Archives for: 2009, week 16

04/24/09

Round One: Yankees Invade Fenway....

Permalink 02:30:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

-Digger's Daily-

Baseball's greatest rivalry gets underway Friday night in Boston's rustic Fenway Park. It's the most meaningful early season matchup for the Yankees in years. Boston and NY are tied with 9-6 records. Both are riding winning streaks heading into tonight's opening game (Boston 7, NY 3). Girardi and Francona have pencilled in quite a pitching matchup. It'll be Joba vs Lester (Fri), Burnett vs Beckett (Sat), Pettitte vs Masterson (Sun).

The Yanks got off to a rocky start this year including a 22-4 shellacking in their new stadium. They're on a 3 game mini-streak right now. Girardi's biggest lineup challenge, which I think is a no brainer for this series, is whether to start Melky or rookie Gardner. Melky Cabrera is on fire right now with 4 homers in 3 starts. Big bats will be needed. Melky's faced the pressures vs Boston and responded. He'll probably be given a shot in the opening game vs lefty Lester. I'd start him in all 3. Since I said this, of course Girardi will probably only play him in the opener.

Pitching is always the key for New York. It'll be doom and gloom if starting pitchers can't complete 7 innings. I've always found it funny how pitchers appearances are mostly determined by pitch counts. Only a few go the distance anymore. It wasn't so long ago hurlers like Catfish Hunter, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Jim Palmer were throwing complete game after complete game. Sometimes in four man rotations. Y2K starters are handled very delicately. Progress? Back on point... if the Red Sox get to the Yankees bullpen early, it'll be lights out for New York as the Joe Girardi watch heats up sports talk radio.

Red Sox team chemistry is probably the AL's best. They're solid in all aspects of the game. Big Papi is off to a slow start. He'll be ready to go and this series could be just what the Sox need to wake up their sleeping giant. Ortiz (homerless) has already stated Joba better not be head hunting Friday night.

These teams split 9-9 in '08. Boston vs NY is baseball's best rivalry. Year after year these guys slug it out... sometimes with their fists. It doesn't take much for get their benches emptied these days. Diehard baseball fans who still haven't ventured to historic Fenway Park... get up and go! There aren't many authentic ball fields left in the game. Fenway Park is an experience. Hey Yankee fans... don't want to pay Stadium prices? It's only a short drive to Boston!

I'm thinking slugfest Friday night as Joba throws a ton of pitches and is out by 5th. Starting pitchers take control in final two games. This series is an early season barometer of all kinds for New York.

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04/22/09

NFL Draft: On the Clock....

Permalink 07:00:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

It's NFL Draft time! Teams are busy contacting future stars and negotiating trades for draft positioning. Will 2009's #1 become an instant sensation or the next million dollar bonus baby flop?!?

On the clock with big decisions to make is 2008's record breaking winless Detroit Lions (0-16). Draft or trade has been debated by analysts, bloggers and fans. NFL.com's Reader Poll asks readers Who should the Lions select with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft? Matthew Stafford, QB (Georgia), Aaron Curry, LB (Wake Forrest) and Jason Smith, OT (Baylor) have been mentioned most often as prizes of this years draft.

I think Detroit's most prudent play is to make a pre-draft deal. Detroit owns picks 1 & 20 placing them in a tremendous win, win situation. They should be able to work out a beneficial deal for players and draft picks for #1. No need to throw top dollar after an unproven player when this team needs many to right their ship. I'm sure there's plenty of low round teams willing to deal away players or picks to secure #1. Especially a powerhouse team drafting deep (New England, Philadelphia, Giants, Pittsburgh). Dallas Cowboys do not have any first round picks. Jerry Jones has been known to wheel and deal. Cowboys unveil their new $1B+ stadium and are thirsty for a Championship.

