Monday, September 29, 2008

New York State of Mind

Nearly $350 million in payroll between the New York Yankees and the cross town, Mets. The result? No October baseball in the city of New York. No Johan, no A-Rod, no Jeter, and no David Wright. The Yanks aren't headed to the postseason for the first time in 13 years and for the second consecutive season the New York Mets played themselves out of the playoffs in the final month. While the farewell send offs to beloved Yankee Stadium, and that ugly step-child known to as Shea, were fixtures of 2008, the opening of each franchises new stadium will certainly be an early season storyline.

Before we get to April 2009, both of these franchises are going to need to make some moves. Being that I am highly qualified to make these moves, I've decided to help them out:

New York Mets

1. I'm not "fire everybody, clean house" guy. 90% of the time, firing people leads to confusion in the organization and rarely does it solve internal problems. However, I do think the majority of the Mets struggles result from the moves their general manager HAS & HASN'T made. GM, Omar Minaya, is responsible for the Mets acquisition of then 34-year old, Pedro Martinez. In just four seasons with the Mets, Pedro has started in only 79 games winning 32 of those contests. In 2008, while earning $11.8 million, Martinez went 5-6 in twenty starts with an ERA close to 5.70. But we wondered why Red Sox GM Theo Epstein wouldn't give Pedro the years, clearly it wasn't the dollars. Going into the 2008 campaign and coming off of one of the clubs most historic September letdowns, the Mets GM did very little to improve their bullpen. With closer Billy Wagner entering his 13th season, turning 37, the Mets had no insurance policy. After Wagner was forced to shut it down for the year before September, the Mets pen had already started to struggle. A team that is expected to win the National League pennant cannot enter the season with no insurance on an aging closer. Questions Minaya should have been asking himself. Lastly, at the 2008 trading deadline, in the midst of a pennant race, the New York Mets and Omar Minaya added no one of significance. While the Brewers added ace C.C. Sabathia, the Cubs added frontline starter Rich Harden, even in their own division, Philly added A's starter Joe Blanton. Mets fans, ask yourselves this. Should Omar Minaya be held accountable?

2.One of the biggest problems with the Mets, that I see, is their inability to judge talent and what happens when talent comes together. In short, the Mets throw a bunch of pieces against the wall and hope some stick. Their order is poorly put together and has way to many holes. 3B, David Wright, and SS, Jose Reyes, are the only Mets who are hitting over .300 or close to, while playoff teams, Boston, Philly, and L.A. have at least five in that neighborhood. Offensively, once you get past the bats of Delgado, Beltran, and Wright, the dropoff of run production is to large. Maybe I'm thinking with an American League East brain, but the Mets need a philosophy change. On base guys, besides Jose Reyes, building a lineup that can produce top to bottom, and corner outfielders like Ryan Braun, Pat Burrell, and Matt Holliday. The days of counting on half-outfielders like Church, Alou, Endy Chavez need to be over.

3. I've debated this one for a while. Signing big-name free agents like, Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana (trade & re-up), and Carlos Beltran, hasn't actually done much for the Mets. While all are all-stars, or potential all-stars, they've managed to achieve two of the worst September collapses in the franchises history and balloon a payroll to $138 million dollars. I preface you with that because I endorse the signing of free agent to be, Francisco Rodriguez. (along with other bullpen moves). Rodriguez is by far the best relief pitcher to become available. He is only 26 years old and will be 27 by the time he takes the hill for the Mets. Rodriguez has a career era of 2.35 and has saved over 40 games in each of the last 4 years, including his record setting 62 in his contract year. Aside from that, Rodriguez would be making a move to the National League, based on the performance of Sabathia and Harden in the second half of the season, after their switches to the NL, Rodriguez would be filthy. Given the Mets have lost Wagner for all of 2009 already, they need to make this move and lock up a closer. Rodriguez is that guy.

New York Yankees

1. Sell the team to an ownership group with brains. Half kidding. On a more serious note . . No disrespect, but the organization that has won 26 World Championships shouldn't have the likes of Sidney Ponson in their September starting rotation. Close to a $210 million dollar payroll is in three words, out of control. Unfortunately for this team, you aren't allowed roster overhauls. You can't have three to five poor years which would result in giving the farm a refresher, you can't put aging stars like Posada on the market and expect much in return. With that said, you've got to go out and spend, but spend wisely. With the status of both Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina remaining uncertain, the Yanks have to prepare for life after the two are gone. With Pettitte (36) and Mussina (40) aging, even if they both return what can the Yankes expect? The goal? Get YOUNGER! They will have Wang (28) coming off injury, whatever you can get from the Hughes (22)/Kennedy(24) faction, and after that, your kind of broke. I'll say they keep Pettitte. Major dollars off the book for Giambi and Abreau allows the Yanks to throw alot of money, not Zito like years and dollars, at C.C. Sabathia. Hard looks at bullpen guys like Brian Fuentes could give flexibility and a definitive role for the kid Joba Chamberlain. I like Chamberlain in the pen, but the Yanks can't afford to take another flyer on starting pitching. Your 2009 rotation could and should look like this: Wang, Sabathia, Pettitte, Chamberlain, and Hughes. Find journeymen projects and waiver guys like the Sox did with Colon and Byrd in 2008. This way you have insurance on your starters, while I love Chamberlain taking the place of Mariano and I think Chamberlain, like Pap and K-Rod, has the mentality to close, I don't know if his arm can hold up in the pen, and he did well when he started. Rotation, Patched.

2. Trade Robinson Cano for prospects to filter into your minor league system. The Yankees don't have position players in the minors that are ready to make an impact on the big league club. While the Red Sox, their rivals, have brought up talents like Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yanks have yet to do that. Cano is a far cry from the guy who hit .342 in 2006. Each of the last two years as the Yankee second baseman's at bats went up, his average dropped off. In '06 Cano had 482 AB's while hitting .342, in '07 Cano had 617 AB's and hit .306, and in '08 he had 597 AB's and hit just .271, like I said, a far cry from 2006. At 26 years old he still has value to a team looking to make a splash in the National League, Arizona, cross town Mets, maybe even Milwaukee. Offense was never the Yanks biggest problem, not even close. Trading Cano doesn't change much and they could get young minor league talent that will take the place of some of their aging stars in the years to come. I'm not sold on Cano, I don't think Girardi is sold on Cano, and neither are Yankee fans. Cano out, young talent IN!

3. The Yankees need a Jim Edmonds. I'm not talking about the center fielder for the Cubs, but they need someone of his make up. Edmonds risks his body to make a play, he hits the cover off the ball, and has always been like that. Jeter is the captain, the leader, and what young players look up to, that's not what I'm talking about. The New York Yankees need to get back players LIKE Paul O'Neil, everyday balls-to-the-wall players who produce! A-Rod is great, but he isn't clutch and no one marvels at his "tough play," I already explained what Jeter is to the Yanks, and Posada is too old at this point in his career. What guys like Bill Mueller was to the Red Sox championship run in 2004. What David Eckstein was to the Angels in their championship season. The Yankees need, THAT GUY. I'm unsure of his contract situation but White Sox outfielder, Nick Swisher is. These are the types of guys that win you championships, these are the types of guys that come through in clutch situations. Can you name one player on the Yanks who is that guy? It isn't Damon, it isn't Cano, and it isn't the Melk Man. Find a Jim Edmonds, and win in Septemeber/October.

Two Chicago teams in the post season, two L.A. teams in the post season, wait, do we really want two New York Teams in? Either way, the Red Sox are still the favorite going into 2009, have yourself some of that!

Friday, September 26, 2008

K.I.R.F. The Acronym

Welcome to Keep It Real Friday for September 26th. I could tell all of you how great the Dallas Cowboys have played, but I'm waiting for the playoff win. Maybe we could discuss how the winner of the Big 10 Conference gets a box of donuts and a trip to a BCS NON-Championship Game. But instead . . .

