Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sports in 2010: Rafael Nadal - Athlete of the Year

Rafael Nadal

Ok, since I've posted (what I considered) the good, the bad and the ugly of 2010, I guess its time to pick who (I consider) to be the Athlete of the Year.

And yes, I know Drew Brees was the 2010 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and the 2010 AP Athlete of the Year and he won the 2010 ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete. Quite frankly, I have no problems with Brees winning every year-end athlete of the year award. I get it. If I were a juggernaut like the AP, Sports Illustrated and ESPN, I'd probably pick him too because the social implications, pretty much, compelled them to lean that way. In other words, it was the politically-correct choice, no doubt.

What Brees and the New Orleans Saints accomplished in 2010 was monumental considering how tough the last 5 years have been for the city of New Orleans. Winning the Super Bowl was a huge pick-me-up for the city and for the long-struggling Saints, no doubt about it.

But--

If you take away the environmental, political and social components out of the equation (which, to me, is unfair to those athletes not involved in the issue) and you base your pick on cold-hard stats and dominance, then there is no denying that tennis great Rafael Nadal was the 2010 Athlete of the Year.

When we look at what Rafa accomplished in 2010, I don't think its even debatable.

Here are some cold-hard facts:

1. 2010 French Open champion (5th overall-2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010)
2. 2010 Wimbledon champion (2nd overall-2008, 2010)
3. 2010 U.S. Open champion
4. He was 22-0 on clay, 9-1 on grass, 40-9 on hardcourt.
5. His overall record for the year was 71-10. If Nadal were a basketball team, he would be the equivalent of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls who were 72-10 (.878).
6. His 7 overall titles were the most on the ATP tour this year.
7. He is the undisputed No. 1 ranked player in the world.
8. In 2010 he became only the 7th man ever to complete the Career Grand Slam.
9. He became the first man ever to win Grand Slams on clay, grass and hardcourt in the same calendar year.
10. He became the second man ever (Andre Agassi is the other) to complete a Career Golden Slam-- winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and an Olympic gold medal.

The guy was just flat-out dominant. And if total dominance doesn't win you Athlete of the Year honors, than I don't know what does?

Like I said, I'm not taking anything away from Drew Brees and what he and the Saints accomplished, but I think even Brees would agree that Rafa had a monstrous 2010 and nobody dominated their sport like he did.

Period!

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sports in 2010: The Good!


Ok, I've posted "the bad" and "the ugly" of 2010, so I guess all that's left is "the good".

This one is easy considering I've always been a huge fan of teams who are first-time champions and of long-suffering teams who finally end their championship droughts. So my three "good" moments of 2010 feature a first-time champion and 2 long-sufferers who finally eased their own pain.

Here goes:

3. The Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup


It was a long time coming for the Blackhawks, 49 years to be exact. Prior to winning the 2010 Cup, the Blackhawks had held the longest drought of all the members of the unique fraternity known as the "Original Six".

For those unfamiliar with the term, the "Original Six" is a nickname given to the 6 remaining original teams of the NHL. The other current 24 teams all came after the 1967 expansion season, so the 6 old-schoolers are considered NHL royalty. They are: The Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers.

Prior to 2010, the Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup in 1960-1961, so kudos to them for finally ending their long and exhausting drought. Now the "drought-distinction" belongs to the Maple Leafs who last won the Cup in 1966-1967, the year before the expansion era began. If my math is correct, that's 43 years and counting for Toronto.

2. The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl.

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What can I say about the Saints that hasn't already been said? Their agonizing championship drought ended after 42 long years. Ironically the Saints entered the NFL as an expansion team the same year the NHL started their expansion. All in all, there is no doubt the Super Bowl victory was a huge pick-me-up for the city of New Orleans and a sweet moment for the first-time champions Saints.

1. The San Francisco Giants win the World Series

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This was a big one! The Giants ended one of the longest championship droughts in all of sports, 55 long years. It was the first-ever championship for the Giants since moving to San Francisco in 1958. Their 5 other World Series titles (1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954) came as the New York Giants. Their win, however, came at the expense of the Texas Rangers, who themselves, are looking at 50 years and counting with no title. But that's how it goes, only one team can win. So kudos to the Giants for FINALLY getting it done.

