Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Favorite 100 Movies

"I don't feel like I have to wipe out everybody...just my enemies, that's all."

After watching "The Departed" hit it big at the Academy Awards on Sunday, I again attempted to jog my mind and try and figure out where that stands as far as my favorite movies of all time. So, while thinking about all the great movies I've ever seen, I figured I would put down my favorite 100 from all time. I have to stress that this list is not a list of the "greatest" movies ever, but rather, just my favorites. Not every "great" movie is going to be on the list is really what I'm getting at, so if you see something that you think I would like and it has been omitted, it's probably because I haven't seen it, and if I start ranking movies I haven't seen, that's kind of just lying to you guys, which is no good (example: Clockwork Orange...people have told me I would love it, and it probably will go in the top 100 eventually, but I haven't gotten around to see it, and therefore, not on the list). And away we go...

  1. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  2. Forrest Gump (1994)
  3. The Godfather (1972)
  4. Goodfellas (1990)
  5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  6. Caddyshack (1980)
  7. The Departed (2006)
  8. Casino (1995)
  9. Blow (2001)
  10. Animal House (1978)
  11. The Big Lebowski (1998)
  12. Braveheart (1995)
  13. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
  14. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  15. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  16. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
  17. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  18. A Requiem For A Dream (2000)
  19. Rudy (1993)
  20. Sin City (2005)
  21. Scarface (1983)
  22. Resevoir Dogs (1992)
  23. Dumb And Dumber (1994)
  24. The Blues Brothers (1980)
  25. American History X (1998)
  26. Boondock Saints (2001)
  27. Happy Gilmore (1996)
  28. Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
  29. Heat (1995)
  30. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  31. Indiana Jones: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
  32. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  33. Rounders (1998)
  34. Fight Club (1999)
  35. Carlito's Way (1993)
  36. Rocky (1976)
  37. Back To The Future (1985)
  38. Old School (2003)
  39. Office Space (1999)
  40. Dazed And Confused (1993)
  41. Zoolander (2001)
  42. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
  43. There's Something About Mary (1998)
  44. Almost Famous (2001)
  45. Jackie Brown (1997)
  46. Snatch (2000)
  47. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
  48. Smokey And The Bandit (1977)
  49. Rocky III (1982)
  50. Friday (1995)
  51. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
  52. Stripes (1981)
  53. Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
  54. Jerry Maguire (1996)
  55. Big Daddy (1999)
  56. Face/Off (1997)
  57. Mean Streets (1973)
  58. American Beauty (1999)
  59. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
  60. Raging Bull (1980)
  61. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  62. Fargo (1996)
  63. The Jerk (1979)
  64. Wayne's World (1992)
  65. Die Hard (1988)
  66. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  67. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  68. Lilo And Stitch (2002)
  69. Finding Nemo (2003)
  70. Mystic River (2003)
  71. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
  72. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
  73. A Christmas Story (1983)
  74. Jurassic Park (1993)
  75. Easy Rider (1969)
  76. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
  77. The Bourne Identity (2002)
  78. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  79. Top Gun (1986)
  80. Trainspotting (1996)
  81. Collateral (2004)
  82. A Few Good Men (1992)
  83. Toy Story (1995)
  84. Goldeneye (1995)
  85. Porky's (1982)
  86. Live and Let Die (1973)
  87. American Pie (1999)
  88. The Karate Kid (1984)
  89. Back To School (1986)
  90. Trading Places (1983)
  91. Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgandy (2004)
  92. Super Troopers (2002)
  93. The Wedding Singer (1998)
  94. Training Day (2001)
  95. The Untouchables (1987)
  96. Any Given Sunday (1999)
  97. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  98. Field Of Dreams (1989)
  99. Varsity Blues (1999)
  100. Liar Liar (1997)
Well, hope that gave you some kind of insight as to what kind of movies I'm into, and if not, well, it was nice to make another long list. This one brought back a lot of memories for me, as I hope it will for you as well. I'm going to try and see some of the movies that most likely belong here (Clockwork, Usual Suspects, Se7en, etc.) Take care everyone. Peace.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fantasy Baseball Preview

"Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune.
Something to make us all happy."

Now I don't acknowledge myself as an "expert" in this field, but I'm pretty sure I have some qualifications that will make this legitament. As we inch closer and closer to Opening Day, I felt like now would be the best time to write up a fantasy baseball preview article (a real baseball preview is also on the way...I know you were worried...relax!). If any of you guys out there would like to join a league with myself, please feel free to contact me (although with me giving out all this information, maybe this is not the target market for inter-league competiton here). Anyway, here comes the pain (also, definitely check out the link to "Fantasy Baseball Hub" below; that site is amazing)...

Top 100 Players:

  1. Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis
  2. Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia
  3. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago (NL)
  4. David Ortiz, 1B/DH, Boston
  5. Johan Santana, SP, Minnesota
  6. Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay
  7. Jose Reyes, SS, New York (AL)
  8. Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston
  9. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Florida
  10. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia
  11. Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland
  12. Matt Holliday, OF, Colorado
  13. David Wright, 3B, New York (NL)
  14. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York (AL)
  15. Carlos Beltran, OF, New York (NL)
  16. Jason Bay, OF, Pittsburgh
  17. Vernon Wells, OF, Toronto
  18. Manny Ramirez, OF, Boston
  19. Vladimir Guerrero, OF, Anaheim
  20. Derek Jeter, SS, New York (AL)
  21. Carlos Lee, OF, Houston
  22. Andruw Jones, OF, Atlanta
  23. Travis Hafner, 3B/DH, Cleveland
  24. Roy Oswalt, SP, Houston
  25. Carlos Zambrano, SP, Chicago (NL)
  26. Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis
  27. Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota
  28. Roy Halladay, SP, Toronto
  29. Jake Peavy, SP, San Diego
  30. Garrett Atkins, 3B, Colorado
  31. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Texas
  32. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia
  33. Francisco Rodriguez, CL, Anaheim
  34. Brandon Webb, SP, Arizona
  35. Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago (AL)
  36. Joe Nathan, CL, Minnesota
  37. Miguel Tejada, SS, Baltimore
  38. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida
  39. Ben Sheets, SP, Milwaukee
  40. Bobby Abreu, OF, New York (AL)
  41. Scott Kazmir, SP, Tampa Bay
  42. John Smoltz, SP, Atlanta
  43. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago (NL)
  44. Jermaine Dye, OF, Chicago (AL)
  45. C.C. Sabathia, SP, Cleveland
  46. Adam Dunn, OF, Cincinnati
  47. Mariano Rivera, CL, New York (AL)
  48. Bobby Abreu, RF, New York (AL)
  49. Curt Schilling, SP, Boston
  50. B.J. Ryan, CL, Toronto
  51. Jim Thome, DH, Chicago (AL)
  52. Johnny Damon, OF, New York (AL)
  53. John Lackey, SP, Anaheim
  54. Derrek Lee, 1B, Chicago (NL)
  55. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle
  56. Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles
  57. Aaron Harang, SP, Cincinnati
  58. Danny Haren, SP, Oakland
  59. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington
  60. Jeff Francoeur, OF, Atlanta
  61. Jeremy Bonderman, SP, Detroit
  62. Jonathan Papelbon, SP, Boston
  63. Chone Figgins, 3B, Anaheim
  64. Raul Ibanez, OF, Seattle
  65. J.J. Putz, CL, Seattle
  66. Dontrelle Willis, SP, Florida
  67. Gary Sheffield, OF, Detroit
  68. Jered Weaver, SP, Anaheim
  69. Michael Young, SS, Texas
  70. Bronson Arroyo, SP, Cincinnati
  71. Chris Young, SP, San Diego
  72. Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Boston
  73. Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay
  74. Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia
  75. Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle
  76. Torii Hunter, OF, Minnesota
  77. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota
  78. Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco
  79. Jason Schmidt, SP, Los Angeles
  80. Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta
  81. Carlos Delgado, 1B, New York (NL)
  82. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pittsburgh
  83. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee
  84. Bill Hall, SS, Milwaukee
  85. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit
  86. Troy Glaus, 3B, Toronto
  87. Erik Bedard, SP, Baltimore
  88. Hideki Matsui, OF, New York (AL)
  89. Josh Beckett, SP, Boston
  90. Carlos Guillen, SS, Detroit
  91. Michael Cuddyer, OF, Minnesota
  92. Chris Capuano, SP, Milwaukee
  93. Ervin Santana, SP, Anaheim
  94. Rocco Baldelli, OF, Tampa Bay
  95. Brian McCann, C, Atlanta
  96. Carlos Quentin, OF, Arizona
  97. Chris Ray, CL, Baltimore
  98. Alex Rios, OF, Toronto
  99. Rich Hill, SP, Chicago (NL)
  100. Corey Patterson, OF, Baltimore
Now I'm going to throw in the top players at each position, along with an approximation of the round they get picked in (basing it on a 10 team league). Top 10 for C, 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, the Top 30 at OF, the Top 50 at SP, and the Top 20 at CL (another note: David Ortiz and Travis Hafner could possibly be only listed as "DH" or "Utility" in your league, but I've listed their original position here)

  1. Joe Mauer, MIN, 4-5
  2. Brian McCann, ATL, 7-8
  3. Victor Martinez, CLE, 7-8
  4. Russell Martin, LAD, 13-14
  5. Ivan Rodriguez, DET, 13-14
  6. Kenji Johjima, SEA, 13-14
  7. Jorge Posada, NYY, 13-14
  8. David Ross, CIN, 14-15
  9. Ramon Hernandez, BAL, 17-18
  10. A.J. Pierzynski, CWS, 17-18

