FEATURED
Weekend Wrap Up with IHM
Category: FEATURED

  

  Hello ladies and gents, and welcome to Tuesday here at YouGabSports! Since BOB just posted yesterday and this would be his normal spot, I figured I’d stop in and throw something new up here for the day… so, without further adieu, let’s get on with it.

  Great week for NFL football… a huge night for one of the game’s greatest, as Peyton Manning, in the words of the great BOB, went all Iron Sheik on the 49ers and humbled them up. It was like he had that defense in the camel clutch from the opening kickoff! Three touchdown passes away from Brett Favre’s seven year old mark of 508, Manning proceeded to throw four touchdown passes on the night and add a little cushion to his new NFL standard. You can argue that Peyton might not be the best of all time in terms of winning championships, or getting it done in the postseason, but when you look at regular season numbers, it’s hard to put anybody else above him. Of course, adding another Super Bowl win or two to the resume before he retires would help him in the other department, too. Only time will tell where he ends up in the pantheon of all-time passers, but regardless, he’s a top five quarterback at this point even without another ring. Congratulations to Peyton on his accomplishment, but I’m sure he’d trade every one of his 510 TD passes for another ring or two.

  Obviously, the Broncos won the ballgame… and won it big. The 49ers are now 4-3, but it looks like they will get Aldon Smith back sooner than expected. His nine game ban is likely to be reduced by a game or two due to “good behavior”… good news for a team that is struggling to pressure the passer. But they’re still weak against the run with both Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman out. To be honest, I’m surprised at how well they’ve held up with what is basically a Pro Bowl roster of linebackers out of their lineup!

  There is still hope for the 49ers, thanks to the struggles of the Seattle Seahawks over the past two weeks. The St.Louis Rams shocked the world by taking them down 28-26 with the help of some great special teams play. Nothing better than seeing Dick Sherman after a loss… because he shuts the hell up!

  There was more action outside the stadium, but somehow it missed most of the major media outlets. A group of “Ferguson protestors” stood outside the Edward Jones Dome, harassing, physically assaulting, spitting on and shouting racial slurs at white folks on their way out of the game Sunday afternoon. Yet, somehow, it missed all the major networks. If there were a gang of white folks outside a stadium doing the same to every black person as they walked out, don’t you think we would have heard a bit more about it nationally? When does the double standard stop, people?

  Meanwhile Arizona (you know, the team that is WINNING the best division in football) beat the Raiders. Not much of an accomplishment, but with the Seattle loss they opened up a two game division lead.

  The Steelers bounced back from a loss to Cleveland last week with a 30-23 win over the Texans on Monday night. The Texans dominated the first 27 minutes of the first half, but they seem to have forgotten that a half of NFL football is actually 30 minutes long! The Steelers went on a scoring binge in the final three minutes of the half, and took the lead for good on a trick play from Antonio Brown, who threw a 3 yard TD pass off an end around to Lance Moore to go up 17-13. The Steelers weren’t done there… after recovering an Arian Foster fumble on the shadow of the goal line, Big Ben found Le’Veon Bell for a 2 yard TD pass to close the half with a 24-13 lead.

  The Browns used the momentum from their rare win over Pittsburgh last week to… well, shit the bed against the Jaguars, giving the Jags their first win of the season. The 2008 Lions are a little bit closer to popping that champagne, with just Oakland remaining on the winless side of things in 2014. Don’t worry Jon Kitna and Rod Marinelli… your spot in history seems safe still!

  The Detroit Lions snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Sunday… something they normally do in reverse… by scoring two TD’s in the final 3:38 to top the New Orleans Saints, 24-23. There is a much different feel to this team. The defense is dominant, special teams is solid (aside from the kicking issues, which will likely be shored up once Prater settles in), and the offense isn’t committing their usual brand of poorly timed turnovers and moronic penalties. I’m not saying they’re Super Bowl bound by any means… but winning two in a row without Megatron on the field bodes pretty well for when this guy is back and healthy!

  Lucky for me… I got to miss this epic Lions comeback. About halfway through the game, the boy started having pain in his ear, so the wife decided to rush him to urgent care and get it checked out. This was after the previous night’s trip to urgent care because he caught pink eye at school the freaking day before. So, needless to say, I’ll be hanging out at home with him over the next few days until the pink eye and ear infection clear up. Made for one hell of an eventful weekend, for sure.

  Next up for the Lions, a trip to London, England to face the Atlanta Falcons… who lost 29-7 to the Ravens last week. The Falcons continue to struggle running the football, and that shouldn’t improve much for them going up against the #1 ranked run defense in the league (that’s right, I said that about the Lions… and it’s week 8!) this week. Not sure how the extra travel will affect anything, but this is a game the Lions SHOULD win… and with a win they’ll go into the bye week with a 6-2 record. Sorry to brag here, folks, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a damn thing to brag about when it comes to the Leos!

