I had to watch it. It was only available to view online with an awful camera angle and poor video quality, but it was still amazing to witness history, and I love extra inning games. It's so fascinating to me how managers are going to handle the situation, particularly with their use of the bullpen. In this game for example, the managers were surely near a point where they'd have to use position players that last pitched in high school, if at all in their lives, to come in to pitch.

It was every bit as unbelievable to see the box score after the game and read some of the recaps of it, as I was unaware of most of that stuff in the four innings I was able to catch. Heck, there's probably more records and astounding tidbits from that game that nobody's even become aware of yet.

It's unfortunate there had to be a loser in this one, and to make matters worse for Boston College, they have to play again at Noon today in against Army an elimination game. If they win though, they'll get to play Texas again. I feel quite comfortable in saying that game could not possibly top this one though.

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Hat tip to With Leather.

It appears that the local newspaper has taken out an ad congratulating the three major sports (football, baseball, and basketball) for all finishing above .500.

As some of you may know, I have an undergraduate and a law degree from the University of South Carolina, and it's the sickening acceptance of mediocrity that drives me and most of my associates absolutely nuts.

We have a football coach in Steve Spurrier who looks absolutely lost. He looks like Joe Gibbs in his second NFL tenure. The game looks to have passed him by. The Gamecocks had the second most player drafted in last year's NFL draft and still only managed to finish at 7-6 (4-4 in the SEC). The basketball team was a bright spot, but a late season collapse kept them out of the NCAA tournament. They would be eliminated in the first round of the NIT by Stephen Curry.

The baseball team is currently a three seed in the Regional round. People around here love to discuss how great Ray Tanner is, but all I see is a guy who has been unable to turn big time talents like Justin Smoak into champions. An old school coach who loves to bunt with metal bats doesn't do it for me, and the inevitable ouster this year of the "YardCocks" is something I do not look forward to.

This ad is an embarrassment, but it is emblematic of a disease that spreads beyond sports. A disturbing acceptance of being just average is spreading from sports to school to work. Whoever put up that ad should take stock of themselves. So should anyone who thinks that it was a good idea.

Mediocrity Loves Company (The Palmetto Scoop)

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Maybe someone will trade him to me...

Posted by FlyAtTheThigh | 5/29/2009 02:00:00 PM | , ,

Perhaps Yahoo! is getting a -bit- too strict when they're judging players as "cold". Either that, or we've begun to expect just a bit too much from Zack Greinke.

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David Price can provide a nice boost to a struggling Tampa Bay Rays team.

Coming into the season, many thought the Tampa Bay Rays had a better team on paper than last year's team that of course went to the World Series. Some thought the team would have a sophomore slump in a division that also contains the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and the Toronto Blue Jays. Even the doubters couldn't have predicted the team would be 23-27 and tied for last place in the AL East at this point though. They've lost five straight, and even blew a 10-run lead at Cleveland in that stretch.

The team has scored 282 runs, which is the most in baseball, so the offense has certainly done the job. However, they've had some ridiculously bad health luck so far and the pitching staff has been a major letdown. Starting second baseman Akinori Iwamura was lost for the season last week with a knee injury, and his middle infield partner Jason Bartlett landed on the disabled list with a sprained ankle in the last few days as well. Iwamura's glove will certainly be missed, and Bartlett's had a sensational season at the plate early on, with a .373 batting average, 7 home runs, 30 RBI, 14 stolen bases, and a 1.014 OPS. Pat Burrell has been out with a stiff neck for about 3 weeks also.

The struggles with the pitching staff have a little bit to do with injury problems as well, with closer Troy Percival out with tendinitis in his shoulder that could force retirement, starting pitcher Scott Kazmir out with a strained quad, left-handed reliever Brian Shoushe out with a muscle strain in his elbow, and submariner Chad Bradford hasn't even pitched a game yet as he is coming off elbow surgery.

Still, the pitching staff just hasn't gotten the job done. Andy Sonnanstine went 13-9 with a 4.38 ERA last year, he's now 3-5 with a 7.66 ERA this season. Scott Kazmir has a career 3.85 ERA in 134 games pitched, he was 4-4 with a 7.69 ERA before going on the disabled list. In the bullpen, Percival struggled, and Australian fireballer Grant Balfour has 14 walks in 20.1 innings, with a 5.75 ERA. It's incredible that a team that is four games under .500 this early has a +30 run differential, and a large part of that is because 5-10 in 1-run games. That's usually the sign of a struggling late-inning bullpen. David Price finally being brought up from AAA might ignite the pitching staff a bit, and it certainly wouldn't hurt if Kazmir can get healthy and look like his old self...

