Best Sports Entertainer ! Bracket Rules!

Brackets will be up once the are revealed ! Make sure you cast your vote!

Who’s the BEST Sports Entertainer

We here at Sports Infusion not only like to start debates, we like to settle them. To that end we are asking you, Who is the best Sports Entertainer?
We have ranked and seeded the top 64 Sports Entertainers and now we need you to vote. Every week we will put up another round until we are down to a Final Four. With the ultimate goal to be the Champ!!!
Now the criteria isn’t all about skill inside the squared circle. While that is a factor, factors like Mic skills, relatability to the audience, merchandising and popularity (both positive and negative) are to be considered factors.
The 64 performers have been broken down into 4 regions: Athletes, Legends, Big Men and Brawlers. The winner of each region will then face off in a Final Four.
The bracket will be released on Wednesday April 29th and voting for the first round will go until Tuesday May 5th. On the May 6th episode of Sports Infusion, we will announce who is moving on and who is going home. You can vote as many times as you like. Voting will take place at SportsInfusion.Net.
Each week a new round will begin on Sports Infusion and voting will last for 1 week, until we reach our Final Four.
In addition to the voting, we are also having a contest to go with it. During the first week of voting you need to submit your FULL Bracket to us at SportsInfusion@Aol.com … Whoever has the best bracket at the end of the Tournament wins a DVD of Wrestlemania 31 and their very own Championship Belt!!!
Filled out brackets MUST be e-mailed by 11:59pm pst on May 5th.

 

The Way Baseball Ought to be

Sandlot

By now most of you know my deep love of the world’s greatest game. It stems from my own experiences as a boy growing up on Little League diamonds. It continued through what most of you would call Babe Ruth-High School- American Legion Ball and Collage. When I had kids I hoped they would fall in love the same way I did. They all played Tee-Ball, with the first two that was it, and I was OK with that no one wants to force anything on their children no matter how much you love it. With my youngest I hit the jackpot. A kid who loves this game as much as I do, a boy who live breaths and eats baseball. I did what a lot of parents across the country do I got involved again with Little League. I started out as a coach and took a spot on the Local Board of Directors. But that’s a story for another time. We are here to talk about the good things…

On Saturday afternoon my youngest played in his first ever-doubleheader. They were just exhibition games between the in town teams – no umps, no uniforms just scrimmage game – but the look on not just my own sons but all the boys faces as they took the field was awesome. Every play was hustled after; each ground ball was run out like it was the seventh game of the World Series. Pats on the back handed out for going down swinging as quickly as they were for doubles to the gap, and “Dude nice pitch” was tossed out to guys who had just struck you out looking. But there was one moment – one singular flash in time from Saturday that will live with me forever. On a close play at first one coach called the boy safe another called him out. While the two Grown-ups “discussed” I looked down the baseline from where I was crouching against the dugout fence and saw two eleven year old boys – playing Rock-Paper-Scissors for the bag.

Boston Still Has Minutemen

I wrote this a week after The Patriots Day tragedy, I wanted to share it again today, and I will every year for the rest of my life.

Minute-Man-cms-225x300

A Week ago we all woke up in a much different world. It was Patriots Day in Boston..

The Marathon runners lined up a mile deep and 30,000 strong at the start in Hopkinton. With heads bowed they all observed 26 seconds of silence for The Children and Teachers of Sandy Hook CT. At the same time Boston’s ball players started trickling into Fenway for their traditional 11 AM game. It was another perfect “Patriots Day”

These two words were lost on the twisted minds of two maniacs ( I wont use their names) who had planned maybe for months the destruction they intended to unleash on this great city. If they understood what Patriots Day meant maybe they wouldn’t have dared,

They didn’t realize that the word Patriots here means more than the name of our football team, it’s more than a day off to watch a race or see an early ball game. The word Patriots here in Boston speaks to OUR history and collective state of mind.

