Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 2 Hot and Not

It’s time for what’s hot and what’s not from week two in football and if I had to describe it in one word…surprising. First of all the Titans are 0-2, Tom Brady didn’t throw for a single touchdown and the 49ers are 2-0. Wow. I don’t know what’s happened in the past week but the football gods are looking to make this season interesting. Now to the list.
The New Orleans Saints are what’s hot in the NFL right now. Drew Brees has thrown for 669 yards, nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. His quarterback rating is a measly 132.9 and the Saints are2-0. Not to mention they are averaging 46.5 points per game right now. Oh and the Saints play the Bills this week so look for the Saints to keep producing. Currently, the Saints defense is mediocre at best but it doesn’t matter when they score 40 points or more. Kudos to you New Orleans, you are hot right now. Watch out for the hubris though because with the winter you may get cold as well.
Matt Schaub had an amazing game this week. He went 25 of 39 for 357 yards and four touchdowns. The Texans running game was stagnant running for a total of 63 yards on 29 carries but Schaub really helped keep the team competitive in the game. It’s just funny because Schaub will probably throw three picks and no touchdowns next week. He’s too hot and cold for me, but good job this week boss.
Chris Johnson…wow, if it weren’t for the guy in the next paragraph you would definitely be the player of the week. Johnson had three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) for 284 total yards from scrimmage. His 91 yard scamper was disgusting. He made two moves that were ankle breaking and was off to the races after. His 87 receiving yards on nine catches lead the team but that number is skewed because of his 69 yard touchdown catch. On the play, he was completely uncovered which is just typical Texans but I digress. Johnson had a great day even in a loss. The only thing he could have done more was to cover Andre Johnson because no one on the Titans seemed to care about him.

Usain Bolt would have been impressed by the running prowess of Frank Gore this weekend. On 16 carries, Gore had 207 yards for two touchdowns (12.9 ypc). His two touchdowns were from 79 and 80 yards out. Gore tore through the Seahawks defense like it was Madden. He was the most dominant player on the field this weekend and could not be touched. The Seahawks had eight and nine men in the box on the two long touchdown runs and the Niners offensive line just followed their assignments to let Gore do what he does best…embarrass defenses. Even though Chris Johnson had a solid game, the Titans still lost. That’s why I have to give Gore bragging rights for this week as best offensive player in the NFL.
Now it’s on to the more fun part of writing about NFL players, the scrubs. There were several players this week that were just plain garbage and I was shocked. First of all, let’s talk about Terrible Tom Brady.
Tom Brady went 23 of 47 on Sunday for 216 yards and no touchdowns. For the talent that Brady has on offense this is just humiliating. I know Rex Ryan is crazy good at being a defensive coach, but the Patriots have more talent than the three field goals they scored. Brady may have a lot on his mind (see http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/news/story?id=4494894) but he’s always performed under pressure. Terrific Tom was Terribly Troubled on Sunday. Don’t expect him to stay in this funk though. It was one week, and the Patriots play the Falcons who have allowed nearly 230 yards passing in two games this season. Tom I’m not professional but I’m pretty sure you should hit Moss more, and tell Wes Welker to get healthy. NEXT!
Going from great to ghastly in the matter of a week is Tony Romo. Against Tampa Bay in week one Romo was incredible throwing for 353 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Week two was not as kind when Romo threw for fewer yards than Frank Gore had on two runs (127 yards) and had one touchdown to three interceptions. I’m surprised the Cowboys were still in the game after his performance. Not only was Romo’s completion percentage below 50 percent, but his longest completion was 26 yards. Marion Barber had a longer rush from scrimmage than the longest reception by Romo (Barber also caught the 26 yard reception for those keeping score). Seriously though, if it weren’t for the running game by the Cowboys they would be in bad shape. Barber and Felix Jones had 220 yards between them for two touchdowns. Barber nearly had more yards rushing than Romo had passing. Either way, Romo is going to be under the spot light all season until he gets the chance to possibly (if they make it) win a playoff game. But all I have to say to that is….
Last and the very least of the NFL, the Cleveland Browns. The Browns outgained by 249 yards by the Broncos and only had 11 first downs. Brady Quinn had no touchdowns and one interception, Jamal Lewis (it’s pretty embarrassing he’s their number one) had 38 yards on 14 carries, and the defense had no sacks and only hit the quarterback three times. I can’t wait for Braylon Edwards’ contract to run out so he can actually play professional football. The talent they have at wide receiver is going to complete waste and the only chance the Browns have of scoring is when Edwards or Josh Cribbs has his hands on the ball.
Well I can’t wait for this weekend in football. I mean I’m still going to miss most of Sunday’s games because CVS Pharmacy ruins my life. But games I’m excited for this week include Michael Vick’s return in Philadelphia against the Chiefs, Drew Brees vs. the Bills, and the Titans against Rex Ryan’s defense in the Meadowlands. It should be pretty good. Until next time…
Photo Credits: Drew Brees (AP Photo/Michael Perez),Chris Johnson (AP Photo/Wade Payne), Frank Gore (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez), Tom Brady (AP Photo/Kathy Willens), Brady Quinn (AP Photo/ David Zalubowski)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Phillies Playoff Bound? Not So Fast.


I guess one way to solve the Phillies bullpen woes is to have their starters go the distance, which is just what Cliff Lee did last night. For the first time in a Phillies uniform, Lee had a complete game shutout and his third complete game for the Phillies.
Hopefully, Lee is out of that funk he’s been in for his past three starts where he had two losses and an ERA of 5.33. The Phillies need Lee to be on top of his game in order for them to have a chance in the playoffs. While they are seven games up in the east, I can’t help but mention the Mets blowing a seven game lead with 17 games left in 2007.
Everyone in Philadelphia remembers it because it was awesome but with 19 games left and the Phillies bullpen hurting, it feels too eerie that something could go wrong. However, after Lee’s performance last night it let me breathe a sigh of relief. Not to mention Lee is getting more run support lately (the Phillies scored a combined one run in the two losses against the Astros and Braves).
But with the Phillies bats are beginning to awaken as we enter the fall. Carlos Ruiz is batting .340 since August and playing his position well. Last night he backed up an overthrow to first and nailed the runner at second.
Ryan Howard has cooled down since his hot streak at the end of August but expect him to get better as the weather gets cooler. During the past three seasons, Howard has had an average just under 20 homeruns in August and September and no less than 50 RBI’s. So with 19 games left and 12 homeruns thus far, expect Howard to get a few jacks in the last couple home stands.
With 19 games left and series’ against Atlanta, Milwaukee, Houston, and Florida twice, it’s going to be tough for the Phillies to get back into playoffs. Houston swept the Phillies during their last series and the Marlins are going to be vying for a playoff spot. And since the starters are doing well, it’s time for the bullpen (mostly Brad Lidge) to get back into shape for this last haul of the season.
Photo Credit: (Matt Slocum/AP)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NFL Week 1 What's Hot/What's Not

This first week of professional tackle football was outstanding. It’s so great to see actual competition again. Plus, there have been a few good games within the first week. Buffalo and Oakland played well even though they lost, and the Eagles defense looked better than ever (got me 35 points in fantasy…crazy I know). But let’s single out some boom and busts from this week.
Wide Receiver Roy Williams from Dallas really surprised me. He usually is slow and generally over rated, but against Tampa Bay on Sunday Williams had three catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. Plus he presented a threat which allowed Tony Romo to throw for 353 yards, three touchdowns with a 140.6 quarterback rating. That’s pretty nasty in the anti-T.O. era in Dallas.
Even better was Patrick Crayton of the Cowboys. He had 49 more yards than Williams with 135 and 1 touchdown. The two big plays the Cowboys had were made by the receivers. First, Williams ran through a seam and had to get through traffic to get into the end zone. Good thing Williams worked out this off season (for the first time according to him) because the extra muscle might help him over the middle this season. No alligator arms.
Patrick Crayton’s route was helped by the corner and safety from the Bucs jumping Jason Witten’s route. Witten commands so much respect that even a great running game couldn’t earn. When Witten is five to ten yards down field, it keeps the defensive backfield as honest as if Marion Barber had over 100 yards.
The Cowboys really shocked me with their receivers and I think they are finally back in the NFC East race after a lackluster last season. But with the quality of teams in the east, it’s still going to be difficult for the Cowboys to make the playoffs.

