Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let's get it on!!


"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." - Babe Ruth.

The Babe sure said a mouthful, huh?

Tomorrow starts the 2008 baseball playoffs. The playoffs are what a team works for beginning in February during spring training. This is the goal of each team. It doesn't matter who had the best record, because once the playoffs start, all bets are off. The slates are wiped clean and everyone has a new life.

Sure, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched their division almost a month ago. And the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins still need to play a one game playoff to determine the Central division winner today. But that doesn't mean that one team is a sure thing to defeat another.

Did anybody outside of Colorado expect the Rockies to blow through everybody in the National League playoffs last year into the World Series? How about the 2005 Chicago White Sox? Or even the 2004 Boston Red Sox? After 86 years of futility, they finally won the World Series!

This year has the potential for a lot of stories. The Chicago Cubs, who haven't won the World Series in 100 years, have an impressive lineup and pitching staff that has the potential to win it all this year. Or how about the young Tampa Bay Rays? They have been the laughing stock of the major leagues for all ten years of their existence, but now have a legitimate shot at winning it all. The defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox have to be taken into consideration also, as they are trying to become the first organization since the New York Yankees in 1999-2000 to repeat as champions.

This is the time of the year when every pitch, every hit, and every managerial decision can make or break you. This is the time of the year when a fan can rejoice one minute, and mourn their team the other. I think that former manager Chuck Tanner said it best, "It's hard to win the pennant, but it's harder losing one". Tanner was speaking about players and managers, but I believe that this especially applies to fans.

So to all the fans that have their teams in the playoffs, I wish you good luck. The games start tomorrow, so be sure to break out you lucky hat, eat your lucky chicken wings, sit in you lucky chair, or whatever you do to help your team out.

To all of the fans that don't have teams in this years baseball playoffs, the Red Sox start against the Angels at 10pm tomorrow. There is always room in Red Sox Nation for new members.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!



Have you ever heard the saying, "Two wrongs do not make a right"? Most people would agree with this saying. After this weekend, I am going to disagree with it wholeheartedly.

Each Friday I make predictions on college and pro football games. I like to think that I know enough about the games to make educated guesses as to who will emerge victorious each Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend, I predicted that my favorite college football team, the Michigan Wolverines, would lose by a large margin to the #9 nationally ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Michigan was 1-2 on the year and was playing many freshman who were playing their first Big Ten conference game. To my surprise, the Maize and Blue shocked the nation and upset the Badgers 27-25. I am usually disappointed when my predictions are wrong, but not this time. If I had it my way, Michigan would win every game that they play, but that's not logical. So I was very happy to be wrong on Saturday.

On Sunday, I predicted that my favorite NFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs, would lose and lose big to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were playing very well this season so far and their quarterback, Jay Cutler, was really coming into his own as one of the elite quarterback's in the league. The Chiefs, on the other hand, were winless on the season and have been playing musical quarterbacks all year long due to injuries. Once again, I doubted my favorite team and they proved me and the rest of the country wrong! The Chiefs earned their first win of the season by defeating the previously unbeaten Broncos 33-19!

The Chiefs, like the Wolverines, are a very young team. I was not expecting much from either of them all year long. But, like I said before, I was never happier to be wrong.

The rest of my picks were just above average. I went 7-5 so far with my NFL picks (I have the Steelers beating the Ravens on MNF). Also, I was 2-1 on my college picks. That leaves me with an overall record of 36-23 on my football picks.

Finally, I just wanted to send my thoughts and prayers out to Buccaneer kicker Matt Bryant and his family. For those that don't know, Matt's 3 month old son, Tryson, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep last week. Matt flew back from the funeral to kick in this game for his son. I watched some of the game yesterday and saw Matt point to the sky after each field goal and extra point that he kicked. I am very impressed that he was able to play in the game yesterday. You can hear more from Matt Bryant in the post game press conference here http://www.nfl.com/videos?videoId=09000d5d80b31686.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy to be wrong!


I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong. But I've never been so happy to be wrong in my entire life!
While I was making my football picks yesterday, I started to think about how Michigan has played in each of their three games so far this season. They started off really bad against Utah and ended up making it a close game. Then they beat a team from the MAC, Miami of Ohio, but they weren't very impressive in that game either. Then, two weeks ago against Notre Dame, they couldn't hold onto the football while playing in a torrential downpour. So when I was making my pick for their Big Ten conference opener against #9 ranked Wisconsin, I didn't give them much of a chance. Going into the game, the Badgers were by far the best team that these young Wolverines had played. I assumed that they would be pushed around and turn the ball over countless times during the game.
And during the first half, I was correct. Michigan couldn't seem to hang onto the ball at all and was down 19-0 at halftime. Worst of all, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema's teams have a 19-0 record when leading at halftime.
But, the Wolverines came out in the second half and posted the biggest comeback in Michigan football history! They definitely made it a nail biter, but the maize and blue came away with a 27-25 win in the 500th football game played at the Big House.
This game made me think of the 1969 Michigan football team. 1969 was the first year that Bo Schembechler was the Wolverines head coach. They faced the #1 ranked Ohio State football team led by head coach (and Schembechler's former coach), Woody Hayes. The Buckeyes were on a 22 game winning streak and defending national champions. Michigan beat them 24-12 at Michigan Stadium. Bo went on to become one of the greatest coaches in college football history.
The game played today did not have the glitz and glamour of the Michigan/Ohio State game in '69, but it did have some similarities. Wisconsin came into the game ranked #9 nationally, and most people (me included) thought that they would demolish Michigan. Rich Rodriguez is the new coach at Michigan who is trying to bring the Wolverines back into the upper echelon of college football again with a young football team.
I knew that Rodriguez would make this Michigan team a contender, but I never thought that it would be this soon. This win wasn't pretty and the stats for the game were very ugly. But this game shows that you can never underestimate someones heart. Today, Michigan showed that they have a lot of heart. GO BLUE!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Football Friday!