If you grew up here in New England you knew this. Here they still teach our children that being a patriot means more than the school you play for or the little flag pin you wear as you are trying to get elected to office. Here Patriots means something.

For over 200 years our forefathers have been heading a call, we were there on King Street as British solders fired into an unarmed crowd, we were at Lexington and Concord when the shot heard round the world was fired. We answered the call when a silversmith road from town to town letting us know “The British Were Coming“ we were there on a hill so short on ammunition we couldn’t dare fire until we saw the whites of their eyes. We stepped off coffin ships and into Union Uniforms; we were the first on the beaches of Normandy. And we were on the front lines of Korea, Vietnam, and still in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For over two hundred years the call has gone out, and we have answered it.

Safe in my home in CT watching the carnage that was unleashed a week ago I watched this horror unfolding before my eyes. Calls went out to my aunts and uncles back home in Boston, checking on family and friends who might have been at the race, making sure everyone was safe everyone was whole. For a week I sat and saw the news casts of the blast and watched the replay of runners, volunteers and first responders rush towards the injured and dead. Not away, towards the explosions. There was no Terror in their eyes.

I watched as our police chased down every lead, I watched as Hero’s fell in our fight against the attempt at oppression of our freedom. And I cheered when our enemies fell.

I ran through a Marathon of emotion this past week. But the first time I smiled the first time I felt normal again was when Butchie reminded me.

“Boston Still has Minute Men dad, don’t the bad people know that”

They do now Son they do now
Minutemen-Today

Buchholtz Blows… up in the Bronx

Buchholtz blows… up in the Bronx
Clay

There’s your ACE ” there’s your number one “ those are the words Red Sox owner-managing general partner and chief executive offender John Henry was heard exclaiming to the press as he ran out of Citizens field in Philadelphia after Clay Buchholtz shut down the big bad Phillies on opening day. Help me out if you heard any quotes that notable Sunday night.

Sunday night The Arm of Clay didn’t go up against the Phillies he went up against the Yankees, Kind of. These weren’t the Yankees of championships past. These are the 2015 Yankees, the geriatric Yankees, the entering Sundays game .193 batting Yankees, the Yankees that hadn’t scored a first inning run to date this season, the Steve Drew led Yankee’s. Yet these Yankees walked to the plate and somehow turned into murderers row, unhinging your number one to the tune of seven runs. A little bird told me that’s the most runs given up by a Sox pitcher number one or AAA call up to the yanks to start a game since 1954. Aroid and the boys chased him from the game after three and a third. By that point Buchholtz had given up ten, nine earned. The last three came with your Ace of the day pouting on the mound instead of backing up plays at third and home. Number one my ass. This has always been the issue, eight years into his pro career when he should be peaking he’s still the head case he was year one. When you turn up the heat Buchholtz runs out of the kitchen.

But today is the home opener and the 95 million dollar man Rick Porcello is on the mound. All of Boston had better hope he pitches better than he did in his debut, or Bryce Harper and company will spend the afternoon depositing hanging curves into Fenway’s bullpens.

Follow/give me grief on Twitter @Tmurph207

Brock Holt “Remember Me”

Brock Holt “Remember Me”

Brock+Holt+YzWTQJ82bjOm

Lost in Friday night’s 19-inning marathon of blown saves, game tying hits and a spike in five-hour energy drink sales was the fact that Brock Holt never saw the field. In fact, Holt was the only positional player on either side of Friday’s epic match-up between the Red Sox and Yankee’s that didn’t make it onto the official scorecard. He was the forgotten man; the kid who stepped up last season and played everyplace had no place to play on Friday night. Saturday, Holt reminded everyone why he is so important to this Red Sox team.

Batting leadoff and playing center, Holt started the game off for the Sox by grounding out to Alex Rodriguez at first. Yeah, A-Roid at first. After that? Brock just had four hits and three RBIs. All three coming off the eighth inning double Holt laced to right field that Yankee’s right fielder Garrett Jones couldn’t get enough leather on to corral.

