Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Quotes of 2012



5. “Take a picture with the kid who’s not taller than you!” - Mike Aviles to his Red Sox teammate Dustin Pedroia as they greeted a group of Little Leaguers before a game

4. “What the hell they gonna do? Play the Wii?” - Bart Scott discussing the Tim Tebow / Lolo Jones romance

3.“If I were a Marlins fan right now I’d be furious, wishing that I existed.” - Matt Sussman
2.“Phoenix Coyotes Pretend Homeless Drifters At Greyhound Bus Station Are Fans Welcoming Team Home.” - The Onion

1. “I’d love to see him back in my barn in a few months. But realistically, he’ll probably be seeing a lot of beautiful mares and smoking a lot of cigarettes.” - I'll Have Another trainer Doug O’Neill after his horse was scratched from the Belmont Derby

Picks: Week of 12/31-1/7

College Football

Mississippi State Pk (vs Northwestern): 2.5 units to win 2.6 units L - 2.5 units
Parlay- Georgia -8.5 (vs Nebraska) / South Carolina -4.5 (vs Michigan): 2.5 units to win 6.5 units W - 6.5 units
Notre Dame +10 (vs Alabama): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units

NFL

Redskins Pk (over Seahawks): 2.5 units to win 3.5 units
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 38-33 (+8.0 units)
NFL: 45-46 (+39.7 units)
EPL: 9-8 (-0.5 units)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

NBA Rumors Link

Thanks to NBA Rumors for the link here.

Appreciate it.

11 Things I Know I Know: Week 17

1. I know the Texans should be ashamed of their performances over the last two weeks. From top seed with homefield advantage until the Super Bowl to the third seed with absolutely no shot of reaching the Super Bowl in eight days. Pathetic.

On the flip side, I can't give Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians for the job they did on Sunday and over the entire season. A trip to the playoffs well-deserved.


I know this Colts Superfan is not married.

2. I know the Falcons should join the Texans in their ashamity (not a word, just go with it). Atlanta started all of their regulars and played them all game, and they still lost to the 6-9 Bucs team that had lost five straight games. Matty Ice better step it up or the Falcons will be one and done.

3. I know that unless the Packers make it to New Orleans, the AFC will win the Super Bowl.

4. I know Adrian Peterson should be this season's MVP.

5. I know the most disappointing team of the year was the Detroit Lions. They went from 10-6 a year ago to 4-12. Aside from Calvin Johnson breaking the receiving yardage record, this was a wasted season and one to forget in Motown.

6. I know the teams I'm most looking forward to seeing improve next year are Carolina and Cleveland. I was a year early on the bandwagon for these two, but I fully expect Cam Newton and Brandon Weeden leading their respective teams to the postseason. There's still plenty of room to join now.

7. I know the Ravens were a Ray Rice miracle 4th-and-29 play away from being the sixth seed in the AFC and having to go to Houston next weekend where they likely would have been six point 'dogs. Instead, they will host the Colts and be favored by about a touchdown.

8. I know the Chiefs and Jaguars will pick first and second, respectively in April's draft. Unfortunately, this year's class lacks the no-doubters that last year's crop had. There are no Andrew Lucks or RG IIIs out there. In fact, offensive and defensive linemen might be taken with each of the draft's top ten selections. The Raiders, Eagles, Lions, Browns, and Cardinals round out the top seven. The Jets will pick ninth.

9. I know I liked: a) the NFL scheduling 16 intra-division games in Week 17;
b) Deji Karim's kick return touchdown when he sprinted straight up the field from one goal line to the other without juking anyone;
c) the standing ovation given to #Chuckstrong by everyone in the building in Indy, including the opposing Texans;
d) Philly's onside kick to open the game;
e) Antonio Brown hugging and lifting a kid as part of his touchdown celebration; and
f) the catch of the day being made by Cardinals offensive lineman Senio Kelemete.

10. I know I disliked: a) any coach that calls a run up the middle on 2nd-and1 (take a shot down the field);
b) seeing Kahlil Bell - who was released by the Bears and the Jets this season only to be picked up again by Chicago - getting 3rd-and-1 carries late in the third quarter instead of Matt Forte;
c) Gary Kubiak not going for two after scoring a touchdown to get to 14-12; and
d) turning off the RedZone Channel and my boy Scott Hanson for the last time this season.

11. I know six head coaches will be fired on Black Monday. Gimme Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Chan Gailey, Pat Shurmur, and Mike Munchak for the win please.

(Bonus) 12. I know that FanDuel is my new second-favorite site on the internet (behind TheSportsBanter.com). I highly recommend giving it a shot and when you do, use this link.


Thanks to all the readers for your comments and feedback this year. I will try to mix in an 11 Things article at some point during the playoffs so check but can't make any promises.

"11 Things I Know I Know" is my feeble attempt to trump the untrumpable SI.com's Peter King and his "10 Things I Think I Think" is my favorite article each week.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Picks: Week of 12/27-12/30

Le's pretend last week never happened. My bank account doesn't have that luxury, but it would be best if we just moved on and never spoke of it again.

College Football

Rutgers +2 (vs Virginia Tech): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Texas +2 (vs Oregon State): 5.6 units to win 5.0 units W - 5.0 units
Notre Dame +10 (vs Alabama): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Oklahoma State -6.5 (vs Purdue) / Notre Dame +20 (vs Alabama): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units L - 3.0 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Florida -4 (vs Louisville) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units L - 3.0 units


NFL

Cardinals +16.5 (at 49ers): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Cowboys +3.5 (at Redskins): 3.9 units to win 3.5 units L - 3.9 units


Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 37-30 (+11.8 units)
NFL: 44-44 (+43.6 units)
EPL: 9-8 (-0.5 units)
Pending:
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The 2014 Mets

I commend Sandy Alderson for tossing in the towel on the upcoming 2013 season.  He recognized that his team as currently constructed could not compete. Mix in some seemingly tight financial handcuffs, and we come to the realization that trading the reigning Cy Young winner for some prospects was a wise move.

But let's not stop there. It's time to keep assembling the 2014 roster, and much of that work can be done this offseason. Let's sell off the pieces currently on the roster, sign some free agents that specialize in one thing, and then sell them off too.

It's Christmas season so here's my wish list for the rest of the offseason.

Sandy Claus, yea I forced that one


Gift 1)
The Dodgers want Bobby Parnell? We're listening, Ned Colletti. What about this deal: Parnell, RP Frank Francisco, and SP Collin McHugh for my man Zach Lee? Book it, and we'll worry about the bullpen later.

The 2014 rotation would look something like this:
1- Matt Harvey
2- Jon Niese
3- Zack Wheeler
4- Lee
5- Noah Syndergaard

Next year, that's a workable crew. By 2015, that's a phenomenal group.

Gift 2)
Pick up half of Johan Santana's salary and give him to anyone that will take him. A team like the Rangers wouldn't be interested in him on a 1-year / $16m deal? I don't believe that.

Gift 3)
Use the other half of Johan's salary to pick up some free agents. Fun fact: The Mets are the only team in baseball not to have signed any Major League free agents this offseason. Time for that to change.

