Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baseball's Best List

Me and a buddy of mine were talking about the greatest baseball players of all time and it got me to about the best starting lineup? Doin' it...

Batting first, Second Baseman, Pete Rose: The man had a .303 career batting average and has the third longest hitting streak behind DiMaggio and Willie Keeler (who played in the 19th century). He had longevity playing from 1963-86 for only three different teams, was a 17 time all star and has three World Series rings. Also, how does 4,256 sound? Yeah that's career hits and through his 24 year career that's about 185 hits a year. He had 200+ hits ten times and in 1973 had 230 hits. I know his primary position was in the outfield, but there are too many great outfielders and Rose is not able to be left off this list. Scandals aside the man is a perfect lead off man and can get the job done.

Batting second, Center Fielder, Joe DiMaggio: His 56 game hitting streak has not been touched since 1978 when Rose hit 44. He is a monster in on base percentage (.398) and has power (361 career HRs, 1537 RBIs). Had a .325 batting average through 13 seasons and missed three years because he fought in WWII. Can you say bad-ass? This guy came back from "The Great War" to help his fellow Yankees win four World Series in six years ('47, '49 '50 '51). Dominance in its truest form...not to mention the man married Marilyn Monroe, PIMP.

Batting third, Right Fielder, George Herman "Babe" Ruth: The number three man is always the best hitter on the team. Some would argue to put the Babe in clean up but I beg to differ. Having Ruth bat third forces pitchers to pitch to him when you have the next man in the lineup, and with his un-juiced 714 homers, he is a big stick. With Rose and DiMaggio, one is bound to be on base when it's time for Ruth to bat. So with his career .342 average and 2217 RBIs, you are nearly guaranteed runs in the first inning. Not to mention that if your pitcher goes down and you desperately need someone you can call on The Babe. He pitched in 163 games with a 2.28 ERA and 488 strikeouts. All around best player on the team.

Batting fourth, Left Fielder, Ted Williams: The man is arguable the best hitter of all time. While he may not have had the streak of DiMaggio or the jacks of Ruth, he was simply put the most clutch hitter of all time. Was "robbed" of the MVP in 1941 by Joe DiMaggio, the year he hit .400 (finished at .406 for best single season batting average of all time). Through 19 seasons he hit .344 and also, like other men of his time, went to WWII. All jokes aside, no baseball player now would enlist into an armed force to defend our country. Derek Jeter may be a great ball player but he is definitely a pretty boy as compared to each of the men on this list. But anyway, Williams would be the best cleanup man to, like I mentioned in Ruth's description, to force opposing teams to pitch to the men ahead of him. Managers would have a difficult time deciding whether to pitch or intentionally walk any of these guys.

Batting fifth, First Baseman, Mickey Mantle: Entering the league as a Yankee in 1951, to help ease the pain of the retirement of Joe DiMaggio, Mantle was an immediate success in the MLB. With a career batting average of .298 and 536 HRs, force pitchers to pitch to the likes of Williams and Ruth. Plus no matter who is on the mound, he is powerful from both sides of the plate recording 372 HRs from the left and 164 from the right. 10 times in his career he hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Moonshots...

Batting sixth, Shortstop, Cal Ripken Jr.: The Iron Man of the MLB, Ripken played in 2,632 straight games, not to mention his production. Traditionally, up to this point, shortstops were not powerful and they were more agile to play their positions. Ripken was among the first to bring in the age of power. He had 3,184 hits and 431 HRs all with the Baltimore Orioles. In 2,302 games at shortstop, Ripken had 225 errors resulting in .1 errors per game. Not only would he provide a clutch bat in the lineup but not much would get by the man. Solid on all fronts.

Batting seventh, Third Baseman, Michael Jack Schmidt: Not only did the man help bring one of two World Championships to Philadelphia, but he is the only Phillies Hall of Famers to play his entire career with the Phightin’ Phils. Ok, let me put my Philly pride aside for a second…World F***king Champions!!! Alright now that that’s out of my system, Schmidt batted .267 with 548 homeruns through 18 seasons. His career 1,595 RBIs are tied for 32 all-time. With his 548 homeruns he ranks 13. He had 10 gold gloves in his career and can is definitely the best third baseman of all time.

