March 17, 2023

Allow me to repeat, on media site after media site, you couldn’t find any details or article links for the World Series that was at that moment being played. (Overwhelmingly, you had to move into sports and then into baseball, since the general sports page was focused on football (college from Saturday and NFL for Sunday).)


August 8, 2021

So yes, I admit that other possibilities will thin out the audience. The fact that I did watch other stuff proves that. But I do believe there’s more to it. You can’t react to the numbers by placing it on this excuse, cupping your hands over your ears and humming while you walk away. That’s like making a horrible movie, with no part of it even reaching a so-so level of quality in the production, and then saying the only reason no one bought a ticket is because they were playing Words with Friends on their phones. Are some people playing Words with Friends? Yes. Are some people quite happy curled up in a comfy chair playing Words with Friends and not heading out to see your movie? Yes. But there’s definitely more to the empty seats than Words with Friends.


June 20, 2021

ut the crazier part that came to our mind is that after sorting out the tennis champions, we really stumbled to name the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL title holders. The Super Bowl and Tampa Bay was easy enough. And although the World Series and Los Angeles took us a moment, it connected immediately after we remembered the NBA and Los Angeles. And that left hockey. Who won the greatest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup?


February 22, 2021

I say two-plus dozen because often several teams don’t have what we would really call a starting quarterback starting. Last year, Dwayne Haskins was a starter. Same with Nick Foles. Tyrod Taylor. Yes, I said Tyrod Taylor. (And if you don’t understand the joke involved in saying that Nick Foles was starting, you should probably stop reading now. You won’t find anything too much clearer coming up. Actually, take the next test, and then decide.)


February 19, 2021

Would you believe Russell Wilson is 32? True. Turns 33 next November. And reports are floating around that there might be a bit of a disconnect between him and the organization. (For the record, I don’t buy it. Seattle is a decent place to play… he gets elite money without the elite media scrutiny. They have put playoff teams on the field with him for the majority of his career. I don’t think he’s moving any time soon.)


February 11, 2021

Do you have any idea what you just watched in the past four weeks? Tom Brady and the Bucs defeated Drew Brees and the Saints… in New Orleans. Tom Brady and the Bucs defeated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers… in Green Bay. Tom Brady and the Bucs defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs… knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions, and the most talented quarterback currently playing in the league, in a blowout that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.


January 24, 2021

The primary camera is off to the side and slightly elevated, at the center of the field. Basically, it is the typical mid-field, or mid-court, view that American audiences have become accustomed to over the years. Because of the perspective that camera has as it scans the field, and the presentation of its images as two-dimensional on a television set, each of these advertisements looks like a square on the television screen.

From the Backpack ~ Likely original posting date October 23, 2003


January 9, 2021

What we’ve begin seeing discussed a bit more often is how good pitchers can have poor records. ERA is one measuring stick, and low run support matters. But it often isn’t just that simple. What are the batting averages of opposing hitters? How good or bad is the defense backing that pitcher up? Does the pitcher tend to average a high or low number of runners per inning?

From the Backpack ~ Likely original posting date November 12, 2003


August 23, 2020

Usually, when it comes up, in the main discussion points there is a little bit of bravado involved… swagger… and (more specifically) complaints about the way things would be in an old school league. This, after all, according to reporters and announcers and more, is not the way they would have done it in another day.


January 25, 2019

Let’s all take a step back before demanding quick and definitive solutions.

Yes, it’s absolutely possible that incidents can arise in sporting events exposing problems that should be corrected as soon as they can be addressed. This does not mean that each and every scenario should be handled immediately.

Far too often the action-reaction process is forgotten in the desire to see action-satisfaction. And then, over time, it is recognized that the pendulum was swung far too heavily in the opposite direction.


January 19, 2018

The play is ruled an incomplete pass. Replays seemed to show the ball came out of Garcia’s hand before he began the throwing motion, which would be a fumble, not an incomplete pass. Detroit is not allowed to challenge the call. The reason given? The Lions had not caught the ball, and it was ruled an incomplete pass. Therefore, they could not challenge it being a fumble.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted November 12, 2003


January 19, 2018

So, I’m skeptical. I see this as frosting… as window dressing… as a smoke screen. Walk up to any official of the NCAA. Call them on the phone. Contact as many of them as you like. I’d be willing to bet just about anything… oh wait, this is college, we don’t gamble… that you can’t find one that answers the question “do you think academics are as important as athletics for the student athlete?” by saying “no.” It won’t happen. Because saying that is an admission that it is in fact, just a business… and a joke. They have to say that academics means something. These are student-athletes and, so goes the claims, the student part is first.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted May 13, 2004


October 24, 2017

Is it out of the question that lengthy droughts such as those experienced by the Red Sox and Cubs will not happen again? Of course not. Thirty-plus years to get every team a title if we split them up fairly and evenly… which is not how it works, but basically means once in a generation if it did. That never again perspective actually has difficulties because of course, many things could happen again.


October 16, 2017

Rich Eisen hit ESPN in the mid-1990s. And, during a run of roughly seven years, he was involved in a bit of everything for the network… hosting news shows (yes, that does mean SportsCenter), and radio broadcasts such as for Major League Baseball. And then… around 2003… he made a gigantic, and for many an unexpected leap. He was the first on-air hire and effectively the face of the NFL Network, which continues with multiple efforts there to this day. Currently, Rich also hosts a weekday show that airs on DirecTV and radio.


April 17, 2017

Often, people say you don’t remember the losers. They’ll do things like asking you to name the five teams New England has defeated in their Super Bowl wins… or to quickly name four of the last five losers in the World Series. And there’s a lot of truth in such an accusation. (Because I’m mean, I’m not giving you the answer. Look it up on your own.)


February 25, 2017

I should probably point out here that I support Rob Manfred—baseball’s commissioner—in his attempts to speed up the game. It is played at an appallingly god awful pace now that defies all ability to be watched on television without switching channels. If that means making adjustments such as restricting visits to the mound, putting a timer on pitches, or modifying the strike zone, then I get it. While I tend to treasure history and tradition, I am not going to assume the mantel of a purist. (I repeat… god awful pace. Borderline unwatchable.)


January 29, 2017

These weren’t just amazing professionals with arguments for consideration as the best to ever play their respective sports. These are competitors that crushed the will of those opposing them. Michael Jordan laid waste to the Utah Jazz in the finals. Tiger Woods often didn’t win championships so much as opponents wilted, faded and disappeared when paired with him on a Sunday round.


August 14, 2016

The realities are simple enough though… the growing recognition that hosting the Olympics isn’t worth it, where holding a public bonfire to burn billions of dollars would prove a far more sound investment… the cheating and doping and sense of entitlement from many athletes (often more than tolerated, and justthisshortof virtually sanctioned and encouraged by countries)… and the list goes on.


November 17, 2015

This is an example of a more pressing concern though… based on driving revenue and pushing scheduling. Because I think in a few years, when people are wondering where the NFL went off the tracks from what currently seems like an unstoppable run of increasing profits that resembles printing money on command, this should be a big item on the list of problems.


November 12, 2015

Funny though… because if you think the common, average player has a chance to win hundreds of thousands of dollars playing, then you might actually be ready to hear about a bridge that’s up for sale. (Buy some property. I know a guy. It would be a better investment of your money.)


October 11, 2015

Think about how much time the Seahawks have invested, how many games the Seahawks have played, beyond the normal demands in the past two seasons. Six playoff games… and basically an extra ten weeks of practice, games, and travel. This offseason, we began to see the difficulties hit from a payroll perspective. Keeping players, losing players… who to bring in, who to let go… and the formation of a roster.


