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Musings From The Hoodwood 8-26 NFL Preview Pt.3
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood where the fantasy teams are getting ready to get back to the championship ways

More of the NFL Preview Lets look East where the more things change…

AFC East

New England Patriots

2013: 12-4 Champs lost to Denver in Conference Championship

Coach: Bill Belichick 163-61 in 14 Seasons in New England, 199-105 in 19 Seasons with Cleveland & New England; 218-114 overall

Man on the Hot Seat: Stevan Ridley needs to be more a force in the running game, 774 yards won’t be enough to balance the load of the offense

Fast Facts: Belichick’s 163 wins is more than triple the wins of the next winningest coach Mike Holovak

The Patriots have had one losing season in the Belichick tenure his first the 13 straight winning seasons, they had 18 winning seasons in the 40 years before Belichick arrived

The Patriot Way: The Patriots have been the class of the division and are a shoo in for at least 10 wins, as long as Brady has his health, the Pats are the team to beat. Their defense is still suspect and their running game has always been subpar but they are the Pats and there isn’t a team in the division that matches up well enough to beat them out.

Miami Dolphins

2013: 8-8, Missed Playoffs

Coach: Joe Philbin, 2nd  Season in Miami 8-8 overall

Man on the Hot Seat: Ryan Tannehill, he has to see his peers in Dalton, RG3, Luck and Wilson have all made the playoffs and he hasn’t come close

Fast Facts: The Dolphins have missed the playoffs in 11 of the past 12 seasons. Before this they had never missed the playoffs more than 4 seasons in a row

The Dolphins have only had a 1000 yard rusher 12 times in their team history

Big Fish or small tuna: Pushing past the mess that was the Martin-Incognito the Dolphins are a decently talented team, but lack a big name on either side of the ball. Tannehill is on the spot to assert himself more on the offense while a non-descript defense needs to play better.

 

New York Jets

2013: 8-8 Missed Playoffs (worst season since 2005)

Coach: Rex Ryan 42-38 in 6 Seasons in New York 46-40 overall

Man on the Hot Seat: Ryan, he can’t have another mediocre season and get away with it in Gotham

Fast Facts: The Jets 290 points were the 4th fewest in the NFL in 2013, the three teams scoring fewer points had 10 wins combined

Gotham Gridiron: The Jets are an overhyped mediocre squad, they might get up for the Pats but they fall asleep at the switch way too often, I’m not convinced that the grinning jeering Ryan will ever change and that the Jets will do nothing to change their perception.

 

Buffalo Bills

2013: 6-10 Missed playoffs

Coach: Doug Marrone 2nd Season 6-10 overall

Man on the Hot Seat: EJ Manuel, the Bills QB needs to grow and fast, the

Fast Facts: The Bills are the only team in the NFL to have not played in the playoffs in the 20th Century (Even the Browns and Raiders have made the playoffs since the turn of the century, in 2002)

B-Lo Football: The Bills are stuck in a rut, they are in a weak division but don’t have the chops to pass the other teams in the division much less take on the Pats. They have the tools to be sure, but one can’t be sure if they can put it all together. The loss of their long time beloved owner puts the team’s long term future in western New York in doubt, but the Bills are just stuck in a bad situation.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

2013: 7-9 Wild Card lost to New Orleans in Wild Card Round

Coach: Chip Kelly 2nd Season 10-6 in 1 season in Philadelphia

Man on the Hot Seat: Nick Foles, the job is his as the Eagle QB how will he handle it?

Fast Facts: The Eagles haven’t had a losing season since 2006

Philly Phootball: Chip Kelly and the fastbreaking Eagle offense are not to be trifled with. Start with the accurate Foles at the helm and dangerous running backs Shady McCoy and Darren Sproles seemingly everywhere, the Eagles will score points. They are good enough to win a weak NFC East again but how deep can they get in January?

New York Giants

2013: 7-9 missed playoffs

Coach: Tom Coughlin; 90-70 overall in 10 seasons in New York, 98-73 overall, 170-137 in 17 total seasons overall in New York and Jacksonville

Man on the Hot Seat: Eli Manning, if he throws 25 interceptions again 2 rings or no he and Coughlin might be unemployed

Fast Fact: The Giants have never had back to back losing seasons during Coughlin’s tenure

Big Blue Football: If there was a rebound waiting to happen, it’s the G-Men. I still have yet to embrace the laconic style of Eli Manning but I can’t count a Coughlin coached team out.