Another person who surprised me was Cadillac Williams. He had 97 yards on 13 carries…7.5 yards per carry for those who don’t have a calculator nearby. That is absolutely disgusting for someone who, over the last two years, has suffered from two…count ‘em...two torn patellar tendons. Doctor’s said Cadillac may not have ever played football again after his first tear. Now he’s back and better than ever.
Even though he scored only one touchdown in a loss, which was mostly dominated by the Cowboys passing game, Cadillac finally looks to be back into his rookie form, but don’t expect him to get a lot of carries. He is, after all is said and done, injury prone and could buckle at any moment. But congrats Mr. Caddy, you looked fantastic.
The Eagles defense looked outstanding. Under new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, the Eagles look as if Jim Johnson hasn’t passed on. They flew around the field all day and Sheldon Brown had two picks…of the five the team had as a whole…wow. They were all over the place not just during the passing game but running as well.
They allowed a total of 169 yards of total offense and allowed only 10 points, not to mention they had a punt return for a touchdown. And the small defensive line and linebackers many were worried about in the offseason had five sacks. They were an all around defense that could do no wrong but let’s see how they do against a more potent offense like New Orleans this week…
As for the busts, what about Jake Delhomme? In the last two games he’s played (including last season’s playoff game) he’s been a combined 24 of 51 with nine interceptions and one touchdown, and in the offseason the Panthers signed him to a five-year $42.5 million contract extension…good work guys.
Dear Carson Palmer, I hate you. Palmer has been so disappointing since his one outstanding season where he hurt his knee. Chad Ochocinco had a pretty good offseason and I had high hopes for the Bengals this season. Palmer’s 247 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions are not going to do it for them though.
Don’t get me wrong, Cedric Benson had a decent game and carried the team on his shoulders but when it comes down to it, the seven points they scored is laughable at the amount of talent they possess. They have the potential to score like Indy or New England but it all comes down to how Palmer plays and this week it was poor.

Oh the Texans, you are even more disappointing than the Bengals. Steve Slaton is one of the hottest young running backs right now and Andre Johnson is one freak of a wide receiver. But it all comes down to former Vick back up Matt Schaub. His 18 of 33 was good enough for seventh worse in completion percentage of the first week and he was fifth worst in quarterback rating at 55.9.
I’m going to give Schaub a get out of jail free card (wish you had one of those don’t you Pacman Jones) because Rex Ryan is a defensive mastermind that could have changed the Jets for the better. But Schaub is a professional quarterback and should be doing better than this. Steve Slaton also has to produce more than 17 yards on nine carries.
So the blame this week isn’t going to go on either of those two players, but to the Texans offensive line. Schaub was hit eight times and Slaton’s total yards were embarrassing. Hopefully they can improve upon the 32 sacks they gave up last year but right now they are right on pace for it after giving up two on Sunday. If Schaub gets hit, he will not do well and may be taken out for the former Detroit and Chicago greats, Dan Orlovsky or Rex Grossman. Good luck.
As for this week, I am pumped to see the Saints vs. the Eagles to see who will fail first between the Eagles defense and the Saints offense. Also, the Patriots are heading to the Meadowlands to play the Jets which should be a good game if the Jets defense can be as stout as they were this past weekend. And to be quite honest I’m just pumped it’s football season again and it’s the first time I’ve had a football season sans John Madden. Life is good.
Photo Credits: Roy Williams Salute (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay), Cadillac Williams (AP Photo/Brian Blanco), Asante Samuels/Akeem Jordan (AP Photo/Nell Redmond),Carson Palmer (AP Photo/Ed Reinke), Schaub Sack(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Woe is Lidge


A year removed from his perfect season, Brad Lidge has reverted to his former Houston self.
Lidge gave up a leadoff single to Wil Nieves then Alberto Gonzalez recorded a ground out to third. Gonzalez was nearly safe after an errant throw by Pedro Feliz but Ryan Howard made the catch and applied the tag to relieve a little pressure from Lidge.
But, Nieves was on second with one out. So, as a great closer should do, Lidge hit Willie Harris with a pitch and walked Cristian Guzman. All of Philadelphia collectively held its breath for the umpteenth time this season.
Until Charlie Manuel had enough and walked out to the mound took the ball from Lidge and called for Ryan Madson from the bullpen...finally. Luckily, Madson got out of the jam with a strikeout and groundout but the bases loaded predicament should have never been an issue.
Now I know last year was epic. Only the Lord saved more than Lidge (sorry Bernie Parent). It would be unjust for anyone to expect Lidge to perform at the same level as he did last year. But Lidge has 10 blown saves this year (which should be 11 if it weren’t for Madson saving him last night). It’s just too many for a team to make another World Series run.
The only thing epic about this season is Lidge may beat the single season blown save record of 14 held by Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Bob Stanley and Ron Davis. With 26 games remaining, Lidge could definitely vie for the record.
Lidge has appeared in 58 games this season. Upon his first blown save of the season he received a standing ovation. Fans may wish they could take it back after seeing Lidge blow nine other games this season. To think, the Phillies could be 13 games up in the East right now if it weren’t for Lidge’s seven losses. 13 GAMES! It would make the Phillies the top team in the National League and second in the majors only to New York (the Yankees not the Mets…do I really have to remind you?).
After the game last night, Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said [on taking Lidge out in the ninth], “Winning the game is what it's all about - that's baseball and that's why I manage and that's what comes first.”
It’s great to see Manuel is being a manager rather than a friend. During the past nine blown saves, Lidge was like a sitting duck and opposing teams took advantage.
Some blame Lidge’s knee for his recent woes. I believe it’s more mental than anything for the guy. He did the same thing in Houston. After a career high 42 saves in 2005, Lidge returned in 2006 with six blown saves then in 2007 with eight blown saves. This year he leads the league in blown saves and the league average is roughly four.
Whether his right knee is completely healed or not, we’ll never really know. But before October hits the Phillies need to figure out who they’re going to use in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line.

Photo Courtesy: www.philliesnation.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Michael Vick Era


Since the media has stopped giving Michael Vick Michael Jackson style attention how’s about we talk about his football skills. Shall we? Screw all of the dog fighting bologna. It was wrong, he did his time let’s move past it.
The Eagles made a very smart move signing Michael Vick. First of all, they signed him to a one year contract with a second year option. This means if Vick doesn’t play well this year, Vick’s second year option doesn’t get picked up. His salary for this season is just over $1.5 million which sounds more impressive than it is, seeing as Shawn Andrews is making over $5 million this year and could quite possibly not play a snap.
And what if Vick does well? Then the Eagles will have leverage in the trade market in the offseason. The Eagles could then trade Vick somewhere like San Francisco, which is having quarterback troubles this year. In return the Eagles could get their first round pick and possibly more. Maybe Vernon Davis or someone from their defensive line wouldn’t be too shabby on top of the first round pick. And who expects the 49ers to do much this year as it is. There pick would definitely be in the top 10.
And if worse comes to worse, the Eagles allow the second year option and give him just over $5 million. Don’t get me wrong, five million dollars is a lot of money, but when it comes to football it’s just not too outlandish. The Eagles are a smart organization too. They do not just sign big name guys to get fans in the seats. They sign and release players when they know they need to. They cut Jeremiah Trotter and when he played for the Redskins he did not produce. So the Eagles signed him for significantly less than what he would have been paid had he stayed in Philadelphia. The Eagles could have just as easily not signed Michael Vick this season and thrown Vick’s money towards Brian Dawkins. However, the team must see something more in Quintin Mikell for the money he is making.
Now who is to say Michael Vick will fail? I know he hasn’t played football in two years but the man is only 29 and he ran for over a thousand yards in his last season. The best thing for him is the suspension Roger Goodell has placed on him. If Vick is on the bench until week six, then he will be back just in time to help a tired and weary Eagles team since their bye week is so early this season. Vick could be a part of the team for a 12 game season and help the Eagles push past their arch nemesis… the dreaded NFC Championship game.
And how are the Eagles going to use Vick? Personally, I think the idea of having Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick on the field at the same time is frightening. There is so much Andy Reid can do with this offense…it’s just plain scary. Think of a backfield with McNabb under center, Vick at tailback and Westbrook and Jackson as receivers. McNabb can drop back and use Vick as a safety valve “if” Westbrook or Jackson can’t get open, pitch to Vick and give him a run/pass option, or simply use Vick as a decoy and run a play action pass to him to free up Jackson down-field. Seriously, the possibilities are endless with Vick in the offense. Think about how well Miami did with the wildcat…and they had little to no talent. Ronnie Brown was good but Chad Rag Arm Pennington was their quarterback for Christ’s sake. So multiply the Dolphins success rate by number 5 and you’ll get the best team in the NFC…the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So you have the first pick in your fantasy football draft this year? What are you going to do with it champ? The obvious pick of Adrian Peterson comes to mind but it’s easy to pick AP when you’re the first pick. Let’s divulge into the middle of the order when the fantasy magazines you’ve been reading have failed you.
Running backs are huge in fantasy football because you generally have two of them on your team and, at the end of the season; they usually combine for the most points on the team (barring the Tom Brady/Randy Moss connection circa 2007). So having the first pick in the draft may not be the greatest pick of all seeing as your second pick will happen about 20-24 picks later. So enjoy your Adrian Peterson/Ricky Williams backfield while I pick a more superb one-two punch that will dominate you.