Joe Saunders, 2-years / $14m. Done.
Scott Hairston, 2-years / $10m. Done.
Mike Gonzalez, 1-year / $4m. Done.
Raul Ibanez, 1-year / $4m. Done.

Come July, these guys will be in demand, and the Mets can pick up some more mid-level prospects in return.

Gift 4)
Trade for Justin Upton. A combo of SS Ruben Tejada, OF Brandon Nimmo (last year's first round pick), and RP Cory Mazzoni sounds like a better return than any other team is offering right now. Upton is signed for three more years at a very reasonable $13m per. Lock it in, Sandy.

Stud would look great in orange and blue

Gift 5)
Sign Michael Bourn. The market for Bourn has disappeared. No one wants to go to Seattle. Texas looks like it's focusing elsewhere. Opportunity exists. Let's jump at it. Who says no to a 5-year / $80m offer?

The top of the 2014 lineup would be well above league average:

1- Bourn
2- David Wright
3- Upton
4- Ike Davis
5- Travis D'Arnaud

These five hitters along with the five starters in the rotation mentioned above would cost less than $70m in 2014, leaving plenty of room to fill the voids around the diamond and in the bullpen.

This team would have me legitimately excited to be a fan again.

Happy holidays.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Picks: Week of 12/20-12/23

My biggest play of the year (Falcons) hit for me which made it a very solid week overall despite writing off a number of my futures bets. Not loving very much in the NFL this week though.

Nice 2-0 EPL week as well puts me in the black in all three arenas.

Finally, the bowls start. Let's keep making money.

College Football

San Diego State +3 (vs BYU): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Ball State +8 (vs Central Florida): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Parlay- Ball State Pk (vs Central Florida) / UCLA -1 (vs Baylor) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 2.5 units to win 19.6 units L - 2.5 units
Rutgers +2 (vs Virginia Tech): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Texas +2 (vs Oregon State): 5.6 units to win 5.0 units
Notre Dame +10 (vs Alabama): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Oklahoma State -6.5 (vs Purdue) / Notre Dame +20 (vs Alabama): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Florida -4 (vs Louisville) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units



NFL

Lions Pk (vs Falcons): 2.5 units to win 4.3 units L - 2.5 units
Bengals +4 (at Steelers): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Chiefs +6.5 (vs Colts): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Cowboys -3 (vs Saints): 2.5 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.5 units
Cowboys -2 (vs Saints): 3.9 units to win 3.5 units L - 3.9 units
Bucs -3 (vs Rams): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Ravens +2.5 (vs Giants): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
49ers Pk (at Seahawks): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Teaser- Panthers +1 (vs Raiders) / Bears-Cardinals over 26.5 / Jets +8.5 (vs Chargers): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units L - 3.0 units


EPL

Parlay- Tottenham Pk / Man City Pk: 3.7 units to win 2.6 units L - 3.7 units

Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 37-27 (+19.9 units)
NFL: 42-37 (+58.9 units)
EPL: 9-7 (+3.2 units)

Pending:
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Picks: Week of 12/13-12/16

There are two NFL games I love this weekend, and I will be adding to my position as we get closer to the game.

The Falcons are not nearly as dominant as their record suggests. BUT. For some reason, they are being written off. This is still a good team, especially at home. The Giants always make things interesting, and I think they lay an egg here only to come back with a vengeance in weeks 16 and 17 to take the division. This week, though, gimme the Birds. If this spread drops to 1, it will likely be my biggest play of the year.

I'm also shocked the Cowboys are home 'dogs to a Pittsburgh team that got embarrassed at home against underwhelming San Diego. Hoping this line goes up to 2 even though I think Dallas wins outright.

Also had an opportunity to try my first reverse teaser. 200:1 odds are just too good to pass up.


College Football

Ball State +8 (vs Central Florida): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
San Diego State (vs BYU): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Rutgers +2 (vs Virginia Tech): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Texas +2 (vs Oregon State): 5.6 units to win 5.0 units
Notre Dame +10 (vs Alabama): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Oklahoma State -6.5 (vs Purdue) / Notre Dame +20 (vs Alabama): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Florida -4 (vs Louisville) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units
Parlay- Ball State Pk (vs Central Florida) / UCLA -1 (vs Baylor) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 2.5 units to win 19.6 units

NFL

Eagles +4.5 (vs Bengals): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Falcons -1.5 (vs Giants): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Falcons -1 (vs Giants): 6.6 units to win 6.0 units W - 6.0 units
Falcons Pk (vs Giants): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Packers -2.5 (at Bears): 2.9 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Redskins +3.5 (at Browns): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Cowboys +1.5 (vs Steelers): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Patriots -5.5 (vs 49ers): 2.3 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.3 units
Reverse Teaser- Falcons -9.5 / Ravens -4.5 / Bucs -3.5 / Cowboys -4.5 / Patriots -12.5: 2.0 units to win 400.0 units L - 2.0 units
Steelers under 9.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 2.9 units W - 2.9 units
Eli throws more TDs than Peyton: 4.1 units to win 2.5 units L - 4.1 units
Saints to win the NFC: 2.5 units to win 50.0 units L - 2.5 units

EPL

Norwich City -0.5: 2.5 units to win 2.7 units W - 2.7 units
Parlay- Man U -0.5 / Man City -0.5: 3.0 units to win 2.6 units W - 2.6 units


Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 37-27 (+19.9 units)
NFL: 35-32 (+51.2 units)
EPL: 7-7 (-2.1 units)

Pending:
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

Sunday, December 9, 2012

11 Things I Know I Know: Week 14

1. I know that tragedies like the one that occurred on Saturday morning which cost Jerry Brown his life are unacceptable. Allow me to channel by inner Bob Costas for a minute.

Drinking and driving should be punished much more severely than it currently is. It seems like the only way of deterring people from actually doing it. Forget suspended licenses or six month stints in jail. Start with two years in prison for the first offense. If someone is injured, make it five years. If someone is killed, you get life.

Maybe that will change behavior.

Josh Brent will have to live with the guilt of knowing he killed his friend. He should live with that guilt inside a jail cell for the rest of his life.

2. I know the playoff race got even more exciting this week, setting the stage for what should be sprint a to the finish over the next three weeks.

In the AFC, a Jets victory coupled with losses by both the Bengals and Steelers has New York only one game back. Miraculously, my preseason sleeper - the Cleveland Browns - also remained mathematically alive with their victory over the Chiefs. Could their Week 17 matchup with the Steelers be for the final playoff spot?

Quick tangent: I do not care that the Jets won today. There is absolutely zero explanation for not dressing Greg McElroy. None. Zilch. He should have started the game. Instead, he was inactive. Please explain yourself Rex.

In the NFC, the Bears' hold on their wildcard spot became even more tenuous with Sunday's loss to Adrian Peterson, err, the Vikings. After huge comeback victories by the Redskins and Cowboys there are three teams - Minnesota, Washington, and Dallas -  within a game of the final playoff spot.

Buckle up.

Peterson, defense lead Vikings over Bears 21-14
Can AD lead the Vikings to the playoffs?