Anyway, there it is. In 2010, the Blackhawks, Saints and Giants combined to erase 146 years of misery and disappointment, give and take a year. So the lesson learned in 2010 is that long droughts do eventually come to an end.

Um, did you hear that Chicago Cubs and city of Cleveland? Droughts do come to an end! I just hope the Cubs and any of Cleveland's 3 teams does it during my lifetime.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sports in 2010: The Bad!


In 2010 we saw a lot of bad things happen in the world of sports.

Some say "The Decision" by King LeBron James and all the drama which followed it was bad.

Others say all the soap opera-moments surrounding the New York Jets were bad-- starting with their alleged harassment of a "hottie" female reporter from Mexico, to the thug-like actions of trainer Sal Alosi when he illegally tripped-up Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, to head coach Rex Ryan's alleged foot fetish, and on and on. But through all those fiascos and embarrassments, the Jets (10-5) continue to be a good FOOT-ball team (pun intended) and are playoff bound. That their culture stinks, no matter what owner Woody Johnson says, is another story.

All the above definitely make any "worst of 2010" list, but to me, the 3 "worst" of 2010 were:

3. The Los Angeles Clippers


This one is a no-brainer. I think the Clippers have been on every year-end "bad" list in 35 of the last 40 years. This season they are off to yet another horrific start (9-22) and, since I mentioned the last 40 years, they are 1155-2032 (.362) in that span. The Clippers have almost become a template for the term "worst of ______".

2. The Boston Red Sox put on a clinic. Literally!


The Red Sox had a bad 2010 on the injuries-front, no doubt about it. Things got so bad for manager Terry Francona that I'm sure there were times during the season he wished Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Fred Lynn would walk in through the door and save his season. No question the injury-bug hit Boston like a tsunami this past season. For a list of all their injuries, click here.


But considering all the injuries, the Bosox still finished an impressive 89-73 and one must wonder what might have been if they didn't have so many injuries. But all in all, it was brutal in Boston.

1. The San Diego Padres collapse!


But the baddest of the bad had to be the Padres and their gigantic late-season collapse.

On August 25, the Padres were 76-49, 6.5 games (8 in the loss column) ahead of the San Francisco Giants, who were 71-57.

Then came the "10-GAME LOSING STREAK".

When it ended on September 6, the Padres were 77-59, just 1 game ahead of the Giants, who were 77-61. Just the simple fact that they were still in first place after suffering such a huge blow was amazing in itself. But the losing streak gave new life and hope to San Francisco. I guess we can say, it woke up a "sleeping giant". The Padres, however, would never recover from the losing streak, going 11-12 the rest of the way. The Giants would finished 14-7 the rest of the way, win the division and go on to win their first World Series in 55 years. And it was all made possible by manager Bud Black and his Padres falling apart.

Sorry San Diego, you were the worst of 2010.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sports in 2010: Boneheads of the Year


As we say good-bye to 2010, now is a good time to remember the year that was. In the world of sports, as usual, we've seen it all in 2010-- the good, the bad and the ugly.

One thing we've learned from following sports for all these years-- if it can possibly happen, it'll happen.

Let's start with "the ugly" and in the coming days I'll post "the good" and "the bad". Here are my 3 boneheads of the year--

Drum roll please--

T3: Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and the Cincinnati Bengals


I have no idea what the Bengals were thinking when they concocted this idea of putting together this  "dynamic duo" of the "O Brothers of Reality TV" and the future WWE Tag Team Champions or whatever their fans want to call them. All I know is that the Bengals are 4-11 and went from being the Cincinnati Bengals to the Cincinnati Bozos.

