Friday, November 28, 2008

Possible Goodbye to One of the Games Greatest

355 wins, 3, 371 strikeouts, 3.16 era, 1.14 whip, 109 complete games. These are the career numbers of Greg Maddux. After 22 years of playing in the Major Leagues with 4 different clubs, Greg Maddux may be calling it a career. Maddux started his career in Chicago where the Cubs drafted him in the second round of the 1984 draft. His first full season in the bigs came in 1987 where he went 6-14 with a 5.61 era. However, since that dreadful first year, Maddux ran off a string of 17 seasons in a row where he won at least 15 games spanning from 1988-2004. Within those 17 consecutive seasons, he won four Cy Young Awards. Amazingly, those four came in four straight years which he was the first ever to do.

In 1992, his season totals were 20-11 with a 2.18 era for the Chicago Cubs. He pitched an enormous 268 innings with nine complete games and four shutouts. That offseason, he signed with the Atlanta Braves where he would spend the next 11 years of his career. The first three however were magical individually for him. From 1993-1995, he compiled a record of 55 wins and 18 losses. His earned run averaged during that time was 1.85, while pitching at least 200 innings in each season. Oh, and he also won the Cy Young each year.

Greg Maddux if he were to retire this offseason would rank eighth on the career wins list ahead of legends such as Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Gaylord Perry. He was never known as a strikeout or power pitcher, but somehow managed to reach the 3, 000 strikeout plateau where only 16 men in history have ever done so. He has more strikeouts than Phil Niekro and Bob Gibson. Maddux holds the record for most 15 win seasons with 18. The man was a genius on the mound and with the baseball. After 22 years, he may finally be calling it quits and he is without a doubt one of the best pitchers that has ever lived.

When It Comes To Iverson, You Take The Good With The Bad

On Thanksgiving, Allen Iverson skipped practice so that he could be home with his family and friends and relax a little. Yes, this is a good example of a player putting himself ahead of the team and yes, Iverson was rightly fined and suspended for this. However, is anyone surprised by this? Iverson's antics are well documented and sometimes very funny (You talking 'bout practice?!?).
However, unlike many athletes of the "me-first" generation, Iverson's mis-steps are almost always harmless to his team. Have you ever heard whispers about A.I. not being a good teammate? Ever hear a mention that A.I. doesn't lay it out on the line everynight? Iverson's had some problems with coaches and a done some dumb things, but he's far from the team cancer that the Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, or Vince Carter have all been at times.

In fact, Iverson has seemingly been on teams that couldn't win the title his entire career but he continues to play all out and give his team a chance to win every night. A.I. was ROY, MVP, and an 8-time All-Star and has the third highest career PPG average at 27.9 (only behind MJ and Wilt, no less). Iverson has been barrelling into the paint and giving his body a beating for longer than anyone has thought possible. At less than 6' tall, A.I. has continued to battle everynight against the odds for years. How he gets his shot of in lane bending between 7 footers is outstanding.

Historically, there may be better players, but A.I. is the first and probably the last of his breed. As time passes, you'll be explaining to your confused kids about the things A.I. did on the court, and probably forget about all of the dumb things that happened off of it. The man was a warrior for four quarters every night, it's just a shame that so few other players can match his determination and intensity on the court or the game of basketball would be a lot more fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

The Oakland Raiders are one of the laughing stocks of the NFL this year with their 3-8 record and perpetually awful performances. Lost in the mess that is their season is one of the best players in the NFL, Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha may be the only remaining member of the dying species that is the shut-down cornerback. He broke out with a good season in '06, then put up another great one in '07, where only 30 passes went his way all season.

In '08, Asomugha has been even better and thrown to even less, if you can believe that. Through 10 weeks, Asomugha was thrown to 11 times. 11 Times! Those 11 passes resulted in 5 pass deflections, an interception and 2 catches. That was through 9 whole games. In week 10, the Panthers threw Nnamdi's way 3 times. And unsurprisingly, it resulted in an interception, an incompletion, and a deflection. In weeks 11 & 12, Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Marshall both caught 4 passes, which is unlike Asomugha, but I didn't watch the games and don't know how many of those were on Nnamdi. Regardless, Nnamdi kept both out of the end-zone and had 2 more pass deflects.

In the NFL, only Champ Baily can even be considered to be Asomugha's level and I don't think anyone would choose the aging Baily over the up and coming Asomugha. Asomugha is a superstar who is toiling away in Oakland's obscurity and isn't getting the national attention that he rightly deserves. Currently, Asomugha is 3rd in AFC Pro Bowl voting and it will be a travesty is he doesn't get voted in because teams flat-out avoid him. If you didn't know Asomugha know you do, and I'll leave you with a quote from Denver Broncos football coach Mike Shanahan:

"He's the most underrated top player in the game," Shanahan said on a conference call with Northern California reporters Wednesday. "I can't say the history of the game because I haven't been around here that long, but I can say in my 25 years, he is by far the most underrated player."

Under Utilized, But Under Appreciated?

With Westbrook injured, it is obvious to anyone watching that DeSean Jackson is the best offensive weapon that the Eagles have. Recently, he has been getting plenty of attention as the team struggles to compete for a playoff spot. However, earlier in the season when things were going better, it seemed that DeSean was invisible for drives, quarters, or even games. Through 11 weeks, DeSean is averaging less that 6 touches a game. I understand that he is a rookie and defenses are keying on him, however, how does the best weapon in your offense touch the ball less than 6 times?

