Archives for: 2011


Power Rankings Top 10's

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-Digger's Daily-

All World All Sports Power Rankings has changed gears by trimming our Power Rankings to Top 10 lists. Polls fluently change as does our unique rankings so we're shifting to short and sweet. We invite readers to tout their own rankings in our comments arenas.

Top 10's

1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - New Orleans Saints
3 - San Francisco 49ers
4 - New England Patriots
5 - Baltimore Ravens
6 - Pittsburgh Steelers
7 - Detroit Lions
8 - Cincinnati Bengals
9 - Houston Texans
10- Atlanta Falcons

1 - Oklahoma City Thunder
2 - Miami Heat
3 - Chicago Bulls
4 - San Antonio Spurs
5 - Los Angeles Clippers
6 - Dallas Mavericks
7 - Boston Celtics
8 - Los Angeles Lakers
9 - New York Knicks
10- Atlanta Hawks

1 - Boston Bruins
2 - New York Rangers
3 - Chicago Blackhawks
4 - Detroit Red Wings
5 - Vancouver Canucks
6 - Pittsburgh Penguins
7 - St Louis Blues
8 - Philadelphia Flyers
9 - San Jose Sharks
10- Minnesota Wild

1 - Syracuse
2 - Ohio State
3 - Kentucky
4 - Louisville
5 - Baylor
6 - Missouri
7 - Duke
8 - Connecticut
9 - Indiana
10- North Carolina

NCAA Women's BB
1 - Baylor
2 - Connecticut
3 - Notre Dame
4 - Stanford
5 - Maryland
6 - Kentucky
7 - Ohio State
8 - Texas Tech
9 - Duke
10- Texas A&M


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 17

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-Digger's Daily-

This is it. The final games of our NFL 2011 season will be played New Year's Day. All eye's focused on teams battling for the final two playoff slots (one each in AFC/NFC). New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys in a winner take all for NFC East division honors after Big Blue knocked off stadium sharing rival Gang Green (NY Jets). The Jets loss all but ended their disappointing season - making a liar out of a Super Bowl Championship prediction by their head coach. Dallas is down after losing to Philadelphia. QB Tony Romo's status is uncertain after receiving a right hand contusion. In the AFC, Tebow gets one more chance to secure the AFC West. If Denver wins, they're in. Division winners are playing for first round bye's. Saints and 49ers tied at 12-3 (SF holds tie-break advantage). Pittsburgh (11-4) and Baltimore (11-4) trying to secure the AFC North and pass over New England (12-3) will become top seed.

Take nothing for granted this weekend. Green Bay is one of the few teams able to take advantage of resting starting players in preparation for the post-season.

Week 16 was kind as I nailed 12 of 16 upping the season total to 153-87 (63.8%).

Final regular season games of 2011.

Week 17 (home in CAPS)
NEW ORLEANS 38 Carolina 17
NEW ENGLAND 31 Buffalo 20
MINNESOTA 24 Chicago 20
MIAMI 34 Jets 23
San Francisco 24 ST LOUIS 14
GREEN BAY 28 Detroit 24
PHILADELPHIA 37 Washington 10
JACKSONVILLE 20 Indianapolis 17
HOUSTON 21 Tennessee 20
Seattle 24 ARIZONA 23
DENVER 28 Kansas City 21
ATLANTA 28 Tampa Bay 16
CINCINNATI 23 Baltimore 17
Pittsburgh 20 CLEVELAND 10
San Diego 35 OAKLAND 21
GIANTS 31 Dallas 20

End of regular season

Brees Sets Passing Record vs Whiny Falcons

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-Digger's Daily-

New Orleans Saints (12-3) star QB Drew Brees bested Dan Marino's NFL record for passing yards in a single season on Monday Night Football. Brees hit halfback Darren Sproles with a 9 yard strike to set the record with 2:51 remaining in a 45-16 romp over Atlanta.

New Orleans fans showered Brees with a long standing ovation as their quarterback celebrated and received congratulations from Saints teammates. Marino passed for 5,084 yards during a magical 1984 season. Brees needed just 15 games, finishing with 5,087. He'll raise the bar further in the final week of regular season action becoming the only player to surpass 5,100 yards.

Not everyone was celebrating. A beaten down Atlanta Falcons team wasn't happy New Orleans continued throwing late in the game. Get over it Falcons!!! What did you expect? A record within reach - during a home game - on Monday Night Football - why shouldn't New Orleans head coach give the green light. This is the NFL - Not For Lightweights. Stop whining and give Brees the respect he deserves - especially after picking apart Atlanta's defense. This wasn't about running up the score against a beaten team. It was all about letting their team leader achieve record status. If Atlanta didn't want him to break the record then their defense should have stepped up. They didn't. Drew Brees did.

Congratulations Drew! The Saints finish up the regular season against a very porous Carolina defense on New Year's Day. Let's predict a final season ending total of 5,415.


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 16

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Happy Chanukah & Merry Christmas!

A few upsets in Week 15 doomed pick selections. Kansas City pulled off the upset of the season handing Green Bay their first loss. Washington bumped off a lethargic Giants club for the 2nd time this year. Indianapolis stunned Tennessee for their first win of the year. San Diego took advantage of a banged up group of Ravens. Before it was over - Digger only nailed 7 of 16 correctly. Season total 141-83 (62.9%).

It's do or die this weekend for teams fighting for playoff positions.

Week 16 (home team in CAPS)
Houston 24 INDIANAPOLIS 13

Oakland 30 KANSAS CITY 23
TENNESSEE 28 Jacksonville 17
NEW ENGLAND 52 Miami 10
CINCINNATI 23 Arizona 21
Denver 25 BUFFALO 17
PITTSBURGH 21 St Louis 3
Giants 34 JETS 24
WASHINGTON 24 Minnesota 20
CAROLINA 28 Tampa Bay 24
BALTIMORE 27 Cleveland 10
San Diego 33 DETROIT 31
Philadelphia 38 DALLAS 21
San Francisco 19 SEATTLE 13

GREEN BAY 44 Chicago 14

NEW ORLEANS 30 Atlanta 24


The Battle for NFL Playoffs

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

2011 NFL enters the final two weeks of regular season action. Plenty of great stories. Green Bay's run at perfection ended last weekend. Drew Brees on pace to shatter Dan Marino's single season passing record. Tim Tebow in Denver. Coach of the Year candidate Jim Harbaugh returned San Francisco 49er football to winning ways (and a division title). Houston Texans surviving multiple injuries to post their franchise 2nd winning season and first division title. MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards still up for grabs. Also up for grabs, coveted final playoff slots. Who's going to win and get in?

New England's superior offense camouflages their porous defense. Patriots defense is tough to handicap since opponents play catch-up football - usually large deficits. Tom Brady is masterfully putting together a MVP-type season. No NFL coach is better at game planning and execution than Bill Belichick.

Baltimore Ravens are a Super Bowl caliber team. They're a bit banged up on defense but this team has it all when in synch. Defense is their best offense. Translation - superior defense gives Baltimore offense great field position for short drives.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's gimpy ankle needs to heal - quickly. Pittsburgh's playoff survival weakens considerably without a healthy and roaming Big Ben. Defense pounds but susceptible to big plays. Clock management has been surprisingly abysmal most of the year. Never count these guys out.

It's been the much publicized Tebow leading Denver. Defense and late game heroics have become the norm as Tebow's antics place him squarely in bulls-eye's of friends and foes alike. Denver's ground game is the key to success on offense. Red Zone attack needs to step it up a notch, especially when playoff football begins.

Playoff picture:
4 of 6 teams in. New England (11-3), Baltimore (10-4), Houston (10-4) & Pittsburgh (10-4) secured playoff slots.
Denver (8-6) wins the west with a victories at Buffalo and home closer vs Kansas City. Tebow's inspiring play and Broncos tenacious defense hope to rebound after New England showed why their AFC's #1 seed. Two wins (or combination of win/loss by Oak/SD) and the West belongs to Denver.
Oakland (7-7) remains in the hunt but needs help to catch Denver. Winning remaining games is their only option.
Remember when San Diego (7-7) began the season 4-1? Then lost 6 straight? Riding a 3 win streak, Chargers must win their final 2 games and hope for both Denver & Oakland to collapse. Good luck.
New York Jets (8-6) control their Wild Card destiny. Win two and they're in. They also own tie-breaker over Cincinnati. Big game vs stadium sharing playoff seeking New York Giants (7-7).
All sorts of implications/possibilities could trigger tie-breakers kicking in to determine eventual playoff teams. Playoff seeding also at stake. Patriots currently #1 followed by Baltimore. AFC North is still up for grabs (Baltimore owns tie-breaker).

Division winners: (1) Patriots, (2) Ravens, (3) Texans, (4) Broncos. Wild Card: (5) Steelers, (6) Jets.

Can you believe it? For much of the season Green Bay's 13 game winning streak took a backseat to Tebow fever. Packers offense plays nearly flawless football. Aaron Rodgers is one of football's greatest players. He's amassed 4,360 yards - 40 TD's and only 6 interceptions. It doesn't get much better than this folks. 13 wins in 14 games isn't too shabby either. Defending Champs fine tuning to defend their crown.

Has anyone been paying attention to San Francisco football outside of the NFC West? Better take notice. 49ers defense is making a name for themselves. They're getting stronger as confidence grows. This current 49ers teams reminds me of 80's style Giants football. Opportunistic team gains advantage while most focus on NFC's Packers & Saints.

Drew Brees might give himself a Christmas present this weekend - and - possibly giving Hall of Famer Dan Marino a lump of coal. Brees is on the verge of breaking Marino's single season passing record - a remarkable accomplishment. He needs just 305 yards to set a new record.

What is up with the New York Giants (7-7). Stunning losses to weaker teams leaves this group - and head coach - battling for their short and long term futures. Two losses to Washington, one to a Vick-less Eagles squad and Seattle cost them from clinching the NFC East. These were all ugly losses. Coughlin will be gone if Giants get eliminated. Big New York vs New York match-up this weekend. Loser's season in jeopardy.

Playoff picture:
Top seed Green Bay's (13-1, North) run at perfection ended last weekend. San Francisco (11-3, West) & New Orleans (10-4, South) won their division.
Dallas (8-6) currently leads the East over New York (7-7). East is there's if they beat Philly coupled with a Giants loss this weekend. Expect a final game showdown at MetLife to decide who wins. I'm betting Eagles and Giants win this weekend forcing a winner take all final game.
Atlanta (9-5) and Detroit (9-5) appear to have a lock on Wild Card status but it's not said and done until the final gun sounds.

Division winners: (1) Packers, (2) 49ers, (3) Saints, (4) Giants. Wild Card: (5) Lions, (6) Falcons.


All World All Sports NBA 2011-12 Preview

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Short season on the way. Players still changing teams, negotiating new contracts and shaking off the rust from an extended work stoppage. Many were plenty put off once Commissioner Stern began cancelling games weeks at a time. How will fans react once the new season begins? Will they return in droves - or - driven away? Time will tell.

Crystal ball time. All World All Sports 2011-12 NBA forecast...

Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics
New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers
New Jersey Nets
Toronto Raptors
Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks
Cleveland Cavs
Miami Heat
Orlando Magic
Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Bobcats
Washington Wizards

Western Conference
Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets
Portland Trailblazers
Utah Jazz
Minnesota Timberwolves
LA Lakers
LA Clippers
Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings
Dallas Mavericks
San Antonio Spurs
Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets
New Orleans Hornets

Champions: Boston Celtics


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 15

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Tick tock. Tick tock. Three regular season NFL weeks remain in the 2011 season. Division winners Green Bay (13-0), San Francisco (10-3) & Houston (10-3) will be fine tuning their games and battling for playoff seeding while somehow trying to remain healthy. Houston's season has been nothing short of remarkable. So many key players banged up - and - they're on quarterback number 3. Green Bay is heading towards history. Who will beat them?

New York Jets and Giants fans roller coaster emotions put to the test all season long. Giants (8-5) breathing new life after edging division rival Dallas. Sanchez finally looking good for Jets - perhaps pre-game boo's from home crowd snapped him to life?

Baltimore (10-3) owns tie-breakers vs AFC North division rival Pittsburgh (10-3) based on sweeping their season series. Roethlisberger banged up for a big game vs San Francisco this weekend.

Tim Tebow magic leading Denver (8-5) to the top of AFC West. Oakland (7-6) was blown out in back to back games needs a big victory this weekend to stay alive.

Digger correctly nails 13 of 16 in Week 14! Season total advances to 134-74 (64.4%).

Week 15 (home in CAPS)
ATLANTA 27 Jacksonville 10

DALLAS 38 Tampa Bay 14

HOUSTON 27 Carolina 23
GIANTS 34 Washington 20
BUFFALO 28 Miami 17
CHICAGO 12 Seattle 10
New Orleans 45 MINNESOTA 21
Cincinnati 28 ST LOUIS 3
Tennessee 30 INDIANAPOLIS 7
GREEN BAY 35 Kansas City 3
OAKLAND 24 Detroit 23
New England 33 DENVER 17
ARIZONA 24 Cleveland 13
Baltimore 24 SAN DIEGO 20

Pittsburgh 16 SAN FRANCISCO 13


Keep the Faith! Tebow Strikes Again!

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Believe in your faith. Tim Tebow's religious beliefs guide his life on and off of football fields. He's been criticized heavily for public displays of deep devotion. Tebow's detractors openly and often criticize his throwing ability as much as Tebowing. Guess what? Denver Broncos starting quarterback Tim Tebow is now 7-1. The 7th victory was another thrilling late game come from behind victory - 4th in a row.

Yesterday's game caught most by surprise - again. Denver's offense wasn't clicking at all before the final three minutes in regulation during Sunday's overtime 13-10 victory against Chicago. The Bears defense shadowed Tebow all game long. Denver receivers dropped passes at key moments throughout. Eight consecutive Broncos drives ended in 5 plays or less until the hurry up offense went into effect.

Trailing 10-0, with just over 4 minutes remaining, Tebow went to work guiding Denver 7 plays for 63 yards culminated by a 10 yard strike to Demaryius Thomas with 2:08 to go. Denver nearly recovered a perfect onside kick almost (2 players collided, Chicago recovered). All the Bears had to do was run the ball and keep the clock moving to secure victory. This would have left approximately 13-15 seconds in regulation. Denver used up all of their timeouts leaving no way to stop the game clock. Trailing 10-7, Denver's 5 game win streak was coming to an end.

"If you believe," Tebow said, "then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible."

On Chicago's first play (2nd down) after the 2:00 minute warning Bears running back Marion Barber bounced a left tackle run to the outside - way outside - and was inexplicably knocked out of bounds stopping the clock at 1:55. All Barber had to do was fall down in bounds. Forty precious seconds would have ticked off the clock. Instead the clock froze at 1:55 with 3rd down on the way.

Television viewers, Broncos fans and anyone within ear shot knew this game was about to change. Change it did. After Chicago punted Tebow had 53 seconds left from his own 20 yard line in regulation to perform another football miracle. One quick strike after another set up a long shot field goal attempt for the tie. Broncos kicker Matt Prater blasted a Denver record 59 yard field goal in front of 76,487 delirious home town fans. Most of America was stunned at the sudden turn of events. 10-10 and headed to overtime.

Chicago won the coin toss and quickly drove down the field. A new sense of determination coming from Chicago coaches who were overly cautious during the 4th quarter. Chicago neared field goal position. On 3rd and 7 from the Denver 38 Barber ran towards a gaping hole. At first quick glance it seemed as though if Barber exploded through the hole he was going for a massive gain - or perhaps and touchdown. Barber hit the hole hard as did Broncos LB Wesley Woodyard. Barber was gone if he was able to avoid the ball jarring hit - FUMBLE! Broncos recover... Tebow time!

Watching events in this game at the end of regulation and overtime was surreal (in football sense). Tebow got the ball back. Seconds earlier most thought Chicago was about to line up for a game winning overtime field goal attempt. This is minutes after most thought Chicago was going to win in regulation. I'd like to read a stat of how many fans switched channels with the score 10-7 at the 2:00 minute warning. Bears fans had to return in stunned disbelief... while Denver fans returned to stunned exuberance.

Now here we are in overtime. Regulation goat Marion Barber became game goat Marion Barber after a devastating overtime fumble. Tebow and the Broncos went to work from his own 34. 8 plays later Denver was set up for a 51 yard field goal attempt... there was never any doubt. Prater nailed a 51 yard game winning kick at the 8:34 mark.

Tebow's antics, game play, come from behind victories, and now division leader (Denver 8-5) has probably been the most discussed in 2011 NFL action. Fans love him for many reasons. Reason #1 is winning. What I'll never understand is players & media attacking his faith. Why? Tebow is a devout faith believer. Good for him. It's his choice and should be respected. Tebow lives his life by a code - faith in his religion. Tebow is of strong moral character. A 5 tool competitor who plays football with belief in his ability, determination, guts, strength and heart. Results: 7-1 propelling Denver (8-5) into first place. Yet, relentless attacks by players and media for courage to show and discuss faith.

Question: how many times does a baseball player make the cross sign before stepping into the batters box? Kiss a cross after a crossing home plate with a winning run? On a home run? How about football players celebrating after touchdowns? Wins? How about when faith and thanks to faith are the first spoken words? Not a peep of discontent - and there shouldn't be - so why Tebow?

I will never understand the clear and present danger of accelerating disrespect displayed towards religion in the United States of America. From educators in schools to elected government officials to influential media outlets. Somehow the Ten Commandments have been eradicated from select public buildings. The Pledge of Allegiance banned. In God We Trust under attack. Public displays of Christmas or Channukah ornaments being outlawed. And now, sports figures public displays of faith scrutinized. Does this mean our national anthem will soon be outlawed? Or, 7th inning stretch God Bless America? Let's hope not.

Standing ovation for Tim Tebow's 7-1 record. He's done it all with people mocking his every move. Keep the faith!


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 14

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Week 13 treated us to thrilling games. Giants vs Green Bay was one of the years best. Tebow's prayers were answered again in another Denver come from behind victory. Five consecutive late game heroics has Denver tied for first place. Arizona scored a TKO of Dallas in OT after another Cowboys coaching error.

11 of 16 last weekend brings my season total to 121-71 (63%). All remaining games are must wins for teams seeking a shot at post-season play - especially teams on the outside looking in. Not too many must see type games on this weekends schedule. One standout game is Sunday night when the Giants travel to Dallas.

Week 14
PITTSBURGH 31 Cleveland 3

JETS 28 Kansas City 6
Tampa Bay 24 JACKSONVILLE 20
New England 48 WASHINGTON 14
Atlanta 30 CAROLINA 28
BALTIMORE 23 Indianapolis 3
Philadelphia 27 MIAMI 17
DETROIT 27 Minnesota 20
New Orleans 27 TENNESSEE 23
CINCINNATI 23 Houston 21
DENVER 24 Chicago 13
San Francisco 26 ARIZONA 20
SAN DIEGO 33 Buffalo 23
GREEN BAY 42 Oakland 21
Giants 38 DALLAS 27

SEATTLE 23 St Louis 16


Baseball's Winter Heating Up

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Miami Marlins making early waves went out on a limb by signing Jose Reyes. Marlins have a new name - Miami. Soon to be new stadium - Sun Life Stadium. New uniforms. New attitude. New spending spree - a first in recent memory for Marlins teams.

A new generation of baseball is coming to Miami. Their organization is waving long term deals at key franchise-type players in a effort to solidify a solid, competitive Miami future. A generous deal by the City of Miami (now under investigation) affords Miami a long overdue opportunity to keep their star players and attract new ones. Just signed - NL batting champion Jose Reyes for 6 years, $106,000,000.00. Reyes is a great player with one major downside. Reyes has been sidelined extensively throughout his career in New York. If he stays healthy then count Miami as a serious NL East contender for years to come. Hanley Ramirez will shift from SS to 3B giving Miami an outstanding left side of the infield offensively and defensively.

Free agent closer Heath Bell was Miami's second major signing in two days (3 years, $27,000,000.00) and they're hot on Albert Pujols trail. Another name mentioned often is Mark Buerhle. Nobody should expect the Marlins to toss around Red Sox or Yankees kind of money. This is a team grooming very good talent and now adding a few select top veterans. Shrewd long range plans in the works. Marlins baseball will be a must watch when 2012 season begins.

Hall of Fame
It's about time !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ron Santo ( is finally heading into the Hall. I will never understand how Santo wasn't voted in during the 15 year eligibility votes. Then comes the HOF Veterans Committee which basically has the power to elect players who never received enough votes. Here's the real injustice. Veterans Committee had 12 years - 12 - to right a wrong. Is it their inner guilt taking over? Ron Santo died one year ago. Now, he gets in? Why not when he was alive allowing him the feeling of being a Hall of Fame inductee? How utterly miserable. Bittersweet.

Free Agents
Albert Pujols is the big fish on the market. He can pick whichever team he wants. Plenty of speculation as to where he'll end up. Plenty of teams will make offers - unless Pujols seeks ARod money. Then again, one never knows what kind of crazy contract might come from fickle owners in bidding wars? Miami is a great place to live. Will be a great place to play in a brand new hitters friendly stadium. Star studded lineup. Solid pitchers? Theo Epstein's chasing hard after Pujols. Esptein helped remove one curse. Can he work magic for the Cubs? Time will tell. Giants need to step up after losing out on Reyes. Perhaps Albert's just testing the market for leverage in St. Louis?
Big question marks surrounding many teams. The usual characters - Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and perhaps Braves - will keep throwing big bucks around. What has me wondering is strategy of low budget teams or teams in financial distress? LA Dodgers and NY Mets with cash flow problems. LA secured a new SS signing utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. Mets might be willing to sell off everything possible. David Wright should beg to get out of NY. Angels, Cardinals, Red Sox & White Sox would be great fits if Mets follow a path of quietly severing ties with big salaries to gain useful prospects.
Kansas City & Washington have me curious too. Their once young talent is maturing. They need pitching and veteran leadership. How will front office's respond? It isn't easy attracting star pitchers to KC or Washington just yet?
Believe it or not, I've been reading how the most coveted free agents might be utility type (multi-position) players. Adam Kennedy and Hairston off the board quickly with more to follow soon. Prince Fielder sweepstakes has been rather quiet.

