Typically still reeks of winter in these here parts of the USA...
This year is no different.
As each year passes my tolerance for the cold and snow takes a hit.
Now I understand the method and madness of the “Snow Birds”
A group of blue haired early bird diners that leave the cool North about mid October and head south to where the weather suits their flashy clothes.
They return in late April or early May wearing winter coats to protect themselves against the harsh 50+ temps so often seen in April.
I’m not one of them yet…but I can see the transition…beginning to take shape.
I'm ready for some baseball.
The AL East is shaping up to be a real race this season.
Toronto (74-88 5th place)
The Blue jays disappointed their fans last season after going on a spending spree and selling their field manager John Farrell to rival Boston (where he led the Red Sox to the World Series Championship by the way!!!) The Jays need to win the fans back and win on the field.
The Blue Jays starting pitching will be the key to any success this season. The opening day starter is slated to be R A Dickey and the rotation as is looks now will be:
RA Dickey 14-13 4.21
Mark Buehrle 12-10 4.15
Brandon Morrow 2-3 5.63
J A Happ 5-7 4.56
Todd Redman 4-3 4.32
And, Kyle Drabec competing for the 5th starter
The Jays will hit the ball and score runs but without a pitching ace it could be another long season in Ontario.
Edwin Encaracion 1B, Jose Baustista, RF and Adam Lind,DH lead a group including Reyes SS, Laurie 3B, Cabrera LF , Rasmus CF, Navarro C and Izturis 2B
OH projects the Jays to win 74 games and finish dead last again.
New York (85-77 tied 3rd place)
Yankees made some off season moves to try to get back to the top of the AL East.
Additions Jacoby Ellsbury from Boston, Carlos Beltran OF, Brian Roberts 2B and Catcher Brian McCann. Derek Jeter will be back for his last season on a retirement tour.
The Yankees return a few veterans and will hit the ball and score runs. Their fate still falls into the hands of the pitching rotation led by CC Sabathia. Tanaka cost a lot but the Yanks are planning on him being a big part of their bounce back year. His first pre season performance, 2 shut out innings with 2 hits and 3 K’s was positive. His fast ball hit 94 once and was basically 92-93. His curve was more of a show me pitch than a K pitch but his splitter looked nasty. Overall it was a good outing.
The starting rotation:
CC Sabathia 14-13 4.78
Hiroki Kuroda 11-13 3.31
Ivan Nova 9- 6 3.10
Masahiro Tanaka 24-0 in the Japanese league he played in last season
David Phelps 6- 5 4.98
There was optimism that Michael Pineda would be available but after missing the past two full seasons he is yet to throw off a mound in anger, his last season was with Seattle in 2011 when he posted a 9-10 record and a 3.31 era.
If Tanaka can live up to his billing and CC can bounce back from a sub par ‘13 season, the Yankees will be in the mix in a very competitive division. OH says they will win 92 games and take a wildcard spot to the playoffs.
Baltimore (85-77 tied 3rd place)
The O’s off season wasn’t as splashy as the Yankees, GM Dan Duquette is optimistic that the O’s can make up the distance between them and the Red Sox and win the division. The lineup has everyday potential All Stars Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Nick Markakis
The starting rotation is solid but not spectacular, featuring:
Ubaldo Jimenez 13-9 3.30
Chris Tillman 16-7 3.71
Wei-Yin Chen 7-7 4.07
Miguel Gonzalez 11-8 3.78
Bud Norris 10-12 4.18
Tommy Hunter will be depended on in the closers roll with only 4 saves last year.
OH says this Baltimore team will be competitive but will end up in 4th place just over .500 on the season with 83 wins
Tampa ( 92-71 2nd place)
The Rays finished five behind the Red Sox in 2013 and will come back as strong as ever.
Longoria, Wil Myers, James Loney, Ben Zoberest and Logan Forsythe (from SD) will have to lead an offense that needs to score enough to win. As usual the Rays hopes are hanging on their always superior starting pitching. With a rotation of:
David Price 10-8 3.33
Alex Cobb 11-3 2.76
Matt Moore 17-4 3.29
Chris Archer 9-7 3.27
Jake Ordozzi 0-1 3.94 ( over from KC with Wil Myers)
Will fill the five spot with Jeremy Hellikson recovering from elbow surgery.
