Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And That's The Facts, Jack!

"They're all in there, all of them! Just lying and laughing!"

Right off the bat, I have to say that if we played the Maple Leafs every game, we would be raising a banner at the Garden. The Bruins beat Toronto again last night 4-1, giving them a 3-0 record over the Leafs this year. Impressive? Well, yeah. But when you consider they're 8-9-2 against all others, putting them last in the Northeast Division, well, not so hot. The B's are 25th in the league in goal differential (-0.55 gpg) and have no one in the top 10 in any category, whether it be goals or penalty minutes, we got nothing. As a Bruins fan, I will continue to support my team, but I can't help but think I'm going to have a family and kids before the B's make a serious run at the Cup. So, there it is boys, you got between 10-20 years to make it happen. By the way, all the above was provided by the ESPN phone, which I'm convinced would have been an absolute mega-hit had it not been for every carrier requiring a 2-year agreement from the customer. Just bad timing. Well, now at least I know someone, or something, that has as bad of timing as I do.

Celtics are in first in the Atlantic. I don't know how I feel about this. I mean I should be happy, but we're 5-8...5-8? And we're in first? Wow. Also, another reason I'm not overally thrilled about this is the fact that there is a gigantic stable of big men coming out next year, including the next big thing, Ohio St. stud Greg Oden. I do have to say that they are about one more star away from getting a real good team. Talks in the offseason about A.I. and KG came and went. Again, this is just the Boston media toying with you. They do it all the time with the Sox, now they have moved to the Celtics, dangling mega-stars in front of us like we're mules chasing a carrot. And then you read about who we're giving up. Ok, let me see, we're trading Wally, Big Al and a first round pick for Allen Iverson? And they're in deep negotiations with them? No way! And again, nothing happens. This is what happens when you have a really great sports town with the best fans in the world. People are literally hinging on everything that Bob Ryan, Tony Maz, and Dan Shaugnessy, amongst others, have to say. So if they get a whisper of some potential deal that might go down, it is all over the papers and the internet. As I am writing this, I am looking at "The Buzz" off of the Globe's website (more on that later). It builds you up just to let you down. However, the build up is really fun to watch and observe. It's basically included as a part of your initiation into being a die-hard Boston fan.

Ok, so to the potential deals that have been reported, and again, these have probably a 50% chance of getting done, and nothing greater. The big story so far this offseason, beside Dice-K (oh by the way, very interesting news on that whole thing) has been the continued pursuit of trading Manny, which has been tireless and has been going on for the last three years. This stuff continues to have grumblings around it, but nothing ever gets done. We hear about this right up until the trade deadline, and yet, he's still here. I can only think of two reasons to keep him. One, the obvious reason, is that he hits behind Papi and, without Manny in the four-hole, Ortiz is likely to be drawing Bonds-like walk numbers this year. Manny just produces. He has not had a year with the Sox in which he did not go .300/30/100. He has been the staple of the lineup. Literally, only one guy, 'Tek, has been here as close to as long Manny has as far as hitters. Secondly, he adds a lightness to the locker room which is sorely needed right now. This team is becoming more business/Yankee-like with every day. I will say it again. The days of the "idiots" are gone, and I really am starting to miss those days. Papi buying the biggest Pedro bobble-head doll of all time, duct taping Petey to the dugout, and my favorite, the shot of Schilling looking over his notes, with Manny in the background openly laughing and shrugging his shoulders like he just didn't even have the foggiest idea what was going on. His aloofness is, to me, almost like a hustle he is putting on the rest of baseball. This showed up big time in 2005, when he led the majors in outfield assists. It's like the guy is just so goofy that you find it hard to take him serious, but once he gets between those lines, it's, for the most part, strictly business. But that's the thing. The Sox are adapting this new, up-tight persona, and a guy like Manny is the antithesis of what they are looking for. It appears as though he just doesn't try his absolute hardest every time he's out there. Looking at a guy like Varitek, they have a prototype of the gamer, a guy who gives literally everything he has and leaves everything out on the field. Ramirez's market right now is the hottest it has ever been. With the recent increase of the salary cap, teams have been on a spending spree that is similar to the year the Sox signed Manny (that same year: A-Rod, Mike Hampton, and yes, even Denny Neagle got absolutely ridiculous, long-term deals). With Soriano getting 136 for eight years, Carlos Lee getting 100 for six, and even guys like Moises Alou and Adam Eaton getting 8 a year, teams are looking at the 36 due to Ramirez over the next two years, and it can almost be forseen as a bargain for him right now. The new "hot" rumor has to do with the Padres, who apparently have changed their stance about Manny being too much money. They have upped their offer, including the likes of, either Jake Peavy or reliever Scott Linebrink, and, possibly, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. If any of this is true, your run to make that trade. You run. Right now, even a Peavy for Ramirez deal, straight up, is a lock. Peavy is easily one of the top 5 pitcher in the NL. Last year, he posted a 13-7 record with a 2.88 ERA. A year before that, he posted 15-6 with a 2.27. Ok, yeah, with a potential starting rotation of Beckett, Schilling, Peavy, Dice-K, and Wakefield, you won't have to worry about anyone hitting behind Ortiz. In a long series, this pitching would be absolutely devastating to their opponents. And not only that, but Manny would be in the AL, which means no vengeance games, unless of the outside chance the Padres make a serious run and wind up in the World Series. I'm big on vengeance, and I think if you trade this guy to the likes of a Cleveland, Chicago, Texas, Anaheim, or anyone else in the AL, he will make you pay every single time you play that team. This is why I think that trading him to the NL has to be a very attractive option for the Sox. As of right now, if he goes anywhere, Manny's going to San Diego or LA. Either way, the Sox need to either do the deal now, or pull the plug, because you don't need these ongoing issues plaguing the team throughout the offseason and into spring training.

Now the other big story, of course, has been "The Monster," Dice-K. Here's a new twist to this scenario. Remember that $51.1 million that the Sox dropped on the negotiating rights (yeah, you do), well, it turns out, this sum is non-refundable. That's actually the biggest turn of any turn imaginable. Can you even fathom if we don't sign this guy? From the information gathered, the Sox could potentially lose over $50 million for nothing. This is an amazing piece of leverage now for Boras, who can basically wheel and deal and not have to worry about the Sox ever bowing out. This is an absolute remarkable set of circumstances the Sox, who now are backed into a corner, and basically have to get a deal done by the middle of December, or else, they lose a huge chunk of change and lose out on, arguably, the best pitcher of the offseason. Now that I know this, I'm not so sure that this is a bluffing mechanism for keeping Matzusaka away from the Bronx fact, I know that this is no joke now. They have to get a deal done, I repeat, have to get a deal done, or else this is going to wind up on some list of all-time most disgraceful moments in the history of sports. Godspeed Theo.

One last thought. Whoever created that "Guitar Hero" commercial needs to be executed immediately. And I don't even think a gas chamber is close to how much pain and misery this guy, or guys, need to go through. I'm thinking kind of a "Bravehart" deal, but more severe. It should definitely be public though. I mean that's a given. The amount of effort it takes for me to find the remote, change the channel, and then attempt to remember exactly what I was watching, and what channel it was on, makes me believe that this will be like a town gathering type of affair. I can never enjoy that song ever again...then again I never was too fond of it anyway. All I knew was that, on the radio, they would play "Eruption" right before it, which is bad ass. But yeah, that guy has to be put down. And another thing, while I'm on the subject of video games, what is with the Nintendo Wii? Are you kidding me? I remember seeing this exact same invention like five years ago. Remember when they had that tennis game, and you had the racket, trying to return the opponent's shot? It's the exact same thing. It's like Duck Hunt but with a more Japanese name. That's the other thing too. I believe that if you put a Japanese name on anything, it will amazingly make it seem more original and more advanced than anything out there. Look at origami. It's folding paper! Yet, that was the cool thing to do. What about that little, make-believe pet thing? Remember that was like the "it" thing like three or four years ago? Where are you now? This thing is expensive too, and people are going nuts for it. It's just another example of our reality-show watching, Generation Moron-selves. You wonder why Bush got 8? Look no further than the Nintendo Wii. Alright, I'm done with my political smackdown. Later on people. Peace


Wait one more thing, do you know what week it is? I have to say this is the most underrated weeks ever. Give up? Guess who's playing on Saturday?...Cal-Stanford. And you know what that means...All week on Classic. All week! Hit that trombone man one more time! You can put it on the board, YES!...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sports Euphoria

"Call me the breeze, I keep rollin' down the road."

