Saturday, February 28, 2009

AL West Preview 2009

Today, we forecast the AL West

1. Los Angeles Angels
Kinda easy to pick this division. The Angels just keep chugging away, winning the AL West every year but one since 2004, last year by 21 games. And they do it the same way, good pitching, good defense. However, this season, the Angels will have to deal with some big-time defections. Mark Texiera, Francisco Rodriguez and Garret Anderson all left LA forcing the Angels to try and replace them. Brian Fuentes was picked up to close games and Bobby Abreu was signed to take up Anderson's duties, but the Angels are counting on Kendry Morales to replace Texiera. Lotsa luck with that. Other problems include the decline of some of the Angels core players. Vladimir Guerrero has dropped in average, RBI and OPS each of the last 3 seasons. Jered Weaver's ERA and walks has increased each of his 3 seasons in the league. And Gary Matthews BA has declined 70 points since his huge 2006 in Texas, the year before he became an Angel. That said, the Angels are still the class of the AL West, and with Kelvim Escobar coming back, the Angels should be plenty stocked to take the West, probably by mid August.

2. Oakland A's
track record is any indication—smart and talented. Young Brad Ziegler takes over for the traded Huston Street in the bullpen, and his 1.06 ERA shows he's capable. Also coming up to help the Billy Beane marches to his own drum. He keeps stockpiling young, inexpensive talent and trading them by the time they come up for free agency. however, this off-season, he broke that strategy, by trading young talent and picking up big bat Matt Holliday, who's due to come up for free agency next winter, when Beane will let him go and recoup the 2 draft picks. That aside, the A's will be young—only Justin Duchscherer is older than 25 in the rotation—and if Beane's pitching staff are uber-prospects (no. 7 and 11 in Baseball America's Top 100 prospects) are Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill. At the plate, the A's hope Holliday and prodigal son, Jason Giambi can help turn around a MLB-worst .242 BA and .369 slugging percentage. They also pray that the ghost of Eric Chavez can return and remain somewhat healthy and provide a semblance of what he's capable of. All told, the A's can mount a charge against the Angels, but truly they cannot seriously challenge them. Especially if they decide to trade Holliday in July. Figure 85 wins.

3. Texas Rangers
Nolan Ryan, the Rangers President knows what the problem is: pitching, or a lack of the quality of it in Arlington. So, this off-season, instead of going after Sabathia or Lowe, Ryan brought in only one person to fix the Ranger's horrific pitching staff (5.37 ERA), pitching coach Mike Maddux. Here’s hoping Maddux brought his wizard wand with him. Of the starters, only Vincent Padilla had an ERA under 5.oo (4.74), but the Rangers are hoping, Brandon McCarthy can stay healthy and provide some depth, if not a stellar fastball. They are also hoping super prospect Neftali Feliz can provide some help tout suite. At the plate, the Rangers will feel the loss of Milton Bradley and his .536 slugging percentage. Texas feels however, that there's more than enough hitting to go around, with Josh Hamltion, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and 20-year old, Elvis Andrus, who batted .295 and stole 54 bases in AA last year. The Rangers will be fun to watch,—the games in Arlington could last 4 hours long—but won't be significantly improved from last year.

4. Seattle Mariners
Starting over. Yes, the Mariners got Ken Griffey back for a farewell tour, but the real news in Seattle is that the Mariners are gonna start over. Gone is Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexton, J. J. Putz and most of the Mariner front office—that's what happens when you lose 100 games with a $100 dollar payroll. Unfortunately, the Mariners aren't poised for a Rays-like turnaround; on the contrary, they have traded away many of their young prospects—think Matt Thorton and Adam Jones—and have gotten little in return. The Mariner's cupboard isn't completely bare, Felix Hernandez is becoming the dominator he could become, Brandon Morrow is talented and developing and Eric Bedard isn't a complete bust since coming over from Baltimore. However, Carlos Silva has been a complete bomb, and newly acquired Garrett Olsen won’t provide relief without a lot of coaching and help. On offense, the Mariners are trying to clean house and improve the 4th lowest slugging percentage. They acquired Russell Branyan who hits a HR every 15 at bats, but usually strikes out the other 14 times. Also newly acquired Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez are good defensive players who are fill-ins until minor leagues Michael Saunders and Greg Halman are ready. The Mariners are a team in flux; enjoy Griffey while you can, and know that the time will not look much like it is now in a year.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

AL Central Preview 2009

Today we continue with the preview for the AL Central

1. Chicago White Sox
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the White Sox are doing, yet no matter how odd their moves may seem, somehow it usually seems to work out. Just look at the trade for Carlos Quentin, who came, seemingly from Pluto to make a run for the AL MVP award last year. And seemingly there is always a young pitcher who comes up and has a banner year and helps anchor their rotation. Last year, John Danks dropped his ERA over two full points to help drive the White Sox to win the AL Midwest. This year, the Sox are hoping lefty, Clayton Richard can make the jump and help solidify a rotation that needs it. Right now, the White Sox rotation is Danks, Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd and a lot of prayer. In the field, the White Sox are trying to interject youth alongside some of their aging veterans; promising youngsters Quentin, Josh Fields and Alexei Ramirez are interspersed with Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Jim Thome. Overall, the White Sox hope the youngsters can handle the pressure while the vets can keep it going for another year. Come September, it may not always be pretty (with Ozzie Guillen, it rarely is), but it's enough as the White Sox win the Central for the 2nd year in a row.

2. Minnesota Twins
Year after year, somehow, the Twins keep plugging away. Small market, rebuilding, whatever, they keep going. 2009 shouldn't be different. Getting back a healthy Francisco Liriano (6-1 last season after rejoining the Twins in August) and joining him with Kevin Slowey, who had a great first full year (3 complete games) and Scott Baker (6th in AL with a 1.178 WHIP) should help. Also signing 2008 All-Star Joe Crede and putting him a lineup with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, speedy Carlos Gomez and a healthy Michael Cuddyer should make the Twins contenders. However, there is too much of a power dearth—the Twins only had 111 HRs last year, 2nd to last in the majors—don’t the Twins to do much beyond making some noise at a playoff run. Expect 87 wins...and not much more.