Dallas Cowboys

2013: 8-8 Missed playoffs

Coach: Jason Garrett 29-27 overall in 3+ seasons in Dallas

Man on the Hot Seat: Jason Garrett, HA! You thought I was going to say QB Tony Romo. Romo can only do so much the Pokes mediocrity is Garrett’s responsibility

Fast Facts: The Cowboys 3 straight 8-8 seasons are the longest .500 streak in team history

Big D Football: The Pokes and their fans talk big but the reality is that a solid offense can only cover up just so much for a horrid defense that is marginally better than the putrid squad of last year. Jones can bluster all he wants about respect but the Pokes are no better than a 9-7 team, and in a loaded NFC that won’t get them to the playoffs.

Washington

2013: 3-13 missed playoffs

Coach: Jay Gruden, 1st Season

Man on the Hot Seat: Robert Griffin, III. After a poor sophomore year the electric QB needs to make a stand

Fast Facts: Only the Vikings gave up more than Washington’s 478 points last year and only Jacksonville had a bigger point differential…and the Vikings beat Washington last year                                                    

Capital Football: A new regime in DC and old problems, a so-so running game, a defense that gets no better and continued problems with the development of RG3, who is the starter but if Washington starts 1-3 again…uh oh.

Ill add more as the day goes. Until next post fellow sports fans…

 

 

 

Musings From The Hoodwood 8-19 NFL Preview Pt.2
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood where the locals said a tough goodbye as we saw Princess Katie depart for Arizona. That’s the toughest part of my summer.

More of the NFL Preview Lets look to the South in order of predicted finish

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

2013: 11-5 Division Champs lost to New England in Divisional Round

Coach: Chuck Pagano 22-10 in 3 seasons in Indianapolis (23-12 overall)

Man on the Hot Seat: Trent Richardson is needing to assert himself as the team’s top running back with Ahmad Bradshaw pushing hard to take the

Fast Facts: The Colts have only missed the playoff once in the past 12 years

Pagano’s 22 wins are the most by a Colts Coach in his first two years since Tony Dungy

Hoosier Football: The Colts are the class of a very weak division, as long as Luck has his health, the Colts are the team to beat in the AFC South.

Tennessee Titans

2013: 7-9, Missed Playoffs

Coach: Ken Whisenhunt, 1st Season in Tennessee 49-53 overall in six seasons in Arizona

Man on the Hot Seat: Jake Locker has no more excuses, he is the starter and had better hit the ground running.

Fast Facts: The Titans five year playoff drought has matched their longest since they moved to the Volunteer state

Titan Talk: The Titans are a puzzle, no one can figure what structure their offense is supposed to be in. If they’re supposed to be a running team or develop a passing game under young Jake Locker. Ken Whisenhunt is a coach that can win, he made the moribund Cards fairly respectable but this team needs a direction and fast, if they start slow they could be watching the Colts gallop away fast

 

Houston Texans

2013: 2-14 Missed Playoffs (worst season since 2005)

Coach: Bill O’Brien 1st Season

Man on the Hot Seat: Ryan Fitzpatrick, the well-traveled vet has to fuel a turnaround of a team that has potential but fell hard under a bad season

Fast Facts: The Titans lost their last 14 straight games, the longest losing streak in Houston football history.

Lone Star Football: Bill O’Brien has to reconstruct a once up and coming franchise who just imploded badly last year and needs to get its collective mojo back, Matt Schaub got more or less run out on a rail and Ryan Fitzpatrick picks up the thread

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

2013: 4-12 Missed playoffs

Coach: Gus Bradley 2nd Season 4-12 overall

Man on the Hot Seat: Chad Henne, how long he will he be able to keep the starting job with heir apparent

Fast Facts: The Jags are one of four teams to have never played in the Super Bowl

Life on the North Coast: I’m waiting for the Jags to LA talk to pop up again, with the Jags already headed to London again, the interest in this franchise has never been lower in its 20 year history and unlike the feline expansion cousin the Panthers they have yet to play for a Super Bowl and have no real franchise direction. Drafting local bred Blake Bortles is a nice step but will he spend his halcyon days in North Florida, SoCal or London?