How about the San Diego Padres? Everybody and their mother picked the Padres to finish in the cellar of a weak NL West division. While that's still entirely possible, the Padres sure are playing some outstanding ball of late, winning 11 of their last 12 games. The key to the great stretch has been superb pitching, as they have allowed three runs or less in eight of those wins. Like the Rays, they have a run differential that makes their record surprising, at -31. And like the Rays, they have a very noticeable record in 1-run games: 12-6. The main reason why is their new closer, Heath Bell. They've literally been "Saved by the Bell"14 times in 14 chances. He's only allowed just 1 earned run in 19.2 innings pitched, for an ERA of 0.46...

Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge has always had impressive power for a 5'11", 190 pound guy, but never quite put it on display like he has so far in 2009. He hit 27 homers in 2006, but then just 14 in only 34 less at bats the following season, and 11 in 347 at bats in 2007. He has 12 homers in just 157 at bats this season. The 32-year-old's also walking in 10.9% of his plate appearances, higher than any season of his career. If he can keep hitting for power and get on base, he can play a huge role in the Tigers staying atop the AL Central division...

The St. Louis Cardinals' pitching has been unbelievable over the last 9 games. During that span, they've yet to allow over 2 runs in a single game! The return of starting pitcher Chris Carpenter from the disabled list certainly helped that. He's allowed no runs in 13 innings, with 5 hits, 2 walks, and 14 strikeouts. When healthy, he's one of the best pitchers in the National League, and gives the Cardinals a terrific 1-2 punch with him and Adam Wainwright. A healthy Carpenter might also give them a great shot at the NL Central crown...

Then there's the Washington Nationals' pitching staff. Yikes. They've allowed 280 runs in 46 games, that's over 6 runs per game. That's how you get to be 20 games under .500 only 46 games into the season...

The Texas Rangers continue to get much better pitching than anybody could've expected. The revival of veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood's played a big part in that. The 34-year-old had an ERA over 5 each of the last 2 seasons, but is sitting at 3.25 right now. The back of the bullpen has been the strength of the pitching staff. Closer Frank Francisco missed 2 weeks due to biceps tendinitis, but he's looked like the guy he was before the DL stint. He's yet to allow a run in 16.2 innings pitched. We know this team is going to score runs, and if they can keep pitching anything like this, there's no reason they can't hang in there all season long in the AL West...

We thought the other team in Texas, the Houston Astros, would be able to score their fair share of runs as well, but that hasn't been the case. They've scored only 183 runs in 45 games, just over 4 runs per game. They have a very weak starting rotation outside of Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, and they play in a home park where the ball easily leaves the yard, so they're going to need to hit the ball to win games there. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to and have a 9-15 record at home. Lance Berkman is hitting just .229 right now though, and we know that won't continue. This team always seems to make a big run in the 2nd half of the season, and there's too much talent in the middle of this order to not put more runs on the board...

With interleague play underway, some hitters on National League clubs that haven't gotten more than a spot start here and there and some at bats off the bench, are finding their way into the starting lineup as a designated hitter. A couple hitters to keep an eye on that fit that description are Jake Fox of the Chicago Cubs, and Mat Gamel of the Milwaukee Brewers. The 26-year-old Fox had the triple crown in all of the minor leagues in his stint at Iowa this year, hitting .423, with 17 homers, and 50 RBI. He's always been able to hit, but is awful with the glove and has no real position. If Fox shows he can handle third base adequately at all, the Cubs might give him some starts there with Aramis Ramirez out until July, just to get his bat in the lineup. He's 2 for 3 since the callup, and I'd think will be at designated hitter for many of the Cubs games at American League parks, especially when they're facing a left-hander.

Gamel is a terrific offensive talent and like Fox, is terrible defensively. The 23-year-old is a third baseman, or that's at least that's where he's been trying to play. He has an .881 fielding percentage and 75 errors there in the minors. One season he made 53 errors in 113 games! He sure can hit though, and that's why many compare him so quickly to another player of the Brewers like that, Ryan Braun. Unlike Braun though, Gamel bats left-handed. He has a sweet swing and can get around on anybody's fastball. He's just 4 for 23 right now, but he's capable of providing a nice offensive spark for an already potent Brewers lineup.

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Thigh of the Week: Emma Heming

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/28/2009 04:00:00 AM | , , ,

Emma Heming
For some reason I had never heard of this thighlicious woman, even though she's married to Bruce Willis. That just happened on March 21st. Quite the odd marriage as well, considering he's 54 and she's 30. Oh what I would do for fame and wealth.

