Archive for November, 2010

A letter on reality

Posted: November 30, 2010 in MLB
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Dear Mr. Derek Jeter,

For starters, let me say that you are by far one of my favorite New York Yankees of all time and baseball player to ever play the game. Watching you as I grew up, from going through the entire Yankee farm system, to being unbelievably clutch in the post season, to just being constantly a damn good ball player your entire 15-year career , was something just plain special to watch. But Derek, I have a bone to pick with you.

Courtesy of River Avenue Blues

Let’s talk about this lofty contract you want: $23-35 million a year for four years at age 36 where you are coming off the worst statistical year of your career, in which you batted .270 (dropping more than 30 points than your career average), 179 hits, and struck out 170 times. And usually as one continues to age, statistics continue to drop. Essentially you’d be asking New York to pay you $100 million dollars in four years to eventually watch your average drop to the low .200s and maybe even a few trips to the disabled list.

Now, you may be saying, “But I won the Gold Glove this year! That must mean something“. And you’re right it does: it’s just another trophy to put on your prestigious shelf. Quite frankly, you were not the Gold Glover that you were from your early hay days as a rightful winner back in the early 2000’s. I know you were above average in fielding percentage, but you had a low in put outs as well as losing the range of the signature “Derek Jeter-over-the-back-and-jump” throw.

There have been rumors of you testing the free agent market, specifically the Los Angeles Dodgers because of your relationship with new head coach Don Mattingly. That’s all fine and good, but you would be walking on the dark path of becoming the Brett Favre of Major League Baseball.

Our replacement for you? Eduardo Nunez, the 23-year-old shortstop from our farm leagues who ESPN.com says to be a “superlative defensive player”. Not only would this save us the money from your contract to pursue our need at pitching like Cliff Lee, but he could be the next legacy as the Bronx Bomber shortstop.

Don’t get me wrong Jeet, no Yankee fan wants you to leave. You’ve solidified your place in the Hall of Fame years ago and have led New York to five World Series titles and your leadership as captain, poise, and character on and off the field are some of the reasons millions idolize you as a hero and a role model.

Brian Cashman and the Yankee front office are offering you a nice contract of $15 million for three years to continue doing what you do best. I know it’s not the massive deal 10-year-deal your teammate Alex Rodriguez accepted a few years ago. But let’s face it, you’re 36 not 26. Let’s not shock the entire baseball, even sports world, and please return back in pinstripes for next season.

Sincerely,

John Garretson

Sports writer, avid fan, and realist

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The year of the scramblers

Posted: November 18, 2010 in NFL
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The prototypical professional quarterback:  6’4”, 225 lbs, white, NCAA Division I football material, and a right-handed gunslinger. One who would rather distribute the ball in blitzing schemes than take on a linebacker mono y mono.

Times have changed as the years have progressed in the National Football League. Teams are starting and utilizing quarterbacks that are more than just a brain and an arm. Quarterbacks that have athleticism, mobility, and can peel out of the pocket to strengthen their offensive attack.

Take a look at Michael Vick, someone who the public believed would be playing for an AFL team or out of football ever since his time spent in prison for dog fighting in 2007. The same guy who was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles last year just to run a few QB sneaks or draw plays to give ex-starter Donovan McNabb a break. The same guy who was not supposed to start the 2010-11 season because of someone named Kevin Kolb.

Courtesy of tnspsportsnet.com

That same Michael Vick, the one who tangled up defensive backs’ ankles with his finese back in his hay days as an Atlanta Falcon, is tearing it up. No one thought his career as a scrambler, let alone a quarterback, could ever be revitalized.

With a league leading quarterback rating of 115.07 complimented by 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, no wonder the Eagles are soaring with a 6-3 record with a dark horse MVP candidate taking their snaps.

But it’s not just Vick who leads the category of unconventional quarterback success. Sophomore scrambler Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is having a season of his own as well: close to 2,000 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, five interceptions with 221 rushing yards (6.5 avg) to lead the young motley crew Bucs to a 6-3 record. Tampa Bay would have dreamed of having six wins at the beginning of the season.