Plenty of rumors and headlines soon to follow. Can't wait to see how the dust settles.


Bobby Valentine to Red Sox

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Bobby Valentine has enjoyed celebrity status. ESPN's former baseball commentator's name was often mentioned whenever a managerial vacancy existed. His popularity rose to championship quality praise. Not bad for a fellow never to manage an American team to a division title. High praise to a former manager out of MLB since 2002.

Enter the Boston Red Sox. One of baseball's top organizations committed to winning. A team coming off a rough 2011 season filled with in-fighting, clubhouse drinking during games and a manager who suddenly quit. Terry Francona was at the helm for Boston's two World Series championships. He was the man who beat the Yankees and broke Boston's curse. Somewhere during the '11 season, Francona lost control of the Red Sox. Various injuries and terrible front office decisions (especially with starting pitching) could be largely to blame. Francona's sudden departure stunned many. He took Boston's bad season to heart. Perhaps, he realized Red Sox players didn't play with any? Perhaps he just wanted out at any cost. End of chapter.

A new page in Boston history is about to be written. GM Theo Epstein is gone - off to Chicago Cubs for millions of dollars. Francona out. New GM Ben Cherington is betting Bobby Valentine is the right man for the job. Question is - what kind of job will it become? A championship opportunity or caretaker for a rebuilding club?

Boston isn't necessarily rebuilding. Or, will they be forced to rebuild? Mostly due to over-inflated salaries of underachieving players. Carl Crawford's first stint in Boston was a complete failure ($20M+/year thru 2017). Lackey pitched like a drunk lackey without any consistency ($15.25M/year thru 2014). Daisuke Matsuzaka ($10M in '12) bombed. As of this moment, Boston has only 12 players signed costing $126,000,000.00! What will Boston due? Rebuilding in the mighty AL East will not be easy or cheap.

Bobby V steps right into the thick of things. Is he just a colorful caretaker until Boston finds a way to reclaim glory days of the 2000's? Or, is this team getting set for some serious wheeling and dealing? This team is carrying expensive dead weight which could curtail aggressive free agent maneuvers. Boston fans will soon find out the direction their team will take once baseball's winter meetings conclude.

Free agency is off to a very slow beginning. Maybe due to economic uncertainties? Maybe owners are finally realizing their players are way over paid? (doubt it). The silence of active free agent signings is slowly becoming deafening. Jose Reyes name was tossed about early on. Pujols to Chicago could be in the works. However, to this observer, a game of chicken seems in play. No teams making big offers to the coveted free agent pitchers. Not much discussion beyond scuttlebutt when it comes to position players. Something will give. I'm guess Epstein's Cubs will be the first to make headlines.

Bobby Valentine in Boston to help discipline a clubhouse drinking team is a bit funny. After all, when managing the Mets Valentines players were caught playing poker in the clubhouse during playoff series vs rival Braves. Bobby V was never known - or respected - as a tough taskmaster. Boston is rolling the dice with Valentine's happy go lucky attitude. I don't see it paying off. Valentine proved many times he's no match for bloated ego's of overpriced ballplayers. Red Sox fans will keep their collective fingers crossed hoping and praying a new face at the helm is all that's needed to restore winning ways.

The only good news seems to be Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis. These players represent the heart and sole of Boston Red Sox baseball. Boston's pitching is in shambles and should be primary focus #1 from rotation to relievers.

Newcomer's Valentine and Cherington have much work to do. 2012 is filled with vital challenges. Decisions made during this off season will have a lasting effect. Hold on Boston fans - turbulence expected.


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 13

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

11 correct out of 13 in Week 11. Guess what? How about 13 of 16 in Week 12! Back in business which probably means I just jinxed Week 13. Season total now stands at 110-66 (62.5%) and counting.

Green Bay (12-0, NFC North) and San Francisco (9-2, NFC West) continue cementing their division leads. Green Bay's schedule gets a bit juicier in coming weeks. Giants then Oakland in next two. KC should be a cakewalk before closing out against Chicago and Detroit.

New York Giants handing NFC East to Dallas on a silver platter. Giants blew back to back games they should have won before getting steamrolled by New Orleans on MNF. New England is on a tear. It's the Tebow show in Denver. Houston lost QB #2 - their 2nd starting QB in two games to get creamed. Wild Card is up for grabs. Once again, the 2nd half of the year will be great.

Here's how Week 13 goes down in the record books... (home team in CAPS)

Philadelphia 20 SEATTLE 14

Carolina 28 TAMPA BAY 23
PITTSBURGH 24 Cincinnati 20
Atlanta 27 HOUSTON 10
Jets 28 REDSKINS 14
NEW ENGLAND 52 Indianapolis 0
Oakland 23 MIAMI 20
Denver 24 MINNESOTA 17
Tennessee 23 BUFFALO 21
CHICAGO 20 Kansas City 9
Baltimore 28 CLEVELAND 10
Dallas 31 ARIZONA 24
Green Bay 33 GIANTS 28
NEW ORLEANS 34 Detroit 27

San Diego 24 JACKSONVILLE 16


2011 Football Power Rankings

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

LSU remains #1. Look out for Cinderella team of 2011 - Houston (12-0). Cougars slow and steady rise might get a boost against #24 ranked Southern Mississippi December 3rd. This marks Houston's only top 25 opponent. Houston's offense ranks top dog averaging 52.7 points per contest behind a spectacular passing attack.
This weekend will be teams final shot at making a strong bowl bid, run at number one & Heismann push. Good luck teams.

Top 20
1 - LSU
2 - Alabama
3 - Virginia Tech
4 - Stanford
5 - Houston
6 - Arkansas
7 - Oklahoma State
8 - Boise State
9 - Oregon
10- Oklahoma
11- Georgia
12- Wisconsin
13- South Carolina
14- Michigan State
15- Kansas State
16- Michigan
17- Baylor
18- TCU
19- Nebraska
20- Clemson


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 12

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

I rebounded nicely after a disastrous Week 10. Week 11 produced 11 correct picks out of 14. It would have been 13 if the two New York teams played to their potential. Instead, both the Jets and Giants thoroughly embarrassed themselves. Their season's now in turmoil. To the victor goes the spoils - the losers could become spoiled.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thursday's turkey day games could be very entertaining (finally). Undefeated Green Bay travels to surging Detroit. Red hot Miami visits equally hot Dallas. NFC West leading 49ers squares off against AFC North leading Baltimore.

11-3 last weekend improves my season record to 97-63 (61%). Time for Week 12... (home in CAPS)

Thanksgiving Thursday
Green Bay 38 DETROIT 17
Miami 26 DALLAS 23
San Fran 21 BALTIMORE 17

Houston 20 JACKSONVILLE 16
JETS 21 Buffalo 20
CINCINNATI 27 Cleveland 10
ATLANTA 27 Minnesota 14
Arizona 24 ST LOUIS 10
Carolina 42 INDIANAPOLIS 3
Tampa Bay 23 TENNESSEE 20
OAKLAND 27 Chicago 7
Washington 24 SEATTLE 20
Denver 31 SAN DIEGO 24
New England 34 PHILADELPHIA 14
Pittsburgh 30 KANSAS CITY 0

NEW ORLEANS 31 Giants 28

How did Verlander win AL MVP?

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander was unanimously selected as 2011 American League Cy Young winner. Hands down, the very best "pitching" season helping to lead his Tigers to the AL Central division title.

Verlander caught much of the baseball world by surprise when it was announced earlier this week of another award for his collection. JV also captured the AL Most Valuable Player Award. With all due respect to Verlander - selecting a starting pitcher as MVP is just flat out wrong and an insult to deserving players who played an entire season! Let the debate rage on. There's no way a pitcher appearing in only 34 of 162 games - a mere 21% - gets the nod here. 24-5 record is tremendous. Rightfully selected as Cy Young. Categorically wrong selection as MVP! I'll say it again - the voters messed up picking a man who played in only 21% of his teams games.

Scarier is AL voting wasn't even close. Verlander received 13 first place votes. The next closest was Jose Bautista with 5 (finished 3rd overall). Take your pick, any of these players were hands down more deserving of this esteemed award - Jacoby Ellsbury (finished 2nd), Bautista (3rd), Curtis Granderson (4th), Miguel Cabrera (5th). Look them up, study their statistics, then explain to me how Verlander won?

Nobody claims sportswriters are geniuses. Their lack of fundamental understanding for selecting an MVP is quite stunning. Again, Verlander pitched in only 21% of Detroit's games. 34 games out of 162. Ellsbury was the most dominating leadoff hitter. Bautista won the HR crown. Granderson was clutch all season. And Detroit goes nowhere without Cabrera's big bat.

The sportswriters got it wrong in 2011.


NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 11

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Sorry folks. My crystal ball was turned upside down last weekend. Never before in my history of picking winners and losers did I ever experience anything so dreadful. Green Bay, Houston, New England, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville represent 5 correct picks. Utterly embarrassing. Won/loss record took a big hit - now rests at 86-60 (59%).

Big divisional games slated for this coming weekend in NFC East action. Dallas (5-4) travels to Redskins (3-6) territory. Under performing Philadelphia (3-6) battles the surging Giants (6-3). Every game is big from here on in. One slip up can cost a team an entire season.

Question of the day surrounds Houston Texans (7-3). One of football's best teams lost their starting quarterback - Matt Schaub. New QB Matt Leinart needs to take advantage of this bye week to grasp the Texans offense. A few Super Bowl championship teams have won after overcoming key losses at quarterback. Two quickly come to mind - 1972 Miami Dolphins lost Bob Griese and finished 14-0 (plus 3 playoff wins) - in 1990 Jeff Hostetler took over for an injured Phil Simms and guided the New York Giants to a stunning victory over the Buffalo Bills in one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played.

Week 11
Jers 27 BRONCOS 17

GREEN BAY 38 Tampa Bay 14
DETROIT 31 Carolina 24
CLEVELAND 14 Jacksonville 13
Oakland 33 MINNESOTA 21
Buffalo 28 MIAMI 21
Dallas 34 WASHINGTON 10
BALTIMORE 20 Cincinnati 17
SAN FRANCISCO 24 Arizona 21
Seattle 27 ST LOUIS 23
ATLANTA 26 Tennessee 24
CHICAGO 27 San Deigo 21
GIANTS 31 Philadelphia 28

NEW ENGLAND 38 Kansas City 14


2011-12 NCAA Basketball Rankings

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Get ready for another spectacular college basketball season. North Carolina opens the 2011-12 season on top of all major polls. Defending National Champion University of Connecticut will do their very best to retain their crown. Time for "All World All Sports" pre-season rankings.

NCAA Basketball Top 20
1 - North Carolina
2 - Ohio State
3 - Kentucky
4 - Connecticut
5 - Syracuse
6 - Duke
7 - Florida
8 - Vanderbilt
9 - Louisville
10- Pittsburgh
11- Memphis
12- Kansas
13- Baylor
14- Wisconsin
15- Xavier
16- Arizona
17- Michigan
18- Alabama
19- UCLA
20- Texas A&M

Prediction: Final ranking National & Tournament Champs - Kentucky


2011 Football Power Rankings

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-Digger's Daily-

NCAA Football continues to be rocked by a Penn State scandal getting worse by the minute. More to follow in a separate column.

Top 20 (Week 10)
1 - LSU
2 - Oklahoma State
3 - Stanford
4 - Alabama
5 - Boise State
6 - Oklahoma
7 - Arkansas
8 - Oregon
9 - Clemson
10- Virginia Tech
11- Houston
12- Penn State
13- Georgia
14- Wisconsin
15- South Carolina
16- Kansas State
17- Texas
18- Georgia Tech
19- Southern Miss
20- Cincinnati

NFL divisional races heating up. Baltimore knocked off Pittsburgh for the second time this season. Week 10 features Oakland vs San Diego, New England vs New York Jets, New Orleans vs Atlanta, Detroit vs Chicago. Almost playoff-like atmosphere in mid-season. A great weekend for finding your favorite place to watch games.

NFL Top 15 (9 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay
2 - Baltimore
3 - Giants
4 - Detroit
5 - Pittsburgh
6 - San Francisco
7 - Cincinnati
8 - Houston
9 - New Orleans
10- New England
11- Jets
12- Atlanta
13- Chicago
14- San Diego
15- Tampa Bay

NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 10

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Coming off my worst week of the season, 7-7 (50%). Miami finally won their first game by scalping Kansas City 31-3. The Jets and Dallas won too effectively blowing out my upset selections.

Week 10 kicks off Thursday Night Football (on NFL Network). You don't get NFL Network? Same here. I really have a problem when prime time games are only afforded to subscribers. This just doesn't sit well with those of us left in the dark. And so it goes....

Looking to turn it up a notch. Even money last weekend was disappointing. 81-49 (62.3%). No bye's this week. Week 10 crystal ball says....

CHARGERS 31 Raiders 20

EAGLES 30 Cardinals 17
PANTHERS 28 Titans 24
Texans 28 BUCS 21
Redskins 14 DOLPHINS 13
Jaguars 17 COLTS 10
CHIEFS 31 Broncos 27
Bills 34 COWBOYS 24
FALCONS 31 Saints 30
BROWNS 21 Rams 14
Steelers 27 BENGALS 14
Ravens 20 SEAHAWKS 13
Giants 35 49ERS 21
Lions 24 BEARS 23
Patriots 23 JETS 20

PACKERS 45 Vikings 7


Scandals, Strikes & Fines

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It's been a week filled with ugly news coming from the sporting world. Shocking scandals ending a legendary coaching career, sickening NBA negotiating impasse and disgruntled NFL players reacting to another round of fines by Commissioner Goodall. What's next? Hopefully nothing else to shock our systems.

Penn State's football program sent shock waves throughout America. The scoop is Paterno's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was charged over the weekend with 40 counts of molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009 through his charitable foundation The Second Mile (for at-risk youths). Also charged - in an apparent cover-up from 2002 - Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz for failing to notify authorities.

It's an ugly scandal. Legendary coach Joe Paterno is taking the news hard. Earlier this afternoon, Paterno announced his retirement effective at the end of this season.

"I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today," Paterno said in his statement.

"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.

"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."

This is a bitter pill to swallow. Brooklyn born Joe Paterno "JoePa" is one of the most respected men in all of sports. A walking legend and Hall of Fame coach compiling over 400 victories. This is no way for a man of his stature to retire. However, this scandal isn't going away any time soon. Paterno will forever second guess, and be questioned, for not contacting law enforcement when learning of Sandusky's conduct with a 10 year old boy years ago in Penn State football's shower facilities. He did notify Athletic Director Tim Curley the next day. Paterno was cleared of wrong doing. But - On November 7, Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said that though Paterno and others may have fulfilled their legal obligation to report suspected abuse, "somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child," and that, "I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you're a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us" (from

Sandusky's story is certain to get uglier before it gets any better. Many will fall from ranks within Penn State. Stay tuned, more to follow.

What will it take for NBA owners and players to finally settle their differences? Caught in the cross fire are plenty of non-millionaire pay me more money non-players. Street vendors, parking attendants, concession stand employees, ushers, ticket takers, local transportation, restaurants, hotels and right on down the line. Wake up folks! Commissioner Stern has been slammed by pro-union media types. Owners called "Plantation owners" by NBAPA's executive director Billy Hunter (who seems less than honest in media dealings). 133 days of lockouts now threatens the entire NBA season for the first time in league history.
Hey players - when is enough enough? The world is burning. Finances of millions in ruins. The players holding out for more - despicable. Let's face it, next round (season) of tickets from arena to arena will skyrocket. Average families, already snake-bit by rising costs of everything from heat to milk, will now bear the burden of lining pockets of individuals least in need. I, for one, am fed up with sports labor negotiations. Days of owners taking advantage of players are long since over. Nowadays, it's clearly the other way around.

The Steelers have been fined 13 times for more than $182,000 this season for questionable tackles. Their latest fine has one player mighty miffed. NFL leveled a $40K fine against safety Ryan Clark and he's lashing out at Commissioner Goodall. NFL has levied many fines this season with the goal of curtailing head to head tackles which often lead to concussions. Players all know if they intentionally launch helmet first into another players helmet - a heavy fine is coming. However, during the natural course of a game, head to head hits will happen and aren't always intentional. In most cases, it's not intentional but NFL hands out fines nonetheless.
I suspect it's difficult to determine players intentions beyond clearly obvious launching hits. Defensive players around the league have become a bit miffed at Goodall's fines. How is a player to avoid helmet to helmet contact when players on offense often lower their heads a split second before a tackle is made. The original intent of fining players was for protection from clear helmet leading tackles. Not so anymore.

All Pro LB Ray Lewis:

"You can't stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play," Lewis said. "When the receiver has the ball, your job is to disengage him from the ball. You never want to hurt nobody. I've been in this business too long. I just think once you start getting into these fines I don't know how they come up with the numbers most of the time."

It's time for the NFL to refine their system. Protecting player safety is always of utmost concern. But, let us not lose sight of the fact football is a dangerous game. There's a certain amount of risk on every single play. NFL needs to find a better way of determining avoidable hits from unavoidable hits - something they've yet to figure out.


NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 9

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Week 8 featured a few major upsets. Saints were caught by surprise by first time winners St. Louis 31-21. Philadelphia bludgeoned division rival Dallas 34-7. Kansas City capitalized on sloppy late game play by San Diego to grab their share of the AFC West lead. NFL has a few hot games on the slate for Week 9.

9-4 last week brings my season total 74-42 (63.8%). Now is the time of year when good teams must rise above early season imperfections on the field and start winning. Struggling teams aren't out of the picture yet and need to find a way to shine. Then we have winners with alligators chomping on their heels attempting to knock off division leaders. Mid-season crunch time.

Here we go. Week 9 picks.... (home team in CAPS)
CHIEFS 34 Dolphins 7
Falcons 28 COLTS 7
SAINTS 30 Bucs 28
BILLS 35 Jets 24
Seahawks 21 COWBOYS 20
TEXANS 48 Browns 10
49ers 24 REDSKINS 20
TITANS 27 Bengals 24
RAIDERS 23 Broncos 17
Giants 31 PATRIOTS 30
CARDINALS 20 Rams 10
Packers 33 CHARGERS 21
STEELERS 17 Ravens 16

EAGLES 38 Bears 14

2011 Football Power Rankings

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NCAA (9 weeks completed)
1 - LSU
2 - Alabama
3 - Oklahoma State
4 - Stanford
5 - Boise State
6 - Oklahoma
7 - Arkansas
8 - Oregon
9 - South Carolina
10- Nebraska
11- Clemson
12- Virginia Tech
13- Houston
14- Kansas State
15- Michigan
16- Penn State
17- Michigan State
18- Georgia
19- Arizona State
20- Wisconsin

NFL (8 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay
2 - Pittsburgh
3 - Baltimore
4 - Detroit
5 - San Francisco
6 - New England
7 - New York Giants
8 - Cincinnati
9 - Buffalo
10- New Orleans
11- Houston
12- Kansas City
13- San Diego
14- Atlanta
15- New York Jets


Freese Out! Cardinals Stun Rangers for 11th World Series Title

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The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals capped a season to remember with a stunning seven game World Series victory over the Texas Rangers. On August 25th, the Cardinals were 10.5 games behind Atlanta in the NL Wild Card race. In World Series Game 6, twice they were one strike from losing the series. St. Louis overcame long odds - now they're World Series champions!

Texas seemed to have the championship well within their grasp. Leading the Series 3 games to 2. Leading Game 6 7-4 through 7 innings - 7-5 after 8 - 7-5 with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th until hometown hero David Freese delivered a season saving game tying 2 out 2 strike 2 run triple. Texas led again 9-7 in the 10th inning after a 2 run homer by 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Once again, St. Louis facing elimination with 2 outs and 2 strikes. Then it was Lance Berkman's turn for heroics as his single tied the game at 9. Up stepped David Freese to lead off for the Cardinals in the bottom half of the 11th. He lined a 3-2 meatball over the centerfield wall for a walk off Series tying home run. Cardinal fans went crazy - and analysts slammed Rangers manager Ron Washington for numerous managerial mistakes.

In decisive Game 7, Texas came out hot scoring 2 to begin the game. They would score no more. Cardinals David Freese was the man of the hour once again. His 2 run double knotted the contest. Texas pitchers were terrible the rest of the way. Walks, hit batters and falling behind in counts all game long. When all was said and done - St. Louis won the game 6-2. Local boy David Freese was named World Series MVP in addition to National League Championship Series MVP.

Texas joins the 1986 Boston Red Sox as two teams within 1 strike of a World Series title in Game 6 who then gave it all away. So many memorable moments coming out of the 2011 World Series. Here's a few of my favorites....

Game 1 - Cards David Freese scored game winner on a pinch hit single by Alan Craig. Rangers CJ Wilson became the first pitcher to lose an All Star Game, AL Division Series game, AL Championship Series game and World Series game all in the same season.

Game 2 - Rangers score 2 9th inning runs - win 2-1 - ties Series at 1 each.

Game 3 - The Albert Pujols show. 5 for 6 - 3 monster home runs to tie the record shared by Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Cardinals demolish Rangers 16-7.

Game 4 - Derek Holland shut down the Cardinals through 8.1 innings. Rangers win 4-0. Holland would not start again. Many, including myself, still wonder why Washington didn't save Holland for Game 7 after his great Game 4 performance. Certainly to be debated for years to come.

Game 5 - Rubber game. Rangers to be World Series MVP Mike Napoli delivers game winner in bottom of 8th. Rangers win 4-2. One game from franchise first championship (51 years). Alan Craig twice thrown out trying to steal with Albert Pujols batting. LaRussa none too happy. Confusion as LaRussa didn't have closer Motte ready to come in - make shift relievers surrender game. LaRussa criticized and admits communication error between dugout and bullpen. Season on the brink.