3. I know the Bills have to be kicking themselves right now. They surrendered a last minute, fourth quarter lead today at home for the second time this season (Titans, Week 7) and also threw a last minute red zone interception while going for a lead (New England, Week 10). If things break differently for Buffalo, they would be in the driver's seat in the AFC wildcard race. Instead, they are 5-8 and cannot reach the playoffs.

4. I know every team in the NFC South is a fraud.

The Falcons, as I mentioned last week, are one of the weakest top seeds that I can remember in my lifetime. Is anyone afraid of them? I certainly wouldn't be.

The Saints had a great opportunity to make a leap in the playoff race, and promptly crapped away that chance in New York. Where has the old Drew Brees gone? He has a 1:7 TD: INT ratio over the last two weeks when his team needs him most.

The Bucs, like the Bills, lost for the second time this year in the last minute at home today (Saints, Week 7), choking away an 11-point fourth quarter lead.Nice knowing you playoff aspirations.

The Panthers were supposed to be a serious contender this year. Didn't happen. Although truth be told, Carolina is the team I would least like to play from this division at this very second.

5. I know the Vikings took a page out of the Bears playbook, scoring a defensive touchdown and returning another interception inside the 10-yard line setting up another score. Early in the season, it was Chicago generating points on defense.

On a related note, Adrian Peterson gets my vote for best offensive player. Dude is a beast.

6. I know Larry Fitzgerald will finish in the top five in tackles on the Arizona roster this year. Seems like he's racking up about two per week chasing opponents that have just intercepted passes thrown by Arizona's "quarterbacks." The Cardinals continue to employ interception-throwers that inspire has-beens and never-were's to dream of taking snaps under center. I for one would love to see if I could do better than the Lindley-Kolb-Skelton trio.

Seriously, 58-0!? Show a little heart, wouldya?

7. I know next Sunday will be one of if not the best weeks of football this year. Most fantasy leagues will have their semifinals which will have interest at an annual high. Plus, there are six Sunday games featuring two teams with winning records. Skip the Thursday and Monday Night games and clear your Sunday.

8. I know it's a three-team race to the bottom for the number one overall pick in this year's draft between the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Raiders. Unfortunately for them, this is a terrible year to have that top pick, but I will be following anyway.

9. I know I liked: a) Lee Smith leaping into the stands after his third quarter touchdown;
b) Jason Avant's one-handed catch;
c) Will Witherspoon's TAINT;
d) Cam Newton's touchdown run;
e) Andy Dalton getting a touchdown "pass" on a glorified hand-off to Andrew Hawkins; and
f) David Wilson's backflip touchdown celebration.

10. I know I did not like: a)Buffalo fans failing to catch the aforementioned Lee Smith;
b) Pat Shurmur wasting a challenge on a play with 12:30 left in the third quarter that left the Browns with a first-and-goal from the one foot line (save the timeout);
c) Rob Ryan getting a 15-yard penalty for overemphatically arguing with a referee when the Bengals faced second-and-long in the Dallas red zone;
d) RGIII's jerry curls or his getting injured;
e) the Chiefs scoring a touchdown 12 seconds into the game and then no points for the other 59:48;
f) Donnie Avery dropping a beautifully thrown would-be touchdown late in the fourth quarter; and
g) Andy Reid's tight-fitting wardrobe:

At least a C-cup

11. I know the Patriots will defeat the Texans 27-17 tomorrow night. New England has lost three games all season by a combined four(!) points. They need this game more than Houston does to secure a first round bye are not losing at home.



"11 Things I Know I Know" is my feeble attempt to trump the untrumpable SI.com's Peter King and his "10 Things I Think I Think" is my favorite article each week.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Three NBA Trades That Make Sense...At Least To Me

The Lakers trade Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace to the Warriors for Harrison Barnes, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Draymond Green, and Charles Jenkins

Lakers Rationale: The Gasol situation has reached the point of no return. It's time to get as much as possible for him, and Barnes - the number seven pick in the 2012 draft - would be a great get.

Warriors Rationale: Golden State has surprisingly jumped out of the gate to a great start. Giving up Barnes hurt, but with Gasol in the mix, this team can make a serious run.


The Pistons trade Tayshaun Prince to the Clippers for Lamar Odom

Pistons Rationale: Detroit needs to identify the players that will help them get back to the promised land. This roster clearly is not built for success, and it's time to build around Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummond and basically clear any other long-term obligations and blow up the rest of the roster. They can buy Odom out and save even more money.

Clippers Rationale: Caron Butler should not be getting as much playing time as he is, and Prince does a little bit of everything. They are getting no production from Odom anyway so why not try to do everything possible to make a run this year and convince CP3 to stick around.


The Pistons trade Rodney Stuckey to the Blazers for Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Victor Claver, and Nolan Smith

Pistons Rationale: Rid themselves of Stuckey's $8.5m deal next season and get to work out four former first round picks - all in the last year of their contracts - that aren't seeing any time in Portland. Maybe one of these lotto tickets hits.

Blazers Rationale: Portland's bench is scoring a league worst 15 points per game. Stuckey can lead the second unit, give Damian Lillard some rest so he doesn't hit the rookie wall as soon as expected, and give them some bench scoring. He has shot the ball poorly this year, but his career numbers suggest he is better than this. Seems like a worthwhile risk for a team hoping to sneak into the playoffs.



Tell me why I'm an idiot.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Picks: Week of 12/6-12/9


If Georgia knew how to manage the clock, it would have been a significantly positive week. Instead, it was only slightly positive. Never complain about a winning week.

Since I never bet against the Armed Forces, I'm staying away from the Army-Navy game. Instead, I'll try to find some early lines that I like in the bowl games and focus on the NFL.


College Football

Ball State +8 (vs Central Florida): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
San Diego State (vs BYU): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Rutgers +2 (vs Virginia Tech): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Texas +2 (vs Oregon State): 5.6 units to win 5.0 units
Notre Dame +10 (vs Alabama): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Oklahoma State -6.5 (vs Purdue) / Notre Dame +20 (vs Alabama): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units
Teaser- USC Pk (vs Georgia Tech) / Florida -4 (vs Louisville) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units
Parlay- Ball State Pk (vs Central Florida) / UCLA -1 (vs Baylor) / Alabama Pk (vs Notre Dame): 2.5 units to win 19.6 units

NFL

Cowboys +3 (at Bengals): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Colts -5.5 (vs Titans): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Dolphins +10 (at 49ers): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Teaser- Redskins +7.5 (vs Ravens) / Seahawks Pk (vs Cardinals) / Patriots +7 (vs Texans): 3.0 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Parlay- Colts -4 (vs Titans) / Jaguars +3 (vs Jets) / Panthers +3.5 (vs Falcons): 2.5 units to win 14.6 units L - 2.5 units


Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 37-27 (+19.9 units)
NFL: 33-29 (+54.3 units)
EPL: 7-7 (-2.1 units)

Pending:

Steelers under 9.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 2.9 units
Eli throws more TDs than Peyton: 4.1 units to win 2.5 units
Saints to win the NFC: 2.5 units to win 50.0 units
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

How did I do?

