Friday, September 20, 2013

CELEBRATING AWAY A GREAT DAY

I can't imagine there's anything like the deep exhale that comes from closing out a division title in baseball.  The long journey of hard work, dedication, travel and the pain of playing day in and day out for five months and nearly a 162 games is suddenly and all at once rewarded.  A collective deep breath is finally allowed as the team celebrates the moment and then prepares for the playoffs in October.

The Dodgers got to experience just that yesterday.  After a near disastrous first half of a season left them seemingly out of it and a fan base embarrassed to the point where the stadium was virtually empty in early June, the rise of Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig combined with the timely return of key players from injury like Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez provided a huge boost and a run that hasn't been seen in the history of the team.  So the celebration of last night's clincher was without a doubt warranted.

Until it turned into something that borders on sacrilege to baseball die-hards.  The post-game celebration carried onto the field as usual, but then into the pool located in the right center field.  After being asked by Diamondbacks Management to respect their stadium and not continue the celebration on the field, the boys in blue decided to turn their celebration black. 

This in turn caused journalist Dan Bickley to pen an editorial in Arizona with a headline that probably is euphemistic to what most Arizona fans, coaches and players are wanton to say:

The Dodgers Are Idiots

Forget whether he's right or wrong.  Forget whether you believe that the Dodgers can celebrate however they want to, even if it is against the wishes of one of their division rivals.  Forget about the fact the Diamondbacks made a ridiculous management decision to force Dodger fans to wear their Diamondbacks gear because they were sitting behind home plate last April. 

What did this celebration accomplish that the win didn't besides creating more bitter feelings between fellow ballplayers?  Do you think the rest of the league now looks at the Los Angeles Dodgers and thinks wow, what an accomplishment.  No, they're talking instead about this celebration and what it all meant.  They're talking about who'll throw the first intentional bean ball next year that might actually end someone's season.  They're talking about the unwritten rules of baseball and how the Dodgers crossed the line.

The question isn't whether the Dodgers have the right to do what they did.  The question is why did they need to?  What inside these young men gave them the idea that this behavior was a good way to punctuate a celebration?  What good could come of it?  Did they feel better about themselves knowing that Arizona fans, particularly the children who entered June with their favorite team in first place only to watch them fall to pieces by early September, felt humiliated?  Was it more important to return the favor from April and make it clear that the Dodgers fans won't be bossed around?  Did they think this reflected well on their manager Don Mattingly, who was one of the classiest players of his day?  On the Dodgers management?  On Los Angeles itself?  Or were they thinking at all?

Forget even these reasons.  Let's just imagine the situation was reversed.  Imagine the reaction of Angelenos if the Diamondbacks had done this in Dodger Stadium?  Yes, we Angelenos, home of the guys who beat a San Francisco Giants fan to an inch of his life for simply wearing the opposing team's jersey and being their fan.  Yes, we of Los Angeles who watch this kid's game with our hearts on our sleeves, painfully enduring the wins and losses as if they were personal to us.... as if we were personally involved.  As fickle as L.A. fans can be, our desire to win isn't any less passionate, or any less desperate.  We are so unable to separate ourselves from our Dodgers that the amount of curse words, boos, hisses, screams and cheers that leave our mouths in any given nine-inning stretch is something you would only expect to find in Congress.

Baseball players are among the most superstitious lot in the world.  Rumors of players not showering for weeks, growing playoff beards and staying in the same underwear during a win streak are often verified because of the ballplayer's need to feel some sort of control in a sport where success and failures interchange so often. And on a day where you enter the playoffs after a miracle run, it would seem to me that to step on another man's grave after he's dead and buried is to have lifted up your own voodoo doll and handed your playoff opponent the first pin.

We can make a million cases for shoving back at the way the Diamondbacks and their management have behaved.  Heck, the whole state of Arizona is completely backward if you ask me -- I mean I'm surprised Puig was allowed into the ballpark without having his immigration papers looked at by local law enforcement.

Dodgers fans are already ripe with rationalizations, citing the above-story as reason enough to stomp on an Arizona fans pride.  It's as if the win isn't verification enough of the miracle the Dodgers pulled off this season, it has to be verified further at the expense of others. 