Batting eight, Catcher, Johnny Bench: Not only did he retire with more homeruns than any other catcher (389) but he was also known as one of the best defensive catchers of the time. He won 10 gold gloves during his illustrious 17 year career and helped the Reds win back to back World Series' (1975 & 1976). And with the Starting Pitcher I have lined up, Bench is the only one that could command his stuff. Bench was a first ballot Hall of Famer and was nearly error-proof (.05 per game). During the post season, had 10 homeruns (five total in his four World Series appearances) and a post season batting average of .266. In the 1976 World Series however, Bench went 8 for 15 with two homers. Captain Clutch.

Batting ninth, Pitcher, Satchel Paige: I am going by National League rules so Paige must bat. Who cares though because no one is going to hit off of him. His birthday is not specified but it is argued that he took the mound for the last time at age 60 (3 shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics) He had longevity and his stats do not give him enough credit. He only played professional baseball for six years but was in the negro leagues for much longer. He began in the Negro Leagues in 1926. That is 34 years of highly competitive baseball. In the Negro Leagues, Paige is said to have had a season best 31-4 record, a stretch of 21 straight wins and 64 consecutive scoreless innings. Joe DiMaggio said Paige was "the best he had ever faced." To think the way baseball history could have been changed if this Negro Leaguer would have played his entire career in the majors.

So this is my all-time starting lineup. I want to make a starting rotation for pitchers and maybe even back ups for the positions. Get back to me if you have any opinions about who you think is more deserving. I'm sure the Pete Rose addition may rub some of you the wrong way because there are so many very talented second basemen, but it was the only place I could fit him. He is very deserving of the spot just for his bat. It might make it easier if I make decade teams as well starting with 1920-present. Either way, comment this post and let me know your thoughts.

p.s. week 17 in the NFL looks phenomenal and I'll try and get you guys an analysis of this week in football. Happy Holidays all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 16 minus MNF

Where to about the top 5 games of the week? Sounds good...

Ravens 33 Cowboys 24...This was a high scoring affair where Tony Romo looked awful. In the last game at Texas Stadium, he sure did slap the Cowboy gods in the face with his 24/45, 252 yds, 2 td, and 2 INT performance. He made poor decisions all night and was trying to force too many passes. His reliance on Jason Witten was apparent seeing as him and Owens caught the same number of passes. What was phenomenal during the game was the Ravens running game. Willis McGahee looked like he was a Miami Hurricane again the way he sliced through the Cowboys D for 108 yards on 8 carries (yeah do the math...that's 13.5 yds per carry)and a 77 yard touchdown run. And don't forget Le'Ron McClain, who is listed as a full back, who ran for 139 on 22 carries and had an 82 yard TD run to seal the game. The fake field goal by the Ravens was perfectly executed and Derrick Mason playing with a chicken wing was very inspiring. I do not know how he played with a bum shoulder and still managed to show up the Cowboys corners. Overall, this game proved that the Cowboys are not ready to go into the playoffs and lose again, but also, that the Ravens can dominate a game with their run game since their rookie QB is very Trent Dilfer-esque...aka he lets the Defense win the games (Ed Reed had 2 INT's...the man's a beast). The defense let up 92 yards rushing and 235 yards passing and 24 points. So look for the Ravens to be a force in the playoffs.

Steelers-Titans was a game that was upsetting because of how lopsided it was...Titans 31 Steelers 14. The implications of the game made for a good setup but the Steelers just could not produce. Roethlisberger had a sub par day going 26/40 for 331 yards with 2 tds and 2 INTs. The main reason for his below average play was the time he spent on the ground. The Titans recorded 5 sacks and continually had pressure on the QB all game. Also, the Titans run defense was fantastic keeping the Steelers to 71 yards on the ground and they also had a late INT return for a TD. Don't forget about Old Man Collins, the pride of Happy Valley, who went 20/29 for 216 yards and 1 touchdown. This was a very uncompetitive game and in order for the Steelers to do well in the playoffs they need to iron out some of their wrinkles from this game seeing as they may find themselves in Tennessee sometime in the next month or so.