So say you are right in the middle of the pack. By this time Peterson, Jones-Drew, and Michael Turner are probably gone. Fear not, for there are much greater respected backs to come. Take DeAngelo Williams for instance. Last season he had over 1,500 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Not to mention that he could be a threat out of the backfield Westbrook style. He only had 22 receptions for two touchdowns last year, but only because the threat of Steve Smith down the sideline. Smith’s ability to make big plays downfield is a positive for Williams seeing as it will open up the running game. Look for DeAngelo Williams to have an MVP caliber season for the Panthers.
Sophomore slumps happen to the best of them, but not when it comes to Steve Slaton. The pride of the Mountaineers is going to come out even better in 2009. Now I know the Houston Texans are a laughing stock in the AFC but they really do have talent. They are just in a really tough division with Tennessee, Indianapolis and Jacksonville. But the combination of Andre Johnson should be enough to help them win 10 games. If Matt Schaub is healthy during the regular season then Steve Slaton will have another fantastic year. Look for him to grab 1,500 plus yards on the ground and at least 10 rushing touchdowns.

Now when it’s time for your second round pick and it seems as if everyone is gone, don’t fret, there are still quality backs that don’t have the last name Tomlinson (who is on the decline but that’s a whole other issue). LenDale White has dropped massive weight since last season and looks to be quicker than he was in college. Even if Chris Johnson gets most of the carries White will steal a couple of touchdowns when they’re inside the 10. And don’t skip on Brandon Jacobs if you have the opportunity to pick him up in the second round. The man runs through anyone who stands in his way and the Giants have lost the idea of having a three headed monster backfield so Jacobs should get plenty of carries. Plus, Jacobs has the potential to take a broken play to the house by himself.
Good luck in each of your fantasy drafts…May the force be with you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Possible Threepeat? If only...


I have caught myself saying repeatedly in conversation with friends, “Could you imagine?!” about the Phillies winning another World Series let alone three. Don’t get me wrong, last year it was phenomenal to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan, but let’s get things straight. This is a what have you done for me lately city and personally, I want more. With the addition of Cliff Lee to the lineup the Phillies have a chance of winning two, maybe even three straight World Series Titles…hear me out.
Cole Hamels is currently the Phillies worst starting pitcher…I use the term “worst” loosely. But it’s not fair to call Hamels the “worst” seeing as they picked up the reigning Cy Young winner, a former three time Cy Young winner(who still has it). And they have Joe Blanton who hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since June, and J.A. Happ, who is the best rookie pitcher in baseball. So to say that Hamels is the Phillies worst pitcher isn’t an insult. The Phillies’ staff is just that good.
The Phillies boast a 4.15 ERA, which is good enough for seventh in the MLB, but that number is very deceiving. Cliff Lee is 5-1 since becoming a Phillie and has a 1.80 ERA even after giving up six earned runs to the Braves. That’s so sick it makes me want to vomit. Also, J.A. Happ has cooled off but still has good stuff that can do well in the postseason. And Joe Blanton is quietly getting it done for the Phils. He has given up 16 earned runs since the All-Star Break in eight games. If he can produce those numbers in the playoffs then there is no doubt the Phillies will go deep. And to think, if Brad Lidge didn’t have nine blown saves and six losses, the Phillies could be 13.5 games up in the East and could rival the Yankees for best record in the league.
The Lidge factor is a rough one. Every Phillies fan holds their breath when he comes in the ninth inning no matter if it’s a one run lead or if it’s seven. He would have another blown save and loss if it weren’t for Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play. Granted, Bruntlett had back-to-back errors but still. Hopefully, Charlie Manuel does something about the embarrassing closing situation. Ryan Madson can not handle the pressure seeing as he blew five of nine opportunities, and Brett Myers is making his way back to the Big’s but who knows if he’ll be in the starting rotation rather than the bullpen. Simply put, the Phillies World Series hopes weigh on the arm of Brad Lidge. ..and they are high apple pie up in the sky hopes.

And the Mets are still awful...just in case you forgot.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Million Dollar Man


The Phillies picked up first ballot hall of famer Pedro Martinez today…and immediately placed him on the 15 day disabled list. This pick up baffles me because of the possibility of picking up Roy Halladay and plus Martinez is not the same pitcher he was four years ago when he had his last decent season. Since his second year with the ack, agh, cough, sorry I started to choke. Since Martinez’s second year with the Mets he has won a combined 17 games out of 48 starts…ouch. In his 18th year of his career Martinez will be of no assistance to the dwindling starters of the Phillies. If anything he’s going to only be a teacher to the younger members of the pitching staff like J.A. Happ, or Antonio Bastardo. Hey, maybe Pedro can even teach Cole Hamels a thing or two about how to add some different aspects to his change up. After all, Martinez’s circle change is one of the best, maybe not as of recent but he does know how to pitch.
His ability to teach is what I value most for the Philadelphia Phillies. He may get a handful of starts but when it comes down too it, Martinez just does not have the stuff he used to. I remember seeing him strike out five of six batters during two innings of work in the 1999 All-Star game with a mid to high nineties fast ball and a vicious cutter. But that was 10 years ago and he is now throwing Regan-era fastballs. Again, I have to mention his teaching potential. As long as Martinez doesn’t lose in the NL East and gets a win or two then I have to welcome him to the World Champion Phillies. Martinez said in a press conference that he could surprise us. I hope but in the meantime, let’s go 45.

As for the rest of the Phightin’ Phils…how about the five All-Star selections? Congratulations Chase Utley, Raul Ibañez, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. I mean a combined 1 for 8 in the game wasn’t the greatest but hey, at least we’re four games up in the east. Let’s hope for a better second half and hope the Mets choke out sooner than expected.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Harry Kalas Memorial

When Harry Kalas passed away on April 13th, I wanted to do a video memorial for him. Since Temple gives me the opportunity to rent camera equipment, I decided to head down to Citzens Bank Park a week after Harry's death to get some interviews. Leave some comments if you would like, but above all else enjoy my memorial to the greatest announcer to grace this planet. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I miss you Harry Kalas


Anyone who is a fan of sports has heard his legendary voice. From Campbell’s soup commercials to NFL Films voiceovers you have heard the voice. Yet, on April 13th 2009, the voice fell silent forever. Legendary Phillies announcer Harold Norbert Kalas passed away after collapsing in the broadcast booth. This is one of the saddest days in Philadelphia sports and one that will not pass quickly. From 1971 till now, Harry the K has entered every Phillies fan’s home and everyone…and I mean everyone…has their own impression of Harry. He is the trademark of our city and I think it was put best by Phillies Team President David Montgomery when he said “We lost our voice today.” The way that we have all heard the game from this great city is forever lost and it is going to take a long time to find a replacement. And I know we will not accept some sort of Joe Buck-esque awful announcer.
On a personal level, Harry Kalas is the man I have looked up to for many years. While some kids were counting down the last ten seconds before they made their game winning shot, I was trying to think up catch phrases that rivaled “that ball’s outta here” or “swing and a miss! Struck ‘em out!” But there is nothing that can compare to the way Harry called a game. Anyone can have just a voice but Harry had the personality to back it up.
For all Phillies fans, this Friday there will be many tributes to Harry Kalas at the game including, a television booth in CBP being named the Harry Kalas Broadcast Booth, Harry’s sons Todd, Brad, and Kane will throw out the first pitch, Kane will also sing the national anthem which will be preceded by a moment of silence, all fans will receive an 8x10 color photo of Harry, Harry’s signature will be displayed on the field during the seven-game home stand, and the first half inning of Friday’s telecast on the Comcast Network will have no announcer commentary. Truly, all of these things are deserving but Harry will always be missed. By next weekend I will upload the Harry Kalas tribute which I plan on filming this Monday at CBP. I leave you with Comcast Sportsnet’s Tribute to Harry Kalas. 3/26/36-4/13/09

