Monday, March 31, 2008

Thank God for (The Real) Opening Day

I am typing this with Sharon's laptop sitting next to me with the Tigers game, and the TV on in the other room with the Reds game. I love me some baseball!
I will refer to this as the Real Opening Day, because I don't believe that the Oakland/Boston series in Japan should qualify as Opening Day. Why? Call me crazy, but I have a hard time buying that series as Opening Day, when both teams still played in Spring Training games after that series.
I also believe in an Opening Day like this one, with games on virtually every hour of the day. The Nationals and Braves played last night, but it was only one game, and, seeing as how I don't have ESPN, I couldn't watch it. So this, my friend, is the Real Opening Day. And I love it.

My love of the Packers (being a kid from the Detroit area) is a little strange. My grandfather cheers for all Detroit teams. My grandmother liked football, and decided during a Packers/Lions game one day that she would cheer for the Packers (this may have been because she wanted to piss off my grandfather, or it could have been because she liked the colors...the details are fuzzy). Anyway, she cheered for the Packers during that game, and every game thereafter. When my dad got into sports, he latched on to Detroit sports, but he followed my grandmother down the Packer path. Our family, then, was raised as Detroit sports fans, who loved the Packers more than the Lions.
Sidenote: My older brother, Cris, didn't really take to this. He likes the Red Wings, but the Penguins are his hockey team. He likes the Packers, but the Patriots are his football team. He doesn't really care about basketball (as it turns out, I'm the only member of my family who loves the NBA). However, he is a Tigers fan, so he's got that going for him.

I was upset to see Davidson ousted from the tournament. What was that last play? "Alright, let's have Curry dribble around with two guys on him, then have him pass the ball 5 feet outside the arc with 1.5 seconds left. Nooooow...BREAK!" And Louisville had a chance, but completely blew their last 4 possessions. Now we have to watch all four number one seeds play, with the knowledge that thousands of people around the country who know nothing about college basketball are set to win their brackets, simply because they picked the number one seeds. That makes me a little sick.

For the record, I have Endinson Volquez on my fantasy team. I'm fairly excited about this.

Here's another baseball thought, that I just became aware of in the past couple of years. For as long as I could remember, the Tigers were terrible. They were pretty much out of the playoffs by the middle of the season. As such, I didn't have much to worry about. But when they started being a good team, I realized just how painful it is to track games down the stretch. There are 16 games in a football season, and it's hard to watch your team trying to make the playoffs, especially when they're not playing all that well, or if they have a tough string of games in front of them. But that's nothing compared to watching games for a month, hoping and praying that your team doesn't melt down. Two seasons ago, when the Tigers went to the World Series, they didn't have a good final month, and they were in danger of missing the playoffs. As it was, they lost the division when they were swept by the Royals in their last series, needing only one win to clinch the division. It's a tough sport to watch, especially in the final month, and I never realized just how bad it was until a couple of years ago.

Detroit's in the 10th. Cincy's battling back. I love baseball.

-Dusty

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stuff...Lotsa stuff

How did you get onto the Packers when you are from the Detroit area? I’m curious. I understand that Duke hate but I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a non-Duke fan hate UNC for no real reason. I don’t mind them or USC football. I actually got into them in the Bush/Leinart days when they were always talked about. Guess I’m in the minority here.

I wasn’t saying Hibbert has the chance to be the next Shane Battier. It sounds weird to say but there will be few Shane Battiers in the future. Not because of his talent, but because of his mindset. This guy is completely selfless and devoted to playing defense, which is something a lot of young players shun now. I just think he could be a solid role player. Although being 7 feet and two inches tall should spell domination and not role player in my book, it is what it is.

Louisville is playing disturbingly well. If they get past UNC, which is completely feasible, all bets are off. Usually I would wish ill will on Louisville but I would actually like to see them do well. Preston Knowles and I went to elementary school together and I would like to see him do well.

Baseball prediction time.

Out of the AL, I’ll take the Red Sox, Cleveland, the Angels (I don’t know if I should call them Anaheim or Los Angeles…I just don’t know) as division winners and the Yankees as the wild card winner. Sorry, I just don’t know about the Tigers. Willis is off to a shaky start, in Spring Training no less, but still. Maybe that adjustment to the AL will be a little tough for him. Now the Magglio Ordonez`-Jose` Canseco drama. When will it end? I can see the Tigers just missing the postseason. Sorry fella.

In the NL, the division winners will be Philly, Chicago, San Diego and Milwaukee as the wild card. Like the Tigers, I am not sold on New York and their big move this offseason. That choke job may still be lingering in their mind.

Indians beat the Red Sox this time around for the AL Pennant. Brewers slide by the Phillies on their way to the World Series. I’m thinking twice about my selection but I’m going to stick with it. The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Indians in 7 games to win the 2008 World Series.

-Tyler

To the haters...

To the haters (I can't believe I have haters...even if I do know both of them):
Allow me to be crystal clear: I never said I hated UNC basketball because of bandwagon fans. I hate UNC basketball because I can't help it; because watching them makes my skin crawl (and not in a good way). I'm sorry Ben...that's just the way I feel. I know you're a fan, and that's cool. I don't begrudge you that. You can't help the teams you love. For instance, Cris has been a Patriots fan since their 2-14 days, so I can't hate him for still loving them now, when they're everywhere. I'm happy for him, as I'm happy for you. Being a fan of a team is an odd thing: you live and die with their wins and losses, and you take it as a personal attack when someone says something negative about them.
Now, my love of the Red Wings. Anyone who knows me knows that my pro alliances (with the exception of the Packers) are all Detroit-related, as I was born in that area, and lived around there a number of times during my impressionable sports years. I love the Tigers, and have loved them all through the years (yes, even the 119 loss year). The Pistons have had some dark times, and I loved them as much then as I do now that they're (arguably) a contender every year. And yes, I love the Red Wings...but don't put them in the same boat as the Yankees. I understand a hockey fans hate of the Red Wings...again, if a team is good for too long (17 straight playoff appearances, for instance), people begin to despise them. I get it. However, there is a strict salary cap on hockey, which makes the Wings dominance different than the Yankees. When the Yankees have won, it is due to spending a TON of money to draw the "best" (or, rather, biggest name) players to their team. Of course you can win if your payroll is hovering around the $200 million mark. The Wings have won consistently with a salary cap in place. That is more impressive than the Yankees, as far as I'm concerned. Feel free to hate on them...I can't stop you.
Like Ben with UNC basketball, I can't help that I love the Wings; they're the team that I grew up with, and I couldn't change my sports allegiances, even if I wanted to (which I don't).

And Tyler, just to clear things up, I LOVE my mom and apple pie. I got excited over Spring Training. I am about as American as you can get. Hating USC football and UNC basketball doesn't make me un-American...it makes me pretty normal, I would imagine. If I were to pick, I would say that USC football is my most-hated college team (Duke basketball is in a very close second place). I hate everything about them. Again...I can't help it, it's just the way it is.

I guess I see your point about Hibbert...I overreacted. Sorry. He does have a chance to be a serviceable power forward...but I don't see him as the next Shane Battier. I just don't. I can see him averaging 9 points, 4 rebounds a game. Not terrible, but not great, either. To answer your question, I don't think you're wrong; I would rather take Hibbert than someone who could end up being the next Darko. I would rather have a guy who could at least put up semi-solid numbers, rather than the guy who has a 50/50 chance of being great or a bust. Games are often won and lost with solid role players...and that's what Hibbert has a good chance of being. He may be a good option off the bench, but I don't see him making much noise as a starter (at least not in his first couple of years)...unless he gets drafted by Memphis or something. He could prove me wrong. I hope he does. I really liked him last year. But he seems to have taken a step backwards this year. I hope it's just a blip. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Tennessee's out. There goes my bracket. They seemed like a good choice at the time. I should've known better. Still, Louisville is playing great basketball. I would not want to play them right now.
You know who else is playing great basketball? UNC. They have some games where they look beatable, and other games where they look downright terrifying. Scary team. I'm still not sold on UCLA. They have looked good, but less than impressive (except for their first-round beatdown). I'll keep an eye on them.

Alright...let's get to baseball predictions. The season has officially been kicked off, so it's about time we get down to this.

