In 2013 the narrative of the AL East has the potential to be the most interesting/exciting in all of baseball because all five teams each have their own individual story to tell. All could possibly win the division or finish last.

The Toronto Blue Jays, for example, the dubious “winners” of the offseason by adding the 2012 NL Cy Young award winner in RA Dickey and every single player from the Marlins who had a name which denotes they belong on be on a major league roster, including the one, who, when healthy, is known as the “most exciting player in baseball,” in Jose Reyes. 

New manager same as the old manager in John Gibbons and expectations for 2013 are soaring.  To put it in the douchebagian poker speak from seven years ago which still permeates our colloquaial today, the Blue Jays are “all-in” on the 2013 season. But we have seen before, offseason acquisitions don’t always translate into regular season wins.

Then there is 2012′s cardiac kids” the Baltimore Orioles, who won the Wild Card last year after going an astounding 29-9 in one-run ball ames.  Thats a winning percentage of .763 which is an all-time record.  That, coupled with the fact that in 2012 the O’s scored only 7 more runs then their opponents did all year (715-705) makes people want to say what Buck Showalter’s boys accomplished last year was a fluke and the team is more likely then not to finish worst instead of first. 

 

Next you got the Tampa Bay Rays, a 90 win team a year ago who just missed out on making their third straight postseason appearance. 

Tampa Bay has become the modern mecca of pitching.  In 2012 they led the majors in ERA and batting average against and were third overall (first in the AL)  in strikeouts. For historical connotation, per Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, their 3.19 ERA was the best in the AL in 22 years, their .228 batting average against is the lowest since the DH was invented 40 years ago and their 1,383 K’s were the most in the American League’s 112-year history. 

So we know they can pitch the crap out of the ball, so the quesion is, can they hit?  And they answer is, probably?  Maybe?  I don’t know, the uncertainty of it all is what makes this division so great. 

Keep in mind, last year, with Evan Longoria in the lineup, the Rays were 47-27 and 43-45 without him.  With him healthy and the staff just comes close to replicating last season’s production, then that could easily translate to another 3-4 wins and October baseball

Notice I’m talking about the AL East and i haven’t even mentioned New York or Boston once?  That’s what makes this division so interesting.  In addition to everything mentioned above, plus the individual stories for the Yankees and Boston ( which I’ll get to next) there is this whole new dynamic to the New York-Boston rivalry.  For a decade weve watched them jockey for first and second place but in 2013 it looks like they’ll battle for not last, adding a whole new dynamic to this rivalry.   

In 2013 the New York Yankees begin their quest to lead the majors in payroll for the 15th straight year, and they are off to a good start.  In fact, you can probably make it offical and wrap that up right now.  Their 228mil is 12mil more than the second place Dodgers and, with all the injuries they’ve already sustained, Jeter, Granderson, Texeira, Hughes, Rodriguez, they will more likely then not have to add payroll not shed it.

Question, has any team led the majors in payroll but finished last in their own division?  Answer, I don’t know, I’m asking you.  I know it hasn’t happened since 2008 when Baltimore almost did but luckily the Rays were called the Devil Rays then and the Devill Rays sucked, so they (BAL) only finished fourth.  I could not find team payroll stats pre-’98, keep in mind, im just some fat dude who’s got too much time on his hands, all i got is Google just like you, I’m not an encyclopedia.  But this is definitiely something to watch for this year.

 

Perhaps their fall from dominance won’t be quite that dramatic as to finish in dead last, still, they haven’t finished under .500 since 1992 and their streak of 20 straight seasons of winning ball, realistically, could be in jeopardy. Speaking of 1992, the Yankees lineup featured names like Nokes, Stankiewicz and Maas which sure  sound a whole lot like the Hafner, Wells and Overbay’s that they have now.   Forget the division and the wild card races, can their first goal should be just get to 82 wins?

And lastly, Boston.  Boston would like to forget about 2012, a season filled with fueding, failing and purging, both players, the exile of Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez to LA as well as the fans “purging” at the teams 69-93 record and their AAAA roster by seasons end.

But 2013 is a new year, new manager, John Farrell, with new lineup and a new attitude. Returing are same solid, youngish pitching staff that should be health, with a positive attitude and the ability to keep them in games. If Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury play 150 games each, Shane Vicorino and Mike Napoli turn out to be solid free agent additions and the eventual return of David Ortiz to some level of a productive player, then Boston could be good. If one of those things go wrong, they could still be tough, but would need some luck to challenge for the division.

My predicition for the division is BALTIMORE.