This past week seemed to fly by, but it's time again to make some picks for this upcoming football weekend! The Big Ten conference schedule starts off this Saturday with Michigan facing Wisconsin and Michigan State taking on Indiana. Our hometown Western Michigan University will travel to Pennsylvania to take on the Temple Owls.

Without further adieu, here are the picks...

  • Wisconsin over Michigan - The Badgers are currently ranked #9 in the associated press poll. The Wolverines will have a hard time scoring 9 points.
  • Michigan State over Indiana - The Spartans are playing well and I expect Javon Ringer to run all over the Hoosier defense.
  • Western Michigan over Temple - Temple is a basketball school, football is not their forte.

NFL

  • Carolina over Atlanta - Atlanta is a young team on the rise, but Carolina is too much for the Falcons.
  • Cleveland over Cincinnati - Neither one of these teams are very good right now. Cleveland is the better of two bad teams in Ohio.
  • Jacksonville over Houston
  • Denver over Kansas City - Damon Huard is back at quarterback for the Chiefs. At this point, I'm hoping for the #1 draft pick from the Chiefs next season.
  • New Orleans over San Francisco - Although the Saints are hurting in the wide receiver department due to injuries, they still have too much offensive firepower for the 49ers to contend with.
  • Arizona over NY Jets - Even though they let me down last week, I still believe that the Cardinals can beat Brett and the Jets.
  • Green Bay over Tampa Bay - Even thought Brian Griese is playing well for the Bucs, I will take Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in this battle of the Bay's.
  • Tennessee over Minnesota - Both of these teams are going with new quarterbacks now. I'll take Kerry Collins over the Vikings Gus Frerotte.
  • San Diego over Oakland - The Chargers finally got their first win of the season last week against the Jets. They are now on a roll and will pound the Raiders.
  • Buffalo over St. Louis - The Rams are attempting to see if a blast from the past (Trent Green) can revitalize their team. It won't work. Buffalo will win in a blow out.
  • Dallas over Washington - I picked the Cowboys to lose last week against Green Bay. I won't make that mistake again.
  • Philadelphia over Chicago - McNabb is healthy, and that is bad news for the Bears.
  • Pittsburgh over Baltimore - The Steelers will rebound from last weeks loss to the Eagles.

So there it is, your week 4 picks. I hope that everyone has a great weekend! Go Chiefs!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The first step in a long journey...



Yesterday the Detroit Lions took the first step towards reestablishing themselves as a legitimate NFL franchise. Matt Millen was fired as President, CEO, GM and whatever other position that William Clay Ford appointed him to. Millen was fired after posting a 31-84 record in just over 7 years at the helm of the Lions.

For Lions fans, this was a long time coming. The season before Millen was hired (2000), the Lions posted a 9-7 record. In the seasons that followed they finished 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, etc.

Millen was a great player in his time with the Raiders, and then went on to a career as a broadcaster, where he developed a reputation for telling it like it is. But he had no business taking the job with the Lions.

Lions fans have been calling for Millen to be fired for many years now. They have even staged "Millen Man March" in protest of the extension the he got a few years ago.

Since he was fired, Matt Millen has not spoken to the press. But Chris Mortensen of ESPN spoke with Patty Millen, his wife. She said that she was glad that he was no longer in Detroit and that he was out of "football prison".

Well Patty, your husband built that "football prison" brick by brick and would be considered the warden of this prison that you talk about.

So, Millen is gone and all is well in Detroit, right? Not quite. Firing Millen was only the first step towards turning this franchise around. There are many things that the Lions need to do. I've taken the liberty of putting together a to-do list for them.
  • First, the Lions need to fill Millen's position with somebody that has a proven track record of putting together a winning football team. This doesn't have to be somebody with a well known name, just a good football personnel person.
  • Fire Marinelli and bring in a reputable coach. The Lions had a good coach in Mariucci, but Millen had his hands tied when he forced Mariucci to play players that he didn't want to (Harrington).
  • Trade Roy Williams and Jon Kitna now! Roy Williams looks like he doesn't want to be in Detroit any longer. His contract is up at the end of this year anyway. Does anybody really think that he will resign in Detroit? Not a chance. Trade him when his value is at his highest and get what you can in return. Trading Jon Kitna will allow the Lions to find out if Drew Stanton has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback or not.
  • Make sure that whoever replaces Millen will have the guts to tell William Clay Ford that he needs to but out of football decisions. Yes, Ford is the owner and writes the checks, but he is not a football guy. He needs to let the people that he hires do their jobs.

This should get the Lions started on turning things around. Just be aware Lions fans, replacing Millen was a good move. They need to replace him with a legitimate NFL personnel person to make this a great move. If they go out and hire Terry Bradshaw or Howie Long to take Millen's spot, then they are right back where they started.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend wrap up and one last time at the house that Ruth built



The Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles last night 7-3 in the final game to be played at Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers will move across the street to their new ballpark next season.

Although I am a Red Sox fan and normally love to see the Yankees lose, this time I wanted to see them win. First and foremost, I am a baseball fan. I love the history that baseball has to offer. Watching a game at Yankee Stadium was like taking a trip through time. All time greats like Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Dimaggio, and Maris all played at this hallowed ballpark.

I believe that many people, especially New Yorkers, are having a hard time today. Yes, their Yankees are moving into a state of the art facility that will rival some of the best ballparks in the league. But also, they will be demolishing Yankee Stadium, the place that they called home for so many years. I imagine that people have many memories of that place.