Game 6 - Where to begin? Called one of the best games ever despite sloppy defense, poor managerial decisions, bad base running. In a move - or lack thereof - which I believe will haunt manager Washington for years to come - was his indecision in the top 5th. Rangers were leading 4-3, 2 outs, bases loaded. This is where Texas could have blown the Series open. Instead of sending a pinch hitter to bat for starting pitcher Lewis, after much confusion, Washington lets Lewis hit - and strike out. Rally over. Bases loaded stranded. This was a major snafu. Lewis was cooked one inning later.
Holliday getting picked off 3rd by Napoli with bases loaded, score tied at 4, almost sunk the Cards. It was a huge moment of the game. Cards inning ended 1 out later. Holliday might have scored on soon to come wild pitch had he not been picked off. Crucial moment Cards were able to overcome.
One of the Cardinals biggest hits - and most over looked of the entire Series - was Alan Craig's 8th inning solo home run to shave Texas lead to 2 from 7-4. At the time, everyone was ready to hand the trophy to Texas.
Then came the 9th inning. Texas leading 7-5, one out, Albert Pujols steps up to the plate in what could have been (should have been) potentially his final at bat as a St. Louis Cardinal. Pujols started the rally with a line drive double to left center. Berkman followed with a walk vs Rangers flame throwing closer Feliz. Up stepped Freese with 2 outs. Rangers OF playing very deep. It didn't matter. Freese absolutely hammered a fast ball off the right field wall. Texas players who were waiting to celebrate were suddenly stunned. Freese tied the game, 7-7. It looked as though the Cardinals were poised to win right there but Feliz got the final out. Bush Stadium fans going berserk - until - Hamilton's two-run blast put Texas ahead by two 9-7. Rangers dugout jubilant and relieved.
Washington's next mistake was not letting his closer come back out for a second inning of work. Here it is, season on the line, championship glory within reach - and Washington pulls his closer for old man Oliver. Two hitters later, the tying runs were on base after two feeble singles. Rangers blew another 2 run lead - again with 2 outs and 2 strikes.
David Freese homers to win it in the 11th redeeming himself from an earlier error of a dropped pop up to third. Just like that Freese became Series MVP front-runner knocking Napoli off to the side.

Game 7 - Ian Kinsler picked off first. Kinsler's base running was atrocious. He was nearly picked off again by Molina a few innings later. Rangers seemed done for the season after Feldman's bases loaded borderline call walk to Molina made the score 4-2. CJ Wilson then relieved and hit struggling Furcal with his first pitch, 5-2.

Rangers set a record for most walks. They handed out 41 free bases in 62 innings. They hit batters, played poor defense, pitched from behind. One of the worst performances (except for Holland) ever recorded. Sloppy and very "un"-clucth.

Clutch - MVP Freese 21 post-season RBI is a Major League record!

Rangers back to back World Series losers.

Albert Pujols final game as a Cardinal after 11 stellar seasons?

Is LaRussa done in St. Louis?

Arthur Rhodes earns a World Series ring after 20 big league season's (1st World Series).

Tony LaRussa wins 3rd World Series in 33 year managing career. 2nd Cardinals Series title. Funny, only 4 100+ win teams in 33 years.

Much will be written of the 2011 World Series. Most attention will surround Texas twice being within 1 strike of winning. Rangers players all know the Series was lost in Game 6. Nolan Ryan's facial expressions this Series were priceless. Jubilant, angry, stunned disbelief.

Congratulations St. Louis Cardinals!

NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 8

Permalink 12:45:52 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Green Bay's dominating game is second to none through 7 weeks. They're playing head and shoulders above all others. New England @ Pittsburgh and Dallas @ Philadelphia represent the featured games for Week 8.

8-5 again last week brings my season W/L total to 65-38 (63.1).

Week 8 (home team in CAPS)
RAVENS 24 Cardinals 10
PANTHERS 33 Vikings 28
TEXANS 35 Jaguars 17
GIANTS 45 Dolphins 10
Saints 41 RAMS 6
TITANS 24 Colts 10
Lions 27 BRONCOS 24
BILLS 38 Redskins 21
Bengals 17 SEAHAWKS 14
49ERS 21 Browns 17
Patriots 34 STEELERS 30
EAGLES 31 Cowboys 24

Chargers 28 CHIEFS 21

(Bye: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, Oakland, NY Jets, Tampa Bay)


2011 Football Power Rankings

Permalink 03:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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There's a new sheriff in town. LSU is #1 on every poll - at least for now. Only a few regular season games remain. It's do or die time for teams seeking a crack at playing in the BCS Championship.

NCAA Top 20 (8 weeks completed)
1 - LSU
2 - Alabama
3 - Boise State
4 - Stanford
5 - Oklahoma State
6 - Clemson
7 - Kansas State
8 - Oregon
9 - Oklahoma
10- Arkansas
11- Michigan State
12- Nebraska
13- South Carolina
14- Virginia Tech
15- Wisconsin
16- Houston
17- Michigan
18- Penn State
19- USC
20- Cincinnati

Is Green Bay capable of pulling off a perfect 16-0 season? There's only one game vs a Super caliber team. Packers are off this weekend gearing up for their toughest remaining contest at San Diego November 6th. If Green Bay successfully knocks off the Chargers then this team will sit in prime position. Any guess as to which team tops our NFL rankings?

NFL Rankings(7 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - New England Patriots
3 - Pittsburgh Steelers
4 - New Orleans Saints
5 - Baltimore Ravens
6 - San Francisco 49ers
7 - Detroit Lions
8 - San Diego Chargers
9 - New York Giants
10- Buffalo Bills
11- Cincinnati Bengals
12- Houston Texans
13- New York Jets
14- Atlanta Falcons
15- Chicago Bears


Baseball 2011 - Players of the Year

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The current Major League Baseball season will soon conclude. Texas and St. Louis are currently battling for the World Series championship (tied 2 games each). Award announcements will be made shortly after the Series concludes. All World All Sports has put together our players of the year position by position - our Gold Glove selections - and our picks for the major awards.

Players of the Year (by position - click player name for individual statistics)
1B - Miguel Cabrera (DET)
2B - Robinson Cano (NYY)
3B - Adrian Beltre (TEX)
SS - Derek Jeter (NYY)
LF - Alex Gordon (KC)
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
RF - Jose Bautista (TOR)
C - Alex Avila (DET)
DH - Victor Martinez (DET)
SRHP - Justin Verlander (DET)
SLHP - CC Sabathia (NYY)
MR - David Robertson (NYY)
CL - Jose Valverde (DET)
MGR- Jim Leyland (DET)

AL Awards
AL MVP - Curtis Granderson (NYY)
AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander (DET)
AL Rookie - Jordan Walden (LAA)
AL Comeback - Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
AL Manager- Jim Leyland (DET)

AL Gold Gloves
1B - Mark Teixeira (NYY)
2B - Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
3B - Evan Longoria(TB)
SS - Jhonny Peralta (DET)
LF - Alex Gordon (KC)
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
RF - Nick Markakis (BAL)
C - Matt Wieters (BAL)
P - Dan Haren (LAA)

Players of the Year (by position - click player name for individual statistics)
1B - Prince Fielder (MIL)
2B - Brandon Phillips (CIN)
3B - Pablo Sandoval (SF)
SS - Jose Reyes (NYM)
LF - Ryan Braun (MIL)
CF - Matt Kemp (LAD)
RF - Lance Berkman (STL)
C - Yadier Molina(STL)
SRHP - Roy Halladay (PHI)
SLHP - Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
MR - Tyler Clippard (WAS)
CL - John Axford (MIL)
MGR- Kirk Gibson (AZ)

NL Awards
NL MVP - Ryan Braun (MIL)
NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
NL Rookie - Freddie Freeman (ATL)
NL Comeback - Lance Berkman (STL)
NL Manager - Kirk Gibson (AZ)

NL Gold Gloves
1B - Joey Votto (CIN)
2B - Neil Walker (PIT)
3B - Placido Polanco (PHI)
SS - Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
LF - Ryan Braun (MIL)
CF - Chris Young (AZ)
RF - Andre Ethier (LAD)
C - Yadier Molina(STL)
P - Hiroki Kuroda (LAD)


October Random Ramblings

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Random thoughts evolving from recent events in the sports world.

Timing couldn't be worse for millionaire crybabies. Players vs owners remain far apart on negotiations. The blame finger points towards everyone involved. It doesn't matter which side you're rooting for - or against. Bottom line is two weeks of games have been wiped out. As these greedy folks attempt ironing out their differences - or finding common ground - the people losing out most are middle America. How many ticket collectors, food vendors, beer sellers, parking lot attendants, maintenance crews, security personnel, ushers, now find themselves out of work? It effects far more than just stadium/arena folks. How about the pizza shop which loses thousands of dollars without fans? Transportation systems? Parking garages? Local cabs? Bus service? Parking meters? Local corner newsstand? Hotels? Restaurants? Air travel? All are taking a direct hit during economic times when the cost of everything - especially lost wages/revenue - soars. It's become a crippling domino effect.


Did everyone catch the post-game clip of what transpired between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh & Lions coach Jim Schwartz ? Wow. Harbaugh's rough handshake/shove of Schwartz nearly caused a bench clearing brawl. Surging SF had just beaten previously undefeated Detroit and Harbaugh seemed to shove Schwartz aside. Schwartz then verbally went after Harbaugh. They soon had to be separated. Players and coaches from both teams were involved trying to keep them apart without starting a melee between themselves too. Quite the spectacle. Catch the YouTube video here

New feud brewing? Rex Ryan vs Norv Turner? Ryan's big mouth was at it again. Ryan has since apologized for dissing Turner over comments made to reporters earlier this week claiming - "Well, I think I would have had a couple of rings," Ryan said. "I'm telling you, those teams were loaded."

Turner's response: "I hadn't seen his quote and I was a little bit surprised by the call," Turner said. "And then after I saw the quote, I didn't have a chance to ask him this, but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he's guaranteed (New York) the last couple of years."

These two teams go toe to toe this weekend at MetLife Stadium. It should be a bruising game - and San Diego victory.

It's World Series time. One game and one unfortunate distinction/record recorded. Texas Rangers starting pitcher CJ Wilson became the first pitcher in Major League history to lose an All Star Game, American League Divisional Playoff game, American League Championship Series game and World Series game all in the same season! That's got to hurt an ego. Don't forget - the American League All Star Game loss meant the National League representative would have World Series home field advantage. Wilson served up a game winning homer to Milwaukee's Prince Fielder meaning St. Louis hosts 4 of 7 games if needed.

Welcome to the show Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes (StL) appeared in his first ever World Series game last night after 900 regular season games. Manager LaRussa summoned Rhodes from the bullpen to get out Texas slugger Josh Hamilton in the 8th inning. Hamilton's been struggling at the plate nagged by a lingering groin injury. Manager Washington (Tx) plans to shift Josh from CF to LF. Rangers need their slugger who looks out of synch due to the groin issue.

It appears Theo Epstein is soon to officially take over GM duties of the Chicago Cubs. He was a main architect of Boston's jinx breaking 2004 World Series winning squad. Can he reverse another curse? Chicago's gone over 100 years without a World Series title. Cubs will be paying a hefty price tag. It's been reported Epstein is set to earn over $15million! You've got to be kidding me? I guess it's desperation - once again - in the Windy City. Theo's hands will be challenged to systematically transform the Cubs into winners. Good luck. While credited with helping Boston win a World Series - he must also be credited with handicapping Boston's payroll for years to come after several bad contracts (John Lackey, Carl Crawford). Cubs already have contract troubles which questions why they're interested in gambling $15million on a GM?

Potheads busted! #1 ranked LSU Tigers suspended three players for testing positive for a synthetic type of marijuana in a university administered test. Not cool fellas. These 3 players - cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and tailback Spencer Ware - will not be forgiven anytime soon if LSU loses this weekend vs rival Auburn. They've let down a lot of people from fellow players, coaches and student body. Exactly how long these 3 will be out of action has yet to be determined. Simpleton's weren't thinking or didn't care.
Get ready for regular season NCAA hoops. The first poll of the year was released and North Carolina is the near unanimous #1 pick in the coaches poll (30 of 31 1st place votes). Pretty high praise indeed as experts expect UNC to roll through the regular season after finishing 29-8 a season ago. Defending champion Connecticut and a host of other noteworthy teams set out to prove the pollsters wrong.

Toronto's Phil Kessel is on fire scoring at least one goal in 4 straight games. He's tallied a league best 7 goals in 5 games along with 5 assists topping the NHL with 12 points.
Washington Capitals off to another fine beginning in 2011-12. Eastern Conference leaders undefeated and untied after 5 games (5-0-0). Western Conference sports Detroit perfect after 4 contests surrendering a league low 5 goals against.
Columbus starting out in the opposite direction losers in all 5 games.

NASCAR (In memorandum)
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was tragically killed Sunday in the IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas. One of racing's good guys leaves this world way too soon. Click link to: In Memory of IZOD IndyCar Series Champion Dan Wheldon. Rest in peace.

NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 7

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Week 6 produced a few stunners. New Orleans shocked by Tampa. Detroit fell from the unbeaten ranks to surging San Francisco. News of Carson Palmer coming out of retirement to take over QB duties in Oakland. Freak plays, big injuries and coaches nearly brawling.

What's in store for the season's seventh week? It's anyone's guess. Is there a new coaching duel brewing between San Diego and New York Jets? Rey Ryan's flamboyant mouth sounded off again claiming if he'd been selected Chargers coach instead of Turner then San Diego would already have won multiple Super Bowls. Hey - I seem to remember similar statements from Ryan promising Super Bowl victories in New York the past two years. Adding to the mix of Sundays Chargers @ Jets is former Bolts now playing for the Jets wanting revenge against their former team. Expect tempers to be boiling.

It's a good thing World Series games take place this weekend. NFL schedule lacks thrilling match-ups on paper.

Speaking of guesses - 8 correct last week (out of 13). Not impressive unless money was on the winners. Overall, after 6 weeks of picks - the crystal ball has a cumulative season record of 57-33 (63.3%). Here's this weekends winners and losers including two out-on-a-limb shutout predictions.

Week 7 (home in CAPS)
Chargers 31 - JETS 17
BUCS 24 - Bears 20
PANTHERS 30 - Redskins 14
LIONS 28 - Falcons 27
BROWNS 17 - Seahawks 14
Broncos 28 - DOLPHINS 10
TITANS 30 - Texans 27
Chiefs 30 - RAIDERS 21
Steelers 27 - CHIEFS 3
Packers 48 - VIKINGS 6
COWBOYS 24 - Rams 23
SAINTS 44 - Colts 0

Ravens 27 - JAGUARS 0
(Bye: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, NY Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco)

2011 Football Power Rankings

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College's top 9 remain unchanged from our last rankings segment. The creme of the crop has a strong grip on the top spots - for now. All World All Sports rankings have no weight on official collegiate rankings. NCAA ranking system continues to be a hot topic of water cooler conversation. Our rankings try to cut through the dust of official ranking systems by incorporation our own added little rankings ingredient.

NCAA Top 20 (6 weeks completed)
1 - Oklahoma
2 - LSU
3 - Alabama
4 - Boise State
5 - Wisconsin
6 - Oklahoma State
7 - Stanford
8 - Clemson
9 - Oregon
10- Arkansas
11- Kansas State
12- Nebraska
13- Michigan State
14- South Carolina
15- Virginia Tech
16- West Virginia
17- Houston
18- Michigan
19- Georgia Tech
20- Washington

NFL rankings keep getting more and more interesting. This past weekend: Detroit finally lost. Tampa stunned New Orleans. Jets won ugly over Miami. Quarterback changes coming in Minnesota, Oakland, Denver and Washington. Jets coach Ryan disses Bolts coach Turner claiming he (Ryan) already would have won a few rings in San Diego. Funny -- hasn't Ryan promised/predicted his Jets would be NFL champs the past 2 years? Go figure. The wacky world known as the NFL continues.

NFL Rankings (5 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - New England Patriots
3 - Baltimore Ravens
4 - San Diego Chargers
5 - Detroit Lions
6 - San Francisco 49ers
7 - New Orleans Saints
8 - Pittsburgh Steelers
9 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10- New York Giants
11- Buffalo Bills
12- Cincinnati Bengals
13- Oakland Raiders
14- Houston Texans
15- New York Jets


Game On! 2011 World Series Begins Tonight

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It's time. Baseball's Fall Classic begins tonight. 2011 World Series features two teams sporting explosive batting lineups. Back to back American League Champion Texas Rangers hitters are on fire led by ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz. National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals are led by soon to be free agent star slugger Albert Pujols.

All indicators suggest the 107th World Series will be quite different from past classics. We could be treated to a hitters special. Baseball purists love to boast great pitching beats great hitting. This often rings true. 2011 doesn't feature great starting pitching. It does bring us two teams with red hot lineups.

Rangers slugger Cruz set an all time playoff record with six monstrous home runs and 13 RBI. Not bad for a seventh place hitter. Texas lineup is very deep. It all begins with 2B Ian Kinsler who was a 30/30 man this season (32 HR, 30 SB). Rangers hitters erupted for 39 runs in ALCS vs Detroit. Toss in 17 2B, 7 HR, .286 team BA and one can easily overlook how dreadful their starting rotation performed. Starters left too many fat pitches down the middle as Tigers hitters feasted on mistakes. Cardinals hitters will need to continue scoring early and often because the Rangers bullpen has been lights out shutting down opponents all season long.

This is not your typical NL team. Starting rotation is not considered upper echelon. This is a hitting first team. Future Hall of Fame 1B Albert Pujols leads the Cardinals attack. One of the hottest of all playoff hitters is David Freese who seems to be smack in the middle of all Cardinal rallies. Freese (.545, 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R) and Pujols combined to score 12 and drive in 18 during Cards 6 game romp over Milwaukee. As a team, Cards hitters finished the NLCS with a .310 BA, scored 43, 16 doubles and 8 big flies. St. Louis starting rotation has been hit too. Same as Texas, it's been relievers saving the day.

Here's a link to's Game 1 statistical breakdown

Game 1 Lineups Rangers @ Cardinals
Texas (projected)
1 - 2B Kinsler
2 - SS Andrus
3 - CF Hamilton
4 - 1B Young
5 - 3B Beltre
6 - LF Cruz
7 - C Napoli
8 - LF Murphy
9 - SP Wilson

St Louis (projected)
1 - SS Furcal
2 - CF Jay
3 - 1B Pujols
4 - LF Holliday
5 - RF Berkman
6 - 3B Freese
7 - C Molina
8 - 2B Punto
9 - SP Carpenter

Keys to the Series:
(1) Both teams need big time performances from starting rotations. Neither rotation has shines thus far minus a solid game or two. If Carpenter and Garcia get hot Texas could be in trouble. Wilson leads the Rangers staff. He'll have to find top form to hold down the Cards. Edge: Cardinals
(2) Defense - giving away outs will kill your chances - especially in World Series action.
(3) Bullpen - recent pitching strength of both clubs must stay hot in WS. Giving away walks vs these lineups sets up big innings.
(4) Can Cards hitters keep up with Rangers sluggers when Series shifts to Arlington?

World Series Predictions

Albert Pujols plays his final game as a St. Louis Cardinal.
CJ Wilsom pitches his final game as a Texas Ranger.
Tony LaRussa manages his final game for St. Louis.
Pujols hits over .400
Freese produces 16 runs/rbi
Berkman bats under .200
Hamilton hits over .400
Both teams: 270+ BA, 4.00+ ERA
Home teams win all games.
Carpenter lone starting pitcher tossing 6 or more innings/game.
Freese or Motte MVP

Cardinals win in 7


In Case You Missed It...

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Major League Baseball Playoffs have been sensational. Nearly every game beginning in Division Series through current now has been very well played. Spectacular fielding, dramatic walk-off victories, stars living up to their reputations and (drum roll) exceptional umpires! Yes, I said it, exceptional umpires! Umps have made the correct call on all close plays. A ball or strike here and there can be questionable at times - however, rarely have we seen players jawing at umps.

Albert Pujols has put on a hitting clinic for St Louis. Five straight extra base hits earned Prince Albert intentional walks in his final two at-bats during last evening's 4-3 Cardinals victory.

Power - Nelson Cruz is in the zone for Texas. He launched his 4th post-season homer to seal the Rangers 11 inning 7-4 Game 4 victory putting Texas in a 3 games to 1 driver's seat. Cruz is the first player is MLB history to hit 2 extra inning home runs in the same series!

Speaking of intentional walks - how about the gutsy call by Rangers manager Washington intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera with 1 out and no runners on in the 8th inning! It almost blew up had it not been for RF Cruz laser throw from right to nail Miguel at home plate to end the inning.

Theo Epstein - Boston Red Sox Championship General Manager - is out. The Red Sox implosion continues. First, manager Terry Francona quit immediately following the end of the season (after Boston blew a 10 game wild card lead). Now, Epstein is out and headed to the Chicago Cubs. Suddenly, newspapers from ESPN to local Boston writers are wondering if the Red Sox are beginning to resemble the New York Mets? Poor comparison. Quite obviously, people up in Boston are growing concerned. No need. Boston has a great roster. Don't panic. Quite disconcerting is the treatment being dissed at Francona. Boston has a long history of attempting to tarnish their stars from Ted Williams to Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk etc. Management never seems to rightfully say "thank you for your valuable contributions".

Detroit Lions football. Is the 2011 team their greatest in franchise history? How's that for a great turnaround? 0-16 in 2008. 5-0 in 2011. Great job by all involved. Front office. Coaches. Players. Fans. Offense clicking. Defense dominating. Key an eye on these guys.

New York football is ugly. New York Jets were the talk of the town before regular season action began. New wide receiver weapons, defensive additions, QB Sanchez maturity, bigger than life coach and terrifying defense. What happened? They're all failing. WR Mason was benched then dumped (traded) after criticizing his offensive coordinator privately (nothing's private in NY) to head coach Ryan. At 2-3, Jets in a precarious situation. Time for concern? You betcha!

