Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

From all of us here at the Back Seat Drivers....


Happy New Year!!!



(For the record Gutsy is #11 and I'm #45)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Week 17 – Let’s All Go To The Playoffs

Sorry for the late picks... With a strange set of games this week, the teams that need wins, are all playing teams that are eliminated,, making for the most boring January 1st I can ever remember. As much as I love the NFL, I still wish the college teams were playing on the 1st. Anyway, the strangest twist of all, is that San Diego needs to lose for Kansas City to even have anything to play for…

So the only way to possibly predict the games and understand who’s alive, is to go by the kickoff times…

Saturday-
Denver @ SD – Denver will be resting everyone since they have the 2-seed locked up. San Diego will win just to prove that they are one of the greatest teams to not make the playoffs, and then this win somehow clinches Pittsburgh also and eliminates Kansas City.
Pick: SD

NY Giants @ Oakland- Giants need a win. Oakland needs a new defense.
Pick: Giants

Sunday – 1PM
Arizona @ Indy- Indy won’t blow this one.
Pick: Indy

Baltimore @ Cleveland- I’m really torn in this game. Baltimore is terrible on the road, but I think I should stick with what I said a month ago, when I vowed not to choose Cleveland until the end of last season (except against Pittsburgh?)
Pick: Baltimore

Buffalo @ NY Jets- Jets are vying for the #1 pick, so I’m guessing they try to lose.
Pick: Buffalo

Manwich Matchup of the Week
CAR @ Atlanta- CAR must make a playoff stand, and I think this bitter divisional rivalry is the best game on tap for the week, because Cincy and KC will be meaningless by the time it happens.
Pick: CAR

Cincy @ KC- Cincy will be playing for the 3-seed, KC will just be angry, and my guess is that Cincy WANTS the 4th-seed, so they can play a very beatable Jacksonville team next week, as opposed to playing Pittsburgh.
Pick: KC

Detroit @ Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh will have already clinched, but even a clinched team can beat the hapless Lions (sorry Jon).
Pick: Pittsburgh

Miami @ New England- Unlike the other teams, I expect New England to still continue their winning ways as they continue getting into football form. Don’t worry, Miami will still be a trendy team on the rise for next season.
Pick: New England

NO @ Tampa-Tampa needs a win to get in, and the Saints need a loss to get Reggie Bush. Everybody’s a winner!
Pick: Tampa

Seattle @ Green Bay- This game has absolutely no purpose, other than making Favre realize its time to retire.
Pick: Seattle

Sunday – 4PM
Houston @ San Fran – Ah… the great Reggie Bush Bowl on New Year’s Day. I love anarchy, so I hope Houston wins for that insane 5-way tie for the #1 pick.
Pick: Houston

Tennessee @ Jacksonville- The Jags are locked in at a #5 seed and have nothing to play for. McNair is auditioning for new suitors.
Pick: Jacksonville

Upset of the Week?
Chicago @ Minnesota- Chicago’s locked in, and will be resting their players, which is why Chicago is favored. Normally, I’d be all over the Vikings, but I think Rex Grossman will still be playing as he tries to get in playoff form.
Pick: Chicago

Washington @ Philly – Washington needs a win to get in, and Andy Reid and all the doughnuts will not be able to stop the surging Redskins.
Pick: Washington

Sunday – 8PM
St. Louis @ Dallas – I’m assuming the Cowboys are already eliminated, but they’ll play hard anyways just to prove they’re a good team.
Pick: Dallas

Last week: 7-9 (oops)
Season: 152-88
Manwich Matchup: 9-7 (Picking the Chargers in Kansas City was a big mistake…)
Upset Special: 3-13 (but not as big of a mistake as picking the Browns over the Steelers)

Instant Replay-The Worst Officiating I Have Ever Seen-Why the Sun Belt division should be disbanded

Ok, I just finished watching the UM/Nebraska game and I have to say that something has to be done with instant replay in college football. There were two questionable calls in this game that were not replayed on the outset. Shouldn't every questionable call, if a player perhaps drops the ball then it should be brought up for replay. A coach shouldn't have to call a timeout in order for the replay to be looked at. Michigan wasted 2 timeouts because the stupid fuckers couldn't look at the replay.

Last but not least, in a Music City Miracle attempt, Michigan continued to lateral the ball with no time remaining, Nebraska's players came out onto the field while there was still a play going on and of course the referees didn't call a penalty because they wanted to go home and call the game. Absolutely fucking ridiculous...the referees for this game should all be fired from the Sun Belt division whereever the fuck that is. Where is Troy University...fucking Greece? Perhaps they should use referees that have experience with instant replay.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hot Stove Part XXIV / Trojan Horse

Troy Glaus has been one of the more underrated run producers of the last few seasons and yet, for some reason, people still fawn all over Eric Chavez and Hank Blalock when in fact Glaus is their statistical superior. Examine the career average AVG/OBP/SLG numbers for each:

Glaus - .253/.358/.501
Chavez - .275/.350/.496
Blalock - .274/.338/.471

These numbers may seem close. In fact, some people might look at Glaus' .253 average and shun him. The more telling numbers are his clear advantages in OBP and SLG over Blalock and his edge in those categories over Chavez as well. He's a run producer who will now become the AL's second-best 3B behind Alex Rodriguez (just for comparison's sake, ARod's career average AVG/OBP/SLG stats are .307/.385/.577).

Glaus now gets to go head to head with these two aforementioned 3B as he has been shipped back to the AL where he will man the hot corner for the totally redesigned Toronto Blue Jays. In exchange, the Blue Jays gave up former closer Miguel Batista, now made redundant by BJ Ryan's presence, and infielder Orlando Hudson. For the D-Backs, they get a solid defensive infielder in Hudson and another arm for a bullpen that always seems to have an injured player. For the Blue Jays, they erase the mistake of Corey Koskie, signed last off-season, and beef up their lineup with another bonafide power hitter. Their lineup now looks something like this:

RF Alex Rios
LF Frank Catalanotto
1B Lyle Overbay
CF Vernon Wells
3B Troy Glaus
DH Shea Hillenbrand
SS Russ Adams
C Gregg Zaun
2B Aaron Hill

While not nearly as good as the Yankees or Red Sox lineups, it's drastically improved now that Eric Hinske and the aforementioned Koskie are not factored into the equation. The Jays can now trade Koskie back to Minnesota, where he belongs.

The Blue Jays 2006 payroll has jumped from $40M to $80M with the additions of Glaus, Overbay, BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett. They might have succeeded in bumping the Red Sox down one spot in the AL East.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Hey, Look! A Starting Pitcher!

Whether Kevin Millwood is worth 4 years, $48 million is something that will be proven over the next, well, four years.

But it's nice to see Texas do something semi-intelligent for a change. At least they went after a solid starter for a change.

A Lump Of Coal In Dan Shanoff's Christmas Stocking

For the shameless huckstering on behalf of his employer, I would like to stick a lump of coal in Dan Shanoff's Christmas stocking. Actually, I would like to stick a lump of coal someplace else but that would be decidedly un-Christmasy so I'll just leave you with a quote from the shill-meister:

“I disagree with the people who see MNF’s move from ABC to ESPN as some “end of an era.” They ignore the ubiquity of cable TV as part of the fans’ experience today…Fans can wave good-bye to “Monday Night Football” on ABC and remember the “good ol’ days,” but it’s not like it’s the end of football memories on Monday night.”

You are absolutely a moron, Dan Shanoff; it is the end of an era. Not because people can't access ESPN with the same convenience with which they flip on ABC, but because of the cultural significance of Monday Night Football on ABC. Football rose to prominence as America's other pastime. Cosell and Meredith's rapport created the script for the play-by-play/color commentary repartee that exists today. ABC went from an afterthought as a nearly-bankrupt network to the top of the ratings for 37 years in that Monday night timeslot. All of this is very significant and only a guy like Dan Shanoff would fail to understand that. Either that or the people at ESPN added 42 cents to his paycheck in exchange for the positive spin-job. It's amazing how a little spare change can get a dancing monkey all worked up...

MMBSD: All I want for the Holidays is a QB

Well with one week to go the AFC is all but sewn up and the NFC is down to a few lucky contestants. It was a year of polarization for the NFL between the haves and have-nots. Some teams have XBOX 360s slinging their passes and some team have a steaming pile of manure (coal is expensive this year unfortunately). While there are a number of culprits (position of Mars and Jupiter, salary cap, Dan Shanoff) I posit that the QB situation is particularly bad this year. Behold a listing of teams that will probably have a new quarterback startng at the begining of next year.

AFC
Miami- I don' particularly care how many games in a row Miami has won. Gus Ferrotte is not a long term solution. For anything. Rumors have been swirling that Miami will trade for a veteran QB.

Jets
- The Jets have no answer to their QB problem within 100 miles of their sports facility.

Buffalo
- I thought the Republicans passed a law banning a team to be led by someone named Kelly.

Cleveland
- This previous draft might go down as the worst draft ever for quarterbacks. Charlie Frye I think is the best of the bunch and I'm starting to think he doesn't have the arm strength to win a stuffed reddy bear at the carnivale let alone an NFL game. (* maybe)

Baltimore
- Baltimore is pulling a New Orleans. A late season push of an otherwise dreadful season to finish at .500. If I had writen this post 18 hours earlier I would have for sure put Kyle Boller's name in the maybe pile. Two straight good games may have changed that.

Tennesse
- All signs point to the Titans releasing McNair. I think he might be in the Favre category (once great QB with rapidly diminishing skills).

Texas
- I think David Carr has been sacked more often than Paris. A new coach usually wants his QB and has Carr really shown any progress in his time with the Texans? (*- maybe)

Oakland
- I think instead of cutting Kerry Collins, Al Davis just going to plant drugs on him and send him over the Mexican border.


NFC
Dallas - Drew Bledsoe seems to be reverting to his old ways of imitating a tackling dummy. 50-50 chance but only a 10% chance of that (* maybe)

Detroit- There's a better chance that the Lions will simply forfeit next season than Harrington or Garcia are back.

Minnesota- Very intrigueing question what Minnesota does with their situation. Brad Johnson is currently figuring out which Medicare Part D he should sign up for so I'm guessing Minnesota will need someone on the backburner. At minimum Culpepper will be out until midseason (* maybe).

