Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Magic Number: 24

That's the magic number. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Yankees losses totalling 24 will give the Red Sox the AL East title for the first time in over 10 years. Amazing. It can be done!

Magic numbers are the curse of the devil - because it takes so long to count down. I mean, I know the season is one day at a time, but the number seems to only get bumped down every other day or so.

Well, last night it got bumped from 25 to 24 in a BIG way. The Yankees got embarrassed in Detroit 16-0. Mike Mussina got absolutely shelled and the Yankees are down and out! I have never seen a team roll over like this and play dead quite as easy as the Yankees did last night. They got hammered from all sides. No named hitters were putting it to their shredded bullpen. Guys named Ramirez, Henn, Bruney...they wouldn't even make it on the Devil Rays, but they are taking up valuable innings in the Yanks bullpen. Embarrassing.

It's embarrassing when they are paying guys like Abreau $18M a year and the guy doesn't hustle after fly balls, then throws to the wrong base, then whiffs repeatedly. The guy has no heart.

It's embarrassing to see they put an aging former CF in LF in Johnny Damon. But of course they have to, since they are paying him $14M a year. His throwing has actually gotten WORSE since he left Boston. He has minimal to no speed on the bases any more, and his OBP is dwindling from the leadoff spot. Sad.

It's embarrassing when the Yankees are going to have to try to convince ARod to stick around next season - even though they are the only team that can outspend every other team by double. There is no guarantee that ARod will come back. And for anyone in the Yankees organization to even doubt that they need him back is just a joke. ARod has carried that team all season - he has accounted for almost 250 runs (and we have 4 weeks left) which is about 1/3 of an entire teams numbers. The Yankee organization is an embarrassment.

It's embarrassing to see an aging SP with a history of Mike Mussina get bad mouthed by the Yankee brass. Saying he might not be good enough to pitch out of the bullpen and could be released is just a slap in the face. But seriously - the guy is done. He was getting pummeled and with ease. His knuckle curve is non-existent, his fastball barely hits 87 mph, and he is mentally not a good pitcher any more. Very sad.

It's embarrassing to see your manager, Joe Torre, looking around the dugout for help, and there is none. Mattingly and Guidry look like rats fleeing a ship - trying to get out of Torre's glare. Guidry made so many trips to the mound last night they were going to put a lawn chair out there next to the pitcher to make it easier. Torre actually went out to take the ball from Henn and I thought Henn was going to punch him in the head for leaving him out there too long. Poor Henn was getting killed and when he looked into the dugout for some help, everyone diverted their eyes away like they didn't notice. That kid will be a mess now for a long long time. Torre is done, stick a fork in him. When he doesn't make the playoffs he will be fired immediately. Look for Joe Girardi to be the next Yankee manager.

The best thing that happened last night was the Yankees using their bullpen a lot - that means they will be tired for the 3 game series starting tonight in NY. The toilet will be abuzz.

I can not wait for the Yankees to throw Joba Chamberlain at the Sox. The kid has started his career with 9 innings of scoreless ball, he can throw a 100 mph, and he will get his ego deflated by the Sox this week. I hope they throw him in the first game - Pettitte starts and will probably get shelled early. Let's get it over with - let's crush this kids confidence early so he's useless the rest of the series (he can't pitch on consecutive days).

The Yankee bullpen is horrible - Farnsworth, Henn, Ramirez, Bruney, Vizcaino, Chamberlain and even Mo don't scare anyone. Three of those guys were misused already on Monday so they should be ready to go against the Sox!

So, my prediction? Sox win 2 out of 3. Tuesday and Wednesday nights will be blow outs, and Thursday will be a close loss. Should be a good series with the Sox offense peaking. GO SOX!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Steelers looked good in preseason vs Eagles

Game started off well - a couple early completions and then Ben made a dumb move and threw up a ball he should have held onto or thrown a mile out of bounds. I think he was just feeling good and didn't think any harm would come of it. The INT didn't really bother me, but I guess it bothered Ben. He had one pass to Hines at the goal line that was behind him that could have gotten picked as well.

Ben did however make a couple nice passes - one to Miller down the middle splitting the seam looked indefensible. Another pass to Holmes was beautiful and the dump passes out of the backfield to Najeh and FWP were flawless. We seemed to be blocking well on the screens and pummelling opposing LBs.

What I wasn't happy with is pass protection. Obviously OL is our weakness and we truly need to have some consistency there to be effective. Ben was pressured all day - and only because of his quick release was he effective. We had no rush until the D started focusing on the pass - then it opened up. None of the offense line impressed me. Chris Kemoeato seemed like the only guy who made any impression on me. I saw him engage and flatten one DE and I was like WOW!!

The defense however was almost perfect - moving around so much it caused the OLine to jump offsides several times. It was amazing to see LBs running stunts and seeing DB's flying in to get sacks or rushes on the QB. McNabb was not very effective at all - and he has NO speed anymore. Woodley looked good again, he seemed to be flying around and making plays. Timmons looked ok, but he seemed lost on some plays. I didn't think he was engaging or getting off blockers well. Also, he needs to commit to a rush or a drop back - not somewhere in the middle where he seemed to be a lot. He did rush a few times and looked way out of control - he'd often get run way past the QB by his T and the would not be productive at all. He would seem to be better trying to bullrush straight through a guy or trying some type of spin move.

Our second team D was shredding by Kevin Kolb - who was very impressive. The kid got rid of the ball quickly and checked several options when he had to and delivered the ball in the right spots. Lee Vickers, a TE, was his favorite receiver - they were clicking., Our D could not shut them down - mainly because they could not get pressure on the QB. Also, our LBs were non-existent, since most of those receptions happened to the TE right on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Wallace, Stanley, Woodley and Timmons need to be more stay at home and make plays. I'm not sure if they were flying around trying to get pressure on the QB or just not in the right position.

I like this William Gay kid - he brings quite a punch for a late rounder - her will be the steal of the draft I think. Anthony Smith was also laying down the smack - he's crazy - huge impacts on tackles, including special teams and he seems to be everywhere. Jeff Reed scares the crap out of me - he just seems wildly too inconsistent for me.

Dan Sepulveda scared me too - I am very high on this guy - but he seemed to be off. Shanking one punt is one thing when you are standing on the 50 yard line - but he was in our own endzone. You CAN NOT do that in the regular season. Of course the Steelers released Mike Barr - so Sepulveda is not in jeopardy at all. I wanted to see some of his kicks, but just saw one other good one.

The RBs were lame. FWP looked ok, but I think he needs some work next week. No one rushed well. They did however catch the ball well - Davis and Najeh caught a few and went a rumblin! I wanted to see more of Gary Russell - but he only got 4 carries for 8 yards. I'm not sure how the Steelers can keep him after so little work. One thing is for sure - all this talk about cutting Kreider has to STOP! The man is a huge piece of our rushing offense and he pancakes a lot of LBs. Without we will have half as good a rushing offense. He had one good catch and run - I like watching guys pinballing off him - the dude is huge.

One last comment/observation: Tomlin is awesome. The guy isn't going to go nuts on anyone - no chin, no spitting, no tackles on picks when your team is losing. He's as steady as they go. And he has more respect right now than Cowher did all last season. He calls guys over - he doesn't grab their face masks - he talks to them - not spits on them - they shake their head and learn something from it. I like that. being emotional is great, but it got old in Pittsburgh. Ben was being interviewed and when asked about the differences between Cowher and Tomlin, he tried to walk a very fine line and avoid crapping on Cowher - but OH MAN did he want to!

Tomlin said something at the beginning of the game in an interview that we all have to embrace. It don't matter what he says he's going to do, it's if he goes out there and does it - respect him for his outcomes, not his talk. He doesn't want to speak with his mouth, he'd rather speak with his actions. I guarantee that Tomlin is here for another 10-15 years, he seems like the kind of guy the Rooney's can get behind - and when they stand behind you, you know you are worthy of such praise.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fall is almost here.

First of all - I hate the heat. I always have and always will. Worse is humidity - which makes heat feel 2X worse.

