Can Federer Make The ATP World Tour Finals??

OK so it’s not a grand slam tennis event and it is in London this year but should it be in South Africa. A country that is beautiful, adventurous, and has its racial and status segregation issues from what a friend tells me.  London already has Wimbledon, why not spread the World Tour back around the world! Anyways, let’s break this Roger Federer and David Ferrer final down. As the Beastie Boys’ say “Let the beat umm drop”. A low heartbeat publicity event here in the states by no means should make this worldwide rather upbeat awesome year end tennis event un-talked about.

Federer is coming off a disappointing early exit from the U.S. Open looks to get his indoor game back. Ferrer covers so much ground side to side. But what’s even more impressive is how he does this as such a short athlete. The Spaniard tennis great has taken the country of Spain by storm especially after his fellow countryman Rafael Nadal went down with an injury earlier in the year missing two grand slams. David Ferrer pronounced in English “Day Veeed”  has a chance to lose 14 times in a row, but this should make for a very brilliant match. However, this round-robin event is not a single elimination, and will be a lot of fun to see the players continue on even after a loss and how they handle the adversity on the court.

If Federer defeats Ferrer, he will become the first player to book his place in the last four Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Federer defeated Tsonga in last year’s ATP World Tour Finals 2011 Final and should have no problem recovering from his multiple finals “babelaas babbelas” or  hangovers from English championships .

Written by Bryan Kreutz

The Best Is Yet To Come (No Jokers Wild Card)

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Think about this… Baseball’s extra Wild Card element added for the first time this year gives more sports drama because of last year’s almost incidentally awesome last day. That last day of diligence, drama, and dreams was created in the unlikely but unforgettable last day of last year’s regular season that was happening in four different games.

Because of this extra wildcard now in 2012, teams like the Cincinnati Reds have a chance to shatter the Cards’ playoff dreams instead of just sitting pretty atop the Central Division waiting for a 1st round playoff opponent.

The Reds can be both division winners and Wild Card spoilers! This duality is the new reality of the 2012 postseason race.

The great schedule makers have Cincinnati meeting its division nemesis, the Cardinals, for a three-game regular-season finale of a series that begins Monday. Oh yes, plenty is at stake. Before the playoffs, the National League Central champion Reds can also bounce St. Louis from this new 2012 second Wild Card spot. The Cardinals entered the day with a two-game advantage over the surging L.A. Dodgers.

For the first time ever, the three headed monster of quality teams in the American League West can all battle it out for playoff positioning down the last few games of the season and two of the three will likely get in. Even next year all three teams could have a postseason game. This 2012 change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional cities in the great U.S.A. or Canada to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive postseason in professional sports.

The National and American League Championship Series and World Series formats will remain the same, keeping baseball purists happy still.

Let’s get back to the National League playoff picture. Although the scenario is different this year for the Cardinals to get into the playoffs the revenge factor is intriguing from the standpoint of the Atlanta Braves. Of course The Braves want to get back at the Cards for last year’s epic failure when they held a double digit lead in the standings over the Cards and losing that lead ultimately on the final day of the season. Yes, the Braves ultimately controlled their own destiny but couldn’t hold off the surging LaRussa Lead legacy of champions.

As a St. Louis sports fan, I’ve been blessed to almost always find myself switching back and forth between meaningful and or playoff cardinal baseball and Blues opening season hockey on the same nights for a few weeks in October. Well this year with no NHL hockey and me not playing hockey due to my schedule I hope to see some games on the hockey schedule! But for baseball even the casual or impatient sports fans who often mock the game of baseball can’t help but respect what our national past time has done to help the fan experience exceed expectations.

On the hockey front; I think I’ll wait till’ some of my teammates are ready to get into the swing of the real winter season before I lace up my skates to play some real games. Oh and let’s not forget about the new college friend who will be needing an early season warm welcome back to STL with a pickup game or two in December.