I don’t buy that they were lucky last year but i do agree that the 29 wins in 1-run games is a fluke. They will win less 1-run games this year because they will win more games by two or more runs. A lot of people claim their lack of offseason acquisiions means they will be the same team as last year only worse due to the fact that they will have to be less lucky. I disagree. Last year Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold only played in 33 games combined so they are both basically new acquisitions to the 2013 lineup as oppposed to the 2012. Nick Markakis only appeared in 104 games in 2012 because of two stints on the DL. The second of which ended his season prematurely on Sept 8th. Then, factor in that the O’s will get full seasons out of Manny Machado and Nate McLouth who only played in 51 and 55 games respectively in 2012 and they should be better in 2013.

The orioles regular lineup feature only three players over the age of 30, 2B Brian Roberts is the elder statesman at 35 (and just placed on the 15 day DL as I’m writing this), SS JJ Hardy is 30 and won the Gold Glove last year and LF Nate McLouth is 31. With the core of this team, Adam Jones, Matt Weiters, Nick Markakis and the 20 year old 3B Manny Machado, so young, the Orioles are a team that is just starting to come into their own and HAS NOT peaked yet, as the pundits would have you believe.

Second place belongs to TAMPA BAY.

They say good pitching beats good hitting and what the Rays have is great not good. They will scuffle to find enough offense all year but this is post steroid, post HGH, clean baseball that we are watching now, offense will be harder to come by across the board and no team is built better to deal with that fact of life than the Rays are.

Per ESPN The Magazine’s baseball preview issue, Longoria’s WAR is 28.5. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that statistic, WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement. So, in regualar speak, that means with Longoria in the lineup, the Rays will win 28.5 more games per year then they would without him. So what that means funcitally is they need to find a way to protect Evan Longoria both literally and figuratively. Literally because they need him healthy and his bat in the lineup for no less than 150 games. Figuratively they need to protect his bat in the lineup. Tampa has to find a bat to go behind his spot so he can’t be pitched around. Wil Myers came over from the Royals in a trade for Scott Shields and could be delegated with that responsibility once they recall him from AAA.

Third place goes to TORONTO.

RA Dickey will have success in a new league that has to learn his power-knuckler, and the Jays will be competitive. I expect them to finish above .500, make a push for 90 wins and to be involved in the dual Wild Card race for most of the season. I don’t expect them to go from a 73 win team to a to a 95 win team just because they fleeced the Marlins. Their rotation has two guys, Brandon Morrow and John Johnson, who have long track records of injury concerns. If one goes down, they will still be competitive, aided by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion’s 40+ home run potential and Jose Reyes setting the table in front of them, but if both falter or go down, then the Jays won’t have enough depth to keep a dog in the hunt.

Fourth belongs to NEW YORK.

This may be by biased as a Yankee fan coming through here. I don’t know if i “think” they won’t finsh last, and thus “beat” Boston or “hope” that they will.

Top 10 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers

If you are a serious, no-nonsense, balls-to-the-wall fantasy football player like I am, then you already know what I am about to say, so feel free to skip ahead a bit.  As for the rest of you, here goes: there is no offseason in fantasy football.  Right now you should be paying attention to who, among the teams in the playoffs, is getting the ball and how much they are getting it.  Bernard Pierce’s game against the Colts told me more about him then all 16 games of the regular season did combined.  To prove my point, I submit the fact that Matthew Berry, the preeminent fantasy guru, has already released his top 200 players for 2013, which got me thinking.  I know its early, but I immediately identified more than a handful of players whom I think were undervalued based on his initial rankings.  In the words of fantasy athletics these are known as “sleepers”.  So here you go, for your reading pleasure I submit my list of 2013 fantasy football sleepers.  And just so we are on the same page, here is my definition of what a “sleeper” is:  I define a sleeper as a player who will outperform his average draft position by no less than 10 spots, or one full standard league round.  So a fifth round sleeper would be expected to perform as well, if not better than, a player selected in the fourth round.  So, without further ado, here they are.