Recently, I heard from a friend who works with the Philadelphia Eagles that DeSean has escalating bonuses in his contract if he reaches certain statistical plateaus. And that people in the organization are trying to keep his touches low to avoid paying his contract bonuses. This wouldn't surprise me because the Eagles have routinely been a stingy football organization, always squeezing every penny they can from their players. But, this is a whole different kind of dirty.

Now that the team is struggling, they are working him into the offense much more because it doesn't look like they can keep him hidden and still be successful. DeSean currently has 47 catches, for 699 yards; 13 rushes for 99 yards; and 380 return yards and a TD. It'll be interesting to see if what the repercussions of this are if in fact it is true. You may not be able to tell any time soon, but you know when you will see? When it's time for a new contract in a few years and the Eagles try to low ball again...

Vote for the Redskins

If pro bowl voting ended today, the game would feature 24 Redskins, including 20 starters. Its almost laughable to consider:
  • The entire starting Offensive Line is Redskins
  • The top 3 Outsider Linebackers are Redskins (even though only 2 start for the actual team)
  • 4 out of the top 10 vote getters are Redskins
  • Khary Campbell, Rock Cartwright, Mike Sellers, Kedric Golston, Rocky McIntosh, and Ryan Plackemeir would all appear in their first pro bowl. Some are solid players, but none of them are remotely close to pro bowl caliber
  • The Redskins are a 3rd Place team
I can't even get angry when I read these ridiculous results, because I actually find it funny. I loved it last year when not a single player in the NFC South made the pro bowl, while the Cowboys (who failed to win a playoff game) sent 13 players. Its becoming clear that fan voting in the NFL does not work, and this is the last straw.

But these results gave me a great idea. Do the Washington Redskins a favor and continue to vote for them in record numbers. Lets get the entire roster voted into the pro bowl, and expose the failure of fan voting. How great would it be if the pro bowl was literally the Redskins vs. the AFC? I actually think that would draw higher ratings than last years pro bowl.

Week 12 Power Rankings

1. Giants (10-1) – I hate to say this, but the Giants could be a dynasty in the making.

2. Titans (10-1)- They are who we thought they were!…an above average team

3. Jets (8-3)- I’m still not convinced the Jets are the best team in the AFC, but the Giants proved last year that the best team doesn’t always win. They’ve won six straight.

4. Buccaneers (8-3)- Three straight divisional games will decide the Bucs fate. They are guaranteed at least the 2 seed if they win out.

5. Steelers (8-3) – The #1 run defense, #1 pass defense, and #1 defense overall. If Willie Parker ever gets healthy this team will be scary good.

6. Cowboys (7-4) – When Tony Romo and T.O. are healthy, there isn’t a better combination in the league. Of all the potential wild card teams, Dallas has the best shot to make a playoff run.

7. Colts (7-4) – You heard it here first, the Colts will represent the AFC in the superbowl. Peyton Manning means business.

8. Patriots (7-4) – Tom who? Matt Cassel has officially earned a chance to be a starting QB in 2009. The only question is where.

9. Panthers (8-3) – This defense, much like the entire team, is very overrated.

10. Cardinals (7-4)- The final score didn’t accurately reflect the beating the Giants put on the Cards. They are a solid team, but clearly not elite.

11. Falcons (7-4)- Without a doubt the second best team in the NFC South. This may not be their year, but the future is incredibly bright.

12. Redskins (7-4)- They face a huge test this week vs. the Giants. If they can pull out a win I’ll be impressed.

13. Saints (6-5)- When this offense is clicking, it’s scary. The NFC South race is far from over.

14. Ravens (7-4)- The Ravens defense is partying like its 1999. That was serious domination.

15. Vikings (6-5) – The spin move by Chester Taylor in the 1st Quarter was one of the best I’ve ever seen. You gotta love watching the Vikes run the ball.

16. Dolphins (6-5) – Losing Greg Camarillo is a bigger blow than most people realize. Time for Ted Ginn to step up.

17. Bears (6-5) – It’s a shame that they can’t give rookie of the year honors to Matt Ryan and Matt Forte.

18. Broncos (6-5) – If I were a doctor, I would diagnose the Broncos with bipolar disorder. How do you beat New Orleans, Tampa, San Diego, and Atlanta, but lose to Oakland and Kansas City?

19. Packers (5-6) – They’re still right in the thick of the NFC North race, but the defense really let them down on national TV.

20. Bills (6-5) – Entering desperation mode, the Bills finally got the performance out of Trent Edwards they had been waiting for.

21. Eagles (5-5-1) – Classic Eagle fan stupidity. They’re either the best team in the league or the worst team in the league. Listening to talk radio in Philly you’d think they were talking about the Lions. Bottom line: the Eagles are an average team in a difficult division. They will bounce back this week with a big win vs. Arizona.

22. Chargers (4-7) – I think it’s time for the Chargers to admit that firing Marty Schottenheimer was a mistake. The Chargers are extremely talented, but they find ways to lose. That’s the mark of a bad team.

23. Jaguars (4-7) – Once again, I don’t even know where to begin with the Jags. Immensely talented, but they can’t buy a win. I have to point the finger at the head coach.

24. Browns (4-7) – With the Brady Quinn era on hold, it’s time for Derek Anderson to accumulate some trade value.

25. Raiders (3-8) – Outstanding team effort this week. I gotta give the Cable guy credit.

26. Texans (4-7) – I don’t know how it’s possible for a team with such dynamic playmakers to be so boring to watch.

27. 49ers (3-8) – The 3-8 Niners are in second place in the NFC West. Unbelievable.

28. Seahawks (2-9) - They had a good shot to engineer a comeback victory against a good Washington team, but Matt Hasselbeck blew it.