Grant Balfour with 38 saves in 2013 is the closer
The Rays will compete for the AL East title with Boston and New York but their 90 wins will place them 3rd and out of the playoffs
Boston ( 97-65 first place & defending WS Champion
The Red Sox will be coming back in John Farrell’s second season with lots of expectations. Off season loss of Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees opens the door for Jackie Bradly Jr to battle for a starting job in CF. Steven Drew turning down $14 mil to stay and play for Boston has opened the door for Xander Boagarts to show what he’s got at SS. Who will lead off is the biggest question the Sox have going into ’14. Ellsbury was the only true leadoff man on the roster. Personally I’d like to see Dustin Pedroia give it a shot. This team has a knack for getting on base and scoring runs. Other questions are; will David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit as they age, will Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes be clutch, will Will Middlebrooks hit (other than off field with his hot girlfriend Jenny Dell) and can the aging catching combo hold up for the season.
The rotation is mainly intact from the ’13 champions
Jon Lester 15-8 3.75 (contract year)
Clay Buchholz 12-1 1.74 (fragile)
John Lackey 10-13 3.52 (stay focused)
Felix Dubront 11-6 4.32 (stay away from food)
Jake Peavey 12-5 4.17 (recover from his fishing injury)
Brandon Workman 6-3 4.37 ( pick up where he left off)
Closer Koji Uehara 21 saves 1.09 era will be back.
The chance of repeating isn’t ever good but winning the AL East is within the Red Sox reach, 95 wins will do it and I think it does.
Next Week: AL Central and West previews
Turn your clocks ahead this Sunday and think SPRING
Happy Friday Bloggers! This is the best weekend of the year: NFL FOOTBALL! I am pumped and jacked like old Pistol Pete Carroll. Thursday night football kicks off the season with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens rematch of their AFC Divisional playoff game. Then, more college football on Saturday, a ton of games on Sunday in the NFL (including the New England Patriots!). As I look at the maple tree in the front yard change to yellow and orange leaves, it means hockey training camp is around the corner and the Boston Bruins are getting ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup. The Red Sox continue to grind away wins, and with less than a month to go, no one here in the Boston area takes it for granted with the collapse of 2011 still fresh in the collective consciousness. Oh, and basketball is coming soon. The season is now closing in on that part of the year known as “sports nirvana.”
In an officiating video distributed to the media, NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says that read-option quarterbacks can be hit like runners, even if they don’t have the ball. If a quarterback who handed off or pitched the ball is still carrying out a fake in a running posture, he can be tackled the same way he would be if he still had the ball. “He is still treated as a runner until he is clearly out of the play,” Blandino said. “The quarterback makes the pitch, he’s still a runner — he can be hit like a runner until he’s clearly out of the play.”
This is bad news indeed for Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson as they now have 300 lb behemoths looking at them with malice as they calculate when and how they can take their legal shots at these young, athletic read-option/pistol quarterbacks. With this allowed, the quarterback injury rate looks like it may increase more than the NFL would like for its young, marketable stars of today and tomorrow.
According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, defensive end Anthony Spencer said he had a setback with his knee, which kept him off the practice field. Spencer had surgery on his left knee early on July 25, keeping their franchise player off the field since.
The Cowboys are also without defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who’s on the PUP list. That has the ‘boys starting both George Selvie and Nick Hayden upfront, which is hardly the kind of pass rushing/run defending defensive tackles new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would have drawn up.
Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that “all indications” are that wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be in the lineup for the Jets in Week One. While the “expectation internally” is that Holmes will be on the field, there may be a cap on how many snaps Holmes will play after spending all of camp and preseason doing limited work as he made his way back from Lisfranc surgery.
With quarterback Mark Sanchez injured and possibly having played his last snap in New York, quarterback Geno Smith has ABSOLUTELY NO ONE to throw the ball to on offense. A healthy Holmes could be the difference between two or six wins this season, and with two top game-changer prospects (defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater--no, not Johnny Football!) the difference between pick two and pick five could be monumental next year. Coach Rex Ryan may be trying to win games and keep his job (not that any number of wins would do it), but the team front office should be in total “suck” mode.
Whatever the injury report says, New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola says he’s raring to go for Sunday’s opener. “I’m sick of talking about it, I just want to go play, to be honest with you,” Amendola said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “I’m excited about getting out there. I’m just ready to go.”