Aside from that, the British babe is known for modeling(who would've guessed?!) and acting apparently, although I've yet to even see a listing of a single show or film she's appeared in. I'm sure if she keeps looking this gorgeous, and with her name now on the scene as Willis' wife, the opportunities will surely come.

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Maria Sharapova is back competing, and winning in a major tournament.

You know we love Maria Sharapova, so we were quite happy to see she won her first round matchup against Anastasiya Yakimova in the French Open yesterday. A first round win in the tournament usually wouldn't be a big deal for Maria, as she was of course ranked #1 in the world at one point last year. However, she hadn't played in a match at a major tournament since Wimbledon last June due to a right shoulder injury that required surgery, so it was a pretty meaningful win for the 22-year-old Thigh Goddess.

Here's some of an AP write-up on the victory:

Sharapova's tennis is not yet back to her lofty standards, as one might expect after shoulder surgery in October and four singles matches in the past 10 months. The 64th-ranked Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus is not the sort of opponent who would normally trouble a top-of-her-game Sharapova, yet there was trouble Monday.

Still, a win is a win, and Sharapova's first match at a major tournament in nearly a year ended with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Yakimova and a spot in the French Open's second round. It will take more than that performance for Sharapova to erase the uncertainty that comes with such a long layoff.

"This is the first time in my career where I can really say I don't have any expectations," the three-time major champion said. "I don't know how things are going to work out. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, how my shoulder is going to feel."

Link(Bleacher Brothers)

As you see there, she's understandably just excited to get a nice win, and that the shoulder wasn't an issue. She's ranked 102th in the world and is unseeded at the tournament, so anymore wins at Roland Garros should just be considered a bonus. Can the thigh magic carry her to greater things sooner than most anticipate? We hope so.

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I present to you... "One Thighning Moment 2K9", a video/slideshow honoring the ladies of the 2009 Thighnal Four: Megan Fox, Elisha Cuthbert, Krystal Forscutt, and of course the champion, Keeley Hazell. Enjoy...

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Introducing "The Friendly Blogfines"

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/24/2009 08:08:00 PM | , , ,

I'm a diehard Cubs fan, and I don't like to really bring that side of me onto this blog. I like to keep it as a general sports blog with no real affiliation to certain teams, so we can try to get along with everybody.

Well, we've now started a Cubs blog, where you'll really get to see some of these thoughts I would've never shared with the Thigh readers. If you're a Cubs fan, or even just a baseball fan, you should stop by and check us out. We accept all fans of any team and feedback from all of you, as long as you bring some quality thoughts and not just a douchey comment. We love talking baseball, it doesn't have to be specifically about the Cubs.

The blog will not have a large bias, it's going to be more of a journalistic look on things in regards to the Cubs and players/teams/news that matter to them. However, I can't promise that we won't show a bit of frusturation and the crazy fan in ourselves in the live game blogs we plan on doing.

Anyway, here's the link: The Friendly Blogfines

Hope to see you over there.

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Who knew Mr. Mayberry was a Panama Fan?

The scene: the bottom of the fifth inning during Fox Saturday Baseball. It's Phillies vs Yankees. Nick Swisher at the plate. During the previous inning, John Mayberry, Jr. gets his first major league hit, a homerun. A powerful moment for both father (a former Kansas City Royal All-Star) and son, no doubt. Fox cuts to the happy papa and the Think Tank that is Joe Buck and Tim McCarver talk about the elder Mayberry.

Only one problem. The man on TV...not John Mayberry. During the Swisher at bat, Buck is forced to sheepishly admit that the entire Fox team are, indeed, bad at what they do and that the man they have been showing as Mr. Mayberry is, in fact, simply a Phillies fan.

I am looking for the video, which is not yet available and I do not have the technology to take screens from my TV. If anyone finds it, please leave a link in the comments. Needless to say, there's nothing more satisfying than listening to a pompous ass like Joe Buck being forced to correct a mistake while Tim McCarver cackles like a mentally handicapped cuckoo in the background.

UPDATE: Tip of the cap to Matt of The700Level for the screenshot, and to Tuffy of SPORTSbyBROOKS for making me aware of it as well. Go thigh five them.

Update 2:
Thanks to some of the fine posters over at The Cubs Brickyard for looking for and alerting me as to the presence of a video.

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For Some Reason, This Commercial Never Fails To Make Me Laugh

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/23/2009 01:21:00 AM

Probably because I'm an ass.

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