You can even look at Aaron Rodgers, the face of the post-Favre era in Green Bay, as success with the run game. Even though he’s known for his cannon of an arm (over 4,000 passing yards in the past two seasons), Rodgers has himself over 170 rushing yards with three scores and the Pack stand at an NFC North leading 6-3.

Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman dual threat winner who didn’t even get a chance as a Baltimore Raven, is looking to revitalize the depressing San Francisco 49ers (who claimed him off waivers) offense and is clearly on the right foot forward: 552 passing yards (a career high despite only starting two games), two touchdowns, and a 2nd chance for his career.

Don’t forget about the veterans Jason Campbell of the Oakland Raiders, who lead the AFC West, and Donovan McNabb of the Washington Redskins, who have as many wins as they did last year total. Both have had very different, distinguishable careers but yet have kept in tact a running game that suits their power-arm passing game and have maintained that through their years.

There clearly seems to be no end to the dual threat quarterback as college football seems to always be chock full of them. Cam Newton (despite the “pay to play” allegations), Terrelle Pryor, and Denard Robinson will all find some place in the NFL, whether it’s as a starter or just another option package, because it’s clear the position of quarterback is transitioning from it’s original foundation into something new and extraordinary.

The NFL goes Democratic

Posted: November 13, 2010 in NFL
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Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu had some choice words about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s crackdown on fining of hits and tackles:”He’s got all the power, and that may be part of the problem. There needs to be some type of separation of power, like our government. I don’t think it should be based totally on what two or three people may say that are totally away from the game. It should be some of the players that are currently playing.”

Maybe Troy’s right. Maybe there needs to be democracy in the NFL…

It would pan out like this: there would be a federal (the league itself) and state (individual team) levels of government/rules in which would be two totally separate bodies of power with the league trumping team rules.

Courtesy of ESPN

For the federal level, it would be split up into three branches: Roger Goodell would take the level of executive branch as the league commissioner, but the kicker would be instead of signing contracts, he’d be elected to terms (with terms lasting four years, two consecutive max.).

In the next branch would be Congress, in which all 32 teams would have fair and equal representation. As Congress is broken up into Senate and the House of Representatives, this Senate would be broken down into two houses as well: One for players and one for team officials. Each team would send one of each, respectively, to the NFL headquarters in New York to voice their opinion.

In the last one, the Judicial branch is commissioner-appointed and “Senate” approved. Consisting of ex-referees, players, and league officials, they would judge fines, hits, appeals, and on and off the field incidences and determine the rightful penalty/conclusion.

On the so-called state level, each team, decided upon by the owners and front office, would have it’s own individual rules and policies to follow. For instance, the Cincinnati Bengals would rule in favor of touchdown celebrations, in which the T.Ocho show can finally be at peace. Or the Minnesota Vikings would instill a “waiting” period to determine a maximum amount of days to decide whether or not you’re coming back for another season (cue to good ol’ #4) . Or maybe the Jacksonville Jaguars finally do some sort of background check or enforce some sort of punishment for their convict players. (15 arrests since 2007. Yikes!)

But why would this benefit the players as well as the league? With a current controversy on hitting as well as a potentially-looming lockout, current players can talk and reason with the league through discussion, legislation, and eventually finding some sort of compromise between the two sides rather than fighting back and forth through the media.

I know, I know it’s so ideal, unrealistic, etc. But just think about it. We’ve had a bit success on the bigger scale here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, so imagine what it could do for a league that may not even have a season next year. Who knows though, let’s take a vote!

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

I know, I know you’re probably thinking: a. this kid is only lobbying for Boise State because he goes there, b. a non-BCS qualifier such as Boise State should not go ahead of a one loss SEC or Pac-10 Conference team or c. may actually agree with me

Anyways, we’re at Week 10 for college football and even before the beginning of this circus-like season, the Broncos have been down talked and patronized since day one. The season is more than half way over and if it were to end today, Auburn and Oregon would play for the national championship while TCU would be ranked higher than BSU and could play the Broncos in any of the major bowls (smells like 2009). Honestly, it is just not right.

