Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Brief Intermission

In a season meant to 'shake-it-up,' Major League Baseball's final-four will oddly enough feature three of the last four World Series Champions.


Step aside, NATITUDE. The best record in the 'bigs' throughout the regular season, exit stage right against a St. Louis Cardinals team that knows what it takes to win in the postseason. Would been nice to have that 24-year old right-handed phenom in a decisive Game 5, no!?!?

The Orioles were a cute story. Dog fight with the New York Yankees for the American League East crown, coming up just shy but still reaching the postseason. An inspiring Wild-Card win in Arlington, TX against the 93-win Texas Rangers. Unfortunately, running into C.C. Sabathia in a 'Game 5' in The Bronx is bad for one's World Series dreams.  However, as in Buck Showalter's last two stops, it's possible that a loss here could only lead to better fortune in the Orioles near future.

I wanted it bad for Billy Beane and his Oakland Athletics, I really did. Coming back like that in 'Game 4,' after claiming the A.L. West against a high-payroll Angels roster and the Texas Rangers, who didn't want them?!? Like Sabathia in New York however, but worse, you don't beat an ace like Justin Verlander when it counts. Two starts, sixteen innings, twenty-two strikeouts, 1-earned run, Oakland had no chance when that went five.

As for the Reds, you only had to win one . . . at home! Ninety-seven wins during the regular season, fifty of them at The Great American Ball Park! Yet after the Giants got one, in extra-innings none the less, then they turned it over to their one-two punch of Lincecum / Cain. Series over, till next season Cincy.


Now, after all that, 'The Majors' are left to look toward October excitement with the Yankees (2009 World Series Champions), the Giants (2010 World Series Champions), the Cardinals (2011 World Series Champions), and the Detroit Tigers, a team loaded with talent from the previously mentioned right-handed ace Justin Verlander, to the first Triple-Crown winner since 1967, third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

American League Championship Series - Detroit vs. New York

Who wouldn't like the Tigers in this one? No really, I know the Yankees are always a favorite till they aren't, but Detroit is legit. Manager Jim Leyland's team has the best pitcher remaining in the postseason, Verlander, they run out at least three very quality starters, and between Prince Fielder, triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and a combination of Delmon Young and Austin Jackson, the Tigers can rake. Back to those starters however, Doug Fister looked outstanding against Oakland in the ALDS and Max Scherzer hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in an outing since August 5th. In a series where they'll have to wait to start Verlander on normal rest, Fister and Scherzer are going to be key to getting the Tigers off to a good clip. The Yankees on the other hand are a different story. Manager Joe Girardi is going to have to look to Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano to carry the Yankees offense giving the struggles of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, that short porch really helps Granderson who smashed 43 homers this season. The reason we like the Tigers so much isn't necessarily the struggles of the Yankees sluggers, it's more or less their reliance on C.C. Sabathia to get them big wins and hope they can out-hit their opponents when other starters are on the mound. Any Yankee success will really depend on what they get out of 37-year old right hander Hiroki Kuroda to follow Sabathia in the rotation. I like Andy Pettitte too, but he's 40-years old. Our Call: Tigers in 6.

National League Championship Series - St. Louis vs. San Francisco

There is no more excuses to overlooking the St. Louis Cardinals. The reigning World Series Champs had their Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa retire, lost All-World slugger Albert Pujols to the Angels, made the postseason due to new Wild Card rules implemented just this season, and saw themselves down 6-0 on the road in the NLDS, and they're still in this position today. The team has no idea when their season should be over and that's the way they play. Chris Carpenter is an animal in the postseason, Carlos Beltran has the entire team behind his offensive play leaning on him, and they get a shot at San Francisco without ace Matt Cain till game three! I don't care how good San Francisco plays in the postseason or where Tim Lincecum is in the rotation, or even out of the pen, I'm on board with St. Louis and won't be off till they're golfing. Our Call: Cardinals in 7, always interesting.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fast & Furious

First thought, South Carolina has put the SEC on notice after their dismantling of Georgia on Saturday night. However, Georgia has been terrible in games against Top 10 opponents while under head coach Mark Richt, that's a fact. Be that as it may, the Gamecocks looked pretty efficient. Running back Marcus Lattimore was workman like with the Gamecocks going up 21-0 in the first quarter, and quarterback Connor Shaw only threw the ball when he needed to while avoiding any possibility of momentum shifting turnovers. The real story is how dominating the Gamecocks defense looks. South Carolina managed to stuff Georgia on third down 9 out of 16 times while holding quarterback Aaron Murry to just 109-yards passing. Use caution when waiving the Gamecocks banner this week, traveling to Baton Rouge with the angry Tigers coming off their first regular season loss in eighteen games won't be easy for Steve Spurrier.

