Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Sports Thoughts

Okay, last night was amazing.

Not only did the Boston Red Sox/Atlanta Braves meltdown lift the game of baseball to new heights, but I would argue that the game of sports got a much-needed boost from what I would consider the best day in the history of baseball. For those of you who can give 2 cents about baseball and have no idea about the monumental collapse of the Red Sox/Braves, they both had gigantic leads for the final playoff spot, and somehow both let them slip away. The Red Sox blew the largest lead in the history of baseball so late in the season, a record which would have gone to the Braves, who nearly blew an equally large lead. As Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over, 'til it's over."

The 1st benefit for sports:
Fans of all sports can now look back on Sept. '11 and recall how two down and out teams made historic comebacks and never gave up hope. Momentum, positive or negative, should never be underestimated by the fan. In turn, this should remind the teams themselves that they should always play hard 'til the very end. As Chris Rock elegantly put it, "'Cuz you never know!"

Finally, I'm sure the agonization of blowing such big leads will haunt each and every player on the losing teams, and they will no doubt look back on what they could have done differently. No one will ever admit this unless years from now they squander all their money away and decide to write a tell-all book, but I believe that it is highly possible at least one player on the Braves/Red Sox played in a game this season unprepared or hungover from a night of partying and cost their team at least a chance of winning, be it a defensive mishap, not knowing what a pitcher likes to throw in a certain count, or just not being as sharp as they normally are due to poor preparation or anything short of giving it there all. Maybe that athlete will vow to never let anything like that happen again, and in turn, a better product will take the field for the family of four that was able to come out one time this year and shell out 250 bucks to see a game played at the highest level. A bit farfetched, maybe, or maybe not.

The real winners in this have been unquestionably the Tampa Bay Rays. Last off-season, they lost their best player in Carl Crawford to the Boston Red Sox, traded away a quality starter in Matt Garza, and let proven home run threat Carlos Pena go, giving the appearance that they were looking to rebuild, especially in the division including the Red Sox and Yankees. With maybe half the payroll as those two powerhouses, the Rays showed that they were indeed the hidden hottie. (Everyone has come across that girl whose daily attire consist of sweatpants, crappy sneakers, a ponytail, and no makeup, and then out of nowhere, she shows up with her hair down wearing a sun dress from Target with just a little bit of makeup, and you try to act like you knew she was attractive all along. Yep, that chick.)

The Rays have shown that they are the never ending underdog and have one of the best front offices in all of sports. Even though I believe they should be contracted or moved due to an awful fan base in Tampa, every year they contend I find myself rooting for them...HARD!

The Atlanta Braves were probably a year ahead of themselves, and injuries depleted their pitching staff. They could no longer cover up for a mediocre offense, so they get somewhat of a pass. The real losers are obviously the Boston Red Sox, who have become the team that they most despised: the NY Yankees, who were once referred to as the evil empire, trying to buy championships with an inflated payroll. I believe in karma. No way the Boston Bruins win a Stanley Cup Championship and the city not give up something; in this case it was the Red Sox. The fans are even screaming for the heads of the manager and GM of the team that led them to 2 World Series Championships in the last 7 years, which is insane.

On a side note, the Cardinals may appear to be winners, but it may turn out that they are the biggest losers of them all. Unless they go on to win the WS, they will be under intense pressure to resign Albert Pujols, the best player in the game, to an ungodly salary and pay him well beyond the prime of his career (which is not good for a small market team). If not, then they will feel the wrath of a very loyal fan base.

Adam Dunn's inept play arguably cost Ozzie Guillen his job with the Chicago White Sox, and now Carl Crawford may cost GM Theo Epstein and or manager Terry Francona his job with the Red Sox. Ozzie Guillen has almost exactly the same credentials as Mike Sciosa of the Anaheim Angels. One WS win apiece, almost identical winning pct., and yet Sciosa is beloved and Guillen is now exiled. The difference...EGO. Not Ozzie's, but GM Kenny Williams'. They knew what they were getting with Ozzie from the get-go, but in my opinion, Kenny Williams let his ego get in the way of Ozzie taking too much credit for being the face of the franchise.

Let's get down to biz: the Tigers are going to prove way too much for the Yanks, who will find that Verlander is more than a match for Sabathia, and the Tigers offense will be hard to tame. Tigers in 5, where they will meet and defeat the Texas Rangers, who will overpower the feisty but less talented Devil Rays. The Phils toughest matchup in the playoffs will be their 1st round opponent, the Cardinals, where a nothing-to-lose approach and 3-4-5 hitting of Pujols, Berkman and Holliday will give the Phils all they can handle, but the Cardinals will eventually lose in 6 games. The Phils will then easily dispatch of the Brewers, and likewise the Tigers, as the City of Brotherly Love will all stick their penises in cheesesteaks and try to pick a fight with everyone who is not from Philly.

