Friday, July 10, 2009

2010 NFL Mock Draft - Top 10

A way too early rendering of what next year's Top 10 will look like.

1. Detroit: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska – They found the leader of the offense this year. Suh will anchor the defense.

2. Oakland: Taylor Mays, S, USC – Huge surprise: Al Davis drafts a speed demon. Conveniently, Mays happens to be a ridiculous athlete as well.

3. St. Louis: Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss – Marc Bulger will be begging out of St. Louis by year's end.

4. Kansas City: Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee – Best defensive player in college football.

5. Cincinnati: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma – In a surprise move, the Bengals take a player without any major character issues or past arrests.

6. Tampa Bay: Renaldo McClain, LB, Alabama – Derrick Brooks Part II.

7. Seattle: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma – The 'hawks passed on Mark Sanchez this year but cannot wait any longer to mold their QB of the future.

8. Tennessee: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida – I'm not buying another 13-3 season in Tennessee. Kerry Collins can't last forever and Vince Young's best days are behind him. I love the idea of a three-headed bulldozing backfield: Tebow, Chris Johnson and LenDale White.

9. Denver: Colt McCoy, QB, Texas – They dealt Jay Cutler and need to replace him with another gunslinger. McCoy does a better job of not forcing passes into tight spaces although he does not have Cutler's arm strength,

10. Atlanta: Ciron Black, OT, LSU – The Falcons play a brutal schedule this year. I think they fall back to Earth a bit. Black will protect Ryan for a number of years.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thoughts and Observations

**Really John Franco? You are one to question the leadership of the Mets? Really? Sure, you are the Mets' all-time saves leader, but really that's not saying much. In fact, you are also the Mets' all-time blown saves leader with a mind-boggling 101.

You made one All Star team as a member of the Mets (1990-2004) and never led the team to a World Series championship, although the Reds won the World Series the year after you left. Should you really be the one spouting off?

**Khalil Greene was placed on the DL for the second time this season due to anxiety problems. This is ironic because he is a member of the Mennonites, a Christian sect that preaches calmness, tranquility, inner peace, and nonviolence.

**The Yankees have over $95 million committed to players in the year 2013! Only 12 teams have a salary higher than that this season. For what it’s worth, the Nationals have do not have a single dollar committed to any player after next season.

**Blast from the Past: I do not support his actions of the past, but I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I'll be rooting for you, Charles.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Eddy Curry Conundrum

Over the next two days, Eddy Curry has a chance to help the New York Knickerbockers win the NBA title and become one of the most popular players in the team's illustrious history.

Yes, that Eddy Curry.

Are you recovered yet? Didn't think so. I'll give you another minute.

Ok. Here's how.

Curry, who has three years and about $31.5m left on his contract, has what we call in the business an "ETO" (early termination option). If Curry opted out, the remainder of the deal would be voided.

Now, you might ask why Curry would possibly opt out of a deal as outlandish as this. I am hoping/praying that Curry has a heart, err, a soul. (Curry's heart has already been found to be, um, faulty.)

Maybe, his guilty conscience will get the best of him, and he will come to realize that he has done enough damage in the Big Apple.

Here are some of his "gaudy" accomplishments:

-Was traded for two first round (LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah) and two second round picks
-Arrived at mini-camp either out of shape or injured each season in New York
-In his best season as a Knick (2006-7), his team was eight points better per 100 possessions with him on the bench. (More fun with his stats here and here.)
-Never missed a 3-pointer as a Knick (1-1; he's actually 2-2 in his career)
-Shot 100% from the floor in the 20089 season (2-2).

Clearly, Curry opting out is not happening.

But, let's just say it did.

Let's say he played the "I don't deserve the money because I have never contributed to the team in a meaningful way, and my contract is an albatross for a franchise on the up and up, and I do not want to be the person blamed for Lebron not coming to town" card. Would that be the fastest image reinvention of all time? (Kobe turning from icon to sexual predator back to icon was pretty quick.) He would never have to pay for a drink again in New York.

A boy could dream.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 NBA Mock Draft – Top 20

It's been said many times, many ways: this draft stinks. In fact, one news source called this the “worst class in 20 years.” However, the situation is not as dire as these pundits will have you believe.

In the "average" draft class, there will be five or six star players and a slew of role players. This draft clearly lacks the surefire talents, but there are a number of players that will contribute for a number of years in the Association. When we look back, it is very likely that this draft will be better than average because of the role players picked. There will be so many role players that I propose calling this the "Tyler Hansbrough Draft" not because of how great he will be, but rather because of what he represents, a hard-nosed, competitor that finds ways to help his team wins.

Top 20

1. Clippers: Blake Griffin, F, Oklahoma - Ho hum. This has been a done deal for weeks. The Clippers will try to deal one of their big men (anyone want Zach Randolph? Anyone?) to clear the way for Griffin to dominate from Day One.

2. Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn – With OJ Mayo entrenched as the point guard of the future, Thabeet is the choice over any of the guards. If Thabeet can develop any type of offensive game, the foundation will be built in Memphis (Mayo, Rudy Gay).

3. Thunder: James Harden, SG, Arizona State - Like the Grizzlies, the Thunder already have a point guard of the future (Russell Westbrook). Harden would start from Day One and provide another scoring option along with Kevin Durant. The nucleus of Durant-Westbrook-Jeff Green-Harden would be dynamic for years.

4. Kings: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain - Four reasons why this is the best case scenario for Sacramento:
--They need a point guard in the worst way. Beno Udrih will not cut it.
--Rubio happens to be the best point guard in the class.
--He’s a marketer’s dream and will help the Kings sell tickets.
-- Rubio has a lot of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams in his game. Williams had his best years in Sactown.

5. T-wolves: Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson - Minnesota now owns four first round picks. (First year GM must be in heaven.) With a nice foundation of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, you have to think they will lean toward the guards early. Curry is the draft’s best shooter and a younger, cheaper replacement for Mike Miller, one of the two guys traded for this pick.

6. T-Wolves: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis - I love the idea of a Curry-Evans backcourt as both can handle the rock and score if needed. A nice combo.

7. Warriors: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona - Since Monta Ellis apparently runs the draft for the Warriors, the team will steer clear of any point guards. If this is the pick, I expect Golden State to make a deal or two to rid their gut of athletic fours.

8. Knicks: Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse - The Knicks have been tied to Jrue Holiday, but I just don’t get that thinking. Flynn is a proven commodity while Holiday struggled for much of his only season at UCLA. Flynn also played one of the most impressive games in college basketball history at Madison Square Garden (6-OT thriller in Big East Tournament), home of the Knicks.

9. Raptors: DeMar DeRozan, SG, USC -DeRozan is an athletic freak and a nice replacement for Shawn Marion. His outside shooting has been questioned but he shot over 50% from the floor in his year at USC.

10. Bucks: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA - Back-to-back one and done players from the Pac-10. Holiday, as mentioned above, struggled at UCLA but is seen to have incredible upside. If Holiday goes here, do the Bucks re-sign Ramon Sessions?

11. Nets: Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville - Williams was plagued by inconsistency throughout his collegiate career. At times, he dominated, at times he looked awful. At 11, he seems like a worthwhile risk.

12. Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke - Although Larry Brown has no affinity for rookies, he loves good defenders, something for which Henderson is well-known.

