Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 8 picks

By Jeff

Sorry the delay. The power was out here until 11 this morning. I'll make this quick.

Last week I somehow forgot the New Orleans-Indianapolis game last week, which sucks as I would have picks New Orleans. Oh well, I went 5-6-1 as a result of that brain fart and move to 40-41-5 on the year. The big miss was taking Oakland to cover against Kansas City. How was I supposed to know Kyler Boller and Carson Palmer would combine for four picks? Actually, that sounds a lot more probable than them leading the team to victory.

So once again my picks are mediocre. We'll see what happens when my fiancee does the picking this week, as she usually crushed me.

The home teams are in caps.
  • TENNESSEE (-8) over Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville (+10) over HOUSTON
  • CAROLINA (-3) over Minnesota
  • New Orleans (-13.5) over ST. LOUIS
  • Arizona (+12) over BALTIMORE
  • NEW YORK GIANTS (-9.5) over Miami
  • BUFFALO (-4.5) over Washington
  • Detroit (-3) over DENVER
  • PITTSBURGH (+2.5) over New England
  • SAN FRANCISCO (-9) over Cleveland
  • Cincinnati (-1.5) over SEATTLE
  • Dallas (+3) over PHILADELPHIA
  • San Diego (-3) over KANSAS CITY

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baseball trivia

By Jeff

Greg sent out a baseball question last week, which inspired this post. Test your baseball knowledge! Please try to resist the urge to Google or use other search engines, Web sites, baseball almanacs, other blogs or friends.
  1. What active pitcher(s) has the most postseason wins?
  2. Albert Pujols has the fourth most postseason hits among active players. Who are the other top 3 (No order)?
  3. What player had the most hits in the 1990s?
The following questions are all regarding 2000-2010
  1. Who hit the most home runs in the decade?
  2. What year did Barry Bonds hit 72 home runs?
  3. Who was the only player to collect 2,000 hits in the decade?
  4. What team used a rally monkey on their way to a World Series win?
  5. What team only dropped one game en route to the championship?
  6. Who did the Red Sox beat in 2007 World Series?
  7. Jake Westbrook had the most wins for the Indians in 2006. Who had the second and third most wins for the team that season?
  8. Who did Roger Clemens throw a broken bat at in the 2000 "Subway Series"?
  9. Which team won 116 games in 2001, but didn't get to the World Series?
  10. Who was the 2004 World Series MVP?
Got more? share them.

Don Henley - Boys of Summer

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thoughts on Tebow's comeback

By Jeff

Has there ever been an NFL game between two terrible teams so hyped before last Sunday's Denver-Miami contest? The teams came in boasting a combined 1-9 record. Yet all the analysts and sports shows were watching for one reason. That reason was Tim Tebow was starting.

And what a start it was. For three and a half quarters, Tebow was dreadful. I've had the pleasure to watch the game earlier this week on replay. It was painful and made me hate football for three hours.

Of course, the Tebow lovers out there will point out that it was the first time in NFL history a team came back from a 15-point deficit with five minutes left to win. This is true, but come on. We're talking about the Miami Dolphins. The 0-6 Miami Dolphins who have lost nine straight games if you go back to last year. The Miami Dolphins who were starting Matt Moore at quarterback.

Tebow was 13-for-27 with two touchdowns and less than 170 yards through the air. He did well with some runs and ended up ith more than 60, but it was not a good start.

He absolutely had a great throw to tight end Daniel Fells to set up the touchdown. Fells also made a great catch. And on that second touchdown, go back and look at how at least one offensive lineman was illegally down the field. Just something to keep in mind before we declare this one of the greatest wins in the history of the sports world.

There was also a great story on Grantland that pointed out how the rest of the Broncos team was more responsible for the win than Tebow. They got onside kick, and they recovered the fumble that set up the winning field goal.

This is really turning into more of a hatefest than I intended, so I apologize. You can't deny that Tebow is a born leader. His team rallies around him wherever he plays. He is charismatic and you can tell he lives for the game. He is the type of player you want in the locker room and to have your back.

Right now there seems to be a trend with all of these teams (I'm looking at you Ravens, Dolphins, Colts and Jets) having players call out coaches and fellow players. Tebow will never do that. Look back to his press conference after he and the Florida Gators lost to Ole Miss. He took responsibility, promised he'd do what it took to ensure the team never lost again that season, and then he delivered. There is no question he has the heart and attitude to succeed in the NFL. I just don't think he has the skill set.