The NBA needs to get down to business because I cant rely on the mediocrity of college basketball being my only hoops outlet. An autobiography about an athlete who apparently was unfaithful to his wife and abused pain killers could be written about a ton of athletes. Walter Payton deserves better - I'll pass. I said it once, and I will say it again: the NFL is so competitively balanced that special teams play is now way more important than it used to be, and it used to be pretty important.

After going a dismal 2-3 last week, I stood naked eating a grilled cheese to gain balance back with my gambling intuition.
Houston/Pittsburgh 0ver 45: Pittsburgh defense will not be able to slow down the Texans.
Atlanta -5: Falcons are way too talented for an inept Seattle offense.
New Orleans-7: Jacksonville will have to score 24 points to stay within 7 points of Drew Brees, but they can't.

Overall record: 5-5-1

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Random Sport Thoughts

Maybe because I picked them at the beginning of the year, or maybe I'm downplaying the importance of momentum in baseball, but I still like the Red Sox. They are on a free fall, but I like the core of this team. If they make the playoffs, I like Jon Lester and Josh Beckett better than any other 1-2 pitchers in the American League. A buddy of mine calls them J and J dyno-mite. Why is it that most of the black sitcoms in the 70s and 80s always had some crazy catch phrase that defined the show? "Dyno-mite!" "What you talkin bout, Willis?" "Elizabeth! This is the Big One!" It wasn't until The Cosby Show that black sitcoms got credibility for being something other than shuck and jive.

Before you write them off, I would like to remind you that my beloved Chicago White Sox almost blew a double digit lead to the Cleveland Indians in 2005, who got within 1.5 games of the Sox before Chicago righted the ship and turned in one of the most dominant performances in playoff history IN ANY SPORT! Speaking of the Sox, Adam Dunn is having one of the worst seasons IN ANY SPORT for a professional athlete. Not only is his batting average at a historically low (.166), but his strikeout total is actually higher than his batting average. That's like losing your job, leaving early and then coming home to find out that your bf is boning your wife: things can't get any worse.

I have to admit, the Atlanta Braves/Boston Red Sox meltdown has made September baseball Must See TV. Every time I go on Facebook, there is some status update about how the Braves/Red Sox (I would call them Red Braves for short, but that sounds kinda offensive.) are ruining lives. I get it - there are few things worse than having your team a statistical shoo-in for the playoffs only to have them piss it away in the final weeks...gut wrenching.

I have a sneaky feeling that this is the year of the cheesesteak. I think the Phillies will win it all, I think the Eagles will win it all, and no, I don't think the 76ers will win it all. They may not even play a single game, which means watch out for the Flyers, my friends.

Justin Verlander has a great chance to win MVP, but since every team in their division is under .500, he shouldn't. If a pitcher were to win MVP, in my opinion that would mean everyone of his starts were so needed that if he didn't pitch, they would not only stand a great chance to lose, but making the playoffs would be nearly impossible. He's hands down the Cy Young winner. Jose Bautista has been the best player in baseball for the last two years, even with his team hovering around .500 in the AL East, which is an accomplishment in itself, so he's my MVP choice.

The National League MVP looked like a lock for Ryan Braun, but if the St. louis Cardinals make the playoffs with the way Albert Pujols is playing, Pujols may sneak up, take it away and assure that the Cardinals will be overpaying for him. Clayton Kershaw, your name is already being etched on the Cy Young trophy, which you can then hock to a pawn shop to cover your lifestyle when the Los Angeles Dodgers can no longer pay you because they filed for bankruptcy. I'm sure that he's fine, but that would be a hilarious story.

In 16 out of the last 17 years, the NY Yankees were in the playoffs, but no way a staff with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia GOES to the World Series. That will not take away from their excellence as they put their stamp on the greatest professional team in the history of ANY SPORT!

If Cam Newton continues to play this way and leads his team to an 8-8 record, he's my runner-up MVP behind Tom Brady. If the Colts continue to play this poorly, Peyton Manning is 3rd on my MVP list. The only thing holding the Detroit Lions back from great things is their youth, but next year they will be Super Bowl ready. The NFC West has only 2 wins this year, and one came against a team from the West. Take Larry Fitzgerald from that division, and I would be perfectly comfortable with it dismembering like a Big 12 conference

NCAA, shame on you for making it so easy to jump conferences. Syracuse and Pitt in the ACC? Tragic. Once again, just a little reminder that the only thing amateurish about college sports is the way they conduct business.