When the Detroit Tigers played their last game at Tiger Stadium, I felt a little sad. Yes, I was excited for them to move into Comerica Park. But I was also going to miss the original Tiger Stadium. If definitely had its faults, but it was a classic ballpark. It was a park where so many people in this state saw their first major league ball game. I know that it was for me. And when I saw the pictures of Tiger Stadium with a big hole in the side of it after they started the demolition process, I felt like I wanted to cry.

Yankee Stadium will be demolished soon also, and I can imagine that a lot of New Yorkers will go through a lot of those same feelings when the time comes. But you've got to look forward to the future. New York has a brand new ball park, and quite possibly, a new look team next year also (if Hank Steinbrenner has anything to say about it).

Now for the rest of the weekend in review;

  • The US won the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999. And they even did it without Tiger Woods. I watched some of it and I now have a new favorite golfer, Boo Weekley. If any of you watched it, or saw highlights, you probably saw Weekley galloping down the first fairway "Happy Gilmore" style riding his driver between his legs and whipping it like a quarter horse. He also gave a great comment when asked about the adrenaline that was keeping him going throughout the competition, "I feel like a dog that somebody done stuck a needle to and it juiced me up like I've been running around a greyhound track chasing one of them bunnies." I have a new reason to watch golf now, and his name is Boo Weekely.
  • The Boston Red Sox have a 6.5 game lead in the Wild Card with 7 games left to go which gives the Red Sox control over their own destiny. Barring a meltdown of epic proportions by the Sox and Rays, the Red Sox will be in the post season as the wild card.
  • I didn't do so well in my football picks this week. I was 2-1 on my college picks and 8-7 so far with my pro picks (I have San Diego beating the Jets tonight). That makes me 5-2 on my college picks and 27-17 on my pro picks for the season.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Revenge!!



It sure is a good thing that the Detroit Lions got rid of Mike Martz after last year, huh? That offense that he was trying to run doesn't work at all, huh? He was definitely the reason why the offense tanked last year, huh?

After two years as the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, they fired him during the off season. It didn't take long for Martz to find work again, as the San Francisco 49ers hired him to be their offensive coordinator.

Today, the Lions came in to face Martz and the 49ers. This game had a lot of hype because it was the "new look" Lions facing their former offensive coordinator.

The funny thing is that Martz has the 49ers running the exact same offense that he ran in Detroit. The EXACT same offense. So you would think that Detroit would know what was coming, right? WRONG!! San Francisco torched Detroit 31-13. What is even funnier is that the knock on Martz in Detroit was that he ignored the run too much. Detroit was an efficient passing team, but was near the bottom in the NFL in rushing. Well, San Francisco out rushed Detroit 182-116.

But the Lions problems were his fault though, right Ford and Millen?

I can just imagine a conversation between Martz and Millen/Ford. It would probably go something like this;

Martz: Hey Matt and William Clay! Do you two like apples?

Millen and Ford: Well sure we do.

Martz: Well my team just ran up and down the field on your team. How do you like them apples!?!?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Football Friday!

The end of the work week is here and now it's time for the football picks to be made. Last week was a wet, sloppy week for football. I've checked the weather forecast for this weekend, and everything looks to have the making for a great weekend for football. With that being said, let's get to the picks.

NCAA
  • Michigan State over Notre Dame : Even thought the Irish beat up on Michigan last week, I'm still not convinced that they are back to form as the Notre Dame of old.
  • Auburn over LSU : This is my upset of the week in college. I believe that the #10 ranked Tigers will upstage the #6 ranked Tigers
  • Western Michigan over Tennessee Tech : Honestly, I don't know a thing about Tennessee Tech.

NFL

  • Atlanta over Kansas City : I know, I am a KC fan. But with the Chiefs qb struggles (because of injuries, Tyler Thigpen will be their 3rd starting qb in as many weeks), I've got to go with Atlanta.
  • Buffalo over Oakland : The Bills have made me a believer in them.
  • Chicago over Tampa Bay : I don't think that Griese is the answer for the Bucs
  • Carolina over Minnesota : Switching qb's isn't going to help the Vikings
  • New England over Miami : The Matt Cassell show continues in NE
  • New York Giants over Cincinnati : The Super Bowl champs are too much for the Bengals to handle.
  • Tennessee over Houston : Switching to Kerry Collins at qb was the best move the Titans could have made.
  • Arizona over Washington : This one is just a gut feeling.
  • Denver over New Orleans : Denver's Jay Cutler is quickly becoming an elite qb
  • San Francisco over Detroit : Mike Martz gets his revenge for being last years scapegoat in Detroit
  • Seattle over St. Louis : The Seahawks aren't that good, but the Rams are that bad.
  • Cleveland over Baltimore : The Browns will wake up and defeat the Ravens
  • Indy over Jacksonville : The Jags are too beat up to win this one
  • Philadelphia over Pittsburgh : In one of the better games this week, the Eagles topple the Steelers in a shootout
  • Green Bay over Dallas : Dallas was (and still is) my Super Bowl pick. I believe the the short week will hurt them in the long run.
  • San Diego over New York Jets : The Chargers will get their first win over the year against Brett Favre and the Jets.

Well there you have it folks. Good luck to your teams this week and I hope that you all have a great weekend! Go Chiefs!

Seriously?