Arizona -6 over Nevada - Actual -9.5 Within four points
Utah State -7 over Toledo - Actual -9.5 Within a FGSan Diego State -4 over BYU - Actual +4 Great value
Central Florida -6 over Ball State - Actual -8 Within a FG
Louisiana Lafayette -3 vs East Carolina - Actual -5 Within a FG

Boise State -6 over Washington - Actual -5.5 Within a FG
Fresno State -12 over SMU - Actual -12 Within a FG
Western Kentucky who cares over Central Michigan - Actual -6
San Jose State -7 over Bowling Green - Actual -7.5 Within a FG
Cincinnati -7 over Duke - Actual -7.5 Within a FG
UCLA -1 over Baylor - Actual -1.5 Within a FG
Louisiana Monroe -7 over Ohio - Actual -7 Within a FG
Rutgers -3 over Virginia Tech - Actual +2 Great value
Texas Tech -9 over Minnesota - Actual -13 Within four points
Rice who cares over Air Force - Actual Pk
West Virginia -7 over Syracuse - Actual -4 Within a FG
Arizona State -6 over Navy - Actual TBD
Texas -3 over Oregon State - Actual +2 Great value
TCU -6 over Michigan State - Actual -2.5 Within four points
Vanderbilt -6 over NC State - Actual -6.5 Within a FG
USC -9 over Georgia Tech - Actual -10 Within a FG
Tulsa -3 over Iowa State - Actual -1 Within a FG
LSU -4.5 over Clemson - Actual -4 Within a FG
Mississippi State -3 over Northwestern - Actual -2 Within a FG
Oklahoma State -13 over Purdue - Actual -17 Within four points
Georgia -9 over Nebraska - Actual -10 Within a FG
Stanford -8 over Wisconsin - Actual -7 Within a FG
Florida -13 over Louisville - Actual -14 Within a FG
Texas A&M -3 over Oklahoma - Actual -5 Within a FG
Ole Miss -3 over Pitt - Actual -3.5 Within a FG
Arkansas State -1 over Kent State - Actual -5 Within four points

Scorecard
+Overall, I'm happy I was close to the spreads but not thrilled that I couldn't find a ton of value
+I was within a field goal on 20 of 28 games
+I was within four points on 25 of 28 games
+I missed only one game by more than five points
+I see great value in San Diego State, Rutgers, and Texas all of whom I thought should be favorites

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guessing The Spreads of Bowl Games

I have made a concerted effort not to look at the spreads for the bowl games. Despite my trying, I saw four so I will avoid those games in this post: South Carolina-Michigan, Florida State-Northern Illinois, Oregon-Kansas State, and Alabama-Notre Dame.

Here are my best guesses at what the spreads should be for the a handful of the other games:

New Mexico Bowl - Arizona -6 over Nevada. The over/under in this one might be near 80 as neither team plays defense, and both can light up the scoreboard. The Wildcats get the edge because they come from the better known conference and actually played some decent competition this year. The Wolfpack have lost four of their last five coming in too.

Idaho Potato Bowl - Utah State -7 over Toledo. Just a few weeks ago, Toledo had dreams of crashing the BCS party. Instead, they lost two of their last three and end up in Idaho instead of Miami. Utah State on the other hand has won six straight and scored at least 38 points in every game of that streak. Interesting to note that neither team lost a game by more than a touchdown this year. I will be jumping on the Aggies here at any number 7 or below.

Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego State -4 over BYU. This is a home game for the Aztecs who are winners of seven straight games, including a road victory at Boise State. The Cougars proved they weren't intimidated of going on the road when they played Notre Dame extremely tightly in South Bend. I'm staying away from this one unless my spread is way off.

Beef O Brady Bowl - Central Florida -6 over Ball State. Another bowl game with a clear homefield advantage as this one will be played in St. Petersburg, FL, but I actually think the Cardinals can spring the upset. Central Florida could have been in a better bowl (Liberty) if they had beaten Tulsa in the conference title game. Instead they stay home to play an inferior opponent. Where's the motivation? I don't see it. I hope this spread is bigger than I am predicting here.

New Orleans Bowl - Louisiana Lafayette -3 vs East Carolina. ECU went 7-0 against teams that weren't bowl eligible and 0-4 against teams that were. They are a fraud. Game is in NOLA which gives the Ragin' Cajuns the edge.

(Crying baby)

Th-

(Crying baby)

Thought I had more time than I did to write this article. Going to list format:

Boise State -6 over Washington
Fresno State -12 over SMU
Western Kentucky who cares over Central Michigan
San Jose State -7 over Bowling Green
Cincinnati -7 over Duke: Would be higher but the game is in North Carolina
UCLA -1 over Baylor: Homefield advantage for the Bruins
Louisiana Monroe -7 over Ohio
Rutgers -3 over Virginia Tech
Texas Tech -9 over Minnesota
Rice who cares over Air Force
West Virginia -7 over Syracuse
Arizona State -6 over Navy
Texas -3 over Oregon State: Homefield advantage for the Longhorns
TCU -6 over Michigan State
Vanderbilt -6 over NC State
USC -9 over Georgia Tech: Mostly on reputation
Tulsa -3 over Iowa State
LSU -4.5 over Clemson
Mississippi State -3 over Northwestern
Oklahoma State -13 over Purdue
Georgia -9 over Nebraska
Stanford -8 over Wisconsin
Florida -13 over Louisville
Texas A&M -3 over Oklahoma
Ole Miss -3 over Pitt: This is Pitt's third straight trip to Birmingham. Zero motivation here.
Arkansas State -1 over Kent State

 I'll check back tomorrow to see how I did.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

College Football Playoff Proposal: 2013 Edition

Over seven years ago, I proposed a 16-team college football playoff, the details of which can be found here. Since then, it was decided that a four-team playoff will be used to determine a national champion beginning in 2014. This is a nice start, but like most things NCAA-related, it can be improved upon.

Although the majority of my original proposal remains in tact, there is one major change in addition to the minor ones: instead of 16 teams, I am suggesting only 12. This is mostly a result of conference realignment which has changed the landscape of the game. Seven years ago, there were 11 conferences. Two years from now, there will only be 10 (WAC will be gone).


Also of note, my initial estimate of between $100 and $350 million per year turned out to be understated. ESPN recently purchased the rights for only the semifinal and final games for $470 million per season. Add to that the other eight games that I am proposing, and we could be looking at a number closer to $750 million per season.



***************************

Preface: conference realignment is an ever-changing beast. I have done my best to fact check but please alert me of any incorrect assumptions.


I’ve always been a proponent of the theory: if you don’t have a better solution, don’t complain about the current problem. Well, here’s my solution to college football’s current problem of determining a “true” national champion.


Every major sport in every division of college athletics has a post-season playoff to determine the national champion with one exception: Division I-A football (note: D I-A is now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision or "FBS"). Naturally, I think that should change. Admittedly, my solution is not perfect. But, it’s certainly a start. If you thought March Madness captivated the nation, just imagine what this would do.


The Proposal


Have a 12-team playoff with each conference champion (10 in total) earning an automatic bid plus two at-large bids. The top four seeds would receive byes into the second round, rewarding the best teams and ensuring the regular season will still matter.