When will Eli Manning learn to protect the football? 2010 should have been his reminder. 2011 is no different. Luckily, the Giants are 3-2 but had no business whatsoever losing to Seattle at home last Sunday. It was an embarrassment. Coach Coughlin never gets enough credit. However, his players are soft in 2011. One of two things happens from here on in. Either they wake up or no longer respond to their demanding coach? Mental errors are killing this team. So is offensive line. Very few holes for talented backfield making New York a one dimensional team led by a turnover happy QB. Gasoline on top of fire.


NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 6

Permalink 12:40:25 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Roaring Lions undefeated! Detroit, for the first time since 1956, begins the 2011 football season 5-0. Not too long ago Detroit was an 0-16 laughingstock. Now they're one of two remaining unbeaten teams (Green Bay Packers). Yes, Detroit is for real and there's going to be quite a power rankings shake-up announced this week.

9 correct predictions in week 5 ups our season total to 49-28 (63.6%). All World All Sports is getting an early start on next weekend's games. Bye week teams catching their breath - Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle, Tennessee.

Week 6 (home in CAPS)
LIONS 33 49ers 20
PACKERS 42 Rams 20
FALCONS 28 Panthers 24
BENGALS 20 Colts 13
Bills 45 GIANTS 30
STEELERS 21 Jaguars 10
REDSKINS 23 Eagles 20
RAVENS 24 Texans 21
RAIDERS 33 Browns 13
PATRIOTS 38 Cowboys 7
Saints 27 BUCS 17
Vikings 21 BEARS 20

JETS 24 Dolphins 7


NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 5

Permalink 08:28:06 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Week 5 represents the beginning of bye's. Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis & Washington get first crack at regrouping, retooling, re-energizing & fine tuning game plans. Miami's bye couldn't have come at a better time considering their starting QB Henne is done for the year.

There weren't too many shockers last weekend. I nailed 11 of 16 games raising season totals to 40-24 (62.5%). Short schedule this weekend offering a few eye-catchers with big implications. Jets travel to New England. Green Bay heads south to Atlanta. Bears roar into the Lions den. Texans hosting Silver & Black. Potential gunslinger shootout in Carolina when New Orleans comes to town.

Week 5 (home in CAPS)
STEELERS 24 Titans 23
GIANTS 48 Seahawks 10
Bengals 17 JAGS 16
Saints 33 PANTHERS 21
TEXANS 30 Raiders 24
BILLS 40 Eagles 31
Chiefs 20 COLTS 10
Cardinals 21 VIKINGS 20
Bucs 27 49ERS 23
PATRIOTS 36 Jets 20
Chargers 31 BRONCOS 7
Packers 34 FALCONS 17

LIONS 26 Bears 20


NHL 2011-12 Predictions

Permalink 05:47:39 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Get ready to hit the ice. NHL pre-season is in high gear. Final cuts coming soon. Are the Bruins ready to repeat? Can the Islanders pretend to be worthy of a new home? Which star is your top pick for fantasy teams? Many questions. An entire season awaits to answer all questions.

Here's All World All Sports NHL 2011-12 predictions...

Eastern Conference
*NY Rangers
New Jersey
NY Islanders


*Tampa Bay

Western Conference
St. Louis


*San Jose
*Los Angeles

(* = playoff team)
Finals: Boston over Phoenix

2011 Football Power Rankings

Permalink 05:27:47 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Big shakeup in NCAA to 20.

NCAA Top 20 (5 weeks completed)
1 - Oklahoma
2 - LSU
3 - Alabama
4 - Boise State
5 - Wisconsin
6 - Oklahoma State
7 - Stanford
8 - Clemson
9 - Oregon
10- Texas
11- Michigan
12- Georgia Tech
13- Illinois
14- Arkansas
15- Nebraska
16- Florida
17- Kansas State
18- West Virginia
19- South Carolina
20- Auburn

NFL (4 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay
2 - Detroit
3 - New Orleans
4 - New England
5 - Baltimore
6 - Houston
7 - San Diego
8 - Buffalo
9 - Tampa Bay
10- Tennessee
11- NY Giants
12- Washington
13- San Francisco
14- NY Jets
15- Atlanta


NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 4

Permalink 10:47:18 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Three weeks completed. NFL season is moving right along. Ten correct picks last weekend brings my record to 29-19 (60.4%). Great games were played in just about every NFL city. Buffalo's (3-0) stunner over New England (2-1) proves these northern New Yorkers are for real. Tony Romo worked a little late game magic to bump off hated rival Redskins. Giants disposed of Philadelphia. Naysayers are starting to take serious notice of Oakland Raiders games. They upset the Jets last weekend. Can they pull it off again Sunday vs New England?

Week 4 already represents must win games for teams struggling for consistency - and wins. Crystal ball gazing time. Here's how I see games playing out.

Week 4 (home team in CAPS)

Lions 27 COWBOYS 26
BEARS 24 Panthers 16
Bills 33 BENGALS 27
Titans 20 BROWNS 17
CHIEFS 17 Vikings 16
Redskins 23 RAMS 21
Saints 42 JAGUARS 6
Steelers 28 TEXANS 27
EAGLES 27 49ers 10
Falcons 23 SEAHAWKS 14
CHARGERS 31 Dolphins 17
Patriots 33 RAIDERS 31
PACKERS 38 Broncos 3
Jets 20 RAVENS 17

BUCS 24 Colts 10


In Case You Missed It...

Permalink 05:25:24 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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In case you missed it... you missed a crazy day of games 162 in Major League Baseball. Mind numbing chokes by Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves players. It's a safe bet all Sox and Braves players, coaches, owners and fans are still cringing.

Boston's well documented history is filled with disappointments of the highest degree. One out from winning a World Series, selling Babe Ruth, failure after failure against hated rival New York Yankees and the list goes on. Curses? Chokes? Call it what you will. The era of failure was supposed to have ended during the steroid/human growth hormone era when the Red Sox rallied back from a 3 games to 0 - 2 outs in the 9th inning deficit - against New York back in 2004 on their way to a World Series championship. Remember? Well, the steroid era is over... and so too is Boston's short lived magic.

2011 featured a retooled Red Sox roster built to win. A star studded lineup and pitching staff ready to take aim at World Series glory. Boston had a 9 game lead in wild card standings in late August. Then came September. Boston lost 20 or their final 27 games. Last night's Game 162 was most devastating. They entered the day tied with Tampa for the American League's final playoff spot. Halfway through the evening Boston found themselves leading Baltimore 3-2 while Tampa was getting mauled by the Yankees 7-0 after 7 innings. Red Sox season soon to be vindicated by arch rival Yankees beating the Rays. Then the rains came to Baltimore. Before action resumed, Tampa had tied the Yankees in their last at bat. Moments later, Tampa won in 12 on a walk off home run by star 3B Evan Longoria (his 2nd of the game). Seconds later, Boston star closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up 3 hits and the Red Sox lost 4-3. Just like that - poof - Boston's season ended on a familiar note - a tragic defeat.

September 28 was remembered as a big day in Boston Red Sox history. It's the day Ted Williams went 6 for 8 in a double header marking baseball's last .400 hitter. Teddy Ballgame finished with a .406 batting average. He could have taken the day off (see below) but didn't. This crafty war veteran refused to finish with a .400 average by default. He went out there like a man and went for it. Williams was determined to hit .400 by earning it - not by sitting on his keester.

Well - now Teddy Ballgame has to share September 28 with the 2011 choke artist Red Sox!!!

Be careful what you wish for! And, how you shoot off your mouth. Boston players and fans publicly voiced how they'd never root for the Yankees even if it cost their team a shot at post-season play. Should we offer them a little salt for words now eaten? Yankees dropped 3 straight to the Rays as Boston was humiliated by Baltimore!

One of baseball's most coveted free agents after last season was Carl Crawford who eventually signed a 7 year $142million contract with Boston. His defense during the final week of the season was horrendous including failing to catch Baltimore's game winning hit last night. His hitting this season was terrible too. Boston's loss wasn't all Carl's fault. It was a total team collapse - especially by their tired and over worked bullpen.


It isn't often a home town batting champion gets booed when leaving the field of play. That's exactly what happened to NL batting champ Jose Reyes. The Mets oft injured free agent to be star bunted for a single to raise his abbreviated season average to .337 before requesting to be taken out of the game to preserve the title. Reyes was showered with disbelieving New York jeers at CitiField. Not quite Ted Williams-esque style of playing. New York's entire organization was ridiculed all season long from front office/ownership woes to their 3rd consecutive losing season and fourth place finish. Reyes, instead of playing out the game like a man, walked off the field like a spoiled child no longer wanting to play. This may be his last season in a Mets uniform. Die-hard fans deserved better from a player spending as much time in a trainers room as he does at shortstop.


Atlanta Braves were eliminated from playoff contention losing 8 of 10 including their final five games. The Braves seemed like a lock to win the Wild Card before their season unraveled. Not often does a Braves team fall to pieces. This one did. Another team effort in a losing cause. 18 September losses will be hard to swallow for players and fans. Atlanta was swept away by the Phillies at home by failing to record 3 9th inning outs guarding a 3-2 lead. Perhaps the Braves vs Red Sox choker series is in order?


MVP's and Cy Young candidate break down & predictions coming soon. AL Cy Young is a lock for Justin Verlander of Detroit (24-5, 2.40 - 0.92 WHIP). NL Cy Young might be a lock to for Clayton Kershaw of Dodgers (21-5, 2.28 - 0.98 WHIP). Plenty of discussion surrounding AL & NL MVP's. Check back soon for complete synopsis.


2011 Football Power Rankings

Permalink 03:10:45 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Four weeks of NCAA games in the books. Undefeated teams are working their way up ranking charts setting the stage for fan grumblings when updated rankings go public. 2011 collegiate season is keeping fans on the edge of their seats. Time for another edition of All World All Sports rankings.

NCAA Top 20 (4 weeks completed)
1 - Oklahoma
2 - LSU
3 - Alabama
4 - Boise State
5 - Wisconsin
6 - Oklahoma State
7 - Nebraska
8 - Stanford
9 - Virginia Tech
10- Oregon
11- South Carolina
12- Clemson
13- Florida
14- South Florida
15- Texas
16- Michigan
17- Georgia Tech
18- Baylor
19- Texas A&M
20- Arkansas
(official college rankings)

Hopefully everyone's watching NFL action this season. Wow! Spectacular plays by unsuspecting players and teams. There's quite a power struggle in the league this year. Buffalo is red hot. Detroit no longer laughingstocks. Is Oakland for real after knocking off the Jets? Make sure to get in on this weekend's action.

NFL Power Rankings (3 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - Buffalo Bills
3 - New Orleans Saints
4 - Pittsburgh Steelers
5 - New England Patriots
6 - Baltimore Ravens
7 - Houston Texans
8 - Detroit Lions
9 - San Diego Chargers
10- Oakland Raiders
11- New York Jets
12- Tennessee Titans
13- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14- New York Giants
15- Cleveland Browns


Yanks Fake out Red Sox in Crawford Sweepstakes!

Permalink 05:37:58 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Chalk one up in New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman's win column. ESPN reports Cashman intentionally attempted driving up the price of coveted free agent Carl Crawford.

When it comes to Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry - the war goes far beyond game results. Remember Babe Ruth being sold by Boston to New York? Curse of the Bambino covered generations of players and fans. Only during the steroid era did the curse end. Not even the immortal Babe Ruth's ghost was strong enough to overpower steroids/HGH. No, I'm not suggesting Boston won because their players used HGH. Only stating coincidences - nearly the entire league was juicing.

If Cashman's story rings true then the ploy worked to perfection. When it comes to signing the top players New York and Boston often start bidding wars. I'm sure Boston takes credit for driving up a few prices too. In the win now generation - Cashman's move is looking sweeter due to Boston's late season failures and a sub-par season from their star free agent.

Crawford was one of the biggest free agent names heading into 2011. Nearly every team wanted his services. One of baseball's top outfielders. A true five tool player. Everyone thought - probably Crawford too - adding his bat to an already monster lineup would provide huge dividends. Crawford's talent is a welcomed addition to any team. It hasn't worked out as expected. Perhaps Carl was trying to prove his worth - $141,000,000 7 year contract? We've witnessed many players struggling to adjust in new surroundings.

Cashman recently let the cat out of the bag...

"I actually had dinner with the agent to pretend that we were actually involved and drive the price up," Cashman said. "The outfield wasn't an area of need, but everybody kept writing Crawford, Crawford, Crawford, Crawford. And I was like, 'I feel like we've got Carl Crawford in Brett Gardner, except he costs more than $100 million less, with less experience.' "

Perfect timing as Boston - one time AL East division leaders - are free falling. Their one time 9 game wild card lead now stands at 2. Crawford's former team Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Angels are coming on strong. Boston plays a 3 game set beginning tonight in rain soaked New York. Yanks have a chance to knock out the Sox. Yankees are 2011 AL East Champions. Boston is clinging onto a slim two game Wild Card lead. Maybe Cashman's words rejuvenate an under performing arch rival setting the stage for another epic post-season battle?

This weekend's series figures to be an all out war between two intense rivals filled with plenty of hatred and bench clearing brawl experiences.


Red Sox Nation Loyal to a Fault?

Permalink 05:21:30 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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A proud Boston Red Sox Nation is in a state of disbelief. On August 31, Boston beat their most hated rivals (New York Yankees) 9-5 to close out the month leading the AL East. Boston's 83-52 record was best in American League baseball. They held a 1.5 game lead over 2nd place Yankees - and 9 games ahead of Tampa Bay. August success quickly transformed into September misery. Fan cheers slowly became thundering boo's as the Red Sox lost 15 of 20 September games heading into tonight's action vs Baltimore.

Boston had a shot at redeeming their season when they went head to head against Tampa Bay for 7 games in an 9 game stretch. It wasn't to be as Tampa bested Boston in 6 of 7. Red Sox schedule still looked promising when all else was bleak. Baltimore was coming to Fenway for four while Tampa Bay traveled to New York. A couple of Red Sox victories coupled with Rays losses could help widen their slim Wild Card lead.

Could it be Boston fans would be scoreboard watching and cheering Yankees victories over Tampa Bay?

Not a chance!

Red Sox Nation wants nothing to do with rooting for the Yankees even if it helps their beloved Boston team. Not now. Not ever. No chance. No how. It doesn't matter Tampa plays New York 7 times over the season's final 9 days. Sox fans want absolutely nothing to do with rooting for Yankees victories to help out their team. Does this qualify as fan loyalty or fan foolishness? It's loyalty - perhaps to a fault.

Boston needs all the help they can get. It isn't coming from winning. Boston's bullpen no longer gets out hitters in key situations. Fielding is iffy at best. Batters producing runs. Just not enough to offset weakening pitching. Baltimore's won 2 of 3 so far (last game of 4 game series tonight). Yanks just took their 2nd game over Tampa this afternoon. There's still no love for the hated Yankees - even when Yankees victories help Boston maintain a slim Wild Card lead.

It gets worse for Boston fans. Red Sox take their losing ways a few miles south to the Big Apple for a three game set beginning Friday night. Yankees just clinched a playoff birth today. Yanks manager Girardi would love to rest tired starters. Don't bet on it happening against Boston when playoff baseball is on the line for two division rivals. Yanks will throw the kitchen sink at a chance to knock Boston out of post-season action.

This is baseball. End of season pennant fever. It doesn't get any better than this - unless you reside in Boston.

I have to tip my hat to Red Sox fans for not wanting to root for New York under any circumstances. It's all about Boston Red Sox players winning without help. I get it - never root for your arch rivals. Simply put - either Boston wins & they're in - or lose and go home. It really doesn't matter if hated New York wins or loses.

Boston controls their own destiny. Nobody knows this better than Red Sox players. Get ready for a fantastic final week of MLB 2011.

NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 3

Permalink 08:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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I hope you didn't miss any of last weekend's NFL action. Another week of exciting games. Dallas stunned San Francisco in overtime. Take notice of undefeated Buffalo! Their explosive offense shocked once confident Oakland 38-35 in the games closing seconds after trailing 21-3! Rookie Panthers QB Cam Newton fired for another 400+ yard game. Michael Vick was beating is former team - Atlanta Falcons - before getting knocked out by his own teammate on a clean sack. His status for this week is currently unknown. Judging by how particularly careful teams are about concussions these days - I'm betting Vick is out vs division rival Giants. Detroit put up 48 points against Kansas City. The list goes on.

Week 3 will not disappoint. Most match-ups - at least on paper - promise greater thrillers. It's a moment of truth for a few teams. New England visits Buffalo. Giants @ Eagles. Texans @ Saints. Green Bay @ Chicago. Washington @ Dallas. All qualify as game of the week battles in my book.

Speaking of my book - week two predictions netted 10 correct picks marking a season record of 19-13 (59.4%). Not great but getting better. A couple of bounces and injuries ruined what would have been 12 correct. Time to load up again...

Week 3 (home team in CAPS)

SAINTS 34 Texans 27
Giants 24 EAGLES 21
PANTHERS 33 Jaguars 17
Patriots 45 BILLS 35
BROWNS 27 Dolphins 16
BENGALS 20 49ers 17
TITANS 30 Broncos 14
Lions 28 VIKINGS 24
Ravens 20 RAMS 13
Jets 26 RAIDERS 24
CHARGERS 34 Chiefs 10
Cardinals 23 SEAHAWKS 7
Falcons 24 BUCS 23
Packers 31 BEARS 20
Steelers 38 COLTS 6

Redskins 30 COWBOYS 23


2011 Football Power Rankings

Permalink 10:20:59 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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2011 NCAA Power Rankings (Week 3)
1 - Oklahoma
2 - LSU
3 - Alabama
4 - Boise State
5 - Wisconsin
6 - Oklahoma State
7 - Texas A&M
8 - Nebraska
9 - Stanford
10- Virginia Tech
11- Oregon
12- South Carolina
13- West Virginia
14- Arkansas
15- Florida
16- South Florida
17- Texas
18- Clemson
19- Michigan
20- Georgia Tech

NFL Power Rankings (thru 2 weeks)
1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - New England Patriots
3 - New York Jets
4 - Houston Texans
5 - New Orleans Saints
6 - Baltimore Ravens
7 - Atlanta Falcons
8 - Pittsburgh Steelers
9 - Philadelphia Eagles
10- Detroit Lions
11- San Diego Chargers
12- Washington Redskins
13- Buffalo Bills
14- Chicago Bears
15- Tennessee Titans


NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 2

Permalink 07:50:10 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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What a great opening week in NFL action. Thrilling games - a few duds too. Carolina's rookie QB Cam Newton enjoyed a fine debut passing for more than 400 yards. Patriots star QB Brady eclipsed 500 yards. Ravens beat up and outplayed Pittsburgh 35-7. Dallas found another new way to lose an opener after Romo fumbled away a certain game clinching scoring drive - and later threw an easy interception - as the Jets kept their 9-11 promise to New Yorkers in a come from behind victory.

Week 2 offers another round of great match-ups. I went 9-7 last week. Not a great way to begin the year. Looking to improve this week. Call your bookies. Game of the week - San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots.

Sunday (home in CAPS)
LIONS 24 Chiefs 23
Raiders 30 BILLS 20
SAINTS 26 Bears 10
VIKINGS 23 Bucs 20
Ravens 27 TITANS 3
Browns 27 COLTS 23
JETS 31 Jaguars 17
STEELERS 23 Seahawks 10
REDSKINS 17 Cardinals 16
Packers 42 PANTHERS 21
49ERS 20 Cowboys 17
PATRIOTS 40 Chargers 34
Texans 33 Dolphins 26
BRONCOS 28 Bengals 24
Eagles 31 FALCONS 20

Rams 30 GIANTS 27


Tuesday Night Quickie - Selig Denies Mets 9-11 Hat Tribute

Permalink 08:37:20 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

How many New York Mets and Yankees fans remember our baseball players wearing hats saluting New York Police and Fire Departments after the attacks of September 11, 2001? Mets and Yankees players wore all sorts of NYFD/FDNY logo's on their New York hats paying tribute to lives lost and the American spirit when baseball resumed games following 9-11-01.

Sunday night, September 11, 2011 - New York Mets players had planned wearing similar style hats just as they did 10 years ago as their tribute to our fallen heroes. Major League Baseball's Commissioners Office - Bud Selig - took exception and wrote the Mets telling them to ditch their effort. MLB wanted a uniform tribute from stadium to stadium. No exceptions! MLB went the extra mile of ordering officials to confiscate Mets players hats before the game. Can you believe it?

Bud Selig - the baseball commissioner who stood silently idle when major leaguers took steroids, human growth hormones, drugs finally takes a stand. Against Mets players simply trying to show their support of victims during an emotional weekend. Where are Selig's priorities? Selig, the former Milwaukee Brewers owner turned Commissioner, has caught plenty of grief in my previous entries. His decision Sunday goes beyond being profoundly and morally wrong.

The story gets better (worse). Selig is now angry Mets players spoke out by publicly announcing what MLB (specifically the Commissioner's Office) did to squash Mets efforts.

Selig phoned the Mets Sunday "irate that the club had gone public with the news that his office had prevented players from wearing the caps of Sept. 11 first responders for that night's game at Citi Field" - the New York Post reported.

Selig now feels the Mets threw the league under a bus. Nonsense. It was the commissioner throwing a Mets tribute under the bus in the name of conformity. Selig wanted each and every player, coach, manager, dugout personnel wearing the same exact hat containing a predetermined Commissioner's Office approved remembrance logo. Hogwash Commissioner - with all due respect - you blew it again. Why deny ONE team their special tribute in the home city of where attacks took place, where thousand's of lives were lost- just for conformity? Then, in childish fashion, lash out like a little brat?

Don't worry baseball fans. Selig's tenure will soon end. He's been a complete disaster from start to finish.

2011 Football Power Rankings

Permalink 03:23:15 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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2011 Football Power Rankings (Week 2)

NCAA Football has featured two weeks of sensational contests. University of Michigan stunned Notre Dame in the closing seconds 35-31. Ranked #1 in AP polls - for a record 100 times - Oklahoma Sooners! Quite an accomplishment when considering the long history of college football featuring dynasty type systems over the years.

