Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010-2011 NBA season

Some things I loved in the off-season...

this group should have a ton of help this season
 L.A. Lakers...full disclosure I am a huge Lakers fan, but I will always call it the way I see it...for me this is the 2nd straight year that LA wins a Title and then improves in the off-season...last year it was the addition of Ron Artest...this year the Lakers make major improvements to their bench with the addition of PG Steve Blake - re-signing PG Shannon Brown - signing of Matt Barnes - signing of Theo Ratliff...all 4 of those guys go with Lamar Odom to form a great bench...add long time Lakers Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton and we see the Lakers go at least 10 deep...I am excited about rookie Devin Ebanks (West Virginia) too...on the perimeter you have Kobe/Artest/D-Fish/Barnes/Blake holding it down on D, and at the rim any combo of Bynum/Gasol/Odom/Ratliff will keep the basket well protected...this team D should be great...the early moments of the season will have Kobe and Bynum nursing their current injuries, but we see a ton of depth in Lakerland this season

even more big-man depth for Doc and the Celtics
Boston Celtics...first (and most important) off-season move was getting Coach Doc Rivers to return for another season...then Ray Allen and Paul Pierce followed...Phil Jackson is on another planet and his records will never be approached in our lifetime, but the next tier of coaches has names like Sloan, Popovich, and Doc Rivers is right there too (side-note...next summer the biggest storyline other then the looming work-stoppage will be the question of will Doc be lured in by Pat Riley to coach the Heat)...Doc loses his great assistant Tom Thibodeau (new Head Coach of the Bulls) but replace him with Lawrence Frank (formerly of the Nets)...the C's also added to their roster...I like the addition of the O'Neals - Shaq and Jermaine...when Kendrick Perkins returns from injury this Celtics frontcourt is big - mean - really physical - really good...they will need to add some depth at the Guard spots...they need big play from any of Nate Robinson/Von Wafer/Delonte West/Marquis Daniels to help Rajon Rondo/Paul Pierce/Ray Allen on the perimeter

Yao and Aaron Brooks
 Houston Rockets...the x-factor team in the Association this season...F Luis Scola is as underrated a player as there is in the NBA...they add Yao Ming (he is back from injury...we have not seen Yao since the 2008-2009 season) and even though they will heavily monitor his minutes he can still of course contribute...they add Brad Miller for depth at the big-man spot...they have their first full season with dynamic SG Kevin Martin...they add SG Courtney Lee...G Kyle Lowry continues to get better and better...PG Aaron Brooks is the next household name - he is GOOD...a ton of assets here for great coach Rick Adelman, and a lot of tradeable assets too if they so choose

Chicago Bulls...I wanted the Raps to get Tom Thibodeau off of the Celtics coaching staff and make him their Head Coach...they did not, but the Bulls did and they get a good one...if you like what the Celtics have done on the defensive end for the last few years then you like Thibodeau...I also like adding PF Carlos Boozer...he will be down for the first part of the season with an injury (broken right hand suffered as he tripped over his gym bag at his house) but when he gets back and gets teamed with Joakim Noah that frontcourt is going to be gnarly and physical...plus they add veteran Kurt Thomas...on the perimeter they add Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver aka Ashton Kutcher

Atlanta Hawks...there was a lot of criticism directed at the Hawks in the off-season as they gave SG Joe Johnson more $$$ than LeBron James or anyone else made this summer...6 years $119 mill for Johnson to remain in Hotlanta...for me I liked the move...in his 5 years in Hotlanta Johnson has averaged 22 points per game, and in all honesty what other free-agent were the Hawks going to get to join them?!?!  Good luck to their new Coach Larry Drew too...

Orlando...I like the signing of SG Quentin Richardson...Q-Rich will start and is a sharp-shooter from downtown that will get a ton of open looks as teams have to double-team Dwight Howard...his 3-point shooting last season was the best of his career

Utah Jazz...this season could be the year where Jerry Sloan finally gets a Coach of the Year award...the expectations will be low as they lost PF Carlos Boozer in the off-season, but I love replacing him with Al Jefferson...I am a fan of Big Al...he has effort and skills that will fit in nicely in Utah...I also like the team adding SG Raja Bell...Bell has the grit and commitment to D that Jerry Sloan insists on

Sacramento Kings...while the team was criticised for drafting DeMarcus Cousins because he is a different kind of person (odd fellow, but only 20 years old so we can assume there will be maturing that he will do) I loved the move...he is a gifted athlete that can be combined with last seasons Rookie Of The Year PG Tyreke Evans to give SacTown a young and dynamic duo for years to come

Tiago Splitter
San Antonio Spurs...finally we will see the Spurs 2007 1st round pick Tiago Splitter...the 6'11" Splitter has been playing in the Spanish League for years now and is finally set to make his North American debut...perfect timing for the Spurs...they need a big man with Splitter's skills to give Tim Duncan extra rest in his aging years, and at times they can both be on the court conjuring memories of the Twin Towers the Spurs had with David Robinson and Duncan