And for those that say I'm missing the point, it was just young men celebrating, ask yourself why the celebration couldn't have stayed where it is supposed to, where the D-backs' management asked for it to stay, in the clubhouse.  Nothing would have changed.

Well actually, something would have.  More people would be discussing this legendary run by a group of young men Los Angeles is taking great pride in.  Instead, this father looks at these guys as silly children, and hopes my child never feels the need to stomp on his opponent when he's already beaten. 

That's the difference between class and insecurity, of grace instead of vanity.  And sadly, the Dodgers showed way too much of the latter last night.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

WEEK 3 PREVIEWS - The Early Games

Get the lowdown on James Starks, and the Trent Richardson deal as it pertains to this Sunday for your daily fantasy lineup.

http://dfsedge.com/nfl-week-3-previews-the-early-games/


Monday, August 26, 2013

DFSEdge.com

Friends and readers of the blog:

It's with great excitement and enthusiasm that I have been hired by DFSEdge.com to provide the weekly NFL previews I brought you here the last few years. 

DFSEdge is a site focused on the newest type of fantasy gaming, that of daily fantasy games.  Columns are focused on giving you the best advice from a daily fantasy perspective (more relevant to baseball than football), to help you compete in the newest and most profitable form of fantasy gaming out there: daily fantasy gaming. Sites like FanDuel.com, Draftday.com, DraftKings.com and provide you the chance for you to pit your knowledge against thousands of other fantasy on-line gamers, by drafting a new team each day.  No long seasons to have to manage your way through -- this is a chance to turn you knowledge into $$ now.  And because this kind of gaming involves analysis it is totally legal.

I'm proud to affiliated with DFSEdge.com and hope your readership will follow me there. Other articles will run here, so feel free to check in occasionally for specific pieces on players I'm following.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A JOE SHEEHAN BLOG

If you've never heard Joe speak or read anything he's written, you're missing out on a baseball aficionado.  For me, in person Joe often comes off as a bit of a condescending cynic, but one thing is for certain, his writing chops are outstanding, and his takes on baseball events are often unique and dead on.

In this case, Joe's blog today is right on the money.  While I'm an anti-PED guy, I'm not simply castigating A-Rod as the poster boy for such things, nor do I agree in any way that really this is about our kids.

I leave you with Joe's blog entitled TEACH YOUR CHILDREN. WELL?  For reference you can find his blog here. http://joesheehanbaseball.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RYAN BRAUN - MY THOUGHTS

I'm sure those of you who have followed my blog(s) have seen that I am not short of opinions.  I have waited to sound off on the recent MLB Biogenesis Scandal simply because my opinions on the use of steroids in baseball have been offered into the ether many times over.  But for those of you who haven't read my illustrious postings of the past, let me reiterate.

Simply put:  If Major League Baseball advertised the game as a steroid-infused, home-run loving, strikeout-dominating sport, then I'd be fine with steroid use.  Until that happens these guys get rule books and memos pointing out exactly what is OK and what isn't in baseball several times over.  They know what they're doing is wrong, so in my mind, they're cheaters.


These guys are just a symptom of a larger problem

To me, to take any other stance is to rationalize something that deserves none.  And if you're willing to do that, then you better be willing to reward your child for posting a phony "A" after copying off the class genius' test.


However, with that being said, I will raise another issue.

Can we blame only Ryan Braun

Can we blame any of the previous assumed steroid users?  McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Bonds, Clemens,.... the list goes on.

Aren't the owners, the agents and even we the fans slightly culpable?

I'll explain.

The first MLB player to earn an average of $1,000,000 a year was Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates after he signed a five year, $5 million dollar contract in 1979.  Nolan Ryan is thought to be the first player to earn the actual coveted $1 million salary for a single season in 1980.  This, back at a time where according to the US Census, the average price of a home in 1979 was anywhere between $67,000 - $70,000.  According to the Department of Energy, an average car price cost you around $6,900 and imports were even cheaper.  While prices have more than tripled since then, salaries have skyrocketed through the roof for professional athletes, with more and more athletes signing large, incentive-laden contracts fresh out of high school. 