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm back! Too late for March Madness, Just in time for the NFL Draft


I know that you all have missed me so, and I apologize for I was basking in the sweet Caribbean sun and enjoying the crystal clear ocean off the western coast of Jamaica (It was awesome and if you want to ask me any questions about it my email is shaungallagher7@gmail.com). I have been pretty busy since returning back to reality, and since I recently drank my last bottle of Ting (fans of Fresca go here http://www.tingsoda.com/ ), I have decided it is time to talk about the draft. Sorry for missing March Madness coverage but selection Sunday was the day after I got back from Jamaica and I simply did not have enough time to research and give you guys my picks. In short, since Temple crapped out in the first round, go Nova Nation. Anyway, this year’s draft class is full of defensive and other low profile positions that many teams could benefit from.
It’s easy for the Lions to take Matthew Stafford at number one, think back to their starting quarterbacks. Currently, they have Daunte Culpepper and two Drew’s who don’t even need their last name to be stated. In ’08 they also had Jon Kitna; you know that makes you oh so jealous. Then back in ’05 they had former first round pick Joey Harrington. I think he would get picked last in a kickball team now seeing how he has progressed. So, Stafford would be the obvious pick with their history of awful quarterbacks, but what makes Stafford different than say a Joey Harrington or Ryan Leaf first round pick? Even though he is coming out of college as a Junior, Stafford has never lost a bowl game.
As a freshman in 2006, Stafford led the Bulldogs to a 31-24 win over Virginia Tech in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. He threw nine completions on 21 attempts for 129 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Sounds awful but remember the kid was 18 at the time. The next year, Stafford led the Bulldogs to a 41-10 win over probably the most overrated team in the country, Hawaii. This game was embarrassing for Colt Brennan because he was supposed to be this amazing quarterback but this game proved he was a situational quarterback and probably only a good fit in Hawaii. Again, Stafford only threw one touchdown along with an interception but he had a great defense that forced six turnovers to help them win the game. Then this past year Stafford had better numbers against Michigan State leading the Bulldogs to a 24-12 win. Stafford went 20 for 31 for 250 yards and three touchdowns. None of these numbers are outrageously high but that is perfect because think about how Matt Leinart was at USC, now think of him now…Average in college works out in the NFL. Plus his completion percentage has only increased since his freshman year not to mention his arm strength. He can make throws that you and (half of the NFL's quarterbacks) wish you could make. Also, last year he completed around 60 percent of his throws. So enjoy your time in Detroit Mr. Stafford. Think of it this way, you can’t make the team any worse.

Next up is the St. Louis Rams, and they have very similar problems to the Lions. Their quarterback situation is nearly as bad and their offensive line could be replaced by a white picket fence and be more effective. Plus they released Tory Holt this season, talk about reconstruction. Right now they are throwing the load on Steven Jackson to carry the entire team. Coach Steve Spagnuolo has stated that the offensive will revolve around Jackson, taking the heat off of current quarterback Marc Bulger. So aside from their offensive line woes, at least they have Coach Spagnuolo to revamp their defense that was ranked 28th in the league last year. The defense allowed about 155 yards rushing per game and over 200 yards passing. Now I’m no mathematician but those two variables equal disaster. So look for the Rams to pick up a lineman preferably a defensive man. Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both chose Jason Smith in their mock drafts. Smith is an offensive tackle out of Baylor that was formerly a tight end. In later rounds, look for the Rams to pick up some defensive help mainly athletic players that can keep up with Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme.

The Kansas City Chiefs have it rough this season too. Their season depends on the play of former New England quarterback Matt Cassel. This was a risky move for the Chiefs to make but could play out very well. Think about some former backup quarterbacks who played well after the star quarterback was either out or done in their career...Montana-Young….umm and Montana-Young? I mean the Eagles were lucky in 2002 when Koy Detmer and mainly A.J. Feeley led the team to a 5-1 record to end the season. Also, David Garrard seemed like he was going to be clutch but was kind of disappointing last year and could have a similar year this year. So I’m pretty pumped to see how Cassel does. As for their draft, they need help on both sides of the ball, but with the acquisition of Cassel I feel as though the team is trying to get their offensive help through trades and free agency, so they may pick up some defensive help in the draft. They let up nearly 160 yards rushing per game so they too may want to get someone that will help in the box. Depending who is out there they may want to go defensive tackle or linebacker and since they also signed Mike Vrabel they may want to get a linebacker to learn from the former Patriots great. Aaron Curry from Wake Forest is ranked as the best player according to Scouts Inc. based on his combine workouts.


It’s no surprise saying that the next team needs plenty of help as well; I mean these are the teams that were the worst last year so get ready for some repetitiveness. The Seattle Seahawks gave up about six points more than they scored last year. And while their offense struggled I think that they need to pump their defense up. Their rushing defense was pretty bad but not nearly as bad as their secondary, giving up 25 touchdowns via the pass. If they could find an outstanding rookie corner like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie that would be perfect, but the draft is lacking in that department this year. So look for some sort of lineman as their pick. Either offensive or defensive although I think it should be the latter, like DT B.J. Raji from Boston College or DE Brian Orakpo from Texas.

Lastly for today is the Cleveland Browns. I really think Brady Quinn should be their starting quarterback from the get go. Maybe it is because I am a Notre Dame fan or because I think Derek Anderson is not worth all of the Ting in the Caribbean (golly I miss it). But anyway, as for their draft, I really think they should go for quite possibly the best athlete in the draft, Michael Crabtree. At 6’3 215 pounds Crabtree would be a great receiver to have. While the stress fracture he had that didn’t allow him to participate in the NFL combine may make some buyers beware, I believe that he will be in tip top shape come training camp. He has been timed with a 4.54 forty according to nfldraftscout.com and I believe his combination of size and speed will make him a perfect fit in Cleveland. Plus, if Donte Stallworth gets in any trouble from his alleged vehicular homicide, the Browns would be desperate for a solid backside WR. Just imagine…Braylon Edwards to your right and Crabtree to your left…yikes that is scary no matter who their quarterback is.

Well, there you have it. I believe those are the best moves that the first five teams can make on April 25th. Next on the clock, the Bengals, Raiders, Jaguars, Packers, and Niners.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jamaican Me Crazy!

So I'm heading to the airport in three hours to go to Jamaica for Spring Break, and I wanted to reflect on what my views of the country are. So let's roll some clips...


Really though, Usain Bolt was insanely fast...NEXT...here are some of my favorite parts from a Jamaican movie you may recognize...

Watch Sanka (guy with the locks)...hilarious


More Sanka clips because he's the man:






And how could I leave out Mr. Marley



Well on that note I'm going to try and get some sleep before the flight. See you in a week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So long Marvin...for now.


As sad as I am to say that Marvin Harrison will not be an Indianapolis Colt next year, I am ok with the decision. Marvelous Marvin was not interested in cutting his nine-million dollar salary for the 2009 season. Now Marv, I love you, and I mean that in the straightest way possible. You are a Philly native, you play for my favorite team and are quite possibly my favorite receiver in the history of the game, but last year you posted 60 catches, 636 yards, and 5 touchdowns. These totals are the lowest you have had in a season that you played more than 12 games. In these times of economic turmoil you have to be willing to take a pay cut sir. In actuality, the economy is just a ploy to say that you are, as sad as it is to say, getting old Mr. Harrison. I cannot imagine anyone signing you to a nine-million dollar deal that would last at most two years. So let’s see where the man could end up shall we?