NFC South

New Orleans Saints

2013: 11-5 Wild Card lost to Seattle in Wild Card Round

Coach: Sean Payton 73-39 in 6 seasons in New Orleans 79-43 overall

Man on the Hot Seat: Pierre Thomas, given the Saints pass happy offense clicked right back on with Payton’s return. Thomas must do enough to keep defenses honest

Fast Facts: The Saints have won 10+ games in each of Payton’s last four seasons

Big Easy Gridironers: The Saints are a dangerous team, if Drew Brees stays relatively hale this team can easily be playing in Arizona come February, blessed with a solid receiver corps and the indispensable Jimmy Graham at TE the Saints offense can put the points up. Their defense may be the most underrated in the game, if this team stays healthy I could see a deep run

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2013: 4-12 missed playoffs

Coach: Lovie Smith 1st season in Tampa;  84-66 overall in 9 seasons in Chicago

Man on the Hot Seat: Mike Glennon can he run the up-tempo offense that new coach Lovie Smith is implementing

Fast Fact: The Bucs play 3 late or prime time games in the season’s first 11 days then their remaining schedule is all 1p kickoffs

Bayfront Football: Lovie Smith takes over a team that was in full revolt after the disastrous reign of Greg Schiano and has plenty of young if unheralded talent at his disposal. Doug Martin looks to bounce back to his breakout status of 2012 after a poor 2013 that didn’t even have him lead the team in rushing, I like the Bucs to be a surprise team in the rugged NFC south

Carolina Panthers

2013: 12-4 Division Champs lost to San Francisco in Divisional Round

Coach: Ron Rivera 25-23 all in Carolina (25-24 overall)

Man on the Hot Seat: Cam Newton, after a solid season and getting the Panthers an unexpected division title he pressure is now on to keep the Panthers elite

Fast Facts: The Panthers 12 wins in 2013 matched a franchise high set in 1996 and matched in 2008

Marvin Lewis hold the team record for wins and losses

Big Cat Football: The Panthers took a massive leap in 2013 rolling to an unexpected division title by outdueling the Saints, but this scribe is still not really sold on the play of Cam Newton or the suspect running game. The defense is rock solid but I just see a team taking a step back here

Atlanta Falcons

2013: 4-12

Coach: Mike Smith 60-37 in 6 seasons in Atlanta, (61-40 overall)

Man on the Hot Seat: Steven Jackson came to the ATL in a hyped move but looked like a shell of his days in St. Louis if the Falcons want to be taken seriously he need to have a bounce back season

Fast Facts: The Falcons had a streak of 5 straight winning seasons, their longest in franchise history snapped with the 4-12 2013 campaign                                                                                                                                       

Mike Smith hold the team record for wins

Dirty South Pigskin: Injuries derailed the Falcons from the word go, and they never got on any kind of roll. A lack of a solid running game will hurt a good offense but the defense seems to have more questions than answers now. This is a deep and tough division and a team with that many questions on defense is in trouble from the jump and if Jackson is slow to comeback from a balk hamstring, you are asking too much from the redoubtable Matt Ryan.

Ill add more as the day goes. Until next post fellow sports fans…

 

 

 

Musings From The Hoodwood 8-12 NFL Preview Pt.1
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood where the locals are ready for some football.

 

Im flipping the script, no Im not going back to videos. Im going to take the next four weeks and preview the NFL. Im going to pick a direction and go. The teams are listed in order of predicted finish

2014 AFC North Preview

Cincinnati Bengals

2013: 11-5 Division Champs lost to San Diego in Wild Card Round

Coach: Marvin Lewis, 12th season 90-90-1 all in Cincinnati (90-95-1 overall)

Man on the Hot Seat: Andy Dalton, a $115 million contract looks a bit suspect with an 0-3 playoff record

Fast Facts: The Bengals current run of 3 playoff years is the longest in team history

Marvin Lewis hold the team record for wins and losses

Queen City Info: The Bengals are a team that is hard to figure, increased win totals over the last three years, but playoff futility in all three. They come into the season as a surprising favorites in the division and have to take the next step. With a bit of a transition after losing both coordinators to head coaching  jobs, the onus will be on Dalton to shine, if he doesn’t the most senior coach in the division might be in hot water if he gets to 100 losses before he gets to 100 wins

Pittsburgh Steelers

2013: 8-8 missed playoffs

Coach Mike Tomlin 8th Season 71-41 all in Pittsburgh (76-44 overall)