Moves I did not like...
The Decision...if you do not know I am referring to the 1-hour show that Bron Bron did on espn to announce his decision, which was called of course "The Decision"...the biggest thing that you have to remember when it comes to Cleveland fans is that they are as tortured a group as there is...some cities have specific fans that have suffered for a long time...for example Chicago Cubs fans have waited forever - but the city of Chicago had the 2009 Blackhawks...2005 White Sox...and some Jordan guy stacked multiple Titles in the 90's for the Bulls...you can have examples from every city like this one...but Cleveland? Well Cleveland is a different story...the last Championship celebrated in the Cleve was 1964 when the Browns won a football Title (no not the Super Bowl - this was soooo long ago that the Super Bowl did not even exist yet!!!)...then, out of nowhere, comes a native son as special as James is...and also out of nowhere some more amazing news - your home grown Superstar is going to play for...YOU!!!  Not only can you start to realistically dream about your Championship drought ending, but it is one of your own who will be leading you to the promised land...but...then it all came crashing down on one of the worst thought out decisions I have ever seen...never mind that I think going to Miami was a mistake as far as a chance to win Titles (Boston, Orlando, and ChiTown all have superior PG's, PF's and Centers to the Heat)  but to go there via The Decision was brutal and ill-conceived...To go on National Television...to go out of your way to let the world know that you have shunned the Cavs was bad bad bad...the fan base that has provided you with love (not to mention enough $$$ that your Grandkids Grandkids Grandkids will never worry about money) deserved a better ending then that...even if at the end of the day you were going to bolt to South Beach a National TV show was never the right way to do it...we can argue for days about is Michael Jordan the best ever, but either way we know he was amazing and special...when MJ announced his return to the NBA he did it with a fax to the press that said in total "I'm back"...2 words...one of the greatest ever announced his return in a 2 word fax yet James and company thought it necessary and right to do The Decision...we see every day the backlash Bron Bron gets for that mistake...the truth is that he of all people should have had the accurate pulse of his hometown fans and known better than to leave this way...

And by the way the Heat fans are in for a rude awakening when they get a load of the "defense" that Chris Bosh plays, plus CB4 has missed games due to his wonky knees several years in a row and 2010-2011 will be no different...

Dallas Mavericks...the Mavs have an amazing streak of 10 straight seasons with at least 50 wins...to put that in perspective YOUR TORONTO RAPTORS have never won 50 games...however only once in the last 4 seasons have the Mavs made it out of the first round of the playoffs...How long will Mark Cuban put up with that?  They added Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood mid-season last year, and then add C Tyson Chandler this off-season, but I still think that either Disco Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry need to be moved in return for good assets to tweak this squad even further

Detroit Pistons...winning the 2004 Title has given GM Joe Dumars a very l o n g leash it appears...he has been brutal...it started when he passed on Carmelo Anthony, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh and drafted Darko Milicic in 2003...last off-season giving their $$$ to Ben Gordon and Charlie V was awful...he follows that this off-season by signing Tracy McGrady...brutal and awful...brawful

the cause of the Knicks woes
 New York Knicks...so lets look at what it must be like to be a Knicks fan...for 2+ years you are told by management that your team sucks and management knows your team sucks - BUT - bare with us as we are going to sign LeBron James/D-Wade/CB4 in the summer of 2010...we know now that plan went 0 for 3...they trade David Lee and add Amar'e Stoudemire...in many stats Lee is better than Amar'e, but they also add Anthony Randolph who has a ton of upside that has not been reached yet...the Knicks also add Kelenna Azubuike and Raymond Felton but all of that does not equal any of LeBron, D-Wade, or Bosh...to top it all off the reason you have bottomed out for years is because Isiah Thomas did an all-time butcher job on your roster/franchise...horrid mistake after horrid mistake by Thomas...and in the summer where you don't get any of your promised free-agent targets they actually re-hire Isiah Thomas!!!  In typical major screw-up fashion they are then told by the NBA that since Thomas is currently the Head Coach of Florida International University his hiring is completely against NBA rules and the contract to hire him is void...good grief

Denver Nuggets...do beware Nuggets - you are in dangerous territory here with Carmelo Anthony...did you notice that the Raps and Cavs got only trade exceptions in return for their departing assets Bosh and LeBron?!?!  You could be next...Melo clearly has no interest in signing an extension with the Nuggs...the toasts given by several NBA stars at Carmelo's wedding this summer all spoke about Melo playing in New York...heck even though the Nuggets owner was in attendance, and also made a speech, the other guys were not shy at all about openly talking about the impending move my Melo to the Big Apple...move him now Denver...the strategy of let's keep him and show him we can win to make Denver more attractive to Melo is dangerous...the Cavs had their own born-and-raised Ohio native leave them high and dry, and Bosh left an entire country high and dry...get as much as you can asap Masai Ujiri (Denver's new GM after spending 3 years as an assistant GM in...Toronto!)