Predictions– These baseball teams will make the playoffs: Senior circuit: Braves, Cards, Nationals, Giants, Reds – Junior circuit: Rangers, A’s, Yankees, Orioles, Tigers

World Series Prediction: Cardinals versus A’s

Prediction for my sports life: Time will be found to play hockey in our league with my teammates and time to play pickup hockey with old and new friends in between the grueling but grateful schedule of producing programing!

-Bryan Kreutz

It’s US Open Time, Who Really Wants it?

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To be honest, it’s really up for anyone…well almost!

At the start of 2012 if you were to name the top 4 men likely to be the last man standing by holding the US Open Trophy who would it be? Well… lemme answer for you cause it’s my blog to write tonight. Sure you would have said Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal. Nadal, my personal favorite from Spain is out with an injury so that leaves three on the list of likely losers or not.

Andy Murray has never won a grand slam even though he just won a gold medal on his home grassy turf, that’s the point it is grass not hard court like New York’s U.S. Open surface and it was not a grand slam title. Murray is a rising star at age 25 but bless his little Scottish heart but he does not have a title yet and I don’t see him gaining his first this year at the U.S. open.

Roger Federer in my humble opinion the greatest men’s tennis player there ever was is just that guy who could emerge victorious in a Swiss sneaky show of old man strength. The Swiss star Federer did just remarkably win his 17th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon, prior to that Federer had not won a grand slam title for two and a half years. Being close in age to Federer and playing in tennis tournaments myself there are times when guys half your age should beat you but instead wisdom and experience prevail or you simply rise to the occasion cause your feelin’ it and oblivious to age at the moment! Federer may really be a seasoned veteran but look at his recent stamina match. It was just three weeks ago Federer guts out the longest Olympic match in history by defeating Juan Martin del Potro. Federer owns five straight US Open titles between 2004 and 2008 but this is almost a half a decade later.

Oh and there’s this young guy who was just a boy a few years ago named Novak Djokovic, nicknamed “Djoker”, a portmanteau of his surname and the word joker.Djokovic, the Reigning US Open Champion has not yet forced Roger Federer to abdicate his throne as the king of the hard court tennis surface.

Of Djokovic’s most likely competitors in the finals, either Andy Murray or Roger Federer, Djokovic has had success against the two. He defeated Federer in five-set matches at each of the past two US Opens, and he took care of Andy Murray at both the Sony Ericsson Open and the Aussie Open earlier this year—all hard courts.

I know the emotion factor is not always brought up especially when were referring to athletes it’s the skill and drive and sheer talent that is usually measured but let’s look at the emotional and mental aspect this one last grand slam has on the top tennis players. I find in my athletics whether it be tennis or hockey there are times you get bruised but unbroken mentally/emotionally even in life, recently for me I might add. But as an athlete you find a way to overcome it.

Practically all tennis players are familiar with the difficulty of the mental side of tennis. Often this is what makes the difference in more matches than we would ever like to admit.

Novak Djokovic earlier in 2012 said mental toughness at key moments sets tennis’s “Big Four” apart from the others. “I think it’s just the experience that you get playing on the tour that you can use in the certain moments when you feel you are under pressure.”

Just like only a week ago at the Cincinnati Masters The crowd, in Federer’s favor at the outset, turned their attention to Djokovic, hoping to propel him into competitive form. And when Djokovic held serve to open the second set, the crowd roared in relief, causing Djokovic to break into a toothy grin as he walked to his chair for the changeover.

The crowd and key moments in the match may help determine the outcome in this epic and pivotal moment for the ages at the U.S. Open, after that said I think Novak Djokovic repeats as winner this year.

On the women’s side there are three that stand out to me for being named champion this year and reigning champ Samantha Stosur is not one of them.