After the game Holt said, “I’m probably not going to do that every time I go in there”.

The point is, this year no one will be asking him to. Last season Brock Holt was asked to go in there every day and almost every day at a different position. Not just to contribute but contribute like an every day player – and most days he did. But as the season rolled on he showed that he can’t do this every day. Brock Holt isn’t an All Star (even if my Son Butchie thinks he is) – he isn’t an every day guy. Brock is what he is. He’s the super utility guy. He’s the late inning defensive replacement, Brock is the guy who can step in at any position and give your all star a day off, without you having to worry a bit about it. He’s the guy who you can slip into the lineup when someone hits the DL and you don’t have to agonize what you’re going to have to do for the next two weeks. He’s the guy that…well he’s the just incase guy that every manager wishes he had on his bench.

Follow/give Me Grief on Twitter @Tmurph207

A Lot To Love About Porcello Deal

Red_Sox_Spring_Baseball_P

There is a laundry list of things to like about the deal the Red sox inked with Rick Porcello. His age, the money, the years, his style, his health, but we will get to all that. What I love most about this covenant is how Boston and Porcello pulled it off without any of the usual suspects on the Sox beat knowing anything about it. Beat writers were clueless, Rob Bradford of WEEI wrote the day before the opener that his sources confirmed “Porcello and the Sox would table talks until after the season.” But it wasn’t just Bradford the rest of the Yawkey way beat street crew was in the dark as well, and right up until game time the talking heads were squawking about how Boston had given up Lester for Cespedes for this kid and he was going to walk after a season. And then the news broke, I haven’t stopped chuckling since. The Sox announced they had reached an agreement on a four-year 82.5 million dollar extension.. Classic

The reason for the clandestine manner in all of this is “The Luxury Tax” you see if the Sox had had announced this deal before opening day they would be taxed on the money spent. After opening day and well the league gets bubkiss lets face it the Sox have paid enough in taxes this season. If Porcello had spilled the beans or had the Sox front office been its usual leaky rowboat that loophole would have been closed. But enough about my joy, Lets get to the reasons this is a great move for Boston.

Age and Years: Porcello is only 26; his peak five years are now under Sox control. Many have pointed out Porcello has been a number 3 guy up to this point and his stats don’t warrant a deal like this one. But consider that his job training came in Detroit while most of his contemporaries had been on the slow track in the minors. you can understand the up and down peripherals.

The Money: Really Murph The Cash? i can hear you out there people, Keeping him from the free agent vultures is worth gambling an extra million or two a year. The Red Sox office learned this the hard way last spring. If Porcello has another season like he did last year and I think he will, someone was going to pay as much or even more than the Sox in both dollars and years. When you add in this season’s arbitration number of 12.5 million Boston locked him up at five years for just 95 million.

Style and Health: Porcello is a sinkerball pitcher who induces a ton of ground balls, the defense behind him this season is superior to anything he pitched in front of in Detroit. By no coincidence his style also goes to health, sinkerball guys don’t end up on the DL , Porcello has never had a stint to date, and there is less of a concern of ever needing the dreaded Tommy John , fireballers and slider dependent hurlers are far more likely to end up in Dr James Andrews office than a pitcher like Porcello.

Flexibility: inking Porcello to a deal that when you think about it will only look better as the contract goes on give the Sox flex room to add a true Ace to the top of this rotation. After this season the likes of Jordan Zimmerman, Jeff Samardzija, David Price, Mike Leake, Wei-Yen Chen Doug Fister and Johnny Cueto will come on the market, the asking price for some of these names will be north of 140 million. This deal allows the Sox to consider anyone on this list..

That’s really it folks what’s not to like?

Follow / Give me Grief on Twitter @Tmurph207

Pedroia Sends Opening Day Message

PD2

He’s Baaaaaack!!!!