This comes with two caveats as well:

1- teams must be bowl-eligible; and
2-teams must be in the top 25 of the CFBPR system (see below).

Obviously, these are in place to prevent an inferior team from taking the spot of a worthy competitor.


Q and A


Why not have a 4-, 8-, or 16-team playoff?


 Among others, here are five answers:


First, with so many teams qualifying, there will be far less griping from teams “on the cusp.” If your team finishes in the top-8, they will, in all likelihood, qualify.


Secondly, because each worthy conference champion gets a bid, undefeated teams from smaller conferences are guaranteed entry into the playoff. Win and you are in.


Thirdly, a slip-up won't ruin your chances. In my opinion, every team is entitled to a slip-up at some point during the season. Your team can lose a game and still qualify in a 12-team playoff. This may not be true in a 4- or 8-team system.


Fourthly, I want to reward the best teams with a bye and still include all conference champions, should they finish in the top-25.


Lastly (and most importantly to the university presidents), the more games that are played, the more money can be made.


Why must teams be in the Top 25?


Teams outside of the top 20% of the FBS have very little realistic chance of succeeding in a tournament of this sort. Of the teams currently ranked 1 through 11 in the BCS standings, only two (Stanford and Kansas State) lost to a team ranked outside the final top 10 of the BCS standings. The teams at the top are clearly superior to everyone else.


What is the CFBPR?


Humans, with some help from computers, will give every team a College Football Playoff Rank (CFBPR). This system will be similar to the BCS poll, but it will also include two additional measures: “bonus points” for (wins over opponents that finish the season ranked in the top-25) and "Loss Strength rank."


How are the at-large teams selected?


The highest rated, non-conference champions qualify automatically.


What about Notre Dame and the other independents?


Any independent team ranked in the top-12 will automatically receive an at-large bid. Independent teams ranked lower than 12th, will be treated like non-conference champions.


How are teams seeded?


Again, refer to the CFBPR for the seeds.


When will the games be played?


The first round games will be played on the second Saturday of December.


Final exams will take place between the first and second round games. (Let’s not forget these are student-athletes.)


Second round games will be played on the fourth Saturday of December.


Semifinal games will be played the following week.

The "true" National Championship Game will be played ten days after that.

Where will the games be played?


The first round will be played at the higher seeded team’s home field.


The highest bidder can host the remaining games. (Yes, more money.)


How would this fit in with the current bowl system?


75% of bowls don't matter now anyway. They can still be played with no ill effects of having a playoff system in place. If it can work with a 4-team playoff, it can work with 12.


Won’t the student-athletes miss too much school-time?


Of the 12 teams that qualify for this playoff, only eight will play past the second week of December. The other four will have been eliminated by that point.


Additionally, most schools have an intersession (interrum, winter-session, or whatever you’d like to call it) that runs from the third week of December through the third week of January. So, little class, if any at all, is being missed.


Plus, unlike the Division FCS, II, and III teams, the teams that advance to the second round will have time off for finals.


Aren’t there too many games?


If the NCAA presidents feel this way, they can drop the limit of games in a season to eleven.


Won’t this ruin tradition?


Yes, but so did the wildcard in baseball. Baseball has never been more successful.


College football is already so popular. Why change it?


Again, this in my opinion, would make the game even better. 81% of online voters agree with me (cnnsi.com poll).


What about the money?


See above.


The Winners


Unanimity: An unquestioned, unanimous college football national champion.


The fans: This has the potential to rival March Madness as the most exciting sporting event each calendar year.


The players: They will finally get to determine the national champion on the field.


Non-BCS Conferences: Finally, the little guys have a chance.


Undefeated teams: No more undefeated teams with nothing to show for it.


The Losers


Conference title games: With limits on the amount of games that can be played, some conferences may decide to cancel the championship game and revert to another form of determining the conference champion.


University presidents: The presidents have been staunchly against this idea forever.


Tradition(alists): Obviously, this will ruffle some feathers with those that still believe in working your way up the polls.


What if. . . 2012-3 Edition


Using BCS Standings as of December 2nd:



1. Notre Dame (Independent)

2. Alabama (SEC)
3. Florida (At-large)
4. Oregon (At-large)

5. Kansas State (Big 12)

12. Utah State (WAC)

6. Stanford (Pac 12)

11. Louisville or Boise State (Big East)

7. Georgia (At-large)

10. Nebraska (Big 10)

8. Florida State (ACC)

9. Northern Illinois (MAC)

DNQ (Not in Top 25): Tulsa (Conference USA), Arkansas State (Sun Belt), Louisville/Boise State (Boise State won the Mountain West this year but both will be in Big East)



Highlights:

-Florida State - Northern Illinois is an actual BCS bowl this year
-Potential Florida State - Notre Dame second round matchup
-Potential Georgia - Alabama second round matchup
-Potential Kansas State - Oregon second round matchup, which is also an actual BCS bowl this year

Lowlights:

-Despite finishing in the top-10, Heisman favority Johnny Football would be on the outside looking in. Texas A&M finished sixth in the SEC so really not a flaw in this system, though.
-Two teams in the 20's qualified (Louisville, Utah State)


Two more reasons to have a college football playoff system


1. No long layoffs between regular season and bowl games. Why are we forced to wait five weeks (after the regular season) before we see another meaningful game?


2. Coaches would remain with their institutions until after their season ends.



The money’s there, the interest is there, and the structure is there. Let’s give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, we can always ask the computers who the national champion should be. I'll take my chances.


Let me hear the feedback against this, please.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

11 Things I Know I Know: Week 13

1. I know the Chiefs did the right thing by playing today, and they looked great. Yes, the Chiefs looked great. For the first time all year, they played with intensity and a clue of how to play football. Brady Quinn looked competent enough to warrant being given a shot at winning the job next year. Sure, he was only playing the Panthers and emotions were high, but with no surefire quarterbacks coming out of college this year, he might be Kansas City's best bet.

Obviously, I chose to start with the 2-10 Chiefs because of the Jovan Belcher tragedy, but I am reserving judgment and comment until I get the whole story. Just a very very sad situation. Thoughts and prayers to anyone involved.

2. I know the Bears defense crumbled when it mattered most and should be ashamed of themselves. The Seahawks got the ball on their own 3-yard line with 3:40 to play trailing by four. All the vaunted Chicago defense needed was to not allow a touchdown against a rookie quarterback, and the win was theirs. What happened? Russell Wilson leads them on a 12-play, 97-yard drive in three minutes to give Seattle the lead. After the Seahawks defense surrendered a game-tying field goal, the game headed to overtime where Wilson again shredded the Chicago D and marched down the field for a touchdown which capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Not acceptable, and it cost them first place in the division and a possible first round bye.

I've been reluctant to give Wilson much credit this year, but the guy finds ways to win (ask the Packers and Patriots). He's the future in Seattle so the team should have no qualms dealing Matt Flynn to the Jets for a third round pick next year. None at all.