I can't believe I'm doing this, people are going to start confusing me for a Patriots fan, but it's true, the loss to the 'Fish' was a FLUKE! For the first Sunday in what seems like two years errr, maybe because that's how long it's been, the Patriots defense looked very, very, old. They didn't adjust at half time, they forgot how to tackle, and most importantly they forgot what it was like to play defense against a college football team. Miami tried something that WON'T become a trend in the NFL, by Tuesday morning every defensive coordinator in the league had gone over game film of the Pats v. Dolphins and re-taught how to defend against a single-wing set. Ronnie Brown had the game of his life (17 carries, 113 yards and 4 TD's), a game he probably won't duplicate. I don't believe any of that crap about the Dolphins having the Patriots number, they have a good coach, had a great strategy, and executed to perfection. Can I ask where that was against Brett in week 1 or how about the Cardinals in week 2? When ya got thrashed! The Patriots aren't doomed, but they do need to get back on the field and prove people wrong after that performance on Sunday. Maybe Randy will go back to Randy before New England but it remains to be seen, people are very willing to jump on him in Brady's absence, it's a little strange. Then again, O.J. could save three children from a burning building and he's till be O.J. to me. Wake me when the Dolphins go .500, then we'll talk.

Several weeks ago, in this same segment (Keep It Real Friday), I dropped my pre-season Heisman Trophy winner, Texas Tech quarterback, Graham Harrell. Not a terrible prediction, he is currently leading the country in passing yards (1,573) and has only thrown three interceptions. However, while I mentioned Sooner quarterback, Sam Bradford, in that same column, I may have overlooked a very important part of the Heisman voting. Ohio State, Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Michigan. Those are the type of schools that get Heisman nods, not a school in Lubbock, Texas. My new Heisman front runner fits all the categories. Missouri quarterback and 2007 Heisman finalist, Chase Daniel. For starters, he covered a 26.5 point spread against Nevada by dropping 69 points on them. In my books that's money in the bank. Second; He's third in the country in passing yards at 1,412 and has thrown the ball 53 less times than front runner Graham Harrell. Daniel has a games on October 4th at Nebraska, and October 18th @ Texas, if Missouri survives those two, he has the HUGE wins that propels his candidacy. The previously mentioned Bradford and Harrell are great competition for Chase Daniel, if Missouri can run the table in the Big 12, just try and keep them out of a BCS Bowl Game in 2008. A game which will showcase the newest member of the Downtown Athletic Club, Chase Daniel.

One of my least favorite people to discuss, Hank Steinbrenner.

"Now you see the flaws of a multi division setup. Everyone in the Media is pointing out that it looks like Joe and LA are going to make the playoffs, while we're not. Look at the division they are in, If LA were in the AL East it would be a different story"

Well you are in the A.L. East Hank, and shocker your not in the playoffs. You've got no minor league pitchers ready to make an impact, are prepared to spend major dollars on an overweight pitcher whose been dominating in that OTHER league you defecated on, and have no idea what to do with Joba Chamberlain. The most evident thing was watching Torre, your former manager celebrate like a little kid in the Dodger clubhouse last night. Torre said "when I came here, I wanted to see if it could be fun again" Congrats Joe, because you know what isn't fun? Going home at the end of September, like your old mates! Back to Hank's theory: If it wasn't for that divisional set-up, the Yanks streak of consecutive playoff appearences would have ended last year, when they were the wild-card. What do you contest Hank? We should just take the two teams with the best records over the entire season and have them play a seven game series for the championship? NO playoffs at all? Then again, this is coming from the guy who plans on charging people a quarter million for season tickets, so can we really think he cares about a playoff for the fans? Hank is childish, not only is he taking digs at Torre and the Dodgers, he also left the greatest Yankee manager of all time out of the Yankee Stadium tribute. Just another reason why the Yankees are the Yankees, and everyone not wearing pinstripes can't stand them. Keep it Real Hank! Torre is going to October, and you AIN'T!

All this talk about the President has got me thinking . . . Who would be better than President Pierce! He is the comeback kid, carried off by his teammates, only to return and lead his team to victory! The Celtics veteran has staying power, he's seen the good times and the bad. He'll have his number 34 in the rafters alongside Bird, Russell, and Cousy! Vote Paul Pierce in 2008!

Finally, here are some things I'm calling for.

5. MLB grants the Cubs auto bid to the Fall Classic, win/win.
4. All Big 10 football to be disqualified from BCS Bowl Games.
3. The NFL takes over the Oakland Raiders
2. If the Mets blow this, they are forced to play in Shea for another year.
1. Group firing in the NFL, Crennel, Lewis, Linehan, and Edwards, 1 Day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week 4; Pick 'Em

I'm not picking the Cowboys game, the reverse jinx only works so many times. For those Dolphins fans who are now excited about 2008, the wishbone doesn't work for long in the NFL, get a grip. To the picks . . .

Broncos -9.5 @ Chiefs The Chiefs have given up 78 points in three games. Against a Patriot offense without it's field general, JaMarcus Russell (6/17 55 yards passing), and an Atlanta offense that is easing their rookie quarterback into the NFL. The Broncos have scored 114 points and have a quarterback in Jay Cutler whose looked nothing short of awesome. Broncos -21 that isn't a typo.

Ravens +6.5 @ Steelers Roethlisberger is hurt and playing. Willie Parker is out, rookie Rashard Mendenhall is in. By the third quarter of last weeks game in Philadelphia, Big Ben looked battered. Sacked 8 times in one afternoon for a guy who may already be injured and now he has to face Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens? Ask Kellen Winslow what that feels like after being on the receiving end of a Ray Lewis jaw shattering hit last week. Ravens +6.5

Chargers -7.5 @ Raiders Lane Kiffin, still the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis, still bad sh*t crazy. Phil Rivers (were dropping the IP from Phillip) is playing great. Sproles or Tomlinson run wild on the Raiders and the Chargers continue to put points on the board. Chargers -7.5

Vikings +3 @ Titans When can all that Vikes to the Super Bowl talk stop? They just aren't that good under center, not Tarvaris or Gus are going to change things. It doesn't matter how good Peterson is, as long as the Titans march out Haynesworth on defense, they can stop anyone. Did I mention I love Kerry Collins for this Titans team? Titans -3

Falcons +7 @ Panthers Last time I picked Matt Ryan on the road, things didn't go so well. Jon Fox has a good defense and can do the same things to Ryan that Gruden and the Bucs could do. Carolina is going to win some games this season and shake some things up. Falcons won't be able to get the run game going early. Panthers -7

Browns +3.5 @ Bengals Who wants to watch this game? Zero wins in six games for State of Ohio, professional football teams. I think that the Southern California Trojans would give both of these teams all they could handle, seriously. Bengals should have upset the Giants last week in New York, the Browns haven't come as close to winning. When in doubt, pick the home team. Bengals -3.5

Season Record 6-11

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Here Comes October Baseball . .

You want story lines? October baseball has all the story lines you need. Before we get to that, lets have a moment of silence for the streak that was 13 consecutive postseasons with the New York Yankees . . . . DONE! Pinstripes OUT, October in St. Pete, IN.

While were on the subject; The franchise that never won more than 71 games in a single season will be hosting playoff baseball games come October. The Tampa Bay Rays will most likely hoist their first ever American League East crown and finish with 95+ wins. A year ago today these Rays sat 28 games out of first place and boasted the worst record (64-92) in the entire Major Leagues. Today, the Rays are 95-62, only the Angels and Cubs have better overall records. Rays manager, Joe Maddon, is a lock for manager of the year. All-Star third baseman, Evan Longoria, has hit 25 homeruns and drove in 82 runs in just his rookie season, a lock for rookie of the year. Pitching is what wins in the postseason, during the regular season you can out score a team, dig into the back end of their rotation and win a few games. The Rays staff includes FIVE guys who have started 25+ games and banked at least 11+ wins. Not only does this staff get wins, three of their five starters (Kazmir, Garza, and Shields) boast sub 4.00 era's. Andy Sonnanstine, whose ERA is highest among Rays starters, has allowed just 8 runs in four starts in the month of September, twice starting games in which the Rays got huge wins against the rival Red Sox. This team may not have the postseason experience of the Red Sox, Angels, and White Sox, but they've never battled for a division championship and they did that well for the first time.