The other day we had our first all rainy day of the summer here in the Denver area. That's a big deal because during the hottest months it NEVER rains during the day - sometimes it will rain during the late afternoon. But, it started raining on the drive to work, built up to a huge thunderstorm around 10am, was over cast and dreary throughout the day and the sun never really popped out. The temp also stayed below about 80 all day - which was a huge break from the 95 to 100 degree days we were getting.

Since that day we have seemed to be on the down side fo the summer - although it has been hot (92 yesterday and supposedly 95 degrees today), I think the heat is coming to an end. That is a very good sign.

The best times of year around Denver are spring and fall - very cool nights and beautiful sunny days usher in great weather. The fishing becomes amazing as well - as the nights might dip down into the 30's with snow possible in the high country. The fish start anticipating the change and go nuts - eager to eat as much as possible before it gets too cold. The colors in the mtns are great, and the sounds seem more crisp in the colder air.

Camping in the fall becomes a little tougher - you are really taking a chance at freezing your ass off at night. But, the mornings are great as it is cold and clear. Plus, the clouds will come in at night and cling close to the ground or on mountains as the morning breaks - leaves a pretty cool sight.

Fall also marks some other times - football! baseball playoffs! hockey!! so many sporting events. Also, the start of winter is right around the corner and this year I'm loooking forward to taking Avi sledding and possibly skiing. Also, I think I will try and get her on ice skates - which should be interesting. Winter time here is always pretty mellow - so I don't mind it. It should be more fun in the snow this year as Avi is big enough to enjoy it.

The fall just seems to be more enjoyable to be outside in. I'm looking foward to getting out and hitting some fly fishing day trips soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

6.5 game lead, but is it enough?

I've been thinking a lot about the Sox melt down last year - sure they were long out of it by then, but it could happen again. Our offense is virtually the same. The addition of Pedroia has been nice, but Drew and Lugo could arguably be downgrades. But whatever. These are the things that I fear as we wrap up the last 30+ games of the season.

1. Papelbon's arm. The kid broke down at the end of the season, and we had an unexplained episode earlier this season where he wasn't put in in a save situation. Rumors swirled, then eventually disappeared. To date he has been been under worked compared to last year (63 innings to 46 thus far) - so that is good. We acquired Gagne to take the some heat off on back to back save situations. But, this team can ill afford to lose Paps now or down the stretch. He hasn't looked as intimidating to me lately like he did at the beginning of the season. Is this a sign? Who knows.

2. Papi's shoulder/knee injuries. Wow, there is a huge power outage in Boston this season - from Manny, Papi, Drew, almost everyone. To date they have 124 HRs - which is a pace to hit 156 HRs. That is compared to 192 last season. Last season Ortiz and Manny had 89! This year they could miss that mark by 35! Lowell/Tek/Youks are at their averages, but Drew and Lugo suck. Crisp doesn't seem to have any power either. Just imagine going into the playoff stretch run and having no power? Pitching will only get better against us, so we need to hit. Also, a hurt Papi is no longer a threat to be as clutch as he was two/three years ago. Against TB with 1 out in the ninth and down by one he took a walk. He had a chance to tie it and took the pass. All I'm saying is with a hurt Papi this team can not win a WS.

3. The unavoidable bullpen meltdown! They have been the most consistent group on this team. They had a minor bad stretch about a month ago - but rebounded. Timlin's ERA actually is below 3, MDC is hovering in the mid-2's, Snyder is at 3.50. This is too good to be true. Will it keep up? It has to. Our starters have not been impressive in innings 5-7 and as we start playing better teams, Tito should be quicker with the hook - especially with a great bullpen. We need this group to stay tight! All hail the Okie! The man is a God-send!

4. Inevitable managerial brain farts. Luckily we seem to have made the right decisions so far. But with a strong bullpne, the pitching staff has managed itself. Personally I think we have left the DiceK or Schilling in a little too long, but honestly that is a hard predicament to get right when you have a 20 year vet and a guy who once threw 275 pitchs in ONE game. We have no bench to speak of - Cora is very good in the utility role having Ellsbury and maybe Moss up in Spetember adds some speed/pop. Kevin Cash handled Wakes great and adds a decent back up to Tek. Bye Mirabelli - you've been taking up a roster spot too long!

5. No bottom of the order production. Our #9 guy makes $9M a year. He's hitting in the right spot too. Although he's coming out of it, he needs to start getting more timely with his hits. And he needs more damn doubles. Coco needs to stay on hit .280 tear and just get on base. Drew needs to add some pop - he's well rested and has no excuse. For $14M a year I shouldn't have to see Hinske in RF 2 times a week. Kevin Cash has to just not ground into DP's and not K too much (4 in his first 9 abs are ugly).

6. SP injury. Right now we can squeek by using Tavarez/Buchholz/Snyder/Lester as our #5 starter. But an injury would force us to start 2 of those guys more frequently - and that CAN'T happen. For the stretch run we need guys healthy. Let's not be afraid to use the bullpen. 5 innings is a quality start with our pen. Last year we had 3 guys over 100 innings (Schill and Beckett at 204 and Wake at 140) - this year already we have Beckett at 160, DiceK at 170, Schill at 118, Wake at 157 and Tavarez at 116. That is either a great sign or a sign of doom.

If none of those 6 happen we will lock up the East and be serious contenders. If one of those happen, we could sqeek it out and be competitive. If 2 happen we will struggle. If more happen we are doomed and this season will end in disappointment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Top 20 Movies of All Time

Ok, I kind of want to get this on paper - so here it goes. These are my Top 20 movies of all time (I'm not into any one kind of movie - but I do stray away from old classics):

1. Shawshank Redemption (1994 - Robbins & Freeman)
2. 50 First Dates (2004 - Barrymore & Sandler)
3. Sweet Home Alabama (2002 - Witherspoon)
4. Tommy Boy (1995 - Spade & Farley)
5. Running Scared (1986 - Crystal & Hines)
6. Princess Bride (1987 - Elwes & Penn)
7. Gladiator (2000 - Crowe)
8. Nothing to Lose (1997 - Lawrence & Robbins)
9. Can't Buy Me Love (1987 - Dempsey & Petersen)
10. Old School (2003 - Ferrell & Wilson)
11. Indiana Jones (1981-1989 - Ford & Connery)
12. Fugitive (1993 - Ford & Jones)
13. National Lampoons Van Wilder (2002 - Reynolds & Reid)
14. Wedding Singer (1998 - Barrymore & Sandler)
15. Beverly Hills Cop (1984 - Murphy & Reinhold & Ashton)
16. Sixteen Candles/Pretty in Pink/Breakfast Club (1984-1986 - Ringwold)
17. Goonies (1985 - Astin & Feldman)
18. Back to the Future (1985 - Fox & Lloyd & Thompson)
19. Forrest Gump (1994 - Hanks & Sinise)
20. The Rock (1996 - Connery & Cage)

Man, 1984-1987 was some good years - classic movies for the making. Ringwold obviously carried the load, working with superstars in the making (Estevez, Nelson), sub-superstars in the making (Anthony Michael Hall) and geek followings (Duckie - Jon Cryer). Pretty impressive list of followings. Almost everyone who was pubescent during the late 70's and 80's has one or all of these movies on their list. Beverly Hills Cop revolutionized the comedy/cop connection and shot Murphy to the top with his stand up and multi million dollar movies. The movie that gets my ultimate vote is a little known movie called Running Scared - Gregory Hines & Billy Crystal are meant to be together - their acting is flawless and they play off each other very well. My favorite movie of the era. Princess Bride is another comedy that you need to watch several times to undertsnad - not an easy moving to "get" the first time - but lots of undertones and just plain classic.

Sandler and Barrymore work classically together - they are such naturals and are very believable - both movies are by far winners. Tommy Boy makes my list that high because it could be the classic Farley movie ever - nonstop humor and a loveable dumb character that makes you feel bad for him. Plus, if you can't quote 10 lines from the movie you shouldn't be reading this.