Seemingly, I had everything working over the weekend. Both of the teams I love (USC and the Pats) pulled off dramatic victories. Both the teams I despise (Steelers and Panthers) lost. Oh by the way, Steelers got shut out. Ouch. Wannabe champions. There's only room for one dynasty kids, so put away your towels, 'cause Big Ben ain't even close to #12 (he actually did draw comparisons to Brady by some, I kid you not). That made me incredibly upset that Ben was compared to Tom. It's not even close. It's not even in the same league of comparisons. Roethlisberger is asked to not screw up. Tom is asked to lead his team. Ben sits back, let's his once-powerful running game chew up clock, and then let his defense keep the other team's points to a minimum, and that explains why, when he screws up, the Steelers are 4-7 and completely out of the playoff picture by Week 12. Three big reasons, besides Ben, as to why the Steelers have taken a turn for the worst: Jerome Bettis, Chris Hope, and Antwaan Randle El. The Bus was the anchor behind the running game, basically an automatic on third and shorts (by the way, no Verron Haynes, the best third down back in the league, also doesn't help that run attack). Also, Bettis added clubhouse leadership, which seems to be amiss besides Joey Porter's presence. Chris Hope, I believe, is the most underrated of all of the subtractions that happened to the Steelers. This guy is a big time player. In his first year with Tennessee, he has registered 91 tackles and 3 INTs in 11 games. Wow. He's on pace for almost 150 tackles this year. Polamalu is a tremendous talent and is arguably the best safety in the league, but with an unproven counterpart (Ryan Clark), teams were looking to exploit a very lackluster defensive backfield (17th against the pass), which has led to the Steelers being ranked outside the top-10 in total defense for the first time in a while. Randle El was the X-factor on the Steelers. Seemingly, since Kordell Stewart was drafted long, long ago, the Steelers have had a guy who can run, pass, and receive. With that gone, Cedric Wilson had to step up and become the #2 man, a role that he in no way had a chance to fill. The offense is deep-sixing with every Roethlisberger mistake. Also, the Steelers can't match up with anyone in their division, which is tough when you play six games. They are currently 1-2 and have the Ravens again (I know I'm looking forward to that one), the Browns at home, and the Bengals on the road. Good luck with all that.

Ahh yes, the sweet smell of failure. The Giants monumental collapse on Sunday further added momentum to my "Giants are dead" theory. Coughlin again became a hypocrite after the game, airing out his dirty laundry where, a week before, he was mad at Tiki for coming out and saying he was unhappy with how the offense was being run. Coughlin went on and on, mostly about his quarterback and throwing poor Eli under the bus. Personally, I would be completely fine with him trashing Manning. Frankly, I've been doing it for two years and enjoy every horrendous start he makes (think the Chargers wipe their collective brows with every pick?). But here's the thing. Coughlin was so upset with Tiki, Plaxico, and Shockey about making negative comments about the team. Then, after the Titans game, Coughlin does the exact same thing! You gotta be kidding me. Anyway, reiterating the point I already made, they're done. Actually, I would not be completely surprised if they were able to pull out one at the Meadowlands against the Cowboys, but they're finished.

Teams that had coaches who wore suits the week before: 0-2...Get with it! This is the biggest trend ever. Coaches wearing suits on the sidelines. How sharp did Del Rio look on Monday night? That was bad ass. The Jags looked awesome, tearing up we go...G-MEN!!!

Newest addition to the column: The weekly Mario vs. Reggie, gee, let me think who I would have taken, update:

Mario: 1 solo tackle, 2 assisted tackles
Reggie: 44 total yards (you gotta love the total yard stat for Reggie; if they did that Reuben Droughns, it would make him seem like the second coming of Roger Craig), anyway, he had 24 rushing, 21 receiving, and one punt return for -1 yard

Because I haven't done this yet, I feel compelled to show the entire year's statistics for the two combatants, purely because this week was oddly close to a tie, and also, I have to use my line at the end.

Mario: 31 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Bush: 331 yards rushing, 64 receptions, 431 yards, 194 return yards, 4 total TDs

Ok, so once again, Houston Texans, on behalf of all people alive, and with a pulse..."that was dumb."

The Yankees just spent $25 million on a lefty out of Japan named Kei Igawa, who played with the Hanshin Tigers last year. This guy would have been a free agent in three years, but I would have to think, looking at the good ol' boys spending over 50 mil on Dice-K, the Tigers were thinking this was probably an optimal move. And why do the Yankees always have to be like us. God! First, they start re-building their farm team with the Sheffield move, and the absence of a stupid trade for a over-the-hill veteran. Now, they go out and spend a ton of money for a meet-and-greet with a guy who has never pitched in the majors. Seriously, these two teams are shiczoid right now. It's like an out of body experience. The Sox have taken on the Yanks persona this offseason. First, Dice-K, enough said. Now, reports are that Lugo and J.D. signings are only a matter of time away, and the much-speculated Manny trade could come to fruition by the end of the week (potential suitors include the Dodgers, Padres, Giants (would likely be a three-team trade), Angels, and the Rangers). What in the world is going on? We cheap out on Johnny Damon, ok, well I can see that. We are cheapskates, remember, the Sox were trying to adapt the Pats' mentailty...remember? Now, they're becoming more like the Redskins instead. Going out, signing guys of questionable character and letting the glue of the team continue to walk away. The more I read these rumors, the less enamored I am with this team. This team is becoming all I've come to hate in my life. Big-timers, going out, spending all kinds of money like this was fantasy baseball, when, all the while, they should have kept their "character" guys. Guys like D-Lowe, Pedro, Trot, Bill Mueller, Dave Roberts, and Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera is the one that really hurts. This guy was electric from Day 1 after he hit a homer in his first at-bat with the Sox against the Twins. Character wins, not money. This fact is proven time and time again, which is why roto-geeks have no place in running a baseball team. Former players and managers are the ones that know about what goes on in the clubhouses. They should at least be given assistant or counselor gigs (like consigliare...hey that didn't work out too bad for Tom O'Hagen, remember, he didn't die, while everyone else, even Michael, did eventually). Yeah, the counselors don't get blamed, but they are the ones who come up with the ideas. Here's my thinking on how Theo can get helped. Hire a guy with good knowledge of the present game. Here are my suggestions: Dwight Evans, Tony Pena, Carlton Fisk, and basically any former Red Sox catcher. I don't know, for some reason, catchers turn out to be great managers (Torre, Scioscia, Wedge to name a few). My thinking is that these guys have to have a handle on an entire pitching staff, and learn about the strengths and weaknesses of opposing batters, plus, they have to be in the lineup, so they communicate with different hitters about the opposing pitchers. This means that these guys know basically the in's and out's of almost every player in the bigs. They know about character. These are the guys that should be running teams. So I'm just throwing that out there. Hire catchers. They're good.

Finally, the Pats should play in the NFC Norris. They have decimated that division, now a 3-0 record, outscoring opponents 83-20. The Bears, as first reported here, were at times very weak in the secondary. Brady threw two picks, both of which should have been receptions to Benjamin Watson, but were jarred loose from him, and into the awaiting arms of Charles Tillman. The second one looked like an exact replay of the first one. It was truly sickening. Oh yeah, and both occured deep in Bears' territory. That was terrible. Also, I do believe someone said that Rex would throw three picks and fumble once (read below). Honestly, I can't gloat about that too much, because frankly, anyone could have seen that coming. It's literally like predicting what will happen when you drive a gas truck into a bon fire. Hmm...I wonder what Rex is going to do against a great defense? Maybe fold up like a cheap suit? Could be. Anyway, the D played amazing, which brings me to my final, and on a less positive, note. Junior Seau's season, and likely his career, could be over. Junior was playing out of his mind this year, recording over 60 tackles in a limited amount of action. He was electric on the field, and I only wish we had him in his Charger days. So, this one's for you Junior, hope you make a speedy recovery. Alright, I'm done with the ramblings for now. Make sure you watch that UNC vs. your new #1 Ohio St. (boy that didn't take too long). Later on guys. Peace.


Friday, November 24, 2006

I Told You There Would Be More Ramblings

"So that old lady, she was just a liar?"
"And a bit of a tramp if you ask me."

Ok, maybe saying the Bruins and Celts were "firing on all cylinders" was a bit presumptuous. The Bruins got massacred at home by the reiging champion Hartford...I mean, Carolina Hurricanes (is it Hurricane or Hurricanes?...yeah look that one up cause ya got me). Then, in the same night, the Celts, in the exact same TD North Garden, or whatever they call that monstrosity now, by the Knicks. Yes the Knicks. You know what team I'm talking about. And Rey-Rey didn't even factor into the decision. How is that possible? Unreal. Anyway, I have much more to talk about now that I am alive, awake, and alert...kind of.