Don't look now, but the Boston Red Sox are in the playoffs as defending World Series champions. After Tuesday nights 5-4 win against the Cleveland Indians and eventual Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee (22-3), David Ortiz said it best:

"We're in the playoffs, and everybody knows how dangerous we are in the playoffs"

The Red Sox, led by reigning rookie of the year and MVP candidate, Dustin Pedroia, are a different team than they were in past championship seasons. Gone are the days of a mashing middle of the order with Ramirez and Ortiz, gone are the days of brash front running aces of the rotation like Pedro and Schilling. These Red Sox move runners along with hitters like Pedroia and Youkilis, who can hit for average (Pedroia @ .324, Youk @ .314), for power (Pedroia 17HR, Youk 27HR), and drive runners in (Pedroia 82 RBI, Youk 111 RBI). The '08 Red Sox steal bases, when is the last time we saw a slugging Sox team that could steal bases? The 117 bags stolen is good for 7th in the Majors and 3rd in the American League, led by Jacoby Ellsbury with 49 and Coco Crips with 20. With the left handed Jon Lester having a phenominal season (15-6) with a 3.26 era, and fellow starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka winning 18 of his 29 starts combined with his 2.80 era (good for second among AL starters) the Red Sox are going into the post season with a strong rotation. Did I forget to mention they have the most dominant post season pitcher in the game, Josh Beckett, in their arsenal? Consider it mentioned. This team has owned the Angels in the post season, they have world series MVP's in Mike Lowell (2007) and Josh Beckett (2003), and more importantly they have won it as a Wild Card and won it as a Division Champ. Can the Boston Red Sox go back-2-back, and complete what it takes to be called a dynasty?

Does it matter if the Brewers or Mets make it to October? Currently, one game seperates the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers for a playoff berth as the National League Wild Card. The truth is, it doesn't matter which team gets in the playoffs. The Milwaukee Brewers don't have a bullpen and to say that the Mets pen is soft, is in an understatement. In the most crucial portion of the season, September, the Mets are 11-9, losing 6 of their last 10 games. The Brewers are even worse, going 6-15 over that same time period. With Mets closer Billy Wagner on the shelf for more than a season, there is no way this team can finish games. In their rotation, it doesn't get much better. With Pedro's era climbing over 5.00 in just 19 starts and the tandom of Oliver Perez/John Maine having era's over 4.00, the Mets don't have many options. Unless Johan Santana plans on pitching 9 innings every outing (already pitched over 225 on the season) the Mets have no shot in the playoffs. The Brewers? Twelve days left in the season, in the middle of a playoff hunt, and they fire their manager? The replacement, Dale "Send 'em in" Sveum. Not only that, but do you know who's in their bullpen? ERIC GAGNE! Proven steroid user, stole a World Series ring with the Red Sox in '07, and has an ERA north of 5.50!!! Ben Sheets can't stay healthy, C.C. would be pitching on the road if they got in, and who else are you planning on taking the ball, Jeff Suppan and his 5.06 era? Even if C.C. takes the ball every game, ask the Indians how he did in the postseason in 2007? I've got an idea, whichever American League central team doesn't get in, the White Sox or Twins, send them to the National League and let them be the Wild Card in the National League playoffs.

Ain't it funny how that works? The New York Yankees miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, and former skipper Joe Torre is leading the L.A. Dodgers into the National League playoffs. Sure the acquisitions of Manny Ramirez, Greg Maddux, and Casey Blake helped, but the Yanks made some deadline moves tooright? So bringing in a backup, over the hill, catcher in Pudge Rodriguez and signing Richie Sexon off a scrap heap aren't the right moves? With the Red Sox castoff, Manny Ramirez, hitting nearly .400 since his arrival in Chavez Ravine, the L.A. Dodgers offense has become in a word, dangerous. For a team who leads the National League in ERA, it was important for them to bring in offense, and what better way than to bring in a future hall of famer in Ramirez. About that pitching staff, in the month of September, Dodgers starter Derek Lowe, has gone 3-0 in four starts with an era of less than 1.00. Fellow starter, Chad Billingsley, has allowed less than 3 runs in three of his last four starts. Torre's first appearence in the National League postseason may not be an enjoyable one, but at least he won't be on vacation yet, unlike some other American League franchises who wear pinstripes!

Is this THE year? Michael Phelps tears through the Olympics, the Celtics finally raise 'Banner 17', Tiger Woods' performance at the Torrey Pines, Federer v. Nadal at Wimbledon, and the GREATEST upset in Super Bowl history by the New York Giants. All will be topped, if the Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in over 100 years. You think Boston did it right in 2004? You ain't seen nothing yet. IF, and I realize that it is a very big IF, the Chicago Cubs are able to capture a World Series Championship, imagine Boston '04 times about five. These fans have been talking billy goats, black cats, and Steve Bartman for as long as I can remember. What they need to start talking about is Kerry Wood and his 33 saves in 39 opportunities, how about Ryan Dempster, his sub 3.00 era and 17 wins, or maybe they could look to their National League best team batting average of .278 through September 24th. A Cubs lineup that has five hitters with 20+ home runs, including all-stars Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs will have home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs at a place where they are 55-26. Kerry Wood, a starter that became a closer, who has battled more setbacks in his career than Robert Downey Jr., who had more promise than River Phoenix, finally bringing a World Series to a town that hasn't seen one in over 100 seasons. The embattled Lou Piniella, finally adding a World Series title to his extensive managerial resume. Bigger story than that?

Maybe you haven't been paying attention to the stretch run because of all the football going on, I can't hate on that, but get ready because this October promises to be a good one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome to the NFC Beast!

Let's face it, when Tom Brady went down, the entire NFL opened up. AFC teams like the Steelers, Titans, and Broncos all became that much more viable to contend for a Super Bowl. However, in my humble opinion, it is the NFC that benefits most, specifically, the NFC EAST. Widely considered, and without much argument, the NFC East is footballs most dominant division.

In week 3 of the 2008 NFL season, the teams that make up the NFC East, (Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Redskins) went a combined 4-0, improving their season record to 10-2. Is it possible that four of the top five teams in the NFC reside in the same division? Even more so, is it possible that three of the NFL's top five teams reside in that very same division?

The Washington Redskins are 2-1, their only blemish is a road opener to the division rival Giants. New head coach, Jim Zorn, looked the part of a BRAND NEW NFL head coach. Poor clock management, riding the refs, and of course a road loss to a divisional rival. Two weeks and two wins later, the Skins are looking pretty sharp. Clinton Portis led a rushing attack that totaled 136 yards on the ground in the 'Skins 24-17 victory over previously undefeated Arizona. Young quarterback, Jason Campbell, has played mistake free football, completing 46 of 66 passes for 514 yards, and three touchdowns over the past two weeks. Undersized receivers, Santana Moss (5'10) and Antwaan Randle El (5'10) have proved to be sufficient enough for the strong arm of Campbell. Combined, Randle El & Moss have caught 33 balls for 425 yards in three games this season. Their defense is littered with talent from linebacker, London Fletcher to DB's, Landry, Springs, and Smoot, and of course newly acquired end, Jason Taylor. 19 points a game allowed by the same defense that allows under 350 total yards of offense a game. Two home wins against a tough Saints team and an explosive Cardinals team are impressive, but the next two games on the 'Skins schedule are road contests against Dallas and Philadelphia. With St. Louis, Cleveland, and Detroit to follow the Redskins will welcome Pittsburgh with a possible 5-3 record only having lost games against divisional opponents. When the only teams that can beat you are the ones in your division, I think its safe to say your playing in a class like no other.

