BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer
Couch Side’s own Stayson Isobe actually worked at the West Regional of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and was able to snap some shots for our site. We would just share the slideshow on this post, but Kizoa’s embedding doesn’t seem to be compatible with Word Press. You can still access Stayson’s slideshow from March Madness, however, by clicking the link below:
Last week, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work the NCAA Men’s Basketball West Regional in Tempe and what an experience it was.
For those that don’t know, when I’m not moonlighting as a Couch Side writer, I work at Northern Arizona University as a graduate assistant in the media relations department as the Sports Information Director for the Lumberjack women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis programs.
This past fall, Arizona State, the host of last week’s West Regional Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games at the U.S. Airways Center, asked our media relations department if we would like to volunteer at the games and really who would turn down an opportunity like that? Well the four of us in the department as well as our assistant AD for marketing made the trip down to the Valley last Wednesday and I can’t lie, I was stoked (and again who wouldn’t be?) (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
With the Major League Baseball season just days away, Couchsideshow.com has complied all 13 of its player ranking blogs, putting them in one convenient post for an overall look at the best players in baseball. This is a great post for fantasy rankings and a great way to simply see our prediction of who will be the best of the best in 2012. Just think, you can even come back here maybe midway through the year and comment about how wrong we were. So without any further hold up, here’s the list of links to past blogs about the top players by position in the MLB:
In part six of Couchside’s spring training previews, we take a look at baseball’s men at the hot corner. Whereas you didn’t find Miguel Cabrera in my top five first basemen, you’ll find him here, but you won’t don’t look for Jose Bautista’s name since he’s expected to play the outfield this season now that phenom Brett Lawrie is here to stay in Toronto.
Longoria suffered an oblique injury that cost him all but the first two games in the month of April last season and never really got going. As a result, he hit a career-worst .244. However, despite playing in just 133 games, he did manage to crank out 31 homers, just two shy of his career-high, and walked a career-high 80 times. Not to mention that he had his best month of the season when it counted the most in September as the Rays made their push to overtake the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card, posting a .289 average with seven dingers and 22 ribbies while reaching base at a .454 clip. The two-time Gold Glove winner is one of the cornerstones for a Rays team that is a legitimate contender for the AL pennant this year and is poised for a huge season. Is it possible for a guy to have a breakthrough season if he’s already a three-time All-Star?
The only reason Miggy isn’t first on this list is the questions surrounding whether he can be adequate defensively at third base. The last two seasons that he played third base full-time (2006, 2007) he had a combined 40 errors, so the questions don’t come without some basis. But the guy has reportedly lost a ton of weight to prepare for his move across the diamond, and there’s no denying the bat that he carries to the plate. On this side of Albert Pujols, there may not be a more pure hitter than Cabrera. He is the reigning AL batting champ after a career-best .344 last season and has hit better than .292 in each of his eight full seasons in the big leagues. In addition, he’s also failed to hit 30 or more homers just once and has driven in at least 100 runs in each of those eight seasons while totaling no less than 177 hits. The guy will never be mistaken for a defensive wizard or a speed demon, but he’s as consistent as they come in the batter’s box, and one can only think of the offensive numbers he’ll put up this season regardless whether he hits in front or behind Prince Fielder. Can you say a second coming of the Bash Brothers?
In part three of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best position players going into 2012, we’ll take a look at what could be the deepest position in the MLB – first base. Although this is my top five, one guy you won’t see on the list is Miguel Cabrera, who is expected to move across the infield to third with the Tigers’ addition of Prince Fielder.
With that said, let’s take a look at my top five first basemen heading into the new season.
When a season consisting of a .299 batting average, 37 home runs and 99 RBIs, is considered a “down season,” you know you’re one of the game’s best. That was Pujols’ line from a year ago and it snapped his 10-year streak of hitting .300 with 30 home runs and driving in 100 runs. This season, Pujols moves out West following 11 seasons with the Cardinals fresh off his second World Series title, but nothing short of a “bounce back” season is expected from him. Pujols is a career .348 hitter in interleague play, so although the jersey may have changed, the colors haven’t and if there’s such a thing as a sure-bet, Pujols is just that. There’s a reason why he’s called The Machine. “El Hombre” or not, the Angels need their new $240 million acquisition to the man if they hope to reclaim their spot atop the AL West.