The 2006 U.S, open champion Maria Sharapova shaking off some rustiness at this year’s grand slam comes to mind as a possibility. Sharapova, this year’s French Open champion and a silver medalist at the Olympics, reached the US Open second round on Monday with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Hungary’s Melinda Czink, showing no signs of stomach problems that sidelined her since the Olympics. Victoria Azarenka fairly fresh off her first grand slam title at the Australian Open is 23 and has crazy good tennis skills. Aside from Victoria Azarenka Withdrawing from Dubai with an Ankle Injury she seems to be healthy and deadly to opponents with her rockus two-handed backhand.

Some may say I’m going out on a limb with this prediction but number 6 ranked Angelique Kerber is my choice for U.S. Open champion this time! The fellow German Kerber won first WTA title at Paris’ Open GDF SUEZ in February and has shown remarkably drastic signs she’s heading to the top so fast it is almost unfathomable.

If Angelique Kerber can get past Venus Williams and her shoulder doesn’t flare up again, the hard-hitting lefty, who does everything else right-handed, may have a reasonable chance to roll into the quarterfinals and take a stand to prove she is worthy of then winning her first U.S. Open championship.

Written by – Bryan Kreutz

Gold Medal Greatness? Wimbeldon winner? Which is greater?

Great Britain’s Andy Murray avenged his Wimbledon final defeat by Roger Federer in the finest possible way at the all england club this last weekend in the Olympic games of 2012.
Could it have been written better than a movie script or even the 2004 Wimbledon film than this way to have such high expectations of Andy Murray succeed in front of his home country?

Remember it was just 4 weeks ago in the Wimbeldon final Murray fell short of a first title after Roger Federer claimed his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title.
Murray, the 25-year-old Dunblane, Scotland native mastered the second set, winning each of the first five games before Federer finally held. Federer earned a break point in the next game, but the set eventually belonged to Murray.

The 30-year old Federer looked much fresher than the younger Murray who may have had the edge in home court and youth, but Federer is undeniably one of if not the greatest tennis player of all time.

Roger Federer of Switzerland, who was coming off his marathon four-hour, 26-minute semifinal triumph over Juan Martin del Potro on Friday, the longest match in Olympic tennis history.

“The biggest win of my life,” said Murray immediately after winning gold with a shocking 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over Federer, the world’s No. 1 player.

He was asked if this gold medal meant more than winning Wimbledon would have.

“I got asked that question a lot before,” he said, in his slow, dry, quiet brogue. “I got asked it a lot this week. I would love to win Wimbledon, for sure. But this felt good. And I wouldn’t change this for anything right now, that’s for sure.” As you can see, Olympic champion Andy Murray captures buoyant mood of his nation.

While Roger Federer wins and loses on the same court only a month apart with practically the same career defining meaning of each match…should he win both. A gold medal is one of the few accomplishments missing from Federer’s overflowing resume.

So set aside the tennis prize money for a moment and the gold medal worth also. What is it about the tradition, its prestige, its history, the honor and greatness to hold that title as grand slam champion of Wimbeldon? Versus…being an Olympic champion, meaning the best tennis player in all the countries of the world as a gold medal winner. Which I ask is a better achievement for Andy Murray, or any player who has these titles held proudly with his or her name at the top?

Written by – Bryan Kreutz

Falling Stars No More

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A difference in Big D indeed!

The Dallas Stars have perhaps made some of the most changes to their roster since they were the North Stars. The then North-Stars, who fell from grace after narrowly missing holding Lord Stanley’s Cup in the 1991 final. The fans of Minnesota asked, “How do you justify moving a cold-weather professional sport from the nation’s hockey capital in Minnesota and move them to a state like Texas known for its hot weather?” Well it was probably money that the then owner Mr. Green said was none to be made in Minnesota, but the point is during that massive exodus from the North Stars in Minn. to Lone Stars simply known as Stars in Dallas the team was literally dismantled; seriously you’ll see in the upcoming sentence after next.

Following this 1991 Stanley cup loss, the NHL Dispersal and Expansion draft took place. An unprecedented 24 players were selected by the new San Jose Sharks, who all played on the North Stars the prior year. How’s that for a major roster overhaul.