13. Pacers: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh - A beast in the paint that manhandled Hasheem Thabeet to the tune of 20 rebounds, Blair fits in nicely to the four.

14. Suns: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy – The most polarizing player in the class, Jennings could be the heir apparent to Steve Nash in Phoenix. I will reserve judgment until I see him play in a game.

15. Pistons: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville - Eric Musselman, former NBA head coach, called Clark "a poor man's Tim Thomas." That's about as damning as it gets.

16. Bulls: James Johnson, F, Wake Forest – Johnson, a black belt in karate, brings a toughness that the Bulls crave. A trade up into the top-12 has been rumored here.

17. 76ers: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina - With Andre Miller a free agent, Philly is doing backflips if Lawson is still available at 17.

18. T-Wolves: BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State - Big men take longer to develop than guards in large part because they are constantly adjusting to a changing body. Mullens, a legit seven footer, has a ton of potential and is a lotto ticket for Minnesota.

19. Hawks: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU - Acie Law has not panned out, and the Hawks can use some solid guard play. Maynor won’t blow you away but he’ll be dependable for a number of years and is more than capable of replacing free agent Mike Bibby.

20. Jazz: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina - A match made in heaven.

Other Thoughts

**Best Available:
Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary's
Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga: Most embarrassing stat I heard this offseason - At one point this season, Daye went six games without an offensive rebound. He played in the (weak ) WCC and stands almost seven feet tall. That’s awful.
Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona
Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh

**The Mavs won’t let Jeff Teague slip by them if he’s still around at 24.

**DeMarre Carroll seems like a cheaper version of Anderson Varejao. He makes a ton of sense in Cleveland.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Man Crushes

Loyal reader BobbySanz makes a good point:

Last year's man crush, Justin Smoak was drafted 11th overall.
This year's man crush, Tyler Matzek was drafted 11th overall.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Adam Archuleta vs. David Archuleta

A few weeks back, I compared the career paths of JT and LT. After much positive feedback, I will attempt to make this type of article into a recurring series. The second installment will pit a pair of Archuletas against each other.

Adam Archuleta vs. David Archuleta

31-year old, Adam Archuleta (nicknamed “Arch Deluxe” in reference to his weightlifter-like physique) stands six feet tall and weighs in at 215 lbs. A product of Arizona State University, Archuleta ripped through the NFL Combine and was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He posted 31 repetitions of 225 lbs. on the bench press (unheard of for a defensive back), ran a 4.3 40-yard dash, and recorded a 39” vertical. These numbers were and still are mind-boggling.

The Rams signed Archuleta to a 5-year, $7 million contract. After being named to the All-Rookie team and five solid seasons in St. Louis, Archuleta signed a 6-year, $30 million free agent contract with the Washington Redskins, the most ever for a safety.

Two years later, he was traded to the Chicago Bears. Shortly thereafter, he was released and signed with the Oakland Raiders. After an unsuccessful stint in the Bay Area, he retired to be with his wife, former Playboy Playmate Jennifer Walcott.

Mrs. Adam Archuleta

18-year old, David Archuleta stands 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs in at 125 lbs (soaking wet with 10-pound dumbbells in each hand). He caught his break on American Idol where he finished second in 2008. His fan base consists mostly of tweens.

Tale of the Tape
Archuleta: Adam / David

Born: Wyoming / Utah

Height: 6’ / 5’6”

Weight: 215 / 125

Career Span: 2001-2008 / 2008-?

Significant Other: Walcott / Simon Cowell

Bench Press Reps: 31 / NA

Fan Base NFL fans, weightlifters / Tweenage girls, creepy older men

Advantage: Adam

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All Undrafted Team - Baker's Dozen

These are my 13 favorite players that went undrafted. Come September, these guys will find themselves on NFL rosters.

Darry Beckwith, LB, LSU
Frantz Joseph, LB, Florida Atlantic
Jeremiah Johnson, RB, Oregon
Dannell Ellerbe, LB, Georgia
Graham Gano, P, Florida State
Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
Arian Foster, RB, Tennessee
Ryan Purvis, TE, Boston College
Brannan Sunderland, RB, Georgia
Mitch King, DT, Iowa
Derek Pegues, S, Mississippi State
Kory Sheets, RB, Purdue
Quan Cosby, WR, Texas

Monday, April 27, 2009

NFL Draft - Grades by Team

Jacksonville: The Jaguars made it clear to the world that Davod Garrard is still their guy. For that, I commend them because he did not get a fair look last year. Not only did they get protection for Garrard (Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton), but they also got him playmakers on the outsde (Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard) and a bruising runner (Rashad Jennings) who will be the Thunder to Maurice Jones-Drew's Lightning. A great weekend for the franchise. Grade: A+

Buffalo: The Bills did well to address a number of need areas. Namely, they drafted a pass rusher (Aaron Maybin), pass-catching tight end (Shawn Nelson) and offensive lineman (Eric Wood and Andy Levitre) to help replace Jason Peters. I also really like the Harris duo (5th rounder Nic and 6th rounder Cary). Grade: A

New York Jets: The Jets went with quality over quantity. Obviously, their grade hinges on the success of Mark Sanchez. If he can turn out to be the franchise quarterback Rex Ryan imagines, Jets fans will be thrilled. I love his intangibles and think he'll live up to the billing. Shonn Greene, although not a need, is a solid third round pick as well. Grade: A-

Detroit: Obviosuly, the Lions, more than any other team, needed to nail this draft. Thankfully for them and the entire state, they did. Matthew Stafford is the new face of the franchise. Brandon Pettigrew and Derrick Williams are solid picks. Louis Delmas hits like a truck. Lydon Murtha will start on the offensive line. Zach Follett will contribute as well. Jim Schwartz and staff, nicely done. Grade: A-

New York Giants: I don't like the Hakeem Nicks selection because of the off the field issues, but their next six picks should make the roster. Another solid draft by the Giants. Grade: B+

Baltimore: Ozzie Newsome again proves to the league that he is a superior talent evaluator. I love the Oher pick and Paul Kruger was a great value pick. The Day Two picks were solid if unspectacular. Grade B+

Seattle: I really like what Jim Mora, Jr. did in this draft. Aaron Curry is a great player and an even better person which means something in today's NFL. Max Unger will start on Opening Day. Deon Butler is a speed demon that makes plays. Courtney Greene provides solid value in round seven. Grade: B+

Chicago: The Bears did about as well as possible with no Day One selections. Jarron Gilbert is a physical freak. Juaquin Igleasias is underrated, and D.J. Moore provides great value in the fourth round. And of course, they used some picks to acquire Jay Cutler. Grade: B+

Atlanta: I love the Peria Jerry and Lawrence Sidbury picks. I'm also factoring in the acquisition of Tony Gonzalez into this grade. Grade: B

Cincinnati: I love the Day Two selections as I detailed yesterday, but the character issues of Andre Smith worry me. Rey Maualuga was a solid value in round two. Grade: B

Green Bay: Defense was the focus going in and the Pack addressed the need in a big way. B.J. Raji ended up going where I expected at the beginning of this process (ninth overall), and Clay Matthews should help revamp the linebacking corps. Grade: B

Philadelphia: Like the Jets, the Eagles chose quality over quantity. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy were solid picks. My only reservation is that Philadelphia already has a Maclin-type in DeSean Jackson. Grade: B

