Jon Fazio's Sports and Thoughts Blog

Holy. Moly. I type this before your eyes in disbelief. Not because of the time (I should really be sleeping right now), but because of the ability to post on this blog again. I don’t even know where to begin with this. I’m definitely not writing a Today in Sports tonight, but will share my absence since my last post and why I thought this blog was lost until minutes ago.

It’s hard to believe that I started this over 2 and a half years ago! Reading back at my posts from that time tonight surprised me a little bit because of the ability I had to create professional summaries of games and news, if I may say so myself. However, after my last post almost 2 years ago (wow), I sorta got caught up in the professional sports world of radio and then TV to start off my Broadcasting career after graduating college (woohoo!). I was writing for the sports page at my school as well, plus experiencing what would be my last semester of college ever, so there was reasons for ignoring this blog.

As soon as I graduated college, I hit the real world hard landing a job with MLB Productions as an in-game logger and freelancing with Westwood One Radio Sports (Now known as Dial Global) in the fall-spring on an as-needed basis (which is still true to this day). Since the logger job ended once the MLB season ended that year, I had time to think about posting here, but something happened…

For some reason, I wasn’t able to log in here with my email and password. I tried many times with different passwords and emails, but it didn’t work. Now, you could say, “Well, why didn’t you create a new blog or go to another site to blog?” To be honest, I liked this specific account because it had my history of blog posts. That was important to me because I can go back and see how I’ve progressed over time and critique my own work. So for that reason and not being able to sign in, I gave up. It turns out that the email I used was a school email and that was deleted by the time I tried to log in. Also, as a side note (which will come handy at the end of this post): I upgraded my cell phone to an iPhone around this time.

As time passed, I started to think about this blog again and decided to look it up on my Twitter, since I have it displayed on my home page. To my surprise, it opened up and revealed all of my posts. So I knew that it still existed and could still be accessed, but had no idea what the email/password combo was. Again I tried, again I failed. What was it? If my school email is gone, how could it still live? Once again, I ignored it and went about my life.

I started working for the MLB Network last March, which if you readers know, was my dream job back when I started this. I got lucky getting in with Productions and because of my willingness to learn there and some hard work, I was chosen to freelance with the Network and begin my quest of becoming a producer (which is still true to this day, even though I have changed from writing to producing since I last posted). I was working about 5 days a week from late March to early November. But once the offseason began, my role was/is cut shorter and am only needed a day or 2 a week, if that (it varies week-to-week). Which brings me to now…

I could not sleep at all for some odd reason and decided to surf around my iPhone. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn… Tumblr? I had the app since I had the phone, yet never did anything with it (obviously). I look at my page, skim through my posts and decide: screw it, I’m gonna try to log in again. Open it up, try my old-school AOL email and normal password and BOOM! I’m signed in. Total disbelief. It’s 5 a.m. Goodnight. See you around soon.

Today in Sports

Rumors: I figured I’d make this special section just for today to keep you updated on a couple rumors that are being reported on ESPN and local sports outlets. One rumor is that Shaq is most likely going to sign with the Boston Celtics next season to join the big 3. The sources say that it will be announced late Tuesday night or Wednesday if he decides to play for the Celtics. The Atlanta Hawks were originally rumored to be in talks with Shaq as far as a month ago to have him play there, but as of right now the Celtics seem to be in serious discussion with him to try and land him a contract.

Another big rumor being reported is that former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is planning to retire from football and move on with his life (sound familiar?). Head coach Brad Childress has yet to hear from Favre about retiring from football. However, multiple players on the Vikings claimed that he sent out text messages and told them that, “This is it.” Neither Favre nor the Vikings claim that these messages were sent out at this time. Both of these rumors should clear up within the next 24 hours, but who knows.