AL East
Boston
New York
Tampa Bay
Toronto
Baltimore

AL Central
Detroit
Cleveland
Chicago
Minnesota
Kansas City

AL West
Los Angeles
Seattle
Oakland
Texas

AL Playoff Teams
Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Seattle as the Wild Card team (this is the year that age catches up with New York. If they make the playoffs, it has everything to do with Giaradi).

NL East
Philadelphia
Atlanta
New York
Florida
Washington

NL Central
Chicago
Milwaukee
Cincinnati
St. Louis
Houston
Pittsburgh

NL West
Arizona
Colorado
San Diego
Los Angeles
San Francisco

Playoff Teams
Philadelphia, Chicago, Arizona, with Milwaukee as the Wild Card (this could also go to Colorado, but I see them having a letdown year).

Tigers beat the Angels for the AL pennant, while the Diamondbacks beat the Cubs for the NL pennant. Tigers win the series in 6 over the Diamondbacks.

Your turn.

-Dusty

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hysterical for Hibbert

You know, as a Kentucky fan, you think I would hate Duke, but I actually don’t. I was like 4 years old when the Christian Laettner shot happened so I don’t remember that. I never got into adopting rivalries over things that happened before I was born or before I formed an interest in sports. Hating the Boston Bean Eaters for something they did in 1897 just seemed kind of pointless to me. I also used to like to watch Duke when they had Jason Williams. To this day he is one of the better college players I have ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to see them fall but I don’t hate them. One of the best sporting events I have ever seen live involved Duke. Two NCAA tournaments ago, Duke played LSU in Atlanta and I was there. I saw JJ Redick’s 3-18 performance against Tyrus Thomas and Big Baby Davis. I saw him collapse into tears into Coach K’s arms with my own two eyes. I heard the uproar of laughter and “JJ Sucks” chants with my own two ears. Be jealous. I also have to root for JJ because he plays for the Magic now…and I use the word “plays” very loosely.

UNC basketball and USC football too? You don’t hate Mom or apple pie as well do you?

I’d actually be surprised if Hibbert lasted until the second round. You can’t teach 7’2 and he has at least put up consistent numbers for a top school. Somebody will take a chance on him. I can really see him turning into a serviceable center if you put him with a dominant power forward, like a Carlos Boozer. I don’t know how much upside he has but upside is overrated. Everyone wants every draft pick to be a superstar and while its wishful thinking; it’s just not going to happen.

Case in point, the Shane Battier for Rudy Gay trade a couple years ago. Coming into the draft, Rudy Gay was the great unknown: A guy with all the talent in the world, but his heart was questionable at best. He could be a 25 point per game scorer or a bust and one of those guys who could have been the best player in the league if he wanted it bad enough. With Battier, you knew what you were getting from him. Around 10 ppg, a great defender, a completely selfless teammate and an even better person by all accounts. Is that so bad to have? If Memphis has Battier right now, maybe they have 10 wins instead of the 15 they have. If Houston has Gay, I honestly don’t see him having the success he is having right now. He would stand around and watch McGrady go one on one possession after possession. He wouldn’t be able to lock up Kobe the way Battier did a few games ago and I’m willing to bet there is no 22 game win streak involved.

I say that to say this. I can see some team coming down to a choice of Hibbert or Sskdjfhsf Kklsjdhfsitis, the next project out of Greece. He has potential to be the next Dirk Nowitzki, you know. Is Hibbert and his perhaps limited potential so bad compared to a player we know nothing about? Am I in the wrong here?

-Tyler

Hating Duke...Do I Need a Reason?

That's not the first time I've seen that Vince Carter commercial, and it certainly won't be the last. It kills me. If I was a Raptors fan, I think I would murder a man every time I watched it.
What kills me is that he shows more dedication to his work in that commercial than he has on the basketball court in a long, looooong time (if ever). What a waste. If I had half of his talent, I could be playing in the NBA right now.
Here's one more story about Vince Carter, and I'll move off of the topic (at least for now). I had him on my fantasy basketball team in his contract year. A contract year, of course, motivates even the most lackluster of players. I was positively giddy. Anything was possible. I was waiting for him to average 40 points, 12 rebounds a game. What happened? He had a decent year, but nothing earth-shattering. Yet, through the entire year, he showed little to no drive. He was playing for what would, in all likelihood, be his last big payday. And he didn't look like he cared at all. So what did the Nets do? They rewarded him with a contract that was way too big, and tried to trade him before the trade deadline this year. They knew this would happen, and they gave him money anyway. If you're a team signing Vince Carter at this point, wouldn't you just sign him to a one-year deal, hope he plays hard to get paid, then cut your losses at the end of the year if it didn't work out? The Nets are now handicapped for another couple of years. I'm not saying it's their fault, but they can't say they didn't see this coming.

OK...so three players from UK made field goals. No wonder they came so close to winning. I heard my information from the man on the talking television box, so I automatically believed him. If you can't trust TV, what can you trust?
I'm with you on Crawford. Someone is going to draft him a full 20 slots higher than he deserves, all because of his last game. Welcome to the NBA, Joe Crawford...let's hope you land with a team with a fan base who won't kill you.

Hibbert will land somewhere, but I'd be surprised if he went during the first round. Had he come out last year, he would have been a top-15 pick.

Why do I hate Duke? I didn't think I needed a reason. Isn't most hatred completely unfounded? To be honest with you, I don't know exactly why I hate Duke, but I'll try to explain it as best as I know how.
As is the case with many people, I have a hard time liking a team that has been good for a long time, unless I loved the team to begin with. Sure, there are bandwagon jumpers (I'm sneering at all those wearing brand new Boston Red Sox and New York Giants gear), but, for the most part, when a team has been on top for a long time (Patriots, Yankees, Spurs, etc.), people tend to start hating them. The hatred grows so deep, that you find more ways to hate them; more things to dislike about them.
I can't stand watching Duke. All their players have that same smug, pompous look to them. There is almost always one player that has this look more than others, to an extremely obnoxious extent (most recently, it has been JJ Reddick and Greg Paulus). And, of course, behind it all stands Coach K. You want to talk about smug? I just want to reach through the TV and ring his neck. He looks like he thinks he is better than everyone he has ever come in contact with. Now, I have never met the man. I probably will never meet the man. He could be a fantastic guy...but I can't stand looking at him.
The same goes for UNC basketball.
The same goes for USC football.
I can't help it. The hatred takes over.
To be perfectly honest with you, I don't think I would stop it even if I could (but I can't, so it doesn't matter).

-Dusty

Monday, March 24, 2008

Potential is for suckers

What is it with your hate of Duke? Not that I care about anyone’s reason to hate Duke, I’m just curious. Coach K out on the first weekend two straight years? Where is the FireCoachK blog? The man is obviously past his prime. Of course, I’m just joking but it just seems unfair the treatment a coach like Tubby Smith received, compared to a Coach like Coach K.

“I’d have to say he, Sheed and Joe Crawford of UK headline the “Why won’t you Care?” All-Stars.”
-Me, 03-20-08, before the UK game.

Joe Crawford obviously saw this blog and decided to go beast mode on Marquette: 35 points on 13-22 shooting and 5 boards to boot. By the way, three of our players hit field goals, not two as you mentioned. Get your facts straight jack. Games like the one Crawford ended his college career, and possibly played himself into the NBA, with only seem to upset me more about guys like him, Vince Carter and Rasheed Wallace. He could honestly do that every game. His offensive skill set is well rounded enough to average more than the 18 ppg he did this season. It’s the same with Vince Carter. Vince Carter, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady are the only players in the league to average 20 points, 5 boards and 5 assists a game. How ironic is it that two names on that list, McGrady and Carter, are not only related but are also criticized for their lack of effort? Coincidence? I think not. It really makes you appreciate the Jordan’s, Garnett’s and Duncan’s as guys who have the talent to coast, but refuse to settle and give 110 percent every game.

Before I forget, special thanks to Roy Hibbert for the 6 points and 1 rebound he put up before he found time to snuff my bracket. Couldn’t have done it without ya big guy.

As a bonus, I have thrown in this video just for you. Apparently this was filmed months before he admitted to quitting on the Raptors and the commercial was scheduled to be released days before whined his way into a trade to New Jersey. You may need to watch it a few times to realize how funny this really is.



-Tyler

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Wish Granted, and the Madness of Vinsanity

"I don't just coach baaasketball. I also coach people. That is why I make my team lose in the second round every year...so that I can focus on making them better people."
Way to be, Coach K.
My wish was granted. Sure, it wasn't Belmont in the first round, but West Virginia in the second round isn't so bad, either. See ya next year, Duke..I hope we see more of the same.