Arizona: Chris Wells is exactly what this offense needs to create a balanced attack. Best of all, they kept Anquan Boldin. Now, they have to figure out how to keep Anquan Boldin happy. If they can do that, this grade will be improved. Grade: B

Tennessee: Kenny Britt is a nice late first round selection. I also like Sen'Derrick Marks late in the second round and love the selection of the ultra-productive Gerald McRath in the fourth round. Grade: B-

San Francisco: The Michael Crabtree pick was spectacular. After that though? Not much. Grade: B-

Pittsburgh: Ho hum. Average draft. Average grade (Note: Average denotes average at Johns Hopkins University; yes, I'm still bitter). Grade: C+

Minnesota: The draft hinges on Percy Harvin. Luckily, I am a fan of his and think he can be the Reggie Bush-type playmaker the Vikings need. My only reservation is that Brad Childress seems like a pushover and not the drill sergeant that Harvin needs. I'm interested to see how this plays out. I like the Phil Loadholt and Asher Allen selections too. Grade: C+

New England: The Patriots did well to trade two of their 2009 third round picks for two 2010 second rounders. However, the payers they drafted this year do not excite me. Grade: C+

Washington: Brian Orakpo alone saves the 'Skins because they needed to address their pass rush concerns, and he does that for them. However, the rest of the draft is relatively boring. Grade: C+

Indianapolis: Many consider Donald Brown to be the best running back in this class. However, the Colts had more pressing needs. I did like the two defensive tackle selections (Fili Moala and Terrance Taylor) and the productive Austin Collie. Grade: C

Denver: An intersting set of moves by Josh McDaniels and his staff. They reached a bit for Knowshon Moreno, but I can't fault them for that since they got good value with their other first round pick, Robert Ayers. However, I really dislike the trade of their 2010 first rounder for Alphonso Smith because I think that will end up being a Top 10 pick. Grade: C

Houston: Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin will help put pressure on the quarterback but were two tight ends on Day Two necessary? I think James Casey would have been enough especially with Owen Daniels already on the roster. Grade: C-

Miami: Solid Day One. Terrible Day Two. Sean Smith saves this team from "D" territory. Grade: C-

St. Louis: Their first two picks will start for the next eight to ten years, but the team needs a lot more help and I don't think they addressed enough needs. Grade: C-

San Diego: The Chargers reached for first rounder Larry English, but I like the value they got on Day Two in Louis Vasquez and Kevin Ellison. Wasn't Demetrius Byrd just in a serious car accident? I hope and pray that Byrd makes a full recovery, but isn't it a wasted pick? Grade: D+

New Orleans: Malcolm Jenkins was a solid pick, but he's not enough to save an entire draft. The rest of the Saints' selections leave a lot to be desired. Grade: D+

Cleveland: As discussed on Saturday, the Browns were one of my Day One losers. They did not do nearly enough on Day Two to redeem themselves. Grade: D

Carolina: Everette Brown is a solid selection but it cost the Panthers a 2010 first rounder. The overall body of work just doesn't do it for me. Grade: D

Dallas: Jerry Jones is an incredible businessman, but his player evaluation skills come into question after this draft. Twelve picks and no impact players? Not doing it for me. Grade: D-

Kansas City: I cannot defend any selection the Chiefs made. To me, they did not make any significant improvements. Ironically, in every one of my mock drafts, I had the Chiefs taking OT Eugene Monroe because they could pair him with his former college teammate and their 2008 first rounder, Branden Albert. As it turns out, I had the correct idea, but it turned out they drafted their other 2008 first rounder's (Glenn Dorsey) college linemate, Tyson Jackson. Much like the Chiefs draft, good idea but poor execution. Grade: D-

Tampa Bay: The Bucs traded up for Josh Freeman, an unproven, raw quarterback that they reached for despite the fact that they just signed Byron Leftwich to a two-year deal. Just a terrible day for Tampa Bay. Grade: F

Oakland: I won't get into any more detail than I did over the last few days, but the lesson for all other teams should be "Do as the Raiders Don't." Just pitiful. Grade: F

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 2 - Recap


Chicago: Without a day one pick, the Bears did very well to fill a number of need areas on Day Two.

Jacksonville: The Jags picked three receivers and a running back that have the potential to contribute in 2009.

Detroit: The Lions got Matthew Stafford some weapons and some protection. What else can you ask for?

New York Giants: The Giants addressed some key needs, wide receiver, tight end, and running back. Well done.

Cincinnati: It's possible, even likely that the Bengals picked up three players that will start for them on Opening Day - Michael Johnson, Chase Coffman and Jonathan Luigs.


Dallas: The Cowboys failed to draft any player that will start for them at a skill position. I guess they did a good job drafting depth, but they needed more after a disappointing 2008 campaign.

Miami: They reached for a couple wide receivers and drafted a guy from Monmouth. Nothing good ever comes from Monmouth.

New England: I should trust Bill Belichick's player evaluation skills, but I think the Patriots struggled all weekend. Who is the defining player of the draft for them?

Best Picks

Jarron Gilbert, DT, San Jose State (68th overall by Chicago): Freak athlete. See here.

Trevor Canfield, OG, Cincinnati (254th by Arizona): Love the value in the seventh round.

Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma (99th by Chicago): Sam Bradford's favorite target should fit in nicely in Chicago.

Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers (245th by Seattle): This was a need area for the Seahawks, and Greene has second round ability. He fell to the seventh round because of consistency issues.

Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State (233rd by Tampa Bay): Stroughter has a chance to come in and contribute from day one. He lacks blazing speed but consistently makes plays.

Other Draft Notes

--USC had 11 players selected, 50% more than the next closest team.

--38 cornerbacks were selected. The next closest position (defensive ends) had 22 players selected. Still have your doubts that this is a passing league? Didn't think so?

--The U(niversity of Miami) only had one player selected all day (Spence Adkins, 6th Round). Among others, here's a list of schools that saw at least one of their players go before Adkins: Temple, William & Mary, Western Illinois, Nicholls State, Cal Poly, Western Ontario, Stillman, St. Paul's, Monmouth, and Abilene Christian. Things can only get better in south Florida.

--Grades by team coming tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 1 - Recap


New York Jets: Trading up for Mark Sanchez while only giving up a second rounder and some spare parts is a win in my book. He's got the perfect make-up to succeed in New York.

Baltimore: The Ravens traded up for Michael Oher and found first round talent late in the second round in Paul Kruger.

Philadelphia: The Eagles picked up two impact players in the draft (Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy) and another by trading a couple picks (Jason Peters). Well done.

Jacksonville: I love the fact that the Jaguars are addressing their glaring need on the offensive line. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton will allow David Garrard to prove his 2008 season was an anomaly.

UConn: Four first day picks? Well done, Randy Edsall.


: Is this even a debate? They reached for Darrius Heyward-Bay with the seventh overall pick and then stunned the masses by taking Michael Mitchell with the 40th pick. The moral of the story: never entrust your draft to an unstable, 80 year old man.

Tampa Bay: Not only did they reach for Josh Freeman, but they also traded up for him. This has major bust potential.