Until last year, A-Go had spent his previous five seasons in the spacious confines of Petco Park and still managed to knock out 32 dingers a season as a Padre. So expectations were sky-high moving to the American League where he could swat balls over the short right field porch at Fenway with that sweet lefty swing. Well, Gonzalez actually only managed to hit 27 balls out of the park, but in exchange he hit a career-high .338, more than 30 points above his previous career-high, and topped 200 hits for the first time. This year, the batting average might dip a little, but I expect an increase in his home run production between 30-35 in that murderer’s row that is the Red Sox lineup. Oh and he’s also won three Gold Gloves in the last four years, so there won’t be any Bill Buckner moments with this guy.
I remember reading this article a few years ago and thinking that how great would it be if this guy made it to the NBA. If he could represent and give hope for all the Asian Americans out there that anything is possible despite what the naysayers may say.
A little more than two years later and call it what you want, but Linsanity has taken over the sports world and my dream for this guy has come true. When Yao Ming sadly retired from the game in July, who would’ve thought that a little known point guard from Harvard would immediately take the torch and keep the Asian influence alive in the NBA? No offense to Yi Jianlian, but he wasn’t cutting it.
Yet that’s exactly what Jeremy Lin has done over the last week and a half ever since that fateful February night two Saturdays ago, where he took the world by storm. Lin came off the bench and notched career numbers – 25 points, five rebounds and eight assists – and led his New York Knicks to a 99-92 victory over the Nets.
BY STAYSON ISOBE, couchsideshow.com writer
The old adage is defense wins championships.
Finally after a regular season that was dominated by explosive offenses and record-breaking performances, the two teams headed to the NFC Championship proved that a defense that will smack you in the mouth still prevails in this league. Both the 49ers and the Giants seemed to face an uphill battle coming into the weekend, faced with the task of attempting to slow down two of the NFL’s most unstoppable offensive attacks. The Packers and Saints, led by the league’s top two MVP candidates in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, were the two highest scoring teams during the regular season and two of the top three in total offense with the other being the Patriots.
Brees was the orchestrator of New Orleans’ attack, breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year single season passing yards mark this season, and was coming off a postseason record in regulation of 466 yards last week against the Lions. Rodgers on the other hand, showed pinpoint accuracy throughout the season as evidenced in his 45-6 touchdown to interception ratio, leading the Packers to the top seed in the NFC with a 15-1 record.
But on this weekend, neither would advance to the NFC title game. Instead, the 49ers and the Giants ramped up their defense and slowed down these two offensive assaults enough to make a statement. The two teams combined to force nine turnovers and produced seven total sacks of Rodgers and Brees.
BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com special contributor
During the last handful of years, as a fan of the Anaheim Angels (yes get that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim crap out of here), the hot stove portion of the MLB offseason hasn’t been kind to my beloved team.
After all, I’ve seen Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Mark Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero walk for a variety of reasons and seen my Angels squander opportunities to sign the likes of C.C. Sabathia, Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre.
All of this despite constant claims from owner Arte Moreno about being ready to open up his checkbook. Granted last offseason’s marquee free agent acquisitions, Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, were vital components to the Angels’ bullpen in 2011, they weren’t exactly the big signings us Angel faithful were clamoring for. Add in poor trades by former general manager Tony Reagins for the likes of Scott Kazmir and the Vernon Wells deal, and there’s a plethora of reasons why Angels fans were chomping at the bit for off season excitement.
That’s why I approached this winter with cautious optimism. Who could blame me? I knew where the weaknesses laid within the roster, namely at the back end of the starting rotation and at the hot corner. However, with a combination of a relatively weak free agent crop and a team payroll cash-strapped due to the albatross that is Vernon Wells’ contract, what could I really expect?
Then came the morning of December 9. That’s the morning that Moreno described as a “monumental day for Angel fans.” That’s the morning that Moreno and new general manager Jerry Dipoto brought Albert Pujols to Southern California. That’s the morning the Angels franchise, regardless of what you want to call them, changed forever.
Granted Pujols didn’t fix one of the aforementioned weaknesses on the roster, but how often do you get a chance to add a three-time MVP who only once in his 11-year career failed to knock in 100 runs and hit better than .300? For the record, he missed those marks this past season by batting .299 with 99 RBIs. This is a guy who’s won two World Series and is already in the conversation of becoming one of the greatest players of all-time up there with Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, you name it.