Monday, October 25, 2010

2010-2011 Toronto Raptors

Has there ever been so much doom-and-gloom surrounding the Toronto Craptors - I mean Raptors (bad habit) - entering an NBA season?!?!  And I mean the attitude of the fans...are you predicting anything good from this team in the 2010-2011 season?  Do you know anyone who is optimistic and excited about this bunch?!?!  You sure do now...

Raptors Dance Pak - highlight of this season?!?!

I am in the minority here as I view the departure of Chris Bosh as a good thing...the way he craved the attention like a small immature schoolboy this off-season was pathetic...the fact that he referred himself as a "winner" on espn when announcing that he was headed to South Beach was brutal and inaccurate...can you find anyone in this country that will agree that Bosh is a winner?!?!...the fact that he can be a third wheel in Miami and ride Bron Bron and D-Wade's coattails is perfect for him as he cannot lead a team...exact same scenario as trading Vince Carter which is addition by subtraction...we saw here that CB4 was never the Superstar that this country begged him to be...his offensive #'s were outstanding - but does he even know how to spell defense, much less play any?!?!  With Bosh as the anchor to the Raps D opponents ran lay-up drills vs Toronto as there was no consequence for taking it to the rim vs the T-Dot...the 2009-2010 Raps were 20-2 when holding an opponent under 100 points...that is what you call easy math...hey Craps - PLAY D and get a W...again, pretty simple...but when you have a roster with guys like Bosh and Hedon't Turkoglu getting a team-D concept is not going to happen (not to mention Jose Calderon and his OLE approach to defense)...I am a believer that Head Coach Jay Triano wants to be more like Kevin O'Neal (remember him?) and coach to defense winning you games, but he had the roster that forced him to be a Paul Westphal-type up-tempo game...there are going to be numerous nights where shots do not fall, but you can always bring an effort and intensity to the defensive end...

No team in the Association was worse on the defensive end last season than Toronto...all 8 playoff teams from the East were in the top 1/2 of the NBA as far as team-D...this team projects as the worse D in the NBA for a 2nd straight year, but I don't buy those projections...for one thing P.J. Carlesimo is in as Assistant Head Coach to Triano...P.J. is no joke...he will surely have this team-D humming at a much better pace than last season...also gone is the brutal Bosh and Hedon't, and in is Ed Davis and Soloman Alabi...both are rookies who slipped down the draft board as teams were concerned about their injuries (in the case of Alabi he has Hep-B which is a concern)...in is also the slimmer-trimmer Reggie Evans...yes Evans was on the roster in 2009-2010 but he was injured almost the entire season...Evans has looked very good in Preseason, especially when it comes to grabbing an offensive rebound and finding an open teammate for a good look where in the past he thought he was the good look...I am a big Andrea Bargnani fan (again I am in the minority) but have to admit that he is a soft soft soft 7-footer on the defensive end...a Davis, or Evans, or Kleiza, or Alabi will have to guard the opponents Power Forwards and be sure to help out Bargnani on the opponents Center - a task that fits Ed Davis perfectly

Ed Davis aka Mr Ed aka Ed Truck
 And speaking of Ed Davis let's take a moment to look at the only good news (potentially) from the off-season that just concluded...for the Raps to only have the #13 pick in a weak draft, to end up with Davis was a VERY good-news story...this guy would have been a top-5 pick if he entered the NBA draft last year, and only slipped to #13 this year as he broke his wrist in Feb 2010 so out of sight meant out of mind and people slept on Mr Ed (I still think Ed Truck is the best nickname for Davis...he is built like a truck and fans of The Office love the reference...and if you are not a fan of The Office let's be clear that you should be)...Davis is a guy who will give you the effort needed every night to rebound and defend...very good help defender which makes him as rare for this organization as an actual Raptor

The Raps were top 6 in O last season, and they lose scorers, but that may be able to become a positive too...now the offense is not beholden to one guy...does not feel the need to cater to one or two guys to make sure they get their touches...Sonny Weems took major steps forward in 2009-2010, as did Amir Johnson, and both should have a chance to improve on their stats from last year in this ball-sharing O...I have faith in starting PG Jarret Jack to distribute the ball in a European-style O...Jay Triano was a consultant for Team USA recently and no doubt having to study the European game would have led to new ball-movement/player-movement type of ideas...plus wait 'til fans get a load of Leandro Barbosa...they don't call him the Brazilian Blur because that name was randomly selected out of a bag-o-nicknames...they call him that because you will be stunned at how fast he moves with a basketball...his assists MUST improve over the 2.6 he averaged in Phoenix, and his 1.5 in Preseason were bad, but this guy can fly and has the potential to create for others on the fast break...