Chicago - I yield to the Chicagologist of BSDs. If I had a guess Grossman will stay on as starter next year although given his history of injuries is another QB in the running?

Favre Town- The great Favre retirement watch began 2 years ago and will continue until the inevitable occurs. Certainly in the maybe category.

New Orleans - Aaron Brooks will be the last quarterback to play for the New Orleans Saints. His tenure will end in this offseason.

Tampa- What happens in Tampa and Chris Simms when Brian Griese is healthy? I recommend an announce off between their respective fathers. (* maybe)

Arizona- Which seemingly over the hill QB will Dennis Green bring in next year. I'm going with Warren Moon. Take your bets now.

St. Louis - I'm guessing Bulger will be back but who knows for the once Mighty Rams. I suppose I could throw in Philly as a team that will have a team QB from the current moment but thats probably pushing it. (* maybe)

San Fran - Has there ever been so much doubt, so quickly about a number one draft pick? Alex "Small Hands" Smith is lucky he got a lot of money last year because that is the only thing that will save him from a fate worse than death (a commute to LA). (* maybe)


Total Count - Up to 17 teams will change QBs with a certainty around 8 or so. Now thats turnover.


** Thought of the Day: Given that I was raised to revere both refs and the Mafia I can really be proud when they're interests converge. The only explanation for the Dallas v. Carolina reffing buffoonery was a convergence of Mafia and Ref gambling interest. No other explaination for how you can miss a field goal block that obvious suffices. Well maybe temporary river blindness.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In Brief...

Some things that piqued my interest this morning...

1. Wayne Chrebet retired yesterday. That's good news for the seven strands of brain matter he has left and good news for the Jets too. Now the team can end the charade and debunk the myth that Lil' Wayne was anything more than a nice white mascot for the city's racist, blue-collar fans. I hate Keyshawn but damn if he wasn't right - Chrebet was merely a flashlight who milked every ounce of "Great White Hope" attention he could get. Chrebet sucked the day Keyshawn left town.

2. I like the trade rumor of Tejada to Wrigleyville. Apparently the Cubs are offering Prior and the O's are demanding Zambrano instead. If you'd asked me two years ago, I would never have seen a Prior trade coming. Now, after two years of injuries, mediocrity, and bad PR, Prior's on the block. Who would've thunk it?

3. The Troy Glaus-to-Boston trade rumor is heating up. Boston would take Glaus and convert him to 1B while Arizona would take some prospects in return. Glaus is a good hitter and would probably enjoy playing at Fenway so if Boston can pull this off, it's a feather in their cap. I'm sure the prospects the D-Backs get won't be of particularly good quality since Boston will likely pick up the tab on the rest of Glaus' contract. My question to Arizona is why they bothered to sign Glaus last year if they knew they wouldn't compete in 2005 or 2006. What was the point of the signing? What sort of long-term organizational thinking is going on out there?

4. Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek signed with the Kansas City Royals. Sure, those contracts didn't exactly break the bank but since when have the Royals ever signed anybody? And what are the Cardinals waiting for, exactly? The NL Central is just thin enough that the Cards can still win the division with Carpenter, Mulder, and Pujols but I don't get the sense that the Cards are really trying right now...

5. I know it's not sports but permit me a Peter King moment here. NYC's transit strike is over. Transit Workers Union chief negotiatior Roger Toussaint is now as hated as MLBPA boss Donald Fehr. Amazing. In the span of four days he went from anonymous to utterly detested. No one's Q-rating has plummeted faster.

Barring any major sports developments that require me to adjourn my long weekend and log onto the blog, I'm going into a state of Deep Cover beginning at noon today.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Marketing in the Thin Air

Since baseball has only been the Hot Stove Heater on the blog, I figured I would talk about something that I think is a great marketing deal for my new hometown team, the Colorado Rockies. I am not sure if they are doing this because their ticket sales have fallen off for the year or what, but I think it is a great idea. This year the Colorado Rockies are offering something called the Rockies Pass. It is a card that is 99 dollars that enables people to get tickets for the Pavilion section 48 hours in advance for 32 games. For those of you that haven't been to Coors Field, the Pavilion section is in left field just under the scoreboard, not bad seats, especially for catching those 500 feet drives. The 32 games are basically the interdivision games with most of them primarily whole series in April, May and September. The non division games are against the Reds, Astros, Phillies, Brew Crew, Pirates, Nats and Bravos. This package is basically great for those of us who love baseball and don't mind seeing whole series. I was just wondering if any of you knew of any type of package in the MLB or basketball or any other sports. I think it is a steal, the games basically come out to about 3 dollars a game, which is 12 dollars less than market price of the ticket. I bought 2 seats for myself and my girlfriend. If anyone wants to come out Denver and see a game, let me know.

Cheers and Jeers: Extended Jail Sentence Version

Extend Jail Sentence
  • 1/2 oz Jack Daniels
  • 1/2 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1/2 oz Gold tequila (Jose Cuervo)
  • 1 splash Pineapple juice (optional)
  • Ice cubes

    Well its been a little time since I've done some cheering and jeering since I've been busy with work, plus the flying monkey battles, and the threatening letters to the President of FOX (I'll get you Rupert Murdoch) but the show must go on so without further ado...
Jeers: To Daunte Culpepper. Who would've ever thought that Daunte would go from an MVP candidate last year to a washed up, injury riddled, maybe traded away, gee I hope I don't I have to experience an extended jail sentence type player. I mean Dante should consider trying NASCAR given how fast he managed to wreck his career.

Cheers: To the battle of the MAC quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami of Ohio facing off against his long time friend and curling partner, Charlie Frye out of Akron. In recent years the mighty mini-conference of the MAC has had an incrediable record with QBs. Alongside Roethlisberger and Frye, Pennington and Leftwhich are both MAC products. Look from Bruce Gradkowski out of Toledo and probably Omar Jacobs out of Bowling Green to be drafted and add to the distinguished list of MAC alumni.

Jeers: To the continuing trends of crappy mustaches. Case in point Adam Morrison. Yes your probably the best player in the NCAA at the moment (averaging over 25 pts a game out in Gonzaga. Does anyone know if Gonzaga has a campus? I feel like there's a basketball court and a Starbucks and thats the school). Anyway if your going to grow a mustache make in regal. Give it handlebars. Or take tips from Cowher as to how to get it to make you look intimidating. I can't decide if Morrison's 'stache reminds me of a middle schooler or a fraternity hazing prank.

Cheers: Speaking of Gonzaga, Ronny Turiaf is back on the basketball court. Six months after open heart surgery Turiaf is playing in the CBA in hopes of getting back into professional basketball shape. I always liked Turiaf hard work. He reminded me of Charles Oakley. Today's funny fact , Turiaf will play for the Yakama Sun Kings which is owned by the Yakama Tribe. I think it would be fun to play for a Native American Tribe.

Jeers: David Brooks. Oh how I loathe David Brooks. His latest article over the spying scandal stated that the President gave the executive order to avoid cumbersome paperwork. I'm not going to give my opinion on the matter but avoiding cumbersome paperwork is not a good reason. I have to suffer with cumbersome paperwork, anyone associated with the government has to suffer from cumbersome paperwork and no one person should be above cumbersome paperwork. I don't like students who whine they have too much work and certainly don't like people who whine about paperwork.

Anyway speaking of the Constitution, to finish up a little Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway

Amendment XI Citizens talking loudly into cellular phones shall be aware that all the other citizens hate them.

In Brief...

A few things that piqued my interest this morning:

1. Mike Sherman is defending Brett Favre, saying it's not his fault and how his QB "should be offended by all this retirement talk." Hey Mike, that's exactly why you don't belong in the NFL as a head coach -- you have no idea what you're talking about and you're not intelligent enough to know that keeping Favre around is costing you your job. Favre stinks. I don't care if he goes 15-1 for the Bears next year, he stinks. He's over and done with. Even dead bodies twitch and breathe a few more times before rigor mortis sets in. Brett's got a few twitches left before we should shovel dirt on him and move on...

2. The dismantling of the 2005 AL West Champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim continues. They traded CF Steve Finley to San Francisco for 3B Edgardo Alfonzo. Unless they've forgotten about Dallas McPherson, there's no place for Alfonzo to play. If they're planning on trading McPherson for a Tejada/Manny type of guy, that's one thing. But is Alfonzo who they really want in their lineup? He's a stiff (.672 OPS in 2005). I have NO IDEA what the Angels are doing. Do they?

3. Bernie re-signed with the Yankees for $1.5M. It's always awkward when a team and its fans send someone off with ovations and video tributes and then bring that someone back at 1/12th their previous salary. It's probably akin to leaving a company as senior vice president, getting a great party, and then coming back to run the mailroom. Welcome back Bernie. I wish you'd just retired...

4. Adam Morrison needs to shave. Someone MUST tell him to shave. There's funny facial hair meant as a joke and then there's the guy who actually thinks he's stylin'. To be honest, Adam Morrison looks like a rapist or child molester.

5. I hate hockey for having Todd Bertuzzi on the Canadian team going to the Winter Olympics in Turin in a few weeks. I'm sure he's a good player but the guy's a criminal. Should he really be rewarded in this way? Isn't it reward enough that he's not in jail like any normal person would be after brutally injuring someone and, in the process, ending their ability to make a living?

PS - Someone picked "The Natural" as their favorite baseball movie in that Poll of the Week thingie on the right. No disrespect to Roy Hobbs or Pop Fisher but there is no way in hell that those guys top Lou Brown and the guys from Major League. Lou Brown is the perfect mix of Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Mike Hargrove. Best manager that ever lived.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Week 16 – And then there were 17

According to NFL.com, only 5 more teams have to be eliminated to complete the playoff field of 12. As always, I’m going to be biased as hell, and make picks that will fulfill my wishful thinking.