October 11, 2015

I like the swagger they’re showing this season. It’s a confidence thing. For me, it’s a result of beating Arizona in the playoffs last year. Sure… they were 7-8-1 and a division winner hosting a playoff game. Sure… Arizona started a quarterback you don’t remember. (It was Ryan Lindley.) Look at the bigger picture. (Really. It was Ryan Lindley.) The 2014 Carolina Panthers were the first team in the ten-plus year history of the NFC South to win the division back-to-back years. Go ahead. Look it up. No team had won the division in consecutive seasons until Carolina in 2013 and 2014.


October 11, 2015

Ok… before we go crazy here… they scored all of ten points against the Seahawks, and honestly none of that was because of the offense. The only thing keeping them from the bottom third in virtually every statistical offensive and defensive category is that Seattle only scored 13 points, so they’re just about middle-of-the-pack in points allowed. It’s just not possible… unless you are a fan of the team… to justify being upset about a loss for a team that is pitiful for 58 minutes, pretty much doesn’t score for 60 minutes, and then loses a game where a bad call was made when honestly all that does is take the focus off of a fumble inside the five yard line when a field goal would have tied the score.


October 11, 2015

It’s not pretty here in the NFC East. The trick is, I’m not sure any of the three candidates for a playoff slot from this division will settle down and play decent football for multiple weeks in a row. Which is important. Because if they all keep stumbling, scraping their knees, and hovering around even, then only the division winner goes to the playoffs and the wild cards are coming from elsewhere. Shame, too, since I think any of these three teams… healthy and neutral field conditions… could defeat any of the second place teams from any other division in the NFC.


October 11, 2015

Yup… in his amazing career, Philip Rivers has been the starting quarterback in San Diego since 2007, and he’s only won ten or more games a simply stunning 3 times. 3. Three. 1 – 2 – 3. 2006... 2007… 2009… not once in the past five seasons… three. Perspective? Ok. Andy Dalton has won 10 or more the last three in a row, and is likely to surpass that mark again this year. Just a hunch that you agree the competition in the AFC North that Dalton faces has been consistently stronger than that facing Rivers in the AFC West. (Really? You want to debate it? Two words… Tim… Tebow. And we’re done.)


October 11, 2015

Last year New England got pasted by Kansas City, and had Cincinnati coming up next. The Bengals were coming off their bye week, and entered the game with a 3-0 record. Two weeks to prepare and the Pats looking awful. Result? The Patriots didn’t beat the Bengals… they didn’t destroy the Bengals… they humiliated the Bengals.


October 11, 2015

They play the Titans, Bengals, and Jaguars. The Jacksonville game is one of those lovely journey-to-London games, followed by their bye week. A smart guess is they go 2-1… maybe 3-0 (the Cincinnati game is at home, so there is a shot, but as I’ve noted home field isn’t something they’ve defended well this year). But if they are flying home from England with a losing record… well… all hell could break out.


October 11, 2015

The Bills lost to the Giants this week. Defend it and say it’s worth excusing since the opponents are decent, but both of the Buffalo losses have been at home. Yeah… yeah… New England and New York. Whatever. They are 2-2 on the year and 1-2 at home. Remaining home games include Cincinnati and Dallas… and Dallas late enough that they could be healthy and still in playoff contention. Good teams do not go 4-4 at home.


October 11, 2015

Last February, when the Seahawks completed that unreal pass to close in on a potential go-ahead touchdown, the cry of New England fans was unanimous: “Holy crap, not again!” It hasn’t just been an undefeated season taken away by miraculous and unbelievable catches… it’s been multiple championships lost to unbelievable catches, and unbelievable catches have been made late in the last three Super Bowl games they’ve played.


October 8, 2015

First possibility… you didn’t know. You’ve heard good things about Tennessee (week one against Tampa), you’ve heard so-so to bad things about Tennessee (both of the other games), and you’ve heard nothing about Tennessee (bye week). Houston either has a quarterback, has two quarterbacks, or has no quarterbacks on their roster, and it’s not a good sign that the coaching staff doesn’t seem to know if it’s one, two or none. Jacksonville beat Miami, which last spring seemed an impossible result since the Dolphins were headed to the playoffs and even an AFC East crown if Brady missed time, but we’ve come to find out is a victory that honestly doesn’t mean much of anything. And the Colts… well… sure… the Colts.


September 4, 2015

...Brady’s reputation is ruined regardless of whether or not we ever learn the truth in this situation… the NFL doesn’t seem even the slightest bit inclined to admit their procedures were at best laughable and of little use, even though they changed them for future seasons… and plenty of other instances have come and gone without a league, other teams, and plenty of fans carrying pitchforks and torches through the village the way they have over these footballs.


August 11, 2015

That’s right… if you read the Wells report… if you pay attention to all the work being done… it’s possible that nothing actually happened. I’m not saying nothing happened, mind you, I’m just saying that it absolutely is possible nothing happened. The way things were done was so poorly managed and undocumented there is a chance that nothing other than ordinary weather and outside conditions were involved.


August 4, 2015

The point is, this issue is already decided for many people. Not necessarily a majority of people. But many people. No matter how it was (or is) investigated, resolved, punished, or presented… Brady’s image was beyond accusation and, more accurately stated: “How DARE they say this about him!”… or… Brady was guilty, and any effort to say otherwise was yet another campaign to bow down to the Patriots and give them whatever they want if they stomp their feet and complain enough.


July 17, 2015

And these stories and arguments and debates get emotional, can be hysterically funny, and often have all sorts of great sideshow elements featuring Rose signing autographs in Cooperstown, denying all allegations against him, denying some allegations but admitting other allegations against him, releasing interviews and authorized biographies and more and even more where he argues for and against all sorts of different levels of admission of his innocence and guilt. Eventually the senses overload -- Rose admits he hasn’t admitted what he admitted to not doing when he did it -- the conversation gets numbing, and we… again… arrive at a simple concept… How do you tell the story of baseball without including Pete Rose?


December 5, 2013

My point is, when we look at the Yankees, there has to be at least a degree of appreciation for the brand. You may hate the Yankees. You may not like them or anything they stand for. And you may have all sorts of reasons for your beliefs, along with bulleted points that support your opinions. The thing is… in some conference room… there is a meeting taking place that consists of those front office types for the New York Yankees. And they are absolutely, 100% positively, looking over the landscape with at least one agenda item pointed at maximizing revenue.


November 25, 2013

In virtually any listing of greatness, Brady and Manning are two of the five best quarterbacks of all time. I think if you said to anyone that knows football: “Make a list of the best five quarterbacks to ever play, in any order, and I’m just going write Brady and Manning down to start things off before you say anything”… yeah, they wouldn’t stop you. While any number of others might create the rest of the list, Brady and Manning would be part of their five.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 2, 2013

In a few hours… ok, tomorrow afternoon actually… the New England Patriots will play the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the risk of jinxing the results, the Pats will win and move to 7-2 on the year.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


April 7, 2013

I think the AL sends someone from the Angels to this award. I’m going to pick Albert Pujols, because something tells me that he is about to turn in the very best year he will have out of any of those played or to-be-played with California. Plus, if Hamilton misses any time… and Trout doesn’t match or improve on his 2012 debut… a monster Pujols season is tough to top.


April 6, 2013

I’m concerned because we’ve seen these splashes in recent years. The end of 2011 and all of 2012 was awful in Boston. Many of these same players were with Florida last year. (And because so many of these players were part of the Marlins in 2012, you can’t simply say something like “yeah, but this time the Jays got good team guys and veteran presence”… they should have provided that last year.) And for the most part… this isn’t a building for the future plan. Buehrle and Dickey are not here for the next three to five seasons. The window is now. The plan is to get into the playoffs… and there is no Plan B.