I realize that I responded to your last post without mentioning Vince Carter. How did that happen? Vince Carter makes me madder than just about anyone in the NBA. He has an insane amount of talent, and, when he's working hard, he can be as amazing as anyone in the league. But he mails in more games than any player I've ever seen. He refuses to play defense, and normally stands outside the three-point line on offense, playing a game of one-on-five until he decides to jack up a terrible shot. Vince Carter is capable of superstardom...but he is, apparently, quite happy playing a medicore game on an awful team. Here's to you, Vince Carter.

-Dusty

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dusty Baker, and a Wish for Duke's Painful Death

Here's a Dusty Baker question for you: did he have success in San Francisco because it was a perfect fit for him, or because he was a good coach? He had talent in Chicago, but they didn't do anything during his tenure there. Pinella went to the playoffs in his first season with the Cubs. Granted, Soriano was not in Chicago when Baker was there, but he still had talent. This Cincy situation seems an awful lot like Chicago to me. I hope I'm wrong. I'm not a huge Reds fan, but I do like them, and would like to see them playing well. I don't see it going well, though.

I know you're not happy about UK. I guess that's what happens when only two players hit field goals (which is the most startling stat I've heard in a long time). It would have been nice to have seen them make it to the second round, but thems the breaks...especially when they're not really that great of a team.
I, however, am severely upset that Belmont lost to Duke. Partly because I picked Belmont in that game, but mostly because I hate Duke, and want to see them die a horrible, painful death (much like I wish on the Yankees everywhere). There's not a whole lot I love more than seeing a hated team perish in flames (not literally, of course).

God bless March Madness. I love this time of year...and I'm not even a big fan of college basketball.

That's all for now. Apparently I am at a loss for words.

-Dusty

Thursday, March 20, 2008

One time Tim Duncan went to band camp...

I’m very excited for the Volquez era. He is probably one of the first actual pitchers with potential we have acquired since Aaron Harang, who is our #1 started and has among the league leaders in strikeouts the past couple of seasons. Baker really worries me though. His teams have had success in the past but I just don’t see him as a good fit for us. I hope I am wrong.

Nice pick with Tennessee. I have seen a lot of them this year and they have a very good team. They are built around a team full of athletes and that works well in the college game. I’m not sold on their half court game though. If they can run, they will win a few games but if a team can force them to slow it down, they are vulnerable.

Rasheed Wallace could honestly be the best player in this league. You mentioned his great offensive game but he is also one of the better passing big men in the game. His post defense can be downright stifling. He routinely plays well against Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan, surprisingly enough. He can also hold his own against KG and Shaq. He could absolutely be one of the best players of all-time if he just wanted it bad enough. Same with Vince Carter. Yes, his numbers still look nice look nice but he is probably one of the more notable cases of wasted potential not involving injuries. I’d have to say he, Sheed and Joe Crawford of UK headline the “Why won’t you Care?” All-Stars.

Cut Brown some slack. He came out of the Spurs farm system. The same Spurs that gave us such outlandish personalities such as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and David “Party Animal” Robinson.

I am currently watching the UK game. I am not pleased.

Not a hockey fan either. Sorry fella.
-Tyler

March Madness, and Just General, Overall Madness

I am a Cordero fan. Provided the Reds can keep it close until the 9th, Cordero isn't a man to blow many saves. That was a big problem for the Reds last year; they lost a ton of games in the 8th and 9th innings. While Cordero can't help them in the 8th, he could be a big factor in those 9th inning games. In all honesty, I can see him winning an extra 10 games for Cincy...and that estimate may be conservative. They have the offense, and they have a hint of good pitching (I'm telling you, Volquez is for real). They have a chance to be competitive in the division this year. Of course, that's normally what people say before the season, but I can see it. Dusty Baker is kind of a wild card at this point. He didn't do much with his time in Chicago, so I'm not sure he's exactly what the Reds are looking for. On the other hand, he may be just what they need. I know the Reds have talent, but I'll be keeping my eye on Baker this season.
The Phillies have a good shot to win the division. I know that. With their strong finish last season, they should come roaring into the season. But, like I said, they're wildly inconsistent. I'm not sold on the Mets, either (too many old and injury prone players). I guess I haven't decided on that division yet. I suppose we should make our division predictions before the regular season starts (which is in less than two weeks!). I'll shoot for this weekend.

I'm not saying that UCLA won't win the Championship, but I'm wary of all the picks. I can respect you making your pick before the "experts" made theirs. You have sound logic. Don't back off that pick, young man! Own it!
Personally, I'm taking Tennessee. They can play defense, and, while their offense isn't spectacular, it's good enough to win games, because of their defense. And, if a game is on the line, are you betting against Chris Lofton? I know I wouldn't. As much as I hate to say it (and see Bruce Pearl paint God-knows-what on his chest if they win), I'm going to have to take Tennessee.
Georgetown has a good team, and they played well in last year's tournament, but I just can't see it. Like you said, Hibbert plays well when he shows up. When he shows up. I just can't shake the feeling that he'll have a sloppy game and blow their chances. However, it's the tourney, so he may turn it on the entire way. I guess we'll have to see.

Didn't catch the Pistons/Cavs last night, but I did see highlights. I completely agree with your thoughts on 'Sheed. You want to talk about a guy that is capable of murder (both on and off the court). The problem is, he is so talented and so athletic, he thinks he can be a force without really trying sometimes. If he played to his freakish potential every game, he would be an absolute terror. What do you do with him? He can hit long-range jumpers, and he has a great post game. Beyond that, he can hit the fadeaway-jumper-with-a-man-in-his-face more consistently that just about anyone in the league (with the possible exception of Dirk Nowitzki). Another problem with him, and the entire Pistons starting line-up, is that they still think they can turn it on anytime they want, and they believe they're better than everyone in the league. Well, they may be (after all, they still play great team ball), but they don't always play with the energy that they should. It's been sad to watch, because I think they have the best shot to win the East if they're playing hard.
I take that back about the entire Pistons starting line-up: Tayshaun normally gives it his all every night.

Here's another question for Mike Brown: do you even care about the games? Would it hurt you to show a little emotion? Are you actually clueless as to what is going on on the court, or do you wear that face to trick the opposing coaches to take you lightly?
That is all.

-Dusty

(You watch hockey?)

Talkin Beisbol and BronBron

I just read Jayson Stark's article about the Reds picking up Francisco Cordero. He quotes a lot of numbers. I don’t know what they mean but man do they make me feel good. We might win 120-130 games this season.

Who do you see taking that Phillies division? I’m not sold on the Mets as I mentioned earlier. Atlanta will be competitive but I don’t know if they have what it takes. The Marlins are in rebuild mode yet again. The Nationals are….in Washington…so they have that going for them. The Phillies are coming off a disappointing sweep but to be fair, nobody thought the Rockies would catch fire like that. They have the past two National League MVPs in Rollins and Howard. The pitching as a little weak but there swere some injuries in the staff. I almost picked them over the Brewers as my sleeper but people know the Phillies are good so it’s not really a sleeper.

This is going to sound hard to believe but you’ll have to take my word on it. When I made my UCLA pick, I hadn’t seen anyone else’s projections. I try to stay as far away from “professionals” picks as I can. UCLA is a solid team and with some luck can have some favorable matchups. They have been to the Final Four the past 2 years so they are well coached and that will go a long way in the college game. After I decided on UCLA, I see everyone and their mother picking UCLA. Not to say they copied my picks, they just thought the same things I did. Now, I want no part of UCLA. I totally agree with you. The favorite usually gets trumped and with how heavy the UCLA bandwagon is getting the Bruins might lose their first round matchup to BF University. The tourney is starting momentarily so I’ll go with Georgetown. Well coached and they have the best big man in the tourney, when Roy Hibbert decides to show up.

You made a great point about Mike Brown that no one is mentioning. Mike Brown is a good coach, but few coaches are suited to deal with superstars. At this point, “superstar” might be an understatement for LeBron. Of course he’s not going to tell LeBron to take some extra free throws after practice or work on that midrange shot. LeBron could have him exiled from the league and he knows it. Also, this seems to be a nod for LeBron in the MVP race. Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest coach of all time. Does this or should it factor into Kobe’s MVP run? I think it should. Kobe has the best coach and bench in the league. LeBron has Mike “I’m just happy to be here” Brown and a grown man named Boobie. Byron Scott is a fine coach and is doing a marvelous job with the Hornets but he nor Mike Brown is in Phil Jackson’s league.