29. Chiefs (2-9) – Herm Edwards has some explaining to do. Larry Johnson starts out with 3 carries for 80 yards, and they only give him 4 more carries all game?

30. Bengals (1-9-1) – It’s hard to believe this team was a playoff contender just 2 years ago.

31. Rams (2-9) - At first I thought Jim Haslett was going to keep this job in 2009. Now I’m not so sure.

32. Lions (0-11) – Those poor, poor Lions fans. Here’s a question…would the Lions dare draft another 1st Round receiver (Crabtree)? That would be a deadly combination.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eagles Fans In '08 -- Sucks To Be Us!

The 2008 Philadelphia Eagles season has been a colossal disaster. Yes, they're 5-5-1 and everyone in Oakland, Detroit, and Kansas City would love to be us. However, it's hardly that simple. This team has solid talent top to bottom and all the playmakers needed to make a run at the Super Bowl. Yet, this team continues to underachieve and disappoint on every level. The team is damaged with injuries that have diminished the seasons of a few star players like Shawn Andrews (out for the year) and Brian Westbrook (hasn't been himself for 4 weeks now), but that is hardly the problem. The problem has two heads, the Quarterback and the Head Coach.

First things first, we'll start with the quarterback. Donovan McNabb started this season on fire and like the superstar of old. He was strong, poised, and accurate. Then, a few weeks ago, the wheels fell off and the happy feet returned. You can always tell how the game is guying by watching Donovan drop back in the pocket and withstand the rush. Currently, he looks like a scared freshman getting his first varsity start. And just as importantly, McNabb's worst habit has returned: he's throwing bouncing balls again. The short-hop pass was a McNabb staple for years until he finally improved and became a somewhat accurate passer. Right now, he's making bad decisions, he's inaccurate, and he's panicking; a quarterback's recipe for disaster.

As for the coach, Andy Reid has attributed the worst coaching season of his previously strong career. Reid has been one of the best coaches in Eagles history and more often than not appears to know what he's doing and have an edge on most of the have-not coaches in the NFL. Now, Reid seems overmatched in every game the Eagles play. Clock management has always been an issue, but this year, Andy is taking it to another level. Couple that with his complete inability to judge whether or not a play should be challenged and things have been a little rocky. For most of his career, Reid prided himself on being an introvert and a somewhat mysterious personality. Reid's philosophy has been screw everybody else, we're going to keep doing our own things, "our way or the high way." While that lead to years of NFC Championship runs and a Super Bowl berth, the magic seems to be gone. It appears as if the other team is constantly one step ahead of him and has caught on to his gameplan. The hybrid west coast offense the Eagles run is failing big time.

In my opinion, at the end of this season, one of them has to go. I like Andy and I like Donovan,
however, their time together is up. Donovan appears to have lost the ability to run the west coast offense because he simply isn't efficient enough and doesn't read defenses quickly enough. That doesn't mean that he can't be successful in another system, in fact I think he will have tremendous success for atleast a few more years before he's done. McNabb can throw the deep ball and improvise when things get broken. Somehow, Andy refuses to realize this and continues to chug away and run his stalling offense into the ground every Sunday. I also think that Andy will be successful again, but not with Donovan. He needs an efficient passer who can systematically march the team down the field and not make mistakes. Reid needs a vetern who knows when to take the risk and when to play it safe. I have to imagine that sometime soon he'll find the right guy.

2008 is a lost cause, because with a hampered Westbrook and this QB/Coach controversy, we aren't running the table, but there is no reason that the Eagles can't turn it around for 2009 and make a run at it again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cheap Seat Book Review #1: Boys Will Be Boys

Unlike most of my friends, I enjoying read books when I find one that is interesting and entertaining. Most often, these books are sports related and therefore perfect for this wonderful blog. So here's the first ever Cheap Seats Book Review:

Topic: Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty by Jeff Pearlman

In this book, Pearlman tells his insider account of the insanity that was the Cowboys dynasty in the early nineties. I was very young during this dynasty so a lot of the information and story in this book is fresh and new to me. However, I have to assume that most of this stuff is untold and uncovered insight that people never heard.

The book talks extensively about the usual suspects: Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Jimmy Johnson, and Jerry Jones. This team was so infamously popular that it is no surprise how much ridiculous stuff is packed into this book. Every chapter is filled with things that would surprise even the most outrageous and wild party people. The Cowboys did it all, from excessive drug and alcohol use, to hookers, to adultry and everywhere in between.

The showstopper in this one, is to no one's surprise the "Playmaker" himself, Irvin. I can't begin to do justice to the absurdity of Irvin's lifestyle that is retold in this book. Irvin's antics knew no bounds, whether it was the offseason or the week before the Super Bowl it didn't matter. Some how, despite all of these negatives, I was impressed by Irvin, because as Pearlman tells, Irvin was still the hardest working man on the team! However, many of his teammates didn't share his body's tremendous recovery ability and they suffered for it.

The relationship between Johnson and Jones is a common topic throughout the book also. It is lunacy how childish these two were and how much was thrown away over pride and ego. Also, the ego's of Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders make you want to spit on their shoes should you ever cross them in public. Yes, nearly all NFL and professional athletes have ridiculous, inflated self-worth and that is part of what makes them great, however Smith and Sanders redefine arrogance. Both were lazy and put themselves before the team at every instance. Meanwhile, I couldn't help but sympathize for him. He was portrayed as humble, fair, and tremendously level-headed. I'm an Eagles fan and after this book, I sort of like him (don't tell anyone, I could get my season tickets revoked).