The New York football Giants are the first of two undefeated squads from the NFC East. In a sentence; you beat the teams, you should beat. The defending champs opened up at home against the 'Skins. Against a new head coach in his first game and young quarterback learning a new scheme, the Giants took care of business despite losing major, impact players on the defensive line. After a literal walk in the park against St. Louis in week 2 (41-13), the Giants survived a week 3 scare against a struggling, winless Bengals team. The Giants have lost some players on defense, Umeyiora, Strahan, Mitchell, etc. but their offensive looks to be more than formidable. Receiver Plaxico Burress has caught 18 passes for 259 yards and in turn given a more mature Eli Manning a huge target. Giants running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw supply a ground attack similar to that of division rival Dallas, and their two running backs Barber and Jones. A defense that is led by Justin Tuck (13 tackles) has looked good allowing just 14 points per game. The Giants are a bit deceiving and will continue to be. Seattle, Cleveland, and San Francisco in coming weeks, should give the Giants a nice 6-0 cushion before they hit a rough patch. At Pittsburgh, home against Dallas, back to PA against Philly, and returning home to play Baltimore. Four of the NFL's top 10 defenses in consecutive weeks will test that explosive Giants offense and the new confidence of Eli Manning.

We've never learned more about a team after a loss than we did last Monday night. The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle in a 41-37 loss in week 2. McNabb, version 2008, has been very, very, good. The veteran quarterback is on his way toward a career high in completion percentage, completing 70 of his first 105 passes. Donovan is on pace to throw for over 4,000 yards and has thrown only one interception thus far. It isn't all just McNabb, the Eagles defense has been stifling. Allowing just an average of 45.7 yards per game against the likes of Stephen Jackson, Marion Barber, and Willie Parker. On Sunday against the Steelers the Eagles managed to sack Pittsburgh quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger EIGHT times en route to a 15-6 home win. This Eagle defense is holding teams to less than 250 total yards and 17 points a game. With the addition of rookie receiver DeSean Jackson, whose already had two 100 yard receiving games, McNabb has found a viable replacement for the injured Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown (who should be returning this week.) This Eagles team has proved it can score 30+ points and compete with those offenses like Dallas, Denver, and San Diego who have no problem putting major points on the board. In week 3 when they beat Pittsburgh, they played that grind it out style of football and won a close low scoring game. It's hard to argue that the Eagles won't be around in January, especially if McNabb stays healthy and continues to play the way he's been playing.

. . .and then there are the front running Dallas Cowboys. They are supposed to be 3-0, they are supposed to win the division, they are supposed to put 10+ players in the pro bowl, that we know. If were talking regular season, you can't find talent better than what the Cowboys put on the field every Sunday. From their offensive line including pro bowlers, Flozell Adams and Leonard Davis, to their dynamic backfield of Barber and the rookie Felix Jones, big D is stacked. They destroyed Cleveland on the road, outlasted Philly in Texas, and beat up the Packers and Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau. Call me nervous, call me doubting, but the same mistakes that the Cowboys made in the past, they are making today. They are second in the NFL in penalties and fortunately have survived more than one Tony Romo crucial turnover. A well oiled machine? Yes. A machine that needs tinkering? You bet. The Cowboys penalty problems are a result directly from the head coach. False starts have continued to plague Flozell Adams, all 340 pounds of Flozell "The Hotel." Romo's inability to give up on a play is what makes him great, but in close games, as playoff games usually are, they are crucial. Either way, if were talking regular season supremacy, the Cowboys are top dogs. The previously mentioned Felix Jones has scored from 11 yards out, on a kick return, and in Green Bay he dropped a 60 yard touchdown run on the Packers. The Cowboys controversial corner, Adam Jones, has shown great improvement from the preseason and even showed some of the things that made him a top 5 draft pick to the Titans several years ago. These Cowboys have one goal, win in the playoffs, clean up these penalties and turnovers, and nobody is beating them.

From top to bottom, the NFC East is the NFL's best. After 12 games they are 10-2 with those two losses coming within the division. The downside? One of these four teams will get left out of the playoffs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 3 Picks; Keep It Real!

Chiefs + 5.5 @ Falcons Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan got a taste of what real NFL defense is like against Tampa in week 2 (sacked 4 times, two interceptions). Luckily for him, the Chiefs defense, which he'll see in week 3, makes Tampa look like the '85 Bears. Giving up 300+ rushing yards to Oakland in week 2 doesn't bode well for the Chiefs. Falcons backs Turner & Norwood have combined for close to 400 yards in two games. Falcons -5.5

Saints +5.5 @ Broncos Jay Cutler has been MVP like (650 yards passing, 6 touchdowns) The Broncos are looking like a team built to make a deep run and I'd argue there is no homefield advantage in all of sports like playing in the thin air of Denver, Colorado. The Saints defense has given up 540+ yards through the air this season. Broncos in a rout. Broncos -5.5

Steelers +3.5 @ Eagles Wrong defense for Big Ben to have a separated shoulder against. Philly gets after it and will force Pittsburgh to run the ball early and often. The Eagles have allowed just 104 yards on the ground in two games, against Stephen Jackson and Marion Barber! Willie Parker and Co. have their work cut out for them on the road. Eagles by a field goal. Steelers +3.5

Panthers +3.5 @ Vikings The Tarvaris Jackson era is over before it could even start . . . Wait, the Vikings are 0-2 and have absolutely no ability to throw the ball. I think Gus Frerotte is a great option, unless you had Tom Brady on one leg, hell maybe even Tom Brady on one of my legs! Carolina is the surprising team of 2008. Delhomme has hit the way back clock to 2004, looking fantastic after having Tommy John surgery. Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart is averaging 5.5 yards a carry and the Panthers are 2-0. They've looked great even without all-pro receiver Steve Smith, who is expected back this week. Panthers +3.5

Cowboys -3 @ Packers There has to be a layover from that Monday Night game right? Aaron Rodgers has looked great thus far going 2-0 for the Packers, a late scare against Detroit in week 2 might have been just what the Pack needed. I didn't like the way Romo played after the interception and subsequent fumble in the endzone against the Eagles. This is going to be a great game on Sunday night and despite how talented Dallas looks, I can see a hangover, especially playing at Lambeau. Packers +3

Jets +9 @ Chargers After losing the way they did in Denver last week the Bolts could do 1 of 2 things. Mail it in or use it as a rallying cry ( i hate that term, but it fits ) The Jets offense looks lost, and even though he is Brett Favre, it'll take him a couple more weeks to get a handle on it. The San Diego defensive was terrible in Denver last week and without Shawn Merriman, I can't say it'll get much better. Favre is dying to air it out and start throwing the ball to get into a rhythm and the Chargers' Tomlinson looks like he's getting old (less than four yards a carry, sat out all week with a toe injury) Charges will win, not by 9. Jets +9


About those New England Patriots . . . be afraid, be kind of afraid. The Jets aren't the NFL's best team by a longshot, maybe even a bit over hyped (very over hyped) but the Patriots had a game plan and executed it to perfection last weekend. Even without Brady, this team is pretty stacked. Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Deltha O'Neal, Adalius Thomas, the rookie Jerod Mayo, and Vince Wilfork, lead a vaunted Patriots defense of which Brady never played on. Veterans Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Jabar Gaffney, LaMont Jordan, Matt Light, and Kevin Faulk are all capable of making plays to help the young quarterback Matt Cassel. This team probably won't win the AFC title, but you can sure bet they'll factor into the playoffs and if things keep going the way they've gone so far for the San Diego Chargers, ask which team is in more trouble? 10-6, KEEP IT REAL!

By now, you all know about the Broncos/Chargers game in week 2. If you don't, veteran NFL referee, Ed Hochuli, blew a whistle early right after Jay Cutler had fumbled on the game winning drive. The blown whistle stops the play, and while the Chargers had recovered the fumble after the whistle, the play is blown dead. In short, he dropped the ball, lame pun, totally intended. Hochuli is one of the most respected referees in professional sports, he apologized for his mistake, took ownership, and feels more than awful. Everything Hochuli could have done after the mistake, he did 100% correct. But for the past few days it has been widely reported that Hochuli has been receiving hate mail from disgruntled fans of the Chargers, Hochuli has taken this so hard he's been RESPONING TO THOSE FANS WITH APOLOGY LETTERS! Here's my response to those who wrote e-mails to Hochuli:

Good Afternoon You Toothless Goon.