  • #53 Greg Jennings, WR22, 6th Round.  In 2012 the 22nd best WR was Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers with his 73 receptions for 1,174 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Jennings missed most of 2012 with an injury but did show he was back at 100% in Green Bay’s season finale in which he caught 8 balls for 120 yards and 2 TD’s.  He will be one of the most highly coveted free agents this offseason and at only 30 years old should have no problem being a top 15 WR next year worthy of a selection within the first five rounds of the draft.  1200 yards and 8 touchdowns are easily attainable.  Even if he were to stay in Green Bay it changes nothing as Jennings is Rodgers favorite target.
  • #69 Torrey Smith, WR29, 7th Round.  In 2012 the 29th best WR was Austin Miles of the Dallas Cowboys with his 946 yards and 6 touchdowns.  In 2012, Smith’s second year in the NFL, he had 984 receiving yards and 10 TD’s.  Traditionally, a wide receiver usually really starts to come into his own during his third year in the league.  Anyone who watched the Baltimore-Denver AFC Divisional game last week knows that it is laughable to actually think that Smith will regress in 2013.  Barring any unforeseen setbacks, if you’re on the clock in the fourth round and he’s still available then he has the potential to be the steal of your draft.
  • #70 Vick Ballard, RB25, 7th Round.  In 2012 the 25th best running back was Willis McGahee and his 952 total yards and four touchdowns.  Come on!  What the Colts have going on the offensive side of the ball is something special.  The Donald Brown era is all but over.  I fully expect Ballard to enter 2013 as their primary, if not feaure, back who will get all the goal line work.  In today’s NFL no primary+goal line back lasts until the 7th round of a fantasy draft.  Barring a move via the draft or something unexpected during free agency, Ballard is no worse than a top 15 RB worth selecting during the first five rounds of the draft.
  • #86 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB29, 9th Round.  The 29th best running back of 2012 was Denver’s Knowshon Moreno and his 748 total yards and 5 total TD’s.  Much of my argument for Rodgers is the same as above for Ballard.  Michael Turner’s role in the Atlanta offense is being reduced, if not phased out entirely by next year, and Rodgers is who they are going to turn to.  To sum it up, as a rookie, in a part time role, Rodgers totaled 836 yards of offense and 2 TD’s.  With him having an increased role next year, there is no reason not to think that he won’t compile another combined 400 yards of offense and an additional 4-6 TD’s.  He is an ideal flex candidate with RB2 upside worth selecting by the 6th round.
  • #89 Josh Gordon, WR40, 9th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best WR was Santana Moss and his 592 yards and 8 TD’s.  Josh Gordon was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 supplemental draft.  What that means, the nuts-and-bolts of it at least, is instead of joining his team in April like all the rest of the rookies did, he didn’t join the Browns until July. But that didn’t stop him from leading the Browns in receiving yards with 805 receiving TD’s with 5. And, oh by the way, did I mention he didn’t even play a down of competitive football in 2011 because of off the field problems?  At 6’3” 225lbs Gordon has the potential to be a star in the NFL and should be drafted as a WR3 with serious WR1 potential no later than the 6th round.
  • #90 TY Hilton, WR41, 9th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best WR was Larry Fitzgerald and his fantasy season-ruining 798 yards and 4 TD’s.  In 2012 Hilton, a rookie, had 927 yards and 7 TD’s.   506 of those yards and 5 TD’s came over Hilton’s final seven games, which means to me, as the season progressed, he and fellow rookie Andrew Luck, really began to develop some chemistry.  Next year Reggie Wayne, who Matthew Berry lists as his 13th best WR, 37th overall, turn 35.  I expect Wayne to produce closer to where Mr. Berry projects Hilton to be and vice-versa.  I’ll say it again, what Indianapolis has brewing on the offensive side of the ball is something special and fantasy owners had better pay attention.
  • #97 Kendall Wright, WR46, 10th Round.  In 2012 the 46th best WR was Donnie Avery with 793 yards and 3 TD’s.  Last year, as a rookie, Wright led the Titans in both receptions, 64, and targets, 104. His 626 yards were good for second on the team and his 4 touchdowns put him in a four-way tie for the team lead.  I expect him to easily surpass those numbers in 2013.  Why?  If for no better reason than we are not even through January yet, and Kenny Britt has already had to talk to the police about a shooting/stabbing.  There is no way this guy lasts another seven months without some type of off the field incident which will undoubtedly negatively impact his fantasy value.  Wright is a steal as early as the 8th round and should be viewed as a WR3 with WR2 upside.
  • #119 David Wilson, RB41, 12th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best fantasy football was Bilal Powell and his 577 total yards and 4 TD’s.  I know, Wilson can’t pass-block, I get it.  He does everything else at a nearly elite level.  The whole pass-blocking thing will get figured out, the Giants need Wilson on the field starting game one in 2013 and 1,000 combined yards, 8 total TD’s is what I set the minimum bar at.  Draft as a flex no later than round 8 and expect big time production from him as you become the envy of your draft.
  • #132 Bernard Pierce, RB45, 14th Round.  In 2012 the 45th best fantasy running back was LaRod Stephens-Howling with 463 total yards and 4 TD’s.  If in 2013 you own Ray Rice, than you need to also draft Pierce.  He is a necessary handcuff that may wind up sneaking into your lineup, even with Ray Rice playing, as a viable flex option.  You don’t take a player in the third round of the NFL draft, as Baltimore did with Pierce, to have him sit on the bench.  The Ravens will find a way to get the ball into Pierce’s hands and I expect him to make the most of his opportunities.
  • #135 Kendall Hunter, RB 48, 14th Round.  In 2012 David Wilson was the 48th best fantasy running back with 395 total yards and 5 TD’s.  Before tearing his Achilles tendon, Hunter was doing a great job as Frank Gore’s backup, averaging 5.2ypc.  Hunter is another player who falls under the category of must-have handcuff with serious upside.  Frank Gore had a superb 2012 campaign with 1,200+ yards and 8 TD’s but will be 30 next year and at some point he will start to slow down.  I’d feel comfortable taking Hunter in the 10th round knowing, at the very least, if Gore were to get banged up, then I am sitting on a lottery ticket by way of having a RB1 on my bench.  (On a side note, if LaMichael James were to be #2 on the 2013 SF depth chart, and not Hunter, then insert him here instead.)
  • #141 Ronnie Hillman, RB51, 15th Round.  The 51st best fantasy RB in 2012 was Maurice Jones-Drew who got hurt in the Jaguars’ sixth game of the year.  Another young, talented back, who was a third round draft pick, playing behind a productive, but aging (by NFL running back standards) veteran.  Willis McGahee will be 32 years old next year and can not be counted on to carry a full workload, which is where Hillman comes in.  Draft him around round 10 and you won’t be disappointed.
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BRONCOS-RAVENS PREVIEW