  The Packers continued their winning ways, dominating the Panthers at Lambeau Field behind another near-flawless performance out of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers now has 18 TD passes to one interception on the season.

  The Dallas Cowboys continued their winning ways, topping the Giants in Jerryworld 31-21. Demarco Murray broke an NFL record held by Jim Brown by picking up his 7th consecutive 100 yard rushing day to open a season. Tony Romo continued his stellar play, throwing for three TD’s and just one pick in the win.

  The Chiefs made Phillip Rivers look somewhat human this week, holding him to just 205 passing yards and forcing just his third interception of the season.

  Over on the college front, how do you end such a great fucking game with such an iffy call? Was it a penalty… technically, yes. But is that the kind of call you want to end a game of the year candidate? Hell no! The Noles were running the same “pick play” all night long… and the week before against Syracuse… with zero flags thrown their way. I’m calling bullshit… the Irish got screwed. The Noles had better hope Jameis keeps his nose clean and stays in their lineup the rest of the year, because they are a very beatable team even with Winston under center. When they hit the playoffs, I normally don’t root for an SEC team, but I will be hoping to see them get blown out of the water by whichever of the Alabama/Auburn/Mississippi State/Ole Miss group comes their way.

  As for Jimbo Fisher… what a fucking scumbag. Mugging for the cameras and pretending as if Winston has redeemed himself, and acting like he’s “like a son to you”. Nothing worse than a disingenuous person, especially when it’s a disingenuous millionaire football coach exploiting a bunch of kids to continue making that much money.

  Staying in the top five, Baylor shit the bed in Morgantown, as West Virginia pulled the upset special on the #4 Bears thanks to a 14-0 4th quarter run. This Clint Trickett kid… he’s got some freaking moxy!

  TCU recovered nicely from their last minute loss to Baylor last week with a 33 point beatdown of the the #15 Oklahoma State Cowboys. That’ll get you back in the conversation.

  As for the SEC… four teams in the top five? I know that will change quite a few times between now and the end of the season, but what in the hell? At least they all play each other, and only one of them should be standing once we’re ready for the first NCAA football playoff. At least I hope to holy hell there is only one SEC team of the four that qualify!

  Last week I had Alabama on upset alert against Texas A&M… evidently I was mistaken… because the Tide rolled the Aggies hard to the tune of a 59-0 win. Such an ugly game it was unwatchable.

  Game one of the World Series is coming up tonight! James Shields against NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Should be a great atmosphere in Kansas City tonight, they’ve been waiting a long time for this! As I’ve said before, I don’t have a beef with either side winning, but I’ll be rooting a little harder for the Royals.

  That’s all I’ve got for today folks. Thanks as always for reading and for anything you leave on the way out.

Monday Madness - 10/20/14
Category: FEATURED

We’ve all gone the past few years dealing with all of the background noise of sports and yearned for hope, and I got to thinking of the first lines of the song “Hello World” by Lady Antebellum:

Traffic crawls, cell phone calls

Talk radio screams at me

MLB Playoffs.    KC and SF gave me pause to think of the closing lines of the very same song, and I realized why we come together – why we love sport so freaking much (I changed the word "world" to "sports"):

All the empty disappears…I remember why I'm here

Just surrender and believe…I fall down on my knees

Oh hello sports…Hello sports…Hello sports

 

Hello sports…How've you been?

Good to see you, my old friend

Sometimes I feel cold as steel…Broken like I'm never gonna heal

I see a light, a little hope

In a little baseball…Hello sports

None of us here have a direct connection to Kansas City that I’m aware of, but I’ll be damned if this KC team in this city in a sport thought changed forever for the worse hasn’t brought a nations worth of Baseball fans together.

World Series on the Field.   SF has to hit the KC starters early and often, and then convert by getting their RISP across the plate, something they've struggled over since June.  If they can’t do that, forget about it, especially late when KC has that bully up and running.  The fact that KC plays that amazing defense makes it even tougher on SF, especially in KC.  It’s gonna take another Pablo Sandoval World Series explosion to keep this close, and he’s gonna need help from Pence, Belt, and Morse.

As for KC, can they stay hot?  Can they take advantage of their speed and steal on Buster Posey? 

NFL – 10 questions/thoughts.  This was not a week for the ages.  Pretty boring actually, though sometimes you just gotta tip your hat and say that the team you root against was the better team.  Denver classified as that last night, so good job Denver.