According to MLBtraderumors.com, Josh Beckett was the first player to receive a contract as a high school player - Four years, $7 million at age 18.

If you had a chance to make $7 million dollars back in 1999, the year Beckett signed his agreement, you'd do it in a second.  And if you had a chance to earn that kind of bank, the kind of cash that would garner security for you and your family for years, meant injecting a fluid into your thigh twice a day just to get you to the signing, would you pass it up?  Maybe you would if you had good parenting, solid morals, truly believed you shouldn't be paid on false pretenses, etc.  But an 18-year-old, presented with these options and parents who aren't on such morally high ground, come on.  He'll do it.  And yes, we all probably would.

It would be like someone coming back from the future, and offering you the numbers to that day's as-yet drawn lottery with the only requirement being that your name will be scowled upon ten years down the road.  You'll keep the money, the wealth, the fame (or the infamy if you will), the girls/boys, the cars, the royal treatment, the admiration and most enjoyable memories of ten years of a dream life but you'll be remembered with a sour taste. 

As someone who myself has scraped, clawed and failed so many times over to reach any of the goals I set for myself, I can fully understand the lure this ticket provides young athletes. 

So yes, you can hate Ryan Braun and I can hate Ryan Braun.

But before we all throw stones from our glass houses, let's remind ourselves that we as a society have loved the idea that our kids might someday win this lottery.  We have not taken it upon ourselves to protect our youth from themselves because the bait on this hook is just too great.  And if you doubt any of this just check out a Little League field these days and see the outrageous parents abusing volunteer coaches over how little their son or daughter played.  Read the ridiculous stories of coaches taking practices too far in the name of cashing in on a great high school season and moving onto the college ranks.  There have been deaths over this kind of thing.

Ryan Braun might be a putz. 

But as with most things, he's a reflection of the society that helped build him up. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

THREE REASONS TO BELIEVE IN THIS YEAR'S PIRATES

44-41, one game back. (2012)

45-36, sole possession of first place (2011)

For the past two seasons the Pirates have looked like a winner -- for half of a season.   Call it lack of experience, call it lack of talent, call it bad trades; for some reason the karma faded after the halfway point in 2011 and 2012.

So why should you believe this year will be any different?  As of this day, the Pirates are 11 games over five hundred, and just two games behind St. Louis and Cincinnati.  It's a dogfight already for the N. L. Central and history suggests the Pirates aren't deep enough and don't have the funds come the trade deadline to keep up with these two teams.
 
Here are three reasons why history might change:

1) Pitching - In 2012, the Pirates record in part was a reflection of an over-achieving James McDonald.  The once highly regarded pitching project had been plagued by control problems and had never put it together for an entire campaign.  For the first half of 2012, McDonald posted a 2.37 ERA combined with a rather fluky .196 BAA.  While he did finish the season with a much stronger WHIP than he had previously, his ERA bounced back up over four for the season again. 

In 2011, Jeff Kars tens also had a rather auspicious first half.  Considering he began the season as at best their fifth starter,  his 58K / 18BB strikeout-to-walk ratio allowed him to go deeper into games and face less hitters, and he posted a 7-4 first half record.

The Twins top prospect may
be regaining form.
This season the rotation has not only depth but veteran presence.  The acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez last season and more importantly, Francisco Liriano this year, brings two seasoned lefties to the rotation that can eat more innings and go deeper into games than their previous southpaws Erik Bedard and Paul Maholm could.  Sure, we've witnessed Liriano's lack of control since his TJ surgery, but pitchers moving from the American League to the National League often have initial success.  Examples can be found with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and C.C. Sabathia.  Now add veteran ace A.J. Burnett and prospect turned good Jeff Locke, and you have four solid arms.  Also on the DL with McDonald is rising prospect Charlie Morton and of course, Jeff Karstens.