First Baseman:
  1. Albert Pujols, STL, 1
  2. Ryan Howard, PHI, 1
  3. David Ortiz, BOS, 1
  4. Lance Berkman, HOU, 2
  5. Justin Morneau, MIN, 2-3
  6. Mark Teixeira, TEX, 3
  7. Paul Konerko, CWS, 4-5
  8. Derrek Lee, CHC, 4-5
  9. Carlos Delgado, NYM, 5-6
  10. Prince Fielder, MIL, 7-8
Second Baseman:
  1. Chase Utley, PHI, 1
  2. Robinson Cano, NYY, 5-6
  3. Howie Kendrick, ANA, 8-9
  4. Josh Barfield, CLE, 8-9
  5. Dan Uggla, FLA, 9-10
  6. Brandon Phillips, CIN, 11-12
  7. Brian Roberts, BAL, 12-13
  8. Rickie Weeks, MIL, 14-15
  9. Ian Kinsler, TEX, 15-16
  10. Jeff Kent, LAD, 18-19
Third Baseman:
  1. Miguel Cabrera, FLA, 1-2
  2. David Wright, NYM, 1-2
  3. Alex Rodriguez, NYY, 1-2
  4. Travis Hafner, CLE, 3-4
  5. Garret Atkins, COL, 3-4
  6. Aramis Ramirez, CHC, 3-4
  7. Chone Figgins, ANA, 4-5
  8. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS, 4-5
  9. Chipper Jones, ATL, 7-8
  10. Troy Glaus, TOR, 9-10
  1. Jose Reyes, NYM, 1
  2. Derek Jeter, NYY, 2-3
  3. Jimmy Rollins, PHI, 3-4
  4. Miguel Tejada, BAL, 3-4
  5. Hanley Ramirez, FLA, 4-5
  6. Rafael Furcal, LAD, 5-6
  7. Michael Young, TEX, 7-8
  8. Bill Hall, MIL, 7-8
  9. Carlos Guillen, 10-11
  10. Felipe Lopez, 10-11
  1. Alfonso Soriano, CHC, 1
  2. Carl Crawford, TB, 1
  3. Grady Sizemore, CLE, 1-2
  4. Matt Holliday, COL, 2
  5. Carlos Beltran, NYM, 2
  6. Jason Bay, PIT, 2-3
  7. Vernon Wells, TOR, 2-3
  8. Manny Ramirez, BOS, 2-3
  9. Vladimir Guerrero, ANA, 2-3
  10. Carlos Lee, HOU, 2-3
  11. Andruw Jones, ATL, 2-3
  12. Bobby Abreu, NYY, 4-5
  13. Jermaine Dye, CWS, 4-5
  14. Adam Dunn, CIN, 5-6
  15. Johnny Damon, NYY, 5-6
  16. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA, 5-6
  17. Jeff Francoeur, ATL, 6-7
  18. Raul Ibanez, SEA, 7-8
  19. Gary Sheffield, DET, 7-8
  20. Delmon Young, TB, 8-9
  21. Torri Hunter, MIN, 8-9
  22. Hideki Matsui, NYY, 8-9
  23. Michael Cuddyer, MIN, 9-10
  24. Rocco Baldelli, TB, 10-11
  25. Carlos Quentin, ARI, 10-11
  26. Alex Rios, TOR, 11-12
  27. Corey Patterson, BAL, 11-12
  28. Nick Markakis, BAL, 12-13
  29. J.D. Drew, BOS, 12-13
  30. Maglio Ordonez, DET, 12-13
Starting Pitcher:
  1. Johan Santana, MIN, 1
  2. Roy Oswalt, HOU, 3-4
  3. Carlos Zambrano, CHC, 3-4
  4. Chris Carpenter, STL, 3-4
  5. Roy Halladay, TOR, 3-4
  6. Jake Peavy, SD, 3-4
  7. Brandon Webb, ARI, 3-4
  8. Ben Sheets, MIL, 3-4
  9. Scott Kazmir, TB, 4-5
  10. John Smoltz, ATL, 4-5
  11. C.C. Sabathia, CLE, 4-5
  12. Curt Schilling, BOS, 5-6
  13. John Lackey, ANA, 5-6
  14. Aaron Harang, CIN, 6-7
  15. Danny Haren, OAK, 6-7
  16. Jeremy Bonderman, DET, 6-7
  17. Jonathan Papelbon, BOS, 6-7
  18. Dontrelle Willis, FLA, 6-7
  19. Jered Weaver, ANA, 7-8
  20. Bronson Arroyo, CIN, 7-8
  21. Chris Young, SD, 7-8
  22. Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS, 7-8
  23. Cole Hamels, PHI, 7-8
  24. Felix Hernandez, SEA, 8-9
  25. Matt Cain, SF, 8-9
  26. Jason Schmidt, LAD, 8-9
  27. Justin Verlander, DET, 8-9
  28. Erik Bedard, BAL, 9-10
  29. Josh Beckett, BOS, 9-10
  30. Chris Capuano, MIL, 9-10
  31. Ervin Santana, ANA, 9-10
  32. Rick Hill, CHC, 10-11
  33. Derek Lowe, LAD, 10-11
  34. Scott Olsen, FLA, 10-11
  35. Rich Harden, OAK, 10-11
  36. Chien-Ming Wang, NYY, 10-11
  37. A.J. Burnett, TOR, 10-11
  38. Chuck James, ATL, 11-12
  39. John Patterson, WAS, 11-12
  40. David Bush, MIL, 11-12
  41. Barry Zito, SF, 11-12
  42. John Maine, NYM, 11-12
  43. Josh Johnson, FLA, 12-13
  44. Jeff Francis, COL, 12-13
  45. Greg Maddux, SD, 12-13
  46. Kelvim Escobar, ANA, 12-13
  47. Kevin Millwood, TEX, 13-14
  48. Clay Hensley, SD, 13-14
  49. Jon Garland, CWS, 13-14
  50. Kenny Rogers, DET, 13-14
  1. Francisco Rodriguez, ANA, 3-4
  2. Joe Nathan, MIN, 4-5
  3. Mariano Rivera, NYY, 4-5
  4. B.J. Ryan, TOR, 4-5
  5. J.J. Putz, SEA, 6-7
  6. Chris Ray, BAL, 7-8
  7. Huston Street, OAK, 7-8
  8. Billy Wagner, PHI, 7-8
  9. Trevor Hoffman, SD, 8-9
  10. Adam Wainwright, STL, 8-9
  11. Takashi Saito, LAD, 8-9
  12. Chad Cordero, WAS, 9-10
  13. Tom Gordon, PHI, 9-10
  14. Francisco Cordero, MIL, 9-10
  15. Bobby Jenks, CWS, 9-10
  16. Brad Lidge, HOU, 9-10
  17. Eric Gagne, LAD, 10-11
  18. Bob Wickman, ANA, 11-12
  19. Brian Fuentes, COL, 11-12
  20. Taylor Tankersley, FLA, 11-12
Alright, now that we've gotten all of the rankings out of the way, here's just a couple of tips to keep in mind when you're drafting your team this year:

1.) Determine what kind of team you are going to be drafting. Either best player available or best player available at a position that needs to be filled. Very rarely can you have it both ways.

2.) In going with that theme, no matter how you are drafting, you have to realize that there are some positions that are incredibly weak in depth and others that have loads of talent to go around. Definitely keep that in mind, especially if you keep going for the best available player, because as the rounds keep going, the talent for that specific position will get that much more scarce.

3.) Of course you are going to have a list of sleepers when you go into this, but here's the thing: If you, in your heart of hearts, think that no one else is going to take a guy that you have in mind, completely disregard that thought, because everyone is different, but most still have the same kind of strategy going into this, which is draft the superstars early, then wait out the rounds and plug in their sleepers. We're living in the 21st Century, which means everyone has the same access to all the materials that you are going by, which in effect means that their sleeper list could look a lot like yours. Here's the thing: Even if you think you are taking a guy way too high, at least you have him, and no one else does. Jonathan Papelbon was a great example for me last year. Knowing what I knew about that team, I knew Keith Foulke would not be the closer on that team, so Pap's value to me went sky-high. Now, I was pretty sure that no one else would even think about taking him, and even with that, I took him in the 10th round, knowing that a.) he would be the closer eventually, b.) he had amazing stuff when he was in the minors, and c.) a good closer is very hard to come by. So, even though you make think it's a reach to take a guy at a certain spot, remember this: This is your team. This team represents the guys you want to play on your team, and that's that. I'm not saying take Delmon Young in the first round, but be aware that people can behave erratically in these, so reaches are not out of the ordinary.

4.) Be aware of position battles. If you get a guy who is an incumbent starter, but is feeling heat from another veteran or a young player, that's big trouble. Some players react differently to this situation. Some will be able to rise to the occasion and brush off any kind of challenge, but then you have to be aware of the other ones (which are much more common) that fold like a bridge table at the first sign of a challenge. Make sure you know who you are dealing with: A soldier, or a flake.

5.) Rookies are incredibly risky. However, if you must, you should wait until the later rounds to do so. There are only a few exceptions (Delmon Young, again, and Rick Hill) that will be taken in the first ten or so rounds. This is what the later rounds are for: Finding guys that are somewhat obscure but have tremendous potential. The first few rounds are where you get your stable guys that you can count on for the entire year (I mean injuries will happen, but you have to take that into effect when you are drafting; don't worry about injuries...yet).

6.) There is also another decision you have to make on Draft Day: Do you want to dominate one or two categories, or do you want to diversify your team? This is a very tough question to answer (and yes, I know, you want to do both, but the stars are really going to have to align for that to go down). If you want to dominate a couple categories, make sure to get your guys early and often. Again, some of your picks may be "reaches," but here's the thing: When you're talking about domination, there are always some positions that are very easy to pick up a guy off waivers for, like home runs and wins. The tougher ones tend to be average, stolen bases, saves, and strikeouts. In any case, know exactly what you are getting into. Do not change horses in midstream! If you do, it could lead to disaster, and then you'll be living through the next six months thinking "what if?" And that leads me to my final point:

7.) Be confident in every pick you make. It doesn't matter whether it's the first or the last pick in the draft, you need to tell yourself "this is the guy." This is going to be your team for an entire six months. Even if you come in last place, you still need to say to yourself "hey, I finished in last, but I did things my way, and I got the guys I wanted." Again, injuries could potentially screw everything up, but you can't let that affect you're thinking. Of course, you do have to keep in mind the guys who are "injury prone" and what not, but other than that, you need to convince yourself that these guys are going to be on your team for the long run.

So, don't be bashful, because this is just fantasy baseball, and win or lose, life will go on (for some of us...oh I'm kidding, come on now). And if there is someone reading this that is in my league, if you take one of my sleepers (which I'm going to list as soon as I draft...DTA, Don't Trust Anyone! I mean at least when it comes to fantasy sports!), I'm going to go absolutely crazy on you. Alright, well, I hope this helped at least somewhat. Everyone have a great weekend. Take care. Peace.