MLB: The Yankees are now looking at something they haven’t seen since June 12… a different division leader. The Tampa Bay Rays have claimed sole possession of first place in the AL East after they defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-4 and got help from the Toronto Blue Jays as they went on to beat the Yanks 8-2 Tuesday night, who now fall a game behind the Rays. It’s been twelve games now since Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th career home run after going 0-3 in the game. It is safe to say lately the pressure has gotten to A-Rod after everyone in the stadium is snapping pictures after every pitch during his at-bats hoping to capture his 600th dinger. Here’s another number for you: The Yanks have lost three straight, which matches the longest losing streak of the season for the team. The Yankees got off to a promising start as Mark Teixeira connected for a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead. But after that, Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero settled down and shut down the Yanks. Romero threw a complete game, giving up two runs on only two hits and one walk in his bid for the win. Yankees starter Dustin Moseley couldn’t keep up with Romero, giving up five runs in seven and a third innings in his first losing effort this season. Wednesday’s series finale will be a very interesting day for A-Rod, for it will be three years exactly that he hit his 500th home run at the old Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals. Phil Hughes (12-4, 4.07 ERA) gets the start for the Yankees as he takes on Blue Jays’ starter Shawn Marcum (10-4, 3.24 ERA) in a game where the Yanks look to bounce back and reclaim the AL East. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on YES.

The Mets looked to finally take advantage of gaining ground in the NL East as they took on the division-leading Atlanta Braves Tuesday night. Although it looked like the Mets were heading for defeat once again, Jeff Francoeur changed the script and added his own drama by launching a solo home run in the ninth inning to propel the Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Braves. R.A. Dickey kept the Braves in check on a rainy evening, a knuckleballer’s nightmare, pitching six innings and giving up two runs on five hits while walking four. Braves’ starter Derek Lowe also pitched well, throwing six innings and giving up one run on six hits while striking out three. That run came off of Jose Reyes, who doubled in the third inning to score Luis Castillo from second. Then in the seventh inning after Francoeur drew a walk, Chris Carter came off the bench to pinch-hit for Dickey and hit an RBI single to tie the game at 2. All that to set up late-inning heroics from Francoeur to put the Mets at six and-a-half games behind the Braves. This is exactly what this team needed if they want to make a run for the playoffs this season. Time will tell if this is the spark they needed for them to win often, or just be a footnote in another disappointing season for the Mets. Mike Pelfrey (10-5, 4.10 ERA) takes the hill for the Mets in Wednesday’s series finale and takes on Kris Medlen (6-2, 3.66 ERA) of the Braves. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. and can be seen on SNY.

Today in Sports

MLB: The Yankees travelled back to the Bronx to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of a three game series at Yankee Stadium and await home run number 600 from Alex Rodriguez. A.J. Burnett got the start for the Yankees and seemed to be in control at the beginning of the game. During the first four innings, Burnett had only threw 54 pitches and made one mistake by giving up a solo home run to Vernon Wells. But in the fifth inning, things got ugly for Burnett. He gave up seven runs and six extra base hits during the inning that he couldn’t even finish, eventually handing a loss to the Yankees by a final of 8-6 and find themselves in a first place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays while Alex Rodriguez still sits on 599 career home runs after going 0-5 in the game. The Blue Jays tagged Burnett for six hits that included a second-deck two-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion and five doubles which scored five more runs. The seven runs allowed tied the most the Yankees had surrendered in a single inning this season. The Yanks did have some fight in them after that inning, posting four runs to cut the Blue Jay lead to two after Nick Swisher hit a solo shot in the ninth, his second home run of the game. But as A-Rod stepped up to the plate with two outs in the ninth hoping to extend the game and put 600 in the books, he grounded out to shortstop Yunel Escobar to end the game. The Yankees, now tied for first in the AL East, send out Dustin Moseley (1-0, 3.24 ERA) to start against Ricky Romero (8-7, 3.46 ERA) of the Blue Jays. First pitch will be thrown at 7:05 p.m. on YES.

The Mets opened up their three-game series down in Atlanta against the Braves and looked to be a pitcher’s duel on paper as Johan Santana faced Tim Hudson on Monday night. Even though Santana did strike out a season-club-high eleven strikeouts on the night, he gave up four costly runs to lose the game 4-1 and start the short road trip on the wrong foot. The Braves got to Santana early, scoring three runs off him in the first inning to give Hudson enough room to work with throughout the game. Omar Infante started off the inning with a single that led to a Jason Heyward walk. On the next play, Mets second baseman Luis Castillo dropped Chipper Jones’ potential double-play ball on his exchange from glove to hand. Although there’s no telling what might have transpired had Castillo been able to turn a clean double play, the Braves rallied for three runs on Matt Diaz’s RBI double and Rick Ankiel’s two-run single. In four starts since the All-Star Game, Santana has given up 14 hits, 10 runs, four walks and has an ERA of 22.50 in the first inning, and most of that came in the last two starts. As a comparison, in 19 first-half starts he also gave up 10 earned runs and that was still an above-average ERA of 4.74 for him. The lone run from the Mets came from Carlos Beltran, who doubled off Hudson in the fifth inning. The Mets did chase Hudson out after six innings of work, but could not get anything going against the Braves bullpen that included Billy Wagner, former closer of the Mets. The Mets now fall to a season-high seven-and-a-half games behind the Braves in the NL East race with only 56 games left to play. The Mets can’t afford to lose any more games if they still want to contend for the playoffs. They do so by sending out knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey (7-4, 2.32 ERA) out to the mound to start against Braves’ starter Derek Lowe (10-9, 4.58 ERA) on Tuesday night. First pitch is set at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

