Saturday, August 19, 2017

MLB power rankings for mid-August


By Rick Morris


NOTE: Rankings from start of season are in parentheses.


TOP TIER

1 Los Angeles Dodgers (7-2-2-2-1-1)

SECOND TIER

2 Washington (2-3-6-6-3-3)

3 Houston (1-1-1-1-2-2)

THIRD TIER

4 Boston (12-7-7-4-4-5)

5 Cleveland (10-8-13-12-9-6)

6 New York Yankees (3-4-4-5-11-10)

7 Chicago Cubs (14-17-20-20-23-11)

8 Arizona (8-5-5-3-6-4)

9 Colorado (4-6-3-7-8-8)

10 Los Angeles Angels (18-18-11-11-16-13)

11 Miami (29-25-23-25-17-14)

12 St. Louis (6-14-18-13-15-15)

13 Minnesota (13-11-8-8-10-17)

14 Kansas City (24-24-16-15-12-9)

15 Milwaukee (9-10-9-9-5-12)

16 Texas (16-20-12-17-13-20)

17 Seattle (17-23-14-14-20-16)

18 Toronto (23-13-15-19-21-18)

19 Baltimore (5-9-19-18-22-19)

20 Tampa Bay (20-12-10-10-7-7)

21 New York Mets (22-15-17-16-18-21)

22 Pittsburgh (21-22-24-21-19-22)

23 Atlanta (26-26-26-22-14-23)

24 San Diego (30-28-28-28-27-24)

25 Cincinnati (11-16-22-24-24-27)

26 Detroit (15-21-21-23-26-25)

27 Oakland (27-27-27-27-25-26)

28 San Francisco (28-29-29-29-29-29)

29 Chicago White Sox (19-19-25-26-28-28)

FOURTH TIER

30 Philadelphia (25-30-30-30-30-30)


BIGGEST RISERS: Chicago Cubs, Minnesota, New York Yankees and Texas (4 spots), Los Angeles Angels, Miami and St. Louis (3 spots)


BIGGEST FALLERS: Tampa Bay (13 spots), Kansas City (5 spots), Arizona (4 spots), Milwaukee (3 spots)


RANKINGS BY DIVISION – 1 POINT PER RANKING SPOT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL TEAM

1 AL EAST 67

2 NL WEST 70

3 AL WEST 73

4 NL CENTRAL 81

5T AL CENTRAL 87

5T NL EAST 87


RANKINGS BY LEAGUE

1 AL 227

2 NL 238

Monday, August 14, 2017

10 years of The FDH Lounge Multimedia Magazine


By Rick Morris


It’s been an amazing ride and yet it’s only getting started.  If you read our manifesto from Day One of this incarnation of our brand, we’ve lived up to everything we proclaimed that our brand would be – and then some.  It even became the home of our show in 2011 and also plays host to many of our great segments at our previous home, The Sports Talk Network.


We’ll take this occasion to clue you in to an exciting new development in The 21st Century Media Alliance that we have great pride in helping to launch – a new entity in the group dedicated solely to coverage of football and basketball.  It’s coming soon, but we’d be betraying confidences if we said more than that.  But it’s just one more manifestation of the quality content that we and those around us have worked to establish over the years – and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Let the horses and drivers, not the judges, decide the Hambletonian


By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)


You’ve heard the expression in other sports; in basketball, in football, in hockey –“Let the players decide the game.”  It’s a saying that is often followed in professional sports.


Well, it wasn’t followed on Saturday, August 5, 2017 in the 2017 Hambletonian Final.  Watch the replay of the stretch drive.  Did David Miller and his horse, What The Hill, interfere with Jason Bartlett and his horse, Guardian Angel As, as Miller pulled the pocket to successfully trot by Perfect Spirit?


He did.  But was Bartlett’s horse going forward in the stretch? 


No.


Did he have a chance to win or even keep up with horses after being parked the mile in the Hambletonian Final? 


No.


WHAT HAPPENS IN OTHER SPORTS?


Well, virtually all of the time, NHL referees “swallow their whistles” in overtime playoff games. Virtually all of the time, NBA referees “swallow their whistles” late in playoff games (and even many regular season games) when a player (even a star) goes to the basket and gets fouled.


Virtually all of the time, NFL officials “swallow their whistles” and won’t call that holding penalty late in a big game.


Why is that?  Well, it’s because there is a general feeling in sport that players, not officials, should decide the game.


ARE THEIR EXCEPTIONS TO THIS “RULE”?


There are.  If an NBA player gets hammered and had a clear path to a layup/dunk, some referees will call that, even in a big spot.  Or if an NHL player has a breakaway or even a step on a defender, that hook or trip might be called. 