Manwich Matchup of the Week-
San Diego @ KC- Anytime you have a virtual play-in game for the playoffs during the season, you know it just smells like Manwich. Since I really want to pick San Diego, I’m going to buttress my prediction with some research: In 1989 the 10-0 49ers lost to the Rams, the next week the Rams won on the road; in 1998 the 13-0 Broncos lost to the NY Giants, the next week the Giants won at home; in 2003, the 9-0 Chiefs lost to the Bengals, and the following week the Bengals won on the road. There can only be one choice! The Super-Chargers are making a playoff push!
Pick: San Diego

Upset of the Week-
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland- I know I shouldn’t do this. But I just feel like nothing would be more satisfying than the Browns wrecking the Steelers playoff chances. I don’t know how this will happen, but Frye must play the game of his life. When you have a rivalry game, anything’s possible (I hope).
Pick: Cleveland

NY Giants @ Washington- I don’t understand why the Giants are an underdog, but I’m going to run with it.
Pick: NY Giants

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay – All I know is that Tampa Bay has Vick’s number and this season has been marred by inconsistency and I point to that sloppy loss against Green Bay as the reason for their downfall.
Pick: Tampa Bay

Buffalo @ Cincy- Cincy’s got to make a run for a bye.
Pick: Cincy

Dallas @ CAR – And in the end, the Dallas offensive line could only protect the immobile Bledsoe for 13 games of the 16 season.
Pick: CAR

Detroit @ New Orleans- 2 hapless teams that will be sure to screw up someone’s fantasy football championship.
Pick: New Orleans

Jacksonville @ Houston- Jacksonville may become one of the worst 12-4 teams. Their reward is most likely going to be a trip to New England Patriots.
Pick: Jacksonville

San Fran @ St. Louis- Did you know? Alex Smith played on the same high school team as Reggie Bush!
Pick: St. Louis

Tennessee @ Miami – Miami moves another step closer to being my 2006 Sleeper. Then again, if they finish at 9-7, they really can’t be a sleeper.
Pick: Miami

Philly @ Arizona- Ryan Moats is showing exactly why a team doesn’t have to spend much on its Running backs.
Pick: Philly

Indy @ Seattle- It’s sad that this game couldn’t have happened in week 8, when both teams would have had a lot on the line.
Pick: Seattle

Oakland @ Denver- A Norv Turner-led team in Denver doesn’t sound like a good idea.
Pick: Denver

Chicago @ Green Bay- I was so annoyed by ESPN committing like 20 minutes to the “end of Favre” on Tuesday morning. Favre slipped about 3 years ago.
Pick: Chicago

Minnesota @ Baltimore- You can’t sink a sex boat.
Pick: Minnesota

New England @ NY Jets- The Patriots have been quite resurgent and even I’m growing scared of them now.
Pick: New England

Last week: 10-6
Season: 145-79
Manwich Matchup: 9-6 (Tiki Barber powered the Giants to victory)
Upset Special: 3-12 (Before the Chargers beat the Colts last week, I hadn’t correctly picked an upset right since picking the Vikings over the Packers at the beginning of the Post-Sex Boat win streak)

Hot Stove Part XXIII / The Idiot

What's worse? Saying “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em” or “there’s no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they’re going to come after me hard. It’s definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It’s not what I need.” I think they’re both bad, personally.

The first quote is Jason Giambi’s, upon signing with the Yankees in December 2001 and the second belongs to Johnny Damon, from back in May 2005, when asked if he’d ever play for New York. The first quote is from the mouth of a lifelong loser who knows nothing about the struggles and sacrifices required to win. The second is from the mouth of a self-professed “Idiot” who clearly has no conviction in his own words.

And with that, I announce the Yankees’ signing of Johnny Damon to a four year, $52M contract to lead off and play CF.

From a baseball point of view, this move is a mixed bag. Damon is 32 years old and has never been on the DL or had a history of injuries so it is reasonable to expect that he’ll perform for at least two and maybe three years of this contract. It’s not even unreasonable to expect that he might produce in the fourth year, although I’ll take production for two and a half seasons and be thankful for anything thereafter. The money isn’t outrageous given the fact that Rafael Furcal is making the same money for LA but isn’t as good a hitter. Also, Bernie Williams has been paid $36M over the last three seasons and his skills had declined precipitously so paying a Bernie-sized amount to a better player doesn’t bother me. What does bother me, from a baseball standpoint, is that Damon’s arm is nonexistent and his range is questionable in a bigger outfield. Also, he’s never hit well at Yankee Stadium, where he’ll now be getting 270-310 AB’s a year.

From a fan’s perspective, I am sick over this move. Baseball executives rarely make moves with the fan in mind and that is a good thing. If every move were subject to the vetting of a fan base, nothing would get done and chaos would reign supreme. However, I doubt very much than ANY Yankee fan is excited and happy to see Damon as a member of the team. I wonder if Yankee fans will ever warm to him. I know there’s no chance that I will.

From a baseball point of view, the Yankee defense is as bad as it was last year but their offense, on paper, should be record-setting. They should score over 1,000 runs in 2006 and Jeter will enjoy batting in his natural #2 spot, between Damon and ARod. Considering the money and the years, the Yanks did fine with this move. I should add that before anyone argues the traditional pitching-and-defense reasons why the Yanks didn't need another bat, I have statistical evidence that they desperately needed another bat, but I'll argue that if/when it's addressed. In the meantime...

In the end, the Yankees are better for this signing. But 2006 will be the third straight year that I boycott Yankee Stadium. I won’t pay to see players that I hate – Giambi, Mussina, Pavano, Wright, and now Damon (and, of course, GM Brian Cashman) – and I don’t care if my principled stand doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. It means something to me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

From Bad to Worse

BAD: The Cubs signed Jacque Jones to a three-year deal worth a reported $16 million. Jacque Jones is a good outfielder, no question. He's averaged 22 homers over the last 4 years, stole 13 bases each of the last 3 years, and is an above average fielder. But his batting average the last two years has been around .250 (dropping from .300 in 2002 and 2003), and more importantly, he is just not the middle-of-the-order bat that the Cubs needed.

My guess is that the Cubs saw no trade opportunities out there, and grabbed at what they could. It's not an inspiring move, and not one that I expect will help the team much. The division remains for the taking by somebody else...

WORSE: Tom Hicks and the Texas Rangers finally trade for some pitching - only to give it right back in the same deal.

The Rangers acquired starter Adam Eaton, reliever Akinori Otsuka, and catching prospect Billy Killian (3rd rounder in '04) from the Padres today for starter Chris Young, 1B/OF Adrian Gonzalez, and OF Termel Sledge. Eaton is a fairly decent pitcher who deserves to be a #4 starter in the bigs. But he's 28 years old, hardly a stud, never once surpassing 11 wins or lowering his ERA below 4. Otsuka's a good reliever, but we all know how one day's set-up superstar is the next day's LaTroy Hawkins. Killian? Ok, a good prospect, but ESPN.com reports that Texas wouldn't part with young catcher Gerald Laird. So where does Killian go?

In exchange, of course, the team dealt their #1 pitching prospect away in Young, and the once #1 overall draft pick (Gonzalez). I understand that with Teixeira's growth, there's no room for Gonzalez - but is this the best they could get? He's 23 years old, rated the team's #1 prospect in 2004 by Baseball America, and hasn't really gotten a good chance to prove himself. More importantly - Chris Young showed promise last season and though he fatigued down the stretch, he was supposed to be the future anchor of the Texas rotation. Whether or not he'd come through is of course an unknown, but you can be sure that Eaton can never handle such a role.

In short, Texas traded away a potential #1 or #2 starter for a #4, and a potential top hitter for a blowin'-in-the-wind reliever. This team will never, never win if they keep making stupid, stupid moves like this one. When will they ever learn?

Brett Favre

I'm suffering from food coma right now so I can't muster up the energy to verbally assault Dan Shanoff. Instead, I will bring in one of his quotes and then open the floor to debate...

Dan Shanoff on Brett Favre:

"He's the NFL's Roger Clemens: On a contender, he could be an MVP candidate again. Can you imagine him on the Bears?"

Does anyone truly believe this? I certainly don't. I don't think he could be an MVP candidate on the Bears or any other team for that matter. Not only does he throw way too many interceptions but, as Bill Simmons would say, Favre's in Dan Marino mode -- he's just able-bodied enough to still think he's good so he tries too hard to make the plays that made him famous and doesn't recognize that pure arm strength doesn't make up for the fact that his release is a hair slower than it used to be. Bill Simmons said that three years ago. It rings more true with every passing game.

What is frightening is when Favre ends up on another team next year and experiences some success (relative to the crap he's been slinging since 2002). Then everyone will give Favre the Paterno treatment where everyone will rush to lynch those that ever doubted him and wanted to push him out. At the end of the day, does any team want a QB that might have a few wins left in the tank but ultimately can't get over the hump anymore? I'm sure the answer will be yes. That's the kind of short-sighted, afraid-of-change league the NFL has become.

Andy Reid?

In the sprit of MJ's discussion... should Andy Reid be fired?

The Case: He lost control of the team, allowed the TO scandal to flare, and failed to manage the collapse of a team that was destined to play in Jan/Feb. I believe he should be fired. Although injuries happen, I believe the coach has the basic responsibility of managing personalities, manage the team as a unit, and resolve conflict before that reaches the field (and the media). Game management occurs all week and not just on Sundays.

Firings

The following people in the NFL should be fired:

1. Mike Sherman (Packers) - Injuries aside, this team doesn't even try to hide the fact that they've mailed it in. Ultimately, if wins are an impossibility, a coach has to at least get effort from his players. Sherman's not running a tight ship up there and it's time for the culture to change in Wisconsin.

2. Mike Martz (Rams) - In effect, this has already happened. He let a good thing get away and tried to be too cute when he had all of those chips working. He never understood the need for a strong running game to balance the 45 pass attempts per game. He's also a bit of a megalomaniac and I don't know if that works well on a rebuilding team.

3. Mike Tice (Vikings) - The recent winning streak and unlikely playoff contention aside, there are three things that work against Tice in my opinion. First, his team was expected to win their division this year (not by me, but that's beside the point). Second, the team discipline on the Vikings is clearly lacking. Third, assuming the Vikings go 1-1 to end the year, at the end of the day, Tice has still never done better than 9-7 in a season. He's had all sorts of talent to work with since 2002 when he took over. He's just not getting it done. As far as I'm concerned, coaches should only be allowed to save their jobs when the team plays hard and rebounds from on-field adversity. Off-field and disciplinary issues should always cost a coach his job, especially in the face of consistent underperformance, as the case has been in Minnesota.