Action in the Fugitive and the Rock is nonstop, Gump and Gladiator own more awards than any other movies. Van Wilder is purely hilarious - so many lines in this movie, just not enough peple to use them on.

Heart tuggers in Sweet Home Alabama and Shawshank are rightfully at the top of my list - if you want to get dragged into a story, these are the movies for you. Shawshank is at the top of almost everyone's list. Red & Andy meeting in Zihuatenejo, Mexico has to be the greatest ending of all time - 20 years in the making and ultimately worth it.

These are my picks - what do you think?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Vick needs to get a taste of his own medicine...

This Vick thing is stupid. This guy has basically lied his way this far and then pleas out to "beginning the healing process". Are you joking? He hung, electrocuted and drown underperforming dogs. Why Vick himself was an underperforming dog his whole career - why can't we give him a taste of his own medicine? I'd like to see the bastard held under water to within an inch of his life then pulled back, maybe send a few thousand volts through him just for fun, and maybe we can just break a few vertibrea and leave him a paralyzed quad. The guy is disgusting.

First off, he lied - he told everyone that he knew nothing about the happenings and promised to take better care of his property and choose his friends more wisely. The guy is a loser - up there with Ray Lewis and Rae Carruth. Choose your friends wisely? He's an adult. How about live your life as a role model or just live your life morally? The guy had millions and millions of dollars riding on his left arm - a Nike shoe that was about to be released, millions of fans and jerseys - and he has to be told to watch what he does? Amazing. The guy has to be an idiot.

Funny thing I was just thinking about - Vicks brother Marcus had issues in college and was suspended a couple of times. He had a ton of talent and yet couldn't stay out of trouble - some of the trouble was because he had more oppotunities because of his star power brother. Now do we wonder why Marcus was such a head case? Maybe it runs in the family?

Actually, I'm happy to see Vick get a jail cell - he deserves it. Everytime he is on TV he was always this thug image, all hard and ghetto. Well, he just lived up to his image. I'm betting he plays down that image in jail. Imagine if he was a nice guy, projecting a giving imagine - maybe he'd get more respect or sympathy? The guy is a loser. Good ridance.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007 - Sylvan Lake, Eagle, CO

Saturday, August 18, 2007 - Sylvan Lake, Eagle, CO

Spent the weekend camping at Sylvan Lake just south about 16 miles from Eagle Colorado with the family. We have been here before and it is great for the kids - plus there is great fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities nearby. The lake is small - about 10 acres or so - and it has a small creek leading in and out of it. About 3 weeks ago they had an 8 foot wall of water come down the mtn side just below the lake and campground and down through a gully into the river - it brought lots of deadwood and red mud and basically wiped out the lower section of river. Much further down the river through private property the water was much nicer - and of course off limits.

I had a couple hours to fish during an Avelyn nap - so I took the kayak out with the dog and tried my hand at some "lake" fishing. The weather was slightly overcast and about 78 degrees - it was a bit windy, which caused for some problems when trying to make more than one cast in the same spot. The fish were always slamming the surface - especially close to shore. It wasn't difficult to see what was hitting either - they were clung to my shirt and kayak by the hundreds (literally). They looked like black duns in size 12 - they stood completely upright in the water and looked like huge sailboats getting taken in the wind. I tied on the best pattern I could to imitate it, a size 18 dun in grey. Of course I was chucking into a wind and was throwing a needle into a haystack of bugs - so I had no chance. I was whipping up quite a bit of line and snapping my flies on the grass behind me - so eventually I lost my rig. I switched to a nymph rig with about 15 feet of line between flies and indicator. This late is very shallow in spots and the green weeds stretch straight up - in sections the water looks a couple feet deep - but then the weeds are another 7 feet deep - so it is pretty deep. The water in this lake is pure and you can see all the way to the bottom unobstructed - it looks like an aquarium.

I decided to troll with my nymph rig - which posed a few problems - I couldn't stay in one place with the wind at my back, and I couldn't keep my nose into the wind and hold it steady either. I did make a few trips to the far side of the lake and saw some HUGE fish swimming below me. They stood out because the water is so clear and their fins are a greyish sliver color. These fish were easily 10 lbs and the guy in dingy boat with an electric trolling motor told me he caught a beautiful 16 inch brookie that was thick. The water here is amazing - they stock it every year with fingerlings - but there are some monsters in there swimming amongst the canopy of weeds. There is also a sign by the spill in that says no swimming or fishing Sept 1 - November 1 - no reason was given, but I assume that it is because there might be a salmon run???? Who knows - but that is pretty cool.

I basically was gone 2 hours and needed to head back - I was paddling straight into a head wind and worked my ass off. Cabo basically slept in the boat the entire time - she was great to have with me, and everyone who paddled by made a comment about how cool it was to fish with your best friend.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gut Wrenching

After I blogged about the turning point, my prediction is now only half right. The Sox climbed back into a 6-0 game with the Rays by making it 6-5 in the ninth with no one out and Lugo on second. Pedroia, Youks and Manny k'd. Sad. Only Papi walked. Where was the big hit? Last year it would have been Ortiz doing something fantastic. This year ....nothing.

So, the other half of my prediction - well, it was almost very wrong. Yankees losing 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth with 2 out and Shelley Duncan hits a 3 run homer to tie it. But in the top of the 10th the O's get 3 of their own off Mo Rivera. This is good - even more deflating because the Yanks rallied and the pitching staff (arguably their best pitcher) coughed it up. Even better - this happened in Yankee Stadium - which will draw the ire of Yankee fans even more. Watch out for Yanks fans bailing on their team after this poor showing.

Of course, that game isn't over yet...so, I should bite my toungue. 1 out, Jeter up. 2 out, ARod singled (which is fine because he is on my fantasy team). Matsui up. 3 out. Game over. No lead lost. But a huge missed opportunity for the Sox to gain a game. Scary part is the Yanks are losing to the easy part of their schedule this month - not a good sign for them.

Man, this is not going to be an easy end to a season - it's going to be stressful!

Tuesday was a good day.

With the exception of finding out my TiVo did NOT record My Boys on Monday night - Tuesday was almost a perfect day.

In the TURNING POINT OF THE SEASON the Red Sox came from 1-0 down in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the Devil Rays. Yes, I know a 1 run lead and the Devil Rays are not huge obstacles, but still, this was a turning point. Having played mediocre and not appearing to put out a full effort over the last 3 weeks or so, the Sox did something extraordinary on Tuesday night. Stealing one from the Rays was huge as it helped them gain a game in the division. And who were the heros of the game? None other than Jon Lester (2 hitter, 1 run), Mike Lowell (HR to tie the game in the 9th), Dustin Pedroia (2 for 4), Varitek (double in the 9th) and Coco (single in the 9th and game winning RBI). Two of those guys are the usual suspects. One guy we desparately needed to get hot right now is Jon Lester. He's new blood in our rotation, filling the 5th starter spot for Tavarez and adding a much needed left handed starter to the rotation. He could be special next year.

To make the day even better, the Yankees got POUNDED by the Orioles 12-0. This too was a turning point for the Yankees. They have been hot hot hot, and after last nights game they are embarrassed. This could set in motion a variety of bad things (or it could ignite the Yanks - which is doubtful), including less confidence in their pitching staff and offense. The Yankees are a team that needs to be on a roll - and this could deflate them - especially if they follow it up with a loss today. This could be just what the Sox needed. I am predicting that this will be the turning point of both teams seasons.

I also read that Clay Buchholz could be making his MLB debut on Friday night during the doubleheader. Buchholz is the most exciting rookie that the Sox have right now - he's been dominant at all three levels this year and should be ready to show off his stuff on the national stage. Do I think he's ready? Probably not. But the Sox could use the emotional burst it will give the team - and if he does pitch well it will make it 100 times more exciting. He'd be facing the Angels on Friday in Fenway and I think the Angels could take advantage of him. They are a good hitting team, but not having a scouting report on Buchholz could slow down their offense.