Monday, February 19, 2007

When The Shoe No Longer Fits

"I got a story to tell."

Triple your pleasure! Hey why not? I haven't been able to update this as much as I would have wanted to, but in the tail end of my senior year, taking a bunch of ridiculously hard classes, I've been extremely busy just keeping up with it (I thought this was suppose to be the easiest?). Anyway, I had one final point to make that I didn't put into my original post today.

I was looking at the newest "Bracketology" that ESPN posts every week (link is below), and it got me to thinking about something. This is a fairly obvious one, at least to me, but no one has really phrased this, or for that matter, really talked about it. May I present "The Reverse Cinderella Theory." Here's how it works. You have one team who is outside of a big conference (big conferences would be the Big East, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-10...I know that's obvious to some of you, but just trying to bring everyone in the loop). Anyway, this team has made numerous deep runs in the tournament in years past from a double-digit seed, and now, all of a sudden, they've gotten recruits and have a top-tier team. With a top-25 ranking, the team is able to get a top 5 seed in the tournament, and then, disaster inevitably will strike. More than likely, they get bounced real early. So here's my point. A "cinderella" team that becomes "good" in the regular season will always fall apart. And in order for them to be able to make another deep run, they will have to go back to the depths of mediocrity to try and recapture some of that magic. A perfect example of this is Gonzaga (probably saw that one coming). The Bulldogs, back in 1999, were a #10 seed and managed to get a trip into the Elite 8 after beating #7 Minnesota, #2 Stanford, and #6 Florida, then losing to the eventual champion UConn Huskies. In the next two years, Gonzaga was ranked #10 and #12 respectfully, and in both years, they made it to the Sweet 16. So, they had a really good run, and then all of a sudden, they got a bunch of talent on their team, and were ranked in the top 25 for most of the 2002 season, earning a #6 seed. However, they were bounced in the first round by Wyoming, and so it began. After getting a #9 seed in the tourney the next year, Gonzaga entered into the Adam Morrison era, and earned a top 3 seed over the next three years. The Bulldogs were able to get through the second round only once, that coming last year when they lost to UCLA in the Sweet 16. This is a horrible track record for a team getting such a high ranking three years in a row. As a top 3, you are suppose to be able to make it to the Sweet 16 with no problems. Gonzaga simply got bitten by "post-cinderella syndrome." See, once a team is a "cinderella," and they make a deep run, their "innocence" is gone, and now, people are fully aware of how dangerous a team could potentially be. Once the magic is gone, it cannot be replaced by anyone or anything. The only way to get back into making a run would be to have a bad season, where the realization sets in that they can't continue to play the type of schedule they play in the regular season, and start playing more of a "cream puff" schedule. That's another reason that a team like Gonzaga will not be able to make a serious run in the tournament: They're just simply worn out from playing such a tough out-of-conference schedule that they don't have enough juice left to make anything happen. Once they start losing more, however, and, say, they don't even make the tournament one year (Gonzaga right now is on the outside looking in), then, they will be able to rekindle some magic in the next year and slip into the tournament as a low seed, thus being once again able to fly under the radar. I know this sounds kind of bizarre, but the best thing for Gonzaga right now would be to not even make the tournament this year. It seems crazy, but if they are able to slip back into an "unknown" role, then no one will recognize them as a "threat."

The reason all this came about was that I noticed there are three teams this year that are about to prove my theory to be right. They are Butler, Nevada, and Southern Illinois. Granted, the game that pitted Southern Illinois and Butler that happened over the weekend was one of the better games you will see this year. All those guys were playing with wreckless abandon, which has become the "norm" of games in the mid-majors. However, one has to wonder if these teams are flying too high too early, kind of like Icarus (and now you know the reason I wrote this entire thing...Greek mythology references...golden). Will they have enough gas to make a serious run in the tournament? I got a real good feeling that they won't. Not that I wouldn't want to see it (all those teams just play so hard), but all these teams have been nationally exposed this year. There won't be the kinds of surprises that they have pulled in years past. I just feel that some teams, like Gonzaga and the three aforementioned schools, play better when they are not given a chance. It's kind of like extra motivation. But now that they have such a good seed, that motivation is no longer there, and now, they are expected to be beating these teams. One of the biggest reasons is that these teams lack the kind of depth that the schools in the major conferences have. So, once you know who to look for, the rest will just fall into place. So, all I have to say is, good luck trying to break the trend, but I just don't see it happening.

Well, I gave you a little bit of reading material. Hope it keeps you busy for awhile. As always, thanks for reading, and take care. Peace.


NFL Draft Team Needs, Stock Up Stock Down

Hey now, two more months until the best day in sports (at least for this guy). With that being said, I'm going to really start updating the site with all the things you will need for the draft. I'm going to start with doing what each team needs right now. Granted, this may shift during free agency (in fact, you might as well just call this a rough draft). Anyway, here goes nothing (by the way, the list is in order of significance as far as positions go):

AFC East:

New England: CB, OLB, WR, OG
N.Y. Jets: CB, DT, OG, OT
Buffalo: OT, CB, OLB, DT
Miami: QB, CB, WR, DT

AFC North:

Pittsburgh: CB, OG, FS, OT
Baltimore: RB, OLB, OT, SS
Cleveland: OG, CB, DE, QB
Cincinnati: TE, DE, SS, OG

AFC South:

Indianapolis: OLB, DT, OG, CB
Jacksonville: SS, OLB, DE, CB
Tennessee: CB, DT, OT, DE
Houston: OT, FS, SS, RB

AFC West:

San Diego: ILB, FS, WR, DE
Kansas City: WR, ILB, OLB, OT
Denver: CB, DT, DE, OG
Oakland: EVERYTHING!...

NFC East:

Dallas: FS, OLB, OT, OG
Philadelphia: DT, OLB, DE, SS
Washington: CB, DT, DE, OG
N.Y. Giants: DT, OT, CB, OG

NFC North:

Green Bay: OT, DT, SS, DE
Chicago: SS, FS, DT, OG
Minnesota: WR, QB, OLB, OT
Detroit: QB, OT, DE, OG

NFC South:

New Orleans: OLB, DT, CB, TE
Tampa Bay: DE, DT, QB, WR
Atlanta: DT, FS, CB, OT
Carolina: ILB, FS, SS, DT

NFC West:

Seattle: OG, OT, CB, TE
San Francisco: CB, WR, DT, OG
Arizona: OLB, DT, OT, DE
St. Louis: OLB, DT, DE, TE

Also, with the drafting inching its way closer, you tend to see a ton of re-evaluations even before workouts begin. Here is now a look at the top 10 risers and the top 10 who have seen their stock plunge:

Stock Up:
1. Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
2. Levi Brown, OT, Penn St.
3. Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida
4. Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia
5. Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Florida St.
6. Marshawn Lynch, RB, California
7. Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
8. DeMarcus Tyler, DT, North Carolina St.
9. LaMarr Woodley, DE, Michigan St.
10. Kenny Irons, RB, Auburn

Stock Down:
1. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
2. Daymeion Hughes, CB, California
3. Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
4. Marcus McCauley, CB, Fresno St.
5. Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
6. Quentin Moses, DE, Georgia
7. Quinn Pitcock, DT, Ohio St.
8. Zach Miller, TE, Arizona St.
9. Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio St.
10. David Irons, CB, Auburn

Thanks for reading. Take care now. Peace.


2007: The Year Of The Villain

"Nobody likes you when you're down and out."

There is something very strange in the air right now. I can't really grasp it, but I guess the only way to describe it is this: All the people in sports who I don't particularly care for are doing very well right now...and it's not making this guy happy at all. Before I get into my "Villain Theory," I'll digress into some of my observations from the past week.

You have heard about the "Unintentional Comedy Meter," but there was one instance that may have taken the cake. On Sunday, "Sportscenter" ran a spot about the 40 yard dash and its importance on grading prospects. During this, they interviewed Charlie Casserly, the former GM of the Houston Texans. There are two reasons that this was absolutely brilliant (speaking of brilliant, St. Patty's Day is in less than a month...well alright now). First, the idea that Casserly has numerous jobs right now is laughable. Here is a guy who had little to no idea of what he was doing, yet he is making more money now than he did as a GM. Had it not been for DeMeco Ryans having a breakout year last year, Casserly could be considered one of the worst "draft day GMs" in NFL history. Second, as he was describing why a good run would give an incoming rookie a better evaluation, they showed Reggie Bush and Vince Young in the background! Talk about sticking it to someone. Can you really take someone seriously after being reminded of the worst draft day mistake ever? That made the David Klinger pick look good. Is there any point in the next hundred years where we will not look back and think of how awful a pick it was taking Mario Williams number 1? I don't see it happening. It already has reached Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan proportions...and it's only been one year! Anyway, I got such a laugh out of that, I figured I would share that with you guys.

If yesterday's Daytona 500 didn't seriously make you consider watching NASCAR, then I guess there is absolutely no hope for you. Are you serious? Ok, first of all, Kevin Harvick (who will be mentioned in the "Villain Theory" a little later on) really did have a good race. I had to have if you were able to:

a.) Navigate through the seemingly endless amounts or wrecks, and
b.) Start a three lap restart in sixth, and somehow make up all that time to win

The real story was the crashes though. As in every restrictor plate race, you're going to have "The Big One" (now applicable to other places besides Talladega). What happens is when you have guys jamming on the accelerator (not a whole lot of use of the brakes yesterday for sure) and bump-drafting (aerodynamic term for when two cars line up, and the car directly behind will tap on the leading car's bumper, causing him to get "loose," which means the car will wiggle, and for a split second, the driver will lose control; it is in that little time frame where the car will slow down, letting the car in back make an attempt to pass the leading car...I didn't lose you did I?), you are going to have at least one spectacular crash that will involve a bunch of cars. Yesterday was definitely no exception, as there were two huge crashes, both occuring within ten laps of the finish line. In perhaps the defining moment of yesterday, Clint Bowyer had one of the most memorable finishes in the history of NASCAR, as his car was struck from behind, causing him to flip over onto his hood. However, because of the proximity to the finish line, and the sheer momentum his car had, he managed to skid across the finish line, finishing in 18th. If that wasn't enough, the car does another flip, and the engine has now caught fire! Finally, the car came to a hault in the infield, completely destroyed. If all that wasn't surprising enough, perhaps the most surprising was Bowyer's reaction to getting out of the car. He simply shook it off, climbed out of the car like he was in the garage, and walked away from it in such a nonchalant manner...I couldn't even get over it. What else has this guy done to be able to walk away from that and not go all "Ricky Bobby" right there? He is officially going to be called "Bowyer the Bullet Dodger" from now on by the way. Done and done.