Ok, of course I need to talk about Thursday football a little more. Thanksgiving games were horrendous for the most part. The really good game that happened, of course, was on a channel that less than half the American cable televisions were able to get. (By the way, if you have DirecTV, kudos. Cable sucks a big one.). First, the Kevin Jones-less Lions took on the somewhat upstart Dolphins, who have amazingly willed themselves into postseason contention (kind of) behind...Joey Harrington? Wow, did not see that one coming. Anyway, the defense was again outstanding, but again, the Dolphins fall under the same trap as the Bears do. This team depends so much on their front seven applying pressure that, unless they get to the QB early and often, they are screwed for the rest of the game. This secondary is downright awful. What happened to Will Allen? Everyone lights him up like a G.D. Christmas tree every time he has to go in single coverage. Kitna was able to get the ball out to Roy Williams for over a hundred yards, but Williams only ended with six catches, five being made in the first. The Lions had a non-existant running game, only coming up with 21 yards. Yeah, with Kevin Jones, a preliminary 1,000-yard runner every year, out of the game, that will happen. Also, Miami ran all over the Lions front, with Sammy Morris getting a large chunk of yardage as Ronnie Brown injured his hand in the 3rd quarter. Morris looked impressive, but against the Lions, I'm not sold yet. If Miami expects to have a one-loss or undefeated record down the stretch, they will need Brown to come back immediately to have any chance. He just had surgery on his broken left hand, and a timetable for his return has not been given. Stay tuned as that one will be a big story in the coming weeks. I just can't say enough about the play of the Dolphin D-line and Zach Thomas, who is one of the few linebackers (Urlacher, Bruschi, Brooks, Vilma, Lewis) that can literally alter the way any offense plans their attack. This guy is a tackle machine. Also, with Traylor stuffing the line, Vonnie Holiday and Jason Taylor are left to roam free on the outside, and, as seen in the Bears game and this last one, they can also change the outcome of the game.

In the second game, what was presumed to be a laugher ended up being, well, a laugher, as them Cowboys crushed the Bucs 38-10. Once again, the story is Tony Romo. Hint to other teams, if your season is going down the tubes, implement the Tom Brady strategy. Ok, that was a biased name choice, and he did come in after an injury, but it's not like Drew was hurt the whole year. Here's what you do. Take a quarterback who is way past his prime (Bledsoe, actually, this is the second time he's gone through this...damn. Also, Leftwich, and soon to be Mark Brunell), put in, now this is important, a QB with less than three starts in the NFL. I cannot stress how critical that is. How I got three? Your guess is as good as mine. Then, oversimplify the playbook. By the way, in doing this, not only does it help the QB, but don't you think the rest of the offense likes not having to worry about 3/4 of a 700-page playbook? Then, make sure you have some...any kind of running game. Brady had Antwoin Smith and hey, he ran for 1,000 yards that year. Go ahead, look it up, I'll be here. Romo and David Garrard are saddled with two-headed monster backfields. Jason Campbell will get that pleasure next year, as, after he goes over .500 down the stretch, he will undoubtedly be the opening day starter. Then, get nearly unknown, or players somewhat past their prime, to just play out of their minds. Brady had rookie Deion Branch, Romo has Terry Glenn, who Bledsoe also looked to this year. Garrard has Ernest Wilford. And Campbell has Santana, ok he's not exactly unknown or past his prime, bad example, but he does brace yourself for this one, Chris Cooley. That's right. Chris Cooley is going to be absolute dynamite down the strectch. Which brings me to #4 in the Tom Brady how to turn your season/franchise around, good tight end play. Tom was able to hook up with Jermaine Wiggins (from?...Louisville!...and South Boston mind you), this was especially apparent in the Tuck Rule game against the Raiders. A little side note, you cannot even imagine the amount of pleasure I had walking through LAX with a framed picture of Tommy spiking the ball in that game. That was one of the largest "F U's" I've pulled in a good long time. Oh, by the way, all you Panther fans, just got me my Pats flag, and it will be flying to no end once I get down there, starting at Charlotte Airport. Anyway, back to my original thought. Jason Witten has to be one of the top-10 most under-appreciated offensive skill players in all of the NFL. He is making it so that TO and Terry get a lot of single coverage, with the safeties preoccupied with Witten. The Jags have Matt Jones. Hey, he was listed as a TE in the draft when he came out, don't blame me...he's on the list! And of course, the previously mentioned Chris Cooley, who I am trying desperately to get on my fantasy team. H-Back, now that's good stuff. Brian Leonard coming out of Rutgers will most likely be the next one in a dying species. Old time football people. That's what will always win. Running and defense. Also, it never hurts to have a pretty good defense that will help the other team from not scoring as much as you do. You can also mark that on concepts of old time football...scoreboard. The 'Boys and Jags have already established themselves, with Roy Williams having a "vengeance" game against the Bucs. You have to love the vengeance game. Harrington had one against his former team the same day. I remember when Lawyer Milloy was released right before the 2003 season by the Pats. He ended up going to Buffalo, and guess who we played on opening day. Yeah, 31-0 later, you kind of had the sense Lawyer got a good bang for his buck. (By the way, he still plays amazing against us when he is healthy, but now Ko Simpson is starting, which is about the same horrible sensation...Gamecock...ok). Vengeance is what makes this league great. With people moving every offseason, there's always going to be someone who is a salary cap casuality, or is not re-signed because the team fears he is "washed up." (Is San Diego re-scheduling that Junior Seau retirement party? Or is that like a one-shot deal?). Anyway, teams following this agenda are going to be absolute spoilers and could even be contenders to a certain degree. This is especiall true for the Cowboys, who are seemingly getting red-hot at the exact right time, with a matchup next week against the Giants, who have put their ship in reverse (first reported right here) and are heading into the black hole. Speaking of which, you know it's bad when Tiki Barber comes out against the team. I mean Plaxico and Shockey, yeah I can see that, but Tiki? Goodness. This team is entering an abyss it seems, with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning as their captains. Wowsers. And they were second favorite to make it to the Super Bowl from the NFC? Ouch.

Third game on the agenda was a barn-burner, with the Chiefs holding off the Broncos in an AFC West showdown 19-10. I'll be completely honest right now. I had the Chiefs at 13-3. I know it is impossible for that to happen, but still, they have four losses. "They play to win the games." Yes! It's Herm! Come on now. This guy may not do it for the long-term, but in the extreme short-run, this team will win...a lot. In the playoffs, with Trent Green back, and Grandma-ma running wild, this team is going to be a force. This team is actually better for the playoffs right now than the Colts are, and I'll tell you why. The Chiefs' defense is real bad, but the Colts are that much worse. If Bob Sanders does not get healthy, the Colts will not win a game in the playoffs. You saw it last year and you've seen it every year under the Manning regime. They need a playmaker on defense, and with Dwight Freeney basically useless this year, they have no one who could really step up and make an impact. Now you're saying to yourselves, "yeah, no s*it, but the Chiefs have no one either, right?" Wrong. They have three playmakers who have yet to make themselves be known. Derrick Johnson, Jared Allen, and Greg Wesley. Johnson made himself famous at Texas for his ability to force fumbles, and don't think that will not be called upon in playoff time. Allen has been a menace all season long with his insatious pressure on the quarterback. And last but not least, Greg Wesley is already a playmaker, but yet no one seems to give him much respect around the league. This guy is clutch, I've seen it first hand. With these three on defense, and the offense, which is getting back some of its offensive line in the coming weeks, and just got their 4,000-yard quarterback starting again, this is the most dangerous team in football. Not the Pats, not the Colts, not the Bears, the Chiefs. I am hoping they get knocked out before we have to play them, or else, we could be in some serious trouble. Along with this game came the undoing of Jake Plummer, which the entire city of Denver was waiting, and some seemingly praying, for to happen. The Jay Cutler era could very well be upon the Broncos (see the Tom Brady strategy). The Broncos need a spark, they need the fans, they need Cutler. Now although none of Cutler's previous work at Vandy really impressed me very much. I have to say, his senior year was helped greatly by the emergence of then-freshman Earl Bennett. Cutler does have good attributes however, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the speed of the pro game. But back to Jake the, well, you know. As I sit here writing about how Cutler should take over, I honestly feel bad for Jake Plummer. He seemingly had to live up to larger-than-life expectations throughout his entire career. As a rookie, he was labelled the "savior" of the Cardinals and was expected to giude them to the promise land. And in some ways, he fit the billing, as he was able to guide the Cardinals to their first playoff win in franchise history, over the Cowboys. And this was in the Aikman-Smith-Irvin era. That's some good stuff. The remainder of his stint in Phoenix saw him getting lit up and having no running game to take any of the pressure off of him. So, he moved on to Denver, to replace...John Elway. John Elway! #7! (If you can name a guy based on number...that's pretty good...actually that may not fly around these parts...Phil Esposito, Bruins baby! Wooooo!...sorry, had to). Actually, now that I mention good ol' Phil, I am forced to reminice on Phil Esposito night at the old Garden. One of the greatest moments in Boston sports and sports history in general I think. When Raymond Bourque skated up to Phil, with Ray adorned in his #7, then taking off the old jersey to reveal #77, to which he will always be known by, then handing his old jersey to Phil, and then there is a classic man-hug. I am getting teary-eyed just thinking about it, but I digress. Jake was brought in to replace an absolute legend of the game, and a God-like figure in Denver. Plummer, for the most part, had a good run in the regular seasons, but the pressure of winning another title simply always gets to him in the playoffs, as time after time, he made "the mistake" (it's almost like "the big one" at Talladega) and the Broncos were out just like that. I hope Jake gets a fresh start, maybe with an underachiever, and perhaps can rebuild what was once a shining, brilliant career.