Let’s first recognize the Bronco’s opponents: Auburn, who has 13 fewer wins than Boise State over the past five years and who’s head coach, Gene Chizik, needs to go 12-0 to have a .500 career record with the Tigers, Oregon,  who’s near replicated team lost to the Broncos 19-8 last season, and TCU, who fell to the men in blue and orange in the Fiesta Bowl last year 17-10.

The one thing these teams have in common with Boise State is that they’re currently undefeated. But Boise State has more than that. They’re riding a 21 game win streak, the longest in the country as well as hefty 16 game road win streak. Coach Chris Petersen is 56-4 while under control of the Broncos, something any coach aspires to have.

Now there’s the argument of “strength of schedule” and that Boise State has a cupcake schedule. Let me throw a few things out there. Boise State beat #10 ranked, at the time, Virginia Tech at a so-called “neutral” field in Maryland, and even though they lost to a pathetic James Madison team, they’re back on track at #22 and will probably win the ACC.

The Broncos also beat Oregon State, in which they edged the #24 ranked Beavers (at the time) by 13.  Even though they lost their ranking, Oregon State has strong victories against a ranked (#14) Arizona team as well as California and has a potential to beat Oregon on their home field at the end of the season.

But what about that cupcake schedule, you might ask. Well the Broncos take on Hawaii,a 7-2 passing machine and potential ranked team, #23 ranked Nevada squad, who’s running game is as threatening as any legitimate BCS team, and Fresno State, who stand at a respectable 5-2, in three out of the next four weeks. That doesn’t sound so sweet to me.

As for the rest of the Bronco victories, they still stand quite dazzling.  The Broncos have outscored their opponents 334-94, including an impressive 159-20 against WAC opponents, are 2nd in the FBS Rankings for points for (47.7) and 3rd in points against (13.4)

Don’t worry I haven’t forgot about the other “legitimate”teams as well as the other BCS-Buster. Let’s start with Oregon, who leads the FBS in scoring as well as blowing out teams such as New Mexico, Tennessee, Portland State, Arizona State, and Washington State. Those teams go as followed: New Mexico lost to New Mexico State, a team BSU destroyed, Tennessee, which is an SEC nobody, Portland State is an FCS team (Boise State doesn’t even play FCS teams), Arizona State, in which the Ducks gave up 597 yards to , and Washington State, where there only victory is against Montana State. Wow.

Let’s move on to TCU, in which they were pre-ranked to have the easiest schedule for the season (Boise State being 2nd, naturally). The only ranked team the Horned Frogs have played so far was against Oregon State, in which they won by nine compared to BSU’s 13 point difference. As for the rest of their schedule: blowing out Tennessee Tech and Southern Methodist who play in the Ohio Valley Conference and Conference-USA, respectively. I forgot how BCS-legitimate those conferences are. Don’t forget about Colorado State, with a mighty 3-6 record, and UNLV, who has one win. But hey, a win is a win.

Now for the team I probably have the most respect for besides BSU: Auburn. Playing in the SEC is rough in itself, but beating proven teams such as South Carolina, Arkansas, and LSU is something else. Yeah they’ve played some nobodies but everyone should get some breathing room. In my honest opinion, I will have to agree with Mr. Kirk Herbstreit (much to my dismay), that the winner of the Auburn-Alabama game on Nov. 26th should go to the title game.

But it should be the winner of that game and Boise State! We are constantly forgotten, put down, or not given enough credit for what we have done. I mean in more than 2/3 of our games, the selfless Coach Pete pulls Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore as well as the rest of the offensive at the half because the game is already a blow out, not allowing the Broncos to rack up the points to the get those oh-so-worthy “style points”.

Can Moore finally lead this Bronco team to the 'ship?

A side note, Kellen Moore back in April was spotted wearing a Butler shirt, everyone’s bracket buster sweetheart that made it to the NCAA finals. Moore compared Boise State with Butler in that both teams are seen as underdogs but in reality they’re not and that if college football had a playoff system, they’d have their time to shine.