Amendola is--many fans of the former slot receiver in New England don’t want to hear this--an upgrade over Wes Welker. Amendola, in his one preview in the preseason, was electric. Quarterback Tom Brady obviously loves having him, undrafted free agents outside the numbers possession wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, and tight end Zach Sudfeld to throw the ball to in this offense. The Patriots have been stagnant at wide receiver since 2009. This move was overdue and is going to lead to an upgrade to the best offense in football (well, Green Bay or New Orleans may have a few deserving votes!) over the past three years when tight end Rob Gronkowski returns.
Former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder said Wednesday on WQAM radio in Miami that former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams routinely smoked marijuana before games .
Other news out of Miami: the sky is blue. The sun is yellow. Grass is green. The weather is warm. Talk about surprising NO ONE!
Bills safety Jairus Byrd wants out. Byrd, who signed his franchise tender and agreed to play this season for $6.916 million, is trying to orchestrate a trade, according to the Buffalo News.
As if there were not enough problems in Buffalo with top defensive player cornerback Stephon Gilmore injured and safety George Wilson inexplicably shown the door in the offseason, the team is susceptible to passing attacks with Byrd questionable with his injured foot (plantar fascitis). So who do they face week one? Oh, only quarterback Tom Brady and the high-powered New England Patriots.
The Jets are going with third-year pro Bilal Powell as their starting back, but Chris Ivory will “play a lot of football as well,” head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday. Powell, head coach Rex Ryan said, “has earned the right to start,” according a transcript from the club.
Doesn’t matter who starts...that team should be more concerned about finishing cleaning house. Powell failed to impress much last season, and the Jets added Chris Ivory from New Orleans (who actually has impressed in limited action). My hope is that anyone drafting Ivory in Fantasy Football releases him foolishly with Powell number one on the depth chart, because Ivory is starting material and Powell is a backup at best.
Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas says Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is noticeably stronger this year. Thomas said in an interview on ESPN that in his first season with Manning last year, he thought Manning’s arm was fine in 2012. But Thomas says he now realizes that Manning hadn’t completely recovered from his 2011 neck surgeries last year, and Manning throws the ball much better now than he did during the 2012 season.
Last season, anyone with at least one eyeball could see that Manning was limited in the passing game (he had neck fusion surgery, for God’s sake!). Somehow he performed so well with his “wounded quail” tosses last season; however, with neck and back issues, that offensive line had best keep Peyton upright because “neck fusion surgery” and “free run at the QB” sounds like a Denver disaster.
RANTING AND RAVING:
So no response on Twitter from Boston-area/National sportswriter Ron Borges after my rant last week...no surprise there.
Another day, another rant: Here in the greater Boston area, we are subjected to the Boston Red Sox cash cow known as NESN (New England Sports Network) which is owned by and broadcasts the Boston Red Sox games. Fortunately, chief annoyance Jerry Remy is on leave for the season due to his adult son viciously stabbing and murdering his estranged girlfriend. Remy and his “cohort” play-by-play Don “Dope” Orsillo make up what this viewer considers the worst combination of announcers in the game (I used to get the Bip Roberts feed, so I know bad announcing!).
The RemDawg (as Remy nicknamed himself and turned into a hot dog stand outside Fenway Park) is all about one thing:marketing his chain of hideous restaurants. He shamelessly promotes himself and talks endlessly about any subject except baseball. He offers “analysis” and “color” so infrequently that when he makes a rare comment that is insightful (once a year, maybe) one forgets he was a major league player in California and Boston for over a decade. Then, he says something stupid and you remember the Red Sox brought in Dave Stapleton to try to displace him (as well as Stan freaking Papi!).
Orsillo, unfortunately, is simply a clown. Unfortunately, the two are extremely popular. They are going to remain (unless Remy calls it quits--he had cancer recently and this situation with his son is a big deal). I don’t have to like them--I am not their target audience. The stats-obsessed fan who has PitchFX stats and matchups on the computer is going to watch the game regardless of who is blabbering on TV. Remy and Orsillo exist to charm the little old ladies, casual fans, and the “Pink Hats”. That, they do very well and management has no plans to replace them. For me, I suffer through the games and at least have Dennis “the Eck” Eckersley to entertain us until the RemDawg returns.