Speaking of rankings - it's time for All World All Sports - NCAA Top 20 Rankings (thru two weeks).
1 - Oklahoma
2 - LSU
3 - Alabama
4 - Boise State
5 - Florida State
6 - Wisconsin
7 - Oklahoma State
8 - Texas A&M
9 - Nebraska
10- Stanford
11- Virginia Tech
12- Oregon
13- South Carolina
14- Michigan State
15- Ohio State
16- West Virginia
17- Arkansas
18- Florida
19- South Florida
20- Auburn

Opening weekend of NFL action took on many emotions. Sunday's games were played September 11 - a day the USA will never forget. Remembrance ceremonies across the country were on display honoring those who perished 10 years earlier. NFL stadiums hosted various dedications and moments of silence remembering lives lost.

Emotional festivities quickly turned into bone crunching regular season football action. And, action there was throughout the league culminating with two exciting Monday Night Football games. There was no shortage of special teams action either. Kickoff and punt returners electrified crowds. Jets special teams punt block turned touchdown stunned Dallas. Rookie Carolina QB Cam Newton began his career with a 422 yard passing effort during a 27-21 loss to Arizona. Tom Brady connected with Wesley Welker for a 99 yard pass play touchdown as New England romped over Miami.

Buckle up. The 2011 football season is young. Week 1 set highlight reels ablaze.

NFL Power Rankings
1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - New England Patriots
3 - New York Jets
4 - Philadelphia Eagles
5 - New Orleans Saints
6 - Houston Texans
7 - Baltimore Ravens
8 - San Diego Chargers
9 - Chicago Bears
10- Pittsburgh Steelers
11- Atlanta Falcons
12- Oakland Raiders
13- San Francisco 49ers
14- Detroit Lions
15- Carolina Panthers

Stay tuned - tremendous match-ups in both NCAA and NFL action coming up later this week!


NFL 2011 Preview: AFC West

Permalink 09:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Kansas City was one of a few surprise teams in 2010. Can they improve on last year's success? When will San Diego learn to win early season games? One of football's most talented teams on paper often begins slowly (began 2-5 in '10). Oakland and Denver trying for returns to respectability.

1 - Kansas City Chiefs
Offense: KC is defending AFC West champion. Chiefs came out of nowhere. Offense is talented. QB Matt Cassel is solid. RB's Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones create a tough backfield tandem each capable of 100 yard performances. Bowe is their star WR. Don't be surprised if KC repeats as West champ.
Defense: Young, smart, fast and maturing at nearly all positions. Young group getting better - quickly.
Prediction: Repeat West champs. 10-11 wins. Well balanced team.

2 - San Diego Chargers
Offense: Talented but often out of synch. Phillip Rivers misses LaDainian Tomlinson. If he doesn't then he should. RB Ryan Matthews was largely ineffective as a rookie before getting injured. Solid receiving corps, one of NFL's best TE, solid line. Sproles will be sorely missed as third down receiving back and special teams player.
Defense: Not a prime time defense gives up too many late drives. No matter these guys finished near the top of all statistical categories - they still lost 5 of their first 7.
Prediction: Every year prognosticators write glowing reviews and saying these guys have Super potential. Problems is Chargers sputter. Maybe they finally get it rolling after under performing years. 9-11 wins.

3 - Oakland Raiders
Offense: QB Jason Campbell came alive for the first time in career late last season after disappointing for years in Washington. Speedy WR's need to stretch the field - and catch the pigskin. RB McFadden is a threat to score every time he catches the ball - as long as his linemen stay out of his way! Campbell must not return to Washington ways or this team is in trouble.
Defense: Getting better but still making stupid penalties in key situations. Expect more improvement again in '10. When's the last time anybody said improvement while talking Raiders football.
Prediction: Raiders could become 2011 Cinderella team. Not many expecting big things. Chargers prone to slow beginnings. Chiefs can be beaten. .500 season as of now. Don't be surprised if these guys walk away with division crown.

4 - Denver Broncos
Offense: Kyle Orton vs Tim Tebow in pre-season. Orton is opening day QB. He's a nice fantasy QB building up yards based on playing form behind. In real life - it's a headache watching missed 3rd down passes. Really not a fan of anyone on this offense. Often injured, receivers give up on routes, RB's can't pound the ball, suspect play calling. These guys are a long way from Shanahan football.
Defense: One of league's worst - not showing any early signs of improvement. Another team changing formations. 3-4 is out in favor of 4-3. Build a wall instead.
Prediction: Repeat 4-12 season might be a stretch.

NFL 2011 Preview: AFC South

Permalink 03:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Look out folks. There's a new sheriff in the AFC South. The road has been cleared for Houston Texans football. Indianapolis Colts front office confirmed Thursday - future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning had another neck operation. Texas on the rise. AFC South is Houston's to win or lose.

1 - Houston Texans
Offense: Explosive. QB Matt Schaub - league leading RB Arian Foster - star WR Andre Johnson - productive TE Owen Daniels. Offensive line improvement will go a long way in '11. This team can turn it on. Consistency has been past problem - not this year.
Defense: Exploded. "Don't mess with Texas" didn't apply to this defense last year. They allowed the most yards in NFL action. 4-3 is out. 3-4 is in to bring about a better pass rush? Good luck. New defensive look including cornerbacks & safety offers hope. Expect an improvement over 2010 - they'll need to be strong before playoff football begins.
Prediction: No less than 11 wins unless defensive unit becomes useless.

2 - Tennessee Titans
Offense: Long time coach Jeff Fisher is out and will be missed. In steps Coach Munchak and his prisoners take all no-nonsense philosophy. Chris Johnson recently stopped holding out and is back ready for live action. New QB is veteran Matt Hasselbeck. Matt's taken plenty of heat in recent years. I believe Tennessee is the perfect fit. Watch out. Titans will surprise all who think they're doomed to cellar dwellers in 2011. No way. This bunch has the ability to become a strong ball control unit.
Defense: Usually a solid squad looked lost in 2010 giving up big play after big play. Munchak will whip these guys into shape.
Prediction: Not as bad as most are predicting. .500 season well within reach. If D comes back to life and Hasselback's efficient?? Perhaps 10 wins or more if teams take Titans for granted. Tennessee is the anything can happen team for 2011.

3 - Indianapolis Colts
Offense: Peyton Manning is out (neck surgery) - probably for the season. Kerry Collins recently dusted off his retired spikes to sign with Indy as Peyton's fill in. Good news for Colts fans, they're already loaded with weapons and KC is a skilled veteran. Many question surround how coaches instruct Collins to run the offense? No huddle formations? Or will they play straight up? Smart play calling keeps Colts winning. Injuries have creamed Colts players in recent seasons. Staying healthy is key.
Defense: Undecided. Many key defenders returning from 2010 injuries. Are they sound enough to endure a full season in 2011? Too many question marks. When healthy, this group is ready to play. Quick and aggressive.
Prediction: I don't see it. Team enters season on a low note learning of Manning's latest surgery. Too many questions. Colts season remains in limbo heading in. No need to panic - just keep a careful watch. 8-8.

4 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Offense: In a desperate attempt to save his head coaching job, Jack Del Rio axed QB David Garrard in the last week of camp shocking everyone. Luke McCown is opening day starting QB. When Del Rio breaks the class in search of another panic button - rookie Blaine Gabbert will get the nod. 2011 will be ugly for Jags players. RB Maurice Jones-Drew figures to be one of the few bright sports on offense provided his gimpy knee hold up.
Defense: It's tough to rank a defense which didn't play any last year. They stunk it up. Jaguars were last in the NFL in yards per play and yards passing per play. It might not matter how the offense performs because this defense won't stop anyone.
Prediction: 8-8 in 2010. 4-12 coming up.

Next up - AFC West


NFL 2011 Preview : AFC North

Permalink 09:14:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Does Pittsburgh have enough gas left in their aging tanks to make another Super Bowl run. They've played in two of three past Super Bowl games. Baltimore remains hot on the trail. Tennessee and Cleveland ready to make a run at winning seasons.

1 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Offense: Steelers big 3 are ready to rumble. QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR Mike Wallace return to anchor the offense. Big Ben roaming out of pocket protection to deliver strikes is essential in offsetting a vulnerable front line. Pittsburgh's offense rises to the occasion in late game situations.
Defense: Heart and sole of Pittsburgh Steelers football is defense. Rising star LB Lawrence Timmons' name will be called often. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley put fear into quarterbacks. Troy Polamalu was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Tough, rugged bunch takes a back seat to no one.
Prediction: Don't turn your back on these guys. 12 - 14 wins.

2 - Baltimore Ravens
Offense: Running game wasn't sharp in 2010. Offensive line didn't open many lanes - when they did, Ray Rice didn't capitalize. Flacco is a big steady QB searching for speed and down-field play calls for WR's. Lee Evans & Andquan Boldin will get their shots. Offensive line is biggest question mark. They fail to dominate in short yard plays and give up drive ending sacks. Yet, this team won 12 games. Defense affords great field position for offense. If line takes hold - Baltimore can beat out Pittsburgh.
Defense: Superb. Ravens, Jets, Steelers represent top 3 AFC defenses. Front seven is as good as they get. Ravens set up offense with great field position time and time again. Expect no different in 2011. Question is, can they stop Pittsburgh from late game winning drives?
Prediction: Tied Steelers with 12 wins last year (lost tie-breakers). They'll fight Pittsburgh to the finish. 12-14 wins.

3 - Cleveland Browns
Offense: All eyes on Madden '12 cover boy & Cleveland fan favorite Peyton Hollis wondering if he can reproduce golden moments from one season ago? QB Colt McCoy will receive great protection in a west coast attack. Weakness is lack of top notch WR's. However, west coast short routes gives these guys plenty of opportunities to make plays. Cleveland's future looks bright. How quickly their future arrives is anyone's guess?
Defense: Finally, a team switching out of 3-4 to 4-3. Cleveland's new formation will do wonders for a defense terrible against the run in '10. Browns sporting two front line rookies - Phil Taylor (DT) and Jabaal Sheard (RE). Rooks usually make plenty of mistakes but Browns coaching staff is confident. Line needs to clog running lanes because linebackers aren't quick enough to chase anyone down.
Prediction: McCoy's performance determines all. Win some, lose some. 6-8 wins.

4 - Cincinnati Bengals
Offense: Playing in Cincinnati is enough to drive any player nuts. After 7 tumultuous seasons, QB Carson Palmer quit. Not long ago, the Bengals were considered a rising franchise. It all came crashing down largely due to conflicting personalities disrupting team chemistry and field performance. Head cases from owners to coaches to players. RB Cedric Benson and talented offensive line only highlights on a team destined to struggle scoring points. It won't be pretty for a team coming off a 4 win season.
Defense: Get used to being on the field because your offense won't give you a chance to catch your breath! Loss of key position players doesn't bode well. Coaching staff needs creative game planning. Bengals lack bite. Teams will score 30+.
Prediction: Four wins is a good over/under total. I'm thinking 2.

Next up - AFC South

NFL 2011 Preview: AFC East

Permalink 06:17:48 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

AFC is features the highest percentage of NFL top teams. All eyes focused on old rivals New York vs New England. Jets edged hated rival Patriots in Division Playoffs after splitting season series. Get ready for rugged hard-nosed action in 2011.

1 - New York Jets
Offense: Loaded. Is a quickly maturing QB Mark Sanchez ready to become team leader? The time is ripe for New York Jets dynasty. A young talented team in all areas offensively and defensively. Will they translate their talent into victories and championships? Sanchez has big weapons in WR's Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. RB tandem of Shonn Greene & LaDainian Tomlinson are sure to grind out yards. Offensive line is one of NFL's top units and getting stronger. Jets looking like an offensive juggernaut set to fly. Defense will set up short fields all season long.
Defense: Smart, aggressive, depth & hard hitting. Only injuries can knock these guys off course from dominating nearly every single game.
Prediction: Rex Ryan's team is fired up heading into 2011. They fell short in AFC Championship Game vs Pittsburgh. 14 wins a distinct possibility. We'll play it safe and say 13-3.

2 - New England Patriots
Offense: Bill Belichick & coordinator Bill O'Brien represent the best prepared coaches in the game. Flawless game plans give QB Tom Brady every opportunity for excellence. Running game always seems to be an early season question mark. Yet, this staff seems to find the right back at the right time to execute plays. WR is a bit thin heading into '11. Ochocinco is Brady's new target. Another player with an attitude who cries when QB's throw to others. Brady is an expert and true professional. Jets defense will give him fits. He'll pick apart most others.
Defense: Improved with a happy Albert Haynesworth who gave and received plenty of grief in Washington. Front seven in 4-3 scheme are tough. Secondary will be tested.
Prediction: Never count out a Belichick team. Is it just me? New Englands defense might outclass their offense? 11 or 12 wins for this group.

3 - Miami Dolphins
Offense: Oft-injured and controversial Reggie Bush is starting RB. It's only a matter of time before he succumbs to injury. Chad Henne scars nobody at QB except teammates. WR's are steady good hands type even though they don't flash game breaking speed. It's a mixed bag sure to have mixed results from week to week. It'll be tough for Miami to score touchdowns vs Patriots & Jets.
Defense: This crew will be worn out early in games if offense can't control play clock. They could be playing most of the year with their backs against the wall. Another 3-4 scheme without dominating pass rushers or run stoppers. Things will get ugly quickly as Miami opens vs New England.
Prediction: Once promising Dolphins take a step backwards. 5 wins.

4 - Buffalo Bills
Offense: There's some talent here. Unfortunately, moving the ball remains a problem. Perhaps Buffalo can get things going in 2011. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will look for stand out WR Steve Johnson. RB Fred Jackson is itching for carries but will have a hard time finding holes.
Defense: Surprising stat. Bills defense ranked 9th overall in total yards allowed 2010. 3rd (AFC) in passing yards allowed - dead last in NFL surrendering 169.4 yards/game. More of the same in 2011? It's up to Buffalo's offense to keep these guys off of the field.
Prediction: 5 wins.

Up next - AFC North

NFL 2011 Preview: NFC West

Permalink 05:06:07 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Plenty of new faces on NFC West teams heading into 2011 action. New coaching staff in San Francisco. New signal callers in Arizona and Seattle. Perhaps only one team remains somewhat intact and improving in football's weakest division - St. Louis Rams.

1 - St. Louis Rams
Offense: QB Sam Bradford leads the charge. Bradford finally has legitimate WR targets - Mike Sims-Walker, Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and rookie Lance Kendricks. Offensive line healthy. Excellent depth behind oft-injured starting RB Steven Jackson (Cadillac Williams, Jurious Norwood). Plenty of weapons. If they're able to get in synch then this group will score in bunches vs weak West defenses.
Defense: Not great but improving nonetheless. Big things expected from pass rushers on the line. Rams drafted North Carolina's Robert Quinn to spice up a sack line featuring James Hall & Chris Long. LB's and DB's remain a concern. Rams need to improve on interceptions (3rd worst) and takeaways. If the defense clicks, then this team will impress. Don't expect too much too soon.
Prediction: Will dominate West. Question remains how well they're able to cope with other divisional opponents? 10 wins.

2 - Arizona Cardinals
Offense: It's only a two man offense for now. Newly acquired QB Kevin Kolb to stud WR Larry Fitzgerald is all they have on paper. Todd Heap at TE will get a few looks as well. RB is a huge question mark with Beanie Wells as full time starter and lack of depth really hurts this squad at all positions. Ball control will be difficult to achieve. Arizona's porous defense will put their offense in catch-up mode more often than not.
Defense: 31st ranked in 2010 changes their point of attack from 4-3 to 3-4. Cards must be nuts. 3-4 is only as good as the men up front and Cards front line is not good. They also lack defensive play-makers. It's going to be a long year for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Prediction: Can any team other than Rams win more than 6 games? Doubtful.

3 - San Francisco 49ers
Offense: New coaches all around. Same old under performing players starting with QB Alex Smith. Can't put all the blame on Smith. Horrific offensive line doesn't give play-makers a chance to run routes or find open lanes. All they've been good for is opening lanes for free shots at oft-injured quarterbacks. Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and Michael Crabtree present Smith fine targets if he survives daily game day beatings.
Defense: Took a beating in off season losing a few key players. Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner were signed to help an anemic secondary. SF hopes rookie pass rusher Aldon Smith lives up to his hype. 49ers D was hit or miss in 2010. Expect more of the same in 2011.
Prediction: Lucky to win 6.

4 - Seattle Seahawks
Offense: Tavaris Jackson is their new gunslinger. His signing has been ripped by local prognosticators who love tearing apart their QB's. Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett don't scare anyone rushing out of the backfield - especially behind a terrible offensive line. These guys will have a very difficult time moving the ball.
Defense: A new look younger and faster unit will spend far more time on the field then their counterparts. This was a team giving up points by the bunches in 2010. Not expecting much to change in 2011.
Prediction: NFC West cellar dwellers.

Up next - AFC East

NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 1

Permalink 03:54:45 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Today's the day! NFL 2011 begins tonight in Green Bay. NFL's first game - Thursday @ 8:30 - featuring 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints vs 2010 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. This game will certainly entertain. President Obama couldn't have picked a worse time for a live national address to our nation. I'm betting NFL viewers outnumber Obama viewers at least 4:1.

Sunday is an emotional day for our nation. Most teams will be playing their season openers on September 11. Ten years earlier on this date the biggest terrorist even on our soil took place. Remembrance events are scheduled in various cities and stadiums across our great land. September 11 is a time to reflect of loved ones lost. It also reminds us war has been declared upon America by individuals seeking to destroy our very existence. Every host stadium will hold moments of silence - before giving way to roaring opening day home crowds.

2010 was a mixed bag for picking winners and losers. All World All Sports began the year slowly before turning it up a notch to finish up correctly picking 67.5% winners. We're taking dead aim at 75% in 2011.

Week 1 (home in CAPS)

PACKERS 33 Saints 30

Falcons 27 - BEARS 23
BROWNS 30 - Bengals 10
CHIEFS 27 - Bills 3
Eagles 23 - RAMS 20
BUCS 24 - Lions 16
Titans 31 - JAGS 20
Steelers 17 - RAVENS 16
TEXANS 43 - Colts 6
Giants 28 - REDSKINS 26
49ERS 20 - Seahawks 17
CHARGERS 24 - Vikings 14
CARDINALS 21 - Panthers 13
JETS 41 - Cowboys 7

Patriots 35 - Dolphins 10
Raiders 24 - BRONCOS 23

2011 Football Power Rankings

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Ready - Set - Go! The 2011 football season kicked off with NCAA games this past weekend. NFL opens up Thursday night when New Orleans goes to battle versus Green Bay.

All World All Sports tackles football power rankings again in 2011. Our unique formula relies on strength of schedule, on field performance, opponent strength, injuries, depth, coaching staffs and a few other contributing factors.

Week 1
1 - Oklahoma
2 - LSU
3 - Alabama
4 - Boise State
5 - Florida State
6 - Wisconsin
7 - Texas A&M
8 - Oklahoma State
9 - Nebraska
10- Stamford
11- Virginia Tech
12- Oregon
13- South Carolina
14- Michigan State
15- Ohio State
16- Missippi State
17- West Virginia
18- Arkansas
18- Florida
20- Missouri

1 - Green Bay (by default - AWAS always ranks current champs #1 in before first game played)
2 - New York Jets
3 - New England Patriots
4 - New Orleans Saints
5 - Atlanta Falcons
6 - Pittsburgh Steelers
7 - Philadelphia Eagles
8 - San Diego Chargers
9 - Houston Texans
10- Baltimore Ravens
11- Chicago Bears
12- Tennessee Titans
13- Kansas City Chiefs
14- New York Giants
15- Washington Redskins
16- Indianapolis Colts (low due to Manning's uncertain status)
17- Seattle Seahawks
18- San Francisco 49ers
19- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20- Oakland Raiders

Grab a seat. NFL opening kickoff Thursday - NBC - 8:30 pm - Lambeau Field - 2009 Champion New Orleans Saints vs 2010 Champion Green Bay Packers.


NFL 2011 Fantasy Rankings: Wide Receivers

Permalink 06:45:06 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Picking up where we left off last week. Let's turn our attention back to fantasy football drafts. Tonight's installment - ranking top NFL Wide Receivers.

All World All Sports Top 20
1 - Andre Johnson (HOU) Is Andre ready to crack 2000 yards? Probably not - he'll come close. 1800 yards, 15 TD.
2 - Greg Jennings (GB) Get ready for a tremendous season. Might end up as top fantasy scorer.
3 - Roddy White (ATL) Could become Atlanta's TD machine.
4 - Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) Extremely fun to watch. Big time fantasy scorer in recent seasons. Only 3 100 yd games in '10.
5 - Calvin Johnson (DET) Strong 1st half in '10. Fizzled late.
6 - Vincent Jackson (SD) Troubles in distant rear view mirror. Get ready for a big season.
7 - DeSean Jackson (PHI) Speedster gives opposing defenses fits.
8 - Mike Wallace (PIT) 7 100 yard games in 2010.
9 - Mike Williams (TB) Freeman's go to TD WR.
10- Hakeem Nicks (NYG) Is 2011 Nicks breakout season?
11- Dwayne Bowe (KC) 5 100 yard games, 5 multiple TD games. Grab him if you can.
12- Brandon Lloyd (DEN) Great fantasy 1st half until double teams & QB change slowed him down.
13- Santonio Holmes (NYJ) Will be Sanchez go to guy.
14- Wes Welker (NE) When in doubt, select one of Brady's favorite targets.
15- Jeremy Maclin (PHI) Yep, another Philly speedster. Grab them while you can.
16- Dez Bryant (DAL) Pure speed. Good fantasy #2 WR. Don't waste a 1st round pick on him. Huge potential, too many issues in Dallas.
17- Marques Colston (NO) Talented. Unfortunately for fantasy coaches - Brees spreads the ball to everyone.
18- Steve Johnson (BUF) Buffalo's main (only) threat.
19- Plaxico Burress (NYJ) Look out - Plaxico's back with something to prove.
20- Brandon Marshall (MIA) Miami's STILL searching for Dan Marino's replacement.