The last comment I will make about football yesterday was in the BC-Miami game last night. That had to have been one of the worst halfs of football I may have ever seen. BC basically owned the 'Canes in the first quarter, jumping out to a 7-0 lead. They then were able to get an interception return for a touchdown (By the way, Dejuan Tribble, guy took it back, wow, did he make some great plays, 3 INT's, very impressive). BC let the lead get to four on a late Miami touchdown to go into the half leading 14-10. And then...I don't know. They had some very effective run plays with Andre Callendar in the first half, including their lone offensive TD, but in the second half, it seemed like they were playing down around 21 points. Just a passing barage by Matt Ryan, who clearly was off his game last night, no matter what the announcers said to try and persuade you. God were they kissing his ass last night. Anyway, the Eagles sucked it up big time. Going for it on numerous fourth downs inside the 40? I don't get it. Why not punt and back them up inside their own 15? Instead, they attempted to make 4th and 11's on at least two different occasions...while they were leading! You can't be serious?! Johnnie Mac, help me out here. Unbelievable. But the no running thing absolutely befuddled me. First of all, when they did run, it was completely unaffective because BC attempted off-tackle runs against a very fast Miami front. This is not going to work in basically every instance. Just a horrible game offensively. Defense was actually pretty solid, only allowing the one TD in the second half, but the thing is, when points are at a premium, one TD could swing the game completely around, which is exactly what happened. I think this is almost like a conspiracy. It seems that when BC is given a chance to play in a mega-huge game, they choke at the very end, lose one they should have had, then wind up in a Liberty/Emerald/Continential Tire Bowl game. This could explain why they've reeled off five consecutive bowl wins, a feat that has never been accomplished...ever. But that's the thing. You would probably never realize that unless I told you, because BC is always playing in such inconsequential games that no one really cares what they do. Wouldn't it be better to at least go to a big game and just say you were there? So what if you lose, you were there. That's $15 million for the school instead of just 5. I mean I hat to be cynical like that and say it would be better to lose than to win. In most situations, it has been decided that winning is better than losing, and I am fully aware of this concept, but you at least want to taste the big time once right? You owe it to the students, the players, and the fans (this guy) of that school to coach a better gane than the crap they pulled last night. That's just frustrating.

Three SEC teams deserve to go to BCS games. This will not happen. But after watching the LSU-Arkansas game today, how can you take either of them out of a big bowl game. Florida, though somewhat overrated, is still a hell of a team. We gave them all they could handle a couple of weeks ago, but I think that may have been the kick in the butt the Gators needed, as they head into their once-storied rivalry with Florida St. tomorrow. I think the Gators will be pretty pumped going into this one. I expect a romp at the Swamp. You have to respect the Razorbacks though, with a 10-game winning streak being ended today at home by the Bayou Bengals. Mitch Mustain was inexplicably absent from the game, as apparently they felt that Casey Dick would give them a better chance. He did pull out wins against South Carolina and Tennessee on the road, but it was clear that Mustain was the right guy for the job. Perhaps Houston Nutt wanted more experience, but considering Dick is only a sophmore, you have to wonder about that move. Final line: 3/17, 29 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Wow. But give JeMarcus Russell and the rest of the Tigers credit. They didn't have the prettiest win, but they pulled it out. I'll tell ya, Russell looked absolutely oustanding today, as I think he will be a steal in the upcoming draft, probably with a 3rd to 4th round grade being attached to him. The Hogs did have plenty to come away from in this game, and that plenty is highlighted by the play of Heisman hopeful Bryant McFadden and the scorching Felix Jones. What a show they both put on today. Have you ever seen a running back get more snaps than the actual starting quarterback? McFadden threw for more yards than Dick did! (33 vs. 29...but still...that's sad). What a performance. Troy Smith is going to win the thing, and rightfully so, he had a hell of a season, but McFadden will be second, and he will get his fair share of votes. This kid is going to be something else next year and for years after that.

Wow guys, that was five single spaced pages in Word. Huh. Maybe this is what I should have been doing all along? I don't know, maybe not? Anyway, if you were somehow able to make it through these shenanegans, please give some feedback and tell me what you think. I mean I'm going to keep writing, but it never hurts to hear some constructive criticism. Actually, any sort of criticism will be accepted at this time. Alright, time to take a deep breath and say farewell to the Commonwealth. I'll be back in Carolina tomorrow. Go Cocks! I'm off the mic. And my music is that loud, so they are probably gonna catch me. Peace.


Please Standby For Technical Difficulties

Thank you for your patience...

After two weeks of hassling the Blogger website, I finally was able to get on to the site and now, can again write my wannabe "Sports Guy" column. I have about two weeks to cover, so I'll try and remember everything that's happened, and attempt to make smart observations along the way. Stay tuned for inadvertant humor.

So that whole Matzusaka thing...ok I was wrong about that. The Sox put in a winning bid of $51.1 million, blowing away the Yankees and Mets, who both were bidding in the 30's. Now the question is, will the Sox pull the trigger and get a deal done? Honestly, I'm not so sure anymore. At first, I was thinking, "well, ya know, the Sox drained a lot of funds into getting the guy, it would only make sense if they signed him to a four or five year deal." However, now this is my thinking. You know this guy is a free agent next year for Seibu, so why are we getting this guy now? Reason #1, we want to bolster an aging starting rotation (see Schilling, Wakefield). Reason #2, we want a limb in the Japanese market so we can spread the pink hats throughout a hot economy that has previously been unrealized. But the most intriguing of them all would be Reason #3, the team he can't play for this year. Your New York Yankees. The more this thing drags on, and the more Boras remains totally sold that he will get 14 a year for this guy, the more I'm thinking this is an incredibly large decoy for the Sox. Why wouldn't you just try and sign the guy next year? I think it's probably to keep him out of pinstripes. Sure, people back in Japan and perhaps Matsuzaka will take it as an insult, but I mean come on, $51.1 million? For a guy who never pitched in the majors? Come on now. Ichiro got a bid of $17.7 million, then he signed a 3 year, $12 million contract. Ichiro! The guy is an ungodly good hitter, perhaps the best pure hitter in the last decade (maybe Tony Gwynn will say something about that?), but the point remains, this guy wouldn't be worth dumping an average of around $25 million (bid price averaged over 5 years plus his expected base of 14 mil). No way. This is another ongoing issue with the Sox I probably will not understand.

Speaking of which, thanks for going after Soriano there. This guy is the best athlete in the majors. Period. He demolished 40/40 last year, with the Nationals, in a pitcher-friendly park. Also, this guy has character issues? Ok? How about Julian Tavarez and the now highly-touted free agent Julio Lugo. Character issues? He might go 50/50 next year! Can you honestly recall a great all-around player at second for the Sox? (If you say Bellhorn, just remember this phrase: "Swing and a miss, strike 3."). Oh well, another smart signing by the Cubbies (re-signing Ramirez and re-upping on Wood for bargain-basement value), who all of a sudden have directed their missles sraight at the defending champs.