I don’t know if you caught the Cavaliers-Pistons game last night but the Pistons don’t look right. Rasheed Wallace is growing more and more complacent, which is a shame because he could be the best player in the league if he wanted too. Tayshaun Prince’s offense hasn’t progressed in 3 years. They just don’t look like the Pistons of old. I do however love Jason Maxiell’s game. Yet I digress, LeBron had 30 points, 7 boards and 6 assists also known as an off night. All of those numbers are below his season averages coming against the second best team in the conference and a defensive specialist in Prince. If he works on the things I mentioned, and I’m sure he will because he is an avid reader of this blog (Hey Bron Bron!), it will really be scary. With Kobe, you know what you are getting from him each night at this point. Even with Paul, because of his position, mentality and size he can only improve so much. In terms of potential, I think only Dwight Howard can match him. Dwight is throwing up 20 and 15 with no post moves. With LeBron there is no ceiling whatsoever. Average 40 points per game? Average a triple double? Murder a man attempting to take a charge? All completely feasible. I can honestly see Cleveland back in the Finals because he is that good. I think they can beat the Pistons and even the Celtics. The Celts play swarming defense and so-so offense. Cleveland is the same way and when healthy they have plenty of bigs to throw at Garnett. They will miss Larry Hughes ability to check Pierce because LeBron will likely be on Ray Allen though but when it comes down to it, LeBron can get any shot he wants at any time he wants. Not saying they will win the East but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

-Tyler

PS- I’m getting the legal work done on your invitation to sue you based on your affection for Sylvester Stallone. So be on the lookout for that.

Vlad, Sly Stallone, LeBron's "Coach", and NCAA

I'm a big Vlad fan...but you're right. He needs to be on the DH. It would be a shame to lose his monster arm strength, but, unless the Angels find a way to find him a working set of knees, there's no sense in keeping him out there. How old is he, anyway? 25? 32? 55? I honestly can't tell, and I don't trust his bio.

I don't trust the Phillies. They playell well last year, but I'm not sure I'm sold on them making a habit of this "making the playoffs" thing. They have some great talent, but they seem waaaay too inconsistent to make much damage. Perhaps they learned and grew as a team last year, but, until I see some more consistency from them, I will not be a believer. Kudos to them for making the playoffs last year, though. They certainly ended the season on a strong note.
And, for the record, I liked the last Rocky movie. It wasn't as good as the best movies in the series, but it was definitely better than "Rocky V" (which, judging from the plot of "Rocky Balboa", everyone is just agreeing to forget about). Sure, Rocky's old and stuff...but dude was still cut. I wouldn't want to step into the ring with him. I thoroughly enjoyed that movie. And yes, for the record, I LOVED the new Rambo movie, too. I'm a fan of Sly. Sue me.

You have a point...LeBron's defense could be improved. And it makes me a little sad to see him fading backward on a shot without anyone in his face. I just assumed it was a problem of balance. And yes, he could improve on his post and mid-range game. Those are four areas of his game that he could improve. If he improves on those over the next couple of years (which he is completely capable of), then he's pretty much perfect and unstoppable, right? I mean, what else is there? The only thing I'm concerned about is that his coach is Mike Brown. Do you see Mike Brown pushing LeBron to get better? I pretty much assume his coaching goes like this, "Hey LeBron...just keep doing what you're doing." It's like when Mike Sherman was coaching the Packers. He had some good seasons, but, somewhere down the line, we just said, "That man's an idiot." He didn't coach. When Favre's interception totals were climbing, what do you think Sherman said to him about it? Nothing. He didn't try to coach him...he just let him keep doing what he was doing. When McCarthy came in, he reeled Favre in a little more. In short, McCarthy coached Favre, and it made him a better player. LeBron needs a coach. If he actually gets one, the rest of the league is dead. Straight murder.

Everyone is saying UCLA will win the tournament. They're a good team, and they have the refs on their side, but I can never get behind the popular pick. Do you know why? Because the popular pick almost never wins. In fact, the popular pick ususally crashes and burns before the Final Four. UCLA may be the best pick...but I have a hard time buying it. I've seen this way too many times.
Not that I have a pick yet. I'll try to get to that in the next post, after I fill out 5 brackets.

-Dusty

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Afternoon chat with Vlad Guererro!

The Tigers are a very legitimate idea but I am always a bit leery of teams after big trades. I need to see how things work over the first few months but they are definitely legitimate. Every year there are a few teams I inexplicably like and this year the list is the Brewers, Angels and Phillies. I’ve always enjoyed how Vlad Guerrero has been in the States for like two decades and doesn’t speak English. I live for his postgame interviews.


Interviewer: Vlad, you went 3 for 4 out there tonight. You hit a homer that still hasn’t landed yet, take us through your mind on that pitch sequence


Vlad: skajghskldhgsldgkhsdglkjgklshdnglskdjghslkdgsldfkghsdlkghsldkghs


Word on the street is Vlad learned enough English to say “I don’t want to DH”. This makes no sense to me as it could add years to his career. In the field, he looks like Bill Cosby in the “Rudy has a bit of a mustache” days of the Cosby show. But man can he rake.


The Phillies just seem due for something. Anything. That last “Rocky” flick didn’t quite do it.


Moving on, I see your LeBron but I do think he can improve. His defense is much improved but he still takes a lot of gambles that other players might be benched for. His free throw shooting could be an ongoing problem. He’s currently at 71%. If he could get that number to even 80% consistently it would do wonders for him. It would give him a free point or two a game and teams would be reluctant to foul him at all. Now teams know he’s going to finish the play because of his brute strength but the free throw is a maybe. If he knocks that down consistently, they may just let him have the highlight dunk of his choice more often. His mid-range game also needs some work. His FG percentage is high because he has figured out no one can stop him driving. While I can’t fault him for going with his bread and butter, a better mid range game would baffle defenders. He still does that “Fall back fade away” thing from time to time for no reason. If he could stop on a dime and pop consistently from 17 feet a la Kobe or even a healthy Dwyane Wade, it would really help him out. Last but most importantly, the man needs a post game. I heard an interview with Michael Jordan about how much a post game will help any player. In the end of the game, a bit of LeBron’s speed may diminish but he is still going to be bigger than whoever defends him. This is where the post game helps. He can post up to catch his breath, and then choose to abuse his man or use his size to pass over the defense. This could really extend his career because that athleticism will only last so long. Washington Wizards Jordan got 20 a game using mostly post moves. Imagine what a 24 or 25 year old LeBron could do with a solid post game and that world class athleticism.

UCLA will win the National Championship…and if they don’t this post will self destruct

-Tyler

Defending my World Series Pick, NBA MVP

Joe Budden? I'm working on it. My initial thoughts aren't good, but I'll get into that a little more when I've had more time to absorb it. Sorry...I'm slower than you are. Or I possibly lack motivation. I don't know.
On another hip-hop related note, The Roots have a new album (Rising Down) coming out on April 29. I've heard one song, "75 Bars (Black's Reconstuction)", so far, and it's amazing. Their last album (Game Theory) was tied for my album of the year a couple of years ago, so I'm extremely hyped for the new album.

Sports...
I know, picking the Tigers is kind of a cop-out...but it's not a complete homer pick. After all, they had the best offense in the league last year, and they got better (on paper, anyway) this year. They melted down in the last half of the season, but I don't see it happening again this year. They've learned and matured. As I said earlier, I have some major concerns with their bullpen, but, if they can find some sort of consistency there, they'll be hard to stop.
The challengers, you say?
The Red Sox. Okay, so they dominated the playoffs last year, and they don't look a whole lot different this year. They have a fantastic bullpen. They have power on offense. But they have some older players, and some serious starting pitching concerns. Curt Schilling is coming off a less-than-stellar year, and he's already having problems with his arm. Tim Wakefield is 82 years old, and they just got rid of his own personal catcher (that'll affect him). Josh Beckett looked untouchable in the postseason, but he's having back problems now...and the season hasn't even started yet. Never a good sign. Dice-K struggled more than a little last year. He may get better this year, but there's no guarantee in that. Lester looked good at times, but he's still fairly unproven. The same goes for Buchholz (I know, he pitched a no-hitter, which is amazing, but no one knows how he'll shake out in the long run).
David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both started out extremely slow last year. A fluke, or are they showing their age? They're still great, but I don't fear them like I used to fear them. Plus, the two of them battled injuries all season. Who's to say that's not going to happen again?