4. Dom Capers (Texans) - A truly clueless individual. To regress from 7-9 in 2004 to possibly 2-14 in 2005 is unconscionable. He has no idea what to do with the offensive gameplan. He's just lost out there.

5. Jim Haslett (Saints) - A hurricane, even of biblical proportions, is no excuse for the fact that his teams are never prepared to win games and always find convenient excuses for their losses. This isn't the first year the Saints have completely sucked. At a certain point, Haslett has to answer for his 45-49 career coaching record.

6. Brian Billick (Ravens) - Last night's win notwithstanding, the supposed offensive mastermind and his staff of supposed offensive masterminds have still not figured out a way to score points on a consistent basis. The team's drafting has been astute. Now it's time for management to use that intelligence on a young head coach with a smaller ego and a better work ethic.

7. Norv Turner (Raiders) - Exhibit A in the case of racism in NFL hiring practices. For a man that failed spectacularly in Washington and could not generate any offense in Miami as a coordinator, I think it's quite obvious that this guy can't make it work if Troy, Emmit, Moose and Michael aren't on his roster. He should be fired and never re-hired.

8. Mike Mularkey (Bills) - Taking a team on the cusp of the playoffs in 2004 to the bottom of the conference in 2005 is bad. Not communicating with star players, employing a revolving door at QB and allowing a once-stout defense to become Swiss cheese merits termination.

9. Dick Jauron (Lions) - I only suggest his firing because the whole organization needs a housecleaning, starting with Matt Millen. It's not Jauron's fault the Lions are in this mess but if the ownership in Detroit is serious about fixing the Lions' problems, they need to expunge the entire front office and coaching staff, throw a lot of money at player personnel directors Scott Pioli (New England) or Joe Banner (Philadelphia) and let those guys hire their own people.

I'm giving a pass to Jeff Fisher (Titans), Herman Edwards (Jets), and Dennis Green (Cardinals) because their teams were either being rebuilt, ravaged by injuries at key positions, or haven't had enough time in their position to make an impact.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hot Stove Part XXII / Shrinking Angels

Neither Paul Byrd nor Jarrod Washburn would ever warrant a "Hot Stove Part ___" treatment on their own merits but both of them leaving the Angels within weeks of eachother definitely deserves some attention.

Just what are the Angels doing? They were supposed to have acquired Manny Ramirez by now. They were supposed to have traded Orlando Cabrera, Dallas McPherson and a minor league pitcher for Miguel Tejada. They were supposed to have addressed the Bengie Molina situation. Instead, they didn't offer arbitration to Washburn and Molina and they let Byrd sign with Cleveland. Uh, guys, that was two-fifths of your rotation and your starting catcher...

The Angels seem to be as lost their neighbors in LA. They're putting themselves in a position where they're almost forced to sign Kevin Millwood to an outrageous contract. As far as I'm concerned, the AL West is still a lousy division that can be won with 90 wins depending on just how miserable the Mariners and Rangers are next year. If the Angels keep this up, the A's might pass them without even doing anything. The A's came close to winning the division last year with two rookies and a second year starter in the rotation and a rookie in the bullpen. Who's to say that the A's can't win 94 ballgames next year and win the division, even with the biggest joke of a lineup?

Somebody better wake up GM Bill Stoneman and tell him that the season isn't over just because they're not playing games.

Who Dey

Crank it up fool
Fear the tigers, fear the tigers, cause we’re the tigers
We’re ready to rumble, we’re ready to rumble, ’cause we king of the jungle
Rap ’em up, Duane
I’m not Paul Wall but I’m real dirty like the South
And you know I got a bad girly at home and she’s cookin’ on some neck bones
On the sideline talkin’ on the telephone
Made two adjustments and now it’s on
Now I’m back on the field to seal the deal
Blow the back field up with intent to kill
Now that’s how I’m livin’ cause I’m way too real.
Who dey, who dey, who dey, who dey think they gonna beat them Bengals
Who dey, who dey, who dey, who dey think they gonna beat them Bengals
We’re the biggest cats in the jungle
When we come through we gonna shake rattle and rumble
Rumble like some thunder in the middle of the summer
Runnin’ over players like a Hummer and a Honda on them 84’s.
Oh yeah, I’m the man, when I hit the field you understand what I’m sayin’
The fellas hate seeing me when I show my mean mug
Feel the icing on the cake when you see the scoreboard, man
Who dey, who dey, who dey, who dey think they gonna beat them Bengals
Who dey, who dey, who dey, who dey think they gonna beat them Bengals
Fear the tigers because we’re the tigers.
Opponents they want to hate us but the fans they will like us
They love us understand that ain’t nobody can touch us, nobody can rush us
Now with us you’re a buster, we battle on field just like we battle on stage
’Cause on the turf you’re in our home and we rattling cages
Feel outrageous, showing no mercy, just like the ultimate fighter, lookin’ right into the eye of a tiger
Fear the tigers, fear the tigers cause we’re the tigers (crank it up fool)
We’re ready to rumble, we’re ready to rumble cause we’re king of the jungle (crank it up fool)
Fear the tigers, fear the tigers cause we’re the tigers (crank it up fool)
We’re ready to rumble, we’re ready to rumble cause we’re king of the jungle (crank it up fool)
Who dey, who dey, who dey (crank it up fool)
Who dey, who dey, who dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who dey, who dey, who dey (crank it up fool)
Who dey, who dey, who dey think gonna beat them Bengals


From the banks of the Ohio comes that orange and black machine
They're the Cincinnati Bengals
The finest ever seen
With stripes upon their helmets and fire in their eyes
They'll take the field they will not yield
They're strong and tough and wise
Who Dey.Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Hear that Bengal growling, mean and angry
See that Bengal prowling, lean and hungry
An offensive brute, run, pass, or boot
And defensively, he's rough errrr tough errrr
Cincinnati Bengals that's the team were gonna cheer to victory
Touchdown Bengals!!
Put some points up on the board and win a game for Cincinnati!
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals

Noooooobodyyyyy

2 Spots for 4 teams?

In the AFC... Cincy, the Pats, Denver, and Indy have all clinched spots. It is clear that New England will play a wild card team but that leaves 2 spots left for 4 worthy teams. Thoughts?

*1) Jax = 10-4
After a 10-9 defeat of the San Fran Giants (they roughed up Matt Morris), the Jags have the inside track to the playoffs with remaining games versus the Texans and the Titans.
*2) Cowher's Jaw = 9-5
With the Cleveland Steamers and Det-Stank Lions on the schedule, Cowher's jaw may return to the playoffs. Nobody wants to play his jaw. Cowher can simply unhinge the jaw and devour teams whole.
3) San Diego = 9-5
Even with their win against Indy, the Bolts should break out the old school powder blue uniforms to beat KC, and Denver.
4) Although it pains me to admit it, the miserable KC D (arm tackles make me crazy) let Tiki run them out of the playoffs. KC = 8-6 and still playing SD, Cincy.

The NFC:

In the NFC... Seattle, Chicago, the Giants, and Carolina will all earn spots leaving 2 spots for four teams. Thoughts??

*1) Tampa Bay = 9-5
Wow, did the Pats administer a bismarcking this weekend. The Bucs finish with Atlanta and NO. It looks promising...
*2) Washington = 8-6
The redskins took a major jump forward in the race by smacking the Cow-bitches. They have two hurdles namely the Giants and the Eagles.
3) Dallas = 8-6
The cow-bitches are on the outside looking in barring a Redskins loss. Games remaining: Carolina, STL
4) Atlanta = 8-6
Wow, the Falcons simply cannot play outside in the cold. Games left: TB, Carolina
5) The Sex Boat = 8-6
They still have to play Da Bears and the Ravens.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

MMBSD: Snootchie-bootchies.

You're going to listen to something I said? Haven't I made it abundantly clear during the tenure of our friendship that I don't know shit?

I'll be honest I don't have a clue anymore what’s going on in the NFC. Seriously can anyone figure out the NFC? I suppose the relevant question does it matter? Over in the AFC its distinctly possible you'll have an 11 win team sitting out of the playoffs. Anyway given my own ignorance this week I've just decided to go with the tried and true Simmons approach (pick movie quotes and fit them to what has recently happened). Today's NFC baffling thing involves Washington blowing out Dallas. Turns out the Cowboys have no consistency. Or Michael Irvin invited all of them out for a Saturday night party. Whatever the case is that was embarrassing.

...I like to pick up girls on the rebound from a disappointing relationship. They're much more in need of solace and they're fairly open to suggestion. And, I use that to fuck them some place very uncomfortable.

KC blew it. Tiki Barber is awesome but the KC defenders didn't even try to hide their incompetence at tackling. I don't think they even tried the British method of stopping people (harsh language). The end result is that KC is an excruciating uncomfortable position (no, not the back of a Volkswagen) . They're playoff hopes died in the Meadowlands. Year after year KC has not been able to field an adequate defense and year after year they get killed for it. Also listening to Phil Simms qualifies as being put in an incredibly uncomfortable position

You fuckers think just because a guy reads comics he can't start some shit?


Guess who called a Cleveland victory on Oakland? Check the comments but despite the mocking, a slimmer version of Comic Book Guy (Mighty Mike) correctly prognosticated a Browns' victory. Overall good guy Charlie Frye looked like a rookie at times but managed to engineer a last second drive to set up the winning field goal. Offensive coordinator Maurice Carthan once again rolled snake eyes in the red zone. Sorry, if your offense is last in red zone efficiency you need to be fired.

Come, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!

I think that was the exact quote of Don Shula following the Colts loss. Yep the '72 Dolphins remain the only undefeated team. Hats off to the Chargers for keeping Edge in check (25 yards rushing or so for James). The Chargers front office really has made some smart moves in recent years (Shawn Merriman seems to be the latest bright draft day move). The shame is the Chargers on a good day are one of the top 3 teams in the league but due to their inconsistency (read blowing it against Miami) they could be sitting on the sidelines. Think about it....an 11 win season not good enough. Colts can now focus on the Super Bowl. Or whatever that means.

Bob stole the schematics from some foolish carpenter and found a weakness just like the fucking Death Star. You knock this crossbeam out and, bicky bam, the whole stage comes crashing down.