An interesting move went down the other day. Gary Matthews, Jr. signing a 5-year, $50 million contract with the Angels. Here's another great example of playing amazing in a contract year (NBA equivalent: Vince Carter). One great, correction, top-10 I've ever seen, catch, and a 20/20 season later, and Matthews is rolling in the cash. Good for 'dem, a-good for dem! This guy is going to be absolutely atrocious. This is going to be like Raul Mondesi bad. Juan Pierre also got $44 mil over 5 from the Dodgers. Hey, didn't they sign a lead-off guy last year? Wow, the power outage will be felt big time on opening day. No J.D. Drew means that Nomar guy's going to have to have another great year or the Dodgers will have to wonder why they didn't go after a power guy. Relying on your pitching for an entire year works in the short-term, but once you go into September, the wheels will come off the wagon. Now, they have Pierre and Furcal at the top of the lineup. Two guys with terrible OBP's, but apparently, the Dodgers are banking on the speed and not on common sense.

Back to the Sox. Apparently they are about to dump a ton of cash at J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo (further making me think the D-Mat deal ain't happening). Ok, why? I've already made my case against Lugo, who I've seen for four or five years playing for the D-Rays, but J.D. Drew just stabbed his former team in the back and walked away from $33 mil for the next three years. What kind of guy is this (Soriano with less talent?). I don't know what to think anymore. Are we getting pinstripes next year? Spend to win. Weren't we the anthesis of the free-spending Yanks. Now, the Yanks are trying to par down their payroll while we continue to jack ours up. Unbelievable. Is Theo really that good? I'm not so sure about it. It used to be, "In Theo We Trust," now it's "In Theo We Trust, Just Don't Screw It Up Again."

Celtics and Bruins are firing on all cylinders. Thank you! Unfortunately, the Celts lost the other night to the Bobcats. It wasn't a pretty game, but I did come out of it with the following:

1.) Ryan Gomes is ridiculous. Unforuantely, he is log-jammed in with Paul and Wally at the 2-3 positions. They are trying him out at the 4-spot, but you have to wonder how playing 30 mins a night for 70 games is going to wear on him physically. Anyway, the kid's an awesome talent and should be good for years to come.

2.) Rajon Rondo should be this team's point guard. That's it. Granted, we're 10 or so games into the season, but this kid looks like he is totally comfortable with the game speed right now. Telfair looks very hesitant about taking command of the game and seems unwilling to make the big play. Rondo should be receiving more minutes in the next couple of weeks, but then again, with Doc's backward logic and amazingly high substitution rates, I'm not so sure how that's all going to go down.

3.) Kendrick Perkins is not going to pan out. I wanted him to, but it's just not happening. This guy's had three years to mature, and he's not even close. Raw talent only gets you so far. You have to refine your game after a while. It just seems like he's running with concrete boots and cannot get down the court like other big men can. I was a big Perk supporter, but now, with the plethora of big men going out in the draft next year (Oden, Hansbrough, Baby Shaq), you have to wonder if the end is near for Perk. Also, you could make the argument that Big Al could fill in at 5...I mean I'm not making it, but you could see some young whipper-snapper thinking that.

The Pats are back, but, then again, they never really went anywhere. Coupled with two Packer quarterbacks going down and the re-emergence of the running game, the Pats slapped a beat-down on the Pack, 35-0. That was awesome. You didn't think they'd lose three in a row did you? Finally, Bill probably just figured, "hey let's just run the ball, I think we got to 6-1 that way." And so it was. Another interesting story coming out of the week is the emergence of Reche Caldwell, who has become the new #1 receiver. It was thought that Doug Gabriel would be taking over that role, but throughout the last few games, Caldwell has stepped up and proven to a great option, especially going over the middle. Just hope the Pats can continue this bit of mini-momentum and man-up against the "Monsters of the Midway." (By the way, Pregame will be at Foxboro...we are a roudy bunch and we're gonna be showing that, big time.). I have the over/under on Grossman turnovers (fumbles + INT's) being at 4. I think that's about right. This guy will throw at least 3 INT's and throw for less than 150 yards. Book it. The big thing is going to be the run D, which looked pourous against the Jets, but proved to be tough against Green Bay last week. Thomas Jones is one of the most underrated players in the league. He is again going over 1,000 yards for a deficient offense. This guy is amazing, and could potentially bury the Pats as far as field position and time of possession. The Bears D is good, but they can be had. First, you need pass protection for Brady. This team loves the speed rush, with Brown and Ogunleye coming off the ends and Tommie Harris (the new "it" guy) blowing up the middle. Couple that with the second-best linebacking core in the NFL, (come on now, Junior Seau is going to get 100+ tackles this year, how can you not love us?) this team has a very formidable front 7. Second, exploit that secondary. These guys are insanely overrated. With a decent amount of pass protection, they will be shown in their true light. Mike Brown is out for the year and they still haven't found anyone who is a big playmaker in the secondary like him. Look for a lot of looks to Caldwell. I don't believe check-downs to running backs and tight ends will work because of the speed of Urlacher and Briggs. The Pats will have a lot of eight in the box sets. They have to be careful about the big plays to Moose or Berriman (who's return to the starting lineup is questionable at this point). Moose burned the G-Men, and Berriman was in the top-5 in receiving yards before his injury. Overall, this is going to be a barn-burner and should be an amazing game.

By the way, teams with coaches wearing suits on the sidelines: 2-0...Not trying to suggest anything (ahem, Bill...Bill!). Al Davis should get a limo for Art Shell to be tailored.

Fantasy Update: I'm still kicking ass. Amazing. The winning streaks continued despite an early Marques Colston injury. (By the way, he better come back. I mean that guy's ankle could literally deep-six both my fantasy teams.). I ran my Yahoo! winning streak to 7, but have a tight matchup this week against the second-place team in my league. In my ESPN league, I am tied in second, playing the other second place team. I got a big week right here, but all I'm saying is, just get me to the playoffs. After that, anything goes. Right now, I'll take a bye week. But then again, what's the fun in that? What if my guys just go off? That would all be wasted. Anyway, the LJ vs. LT debate is still ongoing, and yes, if I had it over, I should have gone with LT over LJ. The fact of the matter is, could I have possibly forseen Trent Green getting concussed in the first game? Also, did you really trust Phillip Rivers, who, through two years, had a combined total of zero starts? Oh well. Live and learn. Despite a few injuries, I have managed to maintain my hot streaks. Livin' it up while the getting's good.

I'm sure I'll think of other ramblings, but for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy LSU vs. Arkansas. Can you believe our luck that they would schedule this game on Friday where, otherwise, there would be absolutely nothing to do. That's called timing. Good stuff. Alright kids, have a good Thanksgiving break. I will be reporting about the Carolina-Clemson game and the Pats game coming up. Plus, the BCS will probably screw it up again, so stay tuned for that. Also, watch out for Wednesday Night, when UNC hosts Ohio St. in college hoops in an early blockbuster matchup. Whoever created the "ACC-Big-10 challenge," yeah, that was genius. Take care now. Peace.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Don't Worry About Matzusaka

Oh they put in a bid, but it ain't happening...

The bidding for 26 year old Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matzuska, you know, "gyroball" guy, is officially over, and his current club, the Seibu Lions, have been informed of the highest offer. Now these offers the Lions are receiving are just for the opportunity to negotiate with the winning team over a 30-day window. That's right. Just because a team is willing to fork over upwards of $20 million does not even guarantee they will end up signing this guy. Worst of all, Matzusaka is represented by "superagent" Scott Boras, and we all know that the price is going to be inflated heavily because of this fact, reportedly ranging from $10-12 million a year. The teams reportedly submitting bids are your Boston Red Sox, the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, and the Cubs. So you can see, the Yankees are amongst the teams interested, so right there, it's all over for the Sox. There is absolutely no way the Yankees are about to get outbid by us. No chance. Also, the Sox will always play conservative with overseas talent after the Yankees burned them on the Contreras negotiations. Apparently, a wild card in these dealings is Texas, whose owner, Tom Hicks, is looking for "one more good young arm" and may be willing to make a splash in the offseason market. So it may be the Rangers, and not the Sox, who are driving up the price on the prized young Japanese pitcher. They say we will have an answer by Friday on who won, but I'm telling you, the guy is getting fit for his pinstripes right now. It's not a question of "if" but "when" will this guy become a Yankee.