In the White Christmas bowl, the Patriots had a hard fought battle against the Cardinals who decided to fly north for the score 47-7. This game was as funny as it was embarrassing especially when Wes Welker dropped down and got his snow angel on only to receive an unsportsmanlike penalty. Well worth the extra 15 Wes, definitely my favorite celebration of the year. Positives for the Cardinals include a 78 yard touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald against what I'm guessing could be a defense that was made up of mostly fans. But hey, way to go Matt Leinart, you won the Heisman and also threw a 78 yard touchdown pass after your team decided Kurt Warner was done for the day. You sir are an accomplished athlete.

Giants 34 Panthers 28 in OT...This game was actually very competitive until the Panthers defense refused to show up for the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter into overtime. They were dominating the game offensively and were doing well against the pass giving up 181 yards through the air. But the Giants devastating ground game was what gave the Panthers a problem. 301 yards given up on the ground mainly between Derrick Ward (215) and Brandon Jacobs (87...Eli Manning had 1 rush for -1 yard). In order for the Panthers to be a force in the playoffs they need to mend the holes in their Swiss cheese defense...obviously, but also they must balance their offense (19 pass to 35 rushes). A great offense is made from keeping defense on edge. Without enough runs, your passing game hurts, without enough passing the defense will stack the box. Even in a cold environment, you still need to make the pass effective.

The most awful game of the week...Redskins 10 Eagles 3. HOW DON'T YOU RUN YOUR ROUTE 2 YARDS DEEPER?! Anyway, after the Eagles put up 98 points in the past 3 weeks, they fell far short in putting up 3 points...THREE. Main problem? No established run game. 46 pass attempts to 16 rush attempts. Really? That looks like the Colts from 2003 but at least they had pass support to outscore opponents. Donovan could not get started completing only 57 percent of his passes for 230 yards. Play maker Brian Westbrook was held to 116 yards of total offense (45 rushing 71 receiving). The play calling was my biggest problem with this game, until the last 2 minutes of the game where the Eagles just dinked and dunked down field. They know you're going to pass so just pick away 7 or 8 yards a play. Too little too late however since LJ Smith made a costly error by trying to turn the ball up field instead of getting out of bounds wasting nearly 15 seconds...awful. But let's get to the smartest receiving play of the day...Reggie Brown...from the 18 yard line with 12 seconds left, Mr. Brown runs a 17.5 yard comeback. Seriously, you know the situation you're in as a receiver. You know you have to run your route into the end zone, not to the goal line. This is pitiful that Reggie Brown could not have run his route a yard and a half deeper in order to have scored a touchdown. Don't forget the play of star rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson. 2 catches for 14 yards and he had a costly drop in the end zone that was a "sure touchdown" according to Troy Aikman. The drops need to stop in order for the Birds to be effective. Next week vs. the Cowboys, the Eagles are hoping to win and also praying for the Bucs to lose to the Raiders (fat chance) and either the Vikings or Bears to lose in order for them to make the playoffs. Hey, a great Christmas present for Philly would be the Cowboys missing the playoffs too, so playing the spoiler would be great Birds. Don't forget Philadelphia Phans...the Phillies are World Champions...World F***in' Champions! Makes me smile daily.

AFC playoffs are nearly set in stone with the 1. Titans 2. Steelers 3. Dolphins (subject to change) and 4. Broncos (also subject to change) with wildcard 5. Colts and 6. Ravens (subj. to change)

NFC playoffs are a little trickier with 1. Giants 2. Panthers 3. Vikings (subj. to change) 4. Cardinals and wild card 5. Falcons (who could potentially be a #2 seed with a win next week) and 6. Cowboys (which will more than likely change)

So for the first time in a while, week 17 is going to be worth watching so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This week in football...Week 16

So this is a pretty intense week even though it is so late in the season. Starting tonight, the Colts play the Jaguars in what should be a pretty good game. At 5-9, the Jaguars will still play the Colts tough as they always do. Since it is a divisional game, and the Jags will be hoping to spoil the Colts playoff hopes, look for a high scoring affair with the Colts coming out on top by maybe less than a touchdown. Colts 23 Jags 17

So long to an era on Saturday in Dallas, with the last game being played at Texas Stadium. Not to fear Cowboy fans, God will be looking into your new stadium with the same architectural mistake as your current stadium. Seriously though, what is up with that? It looks like funding was cut and the cement budget fell through. Jerry you need to keep up with the other Jones' and get a retractable roof...much more state of the art for losing playoff games.