Kleiza in a recent game repping Lithuania
 That brings us Linas Kleiza...Bryan Colangelo looked good to me when he tried to get a Matt Barnes-type in the offseason...the D that Barnes brings to the table every night was a needed fit for T.O....in usual BC stripedness he did not even realize that the trade he made with Orlando to land Barnes was in violation of NBA rules...I wrote honestly about good news things on this team, and with that same honesty state that was as dumb a move as I have ever seen...how do I, a roofus working for a phone company in Mississauga, know right away that the proposed trade violated NBA rules, but BC (who gets paid for a living to know these things) did not...completely inexcusable...you know me, I was calling for the firing of BC when he gave all of our free agent $$$ to Jason Kapono a few years ago so I was already done with BC, but this summer-o-blunders cemented all thoughts that he should be fired...remember the trade to Charlotte involving Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans?!?!  Having that get public only to have Charlotte owner Michael Jordan nix the deal was embarrassing...but I digress - getting back to Kleiza - the reason the Matt Barnes deal was against the rules is because BC had already committed $$$ to signing Kleiza...Linas averaged 10+ points per game as a bench player for Denver the last 3 years...he will start for the Raps and has a good long and short range jumper...oddly enough his middle range game is horrid...he gave the Nuggets 4 rebounds per game too which should really improve with starters minutes...

Who haven't we looked at yet...how about DD aka DeMar DeRozan...DD averaged 8 points per game in his rookie campaign and we saw that he was a one-trick pony...highlight reel dunk-or-bust...that will not cut it at this level...word is that he knows that full well and worked hard in the offseason to better his jumper...we can only hope that is the case...time will tell, but DD is one guy that has to take positive steps forward in 2010-2011

Could Julian Wright be a pleasant surprise?!?!  In August he was acquired from New Orleans for Marco Belinelli...in 2007 Wright was the #13 overall pick so we hope he can reach his potential, but he has had a s l o w start to his NBA career...

amazingly NOT on the hot-seat
For those of you hoping that this season will at least bring the end to the Bryan Colangelo era I have terrible news...look for Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment to re-up long-term with BC at some point this season...word I am hearing is that it will not even take a good start, good middle, or good end to the season...Richard Peddie et all seem hellbent on re-upping with BC so he will soon be our problem for many years still to come :(

I like Boston-Orlando-Chicago-Miami-Milwaukee-Hotlanta (in that order actually) more than I like the Raps...but that is only 6 teams...8 will qualify for the playoffs...I like the Raps to be there with New York, Washington, and Charlotte to compete for the 7th and 8th playoff spots

Good news for Raps fans is when the world was predicting the 2010 Jays would lose 100+ games I predicted 84 wins (they got 85) so you can count on my predictions...ya right...I should mention the bad news for Raps fans is that I predicted the team would make the playoffs for the last 2 seasons...ahem......


Friday, October 22, 2010

NFL Week 6-7

Week 6

Branch & Brady...re-united and it feels so good
Good news for Pats fans - they win...bad news for Pats fans - so do the Jets, and the Jets W came on the road vs a Conference opponent which is a big win...The Jets go to 5-1, 3-0 on the road, and continue to look like the AFC rep in this years Super Bowl...The Pats go to 8-0 in games following a Bye-Week...the New England victory also further highlighted the monster mistake that WR Deion Branch made when he forced his way out of New England to go to Seattle in 2006...as a Seahawk he had three 100+ yard games in 54 games, but gets 98 yards and the TD in his return to Foxborough...Tom Terrific won at home for the 23rd straight time...he also has an 18 game home winning streak in the books...guy is good

GREAT week for Bills fans as they did not lose...

The San Diego SuperChargers continue to struggle...2-4 overall for a team with the most talent in the Conference...in the NFC the Cowboys have the most talent in the NFL but they continue to beat themselves...moral of these stories is if you have a Super Bowl caliber team then don't have a doofus like Norv Turner or Wade Phillips as your Head Coach

The Saints discover a running game!  RB Chris Ivory ran hard all day and amassed 158 yards in a romp over the Bucs...on the flip side the running game in ChiTown continues to be non-existent

49ers win...GM Jed York predicts they will win the Division and then the team gets their initial W of the season...their opponent, the Raiders, had their QB Jason Campbell have the worst day for a Raider QB in over 30 years

BIG comeback W for the Texans...the Colts and Titans both win to go to 4-2 and both of their wins came on the road so the Houston comeback at home vs KC in Week 6 was B I G to keep pace at 4-2 also

For the 24th straight time the Detroit Lions lose on the road

Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi KO'd by James Harrison

Week 6 was marred by numerous too-violent hits, several of which earned fines from the NFL...the League Officials spent the last few days letting it be known that violent head shots would draw lofty fines, and likely suspensions going forward...and of course these overpaid moron athletes with their sense of entitlement that comes from being told how special they are from a young age etc led them to make beyond ridiculous comments...James Harrison wants to retire as he does not think he can play the game without putting his, and his opponents quality of life at risk?!?!  Then hey James - GO AWAY...hey Ray Lewis, Channing Crowder, Scott Fulita et all GET LOST...several players made ignorant comments, and if they feel that we as fans tune in each week to watch the type of violence that is quality-of-life threatening then think again idiots...even Rodney Harrison, who made a career as a killer, was disgusted with the hits he saw in Week 6 and said that he is glad he is retired as a result...he also said that suspensions were the only chance to curb the violence which I agree with...