Lions president Matt Millen held a press conference today after the teams workout. I really don't have the words to describe it. All that I can say is that I'm glad to be a Kansas City Chiefs fan.
On the state of the team:
"I believe in the guy I hired (head coach Rod Marinelli) and I believe in the staff we put together and I believe in the players we have on the field. If you want to point a finger at anybody for that stuff, it's on me. I'm fine with that because I believe in what's out there.''
We'll see if he still believes in Marinelli if this train wreck called the Lions 2008 season continues.
In retrospect, did you have too much confidence in the ability of the defensive players:
"Do what you're coached to do and play to your capability and we'll be fine. I still believe that and that's not going to change.''
So, is it the players not doing what they're being coached to do, or are these players playing up to their capability and that's just not good enough? Who's fault is it Millen?
About irate fans after the team's 0-2 start:
"I guess I wouldn't be surprised, I really haven't thought about it. I'm more concerned with this (pointing to the workout) than any other part.
What he's saying is that he doesn't care about what the fans think. He just wants to make sure that his team practices well.
Has it taken too long to build that foundation?
"Since I've been here, sure. Obviously. Like I said earlier, I'm the one who hired the guy and I believe in him 100 percent, I believe in him now more than I ever have. That guy is exactly what you need.''
Like I said, we'll see if he still feels that way when the Lions continue their downward spiral.
Why (continue believing in Marinelli)?
"Because he's consistent. You see that and it's not changing. He's a straight line. He'll do what he believes is the right thing to do and what he's doing is the right way. The players we picked we did for a reason, the same reasons still exist. The staff is in place for the same exact reason.
I agree with Millen one point. Marinelli is consistent. He has a consistent 10-24 record as head coach.
Have you talked to owner William Clay Ford:
"Yeah, sure, all the time. You'd have to talk to him, but here's my take - he has high expectations. When you have high expectations, you also get frustrated, too, and there are answers you want, too.''
High expectations? Really? No, really?
There it is Lions fans, your team president. The man that has given you a 31-83 record during his tenure and turned the Lions into the laughing stock of professional football. Until William Clay Ford and Millen are gone from the team, this will continue.
"That's why I'm fine with it. What we're doing is the right thing to do.''
-Matt Millen, 2008

Two steps back



This past summer, a group of NBA players went to Beijing to represent our country and play in the Olympics. They considered it an honor to play for the United States. People in the military are willing to put their lives at risk to fight for this country.

We are so lucky to live in the greatest country in the world. A country that gives us so many freedoms and choices. So we honor our country by flying our flags and standing at attention when the star spangled banner is played.

Apparently, that doesn't apply to Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks. In this clip on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1llOTCAyf0, Howard is at a charity flag football game. There is someone on the field going around to some of the players. While the national anthem is being played, Howard looks into the camera and says "The Star Spangled Banner is going on, I don't celebrate this [expletive], I'm black".

But this isn't the first time that Howard has gotten into trouble. Last spring he admitted to a Dallas Morning News reporter that he liked smoking dope. He only fueled the fire to this story when he decided to call a Dallas radio station during the NBA playoffs and talk about it. He next got in trouble for inviting teammates to an after hours birthday bash (in his honor) after his coach told the team not to go party. This past July he got arrested for street racing in North Carolina. And if we got back to his college days at Wake Forest (where he went to school for free because he plays basketball), he was publicly criticized when he condemned the war in Iraq.

The Mavericks need to do something about this situation. In every arena of every game that Dallas plays this year, all eyes will be on Howard to see if he is standing at attention during the playing of the National Anthem.

I personally would like to see some sort of mentoring system for young athletes. All too often, we see young athletes get their first taste of fame and fortune and turn into total morons. With a seasoned veteran watching over the young superstar, they would be able to show them the ropes, give them advice on handling certain situations. It's kind of like Crash Davis and Nuke Laloosh in the movie Bull Durham. Nuke had a million dollar arm, but a 5 cent head. Crash was brought in to mentor him.

It's sad to see a player like Howard do stupid things. He's got all the talent in the world, but he seems to think that he's untouchable. Yes, he's making almost 10 million dollars a year to play basketball and he's one of the best players on his team. But what he doesn't understand is that professional basketball is a business, and the owner of the team (Mark Cuban) is getting tired of all the negative publicity that Josh Howard is bringing to the team. It will be interesting to see what Cuban does with him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New family members

Last night, my brother and his wife welcomed a new addition to their family! Their new daughter Kylie was born last night at 7:15 and came in at 8 lb. 8 oz and 21 inches. Mother and daughter are doing great, as well as the new proud papa.

I was at the hospital when my brother came out to tell us all the good news. Having known him for 27 years now, I have never seen him happier. Congratulations Ryan and Jessica, and welcome to our family Kylie!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quarterback shuffle


The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Oakland Raiders yesterday to fall to 0-2 on this young season. Damon Huard, who started the game, left in the first quarter after suffering "mild head trauma". Tyler Thigpen, the 3rd string QB who has thrown only 6 passes in his short NFL career, came in and finished 14-33 for 151 yards and a touchdown.
Brodie Croyle, the opening day starter, is out for a few more weeks with a separated shoulder. The status of Damon Huard is unknown until sometime today. So for right now, the Chiefs have Tyler Thigpen as their starting quarterback going into next week against Atlanta. They will be looking to break their 11 game regular season losing streak.
This is not a good situation for the Chiefs. I am expecting them to sign a veteran quarterback this week. I'd like to see them try and lure Daunte Culpepper out of retirement. He'd be a good guy to come in and hold court until one of the other qb's comes back. Worst case scenario, Daunte leads the Chiefs for the rest of the year. Then, they go out and get a quarterback in the off season, via draft or free agency.
Was I disappointed by their loss this week, yes. Will this 0-2 start (same as the Lions) make me any less of a Chiefs fan, no. These two losses are completely different. In week 1, the Chiefs lost to the Patriots 17-10 in a game that everyone thought that KC was going to get blown away in. The Lions got blown out in a game that everyone thought that they would win. In week 2, the Chiefs lost to the Raiders in a game that some thought they would win. The Lions choked in the 4th quarter and ended up getting run out of their own building by the Packers.
The Chiefs quarterback situation makes me a little uneasy, but I am still optimistic about a decent year. Lions fans, how do you feel?