ESPN had a weird array of people in the booth leading up to their coverage of qualifying and the Busch race. Seemingly Tim Cowlishaw has parlayed his five minutes of fame from "Around the Horn" as the "NASCAR guy" into a full-time job. You know what? Good for that guy! Seriously, how long did ESPN search for a third guy in the booth? Like five minutes? There was no one better than Tim Cowlishaw out there? What, did FOX scoop up every person who would conceivably know anything about stock car racing? And what was with Brad Daugherty? I didn't even know he owned a car (I'm just taking ESPN's word for it). So basically, the thinking there was there has to be some kind of quota on how many people with southern accents you can have talking in one room at the same time. Trying to make this move as politically correct as possible it seems...and if so, well done.

The All-Star game again was reduced to a joke, where it boiled down to an amazing amount of three pointers and dunks, which, if you think about it, really is what the NBA is all about. Is there any such thing as the "mid-range" jumper, or is that like outlawed now? The days of fundamentals, and, you know, good basketball are all but over. God bless the NCAA. Anyway, the highlight again was Saturday's events. I'm not going to lie, I love Gerald Green, but I kind of wanted to see what would happen if Tyrus Thomas had won. I think he would probably have initial shock about actually getting a trophy, then immediately ask "So, do I have to melt this thing down for the 50 grand or are you guys still cutting checks." You have to kind of root for a guy who is so amazingly honest and blunt about his true intentions, and saying it cost him $15,000. And what was up with that? So he's doing it for the money...what's the problem there? Hey, if you wanted to get guys who were doing it for the "spirit of the game," then why even have a check for participating? Apparently it's hard enough to get dunkers in the first place (In the whole NBA, they're telling me that only four guys wanted to do this? Four?). The dunk contest may be completely eliminated at this rate. However, Gerald Green did win, and it was very cool when he pulled a "Josh Smith" and went to the retro jersey of Dee Brown, and then did Dee's signature "one arm over his eyes" dunk over Nate Robinson. He also gets high grades for use of props, using a cut-out of Nate Robinson, then the real Nate Robinson, and finishing by dunking over a table. And the world has officially been introduced to Gerald Green, a guy Celtic fans have been drooling over since his unspeakable descent he made down to the Celtics at pick number 18 in the 2005 NBA Draft. The guy has absolutely amazing leaping abilities, and finally has been getting minutes (although that was in the wake of half the team getting hurt). I feel Dwight Howard got completely screwed over. The "sticker" dunk was awesome, simply due to the fact that it was original, and equally as good was his reaction afterwards, basically saying "Do you have any idea how sick that just was?...There's a freggin sticker of me 13 feet up on the backboard!" And he got a 42? Unbelievable. However, I do have to say that the dunk judges could possibly have been the best group of dunkers assembled at one table ever. I miss Darryl Dawkins though. The NBA needs to figure out a way to get Darryl on at least once a week. I'm thinking he could have like a little segment where he recognizes the dunks of the week. Just put him in a little control truck, and let him go to work.

"Yeah that right there was the "spine chiller supreme, rim wrecker, turbo sexaphonic delight.'"


Also, the Barkley race was riveting. I can't even believe that the NBA willingly sanctioned this to happen. I don't know what will be more memorable: Charles busting his ass after nearly losing the race, or the fact that he kissed a male senior citizen on the lips on national TV? I think there was definitely some kind of prop bet for amount of combined points in the All-Star Game compared to Barkley's heart rate after the race...I bet he took the over.

So February has not been such a hot month for me in terms of sports (outside USC's recruiting class...that was quite delightful). Therefore, with the events that have unfolded in the first month and a half of this year, I am officially renaming this year as "2007: The Year Of The Villain." Seriously, I think it will all come undone this year. Everything that I hoped I would never see is probably going to happen. Here's what's happened already to make me think this way:

1.) Ok there were two items yesterday that clearly kept the momentum going. First of all, Kevin Harvick winning the 500 was terrible. Have you ever seen "NASCAR Now?" If you haven't, or maybe you have and you need a refresher, it basically is a show that follows around different NASCAR drivers through race week, showing them being "real" and what not. Ok, here comes my point. Harvick was featured one week, and the guy is just a complete tool. He acts like he's like 14 years old, moaning and complaining about everything in the world to his wife, who amazingly is understanding through all of it (I'm thinking the checks aren't getting any smaller; not trying to say anything right there...but she married him for the money). So, here we are yesterday. Mark Martin, who if you didn't know was nice to begin with, you definitely know now after his post-race comments, where the emotion could not have been any higher, yet he was so incredibly gracious in defeat. Martin has tried for 22 years to win this race, and has come so close on numerous occasions (Ok, also with this, why is it that a guy who finishes second is called "the bridesmaid?" Isn't it bad enough that he finished second, but now we have to relegate him to not only not making the altar, but turning into a woman? What gives?!). And there he was, just mere inches away from finally reaching the unreachable star, and in one fail swoop, it was taken away from him. I was just completely stunned. I'm not even a Mark Martin fan per-say, but I was standing and screaming for him to get to the line before Harvick. Unfortunately, Matt Kenseth, who I don't really have a problem with, completely aided and abedded in this, pushing Harvick for basically the entire restart, getting him enough momentum to get up to the lead of the pack. As I sit here writing this, I am still heart-broken for Martin. What a shame.

2.) Also from yesterday, Kobe Bryant won the NBA All-Star MVP award, and he was basically able to score all his points on uncontested dunks down the paint. Ok, yeah, it's bad enough that he plays for the Lakers, but the whole Colorado thing...I can't get by that. Not what he did, but what he did afterwards. The way he handled the whole thing. Ok, let's lie to America, then come on TV and do a fake apology, and top it all off by basically paying his way out of everything ($5 million rings will do that). Nicely done. I honestly can't stand the guy. He broke up the Laker dynasty, and I'm not even a Laker fan (far, far from it), but with Kobe and Shaq, they literally could have won another three championships. But no, Kobe wanted all the credit, and now he has his wish. He gets to play on a team where he is the lone star, and is being backed up by a mediocre cast (I like Odom, and Bynum will be good...but come on now...Smush Parker? Vladimir Radmonovich?...Kwame Brown? KWAME BROWN!!! How has he not gone to the NBDL yet? That guy is the Martin Lawrence of the NBA. How do they still get work?). And if it was bad enough that he won, look who's interviewing him after the game. Stuart Scott! We're batting two for two now! What's great about Stu is that he can basically say anything he wants to...he's almost above the law ("Finally, Big Ern is above the law!"...sorry I had to do a "Kingpin" reference there). Has anyone ever read his piece that he does in "ESPN: The Magazine?" Sometimes I will sit down, and really ponder if the guy is saying retarded things just to get a rise out of me. And if that is his purpose, he is doing an amazing job. It's even worse when he's on "Stump the Schwab." The Schwab is annoying enough, but Stu goes over the edge into total asshole mode on many occasions (thankfully the fast forward option is available for DV-R...big sigh of relief there). So yeah, a total double whammy in the All-Star game, needless to say, the mood was not great. Fortunately, there's a marathon of "Future Weapons" on the Discovery Channel, which is hosted by a guy I would probably label "the most dangerous man on Earth." Seriously, watch it (trust me, I don't get paid nearly enough for those plugs...but you'd be surprised.)

3.) Barry Bonds somehow worked out his contract dispute, and the record is almost sure to fall very soon. How about Bud Selig coming out and saying he's "not sure" if he's going to go to the game to see the record fall? Unfortunately, Bud may have overplayed his hand here. It is now painfully obvious he does not want to see Barry break this record, and further more, if Bonds ever decided to hang it up, I don't think Bud would lose too much sleep over it. Basically, he's trying to conjure up a way to get him out of baseball without killing him. That's really what it boils down to. And you know what, I'm going to go out on a further limb and say that the thought has crossed Bud's mind, but the whole first degree murder charges that would follow probably brought him back to reality. Still, Selig is determined to get some kind of definitive proof that Bonds did steroids (the head thing is a start), and he needs to do it fast, or else, the most immortal record in all of sports (yup, I said it...and you know it) will be broken.

4.) And finally, the come all be all of it happened on the kid's 22nd birthday, with the Pats coming undone against the Colts. This is the classic example of someone continuing to pound on the doorstep until it finally came down. You had to have known that they would win one eventually, and yet, it hit me like a hurricane. I was just speechless afterwards, very much like how I was after the 2003 ALCS (which I am going to promise to keep those references to a minimum from now on). Peyton Manning has now replaced A-Rod as public enemy #1 in Boston. I seriously wanted to throw a brick at my TV when I saw him raise that trophy (then realized the collateral damage I would have caused, and wisely decided to find a TV that got launched off of a balcony at my apartment complex...very nice). The reason I think Manning is so unlikable, at least to me, is the fact that he has every offensive weapon in the world, and Tom Brady really has very little to go with, and yet they put Manning on a higher level than Brady based on his numbers. I mean I'm incredibly biased and all, but I really think Brady is the better quarterback of the two. With a makeshift line, and receivers like Jabar Gaffney, who was released by the Texans (thanks a lot by the way), Brady was still able to lead his team to all those wins, which is a testament to how great the guy really is. But there I was, on a chilly night in Charlotte (I don't know, trying to set the stage like NFL Films on that one) and watching the Bears come unglued in a hurry, and basically laying down for those forsaken Colts, which officially put my sports world into a tailspin. And so, the villains live on.

Now I'm not exactly sure what to make of all of this, but I just hope and pray that I'm wrong on this, because if I have to put up with the following:

1.) Yankees win the A.L. East, and then (gulp) the whole thing.
2.) Vijay Singh winning the Masters
3.) Duke somehow winning the tournament
4.) Clemson beats USC
5.) Phil Hellmuth winning the WSOP

...I'm gonna lose my mind.