Let’s start off with the one that most people think…Philadelphia. The idea sounds good, Donovan and Marvin teaming up again like they did as Orangemen, and the Eagles need a big name wide receiver. But with T.J. Houshmandzadeh still on the market, I can’t imagine the birds putting up the money for a receiver that may only be there for one year. If Donovan McNabb can get three or four years out of the possible deal in a new contract, Houshmandzadeh would make the better choice as a 31-year-old receiver. Harrison is on the other end of 30 and the knee injury he had in 2007 is enough to turn the Eagles off from picking him up. Sorry Roman Catholic fans, Marv won’t be seen in Eagles green.

So what about the Tennessee Titans? I mean he would get a chance to shove it in the Colts’ face twice next year that they didn’t re-sign him, and the Titans wide receivers are Chris Davis, Biern Ealy, Justin Gage, Lavelle Hawkins and Paul Williams…not exactly first ballot Hall of Famers. So what better man for the job of teaching than Marvin? Eh, I wouldn’t bet that he would go here because for starters Harrison wouldn’t be the type of guy to go to a rival because of a grudge against the Colts. He asked for a release and the Colts gave it to him. No bad blood, no Favre style drama, just a release and a thanks. Plus, Titans have bigger problems with Kerry Collins’ contract being up which leaves Vince Young at the helm right now, and also star defensive lineman Albert Haynseworth is potentially being offered a “monster” contract. So on to the next candidate.

How about daaaaa Bearsssss? I mean they are hurting at the position (Devin Hester is their number one receiver right now) and they finally got their quarterback situation under control last year. Kyle Orton, the Boilermaker, finally showed that he can command a team with a 9-7 record and a whole 2,972 passing yards…awesome. No wait, that’s actually not awesome in the least. Kyle you threw six more touchdowns than you did interceptions last year. I think the Bears should aim for a solid QB in either the draft or in the free agent pool, so this makes it pointless to get a wide receiver that might be good for maybe a year. Thanks for attending Chicago but we are going to have to keep moving.

So let’s travel ten miles north to Minneapolis. Hey it kind of rhymes with your old city? No? Not on board? Well how about this, you have some young to average experienced receivers that you could teach the way of the respectable wide out. Also, you have a bevy of potential quarterbacks that could be lofting you balls down-field in a dome atmosphere that you are used to. But the quarterback situation could be the biggest reason not to go there. Frerotte is in his fifteenth season and he has been on seven different teams. John David Booty is going to be entering his second year and doesn’t quite have a handle on the offense yet. And need I mention Tarvaris Jackson? The man should just switch to a wide receiver himself or at the very least a running back. He would service the team better there. Anyway, the trouble with not having a steady quarterback is problematic for Harrison because he works best when he has chemistry with whoever is throwing the ball. Peyton Manning entered the league in 1998 and Marvin Harrison (in 12 games) had 59 catches, 776 yards, and seven touchdowns. Let’s go to the next year where Harrison played 16 games and had 115 catches, 1,663 yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s quite an improvement after one year of getting to know his quarterback. So time is the Vikings biggest enemy when it comes to acquiring Harrison. They would only have them for maybe two years max, and they’re not even sure who is going to be their starting quarterback at the end of the season.

It seems as if Marvin is not going to fit in anywhere. I mean the previous four teams are hurting most at the receiver position but none of them are just right for Harrison. Well let’s try out one last one…the Atlanta Falcons. They don’t really have great receivers but they get by with Roddy White and Jerious Norwood, so the addition of Marvin Harrison could help all of their good receivers become great. Plus, Matt Ryan had a great rookie season last year with these mediocre receivers. Imagine what he could do in his sophomore season with the likes of Marvin Harrison. Harrison could help push the Falcons sixth ranked offense up in the statistical categories and make them an even bigger threat (remember the Falcons-Cardinals playoff game? What a shootout 30-24). And don’t forget Marvin…no one has number 88 there…just putting it out there.

I really think Harrison should go to the Falcons, and not only because it is a good fit for him but for the Falcons as well. Next season I think he will have better stats than this past year, but nothing like he was in his prime. Harrison will always be a Colt and who knows come training camp he may be one again… http://blogs.nfl.com/2009/02/24/colts-owner-irsay-plans-meeting-with-harrison/

Thursday, February 19, 2009

DID YOU SEE THAT!?

Ok, I haven't seen Wayne Gretzky play during his prime and I'm not well versed in hockey but...wow.
That goal that Alexander Ovechkin had last night against the Canadiens was outstanding and not just because he shot it from his side on the ice. He came directly from a line change and did a figure skater-esque pirouette around Canadiens Defenceman Roman Hamrlik. Then from there, skated down the ice only to get tripped up by Canadiens Forward Kyle Chipchura and skipping the goal right past Goaltender Carey Price...fantastic. Not only this but Ovechkin says this wasn't his most impressive goal. At first glance you may agree but let's reflect on the goal against the Phoenix Coyotes in January of 2006 shall we?


The man is incredible and not annoying like (in my friend's dads words) Cry Baby Crosby (Thanks Mr. Gordy). I agree with Ovechkin that the goal against the Coyotes was better. It was very reminiscent of the aftermath of the famous Bobby Orr flying goal photo.Definitely one for the ages, but Mr. Ovechkin last night's goal was pretty sick. Kudos.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can we move on already?


I don’t know about the rest of you but I am sick of hearing about Alex Rodriguez. I know I wrote about him last week but that was when it was still new and fresh. Seriously, he admitted, apologized, and nearly cried thanking his teammates. Now guys like Jayson Stark, Tim Keown, and Buster Olney do not trust everything he has said. Stark wonders what Rodriguez isn’t telling us, Keown says he is a liar, and Olney says his future is at stake. How about we get a word from a hall of fame third basemen eh boys? I mean none of you actually played the game so let’s hear what a former player has to say about one of his own.
Phormer Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt says he would accept Rodriguez into the Hall of Fame. Hmm, that’s funny seeing as his future is at stake and he is lying about what he has said.
When asked if he would have used performance enhancing drugs if it was apparent during his era Schmidt said, “Most likely. Why not?”
So why do these writers (who are basically just fans) find the need to incite arguments about things that well known established players don’t care about? Sir Olney, Stark, and Keown I know the economy is tough right now but why not write about other things that are more important , like the upcoming season or about trades that have happened? It would please me and I’m sure everyone else from the maddening escapade you call Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Really, let’s get on to talking about the actual baseball season.

*more questions to Rodriguez*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NL Central...yawn

So after the shocking development of Alex Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs, let’s keep on keepin’ on in the breakdown of each division. Today’s guests, the National League Central Division, and first up the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs seemed like they were going to break their 100 year losing streak with the way they entered the playoffs last year. But it’s the Cubs. They are nearly as good as choking as the Mets. They had the best record in the National League but still fell short, losing three straight to the Dodgers. So what’s up this year? Hopefully the Cubbies can get back to their winning ways because they have what it takes to go the distance. This off season they picked up Right Fielder Milton Bradley from the Texas Rangers to help pump up their lineup. Bradley had a .321 average last year for the Rangers and hit 22 homeruns. Not that the Cubs needed help during the regular season because they scored the second most runs in the entire league (855). Hopefully it will pay off come playoff time though because their bats more silent than Helen Keller in church (six runs through three games…ouch). The loss of Mark DeRosa hurts at second base but the pickup of Aaron Miles isn’t awful. He just hits for average more than anything and he has been good in the field. Only had four errors last year, one of them while he was playing shortstop. Rest in peace Mr. Caray, but this year the “Cubs win! Cubs win!” their division again but don’t bet on them to win it all.

Crack a cold one for the Brew crew who did very well in the last half of the season. They met their match in the playoffs when the Phightin’ Phils took them down in four. Yeah it was awesome, but this year the Brewers lost the main reason they were even in the hunt last year. He went 11-2 in 17 starts with the Brewers…disgusting. Now he is a Yankee and the Brewers pitching staff is abysmal. Their starting five (which include a former closer) were a combined 35-34 last year. Wahoo! And other than Prince Fielder, their offense is mediocre. Don’t look forward to the Brewers making the playoffs this year. At best they’ll have a .500 record.