April 6, 2013

I’m hoping the Royals get rewarded for being brave enough to trade Myers. Let’s face it… we’ve been hearing about how they have some decent parts and young talent on the way, and it just wasn’t happening. It’s a risky move. And it would be good to see it pay off. And to a degree I think it will. They’ve got strong arms in the bullpen. The starting rotation may not be dominant… it is now good at the front and decent all the way through now. The big question will be whether they can find an offense to support a slightly above average pitching staff. If they do… 80 wins or more, and third in the division, is there for them.


April 5, 2013

I really do try to stay away from discussing injuries when I can. And honestly, with Jerod Weaver in place and Mike Trout ahead of Hamilton and Pujols in the batting order, this team is about as good as any in the American League. But they can’t have Weaver start 120-plus games, and the guys they have lined up do come with history or concerns. I see them leaning heavily to the offensive output and defensive play (solid lineup that will score plenty, and a loaded outfield that should be beyond brilliant). Unfortunately, the playoffs come down to pitching. Weaver… C.J. Wilson… Jason Vargas… Hanson… we shall see.


April 5, 2013

Trading away Justin Upton? Well... you know… I like Upton. If Atlanta figures out how to get past Washington in the next year or two (or three or more), chances are really good Justin Upton will be the league MVP when it happens. But having watched the trade market swirl around Upton’s name for several seasons, I actually believe this is a case where he was worth more to the Diamondbacks in what he could return than he was worth wearing their uniform. The question becomes whether or not Kevin Towers, in all his moves, actually ever did get more in return. Which sends me right back to where I started this section.


April 4, 2013

What the Pirates really need is best exemplified by James McDonald. In his fifth season, the 28-year old has had flashes of brilliance… high-strikeout games… months with an ERA under 3 (and even one last year under 2). Care to guess where things go wrong? Sure… around mid-season. Look at this breakdown of 2012: April (5 starts – 2.97 ERA), May (5 starts – 1.54 ERA), June (5 starts – 2.93 ERA), July (hold on… here we go… 6 starts – 5.97 ERA), August (5 starts – 4.45 ERA, and September (3 starts – 12.75 ERA). 2011 started out poorly, and then improved, but eventually there was still a rise from July to August and then August to September.


April 4, 2013

Considering that this club is at least a couple of years away from being relevant in a division with young and loaded teams like Washington and Atlanta, I don’t get the David Wright contract. Good player? Sure he is. I’d take him on my team. But the Mets have been bad and had organizational troubles with him. (Not from or with him specifically mind you… he’s by all accounts a good guy to have around. The point is the Mets haven’t been a good or well-run club in recent years, and you can lose 88 a year with him or without him. Heck… they lost with him and Jose Reyes. I’m not sure the $120-plus million for him to possibly play out his career in their uniform… especially with no DH slot available… is worth it, regardless of the publicity nightmare his departure might have caused.)


January 5, 2013

I guess I just find it staggeringly amazing that for the amount of money they already have invested… again, more than the Angels have locked up in 2013 salary to begin the year… the Red Sox have no clear identity. That bothers me a bit. It makes me wonder… it doesn’t have me thinking postseason.


December 27, 2012

Either you’ve signed a first baseman or you haven’t. Once you start noting things like having Napoli work out with the pitching staff during spring training, you’ve lost me. (I’m not going to source that because you can do the searches and I saw it in multiple places. Heck… coming up I’m going to refer to Cot’s, and they have him listed in their records as catcher – first base. Besides… in a moment I am going to swing away from this story because my article does as well. It’s just a part of the foundation and deserves a note. So… back to it…)


August 15, 2012

In one sense, he’s probably right. Because even if, as we just covered, a team wins three straight gold medals, the only way to match it would be to go undefeated along the way and only drop one set. The only way to better the accomplishment would be to never lose a set. Not one. Perfection.


August 15, 2012

So I feel comfortable saying that more often than not, especially when discussing quarterbacks that have more than one championship -- if you had to bet you should place your money on great quarterbacks winning titles.


April 25, 2012

Consider… with Thursday no longer a special event day, but a regular part of the schedule, games will be steadily played on three days each week. And, by the end of the regular season, only Tuesday and Friday will not have hosted at least one game. (Yup… there are games planned for a Wednesday and a Saturday.)


April 7, 2012

Do I think it matters if Bobby Valentine is making appearances on New York radio? No. I don’t. I also don’t think chicken and beer matter. But this isn’t Freud… and we aren’t talking about whether a cigar is a cigar. Chicken and beer and interviews are the visible part of the iceberg. The fact that people will be looking for bottle tops and buckets in the trash after games… or questioning Bobby’s investment of time… that’s what matters.


April 7, 2012

And by the way… it is a matter of surviving and then having enough time, because Boston should be horrendous out of the gate. I mean just plain awful. If you think they may have some problems off the field… and I have no way of knowing, but I sure do… then wait until you see what they have on the field to battle. They travel to play Detroit and Toronto as their first two opponents of the year. That should be a lovely 6-games on the road. It gets worse at home. When they get to Fenway, Tampa arrives for a 4-game weekend stay, followed by… yeah, get ready… Texas and New York. (And you think 2011 ended badly? Just wait.)


April 7, 2012

Here’s an interesting thought… and I couldn’t believe it when I read it. Apparently, the Indians don’t have a single player under contract for more than two years. In other words… beyond 2013. They control some of their younger players. But the longest remaining contracts are for two seasons and that’s it. How’s that for being able to turn around your roster in a hurry if you want to?


April 7, 2012

Wilson… after being touted as a rotation saver and to-be-paid-as-an-ace question… joins a staff with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren up front, where he will be asked to simply contribute with Ervin Santana as part of what may be top to bottom the best rotation in the American League, if not all of baseball. (It’s not… I prefer Tampa’s… but it’s still damn good. And with pitchers like Haren… who simply walks no one… this rotation won’t tax the bullpen.)


April 7, 2012

Pitching. It’s all pitching. I know people are looking at the lineup, and players like Cabrera and Pagan, and saying that there is a bit of speed suddenly on the bases, and maybe even a bit of pop in the order. Don’t buy into it. The improvements are there. Things are still so bad offensively for San Francisco that even with one of the best rotations in baseball they still will struggle to approach 90-wins. It should still be enough to win the division.


April 7, 2012

What I really like is the addition of Mat Latos. Still young… very talented… if Latos can give the Reds more than 200-innings of work, then he could be a significant force in settling down a potentially rocky rotation. (For a description of the rocky pitching, see: Aroldis Chapman. Is he a starter? A reliever? A piece to keep opposing managers guessing? Even the Reds don’t seem to know yet. So you can love Johnny Cueto all you want… the reality is that Arroyo had a difficult 2011, and Bailey may still be young… he hasn’t delivered much so far. (Check out Bailey’s starts… 20, 19, 22 in the past three years… struggles to pitch 6 innings in any start.)


April 7, 2012

Reyes, Ramirez and Johnson have to remain healthy… simple as that. They are the true source of power for this club… and success will come from there. If they stay on the field, the Marlins will field a two MVP candidates and a serious Cy Young contender. There have been some questions about the health of expected starters and the depth of the bench. Shouldn’t be surprising for a club that has normally based its roster on a restricted payroll.


February 1, 2012

The Patriots have had a very obvious problem… as good as the defense has looked in two playoff games (and they have been significantly better here than in the regular season), they still don’t know how to get off the damn field. And that folks, is my big observation that people aren’t mentioning.


January 20, 2012

I have never watched a two-hour display of football even remotely close to what was shown on Saturday night. The last five minutes of the Saints-49ers and the first half of Broncos-Patriots was simply unreal. I know this statement involves the demolition of Denver… but frankly, that first half was filled with precision and exceptional play on the part of New England’s offense. Plus, it featured some unexpectedly good play from the New England defense. And the back-and-forth between New Orleans and San Francisco? Unreal… just incredible.