Today’s Broncos-Ravens matchup is one of quarterbacks who are at polar opposite ends of the “pressure-spectrum.”  On one hand you’ve got Canton-bound, all-world Peyton Manning who, if he retired today, before this game’s 4:30pm kickoff, would still be destined to be in the discussion for one of the game’s all-time greats.  Manning’s legacy has already been defined, now he is just looking to add some hardware to his resume. Due simply to the fact that at this time last year we were wondering not when but if he would ever play again, Manning is the quarterback with the least amount of pressure to win this weekend.

Then on the other end of the pressure-spectrum you’ve got Baltimore’s Joe Flacco who might be the most accomplished fifth year quarterback in NFL history to never be selected to the Pro Bowl or play in a Super Bowl.

Flacco has set NFL records for playoff wins by a rookie (2), most regular season wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons (54), and is the only quarterback in NFL history to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons.  But despite all that, the self-proclaimed “best” quarterback in the NFL is without a contract for the 2013 season which makes him the only starting quarterback left in the postseason who is playing for his next paycheck.

Unfortunately for Flacco, as an NFL quarterback, until you have proved you can do “it” (and by “it” I mean win, or at least make, the Super Bowl), you are not defined by what you have done, but rather by what you haven’t.  Furthermore, fans of the “ADD  Generation” do not remember circumstances; they remember results.  They don’t care if Lee Evans dropped the game winning touchdown in last year’s AFC Championship game which would have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl, nor the fact that Billy Cundiff subsequently missed an easy 32-yard field goal which would have tied the game.  No, all that gets remembered is Flacco lost, again, and is now 0-2 when a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.  Right or wrong, that’s the way it is.

Finally, there are 42 other combined starters for the Broncos and Ravens who aren’t named Manning or Flacco that will also have a say in how this game ends.  For my money, there are four key factors which determine the outcome of any football game.

1)      Win on third down

2)      Protect your quarterback

3)      Be the least penalized team

4)      Win the battle of field position

That’s it, winning and losing in the NFL in a nutshell.  The Denver Broncos hold the edge in all four of those factors.  On offense they convert 45.1% of their 3rd downs while Baltimore converts at only a 36.9% rate.  On defense, the Broncos held their opponents to a conversion rate of 30.6% which led the NFL whereas the Ravens 35.8% was eighth.  Peyton Manning was only sacked 21 times compared to Flacco’s 35, and, as a bonus, the Broncos’ D led the NFL with 52 sacks whereas Baltimore’s 37 had them in a three-way tie for 15th.  Denver was flagged only 100 times, versus Baltimore’s 121, and in 16 fewer punt returns than Baltimore (33 versus 49) Denver amassed more yards (445 versus 404).

What does this all mean?  It means that despite all the hub-a-ba-loo regarding Peyton Manning having never won a playoff game in which the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff (0-3), I expect the Denver Broncos to win and win big today (and by big I mean by more than the nine point spread which they currently are) and for the controversy regarding just how valuable Joe Flacco is as an NFL quarterback to continue to be determined another day.

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BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WRAP UP

By now just about everyone is aware of the of tsunami -esque beat down the Alabama Crimson Tide gave to the Notre Dame Fightin’  Irish in their 42-14 win in last nights’s BCS National Championship game.

It was a complete and total domination by “Bama start to finish.  The Irish got off to a good start by winning the coin toss but that was about it for the things they did well.  But at least they’ll have that. “Bama got the ball first and ND got to losing right away as they gave up a five play 82-yd touchdown drive.  Which, oh by the way, was the longest drive the Manti Te’o led ND defense had given up all season.