You can have an awkward throwing motion in the NFL and get away with it. Phillip Rivers is the perfect example. The difference between Rivers and Tebow, though, is that Rivers' motion allows him to get rid of the ball quick. Tebow's takes a lot of time. In the NFL, that usually translates to problems.

Tebow also doesn't see the field well right now. This is something he should improve on, but it's not happening right now. If his man isn't open when he looks at him, Tebow isn't throwing it that way. The guy could be open in another step, but Tebow is already looking elsewhere or tucking it. I think that should change as he gets more comfortable with his receivers and they with him. He did just lose his best option in Brandon Lloyd, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt there.

So now that I've made nice, I want to get back to all the hype surrounding that game. It was so overblown and ridiculous. It overshadowed so many other, more interesting storylines (This seems to be a running theme with Tebow coverage). Let's look at a few that were hardly covered, if at all, by the media.
  • The Texans destroying Tennessee and maybe on their way to a first-ever playoff appearance
  • The Chiefs shutting out the Raiders and improving to 3-3. They've won three in a row and the AFC West is wide open
  • The Chargers' atrocious clock management, strategy and execution in the second half
  • Can analysts finally admit they may have been wrong when they gushed about Joe Flacco?
  • What are the Dolphins waiting for in firing Tony Sparano? The team has given up on him and life
  • Here are some players with a higher passer rating than Kevin Kolb: Alex Smith, Curtis Painter, Andy Dalton, Mark Sanchez, Donovan McNabb, Cam Newton, Tavaris Jackson, Matt Cassel and Chad Henne
  • Other than Jackson, Cassel and Henne, all of the above names also have higher passer ratings than Rivers as well
  • Other than his 10-catch, 172-yard performance against New England, Vincent Jackson has 14 catches for 251 yards in the other five games combined this season. Thhis is a year after he held out for more than half the season and tried to hold up CBA negotiations this summer because he didn't want to be franchised. I drafted him in three fantasy leagues. Balls
Kenny Loggins ft. Michael McDonald - This is It

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Week 7 picks

By Jeff

No time to really get into detail this week. I'm bidding on house and am nervous.

After a 6-6-1 Week 6, I'm 35-35-4 on the season. The biggest miss was picking the Dallas Cowboys to cover against the New England Patriots and then switching. Cowardly move on my part.

Week 7 is below and the home teams are in caps.

Tampa Bay (+1.5) over Chicago - I have no idea what will happen in the London game. Jay Cutler will probably be sacked a lot.

Washington (+2.5) over CAROLINA - I get that John Beck is not great, but neither was Rex Grossman.

San Diego (+1) over NEW YORK JETS - The Jets have a terrible offense.

CLEVELAND (-3) over Seattle - Pretty sure I just saw an injury report that both of Seattle's quarterbacks are doubtful.

Houston (+3) over TENNESSEE - This is a huge game. The two fantasy MVPs from the past two years with their big receivers hurt. Going with the points.

Denver (PK) over MIAMI - The Dolphins are so bad I'm picking Tebow.

Atlanta (+4) over DETROIT - Not sure how the Lions are going to rebound from last week's tough loss.

OAKLAND (-4) over Kansas City - I can't name five offensive starters for the Chiefs.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over ARIZONA - Poor Larry Fitzgerald. The man could be one of the best to play thegame, yet he is having seasons wasted away because of poor quarterback play.

DALLAS (-14) over St. Louis - The Rams really suck.

Green Bay (-9.5) over MINNESOTA - I understand why the Vikings are starting Christian Ponder. Donovan McNabb was not getting it done. Of course, having your first NFL start against a great defense led by Charles Woodson is rough. Ponder will struggle a lot and the Packers will roll.

Baltimore (-9) over JACKSONVILLE - Jack Del Rio's seat has to be burning right now.

Tom Petty - You Wreck Me

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Losing faith in humanity

By Jeff

Moammar Qaddafi, the former tyrannical leader of Libya was killed today. He was an evil man and I'm not sad one bit about his death. But that doesn't mean I enjoyed the video on Yahoo of his corpse being paraded around.

I'm not proud to say I watched it. But I did. I wish I didn't. It was gruesome. No matter how many video games or movies you've seen where there are corpses, it really doesn't desensitize you to a real dead body. Well, at least not me.