Hochuli may have made a big mistake on Sunday afternoon, but it isn't close to the mistake your mother made when she decided to birth you. For starters, where do you get Ed Hochuli's e-mail address? I mean I'm not sure how that is public knowledge and even if it was, who looks it up? How boring is your life that you have to take quality time to look up an NFL referee's e-mail and write him some hate mail? I mean is there really nothing else that is going on in this world that isn't more important than that? I hope you are the same toothless goon who writes hate mail to the president as well, he's screwed up WAY more than a football game in September. Your a complete loser and should be sent to Siberia in my humble opinion of you. Hochuli owned up to his mistake, something you'll surely never do, AND he didn't even have to! HE OWES NOTHING TO THE FANS, ZERO! Next to Norv Turner, the only other person(s) he should have apologize to are the players and his boss, Roger Godell. Have a good life, and if you write any e-mail to me, I will do to them what Mr. Hochuli should have done: DELETE THEM YOU MORONS! KEEP IT REAL!


NSLYNCH@GMAIL.COM, bring on the hate mail!

Quick Hits:

Vote Obama . .

Tampa is pretty good, I'm convinced

O.J. will beat the kidnapping trial, how do you bet against him?

USC v. the SEC Champ, just play it and give the trophy away now!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Keep It Real Friday in HD

Non-intentionally, this Keep It Real edition includes three stories on primarily quarterbacks. Just another reason why Quarterbacks date the best looking women!


University of South Florida quarterback, Matt Grothe, thinks he and all collegiate athletes whose replica jerseys are sold for a profit, should see a piece of that pie.

"All the great college players that have had thousands of their jerseys sold. The schools are making a ton of profits off it; even the places that sell them are making money. I don't understand why players shouldn't get a small percentage."

Well Matt, it's time to wake up and stop devaluing your FREE education! For starters, your all going to school for NOTHING. Meals, books, housing, work out facility, tutors, transportation to and from games, equipment, training equipment (sweatshirts, t-shirts, pants), ALL paid for. Oh, and your FIRST CLASS EDUCATION which for those who don't go onto to the pros, will come in handy some day! $40,000 a year in some cases which comes out to oh I don't know $160,000 over four years, and that's not enough? What about your fellow teammates? A major college football program holds something like 100+ student athletes on their squad, if your paying 1, a piece for his jersey, the school will have to print up jerseys for all 100+ just to give them the ability to get a piece of jersey sales. If your good enough the next step on your road is going to lead to you getting paid in excess of a million dollars a year, the stage you got to perform on to get you there, cost you NOTHING! This is the same old argument, you want these schools to give the students a kick back of the giant dollars paid for making it to a big time January bowl game, these are businesses people, they are in it to make money not give money away. Finally, for guys like Matt Groethe (who holds nothing on the jersey sales that USC made off of Reggie Bush) I've been working for three years since college graduation, each month I pay a ridiculous amount of money to major banks that I took student loans from. I didn't get to go to college for free, get treated like a rock star for four years, I may have partied like a rock star, but I didn't party for free. If my college was willing to give me an education for free and all I had to do was let them sell my clothes, I'd be all for it. When Matt Groethe makes his first million are we really going to feel bad for that struggling college student?!?!?!? KEEP IT REAL! They aren't allowed to put your name on the back of the jersey, in four years, it'll be just another South Florida Bulls jersey.

I truly feel bad for multi-millionaire Vince Young, who is getting booed by hoards of fans in Nashville, Tennessee. Wait, no I don't!!!!!!! I think Vince Young is a good quarterback, I've always thought Vince Young was a good quarterback, ON SATURDAYS! For every general manager and owner in the NFL, who is thinking about drafting Ohio State freshman, Terrelle Pryor, in a few years when he is the most talented athlete in the draft, take a look at who is starting for the Titans and Jeff Fisher this weekend, Kerry Collins. Not the 2006 third pick overall, not the quarterback who slayed the Trojans in the national championship game that same year, and not the guy who was rated ahead of current Broncos starter and Vanderbilt grad, Jay Cutler. Michael Vick & Vince Young were fun for a while, they were both on the cover of Madden, both made the Pro Bowl, and today, one is in prison and the other is not sure if pro football is for him. These guys can win a few games for a couple years, but like most things in life, their game gets old fast. Defensive coordinators get smarter, they get players who are faster, and they force that shifty quarterback into a pocket, if he can't play in that pocket, he's useless. The only guy I can think of who matured in that role was Steve Young and maybe Kordell Stewart, who turned into somewhat of a receiver SLASH (lame pun) rusher and situational quarterback. I'm not saying that Vince couldn't turn into a good quarterback, but he's going to have to learn on the job and find a way to move out of his comfort zone, that means taking hits and having a consistent target to throw to (hint: David Givens and Justin Gage aren't those guys) Cheer up Vince, millions of kids are wearing your jersey, you were on the cover of Madden, and maybe its just me, but I think that is pretty special! Keep it Real!

Tom Brady gone for the season, Peyton Manning not exactly looking like Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger, well he plays in Pittsburgh, so who is the NFL's #1 quarterback? I'm not playing favorites but it's Tony Romo. Forget the great play under center, forget the megastar girlfriends, and forget the fact that he plays for the most honored franchise in major American sports, Tony Romo is just a great guy. (Bromance taking over) I've got a little story to brighten your weekend (or just make you hate the Cowboys more) , as first reported by the Fort-Worth Star, on Sunday night, after touching down in Dallas on a return flight from Cleveland, Cowboy quarterback impressed a few of the Cowboys faithful, OFF the field. While Romo was driving home from the airport he noticed two motorists stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, (Brady would have honked and kept driving), but Romo stopped his car, assisted the couple in changing the tire and continued on his way. The couple said they watched more than 100 cars drive by and no one stopped, but this millionaire quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys thought nothing strange of stopping and helping out someone in need. Ask yourself one question, HOW 'BOUT THAT COWBOY!?!?!?!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Week 2: Pick 'Em

Back by popular demand, and at the hope of winning some of my manhood back, were doing Week 2; Pick 'Em, WITH LINES!! Finished Week 1 at 4-2. Get your bookie on speed dial, stay away from North Carolina @ Rutgers tonight, weird things always happen in Piscataway, New Jersey.

To the picks . .

Baltimore +4.5 @ Houston Not only is Charm City in love with strong armed, rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco, but so am I. What Trent Dilfer did for the the vaunted Ravens defense in '00-'01, Baltimore will need Joe Flacco to do in 2008. That is stay away from interceptions, find OPEN receivers, and hand the ball off to a quality Raven backfield. In week one, against the swiss cheese defense that is the Bengals, rookie Ray Rice, and Le'Ron McClain combined for 150 yards on 41 carries. The Texans however, didn't have as good of luck against Pittsburgh. Houston got waxed 38-17, gave up 183 yards on the ground, and 3 rushing touchdowns. If not for the Rams and Raiders, were talking about how bad the Texans were in week 1. Pick: Ravens +4.5

Philadelphia +7 @ Dallas You can't look much better than Dallas & Philly looked in their openers. Philly torched St. Louis on big play after big play, McNabb threw for 300+ for the first time since the Clinton Administration and St. Louis looked like a high school team. The Cowboys destroyed Cleveland at the 'Dog Pound.' Romo had twenty-five minutes to find his receivers, Barber mashed for three quarters (16 carries, 80 yards, 2 TD's) T.O. was T.O. and the debut of rookie back, Felix Jones, went off with a big bang. This is a statement game for both teams, huge win at Dallas for Philly and they are the odds on favorite in the NFC, Dallas puts up 5 TD's against Philly, people are fearing when their schedule comes up DAL. Secondary of Dallas gets a boost with Newman back, Anthony Spencer could also be back giving their front seven a boost. Pick: Dallas -7