January 13, 2012

Brady hasn’t played well early in several games this year. In fact, over the last three weeks of the regular season the Patriots have looked awful in the early parts of games. They trailed Denver 13-7 after the first quarter, trailed Miami 17-0 at halftime, and trailed Buffalo 21-0 early and 21-14 at halftime. And you really don’t think much about it. Why? Because the Patriots beat Buffalo 49-21. If you didn’t see the game, and only got the final score, it probably never even entered your thoughts that the Patriots scored 49 unanswered points and at one time were getting spanked.


January 6, 2012

Ok, look, there is no reason to take Denver here. None at all. Tebow hasn’t been effective at all this season. His success has essentially been a result of delivering one or two scoring drives, late in games where the defense had limited to opposition to low scores. In other words… the Broncos didn’t win so much as they survived.


January 6, 2012

On one side of the argument, you have the most explosive offense in the AFC… and nothing else is even close. They present coverage problems that any other team would dream of just being able to offer a portion of... Brady… Gronkowski… Hernandez… Welker. And now signs of a running game? Yikes. But… there is a dark side.


September 14, 2011

Well… fine… you’re absolutely not wondering about what I saw in the games. But occasionally I have a couple of observations, and once in a while I have a good joke to toss in. And it just so happens, that with some of the things I saw from the first week, I had some free time and a burning desire to criticize Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys for playing stupid, stupid football.


September 10, 2011

San Diego is way too easy to predict as a possible disappointment. Everyone is anointing Rivers as a giant, and that should scare us away from him. And if the Rivers bandwagon doesn’t scare you, the coaching should. The consistency from that organization under Turner is non-existent. Of course… they alternate years, and this is set to be a big one.


September 8, 2011

I think Jim Harbaugh has a chance to be a decent NFL head coach. (I also have moments when I wonder if Alex Smith has really been given a fair shot at leading this club.) Let’s check out the schedule first. Seattle at home, Dallas at home, the road for Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Tampa at home, and then the road for Detroit. There are several teams… St. Louis definitely… that would trade for those six opponents in a heartbeat. After that, they have Cleveland and Washington, and unbelievably then still have five divisional games against this so-so group. So… yeah… they have no ability to cry about scheduling problems. If they play well, there is plenty of opportunity to get into the playoffs.


September 8, 2011

The problem is… well… At New England… at San Francisco (which shouldn’t be tough, but involves great travel following a difficult game with the Patriots, and in turn is followed by…)… Philadelphia… at New Orleans… Green Bay. You toss in two games against Dallas with a game against New York (Jets) as three of the four to finish the year, and I think you can understand why a huge start might be met by an equally huge collapse.


September 8, 2011

I’m being generous here and expecting Peyton Manning to play more than half the season. I have to. Just can’t write it and now in time to give it perfect editing. If not… well… did you see the rotation the AFC South has? I mentioned it up above in the Houston section. How would you expect the Colts to do against the Saints, Falcons, Buccaneers, Steelers and Ravens without him? Well… hold on… because the Colts also won the division last year, which means they get the addition of the Patriots to that list (road game).


September 8, 2011

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams… gone. And hey… look… I’m not criticizing letting them go. Brown could be injury prone and Williams isn’t a player I would rely on as a full-season, no worries, carry the team running back. But when you take a tandem that has worked so well and give up both pieces, there’s a certain stability you look to see for continuity. Miami is not being run by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. There are questions.


August 19, 2011

The long and short of it though is this… are you really interested in hearing about David Pauley, Doug Fister and Wilson Betemit? Heck… can you tell me what team was involved in the transactions to obtain those three players between July 20th and July 30th?


August 6, 2011

Pittsburgh and Cleveland went out on the market as buyers. Buyers! The Pirates and Indians! Imagine that. I’m pretty certain that Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Milwaukee and Texas all adding parts in moves to improve for the current season is one of the modern day signs of impending apocalypse. (Though that could be a slight exaggeration.)


July 25, 2011

If Boston and New York play each other, Boston can right now say they expect Beckett and Lester to be there first two pitching options. Hard to say what order… the third option is Buchholz, and he has to return from the DL… the opening round would have been played and the length and usage of staff could possibly adjust who goes when. But there’s your top two, and with Buchholz, the top three. New York will send Sabathia and… who?


July 25, 2011

Let me toss this one in… would you believe the Brewers are the scariest of the four teams in the front of this division? They are 33-14 at home and 21-35 on the road. Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati are all sniffing around even for home and road records. The Brewers have played significantly more games on the road so far and have been fantastic at home.


May 25, 2011

I find that often the best efforts develop from the most basic of observations. (Stress the word develop. Because if I want to write articles and opinions and so on, then I need to try and bring something to the table other than simple, generic, (and often flawed) arguments.) The best arguments though… for me… come from moments that surprise me, startle me, or in some way seem like something that not everyone is picking up on. That can mean a very easy and obvious thought that gets twisted into a different way of observing it… but it still has to grow from something.


May 21, 2011

Ok… I’m lying. That’s last year’s chart. But check that out… Tampa with 29 wins. Four teams over .500. Toronto… a team that would finish with a winning record… was in third place with 25 wins. And Boston… today they are exactly where they were one year ago. Wow. And does it matter? (Yes.) Is it still early? (No, and this shows it’s not…) The final AL East standings in 2010… compared to the 40-game standings last year… involved Toronto and Boston flipping spots. That’s it.


April 8, 2011

Hmm… here’s a thought. I’ve heard Mark Beuhrle wanting to be in St. Louis before. Trouble is, I think the White Sox will be in the race for the AL Central. Still, he may be the best pitcher available and could bring back a haul from a team needing a starter… but the Cardinals would likely be the only place he’d approve, and quick math and no research has me thinking he can veto any trade. It would not stun me at all to see Jonathan Papelbon moved during the season. But planets need to align to put that in motion. Frankly… there’s not alot that makes sense to predict right now.


April 3, 2011

The pitching. I’m not sure how this Varitek and Saltalamacchia situation is going to work out. Since we have switch-hitting going on and no knuckleballer likely as a regular starter out of the gate, you would figure there isn’t a ton to fix in on. However, by mid-May it might be interesting to see whether… oh, I don’t know… Varitek catches more often in a day-game-after-a-night-game or when Beckett is starting. In other words… are they following a system with the catching, or does it appear that the method to their madness is comforting a few egos? (By the way… while I wouldn’t expect this particular scenario… I could oh so easily see the Red Sox and Rangers on the phone in late June discussing a trade with Mike Napoli coming to Boston for some bullpen help. Maybe that won’t be the particular trade… but catching is simply the most likely place for Boston to have a need. And I happen to like that Napoli has a bit of Mike Scioscia in his history.)


April 3, 2011

Last year the Twins rode Carl Pavano and a nice rotation to the playoffs. And then, as I recall, the sudden realization was that Minnesota was entering the playoffs and their hopes rested on… you got it… Carl Pavano. It’s all nice to talk about Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau and what will or might be. In the end… same concept… Pavano. Lots of teams have very talented players. Doesn’t always cover for weaknesses.


April 2, 2011

I suppose if I go around giving credit to Texas for Wilson and Hamilton and Kinsler, I should be willing to react favorably to Weaver and Hunter here. But I can’t. See… the Angels never really delivered on their promise. What we kept hearing was about how brilliant their minor league system was. And that they had player after player they didn’t want to give up because… you know… dynamite. And now everyone else has moved three or four or five years along… and Tampa has played in the World Series and Colorado has played in the World Series and Texas has played in the World Series… and the Angels are still playing like it’s 2006 or so, telling us to just wait and see what they have hidden up their sleeve. Boston traded youth for Adrian Gonzalez. Texas signed Adrian Beltre while Boston signed Carl Crawford. And for all the promises of activity, California traded for no one in particular (sorry Vernon, but it’s true) and signed no one. They just got older.