I'm sure there are people out there who saw the video and nodded approval or just didn't give it much of a thought. The fact major news outlets are showing the video is proof of that.

There was a time that kind of footage would never be shown. My instinct would be to not run it, just as I would not have released photos of Osama Bin Laden despite many cries to do so. Maybe I sound lame, but with as much violence, fake and real, in the world, do we really need to see a corpse of a fallen enemy? Does it bring us more closure than just knowing an evil person is gone?

It's not as if seeing video would make those who would doubt Qaddafi (or Bin Laden) are actually dead change their minds and be convinced. So once again, what is the point of releasing this video? I understand that it was Al Jazeera who released the footage, but Yahoo and other US outlets didn't have to follow suit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Philly radio whining

By Jeff

When the Philadelphia Phillies lost, the town of Philadelphia was pretty crushed. Their radio stations jumped all over this and asked their callers to call in the week following to share how sad they were about the loss.

This week is something new. Now some of their popular radio hosts and the callers are crying about the Major League Baseball playoff format.

What are they crying about? The best-of-five series in the Divisional Round. Apparently it's not fair that a team that won more than 100 games only gets one more home game than the wild card team with 90 wins.

My favorite complaint of a radio host here, Mike Missanelli, is that the five-game series doesn' let the No. 1 seed comeback if they lose Game 2. His example was Cliff Lee not getting an opportunity to pitch two games, especially after blowing Game 2 this year.

You have to be kidding me. The advantage the Phillies had was they were playing the team with the worst record in the playoffs. They had one more home game and a better team. What more of an advantage do you need? To blame the format for the loss is a joke. The offense couldn't score a run in their biggest game of the season. That's why they lost.

Also, even if it is a seven-game series, the higher seed would still only have one more home game. You have more time to come back, but if they played to the level they should have and were capable of, it would have never got to Game 5.

As annoying as it is to hear these excuses, and I'm finding there is always an excuse for Philly sports teams, it's fun hearing these members of the sports media and the fans talk up their teams so much, only to watch them choke.

Bad Company - Shooting Star

Monday, October 17, 2011

Schwartz and Harbaugh tussle overblown

By Jeff

The little pushing contest between Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and San Francisco 49ers head coach John Harbaugh was entertaining. It's not often coaches get in each others' faces. Usually we just hear them trading barbs back and forth through the media.

With that being said, should it really be the biggest story coming out of Week 6? It wasn't even much of a scrum. One guy shook a hand too hard and gave too hard of a pat on the back. The other then chased him down the field. That's it.

And lost in that was a game that saw five or six lead changes throughout. That is the story. The 49ers and Lions are 5-1 this season. One of them will probably have a first-round bye in the playoffs if they keep this up. Yet what most people are talking about is a over enthusiastic handshake.

As I'm watching Sportscenter right now they are calling it Handshake gate. Seriously? It has it's own name?

This type of thing really annoys me, as you can tell. There are probably 10 better, more interesting storylines from the weekend's games. Did the Dallas Cowboys give a blue print to stall the New England offense? Should we really worry about the Cincinnati Bengals? Are the Oakland Raiders the favorite to win the AFC West? Will the New York Giants ever be consistent? Will the Tampa Bay Bucs ever be consistent? Are the Philadelphia Eagles back?

All of these deserve more time than a handshake that ended in shoving.

Velvet Underground - Heroin

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Week 6 NFL picks

By Jeff

Who would have thought that the biggest game in Week 6 this season would be the Detroit Lions and the San Francisco 49ers? Prior to the start of this season, their own fans probably thought this would be a terrible game.

That is the beauty of the NFL. There are surprise teams every year. Even if you thought Detroit was going to improve, I doubt you thought the 49ers, who still have Alex Smith at quarterback, would be 4-1 at this point. Hell, I doubt you thought they'd win four games this entire season. I know I didn't expect it.

As for the season results, I'm at .500 baby! I'm 29-29-3 after going 7-6 this week. The miss of Week 5 was Tampa Bay to cover when they lost by more than 40 points. I did not see that coming. I should have seen the Chicago Bears' offensive line getting destroyed by the Lions. It pains me to admit it, but Jay Cutler is showing he's a pretty tough individual. He has no protection and is getthing killed back there, yet still manages to stay in the game and play pretty well.

Enough about Cutler. It's time for Week 6. The home teams are in caps.

GREEN BAY (-14) over St. Louis - After last season, the Rams looked like they were on the verge of not sucking anymore. It's safe to say they are back on track.