Man on the Hot Seat: Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley he’s got to come up with a scheme to take the onus of Big Ben who aint exactly a spring chicken any more

Fast Facts: Mike Tomlin has yet to have a sub .500 season in the Steel City but has yet to win a playoff game since the 2010 AFC title game

Steel City Stuff: The Steelers started the season horridly but under Tomlin’s steady had fought back and went 6-2 in the back half of the season and were in contention for a playoff spot on the final day, the team is still weak in the running game and the defense seems to continue to age with no real solid replacements in sight, the Steelers are still the Steelers and will hang around in contention. They will also continue to bully the Bengals and keep them from running away with the division

 

Baltimore Ravens

2013: 8-8 missed playoffs

Coach: John Harbaugh 7th season 62-34 all in Baltimore (71-38 overall)

Man on the Hot Seat: Gary Kubiak, he has got to jump start a shaky offense in Baltimore and get Joe Flacco to put up the numbers to justify that huge contract

Inner Harbor Gridiron: The Ravens never seemed to get on any kind of roll last year, they got blown out in the season opener and all their champions veneer was gone, baby gone. They pulled out some close wins and looked like they were going to make a run with a four game win streak in late November-Early December but took a pair of frightening beatings at the hands of New England and Cincy  to stumble out of contention. The Ravens didn’t need to be under the gun but with Ray Rice sitting out the first two games on suspension they put even more onus on Flacco, another slow start would not be good. The proud but aging defense is going to be leaned on even more, I just cant see them pulling miracles out here.

Cleveland Browns

2013: 4-12 missed playoffs

Coach: Mike Pettine 1st season

Man on the Hot Seat:  Brian Hoyer, he will be hearing the chants of “We want Johnny” with every incompletion

Lakefron Football: The Browns have a ton of optimism with the acquisition of the publicity of Johnny Manziel, but Pettine insists that he will be brought along slowly. Hoyer who’s a Cleveland kid faces the mounting pressure to win now to keep the media circus down to a low roar, but with a brutal schedule to start Hoyer had better hit the ground at full speed or the natives will want run on of their own out the door quick in favor of the flashy Manziel. The Browns will stay in plenty of games with a quietly tough defense but the offense is further weakened by the loss of Josh Gordon and a weak offense in this division is a tough burden to bear.

 

2014 NFC North Preview

Green Bay Packers

2013 Record: 8-7-1, lost to San Francisco in Wild Card Round

Head Coach Mike McCarthy 9th season 82-45-1 all in Green Bay, 88-50-1 overall

Man On The Hot Seat: Dom Capers packers defensive Coorndinator, the Packers allowed 428 points last year that number has to come way down

Fast Fact: The Packers allowed 30 or more points 6 times in 2013, going 2-4 in those games

The Pack were a tough team to figure last year, periods of solid play led by the brilliant Aaron Rodgers (6-3) countered by futile play when he was injured (2-4-1) the Packers nearly gave away the division and needed a late score in the season finale against the Bears to win the division. The Pack goes as Rodgers goes, if hes hale they are the team to beat, still. If hes hurting, they will struggle and the margin for error is getting too close now.

Chicago Bears

2013 Record 8-8, Missed Playoffs

Head Coach Marc Trestman 2nd Season 8-8 in Chicago overall

Man on the Hot Seat: Jay Cutler, the laconic quarterback comes under increasing fire for his leadership and the Bears have too many weapons on offense to waste with indifferent play.

The Bears were in the drivers seat after a pair of shootout wins against Dallas and Cleveland in December they then got blown out in Philly and gunned down by Aaron Rodgers and the Pack in the season finale. This team is too talented to be at .500, they shine in some games (rallying to beat the Bengals and Vikes, thrashing the Steelers and Cowboys, outdueling the Pack) and look oafish in others (losing to the Browns, Rams and Vikings and taking a horrific beating by the Lions) The Bears are the true defintion of an enigma. They could very well win 12 games this year can lose 10. Their passing game can be topnotch wiht Jay Cutler when he shows a pulse. The defense gains an aging yet still effective Jared Allen, so its a tossup. I still dont think they have enough to get by the Pack though

Minnesota Vikings

2013: 5-10-1, missed playoffs

Head Coach; Mike Zimmer 1st Year

Man on the Hot Seat: Matt Cassel, he has to keep the starting seat warm for QB of the future Teddy Bridgewater but another slow start could get him the gate faster than expected.

