Apparently Matthew Berry of ESPN didn't like my draft...i dont think much of it myself.
Greetngs from the Hoodwood, where the locals are sending their best to the folks in the path of Isaac. Ya’ll batten down the hatches and hang on, hopefully it’ll just be a lot of rain and nothing remotely worse.
MLB: Blockbuster! Dodgers go for the gold rush
Back when I was a kid, there used to be a game show called Blockbusters. It was a simple word association game that had an endgame called the gold rush. Seen played to effectiveness here by Leland Yeung.
He missed the cake one at the end...that was Bowling Green... Now you ask, what does a game show from 30 or so years ago have to do with anything? Simple, the Dodgers played Blockbusters this week and hit a gold rush of their own with the jaw dropping trade for Adrian Gonzalez, the injured Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett heretofore of the Red Sox for the unremarkable James Loney and a host of minor leaguers. The stunning trade makes the Bums a serious power player in the NL. Inserting the respected and feared bat of Gonzalez to a lineup with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino makes the Dodgers lineup tough from top to bottom. Im actually stunned that someone didn’t try to block this trade since it came past the waiver trade deadline. Moving a potent bat like Gonzalez is always going to get notice and moving him to a big market like LA should have set off tons of foul play cries from smaller markets, but no one said a word. I think the Red Sox are privately relieved to have shed over a quarter billion dollars in salary and long term contracts and may be in the process of starting a slow painful rebuilding process. The Dodgers on the other hand have gone from the hat in hand status that they were under during the McCourt days to being a real heavy in not only the NL but MLB as well. If Josh Beckett can get out from his doldrums he could be provide a real lethal 1-2 punch with Clayton Kershaw to make up the deficit they face with the Giants.
Cycling: Lance Armstrong gives up the fight
In a move that shocked many. Cycling legend Lance Armstrong has decided to not to continue his fight against the USADA in his anti-doping fight. Im one of those that think that the USADA are in a progressive witch hunt against Armstrong who had won 7 Tour de France titles. Armstrong decided that despite having never tested positive for anything. The USADA decided that the allegations that were made had some merit. Some people are of the mentality because they have thought there is no possible way that Armstrong could have been as dominant to have won 7 titles in a row without cheating. I guess in the cynical sports world that we are in that any kind of dominance is regarded with a type of disbelief as to how that can happen. I think that there still should be a innocent until proven guilty. Not accusations, proof. I still think of Armstrong as a real hero, not because he could ride a bike longer and faster than I could ever do but because he fought cancer, beat it and has been a vocal advocate for cancer research, treatment and care. I hope that fight isn’t marginalized because of the alleged doping.
MLB: Jeter does his thing in spite of the haters.
Ive long been one of the fiercest critic of Skip Bayless, the braying honk of ESPN’s First Take program. Bayless was debating with Stephen A. Smith the past Wednesday about the apparent resurgence of Derek Jeter who has been a vital cog in the Yanks usual dominant play. Batting .326 with 13 homers and 43 RBI’s Jeter’s number are a marked improvement over his play of 2011 where he batted .297 which was an improvement from his career low .270 in 2010 but many pundits were sure that Jeter had been on the decline. Bayless made a not too veiled comment about Jeter’s resurgence alluding that Jeter must have been taking something to have allowed him to improve his play. Bayless is a shit-stirrer, one that will say things just for effect and sit back and chuckle at the controversy that it generates. Jeter was his usual low-key classy self when asked about Bayless’ comments saying that maybe Bayless himself needed to be tested. I think personally that Jeter is the epitome of class and his resurgence is something that I don’t think is related to any kind of PED, I think that after the last subpar seasons, that he came out determined to come out stronger and better. He hasn’t come out hitting 35 or 40 homers he has 12. He is back hitting the spray line drives that he did when he was younger, his form is back and I think that he will finish his career very strong. I don’t think he would hang on long enough to past Pete Rose on the all time hit list of which he is just under a thousand shy. But I do think that he has enough to be supplant Tris Speaker as the AL all time hit leader which hes about 250 hits shy of.
NFL: NFC preview
With the NFL deciding to put games on Thursday for the first 13 weeks of the season, there will be some changes in the weekly NFL preview that I post. I will post the Thursday pick here in Hoodwood and the rest of the picks will post on Friday. Noting that, here are my picks on how I think the NFC will coalesce to the road to a Big Easy Super Bowl.
NFC East (Predicted Order of Finish)
Reid is under the gun to bring a title to Philly and he has the tools to do it, but can Vick stay healthy enough to make the run?
G-Men get no pub and little respect from the national media and barely get noticed in their own city despite two Super Bowl win in 5 years. Eli has capably stepped from big bro’s shadow to his proper reconigtion as an elite QB.
Tony Romo takes the heat for a team that has underachieved in the past 5 years, but with better teams blocking their way in the division they may be stuck in this position.
RG3 takes the reins but the learning curve will be steep in this rugged division. If Shanny can be patient this team will be tough every week but the wins will be hard to come by.
Fast Fact: Andy Reid is the NFL’s longest tenured coach and the 4th longest tenured in the four North American sports leagues behind Popovich of the NBA's Spurs, Ruff and Trotz in the NHL of the Sabres and Predators respectively and ahead of Mike Scioscia of the MLB Angels
Skinny: The Eagles window is closing fast, they have the tools to go deep but they also have the mentality sometimes to wander. I see the Eagles holding off the Giants to win the division.
Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the game, period and as long as he has his health the Packers will continue to be the bully in this division but are looking over their collective shoulders at hungry pursuers.
Shedding their status as NFL punching bag and punch line, the Lions will go as far as Matthew Staffords health will take them and that could be far. They have should the capability to slug it out with the Pack but they are still maybe a year or two shy from supplanting them.
Insert your favorite Jay Cutler joke here, the much maligned Bears signal caller has more weapons now than he has ever had in his time in Chi-town. Reunited with one time Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall and a contract happy Matt Forte the Bears offense for once looks potent. I still cant see them having enough to push past the two loaded teams ahead of them in this division.
Its not a good time to be a fan of this team. Adrian Peterson looks like he has made a startlingly fast recovery from major knee surgery and may be ready to go in Week 1, the rest of the offense looks nondescript and the defense aside from Jared Allen looks punchy. That is a recipe for disaster in this super tough division, the Vikes might go another year without a division win. 5 wins total would be considered a realistic goal.
Fast Fact: The Packers became the first NFL team to win 15 regular season games, yet not win a single playoff game
Skinny: The Pack will win the division but holding off the Lions is getting tougher and tougher.
Matt Ryan has the tools, the talent around him and still cant get anywhere in the playoffs. They have more than enough to hold off the decimated Saints and still growing Panthers. But that margin is closing fast.
The startling growth of Cam Newton has turned this team from pushover to up and comer in a hurry. They still have too many questions on defense to be taken totally seriously as a contender but they have enough to give the Falcons some pause.
Drew Brees still pilots one of the most feared offenses in the NFL but without the leadership of Sean Payton there will be a critical element missing and that in itself will be what brings the Saints to their knees this season. Brees will keep them competitive and they will win a few games but not enough to make a playoff run this year.
Buc fans have to be discouraged, they are still waiting for Josh Freeman to make that step up to elite and fulfill his potential. Starting over with former Rutgers head man Greg Schiano, the Bucs are heading in a new direction but this division is way too deep for them to make a move up.
Fast Fact: The Falcons four consecutive winning seasons are the longest such streak in their history
Skinny: The Falcons still have more than enough to take the division but are not strong enough to get deep into January
The much maligned Alex Smith finally took a huge step in not only leading the Niners to a division title but thrilling divisional round win over the Saints and taking the Giants to overtime in the NFC title game. With a defense led by the hard hitting Patrick Willis the Niners have more than enough to continue to dominate this super weak division
The Seahawks are a tough team to figure, they spent hella cash to get Matt Flynn then turn around and hand the QB reins to talented rookie Russell Wilson. With plenty of offensive options including the seemingly ageless Terrell Owens (Is he still in this league?) and Marshawn Lynch the potential is high but the defense is spotty at best and can be as hideous as those Nike unis.
Another team that brought in big money QB but may be handing the reins to someone less heralded. Kevin Kolb has done nothing to prove his worth and John Skelton may be starting, uber talented Larry Fitzgerald is seeing his talents wasted with an ineffective offensive game plan. If Beanie Wells can ever stay on the field healthy they could make some noise, but lacking that and with a so-so defense the Cards can stay afloat in this weak division but not have anything close to being a playoff contender
The Rams are trying a new direction with a proven vet coach in Jeff Fisher and may show some improvement but the clock is ticking on Sam Bradford. The running game is solid with Steven Jackson and rookie Isaiah Pead but the defense is still very ragged and even in this weak division they simply don’t have enough to make inroads.
Skinny: It’s the Niners division to lose, they have the tools to get all the way to N'Awlins
Fast Fact: There have been three different division winners the last three years
Philly, San Fran, Green Bay, Atlanta
Wild Cards New York, Detroit
In the Wild Card Round
New York Beats Atlanta
Philly Beats Detroit
In the Divisional Round:
Philly Beats Green Bay
San Fran Beats New York
In the Championship Game:
San Fran beats Philly to win the NFC
Fantasy Football: Bandit on Brain Lock
My first fantasy draft was this past weekend. I think I was on something, either that or cursed. I drafted sixth in the HHFL (Humana Hardhitters Football League) My 2012 Butler County Black Bandits are as follows: (Depth chart)
QB: Matthew Stafford
Alex Smith (stupid me, I left Matt Schaub on the board)
RB: Ryan Mathews (stupid me, i left AP on the board)
Bernard Scott (Hurt his thumb against GB)
Jahvid Best (another bad pick)
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
Wes Welker (steal)
TE: Jermaine Gresham
K: Matt Bryant
D/ST Baltimore (I hope the loss of T-Sizzle doesnt hurt)
It seems that all the players that I drafted are either nicked up or worse. I find out yesterday that Jahvid Best will be on the PUP list. Matthew Stafford got drilled in Oakland and I'm holding my breath if he will be ready to go in week 1. Im trying to work a trade for Schaub but I doubt I can work that. In 7 years in playing in this league I've never finished better than 7-7 (2009 and last year) in this league which to me is an embarrassment. Comments (and ridicule) on my so-called draft are welcome
After weeks of speculation, and handwringing. The Man Cave is just about ready to show off. The first column of September will mark my 5th year of blogging and to celebrate I will show the man cave off in a Cribs style video. The AFC preview will also be next week as well.
Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!