2. Gilbert Arenas


What in the world was this bozo thinking when he decided to stockpile firearms in his locker at the Verizon Center? And what was he further thinking when he "pulled out" one of his "straps" on teammate Javaris Crittenton over some dough Crittenton owed him from a gambling debt? Did someone forget to tell Gil that he's no longer in the old 'hood and he doesn't have to walk around "strapped" anymore?

1. Umpire Jim Joyce


Maybe we're being too hard on umpire Jim Joyce but he has got to be the Bonehead of the Year. Yes, umpires are human and make mistakes but Joyce picked a bad time to be "human". It still mind-boggles me that this play (and game for that matter) actually happened. As far as I'm concerned, hard-luck Tigers starter Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game, regardless of what the MLB ruling was.


As the great rappers 3rd Bass would say, umpire Jim Joyce gets the Gas Face! And the runaway winner as Bonehead of the Year.

Up next-- the bad.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Eagles-Falcons: On A Collision Course

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The SCENARIO is looking more and more feasible.

Will it be the Philadelphia Eagles at the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game?

Or to put it differently, will it be Michael Vick returning to his old stomping grounds with a chance to lead his new team to victory over his old team and earn a trip to Super Bowl XLV?

Vick, as we all know, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Falcons in 2001 and played 6 seasons with them until his life and his career came crashing down in 2007. A dogfighting beef landed Vick in the slammer for almost two years and made him public enemy #1 in the eyes of many. The Falcons voided Vick's monster contract and cut all ties with the then-embattled quarterback.

But that was the old Vick-- a naturally-gifted athlete but a disoriented human being who made poor and reckless judgments. The new Vick is the same naturally-gifted athlete who has been humbled by his prison experience and is working hard to turn his life around.

And what a turnaround it has been!

Vick has become the driving force behind the Eagles latest successful run and is even the leading vote-getter for this season's Pro Bowl. In a Tom Brady-less world, Vick would also most likely be the NFL MVP this season. Even head coach Andy Reid is in the worldwide spotlight by being hailed a genius for giving Vick the starting gig.

In a nutshell, Vick is having a phenomenal season. Just ask the New York Giants.

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As we all know by now, Vick led the Eagles to an incredible comeback against the Giants on Sunday at the hostile New Meadowlands Stadium. The Eagles were down 24-10 going into the 4th quarter and managed to score an amazing 28 points in less than 8 minutes, which was capped by DeSean Jackson's game-ending punt return for a touchdown with no time left on the clock. A truly demoralizing loss for the New York Football Giants who seemed to have Vick and the game under control until that fateful 4th quarter.

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So now the Eagles (10-4) are in the driver's seat in the NFC East and have two very winnable home games left against the Vikings and Cowboys. If they win out they will win the East and most likely get a first-round bye in the playoffs.

As for Vick's old team--

The Falcons (11-2) are even in better shape. They are in the driver's seat for a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. All they have to do is win one of their last two home games.

So from the looks of it, both teams have a strong possibility to play at home in the second-round of the playoffs and if both teams win then the Vick-led Eagles would travel to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game.

And what a spectacle that is going to be. No doubt.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baseball Hot Stove: Apocalypse Now!

Getty Images & Victor Vasnetsov

The BIGGEST winners:

1. Philadelphia Phillies: The "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" will be wreaking havoc in the NL pretty soon. 'Nuff said!
2. Boston Red Sox: The "new evil empire" went on a rampage this off-season. Adrian Gonzalez. Carl Crawford. Bobby Jenks. And they ain't done yet. The BoSox should be and will be the favorites to wreak havoc in the AL this coming season.

Did I hear a Red Sox-Phillies World Series?

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Other winners:

3. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox resigned Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski. Good moves. They also signed Adam Dunn to a 4-year deal. Another good move. And what have the crosstown Cubs done? As usual--NOTHING. Oh sorry, they did sign Carlos ".196" Pena to a 1-year, $10 million, 180 strikeouts, deal.
4. New York Yankees: They resigned "The Captain" Derek Jeter, closer Mo Rivera and acquired catcher Russell Martin. And of course, they are still the New York Yankee$.
5. Milwaukee Brewers: Zack Greinke is going to the Brew Crew.

