Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's

Happy New year's everybody. And I'm off to go celebrate and imbibe with some friends. I imagine tomorrow morning I'll feel like Sammy White after getting introduced to Jack Tatum. Don'e get the reference. Just go here and you'll see what I mean.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gARi1MIyPRc&feature=player_embedded#

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who Fields Death Valley In Yankee Stadium in 2010?

Bryan Hoch on MLB.com wrote recently that the Yankees might be bluffing with their left field scenario.

We can debate if Brett Gardner or Jamie Hoffmann will really be in left field on Opening Day (I tend to think it's a lot like after the '05 season, when they insisted that Bubba Crosby would be the Opening Day center fielder until he wasn't and Johnny Damon was), but the GM is doing his best to throw ice water on any fantasies of another big-ticket addition this winter. "I will continue to look at any remaining piece, but it won't be a big piece," Cashman said Dec. 22. "Any speculation about some high-end player who has big ability and dollars attached on a large scale would be inappropriate."

It certainly is possible that the Yankees will make a move to shore up left field—especially if Johnny Damon or Xavier Nady drops the price tag a little bit. It could be the Yankees are bluffing. However, there are a few things to consider about the differences between 2005 and now.

In the spring of 2006, the Yankees had just gotten knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, and this after 2004's disastrous playoff series against the Red Sox. Jason Giambi was a shell of the megamillion dollar superstar that was supposed to reinvigorate the Yankee success train and resided under a cloud of steroid suspicion. Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez were on their way out. And the Pavano, Wright and Randy Johnson signings were looking like mistakes.

In short, the Yankees looked like an aging, out-of-control behemoth.

They couldn't have Bubba Crosby start in left and still pretend to be trying to reignite the dynasty. There would be just no way.

Going into 2010, however, the Yankees are defending World Champions. They won 70% of their games in the second half of 2009 and seem poised to continue their dominating ways. Mark Teixiera, last year's free agent prize, won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, placed 2nd in the MVP race and wont turn 30 until April. They added Curtis Granderson, all of 29, and hopefully invigorated batting in the Yankee lineup, to play centerfield. And they picked up Nick Johnson and his .426 OBP to help keep the batting order potent.

The Yankees, of course, would love to have Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. But they don't need them. Their lineup remains extremely dangerous, and the additions should only make it more so. If Brett Gardner is the starting left fielder on Opening Day, his .270 batting average, good defense and feisty base running wouldn't be the worst option for the home run hitting Yankees. Or the Yankees could go with someone like Reed Johnson as an insurance policy.

Then again, if Matt Holliday drops his price, all of this could be moot. Word is however, that the Yankees are serious about keeping a budget this year and will not sign a big ticket free agent ("No chance on Matt Holliday, no chance on Jason Bay.  Zero. None. Underline it.").") and I for one, believe them this time. So don't be surprised if Brett Gardner trots out to left field on Opening Day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Transactions....


Tell me something. How do the Giants, who are in a must-win situation, go out and lay an egg like they did? Just a disgusting performance.


Have to agree with Chad Jennings. With the way the Yankee's rotation is panning out, the Yankees should probably start Phil Hughes and move Chamberlain to the pen in 2010. I still believe that Hughes is the better starter in the long run. And Joba just has the reliever mentality.


Also gotta agree with this sentiment from Matt Zemak of CFN: "How generous of the replay booth reviewer at AT&T Park to give the USC Trojans a late Christmas present of 14 points on two of the worst non-reversals ever witnessed in major college football." Totally true. Not that BC played a great game on Saturday night against USC. Still, those two calls had to be some of the worst calls in football, college or pro.


An under-the-radar pickup seems to be panning out as a steal for the Browns. Matt Roth, acquired off waivers from the Dolphins has 4 sacks in 5 games and is active on tackles. Roth would be a much-needed boost for Mangini's Browns if he can keep up the good play.


"I disagree with their whole scheme ... They don't let me rush. They're all against me, or whatever."
That was Albert Haynesworth after he was sent home for being 20 minutes late to a meeting. Just one question, Albert....shouldn't you have maybe, I don't know, checked what the scheme was before you signed a 7-year contract?


Good point by Jon Paul Morosi saying that the Padres might get more value for Adrian Gonzalez in July at the trading deadline than they would now. Also, if Padres are out of it in July, maybe it hurts the Padres fan base less than it would now. Gonzalez is popular and if they trade him now, the Padres are telling their fan base they are done for 2010 already. If they do it when they are 23 games back, maybe it doesn't seem so vile to the fans.


Question: How come Wes Welker isn't being considered at all for MVP? Despite missing two games, Welker leads the league in receptions by 21 receptions. He's just 20 receptions short of the record—again, even though he missed two games. He leads the league in yards per game, and is second in YAC. He's also 1 behind Reggie Wayne in 1st down catches and 6th in the league in punt return yards. Now I'm not saying Peyton Manning or Darrelle Revis shouldn't be the MVP, but shouldn't Welker at least be in the conversation?


Said it before, will say it again. Jason Campbell does not look like a starting NFL quarterback. A backup maybe.


Incredibly easy call for AAPTBNL Man of the Week. Jonathan Stewart, come on down. 208 yards at 7.4 ypc and making it look easy. Congratulations on winning Man of the Week in a walk.


And finally, in the wake of Tiger Woods, (as well as Steve Phillips, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Steve McNair, Rick Pitino, Kobe Bryant, Derek Lowe, etc, etc), 3 athlete's wives—Tia Robbins, Jasmine Silva and Jerika Johnstone—started a company called Off The Market. Says Robbins:


"My husband told me that since he had that ring on his finger, women have been flocking to him more....We have to be open with each other and we think we can help with these unique relationships....We want to help athletes sustain a positive and sexy relationship with their mates."

So how are they gonna do that?

"We'd like to offer a private lesson for strip pole dancing one day or even offer to have a strip pole built in a home. (We have a male sex toy that)...our men can use this product on the road and that will help them stay straight at home."

Male sex toys? Can't imagine an athlete on the road saying, "No guys. I don't want to go to the strip bar with you guys. I'm gonna go back to my hotel room by myself, grab my sex toy and get in touch with myself. Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do."On the other hand, Robbins' wife is kinda hot so.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yankees Do Not Trust Their Farm System

If one thing has been shown this off-season, it’s that the Yankees, despite assurances that they want to get younger and cheaper, do not trust their farm system.

How else do you explain their trading 2 of their top prospects in the past few weeks? Austin Jackson, (23) long one of their prized position players—the centerfielder of the future—was spun for Curtis Granderson, and this morning, Arodys Vizcaino, the number 3 prospect in their farm system according to Baseball America, all of 19 years old, was traded for Javier Vasquez, 33 years old and making close to 12 million.

“You always want to get younger, especially when you have an older team,”

That was Cashman at the Winter Meetings a few weeks ago. Cashman now has a starting rotation who’s ages are 36, 38, 33 and an 29-year-old in Sabathia who’s arm is more like 33 what with the number of innings he’s put on it.

“(With all the injuries we’ve had recently)...you’re starting to see the necessity of [why] you have to get younger.”

That was Cashman at the end of 2008. However, how long does he thing a rotation in its mid 30s will hold up? Burnett and Pettitte have a history of injury issues. So far, Vasquez has been relatively healthy—but how long will a 33-year-old Vasquez remain so? Can Burnett and Pettitte pitch healthy into September and October?

If they all remain healthy though, a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Vasquez and Pettitte would be potent. Even with Hughes or Chamberlain in the 5th and all their youthful volatility, that rotation should be dominant. Again, the question is age.

Apparently, Cashman isn’t concerned. Otherwise he wouldn’t have traded Baseball America’s 2008 top Yankee prospect, Austin Jackson, and, Vizcaino, who Keith Law of ESPN felt could jump well into the top 50 prospects of the game.

And maybe Cashman is right. Maybe the Yankees aren’t a team that believes that prospects could or should play a large role in their Yankees Universe. Maybe they should just be chips in trading for proven commodities. They aren’t the Rays or A’s, driven by cheaper talent. They are the Yankees.

“Ultimately, what I feel is a strong reluctance to trade three or four assets to another team [for a player] and then sign him to a multiyear contract. You trade for a guy, give up three or four assets [and then pay him], then you’ve crushed your payroll and your assets at the same time.”

And while the Yankees didn’t extend contracts, they did add contracts. And payroll. Vasquez’s contract is close to 12 million. Melky and Vizcaino add up to about 3 million. Jackson made AAA money; Granderson has 25+ million coming through 2012.

So while Cashman may not be wrong about adding payroll and proven talent (maybe), he is at the very least, contradicting himself.

In any event, its clear Cashman has turned around from his 2005 proclamation that the Yankees need to build through the farm. Since 2005, the Yankees have grown some talented youngsters, Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, Melky Cabrera among others. They will however, blossom with other teams. Because it’s now clear that Brian Cashman, like his predecessor sees the Yankees winning through acquiring talent, not growing it.

Let’s hope his plan works.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Transactions....

So Favre is "irked" that Childress wanted to seat him, when he wasn't playing so well? Guess Childress forgot the 11th Commandment. "Thou shall not displease the Lord, your Favre, even if ye be the head coach. The team is not yours, but the Favre’s."


Anyone watch the New Orleans Bowl or the St. Petersburg Bowl. Anyone. Anyone at all.....?