NFL 2011 Preview: NFC South

Permalink 04:52:35 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

2010 - Atlanta dethroned New Orleans. Tampa Bay came out of nowhere to win 10. Carolina was an embarrassment winning only two games. It'll be Atlanta vs New Orleans in 2011 with Tampa not living up to new expectations.

1 - New Orleans Saints
Offense: Big time firepower led by Drew Brees. Running game is always questionable in New Orleans pass first attack. Rookie RB Mark Ingram might change their plan if he's able to run vs NFL defenses. Darren Sproles is a speedy back and kick returner. Plenty of deep threats at WR. 400+ points well within reach.
Defense: Ball hawks get a boost with new NFL kickoff rules. Speedy defense was #4 overall last season but struggled big time vs run oriented attacks. New faces on D line and LB will certainly help correct short comings.
Prediction: 2011 version of Saints could be better than Super Bowl winning squad. 12-14 wins.

2 - Atlanta Falcons
Offense: Efficient and getting better. Threats at all positions creates one of NFL's most balanced attacks. RB Turner has scored 39 TD's in past 3 seasons. Wideouts need to make big possession plays to keep drives moving.
Defense: Young CB's getting better - it's their make or break season. Pass rush is key to helping secondary. If the D line steps up then Atlanta is a Super threat.
Prediction: Fun team to watch. 2011 could be their year. At least 11 wins.

3 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Offense: NFL's surprise unit in 2010. Can they duplicate/improve in 2011? Perhaps. 2nd year QB Freeman's 25-6 TD-INT ratio was superb. RB Blount needs to have a big season & Freeman hopes to keep blossoming.
Defense: Very young unit played well enough in 2010. They future is bright. Inexperience will set them back a step in 2011.
Prediction: Hard to imagine a 10 win repeat performance. Expecting a .500 season.

4 - Carolina Panthers
Offense: Cam Newton (Auburn) is the new man in town. Carolina's offense has been terrible in recent seasons. Newton has all the tools to quickly turn this franchise into a powerhouse. Question - can he perform vs NFL defenses? Time will tell - sooner than later. Decent offensive line, good RB's, talented ball catchers will all contribute if Newton is a quick study.
Defense: Don't get too down on this bunch. They've been plagued by recent inept offenses putting them in near impossible defensive positions - short fields and spending more time defending than offense attacking.
Prediction: Anything more than 5 wins is a positive first step.

NFC South will become one of NFL's most exciting divisions in years to come.

2011 NFL Preview: NFC North

Permalink 04:07:26 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Green Bay Packers enter 2011 as reigning champions. Repeating is always a difficult task in the NFL. Green Bay has what it takes. Or do they? Time will tell. Here's how the NFC North shakes out in 2011.

1 - Green Bay Packers
Offense: All systems go. Aaron Rodgers has plenty of targets. Offensive line solid. Play calling excellent. All key ingredients. Only question mark is keeping running backs healthy.
Defense: 2010 was a bounce back season for Green Bay's defense. They're a solid bunch who figure capitalize immensely thanks in large part to new kickoff rules. Good luck attempting 80 yard drives on every possession vs these guys.
Prediction: North winners - 12 wins.

2 - Chicago Bears
Offense: Offensive line hasn't improved much for the Bears who ranked near the bottom in 2010 (30th). Jay Cutler will be on the run again in '11. Chicago managed to win the North last year in spite of many shortcomings. Cutler needs to stop throwing drive ending interceptions. Sometimes tossing the ball out of bounds is a better ball possession formula.
Defense: 2010 bend but don't break style saved the day and directly led to Chicago winning the division. Bears strength is point of attack setting the stage for linebackers & secondary to make big plays. They'll have to do it again or it will be a long season.
Prediction: 9 wins is within reach. If offensive line surprises - then Bears will challenge Green Bay. It's a longshot.

3 - Detroit Lions
Offense: Lions remain inconsistent. Big plays or big busts. Either way, this franchise is moving in the right direction - finally! Key to success is offensive line and decision making by QB Stafford. Lack of cohesiveness has been a theme for many years in Motor City. Will 2011 be the year these guys make it happen?
Defense: Front four is solid. Linebackers good vs run. Secondary - not good. They allowed opposing QB's to complete at a rate of 64$ in 2010. It's hard to stay in games without disrupting passing attacks. Expect improvement in all areas.
Prediction: 6 wins is a no brainer. Anything more is a sign Detroit is truly on the rise.

4 - Minnesota Vikings
Offense: Guess who isn't um-retiring? The Favre experiment has finally ended. One great season, one pathetic season. Adrian Pederson is the offense. Fumbling has always been an issue as highlighted in 2009 NFC Championship Game. He's great when no one touches him - keeps coaching staff wincing when surrounded by tacklers. Speedy receivers and talented TE. Problem for 2011 - QB.
Defense: Once thought one step from becoming elite unit of NFL. They're showing signs of cracking. Still solid, but slowing vs run & pass rush. These guys will be on the field for long stretches if offense fails to chew up clock again. Expect a burnt out unit when 4th quarter rolls around.
Prediction: It could be ugly. 6 wins might be a stretch.

Next up NFC South.


2011 NFL Preview: NFC East

Permalink 08:29:23 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Here we go. NFL 2011 season is ready to go. Teams are making last minute roster adjustments. Odds makers gearing up for a big opening weekend of betting. Players chomping at the bit to play for real after a long pre-season filled with decimating injuries.

How will the final standings read after all is said and done once the 16 game schedule concludes? One thing is for certain - once again - NFL 2011 will be action packed from opening kickoff to the final whistle.

All World All Sports goes division by division previewing/predicting how the NFL will shake out in 2011. Let's begin with the NFC.

NFC East
1 - Philadelphia Eagles
Offense: Speed. Team speed. How will defenses contain Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Steve Smith, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper. Out of their backfield is LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown. Vick's decision making may very well determine if the Eagles score the most points during the regular season. Offense is primed to average well over 30 points/game if they're able to protect the pigskin.
Defense: Eagles usually known for their D but suffered a bit by lapses in 2010. Juan Castillo is Philly's new DC. Eagles added plenty of new faces & depth for '11. Question marks surrounding all phases of defense from front line, linebackers and cornerbacks. Andy Reid is one of NFL's best. I'm believing his D will step it up a notch. However, with Philly's quick strike offense - will D be worn out by end of 3rd quarter?
Prediction: 12-4 NFC East division winners

2 - New York Giants
Offense: Eli Manning single handily wrecked the Giants season as the NFL leader in turnovers. Time after time he coughed up the ball in situations dictating throwing the ball out of bounds or taking a sack. Banged up offensive line & wide receivers didn't help matters either. Inconsistency was the Giants theme in '10. What's up for 2011? More of the same or football smarts?
Defense: Training camp took a painful toll on New York's secondary. Opponents will try exploiting this make-shift group early and often until they prove worthy of stopping opposing offenses. Good luck. Giants pass rushers will have to save the day - Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and eventually Osi Umenyiora will rattle a few cages as NFL's top pass rushing unit.
Prediction: Don't get your hopes up this year Giants fans. 9 wins max.

3 - Washington Redskins
Offense: Shanahan recently named Rex Grossman starting QB. Gross often gets grilled by media types because he's not a prototypical QB. All Rex needs to do is play efficient football - something he's quite capable of doing regularly if teammates chip in. Key to offense is Skins running game. Shanahan produced 11 1,000+ yard rushers in 12 Denver seasons. Something tells me a secured offensive line is ready to go. Hightower is their featured back and he's ready for a breakout season.
Defense: Shanahan's sticking with 3-4 system. I'm no fan of the 3-4 as it opens up the D to many potential mistakes vs big opposing offensive lines. Skins D ranked 31st in '10 - will be tested often in '11.
Prediction: 7 win season is definitely attainable. If Rex & Co. can score - if D can sufficiently derail opposing attacks - Washingtom may become the cinderella story of 2011. Don't bet on it - don't be surprised if it happens either.

4 - Dallas Cowboys
Offense: Whoa, 2011 could turn ugly quickly. Only one good bit of news for Dallas heading into regular season opener - Tony Romo is back. Plenty of bad news beginning with a terrible make-shift offensive line featuring two rookies. Romo will be running for his life. Runningbacks soon to be challenged looking for running lanes vs formidale NFC East defensive linemen.
Defense: No NFC team surrendered more points in 2010. Dallas picked up an all star coordinator - Rob Ryan of the famously defensive minded Ryan clan (father - Buddy, brother - Rex). Don't expect miracles in 2011 as personnel is probably division's worst. Ryan will blitz from every direction out of necessity with a weak in all areas D. 2011 could bet ugly early, often and every game. Dallas is a long way off from thinking about playoff football.
Prediction: Jason Garrett is not head coach material. Will Dallas Cowboys head coach revolving door continue? 4-12 season says most definitely!

Up next - NFC North.


NFL 2011 Fantasy Rankings: Running Backs

Permalink 11:18:34 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Fantasy drafters usually concur - building a winning team all depends on selecting a big time scoring Running Back. Champion fantasy teams always feature at least one high scoring back (most have two very serviceable ground gainers). Most kickoffs will be touchbacks in 2011. Guess what this means? Top RB's will have career years in yards from scrimmage.

Let's get right to it. All World All Sports Top 20 for 2011:

1 - Arian Foster (HOU) Exploded on the scene in '10. He's my top pick for '11 in Houston's high scoring machine. Texans are destined for a fine season. Foster will rumble. 1850 yards, 18 TD.

2 - Chris Johnson (TEN) Never misses a running lane. 1450 yards, 18 TD.

3 - Adrian Peterson (MIN) A highlight reel RB. Times are changing in Minnesota. Opposing defenses top priority is stopping AP - who's had fumble issues in past years. 1600 yards, 15 TD.

4 - Michael Turner (ATL) Falcons have many weapons. Running lanes plentiful. 1500 yards, 15 TD.

5 - Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX) He'll be back as a scoring machine in '11 (if his balky knee holds up). A bit of a gamble at #5 unless you believe in my projection - 1300 yards, 18 TD.

6 - Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) Pittsburgh's back is tough to stop when staring at the end zone. He'll have a big year. 1500 yards, 14 TD.

7 - Matt Forte (CHI) Career year coming up. Forte sets career highs - 1400 yards, 15 TD.

8 - Frank Gore (SF) Another new era in 49ers play. New coach. New offense. Results pending. Gore will see more touches as a rusher & ball catching back. 1400 all purpose yards, 10 TD.

9 - Peyton Hillis (CLE) A successful '10 landed his face on Madden '12. Popular RB is a bruising runner. Hype? Or, is this guy for real? We'll soon find out. 1300 yards, 12 TD.

10- Jamaal Charles (KC) Charles put up great numbers splitting time with Thomas Jones. JC is an anything can happen back. A quick beginning earns him more touches. A slow beginning will lead to sharing time again. Don't get suckered into drafting JC in top 5. 1300 yards, 10 TD.

11- Darren McFadden (OAK)
12- LeSean McCoy (PHI)
13- Stephen Jackson (STL)
14- DeAngelo Williams (CAR)
15- Shonn Greene (NYJ)
16- Armani Bradshaw (NYG)
17- Brandon Jacobs (NYG)
18- LeGarrette Blount (TB)
19- Cedric Benson (CIN)
20- Ryan Matthews (SD)


NFL 2011 Fantasy Rankings: Quarterbacks

Permalink 05:14:43 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL 2011 regular season action kicks off Thursday September 8. NFL did a fine job with a superb opening day match-up featuring Super Bowl Champions of the past two seasons. New Orleans Saints (2009) take their show on the road to the home of current champion Green Bay Packers. If this game lives up to it's billing then we're to witness a fine contest between two of football's best teams.

Opening night also features two of the NFL's top quarterbacks, Drew Brees vs Aaron Rodgers. Thousands of fantasy football coaches have been busy studying draft lists preparing for a new season of play. For the next few days, I'll be posting rankings for key fantasy football point contributing positions. There are various fantasy football games and scoring variations. Do your homework to select the best game for your liking.

Time for segment #1 - Quarterbacks:

1 - Tom Brady (NE) Coming off a superb 36 td, 3900 yard 2010 campaign - only 4 int's. He has more weapons, better defense and perhaps NFL's best coach. Projection: 4200 yards, 35 TD.

2 - Drew Brees (NO) Saints pass first offense sits well with strong armed Brees. Averaged 289 yds/game in '10 with 33 TD/s. Interceptions were high (22) and should be better in '11. Projection: 4500 yards, 30 TD.

3 - Phillip Rivers (SD) River's turned in a gutsy season in the absence of a Chargers running game. Averaged almost 300 yds/game while tossing 30 scores. Projection: 4250 yards, 30 TD.

4 - Aaron Rodgers (GB) Super Bowl Champion QB, enough said. Projection: 4000 yards, 28 TD.

5 - Matt Schaub (HOU) Solid starter for a team on the rise. Has a chance to lead Texans to first division title. 3800 yards, 33 TD.

6 - Michael Vick (PHI) Perhaps the most exciting NFL player. Throws, runs - and gets hurt. Buyer beware. A healthy MV playing a full season could produce best fantasy numbers. He'll have to prove he can go the distance before advancing up my rankings. Projection: 3200 yards, 25 TD (passing) - 600 yards, 7 TD (rushing).

7 - Matt Ryan (ATL) Always the student, Ryan watches tapes of Brady & Peyton Manning with great results in '10. A few more targets and solidified offensive line should post solid results. Projection: 3500 yards, 25 TD.

8 - Mark Sanchez (NYJ) I might be the only 2011 prognosticator placing Sanchez in top 10 status. Why? Explosive 3 WR set with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress & Derrek Mason - throw in TE Keller - a strong ground game - and better offensive line. Jets sports top 3 defense so all systems say Sanchez will have great field position with plenty of weapons to score. Projection: 3300 yards, 30 TD.

9 - Eli Manning (NYG) Eli tossed and fumbled away 2010. He was terrible in crucial moments - very un-Manning-like. 2011 brings new challenges especially with 3 new linemen. If he protects the ball then Eli moves up the list. Projection: 3800 yards, 25 TD (watch out for turnovers).

10- Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) Look past Big Ben's 2010 stats. Many forget he was suspended first four games. He's back and on a mission for an aging Steelers team. Projection: 3500 yards, 23 TD.

Wild Card Player - Peyton Manning (IND) Incomplete injury information has everyone in Colts country on edge. Will Peyton be ready for the season opener or not? Some speculating Manning is out for an extended period of time recovering from what was once billed as minor neck surgery. Obviously, he's a top performing and fantasy point contributor when healthy. Problem is nobody seems to be saying how healthy he is - or isn't! Colts just nudged Kerry Collins out of retirement which means something's afoul in Indianapolis. Manning should not be your first QB selection this year.


Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 09:47:43 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Baseball's playoff picture is gaining clarity. Or, is it? AL East will be Boston vs New York for the duration. White Sox have come back from the dead and now sit a mere 3.5 games behind Detroit in Central action. Will Detroit show off another late season choke? Texas keeping a firm 7 game grip in the West over LA.

Philadelphia remains NL's top team while Milwaukee and Arizona surged into 1st place in Central & West divisions. Atlanta's inspired brand of baseball leads all NL Wild Card contenders.

Teams are having a tough time remaining in All World All Sports baseball power rankings. Early season wannabe's Pittsburgh and Cleveland continue their swan dives. Late comers making a move. There's still a long way to go. Current rankings thru games of 8/17:

1 - Philadelphia
2 - New York
3 - Boston
4 - Texas
5 - Atlanta
6 - Milwaukee
7 - Arizona
8 - San Francisco
9 - St. Louis
10- Detroit

Don't get too caught up in NFL rankings as teams filled with new faces are just beginning to gel. Plenty of position battles, especially on offensive and defensive lines, rage on.

1 - Green Bay
2 - New England
3 - New Orleans
4 - New York Jets
5 - Atlanta
6 - Pittsburgh
7 - Philadelphia
8 - San Diego
9 - Houston
10- Baltimore


NFL 2011 Predictions

Permalink 10:51:59 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Countdown to regular season is underway. There was a time not long ago many thought owners vs players impasse would severely disrupt the 2011 NFL season. Once both sides inked a new deal teams had much work to do adjusting rosters to meet salary cap constraints. There was a flurry of activity from roster cuts to free agent signings.

The dust has settled and teams are busy playing pre-season games in preparation for another great season. Time for pre-season predictions (subject to change based on final rosters).

New York

*Green Bay

*New Orleans
Tampa Bay

St. Louis
San Francisco

*New York
*New England



*San Diego
Kansas City

* = playoff team


Sweet Revenge, Woods ex-Caddy Wins Again!

Permalink 07:07:17 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Adam Scott finished tops on the Bridgestone Invitational scoreboard to win his first World Golf Championship. Congratulations Adam. And congratulations for making a great decision to hire caddy Steve Williams. Williams was the long time caddy of Tiger Woods who was recently fired for unknown reasons.

Williams firing stunned the golfing world. Williams is a winner. A former Wood confidante who stood by Tiger's side during Woods shocking and very public divorce only to be abruptly discarded two weeks ago. Revenge is sweet. Wood struggled mightily while Adam Scott cruised at Bridgestone. Williams was ecstatic:

"I've caddied for 33 years -- 145 wins now -- and that's the best win I've ever had," Williams told CBS Sports on the 18th green. This from a guy whose 12 years working for Woods featured 13 majors and 16 world titles among 72 wins worldwide. That includes the 2001 Masters, when Woods won an unprecedented fourth straight major.

Scott played near flawless golf on his way to 17 under par, winning by four. He openly thanked Williams for expertise in knowing the course so well and offering excellent strategic suggestions when necessary. Scott also displayed a sense of humor:

"I can talk about Steve now and not Tiger," Scott said to laughter, alluding to the countless times he and other players have been asked about Woods. "I'm sure there are a lot of other golfers who wouldn't mind that, either."

A subtle public feud continues simmering between Williams and Woods. Both accounts on how the championship caddy was released differ greatly. Tiger's rants and actions continue to stun those who were once closest allies. Even Charles Barkley chimed in recently. Barkley and Woods were once very close friends. Sir Charles claims he hasn't heard back from Woods in two years is opening questioning what's wrong with Tiger....

"It's been very frustrating to watch everything that has transpired," Barkley said Wednesday on ESPN New York 1050's The Mike Lupica Show, "and getting rid of Steve Williams was probably the last straw for me."

"You think you're friends with a guy. You talk to him once a week for 15 years. You're like, this dude is my friend, we do things, we have fun together," Barkley said. "I haven't talked to him in two years and I'm wondering what the hell is going on."

Tiger's saga will continue for years. Right now, the sun is shining brightly upon Adam Scott and his new championship caddy Steve Williams.


Power Ranking MVP & Cy Young Candidates

Permalink 02:06:57 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Time to try something not done before now. Power ranking current 2011 MLB MVP & Cy Young candidates by league. Baseball's trading deadline is over. Waiver wires filled and a few select players could soon be on the move. Pennant fever is alive and well in cities not used to watching their teams win in late season play. It's been another wild ride in baseball land. MVP chants beginning to pick up steam in parks around the country.

Which diamond players make the short lists to bring home hardware in 2011? Take a glance at All World All Sports rankings...

1 - Matt Kemp (LAD)
2 - Ryan Braun (MIL)
3 - Lance Berkman (STL)
4 - Jose Reyes (NYM)
5 - Joey Votto (CIN)
6 - Justin Upton (AZ)
7 - Ryan Howard (PHI)
8 - Prince Fielder (MIL)

1 - Adrian Gonzalez (BOS)
2 - Curtis Granderson (NYY)
3 - Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
4 - Jose Bautista (TOR)
5 - Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
6 - Michael Young (TEX)
7 - Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
8 - Jered Weaver (LAA)

Cy Young
1 - Roy Halladay (PHI)
2 - Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
3 - Ian Kennedy (AZ)
4 - Jair Jurrjens (ATL)
5 - Cole Hamels (PHI)
6 - Joel Hanrahan (PIT)

1 - Jered Weaver (LAA)
2 - Justin Verlander (DET)
3 - CC Sabathia (NYY)
4 - Jon Lester (BOS)
5 - Jose Valverde (DET)


Baseball's Trade Deadline Rumors

Permalink 06:00:29 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Save the date: July 31, MLB trade deadline.

Baseball's trade rumor mill has been swirling. Teams wishing to strengthen their playoff chances could soon be announcing major trades from cash strapped teams. Don't be surprised if soon to become free agents are dealt too. Let's examine a few teams which might become major players during the next six days.

Boston - starting pitching and bats. Injuries have Red Sox rotation in shambles. Lack of pop from OF puts Boston front and center in chasing after Carlos Beltran or another impact bat.

New York - Yankees need pitching of all types. Starters first and foremost. Bombers elder starters have been very effective at times but can't be counted on. Cashman's future is on the line should the Yanks fall from the pennant race. One more bat might be heading to NY too as they're known for late season slugging acquisitions.

Tampa - I don't think they have enough gas in the tank or depth at this point in time. On the outside looking in places the Rays in a precarious position. Spend wisely has always been their motto. However, Rays lineup lacks power and 1B has been a problem for a long time.

Pittsburgh - It's now or never in Steel City. Can they pull the trigger on a deal for a veteran bat without giving up too much future talent? Carlos Beltran to the Pirates as a rent a player would be worth dealing injured Doumit and players to be named... especially if New York picks up a hefty part of CB's lucrative contract. Wigginton is a perfect type of versatile player for a team in need of 3B help.

St. Louis - Cards need everything. Starting pitchers, relievers, closer, hitting, defense. They haven't made any late season impact deals in years. They'll need to do something if seriously considering a playoff run. Don't forget... Albert Pujols is soon to become a free agent!!!

Milwaukee - Are the Brewers planning on bringing back free agent to be Fielder? He can bring in plenty talent in a trade. Milwaukee's front office stumbles often. They acquired KRod to bolster bullpen. What next?