Cleveland: The Browns traded down from the fifth overall pick to 21 and failed to pick up a 2010 first rounder in the process. Then, they drafted two wide receivers. Worst of all, they did not make a move with either of their two quarterbacks. A very confusing day.

New England
: Lots of movement but no meaningful action. The Patriots failed to grab a difference maker on either side of the ball despite being involved in about a dozen trades.

The U(niversity of Miami): No first round picks for the first time in 14 years? That'll get you a spot on this list.

Best Picks (non-Sanchez category)

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: The 49ers get the top talent in the draft with the 10th pick. Makes sense to me.

Everette Brown, DE, Florida State (43rd by Carolina): Late first round talent scooped up in the middle of the second.

Sean Smith, CB, Utah (61st by Miami): An incredible value here. Smith will be a starter in the NFL for the next ten years.

Worst Picks (non-Raiders category)

Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU (3rd by Kansas City): Jackson is a decent player, but he has very limited upside. That's not something you look for when picking third. Jackson wasn't even in my initial mock draft which shows just how far he's climbed in a few short months.

Andre Smith, OT, Alabama (6th by Cincinnati): Another day, another acquisition of a player with character issues.

Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia (44th by Miami): I understand White will be a nice fit for the Wildcat but is that worth a precious early second rounder?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Final Mock Draft - Top 40

Round One

1. Detroit: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia - This seems like nothing more than a formality at this point. It's become apparent to everyone that the Lions want Stafford to be the face of their franchise.

2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor - Even before the departure of Orlando Pace, the Rams had glaring holes along the offensive line. It comes down to Smith and Eugene Monroe in this spot. Rumors out of the Gateway City lead many to believe the Baylor product will be the pick.

3. Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia - I've been promoting this idea for months. I really love the prospect of pairing Monroe with last year's first rounder Branden Albert. Matt Cassel feels better even though Tony Gonzalez won't be catching any of his passes this season.

4. Seattle: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC - The hottest prospect in the draft, Sanchez figues to come off the board in this spot although it may not be the Seahwaks making this pick.

5. Cleveland: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College - New head coach Eric Mangini has been a proponent of building his teams through the offensive and defensive lines. Raji enamored himself with many talent evaluators this offseason despite the fact he failed to dominate the college game.

6. Cincinnati: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas - I might be asking too much for the Bengals to pass on players with character issues, but the team needs pass rushers and Orakpo did that better than any other player in this class.

7. Oakland: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech - I know, I know. Al Davis loves speed. But, Crabtree is in a class by himself at the receiver position this year and as the number one overall prospect on my board, he would be a great value pick here. I like the idea of JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Crabtree on offense.

8. Jacksonville: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest - By all accounts, Curry is a great player and an even better person. But, over the last 10 years, only two linebackers have gone in the top five (LaVar Arrington, A.J. Hawk) and neither has lived up to the billing. Linebacker is a position that can be filled with productive, solid, if unspectacular players. For those reasons, I think Curry will slip out of the top seven into the laps of the Jaguars.

9. Green Bay: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama - Stories of Smith dropping out of the first round due to his "questionable" offseason behavior turn out to be bogus when teams realize just how talented he is. The Pack can use the youth infusion on the front line.

10. San Francisco: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi - Oher has been another hot name as the draft approaches and the 49ers can use help up front. Seems like a match to me.

11. Buffalo: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee - With the top four offensive linemen off the board, the Bills address their need for a pass rusher. Ayers, a mid-round prospect at best before the 2008 season, culminates the meteoric rise with a first round selection.

12. Denver: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU - Scouts have dubbed Jackson a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense, and the Broncos will be making the conversion to that defense.

13. Washington: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State - If the 'Skins resist the urge to trade up for Sanchez, Maybin wouldn't be a terrible option.

14. New Orleans: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC - The Saints only have one Day 1 pick and they will be spending it on a defensive player. Which one? Could be a defensive back (Malcolm Jenkins?). Or it could be the DE/LB hybrid Cushing.

15. Houston: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri - This would be a dream scenario for the Texans as they'd be able to pair Andre Johnson with the speedy Maclin.

16. San Diego: Larry English, LB, N. Illinois - Shawn Merriman Part Deux? The Chargers hope so. This could be a bit high so the Chargers might trade down, but I like this fit a lot.

17. New York Jets: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State - Please don't take Josh Freeman. Please don't take Josh Freeman. Please don't take Josh Freeman. Please don't take Josh Freeman. Pettigrew would be the blocking tight end allowing Dustin Keller to work his magic downfield.

18. Denver: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC - Another guy who has seen a meteoric rise in his stock since August. The Broncos will love his toughness (hat tip Jay Bilas).

19. Tampa Bay: Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State - Ronde Barber isn't getting any younger and Jenkins will be a perfect fit in Raheem Morris' new scheme.

20. Detroit (from Dallas): Eben Britton, OT, Arizona - If you are going to guarantee a quarterback $40m over six years, Priority #1 becomes protecting that asset.

21. Philadelphia: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State - Can Wells be the Thunder to Brian Westbrook's Lightning? The Eagles hope so.

22. Minnesota: Darrius Herward-Bey, WR, Maryland - Bey's speed is too tempting to pass up at this point. Eventually, the Vikings will stumble upon a go-to receiver, right?

23. New England: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia - A bit of a surprise here but the Patriots have a number of picks and can afford to take a chance on a high upside player like Moreno. If this comes to fruition, you are looking at the early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

24. Atlanta: Sean Smith, CB, Utah - On Wednesday, I labeled Smith as the most underrated player in the draft. He also happens to be one of my favorites. His blend of size and speed is tantalizing and the Falcons can use help in the secondary.

25. Miami: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida - Another player on my underrated list, Harvin seems to have failed a Combine drug test which won't win him the admiration of Bill Parcells. However, the local product's skill set is perfectly suited for the Dolphins' offense.

26. Baltimore: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC - Another ReyRey in Baltimore?

27. Indianapolis: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi - A great value pick here. Perry has top 15 talent and best of all, he fits a need for the Colts.

28. Buffalo (from Philadelphia via Carolina): Alex Mack, C, California - A versatile lineman that will help offset the loss of Jason Peters. He's probably not skilled enough to play OT, but it's a start.

29. New York Giants: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State - Rush the passer. Rush the passer. Rush the passer.

30. Tennessee: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri - A natural replacement for Albert Haynesworth.

31. Arizona: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois - The Cardinals love speed as much as anyone in the league and Davis would be a nice complement to last year's first rounder Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie.

32: Pittsburgh: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest - Smith (the fourth of that surname in this round) is a bit undersized but has great ball skills. The defending Super Bowl champs have the luxury of being able to draft talent over need.

Eight More For Good Measure

33. Detroit: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State - The best player left on the board, Laurinaitis would help solidify a linebacking corps that struggled mightily last year. Then again, the whole team struggled mightily so taking the best player on the board regardless of position makes sense.

34. New England (from Kansas City): Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut

35. St. Louis: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State - Every year, it seems like a quarterback falls farther than expected. I don't expect Freeman to last this deep in the draft but the teams directly above do not need a quarterback of the future. I'd put a 75% chance on a team trading up for him.

36. Cleveland: Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut

37. Seattle: Louis Delmas, S, W. Michigan

38. Cincinnati: Max Unger, C, Oregon

39. Jacksonville: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

40. Oakland: Eric Wood, C, Louisville

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overrated Players

Yesterday, we detailed the seven most underrated players. Here are the four players I think are most overrated* (in order of overratedness; yes, that's a word too).

Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State (mock draft position: 17): Put simply, I will question my fanhood of the New York Jets if they select Freeman with the 17th pick. He's got great tools (rocket arm, prototypical size), but he is not a skilled quarterback but rather a developmental project.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina (29): Nicks has below average speed, isn't elusive, and worst of all he's been rumored to have scored a 7 on the Wonderlic. This will not end well.

Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia (72): I've had just about enough of the Pat White Hype Machine. He's a solid college quarterback and above average athlete. He's not going to revolutionize the NFL. Teams will figure out the Wildcat whether White is playing or not.

Everette Brown, DE, Florida State (18): A ho hum prospect, not a mid-first round pick.

*Rated based on Todd McShay's latest seven-round mock draft published on April 21st.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Underrated Players

Here are the seven players I think are most underrated* (in order of underratedness; yes, that's a word).

Sean Smith, CB, Utah (mock draft position: 57): Smith has been a favorite of mine for some time. He has great height (6'2") and speed (4.4 40). Best of all, he's only been playing the position for two years meaning there's a ton of upside left. I would not be shocked to hear his name get called in the first round. Teams in need of secondary help would be foolish to pass on him.

Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma (138): To me, Iglesias is a better prospect than Malcolm Kelly, a former teammate of his who went in round two last year. Iglesias was QB Sam Bradford's favorite target this season (74 catches, 1,150 yards, 10 TD). A few weeks back, he was being discussed as an early second round possibility. Now, McShay has him going early in round five? Not happening.

Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State (137): Maybe I'm a sucker for college productivity, but if you lead the NCAA in rushing touchdowns and finish in the top five in rushing yards and you play in the defensive-focused Big 10, I think you should get a little more respect. Ringer should see his name called in round three, not round five.

Jarrett Dillard, WR, Rice (133): Dillard hauled in 55 touchdowns over the last three seasons. Sure, he's a bit undersized and lacks top end speed, but his productivity and toughness (hat tip, Jay Bilas) cannot and should not be underestimated.

Gerald McRath, LB, Southern Miss (192): The combine-like measurables may not be there but McRath recorded 137 tackles despite playing behind a woeful defensive front. has the theme of productivity set in yet?

Percy Harvin, WR, Florida (27): Three years ago, Reggie Bush was the second overall selection. Harvin is the same player. Getting him 25 picks later wouldn't happen, but if it did, it's a steal.

Rey Maualuga, LB, USC (28): Possibly the second best linebacker in this year's class. His size:speed ratio is unparalleled. He's a beast with a mean streak and should be picked in the top 15.

*Rated based on Todd McShay's latest seven-round mock draft published on April 21st.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Finals

Starting Five


G- Mike Bibby
G-Gilbert Arenas
G-Jason Terry
F-Andre Iguodala
C-Channing Frye


G- Ben Gordon
G- Ray Allen
F- Rudy Gay
F- Caron Butler
C- Emeka Okafor

Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton, Jerryd Bayless, Hassan Adams

Richard Hamilton, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Ollie, Donyell Marshall, Kevin Ollie

Game Setup

This turns out to be a great matchup for a number of reasons.

--Arizona was 0-3 all time against UConn.

--UConn's shooting guards were the best in the tournament.

--Arizona's point guards were the best in the tournament.
--Both teams were best playing with a smaller lineup. At times, each team played with four guards on the floor, a dynamic not often seen.

Game Summary

Arizona jumped out to an early lead only to see UConn take a 40-37 lead into the half. With just over a minute left, Arizona led 78-74. Ray Allen hit a 3 on the next trip and Charlie Villanueva fouled Mike Bibby with 16 seconds left. Bibby hit the front end of a one-and-one but missed the second.

After two backscreens from Emeka Okafor and Rudy Gay, Ben Gordon fired a three which was off the mark. Richard Hamilton, however, rebounded the miss and hit a fallaway jumper in the lane (very reminiscent of this play) to send the game into OT.

In overtime, Caron Butler and Jason Terry traded jumpers.

With the score tied at 86, the Wildcats had the ball with 0:14 left in OT. The game would come down to Terry-Bibby-Arenas-Jefferson-Iguodala against Gordon-Villanueva-Gay-Butler-Okafor.

Arenas brings the ball past half court... 0:12, 0:11, 0:10...

Jefferson sets a high ball screen... 0:09, 0:08, 0:07...

Arenas drives right, Caron Butler steps off Iguodala to double... 0:06, 0:05..

Arenas dishes to Iguodala. Gordon helps leaving Jason Terry wide open ... 0:04, 0:03..

Iguodala hits Terry 17-feet from the bucket on the left baseline. Terry takes the shot and buries it. 0:00.

Arizona wins!!! The Vegas crowd is beside itself, getting all it paid for and more.

Final Score

(2) Arizona 88, (1) UConn 86 (OT)

All-Tournament Team

G- Jason Terry
G- Ray Allen
F- Andre Iguodala
F- Carmelo Anthony
C- Tim Duncan (Tournament MVP)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Elite 8

The cream of the crop rises to the top as only the 1's and 2's remain. Winners earn a ticket to the Final Four.

East Region

(1) North Carolina 81, (2) Florida 71: Florida puts up a valiant effort despite the fact their guards are clearly inferior to those of the Heels. Raymond Felton abuses Anthony Roberson and North Carolina is on it's way to Vegas (site of the Banter Final Four). Game MVP: Raymond Felton - 20 points, 13 assists.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 103, (2) Kansas 100 (OT): An incredible end to end game decided on a buzzer-beating three by Ray Allen. Emeka Okafor blocks 13 shots. Mario Chalmers records 12 steals. A game few will forget anytime soon. Game MVP: Ray Allen - 32 points including seven 3's.

South Region

(2) Arizona 80, (1) Duke 64: As has been the case in recent memory, Duke puts up a stinker in a meaningful tournament game. Blue Devils not named J.J. miss 14 of 20 free throws, and Duke shoots 30% from the floor. The Wildcats assert their dominance in the transition game (24 fast break points). Game MVP: Mike Bibby - 18 points, 13 assists.

West Region

(2) Wake Forest 77, (1) UCLA 72: The Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul matchup lives up to the billing as each go for eight assists and four steals. Much to the dismay of the Bruins, Tim Duncan continues his torrid streak, and Darius Songalia hits a few clutch jumpers to seal the deal. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 30 points, 15 rebounds.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Sweet 16

East Region

(1) North Carolina 70, (5) Ohio State 60: The Buckeyes successfully slow the pace of the game, but ultimately the superior skill of North Carolina leads to a victory. Game MVP: Rasheed Wallace - 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 technical.

(2) Florida 82, (3) Syracuse 64: With an average supporting cast, Carmelo Anthony can't carry the 'Cuse any further. Game MVP: Carmelo Anthony - 32 points, 10 rebounds.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 95, (5) Illinois 65: An exhausted Deron Williams-led Illini squad proves to be little more than a speed bump for the Huskies. Another dominant performance from UConn. Game MVP: Rudy Gay - 26 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals.