1.  New England/New York.   I’m calling shenanigans on this one.  How does NYC stay that close to New England?  And now NYC is gonna be the new home for the biggest diva of all – Percy Harvin.  Good luck with that Rex.  Wonder how long it’s gonna take for the world’s biggest Migraine sufferer to start giving Rex one while he’s playing Locker Room Lawyer and Bouncer?

2.  San Francisco/Denver.   Thanks to the football gods that SF has the bye week coming up - they need to get healthy and come together as a team!

3.  Miami/Chicago.  All of a sudden Miami has an offense?  Who knew?   Chicago is 0-3 at home and now fighting with each other post-game in the Locker Room?  U-G-L-Y, Chi-town got no alibi it’s UGLY.

4.  Kansas City/San Diego.  The one game that should have got press and didn’t.  Does anybody know what happened in this game?

5.  New York/Dallas.  One thing Tom Coughlin doesn’t suffer well is players who fumble.  #84, consider yourself officially in Coughlin’s dog house.   Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray is making a serious case to be considered NFL MVP.  He won’t get it of course, but he’s a worthy contender.

6.  Minnesota/Buffalo.  If I’m the NFLPA, I’m taking a hard look at how many injuries came out of this game.   Did we just witness the birth of the next big WR in Sammy Watkins?

7.  Cincinnati/Indy and Atlanta/Baltimore?  Yawn.

8.  Cleveland/Jacksonville.  Really Cleveland?     

9.  Carolina/Green Bay.  Props to Green Bay, but I’m not getting Carolina at all.  Can somebody please explain that Kuechly ejection to me because I sure don’t get it.

10.  Seattle/St. Louis.  I think it’s safe to say that most of The Gab enjoyed the outcome of this one.  I’m thinking Pete Carroll is going to be spending quality time with his Special Teams Coach.  As for St. Louis, they got away with it this week, but somebody needs to have a chat w/that Defensive Coordinator because they shouldn’t be playing that soft.

NFL Trade thoughts.  If I’m Minnesota, I’m looking towards the future, and while it may not be possible or even realistic, if I’m Minny’s GM, I’m calling Arizona to see what it would take to get Larry Fitzgerald, or hell, even this off-season trying to get C. J. Spiller.

CFB – 10 thoughts.   I got stuck in a place where I had to listen to ESPiN Radio during Saturday and I actually heard Danny Kanell (Former FSU QB) try to sell parity in CFB – uh yeah, because nothing says PARITY like four SEC West teams in the National Top Five.  Really Danny?  Effing ESPiN…

He then tried to sell that Blow-hio State deserves to be in the mix for the playoffs.  Really Danny?  Remember Virginia Tech?  If your boy Herbstreit is gonna bust Baylor for a crappy schedule, how do you justify Blow-hio State who lost to Virginia Tech, and whose only big game is Sparty?

1.  My four playoff teams right now:   Florida State, Notre Dame/Arizona State winner, Ole Miss, Mississippi State/Alabama winner.  To me, this is simple – if the Domers win out, they clinch one of the spots, though Alabama got a HUGE boost today when West Virginia (A previous Alabama opponent) beat Baylor while the Tide rolled and destroyed TAMU.     

2.  SEC:   The East is Georgia’s to lose and they will be waiting for a beatup SEC West Champ in the SEC Championship Game.  If they pull the upset in December, all of a sudden we may see a Bulldog in the Playoffs, but not the one many are expecting/hoping for…

3.  PAC 12:  Arizona State is 5-1, and though their loss to UCLA is inexcusable, I think they could end up having a playoff argument if they win out, especially if they can beat Utah and Notre Dame, at home then @ Arizona and take the PAC 12 Championship Game?

4.  ACC:   Duke seems to be in the drivers seat to face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game BC is a huge surprise giving Clemson a game at home  - nice job Eagles.  Meanwhile, North Carolina waited two weeks to long to show their potential.    

5.  Big 12:  Kansas State has one loss – to Auburn (20-14) and still has games against OK State, @ TCU, @ a suddenly better West Virginia, and @ Baylor.  Meanwhile, TCU and Baylor have got to be kicking themselves right about now, and if I’m Oklahoma fan, I gotta wonder what is it that’s holding this supposedly great program back.  West Virginia beat Baylor?  OK, before anybody makes any judgments on this game, it really wasn’t a game so much as it was a referee fest. 

6.  MWC:  I get ridiculed at times for my belief in the MWC, and that’s fair, but I also see a conference that has 6-1 Colorado State, 5-2 Boise State, a rapidly improving Nevada team, and a Utah State team that many big power schools wouldn’t want none of.    Add in Air Force, a competitive San Diego State and San Jose State, along with BYU as a pseudo affiliate, and I think this is a deep conference.   Too bad they’ll never get a fair shake to see what they can do.