In football, once in a while, that obvious hold in a big spot will be called (see, for example, Atlanta’s Jake Matthews’ egregious hold/takedown of the Patriots’ Chris Long in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, when it was clear that Long had a clear path to sacking QB Matt Ryan).


IS THERE AN EQUIVALENT IN HARNESS RACING?


You bet there is.  Generally speaking, in harness racing and thoroughbred racing, especially in big races, judges are generally loathe to take down horses for interference.  Often, the nuanced test is, “was the horse who was interfered with going forward at the time of the interference?” or, “was he cut off from having a chance to win or pass horses by the interference.”


There was no such chance for Guardian Angel As.  He had been parked the mile at 55-1 in the Hambletonian Final.  While he raced gamely to be up near the lead, he was already flattening out when Dave Miller pulled the pocket with the eventual winner (until he was disqualified), What The Hill.


BUT WHAT’S A DRIVER TO DO?


Indeed, thousands of times a year in harness racing, a driver who has put up a brave fight for much of a race with a game horse will ever so slightly move over (or just drift to the outside from being tired) to not get in the way of a horse who has a chance to win or, at least, go forward in the stretch.


But, in the Hambletonian Final, Jason Bartlett was caught between a rock and a hard place.  Andy Miller, driving Devious Man, and following Jason Bartlett and Guardian Angel As, pulled around Bartlett to try and pass him at the top of the stretch. 


But Andy Miller’s horse, Devious Man, came down on Bartlett’s horse (importantly, before David Miller’s horse, What The Hill, interfered with Bartlett’s horse).


The point being that Bartlett couldn’t either slightly move over or even drift out when it was clear he was not going to go forward in the stretch after being parked the mile. Indeed, it looked like Bartlett’s horse came down inside a little bit just before he was interfered with – because he had to get slightly away from Devious Man to his outside (watch carefully).


In thoroughbred racing, where this happens much more often, it’s called “being pinched” from both sides.    


WHAT ARE THE JUDGES TO DO?


Well, often-times, judges will make a nuanced determination that the horse interfered with was done or wasn’t going forward or, at that point in the race, had lost all chance to win or go by horses in the lane.  In that case, no disqualification is warranted.


In this writer’s opinion, that would have been the proper determination, given the circumstances of this race.


BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!


The problem with taking down the winner is that, if you’re going to go “by the book” (you know, interference is interference, no matter what the situation), well then, the judges should have at least discussed taking down Devious Man as well (imagine that debacle).


In addition, you have to consider the fact that this is the World Series of Harness Racing, the Super Bowl (double-meaning intended) for trotters, the seventh game of the NBA Finals. 


Now, if Guardian Angel As was going forward with a chance to win or go by horses, by all means take down a horse who interferes with him.  But that simply was not the case.   And, again, if you are going to take down the winner, you have to possibly take down Devious Man as well.


WHAT DID THE DISQUALIFICATION LEAD TO?


Well, it led to a long wait, a TV audience that really wasn’t aware of what was happening (yes, this writer DVR’d the race, went home and watched it again and again) and the first disqualification in the 92 editions of the Hambletonian.


It also led to an awkward winner’s circle presentation, where the owner was actually asked this question: “Is the feeling any less special because the horse finished second across the wire and was put up via DQ or is it still just as sweet?”


Yikes! To owner Lennart Agren’s credit, the first half of his answer was terrific: “We cannot do anything about that.” The second half, not so much: “so I thought the horse did two very good races and I think he deserved it.


Obviously, the second half of the answer is open for debate.  While Perfect Spirit and talented trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt did go two very good races, the reality is that, ON THE RACETRACK, he finished second.  Did he “deserve” to win the Hambletonian?


Not really.  While Perfect Spirit was not involved in the interference, What The Hill trotted right by him in the deep stretch (What The Hill had a perfect pocket trip while Perfect Spirit in the Final cut the mile after leaving from the 10 hole, tucking fourth and being first over in his elimination).


AT THE END OF THE DAY …


Many people will say, interference is interference – the facts surrounding it are irrelevant.  But this writer says that the age-old axiom, “Let the players decide the game on the field,” or, in this case, “Let the horses and drivers decide the race on the track,” should be followed in all but the most egregious cases.


The 2017 Hambletonian Final was NOT one of those egregious cases.


Steve Kallas is a former groom, assistant trainer, trainer and driver.  Every year on Hambletonian Day he joins Marc Malusis on WFAN to discuss harness racing in general and the Hambletonian in particular.

Friday, August 4, 2017

MLB power rankings for start of August


By Rick Morris


NOTE: Rankings from start of season are in parentheses.