The Indians. They had a great season last year, but, for the three years before that, they severely underachieved. This is a team that everyone had been saying would win the division for the past four years, and, up until this past year, they didn't do it. I'm not saying they'll be terrible, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them not play as well as they did last year. However, I can also see them ripping through the league this year and torching people. They have the talent. Really, this team could go either way and I wouldn't be surprised. If they get rolling, they could be scary.

The Yankees. The biggest payroll in baseball and they still don't have good starting pitching. Pettite? Maybe 6 years ago. Hughes? He has promise, but, until he can stay healthy, I'm not scared of him. Mussina has his moments, but he's not consistent. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the year that Mariano Rivera breaks down. He hasn't been great the past two years, and it's only a matter of time until his age catches up with him. Chamberlain looked good last year, though. If he doesn't break the starting rotation, he could be great out of the bullpen. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Yankees start grooming him as a closer.
A-Rod will probably put up monster numbers again this year, but, if they make the playoffs... well, I don't even need to say it. They actually have some pretty good young talent, but they have waaaaaay too many old guys for me to be scared of them.

The Angels. You may have something there. In fact, I may be more scared of the Angels and the Mariners than I am of the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Nice pick with the Brewers. I have to say, though, I'm not sold on them. At all. They have some good young players (Prince Fielder is legitmately terrifying), but I can't see them making a huge run. Not this year. Within the next two years, they could be a force to be reckoned with. I just don't see them doing it this year.

NBA.
I'm still sticking with LeBron...but I may be sliding more towards Chris Paul. That guy is amazing to watch. He has amazing vision, and can fit the ball anywhere he wants to. He can shoot, too. He's basically a younger Steve Nash who can defend. And (here's the scary part) he's only going to get better. Outside of a freak injury or something, Chris Paul will destroy the league for the next 12 years.
But, like I said, I'm still sticking with LeBron. He's an imposing force. Since he stopped mailing in game, he's has turned into a freak of nature. He can shoot from anywhere. ANYWHERE. With a man in his face, no less. He can get to the basket seemingly at will. He crashes boards. Since he can get 15 feet in the air, he can block shots. And he also has great court vision. For those who think LeBron is just a shooter and a "me first" player, I'll say this: watch a Cavs game sometime. He makes passes you wouldn't believe. I don't see a flaw in his game. I really don't.
I'll give it to LeBron, with just a narrow victory over Paul.

-Dusty

Monday, March 17, 2008

Going out on a limb 101

The Tigers? Way to go out on a limb fella. You have got to be kidding me. I could see the Red Sox and the Indians beating the Tigers in a 7 game series. Not to mention my World Series pick, which I will get to momentarily. I think the Red Sox still have some fight left in them. I can see the Yankees making a bold (read: unnecessary) move to bring in a good player. The Indians are still on the rise and if the Angels can stay healthy they could surprise some folks. Now for the AAA…I mean the National League.

*In Schwarzenegger voice* But seriously, the NL has a few solid teams that I think could give your AL boys a run for their money. Arizona and Colorado figure to be back in the mix a year older and a year wiser. San Diego had a solid year and the Dodgers with Joe Torre may push them…to the next level or off the face of the Earth, I’m not sure yet. Atlanta will surely be back in the mix. The Mets will be much improved with Johan Santana and hoping to get past that epic choke job. I really like this Phillies team to make some noise as well. The Cubs and Sweet Lou will hope for another division crown and I still haven’t mentioned my World Series pick. The Cincinnati Reds. See? I can be a homer too. Just kidding, my actually pick is the Brewers of Milwaukee. Why, you say? Why not I say! A young team will get a year older which should solve some of their woes playing away from home. The home reception should be outstanding. The Packers are now Favre-less and the Bucks are still terrible. Why won’t these people give their all to the Brewers? They have a black guy named “Richie” and a white guy named “JJ”! They have Corey Hart on their team! The man wears sunglasses at night for crying out loud! Excited yet? I know I am, but I’m not done. Their manager used to be a taxidermist! Eric Gagne can bring his veteran leadership to the group…OK, I’m reaching there, but you get my point. I really like this Brewers team for some reason and therefore they are my 2008 World Series Champion.

Switching lanes for a second, I take back LeBron as my MVP. It now goes to Chris Paul. After watching him throw 14 point and 14 assists on your Pistons, with a bum ankle no less, I have to give it to him. Yes the Hornets lost but how essential he is to everything the Hornet’s do is amazing. The Lakers have Odom and Gasol as guys who can get their own shot. Even Zydrunas Ilgauskas can work his magic from time to time. Paul has nobody. With that bad ankle, he couldn’t get to the spots he wanted to or elevate right on his shot and he still had 14 points and 14 assists. LeBron moves to number two, Kobe to three and Greg Ostertag to 347th.

-Tyler

PS- How’s that Joe Budden coming along?

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Brothers Manning, and my World Series winner

I'm happy to go back to the days when Peyton was a choker. In my mind, he still is. We all know that Peyton played terribly in the Super Bowl (not to mention how poorly he played all throughout the playoffs). They won because of their running game and their defense; in short, they won in spite of Peyton's choking. He had no business (absolutely no business) winning the Super Bowl MVP. That award belonged in the hands of Rhodes or Addai. Or, possibly, in the hands of Rex Grossman. I'm not picky. But not Peyton. Anyone but Peyton.
Same goes for Eli. If you want to reward a player for a fantastic play, that's fine...but Tyree made a better play than Eli did. But, really, the MVP should have gone to someone on the defensive line. That's who won the game, anyway.
I'm going to stop talking about this now...it's just pissing me off.

Let's speculate...shall we?

Who wins the World Series? I don't see the team coming out of the NL (sorry), so I'll have to take an AL team. The Red Sox are an easy pre-season pick, but there's a reason teams don't repeat. Anything can happen over the course of a season; injuries, player breakdowns, etc. They have some young talent, but they still rely on some older players (like Ortiz), headcases (like Manny), and talented but unmotivated players (like Drew). I don't see it happening (thank God).
I think the Yankees are done. They may make the playoffs, but they won't get far. They have talent, and they also have a great new manager, but they also have a gaggle of old players who may or may not make it through the season.
The Angels are intriguing, but I'm not sure if they can do it. They have a good offense...but Vlad is breaking down. Throwing him in the DH spot should help, but I just can't see them doing much damage. They'll have a good but not great season.
The Indians have a great team, as they showed last year. But they've had a great team for the past three years, and terribly underachieved every year. Not saying it will happen, but there's a chance.
I like the Twins. Santana's gone, but Liriano's back. If he stays healthy, they could be a team to reckon with this year. That's a bit if...we never know how a pitcher coming off a big surgery will rebound.
Seattle played well last year, and they had a shot to make the playoffs. They don't scare me, but they do have a great team. They have one of the best pitching rotations when they're on. Still, I can't see them making a lot of noise.
The White Sox have a shot at rebounding, too. They had a terrible year last year, but they still have talent, and they could surprise a lot of people this year. I'm keeping my eye on them.
So...(big surprise) I'll take Detroit. I just don't see anyone beating them in a series. Of course, like I've said, anything can happen, but their offense is just too potent to be stopped over the course of a series. I hate to jinx them, but I'll take them.
I will give Cleveland a good shot, though. If anyone can take down Detroit, it's Cleveland. I hate to say it, but it's true.

My pick to have a better season than a lot of people think? Tampa Bay. Don't ask me why...I just feel it.

-Dusty

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Peyton a Choker??? Get outta here

Prompted by Bill Simmons’ “What If” article, I have decided to make my own little list of “What-If” situations.

What if Carson Palmer never took that dirty hit?