Nobody finds weaknesses in other teams like the Patriots. Nobody schemes like Belichek and very few quarterbacks read defenses like Tom Brady. I dislike Tom Brady and everything he stands for but yes he's a good quarterback. I'll say it again...does anyone want to play New England in the playoffs?


**Editors note: Congrats to the BackSeat Drivers. On 12/12 we had a record 80 visits. Keep up the good work all....

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Fire Millen: A National Phenomena

Quick question: What do Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon, a $3 whore, and President Bush all have in common? Answer: all suck at their jobs. Well, we can now add yet another person to that list, Detroit Lions President and GM Matt Millen.

In the five years since he was hired to take over a team that was one game shy of a playoff spot, Millen has fired three coaches, hired two (including Marty "Let's take the wind in overtime" Mohrninweg), drafted a bunch of overly-hyped players with zero work ethic, and gone an amazing 20-56. The boiling point was that right around the time that Mooch got canned, Millen got offered a 5-year contract extension. Fans in Detroit have spent the last couple of years pretty pissed off, but now that you've fucked with us and rewarded stupidity, it's time to riot (and we're fucking good at that!)

Since the extension, here is the breakdown of events:
-- Several "Fire Millen" signs were confiscated and one fan was tackled by security for carrying a "Fire Millen" sign at the last home game vs. the Vikings"
-- The crowd in attendance at the Joe Louis Arena (myself included) for the Wings vs. Devils game started chanting "Fire Millen"
-- Lions fans in Green Bay carried "Fire Millen" cheeseheads. (of course, Packer fans held up signs that said "Keep Millen")
-- Seahawks fans had "Fire Millen" signs (although I'm not sure why).
-- Thrasher fans held up "Fire Millen" signs behind the penalty boxes last Thursday
-- And the coup de grace: Ben Wallace's only postgame comment after last night's victory vs. the Bulls: "Fire Millen!"

Why am I bringing this all up? Well, tomorrow is D-Day. Or, should I call it F-Day. The last home game against the Bengals. A team that used to be as inept as the Lions. A local radio station has organized an "Angry Fan March" around the stadium. Fans are encouraged to wear orange in support of the Bengals. And, most of all, the citizens paid to have a billboard outside of Ford Field erected that says "Not in this MILLENium" with a picture of a superbowl ring on it. And the best part of all? It's a 4:05 kickoff, meaning 3 extra hours to get really drunk.

Considering I have tickets (and yes, I will be sporting an orange shirt), if you don't hear from me soon, just assume that I was killed in the riot.

By the way, this campaign to get an incompetent man fired is going to be completely fruitless. After all, this is America. And in America, when you go into battle without a plan, botch things horribly and prove your incompetence, you don't get fired. You get elected for four more years.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nomar Garciaparra is a Shortstop

To follow up on one of MJ's recent posts:

I caught part of a Tim Kurkjian piece on SportsCenter today in which he related some of the rumors about where Nomar will sign. According to Timmy K., one of the issues facing each team - and Nomar himself - in this process is the determination of his 2006 position.

Hello? Nomar's a shortstop. He's always been a shortstop. Yeah, he played a bit of third last year, and did a decent job - but even he said that he had a lot to learn about playing the position properly. Is there reason to think he could play another position? Of course; he's a world-class athlete. Should a team consider his versatility when pondering what kind of offer to make? Absolutely.

But why are teams talking about playing Nomar at every position except shortstop?!?!

It might be that the teams being rumored to be in the thick of Nomar negotiations all have decent SS - Yankees (Jeter), Houston (Adam Everett), Cleveland (Peralta), and the Dodgers (Izturis). All the same...Nomar's a shortstop first. At least, that's how I think it should be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Week 15 – No one throws a Super-Sweet 32nd birthday party like TO

All of the things I’m about to tell you regarding TO’s B-day party, I just want everyone to know that these facts are 100% true, according to Yahoo. Here’s the link. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051213/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_owens_party

With a guest list including Mike Ditka, Ravens LB Ray Lewis, and ESPN’s favorite toke-master, Michael Irvin, TO threw a big bash on Monday night in Philly. Approximately 19 current Eagles were in attendance, including Westbrook, Lito Sheppard, and Jevon “The Freak” Kearse. Michael Irvin led the crowd in a rendition of "Happy Birthday," holding a celebratory cake up for Owens to see. (Why is this not on the internet?) TO hired scantily clad women wearing different colored No. 81 jerseys with question marks replacing the team logos. (HOW is this not on the internet?)

The best part about the article, is that it provides a laundry list of ways TO annoyed the Eagles:
1) Violating the dress code on road trips (TO would never do that!)
2) Parking in his coaches’ parking spots at the practice facility (TO just wants equality for all)
3) Sleeping through a team meeting
4) Not bringing his playbook to a team meeting (TO has memorized the whole playbook of course)
5) Bringing his playbook to a team meeting, but refusing to open it (Like I said, TO has memorized the whole playbook, and this incident only proves that).

The real question is why this was not a reality TV special. If reality TV can show us things like “The Season,” and MTV's "Super Sweet 16," I demand to see highlights of TO's ridiculous party! Anyways, on to the picks…

Manwich Matchup of the Week
KC @ NY Giants – Wow. Both of these teams need victories to improve/secure playoff positions. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the Giants have been almost unbeatable at home.
Pick: NY Giants

Upset of the Week-
San Diego @ Indy- I’ve had this game in the back of my mind for a long time. Now that the Chargers lost to the Dolphins last week, they are going to be more desperate than ever before. They have to win this game. And I fully believe that the desperation will be more inspiring than Indy’s quest for a perfect season, considering they already have homefield advantage secured.
Pick: San Diego

TB @ New England- Tampa is suddenly leading their division, and I don’t see the Pats as a problem in their quest for the NFC South.
Pick: Tampa

Denver @ Buffalo- The Bills are in shambles, absolute shambles. McGahee is dinged up, Moulds is suddenly a problem child. At least Lee Evans catches a 50-yard pass each week.
Pick: Denver

Arizona @ Houston- It’s become pretty apparent that the Texans are either the most cursed team in football or they really want Reggie Bush. I mean, why would someone want Reggie Bush?
Pick: Arizona

CAR @ New Orleans- CAR is inconsistent as hell, but for their sake, this is practically a must-win game.
Pick: CAR

NY Jets @ Miami- After the Dolphins got shut-out by the pathetic Cleveland Browns, they have won 3 STRAIGHT games! This is looking like a team to watch for next season.
Pick: Miami

Philly @ St. Louis- Did you know? Both of these teams are an unreal 2-7 in the NFC.
Pick: St. Louis

Pittsburgh @ Minnesota- Both teams are 8-5 and really needing victories, similar to the intra-conference showdown between KC and the Giants. All I’ve learned from this season is that nothing brings a team together like a sex boat controversy.
Pick: Minnesota

Seattle @ Tennessee- Too easy.
Pick: Seattle

San Fran @ Jacksonville- Jacksonville got really lucky with this easy schedule at the end of the season.
Pick: Jacksonville

Cincy @ Detroit- Introducing, your 2005 AFC North Division Champions, the Cincy Bungles!
Pick: Cincy

Cleveland @ Oakland- Quite the intriguing game, full of backup QBs, and QBs that were benched, and are now returning, but may be leaving again. Ultimately, I have to pick against a rookie QB on the road.
Pick: Oakland

Dallas @ Washington- Last time they met, Dallas got burned by two Santana Moss touchdowns in the waning minutes. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the weather will probably not be in their favor.
Pick: Washington

Atlanta @ Chicago- I’m saying once again, that Atlanta is more desperate, and will reveal the Bears as a pretender. The greatest concern I have is the weather, and Vick’s ribs, but I have to stand by my biased opinions.
Pick: Atlanta

Green Bay @ Baltimore- This is why starting next year, Monday Night Football won’t be choosing the last 4 games of the season until mid-way through, so that we avoid completely worthless games.
Pick: Baltimore
Last week: 11-5
Season: 135-73
Manwich Matchup: 8-6 (KC barely lost to Dallas)
Upset Special: 2-12 (So picking the Bills was not a very smart idea)

Change of Scenery...Change of Expected Results?

Going back to a discussion we had a few days ago about what Soriano's new home address will mean to his stats going forward, and in light of today's Vazquez-to-Chicago trade, I've decided to do some research on a baseball metric called "Weighted Park Factors." As the title indicates, this metric tries to create an average measure for certain events that happen in all baseball stadiums around the country -- runs, hits, doubles, homers, walks and strikeouts -- and then plots out where each ballpark ranks against the average.

Unfortunately, I am unable to post the entire table here (I have no idea how to link a word or excel file onto the blog) but I will share some interesting findings:

With respect to Soriano, he is leaving Texas (1.16 R / 1.08 H / 1.10 2B / 1.20 HR / 0.98 BB / 0.98 K) and going to Washington (0.88 R / 0.88 H / 0.92 2B / 0.76 HR / 0.98 BB / 1.06 K) where 1.00 is average. In effect, regardless of what his home-road splits were or the overall strength/weakness of the lineups he has played for or will play for, he is leaving an extreme hitter's park for an extreme pitcher's park. Look at the differences in R, H, 2B and HR; they go down precipitously. I'm not touching Soriano on my 2006 fantasy teams unless he somehow slips into the 10th round or later.

With respect to Vazquez, he is leaving Arizona (1.12 R / 1.06 H / 1.14 2B / 1.14 HR / 1.06 BB / 0.96 K) and going to Chicago (1.06 R / 1.02 H / 0.94 2B / 1.38 HR / 1.06 BB / 1.00 K). He is changing cities but staying in an extreme hitter's park. The only significant difference between the two is the dramatic rise in average HR's in Chicago. Believe it or not, US Cellular Field had the highest rating on this scale in terms of HR outcomes. For a pitcher that has given up 70 HR over the last two years and is coming back to the world of DH's...I don't expect much better results from Vazquez than what he's shown the last two seasons.

Of course, I'm not arguing that Park Factor is the end all for player analysis. But it is interesting to see how these ballparks can affect a player's output.

If anyone is interested in the whole table, email me and I'll send it along...

Hot Stove Part XXI / Vazquez & Morris

The first item is an update and the second is to report some news I didn't get to this weekend...