TOP TIER

1 Los Angeles Dodgers (7-2-2-2-1)

2 Houston (1-1-1-1-2)

SECOND TIER

3 Washington (2-3-6-6-3)

4 Arizona (8-5-5-3-6)

5 Boston (12-7-7-4-4)

6 Cleveland (10-8-13-12-9)

7 Tampa Bay (20-12-10-10-7)

8 Colorado (4-6-3-7-8)

9 Kansas City (24-24-16-15-12)

10 New York Yankees (3-4-4-5-11)

11 Chicago Cubs (14-17-20-20-23)

12 Milwaukee (9-10-9-9-5)

13 Los Angeles Angels (18-18-11-11-16)

14 Miami (29-25-23-25-17)

15 St. Louis (6-14-18-13-15)

16 Seattle (17-23-14-14-20)

17 Minnesota (13-11-8-8-10)

18 Toronto (23-13-15-19-21)

19 Baltimore (5-9-19-18-22)

20 Texas (16-20-12-17-13)

21 New York Mets (22-15-17-16-18)

22 Pittsburgh (21-22-24-21-19)

23 Atlanta (26-26-26-22-14)

24 San Diego (30-28-28-28-27)

25 Detroit (15-21-21-23-26)

26 Oakland (27-27-27-27-25)

THIRD TIER

27 Cincinnati (11-16-22-24-24)

28 Chicago White Sox (19-19-25-26-28)

29 San Francisco (28-29-29-29-29)

30 Philadelphia (25-30-30-30-30)


BIGGEST RISERS: Chicago Cubs (12 spots), Seattle (4 spots), Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Los Angeles Angels, Miami, San Diego and Toronto (3 spots)


BIGGEST FALLERS: Atlanta (9 spots), Milwaukee, Minnesota and Texas (7 spots), Cincinnati, New York Mets and Pittsburgh (3 spots)


RANKINGS BY DIVISION – 1 POINT PER RANKING SPOT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL TEAM

1 AL EAST 59

2 NL WEST 66

3 AL WEST 77

4 AL CENTRAL 85

5 NL CENTRAL 87

6 NL EAST 91


RANKINGS BY LEAGUE

1 AL 221

2 NL 244

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Lounge on YouTube: The New Baseball Bible


By Rick Morris

FDH Lounge Mini-Episode #866 examines THE NEW BASEBALL BIBLE with its author, Dan Schlossberg.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Chester Bennington tribute


By Rick Morris

FDH Lounge Mini-Episode #865 pays tribute to the life and times of Chester Bennington with FDH Lounge Entertainment Editor.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Big O and Russell Westbrook comparison


By Rick Morris

FDH Lounge Mini-Episode #864 examines the differences between Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook’s triple double seasons with FDH Lounge Dignitary Steve Kallas.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: 2017 Fantasy Baseball midseason analysis


By Rick Morris

THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER analyzes the 2017 fantasy baseball landscape at midseason with Paul Shapiro of RotoExperts.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Trump Administration 6-month review


By Rick Morris                                          

Mini-Episode #862 reviews the first six months of the Trump Administration with Colin Delany of ePolitics.


       


       


        


       

Lounge on YouTube: Trump Administration 6-month review


By Rick Morris                                          

Mini-Episode #861 reviews the first six months of the Trump Administration with Colin Delany of ePolitics.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #860 – Fargo Season 3 non-spoilered review


By Rick Morris

Mini-Episode #860 of The FDH Lounge provides a non-spoilered Season 3 review.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #859 – Better Call Saul Season 3 Part 2 review


By Rick Morris

Mini-Episode #859 of The FDH Lounge reviews Season 3 of Better Call Saul.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Sports Business Radio host Brian Berger


By Rick Morris                                          

Mini-Episode #858 speaks with Sports Business Radio host Brian Berger.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #857 – Better Call Saul Season 3 Part 1 review


By Rick Morris

Mini-Episode #857 of The FDH Lounge reviews Season 3 of Better Call Saul.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: William Cohan


By Rick Morris                                          

Mini-Episode #856 speaks with author William Cohan about his new book WHY WALL STREET MATTERS.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: 2017 NBA Finals review


By Rick Morris                                          

Mini-Episode #855 reviews the 2017 NBA Finals with FDH Lounge Dignitaries Steve Kallas and Joe Staszak.


       


        


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: 2017 Stanley Cup Final review


By Rick Morris                                          

Mini-Episode #854 reviews the 2017 Stanley Cup Final with FDH Lounge Dignitaries Steve Kallas and Joe Staszak.


       


       


       


       

Lounge on YouTube: 2017 NBA Draft analysis


By Rick Morris

This is an appearance on Joe Staszak’s program on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia breaking down the 2017 NBA Draft.