Now that the Cubs have gotten rid of the walking migraine known as Milton Bradley, who do they get to play center at Wrigley? Marlon Byrd? Melky Cabrera? Seems to me that with the way the Cubs are designed, they need a lot of production from that position and, right now, options are limited.


Another thought. Now that the Lowell to the Rangers deal is off, could the Rangers be interested in Jason Bay and vice versa? The market for Bay appears to have dried up and Bay isn't all that interested in going to the Mets and spacious Citi Field. Rumor has it the Rangers are sniffing around Vladimir Guerrero, but perhaps they could get the righty bat they need in Bay and have an outfield of Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Bay. That's potentially 100+ HRs just from your outfield.


Anyone else catch those scorch marks all over Leon Hall from where Vincent Jackson was burning him for big plays?


I know it's been said a bunch of times before, but Jared Allen is one heck of a player. It was like he was one of the only few players in the Vikings defense to show up yesterday. 6 tackles, a sack, 2 stuffs and a forced fumble. If I had to start a defense, it'd be tough to choose between him, Darrell Revis or Patrick Willis as the first pick.


With "Everyday" Eddy Curry playing a grand total of 12 minutes last season, 62 minutes this season, and buried like a sarcophagus in Mike D'Antoni's depth chart, you think maybe Curry is going check the "Yes, please" box on his 11 million dollar player option for next year?


"I've been in this league 12 years, and I've been through a lot. And these shoulders that I have on my body, you can put the earth on it. So just to let you know, I bounced back. I appreciate it."

That was Randy Moss. Geez, Randy, you're a wide receiver, not the frickin' Messiah on the cross. You got called out for dogging it. Deal with it.


Hard not to pick Josh Cribbs or Jerome Harrison on the Browns, but I gotta go with Big Ben again. All Roethlisberger did was throw for, and this is not a mistype....500+ yards, 3 TD passes (including the game winner with no time on the clock on a beautifully placed ball to the side of the end zone. An unbelievable performance, especially considering his running backs totaled for 65 yards the entire game. Amazing.


And finally, happy birthday to JoePa 83 years young today. And as Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror writes, Penn State needs you more than ever. No because you've won the Big 10 twice in the past five years and revitalized the program and are bringing in recruits by the buckets to the tune of a Top 5 class. No, Penn State needs you now, because with you being the face of the program's success, they are jacking up ticket prices. Giger writes:

Penn State will be jacking up season-ticket prices in 2011, raising annual Nittany Lion Club contribution levels from $100 per seat to $600 and $400 apiece for thousands of fans. It will be a lot easier for many longtime, diehard Lion fans to fork over the extra money simply as a show of support, loyalty and admiration for Paterno.

Nice, Penn State. Middle of a horrific recession, people hurting, out of work, and the University jacks up prices on the face of a beloved old coach. One again, college football doesn't fail to nauseate. Stay classy, Nittany Lions. Stay classy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Smith & Young. Not a Law Firm....Redemption Defined

Picking a quarterback in the first round is always a risky business. For every Troy Aikman, there's a Jeff George. For every Peyton Manning, there's an Akili Smith. Carson Palmer, Ryan Leaf.

That's probably why when Vince Young and Alex Smith began to show signs of less-than-brilliance, so many teams were ready to write them off. Young and Smith, the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 Draft, and the 1st pick in the 2005 draft respectively definitely did not enter the NFL reminding people of Marino and Montana. However, they did earn something that most athletes never get a chance to do: redeem themselves somewhat.

In Catholicism, redemption means to atone so that you may be freed of sin. And Smith and Young both did sin. In football, they committed the sin of failing to live up to expectations. And coming into the league, both Smith and Young had huge expectations.

Alex Young went 21-1 as a quarterback for the Utah Utes. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting his senior year, amazing considering he played in the lightly regarded Mountain West Conference. Under Urban Meyer, Smith's Utes beat Pittsburg in the Fiesta Bowl, the first BCS Bowl game to have a non-BCS team in it. And he won.

However, to be blunt, Alex Smith did not enter the NFL with the look of a future number one pick. Completing barely 50 percent of his passes in his first year, and throwing 11 interceptions and just one touchdown pass, he looked lost and scared in the pocket. Over the next year, Smith shows glimpses of talent, but always regressed soon afterward. It didn't help that Smith had 3 different offensive coordinators in his first 3 seasons. That said, Smith threw 16 interceptions his 2nd year and was sacked 35 times. Fans grew impatient with Smith's slow growth and across the web begin a variety of Alex Smith "stinks" web sites and in the media, the "bust" label began to be whispered.

Then the roof fell in. Sacked early in his 3rd season, Smith injured his throwing shoulder. Rushed back into the lineup by coach Mike Nolan, Smith played truly horribly. Smith complained his shoulder wasn't right; Nolan didn't believe him and called him out to the papers. Eventually, however, it was discovered by doctors that Smith's shoulder injury was more server than previously thought, and he was placed on IR and had surgery on the shoulder. The next year, 2008, with yet another offensive coordinator, this time Mike Martz—his 4th in 4 years—Smith was demoted to second-string quarterback, behind journeyman J.T. Sullivan. Smith was thought to be a bad fit for Martz's wide-open attack, and Martz knew Sullivan from their time in Detroit. Then things got even worse.

Before the season, Smith's shoulder required a second surgery, which would cause him to miss the entire 2008 season and would lead to Smith be called a full-fledged bust. After the season, with the threat of being cut, Smith was forced to renegotiate his contract, reducing his pay for the final two seasons from 25 million to 8.

Starting the 2009 season as both a second-string quarterback and a bust waiting to be cut, Smith looked renewed, and was inserted into the starting lineup in the 7th game. And all of a sudden, the bust began to play like the first round pick he was supposed to be. When asked why Smith seemed different this year than from all others, Coach Singletary had this to say:


    "Alex is a totally different guy today than he was even six months ago. I think his mindset is clear. The thing what spoke volumes to me about him was in the offseason he had a chance to move on and go to another team and make more money. But he decided to stay because he felt that he wanted to be a part of what was here. He wanted to finish what he started.''


In just 8 games, Smith has 15 TD passes, or just one short of his career high. He is throwing for a 61% completion rating and has career highs in almost every passing category. He is 7th in the league with a TD% of 5.4 Against the Cardinals, Smith was credited with causing three offsides using a excellent hard count, and keeping the Cardinal rushers on their heels all game. While not a polished Drew Brees QB just yet—he throws too many interceptions still—Smith has shown the signs of not only not being a weak point in his team's offense, but actually being an asset. He has shown signs on multiple occasions of placing the Niners on his shoulders and producing when the team needed him too. After a long, strange trip, Alex Smith finally is becoming the quarterback he was drafted to be.

For Vince Young, the story was even more roller coasterish. After the unbelievable BCS Championship game, Young had an even more fairy tale-like rookie season. Playing in a controlled offense, Young managed the Titans to an 8-5 record as a starting quarterback and himself to a Pro Bowl nomination. His second season was a combination of even more good and some bad, though improved throughout the season, markedly improving his completion rating. Young however threw 17 interceptions to just 9 TDs.

Then, like Smith, the roof caved in.

After a poor performance in the first game of the 2008 season, Young was booed and benched. Distraught beyond reason, Young, after the game, went missing. Young's therapist said that Young was with a gun and was contemplating suicide.

Given time to straighten things out in his head, Young was "relieved of starting duties." Benched in favor of Kerry Collins for the rest of 2008 season, Young essentially became the forgotten man during the Titans exceptional 2008 season. To start the 2009 season, Titans coach Jeff Fisher told the media that Young was the second-string QB and would have to "earn his job back." Once a Pro Bowler and one of the NFL's stars of the future, Young was now an afterthought, and a heavily doubted one at that.

However, as brilliant as Collins was in 2008, he was equally awful in 2009, leading the Titans—once popular Super Bowl picks—to a 0-6 record. Eventually, and by request of the Titans owner, Vince Young was brought back to start for the Titans. And he has responded. Young is not only putting up the best numbers of his career, but is also by leading the Titans as a veteran quarterback, to a 6-1 record. Young's interceptions are way down and his yards per attempt are way up—as is his quarterback rating, 20 points higher than his previous high.

But more to the point, and like Smith, Young appears for the first time, to be a leader. Again, not to be confused with Tom Brady, Young, again like Smith, seems to have grown the ability to be able to take the team on his shoulders. Like Smith, they are fulfilling the promise they had when their teams selected them so high.

Redemption is a rare thing in sports. Not many players, taken with so much expectation by a franchise, and who fall so flat in the face of those expectations, have a chance to redeem themselves. Ask Tim Couch. Couch, who had a similar career path to Smith and Young, who succeeded marvelously in college, who was taken high in the draft, who showed early promise but had the deck stacked too much against him—including a parade of offensive coordinators and schemes and a sieve-like offensive line—and ultimately failed. Couch, despite being the Cleveland Browns all-time leader in completion percentage, despite a Pro Bowl birth and despite leading a talent-deprived expansion franchise to a playoff berth, Couch was released. He was a bust.

Which is why we should note Smith and Young's redemption. Because it so rarely ever happens. Unlike baseball, where a struggling young player can be sent to the minors to work his problems out, football is a do-or-die sport, where if you don't succeed, you're a bust. Football doesn't want to hear it—win or go home.