1. Updating my story from last night, Javier Vazquez was indeed traded from Arizona back to the American League. However, the D-Backs did not get Garland from Chicago, they got Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and minor league prospect Chris Young instead. Chris Young showed some serious pop in A and AA ball the last two years (72 doubles, 50 homers, .370 OBP over 2004-2005 seasons) but in the end he's still a minor leaguer. El Duque, one of my favorite pitchers of all time, did good things for Chicago in the playoffs but didn't really contribute much in the regular season. He was expendable as a fifth starter and given the Shite Sox ability to slot Vazquez in that same fifth slot, this has to be seen as a generally positive trade for the Fluke Series Champions. The only questions that remain are how much of Vazquez's two year $24M contract the White Sox will have to pick up and if the Vazquez of 2004-2005 can improve or if he's really just this bad.

2. Matt Morris signed with the San Francisco Giants this weekend. Ho hum. He was on his way to great things and then injuries nailed him pretty badly. Now he's a tiny bit above average. The Giants need Jason Schmidt insurance in their rotation so I suppose they have that with Morris and the emerging Noah Lowry. I'm mainly reporting this story because I wonder what the Cards will do to replace him. Sign Kevin Millwood? Trade for Matt Clement? The Cards are still far and away better than the field in the NL Central but they shouldn't rest on their laurels; they need to add a starter for 2006.

Boom Goes The Dynamite!

Presenting Brian Collins, student at Ball State University - the
Worst Sportscaster Ever

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hot Stove Part XX / Milton Bradley, Nomar Garciaparra & Javier Vazquez

For brevity's sake, I'll cut right to the chase...

1. Milton Bradley was traded to Oakland for some minor league talent. One of the A's farmhands was Texas League MVP. For those that follow minor league ball, that's the same as giving the MVP to a member of the Colorado Rockies since there isn't a single Texas League team that doesn't play in a Coors Field-type environment. Basically, if you can't hit in the Texas League, you're not making the jump to AAA. I have no clue why the A's wasted their time here. In six days the Dodgers were going to non-tender Milton anyway. Why not just wait it out and get him for nothing? It's not like other teams were beating down the door to get a crack at trading for the MLB version of Ron Artest. I normally give Billy Beane the benefit of the doubt but I think he was a bit premature...

2. There is rampant speculation that Nomar will get a two year $8M offer to be the Yankees super-sub at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and DH. For that kind of bargain, who am I to argue? As long as he can stay healthy (big if, I know) Nomar is still capable of hitting 20 homers and spraying line drives. I hope Nomar is sufficiently humbled and motivated enough to face Boston 19 times and stick a knife in their back as deeply as they stuck a knife in his from December 2003-July 2004. My hope is that the deal happens at exactly that length and salary and that Nomar works himself into the regular DH spot with Giambi at 1B. For some reason, Giambi just can't hit as a DH and Nomar's fragile body might be better suited to staying off the field. We'll see what happens with this one...

3. A rumor hit the baseball websites that the White Sox are exploring a Javier Vazquez/Jon Garland trade. I have no idea why ANYONE would be interested in Javier Vazquez, be it at the full price of $24M over the next two years or at a discounted rate. He was lousy in 2002. He had a pretty good 2003 although a careful examination will reveal some softness in that "career" season. He was absolutely dreadful from June 30th, 2004 until the bitter end of his Yankee tenure. He was no better in Arizona in 2005. As people have been saying for two years now, unless he's hiding an injury, he's simply lost his ability to pitch. I guess the White Sox really think Garland's 2005 was a fluke if they're willing to trade him for two years of who knows what with Vazquez. Hey, as a White Sox hater, I fully support this trade. By all means, lets bring back a pitcher that can't pitch in the AL. I can only hope and pray that his name appears in the rotation on the White Sox lone visit to the Bronx in 2006. How much fun would that game be? They'd need riot gear in the area behind the bullpen because it'll be raining batteries and beakers of hydrochloric acid when that fragile little pussy shows his face again in Yankee Stadium. I'd love to know what the Chicago spin on this potential trade is...

Odds and Ends: Tribute to the Colonel and PTI

While I'm probably the last person to advance what various betting odds are I thought it would be an interesting discussion thread to start up. As of today here are the various favorites I would have for reaching the SuperBowl. Since I can't do actually odds , I'll go with over/under percentages...although I will lie and say its a tribute to PTI. Add your own percentages/odds/thoughts so that I'm not the only one on record to be taunted. Remember gambling is for recreational purposes only, unless your good and then you can be a professional.

AFC Champ
1. Indy 65% - Streamroller so far this year. Only question anybody could have is how do they handle the playoffs. Dungy and Manning don't have a good track record in big games.
2. Pats 13% - Never underestimate the heart of a champion. Or some cliche like that. Seriously though, would you want to play Belichek, Brady and Vinateri?
3. Denver 12% - Mile High home field, probably a bye and a potent running game.
4. Cinci 5% - Explosive offense. Knocks on the team: 1) awful rush defense and 2) Palmer looks like a true Southern Cal man in cold weather.
5. KC 5% - Low likelihood of making playoffs but if they do , having a guarenteed 100 yard rusher which will define this team as dangerous.

NFC Champ
1. Seattle 40% - Most complete and consistent NFC team. This year they do something crazy like catch the ball. History of chokes and miscues in the playoffs though.
2. Panthers 20% - Good defense. History of being tough. Is there someone in their stable that can run the ball?
3. Dallas 15% - Parcells, a good d and veteran qb. Isn't that the formula for playoff success?
4. Giants 10% - Tiki Barber for MVP. I like Eli but a basically rookie QB in the playoffs?
5. Bucs 7 % - One rookie Qb deserves another. Will the Cadillac breakdown? Ronde Barber for MVP. Can we have co-Barbers for co-MVP?

Monday, December 12, 2005

MMBSD: All Roads Go Thru Indy

Well so much for the Jaguars being a roadblock for Indianapolis. The Colts cruised through the supposodly tough Jacksonville with only a late rally making the score look like an evenly matched game. Team defenses trying to stop Manning is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight. Chicago rules clearly dictate that one is being sent to the morgue and I guarentee you its not the one with three outstanding recievers and one of the more under-rated running backs (Edge is second in the league in rushing this year...who knew?). Continuity has turned Indy into a superpower. The Colts front office have not only invested in an offense and eschewed the world of free agency but also Tony Dungy's magical spell has kept the Colts from getting hurt year after year. Now the road to the Super Bowl goes through the RCA dome. No elements, no grass, and certainly no defense is going to stop Manning and Co. from going to the Superbowl. The only question is will Dungy rest players and stop the quest for 16-0? I'm betting no.

Headlines

QB Found amongst Who Dey - Cleveland Browns have found their QB for next year when Charlie Frye somehow outplayed Carson Palmer in a windy day in WHO DEY stadium. I honestly think the Bengals would prefer to lock homefield advantage in Miami rather than in Cini. Bengals are the Colts Jr. of the league (outstanding offense, defense that needs leads to be effective). I'm not sure Palmer can handle the elements in his own stadium yet.

Old School Player in Old School Game - Yes I know Chris Berman salivates over calling Jerome Bettis runs like a college student craves cheesey bread on a Friday night but the Bus played old school football in old school conditions. Old School conditions require the field to resemble a World War I trench line....snow, mud, gashes in the field the size of artillery shell holes. Its weather like that true Midwesterners love and its weather like that where you need a runningback that can get traction. Bettis has always been able to do that. The Bears got a stern reminder that an outstanding defense in the NFC doesn't carry the same weight against the AFC.

Hold the Hall of Fame- I maintain Eli Manning has "it" but certainly defenses have made adjustments to suddenly suffering from the dreaded sophmore slump Giants' QB. In a playoff chase you just can't throw three picks. Turnovers will kill you. Sure you get away with it against a team that is a shadow of a figment of what used to be the SuperBowl contending Eagles. Giants D has really stepped up as of late but I have feeling that the next few games Manning won't be able to make those mistakes and get a win.

Playoff Race - I suppose we could get into an argument that with parity you have a bunch of craptacular games this time of year but you also have some exciting playoff chases. The AFC West inexclipably choked leaving a three way for the Wild Card and Jacksonville a measily one game lead with three to play. Pittsburgh plays Minnesota next week and a victory there should ensure that the Steel Curtain makes into the playoffs given the harder schedules of the AFC West duo. Meanwhile out in the NFC, there's Seattle and the 8 dwarfs. Any week anybody can look like their the team to challenge Seattle for NFC dominance and on any week any team can look like it belongs with Detroit in the refuse bin. Atlanta is surviving on a respirator due to their schedule (games against NO, Chicago, Tampa and Carolina ). The others also have interdivisional matchups over the next three weeks that should fun, exciting and entirely unpredictable.

NEWS FLASH:
Stan Van Gundy Resigns - Gee didn't see that coming. Hmm I wonder who could replace him? Maybe just maybe Pat will come out of retirement. Nah thats just far fetched that after someone gave van Gundy an unwiedly and misfit bunch he would swoop in for the apparent save.

Shut Your Piehole! #11

Our latest edition of Shut Your Piehole! is directed at both (1) the Linkin Park wannabes who sing that annoying-as-shit "I love you too" song that started with the Coors Light twins, and (2) the assholes at ESPN who think we still want to hear a new version of it every damn Sunday night.

The song was funny when it was about beer and hot chicks. It still had some luster with the second, all-football version. But two rounds is all this lightweight ditty could go - and now we're subjected to it, what, every week of football season from September through Super Bowl Weekend?!?! And how many years has it been?!?!

The song FUCKING SUCKS! It's not funny, it's not cool, and I'd rather hear elevator muzak over this week's NFL highlights than be forced to listen to another crappy stupid song with that knife-in-your-ear guitar and those little punk bitch second-string high school band members whining at me.

As for you morons at SportsCenter - if you're going to insist on playing this garbage again next Sunday, may I offer the following verse:

We.....hate....your stupid little show
This song has got to go
How did you stoop so low?

WE.....HATE.....THIS SAME DAMN TIRED SONG
IT'S GONE ON FAR TOO LONG!
WE WANT TO KICK YOU IN THE.....DONG!