There is no better way to illustrate the dominance Alabama’s offense had over the much (as it turns out) over-hyped Notre Dame defense than this, going into last night, the Irish had surrendered only nine total offensive touchdowns all year to their 12 regular season opponents combined but on the first play of the second quarter Alabama’s T.J Yeldon’s 1-yd touchdown run gave the Crimson Tide a 21-0 lead over the Irish.

What that means is, in only 904 seconds of BCS Title game play Notre Dame allowed Alabama to score one third as many touchdowns  as they let all 12 of their  opponents score during the 20,736 seconds of the regular season combined (excluding overtime, 12G x 60MPG = 144M x 60s =, 20,736seconds). So much for that famed Irish-luck.

The real BREAKING NEWS from the game was  last night Brent Musburger got his first boner of the 21st century!  It seemed as if after every “Bama score,  ESPN would cutaway to a very attractive woman in attendance named Katherine Webb who, in addition to being Ms Alabama 2012, was also AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, hence their excuse for throwing her up there every couple of minutes for Musburger to objectify/wax poetically over.  Let’s just say it was unrequited-love at first sight for the 73 year old Musburger who at one point simply just said “WO!”.

It’s being widely reported that when Webb went to bed yesterday she had approximately 2,000 Twitter followers but when she woke up that number was over well over  100,000!  It would seem as if Brent Musburger’s slacks weren’t the only things “trending up” last night.

AJ isn't the only champ

AJ isn’t the only champ

If you want my opinion, any woman that’s nice enough to make pictures of herself like this available on the internet deserves no less than 100,000 Twitter followers.

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ANDY REID #NFL

Unless he’s got debts that no honest man can pay, Andy Reid going to Kansas City is a mistake.  Granted, it makes more sense than him going to Arizona, but not by much.  When I heard that rumor yesterday (Reid to AZ), I thought he must be the kind of guy that just needs to stand up and admire what he’s done in the bathroom because if not, then why else would he want to go out to the middle of the desert and inherit that atrocious clogged toilet-like Kolb-Skelton-Lindley QB situation unless he truly believes he can salvage something out of Kolb?  (thus the bathroom analogy comes full circle)

Reid to KC isn’t much better.  The greatest trick Charlie Weis ever pulled was to convince us that Brady Quinn was a NFL QB.  Belichek’s doing the same with Matt Cassel is right up there as well.  In fact, the only reason the KC situation is marginally better is because they happen to play in the AFC version of the west instead of the NFC.  The Peyton Manning led reign in Denver will be shorter (due simply to the fact that he’s 37) than what is brewing out west between San Francisco and Seattle on the NFC side.

Andy Reid’s resume should dictate that he has the luxury of getting to choose his next job and not the other way around.  I’m not saying it will, I am saying it should.  Why would he want to take on a project like KC?  The Chiefs are years away from contending and i doubt they have their starting 2013 QB on their roster yet.  This draft isn’t QB heavy.  Forget about Luck, RGIII and Wilson, there’t not a Tannehill or even a Weeden out there.   So if you’re an NFL team out there looking for a new starting quarterback, like KC and AZ,  you  are going to have to find one from within the NFL.

Who does that leave available?  Alex Smith?  Is he really going to be the centerpiece that you build a Super Bowl around?  A potential reunion with Vick, a trade for Sanchez perhaps?  If I’m Andy Reid, I want no part of those problems.  Romo?  With the lack of better options, I doubt Dallas lets him become available despite his continual disappointment.  Make a trade for a guy like Matt Flynn?  Maybe, but why would Andy Reid want to gamble on a career backup when he could go to a team that has a legit starting NFL franchise quarterback already on its roster?

If I’m Andy Reid, there is only one team I would coach for in 2013 and its San Diego or bust.  Of the seven overall vacancies (only six of which are available to Reid) the Chargers is far and away the most desirable for a coach of his stature.  At this stage of his career Reid doesn’t need a new project, he needs to win.  He needs to find a team with talent (and by talent I mean a legit NFL QB),  fix whats broken, get to the playoffs and hopefully win the Super Bowl.  Simply put, San Diego’s QB situation is the most desirable and their conference is the most winnable, sold.

If I were Reid and did not get the SD job, then I’d follow Jeff Fisher’s example and go away to come back.  Like Reid, Fisher never won a Super Bowl but lost one  and at the time of his firing was the were the longest current tenured NFL head coach.  Fisher sat out, let teams come to him, bided his time and when he was ready and/or the right opportunity came along (St Louis) he took it.  Point being it was on his terms.

I know Andy Reid probably desires to resume his NFL head coaching career right away to prove the Eagles wrong for firing him and out of overall pride as well, but he should make sure he returns to the right opportunity.  There is nothing wrong with taking a year or two off, maybe get fat (well fatter) on of some easy TV money while you let the teams come to you.