So congratulations are due to Alex Smith and Vince Young. Both of them came into the league with huge expectations. Both got knocked down. And both got back up and are succeeding. And that's something that should be commended.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Five

Sorry for the lack of updates. Hell week at work here. Anyway to the questions:


1. If you were the Phillies, would you have tried to sign Lee to a long-term deal. Or would you have made the trade for Halladay?

2. Who is your NFL MVP? Peyton? Chris Johnson. Brees? Someone else?

3. If the Big 10 expands to 12, what will they call themselves?

4. Now that we are deep into the Hot Stove, what was the worst free agent signing of all time?

5. Would you ever watch a game called the Poinsettia Bowl?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Transactions....


So, think the Steelers wish they could go back to the offseason and maybe, actually address their offensive line woes? I mean, 8 sacks? To the Browns? I gotta ask, why do the Steelers hate Ben Roethelsberger?



Sorry to say this because he seems like a nice guy, but....Kellen Clemens is not a NFL caliber starter. He just isn't. He wasn't just rusty on Sunday. He was missing guys by 10 yards.



Good article at the Hardball Times about the decline of Derek Lowe. The article also talks about Takeshi Saito, but the really interesting part, when you consider a lot of people were questioning the big paycheck he got from the Braves, is the statistical analysis on Lowe. Didn't the Braves do their homework. Even though Lowe had a nice 2008, stats show he was beginning to slip.Yet they gave him a 4-year fat contract. And now they can't give him away, even if they offer Turner Field along with him.


You know, in the pre-season, I picked Green Bay to surprise and win it all. And when they lost to the Bucs a month ago, shame entered my life in a big way. But since, they've won 5 in a row, and are starting to resemble the team no one wants to play in the playoffs.


I hope Turner Gill works out at Kansas. I just love to see when sports matter to people. And after watching this video of him winning the MAC at Buffalo.....it makes me wish I was a recruit so I could play for this guy.


The real Randy Moss is starting to show up....uh oh.



There really is no excuse for the Giants to fumble 4 times in a inter-division game in a battle for first place. Eli Manning, injured foot and all showed up and threw for 3 TDs and 400 yards. Where were the rest of the Giants?


And right about now, Steve Spagnuolo is missing the Giants and the Giants are missing Steve Spagnuolo.


I feel AAPTBNL should apologize to Norv Turner. This blog has said some pretty rough things about him. But with the Chargers going 10-3 and looking like one of the most dangerous teams right now, you have to think that Turner has finally found the right situation, and is doing a nice job down there in southern California.


At one point last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 9-3. Since then, they've gone 1-16. Seriously, what the heck happened? How does a team tank that fast?


Lesley Visser writes a good column about the Heisman, and how even though Mark Ingram, a great and talented running back , no doubt—won the Heisman, every one knows the best player and no. 1 draft pick was Ndamukong Suh. It's just that the Hesiman never goes to defensive players.




For AAPTBNL Man of the Week....with apologies (great performance, but your team lost) gotta go with DeSean Jackson. 2 TDs, both over 60 yards, almost single-handedly deflating the Giants. Heck, his 6 catches averaged out to 30 yards a catch. Wow. Explosive, thy name is DeSean.



And lastly, AAPTBNL was sorry to hear that the Yankees didn't tender Chien-Ming Wang. I wish him only the best of luck wherever he goes. He was a class act and a good pitcher. He deserves a second chance.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Five

1. Is Brain Kelly going to bring Notre Dame back to relevance?

2. What are Curtis Granderson's BA, HR and RBI this season for the Yankees?

3. If you were the coach of the 6-7 Steelers, would you sit a beat-up Big Ben. Or is that a bad precedent for a veteran team?

4. Do you get the NFL Network in your area?



5. The first time you saw Khalil Greene, were you surprised he was white, being that Khalil is typically an African-American name?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jimmy V.

As a sarcastic, skeptical dead-inside SOB, I never like listening to speeches. Speechifyiung, to me, is a lot of overblown hot air, masquerading as "true feelings."

And then there is Jimmy Valvano.

In honor of Jimmy V. Week at ESPN, I'd like to link to one of the best speeches I've ever heard by anyone, anywhere. To those of you who have never heard this, you are in for a treat. To those who have, I defy you not to listen to it again and not choke up.

Without further delay, Jimmy Valvano.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Happened! Yanks Trade for Granderson

What is sweet Jehoshaphat just happened?

Did someone secretly replace Brian Cashman's brain with delicious Folger's crystals?

So Cashman in all seriousness, thought a trade for an in-decline centerfielder, who batted .249 last season, was worth our best ready-to-play prospect, Austin Jackson (who we didn't want to part with to get Johan Santana), Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy.

At least we held on to Jesus Montero.

So our starting outfielder's last year batting average, bated .276, .249 and .249. Put together, that's  .256. Swell!!

Not sure I can see any advantage to this. Some suggest it's a way to save money to go and get Halladay. But you just gave up some great pieces of the puzzle to go and get him. No, for sure, you'd have to trade Jesus Montero, voted no. 2 by Project Prospect of all minor league prospects. Supersweet!!

In any event, I hope there is a plan. Because trading Damon and Matsui for Granderson—a lifetime .272 hitter with two straight years of steady decline—makes this outfield into a galactically average outfield

Really? Granderson for Hughes and Jackson?

Let me get this straight. To get Curtis Granderson, the Yankees would have to part with Austin Jackson and Phil Hughes.

Why not give them A-Rod and Jeter?

I mean, has Granderson turned into the embodiment of Rickey Henderson when I wasn't looking?

And where do the Tigers get off thinnking they have such a prize to dangle on the trade winds?

Mr. Granderson batted a Giambi-esque .249 last year, the second straight year of a precipitous drop of over 20 points off his batting average. True, he did hit 30 home runs, but do the Yankees need long ball power at the cost of a young talented pitcher and a blue chip prospect? And despite the 30 home runs, his slugging percentage is a meh .455.

Somehow, Granderson got voted into the 2009 All-star game. This despite his only real appearance in the league leaders was in strikeouts (141, good for 9th).

The question to me, really is, why would the Yankees even be interested? Austin Jackson seems ticketed to start in centerfield in 2011, if not sooner. Until then, Melky Carera and Brett Gardner seem more than capable if not exemplary fill-ins till then. Why even dangle the notion that Phil Hughes and Jackson could be had. please let this be nonsense

Monday, December 7, 2009

Transactions....

Can someone please explain how frickin Florida State gets a New Year's Day Bowl game? The Gator bowl? For a team that went 6-6 and lost to both Clemson and Boston College; teams who got shafted and stuck with the Emerarld City and Music City Bowl. Really, why have a regular season, if we can pick whoever we want to play in whatever bowl game we want. It just makes a team's record obsolete and meaningless.

Seriously, I know I've written about this a million times before. but look. If the Mets won 110 games and won the NL East by 19 games, but MLB "choose" the Phillies because they "preferred" them, people would flip out. And rightly so.


BTW, where's the love for Clausen? His stats, on an inferior team, outshine both McCoy's and Tebows. But nary a word for him? Seems odd to me.


Right about now, I'm guessing Eric Mangini is wishing he took a year off from coaching. or at least looked at the Browns roster before accepting the job. Heck, even the ref standing next to him in the picture looks like he feels bad for him.


How the heck does Wes Welker get open so often? You would think the opposing coaches would design something that would at least slow him down. He caught 10 passes for the Pats on Sunday, the rest of the team caught 9.


Good for the Kansas City Royals showing their fans that they are actually trying to get back to respectability.


You can pretty much write Sam Bradford's name in ink next to the Carolina Panther's first selection at next year's draft. Oh wait. They don't have a first round pick. Uh oh.


Think Belichek is going defense in free agency in the draft this off-season?


Did Cris Colinsworth "interview" of Brett Farve last night come with a spit-shine of Lord Farve's shoes?


Speaking of which.....is that sound I hear that the inevitible sound of Farve's December implosion.....?


You know, I was with the people who said that Tiger didn't owe anybody an explanation: private matters are private. But Jason Whitlock—are you on Tiger's payroll?


As for Mark Sanchez's performance last Thursday, the numbers dont show it (7-15, 104 yds), but to me he looked more decisive. Like he actually had a clue and a gameplan. Doesn't help when Braylon Edwards, wide open drops a perfectly thrown bomb that hits him in the face. Seriously, take a look at the video.


And for the AAPTBNL Man of the Week. Gotta give it to Bruce "the Grad Man" Gradkowski. Goes into Steel Country, and drops 3 TD passes in the final 8:21 to beat the World Champs in their house. For that, he should get AAPTBNL Man of the Month. Gradkowski, who went to school in Toledo, this has to be a day to remember. Congrats Grad!


And lastly...hate those new Florida unis. They totally look like they're a Canadian football team.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday Sports Thoughts

Had to babysit a friend's kid all day. So like any good, red-blooded American male, I tossed the kid some crayons and plopped myself down on the couch and watched sports all day. Here's some thoughts.

I had a feeling Florida gets crushed by Alabama. Florida, all season kinda looked like they were phoning it in. Saban's Red Tide on the other hand, were getting hungrier as the year went on. The result seems kinda of forseen: Florida went in and got killed.

Watching Texas play....Alabama is gonna kill them too, I think.