(2) Kansas 84, (3) Georgia Tech 82 (OT): The best game of the weekend. The Yellow Jackets led by Chris Bosh give the Jayhawks all they can handle. After Thad Young fouls out late in regulation, Paul Pierce takes over. Game MVP: Paul Pierce - 25 points including 8 in OT.

South Region

(1) Duke 102, (4) LSU 71: The Tigers lack of guards catches up to them, and the Blue Devils show no mercy. Game MVP: Chris Duhon - 10 points, 14 assists.

(2) Arizona 75, (6) Marquette 59: Andre Iguodala proves his worth as he "holds" a depleted Dwyane Wade to 24 points. Game MVP: Gilbert Arenas - 18 points, 9 assists.

West Region

(1) UCLA 80, (5) Georgetown 49: The Bruins, recognizing how old the Hoyas are, run and up and down the court reminding fans of the Jim Harrell heyday of the early 90's. Hide the women and children because this one got ugly. Game MVP: Trevor Ariza - 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals.

(2) Wake Forest , (3) Kentucky : The Wildcats match up decently with the Demon Deacons, but after resting for the better part of the second half in Round 1, Wake's "Big Three" combine for 65 points. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 30 points, 12 rebounds.

Friday, April 10, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Round One

East Region

(1) North Carolina 88, (8) Washington 70: Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy keep the game close for the first half, but the depth of the Tar Heel bench becomes apparent early in the second half and North Carolina pulls away. Game MVP: Antawn Jamison - 28 points including 3 3-pointers.

(5) Ohio State 71, (4) Alabama 68: The Crimson Tide's lack of height allows Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos to have their way down low. Mike Conley is able to neutralize Mo Williams and Michael Redd scores at will. Gerald Wallace has a nice game (25 and 12), but it's not enough. Game MVP: Michael Redd - 32 points including 5 3-pointers.

(3) Syracuse 73, (6) USC 65: Carmelo Anthony thrives in NCAA Tournament-like formats (see 2003 NCAA Tournament and 2008 Olympics). Although his supporting cast here isn't spectacular, it's certainly enough to get by an overmatched Trojans squad. Game MVP: Carmelo Anthony - 35 points and 13 rebounds.

(2) Florida 84, (7) Oklahoma State 67: The Cowboys do not have the scorers to keep up with the run-n-gun Gators. This game gets out of hand early and the Gators are able rest their starters. Game MVP: Mike Miller - 19 points including 4 3-pointers.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 101, (8) Oregon 75: The Ducks rely on strong guard play to win games. Unfortunately for them, the Huskies are the deepest team in this tournament, and they run Oregon out of the gym. Game MVP: Caron Butler - 24 points including 3 3-pointers.

(5) Illinois 80, (4) Memphis 76: Ultimately, the game comes down to Deron Williams vs. Derrick Rose. Williams carries the Illini on his back and hits some clutch threes down the stretch. Game MVP: Deron Williams - 34 points, 13 assists.

(3) Georgia Tech 84, (6) Villanova 56: This is a nightmare matchup for the Wildcats. They have no big men, and the Yellow Jackets can run with them. Plenty of rest for the regulars. Game MVP: Chris Bosh - 22 points, 17 rebounds.

(2) Kansas 90, (7) Arkansas 75: Joe Johnson keeps Paul Pierce at bay, but every other matchup goes the Wildcats' way, and the Razorbacks are sent home early. Game MVP: Kirk Hinrich - 20 points, 11 assists.

South Region

(1) Duke 80, (8) DePaul 61: The Blue Devils outclass the Blue Demons in every facet of the game. Again, more rest for the regulars. Game MVP: Carlos Boozer - 21 points, 14 rebounds.

(4) LSU 76, (5) California 74: This is my favorite first round matchup. Jason Kidd can have his way with LSU because the Tigers have a huge hole in the backcourt. The Tigers, though, possess the deepest frontcourt in the tournament. Anthony Randolph is forced to play point-forward and does an adequate enough job that the Tigers squeak out out a last-second victory. Game MVP: Shaq - 25 points, 18 rebounds.

(6) Marquette 109, (3) Texas 105 (3 OT): The first round's best individual matchup far surpasses all expectations. Both Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade post triple doubles. In triple-OT, the Golden Eagles' sharpshooters, Steve Novak and Travis Diener, take the onus off Wade and hit a combined five 3's. A game that will be tough to forget. Game MVP: Dwyane Wade - 43 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks.

(2) Arizona 88, (7) Maryland 65: An awful matchup for the Terps as the Wildcats play solid defense and Maryland struggles mightily to put the ball in the hoop. Game MVP: Andre Iguodala - 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists.

West Region

(1) UCLA 80, (8) UNLV 66: The Bruins double-team Shawn Marion every time he touches the ball and force his teammates to beat them, a strategy that works to perfection. Game MVP: Baron Davis - 25 points, 12 assists.

(5) Georgetown 55, (4) Michigan State 51: The dysfunctional Spartans display no offensive rhythm and Allen Iverson creates enough open shots for his teammates against the defense-averse Spartans that the Hoyas win a sloppy game. Game MVP: Allen Iverson - 16 points, 8 assists.

(3) Kentucky 60, (6) Stanford 58: The All-Wingspan team (Kentucky) scores just enough to win and sets a tournament record with 22 blocked shots. Game MVP: Rajon Rondo - 14 points, 8 assists, 8 steals, 8 blocks.

(2) Wake Forest 75, (7) Notre Dame 60: The Demon Deacons' Big Three have there way all day and when the Fightin' Irish's threes don't fall, the game gets out of hand. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 31 points, 12 rebounds.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Bracket

East Region

1- North Carolina
8- Washington

4- Alabama
5- Ohio State

3- Syracuse
6- USC

2- Florida
7- Oklahoma State

Midwest Region

1- UConn
8- Oregon

4- Memphis
5- Illinois

3- Georgia Tech
6- Villanova

2- Kansas
7- Arkansas

South Region

1- Duke
8- DePaul

4- LSU
5- California

3- Texas
6- Marquette

2- Arizona
7- Maryland

West Region


4- Michigan State
5- Georgetown

3- Kentucky
6- Stanford

2- Wake Forest
7- Notre Dame

You have 24 hours to fill out your brackets and start an office pool. Good luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NCAA Tournament Thoughts

Quick Thought: Why is there only one play-in game for the NCAA Tournament? Wouldn't it make sense to have four of these games so three more deserving at-large teams can secure a spot in the Big Dance?

Thursday's Upset Special: Western Kentucky. Illinois G Chester Frazier will likely miss the game and Western Kentucky has more experience than the Illini.

Word to the Wise: Oklahoma might be the weakest #2 seed, but they will be playing their first two games close to home, and the Sooners went undefeated at home with Blake Griffin in the lineup.

My Final Four: Louisville, Missouri, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

My Championship Prediction: North Carolina over Louisville. Not sexy, but I don't see (m)any stumbling blocks for either team before the Final Four.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mock Draft III - Top 10

For a little change of pace, I will compare my newest mock drafts to those of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN as well as Michael Lombardi from The National Football Post. Commentary certainly appreciated.