In the words of Han Solo, “Boba Fett?  Boba Fett where?!” ( I know that quote is not relevant but for some reason its stuck in my head)

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Like statisticals?  I got one for you: When Greg McElroy takes his first snap against the Chargers on Sunday he will be the first quarterback selected in the 7th round of the NFL draft to start ahead of not one but two former first round draft picks!

Not a stat guy?  No problem, here’s it put another way:  On Sunday the New York Jet-ropolitains will have the dubious distinction of having  the most popular backup quarterback in NFL history, Tebow, AND it’s most expensive, Sanchez, both play clipboard-jockey to a former 7th round draft pick.

Either way on Sunday the New York Jets are making history, only the wrong kind.

Links:

Here is something I found when I Googled “Greg McElroy draft analysis”.  It lists that he was a finalist for the “Wooden Citizenship Cup”. I don’t know what that is but I think it means he is good at golf and friendship.

Great article I found while researching the specifics of the contract extensions Sanchez signed.  You can skip it all until you get to the fifth point Manish Mehta made and take it from there.  Here are my two favorite parts of the article, ” If Sanchez disappoints in 2012, the Jets may be able to trade him. They aren’t necessarily locked into keeping him for the next two seasons. Why would anyone want to trade for Sanchez at that point? Well, teams would only have to make a $8.75 million commitment ($20.5M minus $11.75M paid in 2012) for a four-year contract. That could happen unless Sanchez regresses badly.

And, “The worst case scenario for Gang Green: Sanchez regresses badly in 2012 and can’t be dealt after the season. If he underperforms again in 2013, the Jets could simply release him.”

Can anybody say foreshadowing?

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Why, how could this happen, why?  I have the same questions as you do.  But i don’t care about the answers, looking for such is an exercise in futility.  What could be said that could ever rationalize something like this?  Nothing, absolutely nothing, its impossible. Regardless  i will be haunted by visions of something ive never seen before.

Its the kindergarten class at Sandy Hook Elementary…any kindergarten class really.

Can’t you see it?  The horrible juxtaposition of the before and after?  The walls all decked out for Christmas?  The tree, the count down to the big day on the bulletin board.  A room filled with excited, sweet, kindergartners on their absolute best behavior so as to not hurt their spot on Santa’s list?

At their age, we all knew when the calendar page turned to December it meant that it was time to be on our absolute best behavior.  No matter what happened the other eleven months of the year, December was a time for being good, like it counted double.  We sat down, shut up, raised our little hands and ate our peas without being told because we knew we had a years worth of bad behavior to make up for and only 25 days to do it.

Can’t you see the tiny little table and chairs so small to a comedic level?  I could do nothing else but sit in one of them, fold my hands, drink my milk and have you laughing for hours.

Can’t you see all the imperfectly perfect green and yellow pictures of dinosaurs adorning the classroom walls?  And if it wasnt a dinosaur then it was a perfect little house, with a pointed roof, two windowst and a happy little family holding hand in the front yard with a dog obediently by their side.

Cant you see it?  See it all, when school, and life, was all about fun?   When you learned your ABC’s, got a toy from the box, drank some chocolate milk then took a nap?

That was the before.

What will haunt me is the vision of that same classroom after this atrocity took place  The scene of the crime in that same classroom, which  could have been in Anywhere USA where 20 lives were ended before they ever had a chance to live.  The sight of that tree overturned as if it was empathetic and cognizant of the events which transpired around it.  The idea of 20 tiny bodies lying motionless on the floor and the carnage which surrounded each and every one of them is what will haunt me.  The sight of the aftermath of evil incarnate.

Mans capacity for evil which took place in Newtown CT today, thats what will haunt me.

Personal Notes:

There will always be more questions then answers.

Here is a personal message to every member of the media which stuck a microphone and camera in front of a student of Sandy Hook Elementary:  Today, that childs’ innocence was stolen from them and you exploited it.  I don’t care why you did it, you are an awful human being and i hope you’re happy with yourself.  And for what reason?  So they could tell you what every sane, rational human being already knew, that it was chaotic, scary and noisy inside the school?  I hope the price of your soul was worth the ratings it brought your station as much as  i hope your vile, repugnant actions today keep you awake at night for the rest of your life.  You are part of the problem.  I’d rather be homeless than you. Integrity counts.

Days like today teach us how precious a second can be and how meaningless our wallets and Xbox’s are.  Take the time to say the things   you want to but never have to the ones you love while you still can.

Days like today make me sad to be a member of the human race.  Man’s capability for violence against fellow man knows no depths nor boundaries. Atrocities like this, as well as the Aurora shooting, Virginia Tech and Columbine, never happened before they happened once and now its a part of life.  Sick.