7.  Big 10:  Sparty and Blow-hio State won, Yawn – their matchup is still three weeks away. 

8.  Big 10 #2:  But there were two damn good games with Maryland beating Iowa and Minnesota coming back from the brink and getting to 6-1 by beating Purdue.  .`

9.  Other non-Power Conferences:   Believe it or not folks, there were actually two ranked non-power conference teams:  East Carolina and Marshall.

10.  Next Week:  Ole Miss/LSU, USC/Utah (Will Devonte Booker run wild on Trojan man?) are about the only real interesting matchups.  And while it isn’t in the “Power Five”, I’ll take the BYU/Boise State and San Jose State/Navy games.      

West Hills Update.    The boys got their first test this week and the defense struggled, but West Hills scored with :07 left in the game to take a 48-43 win over Reedley and remain undefeated for the first time in forever. 

Good Story #1:   You want to talk about redemption?  Let’s talk about #31, St. Louis Rams.  Goes from Football star, to CFB player at Utah State, to trouble of the judicial variety, to kicked off team, to moving back in w/mom, to getting job as Janitor at Edward James Dome, back to Utah State, then drafted by…you guessed it, Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams.   Redemption indeed, and I’m glad to see he hasn’t forgotten his roots.

Good Story #2:   The Kansas City Royals.  Seriously, nothing else need be said.  

Good Story #3.  MLB got wind of a little six year old boy who is a KC fan and wanted to go to a World Series game in the worst way.  Well, Joe Torre stepped up and is getting little Noah Wilson into a game as his guest.  MLB and Joe Torre - class act!  

Good Story #4:  It appears that we are going to be spared a Justin Bieber/Eminem collaboration because ole Marshall Mathers decided he didn’t want nothing to do with that gangsta wannabe.

Sick Thought.  What if Bieber and Miley Cyrus hooked up and had a kid?  That poor spawn of Satan wouldn’t have a chance.

Douchebag of the Week (DBOW).   Washington, DC.  So let me get this straight:  Ebola in America is Republicans fault based on sequestration that was agreed to by BOTH parties, and DC referring to anybody trying to deal with the Ebola problem in Africa as RACISTS.  You read that right – RACISTS. 

Folks, if you vote for any incumbent regardless of party – YOU are the problem.    

DBOW Honorable Mentions?  City of Houston demanding transcripts of five preachers preaching, Johnny Twitter tweeting about the TAMU beatdown, the NBA with Cleveland 24/7, and the Swaggy P/Snoop Dogg Beef all were all dishonorable mentions.   

Ironic End of an Era? Or Not?
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Ryan Jets

 

The buzzards are circling again. Of course, it's New York, and the buzzards there wear clothes and ride subways. The big buzzards write things for the little buzzards to read, or perhaps have read to them. They all can talk, though it's not a pleasant sound. Talking buzzards infest the airwaves and cables. Buzzards everywhere and not a cactus in sight.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin has had buzzards. Time and again they swarm around him and time and again he beats them off. On the same field but at different times, Jets coach Rex Ryan has started to feel like buzzard food too. They were all over him last season until his Jets won a bunch of games to climb to an 8-8 finish. The buzzards went searching for other heros (that's what New York buzzards eat, either the long cold-cut kind or the warm, fallen kind).

This week the buzzards proclaimed him ready for dinner (theirs) following a strangely uncompelling act. Rex led a 1-5 pack of Jets to Foxboro, not the place for New York teams to escape buzzards. Apparently the New York media expected a win. Ironically, they got everything but one. The Jets played their best game of the year. Geno Smith, with more INTs than TDs, tossed not one pick. His running attack mowed down New England. The Jets controlled the ball for all but 19 minutes of the 60 played. They made a few mistakes of the vanilla sort, a few dropped passes, a few penalties, a few early timeouts, a few blown coverages... but so did New England. With no time to go, Smith had led them to the outer limits of field goal range for place kicker extraordinaire Nick Folk. 58 yards away, the goal posts beckoned and the scoreboard showed the Jets down only by 2. This was their chance.

Fans may recall a loss to the Jets at the Meadowlands last season, a loss that cost New England home field ultimately in the AFC finals with Denver, a game they might have won in Foxboro. Folk missed a 57 yarder to end it. Then he got another chance 15 yards closer, a virtual chip shot for him. The reason was what even the NY papers labeled an obscure, never-seen-before penalty for 'pushing the pile'. It was explained that the rule was to protect the center. Interesting, since yet another rule had already been made to protect the center, banning the defense from lining up opposite him. The rule, of course, didn't exist in the form the league required, so quickly they rewrote it on line. On line is where the coaches are encouraged to get their info by the league. Suddenly its on line form had changed. One scribe saw the old version, the one a fuming Bill Belichick had seen also, then only minutes later saw the new version. He was of course derided by the league and the buzzards. Belichick was forced to (sort of) retract statements he made. Of course, he knew what had happened --- more Goodell magic, this time possibly costing his team a Super Bowl berth. He couldn't have been much happier watching Seattle dissect Peyton Manning.