Today in Sports

MLB: The second half of the baseball season started today after a couple days of the All-Star festivities in Anaheim, California. The Yankees had an off day and will play Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx for a three-game series. CC Sabathia (12-3, 3.09 ERA) will make the start for the Yankees as he faces James Shields (7-9, 4.87 ERA) of the Rays. The Yankees will wear commemorative patches for the rest of the season to honor the late Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner, who had both passed earlier in the week. Both men will be honored at the stadium Friday that will include a video tribute and a moment of silence. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., but fans are encouraged to sit by 6:45 p.m. to honor these two men who have left a legacy for the Yankees as well as baseball itself. The game can be seen on My9.

The Mets started their second half of the season Thursday by travelling to San Francisco to take on the Giants. Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took on Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum in what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel. Lincecum outlasted Dickey by pitching a six-hit complete game shutout to give the Giants a 2-0 victory. It was Lincecum’s fourth career complete game shutout and 50th win as a pitcher. The Giants picked up where they left off before the All-Star break, which won six of its final seven games, to give the team their first victory of the second half of the season. Lincecum, who received 15 runs of support in his last start on July 7 at Milwaukee, survived this time with little offensive support as Pablo Sandoval's two-out double scored Buster Posey in the second inning. That was the lone run given up by Mets starter R.A. Dickey, who surrendered five hits in seven innings. Posey plated a run in the eighth with a bases-loaded fielder’s choice. The only threat the Mets gathered came in the fifth inning when Jason Bay walked and Josh Thole singled to open the inning. Lincecum responded by retiring Ruben Tejada on a fly to right, which advanced Bay to third base. Dickey sacrificed Thole to second base before Lincecum escaped by getting Angel Pagan to flyout to right to end the inning and threat. The Mets tried to gain a boost from Carlos Beltran, who started his first game this season after undergoing off-season surgery on his right knee, but was caught stealing second after his only hit of the game in the top of the fourth inning. The Mets try to get their offense going Friday against Barry Zito (7-4, 3.76 ERA), who got off to a great start this season but has tapered off in his recent starts. Mets starter Jon Niese (6-3, 3.61 ERA) will try to keep the Giants guessing and hope for some run support from his offense. First pitch is at 10:35 p.m. on SNY.

Today in Sports

What’s this? A blog post? From me? Indeed it is, I am back to write again! It feels like it’s been a month since I have written about sports (maybe it has?) on here. There should have been a couple of nights in-between where I should have written for the day, but decided to sleep earlier and get a good night’s rest. I have been busy with work lately and I’m trying to organize my resume for next year at school, but I should have at least made a better attempt to blog. I had also been hired at MSG Varsity in Hoboken to be an intern for the fall semester at school, which I am really excited to start once August rolls around. It will be my first internship as a Broadcasting major, so it should be a new experience for me to look forward to. But it is no excuse for me not to blog. I know that if I continue to write often I will be that much better at something I may want to do in the future as a Broadcasting major. So let’s get to it!

Oh, I almost forgot. Happy Independence Day!