Week 7

Cincinnati @ Atlanta...the 2-3 Bengals come off a Bye Week and have a tough road game on their hands, but a game they must win...with Baltimore and Pitt already multiple games ahead of Cincy a loss to drop them to 2-4 would be season ending

St Louis @ Tampa Bay...a Rams W puts them at 4-3...a TB win puts the Bucs at 4-2...either way the winner of this game is well ahead of projections...

Arizona @ Seattle...the winner of this game goes to 4-2...ahead of projections

New England @ San Diego...big game...the Pats won their first post-Moss game, but that was at home against a tired Ravens squad...can they go cross country to get a W vs a desperate Chargers team in week 7?...A San Diego loss would bury them at 2-5...SD is 2-0 at home

The Sunday Night game and the Monday Night game have story lines that write themselves...

Brett Favre returns to Green Bay

Minnesota @ Green Bay...Brett Favre returns to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field...the loser will have a 4th L already and be buried in the standings...the Pack try to rebound from a home loss to the Dolphins last week, while the Vikes try to get a 2nd straight W in hopes of resurrecting their season

New York Giants @ Dallas...PRIMO opportunity for the G-Men...a chance to knock out hated Division rival Cowboys in only week 7...a New York win would have the Giants at 5-2 and on a 4 game winning streak, while a Dallas loss would have them reeling at 1-5


Thursday, October 14, 2010

NFL Week 5-6

My heart is happy for long struggling Detroit Lions fans as they not only finally get a win, but they put up 44 points which had to be a lot of fun for the fans

Same can be said for long suffering Tampa Bay fans...2nd year Head Coach Raheem Morris has them on the right track...a 3 win team from 2009 already has 3 wins in 2010, and this week 5 win at Cincy was particularly impressive with young QB Josh Freeman leading a pair of late scoring drives to go and earn a W...on the flip side the Bengals go 2-3 in the time that Big Ben was away from Division rival Pittsburgh,  while in that same time the Ravens go 4-1 leaving the defending AFC North champs Bengals looking more like the Bungles

Green Bay is in trouble...a few weeks ago they take a major blow by losing RB Ryan Grant for the season...now stud-in-the-making TE Jermichael Finley looks to be lost for the season too, plus QB Aaron Rodgers is having concussion issues...all that leaves the O in major trouble, and the week 5 loss to the Redskins also saw the star of the D Clay Matthews leave with injury

Toronto's own Buffalo Bills are blacked out as they do not sellout their home game...the Bills did not sellout...I went to a Bills/Dolphins game in the mid-90's as I had a hook-up on tickets...there was a time where the only way to go to a Bills home game was if you had a hook-up for tickets, now they are so low down as a franchise that they are not even selling out...wow...

The New York Football Giants have re-discovered a pass-rush and as a result have 2 straight W's at a time when the team was in turmoil

Jets Cheerleaders...you're welcome
The New York Jets continue to look like the AFC East reps in the 2011 Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium...a week 1 loss to the Ravens has been followed by 4 straight W's, plus the step back the Pats have taken in on-field talent have to have Jets fans feeling like this team will win the AFC East, will host at least 1 - likely 2 - playoff games, and will rep the AFC in the Super Bowl

As great - great - as QB Drew Brees is we see that the Saints are really struggling on O without RB's Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas...the combo of LaDell Betts and Chris Ivory is not going to cut it...the defending Champs were just beat by undrafted rookie QB Max Hall...ahem...

The 49ers drop to 0-5, and then their GM Jed York proclaimed that these same 0-5 'Niners would win the NFC West...pardon?!?!  The NFC West is brutal, but an 0-5 team has zero chance of winning any Division

Brett Favre throws an INT late in the 4th Q that is the biggest play of the game and leads to an L for his team...again

Norv Turner and Wade Phillips
Shame on the Chargers...we have said here on this blog numerous times that Norv Turner is absolutely not an NFL Head Coach...GM A.J. Smith is a joke...a major talent like WR Vincent Jackson remains at home while the team declines trade offers for him that are about triple what the Pats got back for Randy Moss...all that plus they lose to the Raiders...Jokeland is brutal and that loss puts San Diego at a lowly 2-3

We know the NFC version of the Chargers are the Cowboys...like San Diego the 'Boys have all the talent in the world, but are led by a terrible Head Coach in Wade Phillips...Dallas is 1-3...yikes

For all the talk in ChiTown about new O-Coordinator Mike Martz, this 4-1 team is really being led by Julius Peppers and the D


Seattle @ Chicago...Speaking of Da Bears, a week 6 home game vs Seattle should provide an easy Sunday and leave Da Bears at a comfy 5-1

Baltimore @ New England...The Moss-less Pats host the Ravens...last time that happened was week 1 of the 2009 playoffs and we remember that Ray Rice and company tap danced all over the Pats and the Ravens romped...I predict this Sunday will be no different...