PITTSBURGH (-12.5) over Jacksonville - Even if this defense's age was hindering them, and it's not, the Steelers would still make Blaine Gabbert's life miserable.

Philadelphia (-3) over WASHINGTON - Rex Grossman is due for an atrocious day where he throws four picks and looks terrified in the pocket.

San Francisco (+4) over DETROIT - Why do I keep picking agains Detroit? In all honesty, I think Calvin Johnson should have even more touchdowns than he does. Seriously, just throw the ball up to him any time you're in the red zone and there is an 80 percent chance he comes down with it.

Carolina (+3.5) over ATLANTA - The Falcons look lost right now.

Indianapolis (+6.5) over CINCINNATI - I don't think the Bengals are good enough to beat anyone by this much.

Buffalo (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS - Eli Manning is the worst "good" quarterback in the league. You can't take away his tremendous performance in the team's Super Bowl victory, but you can look at his numbers since then and he is a turnover machine. Sometimes he can be really good, but more often he is mediocre or downright bad.

BALTIMORE (-7) over Houston - The Texans don't have their best defensive player in Mario Williams, so they won't get much pressue on Joe Flacco.

OAKLAND (+6.5) over Cleveland - For the first time in about 10 years it's actually fun to watch Raiders games. Weird.

Dallas (+6.5) over NEW ENGLAND - Wait, it's the Patriots at home. Please switch that. Tom Brady does not lose in Foxborough during the regular season. And other than Sean Lee, it's not like Dallas has much going for it on defense.

New Orleans (-5.5) over TAMPA BAY - Is it me, or are all the young quarterbacks that were all supposed to make big strides this season sucking a whole lot? Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford were all very good players last year. This year, they all have been pretty bad. This is especially weird because offenses are putting up ridiculous numbers this year.

Minnesota (+2.5) over CHICAGO - What I really mean is Adrian Peterson (+2.5) over CHICAGO.

NEW YORK JETS (-6.5) over Miami - The Dolphins are going to be starting their 16th quarterback since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season. They really need to lose and get Andrew Luck.

Otis Redding - Try A Little Tenderness

Pens looking good after first week

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Penguins tallied eight of 10 possible point in the first week of the NHL season. One loss came in overtime to the Washington Capitals and one came in a shootout on the road in a game Evgni Malkin didn't play in. That's a great start to the season.

In the long seasons of the NBA, NHL and MLB, you tend to hear people say the first few months don't matter that much. I understand that line of thought. Winning games late in the season and getting hot at the right time is better than starting great and fading down the stretch when the playoffs come.

But stockpiling points in the beginning of the season can ease the pressure and can make the difference between a playoff team and one that just misses. Just ask the Boston Red Sox. They started 2-10. If they had won one of those games, they probably would have avoided the biggest collapse in MLB history.

The same goes for hockey. Points early in the season on the road, like the five the Pens got in the first three games of the season in Western Canada, can make all the difference come playoff time. While I think the team would easily make the playoffs even if they lost those games, it those five points could get them home ice when they get there.

I get that I'm looking way too far ahead and too into this, but hot starts are important in any sport. Every win counts the same, so it's kind of silly to me when I hear people saying the early going doesn;t matter.

What's also encouraging from the first week is the return of James Neal. In more than 20 games with the Pens last year, Neal had two goals. In five games this season, he has four. The man is the goal-scoring winger the team has needed for a few years now.

To complement Neal is Steve Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin. When they are on a line together good things happen. Malkin's knee was a little sore, but the man is definitely back. Just watch him bust his ass up and down the ice. There's some rust, as expected, but it's fading and I'm just waiting for the game where he takes over. It's going to happen soon.

The power play seems to be doing pretty well. I don't want to jinx it, but it's certainly better than it was in the postseason last year.

Oh, and Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact. Pens fans have a lot to be excited about.

Karmin - Super Bass

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Philly sports radio is sad

By Jeff

Pittsburgh sports radio is not great. Some hosts are good, some are unbearable. I'm pretty sure that's how every city in the country with sports radio is.

But holy crap is Philadelphia sports radio bad. First, Ron Jaworski has a weekly show. Do I have to say more. It's like he can't say "NFL". He has to say "National Football League" every time.