The weekend wrap up



This past weekend was a wet one for football around the Midwest part of the country. Everywhere I looked, baseball games were getting postponed and football games were sloppy messes. Needless to say, I expected to see some sloppy football, and I did.

I knew that Michigan vs Notre Dame was going to be an ugly one. Michigan turned the ball over 6 times during the game, and 4 of them turned into points for Notre Dame. Nobody is going to win a game playing like that.

I've read some articles stating that Michgan football is dead and Notre Dame is back. Let me tell you, Michigan football is not dead. They are just in a rebuilding phase. They are an extremely young team learning a new offense. I hate to use this phrase but, "Wait until next year". Luckily, there were a few bright spots. Freshman Sam Mcguffie looks like the real deal at running back and quarterback Steven Threet looks like he's going to take the reins as the full time starter after Nick Sheridan came in for two offensive series and promptly threw 2 interceptions.

Notre Dame fans, do not believe the hype that your program is back on track to a national championship. Yes, the Irish are 2-0, but they beat a mediocre San Diego State team in week 1 and then beat a pathetic Michigan team that couldn't hang onto the ball in week 2. When Steven Threet passes for more yards than Jimmy Claussen, you've got a problem.

Now, let's get to my predictions from the weekend. Last week, I finished a modest 9-6. This week, I was 3-1 on my college picks (I only missed out on Michigan/Notre Dame). My gut said that Notre Dame was going to win, but I let my feelings get in the way and picked Michigan (stupid!). My NFL picks were great. I finished with a record of 10-4 going into tonight's game with Dallas taking on Philadelphia. So that gives me a season total of 3-1 for college games and 19-10 for NFL games.

Upcoming this week is the Boston Red Sox taking on the Tampa Rays in St. Petersburg. Going into this series, the Sox are trailing the Rays by only a game in the division. Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound for the Red Sox and Scott Kazmir for the Rays. This is the last time that these two teams will meet in the regular series and it promises to be a good one!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Predictions for the weekend



If it's Friday, that means that it's almost football time folks! Last week, I finished strong by correctly picking the two winners on Monday Night Football. I hope to continue my winning streak with a strong weekend.

As an added bonus, I will be picking some select college games from around the state and beyond.

Without further adieu, your winners for this week are as follows;

NCAA
  • UM over Notre Dame : I have the feeling that this will be an ugly game
  • Michigan State over Florida Atlantic
  • Western Michigan over Idaho
  • USC demolishes Ohio State : Beanie Wells will play but won't matter against USC

NFL

  • Chicago over Carolina : The Bears aren't as bad as everyone makes them out to be
  • Tennessee over Cincinnati : Cincinnati is till too banged up to hang with the Titans
  • Green Bay over Detroit : Is it even a question?
  • Jacksonville over Buffalo : The Jags will burst the Bills bubble
  • Kansas City over Oakland : My Chiefs will earn victory number 1 this weekend
  • Indy over Minnesota : The Vikings have too many questions at qb
  • NY Giants over St. Louis : The Rams don't have enough firepower
  • New Orleans over Washington : Jason Campbell isn't adjusted to the new offense yet
  • San Francisco over Seattle : Injuries have riddled the Seahawks
  • Tampa Bay over Atlanta : Matt Ryan will face his first real NFL team
  • Arizona over Miami : Even with the improvements, the Cards still win this one
  • Denver over San Diego : Cutler is too good for this Merriman-less defense
  • New England over NY Jets : The Patriots don't need Brady to beat the Jets
  • Pittsburgh over Cleveland : The Steelers will roll in this one
  • Dallas over Philadelphia : This is the Cowboys year
  • Baltimore over Houston : After an impressive week 1, this is Flacco's team

And there you have it, your weekend picks for week 2.

Also, don't forget to vote in my poll located at the side of this blog. For those of you that don't know, I want to start my own monthly sports newsletter. In it would be my own column, and then I'd like to do a feature on an athlete or non athlete in the world of sports. I would like your feedback on what type of athlete you would most like to see interviewed in my newsletter.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An example for us all...

I read an article by Jim Carty this morning from the Ann Arbor News. Normally, I don't care for his opinions because he tends to focus on bashing the University of Michigan. But this column was different.

He received three letters from Utah football fans commenting on how well they were treated by UM fans during their game on August 30th. Even though they were completely outnumbered (if you saw the game, that little red patch in the crowd was them), everyone was very respectable and well behaved.

Some of these letters gave example of how they have been treated at other college campuses across the country. These fans have been spit on, heckled, and even hit in the back of the head with an elderly person's cane!

I'm all for people being passionate about the teams that they root for, but these examples are a little bit ridiculous! These fans at other stadiums give all other fans a bad reputation.

Like I said before, I'm a Michigan football fan. I do have friends though that are Notre Dame fans, Michigan State fans (I married one), and Penn State fans. Would I give them a hard time if Michigan beat them one on one (like they will do to Notre Dame this week)? You bet I would! That's what is fun about rivalries. But some of these fans do take it too far.

I was at a couple of Red Sox games on my honeymoon back in '04. We sat in front of a gentleman that has been to a lot of games over the course of his life. He was telling us that he has seen knock down drag out fights after Red Sox vs. Yankees games! Let me tell you, I am a Red Sox fan, but I do have friends that are Yankees fans. Each time that the Red Sox beat the Yankees, you can bet you bottom dollar that some good natured ribbing is coming their way.