Well this 2012 offseason overhaul of roster moves is not as major as 24 players like back in 1991, but there are some major superstars coming and a few bright stars leaving.

Let’s start with the most high profile addition Jaromir Jagr. He is far from his prime, but imagine the point production potential he has on a scoring line with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, two of the league’s hidden superstars. Not to mention, Dallas’ power play was dead last in the league last time hockey was played. Adding Jagr, Whitney and Roy will help immensely.

The Stars will be a totally different team come October, but for a club that has missed the playoffs for four straight years, is that the worst thing on Earth?

First-round draft pick Jamie Oleksiak is expected to make the jump to pro hockey this season with high expectations.

With the addition of long time Buffalo Sabre center Derek Roy, should he stay healthy especially from the past Quad injury will be huge. Roy who believes wearing a certain number is important to most players he realizes the number 9 he wore on his back is for so many years in Buffalo is not an option with the number belonging to perhaps the most beloved Star of all time wearing it for 2 full decades, Mike Modano. On the subject of Modano who ended his 21 year career playing just one season outside the stars organization, Modano told reporters if asked if there is a possibility if he will come back to play he stated “We don’t know yet, we will have to see how my working out goes”, leaving the door open for a chance he could return to the NHL. Modano could make for a compelling addition to the Stars roster while his name graces the back of a Stars jersey again.

Not that this next bit of info is breaking news but a reminder was recently given by Stars General Manager and former player Joe Nieuwendyk on the expectations he has for Brendan Morrow not just to be a star, but a superstar! Morrow has skill but he is streaky at times and could be more consistent. Wait, what am I saying, hockey is a roller coaster ride of confidence. I know that myself from playing in the league called Hockey North America (HNA) all the way to my days in roller hockey at Matteson Square Garden in St.Peters, MO.

Trevor Daley also is getting excited about this seasons Prospects, and New Teammates, but he’s sad to see the departure of long-time teammates Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro.

Daley, like Morrow is a player with whom a lot is expected and his decline is noticeable in the category of penalty minutes. I’m not saying Daley is going soft entering the midway point of his career but if you look at his potential in defensive prowess. Particularly Daley was known for stopping neutral zone attacks before they develop into a bang, bang offensive setup in his zone. Daley used to be more aggressive and yes, even take a few more good penalties like Stéphane Robidas does year in and year out.

Yet another Stars player who is playing under the radar with so much potential is Michael Ryder who came off several tumultuously horrid seasons in the points department before rebounding with an awesome return to greatness at 35 goals and 62 points last year with the Stars.

Three maybe four good solid scoring lines of three forwards and two top notch defensive style defensemen in Robidas and Daley (at least on line 1) will prove on paper this team from big D will give you big D-Fense and yes scoring.

If Jaime Benn can follow suit of playing a full 82-ish game season like Loui Eriksson and Ryder along with all of the numerous and ginormous transactions the Stars made this off season then the NHL will be looking up to the Stars in the standings come April. These multiple 5-star lines will be shining not falling anymore!

– Written by Bryan Kreutz

Houston, We Have A Problem!

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The Astros have been the biggest sellers of trading off older and contract challenged players in 2012. The Astros have good depth of young upcoming player prospects in multiple positions from their farm system minor leagues.

Yes, their coming off the franchise worst record last season, a dismal 56-106 record in 2011, but consider this for you baseball purists. The Astros are 1 of 6 teams that have won the National league Central 4 times as champs, 2nd best behind the 8-time champ St.Louis Cardinals. Yes, the good ol’ days of the Killer B’s of Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, and Bell are gone. Furthermore, the even older good years of playing on my buddy Mike’s Nintendo – RBI Baseball video game with infamous players like Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, Glenn Davis, and Kevin Bass are decades done. These “almost Astros” of near dynasties are down the drain if the name Astros is permanently removed in 2013.

Yes, you heard right.