The rotation next year is looking pretty good. Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester, Buchholz and maybe Schilling. As for Schilling, he ain't getting $13M a year - especially after having an average season this year and being injured. I'd sign him for not a penny more than $7M. If he wants more than that, he's free to go. Any team that signs him would be getting a deal at $7M+, but he should give the Sox a discount and end his career with the Sox.

Well, that's it for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's Tuesday...and it's dragging

It's Tuesday....great! Wonderful news. I wish I could stay awake. Work is work - busy, but nothing pressing. VMWare IPO'd today on the stick market - I wish I Had know - would have liked to get in on it - oh yeah, if I had the funds to by more than 10 shares. VMWare is virtualization software that partition machines so that different software can be installed on different types of machines, and they run independent of the platform and more efficiently. Cool stuff. EMC is IPO'ing 10% of their shares. I don't know a whole lot else about the stuff, but the market loves it.

The market is hovering around 13,000 - wasn't it just at 14,000 a couple of weeks ago? The market is basically legalized gambling, up and down and down and up. Is 14K too high? I think so. No way the market should be maxing out like that. I need to get back into penny stocks - not that I had suck great luck with them the first time.

The Sox suck. I'm glad I got that off my chest. Although I still have faith in them, I'm thinking they need to go on a roll with the easy schedule they have, and the Yankees need to stop being so lucky. Eric Gagne is the worst acquisition in history - I'm thinking the Yankees are paying him under the table to lose the rest of the way. No one is hitting in the lineup. Ortiz and Manny could end up hitting less than 30 HRs each by the end of the season - which is totally unheard of. Last year Ortiz hit 54 - sure he's hurt this year, but if you are hurt you don't play. Dustin Pedroia is making a run at ROY. 7th in hitting and 11th in OBP - that is sick for a rookie. I was totally wrong about him - I thought he'd be a .260 hitter at best. Man, the kid is fun to watch - hopefully he's a mainstay at 2B for a long time. He's already a fan favorite.

Let's revisit the Hanley Ramirez/Anibal Sanchez for Mike Lowell/Josh Beckett trade for a minute. Beckett is on his way to becoming a 20 game winner - and probably will be 4 or 5 more times in his career. Lowell has been a plus on D and has swung a pretty good bat - leading the Sox in a few offensive categories. Anibal Sanchez was a promising young pitcher (one of my favorites), pitching a no hitter last year. But, this year he has had shoulder surgery and is out indefinitely. The difference here is Hanley. The kid was always a 5 tool type player with no room at the MLB level - blocked by Nomar, OCab, Renteria and Lugo (although he was traded before Lugo was signed). No way Theo was sticking an unknown at SS for the Sox. But the Marlins were ready and gave Hanley the job immediately - and man, has it paid off. Hanley is having an MVP type season - surpassing his HR total from last season already (around 18 I think), he's going to match his 50 SBs from a year ago, and he's the NL leading hitter right now at like .347. That is NUTS! We gave up one of the most exciting young players who plays one of the toughest positions to fill (just ask Theo now) - oh, and he's only going to get better! I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox try to retrade for him in a coupel of years!

Yankees are playing out of their heads right now - sweeping the Indians and scoring in double digits every night for the last month. No way can they keep it up. Is it just me or does everyone HATE the Yankees?? All the blogs or sports articles I read are so sick of their comeback - they just want them to die. Sad. I wouldn't want to be a fan of an organization that is so hated. Sure the Sox have their haters, but most (if not all) are Yankee fans. Clemens got suspended and will miss a start - rumor is he might be hurting and needed to miss the start anyways. I think they said he was 4-5 with a 4.50 era - that is well worth the $18M they are paying him. I hope he falls on his ass the rest of the way. I can't wait until he pitches against the Sox.

Steelers looked blah this weekend - I only saw the first quarter on Tivo, but they didn't impress me. The D looked very good - but the O, not so much. I can't wait for the real games to start.

Anyone watch My Boys on Monday Nights? Very good show - the writers on that shore are very good and the actors are not well known - which makes them more believable. Plus, that chick is every guys dream - into sports, drinks beer, doesn't know she's hot - PERFECT! And we all have friends like her - we can relate to at least one of her friends and pinpoint characteristics our friends have in common with them. Trouty is funny too - that guy looks straight out of Night at the Roxbury. Oh, and I missed it last night - thank God for TiVo! I got to get in an extra hour of roller hockey practice - which I needed. I need to get in better shape. I'm not even sore today - which is a huge step.

We are camping in Eagle this weekend at a campground named Sylvan Lake. It should be a blast for Avi. Although we will be gone two nights without electricity. Should be interesting. Kayaking will be fun though and she will be busy (as long as the weather is nice).

Well, back to work for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rick Ankiel the Slugger??

That has to be one of the strangest things I have ever heard. After all, not 7 years ago Ankiel was one of the best up and coming young arms to hit the scene - he was talk and lanky and he could throw the rock. But hit the rock? No one would have even thunk it!

Ankiel's life story is quite impressive, he was a highly touted pitcher who after having a great rookie season in 2000 where he struck out 194 in 175 innings, fell upon some tough times. Injuries, wildness and a loss of confidence drove Ankiel damn near out of baseball. After giving up on pitching in the spring of 2005, and making it through waivers the Cardinals resigned Ankiel and put him in the minors - this time as an OF. No one really gave him a shot - he was injured all of 2006 and in 2007 he seemed to have come to Spring Training with a miracle of a dream. The Cardinals stuck him in AAA, and after hitting 31 HRs there, the Cards gave him a call up last Thursday.

Well, Ankiel made the most of his debut - hitting a HR off Doug Brocial of the Padres. This was not his first HR ever - he had 2 HRs in 2000 as a pitcher. Ankiel did however strike out 2 times that game, and 2 times the next game as well. If anything is going to hold Ankiel from being a MLB player it will be his plate discipline and high strikeout rates.

This leads to his 3rd game back as a hitter - last night Ankiel hit 2 HRs in a game for the first time in his career. Which wouldn't be amazing for a young hitter - but when you consider his past history as a pitcher - that makes this sort of miraculous. Ankiel hit the HRs off Derek Lowe and Roberto Hernandez.

So why can't/shouldn't this happen? I mean, both hitters and pitchers are both great athletes - otherwise they wouldn't be playing at this level or any level above college. There have been several great two way athletes who have done well - Babe Ruth being the first notorious pitcher/slugger. But major league baseball has changed - over the last couple of decades especially - when a player is drafted they are pushed to pursue one position - usually causing their skills to diminish at the other position. I think the last great two way college player and pro was Brooks Kieschnick - a two way spuerstar at the University of Texas was a very promising hitter - he had pop and average and in his thrid year of pro ball was tearing up AAA. He eventually made his MLB debut, but was just an average hitter from then on. In 1999 (6 years after he was drafted) he switched to a full time pitcher. AT the age of 31 (2003) he made his pitching debut (almost the exact opposite of Ankiel) and was average at best. The Brewers loved him because he offered them a PH and a long arm out of the bullpen as the 12th pitcher. Be he didn't burst onto the scene as Ankiel has.

What seems amazing to me is the differences between hitters and pitchers. Most hitters you think of as big burly home run hitters, while big pitchers lend you visions of David Wells and El Guapo. Skinny hitters you don't think of as power guys (the occassional Richie Sexson changes that), and you think of skinny pitchers as the norm - think Pedro & RJ. It's also a wasted AB in the NL, where pitchers flail at opposing pitchers fastballs as they whiz past them 1-2-3. Pitchers just aren't meant to hit.

Hitters and pitchers are so different, that I almost think of them as different sexes. Pitchers just don't have the muscle or the hand eye coordination to smack the ball around the park. I think they are wired differently, actually afraid of the ball once it touches the bat (obviously there are a few great defensive pitchers - but not a lot).

So how is this happening? Is Ankiel a blast from the way past - Babe Ruth style, but 100 lbs lighter? He's an uber-athlete, a sort of freak of nature in a game where only 1 out of every 10,000 little leaguers make the pros.