This time around, after the fact, it was reported that an official had tapped Hightower to move him before the snap, since he was lined up over center. The buzzards and the league, even Rex, quickly shot it down as standard procedure. The Patriots win stood, as it should have. They didn't have the nerve to do it twice in a row. And on the play, the same guy flagged last year, Chris White, blocked the kick and sealed an ugly win for New England.

Doesn't sound like the sort of thing that gets a coach tossed into the desert with cow skulls for company. The Jets had no business winning. Ryan convinced them that they did, and a team that believes is dangerous. This is the same coach who came into NY talking trash at the Patriots, and who in fact beat them in the 2010 season's AFC divisional round. But it might be a ticket to dry country, to listen to the buzzards.

Ultimately, the coach with the big mouth, lap band and foot fetish has delivered to the Jets what he is capable of delivering. His teams have had strong lines, a good power game and a defense with players and schemes capable of throwing a monkey wrench into even the league's premiere offenses. What they haven't had is that franchise quarterback. They thought it was Mark Sanchez. Ryan stayed with him patiently, too patiently for the buzzards. Then the Jets drafted Geno Smith, who so far has been different. Not better, but different. He may, in fact, stretch the boundaries of what you can turn into an NFL quarterback even in the modern helmet radio era.

But he came up big in Foxboro. Problem was, he didn't win. That, oddly, would have grounded the buzzards despite improving the Jets to only 2-5. And he hadn't been good up to that point --- at all.

Still, with a rough opening schedule, the Jets had been in every game but one. To wit:

1. They beat Oakland at home, not by much, but others have had trouble with the winless Raiders too, including New England and San Diego.
2. They lost to the Packers on what seemed an obscenely corrupt officiating moment, as the tying TD that would have sent them to overtime was waved off as players celebrated. No flag? What's going on? The refs claimed NY had called a time out. Nobody on the field called one. The baffled Ryan hadn't called one. His OC Mornhinweg wanted one... but the OC can't call a time out.
3. They lost another squeaker to the Bears, again influenced heavily by officiating.
4. They lost yet another squeaker to the Lions (are the Jets in the NFCN?), this time without the yellow dramatics.
5. They were crushed by San Diego.
6. They lost to Denver in a seven-point game that was broken open by a pick from Geno on a desperate last-minute drive to tie the game.
7. They lost to New England on a blocked field goal as time expired.

It may be 1-6, but if their 'luck' had been as good as it was bad they arguably could have been 4-3, 5-2, who knows, maybe even 6-1. That Ryan should be on the hot seat now seems the irony of ironies. He's deserved it more in the past. He got a bye.

So is this the end of Sexy Rexy? I haven't seen any announcements. His players love him. A possibly ruined season would surely become a complete tank without him. Maybe that's part of the plan?

You see, the buzzards are also circling around GM John Idzik, who also happens to be Ryan's boss. Idzik has been ripped by former player Bart Scott. Idzik signed cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who actually skipped a preseason game before being cut for obvious reasons. Smith apologists claim he hasn't given the QB any targets to throw to. All this may sound unrelated to Ryan, but Idzik has just signed malcontent Percy Harvin from the Seahawks, who apparently couldn't wait to get rid of him. Either Rex walked in and said "See that? Geno's ready! Get him someone!" and Idzik obliged, or he made a desperate move to ward off the buzzards. The latter seems likelier. Desperate bosses aren't good to work for. Will his next buzzard-baiting move be to can Ryan?

Who knows how the politics of the Jets front office boil down? Nobody outside New York cares about John Idzik. But Rex Ryan is a household name.

He made himself one. He looked for opportunities to play the media. He made himself bigger than life. Oddly, through all that, he gained the loyalty of his team too. If this really is the end of Rex, it's not like he didn't ask for it. The irony is, that was in the past when he was winning. This time he really didn't ask for it. But he's losing.

Weekly Grumble with IHM 10/18
Category: FEATURED

 

  Well folks, it’s that time of the week again… time for another visit with your old pal IHM. This week, I got the opportunity to fill in for the legendary Ol’ Harry two days ago. Hope you enjoyed the trip OH, and you know I’ve got you covered any time you need it my friend. But now it’s Saturday… and time to sit back, relax… wait, that’s not what I do here… I rant, rave, and do the sort of things that develop ulcers! Well, at any rate, here’s the blog!