This book is worth buying for the Irvin nonsense alone, but is all in all a great read. As is my policy on all books, buy it cheaper, used and this one is no exception. I reccomend this for anyone who reads and is a fan because it is full of insight and laughs. You can check it out and buy it on Amazon should you be inspired to do so. I loved it and i can't imagine any sports fan wouldn't. And that's coming from an Eagles fan no less.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My ESPN debut

Yesterday was one of the best, and one of the most surreal days of my life. After weeks of anticipation, I woke up at 7am and began applying my blue and gold body paint. I quickly downed a few beers, and sprinted to the Daskalakis Athletic Center wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts and about 5 pounds of body paint. When we entered the DAC, other die hard fans ushered us to the front row behind the basket, and told us to make sure the crowd got behind us.

The atmosphere was electric. I've been to the majority of Drexel's home games, but I had never seen anything like this. Within the first 10 minutes of the first half my voice was completely gone. Throught the game, I got numerous text messages and calls from people saying that they just saw me on ESPN. Unbelievable. And as for the game itself, we couldn't have asked for better. Despite Drexel's defensive dominance, we allowed Penn to come all the way back from a 15 point deficit and tie it midway through the second half. But Drexel never looked back after that, en route to tight 66-64 victory.

At halftime, a man approached me and asked what time we woke up to apply the body paint. I was a little confused as to why this man was asking me such a question, but I reluctantly answered. I later found out that this man was an reporter, and he wanted to use my quote for an online article. Just hours after the game, I logged onto and found this. Here is a short excerpt:

A 10 a.m. start time requires a lot of adjustments. Just ask those four Drexel students behind the basket what time they had to get up to apply their blue and gold "ESPN" body paint.

"Around 6:30 a.m.," said one wearily. "6:30, 7 o'clock, sometime like that."

What a day!! I got interviewed by ESPN, painted my entire body blue and gold, lost my voice, was shown on national TV, and watched Drexel dominate Penn all before noon. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

I Bet You Never Heard of this Guy

Back in the 1960's there was a 5'11, 170 pound southpaw named Steve Dalkowski. Nicknamed "White Lightning" for his ability to throw a baseball, he spent his whole career in the minor leagues, many former Major League players said that he threw a baseball harder than anyone who ever lived. Dalkowski's fastball was believed to hit 110 mph!

He never made it out of the minors because his control was so terrible. Along with many strikeouts came just as many walks but still is a legend in the Minors. Here are a few of Steve's accomplishments and some comments from baseball players and experts.

In a high school game, Dalkowski threw a no-hit, no-run game with 18 strikeouts and 18 walks.

In 1960 at Stockton on the California League, Dalkowski struck out 19 and limited Reno to four hits but walked nine and lost 8-3.

At Aberdeen in the Northern League, Dalkowski threw a one-hitter and lost 9-8.

In an Eastern League game, Dalkowski struck out 27 and walked 16 while throwing 283 pitches. In another game, he was pulled in the second inning after throwing 120 pitches.

One night at Kingsport, Dalkowski threw a pitch that tore off part of a batter's ear. "It made me so scared, I didn't even want to look at it," said Dalkowski.

In one minor league game, Dalkowski threw three pitches that penetrated the backstop and sent fans scattering.

"He was unbelievable, he threw a lot faster than Nolan Ryan. It's hard to believe but he did." Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver

"Fastest ever, I never want to face him again." - Ted Williams

Dalkowski really is an amazing story. One year he was expected to get called up by the Orioles but in a start leading up to his debut, on a throw to first, he heard something pop in his arm. After recovering, his fastball never got above 90 mph. He also has a character, Nuke, from Bull Durham that is based off of him. Dalkowski also used to drink a lot. Teammates said that he would borrow money for booze and was constantly broke. Because of his drinking, as of 1992 Steve was placed in a Health Center in Connecticut and has lived there ever since. It's terrible to see that this happened to him and I can only think of "What would have been" for this guy. Imagine a major league throw 110 mph? Everybody would want to watch him pitch.

The Most Exciting Player in College Hoops

The return of college basketball is always an amazing time of year. The passion, the determination, and the pride are what makes the college game so much more appealing to the fans than the NBA. All year we watch young stars showcase themselves to the NBA and try to run the table for the championship at the end of the year.

I personally root for UNC and I hate Duke. I always check to see how Penn is doing in the ivy league. Also, i follow some other cool teams and slowly fall in love with some new guys every year. In years past, Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon, Carmelo Anthony, etc, have been the guys that I couldn't get enough of and as this year moves forward, there is one player I'll be watching: Davidson's Stephon Curry.

You probably remember Stephon Curry from last year's March Madness, where he lead cinderella Davison to the elite eight and almost took down the eventual champ, Kansas in a heartbreaker. Unless you went to Davidson, you probably didn't see him coming. Now that the media has caught on, Curry has been getting some well deserved media attention too (here, here, here, and here).

Then to start this season, Curry has picked up right where he left off. Last night, he dropped 44(!) on Oklahoma with an array of drives and treys from all over the court. The most impressive points coming at the end of the game when he got a three off and in over monster freshman Blake Griffin. Davidson lost the game, but Curry made it a battle and must-see tv. Frankly, I'm embarrassed that I didn't list it on the side in our Must See TV This Week.

This season, Curry switched positions to play the point, partly because they lost their solild PG from last season and partly because it will improve his draft stock. He was slightly undersized for a SG and would be at a great disadvantage there in the NBA. But now, as a PG, Curry's stock is soaring up the draft board and his Davidson team is ranked #21 in the nation.