3. I know that the Mark Sanchez era in New York is over. Amen. I figured it would be Tim Tebow taking the reins, but instead it's Greg McElroy leading the charge. After a(nother) disastrous performance, Sanchez was benched in favor of the 2011 7th round pick. Before today, McElroy was best known for ripping the locker room mindsets of his teammates. Now, he's the guy entrusted with trying to lead the Jets to the playoffs. Sounds crazy to think playoffs with this team, but in the putrid AFC, it's possible. They are two games out with four to play but those four opponents are atrocious: Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo. Stranger things have happened.

McElroy replaces Sanchez, leads Jets to 7-6 win
McElroy sprinted to the postgame press conference in lieu of a shower
It's also nice to know Sanchez has found something he's good at: taking notes on the sideline. He was furiously scribbling as McElroy led the Jets only scoring drive of the day. Go prepare your butt off to take even better notes next week.

4. I know if the playoffs started tomorrow we would have an Andrew Luck at Peyton Manning first round game (we would also have Russell Wilson at Green Bay in a Fail Mary rematch). Thanks to Luck's heroics, the Colts are 8-4 and have a stranglehold on the first AFC wildcard spot. With 4:02 left in the fourth, Indy received a punt at their own 15-yard line facing a 12-point deficit. The never-say-die Colts marched down the filed in just under a minute and a half for a touchdown, subsequently forced a four-and-out (after a penalty), then drove 75 yards in the final 1:05 to win in the most unlikely manner possible. I'm a believer.

5. I know that it's time for the 49ers to go back to Alex Smith. Colin Kaepernick - awesome tattoos and all - cost his team the game today, and when you are in the hunt for the top seed, that is unacceptable. He was directly responsible for all 13 points the Rams scored in regulation.

First, a brainfart intentional grounding penalty on a play that started at the 17-yard line resulted in a safety. 2 points.

Then, an inexplicable pitch / fumble was recovered by the Rams for a score. They subsequently converted the two-point conversion. 8 more points.

With under two minutes, Kaepernick had San Fran in field goal range when he rushed for 10 yards. Stupidly, though, he ran out of bounds which stopped the clock and saved St. Louis from taking their final timeout. It also left 1:44 on the clock. The Rams needed every one of those seconds as Greg Zuerlein kicked a game-tying field goal as regulation expired. 3 more points.

Alex Smith is not as explosive as Kaepernick. There is no arguing that. But, these mistakes don't happen with Smith under center.

6. I know once obvious reason Greg Schiano will be a head coach in this league for a long time while Norv Turner will not: Schiano cares about winning. I don't necessarily agree with attacking the linemen on obvious kneel down plays, but it's clear the intent is to do anything possible to win. I respect that. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is Norv Turner who routinely - Sunday included - chooses not even to use his timeouts when the other team is in the victory formation, instead just letting the clock expire. All four Bucs fans out there should feel good about your future.

7. I know the Falcons are the least intimidating 11-1 team imaginable. They are going to clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs in the next week or two. Then it will be a month before they play another meaningful game. They have a terrible postseason history (Matt Ryan has never won a playoff game), and I do not trust Mike Smith at all no matter what his record is in close games. Consider me a seller here.

8. I know I really liked: Aaron Rodgers going deep twice after the Vikings obviously jumped offsides, Brandon Pettigrew's touchdown catch, Antonio Smith's sack celebration where he pulled out a fake sword and pretended to have a sword fight, Domata Peko's mane, the name "Joique" which I have heard prononounced at least four different ways, Arizona's fake punt, Adrian Peterson, and best of all I loved the Seahawks athletic trainer two hand shove Anthony McCoy (a Seahawk) when McCoy tried to pick up Sidney Rice who was clearly injured.

Domata Peko


9. I know I didn't like: Emmanuel Sanders and Charlie Batch crying on the field, the lack of snow games this season, Matthew Stafford's sidearm throws, the personal foul called on new Jaguar Jason Babin, when teams waste timeouts before they punt around midfield (just let the clock expire and take the penalty), quarterbacks showing up their wide receivers ahem Flacco ahem Rivers, immobile quarterbacks stealing rushing touchdowns from fantasy players that matter (looking at Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, and Chad Henne), and Charlie Batch's offsides dance:



10. I know my daughter said "Dada" this week as her first word. To top that off, a day later she grabbed the remote, hit three buttons and the channel changed to ESPN. It was the HD version, too. Kid's a genius.

11. I know the Redskins will beat the Giants tomorrow night, 34-28. RGIII continues his ascension into the upper echelon of quarterbacks in this league, and this game means a whole lot more to Washington than New York.



"11 Things I Know I Know" is my feeble attempt to trump the untrumpable SI.com's Peter King and his "10 Things I Think I Think" is my favorite article each week.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Picks: Week of 11/28-12/2

Huge Thanksgiving highlighted by a three-team parlay led to a really nice week. Took more risk than usual on Sunday when I was playing with house money and came close to hitting two parlays.

I'll take my hit on the Chiefs and Browns winning their respective divisions (they clearly won't).  Hoping the Broncos over 8.5 loss will be offset with a Steelers under 9.5 win.

Lots of action this weekend when I am hoping to be home watching a ton of the action. Whether that actually happens is still to be seen.

College Football

Stanford -9 (vs UCLA): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Tulsa Pk (vs UCF): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Georgia +7.5 (vs Alabama): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Georgia Pk (vs Alabama): 2.5 units to win 7.0 units L - 2.5 units
Oklahoma State-Baylor Under 86.5: 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Florida State-Georgia Tech Under 63.5: 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units

NFL

Colts +4.5 (at Lions): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Bears -3 (vs Seahawks): 2.9 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.9 units
Jaguars +6 (at Bills): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Texans -6.5 (at Titans): 2.9 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Rams +7.5 (vs 49ers): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Chargers +1.5 (vs Bengals): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units

EPL

West Ham +0.5 (vs Chelsea): 2.7 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units

Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 33-25 (+15.2 units)
NFL: 30-25 (+57.8 units)
EPL: 6-7 (-4.6 units)

Pending:

Broncos under 8.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 3.5 units
Steelers under 9.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 2.9 units
Eli throws more TDs than Peyton: 4.1 units to win 2.5 units
Saints to win the NFC: 2.5 units to win 50.0 units
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Picks: Week of 11/21-11/26

The Good: my highest conviction bet of the season (Packers) covered in miracle fashion, the three teams I have to win the NFC all won, overall it was a winning weekend

The Bad: Kansas State didn't show up, Fulham got a red card in the middle of the first half, the Colts aren't quite as good as I thought, Louisiana Tech comes back from 24 down to tie the game only to lose and not cover in OT

The Very Bad: Notre Dame controlling their own destiny


College Football

TCU +8 (at Texas): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Georgia Tech +13 (at Georgia): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Florida +7 (at Florida State): 2.5 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
USC Pk (vs Notre Dame): 3.5 units to win 5.8 units L - 3.5 units
Teaser- Notre Dame Pk / Ohio State +2: 3.0 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Teaser- Notre Dame Pk / Patriots -1: 6.3 units to win 5.0 units W - 5.0 units