AND WE....HATE YOU TOO!!!!!
YOUR SHOW.....REEKS OF POO!!!!!!
AND WE....HATE YOU TOO!!!!


All you losers, shut your collective pieholes and turn that damn music off!

Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup’s Luck of the Draw

For an event that takes place every 4 years, that captivates most of the world, you’d think there’d be some kind of process to ensure an equal chance of succeeding. Even college basketball has it’s Secret Committee which locks itself in a hotel room, and comes up with some kind of basis to determine the seedings.

In the World Cup, they just adopt an arbitrary system to determine the top 8 teams. (there are 8 groups of 4 teams, top 2 in each group move on to the next round). The World Cup decided to take a statistical ranking of teams from the last 6 years. This would be about as meaningful as looking at a college basketball team over the last 6 years. As a result, one of the best European teams, the Netherlands, did not get a seed, and neither did the US, due to the US’s last-place finish in the 1998 World Cup.

After completing the top 8 teams, they then literally draw ping-pong balls out of “regional” bowls. This style of picking the tournament is the berth of the phrase “Group of Death”, which happens every World Cup, to one unlucky group which contains teams all capable of being quarterfinalists.

The US this time has ended up in the 2nd toughest group of Italy, Czech Republic, and Ghana. Most likely, the “Group of Death” this time is Argentina, Ivory Coast, Netherlands, and Serbia-Montenagro. The Ivory Coast is supposed to be the strongest African team, meaning that group has strong teams 1-4. The US group is just a problem due to the fact that Czech, Italy, and the US are all top 12 teams!

The worst part of all for the Americans, is that even if they find a way to finish in 2nd place in their group, their reward would likely be a date with Brazil. And by date, I mean death.

The only good news is that my research shows that Ghana qualified from a pathetic random grouping of African nations that had never made the World Cup. At least the US shouldn't finish last!

Here is the Goldberg plan: either a) use a statistical formula to at least make the groups somewhat equal, b) after seeding 8 teams, seed the top remaining European teams to go into the same group as non-European superpowers (i.e. this year Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina would automatically draw the top 3 remaining European teams of Czech, Netherlands, and Sweden,
or c) form your own Secret Committee like the NCAA does!

US Gets Screwed (well also the Dutch)


albeit in soccer. A very tough draw for the American as Gutsy will explicate. For those unaware of the great sport sometimes called Futbol non-Americano only the top two teams from each draw make it to the next round. That means team USA will have to knock off either Italy or Czech Republic in order to advance (at which point they would probably have to play Brazil). A rough road for sure. The Dutch (better known as citizens of Netherlands) not only have to overcome FIFA rules that they play in wooden shoes but must overcome an equally hard draw in facing Argentina, Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivore) and Serbia. I demand a recount.

Shut The Fuck Up

I'll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about hockey. I don't want to know much about hockey and I don't need to know much about hockey. But unless the rules of the lockerroom are different in hockey than they are in real sports then someone should tell Sidney Crosby to shut the fuck up.

He might turn out to be better than Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe, Hull and all the other superstar players in history but NO ONE and I mean NO ONE should ever rip on their teammates when they have less than 60 days of service time accrued in their profession. If Crosby retired tomorrow, he'd have made no impact on the game. None. He'd be forgotten in a year's time.

I don't know anything about Crosby so I won't venture to guess his personality or the kind of teammate he might become one day. But as a completely objective observer, all I can say is that he's making a terrible impression on people who are being marketed to with Crosby as the future of the game. You'll never get people to buy into hockey if the league poster-child is doing a T.O. in his first few months on the job.

Hot Stove Part XIX / Tejada Wants Out

Miguel Tejada has apparently asked Baltimore to trade him to a contender. Wow, that was fast...

When Tejada signed his six year $72M contract with the Orioles, I wondered why Billy Beane would let his shortstop go and instead sign Eric Chavez to a fat contract. At the time, I didn't know who Bobby Crosby was or what he could become. I still say that the A's should've found a way to make a Crosby/Tejada pairing work out. I know Chavez has put up some good numbers in the past but I just don't see him as a complete player. He can't hit lefties at all and he's no better at the OBP/OPS thing than Tejada is. I see Tejada as a better hitter, able to drive in more runs and ever-so-slightly more selective at the plate.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there since Beane made his choice and Tejada made his to leave. What I wonder is if the Red Sox will take this opportunity to trade for Tejada, using the chip they got from Atlanta (Andy Marte) in the Renteria trade. For the Red Sox, they'd be adding another bat and grabbing an average defensive player. For the Orioles, they'd be obliging Tejada's request and bringing in a hot-shot rookie. The O's could move Melvin Mora back to his natural position at SS and start Marte at the hot corner.

The only question is how much money, if any, the O's would pick up on Tejada's contract. With four years and $48M left on his deal, the Red Sox might be a little reluctant to add that kind of money when they've already to pay $11M to the Braves in the Renteria fiasco. Would the Red Sox want to have a $59M commitment at the SS position for two players (with only one on the roster)?

Somehow I have a feeling that Tejada will end up in Boston. I think they're privately pissed that, despite winning the 2004 World Series, they haven't been able to come up with the blockbuster "In Your Eye, Steinbrenner" type of trade that Larry Lucchino desperately wants to make. I would not be surprised if Tejada goes to Boston as a hedge on the Manny situation where Boston would then be able to replace one righty slugger for another and accept pitching, instead of hitting, in return for trading Ramirez.

The key to this, of course, is what the Yankees do about CF. There was talk late last month of asking Derek Jeter to move to the outfield which would then slide ARod back to SS. While I have no reason to believe that the Yanks will pursue Tejada, I could see them inquiring as to Tejada's willingness to move to 3B in order to facilitate a trade to New York. Such a move would solve the Yankees' need for another bat, their need for a CF and would give Steinbrenner another chance to sneer at Lucchino in the press.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cheers and Jeers: Irish Coffee Version

Well its cold out. Damn Cold. The temperature is below Dick Cheney's approval rating and the snow is falling faster than the number of supporters of the Florida Marlins. There are only a few things that can keep me warm on days like this and two of them are alchohol and warm drinks (the other of course being Charlize Theron in a hot tub). Frankly nothing goes better with an Irish Coffee than a little Cheering and Jeering...

Cheers: To the hot stove. Free agent signings, general managers wheeling and dealing....its just bigger and better when baseball handles it. The early front runner winners are the NYMets and Toronto although truth be told it seems like only cities in former British colonies are getting players as opposed to giving them up. I demand a change.

Jeers: To the Boston Red Sox. One year after signing Edgar Renteria you basically gave him up for nothing. Yeah that move went well for the BoSox. Also that teaches you Edgar to spurn the Cardinals

Cheers: To Steve Nash. There was a lot of talk of how Phoenix would implode without Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudameir. Well they're holding their own at 12-5 and the 6th seed in the playoffs. Now that Nash is making Boris Diaw seem like a decent player anybody want to question if Nash was deserving of the MVP last year?

Jeers: Gary Barnett. Gary Barnett ....your scum. Your lower than scum. I only need to remind people that your response to allegations that your female kicker was raped was that "she (the kicker) wasn't good on the field". Now its looking like you had subordinates lie to investigators as well as helped players avoid drug testing. Yes Gary Barnett you get the grand prize of being: WANKER OF THE WEEK.

Cheers: To Cardinals fans. Ever polite one of them purchased an original Busch stadium urinal for $2,000. Cleveland Browns fans, of course, would have just stolen it. I still have a brick from Old Municipal Stadium that I liberated.

What is in AJ Hawk's apartment???

I like AJ Hawk, Ohio State super-linebacker. However, his apartment was burglarized and here's what he claimed was lost:

."..told police that their apartment in the 100 block of West Norwich Avenue was broken into and about $3,000 in cash, $1,425 in movies, two laptop computers, a $500 Gucci watch, two Microsoft X-Box games valued at a total of $500, a Sony Playstation game valued at $250 were taken." Here's the link if you want to read the story: http://www.nbc4i.com/news/5474774/detail.html

Of all the things that bother me about this police report, why in the world is each VIDEO GAME valued at $250 ??? As for the $3000 in cash that was just laying around, I usually leave $5000 in cash in my bedroom in case I have any emergencies, so that was very reasonable obviously.

Hot Stove Part XVIII / Alfonso Soriano; Lyle Overbay

The Texas Rangers have traded Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga.

In Soriano, the Nationals get that extra power hitter they desperately needed during their miserable second half. The Rangers, on the other hand, simply don't have to deal with the inevitable $10M+ contract that Soriano is due to get in arbitration next month. Instead, they get an average corner outfielder (Wilkerson), a 29 year old role player (Sledge) and an unimpressive minor league pitcher to add to their collection of the same.

I am completely "blah" about this trade for both teams. Soriano hit bery bery poorly outside of Ameriquest Field (25 HR, 1.011 OPS at home, 11 HR, .639 OPS on the road in 2005) and RFK Stadium has a pitchers-park tilt to it (93/94 on BAT/PIT Park Factor where <100 is pitcher's park). Somehow, I see Soriano hitting .265 with 22 HR, 80 RBI, 15 SB and 120 K's. In other words, I'm not drafting this guy in the top 50 in fantasy baseball next year, even if he will be 2B-eligible. Which brings me to my last point -- Soriano will likely be moved to LF since the Nats have Jose Vidro at second already.

* * * * *

In other news, Lyle Overbay was traded to Toronto for pitcher Dave Bush, outfield prospect Gabe Gross and a mid-level pitching prospect named Zach Jackson. Overbay's a slightly above-average player (career 114 OPS+) and he'll certainly be an improvement over Eric Hinske who has underwhelmed since his Rookie of the Year 2002 season. This trade gives Toronto some options in that Overbay can play 1B, Corey Koskie can play 3B and Shea Hillenbrand can be the full-time DH. The Jays can also play Hillenbrand at 1B or 3B to give Koskie a breather since, for some reason, his game went into the shitter last year. Hinske's the odd man out and can now be traded for a minor league pitcher or a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. One way or another, Toronto only gave up one guy (Gross) with the other two being crappy add-ons.