Detroit - A cost effective 5th starter is readily available. Phil Coke is a bust. Wigginton fits well here too at 2B/3B.

Cleveland - A curious team. They had a great first half. Injuries at key positions all season long. Currently fading in AL Central. Tribe doesn't appear ready to spend.

Angels - 31-36 on June 12, now at 55-47 and rising. They could use a boost to 4th & 5th rotation slots. Catching help is also needed (not available).

Giants - SF is nuts if they don't go hardest after Beltran. Strong pitching staff has propelled Giants into NL West lead. However, lack of power up and down their lineup could prove costly in playoff baseball. SF owns plenty of talent to offer up. SS is of concern too. Jose Reyes is another great target.

Phillies - Bullpen, either middle relievers or proven closer or both. Lidge just returned. However, he's always a single pitch away from another injury. Rent a closer situation is perfect here. RF could be in line. Perhaps Werth comes back?


Dodgers - Financially challenged LA needs to ditch payroll wisely. A few popular starts might get chopped but not much discussed yet.

Mets - Plenty of focus surrounding Carlos Beltran. Don't be surprised if David Wright is the first one gone! Owners clearly not convinced Wright is a winner. GM claims they want free agent to be Jose Reyes back in '12. It could be lip service and will be a MAJOR mistake for Mets to let him walk without securing talent now.

Astros - Pick one. This franchise is in reverse. Simple question... does Houston have any players other teams want?

Reds, Padres, Twins, Marlins might jump into the mix too.

Time will tell. The clock is ticking.

Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 04:50:52 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL is back in business. Owners and players ratified a new agreement. Training camp doors set to open. General managers ready to wheel and deal.

Baseball's trading deadline is July 31st. Plenty of big names could be on the move. Some dealt by cash strapped teams. Some to be acquired for a late season playoff push.

All World All Sports Power Rankings:

1 - Green Bay
2 - Atlanta
3 - NY Jets
4 - Pittsburgh
5 - New Orleans
6 - Baltimore
7 - Philadelphia
8 - NY Giants
9 - New England
10- Chicago

1 - Philadelphia
2 - Boston
3 - Texas
4 - San Francisco
5 - Yankees
6 - Atlanta
7 - Angels
8 - Milwaukee
9 - Arizona
10- Tampa


Second Half Baseball Predictions

Permalink 03:09:40 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Robinson Cano's created the most memorable All Star moment. He selected his own father to pitch. Robby responded by winning the Derby in record style. Father and son baseball. It doesn't get any better. NL All Stars secured home field advantage for NLCS winner by besting their AL counterparts 5-1.

Now it's on to baseball's second half of the 2011 season. MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching (July 31). Who will be wheeling and dealing? Dumping high salaries or going for big guns? Make a run for the pennant or pack it in? New York Mets & Milwaukee Brewers struck a deal announced right after Tuesday's ASG. Francisco Rodriguez is a Met no more. New York dumped their high priced closer off on the Brewers. Milwaukee needs bullpen help. KRod is expected to set up closer Axford. Is Beltran next to leave cash strapped Mets? Rumors state he'll be in Boston soon.

First half surprise teams Arizona, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Washington take dead aim at doing something no prognosticator predicted... advancing to playoff baseball. Plenty of teams in the hunt. Plenty of players riding the disabled list. Time to predict how the 2011 season will finish.

American League
Red Sox
Blue Jays

White Sox


ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox

National League



NLCS: Phillies over Braves

World Series: Phillies over Yankees


2011 All Star Game Home Run Derby Preview & Predictions

Permalink 04:24:42 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

It's muscle flexing time for a select few All Stars. 2011 State Farm Home Run Derby is tonight. David Ortiz (AL) & Prince Fielder (NL) are contest captains who hand picked their squads. Four players per league participating this year. On paper, Ortiz AL teammates looking stronger than their NL counterparts.

All participants get 10 outs per round, with the four players with the most homers advancing to a second round. The two players with the highest cumulative number of long balls after the second round advance to the Championship Round, where first- and second-round homers do not carry over.

AL - Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz.
NL - Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Richie Weeks.

Be reminded, this is glorified batting practice. Don't be surprised if some or all of these sluggers bring their personal bp pitchers with them to the event. On paper, AL hitters will be too much to handle. Bautista, Gonzo & Ortiz can knock the ball out of any park and the balls will be flying in Phoenix. Cano is the wild card here. His swing is one of the best in baseball. Smooth, line drive smacker. Not necessarily made for a home run derby ... however, one little upper cut adjustment could win it all. NL hitters, beyond Fielder, do not appear to be the same homer class. They're all great hitters but probably not the best picks for a HR contest.

Key to success is not swinging at every pitch. Sluggers will need to be patient to preserve endurance. Taking at least one pitch between swings is key. It's easy to get tired hacking at everything. Josh Hamilton put on a historic opening round ball smashing display to remember a few short years ago in Yankee Stadium. Guess what? He wasn't the victor. Stamina goes a long way to winning. Who will win it all in 2011? Place your bets!

1st Round totals
Bautista 15
Ortiz 13
Gonzalez 13
Fielder 10
Cano 9
Holliday 8
Kemp 5
Weeks 5

2nd Round
Bautista 11 (26)
Ortiz 10 (23)
Fielder 10 (20)
Gonzalez 6 (19)

Bautista 15

All Star Break Power Rankings

Permalink 03:50:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

2011 represents another great baseball season in progress. Pennant races continuing to amaze. Pittsburgh, Washington, Cleveland and Arizona have been playing an inspired brand of hardball. These perennial losers are winning and proving, once again, money doesn't necessarily buy success.

MLB 2011 reached the halfway point of the season. All World All Sports power rankings...
1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - Boston Red Sox
3 - New York Yankees
4 - Atlanta Braves
5 - San Francisco Giants
6 - Texas Rangers
7 - Tampa Bay Rays
8 - Milwaukee Brewers
9 - Detroit Tigers
10- Arizona Diamondbacks
11- St Louis Cardinals
12- Cleveland Indians
14- Pittsburgh Pirates
15- Washington Nationals
16- New York Mets
17- Cincinnati Reds
18- Toronto Blue Jays
19- Chicago White Sox
20- Colorado Rockies
21- Florida Marlins
22- Minnesota Twins
23- Seattle Mariners
24- Los Angeles Dodgers
25- San Diego Padres
26- Oakland A's
27- Baltimore Orioles
28- Kansas City Royals
29- Chicago Cubs
30- Houston Astros


In Case You Missed It...

Permalink 09:04:28 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Sports news is plentiful. In case you missed it, here's a few notable stories since our last installment.

Wimbledon crowns new champions. Serbian Novak Djokovic defeated former champ Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. His performance was nothing short of spectacular. Djokovic now sits atop fan lists as a player to watch.
Petra Kvitova won the Women's title with a hard fought straight set victory over Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4. The telling statistic from this match was Sharapova winning only 58% of first serves compared to 72% for Kvitova.

NBA follows NFL into lockout status. Money, money, money. Both sides have negotiated in good faith for 18 months with no conclusive results. Commissioner Stern states the sides are no closer now than when negotiations first began. The sides appear closer than they'll let on publicly. Perhaps to save face with union members. I have no sympathy for either party when it comes to sports related work stoppages. The fans always get the short end of the stick when all is said and done. Ticket prices, already skyrocketing, will surge again. So will game related apparel, trading cards and anything with a professional league logo affixed.

NFL lockout may delete 2011 games. Players will be nuts if they ever agree to an 18 game schedule. Careers will be dramatically cut short. Long term deals will soon evaporate and owners will walk away as fat cat champs. Add a new twist, retired players want in on negotiations. They've brought suit claiming current players and owners are "conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former NFL players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current NFL players." This labor impasse is a long way off. Neither side has acted in good faith.

MLB All Star Game rosters were announced. Get ready for plenty of commentary when it comes to snubbed players. It's the same old song. Deserving players left off rosters receive plenty of attention from local to national sports talk networks. It's unfortunate some deserving players sit home. It happens and will continue for years to come. Sometimes there just aren't enough roster slots. Other times, fan favorites override statistical achievements. There's only one change I'd personally enjoy seeing rectified. Add at least one rising star (rookie) to each roster if they weren't already selected by fan & player voting (AL - Michael Pineda, Mariners; NL- Danny Espinosa, Nationals).

Derek Jeter is healthy and back at SS for the Yankees. Six knocks to go for career hit number 3,000. Isn't it truly amazing in the glorious history of Yankees baseball they've yet to have any player with 3,000 hits? Not Gehrig (2,721), Ruth (2,518), Mantle (2,415), Bernie Williams (2,336) or DiMaggio (2,214).

Look out, the Pirates are coming. Better yet, they're here! Pittsburgh Pirates inspired brand of baseball has them within 1.5 games of NL Central leading Cardinals. It's about time! Pittsburgh has won more than 70 games only seven times since 1993. Manager Clint Hurdle is proving he's been the right choice for the job. Go Pirates!

Get ready for The British Open. US Open champ Rory McIlroy is ready to go and is the early favorite. Tiger Woods will be sitting this one out. Fan favorite Phil Mickelson needs to work out a few kinks. His swing and short game is perfect for this tournament but he never seems to put it together here. How much of a factor will strong winds play in this years event? Wind during British Opens has been prevalent in recent years which is why this event is one of the best tests for players all around games. There are three golfing events I never miss. The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.


2011 All Star Game Rosters Announced

Permalink 01:12:57 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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MLB: All Star Game Coverage

Save the date. MLB All Star Game takes place in Phoenix, July 12, at Chase Field. Get ready for plenty of All Star fan activities shadowed by political protests leading up to the Mid Summer Classic.

American and National League rosters were announced this afternoon. Fan voting selected starting players. Players, coaches and MLB selected the reserves. Every year controversy surrounds selections especially players left off ASG squads. Perennial ASG starters, Albert Pujols (injured) and Ichiro Suzuki will not play.

American League
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox
C: Alex Avila, Tigers

Fans voted in the starters. Derek Jeter, always a fan favorite, is the only starter listed who probably doesn't deserve starting status based on performance. However, future Hall of Fame players (Jeter) always deserve recognition by fans. Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera was selected as a reserve and should see plenty of game action.

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B: Howard Kendrick, Angels
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
OF: Michael Cuddyer, Twins
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
OF: Matt Joyce, Rays
OF: Carlos Quentin, White Sox
DH: Michael Young, Rangers
C: Russell Martin, Yankees
C: Matt Wieters, Orioles

RHP: Josh Beckett, Red Sox
RHP: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
LHP: David Price, Rays
RHP: James Shields, Rays
RHP: Justin Verlander, Tigers
RHP: Jered Weaver, Angels
LHP: C.J. Wilson, Rangers
LHP: Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
RHP: Aaron Crow, Royals
RHP: Brandon League, Mariners
RHP: Chris Perez, Indians
RHP: Mariano Rivera, Yankees
RHP: Jose Valverde, Tigers

It's time to point out all teams must be represented. Inevitably deserving players often get left off initial rosters.

National League
1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers
2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
3B: Jose Reyes, Mets
SS: Placido Polanco, Phillies
OF: Lance Berkman, Cardinals
OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
C: Brian McCann, Braves

Polanco and perhaps Weeks are a bit questionable. All other NL starters enjoying success in '11.

1B: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
2B: Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B: Chipper Jones, Braves
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF: Jay Bruce, Reds
OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals
OF: Hunter Pence, Astros
OF: Justin Upton, D-backs
C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

RHP: Matt Cain, Giants
RHP: Roy Halladay, Phillies
LHP: Cole Hamels, Phillies
RHP: Jair Jurrjens, Braves
LHP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
LHP: Cliff Lee, Phillies
RHP: Tim Lincecum, Giants
RHP: Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
RHP: Heath Bell, Padres
RHP: Tyler Clippard, Nationals
RHP: Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
LHP: Jonny Venters, Braves
RHP: Brian Wilson, Giants

Let the debate begin on NL pitchers. SF Giants manager Bruce Bochy will be at the helm for the NL squad and selected 4 Giants pitchers. Brian Wilson has not been the same dominant closer from one year ago. Vogelsong is another questionable selection. It should be noted, most ASG managers do favor players from their own squads so Bocky selecting four Giants shouldn't surprise.

More to follow including All World All Sports first ever simulated All Star Game!


Baseball Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 03:54:48 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Get ready for another wild ride to baseball's finish line. Pennant battles catching fire in the heat of summer. Only 2.5 games separate New York, Boston & Tampa. Detroit and Cleveland keep shuffling 1-2 in AL Central. Brewers beginning to create breathing room in NL Central. Every division is up for grabs and nearly half of the league is within wild card contention.

All World All Sports MLB Power Rankings (Top 10)
1 - Philadelphia
2 - Yankees
3 - Boston
4 - San Francisco
5 - Milwaukee
6 - Atlanta
7 - Tampa Bay
8 - Detroit
9 - Texas
10- (tie) Arizona, Cleveland


MLB 2011 - Award Races Heating Up

Permalink 04:33:14 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

2011 MLB season is closing in on the halfway point. A handful of players are making their case for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie & Manager of the Year awards. Time to list the front-runners as viewed by All World All Sports. (A complete list of past award winners can be found here)

Adrian Gonzalez (Bos)
Jose Bautista (Tor)
Paul Konerko (Chi)
Curtis Granderson (NY)
Lance Berkman (StL)
Prince Fielder (Mil)
Matt Kemp (LA)
Ryan Braun (Mil)
Jose Reyes (NY)

Cy Young
Jared Weaver (LA)
Justin Verlander (Det)
Josh Beckett (Bos)
James Shields (TB)
Michael Pineda (Sea)
Roy Halladay (Phi)
Jar Jurrjens (Atl)
Ian Kennedy (Az)
Cole Hamels (Phi)
Clayton Kershaw (LA)

Eric Hosner (KC)
Mark Trumbo (LA)
Michael Pineda (Sea)
Jordan Walden (LA)
Vinnie Pestano (Cle)
Al Alburquerque (Det)
Danny Espinosa (Was)
Dillon Gee (NY)
Craig Kimbrel (Atl)
Freddie Freeman (Atl)
Darwin Barney (Chi)
Brandon Beachy (Atl)

Terry Francona (Bos)
Manny Acta (Cle)
Buck Showalter (Bal)
Jim Leyland (Det)
Kirk Gibson (Az)
Fredi Gonzalez (Atl)
Charlie Manuel (Phi)
Bruce Bochy (SF)


Hey Mets, It's Time to Retire #8!

Permalink 06:47:33 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

The troubled New York Mets franchise can give themselves a boost by honoring one of their World Series Champion fan heroes. All Star catcher Gary Carter deserves his uniform #8 to be retired and put on display at CitiField.

New York displays just one retired player jersey, #41, Tom Seaver (managers Casey Stengel & Gil Hodges also retired). Can you believe it Mets fans? Ownership retiring only one uniform. No statues of former team members anywhere to be found at CitiField. It took a public outcry before management entertained the notion of placing "Mets" memorabilia in their new billion dollar ballpark (you can find Dodgers gracing the main entrance).

Guess what fans? Once again it's time to turn up the volume. A public outcry is necessary to nudge tumultuous team owners into paying respects for one of the Mets most popular members who was a major contributor of the 1986 World Championship squad. Gary Carter is a class act. Unfortunately, Carter's been recently diagnosed with multiple brain tumors. How about team ownership and fans showing respect to Carter when he's still alive. A "Gary Carter Day" should be arranged pronto!

Carter represents everything good in baseball and life. His energetic style of play rubbed off on teammates. He came to play hard everyday even when battling nagging bruises and injuries. Never a public spat with players, coaches or fans. Never a hint of infidelity, drugs, steroids, DUI or tirades against fans. He's been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. So why no retired jersey Mr. Wilpon?

Wilpon is a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, NOT a Mets fan. Why did he bother buying the Mets? The Dodgers are gone and with a little luck so will Wilpon and Katz. They're an embarrassment to a proud franchise. Honor your team. Honor your fans. Can't fill the stands in 2011? Here's a sure fire way to fill seats with butts.... A fan appreciation Gary Carter Day Washington (formerly Carter's Montreal Expos) come to CitiField on Monday September 12th. Perfect team to host this day against. Invite as many former teammates from Montreal and New York as possible. The stadium will be packed. Ownership can look at this from a greed standpoint if it's all left driving them to remain team owners. They'll finally host a sellout! If time is of the essence regarding Gary's health then get it done sooner.

Carter deserves this honor. Not out of pity. Not one bit. Solely from his contributions to Mets baseball. Mets ownership has done very little to honor former players. Nearly every new park has statues of famous past players/managers. How about something for Casey, Seaver, Hodges, Carter, Keith Hernandez, Tug McGraw, Koos, Matlack, Piazza, Franco, Davy Johnson and the list goes on.

Here and now, it's time to do the right thing for at least one living legend. Retire Gary Carter's #8!


NFL Investigating Players Casino Investments

Permalink 10:32:27 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Investigative journalism often missing from mainstream political news organizations can be found throughout sports. Sports reporters rarely let moments go unnoticed. Case in point, Yahoo!Sports just released a report claiming the NFL is looking into personal investments by players (active and retired) into a failed casino venture.

NFL rules bar employees from involvement with any gaming operation. Several current and former NFL players have invested with Country Crossing casino striking a sensitive nerve for the league which is currently facing plenty of challenges stemming from a labor dispute, HGH testing, player turmoils, and now... gambling.

Yahoo reports:

"Country Crossing and another Alabama casino are at the center of a probe that resulted in nine people going to trial accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation, including four former or current state senators."

A few of the bigger names listed as investors include Terell Owens, Santonio Holmes, Gerard Warren, Adalius Thomas, Jevon Kearse, Antonio Griffin as well as boxer Floyd Mayweather. $20 million investment by professional athletes in casino operations is a big red flag. Betting by athletes is the biggest sin in sports. Gambling is often treated harsher than cheating, drugs, guns, booze, steroids etc. Too many potential implications from associating with gamblers presents clear and present dangers to illegitimate activities. It should be noted, no player is accused of betting on or throwing games. However, their involvement is against league rules and subject to disciplinary action ranging from fines to possible suspensions.

Country Crossing owner Ron Gilley and two lobbyists have pleaded guilty to offering millions of dollars in bribes to legislators in attempts to buy votes on pro gambling legislation. Heads will roll.

Strange how Yahoo went national with this story whole no other news organizations have stepped up. USA is in the early throws of political re-election campaigns and nary a word from the likes of The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angles Times, ABC, NBC, CBS & CNN. Curious isn't it?

Sports has a long list of gambling probes. Most famous incidents include 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series, Pete Rose, CCNY point shaving, NBA Referees, NHL coaches and a slew of others. How this one shakes out is anyone's guess. You can safely bet the accused politicians will stop at nothing to cover up any chatter of bribes.

How does a professional athlete come to think investing in a casino is shrewd when multiple leagues ban such a practice? Lawyers, agents, accountants and all other financial advisers should have alerted players their involvement would become a clear contradiction of league practices.

It will be interesting to see how the NFL Commissioners office handles this investigation and how far they're willing to penalize active players beyond slap on the wrist fines.

To be continued as this story unfolds.....


Baseball Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 09:55:12 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

It's been a week of hot and cold streaks. Boston and Philadelphia are red hot. Detroit knocked Cleveland out of first in AL Central. Texas got thumped in the Bronx. Pittsburgh (35-33) is in unfamiliar territory... a winning record in June! Get set for a furious summer of teams jockeying up and down division ladders. Who will prevail? Time will tell.

All World All Sports Baseball Power Rankings
(Top 10)

1 - Philadelphia
2 - Boston
3 - San Francisco
4 - New York
5 - Detroit
6 - Milwaukee
7 - Atlanta
8 - St. Louis
9 - Tampa Bay
10- Texas


Calling All Cars: MLB Warns Teams of Chicago Violence

Permalink 04:48:15 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Chicago fans beware. MLB is putting teams on notice to take all necessary precautions for ensuring safety around their facilities. Violence in downtown Chicago has spiraled out of control. Mob style attacks has an entire city on edge. Baseball players and fans beware.

Youth mobs are creating random acts of violence. It's spreading to major cities around the USA. Where's our President calling for calm? Especially in his adopted home city of Chicago which elected him Senator on the way to winning the Presidency. Instead, we hear Obama praise youth uprisings in the Middle East as our those keeping enforcing peace get run out by power by mob style protests (while chanting "death to Israel, death to America"). So is it any wonder American youth mobs are now on the attack? No.

Political hack Mayor Rahm Emanuel is attempting to beef up police patrols citywide. Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said over the weekend another 150 cops are now on the street. However, Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said this is misleading. "Well, yeah, he's putting 150 people on the street. He hasn't added anything to the manpower of the police department which has been, you know, really terribly neglected for the past three years. The hiring has been abysmal at best," Camden said.

According to reports, upwards of 30 people have been arrested recently in connection to Chicago's spiraling violence problem. Fans need to be vigilant when traveling to and from Chicago area stadiums. Especially when traveling on public transportation, walking to and from cars. Avoid traveling alone if possible and keep your cell phone handy at all times.

Youth violence is spreading rapidly. It's happening everywhere from California to New York. Mostly teens causing disruptions. Beach goers were recently attacked in New York & Miami. It's unfathomable to this writer how dumb young punks are willing to throw away their entire lives for a chance to crack skulls.

Teachers, parents, religious and civic leaders need to start doing their jobs educating kids on the pitfalls of violence. Teach morality. Urge them to do good in their communities instead of preying on neighbors. It's summer time. School season is winding down. What will come of unemployed kids this summer with nowhere to go and nothing to do?

Fans need take warning. Be prepared. City officials need to tackle this rising problem head on. If the President can't get control over his own city....?


Flameout: LeBron James Playoff Failures Continue

Permalink 12:02:25 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Add LeBron James to the long list of super playoff failures. LeBron's past playoff ineptness as Cleveland's star earned plenty of criticism especially after appearing to give up during last seasons Conference Finals vs Boston. James performance in this years NBA Finals has been nothing short of a disastrous choke. After five games, James has totaled 11 fourth quarter points. Hardly "King"-like.