Here's the current NFL draft order and what I think each team needs heading into selection day (April 25):
1 Detroit Lions - Trade down. Select offensive lineman, defensive lineman or game changing LB.
2 St. Louis Rams - Defense, defense, defense. One of NFL's worst units in yds/game and points allowed (465).
3 Kansas City Chiefs - Offense and defense. Going after a top LB is key.
4 Seattle Seahawks - Not nearly as bad as record suggests. WR (who catches more than drops!), OL, DL would help.
5 Cleveland Browns - QB, RB. Browns and interesting team. QB & WR are draft needs.
6 Cincinnati Bengals - Perhaps they should consult a psychologist or two to interview potential draftees.
7 Oakland Raiders - Who would want to play for Al Davis Raiders?
8 Jacksonville Jaguars - Jags just got Holt. Cornerback, LB and OL keys for immediate success.
9 Green Bay Packers - Protection for QB, DB.
10 San Francisco 49ers - Singletary's first draft. Defense, defense, defense. Special teams help in later rounds.
11 Buffalo Bills - Offensive line needs help. FB & TE would be welcomed additions. 2 1st round picks (11, 28) gives Bills flexibility.
12 Denver Broncos - Quickly rebuilding via trades for new coach Josh McDaniels. Two 1st round picks. They'll probably go for best available game changer. Needs are plentiful. QB and defense especially on line and LB's.
13 Washington Redskins - Pass rusher. field leading QB. Campbell was efficient but doesn't have the instincts to lead Skins to division title.
14 New Orleans Saints - Pass rusher, linebackers, CB, Safety and WR. If the Saints can stop opposing offenses then they'll go from average to great overnight.
15 Houston Texans - Solid young nucleus of talent. Pass rushers & secondary help. Perhaps a stud interior lineman if one's still available.
16 San Diego Chargers - Defense. Big game LB would be an instant upgrade. Heavy hitting Safety.
17 New York Jets - I'm expecting NY to deal before they get to #17. QB is a MUST. DB's and Safety needs upgrading.
18 Denver Broncos - See #12
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Offensive line and special teams. For whatever reason, special teams is usually TB's biggest weakness costing them field position and points.
20 Detroit Lions - See #1
21 Philadelphia Eagles - WR's. Eagles wideouts historically can't catch or break free from defenders. McNabb takes the heat but has no help. Front office decision making not great. Philly should trade up.
22 Minnesota Vikings - Go with best available. Offensive line to patch up holes. LB. Minnesota one or two players away from challenging in up for grabs division.
23 New England Patriots - RB, backup QB, pass rusher, depth. Best drafting guru's in NFL reside here. New England is best team at developing talent and making the right picks. It's probably best to just sit back and see which surprise is snagged.
24 Atlanta Falcons - Coming off an eye opening '08. Defensive play makers will keep this team focused on winning.
25 Miami Dolphins - Draft guru Parcells like tough defenders. Miami needs help in many areas on both sides of the field.
26 Baltimore Ravens - New speedy targets for QB Joe Flacco. Baltimore found out the short conservative attack only goes so far. Deep threat WR to spread the field helps immediately.
27 Indianapolis Colts - Defense. The difference between being an NFL dynasty and a great team has been the lack of a killer D. Head Coach slash Defensive Guru Dungy retired. Colts could quickly become the Rams if they're not careful.
28 Buffalo Bills - See #11.
29 New York Giants - WR & CB. Giants need to step up passing game and stop opponents passing game. A mid round LB couldn't hurt either.
30 Tennessee Titans - QB, WR. Titans need to think out of the box and beyond '09. Collins may or may not repeat success from one year ago. Either way, he's only a one season solution. Deep threat wideouts and better pass protection needed.
31 Arizona Cardinals - Offensive line and defense. Super Bowl runner ups want to prove '08 wasn't a fluke. Lack of run stoppers has been a sore spot for years.
32 Pittsburgh Steelers - Super Bowl Champs draft last. Solid team could use a bruising offensive lineman or shut down corner. If they don't trade up then they'll probably tackle weak spots on the depth chart or special teams.

My top rated players by position:
QB: Matthew Stafford (Georgia)
RB: Chris Wells (Ohio State)
WR: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech)
TE: Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State)
OL: A.Q. Shipley (Center, Penn State)
DL: Peria Jerry (DT, Mississippi)
LB: Aaron Curry (Wake Forrest)
CB: Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State)
S: Patrick Chung (Oregon)

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04/20/09

News Makers, Rumors, Champs & More Chumps

Permalink 03:00:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Another week of sports news made headlines. Plenty to talk about from new ballparks to retiring legends.