The Houston Astros haven’t done much this offseason to help their woes, but I imagine they will do better than the Brewers. The one thing I do like that they did was the pickup of Mike Hampton from the Braves. He was only 3-4 last year and is getting kind of old but he should help the Astros pitching staff from what it was last year. The batting average against them was .264 which was 11th (of 16) in the National League and they had 1095 strikeouts for 10th. Hampton isn’t going to be the deciding factor for the Astros and won’t send them to the playoffs but will ease the pain of Houston Texan fans every now and then.

Seriously though, the National League Central is a friggin’ thorn in my side. The Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates aren’t going to surprise anyone this year. The Cards kind of want to get Manny but probably won’t get him. The Reds acquired Willy Taveras which is a step up from Corey Patterson, but not a big enough step to get them in the playoffs. And the Pirates…THE STEELERS WON THE SUPERBOWL! Yeah it’s that bad for them, but who knows maybe their awful pitching, batting, fielding, and beautiful park will achieve the 70 game win plateau…or maybe they’d be better of becoming actual pirates?

Monday, February 9, 2009

A-Roid's on the List


Photo Credit: http://www.sportssafetyiq.com/2008/01/steroids-and-ki.html

On Saturday, Sports Illustrated ran an article about the highest paid Major League Baseball player, Alex Rodriguez, alleged steroid use. The information came from 2003 survey testing conducted by Major League Baseball. Rodriguez’s name was one of 104 who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Today Rodriguez sat down with ESPN’s Peter Gammons to settle the details.

Rodriguez says that he was “young, stupid and naïve” during his time with the Texas Rangers. From the sounds of it, A-Rod sounded genuinely sorry, and I think this is an excellent thing for a professional baseball player to do. Rather than having a great clip like Rafael Palmero’s finger pointing lie, A-Rod did the stand up thing and admitted his wrong-doing. Also, he makes a great point saying that he has played the best baseball of his career since he stopped the steroid use (2003).
Being one of the most highly touted names in not just baseball but professional sports, this move by Rodriguez will hopefully bring an end to the Canseco, McGuire, and Clemens trials. If these players really did use steroids, they would not lose as much respect if they admitted it. Now I know everyone knows I hate the Yankees but I really hope this opens up the privacy of steroid use in the MLB. Hopefully other players will admit to using it before as well. I really don’t care if they used it at one point or another. If they admit it then more power to them but I don’t think they should be blacklisted for it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American League East Breakdown

Baseball is a hard topic to cover because nearly every day, from February 25th to late October, there will be a baseball game played. Need not worry fans of Shaun Gallagher, I WILL WRITE AS OFTEN AS YOUR LITTLE HEARTS DESIRE!

Any who, today I break down the AL East. Last year was a shocking turnaround from the usual Red Sox/Yankees duel that is very media friendly. Frankly, the Bo Sox-Yankee rivalry has lost some steam in the past few years. The Tampa Bay Rays came roaring from the caboose of the division all the way to the top. They had a 32 game swing from 2007 winning 97 games in 2008. Not only that my friends, but they had the second lowest team salary in the league! Take that Steinbrenner! Truly astonishing, BUT they still lost to those Phightin’ Phils in the World Series…ah it feels good.

The signing of Pat Burrell will help them get some more power in the lineup. His stats from 2008 put him as top five in the Rays lineup in average, RBI’s, Homers, and Slugging/On Base percentage. But, don’t forget about that infamous Pat Burrell Shuffle that I am all too familiar with (136 strikeouts was second on the Phils in 2008 behind strikeout King Ryan Howard). This year look for them to stay competitive and maybe vie for a Wildcard spot. The Wildcard is nearly sealed to come out of the AL East seeing as they are the most competitive division in their league.

The Bo Sox are friggin haaadcooore…c’mon I had to. Really though, this offseason they made some good pickups with Rocco Baldelli, who when healthy, is a great hitter. The trick is when he is healthy. He hasn’t played over 100 games since 2004 and I can’t blame him. The man has mitochondrial myopathy…I don’t know what it is either but from what I have read it is a disease that causes damage to the small energy producing structures that serve as the cells “power plants.” These are very important to the energy that your brain and muscles need. Also, symptoms can range from muscle weakness all the way to blindness or heart failure…pretty serious and this guy still goes out and plays ball. Plus, with Kevin Youkilis on the field you know that you are guaranteed a huge goateed single at the right time. Need I mention their pitching staff? Because I’m gonna…they picked up Brad Penny from the Dodgers and his stats do not prove how good a pitcher he can be. That said he is still at the very best a number three pitcher on the Red Sox staff behind Dice-K, Josh Beckett, and could flip flop with Jon Lester, and don’t you forget one of my favorite pitchers, The 42 year old knuckle ballin’ sensation Tim Wakefield. Wakefield may have been rocked during the playoffs but I still love the man…and ask around, I can throw a pretty mean knuckle ball as well (in wiffle ball, but still). Bo Sox will go to the playoffs, but whether it’s the Wildcard or first place is up to the Rays.

Sigh…time to talk about those damn Yankees. Alright even though I hate the team they did do a lot of big things this offseason to improve their team from last year. I mean they had to give away their first born sons to do it but still. While some find it sad that Mike the Moose Mussina retired, less than a month later the Yankees signed CC Sabathia AND A.J. Burnett. That should solve some of the rotation problems they had (other than Mussina, no big starting pitcher had an ERA better than 4.00). Sabathia and Burnett will be a strong one, two in the lineup with the possibility that Joba Chamberlain could join them. Don’t count on it but it could happen. They also, recently resigned Andy Petite which gives them a solid three man rotation. Also, the Yanks signed Mark Teixeira in the offseason. This signing was big news in the media but didn’t do much for me. Teixeira is like Andruw Jones to me, in that he has a big bat but just doesn’t produce when the time is right. He’ll hit 30 home runs this year but more than half will be when his team is either up big or down big and the game is already decided. Yanks playoff hopes depend on the Rays this year. Wildcard or nothing for these guys.

Fortunately, for Blue Jays and Orioles fans they have other sports teams that are contenders in their respective sports…well sort of. The Blue Jays just might be the best team in Toronto which isn’t saying much because the Raptors are in dead last and the Maple Leafs are 11th in the east with no hopes of heating up (4-9 in January). So Toronto, keep on keeping on in your beautifully clean city. The O’s aren’t much better. I mean they picked up David Pauley…umm well how about Felix Pie? No? Tough crowd. Well how about the re-signing Nick Markakis? 6 more years in B-more! And don’t forget CESAR IZTURIS! He is a great Shortstop so look for that to brighten your year. Ok that’s a good note to go out on. Next up NL Central.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Good job Steelers....let's go Phils

Super Bowl XLIII had a pretty sweet finish and personally, I think that Santonio Holmes' catch was greater than the last year's catch by David Tyree. Not only was it a textbook receiver catch (securing the ball and then tapping both feet down perfectly), but it was the game winning touchdown. Tyree's catch was amazing, don't get me wrong, but it did not win the game. It only prolonged their drive to the Plaxico Burress touchdown. Holmes' catch was fantastic because with under a minute to play from inside the 10 yard line, Ben Roethlisberger rifled a pass to the back of the end zone past three defenders. THREE DEFENDERS! Even Big Ben said he thought he blew the game. That pass was almost as good as the Joe Montana pass to Dwight Carter against the Cowboys or Randall Cunningham to Jimmie Giles on MNF vs. the Giants. Those pass plays were quite memorable and the Holmes catch will join them as top plays in history. (In case you didn't see Holmes' catch.... http://www.nfl.com/videos?videoId=09000d5d80e84a39)

Anyway, now that football season is over it is time for us to look at baseball, which means we are going to look at what happened last season. THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES WON THE WORLD SERIES!!! When talking about baseball it is very hard for me to stay objective when the Phillies are the topic. So I will get this out of the way early...I love the Phillies and everything that has to do with them and they are better than your team, no matter what team you like. The Phillies are the best team in all of baseball...hands down. Ok, now that you know that lets talk America's favorite pastime.

Since the Phillies are World Champions, let's talk the NL East first. The Phillies ended the season with a 92-70 record. Pretty respectful if you ask me seeing as the NL East is one of the tougher divisions in the MLB. The biggest problem this off season, as much as I hate to say it, was losing Pat 'The Bat' Burrell. The man was as fast as a sloth but he was a big contributor to the morale of the team. He was the face of the Phillies for many years and he is now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Good thing we won't have to see him until a possible World Series rematch. The loss of Burrell won't be felt in the field but his bat will be missed. I really like the pickup of Chan Ho Park from the LA Dodgers. He is a pretty solid starter and does anyone remember the fight he got into?
Can you say bad ass? He will definitely fit in this city and look for the Phils to repeat as NL East Champs (Really? If the Phillies starting lineup were eight women over the age of 90 and had a donkey as their ace I would have still picked them to go the distance.)