Second, with the Philadelphia Phillies failing in the first round of the playoffs, and the Eagles 1-4, 97.5 FM has resorted to promoting the suckiness of Philly sports. How so? Their promos ask you to call in and share your sadness, anger, disappointment regarding the failures of the Eagles and Phillies.

Third, it's like they don't care about the Flyers. Well, I guess it's a good thing we don't have to hear about it.

Fourth, the callers are ridiculous. OK, all radio callers are fairly stupid. Pittsburgh is no different. But there were several calls in an hour complaining about Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NLDS. Yeah, he gave up one run in the first inning, but shut out the St. Louis Cardinals over the next seven innings. Oh, and the team lost 1-0. There is no way a team could possibly win without scoring runs.

It almost makes me miss Andrew Filipponi. I wonder if he still wants to trade Fluery?

Autograph - Turn Up the Radio

Crosby cleared for contact

By Jeff

I wanted to say something about this all day but that stupid work thing got in the way.

Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact. There is still no word about when he'll make his return, but this is great news.

November seems like a real possibility for a Crosby return. The rest of the league just shit themselves a little bit.

Foo Fighters - Last Song

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week 5 picks

By Jeff

Almost back to .500. It took me about 10 or 12 weeks to get this close to .500 last season. I went 9-7 last week and am 22-23-3. Two winning weeks in a row? I'm as shocked as you are.

Before we get to the picks, let's just take a moment to recognize how ridiculous passing has become in the NFL. Throwing for 400 yards in a game used to be rare for even the best quarterbacks in the league. Now guys like Chad Henne are doing it. It's absolutely crazy.

So what's the cause of this offensive explosion? Were defenses more affected by the lockout than offenses? Probably. I also think the league has made it easier to pass. A lot of cornerbacks seem to be afraid of making a big hit because they fear getting flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver. I'm glad if helmet-to-helmet hits get wiped out, but I've seen a few penalties where the receiver has caught the ball, landed, started to move forward and then get tackled hard and the defensive player is hit with a 15-yard penalty. Let them play football, refs!

OK, rant over. The miss of the Week 4 was saying the Green Bay Packers wouldn't cover against the Denver Broncos. I really don't know what I was thinking. Don't ask me to explain myself.

Home teams are in caps.

Kansas City (+2) over INDIANAPOLIS: The Chiefs burned me pretty bad I took them, but I believe in second chances. Except when it comes to mustard. When I was at the beach at age 3, my dad had a pretzel and what looked to be a cheese sauce. So I had some of the pretzel and sauce. It was mustard. Have you ever thought you were eating cheese and it turned out to be mustard? There is quite a difference. So I have never eaten mustard again. I can't do it.

Arizona (+3) over MINNESOTA: It's kind of ridiculous how much the city of Philadelphia hates Donovan McNabb. They want to see him fail in every aspect of life. He took them to he only Super Bowl they've been to that most can remember (Have they been to another? Somebody do some research, damnit!). He led them to multiple NFC title games and was a great player for them. Yet they dwell on the negative. It's weird.

Philadelphia (-3) over BUFFALO: Fred Jackson is going to have a fun day for the Bills, but it won't be enough. The Eagles have so much talent and just haven't been able to find any consistency on offense. I think they find it Sunday.

Oakland (+5) over HOUSTON: Do you believe in the idea that the Raiders will be motivated to win for their late owner, Al Davis? Or do you believe that heart and motivation means nothing in sports (I'm looking at all you sabremeticians.)? I believe in the former.

New Orleans (-6.5) over CAROLINA: R.J., do you still think Cam Newton was the wrong choice? By the way, I apologize for not responding to comments. Every time I try to comment it tells me I'm not signed in. And if you're not signed in, you can't comment. It sucks and I'm sorry.

Cincinnati (-1) over JACKSONVILLE: It's so sad no one in the country will be able to watch this awesome game on TV. So sad.

PITTSBURGH (-3) over Tennessee: I love how ESPN analysts and Mike Golic (Not the same thing.) keep saying the Steelers' defense is showing their age. It wasn't the defense that cost them the game last week. The offense only put up 10 points and the offensive line nearly got Ben Roethlisberger killed. The defense is still strong. It's the offense that is screwing this team up.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-9.5) over Seattle: The Seahawks are terrible in 1 p.m. games on the east coast.

Tampa Bay (+3) over SAN FRANCISCO: The Bucsdon't win pretty, but they win.