Some knucklehead Stanford sportwriter is complaining about Stanford possibly having to play against Boston College. Uh, Brucie. What was Stanford's record? 8-4? And BC's record 8-4? You are touting a win against Notre Dame? Against a wildly, wildly overrated USC team that Arizona beat last night. yeah, and you also lost to Wake freakin' Forest. You're 8-4. Take the Bowl game and stifle yourself.

I get the feeling, watching the 2 early Big East games, that a blogger, who's  rumblings I read a while back might be right. And his theory was that  the Big 10 and the ACC are going to try to carve up Big East football teams, with the ACC and Big 10 getting Cincinnati, Louisville, Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Big East would then become a basketball only division.


Speaking of which, it was nice that St. John's at least didn't embarrass themselves against Duke.

Kinda tired of everyone maligning the ACC now. They had a great game last night with Georgia Tech-Clemson. Yeah, I know everyone was watching the Texas-Nebraska game, but maybe they should have watched the Yellow Jackets high-tech offense beatup a pretty good defense.


Another hunch. Colt McCoy, even though he's listed at 6'2", 210, looks smaller than that. And when he gets to the NFL, and has those guys hit him a few times.....well I think McCoy is going to be on the injured list a lot.

Not saying that Bob Stoops will definitely be the next Notre Dame coach, but every time I saw the scroller at the bottom of the TV saying "I will not be the next coach at Notre Dame" I thought of Nick Saban, two years ago saying the exact same thing about the Red Tide job.

And finally, it was so nice to not hear anything about Tiger Woods. For at least one day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Five

1. Is Albert Pujols the best Cardinal of all time, including, Stan Musial?

2. Could the SEC play in the NFL right now?

3. Do the Saints run the table?

4. Especially after having read my article on the state of NY basketball, will St. John's ever be a dominant college basketball program again?

5. Give me your Vegas odds on the Arodis Chapman (The Cuban ace defector trying to sign in MLB right now) ends up with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The 2010 Yankees

Now is the time of year when, undoubtedly, Yankee fans see thousands of articles on what to do in free agency, who to sign, etc. etc. Every nitpicky sports writer with an opinion tells the Yankee what to do. And to that I humbly add, my version.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Transactions....

Is it me, or does it look a lot like Ladian Tomlinson was hit by Lex Luthor's evil energy-sapping ray? I mean, not too long ago, L.T. would hit the hole and be past the linebackers ina flash. This year, it feels like it him takes a half an hour to get to the line.


Jason Campbell....once again....good stats, no results. Seems like he's just one of those guys who's numbers look respectible, but doesn't get the job done.



Seems like all those LenDale White has matured articles were a tad premature.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

The State of New York Basketball

Once upon a time, New York could be incredibly proud of the basketball played in the 5 boroughs. Its local college basketball team powerhouse, St. John's were a yearly lock for the NCAA Tournament and its players were often 1st round draft picks for NBA teams. And New York's pro team—the big, bad Knicks, headed, yearly to epic, and often brutal, playoff series. Both teams filled Madison Square Garden each night with devoted, and very loud, fans.

Those days are long gone.

All that's left nowadays for basketball in the New York City area are pale, boring mediocre imitations of those great teams of the past. They wear the same uniforms, but they are an embarrassment to New York's former basketball glory.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

God Quitting: Bob Sheppard Retires

In 1951, America was involved in the Korean conflict, Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train is in the theaters, Elvis Presley's first Sun recordings were still 2 years away, and Bob Sheppard started his career as Yankee announcer.

Already 40 years old when he began his Yankee announcing career that year, Sheppard's "part-time job" would last until 2008, when he announced the final lineup at the old Yankee Stadium.

Since 1951, Sheppard has announced Don Larsen's Perfect Game, Roger Maris' 60th Home Run, Reggie Jackson 3-HR World Series game in 1977, the first game after Thurman Munson's death—where he read a poem in honor of the Yankee Captain—Derek Jeter's first game and about 4500 other games. Along the way, "The Voice of God" called 22 pennants, 13 World Series and 3 all-star games (although he was too ill to announce the 3rd game in 2008).


Sheppard also was the announcer for the New York Giants for 50 years and calls the 1958 Championship game against the Colts (the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played") one of the best games he was ever fortunate enough to call.


Well, God is 99 years old and is officially retired after missing much of the 2008 and all of the 2009 season due to flailing health. According to the New York Times, Sheppard retired back in April, but the announcement of his official retirement did not come out until this week.


Ever the perfectionist, Sheppard was quoted as saying, "I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don't think, at my age, I'm going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well."


The most famous announcer in sports, Sheppard was not just a "good voice", but also a man who took his craft seriously. His deep booming baritone, combined with a slow, lucid delivery made him an icon, not just in baseball circles, but all around sports and pop culture. To make sure he did his job correctly, Sheppard would contact the players with harder names to pronounce, ask them how they wanted to him to pronounce it and then practice it until he was sure he got it right. Two of Sheppard’s most difficult, and favorite names were Mariner, Shigetoshi Hasegawa and White Sox, Minnie Minoso.


However, probably the most famous announcement—nowadays anyway—that Sheppard makes is his announcement as Derek Jeter approaches the plate. And that is probably because, when Sheppard was sick in 2007, Jeter asked Sheppard to record him announcing, "Now batting...number 2....Derek Jeter." Jeter has said he wants no one else to announce him and will use the recording for the rest of his career. Sheppard called Jeter's request was one of the best honors he's ever gotten.


His honors also included a press dining area in the new Stadium named after him, and his microphone in the Hall of Fame. He is also one of only two people to have a World Series ring and a NFL Super Bowl ring.


But more than that; more than the honors, accolades and the longevity, even more than what Phil Simms called the Voice athletes hope to hear him announce their names, Sheppard became a part of the game. He was part of your experience as a Yankee fan—as much as the white facade or the hot dog or the home run.



And apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that way. In writing that he was "a part of the game," I unintentionally parroted what is written on Sheppard's plaque in Memorial Park. In being one of only 26 men in Yankee history to be honored with a plaque, the Yankees wrote on his plaque that Sheppard is as ..."synonymous with Yankee Stadium as its copper facade or Monument Park."

And they are right. To put how much a part of Yankee history Sheppard has been, here's the first lineup he announced, back in 1951:

Jackie Jensen LF
Phil Rizzuto SS
Mickey Mantle RF
Joe DiMaggio CF
Yogi Berra C
Johnny Mize 1B
Billy Johnson 3B
Jerry Coleman 2B
Vic Raschi P

And here is Sheppard's final lineup. Watch him say it here:

We will miss you, Bob. It won't be the same without you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Five

Sorry for the lack of posts lately/ Will try to catch up soon. Now to the questions.

1. What's the worst sports injury you've ever seen?

2. What's the dumbest sports injury you've seen?

3. Who do you think is the number 1 college football team in the country right now. Explain.

4. Do you think baseball needs a salary cap?

5. Will the Detroit Lions ever be respectible? If so, when and how?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Transactions....

Rumor has it that the Yankees will be scaling back the payroll? Maybe they don't get Miquel Cabrera, Roy Halladay and John Lackey, and resign Damon and Matsui as almost every web site would have you believe.


It does raise a point, however. The Yankees have a glitzy new stadium, and just won the World Series. How could they need to reduce payroll?


Watching the Bears-Eagles game, did anyone else notice that Jay Cutler is morphing into a young,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Five

Let's get to the questions.

1. Does Rex Ryan crying make you respect him for his passion, or does it make you laugh at him?

2. The biggest problem in sports? McCain said steroids. Obama said the lack of a college playoff system. What do you say?

3. Does Matt Holliday go back to the Cardinals? If not, where does he end up?

4. Would you be interested in Allan Iverson joining your basketball team now?

5. Do you find cutomized jerseys cool or repulsive? Explain.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Best

Every football announcer out there has talked about how incredible Drew Brees is. How he is playing the best football of any quarterback out there, how he can't be stopped, etc. And to their credit, they are right. Brees has made the Saints a scary team for anyone to play.

But the best. No.

Check out the leader stats for passing and the name you see isn't Brees. It isn't Rivers or Brady or Farve or Roethlisberger.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why The Yankees Shouldn't Go After John Lackey

OK, this article isn’t to say that John Lackey isn’t a good pitcher. He is.

And this isn’t to say I wouldn’t want the Lackey on the Yankees. I sure would.

This is to say when the terms “Zito-money” get thrown around regarding John Lackey’s free agency, it’s time to pull back on the reins a bit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Transactions....

Just a question. After watching the Giants last week, and the Jets yesterday ... can anybody in the city of New York actually tackle an opposing player?


Seems like the magic fairy dust that the Denver Broncos had sprayed on them at the start of the season seems to be wearing off.


You know....lately is seems less and less ridiculous that Roy Halladay may be a Red Sox or a Yankee. And I might not be adverse to a Joba & Jesus Montero package for him either.


Aaron Rogers. That poor bastard. He has been sacked a ridiculous 41 times so far this season (an average of 4.5 a game) and has been hit another jillion times. Surprised his bone structure hasn't turned into dust by now. Green Bay had better draft a whole slew of offensive lineman and sign a few more in free agency if they want to keep their quarterback of the future, and present, alive.


Mr. Varitek, just retire. Go get a nice job on the Red Sox coaching staff or front office and sit down. Really. It's time.


You know, if Kevin Faulk doesn't bobble that pass before finally catching it, then Belichek is a genius. Just saying.


So Brian Kelly is the next Irish head coach. How nice for him. Best of luck to you B.K. You will really, really need it.