As for the Mets, they picked up K-Rod, Francisco Rodriguez in the off season. I am sure New Yorkers are excited about this pick up, but remember, nearly every player the Mets have picked up in the last five years had their best season the year prior to joining the team. Look for Rodriguez to join that club and bomb as he faces the hearts of the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins lineups. Hope you learned the Heimlich in the off season Jerry Manuel because remember that your old Uncle Charlie two hours south of you is going to out-manage you again this season. Look for the Mets to pull up lame in third or fourth this year.

The Florida Marlins are always a team that plays spoiler late in September with their young talent (nine straight wins at one point last year in the fall), and this year should prove to be different. I believe that the Marlins acquisition of Scott Proctor and their usual young talent will make them contenders come August or September. However, I still don't think they will make the playoffs falling into third or fourth as well (whichever spot the Mets don't fit into).

The Atlanta Braves may have lost Mark Teixeira but that is not where they needed their most help. The Braves pitching staff has not been what it once was. The names like Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz are etched into their history forever but they currently they have no big names. That was until the signing of Derek Lowe. He had 147 strikeouts last year which is better than all of the Braves pitching staff. I believe that he will help the Braves get into second place and a wild card berth this season.

As for the Washington Nationals...they did next to nothing in the off season and I can not imagine them doing anything but being a thorn in the side of a team trying to make a run at repeating as World Champs (Let's go Phightin's). So don't look for them in the playoffs but make sure you are aware for them at the end of the season. They were the worst team in the league last year so maybe they will catch that Tampa Bay Rays fever and get first place, but I wouldn't put the house on it. Look for them to maybe ruin the Phillies, or Braves chances of making the playoffs.

So that is it for the NL East. Next I'll be working on the AL East and quite possibly the Yankees selling their soul to the devil may pay off for them this year. But I can not wait for Spring Training and Opening Day (Sunday April 5th!), and if all else fails at least I know I will be enjoying a dollar dog, and the Phanatic this year at Citizens Bank Park.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Congrats Barack

In appreciation of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration; I would like to look back at the path that was paved, in the athletic field, in order for this momentous event to be had. While leaders like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King are very important to the fight against oppression, many athletes have had intricate roles in order for American racism to be seen by the entire world. President Obama, congratulations and I personally believe these are going to be four of the best years in United States history.

Jack Johnson was the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world. He was the best boxer of his generation and helped show the athleticism that can be used in boxing. Before his appearance into the sport, many boxers dueled it out in the middle of the ring. It seemed as if the fight were about who could take more punches, not who was the better fighter. Johnson was a master of the sport and had a very patient strategy in the game. He would often feel his opponent out in the beginning of fights only to come down with powerful punches in the later rounds. His 89 win (49 by knockout) and 2 loss record is astounding. He paved the way for future boxers like Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson to become stars in their eras.

Jesse Owens pretty much gave a big middle finger to the one man who wanted to see him fail most…and he wasn’t even an American. During the 1936 Olympics in Hitler ruled Germany, Owens won four gold medals in the 100, 200, 4x100 and long jump against what was supposed to be the superior Germans. The four gold medals won by Owens would not be matched until Carl Lewis did the same in 1984. Also, during the playing of our national anthem after Owens won a gold medal, he politely saluted our flag while a German next to him (and around the stadium) did their infamous Heil Hitler salute. This was a very poor showing of unsportsmanlike conduct during the Olympic Games because when two African-American athletes showed their pride in being black during the 1968 Olympics, they were banned from participating in the Olympics for life. Tommie Smith (Gold) and John Carlos (Bronze) raised their black gloved fists during the national anthem in protest of the oppression they, and their ancestors, had received in our nation. The Germans protest was a mere act of defiance to a superior competitor…disgusting.

Jackie Robinson, the first African-American man to play Major League Baseball, was an incredible second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. From 1947-1956, Robinson accumulated 1518 hits, 137 homers, and a .311 batting average. He went to the World Series six times and won it once in 1955. He brought a whole new style to baseball where his speed was more of a commodity than his slugging power. Robinson stole home a record 19 times and remarkably, none of these steals were from double steals. That kind of speed is hard to come by and the criticism he had to deal with proved how great a man this is. His number 42 was retired by the MLB in 1997 making him the only player in league history to have his number retired. Only players who wore the number before this time were allowed to keep it and Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is the only active one left.

Wilt the stilt Chamberlain is one of the NBA’s greats. Before playing for the NBA, Chamberlain was a Harlem Globetrotter, where he showcased his phenomenal talents with a basketball. His number (13) was later retired by the Globetrotters. He won two championships with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972. Four time MVP, 13 All-Star selections, and had a career 31,419 points (ranks fourth in career points). Of his many records, he also scored a measly 100 points in a single game…where’s the effort Wilt? He was a god amongst mortals when he played and, quite possibly, is the most athletic seven-footer that has ever played.

Growing up, Ken Griffey Jr. was the man. He was a young kid that everyone adored. While he is currently a free agent, he will most likely be picked up in the near future. He was a new type of athlete that could be cool, yet sophisticated, cocky, but not a punk. He has played for three teams in the MLB including the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and most recently the Chicago White Sox. His career has been riddled with injuries and if this was not the case he would have most likely beat Barry Bonds’ “record” for home runs. He played on a Mariners team with Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Edgar Martinez, yet he has still not won a World Series. Don’t let that sell him short though because he is definitely a first round Hall of Famer. His 611 homers, 1772 RBIs and 2679 hits in his 20 years is astounding seeing as he has played less than 100 games four times (that number is including the 1994 baseball strike where he played in 111 games).

Do I really need to explain Michael Jordan? I mean I will, but still the man IS professional basketball. Griffey probably modeled his style as a celebrity after Jordan. He has done plenty of charity work and starred in one of my favorite movies as a kid (‘Welcome to the Space Jam, here’s your chance, do your dance at the Space Jam…alright’ you know you loved it too). On the court he was never known as a dirty or disrespectful player like many players today (cough Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest cough). And how many people do you know that are known by one name…and aren’t super annoying? (Don’t come at me with Cher, or Madonna…you know they are annoying as h, e, double hockey sticks)

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is quite possibly the most athletic woman ever. She won three gold medals in the Olympics and set records in the long jump and heptathlon (still holds the heptathlon record). She was chosen as the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. Outside of the track world, Joyner-Kersee has started several charity groups that improve the lives of many different individuals. The Jackie Joyner-Kersee foundation “provide[s] youth, adults, and families with the resources to improve their quality of life and to enhance communities worldwide, with special attention directed to East St. Louis, Illinois.” (http://www.jackiejoyner-kerseefoundation.org/). “Athletes for Hope” was started by several famous athletes in hopes to “educate, encourage and assist athletes in their efforts to contribute to community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same.” “Athletes for Hope” is an extraordinary program that helps get athletes involved.

In his 15 year career, Reggie White touched many people. While he was a large, brooding man on the field, White was a very religious, kind man off the field. He was considered the “Minister of Defense” because of his religious ways. White is quoted saying “Jesus is coming back soon and I hope you’re ready,” to a rookie tackle who was using foul language toward White. White kept saying the same thing continuously and on the very next play, plowed through the rookie and sacked the quarterback. Aside from his intimidation factor, White made 13 consecutive Pro Bowls (1986-98) and is number two for career sacks (198) only behind Bruce Smith (200). Won Super Bowl XXXI and had a Super Bowl Record three sacks. White had over a thousand tackles and recorded three interceptions as a defensive end. He also, received the defensive player of the year award twice.

Now that Barack Obama has been inaugurated as President of the United States of America, the tribulations of these African-American athletes (and millions of other African-American citizens) have been well worth the success that we now show. Not only has our country ridded itself of historically the most unpopular president (according to Gallup polls), but we have also turned a new leaf in electing an African-American President. Civil Rights leaders throughout history have succeeded in the process of equality for African-Americans

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Conference Championships

This has been a huge week in the NFL. Tony Dungy retired, Jon Gruden was fired, and the Cardinals Cinderella story will expire. I can not wait for the Conference Championship games. Even though, once again, I will be stuck selling drugs at CVS Pharmacy, hmph.