For the Brewers, they clear 1B for Prince Fielder much in the same way the Phillies cleared 1B for their studly young power hitting prospect. Gross was a baseball god at Auburn in 2000-2001 and had a mammoth spring training last year, hitting 8 HR in 52 AB's. I think Gross can be a decent player in the big leagues. While he might struggle to find "starters minutes" in the Brew Crew OF with Lee-Clark-Jenkins, he should get some AB's as a 4th OF or in pinch-hitting situations.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Week 14 – Short and Sweet

I apologize for the brevity, the lack of analysis, and the lack of humor. On to the games.

Manwich Matchup
KC @ Dallas- This is practically a knockout game, with the loser facing long odds of making the playoffs. Even though its in Dallas, I don't think Larry Johnson can be stopped. At this point, he’s good enough that I’d be okay with Larry Johnson using the NY Knicks' LJ gesture on each touchdown run and gain of more than 20 yards. I wonder if Grandmama would get mad, or whether he'd be proud of someone excelling with the same name.
Pick: KC

Upset of the Week
NE @ Buffalo- The Pats could probably lay an egg this week and still win the division. Plus, I feel bad for the Bills after blowing yet another game.
Pick: Buffalo

Chicago @ Pittsburgh- Here's my rationalization against the Bears this week: The Steelers are definately more desperate at this point, now that they won't even make the playoffs and are needing lots of help.
Pick: Pittsburgh

Cleveland @ Cincy- It wouldn't be a Browns season without a multitude of season-ending injuries. Rumor has it there's a cure for this jinx deep in the Amazon jungle and Coach Romeo Crennel is already sharpening his machete.
Pick: Cincy

Houston @ Tennessee- Houston should continue to pretend to try and make the games close, only to lose, just to ensure that #1 pick.
Pick: Tennessee

Indy @ Jacksonville- 2 more wins and Indy gets homefield I think. I have this feeling that Garrard can't provide enough offense against Indy's defense.
Pick: Indy

Oakland @ NYJets- so, using a 5th-string QB has a correlation on wins and losses?
Pick: Oakland

St. Louis @ Minnesota- When NFL films produces the "2005 Minnesota Vikings" story, do you think they'll mention the sex boat incident as the turning point of the season?
Pick: Minnesota

TB @ CAR- TB has looked shaky of late, though they continue to find ways to win. I don't think they'll be so lucky this weekend.
Pick: CAR

NYGiants @ Philly- The Eagles season from hell is complete. Mcnabb, TO, and Westbrook are all M.I.A. until 2006. They mine as well lose out the season to improve their draft position. The real question at this point is what kind of gag gifts TO sends to Andy “Hungry Hippo” Reid. For all we know right now, TO is mailing in boxes of donuts with special notes like, “From your favorite deactivated receiver- I heard chocolate frosted is your favorite.”
Pick: NY Giants

San Fran @ Seattle- Seattle still has to play for homefield advantage. I still can't believe I just said that.
Pick: Seattle.

Wash @ Arizona- I've picked Arizona way too many times this season.
Pick: Washington

Baltimore @ Denver- Denver at home is almost a guarantee at this point.
Pick: Denver

Miami @ San Diego- Super Chargers can't be stopped. You can only hope to contain.
Pick: San Diego

Detroit @ Green Bay- Toilet bowl of the week. Who's more hopeless at this point?
Pick: Green Bay
New Orleans @ Atlanta- Atlanta is in a must-win, and you'd figure they will take care of business.Pick: Atlanta

Last week: 15-1
Season: 124-68
Manwich Matchup: 8-5 (CAR just kept Vick bottled up)
Upset Special: 2-11 (If it wasn’t for the Rams, I would have had the perfect week… and I still will continue to pick an upset special, despite my lack of skill)

White Hot Hot Stove: Rumors and Deadlines

1. Houston has put out a pretty firm deadline to Clemens for him to decide if he's coming back. I support that one. Houston has so many other problems that waiting too long on how to allocate a lot of money puts them in a sharp disadvantage.

2. The Indians have put a deadline to Trevor Hoffman. By the end of the day we should know whether he stays in San Diego or heads to the great white north. The Indians are insisting on a year deal. Its obvious personal bias but I think its just typical Dolan penny pitching. The next option on the board after Hoffman is a trade for Danny Baez and thats a big drop off.

3. I'll be shocked if Barry Zito is not traded. Given the ridiculously high prices starting pitchers are getting already this year, Zito free agent value is sky rocketing. The A's have to know they can't match his asking price and I assume he will be shipped out. I heard on the radio there's a rumor going around it will be the Mets (no confirmation)

4. Jacque Jones might be headed to Dodger land, a good replacement for the soon to be departed Milton Bradley.


Let the rumors, deadlines and innuedo's continue....

Hot Stove Part XVII / Juan Pierre

Juan Pierre is a Chicago Cub. The Marlins traded Pierre to Chicago for pitchers Sergio Mitre, Reynel Pinto and Ricky Nolasco, all of whom are mostly minor league pitchers. I say mostly because Mitre has spot-started for the big club, most recently during Prior's and Wood's extended absences over the past two seasons.

For the Marlins, nothing new can be said. They are simply accumulating as many young pitchers as they can (10, by my count in the five trades they've made thus far). For the Cubs, they get the leadoff hitter and centerfielder they need in order to fill in for the failed Corey Patterson project. In the right situation, Pierre can be an asset. On the Cubs, I'll take a wait-and-see approach. His best attribute, speed, seems to be in place (57 SB's in 2005, although an surprisingly low 77% success rate -- not a good percentage for an elite basestealer). His OBP, however, dipped to a career low .326 which doesn't bode well for Derrek Lee's RBI totals in 2006.

The Cubs gave up some talent but not a lot. Pinto's and Nolasco's strikeout totals in AA-class ball show that they have something in there that might make them good someday (their AAA-class stats are atrocious, however). In the end, this was a trade the Cubs had to make and they are to be given a pat on the back for not doing the dumb thing in giving into Johnny Damon's demands.

Which brings us to an interesting question -- WWJG -- Where Will Johnny Go? The Cubs don't need him. The Rangers might go after him now but given how they don't like spending money anymore, I don't know if that's a logical destination. Plus, I think Scott Boras burned a bridge in Arlington after the last high-profile client he steered down there...Might the Yankees get involved? Doubtful, unless Damon and Boras accept a three year deal and not a seven year deal like they've been asking for...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hot Stove Part XVI / ...Earth To Los Angeles...

In what must be one of the most puzzling decisions in recent memory, the Dodgers are expected to name Grady Little as their next manager. What on earth can I say about this? Have the Dodgers not been on planet earth recently? More to the point, were they not on planet earth on October 16, 2003 when Grady Little shit the bed on the grandest of scales and in the grandest of fashions? Was new Dodgers GM Ned Coletti on sabbatical as a guest of the Sultan of Oom Papa Mau Mau? What on earth would possess a major league club to give Grady Little another try at the top job?

Certainly it might be a bit unfair to tie one blunder to the black-balling of an otherwise nice guy but still, it wasn't just any blunder. There were 11-year old kids watching TV who knew enough to pull Pedro out of the game before 100 pitches and certainly to pull him out with a man in scoring position and a lefty batter at the plate. Earth to Los Angeles, this isn’t charity we’re running here and it’s not a reality TV show called “Re-Hire the Biggest Loser!”

I underestimated the Dodgers a few days ago. I truly thought that signing Furcal to that ridiculously generous contract was going to be it. I though, “ok, this is the Dodgers, they’ll at least go for a big-name manager, someone they can sell season tickets off of.” Clearly not.

Message to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt – it’s not too late to change your mind. You can fire Ned Coletti and we wouldn’t think any less of you. Seriously, think about it; your moneys’ going down the toilet…

PS - I seriously CAN'T WAIT to read Bill Simmons' column about this in the coming days. This might be one of the best Sports Guy columns of all time...

Hot Stove Part XV / AJ Burnett

It’s official – the Blue Jays have now committed more long-term money in the last two weeks ($102M) than they had paid in total payroll the last two years combined ($95.73M). By signing AJ Burnet to a five year $55M contract, they’ve added the top free agent pitcher to a rotation that includes Roy Halladay and Gustavo Chacin. AJ Burnett is now slotted as the Blue Jays’ third pitcher in the rotation, after Halladay and between lefties Chacin and Ted Lilly. Not bad.

This move isn’t entirely without risk, however. The Jays are tying up a lot of money over five years for a guy that has a 49-50 career record and has been on the DL with serious elbow issues a couple of times already. Plus, I still don’t know what the Blue Jays will do for offense but I guess they figure that as long as they have a solid top-to-bottom rotation (best in the AL East and possibly in AL overall) and a semi-reliable closer (the newly-signed BJ Ryan), they can at least try to win games 4-3. I still won’t predict them for the playoffs yet but I’m not far off of predicting them for second place in their division.

The thing I'm most disappointed about is that pitcher CJ Nitkowski signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday. They could've had AJ, BJ and CJ all on one pitching staff...

As an aside, I am surprised that Burnett picked Toronto over St. Louis. Obviously the security of a fifth year and the added cash tilted the balance in Toronto’s favor but, still, the Cards are pretty much a lock to be in the playoffs in 2006, even without Burnett. Had the Cards replaced Morris with AJ, adding him to a rotation of Carpenter and Mulder, I have to believe that Las Vegas would’ve opened St. Louis as a 4-1 favorite to win the World Series. Throw in toasted ravioli, good fans and a brand new stadium…I know where I would’ve gone anway...

Student Athletes?

In the "Captain Obvious" Award, the NCAA survey concluded that nearly 50% of bowl, bound Division I-A football failed to graduate 50% of their players. Let me re-phrase, 50 % of bowl, bound footballs players failed to graduate. The school is under no obligation to graduate players who do not meet academic standards.

Here, the NCAA is trying to pressure colleges to only admit qualified athletes and will punish (by reducing scholarships) schools that fail to meet the 50 % threshold.

I wanted to pose the question of the morning to the back seat drivers, does the NCAA or each individual school have a responsibility to graduate 50% or more of football players? What, if any, academic standards should we hold students or schools to?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sing Along with the Hitman!



Bear down, Chicago Bears!
Make every play lead the way to victory!
Bear down, Chicago Bears!
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let 'em know why you're wearing the crown
You're the pride and joy of Illinois
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!