-This is one that will pester me forever. We all know what happened: Palmer threw a long bomb to Chris Henry on his first ever playoff pass, Kimo Von Oelhoffen delivers one of the more memorable dirty hits ever, and that was that pretty much. Yes we remained competitive until halftime, but looking in the faces on the sidelines and in the stands, we knew we didn’t stand a chance against a good Pittsburgh team. By the way, can you imagine the outrage if that hitt happened to Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or even Brett Favre? Imagine buying a new house and coming home from work to find it burnt to the ground…and then Kimo Von Oelhoffen appears to punch you in the groin. That’s what it felt like, and I’m being generous. Words can’t express how much that injury hurt the morale of Bengal’s fans. It wasn;t even the injury itself, torn ACL’s can be patched up easily these days, it was what it represented. Maybe we were the Bungals. Maybe those 15 years of futility were a foreshadowing of what to expect forever. But back to the actual game.

- We would have beaten the Steelers. We beat them in Pittsburgh and played them well in the other game earlier in the season. There is honestly not a doubt in a mind we would have. You could feel the stadium shaking through the television and we would not be denied. Had we won, we would have went to Denver to face the Broncos. The Bronco’s were good that season, but let’s not forget Jake Plummer was quarterbacking them. Not saying we would have won, but we would have at least competed. Cincinnati fans would be left with hope going into the offseason. Here’s where it gets tricky, Denver goes into the AFC Championship to await the winner of New England-Indianapolis. If you recall, because Pittsburgh beat the Bengals, they went to Indy and won after the Jerome Bettis fumble/ Big Ben tackle fiasco. Denver beat the Patriots who they always seemed to play well against strangely enough. Now, with NE going to Indy, I’d have to say NE wins. This is still Peyton Manning’s choking prime we’re talking about here. Assuming all stays the same in the inferior NFC, this leaves us with a New England-Seattle Super Bowl. Seattle had a great season that year but I think New England wins its third straight Super Bowl. Tom Brady’s legacy is cemented, Carson Palmer is “next” and Peyton Manning is still a choker. Everybody wins here. Too bad it never happened.

Just a thought on a slow day. I’ll drop more over time seeing as that was a lot more fun that it probably should have been.

-Tyler

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One more Cubs thought

I'm a big Felix Pie fan. I think he'll be a bit more comfortable this season, and I'm excited to see what he can do.
That being said...
A twisted testicle? That sounds awful (but I'm pretty sure it feels worse than it sounds).
Here's to a speedy recovery, Felix. I would advice against doing whatever you were doing when this occurred.

Baseball Smaseball

I watched a Reds Spring Training game last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it. They lost 4-0, but they always say that a Spring Training game is more about assessing talent than winning. Still, they lost to the Yankees, which I'm never a fan of.
Homer Bailey looked pedestrian. If they call him up halfway through the season, he could probably help them out quite a bit. I just didn't see a lot of movement on his pitches, and he got in trouble a number of times.
I'll tell you who impressed me: Endinson Volquez. H0ly crap. He allowed a couple of hits and a run in about three innings of work...but he also struck out eight batters. Eight! And a lot of those were Yankee starters. There's nothing quite as beautiful as seeing Alex Rodriguez striking out. It brings a tear to my eye (the good kind). If he can pitch like that throughout the season, then they'll have the start of a great bullpen. Watch out for that kid.
Speaking of Spring Training games, the Reds are playing the Tigers next Monday. You know I'll be watching that one.

I can't do a team-by-team analysis, but I'll try to hit a couple (this one will be for you, Matthew).

The Cubs are looking good...but I'm still not sold on their pitching. They have the possibility of an extremely potent offense. D-Lee looked unstoppable at times last year, and that should continue this year. Ramirez is a beast. If he can keep himself in some sort of shape, he'll be capable of murder this year. Soriano had a rough start last season, but I don't expect him to have those same problems this year. If he can stay healthy, he'll have a monster season this year. I'm a big fan of Theriot. With all the talent they have, he doesn't really jump out at everyone, but he has quite a bit of talent. Every Cubs game I watched last year, I came away thinking, "He's really good." He could be a big part of their season. I feel the same way about Fontenot.
I could go on for a while about their offense...but I won't. They do, of course, have some pitching issues, but not as many as some other teams. Zambrano had an up-and-down season last year (and that's being kind), so I'm not sure what to expect with him. Diddo Ted Lilly and Rich Hill. I'm a big Hill fan, but he had some pretty rough outings. I'm also a big fan of Sean Marshall. He's young, but I think he has what it takes to be a major league pitcher.
They've got Marmol coming out of the bullpen...but they also have Howry, Wood, and a number of mediocre/bordering-0n-terrifying (if you're a Cubs fan) relievers. Plus, anytime Dempster is involved, I can't say as though I feel fantastic about them.
I can see them finishing as high as first, or as low as third in their division. I would lean more towards them winning the division.

I have to talk about the Tigers...if just for a little bit.
They have a fantastic offense and hundreds of runs and so on and so forth. By now everyone has heard all about it. I'm pretty excited about it.
But I'm also a bit worried. There's something about jumping from "no chance in hell" (which I heard a couple of years ago) to "let's give them the trophy" (which I'm hearing now). I don't enjoy this much hype before the season. Anything can happen. Injuries, a lack of cohesion between teammates, players believing the hype and not playing hard, etc. As excited as I am about this season, I'm also extremely worried.
I'm also not sold on our pitching. Our starting pitching is good, but I have questions. Verlander is the real deal. I know that. Bonderman is good...but he had spells where he wasn't exactly "on fire". Rogers is old. Still good, but still old. Robertson is extremely inconsistent, and we just gave him a deal that is waaaaaaay too big (he belongs in the bullpen, anyway). I'm excited about the addition of Willis...but he didn't exactly light it up last year. And that was in the NL. I've heard all the "He pitches better when he plays for a winning team" and "He runs on emotion" talk. But I'm not buying that until I see him do something.
And our bullpen? I'm more worried about that than I am about anything. Rodney was absolutely lights-out a couple of seasons ago, and he showed flashes again this past season. Hopefully he can regain that touch this year. I'm worried about Zumaya. If he comes back this season, there's no guarantee that he's going to be amazing. He came back from an injury last season, and he wasn't his old, dominant self. His fastball topped out at 96, which is a far cry from 102. We also have Grilli, Byrdak, Seay and Miner. Those names don't exactly strike fear into opposing teams (but they do strike fear into me).
And, the most horrifying member of the bullpen? Our closer...Todd Jones. I know, he saved 30+ games for us last year...but he's also utterly terrifying. There is always (repeat, ALWAYS) a chance that he will blow a game. Even if it's a 5 run lead. I've seen him do it, and he'll do it again. Many, many times. I lose nights of sleep (and years of my life) because of Todd Jones. I'm not even close to kidding. He'll save games. He'll blow games. And I will be scared to death every time he takes the mound.

There you have it. My take on the '08 Cubs and Tigers. It's gonna be wild.

Now presenting your Cincinnati Redlegs!

At the request of our reader(s), I will give a preview of my Cincinnati Reds.

Things to look forward to:
-We will score runs. That is a guarantee. Adam Dunn has averaged 41 Homers, 100 RBI’s and 103 runs a season for the past 4 seasons. Ken Griffey Jr. is coming off a 30 home run season, and more impressively a season in which he played 144 games. Brandon Phillips proved to be a face of the future with a 30-30 season in only his second year starting.
- We finally have some young talent. Phillips is 26, Dunn is 28, Griffey is….alive. Starting third baseman Edwin Encarnacion is coming off a much improved season and just turned 25. Farm league “stars” 1B Joey Votto, OF Jay Bruce and RHP Homer Bailey and ready for their first full seasons in the big league.
- Our division isn’t terribly tough. The Cubs and Brewers are good teams. The Cardinals are getting older, the Astro’s haven’t made any moves and the Pirates are the Pirates.
-We have attempted to fix our pitching woes. Trading Josh Hamilton hurt but we have a surplus of outfielders and got a 24-year-old starter in return. We signed a 44 game closer in Francisco Cordero away from the Brewers. Homer Bailey has a season under his belt. Aaron Harang is turning into a legit number one starter and hopefully Brandon, I mean Bronson Arroyo can regain 2006 form when he won 14 games.