3. Kansas City Royals
Is this the year? The year the Royals make it over .500—the first time since 2003? Slowly, the Royals have had some success with their young, talented roster—along with some growing pains—and appear to be turning the corner of a winning season. The youngsters, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are solid, if not tremendous, while out-of-the-blue SS Mike Aviles hopes to repeat his excellent rookie season. Add Coco Crisp to solidify the CF spot, Mike Jacobs for much-needed power and the always-dangerous (to his own team, if not others) Jose Guillen, and you have a team that seems pointed up. Zack Greinke, Gil Meche and Brain Bannister form a decent front of the rotation, but Kyle Farnsworth, signed to be the fireman, provides as a living advertisement for Rolaids. Overall, the Royals should be better—85 wins—but not quite good enough.

4. Cleveland Indians
Last year, the Indians were poised to make a move in the Central. Didn't work out that way—injuries (Travis Hafner, Fausto Carmona, Victor Martinez) decimated any chance the Indians had for the playoffs. That said, the Indians still made it to .500. This year, Cleveland, who was relatively low-key during the off-season, is counting on bounce back years from a number of players. Carmona, coming off a lost year, joins Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee, Aaron Laffey and reclamation project, Carl Pavano to try and improve on last year's 4.45 team ERA. To help with that, Cleveland’s one big off-season acquisition, Kerry Wood, comes to aid the bullpen, which last year was woeful (Jensen Lewis led the Indians last year with 13 saves). The Indians are also ready to add highly regarded prospect Adam Miller to their bullpen. As for their offense, the Indians are hoping that Hafner and Martinez can play like they are capable of, and are hoping that Asdrubal Cabrera can play more like 2007 than 2008. Failing that, there's talented Matt Laporta and Michael Brantley waiting in the minors. Mix it all up, the Indians might not be as disappointing as last year, but they wont make it to the playoffs in 2009.

5. Detroit Tigers
What happened? The Tigers spent a boatload of money before the 2008 and were ready to buy a lot of champagne—they were so sure of dominating the AL. So what happened? Well to start with, their pitching feel apart—their 4.90 ERA was 4th worst in all of baseball. Dontrelle Willis couldn't throw strikes and was sent to the minors to rework his delivery and Nate Robertson's ERA hit the above-6.00 region as well. Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones got old. And Joel Zumaya pitched a total of 23 innings. To that end, the Tigers traded for Edwin Jackson to help shore up their rotation—and that's it. Is Jackson really the answer? Couldn't they have tried harder to get Brian Fuentes or K-Rod to help answer the bullpen issues? The Tigers did trade for Gerald Laird, a solid backstop, but not the game-caller the staff could have used. There is a lot of "hope" in the 2009 Tigers pitching plans. Hitting, however won't be a problem. The Tigers can smack the ball all over their spacious park—so much so, they signed good glove, no-hit Adam Everett to help solidify their middle-infield defense. In the end, the Tigers will provide a nice show, and a lot of runs, but can't pitch enough to escape the cellar of the AL Central.

Tomorrow, the AL West

AL East Preview 2009

Now that spring training in under way and the words "Cactus" and "Grapefruit” take on mew meaning, it's time to make ridiculous predictions that will lose meaning in the six seconds after they are written. Anyway, here we go, starting with the AL East:

1. New York Yankees
The Yankees, freed of around 80 million dollars worth of bad contracts seemingly went out and signed every type-A free agent they could find. Their new rotation—buoyed with A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia and which happily ends the days of signing Sidney Ponson to help their rotation—makes them the equals with the Red Sox and Rays in the pitching department. And with the addition of Mark Texiera, now anchoring the lineup at the 3-spot, their lineup is more potent than last year’s. In addition, young Brett Gardner should win the CF job and add much-needed speed to their offense, which looked slow, if not lethargic last year. The potential problems are with some of the vets: Does Posada come back from surgery? Can Rivera do it for one more year? Odds are yes to both, and that the Yankees make it to the postseason after the one year off.

2. Tampa Rays
Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Sonnanstine, Price, and Wade Davis. Whew…There's no doubt, the Rays can toss the ball. The MLB’s third-rated team ERA should get even better on the mound what with David Price getting a full year under his belt and Wade Davis biding his time until the eventual call-up. The problem last year—if being the runner-up in the World could be constituted as having a problem—was a dearth of power. Enter Pat Burrell, signed in the off-season, to add punch in the middle of a lineup that sometimes lacked it last year. Another problem may be the pen—one of last year's strengths—where closer Troy Percival will close at the age of 39. However, the Rays have a bunch of young arms, including Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell who can chip in and close out games. All in all, not bad. Enough for second place in the AL East anyway.

3. Boston Red Sox
You have a rotation that includes Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester, and a pen that features probably the most dominating young reliever in Jonathan Papelbon. Your team offense was rated 3rd last year, with a collective .280 BA and a 1st-ranked .358 OBP. And this year, you get arguable your two most important offensive players back healthy in David Ortiz and Mike Lowell. And that's only good enough for 3rd in the AL East? Maybe. The Sox weren't huge players in the off-season—getting scooped by the Yankees in the Texiera sweepstakes—but making small, shrewd moves in getting Rocco Baldelli as a 4th outfielder, John Smoltz as a mid-season starter and trading Coco Crisp for Ramon Ramirez as a reliever. All nice pickups. However, considering the Rays and Yankees got appreciably better since last year (both in free agency and in young players getting experience), while the Red Sox mostly remained mostly standing still, the early odds are that Le Sox Rouge will be the ones outside, looking in, come October.

4. Baltimore Orioles
It may have finally occurred to the Orioles ownership, as they watched the young upstart Rays make it to the World Series, that the time has come to scrap the free agent plan they've had for a while, and start to build from within. And this off-season, they've done well in that department, resigning homegrown stars, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis to long deals, and founding a core on which to build. Also, they traded for Felix Pie joining young CF Adam Jones in the outfield to give the Orioles a fast, defense-strong outfield. Also, Matt Wieters, their young catching prospect has been lighting up the minors and could be called up mid-season. All well and good. However, the problem lies in the pitching. Jeremy Guthrie has been good so far, and Koji Uehara was good in Japan. After that, who knows? Baltimore's time should be coming. Just not this year.

5. Toronto Blue Jays
There's already been talk of trading Roy Halladay, the team's ace starter, and starting a rebuilding phase. And Opening Day is over a month away. The outlook is not good for the Blue Jays, and with reason. The team's strength, its pitching, has been hit hard this off-season, both by free agent defection and by the injury bug. A.J. Burnett left for the Yankees, Shaun Marcum isn't due back from elbow surgery until 2010, and Dustin McGowan from shoulder surgery, not till May at the earliest. By then it might be too late. On the other hand, their lineup, their weak link last year—a .399 OBP—gets a jolt from rookie Travis Snider, who by all accounts is a can't miss-prospect and a future anchor in the Blue Jays lineup. However, Vernon Wells already is injured this spring. Not a good omen for the Jays, going into the season.