April 2, 2011

Well… I’m not sure they can add much if they need to. I may be wrong… but I don’t see alot of payroll flexibility or prospects they would be willing to trade. In July if they are lockstep for a division title or wild card spot, the roster that completed the first four months will be virtually identical to the one they plan to use in the final two of the competition. The club was awful on the road last year… both in record and performance. More than 60% of their runs were scored at home last year. Easily… comfortably… more than 60% of their runs.


April 1, 2011

On a potentially bright note… do you have your own catching equipment? Because if you show up at any Tuesday or Wednesday home game in May or June, and have your own equipment, the Astros are running their “Be a Big Leaguer for a Day” promotion. Show up around 3pm, get set up behind the plate, and a coach will throw ten times off the mound to you. The contestant that drops the fewest pitches gets a uniform and the start in that night’s game. They even have a cool slogan. Astros fever… catch it!


April 1, 2011

Want mixed messages? Ok, here we go. The ever optimistic group will tell you that for the Mets to succeed, Beltran needs to play a major role. Beltran has since proven he can’t play center any more… likely won’t be able to play without a day or two off each week… and is more likely right now to be on the disabled list by June than a viable trade candidate by July. So he has to succeed for the team to succeed… but realistically the hope is that he succeeds so someone, anyone, might trade for him… and most people are counting the days until he’s off the team’s payroll. Oh yeah, that’s mixed. But it doesn’t end there…


February 5, 2011

About the only way I like Pittsburgh in this game is if it becomes a low-scoring and incredibly boring battle. Say 16-13… or something with even less points being scored. And with these two defenses… under 20 scored seems very possible for both clubs.


January 21, 2011

I don’t think either of these clubs will look as impressive this week as they did last week. Too much going on defensively to believe either club will clear 30-points or score with ease. Instead I think the game will be decided by Green Bay’s defense against Jay Cutler.


January 14, 2011

A few items about Green Bay: (1) Only one team has scored more than 26 against them all season (New England, with 31). (2) In only seven games have their opponents hit 20 points, and that includes the playoffs. (3) No team defeated them twice this year.


January 7, 2011

The point is… the stats say Philly can score… and the record going game-by-game has some examples where that is quite true. But it also says they are average at home (4-4 on the year), have the worst record of NFC teams against conference opponents of the playoff teams (oh yeah, except Seattle), and in the past three weeks they’ve played just 8 good minutes of football.


January 7, 2011

But let’s keep something in mind… this is not the destroy-all-visitors Pittsburgh team we saw a few years ago. Last year some slip ups in games they should have won cost them a playoff spot. This year… 5-3 at home. And… those three losses were all to AFC playoff teams. (Baltimore, New England and New York.) Now… they did win in week one over Atlanta… so give them credit. And… a win is a win in the NFL, I suppose. But… 1-3 against playoff teams.


January 1, 2011

I… uh… I got nothing. Jacksonville is still technically fighting for a playoff spot. Houston, in case you haven’t heard, sucks. (S… U… C… K… S… sucks, sucks, sucks.) Ah… but this game has some funny side notes. For one, Jacksonville has a history of collapsing late in the season. Their most important player… Maurice Jones-Drew… didn’t play last week because of a knee injury. Not only is he expected to miss this game, but their quarterback is taking the week off as well. Houston, as much as they suck, can score points.


December 24, 2010

Ok… now… slowly… very slowly, consider that New England has looked inconsistent on the road. I know. I know. Defeated Pittsburgh on the road. Looking great overall. Took care of business against Green Bay last week, even though it was touch and go. But both of their losses were on the road… and that victory over San Diego wasn’t exactly a solid pounding.


December 18, 2010

I’m just not of a mind to pick too many big spreads this week. Well… that’s not true. I’ll be picking New England. My point instead rests on two ideas. First, I don’t trust the San Diego head coach. Second, I wonder exactly how good San Diego is. There is a very realistic chance they don’t play in the postseason this year. A bit more depth of research might be deserved for this game, because, well… did I mention I don’t trust the coach?


December 11, 2010

Love the Giants in this game. Love them.


December 4, 2010

Here’s something you may not know… the Redskins have a winning record when they travel. And if you didn’t know that, you probably don’t know who they defeated on the road… Philadelphia, Chicago, and Tennessee. They also have a winning record in the division right now. The trouble is, they are a team that scores less than 20 a game, and that just isn’t going to get it done.


November 27, 2010

Last year on Thanksgiving, Green Bay won by 22. In 2008, Tennessee beat them by 37. In 2007, Green Bay was there again, with the Packers taking the contest by 11. In 2006, Miami won by 17. (Holy crap… how far back does this go?) In 2005 Atlanta beat them by 20. Five straight Thanksgiving losses, with nothing even remotely close. Want to go back even more? In 2004 the Colts slammed them by 32, with a 41-9 final score, and I’ve had enough of this now. Score one for New England.


November 20, 2010

Has the flying and scoring blitz of the Lions been grounded? Well… you tell me. They have 20 and 12 in the last two games. And on the road? Why this club has scored 14… 10… 26… 20… 12. Not exactly marks of consistency. What we do know is the simple math… Detroit plus road game equals loss.


November 13, 2010

McNabb in a big game? Let me tell you a little secret… while it may have been a surprise to watch him get pulled, the history suggests he has problems under pressure.


November 6, 2010

Seattle is planning on starting the mascot from the University of Washington at quarterback this week. The Giants are in the middle of an annual run… where they win at least 5 straight.


October 30, 2010

What do you want me to say? The Patriots are 3-0 at home… defeated a strong Baltimore team by 3 while trampling Cincinnati and controlling Buffalo. The Vikings are spiraling out of control and the Patriots defense looks faster every week.


October 23, 2010

Would you believe Oakland has won the last two in Denver? Yup… that’s true. Would you believe they’ve split with Denver over the past three seasons? Again… true. And… would you believe that last year’s victory was led by, I kid you not, JaMarcus Russell? Folks… divisional game. I’m taking the underdog.


October 16, 2010

Frank Gore doesn’t just have the most receptions on the team… he’s clear of the second guy by about 2 catches per game while residing about 30-yards shy of being their leading receiver by both catches and yardage. Umm… yeah… that’s effectively their only running back leading the passing attack. (He has 91 carries… quarterback Alex Smith comes in second with 8 credited rushes.)


October 9, 2010

I know what you’re thinking… Jay Cutler on the road. Danger! And normally, you’d be exactly right. I’m expecting a brutally horrible game. But this time, when it comes to betting against Cutler on the road and counting your winnings, don’t do it.


October 2, 2010

The Cardinals are 2-1. Those victories are against St. Louis and Oakland. They were demolished by Atlanta. San Diego has kicked off the annual disappointment tour in familiar fashion, with inexplicable losses, poor play, and, frankly, mind-boggling stupidity.


September 23, 2010

In the middle of writing this column, having added this and the next two games with wonderful insight, the computer crashed and burned. In sort of a half-victory, it did manage to save the information on this game, the Detroit against Minnesota one, and most of Dallas at Houston. But, once I polished it up and bit, saved it and walked away… I returned to find it was all gone. I suppose the lesson you can take from this… other than computers suck… is that some times overanalyzing these games is worthless. So let’s see if I can share some information that you might not get with a casual glance.


September 18, 2010

Better head coach… better running back… I’m leaning toward the Jaguars here. Really. I don’t think San Diego is feeling any sense of urgency… which is what normally kicks them in the pants in recent years. And their inability to beat the Chiefs screams disorganized to me. By the way… the Chargers have lost the second game of the season every year Norv Turner has been their head coach. (Last time they won game number two was in 2006, with Marty coaching.)