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The BIGGEST losers:

1. Kansas City Royals: Zack Greinke is going to the Brew Crew.
2. New York Mets: The team has lots of money, but doesn't give a damn. The biggest move they made thus far is signing, ahem, D.J. Carrasco to a 2-year deal. D.J. who? Is this a new player or the new deejay at Club New York?
3. Chicago Cubs: The team has lots of money, but doesn't give a damn (part 2). Their power move: Carlos Pena and a guaranteed 103rd year of misery for their fans.
4. Los Angeles Angels: The Halos have joined the Mets and Cubs in the "this is a business-as long as we make money, who cares" club.

Finally:

Other losers (but by default):

The Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres. These teams want to continue winning but are strapped for cash. Unlike the above three losers (Mets, Cubs and Angels) who have the loot but just don't care.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Fantastic Four

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Oh no!

The mighty Phillies just got mightier!

The word on the street is that Cliff Lee, the hottest free agent on the planet, is going back to Philly.

Lee has accepted a 5-year, $120 million deal from the Phillies which is about $30 million less than what the "We Spare No Expense" New York Yankees had offered. Many are already praising Lee for spurning the "Evil Empire" and basically telling them to take their money and shove it.

But there's only one problem with that. By joining the Phillies he has shunned one "evil empire" for another "evil empire". The Phillies, themselves, are no slouches when it comes to throwing money around. It's not like he rejected the Yankees to play for a less fortunate team. If he wanted to do that he would've stayed with the Texas Rangers.

But why would Lee leave so much guaranteed loot on the table? At last check, thirty million is a lot of dough. And why would he return to the team, who just last year gave him the boot, in favor of "best pitcher on the planet" Roy "Doc" Halladay?

Rumor has it both Lee and his wife liked their short stint in Philadelphia but I guess we'll find out when the signing becomes official and Lee and the Phillies hold a news conference.

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But no matter what his reasons are, his signing has made the already-favored Phillies even more-favored to win it all this coming season. The Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels rotation is going to be a force to be reckoned with-- no doubt about it.


Oh and by the way, does anyone know what power moves my anemic New York Mets have made this off-season? At last check-- NONE.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brett Favre: Sept. 27, 1992 - Dec. 13, 2010

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The streak is over!

Brett Favre's streak of 297 consecutive starts (one of the most monumental accomplishments in sports history) has finally come to an end.

As I write this, Tarvaris Jackson is starting and leading the Minnesota Vikings against the New York Giants.

Not even mother nature could help Favre continue the streak. A huge snowstorm collapsed the roof of the Metrodome forcing the postponement of the game until today. But the extra day was not enough for Favre's injured shoulder and he was declared inactive. Streak over.

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Here's a look at where Favre's streak stacks up amongst the all-time NFL starting QB streaks:

1. Brett Favre - 297 (9/27/1992 - 12/13/2010)
2. Peyton Manning - 205 (9/6/1998 - present)
3. Ron Jaworski - 116 (9/18/1977 - 11/25/1984)
4. Tom Brady - 111 (9/30/2001 - 9/7/2008)
5. Joe Ferguson - 107 (9/18/1977 - 9/23/1984)
6. Eli Manning - 100 (11/21/2004 - present)

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By other positions:

Quarterback: Favre - 297
Runningback: Walter Payton - 170 (12/7/1975 - 9/20/1987)
Wide Receiver: Tim Brown - 176 (12/14/1992 - 12/7/2003)
Tight End: Tony Gonzalez - 120 (9/19/1999 - 11/12/2006)
Defensive End: Jim Marshall - 270 (9/17/1961 - 12/17/1978)
Nose Tackle: Fred Smerlas - 107 (9/7/1980 - 9/20/1987)
Cornerback: Ronde Barber - 179 (11/21/1999 - present)

By special teams players (recognized as consecutive games played but not starts):

Kicker: Morten Andersen - 248 (10/25/1987 - 12/15/2002)
Punter: Jeff Feagles - 352 (9/4/1988 - 1/3/2010)
Long Snapper: Ethan Albright - 224 (9/1/1996 - 1/3/2010)

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....it's been a LONG ride Brett but everything eventually comes to an end.