And in the Jamarcus Russell update... 9 out of 24 for 67 yards. Bleee-argh. But what's even more disturbing is Russell's reaction after the game. “Things were going OK,” Russell said.


More important than getting Arodis Chapman or Roy Halladay, for the Red Sox, is getting Adrian Gonzalez. He is tailor-made for Fenway and for the Red Sox needs right now. They should trade whomever they have to to go get him.


The Braves are trying to trade Derrick Lowe, who they signed less than a year ago to a gargantuan contract. Here's where I pat myself on the back and quote myself:
"...Lowe will be 36 on June 1st, and with Scott Boras saying he wants a "Zito-type contract" for Lowe—which translates into 6 years at 18 million per year, it seems pretty clear that Derek Lowe will be overpriced for the talent he brings to a team.
I wrote that last November 19th. And the Braves should have listened.


For AAPTBNL Man of the Week, we go to Kurt Warner. Warner was 29 out of 38 for 340 yards and 2 TDs. he had no interceptions. And considering the Cardinals have a mediocre at best running game, the fact that Warner is throwing as well as he is is noteworthy. So congrats Kurt, good game.


And lastly.....why on earth do the Irish think that Urban Meyer would leave? Seriously? Unless he bumps his head 300 times and forgets his entire life up until this point, Urban Meyer is staying at Florida. End of story.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yet More BCS Nonsense

No, this isn't another article on how college football needs a playoff system (although it does).

No, this is about how one BCS coach getting it right....sorta.

Mack Brown, who has the distinction of being blessed with the best job in college football, who gets to recruit and coach 5-star recruits at almost every position, actually tipped his hat to the TCU, Utah and Boise States of the world. Here's what Brown said when asked about the possibility of TCU, ranked 4 in the country this past week, playing in a BCS game:
"I still don't like the way it is set up because I don't think we should have non-BCS schools. I think its demeaning to those schools that are playing really well. You should give all those schools great credit for what they are doing"
Wow. Heck even the biggest coach in the land of the biggest-named school in the country, tipping his hat to the have-nots. Which is great. What other sport penalizes a team that goes perfect for a season, by not giving them the opportunity to play for the title? March Madness rewards small school team by putting them, in the dance. Maybe not with a top seed, but at least they are given a chance.

But as we know, college football, controlled by bowl committees, would never give a school like TCU an opportunity. So Mack is right in that regard. You should give those schools some credit. By giving them a chance.

Unfortunately, Brown continues a little bit.
"At the same time I don't know that they are treated the same as the other schools. Is there as much scrutiny on one of those teams as there is on a Texas, Alabama, or Florida?"
This is where Brown gets a little pouty. If anything, these schools get more scrutiny. Guys like Herbstreit, if TCU only wins by 8 over a BYU, talks about how they really aren't a quality team. Same for Boise State, which, remember, beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl just 2 years ago, have beaten Oregon 2 years in a row, yet still will never get a chance to play for the big game, no matter what they do.

And you, Mack, get nothing but 5 star recruits should get more scrutiny. Texas, Florida, USC, Ohio State, all those schools get get nothing but love from ESPN should be scrutinized more. You have everything working for you, everything on your side. So with all that donor money and blue-chip recruits, comes more scrutiny. Those schools are supposed to go 12-1, so Mack, tough if people get upset if you don't.

But for the most part, Mack Brown showed a lot of common sense. Teams that play well should be rewarded. While he didn't out and out say that college football needs a playoff system, they do. If TCU goes undefeated, defeating along the way, Clemson, Utah, Virginia and BYU, and gets shut out of playing a meaningful game, then once again, college football will be telling TCU, Boise State and all the not-ESPN approved colleges, that "smaller colleges need not apply."

And that is a disgrace.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Five

1. Should baseball expand its replay usage. How so? Explain.

2. Who do you think will make it to the BCS Bowl game?

3. If you were the Pittsburgh Steelers, would you take a chance on Larry Johnson?

4. Will baseball ever have a woman player?

5. What was the greatest sports video game of all time? Explain.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Teams Of The Decade

In the next couple of months, the sports world will be inundated with the "Team of the Decade" article. So, to beat them all to the punch, I'll offer up my take. Here we go.

BASEBALL:
The Contenders: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees

Actually, this one wasn't as close as I imagined it to be. The Yankees won 2 World Series and so did the Red Sox. However, the Yankees appeared in 4 World Series and won the pennant 4 times. The Red Sox won the pennant and World Series twice. The Yankees won the AL East division title 8 times, while the Red Sox only won it once. Also, over the decade, the Yankees won 965 games to 653 losses while the Red Sox had a 920-699 record. No other team approached the Yankees and Red Sox, with the Cardinals and Angels coming closest.

Winner:
...and still champion, the New York Yankees. While the Red Sox made a lot of noise and had a great decade, in nearly every facet, the Yankees were their superior.


FOOTBALL:
The Contenders: Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts

Going from 2000 through 2008 and discounting this season, the Patriots would have the advantage due to most Super Bowl wins. However, they haven't won it since the 2004-2005 season, and lost the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. Meanwhile, the Steelers have won their 2 Super Bowls recently and should they win this season would tie the Patriots in number of Super Bowl wins at 3. The Colts, on the other hand, as Don Banks of SI.com writes, entered this season one win behind the leading Patriots in number of wins with 101 this decade (and as of this writing, have the lead). However they've only won won Super Bowl and only appeared in one as well.

Should the Colts win the Super Bowl this year, they would enter the team of the decade discussion with 2 Super Bowls as well as 8 straight playoff appearances, and best winning percentage. The Steelers and Patriots would not be able to make either of those claims. On the other hand, the Patriots would still have appeared in more Super Bowls overall.

Winner:
Even if the Steelers or Colts win the Super Bowl this year, the New England Patriots would still have played in 4 Super Bowl, winning 3. They have an astonishing 14-3 postseason record right now and can win a game in a variety of ways. Again, should the Colts or Steelers win it all this year, they would be in the discussion, but ultimately, the Patriots take the crown.


NBA:
The Contenders: San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers
Frankly this one is kinda easy. Sure the San Antonio Spurs won 3 times, which normally, in any sport would get you team of the decade. Heck, the Sporting News voted them team of the decade earlier this year. However, when the Los Angeles Lakers are in the discussion, all bets are off. Going from 1999-2000 to now, the Lakers have won the title 4 times and have been in 6. Even if you start with the 2000-2001 season, the Lakers still have been in 5, winning 3. However, the Spurs have the decided advantage over the Lakers in games won, either starting with the 1999-2000 season (659-624) or with the 2000-2001 season (605-542) and never won less than 53 games in any season. Consistency, rather than sporadic greatness counts for something—ask Henry Aaron.

The Winner:
You just can't argue with all the championship appearances. Sorry, Sporting News, but you have to give it to the team that consistently made it to the finals. In a close one, The Lakers.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL:
The Contenders: USC, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State
At first look, it would seem easy: USC. However, a closer look reveals its not as easy as all that. Sure, USC, heading into this season, went 93-22 since 2000, including 88-15 under Pete Carroll. And yes, the Trojans have had 3 Heisman Trophy winners. That said, they've only won the big game only once, back in the 2004-2005 season (I'm not counting the split AP nonsense in 2003—just BCS championships). LSU and Florida, on the other hand have won it twice. Ohio State won once, and has been in three. And while Oklahoma, also, has only one once, they have been in 4, the most of any program.

Counting overall wins; LSU has gone 90-27, and Florida has gone 87-29, including 44-9 under Urban Meyer. And that doesn't include this season, where Florida is 9-0 and LSU matches USC at 7-2. Ohio State, since 2000 has gone 91-23. Oklahoma, however, tops them all, going 102-19 under Bob Stoops since 2000—only winning in the single digits only once. They have also had 2 Heisman winners.

The Winner:
Sorry, USC, going 93-22 is nice, but playing in the not-too-tough Pac -10 hasn't properly prepared you for the big games. And same for you, Oklahoma. Sure playing Texas is tough and you've gone 6-4 against them, but Iowa State, Baylor, Texas A&M? Those games pad your record. Ohio State, being in 3 big games is nice, but getting blown out by two other teams on this list disqualifies you.

Playing in the cut-throat SEC, however, is a different matter. Both LSU and Florida play in the toughest conference in CFB and have done well. But the final edge goes to Florida. They have a Heisman winner and the best shot to win it all this year. It was very, very close, but Florida wins it all.


NCAA Basketball:
The Contenders: North Carolina, Michigan State, Florida, Duke, Kansas
Duke, the team of the 90s won more games than any other NCAA team this decade, with Kansas coming in second. They have 4 ACC regular season titles—one less than North Carolina, but have an astonishing 7 ACC tournament championships. North Carolina only has 2. Michigan State, which has the worst overall record of any of the contenders, does however—like Duke and Kansas—have 10 NCCA final berths. Duke, Kansas and Michigan State also measure up with the 3 most Sweet Sixteen Appearances—with 8 for Duke, 7 for Kansas and 6 for Michigan State.

This is where it gets interesting though. Even though Florida only got into 3 Sweet Sixteens, it won 2 championships and played for a 3rd. Talk about making the most of your chances. North Carolina, also won the Dance twice this decade, showing up in 4 Final Fours.