Another note on the Sox front, they just re-signed Alex Cora to a two-year contract. This could be one of the most underrated moves of the offseason for not only the Sox, but for anyone. Cora is a guy who is so fundamentally sound in the field and, surprisingly, can come off the bench and provide a little pop when needed. Also, he can play three infield positions (second, third, short). This kind of guy is invaluable coming off the bench. A utility infielder who is multi-dimensional and, when you put him in, the lineup doesn't skip a beat. So, the first good move was that one. Second, declining Keith Foulke's $7.5 million option. Good move. However, this has a chance to end up biting them if Foulke decides to exercise his player option, which would give him $3.75 million for next year. If the Sox then don't want him to pitch, they would not only have to pick up that option, but would have to give Foulke a $1.5 million buyout, which means Foulke would be owed $5.25 to not pitch next year. $5.25 million seems steep even if he were to pitch, let alone not pitch at all. Hopefully he will see the writing on the wall and try and "test the market," even though you have to know he will not get nearly as much as he got three years ago when he signed with the Sox. Theo has basically made it known that the Sox are in the hunt for a closer. Who that will be is clearly unknown. As I reported before, Danys Baez, Joe Borowski, and Brad Lidge through a trade are their best options. Then again, the Sox have seen a decline in the output they get from their moves over the past few years, so it remains to be seen if they follow the "smart" path and go after one of these established guys.

The 49ers have stopped talks with the city of San Francisco about building a new stadium around the Candlestick Park area. Instead, the team is looking at the Santa Clara area to build. On the outside, you would think that the city of San Francisco would be losing a lot of revenue by allowing the Niners to skip town, but you have to look at the logistics of the deal to realize how little sense the 49ers' proposition was to understand why it ain't happening. The amount of infrastructure, including boosting the public transportation situation and building an enormous parking garage, would have cost somewhere between $600-800 million. Also, the expected project would not have been completed until at least the 2012 season, creating a giant construction headache for the city in the next five years. Also, the Niners have not exactly done very much to persuade the city to spring for a new stadium. This team is the doormat of the NFL right now. This has everything to do with the hard salary cap. Before then, under the regime of GM Eddie DeBartolo, the Niners were a free-spending squad, having the ability to lock up most of their key players (Montana, Craig, Taylor, Rice to name a few) for the bulk of their careers and during their collective primes. Now, with the cap in place, and new owners not willing to unload like their predecesors, the Niners are in ruins. So, perhaps a change of scenary would be good for this once-proud franchise. This team has the potential to be good, however, it made a couple of key mistakes. The first, and most obvious to me, was drafting Alex Smith with the first overall pick two years ago. Why didn't they just trade down? Seriously, a team with that many needs should be looking to acquire as many picks as they can possibly get. Same thing happened this last year with the Texans. The Niners have gaping holes in their defense. Letting Julian Peterson walk this year to Seattle was another big mistake. Just letting their best defensive player by far slide on past is not the way you win in the NFL. The thing about it is that the Niners are in easily one of the weakest divisions in all of football, save for the NFC Norris. A division title in the next few years is certainly a possibility, but they are going to need to make some moves over the next couple years. Antonio Bryant has turned out to be a good acquisition, and Frank Gore has blossomed this year into a legitament starting running back in the league. There is promise on the offense, but there needs to be more emphasis on the defense, especially the secondary, in the next few years for this team to start talking about playoff contention.

I know I'm kind of late on this, but what's with Kobe switching his number from 8 to 24? Are you serious? He says this suppose to be like "turning a new leaf?" Yikes dude. Apparently he has no idea how much money he is costing the Lakers and the NBA in general. 24? For a basketball uni? Not a good look there. I'm trying to think of noteworthy 24's in the last decade or so and all I can think of is Jamal Mashburn. Anyway, someone should have put a stop to that before Kobe got the ball rolling. Look at what happened to Reggie Bush. If you know me, you know this has been something that really "grinds my gears." Bush made it known he wanted #5 and was going to give 25% of all jersey royalties he received to the Katrina fund. Although he is still doing the same with his #26, Bush will always be known as #5 from USC. There are no household names wearing #5 in the NFL, but the league decided against it, citing that single-digit numbers are reserved for quarterbacks and kickers/punters. I was actually going to buy a #5 Saints jersey, just because Reggie Bush is an incredible talent, and also, that jersey (was gonna get the away white by the way) looked incredibly tight. Anyway, if the NFL can stop Bush from choosing his number, why couldn't the NBA do the same? Kobe is #8. Again, outside of Spree, there aren't a whole lot of #8's that are big names. I think once you have a number that people associate with, you should not be able to change under any circumstances. Do you remember Jordan as #23 or #45? Exactly. When you say certain numbers, you can associate them with the greats of all time (#99, #33, #66, for us #4, #9, and your favorite, #12). Kobe should change back. Jordan did it, Kobe should as well.

Stick a fork in the Giants, they're all done. Amani Toomer went down with an ACL injury and is out for the year. You couple that with the temporary loss of Strahan and Umenyiora, this team is about to go on a free fall in the next few weeks. Losing those guys for this stretch, which includes a home encounter with the Bears, on the road against the upstart Jags, and a big divisonal rematch with the Cowboys at home. Now, though, teams will be able to pay extra attention to Plaxico and Shockey and allow the Giants to try and depend on the run and intermediate passing to guys like David Tyree. On the other side of the ball, the G-Men have no pass rush. Their secondary has been banged up all year, and without their outstanding D-ends, they will be put to the test in a big way the next few weeks. The Cowboys have found rejuvenation and, if hadn't been for one of the most bizarre finishes in NFL history, would have been one game back of the Giants in the NFC East. When I say the Giants are all done, this doesn't necessarily mean they won't make the playoffs. I mean the NFC is just that bad. But when you are the second ranked team in the NFC, you are expected to at least attempt to make the Super Bowl, but the Giants have fallen victim to the injury bug, and their collapse is almost inevitable.

Oh, one last thing, extremely large propers to Ryan Gomes, who scored his first triple-double of his career in the Celts first win of the year last night, an OT thriller against the Bobcats, ending on a last-second shot by Delonte West. That made this Celts fan, and Gomes owner, quite happy. Also, big up to Wally throwing down 35. Where was this last year?

That's all for now. If I think of something else, you'll be the first to know. Until then, go Scarlet Knights. Peace.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wait...There's More

I mean, now I have a forum...why stop there?

Not really sure, but anyway, I have plenty more to say, so sit back and enjoy...

The poker boom is coming to an end. Just like basically everything else ever put on TV that made good ratings. Start off with a great concept. Announcing the WSOP on ESPN, then installing "pocket cams" so viewers could see the whole cards of each player and study how the greats play each hand. Then, what really got the ball rolling was an unknown, accountant from Tennessee (Moneymaker), won the 2003 Main Event, followed by Greg Raymer, just a simple online player who won $5 million. Now, it's getting completely ridiculous. To say TV poker jumped the shark is not even putting it into words. Literally around 10 shows have spun off from ESPN's coverage. At one point last year, there was eight hours straight of poker programming spread out over 5 different stations (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, FSN South, Turner South). Sadly, this has got to be adding to the amount of people induced by gambling addiction each year. Seeing average people winning millions of dollars on TV only adds to the pipe dreams of everyday people, thinking they can go to Vegas, play in these tournaments, and take down braclets and truckloads of cash. The game of high-stakes poker is only cut out for a select few, and for most, including myself, this is no world for anyone to cross into. I am writing a paper on online sports gambling and poker, so more statistics and other information will be posted fairly soon. I just wanted to throw that opinion out there. Basically, I'll accept if they show the World Series because it's the biggest event in poker, but can we stop with the "Superstars" and "Poker Dome" shows? Come on now

I was just watching Sportscenter, and I saw how the network is promoting the Monday night game between the Bucs and the Panthers. I gotta say, last week must have been absolute hell for the advertising department to spice up that Seahawks-Raiders game. I mean seemingly NBC has fell into a ton of good games this year on Sunday night (Broncos-Pats, Colts-Pats, Seahawks (healthy)-Bears, and this week's Bears-Giants to name a few). Did it not seem like last year, every game on prime time completely sucked? It was brutal to watch. It seemed like double digit favorites were playing every single week. That was completely frustrating. The NFL needs to adopt a substitution policy. Within two or three weeks, the NFL should be able to switch out a sorry Monday night game for a game of greater significance, or slotting a good afternoon game for the Sunday night game. The game this week does have divisional implications, so there is actually reason to watch. Hopefully it's better than that "Deion Branch-Randy Moss matchup" we had last week. Brutal.