Mike Zimmer was the hot coordinator everyone wanted and he lands in MInnesota. The defense needs some work and the offense beyond All-Everything Adrian Peterson is spotty at its very best. Peterson's prime years are being wasted behind a roughshod offense that every defense knows who the ball is going to.The Vikes are not going to be scaring anyone anytime soon.

Detroit Lions

2013: 7-9 Missed Playoffs

Head Coach Jim Caldwell 1st Year in Detroit, 28-24 in 3 years overall

Man on The Hot Seat: Ndomakung Suh, the high potential high strung lineman has got to cool his temper, his attitude is poisoning the team

The Lions were rolling along at 7-5 and looking like a playoff team when after they hammered the Pack on Thanksgiving when they blew a tire and lost four straight. The sprial cost JIm Schwartz his job and Jim Caldwell now steps in the breech to try to make the Lions respectable. He has a big time QB-WR combo to work with like he did in Indy but the undisciplined defense has got to improve and in a winnable division it could happen. But I dont see it happening this year. 

Phat Dap

To the NBA for staying the course. The NBA finalized the sale of the LA Clippers to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and ends the tragic reign of Donald Sterling. The sale was upheld in a California Court of Appeal and we can now have peace in city of Angels...

Head Slap

Though Hoodwood is saddened by the senseless death of Kevin Wade Jr, the 20 year race car driver killed after being hit by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart on Saturday Night. I have a hard time making sense of why Wade ran out on to the track. If one has beef go after the driver post race, what was he trying to prove? The hotheaded move cost that boy his life.

 

Quick Hits

Has it been 20 years since the MLB strike? Whoa

Who are you getting more sick of hearing about Manziel, Romo or Tebow?

Are the Royals really in 1st place or are the Tigers swooning that badly

I think Durant stepping down from the National team was a smart move

Thanks for your patience. Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!

 

 

 

Musings From The Hoodwood 8-5
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NBA NFL MLB

                                                                                                   Junior wins and is cleaning up the track too!

Greetings From the Hoodwood where it just seems like things are a little unhinged.

Now normally, I would have all sorts of hyperbole and hype here, but I am having some pc issues. So right now, you will get the condensed version that will be added to today. Please accept my apologies.

NBA: The nightmare scenario

By now you’ve likely seen the gruesome injury that Pacers superstar and leading scorer Paul George suffered this past weekend. I won’t do anything gross like show a replay, but the reactionary mentality of some talking head is laughably nauseating. The fact that NBA players have been competing internationally for the past 22 years and this is the first major injury that has happened should dissuade those that are saying that this is proof positive that NBA players should not be playing in the these tournaments. So what if this had happened 2 months from now in a meaningless preseason game in Muncie? What if the injury had happened in a charity event? Mark Cuban has been extremely vocal on his dislike of using pro players for international competition and has advocated using under 23 players for World Cup, Olympic competition and other international events. I think his position is based purely on self-serving interests. Cuban is merely voicing what the other less locaquious owners want to say. They want a piece of the action in this international tourney, they would rather say help stage an international tourney like the World Cup and be in control of it or at the very least get some sort of cut for their players playing in it. Unlike soccer where the national team players get paid and get bonus money for playing in the World Cup, players on the national basketball team aren’t paid. Now the Pacers have insurance that they will likely use to offset the loss of George this season and the money that they have to pay him. They will likely also get a salary cap exemption from the NBA but they have dropped from and Eastern Conference title contender to also ran. Remember that Lance Stephenson bolted for Charlotte last month. Which leaves the Pacers with Roy Hibbert as their centerpiece this year…oy vey.

NFL: Dalton gets paid…is it worth it?