Stephon is a shoot-first guard, more of a combo guard in the model of Monte Ellis, Gilbert Arenas, or Dwayne Wade. Curry isn't as quick as Monte, but he has tremendous court awareness. Curry isn't the size of Arenas, but he is outstanding coming off screens and using his body to get in the right position to score. And Curry doesn't get to the rim like Wade, but he shoots the lights out from all over the court.

That sweet jumper is most impressive aspect of his game. Curry has a lightning quick release and can seemingly get his shot off anywhere at any time. Behind the arc, he is lethal from very, very deep. He never misses free throws and is one of the purest overall scorers in the country. Curry is wildly creative with ball in his hand and uses it to his advantage, scoring well with both hands.

Not only that, the kid showcases an award winning smile and appears to be a good, humble guy. Curry could have bolted for the NBA as a sophomore after last years March Madness showcase, but he chose to stay for his junior year and lead his teammates for another year. With Stephon Curry playing like he is, Davidson is now must-see tv everytime they play.

Best of the Bunch?

There's an interesting post on TheBigLead that discusses which of the top college wide receivers will make the best pros once they make the jump. If you haven't noticed, I love lists and rankings on who the best young players are.

All of these players will undoubtedly be drafted, most of them highly and possibly as first rounders. I'll give most guys an NFL comparison, some I've dreamed up, others I've read (maybe on TheBigLead) or heard elsewhere. Here's my thoughts on the more notable guys that I'm focused on (I don't know a ton about some of the guys near the bottom of the list):

Michael Crabtree is the star of this show and in my mind, will be an outstanding pro right out of the gate. He's smooth in his routes and has tremendous game instincts. Couple that with great size, strength, and speed and he should fit well into the NFL. Possible NFL comparison: Andre Johnson. He is just as physically imposing and should be able to take over games at the next level just as Andre does now.

Julio Jones is a big part of Alabama's dominance this season because he does it all for QB John Parker Wilson. Jones is a physical monster who reminds many of Terrell Owens but I don't think he is as naturally powerful. However, he has great hands, which is something T.O. rarely hears praise about. NFL comparison: Brandon Marshall. He's not the route runner that Marshall is, but he's got all the physical tools.

Jeremy Maclin just looks like a star college receiver. He's tall, lean, and a bolt of lightning in the open field. He just embarrases opposing defenders in space and gets to a second gear that most players just don't have. NFL comparison: DeSean Jackson. Maclin's got much better size, but he flashes that same game-breaking speed and quickness. He's dangerous coming off screen and reverses, also much like DeSean.

AJ Green is a dynamite freshman who manages to shine despite playing alongside Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno. He's got a great size/speed combo that is simply too much for most college CBs to handle. His route-running needs work, but that will come with time. NFL comparison: Larry Fitzgerald. Green's hands and body control are exceptional which should make him very successful, like Fitzgerald.

Percy Harvin is lighting fast and explodes in and out of cuts up and down the field. He is extremely versatile with tremendous agility and quickness. NFL comparison: Santan Moss (props to TheBigLead for a good spot). Harvin will get more looks out of the backfield than Moss does but he is equally as explosive and short in stature as Moss.

Derrick Williams does it all for Penn State and has all of the necessary tools to be a good pro. He receives it, rushes it, and returns it, all extremely well. But what sets him apart is the mental aspect of his game. Williams is an extremely hard worker on and off the field. He does all the little things right: route-running, blocking, reading defenses, etc. Also, he possesses 4.3 speed and decent size at 6' 200 lbs. NFL comparison: Reggie Wayne. He has all of Wayne's best attritubes in his smarts, body control, and adept ability for getting open. I think Williams will be better utilized in the NFL than he currently is at Penn State and his stock will rise greatly at the combine later this year.


For the past few weeks, Boomer and the boys on ESPN have been doing a segment titled, "Come on Man!". During the piece they pick out something that a player did or said and call them out on it. At the end of their talk they all let out a loud "come on man!". For example one week Keyshaun Johnson called out one of Tampa Bay's kick returners for getting jacked up by the Cowboys kicker on a return. Immediately I fell in love with this piece and want to briefly point out something that a player said this weekend that I couldn't believe. That is Philadelphia Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb admitting that he didn't know there were ties in football.

Donovan, you've been in the league for about 10 years now. You get paid millions of dollars, much of which you don't even deserve. Then you go into Cincinnati with your team still in position to make a playoff run, and you play one of the worst games of your career. This horrific play is the reason the game went into OT and the Eagles tied the 1-8 Bengals. This was the first tie in the league in six years. In your post game press conference, you told everyone that you didn't know that there were ties in football and you thought the game would continue into a second OT. For a veteran QB in the NFL to not know a rule like that is embarrassing. You were even in the league in 2002 when the last tie happened, you should know this rule. Even me, a person who never played a down of competitive football knew that rule. I can't believe you actually didn't know that rule. For years I've been calling you the most overratted athlete in sports, and every biased Eagles fan was quick to defend you. After seeing that you're not a good QB and seeing your attitude and relationship has changed with Philadelphia over the past few years, I probably should have expected something like this out of you. I mean, you do play in Philly right? Take some time to read the rulebook this week so something like this doesn't occur this Sunday...... COME ON MAN!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Week 11 Power Rankings

1. Giants (9-1) - It’s pretty hard to not put Tennessee #1, but is there a more balanced team in the NFL? Championship football teams run the ball and play strong defense. The Giants do both with ease.

2. Titans (10-0)- I really like Tennessee, so I hate to use the “who have they played?” card, but they have only beat one team with a winning record (Indianapolis).