Buffalo +5.5 @ Jacksonville The Jags are in trouble. The Titans defense sacked Garrard 7 times on Sunday. Starting offensive guards Maurice Williams (out for two games) and Vince Manuwai (out for season) won't be playing on Sunday against a Bills team that registered 5 sacks in their opening win. Former 7-year Jaguar, Marcus Stround makes his return to Jacksonville this week with something to prove (six tackles on Sunday). A much weaker offensive line destroys Jacksonville's hope at running the ball and puts pressure on Garrard. My AFC champion Jaguars pick isn't looking so good.
Pick: Buffalo +5.5

Atlanta +7 @ Tampa (I'm writing this with my best Gruden face on, try reading it with yours) Love the Falcons making a improvements this year. shocked by Turners' 22 carries and 220 yards but all due respect, it was against the Lions! (sidenote: you've gotta feel real bad if your a Lions fan, your team is terrible and you have to live in Detriot) Anyway, the Falcons have a quality rushing attack, next to Turner was Jerious Norwoods' 93 yards on 14 carries. Ryan stayed out of trouble getting sacked only once, that may change facing a Bucs defense that is already down 0-1. Gruden is going to throw alot of new NFL looks at the young Falcon field general. Griese, starting in place of the injured Jeff Garcia, automatically gives the Falcons a couple timely turnovers. Either way, Pick: Atlanta +7

Miami +6.5 @ Arizona One week in and can you definitely say anything about either of these teams? Arizona beat a terrible 49ers team, 23-13. Knowing that Frank Gore would rush the ball 14-20 times, due to the ineptness of 49er Quarterback, J.T. O'Sullivan, the Cardinal defense still gave up 96 yards on the ground. Even though the Fish gave the Jets a scare, 90% of what Chad Pennington did was out of spite for his former team. After playing so well in week 1, it's no doubt that week 2 should see a fall off. Arizona has some offensive weapons, they are playing at home and unfortunately, they are giving WAY to many points. Pick: Miami +6.5

Pittsburgh -6 @ Cleveland The Browns are terrible, they are on national television way to much this year, and Cleveland fans are in for a long year. I can already hear the chants for Brady Quinn from Ohio. Romeo Crennel joins a long list of defensive coordinators turned head coaches that bring horrid defenses every week (Marvin Lewis, right at the top of that list). I don't care if it is Ryan Leaf playing quarterback, anyone given more than 10 seconds to throw the ball will pick you apart. Quarterbacks like Romo and Roethlisberger will finish the game in the first half. The Browns are very unlucky getting the future NFC champion Cowboys and AFC champion Steelers in back-2-back weeks to open the 2008 campaign. The Steelers could be giving 3 touchdowns and you'd have a hard time talking me out of them. Pick: Pittsburgh -6

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

10 Plus: Take it to the bank!

I'm from Massachusetts, but I'm not a Patriots fan. It's necessary to say that because what I'm about to say isn't biased or based on blind faith, it's fact. Without All-World quarterback, Tom Brady, the New England Patriots will win 10+ games & THE DIVISION; you can take that to the bank!

I've also enlisted some Pats fans to give me some perspective.

Week 2 @ the Meadowlands Favre's first shot at the Pats, playing in the division, at home. If your the Jets, this is the reason you go out and get Brett Favre, right? To beat the rival Patriots, Howdy Doody (Chad Pennington) just wouldn't do. THE TRUTH: Favre won't do either, Maroney & Morris combine for 100+ and the Pats have the gamebreaker, his last name rhymes with BOSS. Win (2)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Jets Roche: Pats

Week 3 @ Foxboro against the Dolphins Nearly two full weeks of the Matt Cassel era and he'll have won his third game. The Dolphins offense is anemic, Ricky Williams rushed for 24 yards on 10 carries in week 1 and if he's still healthy by week 3, expect more of the same. The Dolphins will have more than one win in 2008, but none will come against New England. Win (3)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 5 @ San Francisco J.T. O'Sullivan coughed up two fumbles, threw an interception, and was sacked 4 times this past week . . .AGAINST ARIZONA! From Maine to Providence, Cassel hysteria has reached an all-time high. Win (4)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 6 @ San Diego Before you say it, the Chargers just lost Merriman for the year, they looked terrible at home against Carolina, and may even have lost tight end Antonio Gates for some time. Playing Oakland and Miami just before the Patriots come into town won't exactly test them either. However, the Chargers are playing at their place and they do have the best running back in the league. Rivers isn't J.T. O'Sullivan, Brody Croyle, or Chad Pennington. At the risk of sounding crazy: Loss (1)

Dan: Chargers Jerry: Chargers Roche: Chargers

Week 7 @ Foxboro against the Broncos I like Denver in this game and it has nothing to do with the whipping they put on lowly Oakland (41-14) this week. This might be the first time we see the Patriots have to come back after a regular season loss in over a year. The Broncos have some good receivers and a good set of defensive backs. The ability to give Moss and Welker fits and offensively, the Broncos could take advantage of that secondary. Loss (2)

Dan: Broncos Jerry: Broncos Roche: Broncos

Week 8 @ Foxboro against the Rams Two-game losing streak, adversity, meet THE CURE. What the Rams were in week 1, isn't a mirage. They aren't that good, they don't believe they can win, and even the coach may have lost this team. Patriots back on track. Win (5)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 9 @ Indianapolis The Colts could be getting old quick, but I'm going to go with what you saw in week 1 being rust. Peyton is still standing upright and until he isn't, I'll take the Colts. Loss (3)

Dan: Colts Jerry: Colts Roche: Colts

Week 10 @ Foxboro against the Bills At 5-3 and losing 3 of their last 4 games, has Belichick lost faith in Cassel? Were getting there and a loss in this game would do it. I don't think the Bills have more talent than the Patriots, but I do think they are well coached by Dick Jauron and play good defense. I think the Bills push Cassel and the Pats to the brink in this one. Loss (4)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Bills

Week 11 @ Foxboro against the Jets This could be your back breaker with Matt Cassel. Favre has had more than half a season to acclimate himself to the Jets and their system. I'm guessing the Patriots aren't feeling so good losing 4 of their last 5. The crowd at Foxboro will be dying for a home win here. I don't think the Pats will slip to .500 they get a win, but it's close. Win (6)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 12 @ Miami Even Tom Brady has lost a clunker in Miami. But this is the Taylor/Thomas less Fish led by Pennington. If you haven't figured it out, I'm not high on Pennington/Parcells/ or Holistic Healer Ricky Williams. Pats improve to 7-4. Win (7)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Fish

Week 13 @ Foxboro against Pittsburgh This team is legit. Week 1, their linebackers looked great, Big Ben looked like Big Ben, and Willie Parker was rushing the ball like old. The Steelers take advantage of the BradyLESS Patriots. Loss (5)

Dan: Steelers Jerry: Steelers Roche: Steelers

Week 14 @ Seattle The Seahawks have hands down the most dominant home field advantage. If 13 weeks into the season they are healthy at receiver and have developed somewhat of a rushing game, oh and Hasslebeck's bulging disk hasn't gotten worse then the Patriots will have problems. Unfortunately for Seahawks fans, that is to many if's for my liking. Win (8)

Dan: Seahawks Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 15 @ Oakland The Pats roll, did you see the Raiders play last night? They have no offensive line, a soft defense, and oh yea, a crazy owner. The Pats are making a playoff push and this is Win (9)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 16 @ Foxboro against Arizona Kurt Warner probably can't stay healthy long enough for the Cardinals to make a playoff push. In that event, Leinart and his former backup Matt Cassel could be sharing the same field. Cassel wold be leading his team to win number 10, luckily he's playing at home. Win (10)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

Week 17 @ Buffalo The Bills aren't making the playoffs but I've gotta think to sweep the defending division champs without Brady will give them something to smile about. Buffalo wins a wild one, but the Jets lose the tiebreaker to the Patriots. Hats off to the Bills. Loss (6)

Dan: Pats Jerry: Pats Roche: Pats

I've got the Patriots going 10-6, which I think will be enough to win the AFC East. Luckily for New England, Matt Cassel, or whoever is playing quarterback for the Pats, they have horribly easy schedule. They'll win the division and play in the first weekend of the playoffs. It's going to get exciting.