Dustin Pedroia walked to home plate in the first inning of yesterdays opener with the same determined scowl he has probably worn since the first time he walked to the plate when he was nine. And after seeing the first two pitches, he adjusted his batting gloves and deposited the next Cole Hamels offering 372 feet into the left field bleachers. Just in case anyone thought that was a fluke, he came back up in the fifth and did exactly the same thing. Twice Cole Hamels tried to get his fastball past Pedroia and twice Pedroia made him pay.

But his day didn’t end there. If you thought the surgery that forced him from the lineup last September to once again repair his left hand would change his approach in the field you would be dead wrong. Pedroia sucked up everything hit his way Monday afternoon. Like a man on a mission, he made speedsters look foolish for trying to bunt their way on base, picking short hopped liners off his shoe tops or stabbing opposing batters in the heart as they tried to send balls screaming back up the middle. Nothing was getting past Pedroia. Yes people, the muddy chicken’s glove is still gold.

So what’s the message? Who is it being sent to? It’s three fold. The message to the fans: relax – the Laser Show is back. To the media who were declaring his once team-friendly contract now a mistake – back the truck up. And to the high priced, high hope kids down on the farm – learn from Mookie’s example – find a new position. Second base in Boston is still Pedroia country.

Red Sox: Worst to First to Worst to…?

Sox

When it comes to this Red Sox team, damned if I know. I can’t remember a team that had me scratching my head flip-flopping back and forth wondering where they will finish in the standings – first, third, maybe dead last? A $154 million dollar payroll should have some degree of certainty to it, don’t you think? But here we are on the eve of another marathon with questions that it seems $154 million can’t answer.

There are All Stars littered across Fenway – DH- first- second- third-left and right field. The problem is some are out of position, some are on the down side, and some just don’t seem to care enough about baseball to truly give a damn. The Staff is a piecemeal of former castoffs, walk year trade acquisitions and can’t miss prospects that woke up one day and were 30. The pen is shallow and beaten up by age and innings. Yet there is still this thing, this Boston thing that pulls at me, that thing that just won’t let me write off the old town team. Not on the Eve of Opening Day. So lets run down the order of the Old Town team 2015.

Mookie Betts, CF: With just 52 games under his belt Cherington is betting Betts is ready to lead off. The Sox were without a true leadoff man last season and Cherington saw enough of Mookie to hand the top spot to the man no one was talking about last opening day. After a great spring of .487 with 11 extra base hits, he might be right. The Glove is there, and with experience it will only get better.
.310/11/48 with 21 SB

Dustin Pedroia, 2B: Pedroia was literally hurt from the get go last year and it showed. His numbers were down across the board. Now healed up and with this 2014 chip on his shoulder, Pedroia is set to show the world he can still get it done at an MVP level.
.290/12/66

Pablo Sandoval, 3B: Would I bat the Panda here? NO, but Farrell will. Sandoval is, without a doubt, an upgrade from Will Middlebrooks. It’s with his glove that he will make his biggest impact. But Sandoval should see an up-tic in his numbers playing at Fenway.
.290/17/70

David Ortiz, DH: 18 years – 12 in a Sox uniform – that’s a long time. I can’t remember when someone didn’t ask is this the year Big Popi falls off. Well I’m not asking not this year.
.270/30/100

Hanley Ramirez, LF: Not a Fan – never have been. Now that we have that out of the way…a lot of this seasons success hinges on Mr. I don’t gave a damn. If Ortiz and Sandoval can keep Ramirez in the lineup this ballpark should play to his strengths – and for once, I don’t mean begging out of the lineup.
.300/25/90
Mike Napoli, 1B: 2014 was a car wreck of a season for Mike Napoli. Nagging injuries and sleep apnea never allowed the man to truly hit the way this town knows he can. After surgery to correct the sleep disorder, Napoli looks like his old self, even if he looks like a new man. Batting him down this far in this lineup is one of the things that gives me hope.
.225/22/88