MLB: After coming fresh off the DL, Marcus Thames pinched-hit a game winner in the bottom of the eleventh to give the Yankees a 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was the second walk-off win for the Yanks, and each time Thames got the whipped cream pie-in-the-face. The last time was against the Red Sox when he hit a game-winning home run off closer Jonathan Papelbon back in May. Thames’ full-count, broken-bat single scored Robinson Cano from second and culminated a back-and-forth affair in the third extra-inning game in six meetings this year between New York and Toronto. Brett Gardner added an inside-the-park home run in the sixth to help the Yankees’ offense going. One day after erupting for 11 runs in one inning, New York’s offense posed a more consistent threat on Sunday. The Yanks scored in five different innings and could have had a much bigger day on the scoreboard if Blue Jays’ backstop Jose Molina weren’t so adept at blocking home plate. The Yankees needed the offensive support for Phil Hughes. On the day he learned he would be an American League All-Star, Hughes struggled to keep the powerful Blue Jays in the park. Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind hit a pair of long solo home runs, and Wise clanged a three-run jack off the right-field foul pole in the fifth. Hughes had given up only four home runs in his first 11 starts and has now served up seven in his last four outings. Jorge Posada was also taken out in the top of the seventh after spraining his left ring finger on a foul tip. Manager Joe Girardi said he would not catch at Oakland on Monday against the A’s. Javier Vazquez (6-7, 5.11 ERA) pitches for the Yankees and takes on Ben Sheets (3-7, 4.98 ERA) of the A’s. First pitch is at 10:05 p.m. on YES.

The Mets wrapped up their series against the Washington Nationals on this Fourth of July and seemed to have never wanted an inning to end. The Mets scored six runs when the Nationals were on the verge of escaping an inning, and New York held on after jumping to an eight-run lead in a 9-5 victory. Jason Bay drove in four runs, Angel Pagan drove in two more and Ike Davis added a two-run homer for New York, which came into the game batting .213 with two outs, the lowest mark in the majors. All-Star third baseman David Wright contributed two hits and scored two runs. Hisanori Takahashi breezed through five innings, allowing two hits and tying a career high with seven strikeouts—including five consecutive in the third and fourth innings. Francisco Rodriguez, who lost Saturday’s game when he gave up three ninth-inning runs, had another shot. He came in with two runners on and none out in the ninth and retired all three batters he faced to record his 20th save. He was the fifth Mets reliever. The Mets travel back home to take on the Reds at Citi Field. Mike Pelfrey (10-2, 2.93 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets to face Aaron Harang (6-7, 5.02 ERA) of the Reds. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

MLE: The 95th annual Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest took place on Sunday without a familiar face to compete against three-time champion Joey Chestnut. But, Kobayashi was in attendance to watch Chestnut gobble down 54 hot dogs to give him the mustard belt and a fourth straight win in the contest. Kobayashi did not enter the contest this year because he did not want to sign a contract with Major League Eating (MLE). After the contest, Kobayashi rushed the stage and had to be retained from police. He was arrested for resisting arrest and was taken into police custody. I would love to enter this contest and just eat two hot dogs, just so I could have a meal and be known for eating just two hot dogs. A man can dream…

Today in Sports

MLB: The Mets and Yankees closed out the Subway Series on Sunday as both of the team’s aces took the mound to face off in what was expected to be a pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers, CC Sabathia and Johan Santana, pitched well. In the end though, Sabathia escaped with the win, pitching eight scoreless innings and striking out six as the Yankees went on to win 4-0. Santana’s only mistake on the day proved to be very costly, giving up a grand slam home run to Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the third. The Mets once again couldn’t provide run support for Santana, who is now 5-4 this season after taking the loss in this game. Sabathia most likely would have pitched in the ninth inning hadn’t there been a 22 minute rain delay that knocked him out of the game. Mariano Rivera came in the ninth inning in a non-save situation and moved the Yankees in sole possession of first place in the AL East since April 21 by one game. The Yankees and Mets finish their cross-town rivalry with a 3-3 record this year at both Citi Field earlier in May and at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Sabathia only gave up four hits against the Mets, who remained undefeated through his last 14 starts at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees also lead the Majors with the most grand slams hit so far this season with seven. The Mets have now lost two in a row and trail the Atlanta Braves in the NL East by two-and-a-half games. However, they were 7-2 in their nine-game road series, which is a big improvement this season for the team. The Mets travel back to Citi Field and try to regroup on their off day to prepare for the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. Jon Niese (4-2, 3.64 ERA) takes the hill for the Mets and faces Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander (8-4, 3.54 ERA). First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday on SNY. Meanwhile, the Yankees travel to Arizona as they prepare for a week-lon West Coast trip beginning with the Diamondbacks. A.J. Burnett (6-5, 4.33 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees to face Rodrigo Lopez (2-6, 4.70 ERA) of the Diamonbacks. First pitch is at 10:10 p.m. on YES and ESPN (Subject to blackout in local areas).