I guess I don't have any answers, but I will be following this story closely as it is one of the most interesting to date in the majors.

Friday, August 10, 2007

List of your addictions/passions/obsessions

About 7 years ago I asked my wife to list out her passions (guys call them addictions) - I never saw her answers, or ever even asked her about them, but I figured I'm 7 years late, but I'll list mine out.

First I have to define the word passion or passionate in this context:

pas·sion·ate [pash-uh-nit]
1. having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: a passionate advocate of socialism.
2. easily aroused to or influenced by sexual desire; ardently sensual.
3. expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling; emotional: passionate language.
4. intense or vehement, as emotions or feelings: passionate grief.
5. easily moved to anger; quick-tempered; irascible.

Ok, I understand #1 - having a strong feeling about, that makes sense.
#2 is the romance side of it - so I understand that one too (although it wasn't first in my mind).
#5 is a bit weird - "anger" is not an emotion or feeling I convey with passionate, but um...ok.
Let's now look at the word addicted or addiction:

ad·dic·tion (uh-dik-shun)
Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
An instance of this: a person with multiple chemical addictions.
The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something. An instance of this: had an addiction for fast cars.

Now this is what guys have more than passions we have addictions.
But potentially there is one more word that differentiates male from female. Like...obsessed or obsession:

ob·ses·sion [uhb-sesh-uhn]
1. the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
2. the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself.
3. the state of being obsessed.
4. the act of obsessing.
Yup, all three of these words are tied into a guys psychi.

So here is my list with a brief description:

1. My wife Jennifer- passion/addiction/obsession (pretty self explanatory)

2. My daughter Avelyn- passion/addiction/obsession (pretty self explanatory)

3. My dog Cabo - addiction/obsession - I love my mutt more than words, if you knew me you'd know this already (I'm putting Cabo 3rd as not to piss off the wife, but truly, she might be higher in my heart - I'm just saying!). I feel that 15 years with this dog is too short, and every day it kills me to know it's one more without her. There is no replacing Cabo.

4. Boston Red Sox - passion/addiction/obsession - this is something that real Red Sox fans understand - Bill Simmons on ESPN Page 2 is classically expressing how ever Sox fan truly feels - he says it all in a way us non-writers can't. To read him is to understand every Sox fan's ups and downs.

5. Fly Fishing - addiction - no obsession here because I don't think I need all the new gear that comes out. This is truly an addictive activity, especially in some of the great places in Colorado that I fish in.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers - addiction - after winning the SB a few years back I realized that I did not have the same passion for the Steelers as I did for the Red Sox. Now, I love the Steelers, but I literally cried when the Sox won the WS. The SB was fun, but it was icing on the big cake and not a total shock like the WS. So, that is why this is listed lower than the Sox.

7. Good People/Friends/and recipricating that to those people - passion - this will sound weird to some (not those who know me), but there just aren't enough good people in the world. I mean people who treat you the way they want to be treated. People who you trust with your life, people who would give you the shirt off their backs, people who would lend you money (if they had it) without even asking a question. People who you would feel comfortable going into business with. I can probably count maybe 7 non-family people in my life who I trust whole heartedly. I'd give names, but I don't want anyone getting a big head.

8. Money - obsession - I'm not rich, I'm actually cheap. I don't make excess and don't live in excess and don't appreciate it when others do. I'm obsessed with providing for my family and my future retirement and yet I want to not live outside my bounds and I don't yearn for anything bigger than I think I need right now (example: house, car, wedding, vacations, etc.). Being a finance guy probably feeds this obsession.

That is all I can think of. I bet you can probably tell a lot about someone by seeing their list of addictions/passions/obsessions.

What's your a/p/o?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Red Sox lead at 6 games in the East

It's a day off - but I'm still thinking of the Sox!

West Coast road trips are tough - the games start at 8pm MST and don't get over until well after I'm in bed (at 10pm MST). The WC trip also sucks because those teams are tough - the A's, M's & Angels all play good baseball and they always seem to crush the Sox. No change this week - as the Sox dropped 2 to the Angels. Luckily they won last nights game and the Yankees lost - this pushes their lead back to 6 games. In the past two months their lead has shrunk from 14 games to 5 games. That's a huge change.

The Sox have been mediocre of late, but that hasn't been the main cause of their collapse. The Yanks have been playing out of their minds - having about as many double digit runs score in the past two weeks as they had the entire beginning of the year. Matsui and Abreau are carrying that team.

The Sox are just stagnant - unable to score like they were in the beginning of the year and the starting pitching is shaky at best. DiceK and Josh Beckett have been average. The #5 pitcher (Lester) has been average at best, Gabbard was traded. Wakefield is never impressive to me. Schilling is coming back from injury, but he wasn't really impressive in his first start back either.

So, are we in trouble? No. But we need to beat the teams we should be beating and winning most of the series against stronger teams. We have an easier schedule coming up as the Yankees schedule gets tougher over the next couple weeks. The Sox play Clev, Balt, Detroit, LA, Detroit and then Boston. While Boston has Balt, TB, LA (at home), TB, WS and Yankees. This is the month where it could make or break the Sox. If the Sox gain a game or two it would be a victory - if they lose ground or stay the same it will be bad.

Right now the Sox are being carried by Dustin Pedroia (ROY anyone?) and Mike Lowell. Coco and Lugo have been doing well. No Ortiz hurts. Manny and Youks are just flying under the radar. The bullpen has had some rough outings, but they have been strong. Adding Gagne to this pen has been helpful, but he doesn't appear to be as dominant as expected.

The Yankees added Wilson Betimit at the trade deadline and a bunch of minor league pitchers have been brought up. Shelley Duncan has added some spark to their lineup from AAA. Giambi is back, Hughes is back and Cano has been named the starting CF. These moves should help the Yanks. ARod has been out off and on - so the Betimit pick up seems to have been a smart move. Is this enough to get back on the winning track and win the division? Luckily, their pitching still sucks and their bullpen is the worst of it. Trading Proctor (who was average) and designating Myers (who was ok) will not help that bullpen.

With two full months left I'm wondering when the Yankees will be eliminated mentally. Obviously there is a clinching date, but I wonder if the attitude in NY will go sour sooner than that, maybe after a couple of losses. If there is one team that surfs the momentum wave the best, it is the Yankees. But - falling on their faces would make a division win even sweeter.

So what do the Sox need to do in 60 days to clinch the East?
1) Get quality starts from the SPs.
2) Start hitting in clutch (2 out) situations. LOBs are killing us.
3) Get production from a spot in the order that is unexpected? WMP, Belli, Hinske, Moss, someone has to step up.
4) This will sound weird, but keep Paps fresh - use Gagne to close any game with a 2 or more run lead.
5) Get rid of Timlin - the guy is killing us - throw him on the DL.
6) Pray to the baseball Gods.

I think the Yanks want to believe they have a shot at the division - I don't think they do. But they will be very hungry if they lose the division and win the wild card - so that could be just as bad for Boston, as they could meet again in the ALCS.

My prediction:
The Sox will end the regular season barely mediocre - currently at 69-45, will end season at 95-67 (that 26-22 the rest of the way) and win the division.
The Yanks will end the regular season mediocre - currently at 63-51, will end season at 91-71 (that 28-20 the rest of the way) and 2nd in the division.

With 91 wins the Yanks will probably not win the wildcard. I think the Tigers will sneak it with 93 wins (30-19 finish) - so it seems like the most important games for the Yankees are the 6 games against us and the 8 games against Detroit and the 3 games against Cleveland. If they went 8-9 during those games, they'd have to win 20-11 against the rest of the teams just to get to 91 wins. And that won't be easy because teams like the O's, BJ's and Rays will be gunning to knock out the defending East champs in 22 remaining games. That being said, those 22 games are against teams that are .500 or below (technically Toronto is one game over .500), and could allow the Yankees a chance to climb back into this. So, I guess what I'm saying is that we will need a little help from our friends in the East and Central divisions!