So, again, I hope this is just a horrible call by me, and maybe just a bad month, but deep down, I don't see any end to this trend in sight.

And on a side note, I've figured out a way to make myself completely miserable.

Take care, thanks for reading. Peace.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Review Of "The Departed"

"When you're facing a loaded gun...what's the difference?"

Alright, before I review the most hyped movie I've ever hyped, here's a few things to bring to your attention:

Marty Schottenheimer is officially done in San Diego. Again, this doesn't surprise me at all. I mean when you have the "most talented" team in the NFL, which has been said by countless coaches, players, and analysts, then going 14-2 and not making it out of the Divisional Playoffs is completely unexectapble. Of course, when you play the Pats in the playoffs, rarely will you have the upper hand when all is said and done. However, when you look at that game, it really came down to the fact that the Pats were a much more disciplined and better-coached team than the Chargers. Countless times, San Diego continued to shoot itself in the foot, and it's only a matter of time when you face a team like New England that those mistakes will be taken advantage of on the other side of the ball. Marty simply does not have the prowess, or the control of his own players for that matter, to have been effective in San Diego in the postseason. Also, couple all of that with the situation between him and GM A.J. Smith, which has been described almost to the point of "hatred" between the two, and the other shoe was destined to fall on Schottenheimer. However, with all that being said, you could not have picked a worse time to fire your head coach. Already, four of the Chargers coaches have departed, including two for other vacant head coaching positions (Cam Cameron to Miami, Wade Phillips to Dallas), which means that they are going to have to hire a completely new staff in a very short time. With the combine only a month away, the Chargers are going to be looking at a coaching pool that is pretty weak right now. Had they had pulled this move right around when the Chargers got bounced from the playoofs, they likely would have had their choice of Cameron, Phillips, or perhaps even someone else that was looking for a head coaching position, like Ken Whisenhunt, who ended up in Arizona. If San Diego had a job opening, you would have to think it would have been the most attractive spot for a coach to end up at. You already have arguably the best player in the game (LT), a young and promising QB (Rivers), a franchise TE (Gates), and a defense that has a ton of star quality (Jawad Williams, Shawn Merriman, Quentin Jammer to name a few), so the Chargers could have basically had their pick of anyone they wanted to. Instead, they were hesitant about making the move until all of their coaches were gone, and once that happened, Schottenheimer really had no coaching link left, so the Chargers just decided to start all over again. It will be very interesting to see what direction San Diego will go on this. By far, the best two coaching candidates left have to be Bears' D-Coordinator Ron Rivera, and former Falcons coach Jim Mora, Jr. The early favorite seems to be Mora, who would be implementing the west coast offense with Rivers and Co., which he is more than ready to handle in my opinion.

Pitchers and catchers report on Friday for the Sox, and never has there been the kind of anticipation swirling around the team like it is this year. With so many question marks coming in, and a seemingly limitless potential, this are exciting times to be a Sox fan for sure. I will actually be heading to Punta Gorda, located about 30 minutes from Fort Myers, where the Red Sox hold their Spring Training, so hopefully, while I'm down there, I can see who's looking promising and all that (although workouts end before I get down there, at least I'm pretty sure on that, but still, I believe that they will have some morning practices, but we shall see). I know that if you are not a Sox fan, and you're reading this, you are probably under the impression that this is almost like "beating a dead horse" with all that I have already written, but the thing is that I'm just so excited to see how everything will turn out that I can't help but feel almost obligated to try and keep those of us who care up to date about how I feel that this team will do. There's never enough, in my opinon. So the beat goes on. Anyway, I really feel like this team will be coming into the 90-95 win plateau that they hit in 2003 and 2004. The pitching will be called upon more than ever to carry this team along, and when you have all those young guys and all the ageless veterans, and seemingly no one else in between, I can't help but feel incredibly anxious to see these guys in action. The more I've been reading about it, it's almost feels like the Matsuzaka story has almost been given more attention than the impending career home run mark that Barry Bonds is about to set (that is if he signs with anyone). I mean the fascination about the huge posting fee, the contract drama, the "gyroball" never ends! Now it's just like "ok, everything is done, now let's see this guy pitch already!" Obviously last season touched a nerve with the front office, because they started doing things they vowed never to do (no-trade clause for Dice-K, and becoming a double offender to the "no contracts over four years" policy they laid down, with J.D. Drew, and Dice-K again). Will their efforts in getting a few missing pieces (and replacing guys, like Gonzo and Nixon, who were crowd favorites, with a former Tampa shortstop and a fragile right fielder who's still not even on the 40 man roster) coupled with their ability to hang onto most of their young talent (the most pressure this year goes on three guys in my opinion: Pedroia, Papelbon, and Hansen; Pedroia has been light-hitting, but apparently, has gone through some transformation to being more of a power hitter, which is good considering he has an upper-cut swing, but will he be able to at least provide some adamant offense at the four-hole?; Papelbon will be in his first year as a starter, and after coming off a brilliant season, but one that was cut short due to shoulder fatigue, will he be able to handle a full season role in the rotation?; Hansen will inevitably be the closer, because he's got that good of stuff and, frankly, he's the reason why Papelbon is a starter, so will Hansen be able to conjure up some of the magic that Pap brought last year, or will they have to rely on a veteran like Brendan Donnelly or Mike Timlin to step in?) be enough to finally overtake the Yankees, who basically put it in neutral this year outside of getting Andy Pettitte? So many questions, but they will all be answered through the course of the season, which seriously could not be any slower to get here.

Ok, so I felt like I had to write some kind of opinion of what I thought about The Departed, and just as I had promised everyone that I talked to about this, I was at Wal-Mart last night at midnight to get this movie. So why did I make such a big deal of this, especially when you consider that I had never seen the movie until last night? Well, I just think that all of the implications going into the movie just had me so juiced to see it, that I immediately knew not only will I think the movie will be good, but that I would love it. And I'll tell you what, it did not disappoint in the least bit. This movie, right now, probably is sitting around #6 or #7 of my favorite movies ever, and I've only seen it once! But that didn't matter at all, because I haven't seen a movie like this one in a real long time. First of all, this movie does not hold back at all. There are literally no boundaries to which this movie could be contained by. It just keeps getting progressively better and better. A couple notes on this. First, I can't even believe how good Marky Mark was in this movie. I mean I've never been a huge fan of him in really anything he's ever done (I have not seen "Invincable," although I hear it's pretty good...also, "Boogie Nights" was a classic one), however, I loved him in this. From his very first line, you see a side of Wahlberg that you have never seen before. From the outset of the movie, and all the way through, the guy is swearing like a drunken sailor. It's pretty hysterical actually. Secondly, and this goes for pretty much every Scorsese movie of all-time, the soundtrack is awesome. I figured I would have to play "Gimme Shelter" to get myself reved up for this one, but it comes on literally 30 seconds into the movie, and then, is laced with the usual classic rock tunes, and also, a mix of some bagpipes and Irish-geared music, which I ate up with a spoon (oh, and also, "Thief's Theme" by Nas is featured, so there's something in there for everyone). The last thing I will say about this movie is that it is such an incredible ride and it doesn't stop until about 2 minutes before the end of the movie. I will not give anything away, but if you get up for a snack or for a bathroom break, make sure to pause this movie, because you will miss something. Since there are so many details in this movie, you really have to pay attention to how all the characters are and how they progress throughout the picture. So, I would suggest this movie to the following people:

1.) If you are from Boston, have family in Boston, know someone from Boston, or have any kind of fascination with anything to do with Boston.
2.) If mob movies intrigue you.
3.) If you're Irish.
4.) If you get your kicks by listening to fake Boston accents (like this guy), this is a definite (Jack Nicholson's is decent at best, and Anthony Anderson's is horrendous)
5.) If you liked Boondock Saints, it's kind of like that, but longer, and on acid.
6.) If you like good movies, and aren't really keen to bad ones, that would also be helpful.

Basically, this is a must see for anyone. Everything you've heard is true. This is an amazing movie. I had an idea that this would be an amazing movie, and it exceeded my expectations. It is that good, at least in my opinion, so do yourself a favor and definitely see it. Also, if you plan on buying the movie, pick up the collector's edition, which features a story on Whitey Bulger and the Boston mob, a Scorsese expose, and a feature of how Scorsese uses his knowledge of organized crime to make some of the best movies of all time. Very cool.

Alright everyone, take care. Have a good one. Peace.


Friday, February 09, 2007

NASCAR Preview

"Not that there's anything wrong with that."

A few things before I get to my long-awaited Nextel Cup preview (hey I'm not laughing...not funny!), here's a few things I just want to lay down:

The more I watch college basketball, the more I realize that any team who wins back-to-back championships has to be considered a dynasty. Honestly, as a fan, I love this. With Florida really being the only "power" out there right now, it just makes it so much fun to watch a game and really have no idea who will win (except when USC plays a ranked opponent...the outcome is pretty much inevitable). I can almost see why people hate the Patriots for this exact reason: It's kind of fun to see someone else win, and not just the same old teams every single year. What also makes the college game great, again from a fan's perspective, is the age limit the NBA has set on potential players entering the draft. It definitely adds a lot of talent that, otherwise, would have never even thought about going to school. The reason I say that is from a fan's perspective is because, when I look at the situation realistically, I think it's a travesty that these kids can't enter the draft straight out of high school. Again, I know that there has been a lot of discussion about this, but when you watch guys like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant playing out of their minds right now, you can't help but wonder what they would be like right now in the NBA. Also, it is such an incredible health risk to be playing another year of amateur ball before attempting to be drafted. I know that these guys have large insurance policies on them, but the money they would get from that is not even close to what they would be making if they were able to get into the NBA right away and start earning their money right off the bat. That contract is guaranteed when you sign it, so even if you get hurt in the preseason, you're still going to be netting the same amount. Also, when you think about these kids' backgrounds, you can't help but feel bad, because some of them are already feeling a burden to try and help support their families financially. So, basically what I'm getting at is, if the kid thinks he can make it in the NBA, and the teams, who have already been exposed to the "busts" that have previously come straight out of high school, are willing to use their first, or sometimes, second round picks on these guys, then what's the harm? It's a complete myth that the NBA was going to be diluted with high school kids, and that the NCAA was going to be any less entertaining or would lose its value is just being naive. Again, NBA teams have seen guys like Kwame Brown and Jonathan Bender, and they realize how much of a gamble it is to take a guy out high school, but when you consider the immediate impact that most of them have made (I'm not going to even bother trying to list them all), it seems to me that the cream rises to the top, and that most of the guys who aren't either skilled or mature enough to handle being in the pros eventually get weeded out. I don't get it, and neither do a lot of people, but then again, it's all part of David Stern's plan to complete abolish the "ghettoism" of the league, and really that's what it's all about if you think about it.