World Cup: Paraguay took on Slovenia early Sunday in Group F and gave Slovenia a bleak chance to advance to the next round in the Cup by beating them 2-0. Enrique Vera and Cristian Riveros each scored for Paraguay, who controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish. The win puts Paraguay atop Group F with four points after two matches.

New Zealand was the newest team to shock the World Cup as they went on to hang on to a 1-1 tie against the defending champion Italy team in Group F. Italy even had to rally in the match to draw the tie, scoring in the 27th minute from Vincenzo Iaquinta on a penalty kick. With two successive ties, the New Zealand is in position to advance to the second round if they can beat Paraguay on Thursday. The Italians also would move on from Group F if they beat Slovakia.

And in Group G, Brazil faced Ivory Coast and has moved on to the next round by defeating the Coast 3-1. Luis Fabiano scored a pair of goals, one with the aid of touches with his arm and his hand, while Elano added another to secure a spot in the second round even after their star Kara was ejected with two late yellow cards.

Monday brings on three more games in the World Cup as Portugal (0-1-0) versus North Korea (0-0-1) in Group G kick off at 7:30 a.m. followed by Chile (1-0-0) versus Switzerland (1-0-0) in Group H at 10 a.m. and wrapping up with Spain (0-0-1) versus Honduras (0-0-1) in Group H at 2:30 p.m. All games and coverage can be seen on ESPN.

Today in Sports

MLB: The Mets and Yankees continued their Subway Series Saturday afternoon in a game that featured big swings from both ballclubs. But in the end, Mark Teixera’s and Curtis Granderson’s home runs proved to be the difference in this game as the Yankees edged the Mets 5-3. While the Yanks weren’t expecting to produce a lot of runs against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, five runs was good enough for Yankees starter Phil Hughes to work with. Hughes pitched seven innings of work, giving up three earned runs on five hits while striking out four for his tenth win of the season. The Yanks ended a three game losing streak after losing the final two games against the Phillies and losing the first game against the Mets on Friday night, a night where they couldn’t bring a run in. Jose Reyes of the Mets powered the team today, hitting a solo home run in the first inning then crushing a two-run shot out in the third inning to provide the Mets with the only runs batted in. Pelfrey was a little rocky today, given his recent pitching performances, pitching seven innings and giving up all five runs the Yankees put up in the game. He also gave up seven hits and walked three while striking out two. Mariano Rivera closed it out by pitching a perfect inning and earning his 16th save of the season in 17 chances. The Yankees can even the 2010 Subway Series at 3-all Sunday, sending their ace CC Sabathia (7-3, 4.00 ERA) out on the mound to face Mets ace Johan Santana (5-3, 3.13 ERA). The Mets took two of three from their crosstown rivals at Citi Field in May, with Santana beating Sabathia in that series finale. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on YES for Yankees fans, WPIX for Mets fans and TBS for baseball fans. (TBS subject to blackout in local areas).

World Cup: The Netherlands edged out Japan in Group E on Saturday by a final score of 1-0. Wesley Sneijder scored the only goal for the Netherlands who now have won their second straight World Cup match.

The Australians held on to a 1-1 tie against Ghana in Group D despite an early ejection from Australia that played with one man short for over 66 minutes. Australia forward Brett Holman scored in the 11th minute after goalkeeper Richard Kingson bobbled a free kick from Mark Bresciano right into his path. Holman put the rebound past the keeper. Asamoah Gyan of Ghana converted the penalty kick in the 25th minute for his second goal of the tournament, both from the penalty spot.

Denmark eliminated Cameroon from the World Cup and sent the Netherlands through to the second round. Yet the Danes could find little to cherish in their 2-1 victory Saturday night. Dennis Rommedahl scored one goal and set up another as Denmark made the Indomitable Lions the first team knocked out of the tournament. In the process, the Dutch became the first nation to advance after they beat Japan 1-0 in Group E, then waited a few hours for the evening result.

The World Cup continues on Sunday as Paraguay (0-1-0) takes on Slovakia (0-1-0) in Group F at 7:30 a.m. on ESPN, Italy (0-1-0) plays New Zealand (0-1-0) in Group F at 10 a.m. also on ESPN and finally Brazil (1-0-0) faces Ivory Coast (0-1-0) at 2:30 p.m. on ABC. Get your vuvuzelas ready!