3. Steelers (7-3) – Will the real Ben Roethlisberger please stand up? If Big Ben can figure out a way to protect the football, the Steelers will be dangerous come January.

4. Buccaneers (7-3)- This may come as a shock to some people, but the Buccaneers offense is ranked 9th in the NFL. So why are they only averaging 21.9 ppg? The Bucs rank last in redzone offense.

5. Panthers (7-3) - Two straight pathetic performances by Jake Delhomme. The Panthers are entering a very tough stretch of games. I wouldn’t be shocked if they missed the playoffs.

6. Jets (7-3)- As long as you have Brett Favre behind center, your team is pretty damn good.

7. Cardinals (7-3)- No matter how the rest of the season plays out, its clear that Kurt Warner belongs in the hall of fame.

8. Colts (6-4) - Their week 10 victory over Pittsburgh may have saved their season, but I’m still not sold on the Colts. We’ll see how well Peyton Manning’s knee holds up down the stretch.

9. Cowboys (6-4) - I firmly believe that Tony Romo is the best quarterback in the NFL. If he can shake off the rust, the Cowboys may have a shot to win their first playoff game since 1996.

10. Redskins (6-4)- After nearly setting an NFL record for consecutive attempts without an interception, Jason Campbell has thrown at least 1 INT in back to back weeks.

11. Patriots (6-4) - I’m gonna go on record and say this. The Patriots WILL NOT make the playoffs.

12. Broncos (6-4) - The colder the weather gets, the more dangerous Denver becomes.

13. Ravens (6-4)- The Ravens backfield confuses me. One week its McGahee, then its Ray Rice, then its LeRon McClain. They need more consistency if they want to make the playoffs.

14. Falcons (6-4)- Thank you Matt Ryan, for slamming the door shut on the Mike Vick era.

15. Dolphins (6-4) - I really like the Dolphins. They are unconventional, and creative. Between the wildcat, exotic blitz packages, and Chad Pennington, the Dolphins are not your average team. But they make it work.

16. Packers (5-5) - That was a statement victory. The NFC North is wide open, and I like the Pack.

17. Eagles (5-4-1) - Mark my words, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb will not return in 2009.

18. Bills (5-5) - That brought back flashbacks to Scot Norwood’s wide right. I feel for Bills fans.

19. Saints (5-5)- The Saints are a great team in Madden, but that’s about it.

20. Bears (5-5) - What the hell was that? Forget the quarterback issues, I think the biggest problem is the head coach

21. Vikings (5-5) - I got a chance to watch a full game of Adrian Peterson for the first time and Sunday, and this kid is the real deal. He has the best moves I’ve seen since Barry Sanders. But similar to those old Lions teams, he doesn’t have much of a supporting cast.

22. Chargers (4-6) - How many more times chances does Norv Turner get to prove he's not a head coach. Also, with stars all over the field, is it simply underachieving and inconsistency or is time to move the team in another personnel direction?

23. Jaguars (4-6) - I firmly believe that the Jaguars are far better than their record shows, but the biggest problem for Jacksonville is surprisingly their defense. The Jaguars have the 23rd ranked offense, and the 18th ranked defense. That makes winning difficult.

24. Browns (4-6) - Brady Quinn is going to be a stud. But Braylon Edwards needs to remember how to catch the ball again for this offense to be prolific.

25. 49ers (3-7) - You gotta give Mike Singletary credit. If nothing else, he has injected passion into the organization.

26. Texans (3-7) - Two of my favorite players in the NFL: Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton. Its unfortunate that Houston is holding them hostage.

27. Seahawks (2-8) - They finally get Matt Hasselbeck healthy, and he plays one of the worst games of his career. This team is a mess.

28. Chiefs (2-8) - Tyler Thigpen gives Chiefs fans a reason for hope. I think this kid is gonna be a star

29. Bengals (1-8-1) - Good effort against a struggling Eagles team, but how painful was it to lose like that?

30. Rams (1-9) - At first I thought Jim Haslett was going to keep this job in 2009. Now I’m not so sure.

31. Raiders (2-8) - Is it too early to call JaMarcus Russell a bust? I say no. One thing is clear Al, the problem was not Lane Kiffin.

32. Lions (0-10) - I really feel for Rod Marinelli, because I think he has a good career ahead of him. But this Lions team will make history and go 0-16.

Top 25 Baseball Players Under 29, Who Ya Got?

Bill James is the resident genius among baseball statisticians and sabermetricians and recently released his annual baseball yearly review book. A quick review of some of the book can be found at the Baseball Analysts. Now, I haven't read this, but I have read Bill James before. He is constantly forward thinking, intelligent, and to the point, which makes for some great baseball thinking whenever you get some time to read his books.

In this year's edition, James lists his top 25 players under the age of 29. This list is "based on proven major league talents, not prospects or young players who are not yet proven as major league players." I found this section in a post over at It is about the money, stupid, where one man shares his opinion on James' selections. However, I've got my own thoughts and questions on the list, some very similar to the thoughts from IIATMS. Here's the list, then the rambling:
  1. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, age 24
  2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins shortstop, age 24
  3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants pitcher, age 24
  4. David Wright, New York Mets third baseman, age 25
  5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, age 24
  6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, age 24
  7. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder, age 23
  8. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels pitcher, age 26
  9. Jose Reyes, New York Mets shortstop, age 25
  10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles right fielder, age 24
  11. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals pitcher, age 24
  12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23
  13. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, age 24
  14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies shortstop, age 23
  15. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners pitcher, age 22
  16. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher, age 24
  17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, age 22
  18. John Danks, Chicago White Sox pitcher, age 23
  19. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres first baseman, age 26
  20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, age 24
  21. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop, age 25
  22. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves catcher, age 24
  23. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, age 25
  24. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians center fielder, age 25
  25. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds first baseman, age 24

First of all, I have trouble rambling about this because Bill James compilled the list and has an infinitely wider aray of baseball knowledge than I do. Also, I should probably read the book for more in depth analysis on the list and you should too. Nonetheless, here's my take on the names, at first glance.