Tomorrow, The AL Central

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Here'e Jeter and Posada at the A-Rod Press Conference/spectacle/circus. Can't you just feel the compassion and brotherhood oozing from Jeter and Posada? Can't you see how much they love A-Rod and want to be there for him?

I get the feeling Josh Hamilton wont have the killer season he had last year. Why? Who bats cleanup behind him now that Milton Bradley is gone? Nelson Cruz who's never batted clean-up in the major leagues? David "Who Dat?" Murphy? The shell of a human once known as Andruw Jones? Hamilton might not see a fastball all year.

Here's an under-the-radar trade that might have just given the Vikings the NFC championship. The Vikings picked up QB Sage Rosenfels from the Texans for a 4th round pick. In other words, for a low cost pick, they might have gotten the stable QB they needed to run their offense. Though the deal isn't officially completed, all signs point to it being a done thing. Which is great news for the Vikings. Last year, both Gus Frerrote and Tavaris Jackson passed for a 59.1 completion rating. Sage, behind a much worse offense line than Minny's passed for a 66.7 completion rating—though he did toss 10 interceptions. Sage also passed for 8.2 yards per pass attempt, which would have been good enough for 2nd in the league had he had enough attempts to qualify. Not saying Rosenfels is the 2nd coming of Bart Starr and the Vikings now have the Super Bowl sewn up, but he is a lot more promising than anything they had on roster. And for a 4th rounder, that's not too shabby.

Just last week, I asked why nobody ever posited the theory of Big Papi doing steriods. Well, finally, somebody did. The Boston Globe this week questioned Big Papi about his relation to Angel Presinal, a "trainer" who has been banned from all clubhouses in the MLB due to his links with steriods. Papi said all he did was train with Presinal at a gym in the Dominican Republic during the off-season. Asked whether he knew about any involvement Presinal had with steroids, Ortiz said, "Those are things that are at another level." OK, Not sure what that means, but Papi continues:
"You've got to do what you've got to do. You've got to know what can cause you problems and you have to deal with that. I only see him when I'm down there working out, like everyone else," said Ortiz. "It's not his facility but he knows how to train people and teaches us how to do exercise and things like that. But, like I said, you are the owner of your own decision. It's sad that he's involved in things like this."
Like I wrote last week, I'm not accusing Bibg Papi of taking steroids or anything like that. But with so much circumstantial evidence going against him (the massive weight gain, the associations with known dealers, the body breaking down), I'm glad at least somebody is asking the questions.

Oh goodie. Golf is back.

Interesting tidbit from Pro Football Weekly. Tom Coughlin put an end to any potential controversy by saying that Mathias Kiwanuka will remain a DE and not switch back to OLB—which would have been his third position switch in 3 years. Here's PFW:
With DE Osi Umenyiora set to return in 2009 following last season’s knee injury, and with the Giants likely looking for playmakers at outside linebacker, it might be tempting to project Mathias Kiwanuka, who played strong-side linebacker two years ago but defensive end last season, back to a two-point stance. Based on what we’re hearing, don’t buy into it. The Giants won Super Bowl XLII with three studs at end — Michael Strahan, Umenyiora and Justin Tuck — and likely will go into next season with a Umenyiora-Tuck-Kiwanuka trio. That would allow new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to do what former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did, and that was move Umenyiora and Tuck inside at times and put all three of his best pass rushers on the field at once. Assuming that’s the plan, the Giants would like to find another “Sam” linebacker to compete with Danny Clark and get a little younger there. Kiwanuka also could be used to stand up in special packages or drop in zone pressures because of his prior experience doing so.
I think this is the right move for the Giants. Aside from confusing and frustrating a talented young player with constant position changes, it will keep the DEs fresh and gives the Ginats the potential to change up their scheme. Smart move Coughlin.

Damn. Adding this manchild, David Price to the Rays rotation is crazy. 109 ks in 110 innings in the minors last year, and a .929 WHIP while pitching in the playoffs for the first time. And Tamps is placing him in the low-tension 5th starter spot behind Kazmir, Shields, Garza and Sonnanstine. Just unfair.

Lastly, with Glavine, Griffey and Giambi all going back to their original teams, shouldn't Nomar Garciaparra head back to Boston? Not likely, but it would have been fun, at least to see him pout again in the Red Sox dugout when he wasn't playing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The 5 Best Offseason Pickups

So following the previous article, The Worst Offseason Pickups, naturally I should follow up with the five best. Thanks to those who commented on whether they liked my Worst Pickups —or disagreed with it—I appreciate the feedback. Anyway, without further delay, the 5 best offseason pickups.

Bobby Abreu: Los Angeles Angels 1 year/$5 million
An amazing pickup. For just 5 million, the Angels got a guy who's a solid 20/20 man and will bat around .300—what a deal, especially since he was expecting a 3-30 million type deal when offseason started. The Angels waited until his price dropped and got a low-risk, high reward contract.

Andy Petitte: New York Yankees 1 year/$5.5 million
Instead of 10 million, the Yankees didn't panic and waited until Petitte's price dropped and end up paying about half that, which is what they should pay for a nice veteran lefty 5th starter, who still has a few more hard sinkers in him. A nice signing.

Pat Burrell Tampa Bay Rays 2 years/16 million
Fits perfectly into what the Rays need. A power DH who can drive in runs and offer punch to the Rays lineup that could use it. Also fits in as a backup outfielder. For the budget-conscious Rays, Burrell was a solid signing rather at 8 million per and just what their lineup needed.

Raul Ibanez: Philadelphia Phillies 3 years/31.5 million
The man who replaces Burrell fits the Phillies perfectly. A better fielder will fit perfectly into the Phillies lineup and should thrive: About .300, 25-30 HRs and about 115 RBIs. Not bad for 10 million a year.

Dayan Viciedo: Chicago White Sox 4 years/10 million
The White Sox jumped in on the Viciedo right away and pulled out a blue chip from Cuba. Baseball America hails Viciedo as a young (19 years old) prospect with excellent power and hitting ability." According to BA, Viciedo has "slugged over .500 two of the last three seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, its top-level league, hitting 14 homers in 2005-2006—as a 16-year-old," and has a power arm, ideal for 3rd base. Together with last year's signing of Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox have a young and talented left side of the infield—if not this year, then very soon.