At the final assessment, however, what you do in the final games is what counts, so although Duke and Kansas had stellar records, they showed up in less Final Fours than North Carolina and Michigan State and as many as Florida, though Kansas won less than Florida. And while Michigan State appeared in 4 Final Fours, they won less than North Carolina and Florida. Confused yet?

The Winner: In the end, North Carolina edges Florida by virtue of more ACC league titles—in a much tougher division than Florida—and more Sweet Sixteen and Final Four appearances—meaning they excelled more consistently than Florida. So, its Tar Heels as team of the decade.


That's my list: Yankees, Patriots, Lakers, Florida, North Carolina. Pls write in with your opinions on these choices.

To come in a future post, all these teams duke it out for the title of ultimate AAPTBNL Team of the Decade. Sweet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Rid of LJ A Good Move

Frankly, getting rid of Larry Johnson was a move the Chiefs needed to make. Even before he made homosexual- and coach-disparaging remarks on his Twitter account.

(As a side note: Shouldn't teams either A: ban Twitter/Facebook accounts, so athletes don't make idiotic remarks on them or B: Have a professional writer edit tweets before they go live?)

The Chiefs are a team in deep rebuilding mode. They have some young talent, and a youngish quarterback to go along with a brand new staff. The last thing a team needs is a big-salaried veteran spreading discontent while the new coaching staff is trying to install a philosophy.

Especially when big-salaried veteran isn't producing. At all.

Sure it can be said that the Chief offensive line is a work in progress. But Larry, you were averaging 2.7 yards a carry. To quote a former running back; "I can fall forward and get that."

And heck, your backup, a younger, cheaper Jamaal Charles was averaging 5.2 yards a carry.

At 1-7, why wouldn't the Chiefs free themselves of Johnson's financial, as well as psychological, burden.

So, even before Johnson went and shot his mouth off, questioning the neophyte coach—as well as making homophobic remarks (always a smart thing to do, Larry)—Johnson's time in Kansas City was nearing an end.

When Johnson was producing big numbers, then sure, coaches and organizations will put up with the psychological baggage of a "troubled" athlete. Heck, Pac-Man Jones got a 2nd chance and he was involved in gunplay. But the second an athlete doesn't produce on the field, football organizations will dispose of said "troubled" athlete—tout suite.

So, Larry, most likely another team will give you a second chance. Probably in a secondary or co-running back role. So when that happens, please Larry, make the most of it both on, and off the field. Get your PR guy to write up a nice apology for past actions and how "grateful for a 2nd chance," blah blah blah. Release the apology to ESPN, and maybe even have a softball interview with Stephen A. Smith (he could use the work), and then try to act of those nice words. Work hard on and off the field, produce for your team and play nice.

Because if you don't, there won't be a third chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Eric Bedard To Yankees?

A couple years ago, Eric Bedard was considered a frontline, blue chip number 1 starter. The Mariners, after trading the house to get Bedard, even used him as their 2008 Opening Day starter over Felix Hernandez.

Then the roof fell in.

Injuries, and an indifferent attitude have made his time in Seattle completely forgettable. Though Bedard hasn’t pitched poorly—when he’s pitched—the problem is he spent more time in Seattle mooching off the Mariners’ medical benefits rather than striking out hitters. In 2 seasons, Bedard pitched 160-odd innings and won 11 games. Sorta like a Seattle Carl Pavano, if you will.

Which is why I propose Eric Bedard should sign an incentive-based contract with the Yankees. It might be just what Bedard needs. And vice versa.

Last year, Andy Pettitte signed a contract with the Yankees that guaranteed him 5.5 million plus another 6.5 million for not-that-hard-to-get incentives (Andy, I believe got all the incentives) that put him at 12 million—higher than the 10-11 million Pettitte was negotiating for.

Say Bedard signs a contract like that with the Yankees. Guaranteed 6 million. Bedard’s contract last year was for 7.75 million, so its not that much of a loss should he be out the entire season.

But, add some incentives along the lines of Andy Pettitte’s. $500,000 each for 160 IP, 170 IP and 180 IP. Then $750,000 for 190 IP, 200 IP and 210. Then some other incentives for being on the 25-man roster, reaching certain performance levels (strikeouts, wins, etc), and you end up with a contract that could reach 12-13 million or so.

If Bedard earns $13 million, the Yankees probably would be happy to pay. It would mean he’s healthy and pitching right. If he doesn’t and 2010 is a wash, he earns his 5 mill or so and leaves. For the Yankees it’s low-risk. But it is potentially high reward.

The Yankees went with a three-man rotation in the postseason because that was all they had in terms of reliable starting pitching. Chamberlain was on the “Joba Count” all season. Wang was lost until at least mid 2010. And Chad Gaudin—who pitched pretty decently—was still, for the long term, a question mark.

And while the Joba Count should be off next year, who knows how Joba will respond—the dominator who pitched with aggression and confidence in the postseason—7 Ks in 6.1 IP, sub-3.00 ERA)? Or the tentative, sometimes-lost youngster who had a 1.544 WHIP and a 4.75 ERA?

Also, the Yankees are making noise about putting Phil Hughes back into the rotation. Which would mean the Yankees would have to utilize the “Hughes Rules”. Hughes has only pitched a high of 86 innings in a season—even less than the 100.1IP Chamberlain pitched in 2008—which means Hughes would again be on short pitch counts and might spend some healthy time on the bench.

And who knows if Pettitte will come back. And if he does, would he be healthy. Would Burnett—a notorious Injury Report dweller before last season’s relative health—remain healthy again? Will Wang come back? Do the Yankees even want him? And they do, does he have anything left in his shoulder?

All of this means the Yankees have a surprising amount of question in their rotation, despite winning the World Series on the strength of their staff. Sabathia is a rock at the 1 position, Burnett is a good 2, assuming he remains healthy, Pettitte is a nice 3, but will be 38 and has had shoulder trouble before. At the 4 and 5 spots; Chamberlain is extremely talented, but so far, extremely erratic. Same goes for Hughes—talented but erratic—and with a short pitch count.

And that’s where Bedard would be a godsend. Bedard has been a stud in his career—before his time in Seattle, Bedard was healthy in 4 seasons as a starter in Baltimore. And in those 4 years, Bedard dropped his ERA as well as his WHIP precipitously each season, from a 4.59 to a 3.16 ERA and from a 1.602 to a 1.193 WHIP. In 2007, his last year in Baltimore, Bedard led the AL in hits per 9 IP (6.973), through 5 shutouts and had the 4th lowest ERA with a 3.165. Not bad, eh?

Reportedly, Bedard, who is from Ottawa, wants to return to the East Coast, and with the Yankees as World Series champs, they would be in a very attractive position. Also, the Yankees could probably offer a very nice financial package—the one suggested above would be a nice example—that could interest Bedard.

Right now, Bedard needs to show the world that he can still pitch. He would turn 32 in March 2010, and is at a point in his career where he would like to earn his final big paycheck. While that most likely wont happen this offseason—most teams are still with a diminished revenue base due to the economic recession and wont throw it at a guy with injury issues—the Yankees still have the cash to spend. An Pettitte-type contract makes sense for both sides. Both sides should make this happen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Pigeonhole: Race and Roles in American Sports

Comparisons
Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I am an NFL draftnik. I am one of those guys who spend hours making mock drafts months before the real NFL draft, knowing full-well that nothing I put down has a chance of being close to the truth. What can I say, I just like it.

I also buy expensive draft magazines. $7.99 each (or higher). Inside are hundreds of scouting reports on college players; their strengths and weaknesses, and who they compare to in the NFL. Here are a few of the comparisons of Offensive Tackles from Lindy’s 2009 NFL Draft Magazine:

* Eugene Monroe: NFL Comparison: Levi Brown, Cardinals
* Andre Smith: NFL Comparison: Jason Peters, Bills
* Jason Smith: NFL Comparison: Tony Ugoh, Colts
* Michael Oher: NFL Comparison: Chris Samuels, Redskins
* Eben Britton: NFL Comparison: Jon Runyon, Eagles


Notice anything? No? Let’s try the comparisons in the Tight End category.

* Brandon Pettigrew: NFL Comparison: Bubba Franks, Jets
* Chase Coffman: NFL Comparison: Todd Heap, Ravens


Still, no? Let’s try Quarterbacks:

* Matthew Stafford: NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler, Bears
* Mark Sanchez: NFL Comparison: Brady Quinn, Browns
* Josh Freeman: NFL Comparison: Daunte Culpepper, Lions


Get the picture? Do all black offensive lineup pass block the same? Do white tight ends make the same head-fake before running a seam route?

To be fair, there are a couple of sporadic places where they compare white players to black ones, and vice versa; but the overwhelming majority of the magazine compares black athletes to other black athletes and white athletes to other white athletes. Even when Michael Oher could easily be compared to Joe Thomas, and Brandon Pettigrew matches up very nicely to Heath Miller.

OK, a controversial statement: In 2003, when Rush Limbaugh made his controversial statements about Donovan McNabb, he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Now let me retract a little bit. I never have listened to Rush Limbaugh. I am not a fan, my views do not coincide with his, and this is not a defense of him. However, to be clear, here is what Limbaugh said:

“The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,’’ Limbaugh said. “There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”

He didn’t say Donovan McNabb wasn’t a good quarterback. He didn’t say black quarterbacks were bad. He said the media wants a black quarterback to do well. Well, I have no idea what the media as an entity wants. But, let’s check the stats from 2003, the year he commented on Donovan McNabb.