September 11, 2010

A couple of years ago, you could take Pittsburgh at home, even with the big spreads, and not only sleep at night… but prepare a deposit slip for your winnings. It was that easy. They won at home… they won big at home… and it happened all the time. In 2009 the Bears and Bengals beat them to begin their home season at 0-2. They could have lost to the Vikings, and eventually did roll over against the Chiefs, Ravens, and Browns. 3-5 at home? Pittsburgh? And to start 2010 we bring in a road favorite? What the hell?


September 9, 2010

But the Vikings are hurting on offense entering this year… with their top wide receiver out. And after Minnesota, the schedule offers up Baltimore and Dallas as the top offensive threats. I’m not kidding. Other than those two teams and a guy named Favre, only Ben Roethlisberger is a consistent top third of the league quarterback. Tampa Bay… Carolina… Atlanta? I like the Falcons and Matt Ryan, but let’s not get carried away just yet. Cincy? Perhaps… but time will tell on how that situation is working out. After that we have Seattle… St. Louis... Arizona… and surely you see what I mean by now.


September 9, 2010

How will Kevin Kolb handle adversity? Can you answer that one? See… in Philly… for a couple of seasons now… the question was whether or not the Eagles should move on past McNabb. Somehow… amazingly… this is Kolb’s fourth year! And he’s been the quarterback-in-waiting since his draft day.


September 9, 2010

They could come out of the gate 1-4… 4-1… and anything else in between. That’s Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Buffalo to start things off. They’ll get one win. They’ll get one loss. But where either will happen is a mystery. In reality, all of those games could go either way. Supply a running attack like the Jaguars start out with, and you got me on what may take place each week.


September 9, 2010

Maybe I’m giving New England too much credit. Maybe they are too old and too young and playing with a different mentality in the locker room that will never be as focused as it once was. And in the same regard, maybe I’m approaching New York with too much “beware of the team everyone is talking about” on my mind. Maybe.


May 21, 2010

The Mariners right now are playing badly enough to completely change the trade deadline. For instance… They went out and got Cliff Lee. Chances are the hope was to win in 2010, try to convince him to stay for a reasonable but solid contract, and take the draft picks only if forced to after the season. Well… what we’ve seen is simple. They aren’t winning. The wild card is gone. And with Oakland playing well and California 4 games ahead of them, their playoff hurdles are immense without even mentioning Texas. Lee has already issued the universally understood wait-until-after-the-season-and-we’ll-see-but-I-really-like-it-here quote that means he’s planning on bolting Seattle as soon as he can empty out his locker without it looking too suspicious.


April 17, 2010

Geez… did everyone already forget 2009? Anyone want to guess Boston’s record out of the gate in 2009? They started with a win and then proceeded to drop 6 of the next 7 games. Yup… they were 2-6 at one point before rallying. They ran off 11 straight wins… beginning from that 2-6 record on the morning of April 15, 2009… and finished the month at 14-8. (Keep this in mind for later though… they went 2-5 in games where they scored 3 runs or less in April of 2009. Ok? Got that? Seriously… this will come up again.)


April 10, 2010

I just don’t see another team in the Central that will run away from the Twins. There is no team capable of 95 wins in the division. And unless that happens, when September arrives the Twins will be in the race. I suppose you could argue that Nathan would make a difference… and even I would attempt to make that argument… but I just don’t see how it ends their season and finishes them.


March 13, 2010

Drew is a pink unicorn. (Wait… maybe he’s the magician. No… no… let’s say he’s the unicorn. Boston management waving the stats are playing the role of the magician.) For this season, defense is the unicorn. Because after years of preaching on-base percentage and smart signings of low-cost productive players with high reward possibilities, suddenly… as we turn the pages from 2009 to 2010… the magician has finished his distraction of telling us how the way to improve this club was on the field and not with the batting order, and there, center stage, is a season where pitching and defense has been assembled.


March 13, 2010

Of course, as you’ve probably figured out… after all, the geniuses expecting a division title for the White Sox figured it out… I’m not mentioning Jake Peavy. The White Sox think they have a surprise for us. They think Peavy and Buehrle are going to be equal to Beckett – Lester – Lackey or Hernandez – Lee or any of the other dynamic duos in baseball. It’s an interesting possibility and worth considering. It’s a thought that should make you wonder if things could go right in Chicago. But the truth is… they’re not that good.


March 13, 2010

Of last year’s American League playoff teams, this is the only one that is visibly weaker. They no longer have a true top-notch pitcher in the rotation. And honestly… if you recall all those years when people used to wonder when the Angels were going to get some support in the batting order for Guerrero, then you understand what things are going to be like for Torii Hunter.


March 13, 2010

Amazingly quiet. They managed to dump Juan Pierre. And that’s about… hold on… yeah… that’s it. Brought in or signed a few one-year-flyers… Reed Johnson… Ronnie Belliard… Vincente Padilla… Brad Ausmus… but nothing stunning or amazing. Plans seem to be based on getting payroll stable after a few years of Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and figuring out what Manny is doing. Guess I can’t blame them for that, but it does raise some questions if you think things will be a walk into the playoffs.


March 10, 2010

This club is going to score runs by the truckload. By the time we get to August, the only NL club that’s better at it should be Philadelphia. Yup… the Phillies… and that’s it. And… umm… after that they’ve got nothing. Opposing lineups are going to love seeing the Brewers take the field, because they should light up Milwaukee’s staff brighter than the sky over the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July.


March 10, 2010

Braves might have a better rotation… Mets might have a better offense… and so on. But… those clubs just as easily might not be better. The Mets, as an example, have all sorts of health concerns and other questions. The Mets will be without Beltran to start the year, have Reyes returning after effectively missing last season, want Wright to look better in a power role than he did in 2009, need to bring Bay on board… and so on. Does Reyes – Beltran – Wright – Bay look good in some fashion as the content of a batting order? Sure does. Given the past three seasons or so though… I don’t think any part of that group frightens Philly.


February 26, 2010

So there’s my solution. When it comes to overtime… play or don’t play. If you’re going to have it… and the NFL is going to have it… then commit to it fully if you want fairness. Don’t turn it into a game of alternating possessions. Keep the clock involved. Play a full extra period.


February 26, 2010

McGwire’s admitted it. My ability to use him as an example no longer applies. Do I need that example though? Do I need McGwire to have never tested positive when the game still has performance enhancing loopholes that you could spot from Mars with the naked eye? Do I need McGwire when the media seems bent on attacking him while not applying the same standards… the same criteria… the same research to those that played during these so-called dark, dark years?


February 5, 2010

Look for halftime to play a huge roll in determining this game. I’d guess the team that gets the ball first in the second half will win. And by doing that I’m predicting a bit of clock management. Let’s say New Orleans is driving late in the second quarter and kicks a field goal. Then, they get the ball first after halftime and score a touchdown. That’s 10-points without Indianapolis taking the field. With two high-powered offenses hitting the field, that could be a significant way to change the flow of the game.


January 23, 2010

See Brett. See Brett lose. See Brett fumble. See Brett throw interceptions. See Saints win. Last week I told you I could see Romo or Favre losing the game by playing horribly or turning the ball over late. I picked Minnesota to win. Picked Romo to fall apart. This week, I sort of expect a close, high scoring contest, with Favre having a chance to win it late… but he turns it over and the Saints take the victory. Let’s say 38-34 or something like that.


January 14, 2010

First thought, if you think New Orleans will score… then you think New Orleans will win. And second thought, if you think Arizona will score… then you think New Orleans will win.


January 6, 2010

I would love to see New England win this game. If they do, they might be able to get on a roll. Heck… stranger things have happened for teams that didn’t have the greatest quarterback ever to play the game leading the way with one of the greatest receivers ever to play the game taking the field along with a defense that isn’t special but is definitely underrated. The Patriots are a talented club that, when healthy, match up with any other team in the NFL. I’ll be cheering and screaming for them to win. But I think Ray Rice is going to ultimately decide this game.