That's the 5. Let's hear what you think.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The 5 Worst Offseason Pickups

The off-season shopping spree was subdued this year, with teams keeping an extra-close eye on their wallets. However, that doesn't mean there wasn't some boneheaded bucks spent. here's the top 5 (or bottom 5) signings this off-season.

Atlanta Braves: Derek Lowe 4 years/60 Million
60 million to a guy who will be 40 when he's finished earning it. 60 million to a guy who's won more than 18 games once, and that was when he was 29. 60 million when your starting outfield hit a total of 18 HRs. 60 million to a guy who doesn't handle pressure or adversity well, and is now statistically a 6-inning pitcher. How can you spend all that money when your team only had 130 HRs last year (84 behind the Phillies) and who replaced Mark Texiera (20 HRs as a Brave)with Casey Kotchman (2 HRs—33 for his career which Texiera had last year) at 1B. Makes no sense to me.

N.Y. Yankees: A.J. Burnett 5 years/82.5 Million
This one explains itself. 5 years to a guy who since 2003, has pitched more than 200 inning twice? Who suddenly stays healthy in his contract year? Sounds like the Bronx missed Carl Pavano so much they signed his replacement.

S.F. Giants: Edgar Rentaria 2 years/18.5 Million
On a defensive downswing, not good for an aging middle infielder. Lost 60 points off his BA and 90 off his slugging. Had the second lowest OPS+ of his career. So, 18.5 million seems pretty steep for a guy with all the signs of being on the decline of his career. For a team that was already too old and wont figure to contend this year anyway.

Cleveland Indians: Kerry Wood 2 years/20.5 Million
For a team with payroll concerns, this seems like a lot to give to a pitcher should we put this?...injury concerns. Has pitched 176.3 innings since the end of the 2004 Considering all the other relievers out there, the Indians seem to have put a lot of faith—and money—in a guy who's been healthy for only one of the past three seasons. Don't get us wrong, when Wood is healthy, he's a primo pitcher, especially in short relief. But that's the rub. Wood is never healthy. And the Indians can't afford to invest this much money in a guy who has a fair chance of earning it in the trainer's room.

New York Mets: Oliver Perez 3 years/36 Million
Oliver Perez walked 105 batters last year—1st in the National League. He gave up 7.75 hits per 9 innings last year—6th highest in the National League. He hit 11 batters, threw 9 wild pitches and still managed to get a 36 million dollar contract from the Mets. Nice.

A fool and his money are soon parted. We'll see which of these 5 guys earns their money for doing nothing. And if you have any other bad signings, let us know on the writeback.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


OK, long weekend, lots of news. Let's get to it.

So, Jerry Manuel, manager of the Mets is thinking of moving SS/ray of light, Jose Reyes, to third in the batting order behind Carlos Beltran. What? Why would you move a guy like that, who's a threat to bunt, steal, menace the pitcher, to an RBI type-role. And batting ahead of Delgado, so you remove a big portion of his threat to steal. Makes no sense to me.

So underrated RB, Fred Taylor has been cut by Jacksonville. Couldn't you see him in an Eagle uniform—on a short-term contract—helping Westbrook and McNabb try to finally get that ring?

How come nobody every questions whether Big Papi took steroids? He's got all the signs. A body that went from normal to Michelin Man, a huge jump in hitting production, lots of nagging injuries that break down his body. Just wondering.

Regarding this A-Rod mess. I'm disappointed; he'll never be the guy who cleans up baseball's records. And yes, he has real jerk tendencies, real prima donna crap. But did we really need the president of the United States to verbally slap him as well? Hasn't Barack got more pressing matters than slapping freakin' Alex "I was stupid." Rodriguez upside the head?

Don't worry, Duke, about losing 4 out of your last 6. You play St. John's this week.

If the rumors are right, and Ken Griffey signed with the Braves, than it looks like the Yankees might be keeping Nady and Swisher. At least for the foreseeable future.

If Haynesworth goes to the Dolphins and takes all that cash Miami has to spend, how long do you think it takes till he complains about being in a 3-4 defense?

How is Jeff Francoeur eligible for arbitration after last year? .239 BA, 11 HRs and he wants 1 million more than the generous (in my opinion) Brave offer. Are you kidding me?

So Denver cut Dewayne Robertson yesterday 1 year after trading for him, then signing him to a five-year contract believed to be worth about $24 million. Now we know why they fired Mike Shanahan. Deals like this. 1 year, 1 1/2 sacks, all that money.

I've written about this before, but really. Why is baseball getting eviscerated about steroids when it is obviously rampant in football and no one cares? The list is huge in baseball and well known, yet in football, Shawn Merriman gets busted, or Larry Izzo and a few others, and the world shrugs. It's barely even reported. Why is that? In fact, the Patriots "have appeared open to him returning for his ninth season with the team." I know football is more violent, more expected have bigger guys, colliding with each other. But that doesn't absolve the double standard. Cheating is cheating. And I don't know why baseball gets raked over the hot coals while football gets a free pass. It makes no sense to me.

And finally, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd wants to play ball again. You read that right. The man who last pitched in the MLB when the 1st George Bush was president, wants to pitch again.

"After surgery in '87, it took me 10 years to feel good," he told the Globe. I wasn't on the field, started gaining weight. All of a sudden, my arm has healed. The arm strength is there and it's there consistently. The more I throw, the better it feels."

Best of luck to him. And for pity's sake, I'll refrain from any "Rusty Oil Can" jokes. At least for now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Farve From Heaven

So, Brett has retired. This time for good. We think.

This web site has been hard on Farve for a variety of reasons—all of which we feel was justified. His treatment of the Packers in general and his former teammates—especially Aaron Rodgers—last season was, at best, selfish. He held his team hostage while he "mulled this retirement thing over," for almost half a decade. And while his play in recent years has been erratic, he was treated by the media, and everyone in general, as a king. And he retired, certainly, at least a year to late—don't even get us started on his swan dive with the Jets.

That said, he was a great quarterback in his time. And while, yes the Jets' dive late last season was hugely his fault, the reason they were even in the playoff hunt was also on his shoulders. That he had million dollar talent—if not a five cent head, at times—should be unquestioned. He could pass his team into (as well as out of) any game, at any time. He is in the top 10, if not no. 1, in almost every important QB statistic in the NFL. And, the fact that he never missed a game, ever, in the hyperviolent game of football, should make Cal Ripkin's record look downright silly.