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) over New York Jets: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady don't like to lose. So when they lose to a team, especially in the playoffs the year before, they tend to seek to embarrass said team. That's what's going to happen in this one. Look for Brady to throw for 450 yards (411 of them going to Wes Welker) and the Pats to win by at least two scores.

San Diego (-3.5) over DENVER: The Chargers haven't been hyped much this year. Maybe that's what they need to actually do something come January.

Green Bay (-5.5) over ATLANTA: Aaron Rodgers' touchdown celebration is so annoying. Mostly because I wish I had come up with it during my flag football days.

Chicago (+5) over DETROIT: The Lions have barely escaped two horrible starts the last two weeks. Their comebacks have been insane. I think they pull this one out, but it's by another field goal.

Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh!!!

By Jeff

OK, the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing in Vancouver against the Canucks, and I'm in Philadelphia, but you get my point. Hockey is back!

While every year since Sidney Crosby was drafted has been big, this season feels like it has the potential to be the most intense and exciting. Word from the media and the team is the Evgeni Malkin revved up his workout routine and wants to carry this team to another Stanley Cup.

Sidney Crosby is going to come back, my guess is late November, but will he be the same player he was before his concussion last year. I wonder if other teams and their fans have forgotten that he was head and shoulders above the rest of the league last year before he got hurt? They'll remember soon enough.

The defense that was one the best in the league last year has had another year to come together. Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin have had a full year of playing together and learning the team's system. They are going to be sick.

Marc-Andre Fleury will be hated upon by my brother, father and half of Pittsburgh. Then Fleury will tear shit up and cause these haters to go hide in holes for months at a time.

Dan Bylsma has the most to prove. He went from the golden child who won a cup in his first half season, to premature playoff exits the past two years. He won the Jack Adams last season, but even I have to admit he seemed too stubborn to adjust at times. Will he be more willing this year? He's going to need to be.

Will the power play not suck all season? Some fans like to cling to the hope that one player can make a difference each year. Last year it was Alexei Kovalev. This year it's Steve Sullivan. It takes more than one guy to make the power play effective. They need to stop being fancy, move around and get the puck to the net, damnit!

It's going to be a fun, thrilling, sometimes frustrating, intense season. I can't wait.

Go Pens.

Warren Zevon - Hit Somebody

Handing out MLB hardware

By Jeff

I made predictons on the MLB awards in an earlier post, but here are my picks now that we've actually seen them play this season.

National League
  • Rookie of the Year - Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves may have blown Game 162, but he still had a great season. He finished the year with 46 saves and a 2.10 ERA. He is a big reason the Braves were in the hunt in the first place. He wore down at the end, but he should be good for a long time.
  • Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw deserves this award. He played on a bad team, yet won the triple crown of pitchers. He led the NL in wins (21), strikeouts (248) and ERA (2.28). There is no way the Los Angeles Dodgers would have finished above 70 wins without Kershaw. I don't care if his WAR is under 7, this team does not come close to 76 wins (they had 82) without Kershaw. Try and argue that point, Mike! Ian Kennedy is my runner-up. This is no knock on my boy Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. They just weren't as good as these two this year. There was also less pressure on the Phillies aces. They never had to be the stopper, because if Halladay faltered, Lee and Hamels were coming up next.
  • Comeback Player - I never thought I'd ever give Ryan Vogelsong an award. Never. But here I am telling you he deserves this award. It's not that Vogelsong had a bad year and then was really good this year. Until 2011, the man hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2006! And when he did pitch in the majors, he sucked. A lot. But all was forgotten in 2011 with his 13 wins, 2.71 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.
  • Manager - Kirk Gibson has the Arizona Diamondbacks one win away from the NLCS without any real stars outside Justin Upton. No one saw that coming and Gibson did an amazing job.
  • MVP - This one was tough. Matt Kemp had the stats for it, but he wasn't even the most valuable player on his team. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are both deserving, but they could split votes. So who's left? Justin Upton. That's who I'm saying today. I might change tomorrow. His stats might not be as impressive as the three above (31 HR, .289 AVG, 88 RBIs, 21 SB and 105 runs. The Diamondbacks' lineup would struggle without this man. With him, they are dangerous. Without him they are bunch of OK players that wouldn't scare many teams. It's called Most Valuable Player, not the guy who has the best stats.
American League
  • Rookie of the Year - I want to go against the grain and say Mark Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is going to take this award, but the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson really stepped up. The most impressive of Helickson's stats is he pitched 189 innings. That's not common in today's game where rookie pitchers are usually on strict pitch counts. Oh, he also had an ERA of 2.95.
  • Cy Young - Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers is one of the most obvious choices for this award I can remember. More on him late (Spoiler alert!)
  • Comeback Player - There is no great story in the AL like Vogelsong. No player coming back from an extended abscence or anything like that. Instead I'll go with the Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury. He had an incredible year (32 HR, .321 AVG, 105 RBIs, 39 SB and 119 runs). Now, his numbers are certainly deserving of MVP consideration, but just consider this: His home run total in his first 349 games was 20. Hmmm. When Jose Bautista had his big power jump there were a lot of steriod rumors. Where are they for Ellsbury?
  • Manager - I want to be a homer and give it to Jim Leyland (He's from Pittsburgh.), but I can't deny Joe Maddon's great run with the Rays. The team cut their payroll by around $30 million this year to a little over $40 million. That's about $120 million less than the Red Sox. Sure, the players should get most of the credit, but you have to give Maddon some love too.
  • MVP - Pitchers have the Cy Young, so they rarely win the MVP, but Verlander deserves it. There is no way the Tigers even sniff the playoffs without Verlander. He had 24 wins, 250 strikeouts, 251 innings pitched and was just incredible. The numbers can't tell you how effective Verlander was. I can't imagine what hitters were thinking going up against him. One pitch he's throwing 100 mph fastballs, the next he is tossing a breaking ball in the 80s. And he will throw any pitch at any time. I love Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, but they didn't make the playoffs with him. Verlander led the Tigers to the playoffs, and is the only candidate you can say is the one reason his team is in the playoffs.
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band - My Love Will Not Let You Down