Everything.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cam Newton Runs Away With The Heisman Trophy

CONGRATULATIONS TO AUBURN QUARTERBACK CAMERON NEWTON
2010 HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER

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 Some tidbits:

Since the creation of the BCS National Championship Game in 2006, the Heisman Trophy has been won 4 of 5 times by a player from a team playing in the title game.

They are:

2010 - Cam Newton - Auburn
2009 - Mark Ingram - Alabama
2008 - Sam Bradford - Oklahoma
2006 - Troy Smith - Ohio State

The 2007 winner (Tim Tebow of Florida) played in the Capital One Bowl after winning the Heisman Trophy.

Hmmm? Is there a pattern developing?

So what will the future hold for Cam Newton? Will he go on to become the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft AND go on to have a Hall of Fame career?

Um, the stats (as far as prior winners go) aren't in his favor.

Of the 75 prior winners only 18 went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft and only 8 are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 8 Hall of Famers:

1. Doak Walker - 1948 winner
2. Paul Hornung - 1956 winner
3. Roger Staubach - 1963 winner
4. O.J. Simpson - 1968 winner
5. Tony Dorsett - 1976 winner
6. Earl Campbell - 1977 winner
7. Marcus Allen - 1981 winner
8. Barry Sanders - 1988 winner

Paul Hornung, O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell are the only 3 winners to be selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft and make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Talk about an awesome hat trick. The only other players that have a shot at this rare trifecta are Carson Palmer (2002 winner) and Sam Bradford (2008 winner). They are two-thirds of the way there but will they have good enough careers to make it to the Hall of Fame? Maybe.

As for the newly-crowned Newton, I'm sure that's a trifecta he would love to also accomplish.

But right now it's off to the national title game for him and the No. 1 Tigers.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The World According To Jayson Werth

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In a nutshell, Jayson Werth took the money and ran.

As we all know by now, Werth left the most solid and well-equipped team in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies and signed a monster deal with, well, the Washington Nationals. No doubt it is safe to say, he went from the top of the totem pole to the way bottom of the totem pole.

And according to him, it wasn't just about the money.

Yeah right!

According to MLB.com, Werth has said he is impressed by how Washington has been able to acquire young talent such as right-hander Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper.

Hmmm? The key words in that comment are "how Washington has been able".

Hey Jayson! Duh!

The Nationals acquired these two promising stars by virtue of being the worst team in the majors and, as you probably know, the worst team gets the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. And both these players were no-brainers for anyone picking first the last two years. It's not like the Nationals made any shrewed trades and acquired them. All they had to do was stink it up for two years in a row.

Werth further said, "I think everybody saw what a game-changer Stephen Strasburg was last year. The Harper kid is coming. He's one of the better talents in the game. I'm looking forward to playing with a talent like that. The team gave me assurances that they are going to go out and get the type of talent that we are going to need to be competitive and to win. That was one important thing that is very important to me -- winning."
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Hey Jayson! The only reason they had the loot to sign you was because they let Adam Dunn get away. So don't expect "the type of talent" any time soon. There's no dough to sign "the type of talent".

And um, Strasburg had Tommy John surgery a few months back and is going to be on the shelf for a LONG, LONG time. And even when he does come back there is no guarantee he will have the same dominant stuff because coming back from Tommy John is no joke. Oh and by the way, it was that same dominant stuff coupled with his pitching style which led him to Tommy John surgery in the first place. So expect a different pitcher in 2012 or 2013 or whenever he comes back.

The Nationals say they like the Werth signing because now they have protection for slugger Ryan Zimmerman. Ok. But who's going to protect Werth? I could already see his frustration when teams give him nothing to hit.

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Anyway, I think I would have more respect for Werth and his money-hungry agent Scott Boras if they just came out and said, "Yeah, we know with this team we ain't winning any time soon but the dough was too good to refuse. Let someone else win-- we're laughing our way all the way to the bank."