Secretly, the Jets should feel mixed emotions right now. Now, with 13 million off the books, they should breath a sigh of relief—the cap issues are gone. Now, though, who leads the team? Brett Ratliff? Kellen Clemens? Mark Sanchez? J. P. Losman? Oooof. Scary to think about. Hey Brett, are you serious about this whole retirement thing?

I'm sure we'll be seeing more of Brett Farve—those Wrangler commercials don't make themselves—and he was never one to shy away from a microphone. However, surprisingly, the fact that we won't see him on a football field ever again makes me a little sad. Truly, an era has ended.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Mock?

In an episode of the TV show Sports Night, the character Dan Rydell, an anchor for the eponymous show, asks the question while anchoring the NFL Draft, "Why should we care?" Being selected as a 1st round pick as opposed to being picked in the second round represents a difference of millions of the athletes definitely care. But why should we care—we couch potato sports fans who will never see the field of play in an NFL game let only the money—at all?

Why do we care so passionately if some young linebacker from BYU ends up going to the Colts at the end of round 2, or to Carolina in a trade-up in the middle of round 3? Further, why do some of us spend useless hours writing up drafts, months and months before the actual draft takes place? Why do we spend our time creating a mock draft and then post it to a message board only to have another mock draft fanatic hurl abuses at us for our stupidity?

Yet we do. Last year's NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers had an estimated average viewing audience of just under 9 million people per game. By comparison, over 30 million people watched the draft last year. Bizarre, no? Because while the NFL Draft is fantastically long—two full days, over sixteen hours—there isn't one play, one point scored. There are no exciting dunks, breathtaking bombs or awesome home runs. In fact, there's nothing resembling excitement or tension. If anything, it's more like homework, lots of backbreaking homework, with hours of reviewing and one big final that means everything. And more often than not, you lose.

Yet, ESPN broadcasts each and every second of it, up to and including the final, 7th round. And more likely than not, those 30 million people at home, are on the web commenting on each of the selections on NFL message boards while thumbing have a special draft magazine covering draft prospects and with full mock drafts sold by Street & Smiths, Lindy's, The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly and ESPN (among others) for eight dollars or more. "complete draft package" costs $55.00.

But why? 16 hours of conference room tables and talking heads trying to fill dead TV time does not sound like the recipe for thrilling sports entertainment. Yet somehow it is.

Why Would You Want To Do That?
For years and years, the NFL Draft took place in a nondescript hotel conference room filled with cigar-chomping men who looked like overweight Mike Ditkas and that the results were published in the newspapers the next week or so, if anybody cared.

Then in 1980, ESPN, a fledgling new network that needed something, anything, sports-related to broadcast, saw the perfect time-eater in the NFL Draft. ESPN figured, while the draft was definitely not scintillating TV, it filled a lot of hours, and it was better than high school curling, which took up most of ESPN's broadcasting at that time. So they went to then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and asked for permission to broadcast the NFL Draft in its entirety. Rozelle said, "Why would you want to do that?"

Funny thing happened though. This event that no one ever thought to broadcast and defies every logical tenet of sports entertainment—there's no competition, no violence, no drama—became a phenomenon. A cult audience grew. And grew. And then grew some more. Soon, people were waiting outside all night for a chance to watch the draft, live. By the end of the 80s, loud, raucous groups of fans (many of them, irate Jet fans who always hate whatever pick their team makes—usually with reason) came to cheer and jeer. Niche experts gained an odd popularity, building entire enterprises based solely on this one day. No one is more famous for this than Mel Kiper, a bouffant-sculpted 30-year guru of the NFL Draft.

It Started Out As A Hobby
How does one become a guru of a noncompetitive wing of a violent and popular sport? During an interview with ESPN, Mel Kiper explained how we got started:

I was a big fan of the NFL and college football. I saw the impact of the draft then. It was the only way you could improve your football team from year to year. There was no free agency, there were very few trades.

I always thought, if this is the only way to increase your talent base, there should be huge interest in this. I thought any college or NFL fan should crave the kind of information that I was interested in. The GM of the Baltimore Colts at that time, Ernie Accorsi, was a good friend of mine, and he basically encouraged me. He told me that fans would crave that type of information, that I should take it public and turn it into a business.
And Kiper was not alone. The late, great Joel Buchsbaum of Pro Football Weekly became involved with the draft even earlier than Kiper. In the early 70s, Buchsbaum was set on the road to following his father's footsteps and becoming an attorney. That is, until his hobby of writing scouting reports on college football players—imitating the scouting reports of Carl and Pete Marasco in Pro Football Weekly—eventually took over, and he left his career path to follow the NFL Draft full-time. As Buchsbaum later said: "It started out as a hobby and became a job."

And for thousands and thousands of people out there, it is becoming not just a hobby, but an obsession. Just Google "NFL Mock Draft" and you'll see that there are thousands of sites—featuring mock drafts, personal opinions and more—all amateurly run, all for nothing more than the love of the draft.

I think after the Super Bowl, it's the second biggest event, not just in the NFL, but in sports.

So says Scott Wright, owner and sole proprietor of, the world's most popular NFL Draft site. The site is completely free as well, which is amazing, considering that Wright maintains the site as a full-time job, year-round. That's right, all year round. The day after the 2009 NFL Draft, Wright's site will began the march to the 2010 NFL Draft (if it hasn't started already). For him, the NFL Draft is not just a hobby, it's a career.

I just became interested in it in high school, started messing around, making my own site. And it took off from there. Now I get to say, I get to work on the NFL Draft full-time.

Colin Lindsay of also works full-time on his own NFL Draft web site. He started his web site because: " the late 1970s there was absolutely no coverage of the actual draft up here in Canada, so I would take a day or two of annual leave from my job, but still go into the office, spread out my rating sheets and call the old sports ticker every 5-10 minutes to get the latest picks and followed the draft pick by pick that way."

Both Lindsay and Wright know that they aren't alone in their interest in the Draft and it's popularity. Lindsay says, "The interest in the draft is very real; indeed, it's become a year round thing, and for a lot of sports fans draft weekend has become the #2 'holiday' on the calendar after Christmas."

Those Who Can't
So still the question remains: Why would so many people devote such time over what is essentially a convention? The draft is homework rather than great hits, paper-shuffling rather than high energy breakaway runs. It's 16 hours of "sports entertainment" that doesn't have a football, a field, or a scoreboard. What it has is men putting names on a bulletin board. It has the assistant NFL Commissioner and little-known kids in suits and caps. Says Lindsay:

I believe for many sports fans the NFL draft provides the best opportunity to play along at being GM for a day---and how many NFL fans don't fantasize about being general manager of their particular team.