Detroit @ Giants...The Lions have lost 23 straight road games so the Giants should be feeling good about a 3rd straight W

KC @ Houston...the first place Chiefs (what?!?!) travel to Texas for the 2nd straight road game vs an AFC South team...speaking of the AFC South how wacky is this Division...we looked at that weeks ago and said this is one Division that could be really up for grabs...

4:15pm...Dallas @ Minny...game of the year to this point...the winner will be 2-3 and try to convince themselves that they are still in a wild-card hunt...the loser will be 1-4 and after week 6 will already have their 2010 season finished...wow...wow...wow...BIG expectations for each team and 1 of them will be finished...

Don't forget to check out http://www.spencermilleronline.com/ to see our weekly sports show Sounding Offf With Spencer Miller...and keep the emails coming to craig.ballard@hotmail.com

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jose Bautista 2010 season

My name is Craig Ballard, and I am  Jays fan...

No this is not another AA (Alex Anthopoulos) meeting, but it is a look at the 2010 amazing season put together by Jose Bautista representing YOUR TORONTO BLUE JAYS...

August 21, 2008 the Jays send minor league catcher Robinzon Diaz to Pittsburgh for 3B Jose Bautista...The Pirates had just acquired Andy LaRoche and gave him the 3rd Base job thus leaving Bautista out of a job and headed for AAA...he wasn't at AAA long before the trade that sent him north of the border...the rest, as they say, is history...Robinzon Diaz has 1 career HR currently, while Jose had a season for the record books in 2010...

Jose all smiles after another HR
Jose's rise to prominence got off to a slow start in the T-Dot...Manager Cito Gaston liked Jose and tried to give him playing time whenever he could, but Jose looked like his future was patrolling one of the corner outfield spots...jobs that were already spoken for (Adam Lind and Alex Rios...and 3rd Base was taken by the amazing Scott Rolen who is an outstanding defensive 3rd Baseman)...that is until August 9 2009 when the Chicago White Sox made a surprising Waiver Claim on Alex Rios...the move meant that the Jays would rid themselves of Rios' contract and attitude, and meant line-up changes too...Adam Lind was moved to the everyday DH leaving an opening in the OF for Bautista to play every day...an injury to Marco Scutaro also allowed Jose to slide into the leadoff spot and get a lot of at-bats in September...Jose flourished with the chance to play everyday...he finished 2009 with 13 HR's, 10 of which came in this September stretch we are talking about...

September 2009 put Jose Bautista on the Jays radar as as a guy that can be counted on to produce more in 2010...the plan in Spring Training was to keep Lind as the DH and have Bautista have a chance to be the everyday RF as the team broke camp...I heard from people like Gaston and Aaron Hill that the team was really excited about the 2010 that Bautista was going to have because they could see when he was given the ball he really ran with it...he was tagging everyone in Spring Training...now it is Spring Training so no need to get too excited, but the way Bautista was squaring up every pitch allowed for a lot of optimism

Jays HR kings Bell and Bautista
 Jose Bautista gaudy 2010 #'s (Jays record-breaking #'s)... .260 batting average (career high)... .378 On Base Percentage (career high)...100 walks (career high)...109 runs scored (career high)...148 hits (career high)...35 Doubles (1 shy of tying career high)...3 Triples (ties career high)...54 HR's (career high and Jays record!)...124 RBI's (career high)...his 92 Extra-Base-Hits (career high) also led MLB, as did his 351 Total Bases...1 HR every 10.5 AB's

The next closest HR hitter to Jose was Albert Pujols in St. Louis with 42...in the American League no other batter even reached 40!  Paul Konerko in Chicago belted 39 to be 2nd to Bautista...Bautista's margin of 15 HR's more than any other player in the same League is the largest margin since 1956 when Mickey Mantle hit 20 HR's more than the 2nd place finisher Vic Wertz

pic of the front leg kick that starts Jose's timing
 Toronto Hitting Coach Dwayne Murphy (who also was Luis Gonzalez's Hitting Coach in Arizona during his 57 HR 2001 campaign) showed Bautista that his timing mechanism (the way he tries to time his swing beginning with the front leg lifting and then planting down to begin the swing) was slightly off which caused the rest of his body (in particular his shoulders) to play catch-up thus over compensating to try to get the bat through the strike zone on time to square up the pitch...when timing is the issue being a part-time player is hardily the cure...you need 4 AB's every day, and 500+ on the season to see the fruits of your labour...heck lets remember that the hardest thing to do in all of sports is square up a baseball (ask the Reds if they could square up anything against Doc Halladay in Game 1 of the NLDS) so if your timing causes you to miss the center of that baseball even my millimeters that is the difference between a 405 foot HR, or a pop out to the SS...Jose's HR's come as line drives to left field...I only recall 1 of his 54 HR's leave the park over the Right Field Wall...the average height of a Bautista Bomb is lower than most HR's, and has a faster MPH speed as it leaves the park than most people as his hitting timing is great now (thank you Dwayne Murphy) and he is hitting line drives that leave parks in a hurry