January 2, 2010

I wouldn’t be stunned to see New York win. I really wouldn’t. I would be surprised if either team scores 20 points. I’m thinking 19-17 or 16-13 for a final score in this one. In fact… let’s call it… I say that with less than a minute to play, the Jets will be lining up for a field goal attempt that will decide whether or not they go to the playoffs. Heck, I’ve already explained before how they seem reliant on the field goal this season… it would be a perfect ending to see the score 14-13 Cincinnati with 25-seconds to go and New York facing third or fourth down and a 42-yard attempt.


December 24, 2009

Did you know Jacksonville has been outscored this season by 60-points? I’m not kidding. That’s hardly rare this year… for some amazing reason a couple of teams are at even records while being outscored. Miami… Houston… Tennessee are the others. And that’s just one reason I can’t take the Jaguars seriously as a playoff-bound team.


December 19, 2009

There’s a part of me that thinks maybe I’m being too optimistic in thinking this will be a snap for New England. Is it really as simple as saying Buffalo is averaging about 16 a contest and even when struggling, New England puts up 20 in the first half? Yes… to a degree… it is.


December 10, 2009

There is zero that I can tell you about this game that I would feel good about. We could examine it fifteen different ways, using the most important topics, and the reality is, fifteen other things could easily become more important in influencing this game. It could be the line play. It might be the running games. And perhaps one of the quarterbacks has a career passing effort. I could see an unheralded player getting a late turnover. Or maybe it will be rainy and windy and carry the late, last-second field goal attempt just wide. Look, King Kong could show up at this game and I really don’t think he would create any more of a strange event than what eventually does happen. So, with both teams turning in good and bad efforts in recent weeks, and even though Philly is probably playing better, I’m just going to take the home team here and move on. And is that really what I think? Nope. One, two, three or more wacky things are going to happen in this game to decide it, and there is no way to feel good about that.


December 5, 2009

In the past 3 weeks the Redskins have toppled the Broncos and scared the crap out of the Cowboys and Eagles. And for all of their faults, only 4 times this year has an opponent hit the 21-point mark. Coming off of arguably the greatest win in organization history… I think New Orleans wins, and probably big, but I’m going to take Washington for the surprise (and the points).


November 25, 2009

See… from what I saw during the Philadelphia against Chicago game… Jay Cutler couldn’t hit a moving car with a football if he was sitting in the back seat of the car when he threw it. (Ok… ok… that’s not fair. He probably could hit a moving car with a football. This week the Bears are playing the Vikings in Minnesota. If you painted the car purple and gold, left it undefended about 10-yards from him, and let him throw at it on Sunday afternoon, Cutler would hit it without a problem.)


November 20, 2009

I already know how this game is going to play out. Early in the fourth quarter, New England will have possession of the ball with a 10-point lead. Let’s call it 24-14. They’ll drive the length of the field and get inside the 10-yard line. With roughly 6-minutes to play, the Patriots will be sitting around the 4-yard line with a decision to make on fourth down. Might be like fourth and 2 for a first down inside the 10-yard line… might be fourth and goal… but the idea is the same… go for it or field goal. And they’ll go for it.


November 14, 2009

The Bills suck. I know… I know… 2 wins in the last 3 games. Wow. Not impressed. Check out the stats… the Jets and Panthers both self-destructed. I believe the Titans are poised for a late season run that makes you wonder what was going on in September and October.


November 5, 2009

Denver comes into this game with the better defensive efforts of the year, and Pittsburgh with the better offense. The consistency from Denver in not turning the ball over and playing solid defense has, until last week, been a steady, reliable factor in their victories. Honestly… the thing I keep watching is two-fold. Pittsburgh hasn’t been good on the road. And that can be found first in that they 1-2 in road games to date. Second, they are 0-3 against the spread when on the road this year.


October 30, 2009

This is the kind of game that screws me up when it comes to the Texans. But the reality is simple… Buffalo has won 2 in a row and you can’t trust the results from either one. Against the Jets, the Bills picked off 5 passes, and still had to hold their breath. Against Carolina… well… they managed a 20-7 victory, on the road, while racking up 167-yards of offense to Carolina’s 425. Some things defy explanation… shake your head… move on.


October 24, 2009

Norv Turner… how does this guy keep his job? Yeah… Marty… I know. Can’t coach when the chips are on the table. Put him in the playoffs and he tightens up, changing everything that worked for him during the regular season. But here’s the thing about Marty… there is no way… none… zero… ain’t happening… that this San Diego roster doesn’t win between 11 and 13 games every year under his leadership.


October 16, 2009

The Rams are bad at a level that simply can’t be described. There’s a real chance they could stay at home this year, forfeit the road games, and not only would the 0-8 record be pretty much what they’ll have anyway, but they might only score like 17 fewer total points on the year than they will by showing up. (Seriously, they should consider it, save the planet and not travel at all.)


October 10, 2009

If you would like to quarterback an NFL team, please send your name, address, uniform size, a day-time telephone number, and a self-addressed 9½” x 11” envelope with appropriate postage for a 30-page playbook to: Cleveland Browns, 76 Lou Groza Boulevard, Berea, Ohio, 44017.


October 3, 2009

I expect the unexpected here. Sure… Denver isn’t as good as their record. But… that Cincy win is looking a bit better for them, and they are at home. On top of that, look… Dallas isn’t one of the best teams in the league. They’re not. They’re an average club, with above average talent, that can’t concentrate and would do well to hit 9 wins. So unless they manage to come in here and destroy the Broncos, don’t expect me to start offering them respect based on the history of the franchise instead of the reality of 2009.


September 26, 2009

Who watched the Redskins play the Rams and then installed them as a 6½ -point favorite? Who? I’m not just taking the Lions to cover… I’m taking them for the outright victory. (Calm down… calm down… I know. Insanity.)


September 19, 2009

Over the past 3 seasons, these clubs have split every season series. And, over those years, each has won two games on the road. Last season, in the only loss on the road against Dallas in 3 years, New York had an injured Brandon Jacobs and an 11-2 record (in other words… no desperation to win). This is a big game for the Cowboys. Opening a new stadium… their first divisional game… and, well, we’ve seen how Dallas does in big games.


September 10, 2009

This game has me stumped. The Cardinals should win this one without breaking a sweat. Should. The 49ers don’t have the same talent as the Cardinals. They have questions that Arizona doesn’t. But something tells me that Arizona isn’t prepared to take care of business. I think they’ve been reading their press clippings a bit too much. And I think the 49ers win this game… and start people talking (talking way too early) about a Cinderella-story season.


September 10, 2009

But now Orlando Pace is gone… ditto Torry Holt. Marc Bulger isn’t going to the Pro Bowl unless they need to send the conference’s seventh or eighth best quarterback. (Yes… he’s that low. Don’t believe me? Fine. Brees, Manning, McNabb, Romo, Favre, Rodgers, Ryan, Warner… see, and that’s eight quarterbacks from the NFC without entering names you might debate like Delhomme if Carolina turns in a big year or Cutler (who I think is just a big baby and I’d take Bulger ahead of him on principle).)


September 10, 2009

I guess it’s like that commercial they did with the yawning during the play calling. It seems like there is a lack of focus here in Dallas. Maybe that’s because everyone is paying attention to big new the scoreboard when talking about the field as much as they do about Tony Romo not appearing in a section of People each week. Why isn’t anyone talking about the team? Did they all leave for Buffalo?


September 10, 2009

Welcome to year eight of Houston’s 3 to 5 year plan. And following an 8-8 record in 2008, the team will be looking for more in 2009. Is it possible? I have my doubts. There isn’t a single game on their schedule that jumps out at me as a win. Even something like Oakland… last year the Raiders beat them 27-16. So we’re dealing with a team that can win or lose any week.