This is my last year at South Carolina. Which means, in two weeks, I'll be attending my last tailgate as a student as the Cocks take on Middle Tennessee St. The season started off with so much promise, now we're fighting to become bowl-eligible. Three games against top-15 talent, and we lose by 7 or less. Yikes. Anyway, back to tailgate...where can you find a better time than that? Not that I have done this, but you could just walk down to the fairgrounds by yourself, ya know, maybe with some beer en tow, but I mean, walk up to someone flying a Cocks flag, and not only will they befriend you, but they will offer you food, a chair...more beverages, it's incredible. For some, the idea of southern hospitality has gone by the wayside. I noticed this when I moved into my place this year. In trying to introduce myself to my neighbors, I was often greeted with a cold shoulder. I thought, "well, this is strange, I remember meeting four or five really good friends my freshman year within about a half-an-hour." It strikes me that, as a freshman, you definitely have a better chance meeting people when you live in the dorms, because everyone there is in the same boat. Everyone is excited, and at the same time, a little scared by leaving their familiar surroundings. Now, people are just going through the motions, like they aren't open to making new connections. I say this about a general population and in no way does this reflect every southerner at USC. Anyway, tailgate is going to be great, and, hopefully, we get a Florida bowl game and do it all over again. That's a big "if," but ya never know.

Another noteworthy event coming out today, Tyler Brayton, DE for the Raiders, was fined $25,000 and Jerramy Stevens, TE for the Seahawks, was fined $15,000 for their incident on Monday Night Football. The "incident" being that Brayton kneed Stevens in the balls after a questionably late hit on Brayton. So the guy goes a little overboard, gets kneed down there, and gets fined 15G? This is the NFL at its finest. I am not saying this is as malicious as the Haynesworth incident, but how does a guy getting kneed in the crotch lose money, and the guy performing the act only gets ten grand more than the victim of the blow. Not saying there should have been a suspension here, but either Brayton should be fined more or Stevens not at all. Just absurdity, I just wanted to point that out.

Jeff Gordon got married again. I mean I hate Jeff Gordon, don't get me wrong, but I have to say, as a fellow man, I really hope this one works out for him. He got absolutely screwed in his last marraige. I mean Gordon was at his absolute peak, winning championships and cashing in big time off of his endorsements with Pepsi and Dupont. Then, half of his money, poof, gone. Unbelievable. So, here's to the former "Rainbow Warrior," may he get lucky...just this once though.

Speaking of NASCAR, Tony Stewart won another race on Sunday at Texas in the Dickies 500. This is "Smoke's" 3rd win in the last eight races in the finals for the "Chase For The Cup." As an avid Tony Stewart hater, I love how he's managing to pull of all these wins when they count for nothing. He plans on being a "spoiler" for the ten drivers still eligible for the chase. Spoiler? Ouch. That's nice Tony. Keep on doing what you're doing kiddo, you know, ramming people, then afterwards, saying how everyone can't drive. That's nice. And that's why people like him. Because he's aggressive, successful, and talks a lot of s*it. Great, well, better luck next year there Mr. Reigning Champ. Anyway, another driver I want to get to is Dale Jr., who pulled out a miraculous comeback at Texas, coming all the way from 42nd and a speeding violation on pit lane to finish 7th, moving him to 3rd in the points race, 78 points behind Jimmie Johnson, who leads the Chase. Not a huge Junior fan, but I have to give hime credit for this, as he was apparently battling the flu all day as well. Also, big shout out to Denny Hamlin (my driver by the way). He is currently in 4th in the standings, 105 points behind. With two races to go, and Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart continuing to ram people, you never know? Go #11 is all I have to say.

The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tipped off the other night, signaling the beginning of college basketball. You have to love college basketball. You can never be sure if one week you will be experiencing complete duds, and then the next, be witnessing two or three of the best games of the year. The polls also fluctuate throughout the year with great variability. In this day in age, there is no sure-fire #1 team. Honestly, I think Florida is a good team, but #1? This will not last into the new year, I can almost guarantee that. USC beat them twice and almost beat them a third time in the SEC Champoionship game. So, I'm not throwing too much stock into UF right now. Also, never count out those BC Eagles as long as Jared Dudley is on that team. Completely biased, but he's in the top 5 as far as underrated players in the nation go. Also, watch out for UNC and, of course, Ohio St., with their 2006 edition of the "Fab Five."

I'm pretty sure that's all I have to say as of today, but again, as shown by this, I'm sure something will come up, and there are very good odds that I won't be updating this nearly as enough as I really want to. All right, have a good night everyone. Peace.


So When Did This Jets Game Become Huge?

This is why they play the games.

Seemingly, the Pats should be a lock in the AFC East every single year. How could you possibly bet against that? They've won the division every year since the re-alignment of the divisions. Now, all of a sudden, the Jets are two games back of the overall division race, and it got me to thinking. Is it possible that the freggin' Jets have a chance to win the division? (4-4, 2-1 in the division). They have no shot. Sorry to all the Jets fans, but your run of playoff contention died with the departure of John Abraham and the impending retirement of Curtis Martin (by the way, you're welcome a thousand times over for that little gift). I will say, Johnathan Vilma is one of the top 5-10 linebackers in the league. He led the league in tackles last year. Unfortunately, he cannot play D all by himself, which is why I don't see the Jets making anything close to a playoff push this year. NOT HAPPENING.

Speaking of that game, Rodney Harrison suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday's loss to the Colts and appears to be out "for a couple of weeks." This is an absolutely devastating blow. It's apparent that the main weak point on this team is the secondary. Now, our best player is out during a very important stretch which includes the upstart Packers at Lambeau and the Bears at the end up the month. There is no replacement for Harrison (do we still have Dom Davis?) which makes me look toward the draft and thinking the Pats need to start looking at their aging linebacking core and secondary and attempt to inject some youth into the lineup. I've been saying all along that Paul Pozlunzky, LB from Penn St., is the absolute perfect pick for this team. Last year, the Pats were hoping that Bobby Carpenter, LB from Ohio St. (yes just Ohio St., not the Ohio St., one of the most annoying nuances in sports history...what other Ohio St. is there?). Unfortunately, that jack-off in Dallas was ahead of us and snagged him. Oh well, we happened to end up with Laurence Maroney. I think we'll get over it. Anyway, Pozlunzky has a late first-round grade, so he will most likely be available right around where the Pats are drafting.

On a sadder note, thoughts and prayers go to Bryan Pata's family and friends. Unfortunately, because this has relation to the Miami football team, it will just bring about the atmosphere of that team, and how it's the "University of Criami" and what-not. It is a very unfortunate state of affairs. However, it's just another negative to the free-fall that is "the U," a once proud team that has become a firestorm of controversy in, not only the NCAA, all of sports in general. I think this all starts at the top. Their president is one of the most ignorant people I have ever seen with this much power. Bailing on the Big East and decides to go to the ACC for the $$$ was bad enough, but the "coup de gras" of her reign happened in the aftermath of the FIU brawl, where she said she "didn't have to review the tape because she was there." Seriously? You just knew everyone that was involved right on the spot? Just insane. Then, she applauds the one-game suspensions handed out to the thugs kicking and punching other players, meanwhile, three FIU players were kicked off the team, while others received indefinite suspensions. The change not only needs to be made with their coach (Maurice Clarett in the Fiesta Bowl and Willis McGahee getting his leg turned inside out in the same game was the beginning of the end for Coker...oh yeah, that and almost losing to Houston at home), also, a change needs to be made at the very top. Put someone competent in at president. One who will be able to have a better grasp on putting discipline on these players. I have never been a fan of Miami, but I just think it's kind of sad that a team who put out like six first-round picks a year now only gets publicity for tragic events like this one.

Heath Shuler is in Congress? Yikes. You have to wonder if there was a Mel Kiper-like guy at CNN just screaming "this is a terrible pick, what was North Carolina thinking?!" Isn't that great footage of Kiper and that Colts GM jawing at each other? Good stuff. God I love the NFL Draft (six and half months away, in case you were curious...oh yeah, Brady Quinn will bomb in the NFL, but I degress). Also, Lynn Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania but lost...I don't really care about this, just wanted everyone to know I actually watched some election coverage on election day...actually that's a lie too because I didn't find this out until I watched ESPN this morning. Also, what's with the "I voted" stickers? Is that really necessary? Seriously, I don't care. Everyone in this country knows they can vote, they just choose not to. Why I'm not so sure, but we don't need to know you voted. In fact, look what voting does after the 2000 election. Is there anything more depressing than someone getting the popular vote and losing? That might leave an uneasiness in someone who was on the fence for voting. I agree people should absolutely vote, but if they don't want to, ya know, oh well? The ones who really care about the way this country is run are at the voting booths. Isn't that natural selection?