Since Hoodwood is close to Cincinnati, I have had an interesting view of the machinations going on with the pro football team of the area re-signing Andy Dalton to a lengthy contract. The Bengals inked the 4th year quarterback to a contract that could be worth up to $115 million. Now I have to admit that when I first heard about this. I wanted to break out the Picard meme asking rhetorically “what the fuck is this man?” But the more I look at the deal and the way it’s structured, the Bengals might be looking rather smart. The contract gives Dalton 2 more years with incentives that will pay him $25 million  but it has opt and boosts that if Dalton plays bad in the next two years the Bengals can jettison him with little financial hardship. If he plays good, the contract keeps paying out, with financial flexibility that will make Dalton the 4th highest paid QB in the game. This keeps the Bengals franchise tag clear, which might be used on his favorite target AJ Green who will be looking to make (well deserved) Megatron money here soon. The detractors are numerous and loud, pointing to Daltons 4-8 record against the Bengals main rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh and his 0-3 record in the playoffs which none were close and Dalton made critical errors in all of them. Dalton to his credit has stepped up to try to be the face and voice of the franchise and has played by and large very well during the season. He has more playoff starts than either Boomer Esiason or Carson Palmer. Has thrown for 80 TD’s in three seasons and has a respectable 30-18 record which is better than the much more ballyhooed Tony Romo who is 24-24 in the past 3 seasons with zero playoff appearances. But now the pressure ramps up on Dalton who has not parlayed regular season success to playoff success and it could be not only his fate but Marvin Lewis’s that hang in the balance for it.

Phat Dap

To Jim Kelly and Andre Reed who at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony hooked up for one last more pass. Reed who was inducted in the Hall this weekend spoke glowingly about his teammate who is battling cancer and Kelly was on hand to throw Reed a completion which they did some 664 times over their Hall of Fame Careers. Here’s to Reed for being part of a great hall class but to Kelly too who is taking the fight to cancer and I’m hoping is on hand for many more induction classes.

Head Slap

To Maryland basketball recruit Trayvon Reed that was arrested for shoplifting less than $6 of candy then compounded his stupidity by resisting arrest and breaking the hand of one of the officers trying arrest him. Now Reed is facing felony charges in addition to being dropped like a hot potato from Maryland’s recruiting class.  Slap to Reed for throwing away a bright future.

 

Quick Hits

Slump? What Slump Dale Jr. wins the Poconos again…he’s in the catbird seat for the big money title chase

Hey weren’t youse the World Champion Red Sox a few months ago…now a fire sale? Wow

David Wilson of the G-Men will have to call it quits due to a neck condition…that’s a crying shame.

Ray Guy made the football hall of fame…it’s about damn time

Tony Bosch of Biogenesis surrendered to the DEA..what secrets will he reveal?

I think Kirk Gibson is a punk for targeting Andrew McCutcheon with a “purpose pitch” he should be suspended

Ill add more as the day goes. Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans

Musings From The Hoodwood 7-29
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: MLB NBA NFL NASCAR

Three more in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown...

Greetings from the Hoodwood, where we're just grinding away...

Rice Gets 2 games…seriously?

Ray Rice, has been a steady dependable running back for the Ravens and has been so going back to his days at Rutgers, I was seriously disappointed in his actions where he was in a physically abusive altercation with his then fiancé now wife. Rice, to his credit owned up to the deed. But the NFL gave him a two game suspension, consider that Albert Haynesworth got 5 games for stomping on an opponent during a game, a coach got 6 games for his involvement in Bountygate, Odell Thurman was out multiple seasons. The most suspect of suspensions was the 5 game dock that was given to Terrelle Pryor for his involvement in the tattoos for memorabilia that ultimately brought down the reign of Jim Tressel at Ohio State. Sheriff Goodell has hand a long history of being heavy on those miscreants that he feel has violated the conduct standard that the NFL holds strict to. The phrase “Protect the Shield” has rung long and often by officials and former players. But this suspension is a joke, and NFL VP Adolpho Birch went on Mike & Mike Monday Morning in a feeble attempt to defend and justify their actions. Greenberg and Golic lit in to him and repeatedly tried to pin him down on giving a justifiable reason for such a puny disciplinary action. He couldn’t and I applauded Mike Greenberg for his sharp criticism of the suspension and the words of Mike Golic who pointed out that had either of his football playing sons had been the focus of the suspensions for those actions, that they would face a lot worse discipline from him than a coach or league.

 

Hall of Fame gets a classy class

Cooperstown got a real class group this year. Four I thought were no doubters and two I was never big fans of but the numbers are just too good to ignore. The four no-doubters are Tom Glavine, long time ace of the Braves, Greg Maddux the Clark Kent clone who seemed to crank out wins and strikeouts as the years went by. Managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox who managed lots of places but were most famed for winning with powerhouse teams in the Yankees and Braves respectively. The two I shrugged on were Frank Thomas and Tony LaRussa.