About that LSU loss, it was a tough pill to swallow for fans of the 'Bayou Bengals. LSU turned the ball over against Florida three times and had their porous offense exposed in 'The Swamp.' The fact of the matter is, we saw this coming for LSU. Between weeks four and five, a week in which LSU struggled to pull out a 12-10 victory against the now 1-4 Auburn Tigers, the Associated Press slid them down to #3. Between weeks five and six, when LSU had to overcome a sluggish start against Towson of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Associated Press once again dropped them to #4. So, when Les Miles & Co. rolled into Gainesville and got knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, were we really shocked?!?! When Miles was interviewed on Tuesday and he said his team is going through a bit of a transition, we hope that transition involves finding an offense that can move the ball.

The Gators still run the State of Florida, and head coach Will Muschamp is running the show. It took Muschamp a year, but he's now got his signature win for the Gators. We loved how Florida played back on September 8th in College Station, before a raucous 82,000 plus in Texas A&M's SEC debut. The Gators slugged out a 20-17 victory on the back of senior running back Mike Gillislee. This past weekend, the Gators and Muschamp turned to Gillislee and their tough defense yet again. Gillislee turned out a 146-yard performance and hit pay dirt twice while their defense shut down the LSU offense. While the Gators were playing their way into the the top five teams in the country, their in-state counterparts were having major growing pains. Miami and head coach Al Golden got tuned up in Chicago by Notre Dame 41-3, while a previously #3 Florida State team overlooked ACC rival N.C. State and saw their National Title hopes go up in smoke. The Gators are sitting pretty and could find themselves with a shot at the BCS National Championship, or least they control their own destiny for now.

Those pesky Ducks aren't going anywhere. Oregon is very, very, good. In their first (3) three PAC-12 outings, the Ducks have shown the explosiveness we've come to expect from a Chip Kelly Oregon team. Super-backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas have set it off with a combined 19 touchdowns between them. For an offense that is averaging 50+ points in each of their first three in-conference games, that's impressive. Oregon has the speed to keep with teams in the SEC, the next question is to find out if they can make it out of the West with their unbeaten record still intact. In Southern Calfornia to meet the Trojans on November 3rd and what is shaping up to an in-state rivalry game like no other as the Ducks travel to Corvallis to meet a now #10 ranked Oregon State Beavers team. Can the video-game like play of the Ducks keep going? We think so.

AP #7 Notre Dame Disclaimer: The helmets were awful. The game was not on a neutral site, despite what the 'Golden Domers' would tell you, and we weren't impressed by the 41-3 blowout win against the Hurricanes. That being said, they have difficult road contests in Norman and Southern California which if all goes well, will write the story itself.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Is it locked up, already?!?

Heisman Chatter

One month in the books, and The Heisman Trophy may have already been decided. Here's how we see it . . .

1. West Virginia QB, Geno Smith. Let's face it, Geno Smith had his Heisman Trophy, statement-making game this weekend, and what a statement it made. The Mountaineer signal caller snapped off 45 completions on
51 attempts while hanging (8) eight touchdown passes on a previously top twenty-fifth rankedBaylor team. It gets no easier for Geno Smith with ranked Texas and ranked Kansas State in two of the next three weeks, which we believe will just cement everything we saw this weekend.

2. Ohio State QB, Braxton Miller. Knowing they can't vie for a Big Ten Championship, or a National Title for that matter, (due to Tressel-era sanctions), one would have to think Braxton Miller has Buckeye fans as excited as they can be. Miller broke out in week (3) three leading Ohio State to a big win against visiting Cal. The sophomore Huber Heights native went off for 249 yards passing while rushing for another 75 and posting five touchdowns. This past week in East Lansing, Miller turned in a workman-like performance earning new head coach Urban Meyer, his first Big Ten victory while improving to 5-0. Only expect the hype to grow as Braxton Miller and Ohio State don't get challenged till mid-November against the Badgers in Camp Randall.

3. Alabama QB, AJ McCarron. Doesn't McCarron have the most pressure-packed job in collegiate football? The legions of Alabama fans, arguably the greatest coach in college football looming over him, not to mention his teammates on the other side of the ball playing better than any defense in the country, is that enough pressure for the junior quarterback? The 5-0, #1 ranked Crimson Tide, have a reliable quarterback under center who not only puts the ball in the endzone (12 touchdowns), but doesn't turn the ball over (zero interceptions). We're fans of McCarron, and to win National Championships, it's more than required that McCarron put his offense in good positions to score points and keep the ball away from the opposing SEC defenses.

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