I have always raved about how great ESPN Classic is, but frankly, some of their programming choices are a bit questionable. I mean how many times do you throw that channel on, and you see bowling. Bowling? And it's not even "classic" moments, like a perfect game, or a great match. It's just two dudes in a bowling match, most of the time for no real important set of circumstances. What the hell? Also, I could go without the constant billiards, unless it's of the trick shot variety, which is actually watchable. Look, if I had access to literally every sports moment that has ever happened, and every sports movie as well, I would definitely be able to be running a 24/7/365 network. I mean I could just do that with Boston sports! Now that I would watch. But getting back to my original point, what is the thinking about putting this stuff on? Are they really running out of things to put on? I mean they're showing Arliss now, which is arguably one of the most polarizing shows in the history of TV (you either love it or hate it, there is absolutely no middle ground). Still, I have to give them credit for a lot of the things they do. For every silly thing they put on, there's another ten that they show that have definitive value to watch. I may be too demanding, but when it's 2:00 in the morning, I do not want to be watching Walter Ray Williams, Jr. vs. Norm Duke from the 1991 Firestone Open.

With the Daytona 500 just one week away, I felt that it would be an excellent time to preview the 2007 Nextel Cup season. So before you click off of this, at least hear me out here, as I will attempt to explain why NASCAR is watchable.

1.) The Coverage. I cannot stress how great the coverage that FOX provides for every race they do. There is no greater pleasure I get than getting up on a Sunday afternoon, shaking off a hangover by drinking beer, and listening to Mike Joy, Larry McRenyolds, and good ol' "DW," Darrell Waltrip (the best color man on the air right now...buggidy buggidy buggidy!). They know all the ins and outs on every track and know the flow of the race. When you add in the pit crew reporters, the "Crank It Up" segment (which is brilliant to all ends), and the overall format, it doesn't get any better. I am overly curious has to how ESPN will handle the races in their first crack at the "hey, NASCAR's popular now" era. Remember, they did cover the races for a long, long time, so it will be interesting to see how they do this time around (They had the races on ESPN2 actually...2! To understand fully how well they covered that, watch a drag race that they cover now, and actually, they have it on ESPN Classic, ya know, instead of showing the Kordell Stewart hail mary, let's show drag racing from 1998).

2.) The Fans. It is incredibly hard to imagine, if you're an outsider, how much people get into a particular driver. They live and die for these guys every Sunday. Picture the emotion you get for a playoff game, and then spread that out over 35 races. It's pretty nuts. People will hold grudges against another driver because of an incident that could have happened five years ago. And in a way, isn't that true in all sports. I mean I hate the Yankees for something that happened 88 years ago (ok, that may have been reaching a little, but still, they got a lot of passion).

3.) The History. Ok, so if you can't get into stock car racing from the above two, maybe this will help. Stock car racing, on a whole, was started when a bunch of crazy southerners were bootlegging moonshine during prohabition. If you think about it, it was like the mafia of the South. Can you really name another sport that was started based on criminal activities? (and no, mailbox crashing is not a sport...degenerate). And now, not only is it an accepted sport, it is grossing a bizarre amount of money. Bill France, Sr. is like the Don Corleone of racing. The France family receives about 80% of the total revenues from TV and merchandise, and not only that, they have controlling interest in over half of the racetracks on the circuit. And if they don't own it, it's likely that they will stop racing there, because guess what? They run the scheduling too! (R.I.P. Rockingham, that was an awesome track). So if nothing else, you have to admire how this guy is running a dictatorship in America, and no one really seems to care (except maybe for the drivers and everyone else involved in NASCAR).

Ok, so here's some things to look at as the season gets closer to starting:

John Henry, the owner of the Red Sox, has just completed a deal to purchase 50% of the stake in Roush Racing. Roush's race team includes Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, and David Regan, so you're not talking small-time here. This is legitimately a huge deal because this is what the future could hold for NASCAR. In my opinion, you're going to start seeing a lot of billionaire, sports-related figures getting into the business, which is unfortunate for them, because I think NASCAR really has already reached its peak, and from here, a decline is almost inevitable. I mean I'll still be watching (by the way, I failed to say that I've been watching races since around '97, so you can't really call me a bandwagoner right now), but as for the rest of America, I think it will be very tough to attract any more viewers. I mean, I think you're pretty much stuck with the fans you have right now. I don't see any way of NASCAR getting more fans on board (even I've tried, and got nothing, and trust me, I can be very persuasive). You already had by far the biggest spike in the history of professional sports, so where can you go from there? Anyway, with Henry buying this stake in Roush, expect a whole bunch of racing shows and commercials to start popping up on NESN (which will make people even sicker of NASCAR).

Toyota will be entering the Nextel Cup for the first time this year, and they have been able to woo away a bunch of drivers from the traditional Ford/Chevy/Dodge/Pontiac mold. They include AJ Allmendiger, Brian Vickers, Dave Blaney, Jeremy Mayfield, Dale Jarret, David Reutimann, and Michael Waltrip. That's a pretty impressive amount, which is only equalled by the equally impressive amount of cash Toyota was most likely throwing at these guys. This will be by far one of the big stories of the year. Will the Camry have a real chance to contend against the Monte Carlo and the Grand Prix, which have dominated the circuit for years, or will it crash and burn much like what the Ford Taurus has done so far in its short time on the circuit. So far, it's been...good I guess? In a recent article by's David Newton, the senior vice president of Toyota Racing Development said "We haven't run one into the fence and we haven't seen smoke come out of any wires yet, so we're ok." Yeah, I'm not sure how to interpret that. I think it's a little thing called "we'll see."

The last bit of big news that happened over the Cup's offseason was the announcement that Juan Montoya, the former CART champ and Indy car driver, will be joining the Nextel Cup for his first season. He will be driving the #42 Toyota car for Chip Ganassi racing. This will be the first time in recent memory an open-wheel driver, who had the success that Montoya had, decided to bolt and join NASCAR full-time. Montoya also adds another aspect of intrigue, becoming one of a select few minorities to be driving on the circuit. It's another unknown about how Montoya will be able to handle the unbridled aggressiveness of stock car racing, as he is used to going extremely fast, but probably is not used to bump-drafting and the other nuances of driving with these guys. If he doesn't know about it now, he is going to find out very quickly.

Ok, so onto my predictions. Honestly, I just don't see any way of anybody competing with Jimmie Johnson. Hate it or love it, the guy is an amazing driver, and figured out how to perfect the "Kenseth method," which is basically having the thought process of "winning, but not going to extreme lengths to do so." I know that sounds bizarre, because normally, you would do anything to win, but it's really simple actually. It's not as though Johnson takes no risks at all, but he is able to avoid "unnecessary" risks that so many other drivers take to try and win. Johnson will simply keep everything in front of him, and wait for someone else to mess up, and capitalize on that, which he did so often last year (14 top fives and 25 top tens out of 37 starts). Also, he has Chad Knaus, a guy who goes through completely unnecessary, and most of the time, illegal means, to make Johnson's car better than anyone else's. So, I have Johnson winning the whole thing again this year.

As for the rest, here's how I see things shaking down:

Jeff Burton is going to go back into mediocrity, as repeating his seventh place finish from last year will simply be too much to ask. Although Burton did have past success (from 1998-2001, he went 5th, 7th, 2nd, and 8th respectively), his recent performance has been closer to what you can expect from Burton this year (2002-2005, 12th, 12th, 17th, and 18th).

The most improved driver on the circuit will be Casey Mears. After finishing 14th last year, which was his best finish of his four-year career. Couple his escalating success with the recent additon of new crew chief Darian Grubb, who was the lead engineer for Jimmie Johnson, and also, recall that he filled in as crew chief when the previously mentioned Chad Knaus was suspended at the Daytona 500, and won, Mears has a ton to go off of, and should be considered as a dark horse to at least contend to make the year end "Chase For The Cup."

Tony Stewart is not going to have the kind of "bounce back" season that a lot of people are predicting that he will have. I think he will make the Chase, but will finish in the bottom five at year's end. The reason people believe that Stewart will come back is due to his success in the last portion of the schedule, earning three wins and one second place finish in his last ten starts. However, you can basically attribute nearly all of his success to the fact that he was driving with absolutely nothing to lose. He was out of the Chase, and really racing purely for winning, and not for placing in the standings. The fact is that Stewart has made so many enemies on the track (except perhaps Dale Jr., and even that relationship has been rocky at times), that he simply will not be able to have the kind of success that he has shared in the past. In the modern era, having allies on the track is almost as important as having a good car. If you are able to get "drafting buddies," you will be infintely more successful as you would if you were like Stewart, being completely egregious to following any kind of "track etiquette." It is unfortunate because it is clear that Stewart has a lot of talent (won the championship two years ago), but he has played the "bad boy" role for much too long, and now, people are starting to get tired of his act, unless you like Tony Stewart, which also means you relish in being a "bad ass." So go on in your bad ass ways I say, but don't expect your boy to be bringing home a championship any time soon.

Denny Hamlin will kick serious ass. Period. And that's it.

Alright, well I hope you enjoyed that, and if you didn't, I hope you will enjoy my little send off here. I'm going to go have a drink or ten, and cheers the upcoming NASCAR season. So to them and theirs, have a fun, safe weekend. Thanks for reading. Peace.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

NFL Free Agent Preview

"And It's a 5:00 world when the whistle blows
No one owns a piece of my time."