We also need a little help from the health Gods. Getting Schilling back is great - if he's healthy. Ortiz needs to get back to health quickly. More importantly we can't have second half slumps from Youks, Lowell or our bullpen - like last year.

Well, I hope the Sox pull it out - it will be nice to be able to brag against Yankees fans that we broke their long streak of Division titles.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Avelyn is 2 Years Old

It is amazing to believe that my daughter Avelyn will be 2 years old on Sunday. Although it doesn't seem like 'only yesterday' she was born, it doesn't seem like two years. The year s have flown by, and she has been a lot of fun. Although I never thought that the 2nd Birthday could come fast enough, I'm really liking this age.

She has turned out to be quite a character. She's a thick kid, solid (gets that from me), she has the bluest eyes (from me), has blonde hair (the mailman??), chubby cheeks (me and Jen), a defiant attitude (Jen), walks around barefoot all the time (Jen), loves the dog (me), has a big belly (me), is always talking (me), and is never wrong (Jen). I'm always greeted with a hug when I get home and then she proceeds to tell me all about her day in a language that I only understand every 5th word or so. She tells me who was at school that day as she rattles off rendititions of names like Max, Britton, Addis, Chase and Angus. Although she is hard to understand she knows exactly what she wants. For instance, the other day she went into the garage and went on the side of the truck next to the wall and was looking up and saying "color" "color" "color" - I had no idea what she wanted. But, she kept reaching up so I looked around - the chalk was on the shelf above the truck and she remembered that is what she wanted. I just had to decipher her code. She says things all around the house that mean something to her - but is code to us.

Jennifer is an amazing mom, and she has made child rearing very very easy for everyone. The motherly instinct just comes so natural to her, and she makes it look so easy. Without her I wouldn't be able to do raise Avi on my own. She has given me time to be with the guys, fly fishing trips, play hockey, work late, etc, and I really appreciate that. Avi is turning into quite the lady too - daycare and mom are teaching her so much before I even think about what I should be teaching her next. She already has learned manners (although she doesn't always use them) - which I would never think to teach her until who knows when.

Avi is looking forward to seeing her Grandma Edwards tomorrow and her Nana and Poppa at the end of the month. She has been doing tumbling for over a month now and we hit the pool every once in a while. Everytime we go to the pool she gets a little more brave - trying something new or jumping off the edge or walking deeper and deeper into the deep end. I can't wait until she's swimming like a fish, or she's on roller blades and ice skates. She'll be 2.5 years old this winter - so I definitely need to get her skates this year. She already picks up a stick and says "hockey" "hockey".

Of course winter brings up a lot more possibilites - skiing, tubing, ice skating. Eventually she'll need to learn to cast a fly rod. Summer brings biking, swimming & skateboarding. Man, so much to learn, so little time.

But, as I said, I like right now - 2 is a good age - even though she is well into her terrible two's. She also gets into everything - which is expected - but you have to keep an eye on her.

I always said I never wanted kids - just thought I wouldn't be a good father until I was sure I was ready. Well, guys are NEVER ready, but I'm glad we had her when we did. Had we waited any longer I wouldn't think I'd have the energy to keep up with her. I don't feel like I have enough even now! But, Avi is great - she is so much more than I expected and she is very special and has filled a huge spot in Jen, my and Cabo's lives. She truly is a blessing. Happy birthday Ms. Avelyn!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rob & Big - funniest show on TV

I have to tell you, any TV show that can make me laugh & my wife laugh has to be good. There are a few shows out there that we like - Entourage (on DVD - not HBO), My Boys, Last Comic Standing...but there is this one comedy that is hysterical. Rob & Big is a show on MTV that answers the question - what do ex-celebrities do with all that money they made? Rob Dyrdek isn't exactly a star or celebrity - so I have no clue how he made his money in skateboarding - I hadn't heard of him prior to this show - but somehow he lives in the Hollywood Hills, drives a tripped out SUV, and spends money on wigs, stunts and trips pretty frivelously. I'm sure MTV is giving him some crazy cash to film his every day life, but MTV is definitely getting every pennies worth.

Rob is a clown, a 30 something adolescent that has a best buddy who is his EXACT opposite. Rob is white, short, skinny, athletic and coordinated, while his best buddy (and roommate) Big Black is the opposite - black, tall, fat and lazy. But the two go together better than Dunkin and Donuts. Why? That is a great question, which I can not answer in a blog - you have to see for yourself.

It could be that they are on the same page in life - living it to the fullest and zaniest. The crazy stunts these guys pull off, the crazy ideas they get in their heads and then try to pull off is just hillarious. Not to mention that Rob is quite giving in his life and is not caught up in the celebrity scene at all (more on that later) makes it extra refreshing.

Last night we sat down and watched 3 episodes on TiVo. Man, we couldn't stop shaking our heads and laughing at some of the stunts/ideas these guys get. The funniest part had to be when they pulled over in Tampa, Florida to jump over an alligator that was lying in the street. Rob and buddy Steve jumped it on skateboards - but BB and security had to jump over it in their own sneakers - which was nuts to see a 400lb guy do.

The cast constantly is joined by crazy characters - their bulldog "Meaty" and miniature horse "Mini-Horse" are the regulars - including a crazy Uncle, a personal assistant, a topless maid, skateboard friends who crash the back yard ramp next to the pool and mini barn. Meaty is a character - the perfect prop for these guys - an overweight puppy bulldog that is either getting into mischief or resting his head on the kitchen table add another lovable character to the show. Mini horse is an extravagant prank/joke gone over board that these guys will have to live with for the remainder of the show. The horse is known to eat at the kitchen table, poop in the back yard barn, or pull Rob on his skateboard.

Big Black makes this show - he's kind and gentle and living out a dream. He's up for anything no matter how crazy the show is. He's entertaining yet quite funny - and he tags along in a lifestyle we'd all be lucky to try once. Whether it is reliving his youth and trying to be a stripper, going to the wig store to get a Johnny Gill wig, recording a rap song in his closet studio, getting his back shaved by Rob, trying to skateboard, getting a topless maid, or MC'ing a skatebaording event for Rob, everything BB does is comical. The best scene/episode for BB is when he loses a bet and has to sleep in a tent in the backyard. The 400lb man in a tiny tent is woken up the next morning to Rob doing a belly flop onto the tent and scaring the crap out of BB. The look on his face as he exits the tent is truly priceless.

Rob amazes me - he's not exactly in the pinnacle of his career, yet he keeps giving back to his friends and fans in excess. Opening up his personal life for reality TV is one thing - but showing how he adores his mom, fans, and friends is heart warming. Marked as a C list celebrity doesn't bother him, his diehard fans make him feel like an A lister. In the few episodes I've watch he had a contest to get donate his SUV (decked out with a generator for lights, a fridge, a show rack, shateboard racks, etc) to any true amatuer skater that could beat him in a skate contest, he won a $5,000 bet and then showered it on his fans, he signs autographs for everyone, and he is real - true to himself.

These guys are a greta combination - just pure comedy and hilarious. Jen even gets a kick out of them - even though they are more Jackass than standup - they never cross the line and (besides language) never have to be censored - which is refreshing.

I hope MTV keeps up the good work on this reality show - entertaining and real - something that isn't true with most "reality" shows.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Steelers win first game under Tomlin

Well, that was fun! I never would have thought the Steelers would look so polished in their debut, but then again, should I expect anything less? Ben looked great, one incompletion due to Nate Washington dropping the ball. Nate needs to be cut because he has a dropping problem. It was bad last year and he has started right where he left off. The offense looked good and you could see that Ben is making reads under pressure quicker when the pressure is on - finding that receiver that is open and getting the ball there before the pressure swallows him up. The deep pass was a great example of this - on the plays after that he had more pressure and got rid of the ball - but when given a bit of time he lets the play develop and delivers a great pass.