In depth: Glavine won 20 or more games 5 times and netted 2 Cy Youngs, never an overpowering pitcher, he always was on point with his control and was a reliable pitcher. Starting in 1991 he had 13 consecutive winning seasons. Glavine was nothing if not consistent and he won. He passed the 300 win threshold in 2007 and might be the last pitcher to win 300 games.

I wanted to despise Greg Maddux, because he was so good and I detested the Braves. But Maddux looked more like Clark Kent or an accountant than a beastly pitcher. Like Glavine, Maddux took a couple years to get his sea legs then became a model of consistency. Look at his season by season numbers and you might not be impressed until you see that they cross 23 years spanning 3 decades. He only won 20 games twice once as he was hitting his free agent year with the Cubs and the first with the Braves where he spent the bulk of his career. He won four Cy Youngs in a row from 92-95. Maddux won 15 or more games each season from 1988-2004 and struck out 100 or more batter for 21 consecutive seasons from 1987-2007, that’s the hallmark of consistency. He was an innings eater and workhorse stopper. Don’t let the specs fool ya, he was a game competitor who took pride in his craft, fielding (he won 13 consecutive Gold Gloves, missed a year then won 5 more) and batting.

I have always loathed the White Sox, though for some reason I’ve always liked their colorful play by play guy Hawk Harrelson, he was the one that gave the quiet slugger Frank Thomas his nickname “The Big Hurt” Lord, that man could hurt ya. He swung like he was trying to hit the ball into Lake Michigan when the Sox played at Comiskey and more often than not hit he’d hit it hard. Say what you want about the so-called steroid era, Thomas was legitimately strong. My relatives down south used to call it country strong. Made his debut in 1990 and everyone knew he was gonna be special, from 1991-1998 he knocked in 100 or more RBI’s every year; he hit .300 better in all but one season from 1991-2000. He won 2 MVP’s and was a consistent long ball threat. I wasn’t a fan of his, and didn’t think much of his numbers till I looked at them over the course of his career. He was good and where 500 homers is shrugged at now as no big deal, he still had 521 homers and few every doubted that he earned them, he was always a home run hitter and for a while was the frightening combo of power and average

On the Managerial side, all three skippers have won World Series rings. Bobby Cox managed like forever for the Braves and cranked out divisional titles in assembly line style. Though his career started forgettable with Braves in the late 70s and was replaced by some guy named Torre (but we’ll get to that forgettable guy later) He resurfaced with the Blue Jays and made them steadily better but was haunted by his team blowing a 3-1 lead in the ALCS to the Royals, he returned to the Braves as GM and then returned to the bench in 1990 and after a rough 40-57 conclusion to that season began to win and win and win. From 1991-2005 the Braves never had a losing season and made the postseason every year. Read that last part again… Every year that there were playoffs from 1991-2005, the Braves were there they won 100+ games 6 times, 4 NL Pennants and the 1995 World Series. Cox was seemingly always getting tossed from games, but his players loved his straightforward style and played hard for him consistently.

Cox got replaced in his first stint as Braves Manager by Joe Torre. Torre won a division title with those Braves in 1982, but not much else his first three managerial gigs with the Mets and Cards and when he was hired by the Yanks in 1996, the papers derided the decision with one paper blaring the headline “Clueless Joe” But Torre instead proved to be the perfect buffer between the players and the Boss, he could parry with the media who held him in high regards and backed with Yankee money skillfully managed the Bombers to 12 consecutive playoff appearances and Five AL pennants and four World Series titles, rings that eluded him as player he got as a skipper and the call from Cooperstown that also was just out of his grasp as a player was a no brainer as a manager.

Finally there is LaRussa, whom I was no fan of. I thought he was egotistical and the media always lauded over how great and smart he was. Yeah I get that he managed 33 years and won better than 2700 games, 6 pennant and with Sparky Anderson was one of two managers to win World Series in both leagues but I look at the fact that his teams won 100 or games 4 times and never won a World Series. I remember how he got outcoached in the 88 and 90 World Series and was cannon fodder for the 2004 Red Sox. He did go out with a bang, retiring after his Cards won a thrilling 2011 Series but I never was a fan of his.