Jay Cutler will miss 3 games this season, and that's on Mike Martz. Speaking of which, the Bears and Packers go at it again on Sunday. I love the Bears with a passion, and of course, that means I hate the Packers. I am also realistic about things, and offensively the Bears don't match up well with the Pack; specifically. the offensive line is in shambles, and the Pack have a dominant pass rushing attack. The Bears will need to create turnovers and dominate on special teams to pull this one out. I hope my genius is taking a break on this prediction: Pack 20, Bears 10.

With no basketball season in sight, should I take up hockey or jerking off? Why is no one talking about Diana Taurasi for getting kicked out of a European professional women's hoop league for testing positive for PEDs as she leads her team into the WNBA playoffs? Mariano Rivera is a better Yankee than Derek Jeter. I'm a Ryan Gosling fan after watching his movies Crazy, Stupid, Love! and Drive, and because of him now being able to see Eva Mendes naked on a regular basis. That's a pretty good 2011, Ryan.

Last week, I went 1-1-1 after the Cowboys failed me miserably at the 1 yard line for a push.
Patriots -9: Did you know the Pats have covered 8 straight times over the Bills, and the Bills gave up 31 points to the Raiders?
Eagles-7.5: The Eagles own the Giants, and they play the Giants this week.
Saints -3.5: Houston is coming on as a legit playoff team, but they will not beat Drew Brees in his house.
Steelers -11: The Colts are sooooo bad.

Until next week...deuces.

Overall record: 3-2-1

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Random Sports Thoughts (Football Edition)

Okay we get it - it's a passing league!

I have become increasingly disinterested in pre-season football games with each passing year, which means my gauge on accurately assessing the 32 football teams is slightly off kilter. This is why I wait until after week 1 to give you a glimpse of what to expect for the 2011 football season. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the 2 best players in the game of football right now, and I don't care who you have ranked 1st, as long as it's those 2 on top.

The Packers are a tour de force team that should be better offensively with JerMichael Finley healthy and an easy choice to consider making a return trip to the Super Bowl. But I do not like the Patriots as they are constituted right now. They rely waaayyy too much on the pass, and their defense is shaky at best. When I see them, I see the Phoenix Suns: built for the regular season, but not for the playoffs.

It's easy to write off the humiliating loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but the Pittsburgh Steelers did lose the Super Bowl last year. Unless you play in the putrid NFC West, then making a return trip to the playoffs is extremely difficult. Expect a 9-7 record. Anyone that believes in Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers are either from San Diego or mildly retarded and think the thunderbolts on their helmets are really cool. The Ravens have a super stud in Ray Rice, an aging but effective defense and a solid QB - all things needed to make a Super Bowl run - except I believe the Jets have the same thing. And since they are younger, they will represent the AFC. You didn't think I was going to say Houston, did you?

The Saints are a bit like the Patriots; they are too good offensively to be kept out of the playoffs, but Sean Peyton play-calling scares me, and the defense has given me no reason to think they can make consistent stops. Atlanta losing to Green Bay the way they did last year in the playoffs is a real eye opener, and seeing the way they started off week 1, their eyes are still closed. Tony Romo cost the Cowboys game 1, and Tony Romo will cost them any real chance of going deep into the playoffs. The QBs are just too good in the NFC.

My beloved Bears are the real deal. If Jay Cutler plays well or average, the Bears win, so I look for him to play average or better at least 11 times. The Eagles look really good on paper, but the Miami Heat have made me a bit squeamish on dream teams. They have home run hitters, but can they effectively move the ball when the playoffs will be in cold weather stadiums? Who is their go-to guy when it's 3rd and 7? If the answer is a Vick scramble, then no. If Andy Reid figures that out, then a SB appearance will be in the cards for them. I say yes. So a Jets/Eagles SB will play out, and although the Jets will scheme well, Vick will make enough plays to pull it out.

What's going to happen if Boise state goes undefeated (They will.), Oklahoma goes undefeated (They might.), Alabama or LSU have just one loss (That's still better than any undefeated team in any other conference.) and Wisconsin goes undefeated (They have a fucked up schedule with basically 6 straight home games, 5 road games and then back at home to finish the season, but that offense is a cheesy explosion.)? I'll tell you: a clusterfuck, and hopefully enough for the BCS to have a final four format to settle this once and for all.

I went 2-1 last week only cuz Adam Vinateri missed a fg, and the Colts kept going for touchdowns when they were down by 30 points. All I needed was 3 lousy points. This time, I will fix that.
Lions-9: Did you see how bad the Chiefs are?
Ravens-6: Did you see how bad the Titans are?
Cowboys -3: I'm not big on cross country traveling, but the season is long, and the Cowboys are already in must-win mode.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 1...Nuttin' but Straight Winners, Homie

Bears -3: They are at home and getting points. No-brainer.
Texans/Colts over 43: Colts will lose, but it won't be cuz of Kerry Collins. Fireworks.
New England-7: This should be covered easily by halftime.