Some fans just get too wrapped up in all of this. Years ago, I was at a pro wrestling event (I know that it's not a sport, it's sports entertainment). During the show, these two rival wrestlers were matched up in the ring. On one side of where I was sitting were fans of one of the wrestlers, and on the other side of me were fans of the other one. These two groups of fans were hurling insults at each other during the match and getting each other so riled up that it boiled into a fist fight which got them all kicked out. OVER A PRO 'RASSLIN' MATCH!!

When it comes down to it, we are all sports fans. I like Michigan, my friends like Notre Dame, so what? I can't help it if they are misguided football fans (see...good natured ribbing).

So kudos to those at Michigan who showed the fans from Utah how classy sports fans can be. I know that most fans are very respectable, but there is that select few that give the rest of us a bad reputation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Haven't we seen this before?


Tom Brady is not going to be playing any football for the New England Patriots this season. The Patriots have placed him on the injured reserve list which effectively ended his season so that he can rehab his left knee.

Patriot fans are upset with the fact that their star quarterback is out for the year. Last year they came so close at perfection (18-1 record) that they were hoping to run the table this year. That opportunity vanished in the 1st quarter of Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The major television networks that carry NFL games are upset about Brady being out because he is a major star that is one of the most marketable athletes in the world. A casual fan is more likely to watch a Patriots game with Tom Brady at quarterback than they are a Patriots game with Matt Cassell is at quarterback.

So everyone is upset that Tom Brady is out for the 2008 season. The Patriots should just pack it in for the year. Or should they? If you go back in your sports history books, you will find that two very similar situations to this one happened not so long ago.

Let's take a trip back to 1999. The St. Louis Rams were led at quarterback by Trent Green. He was a solid, dependable NFL quarterback. In a preseason game that year, he got injured and was out for the year. So, the Rams had to go with their backup, an unknown by the name of Kurt Warner. The year before he was playing in the arena football league and stocking groceries during the off season. The Rams went on to become the "Greatest Show on Turf" and defeated the Tennessee Titans to win the Super Bowl.

Now let's jump a couple years to the 2001 season. The New England Patriots were led by Drew Bledsoe. He was a former #1 overall pick and played like one too. He had made numerous Pro Bowl appearances and was one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Well, in the second game of the season, he went down with an injury that forced him out for most of the year. So, the Patriots had to bring in their backup, a young (fairly unknown) man by the name of Tom Brady. Brady played so well while filling in for Bledsoe, that by the time that he was able to come back and play, Brady had taken Bledsoe's starting job from him. Since then, Bledsoe left New England to play for the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and is now out of the league. Brady, on the other hand, has won multiple Super Bowls, played in Pro Bowls, won Super Bowl MVP's, and is dating supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

So here we are in the 2008 season; all world quarterback Tom Brady is out for the year and unknown quarterback Matt Cassell is now starting for the New England Patriots.

History always has a way of repeating itself. Is this season no different?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Feedback needed


I really have enjoyed putting together this blog. Posting my thoughts and ideas has been really great for me and I hope everyone has liked reading them.
As some of you may know, I was once a freelance sports reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette. I really liked doing that because it combined 2 of my favorite things, sports and writing about sports. My only complaint was that I was assigned certain stories to do. I didn't have a choice. With this blog, I am able to write about whatever and whomever I want to.
With that being said, I'd like to take this blog to the next level, and that is where all of you come in.
I would like to publish my own monthly sports newsletter. It won't be much, probably just a page or two. In it I'd like to have my own monthly column where I can touch on whatever I am motivated to write about in the world of sports. I'd also like to profile a person in the world of sports with an interview.
Now is the part where all of you come in.
What kind of person would you prefer to see profiled each month? I've had many thoughts running through my head trying to think of what type of person this should be. Should I interview the elite athletes (Peyton Manning, Lebron James, Steve Yzerman, etc.)? Or should I interview female athletes (Maria Sharapova, Misty May-Treanor, etc.)? How about focusing on Christian athletes? I could also interview the people in the world of sports that are behind the scenes (front office personnel, groundskeepers that get the fields ready, agents, etc.). What about articles concentrating on the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids athletes? Or is there an area that I'm not even thinking of?
So you see, I've got a big decision on my hands here. I'd like your help. If you can comment on this and let me know what type of athletes you'd like to see profiled in my newsletter, I'd love to hear about it.
I'd like to get as many people as possible involved in this. I'd really appreciate it if you could ask your friends, coworkers, or family about this. You can either forward the blog or ask them in person.
Thank you in advance for your help.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crunch Time!!


With 20 games left to go in the 2008 Boston Red Sox regular season, things are really starting to heat up!!
With the Tampa Rays loss coupled with the Red Sox win versus Texas, the Sox are now just 1.5 games behind Tampa for the division crown. Also, with the Twins losing again, Boston upped their lead in the wild card race to 6.5 games!
Although everything is looking up right now for the Sox, they can not afford to let up. These last 20 games will be the most difficult for them. In this month, the Red Sox will play Tampa 6 times, Toronto 7 times, Cleveland 4 times, and then finish up with the Yankees for a 3 game series at Fenway to end the regular season.
Tampa, Toronto, and Cleveland are all playing very well right now and could beat anybody. And even though the Yankees aren't really in the playoff race, they would like nothing better than to come in to Fenway the last weekend of the season and ruin the Red Sox playoff hopes. These last 20 games are going to be the most important games of the entire year and it all begins tonight.
The Tampa Rays roll into Beantown on a 3 game losing streak, so they will be looking to wake up their bats and widen the gap between them and the Red Sox. This will be a real test for Tampa. They are a very young team that has never been in a pennant race before. On the other hand, the Red Sox are the defending World Series Champions and have pennant race and playoff experience coming out of their wazoos.
Also, with tonight's game at Fenway, the Red Sox will set a new MLB attendance record for consecutive sell outs with their 456th (my wife and I went to 2 Red Sox games on our honeymoon, so I'd like to think that we are a part of this new record. Congratulations, honey!). This will break the old record set by the Cleveland Indians in 2001.
The Red Sox are in a groove right now and it will be interesting to see how the young Rays react to playing September baseball in Boston during a playoff race.