The Astros are considering changing not only the uniforms no biggie right, but changing the team name. Why?? Isn’t it enough that the more than 2 decades and counting rivalry is over in the NL Central when Bud Selig (an awesome Commish BTW he really is good I’ve had him reply to my written letter before BTW) would insist the new owner move the team to the American League as a condition of the sale. However why would the NL Central and same overcrowded division team like the Milwaukee Brewers not just move back to the American League?

Well Selig isn’t really elaborating into why, but we do know Selig’s’ family owns the Brewers and his main reason for moving the Astros to the American league is because the AL West Division is short one team and needs to even out the divisions league wide. The Astros announcers, Jim Deshaies and Bill Brown are very witty, have great voices, humorous stories, and a compelling draw about them during the TV broadcasts nightly. As a Cardinal Fan from St.Louis’ I will miss watching pertinent NL games with them airing on MLB Extra innings.

One of Baseball’s most compelling traits is the purity of its past which ties into familiarity of those team uniforms we’ve grown up to expect every season. If the Astros are no more much the same way as the Expos exit from Canada’s second team, will we twinge or have fond memories when we hear the defunct team name again as an announcer mentions the team? Probably, but where is the continuity when Houston will be one of the first professional sports franchise to have the exact same team in place but name it something different three times over the course of 50 years. Do the math, John Grotts (John is my buddy from StL who moved to Houston) always was a whiz kid, but anyways the math says the Astros are on pace to re-name the same team a new name about every 16 season’s if they do indeed give the Houston team a new one in 2013. (Houston Colt 45’s, Houston Astros, 2013 new-name?). Astros new owner Jim Crane said in January the team will conduct a study to decide whether or not to switch the name. “We’re going to study the information both from the fans and from all sorts of marketing people,” Crane said. “I’m not saying we’re going to change. We haven’t made the decision yet whether we’re going to change.”

When the Houston Oilers left the Astrodome for Tennessee there was good reason to rename the team since Tennessee is not known for oil. (Hence the name Tennessee Titans). What good reason does this team have to rename and move to the American league? And don’t tell me it’s because Space town Houston has a fan base that has lost interest in Astro-nauts because NASA has next to nothing left in funding for the Space program due to no more American dollars to fund it.

Houston we have a HUGE problem!

-Written by Bryan Kreutz

So What Is The $100 Million Question?

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Only 7 years removed from an NHL lockout due to owners needing players to reduce their salaries so a profit can be made for their team, we are seeing huge contracts again. On Tuesday, the NHL players’ Association and the NHL only gently entered into talks for a new collective bargaining agreement. With negotiations only beginning these high salary deals remind us of frivolous high dollar amount spending begging these two questions.
1. Where are these NHL teams getting all this money to sign players?
2. Is there enough time to complete a deal between the two sides without having a lockout like the one that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season?

Heck, it was only 1972 just 40 years ago when two professional hockey players became widely remembered as hockey’s first millionaires. Derek Sanderson and Bobby Hull were those millionares who left the NHL to sign big contracts with the new World Hockey Association (WHA). Sanderson was only a millionaire on paper. His five-year, $2.65 million deal with the Philadelphia Blazers briefly made him the world’s richest athlete. But he played only a few WHA games before returning to the NHL, so he never collected his millions. Bobby Hull’s WHA contract was worth $2.75 million over ten years, with $1 million of it paid up front. So Hull qualifies as the first guy to make $1 million in a single year. No NHL salary came close to $1 million a year back then.

On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet signed by Defenseman Shea Weber with the Philadelphia Flyers last week. Last month Sidney Crosby to signed a 12-year, $104 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. All this after the two year anniversary of the Staggering Illya Kovalchuk; $102 Million deal with the New Jersey Devils over 17 years.

What gives with all these millions? Oh, nothing. Just New Jersey taking a dump on the salary cap, and wiping its backside with the current CBA. So…with all of these Hundred million dollar deals what’s in store for the next CBA. The current CBA is set to expire on September 15, 2012.

BK