Bautista says it was the confidence he got from working with Murphy on his timing - not the 10 September HR's in 2009 - that has turned his swing from a reaction swing, into an aggressive swing like we saw this year...a swing that produced 9 multi-HR games in 2010

For such a record breaking year it sure started slow HR-wise for Jose...the opening month of April saw Bautista hit in the Lead-Off spot and only amass 4 HR's...May was a 12 HR month, but back to just 4 again in June...the rest of the season was very consistent and power-filled for Jose with 11,12,11 in the final 3 months

May 16 @ Rogers Centre...Jose hits #10 off Rangers starter Colby Lewis in a 5-2 Jays win

Jun 22 @ Rogers Centre...Jose hits #19 off of St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia, then #20 off Cardinals reliever Kyle McClennan in a 9-4 loss

July 22 @ Rogers Centre...Jose hits #29 off of starter Kevin Millwood, then #30 off of reliever Alfredo Simon...8-2 Jays win over Baltimore

August 23 @ Rogers Cetnre...Jose hits #39 vs Yankees starter Ivan Nova, then #40 off reliever David Robertson in the 8th inning to give the Jays a 3-2 win

September 15 @ Rogers Centre...the only run the Jays would score in a 3-1 loss the the O's is a 1st inning Bautista Bomb - #47 on the year tying him for the Franchise single-season HR record with George Bell (George hit 47 in 1987...scroll down or check my blog archives to see my blog on Bell's 1987 season)

Jose rounds the bases for HR #48

Jays were off on Septmeber 16, which brings us to Septmeber 17 @ Fenway Park where Jose hit his club record-setting 48th dinger off of Red Sox reliever Michael Bowden (pictured left)

September 23 @ Rogers Centre...the Jays use 5 pitchers to shut out the Seattle Mariners 1-0...King Felix Hernandez went the distance for the M's, but Jose Bautista hit HR # 50 in the 1st inning of this 1-0 Jays victory...Jose becomes the first player since 2007 to go deep 50 times
September 30 @ Target Field...Jose hits #53 vs Twins reliever Pat Neshak - oh by the way it was a MONSTER shot, and a Grand Slam...then #54 in the 9th off reliever Jose Mijares - this one went out over the Right Field wall and it is the only opposite-field round-tripper I remember all year for Jose

Jose was particularly nasty to the Orioles and Red Sox hitting 9 and 8 HR's vs them...ironically the series that the Jays played in hitter-friendly parks like The Ballpark in Arlington and Coors Field produced barely even a hit let alone a HR...Jose delighted Jays fans at the Rogers Centre to the tune of 33 bombs hit in the T-Dot...

2010 was a historic season for Jose Bautista, and I cannot wait for his 2011 encore...


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NFL Week 4-5

We will talk at length about the Randy Moss trade in a second, but let's start with this...if you were to write down in order the team you predict will be the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL in 2010 how many teams would you have written down before you came to KC?!?!  Yet at 3-0 they are the only unbeaten team!!!  wow

Moss doing a great SideShow Bob
 On Monday October 4th Randy Moss and  quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien got in a heated argument at halftime of the Pats/Dolphins game...2 days later New England trades WR Randy Moss plus a 7th rounder to the Minnesota Vikings for a 3rd rounder...where to start?!?!  Well how on earth were the Vikes prepared to part with a 2nd rounder and 4th rounder to trade for San Diego WR Vincent Jackson, yet land Moss for just a 3rd rounder?  Even Vincent Jackson's mom and dad would have to admit that Moss is the superior WR, so why the super-low selling price for #81?  Heck I even want to know why no contract extension was even discussed with Moss...have you ever seen a 3-1 team give away an asset like Randy Moss before?!?!

What will this mean for the 2010 Pats?  What will this mean for now #1 WR Wes Welker?  Will the underneath routes that Welker runs brilliantly even be available anymore with no double-team needed to cover Moss?  Will teams be able to now double Welker and force the Pats to beat you with their running game of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead (hey good luck with that New England)?  Was this kept so quiet for fear that if Tom Terrific knew his WR core going forward was going to be Wes Welker and Brandon Tate (good luck with that part II) that he may not have signed his contract extension?

A lot of questions raised here by this move...