The weekend that was...



The first full weekend of NCAA and NFL football is in the books, and boy, what a weekend it was.

Let's start in the NFL. I never expected my first game as a Kansas City Chiefs fan to be the lead story on SportsCenter this morning! In the first quarter, Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard attempted to sack Brady while he was still in the pocket trying to throw a pass. Pollard was on the ground when he made a last ditch effort to tackle Brady. Unfortunately, he got him on the left leg just below the knee and Brady went down writhing in pain.

"He was in a lot of pain. When you hear a scream, you know that," Pollard said after the game.

I have already heard some people say that Pollard's hit was a dirty one, including Patriots wideout Randy Moss. It was definitely NOT a dirty hit, but I can totally understand where Moss is coming from. It's the first game of the season, his quarterback is knocked out of the game by a hit at the knees and he's talking about this right after the game, so his emotions are obviously running high. I'm sure that after he watches the film more he'll come to realize that it wasn't a dirty hit. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a Chiefs fan either.

So, Brady may be out for the rest of the year. He will have an MRI today and we should know more by the end of today or Tuesday.

Some of the other more notable news was the exceptional play of rookie quarterback's Matt Ryan of Atlanta and Joe Flacco of Baltimore. Flacco led the Ravens to a win over the train wreck that is the Cincinnati Bengals and Ryan led his Falcons to a win over the hapless Detroit Kittens.

My predictions didn't pan out as well as I had hoped. I went 7-6 yesterday, but can redeem myself with two wins tonight on MNF. If both the Packers and Broncos win, I will have posted a more respectable 9-6 record.

Now, on to the college kids. I was able to watch most of the UM vs. Miami (Ohio) game. The good news was that Rich Rodriguez was able to get his first win at Michigan by a score of 16-6. I was also impressed by the quickness of freshmen running back Sam McGuffie. The bad news is that the offense as a whole is still pretty bad. Neither quarterback is stepping up to claim the full time position so Rodriguez is playing both throughout the game. I don't really like doing that, but it doesn't look like either one is really comfortable with running the spread offense yet.

Nick Sheridan is definitely the better passer of the two. However, Threet is a far better athlete. I could actually see Threet as a triple threat for Michigan in the same way that Kordell Stewart was for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Next up for the maize and blue is a date in South Bend with Notre Dame. The Irish are 1-0 after defeating San Diego State on Saturday. This will be the biggest test so far for Coach Rodriguez and his young team. Even though Notre Dame had a pathetic year last season, this could give us a preview of how Michigan is going to do against their conference opponents.

Another game to check out next week will be Ohio State (#5) traveling to play USC (#1). Ohio State got a scare from Ohio U last week (I believe because they were looking ahead to this game with USC). But, the Buckeyes may be without their top running back Beanie Wells due to injury.

To be perfectly honest, even if Wells plays against the Trojans, USC is going to destroy the Buckeyes.

Next up for the Chiefs is their home opener against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are a young team, but I am projecting a Chiefs victory next Sunday. Go Chiefs!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

NFL opening weekend!



All across the country, in millions of homes, televisions will be tuned to everyone's favorite NFL team. The start of a new season is great for everybody. No matter how bad your team did in the previous year, September brings new hope. Every football fan feels like they have a clean slate.

I feel like my slate is completely clean. My interest in the NFL has been renewed since my "free agent fan" quest.

I will try to check out as many games as I can. This will be my first weekend rooting for my new favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, they are an out of market team, so I will not be able to watch the game live. I will however be able to see the highlights (thanks ESPN).

Just for fun, I'll be predicting the outcomes of games this week.
  • Detroit over Atlanta = Atlanta's rookie qb is too inexperienced
  • Cincinnati over Baltimore = Same goes for Baltimore's
  • Seattle over Buffalo
  • NY Jets over Miami
  • New England over Kansas City = As much as I hate to do it
  • New Orleans over Tampa Bay
  • Philadelphia over St. Louis
  • Pittsburgh over Houston
  • Jacksonville over Tennessee
  • Dallas over Cleveland = Dallas is my Super Bowl pick
  • San Diego over Carolina = San Diego is my other Super Bowl pick
  • Arizona over San Francisco
  • Indy over Chicago
  • Green Bay over Minnesota = Aaron Rodgers will silence his critics
  • Denver over Oakland = Jay Cutler will have a breakout year

So fire up that grill, grab the chips and dip, and settle into your favorite lazy boy chair with an ice cold beverage. Are you ready for some football?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ochenta y cinco, not ocho cinco

People change their names all the time. When my wife and I got married, she legally changed her last name to mine. People also do it for religious reasons. Cassius Clay legally changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And now, Chad Johnson is now legally Chad Ocho Cinco.

"It's something I don't think anyone has ever done before," he told the team's website. "Have I ever had a reason for why I do what I do? I'm having fun."

Are you kidding me?!? I had heard rumors of this happening, but disregarded it because he has a history of being a big talker, but never backing it up. For example, this past off season he requested a trade out of Cincinnati and threatened to sit out the season if his demands weren't met. The Bengals stood their ground and Johnson, excuse me, Ocho Cinco, showed up at training camp.