NFL

Cowboys-Redskins Over 48: 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Patriots -6 (at Jets): 3.3 units to win 3.0 units W - 3.0 units
Packers +3 (at Giants): 2.9 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.9 units
Parlay- Pittsburgh -1.5 / Indianapolis -2.5 / Jacksonville +3.5: 2.5 units to win 15.7 units L - 2.5 units
Parlay- Pitt-Cleve 1H o17 / Atlanta-Tampa Bay 1H o 26.5: 2.5 units to win 6.4 units L - 2.5 units
Parlay- Cowboys-Redskins Over 48 / TCU Pk / Patriots Pk: 2.5 units to win 19.1 units W - 19.1 units

EPL

Man City Pk (at Chelsea): 2.5 units to win 4.5 units L - 2.5 units


Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 29-23 (+9.0 units)
NFL: 27-20 (+46.1 units)
EPL: 6-6 (-2.1 units)

Pending:

Browns to win the AFC North: 2.5 units to win 50 units
Chiefs to win the AFC West: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Broncos under 8.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 3.5 units
Steelers under 9.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 2.9 units
Eli throws more TDs than Peyton: 4.1 units to win 2.5 units
Saints to win the NFC: 2.5 units to win 50.0 units
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dayton Moore-on Needs To Be Fired

How does Dayton Moore still have a job? It's been over seven hours since this hit the wire:


Jeremy Guthrie.

$25 million American dollars.

What???

That would be a terrible deal if the length of the contact was for the rest of Guthrie's career. Scratch that. That would be a terrible deal if the length of the contact was for the rest of Guthrie's life.

What exactly has Guthrie done to warrant this deal?

Was it his 55-77 career record? (Statheads can say what they want about wins and losses but being 22 games under .500 is significant)

Is it because he gives up more than a hit per innings?

Because he strikes out 5.4 batters per 9?

More likely, Dayton Moore cracked open baseball-reference.com and saw that at this age the pitcher Jeremy Guthrie most resembles is Tomo Ohka and figured if he didn't throw that kind of money at the Tomo Ohka 2.0 someone else would. 

Most likely of all though, Moore is paying Guthrie this obscene amount of money because of his 5-3 record in 14 starts after he was acquired from the Rockies for nothing on July 20th. Technically, it was an injured Jonathan Sanchez but this was a salary dump.

What a joke.

Let's look at Moore's resume. He took over in the middle of 2006 so I won't count those numbers when KC finished 62-100 that year. In the six complete years he has been the GM, the Royals have:

-never won more than 75 games
-never finished higher than 3rd in the division
-lost at least 90 games five times
-had three different coaches
-signed Gil Meche to one of the 10 worst contracts in Major League Baseball history
-started Jeff Francoeur in over 300 games

If the Glass family had any idea what was happening, they would fire Moore.

Two weeks ago, I tweeted this:

Dayton Moore thinks he got a bargain.

**********************

In unrelated news and just because I want to use some arbitrary endpoints, Bryan LaHair was designated for assignment today. Let's rewind five months to June 18th. Check out the stats of the two players I am talking about and tell me which one you would have guessed would be signing a $25m contract today:

LaHair: 187 AB, 13 HR, .299 BA, .380 OBP, .572 Slg
   One month later, LaHAir was named to the NL All-Star team
Guthrie: 3-6, 59 innings, 30 strikeouts, 7.02 ERA, .339 BAA, 1.033 OPS Against
   One month later, Guthrie was traded to the Royals for a bag of water-logged baseballs

LaHair's agent should call Dayton Moore immediately to ask for a multi-year deal.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Perfect Combo

Newly minted Eagles starting QB Nick Foles is a perfect combo of Tom Petty and Napoleon Dynamite:

 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Picks: Week of 11/14-11/19

Late field goals in two games went against me and destroyed what could have been a nice week.

Nebraska kicked a meaningless field goal with under 30 seconds left to cover against Penn State. Then I had a brutal NFL week thanks almost entirely to David Akers missed overtime field goal.

If these kicks go the other way, I make money, but that's not what happened.

Oh, and basketball kicked me in the teeth too.

Time to lick the wounds and get back on the horse.

College Football

NC State +16.5 (at Clemson): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Louisiana Tech +3 (vs Utah State): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.5 units
Parlay- Oregon-Stanford Over 65 / California 14.5 / Packers -3: 2.5 units to win 14.5 units L - 2.5 units
Teaser- Kansas State -2.5 / Packers +7 /  Falcons Pk: 3.0 units to win 2.5 units L - 3.0 units

NFL

Packers -3 (at Lions) 17.5 units to win 15.0 units W - 15.0 units
Eagles +3.5 (at Redskins): 2.8 units to win 2.5 units L - 2.8 units
Colts +9 (at Patriots): 3.3 units to win 3.0 units L - 3.3 units
Steelers +3.5 (vs Ravens): 3.3 units to win 3.0 units W - 3.0 units

Parlay- Packers -3 / Colts Win: 2.5 units to win 18.1 units L - 2.5 units

EPL

West Brom +0.5 (vs Chelsea): 2.9 units to win 2.5 units W - 2.5 units
Fulham Pk (vs Sunderland): 3.6 units to win 2.5 units L - 3.6 units


Season Record (beginning 9/1/12)

CFB: 28-20 (+14.5 units)
NFL: 25-17 (+36.7 units)
EPL: 5-5 (-1.0 units)

Pending:
Browns to win the AFC North: 2.5 units to win 50 units
Chiefs to win the AFC West: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Broncos under 8.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 3.5 units
Steelers under 9.5 wins: 2.5 units to win 2.9 units
Eli throws more TDs than Peyton: 4.1 units to win 2.5 units
Saints to win the NFC: 2.5 units to win 50.0 units
Packers to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 7.5 units
Cowboys to win NFC: 2.5 units to win 43.8 units

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Kick That Shaped Two Franchises

On the unseasonably warm penultimate day of 2007 in New York, two of the worst NFL teams would do battle - if you can call it that - as the 3-12 Jets took on the 4-11 Chiefs. 

The playoffs were obviously a distant thought for either franchise. One would only need to look at the starting quarterbacks that day to see neither team was trying to win this game: Kellen Clemens against Brodie Croyle, NEXT on CBS!

The only thing at stake was draft position.

With a win, the Chiefs would pick 6th. With a loss or tie, they would pick fifth.

With a win, the Jets would pick 6th. With a loss or tie, they would pick third.

It doesn't happen often, but the object of the game was to lose! There was absolutely nothing to be gained by winning.

Through four quarters, the teams remained tied at 10. To the dismay of everyone in attendance, that meant overtime.

The Jets would take the opening kickoff of the extra frame down the field to the Chiefs' 15. Out trotted kicker Mike Nugent to attempt a 33-yard field.

With all of Jets Nation rooting for a miss, Nugent drills a kick through the uprights... but wait.

Flag on the field! There is hope!

Wade Smith had committed a holding infraction, giving Nugent another opportunity to MISS. THIS. KICK.

Forty-five seconds later, Nugent lines up to attempt a 43-yarder and... of course he makes this one too, giving the Jets the 6th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Nugent wears his enemy number on his chest
With the third pick of that draft - yes, the exact pick the Jets would have owned if this kick was missed - the Atlanta Falcons selected QB Matt Ryan who turned around the franchise after the Michael Vick debacle. He has established himself as a legitimate starting quarterback, MVP candidate, and face of the city.