The bullpen's addition of former Houston closer Mark Melancon, former A's starter/reliever Vin Mazzaro, and their core of Chris Leroux, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes and Bryan Miller, the lead-in for now closer Jason Grilli is strong and deep.  And don't forget about their minor league system, now loaded with two top arms in Gerrit Cole and Jamison Taillon. 

Blockbuster Trade(s) of 2012?
2) Defense - for the last few years the Pirates offense might not have put a ton of runs on the board, but their defense has steadily improved, going from dead last in 2010 to ranked 21st right now.  While that might not be a big leap in terms of error percentage, there is no doubt that the speed in the outfield now has the ability to take away hits, not to mention the improving glove of Pedro Alvarez at third.  The addition of Russell Martin behind home plate adds a veteran arm with the capability of keeping runners from adding to their singles.  He was ranked in the top five hardest catches to steal against by Bleacher Report this season.
3) Added batting depth - It seemed like a harmless few moves just before the trading deadline, but the deals that brought Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez and Toronto RF Travis Snider to the Bucs may have been one of the biggest coups in recent memory.  The Pirates gave the Blue Jays developing pitcher Brad Lincoln, and the Marlins speedy and raw Gorkys Hernandez.  Unlike the trade in 2011 that brought in past his prime Derrek Lee and low contact rate hitting Ryan Ludwick, these two prospects are still in their early and late twenties not only have higher ceilings ahead of them, they provided additional power bats at little cost.  Snider, once touted as a high power -hitting lefty has got to smile every time he sees the short porch in right field, and Sanchez can be part of a left-right platoon with Garrett Jones until he can become a full-timer (which is the Pirates hope).

Don't be surprised if 2013 is a lucky number for the Pittsburgh Pirates come this October.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NFL 2012-2013 WRAP UP - RANDOM THOUGHTS PART II

OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS

After watching the Redskins roll up 14 points on their first two drives against Seattle, I immediately was struck with the idea to forget giving ROTY or MVP to either RGIII or Alfred Morris but instead apply some sort of award to their offensive line.  If RGIII doesn't hurt himself there's a good chance Seattle is DOA.  Credit the Seahawks for not panicking and for staying within their game.  Credit Pete Carroll, well, I don't know what to credit Pete Carroll for -- maybe for not wrecking the Seattle program like he did USC's.  Giving Pete Carroll credit for anything is like giving your parents credit.  Sure they deserve it, but when someone says you're hot you don't turn to them and say it's my mom's genes.

Have we learned yet that you can't just patch together a bunch of talented players and necessarily win.  See the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles, Dodgers, The Philadelphia Eagles, and now the Los Angeles Lakers for examples.  In some ways, this gives credence as to why there are coaches.  At the same time, it also gives credence to Herb Brooks' comment in the movie MIRACLE when he tells Craig Patrick he's not looking for the best players, he's looking for the right ones.  See, occasionally even movies contribute some wisdom to the world.

Back to the NFL, it's been said by everyone, but could I actually post a blog about this season without reiterating how fricking unreal Adrian Peterson was and is?  Redundancy in this case is not only necessary, it's profound.

What the heck do we do with Brian Hartline? The arrival of Ryan Tannehill garnered him his first 1,000-yard season, and yet he scored just once.  Out of 74 catches, 73 of the others didn't garner a score.  He's only missed four games in four seasons, but he's scored just six times.  That's right, he's scored less times than Gary Coleman did.  He's like the anti-Cris Carter.

I think Bruce Arians just lost the Coach of the Year vote.  He didn't feel well and went to the hospital and missed their first round playoff game due to an inner ear infection?  Seriously?  I've had ear infections and they suck but Chuck Pagano made it to the sideline and he's got Leukemia dude. 

Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden all finished outside the top 10 fantasy RBs in ESPN standard scoring leagues.  And besides maybe McFadden and Turner, all will likely be drafted by the second round next year.

Someone's going to have to explain to me how Vincent Jackson left the fold of one of the best offensive minds in football in Norv Turner, in a gunslinging offense led by Philip Rivers, so he could go to Tampa Bay's offense led by Josh Freeman and first time O.C. Mike Sullivan to have his best football season ever.  How the heck does that happen?  Does that mean Shonn Greene could join the Dallas Cowboys under Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan and suddenly average more than four yards per carry while becoming a perennial 1000-yard rusher?