In 2003, McNabb ran the 20th-ranked passing offense in the league. He had a 57 percent completion rating, 16 TDs to 11 interceptions, and a 79.6 QB rating. That 79.6 QB rating placed McNabb 16th in the league behind journeymen like Brad Johnson and Jon Kitna. His 57.5 completion rating placed him 19th in the league behind Jake Plummer and Jake Delhomme. He made the Pro Bowl that year. Johnson, Delhomme, Kitna and Plummer did not.

And what’s worse, those mediocre stats were from before McNabb began to play better. After the 3rd game of the season, when Limbaugh made his statements, McNabb was 55 for 111, with 2 interceptions and just 1 TD pass. Those are Ryan Leaf type numbers.

Now this is not to knock Donovan McNabb in any way. McNabb is a great quarterback, no doubt at all. McNabb had been a very good quarterback in before then and had a down year in 2003, but bounced back splendidly in 2004, taking his team to the Super Bowl with the highest QB rating of his career. That said, checking out McNabb’s stats that year, and noticing that their defense was rated 7th in the league—right behind the Baltimore Ravens—it’s certainly fair to say that Limbaugh’s point that McNabb was overrated that year and didn’t deserve a trip to the Pro Bowl might not be entirely wrong. So, more food for thought—why weren’t more people criticizing McNabb’s performance that year?


The Running Back’s Glaring Whiteness
Here’s a question: If I told you that a high school running back who won the Gatorade New Jersey State player of the year—an honor previously given to guys like Eugene Monroe and Greg Olsen—a kid who came from the high school football factory of Don Bosco Prep—which puts countless kids into high Division 1 football programs all over the country and is currently the 4th ranked high school football team in the country—a kid who is a prototypical-sized running back at 5’11”, 200 pounds and runs a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 4.25 short shuttle, a kid who has a 3.6 grade point average; if I told you all this, and then further, that this kid did not get one scholarship offer to a Division 1 school, you’d tell me something was wrong.

What if I also told you that this kid, Dillon Romain, is white?

Never mind the Miamis or Penn States or Michigans of the world, Romain didn’t get an offer from Middle Tennessee, Central Michigan or Ball State. The previous 10 New Jersey Gatorade Players of the Year all went on to BCS-conference teams. And it wasn’t because Romain didn’t put up impressive stats. He had 26 TDs in 12 games and average 7 yards a carry. Heck, on the ultra-competitive Don Bosco football team, Romain was in the starting lineup as a sophomore—an incredibly rare distinction given to an underclassman in a football factory school. Plus, Don Bosco coach Greg Toal said, “He had all the qualities you want. . . . He can block. He can run. He can catch. There’s nothing he can’t do well.”

So what’s with the lack of Division I offers? What gives?

Chris Melvin, a New Jersey-based high school talent evaluator from Elite Recruits, said this: “He just got overlooked for whatever reason. But I’m telling you: Dillon Romain is going to be a special back at the next level.”

While there were a variety of excuses for why Romain wasn’t given a scholarship (“He didn’t play defense at Don Bosco;” “He was a product of the talent around him”), Melvin and Toal think a contributing factor could be that Romain is white and plays running back.

“Being a white running back is not the easiest thing,” Toal said. “There’s stereotypes out there in this day and age.” “To this day, I know he has Division 1 talent,” Melvin said. “It’s just a matter of these coaches realizing that.”

The story was the same for Danny Woodhead. As a high school senior at North Platte High in Nebraska, Woodhead was the Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year, offensive captain of the Omaha World-Herald’s and Lincoln Journal Star’s all-class, all-state teams and HuskerlandPrep Report’s Player of the Year. The World-Herald and Journal Star also selected him as their 2003-04 High School Male Athlete of the Year. Both newspapers accorded him the State College Male Athlete of the Year this spring. Yet, Woodhead received not one scholarship to a division 1 school anywhere. Instead he went to Division II Chadron State, where he set a plethora of records, including being the first collegiate anywhere to record 17 200-yard rushing games. He also led all divisions with 3,158 all-purpose yards. However, despite all that, Woodhead did not get drafted in last year’s NFL draft. Last year’s Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year, Tyrone Sellers—a black athlete—received several division 1 scholarship offers and is going to BCS-football school, The University of Kansas.


The Media: Blinded By The White
The point of all this is not to discredit black athletes and champion white athletes. It is to talk about perception.

Over the many years of watching sports on television—be it in basketball, football or whatever—how many times have you heard a commentator describe a white athlete as “intelligent” or “crafty.” Conversely, how often have you heard that a particular black athlete was “explosive” and “athletic”—even if said black athlete wasn’t outstandingly athletic, or the white athlete particularly clever.

(A personal favorite, NBA commentator/buffoon Bill Walton, ignoring the fact that Steve Nash, a three-sport star growing up, and comes from a family of athletes, who was blowing past opposing point guards with ease, said that Steve Nash was the least athletic point guard in the NBA. Nash, who won 2 MVP awards, led the NBA in assists for 3 years and was shooting over 50% at the time—miraculous for a point guard. Not athletic.)

The pre judgements of athletes is insulting to both races. Are Chris Cooley, Mike Vrabel or Jared Allen not athletic? Do they only manage to play Pro Bowl level professional football only by their wits? Did Jacoby Ellsbury lead the majors with 70 stolen bases because he’s really, really crafty?

Likewise, does Ray Lewis just get lucky when he sacks a QB or blows up a RB behind the line of scrimmage? Did he just happen to pick the right lane to rush by accident? Or maybe he, as a smart football player figured it out beforehand? Does Darren Sharpen not bait quarterbacks? What about Jerry Rice—did he catch 90 passes when he was 40 years old—beating kids almost half his age—only because he was still “explosive?” Or maybe he had a good sense of the game, possibly maybe?

Some time ago, the accepted wisdom was that blacks could not play quarterback. The position was too cerebral for them—they were athletes, not thinkers. Leave the cerebral positions to white guys and let the black guys man the speed positions—wide receiver, cornerback and running back.

Slowly, and thankfully, time eroded that perception in the form of Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb. At least somewhat. The perception, however, that white athletes shouldn’t play “speed” positions such as cornerback or wide receiver still exists. The last white cornerback in the NFL, Jason Sehorn, played the position almost a decade ago. Since then there have been a handful of white wide receivers, one or two white running backs who had a cup of coffee in the NFL before being cut. And not one cornerback.

And it starts even earlier than the NFL. You don’t see a white cornerback in a NCAA BCS school anywhere. Is it because white athletes are just physically incapable of manning those positions? Or could there be some other explanation.

A Form of Prejudice
Mark Kreigel, who interviewed Jason Sehorn a few years back for an article on this subject of white cornerbacks, wrote this: “Sehorn doesn’t doubt that a form of prejudice, however benign, results in some white high school kids being steered away from positions like cornerback.” Why does he believe that? Because it happened to him.

At every level of his football playing career, coaches tried to steer Sehorn away from cornerback—from high school, through college, and even until his NFL career. He was consistently ‘encouraged’ to play safety rather than cornerback—this despite Sehorn being 6’2”, running a 4.45-40 yard dash and having extremely quick reflexes—ideal qualities for a cornerback. He resisted. And thrived in the NFL, before a devastating injury to his leg sapped him of his speed and reflexes. In two seasons as starting right cornerback for the Giants before the injury, Sehorn had 11 interceptions and 7 forced fumbles.

Question. Which wide receiver has the most receptions in the past 2 seasons. Hint; it probably isn’t your first guess. No, not Larry Fitzgerald, Chad “OchoCinco” or Andre Johnson. No, it’s a shortish, very quick white guy named Wes Welker. Welker’s story is similar to Romaine’s and Woodhead’s: In high school he was named USA Today Player of the Year for the state of Oklahoma, where he excelled at wide receiver, running back, cornerback and kicker. Despite all that, Welker only received one scholarship offer—and it was a fluke. Only when a recruit backed out of a scholarship did Welker get an offer to play for Texas Tech.

At Texas Tech, he had 259 receptions and scored 21 TDs. He also had 79 rushes for 456 yards and returned an amazing 8 punts for touchdowns—which tied an NCAA record. However, none of that impressed anybody and Welker went undrafted.

Luckily for the Dolphins, Welker was signed as a free agent and began to earn his way into some regular playing time. He was traded to the Patriots for a 2nd and 7th round draft pick, and there he has made a name for himself.

Welker, aside from having the most receptions in the past two years combined (112 and 111, which is also 1st and 2nd in the Patriots all-time list for receptions in a season), also tied a record for catches in a Super Bowl with 11. He’s 13th in the league with 13.5 yds per touch ahead of guys like Larry Fitzgerald. He was all but ignored at every level, yet proved he had all the athletic talent necessary to play—and play well—and to overcome the prejudices of others.

Yet listen to any announcer and all you hear when they describe Welker is that he’s “a short yardage guy” and “smart.” Smart? What’s going on? Is there a physicist out there constantly beating coverage?

The Pigeonhole
Years ago, black runners were told from the time they were in school that there were sprinters, and running cross country was a white man’s sport. That was until Ted Wheeler, at the University of Iowa decided to run cross-country instead of sprints—as all blacks were supposed to do.