Ahh yes, fantasy sports. Something that takes a large precidence in my life, than say, you know, family, friends, school, that kind of stuff. Naw just kidding...a little. Anyway, I have been absolutely steam-rolling in fantasy football. Really two guys I have to thank for this, Larry Johnson, who was my #1 in both leagues (yeah LT, LT, whatever, at least I didn't pick Shaun Alexander) and Marques Colston, a free agent pickup in both my leagues. Johnson's impact was inevitable as long as he remained healthy (knocking on the biggest piece of wood of all time), he has just now begun to turn it on in the last few weeks. Colston, on the other hand, has surprised basically everyone, even his own team, into becoming the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year. The 7th-round pick from Hofstra is either 1st or 2nd (depending on league scoring) for all of wide receivers. Couple that with the Ravens' D, Drew Brees, Alge Crumpler, and a slew of exceptional individual defenders (Peppers, Merriman (I said it), Archuleta, Hope), I have been rolling along, with 5 straight wins in Yahoo! after starting 0-4, and a 6-3 run in ESPN (T-2). I have turned my attention slightly to fantasy basketball now. I have to say, it's a totally different animal than football. To win, you really have to be on your s*it. I mean if anyone, literally anyone, has a good game, they are on someone's team the next day. And, you have to constantly shuffle your lineup for each day. Grueling. Anyway, what I'm regretting right now is not drafting Andrew Bynum, who went in the last round of my draft. He's putting up around 20 and 10 a night. Oh well, win some, lose significantly more. I'm still very happy with the way my team turned out, and with the recent acquisition of Earl Boykins (every team needs a guard under 5'8, real or fantasy), I think I'll be in good shape this year.

That's all for now. Just one more comment...right now, it's all about Rutgers. I mean I am around the biggest Rutgers bandwagon jumper. I fully admit that, as soon as they lose, I will stop caring for the most part, but I just am so enthralled by the fact that Rutgers, f'n Rutgers!, the former doormat of the Big East, could very well run the tables and finish in the top 5 going into a BCS bowl game (I don't even know how long it's been. For the sake of this argument...a while). They face their toughest task of the season, hosting #3 Louisville on Thursday. So go you University of New Jersey Scarlet Knights. I will be pulling for you hard tomorrow night for you to pull the upset, in whatever stadium you play your games at...Peace.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Maiden Voyage

Ok, so here it goes.

The first blog entry is going to be interesting. First of all, amazingly, I have only got onto this phase now. I guess I'm always a little late to the party.

Anyway, first, the Patriots. Amazingly tough loss on Sunday night against the Colts. I love how everyone here like Peyton Manning. Absolutely amazing. And people like him because he's got great numbers and he's from Tennessee (something bizarre about cheering for former SEC alums). Let me make one thing clear, I hate Peyton Manning so much it's ridiculous. Everyone from New England hates Peyton Manning. Not saying I don't respect him, he's definitely got talent, but there will never be any point in time where I will be rooting for the Colts. Never. Anyway, back to the game. It was very unfortunate to see the Pats not utilize their running game like they should have. The Colts, going into the game, had one of the worst run defenses in the entire league, and Bill kept sending Tom out to pass. Unfortunately, two horrible throws and two tipped balls later, and you have 4 INT's and a loss. Another note, the Pats did end up with 143 yards rushing, but you have to believe it should have been more, with Maroney getting only 63 yards as the leading rusher. Dillon ran for 2 TD's, but had a costly fumble in the first half deep in Pats territory that ended up going for a touchdown. The secondary was clearly not on their A-game, giving up over 300 yards to Manning and letting Harrison and Wayne run wild all night. Manning is good, but he can't be this good, can he? Well, the Pats get the Jets at home next week, and if they aren't around 13-14 point favorites, then it's the lock of the week. But let's talk about happier things...

Wait, South Carolina football doesn't make me happy at all right now, but nevertheless, I feel I have to get this out there. This team is the official duplicate of Red Sox baseball minus the 2004 postseason. Seemingly, they are in basically every game that they play against high-ranked teams, and yet, cannot find a way to pull it out. Simply amazing. What I'm hoping is that this program gets turned around in the next few years, or else, South Carolina maybe will be in a black hole that they can never claw their way out of. Next game is at Gainesville against the Gators in the Swamp. Honestly, I have zero confidence in this game. I was actually going to attend the game, but other things in my life now are a little more valuable than watching South Carolina football...anyway the game's on freggin' TV so who cares right? Don't get me wrong, it would have been nice to check out UF's campus, but there's plenty of time for me to do that.

As always, it is never too early to talk Red Sox baseball. Oh we're four months from spring training, but the Hot Stove is always burning for the beloved Sox. In a season that had so much promise and then got reduced to absolute rubble, the time has come for changes. Here's one that should not happen however: Manny Ramirez. Really, who's going to take him. Sure he wants to be traded. He's been wanting to get traded since 2001. Yet every year, he is the staple at the clean-up spot and is one of the most consistent hitters in baseball history. There's no way you will get even value on a sure-HOF'er, so why trade him, money? Trust me, the Sox have plenty of it. Also, they will be looking to create cap room with the departures of Trot Nixon, Mark Loretta, Keith Foulke, and possibly the trading of Mike Lowell. There's about 30 million dollars. Also, with the young arms in the bullpen, you're looking at about another three years with these guys making almost minimum salary. Here should be the gameplan for the Sox. First, re-sign Alex Gonzalez. A sure-handed fielder does not come along too often. Plus, if you're looking for shortstops with "pop," who else is there who has that? Julio Lugo? Do you really want to pay a guy like Lugo $8-9 million a year. He's just completely over-priced in my opinion. Second, trade Mike Lowell for anything you can get. Oh, he's an outstanding fielder with occasional pop, but for $9 million, the Sox should sever ties with him immediately. Third, as a precautionary measure, do not trade any of the young prospects. And if you're a Red Sox fan, you know exactly who I'm talking about because you've heard the same names for the last three years. Again, they should not part with any of them. Quality arms like Lester, Delcarmen, and Hansen at salaries of less than 500K are nowhere to be found. Also, quality fielders like Pedroia and Ellsbury will be in the majors either this year or next year, and with the changing landscape of the Coco Crisp scenario, it would be good for the Sox to have a back-up option like Ellsbury for their future. Fourth, there is a pretty good supply of bullpen help that is available, and, oddly enough, this is exactly what the Sox need. Check out these names: Danys Baez, Justin Speier, Eddie Guardado, Joe Borowski, J.C. Romero, and Brian Meadows. The Sox need a closer desperately now that Pap is going to the starting rotation. Personally, I would like to see Borowski or Baez, even though Baez is coming off a tough season. There have also been rumors about a possible Brad Lidge trade. Although he has also has his share of bad outings last season, I believe that a change would do him good. Whether that should be a move to Boston remains to be seen. Finally, sure up the outfield situation. Should Wily Mo get the starting job? Eh...not so sure about that anymore. Interesting options are Aaron Rowand, Jose Guillen, and Carlos Lee. Guillen would probably be the more ideal fit, being a natural right fielder. Keep an eye on that situation as it continued throughout the winter. Alright, enough Red Sox ramblings, but one final note...

The boys of winter are not looking so hot right now. The Celts are off to an 0-2 start and the Bruins are last in the Northeast at 4-6-2. Now the Celtics, I can understand that. You have a team with a superstar in Pierce and a nice compliment in Szcerbiak, but there's no way you can tell me this team should win even 40 games. It's a team of the future, with a bunch of young guys who could develop into something great. I especially see this in Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo, and Al Jefferson. If the Telfair deal pans out, and the young guys come along quicker than expected, the Celts may have an outside chance at grabbing the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Now the Bruins are a completely different story. While I understand the Bruins "attempted" to make amends for last year by signing Chara and Savard and also drafting Kessel 3rd overall (by the way, the kid's an outstanding winger coming out of Minnesota, and he's only 19), but there is no way you can say that these moves would make up for selling off guys like Thornton (reigning league MVP...but I'm guessin' ya probably knew that one) and Samsonov, both of whom led their respective teams to the Western Conference Finals. I'm aware Bergeron may be one of the best young centers in the game, but the guy, for right now, really should be commanding a second line for now.

So that's it for now, I know, that was incredibly long and painfully dragged out, but you have to understand, Boston sports is my life, and I like having this forum to kind of just throw out what I'm thinking at the time. In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing more thoughts on not only Boston and USC sports, but I'll also be devulging into other interesting sports topics. So until then, have a good day. Peace.