  While filling in for OH, I got into a discussion with BOB about what has happened to the sports card and collectibles industry. For me, this is an important subject, as I very much enjoyed (and still occasionally do enjoy) the hobby. Growing up, my father was an avid collector, and it was a great way for him, myself, and AFD to bond and spend some time together. Heck, me and AFD used to go to the KB Toy Store at the mall and split a $5 box of cards. We’d buy the box, split the packs, and make trades, swap doubles, offer the old man any cards he didn’t yet have or needed for a team set. A lot of very fun memories doing that. I can remember heading a mile up the road to the Diamond Connection (local card shop) and checking out all the display case cards (i.e. cards I couldn’t afford in my wildest dreams) and dropping my allowance money on a few packs of Upper Deck basketball/Topps baseball/etc.

  But then something happened; the collectibles end of the sports card hobby started moving in on the sports cards end. Memorabilia cards, autograph cards, “graded” cards, and “premium products” started flooding the markets and the prices started to skyrocket. Back in 1990, a pack of Topps Baseball cost fifty cents, affordable for just about anybody. Today, you’re looking at a minimum of $2.00 a pack, and that’s only if you find them at a store. You don’t see them at the grocery store any more… you have to go to one of the retail giants, such as Target or Walmart to find them… and then you have to wonder if some idiot already came through and sorted the entire freaking display box (“investors” will literally plop their fat, acne riddled, living in my mom’s basement ass down in an aisle and check every pack to see if it is a little thicker than the others, indicating a “hit”, or a memorabilia/autographed card. They literally spend all day driving from store to store to store doing this, then usually sell them on EBay.)

  Card shows were another thing we used to look forward to as a family… they would have them at local malls, etc., and there would be nearly a hundred booths packed into that mall, and there was always a current/former player signing autographs… FOR FREE! I got to meet plenty of Tigers legends this way, and I still have every autograph I picked up this way in an album. Some of the highlights included Mickey Lolitch, Aurelio Rodriguez, Denny McLean, Norm Cash, Gates Brown, and even Tony Clark during one of his more productive seasons with the Tigers (although the team was still terrible). Now, we have no more mall shows… in fact, we have to drive to a trade center twenty miles up the road to get to a card show in our area (and even that is becoming abysmal). While AFD has moved to Pennsylvania, my dad and I still make the trip on occasion to see if we can’t add a couple pieces to our collection. But even at the trade center things have taken a dive… the showroom used to be full of tables, and it now only takes up about half the room. There are no signers, and even when there are they charge $25-50 to have anything signed… not worth it to me, for sure. I’ve paid for an autograph once in my life, and that was to meet the legendary Ted Lindsay at the Diamond Connection… it was ten dollars and the proceeds went to children’s charities (mostly Autism research, which I didn’t know so much about then as I do now!) My dad had to spot me the extra five bucks of allowance money that week, but I’d say it was money well spent!

  And why are things drying up in the collecting business, you ask? People are being priced out. No longer can little kids afford to go spend their allowance money on a couple packs of cards… if your kid gets five bucks a week in allowance, they’re lucky if they can get two packs with that. Hell, most cards these days don’t even give you stats on the back… if they do, it’s one year and the career totals… not the full breakdown you’d get on a Topps base card back in the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, etc. Anything from the 70’s and before you need to pay an arm and a leg for… and anything from the 80’s or 90’s is barely worth the cardboard it is printed on due to over production. You can’t collect an entire set; they have all these damn “variations” and insert sets that make that impossible. You can’t even build a team set anymore, which is what my dad always did, because most card companies don’t print cards of anybody that isn’t either a rookie or a known player. It is a sad state of affairs, for sure.

  But the biggest leeches in the business are the memorabilia dealers… the same ones that approach a guy like Todd Gurley or Jameis Winston and ask them to “sign a few items for them for a little pocket cash” knowing full well that it is a violation of NCAA rules. Sure, the players know it too, but most of these guys are flat broke (or close to it) and really need the money. These greasy faced freaks then turn around and sell what they paid maybe a hundred bucks for for thousands of dollars, after, of course, they get it “authenticated” by a company such as JSA, the company involved in the current scandal involving Winston and Gurley. Then there are the idiots buying this stuff… which will be worth the price of a footlong sandwich at Subway in a few years if either one craps out in the NFL… which really serves them right if they’re buying this kind of stuff knowing full well the athlete gets zero cut and some middle aged professional loser is the only one benefitting.

  Big night in sports Thursday night, as the Giants won the National League pennant, and the Patriots were able to hold off the surprisingly spry Jets with a blocked field goal in the final seconds.

  The Giants and Cardinals only played a five-game series… but it was a classic for sure. Some great finishes, including game five. The Cardinals held a 3-2 lead going into the 8th inning, but in the 8th, Michael Morse hit a solo shot to tie things up. In the bottom of the 9th, with two runners on, Travis Ishikawa sent a 401 foot bomb out of the ballpark to give the Giants the pennant, their third in the last five years.