So the dust has completely settled on the Super Bowl, and now all that's left is the constant barrage of media talking about how great Peyton Manning is now that he's won a championship, which I can't say I didn't see coming. What I thought was interesting was that usually, when Disney does their "what are you going to do next?" commercials, they feature the Super Bowl MVP, but this year, they feature Tony Dungy and Dominic Rhodes, which I found to be ironic because of two reasons:

1.) Rhodes should have been the Super Bowl MVP anyway, but it was such a token move to give Manning the award, which means that he's going to get a car and more money, which I'm sure he needs considering he makes about $50 million a year with his contract and advertisements, which brings me to point #2,

2.) I think perhaps the Disney company saw how brutally overexposed Manning is right now that it would probably turn off a lot of people if they saw him on that commercial. For this, I have to congratulate them, because frankly, it would have. It's like everywhere you turn, there's Peyton, and so I applaud them giving Tony Dungy, who despite coaching the Colts, has always been one of my favorite coaches in the league, and Dominic Rhodes, who the Colts felt could not handle Edgerrin James' absence, so they drafted Joseph Addai to take over (kind of a Thomas Jones situation that the Bears had the more I think about it). Rhodes has always been an above average runner, but has never been able to fully show his talents.

Today is signing day for future college football players who are seniors in high school, and as of right now, USC has the 6th highest ranked class in the nation, which would be the highest ever in school history. It is blatantly obvious that this has everything to do with Steve Spurrier, who took over just two years ago. Spurrier, because of his past coaching at Florida, and some may even say Duke, has been able to be a major influence on prospects coming out of both the state of Florida and North Carolina. If all the commitments were to sign with the Gamecocks, Spurrier would have landed thirteen players from Florida, and an addtional eight from North Carolina, which ironically would both be more than the seven he is getting from South Carolina! It was especially apparent in North Carolina, where two of its major colleges, UNC and N.C. State, were going through coaching transitions, leaving it wide open for Spurrier and USC to come in and pick apart North Carolina's top high school players, which includes five-star receiver Chris Culliver, the highest rated player the Gamecocks have recruited since star running back Demetrius Summers (hopefully this one goes a little better). So, here now is the list of the players who have already signed, and the players who have commited to USC (list provided by, if you click on the name, you will be re-directed to their player profile page, also, if you have a Rivals membership, you can view the prospect's latest news and video highlights)

Stephen GarciaQB
6-22024.655.9Tampa, FL
Travian RobertsonDE
6-42304.65.9Laurinburg, NC
Olufemi AjiboyeDT
Chatham, VA
Clifton GeathersOL
Chatham, VA
Larry FreemanWR
Poplarville, MS
Sam PopeDB
6-1200-5.7Summit, MS
Jonathan WilliamsDT
6-4275-5.7Moorhead, MS

Chris CulliverWR6-01884.376.1Garner, NC
Cliff MatthewsDE6-42234.76.0Cheraw, SC
Mark BarnesATH6-21944.575.9Columbia, SC
Dion LecornWR6-01924.485.9Ocala, FL
Quintin RichardsonOL6-426555.9Columbia, SC
Akeem AugusteDB5-111754.55.8Hollywood, FL
Jason BarnesWR6-41974.455.8Charlotte, NC
Joseph HillsATH6-4213-5.8Palmetto, FL
Melvin IngramLB6-22244.875.8Hamlet, NC
Brian MaddoxRB6-02154.485.8Anderson, SC
Weslye SaundersDE6-52704.715.8Durham, NC
Matt ClementsWR6-21854.45.7Naples, FL
Addison WilliamsDB5-91694.545.7Atlanta, GA
Jamire WilliamsDB6-01804.45.7Jacksonville, FL
Antonio AllenDB6-2180-5.6Ocala, FL
Eric BakerRB5-111854.45.6Jacksonville, FL
Kyle NunnOL6-52655.445.6Sumter, SC
Alonzo WinfieldLB6-02004.545.6Winston-Salem, NC
Michael BowmanWR5-111564.665.5Wadesboro, NC
Donte'e NichollsDT6-22704.95.5Pompano Beach, FL
Mat WilliamsTE6-42254.85.5Fort Myers, FL
Byron McKnightTE6-42204.75.3
Laurinburg, NC
Arkee SmithDB6-11904.55.3Jacksonville, FL
Patrick DimarcoRB6-32304.755.2
Altamonte Springs, FL

(Blogger's Note: I read Sports Guy's newest article about this exact same subject about 5 minutes after doing this...I repeat after doing this. If they sound similar, don't blame me, we're all in the same boat)

I was watching ESPN2 this morning, and like always, was watching "Mike and Mike" in the morning, and I felt I just had to comment on something that was said on there. Mike Greenberg, when talking about the Celtics' recent losing streak (again, I saw this coming, but you know what, I like watching the young guys play a lot more than Paul Pierce shooting 40 shots a game, even if they are losing in a record amount), stated that the NBA should re-arrange how they determine who gets the first pick in the draft. He said that the first pick should go to the team who was the closest to making the playoffs, and that teams who "purposely go out and tank games" should not be "rewarded" for their play. Ok, if that is not one of the stupidest things I have ever heard, I don't know what is. How do you think teams become good? Through the draft!!! This is especially true in the NBA, where a lot of superstar players usually only play for one or two teams. How did the Celtics win 11 of 13 championships through the Russell era? Through the draft. How did the Celtics land Larry Bird? Through the draft. How did "Showtime" start in L.A.? Through the draft. And I mean I could just go on and on with different examples of teams, who have been on a recent skid in terms of records, who then get high draft picks in the draft, select franchise guys, and then, they are able to turn their teams around and become contenders. So, this whole logic about not giving the worst team the best pick is appauling. The whole point of the reverse system (bad teams picking first, good teams picking last) is to keep a competitive balance in the league. This enables bad teams to get young players who have excelled at the previous level they were in. And another thing, do you really think the Celtic players are going out every night and say "ok guys, as long as we keep losing and making a semi-mockery of the most storied franchise perhaps in all of sports, we can get Greg Oden, and we'll be fine next year?" Of course not! The reason the Celts are losing is:

a.) Their entire starting 5 is under 23 years old right now, most of whom have not played the kind of minutes they have for this long

b.) Their franchise player has been out for 23 games (by the way, I'm not trying to add fire to the whole "23" theory that is in that Jim Carrey movie right now) and the C's are 2-21 in those games, and

c.) Doc Rivers, who is a hell of a nice guy, is one of the worst coaches in the league, and has no idea that in the NBA, you cannot have 11 guys playing double-digit minutes a game. These are probably the greatest athletes on the face of the Earth, so they are able to handle a bigger workload than the one they have right now.

I just take so much offense to the fact that people think the Celtics are "tanking" right now because they would get the first pick in the draft. First of all, it's not the players who want them to tank, it's the fans. And I know that's a horrible thing to say, but the basic fact is, no matter how you slice it, I will have a longer relationship with the Celtics than pretty much that entire team will, and therefore, I am always looking towards the future to see how we could get better. Do I think the Celtics become a contender if they get Oden? Absolutely. They have been needing a presence down low ever since the retirement of Robert Parish over a decade ago, and Oden is a guy who could literally turn the fortunes of a team around by himself in my opinion. However, when you are actually on the court, you don't even know if you are going to be playing on the team next year to be able to see if Oden can help the team, or if you are even going to be playing tomorrow for that matter, as injuries and trades happen at a constant rate. When you are playing a sport professionally, youhave to take each game one at a time. You can't even try to think about the future. Also, even if you get the worst record in the league, that doesn't necessarily mean you will get the first pick in the draft. Remember, the NBA runs its draft order on a lottery, not on a record-based system (although if you do have the worst record, you are given the best chance to win the lottery). No one knows this better than Boston fans. Back in 1997, the Celtics had the worst record in the draft, as well as the pick of the third worst record in the league (Dallas), and a guy by the name of Tim Duncan happened to be going into the draft after his senior season at Wake Forest, and what happened? Not only did the C's lose the lottery, they got killed by the lottery, falling to #3 and #6. The Spurs take Duncan, yeah, they also happen to win the NBA title that year. The C's took Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer, two guys who were lackluster in Boston, although Billups, once landing in Detroit, did win the NBA Finals MVP two years ago. This has been looked at as one of the deathnails of the Celtics over the past 20 years, with all of this starting with the untimely death of Len Bias, who dies of a cocaine overdose after being the Celtics #2 overall pick, a year after they had won their 16th NBA Championship. So, basically, the point is that the Celtics are not purposely losing to get Oden. Simply, what has happened is that the Celtics have a bad coach, they have their guy who accounts for around 30-40% of the offense out for an extended period of time, and they have a lack of experience which is almost reminiscent to how the Clippers were in the mid '90s. However, like the Clippers, if you give this team time, and you throw in a healthy Paul Pierce, this team can really be an exciting team for years to come.

The NFL is officially in offseason mode, and with that, I'm going to preview the free agent class of 2007. These guys will have a tremendous impact on how teams will be drafting come April. If you are able to fill a need with a prime-time player through free agency, then you immediately can start looking at other top prospects to fill other positions, which in turn, completely shakes up where guys will be going in the first few rounds.

Matt Schaub, RFA, Atlanta- In my opinion, this could be one of the biggest free agents out there, purely because the class of quarterbacks coming out in the draft is very light after JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, and the free agency crop is not a whole lot better, with Schaub being the only one who could really end up being a starter in the league. Schaub has long been road-blocked by Michael Vick in Atlanta, and that will never change. However, in limited time, Schaub has shown flashes of brilliance, which definitely has teams intrigued. This is what I'm talking about as far as shaking up the draft order. Think if a team like Detroit or Cleveland, who both have been targetting QBs in the draft, end up with Schaub. This would completely change the draft strategy of that team, as they are likely to move on to another need.

(By the was, you will be seeing either UFA or RFA by the player's name. UFA refers to "Unrestricted Free Agent." This means that the player can sign with whomever they want to and has every right to choose any team that offers them a contract. RFA refers to "Restricted Free Agent." This is slightly more complicated, so try and bear with me. If you are a restricted free agent, it means that you have spent at least three years with one franchise, and have received an offer for the team they currently play with. However, they can continue to negotiate with other teams until a certain deadline (this is usually right before the draft in mid-April). If another team makes a higher offer than the player's original team, then the original team can either match that offer, or the player will be able to sign on with a different team. There are two catches when it comes to restricted free agency though.