For me this is a R.I.P. to the Pats Dynasty...hate on me if you must Pats fans but your roster is very underwhelming at this point...for the first time in ages I am predicting that despite your 3-1 start you will not qualify for post-season play in 2010 (side note - for you haters who don't believe that the Pats were a Dynasty just check the results from the 2000's...3 Super Bowl Title's...2007 Patriots were the best NFL team ever...2008 won double-digit games despite losing Tom Brady in the first game...2009 back on top of the Division as usual...a TON of W's for the Pats in the Belichick era, and yes they were truly a Dynasty)

In New England's defense this does set them up with 2 picks in each of the first 4 rounds of the 2011 NFL Entry draft...that is a great way to kick-start your re-building program, but it is going to take a while for me to get used to the idea that the Pats are in re-building mode (all they did in the 2000's is stack W's)

side note - for the love of God PLEASE do not let this mean that Favre and Moss create the kind of chemistry that makes Favre not want to retire...pretty sure we are all very sick of the annual will he/won't he Brett Favre retirement saga

Let's move on to other Week 4 thoughts...In Jokeland the Raiders had the lowest home crowd in over 40 years...BAD news for NFL fans...why does this affect all NFL fans?  Because there is certain labour unrest coming after this season and surely a work-stoppage looms for next season, so to have Skeletor aka Al Davis (Owner of the Raiders) seeing his #'s plummet he is going to be as cantankerous as ever when it comes to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement which could really muddy the process...ever deal with a bad situation with 2 sides angry with each other?  Then you know the last thing you would want is to throw in a cranky old man with a cranky old attitude...I have said it before, I will say it again folks - enjoy the 2010 NBA and NFL seasons are there are work-stoppages coming in 2011 for both leagues :(

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick throws 12-27 for 128 yards (snicker snicker snicker)...then the Bills trade RB Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks for a 4th rounder in 2011 plus a conditional draft pick in 2012 (MORE than the Pats got back for Moss...somebody help me please...CONFUSED!!!)...Lynch was the Bills best option at the Goaline to punch it into the End Zone, but thankfully for Bills fans the team has not been on the Goaline since Jim Kelly was running the no-huddle in the mid-90's so no real loss here...

Since New York Jets fans were put on suicide watch after week 1 the team has beat all 3 AFC East foes the next 3 weeks with QB Mark Sanchez throwing 8 TD's with 0 INT's in those wins...are we impressed yet?  There was a TON of criticism for Mark's poor 2010 debut vs the Ravens but A) a lot of QB's look bad against the Ravens and B) where is the fair-is-fair praise for this guy?!?!

Cleveland RB Peyton Hillis had his 2nd straight 100+ running game in week 4

Detroit falls to 0-4...they have been down to the wire all year, but when you have a culture of losing like the Lions do I guess things just don't break in your favour at the end of games (it all started with the week 1 Calvin Johnson game-winning TD that was somehow not a TD)

Good for Rams QB Sam Bradford...he has the Rams on a 2 game winning streak which is actually huge for them

I have been critical of Miami's play all season and week 4 was certainly no exception...the fact that Chad Henne and Tom Brady both were QB's at Michigan is where the similarities stop...a L O N G way to go still for young Henne

Anyone able to explain how the only way Baltimore beats Pittsburgh is if they score a TD vs the great Steel Curtain D, yet there was T. J. Houshmandzadeh all by his lonesome in the End Zone with 30 seconds left to win the game?!?!

Defending Champs Saints need to find a running game

How does a team in the NFL today have Todd Collins as their back-up QB?!?!  Bears I am of course asking you that question...I have follow-up questions too...How does an NFL team even have Toidd Collins as a 3rd string QB?!?!  How does an NFL team even allow an old bum like Todd Collins to purchase tickets to watch them play?!?!...all the QB movement in the NFL in the off-season but the Bears have Todd Collins as their back-up (good luck with that part III)...and Chi Town is a cool 3-1, but hello?!?!  Windy City?!?!  Are you there?!?!  Ever heard of a running game?!?!?!?!

Week 5 thoughts

St Louis @ Detroit...we had hoped this was going to be #1 overall 2009 draft pick QB Matt Stafford hosting #1 overall 2010 draft pick QB Sam Bradford, but an injury to Stafford has that looking like the ol' no such luck

Green Bay @ Washington...the first place - say it again - first place Redskins host the Packers

KC @ Indy...do any of us see the Chiefs, even with a bye week to prepare, go into the Dome and beating the Colts...especially when a loss for Indy would put them at 2-3?!?!  Doubt it...

Giants @ Houston...even with their week 4 victory if the G-Men lose this game to fall to 2-3 there will be heads rolling in New York...and if the Texans win they will be officially on the map at 4-1

Tennessee @ Dallas...the loser of this game is not where they expected to be after week 5 - the Titans would be 2-3 with a loss, or the 'Boys will be 1-3 (gulp) with a loss

Moss vs Revis
 The big game of week 5 does not take place until Monday Night when Randy Moss leads his Vikings into New York to renew his rivalry with ol' pal Darelle Revis...even if Revis Island isn't healthy enough to play the story lines in this game write themselves

Keep the comments coming folks...I truly enjoy hearing from you... craig.ballard@hotmail.com