OK, Gabbers, I am done. I have to take a break from the laptop to watch some damned good NFL football tonight and consume some fine pint cans of Smithwick’s Irish Ale to consume while watching the game and waiting for the Lovely Mrs. B. to return from her first afternoon class for Nursing school. But, hey, it’s Friday by the time I post this, so I’m one day closer to the weekend! Have a great initial NFL weekend, everyone, and thanks as always for taking the time to read.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter weekend...And I hope your Easter Bunny was as giving as this one!
My week was crazy...We'll start on Thursday...I took Little Beeze and his older sister to Holy Thursday Mass...It was required for part of their RCIA class...A number of the kids from school were going to lead the procession into mass with candles...Before they even stepped off, a little girls hair caught fire...No, the boy wasn't involved...Her mother screamed and got it out quickly, but her pony tail was gone...Then the mother, trying to fight it as hard as she could, let out a 15-20 second battle with saying "Mother Fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuu----cccccccccckkkkk" in the back of the church....The dashes are where her voice dropped out, and we all thought she caught herself...
Then, during the homily, an old lady passed out...Some one called 9-1-1...And she woke up loudly, puking all over herself...The EMT's rolled in, and not so stealthy took her out...All this has me fearing what was going to happen at the Easter Vigil Saturday night, where Little Beeze was being baptized/confirmed, and he and his sister were making their first communion...
And the fear ran high as Saturday's mass started at 9:00PM, outside with a bonfire, candle lighting, and walking into a dark church...Sounds safe right!?! Everything went okay...Long...2 and a half hours, but okay...We got home, to find Molls wide awake...It wasn't until after 12:30AM when they were all asleep...Then I had to put on my fucking bunny ears and hide Easter baskets and eggs...
Sunday, my house was full of over-tired, sugared-up kids, all in need of a nap...And my wife and I running on coffee and wanting naps...It was a lazy day, especially after the ham, mashed potatoes, corn, lamb chops, and asparagus...
But there was some time for dancing...
But it wasn't all church, food, and dancing this weekend...
-There was some intense NCAA Hockey...There were plenty of upsets that took place...In the East, Union upset Boston College before falling to #1 seed Quinnipiac...In the Northeast, #1 seed Umass- Lowell had to battle Wisconsin, and New Hampshire to get to the "Frozen Four"....In the Midwest, #4 St. Cloud State gave #1 seed Notre Dame a 5-1 beating...This was a shocker since the Irish had been one of the hottest teams going into the tourney...Then St. Cloud beat #2 seed Miami (Ohio) to advance...And in the West #4 seed Yale upset #1 Minnesota and #2 North Dakota to earn a trip to the "Frozen Four"...
Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, Umass-Lowell, and Yale will head to Pittsburgh to play the "Frozen Four" April 11-13...I'm annoyed by the break they take, but they know they'll get no coverage at all with the basketball tourney going on...
-As for basketball, my bracket was pretty much screwed...But Marquette losing killed me totally...Hows yours?
-Sunday night, Major League Baseball kicked off it's season with the Astros and Rangers...Most of the rest the teams get going Monday...I'm slightly excited for the season, if only because it gives us hope that Spring is here...Even though my local Weather guy gave us a heads-up for more cold and possible snow this week...Of Course! Probably get a blizzard for the Tribe's home opener next week!
I have to say, there is something about Baseball that is bothering me...I never liked the inter-league stuff to begin with, but now with this inter-league game every day crap...It just doesn't make sense when you have two leagues that have different rules...It's time to take a stand...Either DH for everyone, or no DH at all...Bud, you stupid old coot, it's time to make the call already!
-Sunday, a friend of mine posted this LINK on my facebook page...If you were ever concerned about the charities athletes setup, and where the money really goes, you were right to be concerned...Only 8% of the funds in one of Baron Davis' foundations went to charity...Lamar Odom doesn't know what his Charity does...You call Randy Moss' charity, and it's a private residence in Manitoba...There is $300,000 unaccounted for from an Alex Rodriguez charity fundraiser...Give it a read...It could save some people from wasting their money!