Is that what it's about? A fantasy football-like "Let's Pretend we're a GM." Perhaps. Instead of pretending to be Peyton Manning or Brian Urlacher, people are pretending to be Mike Tannenbaum or Scott Pioli. With fantasy football's popularity and the growing communities on the web of amateurs, "draftniks" abound on the web.

One such draftnik is Robert Bryant who not only follows the NFL Draft on a self-run web site, but on two. Bryant owns and runs as well as, both comprehensive sites that he frequently updates in addition to having a full-time job as a police officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He writes on his site that he: "...personally scouts NFL Draft prospects by analyzing hours upon hours of game film and has multiple contacts within the industry, including current and former NFL Scouts, coaches, current and former players, experienced sports writers and other Draftniks."

There's that old much-abused saying, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Perhaps there's something in that for the draftniks. Since Wright and Lindsay and Buschbaum and Kiper and Bryant and the 30 million other people who watch the draft can't run a 4.3 40-yard dash or throw a laser spiral into triple coverage, to become a part of the the game they love, they do what they can do. And that is, obsessively watch game after game after game, analyze, form strong opinions of what they see, and pretend that they have a say in the future of their team.

So old men, young men, fat men, thin men, "unathletic" men will sit around, either in New York City at the actual draft, or on their couches, in front of their TV, or on their computer, linked to other unathletic men, all cheering or booing, full of opinions and tirades, and watch hour after hour, to see if their teams pick the way they guessed they would. So the question is not why should we care, and is it wrong to, but why would anyone fault us if we do.

Monday, February 9, 2009


According to and their "Griddy Awards" given to the best football announcers, Cris Collinsworth was the best Game Analyst of the year. Seriously? The guys they had in third, Ron Jaworski and Phil Simms, to me, are way most interesting and far less annoying than Collinsworth. Heck, I guess everyone's got an opinion, but to even my wife finds Collinsworth annoying.

More football: Great "Finally someone said it!" article in today's New York Daily News. The gist is, the Jets shouldn't sign Ray Lewis because his skills are deteriorating and he would have a cap-busting bonus attached to his salary.
The Jets have a new coach, a promising coach, and they need to think long term. They have cap issues this year, and they're going to have some big players coming up for free agency in a year or two - Leon Washington, Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, et al. Save the money for them. The Jets should worry about developing their own Ray Lewises instead of trying to steal fading versions of the originals.
Yes. If Ryan wants to go after a former player, go after his former safety, Jim Leonard. He's younger, on the rise, fills a need and would be a heck of a lot cheaper.

Could Farve please retire please?

OK, the A-Rod story. As a lot of announcers have said, it is beyond disappointing. Mainly because he was supposed to be the guy that cleaned up all those records Barry Bonds sullied. He was the Mr. Clean, who would do baseball proud. No....he's not.

And this business about coming clean? Some sports writers wrote that A-Rod should come clean and all would be forgiven like Andy Petitte. Ummmm no. Andy was a quiet guy that people liked, didn't date Madonna, or a stripper, and didn't earn a salary equivalent to the government's stimulus package. He was easy to forgive for some people. A-Rod. Not so much. "If he tries to fight this, he is done," said LA Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa, who was close to Rodriguez when Bowa had the same job with the Yankees. Maybe so, Mr. Bowa. But the world will never forgive Rodriguez like they did Petitte.

Wait....they played the Pro Bowl yesterday?

OK, after praising the Daily News, now we have to bury them. For the silliest article in the universe. If the Yankees couldn't get rid of Jason Giambi, who admitted under oath that he took steroids, writer Bill Madden says the Yankees should dump A-Rod (would love to see the Palyer's Union response to that), and eat the $270 million!!!!

Look, even if they wanted to, there would be no way it would be allowed. And the idea that the Yankees, having trouble selling all those corporate boxes, would eat 270 million, is not only silly. It's asinine.

Some good news. At least we wont be seeing Pac-Man anymore, unless, of course, we head into a strip club.

And lastly, the geniuses at The Onion have started a new sports version of their web site. Below, see a screen grab of the home page. The funniest thing, right off the bat, is the titles for the sections, on the site. The tabs go, BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, FOOTBALL, MOTORSPORTS, and then, under one tab, WOMEN'S SPORTS/SOCCER

A page after my own heart.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Preposterously Early Mock Draft

I know. Free agency hasn't even started. The NFL combine hasn't happened and Brett Farve hasn't even unretired yet. Still, that's no reason we can't take a wild guess at a mock draft yet, right? Here goes with a stupidly early mock draft.

1. Detroit Lions — Matthew Stafford QB — Georgia
The Lions could use help everywhere. And with two picks in the first round they should get some help right away. They go with the QB of the future, Stafford and hope he can do what Matt Ryan did for the Falcons last year.

2. St Louis Rams — Eugene Monroe OT — Virginia
We can be pretty assured this pick will be an LT, but which one? Right now, Monroe gets the pick ahead of the two Smiths and Oher as the best LT out there. Spags get his QB protector for the next decade.

3. Kansas City Chiefs — Michael Crabtree WR — Texas Tech
With the hiring of Haley as head coach of the Chiefs, it's likely that the Chiefs will go offense with their first pick. They need to anyway, as their offense was awful. Haley might try to recreate a passing offense like he had in Arizona with Boldin and Fitzgerald by pairing up Crabtree with Dwayne Bowe.

4. Seattle Seahawks — Aaron Curry OLB — Wake Forest
The Seahawks are upset that Crabtree is gone, but are happy to take the year's best defensive player to add to a terrible defense. Curry's size and speed helps the Seahawks immediately.

5. Cleveland Browns — Malcolm Jenkins CB — Ohio State
The cavalcade of new coaches continues; this time with Mangini in Cleveland. Mangini knows the value of a lockdown corner; he had Asante Samuel in New England and Darrelle Revis with the Jets. He gets his Cleveland version with Jenkins.

6. Cincinnati Bengals — Brian Orakpo DE — Texas
The Bengals have been looking for a pass rushing DE since seemingly the Carter administration. They reach a little here—since explosive DEs are always in demand (see the Jaguars last year trade up 20 spots for Derrick Harvey) and take the Longhorn Orakpo.