Anyway, the Cowboys will be facing the Ravens who had a heartbreak of a loss last week against the Steelers. Look for the Ravens to come out on top by 10.

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY, some interesting match ups are on the menu with a few divisional foes meeting and wild card potential berths.

The Bengals play the Browns for a battle of who is worse in Ohio which can pretty much be given to the Bengals. Bengals-Shameful Browns-Disappointing Buckeyes are playing the best football in the state right now...and that's not saying too much.

Niners against the Rams which is a must miss in the NFC West. Rams 20 Niners 7

And the big view of the week is...drum roll...Saints-Lions..yeah I said it. Can the Lions really lose 16 straight games or can the Saints take this year's most embarrassing award (The 2007 Ravens will be presenting the award for their loss to the 2007 1-15 Miami Dolphins). Stay tuned for what could be the most hilarious game of the season no matter which way it goes. Saints 17 Lions 9

Potential playoff preview with the Steelers playing in Tennessee. However, the Titans may try to rest their battered line up so don't look for anything too exciting. Steelers 24 Titans 13

The Dolphins against the Chiefs could be interesting seeing as the Dolphins are in the playoff hunt and the Chiefs are hoping for a top 5 draft pick. Dolphins 14 Chiefs 6

Cardinals against the Pats which means more to the Patriots looking forward to shoving it in the NFL's face that they don't need Tom Brady to make the need for the extra 32 touchdowns Brady threw last year (50 to Cassel's 18 currently). Cheering against the Patriots is like cheering against the just feels right. Pats 23 Cards 10

Bucs vs. Chargers is another game with playoff inclinations for one team and it's not the no-bowler Phillip cry me a Rivers' Chargers. The Bucs could very well ruin their chances of a playoff berth though if they take this game lightly. Chargers 14 Bucs 13

Yawn Houston V. Oakland in the least contested battle since you beat Bowser and saved the princess in Super Mario 3.

Bills/Broncos-see previous
Jets-Seahawks-do I even have to say it?

Game of the week: Falcons-Vikings...I am really anticipating this game because I believe the Falcons are one of the more underrated teams in the league this year. Matt Ryan doesn't have great numbers, but he is winning games. 3,000 yards, 62% completion, 14 tds, 9 ints, with a 90 QB rating? I'm sure the Lions would love that kind of production. The Vikings are potentially going to win the division for the first time since seeing Moss-Culpepper. Plus, with all star back Adrian Peterson who has a hybrid of running styles between the agility of Barry to the power of Walter, there is no telling where this team could stop. All they need is a steady QB and they're ready to go. Look for the Falcons to prevail by 6.

Eagles-Redskins is a game in which the Eagles must win. With their backs against the wall, they need to win their last two games of the season to even have a chance at the wild card and that hockey-esque tie isn't looking too shabby now seeing as it could put them ahead of the Cowboys when the final whistle is blown. Redskins try to be the spoiler however. Eagles 17 Redskins 10

Panthers-Giants which is a game that the NFL has been trying to promote but I think the Giants should take this time to help heal their starters. I'm not saying they shouldn't start but if they end up being down 17 in middle of the fourth quarter they should probably let Eli & Co. take an early shower. Panthers 24 Giants 14

MNF sounds like it could be a blast...Green Bay-Chicago...but with Favre holding the con it just loses its impact. I don't care to see Aaron Rodgers get wrecked by Urlacher and the bunch. With nothing to play for the Pack is going down 14-3

There you have it...this week in football. Go watch and come back to talk about it. I'll be here don't you worry.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

AFC Playoff Picture

As for the AFC, the Titans and Steelers have clinched their divisions respectively. They both play in two of the hardest divisions in the AFC with the Ravens and Colts being their toughest competition within the division. The AFC East is rather competitive this year as well for the first time in a while since Terrific Tom Brady went down early in the season. The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets are atop the division for the first time in a while and the previously 1-15 Dolphins are actually tied for the division lead with the Patriots and Jets. So here is how the playoffs are going to play out.