Thing NOT to look forward to:
-Our field is small and it’s not changing. For a team lacking in the pitching department, this is not good. Yes our team can score 10 runs easily, but its all for naught if you give up 11. We need to find groundball pitchers and we have yet to do so.
-I am not sold on Dusty Baker. He has had some success in the past but he was brought in on name alone. He is hard on his starters, a place where we are already thin, and doesn’t believe in on base percentages. Seriously. I would have preferred to keep last year’s interim Pete Mackanin. The team played over .500 ball for him and Baker will be the third manager in as many seasons. Consistency is what we need.
-We are notoriously slow starters. We started 12-13 in our first 25 games last season before falling off to 18-32 after the first 50. We need a hot start to keep pace in the NL Central.
-History is not on our side. Two playoff appearances in my 19 years of existence. Ugh. Granted, one of those appearances culminated in a World Series victory but I was all of two years old. The other came in 1995. It is now 2008. You do the math.

I am trying to remain optimistic for the season because anything can happen, but it’s not working. Optimism is overrated.
2008 predicted record- 76-86, 4th place in the NL Central.

What say you on your Tigers? I’m just waiting for the “Needs Improvement” part of your preview to be blank. I wish ill will on you and other Tiger fans.

-Tyler

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fennis Dembo? You betcha.

I think Rodgers is in a good position. A great position actually. All he has to do is “Play Roethlisberger”. Since the Steeler’s Super Bowl victory, I call any quarterback whose job is not to mess up “Playing Roethlisberger. I can practically see Bill Cowher screaming at Ben, “Don’t #&*$ up. Period.” I guess calling it “Playing Dilfer” would be more politically correct but I refuse to give Trent Dilfer his own rule. Being in the NFC North, Rodgers has had the chance to watch a horribly failed Roethlisberger attempt in Rex Gorssman. Perhaps Rex would be so kind to drop Aaron some advice such as “Receivers are closer than they appear.” Rodgers may struggle this year but with the squad around him they can still win 8 games and more than enough to win that division.

I agree Manning does get the benefit of any doubt. Though in his defense, one of those 6 interceptions was one of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen (The one-handed Cromartie pick). The other 5, Peyton is on his own. Cut him some slack, maybe the sun was in his eyes. It was a night game you say? Well then I got nothing.

Back to the NBA. My specialty. Chris Paul and LeBron have two things going against them in the MVP race. Age. They will hear the “They will have plenty of chances to win one later in their career”. It’s not fair but it’s bound to happen. They are media darlings though and Kobe is not. Again, it may not be fair but one would be a fool to think they don’t influence the voter’s decision.

CP3- The best PG in the league. Bar none. New Orleans is legitimately good but no one is convinced yet. Also, this is their first year busting on the scene because of injuries the last two seasons. They are relatively new and not televised nearly as much as the Cavs/Lakers. Also, New Orleans has one of the best teams in the league and still can’t sell its stadium out. If he wins the MVP, it will be well deserved, but I will be shocked. This is basically a two man race.

Kobe- Shouldn’t be penalized by his off court actions, nor helped by past perceived snubs. On the court, he is simply amazing. Yes, the Lakers without Kobe are a solid bunch but let’s not kid ourselves. A team built around Odom-Bynum-Fisher scares no one. They are a great cast because they are all tailor made to mesh with Kobe. Without him you have a team that wouldn’t make the playoffs in that brutal Western Conference. They are still better than the crew LeBron plays with, but seriously, who isn’t?

LeBron- My vote goes here. Does more with less than anyone in the league. They said he takes to many jumpers? He starts driving to the hole at will. They said he played lazy defense? He steps it up a notch and averages 2 steals and a block a game. They say he choked in the clutch? He leads the league in fourth quarter points easily (FYI-Kobe is second. Third? Hedo Turkoglu. Fear the Magic). They said he can’t hit free throws? Well they were right, but he can’t do it all. I look at it like this, if you trade Kobe for LeBron right now, what happens? The Lakers don’t miss a beat and arguable get better. Kobe looks up and sees Ben Wallace instead of Andrew Bynum and decides to jump off a building. Yes they make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference but Kobe mopes through the entire process. That is why I think LeBron James SHOULD win the MVP. Too bad he won’t and they’ll give it to Kobe.

I heard talk about giving Tracy McGrady the MVP. Yes the Rockets are playing well but are you kidding me? Here’s my short list for MVP candidates:
1.LeBron
2.Kobe
3.Paul
4.Dwight Howard (Seriously)
5.KG
347. Fennis Dembo
348. Tracy McGrady
Give me a break.

Also, no dice on my attempted LeBron heist. I got no response from my trade partner. I guess I’m stuck riding the Ricky Davis train to the end.

-Tyler

More Favre, and some NBA MVP talk

I've been slacking. Sorry. It's been a nasty week.

I've heard a lot of talk about Aaron Rodgers trying to replace a legend. In hearing interviews with him, I've been impressed. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He knows he's not Brett Favre, so he won't try to be. I think he's a good quarterback, and, with all the talent Green Bay has on the offensive side of the ball, I think he could do really well. With the NFC North as it currently is, I think we have a really good shot to win the division this year. Of course, Rodgers is going to have to stay healthy, which is my biggest concern with him at this point.

Still, I'm going to miss Favre. How can I not? I've been with the guy for forever. In fact, I remember buying a pack of football cards and being excited to get a Don Majkowski card.
I'm still slightly in shock from the whole thing. The day he announced his retirement, I sat at home and watch highlights from his career. I'm not talking highlight clips, either; I'm talking about those half-hour presentations that NFL Films does for every season. I watched a ton of those Packers presentations. Then, that night, I played Madden. As it so happened, the match-up was against the Giants. So Favre threw like crazy. He ended up with 464 yards passing, 5 passing touchdowns, and 1 rushing touchdown. And this made me happy. Did it help with the shock? Did it take "the edge" off? No...and I'm not really sure what will. I'm still feeling it, and I'm not sure it's going away anytime soon.
If he had retired a season or two ago, I wouldn't have been all that shocked. The Packers had hit a bit of a rough spot, and he looked exhausted. But this past season, they looked so good. He seemed to click with all of his teammates, and they went so far. I was certain he was coming back for another year.
I'm still trying to come to grips with this. Forgive me. As you said, I know you weren't the biggest Favre fan, but I think that was due more to the announcer's take on him than his actual ability.

I want to bring up a "kid glove" moment. This one comes in the life of Peyton Manning: Media Darling. I watched the regular season game against the Chargers, as I'm sure you did. That means that you saw Manning throw six (count em...6!) interceptions. Did the announcers say anything bad about him? Of course not. In fact, they praised him for playing so well and nearly winning the game, even though he didn't have Marvin Harrison.
First of all, "nearly a win" is not a win. Not the last time I checked, anyway. You don't get points for a near win.
Secondly, if Manning self-destructs without his number one receiver, perhaps he's not the quarterback everyone seems to think he is. Do you realize how many quarterbacks have lost their number one receivers throughout the years and have still played well? Favre lost a ton of talented receivers over the years, and what did he do? Kept throwing to the other guys, and making them great receivers. McNabb took his through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl without his number one receiver. Brady went to the AFC Championship without a true number one. But, since Manning lost his number one, he should be praised for throwing six picks? C'mon.
Lastly...he still had Reggie Wayne. It's not like he was playing with hobos off the street. The last time I checked, that Reggie Wayne was pretty good.
As if I don't have enough reasons to hate Peyton Manning...

Alright...NBA.
I hear MVP discussions, and I shake my head. There is only one choice: LeBron. Chris Paul has had a fantastic season. But, they way he's going, he's only going to get better. We'll see him average 23/18 before his career is over. Kobe is amazing, and it's shocking to me that he's never won an MVP. If he wins, it's due to The Scorsese Rule; he didn't win one when he should have, so he'll win won now.
Here's the case for Kobe: he's the best player on the best team in the West. Also...he's Kobe. Granted, he has played well this year, but look at his team. His supporting cast is extremely good...and that was before they traded away peanuts for Pau Gasol.
Now...LeBron? The Cavs made a trade in which the biggest names were (a washed up) Ben Wallace and (a good but not great) Wally Szerzbiak. And this actually made the team better!
I would actually take Chris Paul as MVP over Kobe. I use the time-tested method of: If you take the guy off of his team, would the team still be good?
The Lakers would still be good without Kobe. They have the talent. Would they be as good? No...they're losing Kobe. But they'd still make the playoffs.
The Hornets would have a harder time staying afloat without Chris Paul. He's an extremely talented point guard, and those guys always keep their team afloat. Without Paul, they'd have a hard time making the playoffs.
I don't believe the Cavs would make the playoffs without LeBron. In fact, I think the Cavs would have a hard time winning 20 games without LeBron.