Najeh did nothing for me - he's not a good runner and honestly is not worth a roster spot except that he brings experience. Cedrick Wilson looked great - I have always liked him - but I admit that he's been inconsistent in the past. No TE made a catch - so hard to see how they did. I did watch for Spaeth, but didn't see him. While looking for him I did see #88 (Dekker) and he was horrible. He barely made contact and he was hesitant to push a defender back. He should be cut (and he eventually will be.) Hines Ward made a good block on Will Smith (a DE) on a running play that made me love him more. Hines is always getting in peoples faces and doing what is best for the team.

2nd stringer RBs Carey Davis and Gary Russell did very well. Davis had a great run and a great catch and run on a screen. Russell looked like more of a runner - his legs were always moving after contact and he pushed a lot of defenders around. I hope he sticks around. Davis seemed more like a Bus type - which I think Davenport fills on this team. Walter Young made two great catches, and Santonio Holmes looked awesome as well - great concentration on the short pass from BSP and the TD catch. BSP looked nervous at first, and he was keying on his WR too much. He couldn't check off and get rid of the ball timely. Batch was a joke too - his two sacks were because he can't dump off the ball. Randall has a CANNON, but he's more of a running QB, and his throws were off the mark.

The defense was stellar - especially in the first half. Although they did not get much pressure on the QB as I think we need to help out our secondary. The LBs were fun to watch. Woodley is an animal - I saw him flying around every where - good to see him getting a chance to prove himself. He'll start over Timmons who was sidelined with a groin injury. Foote, Farrior and Haggans all looked the same - steady as they go. Kirschke seemed to be in on a lot of plays.

The secondary was impressive - although I don't give them enough credit. William Gay put 2 or 3 big hits on guys. Anthony Madison was flying around too. Holding Brees to a short completion, shutting down Martin all together was good. Fife had a lot of success, but mainly due to Wallace not taking his man, falling for the fake and then Dudley scoring an easy TD.

Sepulveda the punter will be a fan favorite - I think he was 2 ofr 2 pinning it inside the 20 yard line. The cameraman showed his first punt in the air - the damn ball was knuckling all over the place. I guarantee we get at least 2 or 3 more fumbles on punts because of this. His hang time is sick. Jeff Reed was Jeff Reed - not spectacular - missed a 43 yarder - but he'll be ok.

The Saints looked aweful - which is not good after I predicted them to be close to a SB team. Sean Payton will kick their asses into shape.

Hats off to Mike Tomlin who has this team in mid-season form. I was very impressed - only one mental error by McFadden, but nothing serious. One false start by Essex that hurt, but other than that nothing.

It's going to be a great season - I can feel it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Big 3 - Part 2 - Go Green!

Have I mentioned lately that I'm really excited about the Celtics upcoming season? The Celts have basically been off the radar since before I left Boston in 2000. After years of perpetual success, the team hit some very tough times and just couldn't seem to put things together. The loss of Len Bias, Reggie Lewis and the additions of Rick Pitino and Jim O'Brien were the downfall of the organization. For every positive thing that has happened to the Celts over the past 10 years, there has been equally negative things. PP is obviously the best thing the C's have done, Antoine Walker was a good choice early, but he soon became a bad player (bad shots, bad wiggle, big ego, diminishing skills), Al Jefferson was a real bright spot. Bad draft pick after bad draft pick, bad trades for expiring contracts and old guys 5 years past their peaks just wasn't the answer. Bad ownership and management has also been another set back to this organization. Ainge is a moron. Basically his most recent deal is his saving grace, but it hardly makes up for the horrible deals he has made in the past.

But oh what a deal this one was. After making a draft day deal for Ray Allen that gave the C's a second scoring option to make PP happy - which btw, Ainge HAD to do, this team without PP is basically a joke - he scored big time points. The KG trade was magnificent, if not a total robbery. KG is one of the top 3 players in the game right now, and is top 20 of all time. He is still relatively young and in his peak, and he is hungry. KG is the kind of guy that Boston fans will fall in love with - he's a dirt dog, he's a team player, and he's humble. He is everything the C's are looking for. The Big 3 (of 2007-08) are going to be exciting - Allen has the outside touch and ball handling skills to keep the inside free for KG. KG will be able to rebound at will and play fast paced basketball that he can excel at. PP will be, how do I say this and make sense, more free to the basket. He'll be able to get to the basket and score more freely. PP is probably one of the most annoying players who drive to the basket because he is always looking for a foul (Kobe is the worst). But with only one guy to beat and one guy in the paint to stand up to him, PP's scoring HAS to go up.

Obviously we have huge holes at PG and C - probably the most important positions on the court. PG will be manned by a kid that slipped to the 2nd round a year ago - but he has proven to be quite a rebounder and a decent defensive player - which is exactly what the C's need with the big 3 hoisting tons of shots and playing minimal defense. Rondo will surprise this season - he needs to work on his ball handling, but his pass first mentality will help the big 3. Perk is a bigger concern, but some on - how much do you have to do when you have a 7 foot freakish PF playing beside you? He's a rebounding specialist and that's what he needs to do this year.

Is this team championship material? No, obviously the West is the conference to beat - they are freakishly talented and those teams are stacked with great players and veteran deep benches. Is this 2007-08 team the best in the East? Well - maybe top 3. They are better than the Knicks and Raptors, and they can compete with the Nets and Heat. The main concern will be health. That is the number 1 opponent for this team.

My original intent on wiritng thsi was to make a comparison to the OTHER big 3 - Bird, McHale and Parish. Now, I'm not saying that the big 3 of PP/KG/RA is as good the old big 3 of KM/RP/LB, but I am saying that they have the potential to come close. The old big 3 had spare parts filling the PG and SG roles - Ainge and DJ were good players, but not All Stars, legends or all time greats by any means. But they all played within themselves - they all knew their roles, they all played their hearts out, and they all were never intimidated. Growing up a Celtics fan during the 80's was quite possibly the best sports era of any team in any sport. (I guess the Pats over the past 5 or 6 years was fun - but I'm no Pats fan.)

If the new Big 3 can play within themselves and know their roles on this team, then the 2007-08 (and future) C's could be quite special. Allen needs to control the ball on the outside and improve his shooting percentage, KG needs to own the middle, dominate the boards and run the ball through the low post, PP needs to take advantage of single coverage (finally!) and make good shooting and passing decisions. Rondo needs to know when to get the ball into each scorers hands and when to make the other team pay for defending them! Perk needs to keep his hands up the entire game and block shots and rebound EVERYTHING. The bench needs to provide intelligent veteran leadership, defense and no suckitude.

Bird > Garnett - well no one compares to Bird except maybe Michael Jordan, but Garnett is at least close. They play different positions, but both are gritty players who LOVE the game. Garnett is a better rebounder, but Bird was a leader and pure shooter.

McHale > PP - McHale was an inside machine that played some of the best defense I've ever seen. PP doesn't play defense, so that is hardly comparable. PP can score, drive and draw fouls, and he's clutch - that has to mean something.

Parish > Allen - Allen adds an outside presence that the Celtics have lacked since Dana Barros. He adds ball control and passing ability that makes him more of an Ainge than a DJ. Parish was a rebounding machine who had an unstoppable sky hook. Although he wasn't counted on to score much he was counted on to control the other teams big man.

I think that although the the Old Big 3 adds up to a better team, the new C's are younger and have more scoring potential. Obviously there are only so many shots in a game, and they have to be spread intelligently to make this team successful. I think that can happen.

I'm guessing the C's lead the Atlantic Division - and they will hit the 50 win mark - basically equalling what the Cavs did last seson in a conference where no team has gotten much better (well maybe the Knicks - but they will find a way to suck). I'm guessing that the Big 3 will be very equal this season - averaging about 20 points each a game, KG will average 12 boards, and Allen will average just under 9 assists, while PP will avg 5 and 5. I think they will beat the Chicago in the 1st round of the playoffs, and lose to Detroit in the 2nd round. 2008-09 will be a better season.

More importantly the city of Boston will be abuzz in the winter months - the Celtics will be relevant again and they will be good. KG jersey's will FLY off the shelves and respect will be poured on the parquet. Now we need to get some life into the Bruins. Forsberg anyone?