Prince Fielder topping the list really surprises me. There is no doubt that he is a great power hitter, but I see him as much less of a complete player than most of the guys near the top of this list. I would have seen him closer to fifth. Behind, Ramirez, Lincecum, Wright and Braun, who I think are ordered accurately.

I'm very high on Matt Kemp and think he'll be a fantastic player some day (soon), but I'm not sure if I think he tops Hamels, King Felix, Lester, Longoria, or Sizemore.

Speaking of Sizemore...#24? I understand that he didn't perform to fully to potential this year, but he is a superstar and much more established than many of the names above him, especially everyone in the 18-23 range, with the exception of possibly Adrian Gonzalez, but he isn't the complete player that Sizemore is.

Also, Longoria seems low at #17. He struggled mightily in the World Series, but showed all season why he was hyped so much as a prospect. He is a superstar in the making and deserves more credit on this list.

As for IIATMS' comment on Joakim Soria up at 11, I don't have a problem with his ranking. Yes, I am a charter member of his fan club, however his numbers don't lie. He is a fantastic closer and a top of the line pitcher. It can definitely argue that he is a little too high, however you won't be getting that argument here. Soria is the truth, and he will be displaying that for years to come.

Hamels should probably be a little higher based on the fabulous playoff run he just put together. That doesn't change the good, not great regular season that he had, however, it was a wildly impressive.

And congrats to Nick Markakis for getting some love outta Baltimore. He is a great player who doesn't get the attention he deserves while toiling away in the AL East cellar with the lowly Orioles.

If I was king of the sabermetric world and people would pay for my opinion I probably alter the list a little. But, I'm not and I won't pretend that I can statistically back these comments up. The list is out there and up for discussion. I can't be the only one left a little confused...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Scot Green's 64 Million Dollar Mistake

When referee Scot Green incorrectly overturned Troy Polamalu's game clinching TD as time expired, he did more than create the first ever 11-10 score in NFL history. The slip-up cost gamblers an estimated $64 million, based on estimates from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

According to the Tribune, 66 percent of the estimated $100 million that was bet on the game was in favor of Pittsburgh, with the spread ranging between -4.5 and -5. The puzzling call wiped away a touchdown which would have brought the score to 17-10, enough for Pittsburgh to cover. According to Green, an illegal forward pass occured prior to Polamalu's touchdown, resulting in a dead ball. This would be a logical explanation if a.) there actually was a forward pass, and b.) the ball had hit the ground. Since the ball never hit the ground, according to NFL rules, it is not a dead ball, and the penalty can be declined. After the game, the NFL contacted Green and informed him that he had misinterpreted the rule.

I'm hoping this is an isolated incident, but I'm worried that its not. I don't want to say that the NFL is fixed, but sometimes I really wonder. This is the second similiar incident that has occured this season with the Chargers involved. Last time, a mistake by Ed Houchili cost gamblers millions of dollars. Coincidence? Maybe. Is it also a coincidence that Pittsburgh commited 13 penalties to San Diego's 2? (Including a horrible holding call which negated another Pittsburgh TD)

The bottom line is that the NFL is fueled by gambling, whether they want to admit it or not. I really don't think its that far-fetched to imagine the NFL influencing calls. At the very least, Roger Goddell needs to address the way referees handle the last two minutes of the game. It all starts with making referees more accountable for their actions. Especially with millions of dollars riding on the outcome.

Let's Not Start That Again

With the close of baseball season, comes as it always does, the MVP debate. Yes, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Manager of the Year and the Gold Gloves inspire debate amongst fans. However, every year there seems to be a heated battle for MVP in one league or another. This year pits Ryan Howard vs. Albert Pujols, but let's give it some history before we delve into this one.

In '06, Howard and Pujols went 1 on 1 for the award and Howard won it, riding the coat-tails of his fabolous finish that carried the Phillies to a near playoff miss at the hands of the tough NL East. Shortly after, Pujols held a press conference to complain about the injustice of the award because his Cardinals made the playoffs and that should be all that matters. Pujols hit an astounding .331 with 49 HRs and 137 RBIs. But, he lost to Howard's .313 with 58 and 149. The award came down to the writer's rewarding Howard for his late surge when it mattered most. Also, Pujols won the award in 2005, a year earlier. This shouldn't matter, but you have to think that played a part in the process.

Now in '08, the tables turned. Pujols' team missed the playoffs despite his other-worldly numbers and Ryan Howard's made the playoffs off another of his summer surges. Not to mention the fact that they went on to win the World Series! Pujols posted a dominant .357/37/116 (coupled with a year long elbow injury) and Howard hit .251/48/146. And this year, Pujols won and was a 17-7 favorite over Howard as voted by ESPN's experts. The Cardinals finished 5 games out of the wild card. When Howard won it, the Phils were 3 games off the wild card when the season ended. That's not a large disparity, but that's not mentioning Pujols' own complaining when he lost to a man whose team wasn't playoff bound.