I don’t believe in god, but days like this  makes me wish i did just so i could say FUCK and YOU to him when it was my turn to meet him

And lastly, but maybe most importantly, to Principal Dawn Hochsprung and the rest of the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary, thank you. Heroes walk among us every day but unfortunately we don’t usually realize it until its too late.  You are everything that is right in this world and the debt of gratitude which the human race owes you will probably never be paid in full, but i hope it is.

It’s Finally Happened! #NFL Referee Flags a Player for Hitting Too Hard

no fun league

I have been predicting  for years that eventually NFL referees will begin flagging  defenders for “tackling too hard.”  Well, in yesterday’s Bengals-Cowboys game that is exactly what they did.  Sure, they didn’t explicitly say that’s the reason why they flagged CIN safety Reggie Nelson for this hit on DAL WR Dez Bryant (fast forward to the two-minute mark) but Roger Goodell himself couldn’t convince me otherwise. 

Do they understand that defensive players have to earn their paychecks too?  In today’s NFL, with Goodell’s player safety initiative, that was as clean of a hit you can get.  What is Nelson supposed to do in that scenario, just give up and let him catch the ball?  That’s absurd!

And how does the back judge, aka the ref with the worst point of view on the play, make that call?  He has no business at all throwing that flag based on his position on the field.  These personal foul calls have gone so way beyond ridiculous at this point they’re laughable.

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Week 14 Picks & Fantasy

Tennessee at Indianapolis (Colts -4.5)

I love the Colts at home where they are 5-1 ATS while the Titans are 2-4 against it on the road.  If this Colts team really wants to make the playoffs, and they should, they need to win this game.  The are currently in with their 8-4  record but still have to play division/conference leader Houston twice over their last four.  That turns today and week 16 in KC into “must win” games.  The Colts keep rolling and I don’t see them having a let down at home.

San Diego at Pittsburgh (Steelers -9)

The Chargers are putrid and they are playing for nothing.  Even if they win out the Norv Turner pink slip is already written, it’s only a matter of time now.  Roethlisberger is playing  and Polamalu is stringing together a few games in a row and should be rounding into top form.  The Steelers D is first in the NFL allowing only 166.7 yards per game through the air and I don’t see San Diego traveling across the country in a meaningless, cold weather game bucking that trend.

NY Jets at Jacksonville (Jaguars +3)

The Jets are bad and Sanchez is worse.  Sure, this may be his last chance to save his NFL career (at least in New York) but I don’t care, he is playing bad.  He is turning the ball over way too much and has no confidence in himself nor his teammates.  You can not compete at the NFL level without confidence.  The Jag’s are playing for nothing EXCEPT 2013 roster spots, don’t discount that.  Backup turned starter Chad Henne wants a job next year and is very familiar with Rex Ryan and they Jets from his days as Miami’s signal caller.  Take the home dog here.

Other games i like: Miami +10 @ SF.  Dolphins always play the West tough.  Philly +9 @ TB.  The Buc’s win this game but 9 is way too many points for a defense that’s last in the NFL against the pass allowing 309.4 ypg.  Houston +3.5 @ NE.  This will be a close game either way.  New England won’t be able to protect Brady enough against the NFL MVP candidate JJ Watt led pass rush nor will they be able to run the ball effectively on the leagues second ranked (87.6 ypg) rush defense.

Fantasy

Week 14 (in most leagues) signals the beginning of the playoffs.  It also is the time where you need to forget about names and draft positions and let matchups and “what have you done for me lately” be the top two factors to determine who you start and sit.

Start: Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman. Freeman has been a pleasant surprise this year.  He is the 11th overall QB in standard scoring leagues.  But as i said earlier, matchups should be the number one determing factor in who to play this week and Freeman has a saucy one.

Start: Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams.  This is one of my favorite matchups of week 14.  The Eagles are putrid against the pass and will have their hands full trying to shut down Vincent Jackson.  Who reaps the benefits of that? Williams does.  I say he is good for no worse than 90 yards and a TD maybe more.

Start: Indianapolis RB Vick Ballard.  At some point the Colts will need to become at least mildly effective on the ground.  Donald Brown is out so that means Ballard gets the lions-share of the carries.  The Titans D give up 129 yards on the ground and that is not out of the realm of possibility in this game.  Last time these teams met, D Brown and Ballard rushed for 135 yds combined and Ballard got into the end zone on a 16 yard TD pass.

Start: St Louis WR Chris Gibson.  This just in, Danny Amendola is out and Buffalo is awful against the pass.  Someone on the Rams is going to have to catch the ball and Gibson has been the most effective at doing so.  I’d start him over Larry Fitzgerald.