Dan: 11-5
Jerry: 11-5
Roche: 10-6

(they really tried not to be bias)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Keep It Real Friday! You NEED This

A little off the normal path with this segment, but were more than just sports here people, were making history! Sorry, with all these speeches going on, I'm all messed up: TO THE TOPICS . . .

Don't prep that Yankee uniform for C.C. just yet. I watched Wilbon and Kornheiser chat with C.C. on PTI today, about the Cubs, Brewers, and all things Milwaukee. Not only did I see a guy who is dominating in the National League, I saw a guy who actually prefers the "second" league. Yes, the Brewers won't be dumping $100 Million in C.C.'s pocket, but for a guy from the West Coast whose spent his entire career in Ohio and Wisconsin, is the city that never sleeps the place he wants to be? Playing in the American League East, against offenses like Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay, doesn't exactly help your career stats. After pitching to Cincy, Pittsburgh, and Houston your going to jump to the A.L. East? C.C. it may not be as lucrative, but any of the five California teams would be a better fit. (Words from a Sox fan watching you put 1.43 era up on the National League)

What the F*CK Brett?!?!?! Okay, so after months of me trashing him while he was retired and upon his return, I finally admitted that MAYBE he can lead this Jets team somewhere positive. I even think that because the media loves him so much, of course he'll win the MVP, if the Jets make the playoffs and win 10 games (including one against the Pats) Yet after hearing Favre downplay being named captain, admitting he is afraid of the CHANCE he won't play well, and forcing at least 20 Jets fans to hit the bar harder than they ever have, I'm off the Favre ship. I hope Kyle Clemons is playing quarterback by November and you all regret buying those Jets Favre jerseys like my friend Dan regrets getting that Celtics Chauncey Billups jersey in 1997. Like the Packers asked you seven months ago, are you in Brett or are you out? KEEP IT REAL!

On being a sex/porn addict. Sure it has nothing to do with the general theme of my columns but I've got to say something. To every guy, ages 18 to 60, why is it that only pseudo celebrities like David Duchovny and Halle Berry's former beau, Eric Benet, can claim addiction to sex and looking at online porn? If these are real addictions, I'd be willing to bet there are more guys addicted to online porn than meth and cocaine combined. I'll take it one step further, this is an addiction harder to kick than any drug you can think of. For starters, except for the occasional case of blue balls, what's the long term effect, you end up single? That might be the best part. Secondly, unlike drugs, online porn is usually an addiction done in private, or at least it should be done in private. What are you going to do, call your sponsor? Next to sports, guys talk about porn and sex more than anything. Am I the only one that finds it funny that the actor from X-files is addicted to XXX-files? Duchovny and Benet need to KEEP IT REAL, your not special, were all addicted to sex and porn, just your the only ones bragging about it!

If you are real quiet, you can hear the screams coming from Wrigley Field in Chicago all the way back in Massachusetts. Zambrano & Harden are skipping starts? Similar to what I think of the Giants without Strahan and Umenyiora, the Cubs won't be around long into October if Zambrano and Harden aren't in there. Does anyone really want to see the Cubbies finally win one? In the 100th year without one, I don't mind if we go another 100. Could you tell me the bigger story, the Cubs winning one or the Rays winning one? I'd make an arguement that the Cubs aren't as much of a story as the Rays would be, I'd even be inclined to say that the Rays should be favored given how they've played in 2008. Tied with the most wins in the regular season, managed by Sweet Lou, and entirely to long without a championship, all leads to one thing. A FIRST ROUND OUT to the Diamondbacks. Promptly sending hoards of Cubs fans to the ward. (Coming from a Sox fan, you know the two times in 4 years Sox?) Come on, Keep it Real!

A-Fraud was the first to have a homerun challenged, SHOCKER! First, how were the not lines on who would be the first guy to have a homer challenged. Would anyone bet against it being A-Rod? Am I a fan of instant replay? Yes. However, it shouldn't be limited to just homers, if were going to straighten out a non-homer call, let's straighten out the thrown out at second or even thrown out at home for that matter. I'm more concerned about the game winning run being decided by replay of a guy who slid into home and MAY have been safe rather than a homer in the 4th inning that was over the foul pole just inches to the right. Why decide homers indefinitely yet allow runners to be called safe out or vice verse? Make more time for replay and less time for catchers to the mound, or pitchers warming up on the mound after just spending ten minutes warming up in the pen. I've never understood why major league players need to toss the ball around the outfield while waiting for the pitcher to finish warm ups, pointless! Keep it Real! Make the calls, challenge the calls, and fall in suit with the rest of pro sports.

I'm going to try and be sensitive with this one. Professional athletes are targets when they go out at night, it doesn't mean you shouldn't, it just means things are going to happen. Given recent events of the shooting surrounding Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle, Richard Collier, I think it's time we put this into perspective. Body guards and drivers need to be hired, teams and or the players need to hire them. You can't tell grown men to stay in their houses and be boy scouts, but you can get protection for them. Million dollar television contracts, marketing deals, some of this money needs to be out there working for the players, to protect them from others and even from themselves. I'm leaving "Keeping it Real" out of the equation, you need to Keep It Smart. I hope this kid survives, thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pick Em'

Were going to try and make this a weekly thing, I'm picking 6 NFL games a week (no spreads, I heard it's illegal to bet on sports in Massachusetts.) So consider this as "advice" so to speak:

Thursday, September 4th:

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants The defending champs are opening up the 2008 season, in New York, down a few players (future HOF, Michael Strahan & Pro Bowl defensive end, Usi Umenyiora). If you had asked me about this game pre-January 2008, I'd have told you that Eli isn't capable of playing under the microscope that is New York. But today, after taking the New England Patriots and their 18-0 record out behind the wood shed, I'm all in with Eli. I liked these 'Skins when Todd Collins was leading them into the playoffs, with a new head coach, it'll take quarterback, Jason Campbell, a couple of games to figure it out. pick: Giants

Sunday, September 7th:

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins Once Favre got sent to the Jets and Pennington ended up in Miami this game became significant. Parcells isn't patrolling the sidelines for Miami, he's in the box. Long time Dolphins, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas are gone, and Ricky Williams, yes, THAT Ricky Williams, may just be the most talented offensive threat they have. Eating Cheetos, lounging on the couch, and watching television are the most productive things to do when your stoned, not rushing through 300 pound defensive linemen, but I digress. The 2008 Jets aren't the 2007 Jets. They've improved their offensive line (Alan Faneca), their backfield (Tony Richardson), and of course under center (Brett Favre). pick: Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints In the past week the Saints have evacuated 'Nawlins for Indianapolis, traveled back to examine the damage that Gustav caused, and returned to practice. Jon Gruden hasn't done anythng else but get his Bucs prepared for the Saints. They may be improved with the addition of Vilma, Shockey and the drafting of Ellis, but these Bucs may cause the Saints more harm than Gustav. Next to the Ravens, no one has played better defense, longer than the Buccaneers. pick: Buccaneers

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots So the Patriots win 18 straight games in 2007, and they get Kansas City in Week 1? Your giving possibly the best team in the league the Chiefs in the opening week, the Chiefs are TERRIBLE. Normally I wouldn't bother with a sure to be lopsided affair, but with Brady possibly being somewhat injured, I LIKE IT! If I were a betting man I'd take the Chiefs and the points (wait, I said we weren't doing that) The Patriots will light it up in the afternoon and make a point. This is a statement game, Kansas City is not prepared to play against this offense and Brady & Co. will get back to their winning ways in dominant fashion. pick: Patriots

Chicago Bears @ Indianapolis Colts It amazes me that the Bears are going into yet another season with the Orton/Grossman combination at quarterback. Does the term "trying to fit a square peg into a round hole" mean anything? The Colts however, may have a glaring problem. Manning has been a tad more open than Brady about his injury. Expressing concern about "getting into the flow of things" and "finding rhythm within the offense." Both of these statements make me believe that there is some doubt in Peyton's mind. For an offense that has Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, and Joseph Addai, maybe Jim Sorgi could lead them to the playoffs, but I doubt it.pick: Colts