  So starting Tuesday, the Giants and Royals play for baseball’s richest prize. Both teams should be at full rest, but recent history has the least rested team winning it all. Personally, I’m not a fan of either team, but how do you not root for the Royals here if you’re not a Giants fan? Hell, even if you ARE a Giants fan… NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner takes the hill against “Big Game” James Shields for game one. Personally, I’ll take the Royals in six or seven… but this is going to be an evenly matched series… both teams seem to have a knack for getting a run when they need it, any way they can. Both teams are damn solid defensively, have solid rotations, and damn good bullpens. It might not be the “ratings bonanza” that Major League Baseball prays for, but it will be quality baseball between two deserving teams.

  The Patriots got a real scare Thursday night from Sexy Rexy and the Jets, but were able to block a 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired to escape Foxboro with the win, 27-25. The Jets outrushed the Patriots 218-63, but were unable to get the ball in the endzone, settling for four Nick Folk field goals on those drives. That Tom Brady guy wound up looking pretty solid, throwing for three TDs in the win as the Pats improved to 5-2. The Jets loss drops them to 1-6, and puts them in great position for that #1 pick in the 2015 draft!

  Good news for Jets fans... the team has dealt a conditional 2nd-4th round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for veteran WR/KR Percy Harvin. The bad news, they didn't throw in a quarterback in the deal... so you're still stuck with Geno Smith or Michael Vick. That, and the fact that Harvin has a grand total of 22 catches for 133 yards on the season.

  The Lions kicking woes continue… they signed Matt Prater to remedy the situation last week. Matt Prater, the guy who missed one field goal attempt all of last season… problem solved, right? WRONG! He proceeded to go 1/3 on field goal attempts, making the team 5/15 on the season. Since everything has to have a name now, I’m going to go ahead and call this the “Curse of Kickalicious”, the guy that all Lions fans wanted before the start of the 2013 season, but they went with David Akers instead (although even Akers is an upgrade over this shit!).

  The Lions face the Saints Sunday, and are likely to be without Calvin Johnson once again. As for the Saints, things are looking up in terms of Jimmy Graham’s availability for Sunday… great.

  Bad news for Browns fans, as C Alex Mack is now out for the season. Mack hadn’t missed an NFL game going into last week, but was injured during the Browns surprise win over the Steelers. Still, the Browns have a solid shot at another win this week as they play the winless Jaguars.

  The biggest college game of the weekend is the top five matchup of #2 Florida State and #5 Notre Dame in Tallahassee. Honestly, I don’t know how this one goes down, but I’ll be rooting for the Irish to pull off the road win… but after not being able to shut down North Carolina last week (luckily the offense stepped up and scored enough to win), I’m not all that confident here. The Seminole defense is a step or two better than the Tar Heels D.

  Other ranked vs. ranked games include #23 Stanford traveling to play #17 Arizona State for your late night viewing pleasure. In the Big12 we get two such games, as #15 Oklahoma State travels to Texas to play #12 TCU, who look to avenge their tough luck loss last week at Baylor. #14 Kansas State heads to Norman, Oklahoma to face the #11 Sooners. In the SEC (yeah, there’s always one SEC ranked vs. ranked game), #7 Alabama hosts the #21 Aggies of Texas A&M. Can Kenny Hill repeat Johnny Football’s upset performance against the Tide from two years ago? This Alabama team is ripe to be upset… their offense seems to have zero rhythm.

   Should be another fun day of college football today; hope everybody enjoys the games, or whatever else you decide to do with your day. Have a great weekend, Gabbers, and I’ll see you all next week.

Sports Friday with Hal: NFL NOTES AND MORE
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes

 

Happy Friday!

 

I’m a busy bee and have been reduced to my old “Lurker” status here as I check in for a quick read. Like the great Steve Miller sings, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future”

 

 

So the New England Patriots are playing their division rival New York Jets in a monsoon on Thursday night so I will have this posted and ready to go before 8:30PM. A lot of fun storylines with talk of Darrelle Revis playing some wide receiver? Practice squad running back Jonas Gray stepping into the New England backfield? Jets tight end Jace Amaro finally putting together a good game last week.

 

STORY OF THE WEEK:

The best storyline is the the Bill Parcells book set to be released in a few weeks and news of the advance copy having plenty of juicy details about the divorce of Parcells-Belichick. Since the divorce--don’t forget--Parcells won nothing while Belichick won three Super Bowls and went to five.