Your thoughts?

-Dusty

(On your fantasy trade proposal: as long as you're trading Ricky Davis, I don't think you're a bad person. After all...he's Ricky Davis. Do you have any idea the stats he can put up in garbage time? He's a garbage time all-star!)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Huzzah!

Ding Dong the Witch is dead! Just kidding. I was shocked myself to hear about Favre’s retirement. Maybe it’s more family issues or maybe the man really is tired. I haven’t been the biggest Favre fan, as you may have heard, but I will give credit when it’s due. Kudos to a man who played a very physical sport and an extremely high level for around 15 years. He set the standard for toughness that all quarterbacks will be held to. Here’s to a great career and hopefully a smooth transition into retirement.

I had gotten over the Rogers deal and then the same thing happened with Dewayne Robertson, who I was actually a little more excited by. He played at Kentucky, is younger and less than injury prone than Rogers and has been playing out of position for two years and still holding his own. Yet again, the Bengals couldn’t/wouldn’t finish the deal because of money concerns. Ok, I understand if you don’t want to overpay a player, but everyone is getting overpaid these days. Justin Smith and Madieu Williams, former Bengals, just got around 78 million combined! A deranged Al Davis just gave nearly 90 million dollars to the wrong side of the ball! Bernard Berrian, who is fast and that’s it, just got 42 million dollars! He goes from Rex Grossman to Tarvaris Jackson, which is like passing up a root canal for a swift kick to the crotchal region. I say that to say this, in today’s free agency, doesn’t a team have to overpay for a player? We have tried the frugal way and have one playoff appearance since 1991 to show for it. What good its cap money if you have no one to overpay for? Someone get Pepper Johnson on the phone, we want to offer him 4 years, 36 million to come back!

Other than the outstanding contradiction, am I wrong here?

-Tyler

PS- I am in a fantasy basketball league where i am in first place by 11.5 games and have already clinched a playoff spot. Am I a bad person for offering Marvin Williams AND Ricky Davis to the last place team for LeBron James? I haven't clinched a spot in Hell, have I?

Happy Trails

Well...it looks like that's the end for Favre. I have to admit: I'm fairly sad and more than a little surprised. For as well as the Packers did last year, I figured he would come back this year. I'll probably write more on this later, but I just woke up, and I need to get my thoughts in order.
Now, here's a very strange thing. I had a dream last night that Favre decided to retire, but it was because he wanted to play for the Clippers. As it turns out, he was fantastic at basketball. He signed a three-year deal and led them to the Finals next year.
So...who would be the best football-to-basketball crossover player? Antonio Gates doesn't count.

Sorry about your Bengals. Everyone in the world knows that they need help on their offensive and defensive line...and the only play they made was for Shaun Rogers, who they didn't even get. It seems like they would at least be trying to do something.

Cleveland, on the other hand, has been making all sorts of moves, and they have been filling the needs they're most desperate to fill. If they can keep up their running game (and if Anderson doesn't self-destruct), they may be able to make some noise. I say "may be able to", because they're still Cleveland, and I don't trust them.
And, by the way, I'm not worried about us losing Corey Williams. We actually have quite a bit of depth at the DT position. And it's not just depth for the sake of depth...we have some amazing players at that position. I'm not worried. The defensive line will be fine.

It's not looking like the Packers will make any big free agency moves. If they were going to do something, they would have done it early, while Favre might still have been on the fence. Now that he's gone, I'll doubt they'll do much. Could Moss have helped this team? Maybe...but the receiving corps did really well last year without him, and I certainly wouldn't want anyone coming in and throwing off whatever chemistry and trust they have with each other.

I'll try to write more later.

So long Favre. You've been more than fantastic. We'll miss you.

-Dusty

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Just a day in the life...

Devastated. I was/am devastated about the Shaun Rogers deal/non-deal. For one, we were getting a proven player for draft picks, a third and fifth round. Then from losing players last season, we were going to receive a third and fifth round choice through compensatory picks, so basically a proven player for nothing. Second, yes there were questions about Roger’s weight/work ethic but its Detroit…can you really blame him? I know Cincinnati is no godsend but for crying out loud we are better than Detroit. Also, in a down year Rogers had more sacks than all our interior lineman combined and even led the league in the category. Rogers not trying would be an upgrade over our pitiful line I described yesterday. Last, and most importantly in my eyes, was the fact we were doing something. Normally we stand pat and sign the bottom of the barrel free agents. This year we almost made a trade on the first day of free agency. Unheard of! The player didn’t as much matter as instilling the thought in Bengal fans minds that maybe the front office does care and want to get better. Nope. We were duped yet again. What hurts more is that nobody knows why the trade was blocked. I heard there were concerns about Roger’s character as he had a “strip club incident” three or four years ago. Really? That’s the best dirt they could dig on him. I heard he pulled the head off his sister’s Barbie in 1987. The man is a menace to society.

And the icing on the cake was he went to the Browns. Hey, Ed Reed just got traded to the Packers! Oh wait, by Packers I meant Bears. Sorry for the confusion. Obviously Reed is no Rogers, but you get my point. I have to commend what the Browns are doing. They got your boy Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers, two elite linemen which is one of the hardest positions to fill, for a 2nd round pick, a third rounder and Leigh Bodden. Bodden is good; I am very familiar with him as he is one of the only people to hold his ground against Chad Johnson. Cleveland’s secondary was terrible with Bodden so how much worse can they get without him? Adding Rogers/Williams will give a better pass rush which will help cover for a subpar secondary. Will it work out? Who knows but I have to commend the Browns for at least making moves.

I’m still not sold on Anderson staying in Cleveland. The Browns have no first day picks and teams are reportedly still willing to give up a first and third round pick for Anderson. If I’m the Browns and the Ravens come calling with a high first and third round pick, I do the deal in a heartbeat. It allows me to pick up some secondary help in the draft and save a ton of money to potentially make another move in free agency. I watched a considerable amount of the Browns last season and Jamal Lewis/Braylon Edwards/Kellen Winslow made Anderson. He is solid, which may be good enough for a team like the Ravens, but he scares no one. I’m not so sure Brady Quinn couldn’t emulate his success this season with those weapons and a killer offensive line.

Samuel is overrated. He will be exposed as an above average cornerback helped by New England’s Cover 2 scheme. He will help them, but at that price I am not so sure. If I’m the Eagles I take that money and throw it at Randy Moss, who could do wonders for that team. The Eagles aren’t a bad team at all, they are just cursed with playing in the best division in football. Moss could put them over the top. I also heard some talk that with the Samuel signing, the Eagles may trade CB Lito Sheppard to the Cardinals for Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has benefitted from having Anquan Boldin on the other side of him but he would tremendously upgrade the Eagle’s receiving core.

Think the Pack will/should make any splashes in free agency?

-Tyler

NFL Free Agency Fever...Catch It!

I have to ask: What are your feelings on the Shaun Rogers fiasco? Were you excited when you heard he was coming to Cincy? Were you disappointed when you found out that he wasn't?
I have mixed feelings about Shaun Rogers. On the one hand, he can destroy people when he feels like it. On the other hand, he either doesn't always feel like it, or he gets tired too quickly because of his weight.
I think the Lions made a good trade with Cleveland, though. They gave up an inconsistent defensive tackle and got a third round pick AND one of the most underrated corners in the league in Leigh Bodden (my youngest brother is a huge fan of his, and, after watching him play a number of times, I am, too).
Did I just say Matt Millen made a good trade? I feel dirty...
You have to wonder what Cleveland is picking up in this. They get an occasionally dominant DT, but give up their best corner (who is making less than $2 million per year). They also resigned Derek Anderson for waaaaay too much money, considering they've only seen him for one year. Granted, it was a good year, but this feels a lot like The Scott Mitchell Experiment in Detroit to me.

Asante Samuel to the Eagles? My old brother is a big New England fan, so I watched pretty much every Pats game this year. So I can confidently say that Asante Samuel did not look that good this past year. Oh sure, he made some good plays, but he didn't look nearly as good as he did the previous season. Throughout the season, whenever a big play against the Pats would occur, we would joke that either Asante Samuel or Rodney Harrison were out of position...and we were right more often than not. I think the Pats were smart not to resign him for as much as he was asking. We'll see how he does in Philly, but I don't think he's worth what they're paying him.

-Dusty