Let's get ready to rumble!! Steelers in SB XLII

At 6pm EST the Steelers will embark on a journey - a 23+ game season without a legendary coach, and with a horrible past season under their belts. 2007 will be different than last season - that I know. It will definitely be more intense, more successful and a lot more fun. 2006 was a bit complacent after winning a SB in a season that the Steelers were not the best team until the last 4 of the season. 8-8 in 2006 is hardly something to brag about - especially with the talent on the team and winning a SB the previous season. We have something to prove this season - that we weren't flukes.

The Hall of Fame Game against the Saints will be the start - the start of Tomlin's long coaching career and the start of a new regime in Steelers football. Tomlin is a no-nonsense kind of coach that the Steelers had gotten used to in Cowher, but had forgotten in Cowher's last couple seasons. Tomlin is a defensive genius and a ST wonder coach and I think we will see some new faces on the defense become superstars. Drafting two big LB type players in round 1 and 2 was a sign. Adding a TE and a punter in round 3 and 4 is also a sign of a changing of the guards. A 4thr ound punter was brilliant - especially one that was a walk on LB at Baylor and that hits harder than half our secondary. A freak TE in round 3 was priceless. 6'7", good blocker and freakish quickness and length will cause nightmares for LBs this season. Most importantly it will open up Heath Miller for more one on ones. I'm excited.

I'm guessing 11-5 this season, since we have an easier schedule than prior years. Our division has gotten weaker - with Baltimore getting a year older and no way of reproducing last seasons perfect storm. Cincy will always be our toughest competitor and the will compete for the division, but another year of distractions, legal issues, and injuries should do them in quite nicely, plus, Mr. Lewis is about done with the teams antics and I wouldn't be surprised to see him fly the coup at the end of the year. The Browns are still the Browns - 6-10 is about where they average. They will beat one great team this year, 2 good teams this year and the 3 bad teams this year. Romeo will be history by December and the Browns will be struggling for an identity again - it's like clock work every season.

I'm guessing SD and NE in the AFC game, that is if Norv Turner doesn't kill that team (which he probably will). Unfortunately someone has to play the NFC in the SB, that conference is a joke. If I had to guess the best team in the NFC I would have to go with...Saints or Dallas. The Saints have a year to build on and are very talented. Dallas, Romo is the big question mark - but their D is stellar. But does it matter? Seriously the AFC has 4 or 5 better teams than the NFC's best team - any of those 5 could kill the NFC in the SB.

But we do have our question marks as well - our defense doesn't have any stars besides Troy Polamalu. Young LBs and an average secondary could be taken advantage of. We ahve a strong D line and consisent young LBs, but they will be tested. Our O-Line is a mess as always. How much is Faneca going to be into playing this season without a future with the team? We could have a new starter at the other 4 OL positions - which can be tricky. We need grittiness and anger up ther and I'm not sure Simmons, Colon, Mahan, Smith , Starks or Okoby have that. Our #1 draft pick next year HAS to be an investment in the OL.

Well, I'm praying for a great season, and I'm especially hoping that the stars remain healthy all year - especially Ben, FWP, Ward, Troy, Smith. GO STEELERS!!

Bonds...who cares; ARod...ok, I'll admit it

Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron's homerun record last night - honestly I think it's a shame that a cheating asshole like Bonds even gets the chance. The only reason why he continues to play is because it is good for baseball and MLB is chicken to press charges and have a blackmark on their aport in a time when we should be hooked on baseball.

My opinion of Bonds goes back quite a while. Although he was a good athlete when he was young, he was no Griffey. Hell, even Bobby Bonilla was more highly touted than Bonds when he was younger. I remember his rookie Topps card and the other players on the Pirates in 1987 - Van Slyke, Bonilla, Levallier, Drabek, etc. Bonds really didn't jump off the page back then - yes, he was highly touted, but he wasn't exactly great. Quietly he emassed a great 7 or so years in the league - but still no one was amazed by his HR feets. Seems strange that in the mid to late 90's he broke out as he did.

There is just way to much evidence you have to overlook to enjoy Bonds tying (and eventually breaking) Aaron's record. I wish Bonds had just retired one HR less than Aaron - I think he would have redeemed himself in a lot of sports fans eyes. It would have made him tolerable again, and shown that he respected one of the greatest records in all of sports.

What I want to know is - who the hell is pitching to Bonds? Why would anyone want to be known as the guy giving up a legendary HR? And who would ever blame a pitcher for walking Bonds 5 times a game? Seriously? I would respect a pitcher more if he said - "you know what, I respect the game of baseball and it's history and I will not give Bonds a chance to disrespect it on my watch." Personally I'd love to see a guy throw at his head - yeah that's right - I said it. I think Bonds has been babied too much and should get the kind of disrespect that he has shown the game. Ok, scenario time - bases loaded, two run lead, Bonds comes up with the record on the line - what do you do? Dead honest here, I'd walk/hit Bonds. Seriously. I would never hold it against a pitcher (and who would) if he did this to preserve a record. Obviously Clay Hensley didn't think so (although he did walk him 3 times after he hit the tying HR).

For everything I have said above, it really doesn't matter because no one will actually say that Bonds holds the record because of the asteric. Plus, in 5 or 6 years from now we'll be watching Alex Rodriguez break Bonds' record and go on to break the 800 HR mark before he's probably 37! ARod hit #500 last nigth as well, and it is obvious that this kid is probably the greatest athlete the game has ever seen. He's 32 and with 40 HRs a year for 5 years that would put him at around 725, setting him up to outlast Bonds by the time he's 37 or 38 years old.

For the record I am not an ARod fan. When he became a Yankee I really turned on this guy. I think he alienates teammates and is just an ass, but that said he is a hell of a talent. I think AROd does get a bad rap sometimes. The media is mostly to blame for this as they will uncover every stone to try and drag something up. For instance that story about ARod with the stripper - that picture taken could have been a fan trying to get his autograph, or it was taken at a specific angle that made it look like he was with her - who cares. Keep his personal life out of the media. Hell, if Babe Ruth had that kind of spotlight on him 100 years ago the sport would have been finished. I'm not sticking up for ARod, but he gets a bit of his bad rap due to the media.

Ok, so the big question....would I like to see ARod manning SS for the Red Sox next season (if he opts out of his contract after this season)? I think he will opt out because the Yankees are Jeter's team (rightfully so), and I think he would like to go to a fresh team and help them build a contender. Is that the Sox? Probably not. I think the Cubs would be a better fit - and ARod would become a saint in Chitown if he could help the Cubs win the WS. That said, yes, I'd love to have ARod on the Red Sox. He's a hitting machine and is very decent defensively. Moneywise he sells tickets (which is not an issue in Fenway) and jersey's and memorabilia, but he isn't worth $20M. No one is. But if Manny and others are getting $20M a year, then ARod is worth $25M. He'll probably get $30M a year - which is another reason why I don't think that the Sox will sign him. If Lowell leaves the Sox, I could see Lugo sliding over to 3B and Arod filling the SS hole. I don't think that the difference in salary between Lowell and Arod ($16M/year) is worth the production difference - +20 HRs, +20 RBIs, +20 SBs, even average, even defense, even 2Bs, even runs - but the Sox do have the money to spend.

I would rather the Sox invested in a young stud of another sort - trading a couple of prospects for Miggy Cabrera or a stud young pitcher. They also need to start looking for a catcher as Tek can't keep up this pace of 130 games a year at age 37.

Well, that is all I have on this - more thoughts on other stuff soon.

It's been awhile...

I guess it has been quite a while since I posted on my blog here, I'd say not much has happened, but that wouldn't be true. My daughter Avelyn is 2 years old now and she has been quite a fun handful. I'm going to try and make it a point to post on here more often. I tried Twitter, but that seem to be too short for getting a story out or adding a spot where I can permanently remember memories.

So much is going on right now - I'll post my random stuff as it happens.