 

That said, going back twenty years to what football in New England was pre-Parcells and Drew Bledsoe is almost comical. Whenever the team found the smallest measure of success, they found a way to ruin it in spectacular fashion. The Lisa Olsen Scandal. The Cocaine Scandal post getting Super Bowl shuffled in 1986. General Manager Pat Sullivan getting his ass kicked by Matt Millen and Howie Long after he taunted them after the Patriots upset the Raiders in the playoffs in ‘86. Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour failure nearly bankrupting the team owners. The debacle of drafting quarterback Tony Eason over Dan Marino. Steve Grogan, John Hannah, and Steve Nelson playing so many years for so many bad teams. Trading away the draft picks that became Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Cortez Kennedy. Head coach Chuck Fairbanks bailing on the team. Roughing the passer against Oakland in 1976. This list goes on and on and on and on and on. I am sure the Northeast Gabbers can add about 20 more without taxing their brains.

 

The Patriots owe a debt of gratitude to Parcells for sure, but kudos to Belichick for getting out from “Big Bill’s” shadow. Belichick has hinted at how he hated being linked to Parcells when he saw him as a defensive assistant coach who got the lucky break of taking on the Giants top position. Belichick always visibly reacted whenever a reporter made the mistake of referring to him as a Parcells protegee. Belichick really is a part of the Joe Collier coaching tree as Collier was the long-time defensive coach in Denver and where the “Orange Crush” 3-4 defense took root. Parcells was a Ray Perkins acolyte and Belichick was more established in his defensive philosophy prior to landing in New York. To lump Belichick into the Parcells family tree is really a stretch when you look at the differing styles and philosophies.

 

That said, I am really looking forward to Parcells’ book and gleaning a little more information about his ending in New England. Should be a fun read.

 

NFL NOTES:

 

I’ve been keeping my eyes on the AFC East as always as I write primarily about the Patriots, but in watching Buffalo the demise of C.J. Spiller has been eye-opening. While the benching of 2013 first-round draft pick quarterback E.J. Manuel has been the top story, the declining touches for Spiller has been shocking. He’s hit 15 carries just twice this season and against New England had just six carries after just ten against Detroit the week prior.

 

The offensive line in Buffalo is atrocious and Fred Jackson’s quick-decision running style is more conducive to toughing out yards after contact. Center Eric Wood is adequate and left tackle Cordy Glenn is excellent, but right tackle Seantrel Henderson and guards Erik Pears and Cyril Richardson are dreadful and not NFL starting quality.

 

Now, backup running back and former Philadelphia Eagle Bryce Brown is healthy at last and Spiller looks like the odd man out. Spiller is still effective in the return and passing game, and I believe the game tape does not lie: the problem is his poor blocking offensive line.

 

*

 

The Boston Hollywood Sports Guy returned to Grantland/ESPN this week as his three week suspension for criticizing of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Three weeks later and my life was no poorer not reading his “mailbag” or not listening to his podcast as I haven’t tuned in to that since probably 2007 a few weeks after it came out. Simmons reportedly was furious about the suspension but didn’t go on a public diatribe or anything.

 

On one hand, Simmons is the godfather to us all. Blogs were not even really a “thing” back in the nineties. Simmons actually is a good writer who was a bartender after not being able to break into the Boston sports reporting scene. Simmons started writing on AOL Digital City (ahh, the heady 90s go-go Internet days!) and had his own website: BostonSportsGuy.com. By 2001 he was onto the big time at ESPN. After a hiatus to join the Jimmy Kimmel show in Hollywood, he was back and soon had his site Grantland.com.

 

In the pre-ESPN days, I adored Simmons and his unique style of writing. Without him, would TSN have blogs? Would I have started my BostonSportPage.com blog in 2005? Would we be sitting around the Gab loving and sharing sports? Probably not. That said, he went from “Must Read” to “ehhh, whatever” in the past few years. It is hard to maintain momentum and there are a ton of imitators who have come and gone.

 

*

 

I was ecstatic to see Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll come out against the seven inactive players on game day. Currently, the NFL has a 53 man roster that receives full pay and counts against the salary. Randomly, the league has the team only be able to play 46 of the 53. They’re paying them but not playing them? Why?

 

Since I never heard a rational reason and having more healthy players able to contribute can limit teams using starters on special teams (Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm in 2012 blocking on an extra point?) is a good thing, what the heck is the league doing? It seems ludicrous for teams to have to pay these players a full salary and sit them? Make it 46 players or keep it 53, but LET THEM PLAY.

 

*


Wow, got on a few tangents there. OK, folks, time for me to watch some Thursday Night Football. P.S. Kudos to IHM filling in superbly for the great O.H. here on Thursday. Be sure to swing by next door to check in with the always interesting, informative, and opinioned StorminNorman as well --->.

 

 

Have a great weekend!

 
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