“As soon as they decided that I couldn’t do it, that blacks couldn’t do it, that’s when I decided I was going to,” he says. “It was a thrill, an honor to be at the Olympics, because four years before I had been told, ‘You can’t do this.’”

Those same types of perceptions still exist—just a bit differently. Eric Decker, the extremely prolific, and white, wide receiver on the Minnesota Golden Gophers faces them right now. Despite opposing teams focusing on stopping Decker due to a lack of talent on the Gophers besides him (he was 60% of the Gophers aerial attack before an injury), and despite playing on a gimpy ankle all year—Decker is 8th in the NCAA with 758 receiving yards. And its not just short, possession-type receptions and dump-offs. Decker averages a lengthy 15.16 yds/catch. Yet he is considered, like Jordan Shipley—another white receiver playing at the University of Texas—a “possession” receiver. Shipley, who runs a 4.45, is the only athlete in University of Texas football history to score TDs by reception, kickoff and punt return in the same season. And despite his 4.45 40-yard, Shipley is described by scouts as “…not overly fast...a work horse…could be a solid possession receiver in the NFL” and is ranked by scouts behind Danario Alexander from Missouri who ran a 4.58 40-yard but who scouts believe “has all the NFL skills.”

Again, this is not to say that white athletes are better or black athletes are better. This is about perceptions. Namely, the perception that there are positions that white athletes can’t or shouldn’t play as once was believed about blacks. Why, despite all his achievements, did not one Division 1 college give Dillon Romaine a chance? Why was Steve Young considered a “savvy” quarterback whereas Michael Vick was considered athletic? Why was Austin Collie considered “not real fast” and with “questionable speed” before the draft and slipped to the 4th round, yet Kenny Britt, who ran a 4.56 was “surprisingly quick” and Hakeem Nicks who ran a 4.63 has “good athleticism” and “has enough top-end speed”? Why is Barret Ruud, an annual tackle leader, considered intelligent and savvy (“While he’s not fast, he anticipates well enough to make plays.”) and D’Qwell Jackson, who actually has a slightly slower 40-yard dash, considered speedy (“D’Qwell Jackson has good speed and closes the gap quickly against the ground game.”)?

This type of pigeonholing athletes of different races to specific positions is as old as sports in America. Marlin Briscoe, the first black quarterback who played in 1968, said that since he first played football in Pop Warner leagues straight through until he played for the Broncos, coaches tried to get him to switch positions. But, like Sehorn and Wheeler, he held fast to the idea that he could play quarterback, regardless of his race. And he wanted to prove it. And he did, running a 80-yard TD drive on his second series. “For black people, it was a test to dispel a myth that had been prevalent in society—that a black man couldn’t think, lead or execute.” Similar to Sehorn and Wheeler, his race, and not his athletic ability, was the impetus for coaches to try to change his position.

And what was racial politics back in 1951 is still practiced today.

It would seem, even in the age of Obama, we are still not past the age of stereotyping people due to their skin. Today, when the world’s most dominant golfer is a mixed-race man of color; where a white man named Jeremy Wariner is the gold medal Olympic winner at the 400m dash, why would stereotypes still prevail?

Perhaps we’re more comfortable that way? Perhaps it’s easier to assume people’s attributes by the color of their skin. “Since many black people are good at this, all should be.” “White boys don’t have the reflexes for running back.” It’s simple. It’s safe.

Ever the statesman, Billy Martin famously once said “If I had Benito Mussolini and Hitler and Hirohito on my team, and they could execute the double steal and hit sacrifice fly balls, they’d be in my lineup.” While obviously overstating it, Martin’s point is salient. Anyone, white or black, Asian or Arab or Hispanic—anyone—who can help you win, should play. In short; the ability is what matters, not the melanin.

And you think we would have learned that by now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Five

1. If you were a manger in the World Series, and you had a player like Nick Swisher, who has produced, but is in a long slump, would you, let him play through it, or bench him? Explain your reasons.

2. Now that the NFL is retro-uniform crazy, which team's uniforms do you wish could back to the old ones.

3. Have you watched any of the opening week's NBA games? If so, which one?

4. What was the best World Series performance you've ever seen?

5. Which player's odd twitches drove you nuts?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Most Important Game

Blogniks and the more hyperbolic writers out there have been writing since roughly about 6½ seconds after the Yankees won the AL pennant, that the Yankees Must Win Game 1! It’s the most important game!!! A Must Win!!

I disagree. I believe the most important game has already been played. It was pitched by Andy Pettitte on Sunday night.

Pettitte’s win allowed the Yankees the ability to not only start their ace, CC Sabathia, for game 1. But it allowed them to use him 3 times if necessary.

Much as the Diamondbacks rode their ace Curt Schilling in 2001 for 3 starts—Schilling pitched 21.1 innings that series, giving up 4 runs—and Randy Johnson, the Yankees should ride the hot hand they have, namely Sabathia, for 3 starts if necessary.

Had Pettitte lost, and Sabathia been forced to pitch game 7 of the ALCS, the Yankees would have been forced to perform rain dances all over Yankee Stadium and praying to Tlaloc, the Aztec God of Rain (sans the child sacrifices, of course). That’s because, without any rain outs, the earliest Sabathia could have pitched would have been game 3 on Saturday. He then could have pitched game 6, assuming there was a game 6. And that’s about it.

Nothing against A.J. Burnett—and by that I mean the Good A.J., not Bad A.J. Problem is you just never know which one is going to show up: the guy who, in his first two postseason games threw 12 innings of 3 run ball, with 10 Ks, or the guy who coughed up 6 earned runs in 6 innings his last time out—4 of those earned runs before he recorded an out.

Andy Pettitte, who has a reputation as a big game pitcher—think game 5 of the 1996 World Series—but who has occasionally been shelled when it mattered in the postseason—Game 6 of the 2001 World Series—is definitely an above average big-game pitcher. He’s been there, done that, and has generally performed with quality starts. But I would stop short of calling him a dominator and an ace on par with Sabathia or Schilling circa 2001.

No, for the Yankees to really match up against the Phillies, they needed Sabathia to take the mound against Cliff Lee tonight. Then if the Yankees are down in the series1-2 or 0-3, Sabathia can come back on short rest for game 4. If the Yankees are up 3-0, its possible Girardi could go to Chad Gaudin for 5 innings or so (he threw a simulated game yesterday at Yankee Stadium), giving Sabathia his normal rest. But that would be a luxury—and as it turns out, maybe not even that. See, Chad Gaudin is not nearly as strong against lefties as he is against righties. And guess which side of the plate the strength of the Phillies lineup saddles up to? That’s right; Gaudin would have to face lefties, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and co. in a hostile environment of Philadelphia. Feel a little scared? I do. If we see Chad Gaudin at any point except as a luxury game 4 starter, the Yankees are in trouble.

In any case, the worst hasn’t happened. Thanks to Andy Pettitte, Sabathia is available for 3 games. And with Sabathia on the mound, the Yankees are in a good position. The prediction: Yanks in 7.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Transactions....


Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: The Saints are for real.


Losing Leon Washington and Kris Jenkins....only the two most important people on the Jets. Why does God hate the Jets?


Should Iowa be higher than Texas? Nothing against Texas, but 5 out of the 6 BCS computers have Iowa at number 1. And with good wins at Wisconsin and 12th ranked Penn State, plus home wins against Michigan and 20th ranked Arizona. As of this writing, none of the teams Texas has beaten is ranked. So, why are they ranked ahead of Iowa?


I'm totally stoked that Alicia keys will be performing at the World Series. And by totally stoked, I mean, who cares?

So, Michael Crabtree had 5 catches in his rookie debut. Darrius Heyward-Bey, whom the Raiders, ignoring all common sense, picked over Crabtree, has 4 in 7 games. Nice pick, Al.


Gotta tell ya. So far, Tim Tebow is looking more and more like a 3rd round pick. Or lower.


I'm sorry. I love CollegefootballNews, but there is no way that Notre Dame should be ranked 17th. I might squeeze them into the top 25, but their secondary is awful. Against a overmatched Boston College team with a quarterback who was playing minor league baseball six months ago (no joke. He is 25 and hasn't played football since high school), Notre Dame squeezed the win out. Heck I'd have put Pitt, West Virginia and Boise State at least ahead of the Irish right now.


Brett Farve really tried to stop the Steelers on both those runbacks, huh. Really gave it his all.


Gotta tip my hat to Carson Palmer. Couple weeks ago, I wrote that he didn't look like the palmer of old. He was missing open receivers and generally didn't look at ease back there. Well that's over. 20 for 24 with 5—that's right, I said, 5—TD passes. Good enough for AAPTBNL Man of the Week.


Oh, is Brett Farve returning to Lambeau Field this weekend? Really? Hadn't heard.


So, Rolling Stone magazine now is taking shots at Eric Mangini. The latest issue has them comparing him to Augustus Gloop, the fictional overeater in Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and calling his short coaching tenure in Cleveland "a sort of Hurricane Andrew of football mismanagement." Umm, Rolling Stone; when exactly was the last time you were relevant? 1972?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Five

OK, here is the quiz.

1. Should Sam Bradford go to the NFL, even if he would rather play at Oklahoma another year?

2. Who should coach the Redskins next year?

3. If you were a top college football recruit and could go to any school in the nation, which one would you go to?

4. Who's your MLB Player of the Year?

5. Are you reading all about the behind-the-scenes who's doinking who at ESPN? If so, why? Explain.