Xander Bogaerts, SS: Why is Bogaerts batting here? GREAT question – you guys always ask great questions – I don’t know. I’d have Bogaerts batting in the three hole were he could get some serious protection. Even so, I am predicting a nice bounce back season for Xander.
.270/17/54

Ryan Hanigan, C: I’m going to Miss Christian Vazquez, but Hanigan will fit in nicely. He’s a pro who calls a good game and has an arm that isn’t a liability.
Irrelevant Numbers

Shane Victorino, RF: Ninth Murph? But, but – don’t but me – yes ninth. Again, this probably won’t happen but I like the turn of Victorino ninth and Betts back at the top. I lobbied hard enough for Shane to keep his job; he’ll bat where I put him.
.260/9/40

The Bench: You have to like the depth of the Red Sox bench – not only on the forty man, but what’s waiting in the wings at Pawtucket. Brock Holt can be slotted into any position on the field and you wouldn’t break a sweat. Allen Craig can play both corner OF spots and fist base and you know how I feel about Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo, who are a phone call away if anything should go wrong in the OF and should be at AAA getting play not sitting on this bench.

The Starting Rotation: God Help Us. John Farrell made his bones as a pitching coach and he will be tested this season in helping Juan Nieves get the most out of this staff.

Clay Buchholz: I wrote in December that if Clay Buchholtz was the opening day starter this team was in trouble – well, here we are. Most of the issues Buchholtz had last year involved getting out lefties. If he can’t figure this out, it’s going to be another long season for the arm of Clay. Buchholtz did finish the spring with an ERA under 3.00 – I don’t put much stock into spring numbers but lets grasp at straws shall we.

Rick Porcello: Porcello is the #2 starter in name only. Opening day to Clay was a gift. Porcello has the best stuff on this staff and he’s going to have to keep growing as a hurler in what might be his only season in Boston.

Justin Masterson: The prodigal son returns. If you thought Clay Buchholtz had a bad 2014, take a peek at Mastersons’ numbers. Career highs in all the wrong places. And his fastball was non-existent. He should have been moved to the pen.

Wade Miley: yeah right it’s late and yeah Wade Miley

Steven Wright: Wright is here because Joe Kelly can’t be. But lets talk Kelly anyway. Hey it’s my column I can do what I want. Kelly has been dealing with a bicep strain and will start the year on the DL. But I for one am eager to see what the Irishman can do. Kelly had a very good rookie season and an even better one in his second go round with the Cardinals Big League club. Last year was a bit more of a hard time for Kelly but I like his makeup and I think he’s going to do just fine. After Porcello I’m highest on Mr. Kelly.

The Pen: I wrote last week that Edward Mujica would take over the closers spot while Koji Uehara was on the DL. No surprise that Junichi Tazawa is back to set up and is joined by Anthony Vararo and hard tossing Alexi Ogando. Craig Breslow and Tommy Lane will be the lefties coming out of the pen. I’m shocked Matt Barnes was sent down to be stretched back out as a starter, shocked. This pen may be more shaky then the rotation. Even with a healthy Koji, it’s not a pen that sends shivers down opposing hitter’s spines.

That’s it sports fans. I could have dragged this out for weeks or pages and had you clicking links to my bosses content, but hey I like you guys. There is a lot to be concerned about with this Red Sox incarnation, but there is hope. I can tell you this – 2014 is not going to be boring.. You want a prediction? What do I look like a palm reader? Like I said at the beginning – damned if I know.

