21 November, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - 40 man roster edition

The Twins added Alexander Smit to their 40 man roster yesterday. The move protects Smit from the Rule 5 draft.

20 November, 2006

Football - Spilt Milk

Blackburn Rovers 1, Tottenham Hotspur 1

The papers this morning focussed on the confused and fractious ending to the late Sunday game.

Spurs' manager Martin Jol appeared to have been given a red card in the closing seconds of the match after Hossam Ghaly also saw red for a leading elbow against Michael Gray.

What's of more concern for this Spurs' supporter is that a third of the way into the season Tottenham are mired in the lower half of the table. They should be hammering the likes of workhorse teams like Blackburn who, but for Tugay thumping strike in the first half, were devoid of ideas in front of goal.

It was another poor match and Tottenham played their part in making it poor viewing.

Ok, there are injuries. Jol has not been able to field a first choice midfield for most of the season. Steed Malbranque is back, but Aaron Lennon is out again.

The sight of Edgar Davids and Lee Young Pyo in the side rings alarm bells. With Davids running amok, there was a lack of fluidity in midfield for most of the match. Lee is a liability at the back.

And, then there's Mido. The Egyptian striker was lucky to be on the pitch at the end of the game. He's physical. He argues. He has a tendency to be a lightning rod for trouble. In the second half, I was surprised that Jol didn't lift him for Berbatov. After the Tugay red card - very unlucky, but it was a penalty and Tugay was the last man in defence - you could sense that there'd be another flashpoint and possible sending-off. Mido, already on a yellow, was favourite.

In the end, the inconsistent Ghaly got the red. He had no business launching himself into Gray, but he did - to my eye - turn to avoid making contact with the elbow. To this biased viewer, he deserved a yellow card. That's why Jol was incensed. He felt, as I am sure all Spurs' fans did, that the referee was looking for an excuse to "even things up" after the controversial Tugay incident.

Meanwhile, a third of season gone. Hope of a Champions' League place all but disappeared. Spurs' will progress in the UEFA Cup. But, the promise of last season has faded in poor performances, injuries and a lack of character.

Alexander Smit Dispatches - Sickels Ranking

Thanks to Brian of the Nationals Farm Authority for pointing out this link to John Sickels rankings of Minnesota prospects.

Alexander Smit comes in at No.7. That's quite a boost for the Dutch lefty. Sickels gave Smit a "C" rating in this year's Prospect Book. Sickels actually saw him pitch in 2005 though I have my suspicions that was when Alexander was struggling with his control at Beloit.

Smit again started poorly in 2006, but started to put things right around mid-May. Once he joined the rotation in June, he was becoming his dominant self as in the second half of 2005.

05 November, 2006

Football: I Heart Aaron Lennon

Tottenham Hotspur 2, Chelsea 1

For a Tottenham fan, a perfect day. Spurs exorcised their Chelsea demons with a first ever Premiership win against the West London side. (That is a truly staggering and depressing statistic.) More importantly, Spurs finally put one over a "Big Four" club. As this blog has been bleating for most of its natural life, if Spurs have aspirations to be a big club again, then beating the other big clubs is part and parcel. Okay, so you can't do that to order. But, if Tottenham approached other big matches like today's encounter, I'm sure there'll be more successes.

Quite surprising that Martin Jol kept the same eleven that started against Club Brugge in what turned into a 3-1 stroll, one of the least intense European matches you'll see. Compare that to the Battle Royale at the Nou Camp on Tuesday - well, there was no comparison.

So, Donutball does indeed heart Aaron Lennon who netted the winner early in the second half. Lennon has attracted more attention this season, particularly from opponents. It was evident on Thursday when he was immediately surrounded by tow or three defenders when he got the ball. Chelsea did much the same today.

But, the inspiration to switch him from the left wing, where he too often cuts on to his right foot rather than going outside the full-back on his left foot, to the right wing left space for Robbie Keane to do his magic. Keane played Chelsea's substitute right back Boulharouz like a fiddle; a drop of the shoulder left the defender on his backside. Keane's cross to Berbatov was only deflected to Lennon at the far post. Aaron cushioned the ball in one move on his right, then hit a sweet side foot volley with is left leaving Ashley Cole for dust. Goal. 2-1. Ballgame.

Usual sour grapes from the opposing manager. Video

Doubly satisfactory as the Arse went down to a late West Ham goal thanks to nice interplay between two Tottenham old boys - Matthew Etherington and ageless Teddy Sheringham. Handbags between Alan Pardew and Arsene "I Will Always Shake Hands With the Opposing Manager, Except That Racist Alan Pardew" Wenger.

More sour grapes from Whinger.

Oh, how sweet.