Finally--

Is Nyjer "I Kick Butt" Morgan still with the Nationals?

Speaking of Nyjer, click here to read an oldie I did on him.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baseball Hot Stove: The Rich Get Richer

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The off-season wheelin' and dealin' in Major League Baseball is smokin'.

But as usual, it's a 2 horse race in a field of 30 horses. As the old saying goes, the rich get richer, the mighty get mightier.

In the battle of the empires, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are at it again. Here are some of their power moves so far--

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1. The Red Sox acquired All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres in exchange for, ahem, 3 minor leaguers. It was a forgone conclusion that Gonzalez was going to leave cash-strapped San Diego and go to a team with deep pockets. So it didn't surprise me when the mighty Red Sox snatched him. I guess that's the 21st century reality for expansion-era teams. Back in the days when small markets were able to compete it was ok, but in today's game-- fugetaboudit! The sad reality is, there's no loot in puny San Diego, so why would a superstar like Gonzalez dwell there?

2. The Red Sox have also signed superstar Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays to a monster contract (7 years, $142 million). Again, another expansion team with no loot, who has to let it's star players go to the lands of gold.

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3. The New York Yankees resigned "The Captain" Derek Jeter to a 3-year, $51 million deal with a 4th-year player option. No surprise there 'cause Jeter wasn't going anywhere. What was surprising was all the drama surrounding the negotiations. Even an angry Jeter never imagined the soap opera which unfolded the last two months. In his mind he was a Yankee for life and negotiating a new contract would be as easy as 1-2-3. Well my friend, not with the cocky New York Yankees and the "take no prisoners" New York media. Even you ain't above the law.

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4. As for Cliff Lee-- the Yankees have made him an offer he can't refuse. Their offer was originally for 6 years and nearly $140 million but once they heard the news that Crawford had signed with the Red Sox, they upped it to a harder-to-reject seven-year deal. If Lee stays with the Texas Rangers (another expansion team with no loot) it's because he likes it there and money isn't his number one priority.

But there is no doubt that the Yankees and Red Sox with their deep pockets are running the show this winter. Again.

And last but not least--

As for the "once upon a time juggernauts" in the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles, well, they acquired Mark "I'll guarantee you 200 strikeouts a year" Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks and some J.J. dude from the Minnesota Twins.

And no, not old-school J.J. from Good Times. This is some J.J. Hardy dude. I don't think the Orioles can afford "Kid Dynamite".



Speaking of "Kid Dynamite"-- I wonder what he's up to?

Monday, December 6, 2010

College Football: Let's Go Bowling!


The college football bowl season is once again upon us and time sure does fly. It felt like just yesterday the Alabama Crimson Tide were hoisting the championship trophy.

But it's a new season and the stage belongs to the No. 1 Auburn Tigers and the No. 2 Oregon Ducks. How about them Ducks! I'm sure the legendary Steve Prefontaine (R.I.P.) is looking down and is proud of his Alma mater.

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The Ducks (12-0) and the Tigers (13-0) will square off in the BCS National Championship Game in what will be the first-ever meeting between these two storied programs. Heisman Trophy-favorite Cam Newton and the Tigers are early favorites but this will no doubt be a battle of explosive offenses. It should be a dandy.

As for the only other unbeaten team, the TCU Horned Frogs-- they will be going to the Rose Bowl to play the Big 10 co-champions, the Wisconsin Badgers. The matchup came as no surprise to anyone but the ONLY REASON why TCU is playing in such a big game is because they had a perfect season. Had they suffered even a single loss they would most likely been shipped to the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Bowl". No doubt about it! Just ask Boise State.

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As for the rest--

The Sugar Bowl will feature the other Big 10 co-champions Ohio State Buckeyes against the Arkansas Razorbacks of the SEC. Again not a big surprise.

The Orange Bowl will be a showdown between the ACC champion Virginia Tech Hokies and the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal out of the Pac 10.