7. Oakland Raiders — Andre Smith OT — Alabama
Who the heck knows what Weird Al Davis is going to do? The smart thing would be to protect his young franchise QB with a franchise LT. Russell, who showed signs of improvement last year (6 TDs in his last 3 games) sure would appreciate it. But with Al Davis, ya never know.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jason Smith — OT Baylor
Disappointing. That's the only way to describe the Jaguars 2008 season. Thought to be a Super Bowl contender, the Jags collapsed early and often. Jacksonville begins by getting an athletic LT to begin the rebuilding along their decimated OL.

9. Green Bay Packers — B.J. Raji DT — Boston College
Raji, the Boston College DT is the consensus pick here, and with reason. The former Eagle is a massive fire hydrant of a DT with quickness and can both stuff the run and rush the passer. With the Packers moving to a 3-4 defense, Raji makes sense.

10. San Francisco 49ers — Everette Brown OLB — Florida State
Suffice it to say, the Tulley Banta-Cain experiment is over in SF. The Niners need an explosive pass rushing OLB who can consistently put pressure on opposing QBs. Manny Lawson and Cain combined for just 3.5 sacks all season opposite Parys Haralson. The Niners reach a bit for Brown, but get a young explosive pass rusher.

11 Buffalo Bills — Brandon Pettigrew TE — Oklahoma State
It's too early to draft a OG, which the Bills really could use. Look for the Bills to possibly trade down. However, if they stay here, they should look hard at Pettigrew who can both run and block, and had a good Senior Bowl. Pettigrew would give young QB Trent Edwards a big target on 3rd downs.

12. Denver Broncos — Rey Maualuga ILB — USC
The Broncos need help everywhere on their defense. They take the best player available; Maualuga will help stop other teams from putting 150 ypg rushing right away.

13. Washington Redskins — Michael Oher OT — Ole Miss
Last year, 8 OTs went in the first round. This year, that trend continues, The Redskin bookend OTs are old. Oher helps that problem by adding youth. Some have Oher going 2nd to the Rams, but he falls a little due to an inconsistent motor.

14. New Orleans Saints — Vontae Davis CB — Illinois
The Saints don't have a 2nd or 3rd round pick, so they might look to trade down. However, they have needed a shutdown corner seemingly forever. Davis, a true talent, is a bit of a knucklehead, which causes him to fall to the Saints.

15. Houston Texans — Chris Wells RB — Ohio State
A surprise, but not a huge one, actually. A top flight DE or CB would be the best choice, however, without reaching or trading up, neither is available. The Texans do the next best thing, which is add a superior RB to team with Steve Slaton. Wells is a mega talent (better than his slot at 15) and would benefit from sharing the load.

16. San Diego Chargers — Aaron Maybin OLB — Penn State
The Chargers would have looked at Wells had he been here, but are happy to take Maybin as a consolation prize. Maybin is small, and probably would only be used in passing downs to start, but he has undeniable talent and can rush the passer, which is something the Chargers sorely need. Brian Cushing is also a possibility

17. New York Jets — James Laurinaitis ILB — Ohio State
If Farve is gone, the Jets have to look hard at Sanchez. In either case, Maclin or Harvin is also intriguing as speed in the WR department is a problem. However, new coach Ryan is a Parcells-type defense-first guy. He takes the young LB to solidify the Jets front 7.

18. Chicago Bears — Jeremy Maclin WR — Missouri
Apart from Hester, the Bears offense puts no fear into opposing defenses. Maclin, and his explosiveness, gives the other teams something to worry about.

19. Tampa Bay Bucs — Knowshon Moreno — Georgia
Tampa Bay needs to find out in the next 75 days if Josh Johnson is their future QB. Drafted by the former regime last year, Johnson is talented but raw. If the answer is no, Sanchez could be the pick here. However, Moreno, is an undeniable talent, and would add punch to a offense that could use a solid answer somewhere.

20. Detroit Lions — Brian Cushing OLB — USC
The Lions just take the best player available here. Cushing is do-everything OLB. The Lions need talent everywhere and are happy to grab him here.

21. Philadelphia Eagles — Eden Britton OT — Arizona
The Eagles are active on draft day, trading down or up often. They need a young OT and could trade up to grab Oher. However, Britton is rising on many draft boards and has the ability to play LT in the NFL—though they could wait till the 28th pick to address their OL.

22. Minnesota Vikings — Mark Sanchez QB — USC
It's becoming clear that Tavaris Jackson is not the guy to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl—15 for 35 in the playoffs—and neither is Gus Frerotte. If Jeff Garcia is available, the Vikings could grab him, but barring a free agency pickup, the USC product would be a good pick here.

23. New England Patriots — Alphonso Smith CB — Wake Forest
The Patriots never successfully addressed their secondary problem the past couple of years. Smith, the consensus next best CB after Jenkins and Davis, gets plugged in at CB immediately.

24. Atlanta Falcons — Peria Jerry DT — Ole Miss
The Falcons might be building a Patriot-type dynasty down south. They hit on all 3 of their top 3 picks last year, with Ryan, Baker and Lofton getting starting jobs. Now, the hard part. Do it again. The Falcons grab the young DT from Ole Miss, Jerry to replace an aging Grady Jackson and help solidify the middle of the Falcon defense.

25. Miami Dolphins — Michael Johnson OLB — Georgia Tech
You know Parcells looked at the fact that Joey Porter had 17.5 sacks, and the next Dolphin on the sack list had 5. You know Parcells wants that to change. Parcells loves raw talent. Johnson has that—he's long (6'7") with explosive speed (4.65). Parcells and Porter will work on his inconsistent motor.

26. Baltimore Ravens — Percy Harvin WR — Florida
The Ravens are ecstatic that Harvin and his 4.35 speed fall to them. If he's not there, the Ravens should think about restocking their aging defense. D.J. Moore is a possibility here.

27. Indianapolis Colts — Sen'Derrick Marks DT — Auburn
The Colts have needed a run-stuffing DT for a long while; Marks fits their one-gap scheme well. However, with Marvin Harrison most likely retiring, a WR could be a possibility (Kenny Britt, or Darrius Heyward-Bey). Also, the Colts were awful at run-blocking last year, and with Duke Robinson available, he is a possibility.

28. Philadelphia Eagles — Darrius Heyward-Bey WR — Maryland
The Eagles drafted a good WR in DeSean Jackson last year. But at 5'9", he's a munchkin. Heyward-Bey has the size (6'3") and speed (the 4.40 range) to help out the Eagles passing game.

29. New York Giants — Kenny Britt WR — Rutgers
Much depends on how the Plaxico Burress case falls out. If Burress is not available (i.e. jail), look for the Giants to fill his place as a big receiver. The Giants did not look the same after Burress went down. Britt at 6'4" could be the replacement the G-Men need. A local kid as well.