The Titans and Steelers are going to have first round byes. So that is going to make the other division leaders the Jets and the Broncos. The Broncos are like the Cardinals in that they are both in awful divisions so their sub par play will gain them a playoff berth but won't go much further. As for the wild card, the Colts and The Ravens are going to make it and this is well deserved seeing as they are in the toughest divisions in the AFC.

This makes the first round of the AFC playoffs Broncos-Colts and Jets-Ravens. The Colts will dominate the Broncos in Denver and the Ravens will upset the Jets in New York. That will make the second round of the playoffs Colts-Steelers and Ravens-Titans. The Steelers will beat the Colts to avenge their lost from earlier this season. Then my upset of the entire playoffs is the Ravens over the Titans.

The Titans-Ravens match up is going to be a great game to watch but with Albert Haynesworth being out for the last two games of the season, who knows if he will be back clogging holes. Even if he is able to play against the Steelers I believe that the Titans do not have enough power to propel them into the AFC Championship. Plus their rookie running back Chris Johnson will not have the stamina to play on into the playoffs. Not to disregard his season, he is doing fantastic, but I do not believe that he will be able to continue his ways deep into the playoffs and especially against the Pittsburgh Steeler defense. *Reminder* The Titans will be hosting the Steelers this week to give us a preview of the playoffs.

That leaves the AFC Championship with the Steelers-Ravens which will be a highly defensive game with both offenses being below average this year. Joe Flacco and Big Ben Roethlisberger are going to be watching the games on their backs with the high flying, blitz happy defenses encircling them. I think it's going to come down to which defense can score more points because with Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed in each defensive secondary, they will probably produce more points than either teams running back or receivers. In the end I think that the Steelers are going to prevail and make their second Super Bowl appearance in three years.

So that leaves Super Bowl XLIII as the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Carolina Panthers. Who do you think is going to come out on top? Or do you think neither of these teams are going to make it? Let me know what you think the outcome is going to be but so long until then.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NFC Playoff Picture

Currently, the NFC East is the most competitive division in the NFL...hands down. While the Redskins have diminished since the beginning of the season, the Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants have been outstanding.
After benching Donovan McNabb against the Ravens in week 12, the Eagles are 3-0 and back in the wild card hunt. McNabb has passed for 741 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception during this streak and Brian Westbrook has been dominant as a runner, receiver and (as seen against the Browns) pass/run blocking. The Eagles are truly firing on all cylinders right now and this may work out perfect with their remaining schedule consisting of the Redskins and Cowboys. If they win both of these games, the Eagles will have a great chance to make it to the playoffs via the wild card.

The Cowboys are very suspect to me at the moment. Since their bye week (week ten), the Cowboys have played the choking Redskins (7-7), the second place 49ers (second place meaning a 5-9 record), the Seahawks (an astounding 3-11), the Steelers (11-3), and the Giants (11-3). Of these teams, the Cowboys only lost to the Steelers, but their wins against the college level NFC West and the Plaxico-less Giants are not even noteworthy. Their wins since the bye week have been nothing but exhibition games and with their last two games of the season against the Ravens (9-5) and their division foe Eagles (8-5-1) I can not imagine the Cowboys making the playoffs this year. Suck on that Jerry Jones.

Midway through the season, I thought the Giants could repeat as Super Bowl Champs. However, with Plaxico Burress' expert marksmanship and the awful play of their line (8 sacks given up against the Cowboys), the Giants will not make it back to the Super Bowl this season. No media friendly, Manning-Manning Super Bowl meeting, no back to back Championships, and in yet another New York sport, a late season choke that even Dr. Henry J. Heimlich couldn’t fix. Hope the Mets are saving you a seat Eli.

As for the wild card situation in the NFC, I think the Falcons and Eagles are going to fly high into the playoffs. Many think the Falcons are too young, but with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, I think the Falcons can at least make the playoffs, maybe even win a game. But when it's all said and done the NFC Championship will consist of the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with the Vikings making their first Super Bowl appearance since 1977. All aboard the A.P. train to Tampa Bay.

AFC breakdown tomorrow....