In the other BCS bowl game-- the Big East co-champions Connecticut Huskies will play the Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma squeezed by the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big 12 title game, 23-20, after the Cornhuskers shot themselves in the foot. Nebraska has no one to blame but themselves as they nailed their own coffin with sloppy turnovers.

As for UConn, they will be the only unranked team playing in a BCS bowl game, which pretty much sums up the anemic season of the so-called power conference, the Big East.

The only Top 10 teams NOT playing in a BCS bowl game are the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans and the No. 10 LSU Tigers. They are, however, going to the best non-BCS bowl games. LSU will play the Texas A&M Aggies in the Cotton Bowl and Michigan State will play Alabama in the Capital One Bowl.

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The biggest loser, as usual, are the No. 11 Boise State Broncos. They went from national title contenders to playing in the, ahem, Las Vegas Bowl. But that's the life of a mid-major. Only a field goal separated the Broncos from a sure-BCS bowl game to a "bottom of the totem pole" bowl. The Broncos will play the other hard-luck mid-major, the Utah Utes, in what should be dubbed, "The Lonesome Roads Bowl".

As for Utah-- this is their last year of being a second-class citizen as they will join the Pac 10 next season. Same goes for TCU who will enter the Big East. In other words, by joining a power conference, these two great programs will no longer have to have perfect seasons in order to make it to a BCS bowl game.

Are you listening Boise State? Get your butts into a power six conference and you will no longer be forced to sit in the back of the bus.

As for the other old-school bowls (bowls established before 1980):

1. Sun Bowl: Miami (Fl.) vs. Notre Dame
2. Gator Bowl: Michigan vs. Miss. State
3. Liberty Bowl: UCF vs. Georgia
4. Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Florida State vs. South Carolina
5. Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Air Force
6. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. Washington

And for the UMPTEENTH year in a row-- can we PLEASE restore the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to it's original name-- THE PEACH BOWL. While on the subject-- bring back the original name of the Capital One Bowl also-- THE CITRUS BOWL.

I have no problems with all these meaningless post-1980 bowls having tacky names-- BUT the ORIGINAL 12 should all have their iconic names. Shame on the Peach Bowl and the Citrus Bowl for letting their sponsors hijack their classic names.

Anyway, last but not least--

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Kudos to the Louisville Cardinals for making it to a bowl game. The Cardinals will play Southern Miss in the, ahem, Beef 'O' Brady Bowl, which used to be called the St. Petersburg Bowl. It's a meaningless game but at least it gave me an excuse to post the above picture of one of the Cardinals cheerleaders. Wow!!!! Talk about an iconic photo. Eat your heart out Victoria's Secret!

Logos are trademarks of their respective bowl games

Friday, December 3, 2010

College Football: The Monster Games

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The Civil War: No. 2 Oregon (11-0) at Oregon St. (5-6)

The implications are simple. If Oregon wins they'll earn a trip to the BCS title game. If Oregon State wins they become bowl eligible. Oregon still goes to the Rose Bowl but I'm sure they want the big prize.

My prediction: Oregon 38 - Oregon State 7

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SEC Championship: No. 1 Auburn (12-0) vs. No. 19 South Carolina (9-3)

If Auburn wins they'll earn a trip to the BCS title game. If South Carolina wins then both teams will most likely end up in a BCS bowl game and TCU plays for the national championship.

My prediction: Auburn 34 - South Carolina 17

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BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon

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Big 12 Championship: No. 9 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. No. 13 Nebraska (10-2)

The winner represents the Big 12 in a BCS bowl game.

My prediction: Nebraska 13 - Oklahoma 10

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ACC Championship: No. 15 Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. No. 21 Florida St. (9-3)

The winner represents the ACC in the Orange Bowl.

My prediction: Virginia Tech 45 - Florida St. 17

My BCS Bowl Game Projections:
1) Rose Bowl: TCU vs. Wisconsin
2) Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Arkansas
3) Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska vs. Connecticut
4) Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford

Let the games begin!