I can't fight the feeling that the writer's tried to be fair and give Pujols the award now that things are the opposite. Also, not many people outside of Philadelphia are too crazy about the idea of three straight Phillies MVPs. However, in the end, Ryan Howard and the World Champion Phillies won the bigger prize. And being a Phillies fan, I should be counting my blessings and not complaining. There will be a post about the champs soon and seeing as I attended the clinching win, there should be plenty to talk about.

Anquan Boldin Redefines Masculinity

As you almost certainly saw, during the Week 5 Jets-Cardinals matchup, Anquan Boldin was pulverized during garbage time of the Jets blowout victory. Boldin lept between two defenders and was sandwiched and exactly the wrong time from exactly the wrong angle. Long story short, Jets Safety Eric Smith delievered a devastating accidental blow to Boldin's head. For minutes, Anquan laid motionless on the turf, until he was eventually carted off the field and taken out via ambulance. And to make matters worse, he never gave the pattened injured athlete wave or thumbs up.

In the ensuing day, rumors circulated that he was okay and wanted to get up soon after we was out, but the doctors denied him and others that he was dead. This was a horrific accident to say the least and made worse by the fact that it was during a meaningless point in a blowout loss.

After seeing the doctors, Boldin had facial reconstructive surgery later in the week. Apparently, they had to lift the dangling skin on his face to insert the 9 plates that are in his face! How do you play professional football with metal plates in your face? Boldin sat out the next two weeks, to no one's surprise. Then, a mere three weeks later, he started and caught nine passes and two touchdowns at Carolina! Followed that with 6 catches and a TD in St. Louis, then 7 catches and two TD's in San Fran! Then this week in Seattle, he explodes for over 180 and dominates again!

Mind you, this is the same receiver who is paid 4 times less than his fellow WR Larry Fitzgerald and management in Arizona is hesistant to give him the contract that he is so obviously worth. Boldin was a fantastic receiver who willingly went across the middle and took beating after beating. That was before he had his face rearranged! And only 20 days later, he's cruising through the middle and punishing defenders everywhere. If Boldin isn't rewarded with a massive market-value contract than everyone in Arizona should be fined, fired, or beaten for their indecency and inadequacy.

Another thing to think about, as discussed by ESPN's The Sports Guy, how many other players would have recovered, not to mention returning to form and dominating so soon after? Not enough can be said about the toughness and determination of Anquan Boldin. I play hurt in sports all the time, but with little aches and sprains. If my face was dripping off my head, I would most assuredly be lounging at home, complaining. This is why it isn't at all surprising to see the "captain's C" on Boldin's jersey.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Best Players Without Rings

For a while, I have been trying to make a list of who the best athletes of all time were, who never won a championship. Although many great athletes have failed to get one, here are just a few amazing athletes on my list.

1. Ted Williams- In my book, Ted Williams is the 2nd best hitter in baseball history besides Babe Ruth. Williams who lost 2 seasons due to serving for his country, played 21 seasons with the Red Sox. The Splendid Splinter had a career batting average of .344 (6th all time), 521 homers (15th all time), and 1839 RBI (13th all time). Teddy Ballgame also ranks 1st in On-Base Percentage (.482), has 2 Triple Crowns, 2 MVP's, six batting titles, and is a 17 time All Star, and was named to the All Century Team in 1999. Despite these incredible numbers, Williams was cursed by the Bambino and never got his World Series title.

2. Dan Marino- Arguably the greatest QB of all time. He has records in 22 different offensive categories, and tied in a few others. He was a NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. Marino is second to only Brett Favre in touchdowns with 420, almost 5,000 completions and nearly a 60% completion percentage. It was bad luck that he played on a terrible team for most of his career but Marino is an all time great. The only thing missing from his trophy room is a ring.

3. John Stockton/Karl Malone- I put these two guys together because whenever you think about one, the other one is also in mind. Malone who is 2nd in scoring all time and one of the best rebounders to ever play the game was an incredible force for his 17 year career. He was also a 2 time MVP. But the "Mail Man" wouldn't be able to deliver those types of number if it wasn't for his counterpart, John Stockton. J-Stock is the all time leader in assists and led the league in the category 9 times. He is truly one of the best point guards who ever lived, and if it weren't for Michael Jordan, Stockton and Malone would have probably won 2 championships in the 90's.

I'm not saying that Malone/Stockton is number 3 on my all time list, but Ted Williams and Dan Marino are absolutely my top 2. I know that there are tons more athletes out there that I am leaving off this list such as Ken Griffey Jr, Patrick Ewing, Gale Sayers, Marcel Dionne (for my hockey fans out there), Pistol Pete, Tony Gwynn, and many more. It really makes me mad when someone says an athlete can't have a good career if he doesn't have a championship. That could not be more ridiculous in my book. If that were the case, then Shane Spencer would have a better career than Ted Williams or Trent Dilfer would have a better career than Dan Marino. So please, don't think less of an athlete because he didn't win the big one. But those are just my thoughts.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just A Quick Note About Rutgers Football

My people, Rutgers Football is back like cooked crack. Their dominate 49-16 win over South Florida today pushed their record to .500 at 5-5. They are also now 4-2 in conference play and fourth overall in the Big East.

Lets compare to the other bloggers and see how there schools are doing this football season
University of Pennsylvania : 5-4 (4-2 in Ivy League Play).
Drexel University - 0-0 (do not exist)
Seton Hall University - 0-0 (do not exist)

Well by the looks of things, it seems I have the advantage and am able to talk the most trash when it comes to my teams football season.

small note to keep in the back of your minds
Michael Crabtree - 78 rec. 1010 yds. 18 tds. 12.9 yds/rec
Kenny Britt - 68 rec. 994 yds. 5 tds. 14.6 yds/rec
pretty close right?

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