Three picks later, the Jets selected five time Pro Bowler Vernon Gholston and haven't looked back since epic bust Vernon Gholston. They then traded for Brett Favre to patch a gaping hole at the quarterback position before selecting Mark Sanchez with their first round pick in 2009.

Long story short, Ryan - not Mark Sanchez - would be leading the Jets right now, and as Jets fans we would have some semblance of hope.

Not to be thanks to the kick that shaped two franchises.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The 2012-3 Mets Offseason Plan



The Mets are not going to compete for a division title - forget the World Series - in 2013 so every move should be made with an eye towards 2014 and beyond.  It is with that belief in mind that I shape my offseason plan for the New York Mets. I will call it “The Bridge Plan” as it will, you guessed it, bridge the current joke-of-a-roster to what will hopefully become a consistent contender.



1-Trade David Wright to the Dodgers for P Zach Lee. As a Mets fan, I love the guy despite his shortcomings in clutch situations (full disclosure: I believe in clutch but that’s an issue for another day).  Unfortunately, DWright cannot carry a team by himself, and it seems foolish to pay a premium contract to a player on a non-contending team. 

This deal seems like a no-brainer for the Mets. Lee would help form a formidable rotation with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jon Niese, all of whom would be under team control until at least 2016 at reasonable salaries. Sure, the Mets lose a ton of offensive production this year, but they are not going to be good anyway. In my mind, it is better to be bad than it is to be mediocre. At least bad teams get high draft picks. 

The Dodgers are in win-now mode. They have blank checks to throw at star players and would be able to lock Wright up long-term. Throw him into a lineup that already features Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Hanley Ramirez (who would have to stay at short), and you are looking at the makings of a dominant lineup.

2-Trade RA Dickey for OF Gary Brown and C Andrew Susac. Another player that I love, but RA’s trade value will never be higher. He’s 38 years old, but coming off a Cy Young season. Can he stay good for long enough to be a part of the next contender in New York? I’ll wager no.

The good news is that RA is only due $5m this season which makes him an attractive option for a team like the Giants that probably doesn’t want to break the bank on more pitching but has question marks on the mound, namely around Tim Lincecum. A Matt Cain-Madison Bumgarner-Dickey top of the rotation keeps the Giants as serious World Series contenders even if Lincecum can’t return to his pre-2012 form. The move could allow the Giants to focus resources on other areas of the roster (re-signing Angel Pagan) and/or signing a premier hitter (Josh Hamilton).

This is a pretty large haul for the Giants to part with. The Giants have the best catcher in baseball so dealing Susac won’t be a huge issue, and anyone with a pulse represents an upgrade over Josh Thole for the Mets. Brown, however, would be tough for the Giants to deal as he rates well defensively on all the scouting reports I have read, and he flies (88 stolen bases over the last two minor league seasons). He would be a perfect centerfielder in cavernous Citi Field. 

3-Trade Johan Santana and $15.5m to the Royals for OF Brett Eibner. No-han is due $25.5m in 2013, and the Mets have a team option to pick up his $25m salary for 2014. If they don’t - which they clearly won’t - they owe him a $5.5m buyout. In other words, Santana is playing on a one-year, $31m deal. Not bad work if you can get it. In order for the Mets to get anything in return for him, they will have to eat a bunch of this money, with my guess being about half the money due to him.

Eibner is bordering on non-prospect status due to injuries and underperformance with the stick, but coming out of college, he was a two-way prospect so maybe the Mets could get something out of him on the hill.

The Royals have desperately been looking for an ace. If they were willing to take a chance on Ervin Santana, maybe they would be willing to do the same on Johan at a reasonable one-year, $15.5m. Sandy Alderson could convince Dayton Moore the brothers Santana would be a dynamic 1-2 punch in KC.



4- Sign Ryan Madson (two-years, $12m deals with incentives) and Joakim Soria (two-years, $8m deal with incentives).

Both are former closers with name recognition, two huge plusses come trade deadline time. The hope here is that they can be turned into B+ / B prospects in July. In the meantime, they can prove they are healthy while solidifying a bullpen that was an absolute travesty last year.

5-Non-tender Mike Pelfrey and Andres Torres. Addition by subtraction.

6-Sign Ryan Ludwick ($6m), Scott Hairston ($2m), and Cesar Izturis ($1m) to one-year deals. The goal with all free agent signings should be to target guys that do one thing exceptionally well.

Ludwick and Hairston crush lefties. Izturis plays great defense. These are potentially desirable commodities in July when they can be flipped for more prospects.

Unitl then, they give Terry Collins some flexibility as well.

7-Sign Kevin Correia ($5m), Chris Young ($5m), Jeff Keppinger ($2m), and Kelly Shoppach ($2m) to fill the roster.

Correia and Young are your proverbial innings-eaters that should keep the team in most games they start. Not looking for them to be top-end starters. Keppinger can be an average third baseman. That’s really all you can ask for at this price. Shoppach provides good defense and will play against lefties.

8-Spend the maximum amount of money possible on the draft without surrendering future draft picks. The draft is the cheapest way to acquire talent, but for some reason, the Mets have never understood this. (I know this isn’t an “offseason” item but the moves above are meant to be made with the budget in mind so they can spend in the draft.)

As I wrote on TheSportsBanter (here) last season, the Mets could have essentially traded half a season of Scott Hairston for a second round pick. This is a microcosm of the way things have operated in Flushing, and that needs to change.

With a projected 2013 salary of approximately $75m*, the Mets have every reason to invest as much money as possible (without losing any picks) to acquire the best talent available in June’s draft.

*This $75m figure does not include the effect of trades. If Ryan Ludwick is dealt mid-season, they shave another $3m off that number.

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Again, this is a team that has some interesting parts that can hopefully traded in July for prospects with much brighter futures. This roster has very few long-term obligations:

25-Man Roster (2013 salary in millions; arbitration-eligibles rounded to nearest million)

C: Shoppach ($2) / Thole ($1)
1B: Ike Davis ($1)
2B: Daniel Murphy ($1)
SS: Ruben Tejada ($1) / Izturis ($1)
3B: Keppinger ($2)
LF: Ludwick ($6) / Mike Baxter ($1)
CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis ($1) / Jordany Valdespin ($1)
RF: Lucas Duda ($1) / Hairston ($2)

SP: Correia ($5), Young ($5m), Niese ($3), Harvey ($1), Dillon Gee ($1)
RP: Frank Francisco ($6.5), Madson ($6), Soria ($4), Bobby Parnell ($1), Josh Edgin ($1), Jenrry Mejia ($1), Jeremy Hefner ($1)

Hitters: 13 at $21m
Pitchers: 12 at $35.5m
Dead Money: $18.5m Johan Santana ($15.5) and Jason Bay ($3)
Total 2013 Salary: $75m


Lineup vs RHP

1-Tejada
2-Murphy
3-Ike
4-Duda
5-Baxter
6-Nieuwenhuis
7-Keppinger
8-Thole

Lineup vs LHP

1-Tejada
2-Keppinger
3-Ike
4-Ludwick
5-Hairston
6-Shoppach
7-Murphy
8-Valdespin