Good
New Yorkers were treated to the unveiling of new baseball stadiums. Yankee Stadium and Citi Field officially opened to tremendous fanfare. Unfortunately, both Yanks & Mets lost their inaugural regular season games.

Florida Marlins (10-1) hot start is turning heads. Florida has baseball's lowest payroll ($36,834,000 vs #1 Yankees $201,449,189). They're a great young team. This organization keeps rolling out baseball's brighest young stars. I've always admired how the Marlins were able to keep winning games year after year considering how they normally trade away star players due to tight budgets.

NBA & NHL Playoffs have begun. Early favorites in hoops seem to be Cleveland and Los Angeles Lakers. On the ice, Boston and San Jose try duplicating their regular season dominance. I'm thinking it'll be Lakers & Bruins as champs.

Rumors
NFL Draft begins this weekend (April 25). Rumors flying on what Detroit (0-16) will do with the leagues first pick? I wouldn't be surprised to see them deal off #1 for more picks which is exactly what this team needs. If they decide to go first, then their front office needs to get it right. Detroit has a young nucleus of players. 0-16 will be etched into the record books forever but these guys are only a couple of players away from becoming playoff challengers. All sorts of fantasy leagues are open for fans to guess how the draft unfolds.

Is it already hot seat time for Yankees Manager Joe Girardi? 2008 was his first year at the helm (replaced Joe Torre) and Yanks failed to make playoffs for the first time since 1994. Baseball's biggest payroll, new stadium, new monster free agents... if it doesn't fall into place soon, he could be MLB's first managing casualty of '09. 22-4 scalping by Indians couldn't have helped.

New York Giants shopping for a wide receiver. Rumors swirling around Cleveland's Blaylon Edwards. Giants need 2 speedsters for Manning. The coming days leading up to the NFL draft will be very interesting for many teams.

Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett is considering risking returning prematurely from his knee injury. Injuries suck, but KG would be foolish to risk his future. His injury is a great test for the C's to regroup. Many Championships have been won with stars injured on the sidelines.

Champs
The Masters handed out another Green Jacket. Angel Cabrera withstood a furious surge then fadaway by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to win his first Masters.

NASCAR's Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix (1st win of the season).

Hall of Fame former Oakland Raiders NFL Head Coach turned game commentator John Madden has called it a career after 30 years in the booth. As Raiders head coach, he became the youngest to win 100 regular season games. Retired from coaching due to ulcers after 7 division titles & 1976 Super Bowl victory. One of the most noted broadcasters and launched best selling video game (Madden NFL, EA Sports). I've always been a Madden fan. I'm going to miss is goofy in game comments and 8 legged Thanksgiving Day turkeys.

Chumps
New York Yankees, in their Stadium opening weekend, were embarrassed 22-4 by the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe's 14 run second inning was the most ever scored against the Yanks in a single inning. I'm betting the Joe Girardi stop watch has been set. If things don't get better in a hurry, he'll be gone (soon to be followed by GM Cashman). Their new $1.5-billion Stadium unleashed an MLB record 20 home runs (the most ever during an opening homestand at a new park). Apparent routine fly balls to right kept going and going and going... This can't be what the Yanks brass had in mind. Then again, maybe it was just their horrid pitching staff tossing up meatball after meatball.

New York Mets organization deserves chump status for failing to pay any sort of tribute to team history in new Citi Field. Most fan complaints have been how this new park seems more like a tribute to the Dodgers instead of the home team. Exec GM was lured onto local sports talk radio to field questions of fan concerns only to dig a deeper hole. Tax funded field fails to recognize the team for which it was supposed to be built. It's a mind boggling blunder.

RIP
Harry Kalas, a people's champion, died on April 13th. Kalas was a legend in the Philadelphia area, calling Phillies games since 1971. He was also known as the voice of NFL Films since 1977. There was never mistaking his voice for another.