September 10, 2009

I don’t know if I’m explaining it properly… but I think there needs to be a proactive element to your team instead of a reactive element in order to be successful. I think you need to be able to do something… anything… well. I think you need an identity. Yeah… that’s it… an identity defines it about as well as any word does. The Jets to me look like a team assembled not to do anything well, but rather assembled because they are concerned about what other teams do well.


July 16, 2009

Penny’s ERA the first time he goes through the batting order is 2.13. He’s pitched 38 innings by that description, given up 34 hits, and struck out 28. (Not dominant, but pretty darn good. Heck… everyone can’t be Casey Fossum.) The second time through the order… 32 and two-thirds so far… the ERA goes up to 4.19, strikeouts still an interesting ratio at 22, but hits go through the roof at 53. (Uh-oh. Maybe everyone can be Casey Fossum.) Third time for the order? 8.23 ERA. NASA scientists and MIT grad students are still working on his numbers for the miraculous times he gets to a fourth go against hitters.


July 16, 2009

Seriously… if you need to bring offense to Boston because Jason Bay isn’t as hot as he was back in April or May… do you really think Nick Johnson is a given to produce after leaving Washington for Boston? Because if you do, I have a 10-year old used car I’d like to sell you. About 175,000 miles on it… but only one owner and it never left on a long drive beyond traveling the east coast. (Heck… we only drove it to church… and that was downhill with the engine off.)


July 8, 2009

I feel sorry for the Indians. Not only do they come out of the gate like a turtle strapped to a concrete block, but before his suspension Manny was talking about how lovely a place it would be to end his career. Lucky them. Of course… we’re now in July… and that turtle pulled over to the side of the road and came to a complete stop. 31 – 49? 31 – 49? Do you want to know how hard it is to go 31 – 49? The Orioles have zero pitching… a worse road record than Cleveland… and they play in the American League East, where every other team has a winning record. They’re 35 – 43. That’s 5 games better than the Indians in the standings. (While cruising in at 11-18 against the AL East to start, Baltimore is… 1-11… on the road against divisional foes. Still… better than Cleveland.)


July 8, 2009

What has been going right for Colorado is simple if you look though… and Marquis is an example of it… their starting pitching has been pretty healthy and very consistent. The five starters have made all but two starts and kept their combined ERA around 4. And… they’ve even been completing at least six innings of work per start. (I’m not kidding. Colorado starters are going deep into games. Get this one… the Colorado starters have thrown roughly 30 more innings than the New York starters. And yet… Sabathia has thrown more innings than any pitcher on the Colorado staff. In fact, as I write this, Colorado starters have also thrown more innings than the Boston starters.)


April 19, 2009

No doubt about it… toughest division in baseball. Yes, Tampa still needs to prove they can deliver another strong performance, but I actually think 88-90 wins is quite possible for them without much of a problem at all. Toss in a man that arguably is the best pitcher in the division taking the mound for the Blue Jays, and, you could go a long way while arguing that the fourth best team in this division could threaten several of the best teams in baseball during an opening short-round of the playoffs.


April 19, 2009

Every team except Kansas City has performed well… made the playoffs… been a disappointment… exceeded expectations… played well… played poorly… and basically has done anything they could to make the playoffs and then mess things up the next year. And Kansas City has a shot not just in this division, but in the entire American League, at turning in the most improvement compared to last season.


April 19, 2009

The trouble is… only California is built to maintain a 90-plus win pace. That may not mean cruise control as the July trading deadline closes and the dog days arrive, but it will mean the division lead… and I don’t expect them to give it back.


April 19, 2009

There are Cy Young winning arms out here. Some lights out pitching spread across the teams. Four of the teams in this division have been in the World Series roughly over the past decade...

It’s hard to explain, but this division is just so vanilla… plain… heck, it is boring. And that just shouldn’t be the case.


April 18, 2009

I have always loved sports, and my father and uncle, tremendous influences in my life, fed my appetite with their passion and support. About the age of eight or nine, I was at my grandmother’s house, and I found a book in my uncle’s room. It was The Open Man, by Dave DeBusschere. He wrote it as a diary about the championship season of 1969-1970. Working with him on the project were Dick Schaap and Paul Zimmerman, two sports writers that have become well-known and respected in their field over the years that followed its publication.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted May 16, 2003


April 2, 2009

Look… the Cubs are the clear favorite. And yet going in to the last weekend of March, Lou Pinella still hadn’t decided on a closer… the team doesn’t know what to do with Kosuke Fukudome… and they signed Milton Bradley, who would have been a huge risk for a team that could use him as a designated hitter. There you have it folks… a highly paid designated hitter on a team that will play more than 150 of their regular season games in National League parks... the clear favorites. Exciting division.


April 2, 2009

That said… here we are in the NL East. And, truth be told, it’s pretty darn good and deep as well. Toss out Washington, and there is some quality play to be turned in by the other four clubs. The problem? Well… None of them are great. Certainly not AL East level great. They’re all just pretty good.


April 2, 2009

The Denver Broncos were considering a quarterback change. Their current quarterback is ok, but hasn’t accomplished much. Their new head coach was likely going to install systems on offense and defense that reflect his philosophy… and he had a chance to go after a quarterback that had won and been successful operating an offense not just based on his system, it was his system.


March 21, 2009

Rodriguez recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right hip in early March. The 90-minute procedure was intended to stabilize a torn labrum, allowing him to miss only a small portion of the 2009 season while hopefully reducing the possibility of the injury worsening by playing.


March 7, 2009

“David is coming here to be a soccer player. His first priority is going to be trying to make the Galaxy a better team.” I love that one. Give me a second… we’ll get to why that cracks me up.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted August 25, 2007


March 7, 2009

As Owens was walking out on the organization, he basically did so by walking backwards toward the door while giving the figurative finger to the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t like the organization, the coaches, or the teammates. Heck, it seemed like he didn’t like anything about the city if it didn’t involve a paycheck for him from endorsement money. And when he hit the exit door… he literally smashed right into it. Turned out he was so involved with hand gestures and television interviews bad mouthing the 49ers, he hadn’t noticed that no one… not even his agent… had opened it for him to leave.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 11, 2004


February 23, 2009

Oh absolutely it’s been fun watching players apologize for what they were caught doing, all while struggling to make sure they don’t admit to a darker secret that hasn’t been revealed during their I’m so sorry moment. But I’ve reached a point… see item number one, tired… where the reality is setting in with me that this is much ado about something, but I don’t know if it’s the really important, life altering, super-duper-incredible something everyone seems to want to believe it is.


February 22, 2009

Sabathia has pitched in the postseason three times… 2001, 2007 and 2008. Let’s look at the past two years, when he was counted on as a dominant difference maker… So he’s 1-3 in 4 starts. He’s pitched a whopping total of 19 innings in those 4 starts… less than 5 innings per outing. And, in those 19 innings, there have been 44 base runners.


February 14, 2009

The first comment is that you can never go too far. Considering the ever-increasing laundry list of stupidity the-pitcher-who-must-not-be-named has been working on, it’s clear he takes this advice to heart. (So this first part is pretty good, right? You can never go too far, and it certainly seems to apply here. Hold on… part two is even better.)


February 5, 2009
What makes it so different that a player like Harrison… or Shawn Merriman… gets a pass and a return to the playing field, when players like McGwire, Bonds and so on seem to be sparking national outrage? As near as I can tell, it’s because we are talking about potential immortals and legendary accomplishments in a game that treats those as sacred. It’s not purely a difference between the sports or the media covering them or the cities they play in. When Babe Ruth and Roger Maris and other players or records are approached or broken, they reflect treasures of the game.



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