Where the heck do you rank a Steelers running back going into 2013?  There's an assumption that Rashard Mendenhall has seen his last day in the black and gold, but I'm not certain you can hold Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman to the kind of standard Mendenhall could provide.  Mendenhall's delicate for certain, but he also has outside speed, edge speed, the kind of speed Chris Rainey has except he had the power not to go down upon first hit.  However, come to think of it, Mendenhall always went down after the first hit.
In the last five games of the season, Rod Streater caught 18 of his 39 total catches for 351 of his 584 yards and one of his three TDs.  Normally this would hint at a strong sleeper candidate next year, especially among this group of receivers.  However, this is the Raiders, and just how much anyone is willing to put behind this annual disappointment of a football program won't be known until we get to training camp.  He has the size and speed to move into a better position on the depth chart.  Let's hope this offense can actually grow to a point where all their yardage doesn't come after they're down 20-plus points and opposing defenses go into a prevent nothing defense.

PART III will follow shortly.





Monday, January 7, 2013

NFL 2012-13 YEAR END REVIEW - RANDOM THOUGHTS PART I

I've often found the hardest thing about researching and writing quality analysis on fantasy sports is then turning and remembering that I am also playing.  As a writer, the need to get things down on paper trumps all other things I do, and as such, I find my immediacy as reflects waiver wire moves suffers as a result.  Every year I ponder how the game could be made better, and every year I ponder how football thinking can often be so archaic.

So this blog will be a bunch of thoughts, about fantasy football, the league and the 2012 season.  Call it my homage to Pete King's MMQB column.

I would love to see Fantasy Football be less about waiver wire speed and more about privilege.  I think no league should allow a team to pick up and play more than two players per week.  Sure, injuries are part of the game, but if you didn't build into your draft a strategy of depth, then you should suffer the consequence, much like Arizona and Pittsburgh did with their QBs, or like Dallas did with their rushing attack.  You shouldn't be rewarded for being the fastest guy to grab Cecil Shorts III or Bryce Brown.  And much like the owners that used their waiver wire priority Week 1 hoping Kevin Ogletree would turn into the next coming of 2010's Brandon Lloyd got what they deserved, those owners shouldn't then be able to simply throw him back and replace him with the next hot model. 

Strangely enough, fantasy football thinking isn't that far off from NFL Football thinking.  The NFL is a copycat league, and is sometimes just as archaic.  I've included a chart below to track the number of offensive plays each team ran (just rushing and passing attempts) to show the percentages by which a team ran or threw. 