30. Tennessee Titans — Alex Mack C — California
The Titans could go a number of ways here; a DT to replace Haynesworth should he go, a CB to help Cortland Finnegan, a game-changing WR. With the way this draft has shaken out, they grab the best player available. Mack emerged at the Senior Bowl as the best center in the college ranks. The Titans take him to replace Kevin Mawae as soon as he is ready, or slide him in at guard, where Mack has the size and skills to be a difference-maker.

31. Arizona Cardinals — Clint Stitim OLB — Virginia
Knowshon Moreno is the dream here, and LeSean McCoy is a real possibility as Edge James is paid far too well for a sub 4.0 ypc. However, the Cardinals OLB are aging and Karlos Dansby might leave via free agency. Stitum led all collegiate linebackers in sacks in 2008 and would be a welcome addition to the Cardinals defense.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers — Duke Robinson G — Oklahoma
If the Steelers don't get help along their offensive line this offseason, they should mail Ben Roethlisberger's checks to the local hospital. Duke Robinson is the best O-linemen available and would be an improvement from day 1. Williams Beatty or Max Unger is a possibility here as well.

So there it is. Tell me what you think. And since there's only 76 days to the draft, you should get started on your own mock draft.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Joe

I was going to avoid the whole Joe Torre "The Yankee Years" fiasco because, basically it's a big, sticky mess that will end of leaving us all a little sick afterwards. However, since it's the down time for sports here in New York, the media here has gone hog-wild day-in, day-out on this subject. So for the sake of full coverage, I will disclose my thought on the matter. And they are:

Who cares?

And I do mean that. Who really cares? This book isn't going to affect one iota of one game any time this season. It won't affect the Yankees run against the Red Sox and the Rays. It wont affect the Dodgers attempt to get back to the playoffs through the summer months into fall. It will affect nothing everywhere.

That said, I am a little disappointed. No I don't hate him, or want him strung up to the giant Yankee Stadium bat, like Mike Lupica seems to think all of us fans want to do. But I am a little...disappointed.
And now he's supposed to be some kind of bum because he hurt Brian Cashman's feelings, or Randy Levine's, or Boomer Wells'? He's supposed to have burned the Willis Ave. Bridge because he offended Alex Rodriguez? Why, because A-Rod has done such a great job honoring the Yankee brand over the past five years?
No, Mr. Lupica, that's not the point. no one is (or should be) saying that. Of course, Torre brought 4 World Series to the Bronx, and he should be rightfully praised for that.

The point is, Torre always spoke of class, of playing the game the right way. A few years back, a Yankee showed up a pitcher on a home run trot. Torre came out of the dugout to meet him at home plate, and you could see him mouthing the words, "That's not how we do it here."

He always spoke to players privately, and kept the media away from the clubhouse about internal matters. He had a quiet dignity that spoke of an internal moral clock. You got the sense that however chaotic things could get in the press, on the radio or on the internet, Torre kept his clubhouse respectful and dignified. Sort of the anti-Ozzie Guillen.

As Buster Olney wrote in October 2007: Torre brilliantly managed George Steinbrenner and the New York media in the same way: He recognized the implicit threat that each force represented, and while he understood that neither could be ignored nor bullied, he never surrendered his dignity to either along the way.

So then why the tell-all book? Why come out and mention that players called A-Rod, "A-Fraud?" Why talk about things you never mentioned—and would never have mentioned— when you were manager of the New York Yankees?

Why dish on Brian Cashman saying he could not be trusted? Why tell the world now? What does it serve?

The only thing it serves is some sort of payback. Torre doesn't need money. He doesn't need anything that the book could give him. Except a sense of righteousness. A sense of justice done. "So, you want to let me go, Yankees, after all I've done. OK...."

No, I haven't read the book. And I won't. Because, once again, who cares? Will it aid my love and appreciation for baseball? No.

It's a silly, little potboiler. Forget it about it. Pitchers and catchers report in a week. Play ball.

Monday, February 2, 2009


So, in the poll I had to the side, the best Super Bowl moment was last year's David Tyree catch. After last night, that might have changed.

Off topic, the best commercial of the night: Easy. Careerbuilder "Hate Going To Work" commercial was by far the best one of the night.

So, the game was pretty much what we expected: Larry Fitzgerald breaks it for two TDs. Kurt Warner hit lots of short passes to try and beat the blitz, but the Arizona defense was just a little too weak to effectively stop Big Ben, though they did put up a great fight. Overall, a magnificent Super Bowl.

In other news, if you missed the Nadal-Federer 5-hour Australian Open missed the second best tennis match of the past 2 years. An incredible and ridiculous display of talent from those two guys. Just amazing and fun to watch—what sports should be.

With about 10 days to go till pitchers and catchers report, it is amazing that so many good free agents are still available. And it's not even just Manny Ramirez and his head case problems, but Oliver Perez, Bobby Abreu, Ben Sheets, Orlando Hudson, and so on. And while there should be a flurry of signings as Spring Training starts, it is amazing that so much talent is just sitting there and teams wont spend the cash on them.

The rumor of the day in the NFL, is that with Scott Pioli in Kansas City now, that Matt Cassell should get some maps to Arrowhead Stadium. Which, sure, make sense: the Chiefs need a QB and the Patriots are paying two starter money. But I can't see how a compensation deal gets worked out in this scenario. Maybe it does, but it'll take a lot of work.

That roughing the holder penalty was ridiculous. "Roughing the Holder?" What's next? "Illegal use of Pom-Pom" by the cheerleader? Refs, it's a tough game. Just let them play it.

I said last week how weird it is that Vince Young and Matt Leinart are backups despite being portrayed as the NFL poster boys of the future. Now we hear that Kerry Collins is most likely going to be resigned in Tennessee for starter money, and everybody is saying Kurt Warner should come back next year after his MVP-type season. Vince and Matt must be getting a bitter taste in their mouths right about now.

With National Signing Day right around the corner, let me just ask this? Why was Pete Caroll upset that Mark Sanchez left. he's got like, 14 other 5-star QBs on his roster. I mean geez, Pete, just keep quiet? How come you guys ever lose a game with all the talent you guys pull?

And lastly, I know it's a cliche, but really...the Cardinals have nothing to be ashamed about.Every step of the way in the playoffs, they were doubted. And they won. And yesterday, they gave the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers everything they could handle. Congrats to Kurt Warner, Darnell Dockett, Larry Fitzgerald and everybody. Well done.