Anyway, the Birds vs. the…well umm…Birds. I am pumped about seeing the Eagles play the Cardinals in what should be a high scoring game. The only thing that could stop that is the play of the Quarterbacks. Kurt Warner has never played particularly well against the Jim Johnson blitz happy defense and Donovan McNabb (along with the entire Eagles offense) has not been playing up to their potential. I think D Mack will come up huge in this his fifth NFC Championship game. Maybe 18-24 with 250 yards and 2 touchdowns…we’ll see, but Kurt Warner may not be so lucky. He is an old man now and ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ is a distant speck in his rearview. So with the maximum four seconds he will have to throw before being enveloped by the Eagles defense does not bode well for Mr. Warner.

Therefore, the Cards are going to be playing on Edge…literally. Edgerrin James has actually been a positive for them this postseason with his nearly four yard per rush average and one touchdown. But don’t look for James to produce great numbers against the third ranked defense in the league during the regular season (92.2 rushing yards allowed per game). So while I still believe that the entire city of Philadelphia is still cursed, I (for now) feel safe saying that the Eagles are going to Tampa. Eagles 35 Cardinals 20. (DISCLAIMER: I make this prediction only because the Phillies are “World F***ing Champions,” as per Chase Utley. If this feat had not been achieved I would not have had the confidence to pick the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl because of the William Penn Curse. I thank you for your time.)

The AFC Championship pits a couple of heavy hitting defenses against each other. Numbers one and two statistically during the regular season, these two defenses have always been tops in the league since I can remember. Best part of this match up is, much like the Eagles-Giants last week, they are bitter divisional rivals. So not only are these teams meeting for the third time this season, but they hate each other (see how B-more feels about Hines Ward here http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/football/bal-sp.steelers15jan15,0,5770924.story). With all of the heat between these two teams, this game is going to be more fun to watch than your last “Little People Big World” marathon (except not as hilarious…that Roloff guy got a DUI!).

Big problem is that the Ravens have not had a week off in 18 straight weeks because of Hurricane Ike. The Hurricane forced them to take their bye during week two and play against the Texans during what should have been their bye…week 10. That could come back to haunt them with their 12 man injury report this week. Big names on the list? Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are probable, Le’Ron McClain,Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Terrell Suggs, and Mark Clayton are all Questionable and Samari Rolle is Doubtful. These eight players are intricate to the success of the Ravens both offensively and defensively. I expect all of the previous players minus Rolle to play, but how effective they will be is tough to estimate. Ray Lewis could play hard with a broken leg, and Todd Heap is going to have to step up big for a pressed Flacco. I still have confidence for the Ravens however. We must reflect on the season between these two teams.

The Steelers have already won the previous two meetings by a combined seven points…two games figured by seven points…now that is as close as you and your cousin before you found out it was weird (admit it…FREAK). I just can not imagine a team beating another three times in a year. It’s just too difficult to do in our era’s NFL and the Ravens are looking for revenge. What better time to get it than for a Super Bowl berth. Look for another close one Ravens 17 Steelers 16. Matt Stover comes up huge.

Well that’s my Super Bowl picks. See you in Tampa.

p.s. Go to http://www.speakwithoutinterruption.com/site/ to read some more of my stuff. Thanks

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Divisional Playoffs

So, after my awful picks last week some may disregard my picks this week but I mean come on, Cardinals-Falcons? It's like choosing the wrong pair of leather pants. No matter which you pick, it just isn't going to feel right. Also, how couldn't I pick my Indianapolis Colts? They won nine straight! Plus I was picking between the Chargers and Colts, not the Chargers, Colts, and Darren Sproles. I shall take this time to congratulate you Mr. Sproles. I thought you were nasty at Kansas State and I believe you had the best game of your life against the Colts. Here's to you sir, and don't let the Steel Curtain hit you in the ass on your way out.

Now, this week in football should make for some good weekend television. Seeing as I will be spending 12 hours of my Saturday in CVS Pharmacy (yeah it's that awful), I shall miss the possibly the best game of the weekend. The Ravens will be headed to Tennessee to try to knock off the best team in the NFL. While the Ravens played a great game last week it was against the Miami Dolphins. However, I think that the Titans shall squander their opportunity this year to quite possibly the best defense in the playoffs (which Philadelphia could rival). Even though Ed Reed, Todd Heap, and Derrick Mason did not participate in practice this week, they should definitely be ready for Saturday. The biggest factor for the Ravens is rookie Joe Flacco. The Titans are going to pressure him heavily especially with Albert Haynesworth back in the lineup. He doesn't have to do much during the game he just has to do enough to not lose it. That means no stupid throws and knowing when he is going to have to just eat it for a sack. Remember Flacco, you can always get 'em next down or series.

For the Titans, Center Kevin Mawae said that he will not be playing this weekend. According to profootballtalk.com, during an interview on Tuesday, Mawae had ruled himself out for this weekend in hopes that he would be ready for the AFC Championship next week. Are you crazy sir? You are one of the best Centers in the game and you are not going to play in the playoffs against one of the top teams in the NFL because you have a sore elbow? Wah freaking wah. Man up and get out there. Even with Haynesworth back, look for the Ravens to come out on top in tough defensive game. Especially if Ed Reed can play. Ravens 24 Titans 14.

The "Prime Time Game" this week is the Cardinals vs. the Panthers. Where is flex scheduling for this mishap? Anyway, along with their other problems, Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin may be out this weekend for the Cardinals. While Larry Fitzgerald is a great receiver, the combination of the two can be tough to stop. While their play calling was relatively balanced, an increase in third down conversions (40 percent against the Falcons) would help immensely against a dangerous Panthers team that has quietly gone to 12-4 this season. DeAngelo Williams has ran for over 1500 yards and Steve Smith has over 1400 receiving and if Jake Delhomme can play well, the Panthers should win this game decisively. Panthers 30 Cardinals 17.

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!

The Eagles-Giants game could possibly be the best game of the week (barring the Ravens-Titans game). These teams see each other twice a year in the regular season and always play each other tough, no matter their records. You can be sure that this game will be no different. The Eagles defense is just plain scary right now and with Plaxico Burress out with at umm...self injury, the Giants are going to have to rely on their run game. That shouldn't be too difficult with bruising back Brandon Jacobs. The man is enormous weighing in at a lineman-esque 264 and standing at 6'4. The bigger they are the harder they fall however, especially when 6', 210 Brian Dawkins is plugging the holes. Now I love Bob Sanders, but Dawk is definitely more of a team leader than Sanders. He just turns it on as soon as he steps foot onto the field.

As for the Eagles offense, they can not have the same showing they did last week. While McNabb had 300 yards passing and matched his one touchdown with an interception, the biggest thing they have to change is their running attack. Brian Westbrook, their biggest offensive threat, had 20 carries for 38 yards. I do like that Andy Reid stuck with the run however with 23 total attempts, but these attempts need to be successful against the Giants. Reid has to remember to stick to the run though in order for star rookie wide out DeSean Jackson to be a factor. This game is going to be a tough match up and I feel that the Eagles are going to come out on top. Eagles 23 Giants 17.

And the final game of the week. The Colts...I mean the Chargers are going to be in Pittsburgh for a game that could go one of two ways. It could be a nail biter or the Steelers could dominate. While I did praise Sproles earlier, I do not believe that he can damage the Steelers in the same way he did the Colts. The Steelers defense is better than the Colts hands down and the Chargers running game will sputter at best against the likes of Troy Polamalu, and James Farrior. So who do we give the ball to? Drum please...BIG PHIL! Come on Mr. Rivers, please prove me wrong this week. I would love to eat my words and say that you being an "awful quarterback" are false. But I do not see that happening and I think that the Ravens are going to see the Steelers in the AFC Championship. Steelers 24 Chargers 13.

This football season just gets better and better. From the beginning when Tom Brady was injured, blowing the AFC wide open, to week 17 having an improbable ending for the Philadelphia Eagles, this season has been fantastic. And now, the teams left are highly competitive, which is what the playoffs are all about.