Monday, September 8th:

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers Has the spotlight ever shined brighter on any player than it will on Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay on Monday night? I'm sorry folks but I don't buy that Brett Favre WAS the 2007 Packers and the Packers brass don't either. Rock solid offensive line, Donald Driver catching passes, and Ryan Grant rushing should give Rodgers enough to roll with. Know what else I don't buy? The Vikings as a true Super Bowl contender. From his 'Sooner days to his rookie year in the NFL, when is the last time Adrian Peterson played an entire season? You think Tarvaris Jackson is good enough under center? The had a 70.8 passer rating in 2007, the kicker? IT BROUGHT HIS CAREER PASSING RATING UP! The man tossed 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. Against Dallas in week 7, the Cowboys defense shut down Peterson (12 carries, 63 yards) and your boy Tarvaris went 6 for 19 with 72 yards passing! I'm all fired up pick: Packers

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Manny Gone, M.V. Pedroia In

Okay, so maybe he won't be the American League MVP, but Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, sure is making it difficult for voters. Between Pedroia, teammate Kevin Youkilis, southsider Carlos Quentin, Ranger Ian Kinsler, and former MVP, Twin Justin Morneau, the MVP race in the American League is as difficult to figure out as it's ever been.

Oh, wait . .Did I forget to mention Angel closer, Francisco Rodriguez, whose about to toss a record setting number of saves?

Rangers second baseman, Ian Kinsler, probably would have been a front runner in the 08' A.L. MVP race, if not for the fact that he plays for the Texas Rangers. While fellow Ranger All-Stars, Josh Hamilton & Milton Bradley get significant hype, Hamilton for his story and Bradley for his B.A. (hitting .329 through September 1st) it's possible to assume that if Texas had been in contention for a playoff spot longer, Kinsler would have been the proverbial lighting rod. Ian Kinsler has scored 102 runs, clubbed 18 home runs, and knocked in 71 runs with a month remaining. The Rangers infielder has been caught stealing only twice in 28 tries and has a better than average .375 on-base percentage. Hitting nearly .320 through September 1st has kept Kinsler in the MVP conversation. But like I said before, with the Rangers sitting 17.5 games back of the first place Halo's and four wins under .500, Kinsler won't be considered much longer. Sidenote: Do the Rangers ever question why they have guys like Ian Kinsler, Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and even when they had Mark Teixeira, how they don't move forward as a franchise? I know great pitching is hard to come by, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut some days.

Sure, Dustin Pedroia is making his case as we speak, but for the last five months no one has done more for the wild-card leading Red Sox than first baseman, Kevin Youkilis. A career-year for Youkilis, in 125 games the former third baseman has pounded 24 homeruns and brought in 94 RBI's. Only White Sox outfielder, Carlos Quentin is slugging better (.571 compared to Youk's .560) among MVP candidates. From batting lead-off to batting seventh, Kevin has hit in all spots for the Red Sox, maintaining a .387 OBP. The greatest tell tale sign of his value to the Sox may just be in something they DIDN'T do. With Manny Ramirez clearly on his way out of town, post All-Star break, the Sox didn't pursue at the time Braves first baseman, Mark Teixeira. Teixeira would have been the obvious tool to replace SOME of the numbers & protection that Ramirez provided and would also take the place of Youkilis at first base. Part of me believes, of course the Red Sox unwillingness to part with premier young pitching, but coupled with that, to create a log jam at first would present other problems for the Sox, and the excellent season Youkilis was giving them. Kevin Youkilis is hitting .315 and has been among the league leaders in average all season long.

K-Rod, Halos closer, Francisco Rodriguez. Preface this with, if your not going to give Pedro the MVP in 1999, (313 Strikeouts, 23-4, 2.07 ERA in 213 innings) I'm hard pressed to give any pitcher the award. Yet in 2008, Francisco Rodriguez is making a solid case to be that pitcher who receives MVP consideration. Aside from defining the term Contract Year, Frank Rodriguez has been unhittable. Striking out 68 hitters in just 59 innings and allowing just 16 runs all season long. The Angel closer has an era of 2.43 while converting 54 of 59 save opportunities, and as you know this puts him four saves shy of Bobby Thigpen's 18 year old record. With six more saves not only would Rodriguez hold the single season record for most saves in a season, he'd also be responsible for placing the final nail in more than 60 of the Angels league leading 90 wins. Is the fact that Rodriguez is responsible for at least getting the final three outs of two-thirds of the Angels victories not MVP like? Then again, Pedro circa 1999 was more dominant than any starter possibly EVER!

If they get in, it's theirs.

Chicago White Sox outfielder, Carlos Quentin, has had an amazing 2008. If Chicago's "other" team reaches October alive, it'll be in large part due to the American League leader in homers, Carlos Quentin (36). Currently, Quentin is among the A.L.'s top five in homers, slugging %, and runs batted in. With40 at bats less than Twins All-Star, Justin Morneau and nearly 90 fewer AB's than possible front runner, Dustin Pedroia, Quentin has elite power. Placed in a lineup with fellow slugger Jermaine Dye and that recently added future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr., Quentin's power hasn't tailed off all season long. For voters, it may take the White Sox winning the American League Central, and in turn, advancing to October, for Quentin to achieve the MVP. For us, it's hard to ignore Quentin's .312 average since the All-Star break, all while his team is making another run toward the post season. Makes you think if the offensively challenged Arizona Diamondbacks would re-think dealing the young outfielder last December.

Surprisingly, this isn't Twins first baseman Justin Morneau's first MVP campaign. The 2006 MVP and reigning Derby champ, has been down this road before. Two years ago Morneau beat out the likes of Derek Jeter and David Ortiz for the American League MVP, and with a month left in the season, he again poses the biggest threat to American League pitchers. A Twin team that dealt prized lefty, Johan Santana, in the offseason and allowed outfielder Tori Hunter to walk in free agency, is back in the hunt again and their lead by none other than British Columbian born Justin Morneau. The first baseman has blasted 21 homers and driven in 109 Twins, if not for the mind numbing first half of Josh Hamilton, he'd be leading the American League. His numbers are down since his first MVP campaign (34 Homers, 134 RBI's) but with a month remaining Morneau could be knocking on those doors again. Morneau has been almost injury free for the entire season playing in 138 games, more than any of his closest competition. Is it possible we could have a more unnoticeable two-time MVP?

LynchyRightNow.Com casts a vote (with a month left)

Definition of a "Gamer" . . . .Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia. Am I a homer? You bet. This however, is about what happens in between the white lines, for 162 games. The wild-card leading Red Sox have placed David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and J.D. Drew on the DL in 2008. They've sent Manny Ramirez to Chavez Ravine, otherwise known as Los Angeles, and currently have baseball's 4th best record. Not many teams can afford to lose three to four sluggers for significant time and not feel it, then again, not many teams have a 5'7" second baseman whose hitting .330 and batting cleanup. That second baseman has knocked in 8 runs, hit two homers, and is hitting .615 over the past three games. A small sample? You can take the 76 RBI's and 17 home runs over the last 136 games if you'd like. Pedroia tops all competition for MVP with 110 runs scored and for a guy who is supposed to have "questionable speed", he's only been caught stealing once in eighteen tries. How about his defense? Compared with Ian Kinsler, fellow second baseman and MVP candidate, whose made 18 errors in 700 chances, it's no question. Pedroia has been playing gold glove defense this season, converting 85 double plays and just six errors in 633 total chances. On a team with a staff that has lost Schilling to retirement, Wakefield & Beckett have spent significant time on the DL, and seen Clay Buchholtz go from a promising young pitcher to a pitcher with an ERA close to 7.00, Pedroia's defense has been rock solid. The Arizona State alum crushed a back breaking grand slam at "The Stadium" last week, put away the Orioles by slapping a two-out, two-run single in the sixth on Labor Day, and got the Red Sox on the board with a solo shot in the seventh today. The things you do in September determine if your playing in October, judging by what Pedroia has been able to to do, the Sox are headed to yet another post season. My definition of an MVP? Dustin Pedroia.