Saturday, October 1, 2011

NFL picks: Week 4

By Jeff

This will be quick as I've been kinda swamped.

Last week I went 8-7-1 and am 13-16-3 on the season (I didn't do picks in Week 1). My miss of the week was the Steelers -10.5 over Indy. The Colts' defensive line destroyed the Steelers' O-line. It was ridiculous how many times Dwight Freeney sped past the tackle and slammed Ben Roethlisberger. I know the Steelers went to the Super Bowl last year and won another one with a terrible line, but shouldn't it be a little better by now?

As always, the home team is in caps.

Detroit (+2.5) over DALLAS: Why is Dallas favored after not scoring a touchdown last week and needing a coaching blunder and overtime to win in Week 2?

New Orleans (-7) over JACKSONVILLE: Do I get bonus points for predicting before Week 2 that Blaine Gabbert would be starting by Week 3?

San Francisco (+9.5) over PHILADELPHIA: Did you know that the 49ers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in about two years?

Washington (-3) over ST. LOUIS: Four picks in and I have the home team losing in all of them. Can't be good.

Tennessee (PK) over CLEVELAND: Make it five!

Buffalo (-3) over CINCINATTI: This is beginning to scare me. In all fairness, I could have just switched up the order and then it wouldn't look so strange with all the home teams losing.

Minnesota (-3) over KANSAS CITY: The Vikings are going to hold a lead at some point during this season. Why not tomorrow?

CHICAGO (-6.5) over Carolina: The Bears can't block anyone, but they still have a dangerous defense.

Pittsburgh (+3.5) over HOUSTON: I wish I had an awesome research team to tell me if Houston has ever been favored against the Steelers before. Oh well, I'm just going to guess they haven't and choke under the pressure.

Atlanta (-4.5) over SEATTLE: So all offseason the Falcons were played up, then on some ESPN show this week analysts were debating whether they are a sleeper in he NFC. How is it possible to be a favorite in the NFC to sleeper in three weeks?

New York Giants (-1) over ARIZONA: The Cardinals just lost to Seattle, while the Giants are coming off an impressive win against the Eagles. Who is making these lines? Of course, I'll still go 8-8 at best.

SAN DIEGO (-7) over Miami: Tony Sparano needs to go for his own well-being.

Denver (+12.5) over GREEN BAY: Green Bay hasn't been that dominant yet.

OAKLAND (+6) over New England: Just because I wanted to take the Bills last week and wussed out.

New York Jets (+4) over BALTIMORE: The Jets are a proud bunch of ego maniacs that need to redeem themselves after last week.

Indianapolis (+10) over TAMPA BAY: I believe in Curtis Painter! Not really, but Tampa doesn't blow teams out.

Chicago - Glory of Love