Start: Tennesse WR Kenny Britt.  It all depends on what you are looking for.  If you are desperate for a WR2 or flex then  i love Kenny Britt.  Britt has caught a TD in two straight games, he is the healthiest he’s been all year and, all about the matchup again, the Colts have let up 15 TD’s to opposing WR’s and are giving up an average of 24.3 fantasy ppg to them.  Realistically Britt is a flex options with WR1 potential.

Start: Pittsburgh RB Jonathan Dwyer.  Here is the case for him, Tomlin has said no more “hot hand” approach.  Dwyer is the starter, Redman the backup and Mendenhall is inactive.  Opposing RB’s are averaging 129 yards on the ground over San Diego’s last three games and the Steelers are going to want to limit Roethlisberger’s drop back to protect his achy ribs.  Expect Dwyer to have an unspectacular but solid game against the Chargers.  80 yards and a TD is easily attainable.  It might take him 33 attempts to get there but that doesn’t matter as ypc has no effect on your fantasy game.

 Start: Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph.  He’s had touchdowns in three straight games and he scored last time these two teams met plus the Vikings have no one else to throw to.

Deep Start: Philadelphia WR Riley Cooper.  This start might not be for everyone but if you’re really hurting and/or in a PPR format, I’d go with the former Florida standout.  As mentioned above, the Bucs’ are last in the NFL against the pass.  When these backup QB’s like Foles come in, sometimes they have more success going to guys like Cooper who aren’t the teams’ big name players but rather the player they are more comfortable with because they get reps together in practice.

Other guys I like: INDI WR TY Hilton, NYG RB Ahmad Bradshaw, STL RB Steven Jackson, WAS RB Alfred Morris, PIT WR Antonio Brown and NO WR Lance Moore.

Sit: Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald.  If you are lucky enough to be in the playoffs and have Fitz on your team, congratulations.  Now sit him down and scour the waiver wire if you haven’t already.  Just based on the matchup alone I’d probably go with the aforementioned Riley Cooper over the future HOF.  SEA CB Browner is playing and should be effective against the John Skelton led pass attack.  Fun fact, Larry Fitzgerald has the most red zone targets without a touchdown catch ( in the rz) in the NFL.

Sit: New York Jets RB Shonn Greene.  If i had to, I’d rather start Bilal Powell.  Who, when healthy  has been more effective than Greene. To describe Greene’s running style as “plodding” would even be generous.

Sit: Dallas QB Tony Romo.  Only two QB’s all year have thrown for multiple TD’s against the Bengals and only one passer has topped 300 yards.  There are better options out there.

Sit: San Diego RB Ryan Matthews.  See Larry Fitzgerald above.  Matthews won’t bust his slump against the Pittsburgh defense in Pitt.  He’s only had double-digit fantasy points once all year!

Sit: Miami RB Reggie Bush.  Usually you should sit every RB who faces the vaunted 49er defense and Bush is no different.  He’s had to compete with second year runner Daniel Thomas for carries over the past five games to the point where it is definitely a “time-share” situation with Bush on the losing end because Thomas gets the red zone touches.  FYI sit Thomas as well.  Oh by the way, all-world LT Jake Long is on IR after sustaining a season ending triceps injury last week.  I want nothing to do with the Miami backfield.

Sit: Buffalo WR Steve Johnson.  The Rams defense might not have much but it does have a legit shutdown corner in Cortland Finnegan who should have no problem taking  a second-third tier WR1 like Steve Johsnon out of the equation.  In fact, he has made a career out of shutting down Steve Johnson types.

Sit: San Francisco RB Frank Gore.  It has been a very nice year for Gore who is the ninth best RB in standard scoring leagues.  BUT Miami only gives up 97.7 yard on the ground and defense travels.  It might be hard to do figuring you rode Gore this far and i still like him as more of a flex option but do not expect Gore to be the typical RB1 he usually is and single handedly win your playoff game for you.  I expect guys like BJGE, Mikel Leshoure and Jonathan Dwyer all to have better games.

Other guys I don’t like: SF TE Vernon Davis, CAR WR Steve Smith, DAL WR Austin Miles, BUF RB Fred Jackson, ATL RB Michael Turner, DAL RB Demarco Murray and PHI RB Bryce Brown.

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Did Bret Bielema have a Second Job BEFORE He Left for ARK? #Badgers #doppleganger

Nice boobs dude!

Nice boobs dude!

Is the real reason why the Wisconsin Badgers football team lost five games this year not because their head coach Bret Bielema was double-dealing behind their back to score the Arkansas job but rather because he was moonlighting as the spokesman in the new Southern Comfort commercials for a some extra cash?

At least he did a few pushups before this one was taken

At least he did a few pushups before this one was taken


I say YES! Answer me this, have you ever seen them in the same room together?

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