Follow/give me grief on Twitter @Tmurph207

Uehara to the DL Mujica to close – but for how long

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox

By now you have heard the news that Koji Uehara is set to start the season on the DL. This doesn’t come as any type of shock to any of us. Koji has been dealing with a bad hammy for weeks and at his age, that isn’t something that heals up in a week to ten. Trust me, I know. So where does that leave an already shaky bullpen? Who does Farrell turn to in the ninth? Edward Mujica of course. This is the reason Mujica was signed last year in the first place – insurance for the aging Koji. Now, before you lose your collective minds over this, remember after a very shaky start last year Mujica settled down and had an amazing second half in 2014. In 34 2/3 innings before the All Star break Mujica was 2-4 with an ERA of 5.45, opponents batted a robust .319 and he gave up 6 round trips and had blown 3 of his 5 save opportunities. There was one point in early July when even his mother groaned when he warmed up. Now, as bad as he was in the first half is how well he pitched after the mid summer classic. Post all star, Fast Eddy was 6 of 5 in save opportunities – his ERA dropped from that monster five and a half to just 1.78 and he held opponents to a .258 average. In 29 innings, he didn’t give up a single HR. This is a man you can trust. The question is, which Mujica will Red Sox Nation gets to start the season – Pre or Post? If its post great – if its pre, what does Farrell do?

Plan A: Pray for Koji to get back into high five form.

Plan B: Matt Barnes. Now before you toss me under the UCONN homer bus, hear me out. While looking from outside the bullpen diner, Barnes September cup of coffee might not look as tasty as one made by a barista, but that java sure smelled good when you walked through the door. Hiding behind that 4.00 ERA was a man who struck out almost a batter per inning and walked just 2. True, there wasn’t much to go on, but you could see the stuff was there. Now fast forward to this spring. In 12 innings over seven games, Barnes has 16 strikeouts and 3 walks. While he hasn’t been lights out, he defiantly has the dimmer switch set to low. To go along with that better than 5 to 1 strike out to walk rate – opposing batters are hitting just .221 against the right hander this spring and if brought along in the right way, Barnes could be this teams future closer.

matt-barnes

I’m not pushing for this – I’m not even hoping for it. I want Mujica to come out blazing. I would love for Uehara to get healthy and demand his job back. And I don’t want Barnes to get forced into a situation that he isn’t ready for. Even if I think he is.

Follow/Give Me Grief on Twitter @Tmurph207

Vazquez Injury Shouldn’t Rush Swihart to Bigs

bos_a_swihart_400x600

This hurts – it hurts a lot. I am a huge fan of Christian Vazquez. Yes, he strikes out too often and draws far to few walks and he doesn’t make enough contact to go with his classic power stroke, but I love this kids arm, love the way he calls a game, and I love his D. For all these reasons and a few more, I had no issue with Blake Swihart being put into a deal for Cole Hamels. God I’m tired of typing that guy’s name. Now that Vazquez is dealing with an elbow issue and is seeking second opinions (Paging Dr Andrews) there are some who think Swihart could break camp with the big club and be on the opening day roster. This would be a huge mistake. Every writer with an opinion – every scouting department – every prospect publication has this kid inked as the next coming of Buster Posey, save me – of course. I haven’t seen it so I cant say it. I also can’t say that he isn’t.

What I can say is whether Swihart is the real deal or not he isn’t ready to prove it at the big league level. Swihart has been impressive – his stats show that, but he has played just 18 games at AAA. The jump from Pawtucket to Fenway shouldn’t be like driving through the speed pass lane when getting off the Pike. You need to get into that cash lane, the no exact change lane with the attendant who can break a fifty and let you know that goggle maps screwed up and gave you the wrong exit to get off. For Swihart, that lane is backed up all the way to Pawtucket where his manager and coaches can let him grow into whatever potential he might truly have. Bring this kid up to soon like the Sox have done with far to many “can’t miss” prospects and it might hurt this team in more ways than one. Kill his confidence stunting his progress or worse yet lose any chance of having a blue chip to deal for Cole Hamels or any front line starter. There are other options – let Ryan Hanigan and Humberto Quintero make the trip to Boston – don’t give Swihart a speed pass he hasn’t earned.

Follow / give Me Grief on Twitter @Tmurph207