-My wife has been a fan of "The Walking Dead"...I saw a few bits and pieces, but never really cared...This week, she got me to watch a bunch of episodes...Which lead up to me watching the season finale...You know what this show did...It fucking annoyed me! Some how, magically, when people die they turn into a Zombie...No explanation...It just is...Fucking childish writing there! Didn't this shit go down in 2010 supposedly...Why the fuck are they driving a 2013 car! Shitty advertising ploy there! I found myself wanting a lot of these people dead...
SPOILER ALERT: One traitorous bitch got what she deserved!
But seriously, America...Between the ads for video games and movies and other TV shows I was seeing while watching a bunch of episodes of "The Walking Dead" I have to ask...When the fuck are you going to grow up? Enough of this Zombie and Vampire shit...Seriously Yes, "Reality TV" makes me sick...But beating these two stupid trends to death has just become lazy! This Zombie, and Vampire shit can eat my ass!
More excitement in the ACC, who’s going who’s coming, wasting air time, MLB HOF ballots, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and a lot more in this weeks edition of…….
I don’t know about you but I put on several pounds. This year I did not go the Turkey route as my mom was out of town (she usually does the holiday cooking) and my wife and I can’t see wasting Turkey since we really only eat a slice or two for Thanksgiving. So, my wife made me my favorite meal, veal parmesan. It was great and I had two big pieces.
I hope you Gabbers had a safe, but wonderful, Thanksgiving.
By now you already know that Morehead State Eagle’s coach. Sean Woods, received a one game suspension for shoving guard Devon Atkinson in the back. I only hope that Coach Woods only follows Bobby Knight it winning games and not following Knight in the kind of demeanor that eventually got him fired from Indiana University.
On November 8th the Jacksonville Jaguars hosted a military appreciation night against the Indianapolis Colts. This event had the fans applauding for a while.
Sam Gordon, the 9-year old football wonder, has joined the likes of Tiger Woods, Walter Payton, Michael Jordan and Lou Gehrig as she has now been featured on the cover of a Wheaties box. In her first year in the “Gremlin age group” of the UTE Conference, she had 35 touchdowns and 1,911 rushing yards,
What a waste of TV air time as the New York Jets were humiliated at home by the New England Patriots. I know the NFL thought, when they made the schedule, that this was going to be an outstanding game. Little did they know. The bad thing is I watched the game on a full stomach and had to throw up on more than one occasion.
New York Giant TE Martellus Bennett saved a mans life this past Sunday after the football game. Check out what ESPN had to say about it.
I am not, by no means, a Notre Dame fan. But, I have to give them credit in their win against USC. I thought after USC tossed a 53-year pass and it was 1st and goal, I’m like oh yeah, USC is going to tie it up. But to the credit of the Irish defense they stuffed USC and did not allow them to score. So now we know at least one team, Notre Dame is in the National Championship. Who will the other team be? That will be decided by the winner of the Alabama versus Georgia winner.
Louisville will be leaving the Big East and joining the ACC in 2014. The Cardinals will be a welcome addition to the ACC as they have a very good basketball program and their football program is on the upswing.
Has anyone noticed but the Big East will not have the New York and New Jersey TV market as Rutgers and Syracuse will be gone from the conference.
Marvin Miller, former union head of the Major League Baseball Players Association passed away at the age of 95. He was hated by MLB owners and loved by the players, but one thing is certain, he changed the sport for the betterment of the players.
"All players -- past, present and future -- owe a debt of gratitude to Marvin, and his influence transcends baseball," current union head Michael Weiner said. "Marvin, without question, is largely responsible for ushering in the modern era of sports, which has resulted in tremendous benefits to players, owners and fans of all sports."
Highlights of Millers Tenure:
• MLBPA executive director from 1966-82
• Negotiated first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports in 1968
• Helped players negotiate right to arbitration in 1970, leading to free agency in 1975
• Guided players through three strikes and two lockouts
• Minimum salary was $6,000 when he joined MLBPA in 1968; was $33,500 when he left in 1982; was $480,000 in 2012.
Let The Debate Begin!!!
The steroid era of MLB Hall of Fame begins in earnest as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are on the HOF ballot for the first time. We all know that Mark McGuire (has never received more than 24% of the vote) has been stymied as has Rafael Palmerio (has received no higher than 12.6% of the vote. All these players have the statistics worthy of election to the Hall Of Fame, but have tested positive or have been suspected of taking illegal substances.
Other first time players on the ballot are Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling. These players will join Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, who were among the highest vote getters from last years voting.