Agree or disagree with me, it still won’t change my opinion. It’s a shame that Coach Petersen doesn’t constantly advertise and pull for his team to be regarded as a BCS contender, because that would help gain some national recognition. All I can ask is for the voters (and the “accurate” computers) to realize what kind of team Boise State is and the potential it has to play (and beat) a nationally-recognized powerhouse BCS team.

Or at least get a playoff system going please.

From 1:00 P.M. EST Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, MA to Monday morning in Minnesota, things have been all but chaotic for the Minnesota Vikings.

Let’s start with the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game against the New England Patriots. The Vikings were playing catchup, which has been their trending pattern in the last few games, against the Pats’ young but energized defense and were right on the New England goal line.

Suddenly, after an incomplete throw to  wide receiver Greg Lewis, Brett Favre took a colossal hit from defensive tackle Marlon Pryor mid-throw that left the fans of Minnesota shocked and a bit scared.

Grabbing on to Pryor’s pads in pain, unable to get up or even move his mouth, a ghost-like Favre was attended immediately by trainers, in which they used a towel as a support for his cut chin and eventually carted off the field to receive 10 stitches to the laceration.

The more shocking part was that Favre was able to answer questions from the media and said he “should be ready to play next week”. Are you kidding me!? The 41-year-old veteran, who played with two fractures in his left ankle as well as tendinitis in his throwing arm, not only was able to speak after what the national public had witnessed but claimed he was going to be OK for next week’s game?

What adds on to this confusing mess if the Vikings decision to cut wide receiver Randy Moss after less than a month on the roster. One side is the fact that yeah, what he was saying  (or soon to be lack there of) to the media, criticizing the organization and players for not “listening to what he had to say” about the Patriots or refusing to speak to the press for the rest of the season, or even his lack of effort in route running and catching could all be justified reasons to cut such a player.Courtesy of Reuters

However, on the other side, you’re talking about Randy Moss, a player Super Bowl-winning Patriots coach Bill Belichick called a “soon-to-be hall of famer”, that provided the deep ball threat as well as double coverage that the Vikings lacked in because of wide receiver Sidney Rice’s hip surgery.

Essentially, the Vikings are back at square one, if not square zero. Moss allowed the Vikings to bring back offensive-machine receiver Percy Harvin back in the slot where he belongs. Now, they have to put Harvin back on the outside, where he faces the risk of being double covered, such as what New England slot receiver Wes Welker has dealt with after the Moss trade. This is terrible news for Brett and the Vikes, especially with Rice needing at least three more weeks to recover.

Who do I blame around for this mess? No other than head coach Brad Childress. It was a pre-mature, naive call for Minnesota to give Chilly that fat extension right after that terrible NFC Championship Game earlier this year. I like Childress’ mindset of not tolerating players who cause too much attention, but not at the drastic measure he does.

There have been player problems through the entire Childress tenure such as safety Darren Sharper and wide receiver Bobby Wade, who didn’t like to keep their mouth shut about the things they believed were wrong. Though, this is completely unacceptable and a slap in the face to a distinguished player such as a Moss as well as the entire organization for believing this was “the right call”. I mean hey, we have Bernard Berrian as our big play maker (it’s as almost as if he’s a ghost on the field) and Greg Camarillo to the run slot now (hasn’t gelled with Favre yet), right?

Overall this season, in my opinion, is basically over. I know the stronger chunk of the schedule is over, but we still face the Packers, the Bears (twice), the NFC East-leading New York Giants as well as the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins who don’t fall that far behind, respectively.

It's going to be a long season with Chilldress giving orders

It’ll take a lot from power back Adrian Peterson to shift this season around, as well as maimed gunslinger Favre, and even the over-estimated run defense that has shifted from 2nd to 13th in the league within a year. When stout defensive end Jared Allen has only one sack in seven games, you know there’s an issue.

It’s strange and upsetting to accept a ruined Vikings season. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but more so a realist than anything else. So hopefully come in April for the 2011 NFL Draft, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet, or Christian Ponder will be dressed in purple and yellow.

Oh wait, Childress is signed till 2013. There goes that dream…