TEAM RUSH ATT PASS ATT PLAYS FROM SCRIMMAGE
 
RUSH % PASS %
ARIZONA 352 608 960 36.67% 63.33%
ATLANTA 378 615 993 38.07% 61.93%
BALTIMORE 444 560 1004 44.22% 55.78%
BUFFALO 442 511 953 46.38% 53.62%
CAROLINA 462 490 952 48.53% 51.47%
CHICAGO 470 485 955 49.21% 50.79%
CINCINNATI 430 540 970 44.33% 55.67%
CLEVELAND 396 566 962 41.16% 58.84%
DALLAS 355 658 1013 35.04% 64.96%
DENVER 481 588 1069 45.00% 55.00%
DETROIT 391 740 1131 34.57% 65.43%
GREEN BAY 433 558 991 43.69% 56.31%
HOUSTON 508 554 1062 47.83% 52.17%
INDIANAPOLIS 440 628 1068 41.20% 58.80%
JACKSONVILLE 358 586 944 37.92% 62.08%
KANSAS CITY 500 475 975 51.28% 48.72%
MIAMI 440 504 944 46.61% 53.39%
MINNESOTA 486 483 969 50.15% 49.85%
NEW ENGLAND 523 641 1164 44.93% 55.07%
NEW ORLEANS 370 671 1041 35.54% 64.46%
NEW YORK GIANTS 409 539 948 43.14% 56.86%
NEW YORK JETS 494 493 987 50.05% 49.95%
OAKLAND 376 629 1005 37.41% 62.59%
PHILADELPHIA 413 618 1031 40.06% 59.94%
PITTSBURGH 412 574 986 41.78% 58.22%
ST. LOUIS 410 557 967 42.40% 57.60%
SAN DIEGO 411 528 939 43.77% 56.23%
SAN FRANCISCO 492 436 928 53.02% 46.98%
SEATTLE 410 557 967 42.40% 57.60%
TAMPA BAY 416 566 982 42.36% 57.64%
TENNESSEE 378 540 918 41.18% 58.82%
WASHINGTON 519 442 961 54.01% 45.99%
2012 LEAGUE AVG.  435.2 555.9 991.1 43.91% 56.09%
2011 LEAGUE AVG. 436.3 544.1 980.4 44.50% 55.50%
2010 LEAGUE AVG. 435 539.7 974.7 44.63% 55.37%
2009 LEAGUE AVG. 440.3 532.3 972.6 45.27% 54.73%
2008 LEAGUE AVG. 441.2 516.4 957.6 46.07% 53.93%
2007 LEAGUE AVG. 437.1 532.7 969.8 45.07% 54.93%
2006 LEAGUE AVG. 451.5 512.2 963.7 46.85% 53.15%
2005 LEAGUE AVG. 449.2 514.5 963.7 46.61% 53.39%
2004 LEAGUE
AVG.
450.9 511.1 962 46.87% 53.13%


2003 LEAGUE AVG. 453.4 515.4 968.8 46.80% 53.20%

In 10 years the league has moved the passing game up over 56 percent, up an average three percent, while losing that same three percent of running plays.  That's a six percent swing, and yet one could argue a good portion of the teams in the league don't have the personnel to throw the ball that often or more.  Yet because of the success of the New England spread offense and the West Coast offense in San Francisco, many offenses are using those formats and doing it no-huddle, providing more plays than ever.

Looking at the numbers, we can somewhat understand Arizona's predicament.  Looking back, in no way did they have the personnel at the QB position to throw as often as they did, but after they lost Ryan Williams and then Chris Wells and were left with LaRod Stephens-Howling or William Powell, we can somewhat forgive a ridiculous ratio of 36/63. 

But how do you explain Philadelphia?  LeSean McCoy did get hurt, but Bryce Brown jumped right in and ran even better, sans his occasional stone hands.  And how do you explain Baltimore?  Ray Rice is arguably the most complete running back in the NFL, yet Baltimore deferred to Joe Flacco 56 percent of the time?

The list of crazy goes on and on -

Oakland?  Yes they have Carson Palmer, but a receiving group comprised Darius "sittin of the dock of the" Heyward-Bey, Denarius "could I get hurt" Moore and Rod Streater, not to mention a guy once thought of as blocking material  Brandon Myers.  And Myers outperformed them all.

Jacksonville?  Even after losing Maurice Jones-Drew. 

Cleveland?  You're going to give rookie Brandon Weeden that kind of load with receivers like Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Mohamed Massaquoi? Tennessee -- you've got one of the best RBs in recent years with Chris Johnson.  So sure, much better to defer to Nate Washington, Damian Williams or head and injury case Kenny Britt.  Better yet, heap a load on rookie Kendall Wright and see if he can't come through. 

Then there's the insult to all insults - Carolina!  Carolina invested over $13 million this year alone in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams and the addition of Mike Tolbert.  That's over 10 percent of their entire payroll.  The only reason their skew of numbers is leaning just three percent toward the pass is because 127 times Newton ran the ball.  I think it's fair to assume 85% of those were dropbacks that turned into scrambles.  Thus if you add 108 passes to their finally tally, and subtract 108 runs (85% of 127), you get 354 rushing attempts, 598 passing attempts and final percentages of 63/37 in favor of passing.  This with one aging stud receiver named Steve Smith, a growth candidate in Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen as your tight end. 

If this isn't a case of the sheep following the herd mentality, I don't know what is.


MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS

Hey Dallas fans, let me get this straight:  You watched the Redskins, comprised of two rookies at the QB and RB positions, run up over 274 yards of rushing and four rushing touchdowns in a game that meant everything to your season and your solution is to dump Tony Romo?  Thank G-d I don't have to root for this team.

Hey Saints: three of your four RBs averaged well over four yards per carry.  Yet you threw the ball almost 70 percent of the time.  Perhaps it's time to consider a game plan that actually gets one of these guys more than 12 rushes per game so they can get a rhythm going and rest your awful 32nd ranked defense for more than two minutes at a time.

Anyone else wonder why if Obi-Wan Kenobi could simply vanish and become more powerful instead of taking a light-saber death blow to the head from his old friend/foe Darth Vader, why didn't all the other Jedi choose to go this way in all the other movies instead of getting their faces kicked in?

I'll never understand why the Steelers got rid of Dennis Dixon.  Filling in for Roethlisberger during his rather generous four game suspension in 2010, Dixon went 2-0 and completed almost 69% of his passes.  While he didn't throw a TD, he still made plays and kept the Steelers season alive.  They eventually lost the Super Bowl to the Packers.  It was unexplainable and unfathomable that the Steelers rostered Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch this year.   And while I'm so happy for Batch that he got that win, it couldn't have been much more ugly.

How can the Jets bring back Rex Ryan?  Has there been a more ridiculous coach in sports besides maybe Barry Switzer?  After all, Barry's team was Jimmie Johnson's team, and no one ever believed Switzer made any decisions without Jerry Jones' hand up his ass.  Ryan has talked and talked and talked, and while he definitely brings the press New York's way, is it the kind of press you want?  Some will say any press is good press, but was that the case when Terrell Owens was in the locker room of any NFL team?  Ryan is the Terrell Owens of coaches to me.  Not only has he done nothing to get the offense of this team into shape, his defense couldn't stop the run.
 
Chan Gailey got fired in Buffalo.  Is anyone surprised?  Three years into his tenure he had seen the development of C. J. Spiller to the point where Spiller led the league in yards per attempt for runners over 200 carries.  He averaged six yards per tote for the entire season, not to mention his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.  Yet Gailey gave him just 207 carries.  I'm all for loyalty to your RB1 Fred Jackson, but there's a reason Chan's now looking to join the broadcaster circuit.

Kansas City fans -- some numbers to chew on for you:

10 5 327 516 63.4 3693 21 11 7.2

Those were Matt Cassel's numbers in New England.  When you have a line that can block and receivers that don't pop passes that hit them in the hands straight into the air, it's amazing what you can accomplish.  So while Cassel has a fumbling issue and isn't Tom Brady by any means, he also has an offensive line that can't pass block a turtle and receivers that not only drop the ball, but can't get separation.  Your best pass-catcher is Dwayne Bowe and he has NEVER caught more than 57 percent of his targets and this year had a career low 51 percent.  Now, with a coaching change perhaps bringing in a new QB with the first pick in the draft is wise.  However, you'd better be patient with this kid, because next year is likely to be very difficult unless you fix the offensive line.  So if you want to avoid a complete rebuild, why not consider drafting a couple of great offensive lineman, and a wide receiver to complement Bowe, and give Cassel his due.


For more of you QB haters, here are more numbers to chew on:
5 4 182 284 64% 1806 10 8

5 2 118 199 59%  1129 8 4

The top row is Christian Ponder's numbers before Percy Harvin's injury in Week 9.  The second row are his numbers without Harvin, Week 10-16.  The completion percentage drop is a noticeable five percent, yet he still managed to throw 8TD against 4 INTs with a receivers group most that has never had one receiver top 53 catches in a season.  Michael Jenkins, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Devin Aromshodu and TE Kyle Rudolph.  Harvin missed seven games and still led the team with 62 receptions.  Perhaps Christian Ponder isn't the whole problem here.  Sure, Adrian Peterson is a lot of the reason this team when 5-2 down the stretch.  But Ponder had absolutely no one to which he could throw.


Chew on these thoughts, Part II soon enough.