1. Detroit
Kiper: Matthew Stafford
McShay: Stafford
Lombardi: Stafford
Banter: Matthew Stafford, Georgia, QB - Stafford established himself as the class of the position at the Combine. If the Lions choose to address this need with the first overall pick - and unless they trade for Jay Cutler, I think they will - Stafford will be their guy. With all the hoopla surrounding the NCAA Tournament, Stafford's Pro Day might go unnoticed to many. I'm pretty sure the Lions won't miss it.

2. St. Louis
Kiper: Jason Smith
McShay: J. Smith
Lombardi: Eugene Monroe
Banter: Jason Smith, Baylor, OT - Smith seems like the class of the deep OT class.

3. Kansas City
Kiper: Aaron Curry
McShay: Curry
Lombardi: Curry
Banter: Eugene Monroe, Virginia, OT - I love the storyline of Monroe and last year's first rounder from Virginia, Branden Albert, protecting Matt Cassel.

4. Seattle
Kiper: Monroe
McShay: B.J. Raji
Lombardi: Raji
Banter: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, LB - Curry dominated the Combine and is now considered by many to be the draft's top prospect. After Seattle's signing of WR T.J. Housyourdaddy and Michael Crabtree's imminent surgery, the two no longer look like the perfect match they were a few weeks back. The trade of LB Julian Peterson clears the way for Curry.

5. Cleveland
Kiper: Raji
McShay: Brian Orakpo
Lombardi: Orakpo
Banter: B.J. Raji, Boston College, DT - A great run-stuffer, but I still question why he never dominated in college like his skills indicate he would. Again, I do not think Raji is worthy of being a top five pick, but this is a mock draft and not what I would do.

6. Cincinnati
Kiper: Michael Crabtree
McShay: Monroe
Lombardi: J. Smith
Banter: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR - The Bengals replace Housyourdaddy with Crabtree. Not a bad deal for them although they have a lot more needs than just this.

7. Oakland
Kiper: Jeremy Maclin
McShay: Maclin
Lombardi: Andre Smith
Banter: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR - Al Davis has always been enamored with speed, and Maclin has plenty of it.

8. Jacksonville
Kiper: Matt Sanchez
McShay: Crabtree
Lombardi: Sanchez
Banter: Andre Smith, Alabama, OT - I realize Smith has not had a great few weeks, but his talent is undeniable, and he can slide into the right tackle position.

9. Green Bay
Kiper: Orakpo
McShay: Aaron Maybin
Lombardi: Maybin
Banter: Brian Orakpo, Texas, DE - If he can prove he's healthy at UT's Pro Day, Orakpo would help revamp a struggling defense at Lambeau.

10. San Francisco
Kiper: Maybin
McShay: A. Smith
Lombardi: Robert Ayers
Banter: Mark Sanchez, USC, QB - Can Sanchez be the QB of the future that Alex Smith never was? The 49ers sure hope so.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Recap of Sports Pet Peeves

Over the years, I have slowly revealed my Top 50 Sports Pet Peeves. The following have been published.

Sports Pet Peeve #1: In-game interviews of head coaches. I can tolerate coaches being interviewed at halftime (to a certain degree), but what is the purpose of interviewing a coach during the course of a game? Let me make sure I have this straight. It would be a good idea for a coach to divulge strategy or provide analysis during a game so the opposing team can know what he is thinking? How does that make sense? It's infuriating and completely nonsensical. These coaches get berated by the media for hours before and hours after the game. Leave them alone during the game. I beg you.

Note: This applies specifically to hockey (NBC) and baseball (Fox / ESPN). Sports Pet Peeve

#2: Detailing the score of a game by using the losing team's score first. An example: "The Dodgers lost to the Mets three to seven." No, the Dodgers lost to the Mets seven to three. It's not a difficult concept. Higher score followed by lower score.

Note: This does not apply to sports with sets (tennis, volleyball, etc) as it would be impossible to determine which team / player won which sets by using the rules outlined above. So, saying Serena Williams beat Venus Williams 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 would be necessary and perfectly acceptable.

#3: Unwarranted excessive celebration penalties after touchdowns. I understand offenses such as the "slitting the throat" gesture and taunting opponents, but the NFL and NCAA need to relax the illegalities of certain celebrations. A touchdown typically results from perfect execution after hours of film study and practice. Why do these governing bodies find the need to prohibit choreographed celebrations with teammates? God forbid a player share in the happiness with others who helped him arrive in the end zone.

#6: When trying to down a punt deep inside an opponent's territory, a player will wildly slide / jump / dive on top of a football forcing it into the end zone for a touchback. Failure to down the ball inside the 1-yard line has become an epidemic. I cannot count the times this has occurred recently.

#11: Defensive three seconds in the NBA. It's the NBA, supposedly the cream of the crop of professional basketball leagues worldwide.
Why can't you play any defense you want?

#34: Soccer players wearing gloves. Really, soccer players? It's so cold that you need gloves to cover your delicate fingers? Man up. You don't use your hands anyway.
Note: This applies to cross-country runners as well, but no one pays them much bother anyway.

#38: The Big 10 calling itself the Big 10. Has anyone figured out why the Big 10 hasn't changed its name to the Big 11? There are 11 teams in the conference; the conference logo (see below) has the shadow of an "11." You promote yourselves as institutions of higher learning. Do the intelligent thing here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heyman and I Don't See Eye-to-Eye

It has become pretty evident that Jon Heyman and I agree on very few issues. In a recent article, he graded each team's winter moves. I have a few bones to pick.

Heyman's Top 10 "Winners"

Phillies (1): As Heyman alludes to, the Phillies signed Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard to long-term deals. However, barring a trade, these two had no way out of Philadelphia as the team controlled their arbitration years anyway. They weren't going anywhere. The Phils other "big move" - signing 36-year old Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $30 million deal - now looks laughable. This team did not improve that much to warrant the #1 ranking. Ruben Amaro gets a B from me in his first winter as GM.

Mets (2): Sure, the Mets added K-Rod and JJ Putz to help mend a shredded bullpen, but they failed to add any difference-making starters. No, Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia do not qualify. I won't even get started on the ageless Livan Hernandez signing. They also did not address the hole at second base. Luis Castillo will not cut it. Omar Minaya gets a B- from me.

Yankees (3): Any of these lists that does not have the Yankees at the top should be discarded immediately. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira in one winter? Unreal. Brian Cashman gets an A+ here.

A's (4): I've detailed Oakland's moves ad nauseam in past posts, but I love the Holliday deal. Billy Beane gets an A.

Diamondbacks (5): Arizona lost Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, and Brandon Lyon and will probably watch Juan Cruz depart via free agency. They must have signed someone or many someones to compensate, right? Heyman ranks the D'backs this high because, "Jon Garland gives them a solid No. 3 starter." Is this some sort of joke? How does that equation yield a positive result? Aside from the fact that Garland has a career WHIP around 1.4 and averages about 4.5 K's/9, the team failed to add anyone else of note. Josh Byrnes gets a D from me.

Rays (6): No arguments here as they added Pat Burrell at a reasonable price and did not lose anyone of note. Andrew Friedman gets a B-.

Giants (7): Stop me when you hear the name of an impact player: Juan Uribe, Rich Aurilia, Edgar Renteria (I said impact not intact), Bobby Howry, Jeremy Affeldt, Randy Johnson. I heard crickets until RJ's name and he'll be 45 years old on Opening Day. Brian Sabean gets a C-, and that's only because he didn't trade Tim Lincecum.