This little publicity stunt reminds me of the movie Big Daddy with Adam Sandler. In the movie, Sandler's character is taking care of a child for his roommate while he is gone on business. Sandler has never had a child before and tries to appease the kid by saying that he could be called whatever he wanted. The child chooses "Frankenstein".

Chad Johnson, I mean Ocho Cinco, is basically a little kid. He is supposed to be a PROFESSIONAL athlete. A lot of people have nicknames that they like. I see hundreds of people that play slow pitch softball that have their nicknames on the back of their jerseys. But I don't think that any of them have the nerve to change their name to it. Do you think that Charles Barkley would officially change his name to Charles Round Mound of Rebound? How about David Ortiz changing his name to Big Papi Ortiz? Or if Vinnie Johnson became Microwave Johnson?

Finally, if you're going to change your name, at least do it correctly. For those of you that don't know Spanish, ocho cinco means 8 5. Ocho Cinco wears number 85 (eighty five). If he wanted to be correct, he would have changed his name to Ochenta y cinco which means 85.

Grow up Chad. Your silly little publicity stunts are not doing your credibility any good at all. All that you should be concentrating on is catching the football and scoring touchdowns against the Ravens on Sunday.

Great picture



I just wanted to share with everyone the great picture that I saw online. This is from last nights Red Sox vs. Orioles game and shows Alex Cora of the Sox jogging into home to score the winning run. He scored because of a throwing error by Orioles relief picture Jim Miller (pictured staring at his hand in disbelief).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Super Bowl picks



I know that the NFL regular season doesn't get underway until tomorrow, but I thought that I'd try to predict the future and tell you which teams are going to the playoffs and who will win the Super Bowl. I don't know how many of these will become true, we'll just have to wait and see. As Yogi Berra once said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future".

Let's start off in the AFC.

AFC EAST: Hands down, this division is going to go to New England. Even though I feel that this team won't be as good as they have in years past, they will win the division outright.

AFC NORTH: This one is a toss up between Pittsburgh and Cleveland for me. Baltimore is in a rebuilding year with a rookie quarterback and Cincinnati will have most of their team locked up in prison before the years over. Even though I like Big Ben at quarterback, I'm going to give the edge to Cleveland for the division, with Pittsburgh taking the wild card.

AFC SOUTH: Even though Peyton Manning hasn't played a down in the preseason (and why should he, he's Peyton Manning), he will lead the Colts to the division title. I do really like Jacksonville to give the Colts a run for their money. At the end of the season, the Colts will have the division crown, and the Jags will be the other wild card team.

AFC WEST: In a few years, this will be the Chiefs division, but for now, the San Diego "Super" Chargers are the best in the west.

So to recap, the AFC playoff teams will be San Diego, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland, New England, Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville.

Now for the NFC.

NFC EAST: This is probably the toughest division in the NFL this year. Each of the four teams has a legitimate shot to win. I am going to go with Dallas. They are probably the most talented team in the NFL this year and will take the division.

NFC NORTH: The "Black and Blue" division contains my sleeper pick for this years playoffs. I'm going to go with the Green Bay Packers to win the division (how do you like them apples, Favre!), and the Minnesota Vikings as a wild card team.

NFC SOUTH: Even with Hurricane Gustav blowing through town won't stop the Saints from winning the division. I'm picking the other wild card winner to come from this division also, the Carolina Panthers.

NFC WEST: This seems like a pretty weak division. I believe that Seattle won't have any problems winning this hands down.

So to recap, the NFC playoff teams will be Seattle, New Orleans, Green Bay, Dallas, Minnesota, and Carolina.

For the Super Bowl, it will be Dallas vs. San Diego. Dallas will hoist the Lombardi trophy with a 34-31 victory.

In no way do I consider myself an "expert" at picking games. So if anyone places a wager on any of my picks and loses money, I am not at fault. If, however, you place a bet based on my picks and win money, I'll only charge a 10% predictors fee.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What the?!?!?!



Richard Collier of the Jacksonville Jaguars was shot last night outside of an apartment at around 2:45 in the morning. He is currently listed in critical condition.

Apparently, Collier and a former teammate were waiting for a couple of women that they had met at a nightclub earlier on in the evening when the car that Collier was in was fired upon.

I am getting sick and tired of hearing about these professional athletes getting into situations like this. Why are these guys constantly in the wrong place at the wrong time? The NFL season opens up this coming weekend. What was Collier doing out at 2:45 in the morning?

It is my hope that professional athletes take notice of the stupid actions of some of their colleagues. The late Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins was rumored to have run with a pretty rough crowd in his time, is now deceased. Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed when his rented limousine was sprayed with bullets minutes after leaving a New Year's party at a downtown Denver club in 2007. That incident was rumored to be gang related.

And then there is the king of bad decisions, Adam "Pacman" Jones. This numskull has been arrested numerous times for many reasons. Since he was drafted in April 2005, he has been arrested five times -- although he has not been convicted of any crimes. Jones has been involved in at least 11 separate police investigations, authorities say. Most notably, he was arrested for an incident at a Las Vegas strip club at 4 a.m.!!!

Is there anything good that can happen from being at a strip club at 4 a.m.? How about if you are running around with a rough crowd and upset some of them, like Sean Taylor did? Or, if you have connections with a gang?

Why do these athletes put themselves in these situations? Do they not realize that they need to take care of themselves in order to have a better career? They don't need to be out at 2:45 a.m. on a Tuesday!

I really do hope that Richard Collier is okay and has a full recovery. I also hope that he realizes his mistakes and shapes up. There is a very small percentage of us that get the opportunity to play professional sports. I just wish that more of these athletes realize what a privilege it is to do what they do. I believe that some of the guys that got cut from the team (especially those that play Collier's position) do.