1.) Again, a player only has until that deadline in mid-April to sign with a different team. If another team does not make a qualifying offer before then, the player's rights immediately go back to his original team.

2.) If the original team does not match the qualifying offer of another team, then the original team is entitled to draft pick compensation from the new team. The value of the draft pick is determined by the value of the player.)

Hope I haven't lost you yet.

So, when you talk about a guy like Schaub, you're probably looking at a second-round pick if you are going to try and sign him. Considering the Falcons have been trying to get a first rounder for Schaub, this would be considered as somewhat of a discount, so don't be surprised by the fact that someone will be willing to spend a second-round pick for Schaub, or the fact that the Falcons, who have already invested a gigantic percentage of their cap money in fellow quarterback Vick, will be willing to take the draft pick.

Jeff Garcia, UFA, Philadelphia. Garcia's name has been red hot on the rumor mill ever since his outstanding performance in filling in for Donovan McNabb in Philly's postseason stretch run that ended in New Orleans. As soon as the Super Bowl ended, there was a ton of specualtion about Rex Grossman being out, and Jeff Garcia being in. There were very few players who helped their free agent stock as much as Garcia, no matter where he ends up.

Damon Huard, UFA, Kansas City and Tim Rattay, UFA, Tampa Bay. These two guys had brief starting roles this past year due to injuries, and their paydays should go up a little, but still, they will be relegated to a backup role, because simply, they do not have the ability to guide a team for an enitre season. However, it is a must if you are in the NFL to have a competent backup, so these guys should definitely garner some interest from teams like the Jets, the Saints, and maybe even the Pats.

Running Backs:
Ahman Green, UFA, Green Bay. The running back class is very weak, with Green being the only guy to have any major starting experience in the league. That being said, Green has been riddled with injuries over the past few years. In fact, do not be overally surprised if Green goes back to the Packers and serves as a platoon back with the likes of Verand Morency and Samkon Gado like he did last year.

Dominic Rhodes, UFA, Indianapolis. This guy's stock definitely got a boost, has previously mentioned, after his performance in the Super Bowl, but will he be given a starting job? The answer is...maybe. I know, I know, not a very solid stance there, but here's the thing: Rhodes has never been given the chance to prove that he could handle an entire season's workload as a featured back. A destination to look out for is Houston, who is still reeling from Domanick Davis' knee injury from last year that landed him on the IR (injured reserve list). Rhodes would be able to fit into the system there because he not only is a bruising runner, but he is good at catching the ball from out of the backfield.

Michael Turner, RFA, San Diego. Contrary to Rhodes, I am almost positive that Turner can handle a full season in the NFL. When he comes in for LT, he has shown he can be a game-breaker, as he averaged 6.2 yards per carry last year. But will a team be willing to give up a pick for Turner? That remains to be seen. However, if I was a team like Oakland who had a questionable ground game, I may take a chance and bid on Turner.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Donte Stallworth, UFA, Philadelphia. Considering how weak Philly is as far as receiving depth, and how much Stallworth's potential value dropped due to missing four games with a hamstring injury, I would not be surprised if the Eagles were able to retain Stallworth at a considerable discount from would he could have potentially been worth if he both stayed healthy, and caught balls from Donovan McNabb for an entire season, because through the first couple of games last season, Stallworth was one of the top receivers in the league.

Drew Bennett, UFA, Tennessee. Since Derrick Mason wound up on the Ravens, the Titans have depended on Drew Bennett to step up and become their #1 guy. His numbers have slipped since his breakout year in 2004, when he caught 80 balls for 1,247 and 11 touchdowns. However, you can definitely place some of the blame on the constant quarterback shuffling that has taken place over the past two seasons. Because Vince Young is firmly cemented as the guy for the Titans, they should make every kind of attempt they can to keep Bennett, who I still believe can get to the 1,000 yard plateau given his great hands and impressive size (listed at 6'5, 206 pounds).

Eric Johnson, UFA, San Francisco. Once the Niners drafted Vernon Davis #6 overall last year, Johnson's time as the starting tight end was numbered. Still, do not discount Johnson's abilities. He caught 82 passes two years ago. However, he has missed two entire seasons due to various injuries in the last four years. A team like Green Bay or Carolina could use a ball-hawking tight end like Johnson to firm up their passing games.

Offensive Line:
Leonard Davis, UFA, Arizona. Davis will probably getting the biggest pay day of anyone on this list. I have always been a huge fan of him ever since he was drafted out of Texas in 2001. If you need someone up front, you will not be able to do a whole lot better than Davis (are you ready for this?...6'6, 366 pounds...366!). Any team looking for run support, this is simply the guy, plain and simple. His only conceivable weakness is that he is only an average pass blocker given his size. Arizona has expressed their obvious intentions on wanting to re-sign Davis, but feel as though he inevitably is going to price himself out of the Cardinals' cap number. This is the last thing Arizona needs, especially when you consider their prize acquisition from last year, Edgerrin James, has just come off his worst season since being in the NFL.

Max Starks, RFA, Pittsburgh. With the emergence of Willie Parker as a featured back, and the tumultuous season that Big Ben just endured, it would make sense that the Steelers would want to retain Starks and try and keep their O-Line unit in tact. However, Pittsburgh is now in year one of the "post chin" era, so it is unclear of what direction the Steelers will be heading in.

Eric Steinbach, UFA, Cincinnati. An intriguing name here. Steinbach is going to garner attention from teams because of his flexibility in playing either guard or tackle. When you consider the fact that he already is undersized as a guard, he may serve better being on the outside. In this day and age, you need a guy who can really move to stop the Julius Peppers' and Jason Taylor's of the world.

Defensive Line:
Dwight Freeney, UFA, Indianapolis. Freeney will not even be able to sniff the free agent market, at least not this year. It has already been made known by the Indy brass that they are going to try and re-sign Freeney to a long-term extension, and if that doesn't work, Indy will be "franchising" Freeney for next year. When a team franchises a player, it means that the player is signed to a one-year contract, with the monetary value being the average of the top 5 paid players at the same position.

Jared Allen, RFA, Kansas City. This guy is going to start a bidding war I'm predicting. He's only been in the league for three years, and already has made a huge impact on a terrible Chiefs defense. Allen has averaged a little over nine sacks in those three years, so, unless the Chiefs pony up some serious coin, I do not see them being able to keep Allen on this team.

Vonnie Holliday, UFA, Miami. Holliday had a very promising future that seemed to have vanished after the 2001 season. However, Holliday has re-emerged as a top-tier tackle in the league after landing in Miami. He has combined with Jason Taylor to be a dominant duo up front. Holliday will now be looking for a long-term extension to play out the rest of his career. I don't really see Holliday staying in Miami, considering they are trying to infuse some youth on their defense, and Holliday will be entering his 10th season.

Justin Smith, UFA, Cincinnati. Smith has been steadily improving, and there is no reason to think he will let up anytime soon. Unfortunately, he has not played on a very solid line, and therefore attracts the majority of the attention from his end spot. If he can get on a team with another established veteran, you could see Smith putting up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers in a year or two.

Lance Briggs, UFA, Chicago. Briggs could be viewed as someone who has the potential to turn around an entire defense. He is that good. Playing alongside the best linebacker in all of football doesn't hurt either (you have to give me that one; Urlacher is so good and so powerful that everytime he hits someone, it sounds like you can just hear the wind being sucked out of his opponent; I'm not sure if that's some kind of audio trick they do, but still, I've never heard anything like that before). Briggs will be commanding top dollar, and his chances of staying in Chicago appear to be slim. The hot rumor right now has Briggs ending up with the Giants, and if that were to happen, expect the Giants to have one of the best run-stopping defenses in the NFL next year.

Adalius Thomas, UFA, Baltimore. Another very intriguing name right here. Thomas blossomed over the past three seasons playing in the 3-4 defense of the Ravens, which utilizes their outside linebackers a ton as far as rushing the passer. He is coming off a season where he was named to his first Pro Bowl, only driving up his value more. Still, I think the Ravens will do whatever it takes to keep Thomas, as the Ravens will be boasting four Pro Bowl linebackers coming into next season if they are able to retain him.

Cato June, UFA, Indianapolis. One of the keys to Indy's defense has been the improved play of Cato June. Although the Colt run defense was ripped to shreds up until the postseason, June still managed 142 tackles at his OLB post. It will be interesting to see what kind of market he receives. For some reason, I think he will most likely leave Indy in search of another team, possibly Kansas City, who has a need for a tackling machine.

Defensive Backs:
Asante Samuel, UFA, New England. I'm giving the Pats about a 20-25% chance of re-signing Samuel. I think his pick six of Manning in the AFC title game pretty much sealed the deal as far as I'm concerned. We already went through the exact same thing a few years ago with Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy. Both played out of their minds in the previous year, but in the end, the Pats feel as though they can plug virtually anyone into their system and they can succeed. Right now, the Saints are said to have the most interest in Samuel.

Nate Clements, UFA. Buffalo. One of the most underrated players in the game, Clements not only excels as a corner, but he is also a great return man. Anytime you can get this combination (Deion Sanders, Pac Man Jones to name a few), you're talking about a gifted player. Personally, I think the Pats should go after him. If you think about it, can Troy Brown really go on forever? (Maybe he can who knows?) So, you're probably going to be looking for a punt returner, and you're already in need of a lock-down corner. It's like killing two birds with one stone.

Ken Hamiln, UFA, Seattle. Hamlin was forced to miss ten games last season, but played a full 2006 season, and scored 98 total tackles, so his health is probably not as concernable as it once was. I see Hamlin getting out of Seattle, as they really have tried to stockpile their defensive backfield over the past few seasons, and honestly, I think that Michael Boulware could be a force at free safety, meaning that Hamlin could be disposable at this point.

That's all for now. Hope everyone has a good weekend. The first NASCAR event is on Saturday Night (Bud Shootout from Daytona), so I'm wicked pumped about seeing #11 for the first time this year. Qualifying will take place on Sunday for "The Great American Race," which will be run next Sunday. I'm definitely going to see if I can get a Nextel Cup preview going. I know there is a lot of you that don't understand it's a touch more complicated than left turns, so I'm going to try and turn some people there. Take care. Peace.