 

McGwire: Too good for Canseco

Mark McGwire was a protégé of LaRussa and played almost all of his career under his stewardship, I find it humorous that the overly pious McGwire is um bashing Jose Canseco for his expose into the tawdry world of PEDs McGwire says that he will never speak to Canseco again and refused to do so during a 25th anniversary fete for the 1989 World Series champ A’s. I find it funny that McGwire acts like he was so pure and Canseco was the cheater when it seemed that he has that PEDs taint on himself too. Canseco who never came close to making the Hall of Fame looks like his usual hustlin’ for a buck self while the pious McGwire is the hitting coach for the Dodgers which I always found funny a .260 hitter teaching hitting.

 

Can Scott return the Lake Show to primetime?

The Lake Show finally has a coach. After 3 long years of Kobe running the team, he has finally decided to let an established coach with real playing credentials take the helm. I’m sorry, the pair of Mikes in the seemingly petrified Mike Brown who seemed frightened to even correct Kobe and the clueless Mike D’Antoni whose offensive style was ill-suited for the Lake Show and seemingly was getting more and more ignored by the player as their disastrous 27-55 death march season ground on, don’t count. Byron Scott was named head coach of the Lakers over the weekend. Scott is well traveled as a coach having had stints in Cleveland, New Orleans and most successfully in New Jersey where he lead the Nets to their only Finals appearances where they were sacrificial lambs to the Lakers and Spurs respectively. Scott would at least have the attention of Kobe who was a briefly a teammate of his for a season when Kobe was a rookie and Scott was at the end of solid career where he garnered 3 rings as a member of the Showtime Lakers. The Lake Show might have he first coach since Phil Jax that has the street cred and playing weight to put and keep Kobe in his place. Will the Lake Show be anything more than 3rd best in their building for a while? No, but I still think that Scott is a decent choice and gives the team a decent credibility bridge from its halcyon days of the 80s Scott is the 6th former Laker to coach the team (Mikan, West, Riley, Johnson, Rambis.)

 

Phat Dap

The Red Sox have long had to labor under the immense shadow of their hated neighbors the New York Yankees  but the Red Sox can hang their hat on the fact that in this Century they currently have a 3-1 lead on the Bombers in World Series titles. So it would be a bit surprising that a Yankee fan would return a Red Sox World Series ring but Luigi Militello, owner of Luke’s Bar and Grill in NYC, found the ring worth close to $30K belonging to Drew Weber who is the owner of one the Red Sox minor league affiliates. Weber who said that he hardly ever wears the ring left the ring in the men’s washroom and Militello found the precious bauble when Weber who had searched his domicile in vain for the ring called the eatery as a last resort, Militello reported he had found the ring after some good natured razzing. Weber who frequents the restaurant returned the next day. Militello refused any kind of reward money, but Weber did hook him up with tickets to the final games of Yankee Captain Derek Jeter’s career which will be play at Fenway.

 

Head Slap

ESPN for dropping the ball in the debate and discussion over abuse and the NFL’s handling of such matters. ESPN’s and First Take did a quick though weak repudiation of the loquacious of show debater  Stephen A Smith’s comments that were made Friday which came off as sounding like that a woman provoked a fight and deserved the abuse. Smith, to his credit, did apologize and make an attempt to correct his comments while reiterating that he does not condone abuse in anyway. But instead of using that as a springboard for a thought provoking debate and discussion with First Take host Cari Champion or possibly Michelle Beadle who rightfully called Smith to task for his comments as misconstrued as they could have been, instead turned away from the topic to opine about LeBron James’s jersey number switch. ESPN and the powers that be at First Take blew a golden opportunity to take the lead on the discussion of the topic itself, not is so much Smith and his mea culpa which I attribute to poor phrasing and word choice in an attempt to sound more bombastic than his debate partner than braying hack that is Skip Bayless. The show proceeding First Take, Mike & Mike in the Morning were very eloquent in their opinion on the matter and were very clear on their stance as I pointed out. That was the kind of lead in and alley-oop that First Take should have hit 5 miles and slammed home. Bravo to Ms. Beadle who bravely called out a colleague but the Head Slap goes to First Take who missed a perfect opportunity to follow in the words of their show “Embrace Debate”

 

 Quick Hits

Sterling’s bid to block the sale of the Clippers has been tossed out…bye Felicia

Kevin Love decides against playing for the national team due to the trade concerns…ummm yeah.

Johnny Football jersey sells for $100k…for real?

Gordon wins the Brickyard…again

Derrick Rose feels good…how long is that going to last?

 

Thats the View From the Hoodwood, Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!

 

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