Braves (8): They overspent for Derek Lowe but traded no Major League-ready prospects for Javier Vazquez. Frank Wren gets a B.

Red Sox (9): Again, no arguments as they signed Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis to long-term deals and bought a number of low-risk, high-reward free agents. Theo Epstein gets a B-.

White Sox (10): They lost Vazquez, Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera and added no one of note. Kenny Williams gets a C.

Banter's Top 10 "Winners"

1. Yankees
2. A's
3. Braves
4. Cubs: Added Milton Bradley and Kevin Gregg.
5. Indians: Added Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa and took a flier on Carl Pavano.
6. Orioles: Locked up Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts to long-term deals. Dished out no palm-to-the-forehead deals which means a lot in Baltimore.
7. Mariners: Improved the defense and lost Type A free agent Ibanez meaning they get a first round pick as compensation.
8. Phillies
9. Rockies: They can't afford Holliday so getting Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez is a decent return.
10. Mets

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Cubs' Lineup

Banter-favorite, Buster Olney recently posed a question to his readers: How would you construct the Cubs' lineup?

Olney's Lineup

2B Mike Fontenot, L
1B Derrek Lee, R
RF Milton Bradley, S
3B Aramis Ramirez, R
CF Kosuke Fukudome, L
LF Alfonso Soriano, R
C Geovany Soto, RS
S Ryan Theriot, R

Banter's Lineup (vs. RHP / LHP)

The signing of Milton Bradley gives Lou Piniella the flexibility to do a number of different things. However, he would be best suited using these two lineups.

2B Fontenot / SS Theriot
3B Ramirez / LF Soriano
1B Lee
RF Bradley
LF Soriano / 3B Ramirez
C Soto
CF Fukudome
SS Theriot / 2B Fontenot


*If after all the money the Cubs have spent and all the deals they have made this offseason Kosuke Fukodome finds himself in a major RBI spot in the batting order, they will have accomplished nothing.

After July 31 (excluding playoffs), Fukodome's stats looked like this:

AB: 128
HR: 2
RBI: 18
R: 12
SB: 2

His post-All Star Break splits were .217/.314/.326 also known as Willie Bloomquist territory.

As bad as that was, his postseason was worse. He mustered only a single in ten at bats while whiffing four times.
*Sure, the lefty-righty alternation can be an advantage, but the Cubs right handed batters handle right handed pitching relatively well aside from Soriano.
Soto hit 18 of 23 home runs off righties.
*Why alternate Soriano and Ramirez in the 2 / 5 holes against? Check out the numbers:
Soriano's splits against LHP / RHP last season: 351; .404; .710 / .252; .319; .460.

Ramirez's splits against LHP / RHP last season: .239; .333; .388 / 305; .394; .560.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the Eyes of the Mets: Lowe vs. Perez


Coming into the offseason, the New York Mets had a gaping hole in the bullpen and the middle of their rotation. GM Omar Minaya addressed the bullpen early by signing Fransisco Rodriguez away from the LA Angels and acquiring J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. Incidentally, Minaya may have also improved his bullpen by trading away Aaron Heilman in the Putz deal, but we will save that topic for another day.

Rodriguez, as even casual fans know, set the Major League record for saves in a season (62) last year. Unfortunately for the Mets, Rodriguez was labeled as a Type A free agent meaning the team that signed him - in this case the Mets - would have to surrender its first round pick (assuming the signing team's first round pick fell outside the top 15 picks). In addition, the team "losing" the Type A free agent receives a supplemental first round pick. Because of this, the Mets' first pick will be (approximately) number 66 overall.

Lowe vs. Perez

After strengthening the 'pen, the Mets honed in on Type A free agent Derek Lowe of the LA Dodgers and their own Type A free agent, Oliver Perez. Who should the Mets have signed?

Assuming that the Mets could only afford either Lowe or Perez, it would seem to me that Lowe should have been the choice.

As mentioned above, by signing K-Rod, the Mets were forced to surrender their first round selection. So, if they would have signed another Type A free agent, they would have "only" sacrificed their second round choice. Let's assume this Type A free was Derek Lowe. The Dodgers would receive pick 66 and a supplemental first rounder from the league. Using logic from above, the Mets would not have been able to re-sign Perez.

The team signing Perez would then owe the Mets its first round pick (or second round pick if it picked outside the top 15). For argument's sake, let's assume the Atlanta Braves who actually signed Lowe decided to sign Perez with all their excess cash. The Mets would receive the Braves' second round pick (approximately number 50 overall) and a supplemental first round (approximately number 41).

Let's play a quick game of multiple choice. Which package would you rather have:

A) Oliver Perez and pick 66; or
B) Derek Lowe, pick 41 and pick 50 (with the possibility that this pick could end up being a late first rounder if a team picking outside the top 15 - possibly the Diamondbacks or Dodgers - signed Perez).

The Mets' farm system can be described as mediocre at best. (Keith Law ranked their system 17th best in the Majors, but that seems awfully kind.) Letting Perez sign elsewhere would have been an intelligent way to recoup some draft picks. Now, Omar Minaya's hand is somewhat forced. He will probably have to re-sign Perez, because without him, the rotation would be in shambles.

When trying to replenish a farm system that has been somewhat depleted by trades, it would have made more sense to pursue Lowe more aggresively rather than re-signing Perez.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notes from the World's Most Famous Arena

I went to an Islander-Ranger game with my father a few weeks back at Madison Square Garden and was struck by four things:

  1. Ranger fans still chant "Potvin sucks" in reference to Denis Potvin, the hated Islander defenseman who retired 21(!) years ago. I think it's about time to rally around something else.

  2. There's no chance the Islanders lose the race for worst record in the NHL.

  3. The City of Philadelphia's Tourism Agency has put an enormous advertisement on the west side of the Garden (example 4,581 the US is in a Recession). How desperate can the Garden be for revenue that they allow the home of two despised rivals - 76ers and Flyers - to advertise on the outside of it?

  4. During each intermission, two kids were selected to ride on the zamboni. As cool as that must have been for those kids, it was equally uncool, and borderline pathetic, that they they were forced to wear helmets. Were these kids a threat to jump off the zamboni without notice? Have there been zamboni catastrophes before that I don't know about? Are kids in danger of having objects heaved at them? Are these kids' parents petrified their babies will be tossed off the zamboni during a hairpin turn? So then, why do these kids need helmets? This is another reason we, as a country, can be perceived as being weak. There is zero chance kids in Russia or any other badass country would make kids riding on zambonies wear helmets. And, what's next? Kids on playgrounds wearing helmets? Kids on Ferris Wheels? Where does it end? So many questions, no good answers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don Cheadle

I'm not much of a pop culture guy but how far has Don Cheadle's career fallen? A few years ago he was nominated for Best Actor in Hotel Rwanada. Now, he's starring in Hotel for Dogs.

Who is Cheadle's athletic equivalent? I'd vote for Shaun Alexander.

Both peaked in 2005. Cheadle nominated for Best Actor. Alexander won NFL MVP.

Both seem like standup guys. Cheadle does charity work for the people of Darfur. Alexander has his own charity (The Shaun Alexander Foundation).

Both were put in situations to succeed but struggled when depended upon to perform without a supporting cast.

Both have completely fallen off the map (of relevancy) in 2009.

It's a shame.