James name is now grouped with other playoff underachievers. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Chris Webber, Peyton Manning & Jim Kelly all shined during regular season action only to flameout in the spotlight of playoff games. James took plenty of heat from Cleveland fans and sportscasters after quitting during close games vs Boston. Harsh criticism? Not at all.

I wonder if Scotty Pippen still believes King LeBron "is the greatest all round player of all time." Pippen's jealousy of Jordan continues. Did Scotty ever win a NBA Championship without MJ? No. How many times did MJ carry the Bulls to title glory? 6. Not only couldn't Pippen deliver without Jordan... he also quit on the Bulls vs Knicks when his number wasn't called to attempt the games final game winning shot. Scotty pouted. Pippen was a great player. But, he never won without Jordan. Hearing Pippen call James the greatest ever is more of a shot at Jordan than praise for James whose playoff 4th quarter disappearing acts are well documented.

No doubt James is one of the best during regular season action. He's played great playoff basketball in early rounds. The greatest of the great all have one thing in common. Winners always want the ball when games are on the line. Not LeBron. One might think furious criticism of James post-season play would become inspiration. He's a laughingstock in Dallas. Maverick's fans are loving new "knock-knock" jokes.

Knock Knock
"Who's there?"
"LeBron who?"

Miami Heat trails Dallas 3 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. Series shifts back to Miami. James has a chance to quiet detractors if he puts together at least an effort in 4th quarter action. What will it be? Can James get over 4th quarter fears? Or, will he go down as one of the most overpaid chokers in sports history?


Bob Geren First Manager Axed in 2011

Permalink 10:27:08 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Bob Geren is out as manager of the Oakland Athletics. Oakland's current 9 game losing streak places them last in the American League West after trailing by a mere 1.5 games back on May 29. Geren's firing marks the first time in nearly 25 years Oakland replaced a manager mid-season.

Geren had his hands full juggling an oft injured roster over the past few years. Oakland expected to compete in 2011 after signing a few veteran bats to bolster team offense in support of a strong starting rotation. Veteran DH Hideki Matsui (.209) is hitting 80+ points below career averages... complete bust. Big things were expected from budding starters Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden but injuries ended their year. Throw in closer Andrew Bailey and 2011 quickly became a recipe for disaster. Infielders, outfielders and replacement pitchers all rotating through the disabled list revolving door.

Geren's departure was meant to inject a spark, wake up call, or whatever catch phrases associated with trying to snap a team out of a prolonged funk. As I type, the struggling White Sox are taking it to the A's 6-3 with 3 innings to go. Looks like a double digit streak is only a few outs away.

In recent years Oakland has been masterful getting the most out of low payroll players. Not an easy task in AL West play without a true power hitter. Pitching, defense and small ball used to lead the way. From 2000-2006 the A's played playoff caliber baseball winning 102 & 103 games in back to back years (2001-02). 91+ wins in 5 of 6 seasons. Under Geren, Oakland hasn't finished with a winning record in 4+ years. Time for a change.

Welcome Bob Melvin. He takes over to finish out the year and audition for 2012. Melvin skippered Arizona to the '07 NLCS and owns a 493-508 career managing record.


Baseball Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 12:13:59 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Much attention remains focused on Cleveland, New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. Guess which team now has baseball's best record? St. Louis Cardinals. Albert Pujols appears to have shaken off an early season slump. Lance Berkman keeps crushing baseballs. Cards bullpen now getting the job done. Is St. Louis baseball's best? Probably not. However, they're playing great ball at the moment.

All Star Game is one month away. Fans stuffing ballot boxes hoping their favorite players garner enough votes to play in Arizona's mid-summer classic. A few ASG regulars still trying to shake off big time struggles. Hit machine Ichiro Suzuki season long slump continues (.260). Yanks Jorge Posada's (.195) batting average is slowly improving but I fear his days as a starting DH are soon to end. Derek Jeter's closing in on 3,000 career hits. Believe it or not New York has never had any player collect 3,000 hits!

Who is #1 in this week's installment of All World All Sports Power Rankings? Time to find out....
Top 10
1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - Boston Red Sox
3 - Cleveland Indians
4 - New York Yankees
5 - St. Louis Cardinals
6 - Detroit Tigers
7 - Milwaukee Brewers
8 - San Francisco Giants
9 - Texas Rangers
10 - Atlanta Braves

Bottom 5
30- Houston Astros
29- Chicago Cubs
28- Minnesota Twins
27- Kansas City Royals
26- Oakland A's


Diamond Men Select Most Overrated Major Leaguers

Permalink 04:46:22 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Sports Illustrated recently polled 185 Major League Baseball players asking a simple question. Who is the most overrated player in baseball? Results were released back in May. A few names will surprise, most will not.

Let's break down the TOP 10 results with a little commentary.

MLB's Overrated Team
1 - ALEX RODRIGUEZ Alex is #1 overrated. Tough choice picking a clear cut #1. Hard to argue against this one. Former steroid user who once claimed his cousin supplied PED's is once again under MLB scrutiny for possible abuses. "The Steroid Mule", cousin Yuri, has been spotted in Yankees team hotels recently despite being banned from any team related facility. Get ready for a new scandal. Putting this aside, and his legendary stats, it's obvious to Yankees fans ARod's lack of clutch hitting in key moments of games throughout a lengthy career clearly earns this guy top honors.

"I have been on that list many, many times, it will be the same next summer," said Rodriguez.

2 - JOBA CHAMBERLAIN Joba began his career in grand style giving up just 1 run in 24 innings while striking out 34 back in 2007. It hasn't necessarily been all downhill since as Joba's settles in a set up man for Rivera. #2 ranking is way out of whack here. Perhaps it's just a general anti-Yankee venom kicking in or perhaps it's the fact Chamberlain's antics haven't won over many friends on opposing teams? It's a safe bet to conclude both. Joba doesn't crack my top 10.

Chamberlain joked to that, "I guess I'm disappointed that I'm not number one again," after being voted No. 1 last season. "I don't care . . . My bills are still paid and I still have a job. You can call me whatever you want, just don't call me late for dinner. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. That's why this country is so great."

3 - DEREK JETER Third most overrated player? Really? Jeter did begin the year struggling after a lengthy and public contract battle during off-season. The Yankees captain has forever been attacked. First time I can recall fellow players dissing his play. No doubt Jeter's career is winding down. But, overrated? He's still a top 5 all around AL shortstop even with diminishing stats and big season ending slump last year. The deeper I get into these rankings the more I begin to believe they're based solely on salaries. This should be an "overpaid" top 10, not overrated! Jeter is quickly closing in on 3,000 career hits. He'll become the only Yankee in their storied history to amass 3,000 hits!

"It’s the same thing they do every year, right?" Jeter asked. DJ, SI’s 2009 Man of the Year said, "I’m focused on more positive things. How about that? There’s your quote." (

4 - JAYSON WERTH Werth is quickly remembering hitting outside of Philadelphia's tiny home park is hard. Especially in Washington. A stellar defensive RF, clutch hitter (13 HR, 24 XBH in 44 career playoff games) and very frustrated in 1st season as a National. Led NL in doubles last season (46) and big clutch performer voted onto this list based on last season? Or, strictly because of a big salary (signed 7 years/$126M)? Overrated, give me a break. 2011 is especially tough with zero lineup protection in Washington and lack of runners on base. No way close to a top 10 overrated player.

5 - JONATHAN PAPELBON Finally, a player in the top 10 I agree belongs. Papelbon was one of the games best closers only 2 short years ago. However, he no longer dominates. It's a guessing game whenever he takes the hill. Confidence shaken? Time will tell.

6 - NICK SWISHER Agreed. Swisher quickly became a fan favorite in New York. It's been a mixed bag for Nick in NY. Batted only .226 at home in first Yankee season when baseball's were flying out of their new Stadium. He played great last year so one wonders how he got here... until watching his play in 2011 (or lack thereof). Struggling big time in 2011. Nobody should be surprised if Swisher's average never rises above .230 this season.

7 - B.J. UPTON Here's a guy who could easily rank higher... perhaps #2? A projected 5 tool player has all the skills but lacks focus and consistency. Mostly low year to year batting averages, often spaces out in CF and lack of clutch performances earns B.J. a top 10 nod.

8 - DAVID ORTIZ Another former PED junkie cracks the top 10. How does a .313, 13 HR slugger make this list? Probably from back to back slow starts to 2009-10 seasons. He's no top 10. His second half performance of '10 should have wiped the slate clean. Obviously it didn't. Even Ortiz strikeout totals are way down in 2011. Perhaps some of these anonymous voters reside in the Tri-State area?

9 - A.J. BURNETT A.J. possesses great pitches from fastball to slider but command issues kept popping up until recently. Undoubtedly a top 5 in 2010. Coming on strong in '11.

10 - MANNY RAMIREZ Here's my NUMBER ONE overrated player. #2 isn't even close. Manny wore out his welcome in Boston. Connected numerous times to steroids/PED including back in April when he voluntarily retired instead of facing MLB disciplinary action for getting caught AGAIN! Injuries and suspensions highlighted his last few seasons. Tampa Bay gambled during the off-season and signed Manny as full time DH only to get burned by a player who NEVER respected the game, teammates, managers, fans and employers. A poster child for everything wrong with baseball. Good riddance!

Sports Illustrated photo gallery shows off 16 overrated players. You've read their top 10. The following are a couple of shockers....
13 - EVAN LONGORIA How in the world did Longoria make this list? Overrated? Not even overpaid! Great defense, big time offense, young player on the rise, plays with poise and produces in the clutch. What more can you want? Very surprising selection.

16 - ALBERT PUJOLS Ok, this poll lost all credibility when reading Pujols name. I defy anybody claim there's been a more consistent player over the past 11 years than Albert Pujols (career statistics). In 10 full seasons, 100 or more runs scored 9 times and scored 99 in only year below 100. Knocked in well over 100 runs every single season. Never batted below .312, plays solid defense, hits in the clutch, a team player. These are Lou Gehrig type numbers and to think anyone with any sort of baseball knowledge considers Pujols an overrated player speaks volumes to Sports Illustrated anonymous poll's credibility.


MLB All Star Game Voting Updates

Permalink 04:45:07 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Voting for baseball's 2011 All Star Game in Arizona is underway. Let the controversy begin. Every year we hear various folks questioning the ballot process. Should fans, players or MLB determine starters? It's an endless circle. Bottom line is there will never be 100% consensus on how the process should proceed.

The biggest of controversies always surround deserving players left out of the game in favor of a weaker performer who garnered more votes. Guess what folks? If you haven't noticed, All Star Game voting is based largely on player popularity. The best player doesn't always receive the most votes. It's a shame when players are left off AL/NL squads. But, it happens. Don't go pointing fingers at fan voting.

All Star Games have always been labeled "for the fans" so there should be no surprise when fan voting results don't necessarily represent the top players of the moment. It's up to the fans to select starters and only starters (25% of the team). So don't buy into fans keeping somebody out. Managers and MLB determine the final slots (reserves) and all pitchers. Plus, every team must be represented which further hinders the selection process.

The only problem I have is ballot box stuffing encouraged by MLB. There's no limit on how many paper ballots fans can fill out at stadiums around the leagues. Up to 25 ballots per email account can be submitted by online voters. So when a slew of players from a particular city lead in vote tallies it becomes obvious their fans are a bit more enthusiastic casting ballots. If you haven't voted yet... head over to for an online ballot or get out the your local stadium.

Here are the current voting results as of June 1, 2011 (as posted by

Russell Martin, Yankees: 843,459
Joe Mauer, Twins: 593,949
Alex Avila, Tigers: 407,463
Carlos Santana, Indians: 395,892
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers: 337,737

Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 827,247
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: 685,262
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 657,594
Mitch Moreland, Rangers: 278,055
Adam Lind, Blue Jays: 256,782

Robinson Cano, Yankees: 1,185,952
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 586,361
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 502,012
Orlando Cabrera, Indians: 384,004
Ben Zobrist, Rays: 352,904

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 945,127
Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 755,551
Evan Longoria, Rays: 588,463
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: 491,422
Maicer Izturis, Angels: 199,423

Derek Jeter, Yankees: 931,410
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: 672,105
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 560,309
Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays: 320,874
Erick Aybar, Angels: 215,991

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 1,261,659
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 994,315
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 748,240
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 674,406
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 514,006
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: 494,721
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 465,984
Grady Sizemore, Indians: 457,185
Carl Crawford, Red Sox: 440,626
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 407,517
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 370,989
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: 366,575
Sam Fuld, Rays: 310,520
J.D. Drew, Red Sox: 307,684
B.J. Upton, Rays: 277,173

Michael Young, Rangers: 646,979
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 618,609
Jorge Posada, Yankees: 414,733
Travis Hafner, Indians: 407,334
Johnny Damon, Rays: 353,340

Buster Posey, Giants: 785,314
Brian McCann, Braves: 633,987
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 595,576
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 354,680
Ramon Hernandez, Reds: 350,771

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: 988,784
Joey Votto, Reds: 806,346
Prince Fielder, Brewers: 540,269
Ryan Howard, Phillies: 521,220
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 200,886

Brandon Phillips, Reds: 837,778
Rickie Weeks, Brewers: 562,071
Chase Utley, Phillies: 561,585
Dan Uggla, Braves: 465,219
Freddy Sanchez, Giants: 347,713

Placido Polanco, Phillies: 724,724
Chipper Jones, Braves: 540,168
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 522,037
David Wright, Mets: 500,200
Scott Rolen, Reds: 370,271

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 975,777
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: 454,782
Jose Reyes, Mets: 408,699
Alex Gonzalez, Braves: 328,021
Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks: 303,811

Ryan Braun, Brewers: 971,809
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 927,778
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 872,434
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 776,971
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 549,215
Jason Heyward, Braves: 484,291
Shane Victorino, Phillies: 476,644
Carlos Beltran, Mets: 389,561
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: 354,231
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: 338,487
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 337,728
Jay Bruce, Reds: 337,380
Raul Ibanez, Phillies: 294,294
Drew Stubbs, Reds: 292,907
Martin Prado, Braves: 284,558


NBA & NHL Championship Predictions

Permalink 11:07:36 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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2010-11 basketball and hockey displayed jaw dropping highlights all year long. From pre-season NBA signing antics of LeBron James to Dirk's unbelievable Western Conference Championship performance leading the Mavs into the Finals. Miami's big 3 vs Dallas balanced attack promises to thrill viewers from minute to minute.

NHL ice action kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout playoff action. The Stanley Cup Finals displays two of the games gutsiest teams. Vancouver vs Boston will showcase hockey at its' very best.

So who will be crowned 2010-11 Champs?

Miami Heat vs Dallas Mavericks. Fans from both cities firmly believe their team is best. Miami has James, Wade and Bosh. Dallas has the deepest squad in the game led by Nowitzki and veteran PG Jason Kidd.
Miami's defense must be Johnny on the spot if the Heat expect to win it all. Dallas brings an excellent ball movement offense and aren't too shabby in the fast break category either.
For Dallas, eliminating unnecessary turnovers is a must or Miami will turn them all into fast break opportunities.
Defensive match-ups for both teams are challenging.
Dallas in 6!

Vancouver Canucks vs Boston Bruins
This will either be a very close series minute by minute or a Vancouver route. Boston defense and goal tending is tops. Vancouver's high flying offense will put them to the test. Bruins power play has been non-existent but they've overcome offensive deficiencies by playing stellar defense.
Two teams couldn't be more opposites than Boston and Vancouver. Here they are, going for it all.
I've been a big Bruins fan since the days of Esposito, Orr, Cheevers. Followed them intensely during the brutal 70's with O'Reilly, Milbury & Co. Then came the Ray Bourque era. Those days are long gone. Now's the time for the new look Bruins to plant a flag on their place in NHL history.
Bruins get it done in 7!


MLB: Memorial Day Power Rankings

Permalink 04:48:02 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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2011 has been a strange season. Baseball injury bugs are swarming. Players beware. Injuries are contagious. Multiple players have made visits to disabled lists around the league for oblique strains. Next up catchers. Buster Posey was lost for the year in a jarring home plate collision. Guess what happened next? Another trend. Catchers being lost by ankle and knee injuries due to collisions. Fantasy managers have their work cut out for themselves like never before. Injuries creating roster emergencies. It's been reported more than a few skippers absorbing up to 12 injuries at once decimating rosters leaving them to scramble for replacements.

Cleveland continues to dazzle. Phillies almost back at full strength. Mets announce a new minority owner. Yankees sliding. Red Sox surging. Time for power rankings (through games of 8/30/11):

1 - Philadelphia (34-20)
2 - Cleveland (31-19)
3 - St, Louis (32-22)
4 - Florida (30-21)
5 - Boston (30-23)
6 - Yankees (28-23)
7 - Arizona (29-24)
8 - Atlanta (30-25)
9 - Milwaukee (29-34)
10- Tampa Bay (28-24)

Happy Memorial Day Americans!


Wilpon Rips Mets Stars!

Permalink 09:29:26 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Popular consensus amongst prognosticators all agreed 2011 spelled doom and gloom for New York Mets chances of winning the NL East. A franchise in turmoil from team owners being sued for $1 billion to star players injured to begin the year (Santana, Beltran, Bay). As predicted, the Mets struggled to a 5-13 record through their first 18 games. Injuries keep popping up (Wright, Davis) but replacements have played very well. Bay and Beltran are back and contributing. New York's won 17 of 28 behind re-energized play and solid pitching performances.

Feeling good was not meant to least. Mets owner Fred Wilpon ripped New York's big three. Wilpon unleashed on Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright. New York talk radio lines were buzzing all morning tearing into the Mets new public enemy number one. Wilpon lashed out at the Mets calling his team "sh*tty" and much more in a New Yorker article.

On Jose Reyes, Wilpon chirped:

"He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money," Wilpon says, referring to Crawford's seven-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. "He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."

Regarding signing Carlos Beltran:

"We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He's 65 to 70 percent of what he was." A second shot at Beltran (which many fans may agree with was) referenced a bases loaded called third strike to end the 2006 NLCS.

All Star 3B David Wright:

"Really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."

Timing couldn't be worse for Mets players when things seemed to finally be getting better. How should players react to this outburst? You can bet they're pretty ticked off at the moment. A media circus will soon take off looking for comments from singled out stars. Don't be surprised if Reyes is the first demanding a trade. Jose's in a contract year (free agent in waiting after this season ends). Reyes is enjoying an All Star caliber season and many major league clubs are rumored to be in hot pursuit via trade. I'm hoping Reyes stays in the National League. He'll be another in a long history of former players exiting to greener pastures and stardom.

Wilpon's tenure has been nothing short of one disastrous move after another. True die-hard fans remain disgusted with CitiField. Here's a billion dollar tax payer funded park which disrespected the franchise it was intended. CitiField is nothing short of a homage to Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Wilpon is a frustrated Brooklyn fan. He wanted a replica Ebbett's Field built. So he built it. Problem is, the New York Mets play in Citi. The main entrance is a shrine to Jackie Robinson's Dodgers. In Citi's inaugural season, there was very little mention of anything Mets beyond souvenir shops. No recognition of 1969 & 1986 World Series Championships. No mention of pennant winning teams. Even outfield wall colors, and theme colors within the ballpark do not reflect Mets orange and blue. Visitors love the park. Mets fans remain disgusted and deeply disrespected.

Wilpon's latest published comments earned scorn from New Yorkers. It's time the Wilpon's and Katz' sell the Mets. This is the team they built. Can't point fingers at GM's, managers, players, etc. The buck stops with the boss. Wilpon's have destroyed a great franchise. Very poor decision making led to trades/signings of busts such as Roberto Alomar, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, JJ Putz, Luis Catillo, Oliver Perez and a host of others.

Wilpon's are Dodgers fans first, Mets second. Mets players and fans deserve better. Mets are in financial troubles and are looking for minority buyers. The best gift a Mets player and fan can receive would be for current ownership selling out completely, 100%. The current mess is too deep for Wilpon & Co. to rectify. Tough days ahead. Time to turn over the reigns and put the Wilpon years to rest.


Bronx Tales: Fans Stand with Jorge!

Permalink 08:23:52 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Jorge Posada's days as a New York Yankee may be concluding sooner than most expected. Jorge, always a fan favorite, will either be traded/released or given the ultimate insult by watching the Yanks acquire a new everyday pinch hitter.

In case your eyes were closed... Manager Girardi demoted Posada to 9th in the batter order a few days ago. An insulted Posada then begged out of the lineup which triggered a media flurry after a mid-game interview with GM Cashman suggested Jorge's pouting. The frenzy continued for a few days. Jorge apologized. Girardi was somewhat non-controversial during interviews. Captain Derek Jeter stood up for his teammate attempting to snuff out negativity before it took hold. (Let us not forget the very public negotiating sessions between Yanks brass and their Captain which left everyone scratching their heads. Jeter too began the year with a dreadful slump.) He did what every good team Captain should do.. stick up for his longtime teammate.

Posada is a Yankees legend. His resume is quite impressive: 17 seasons, 1748 games played, 4 World Series titles, 6 AL Pennants, 5 time All Star, 5 Silver Sluggers, 120 Playoff appearances, 267 HR's, .274 career BA, career .852 OPS.

NY Daily News reported there's been a rift between Girardi and Posada for years especially when it comes to calling games behind the plate. No wonder why Jorge's been relegated to full time DH. This was a slap in the face. A 16 year vet told he can no longer catch, ever. Not a single game. DH only. Like it or leave it. Posada should have been told maybe 2 or 3 games a week behind the plate and DH the rest. His 17th, and potentially final MLB season, has not been good. Posada ranks dead last in batting average. He'll no longer start games vs left handers (0-24). Slowly but surely Girardi is fading out Jorge.

Have Jorge's skills diminished to the point of deserving being forced out of the game? Absolutely not! Every player experiences a dry spell. Fine tuning his batting stance and attitude will go a long way. Perhaps, after the brouhaha, intense focus was found? Time will tell.

Yankees are no strangers to forcing out players. Bernie Williams lack of a contract offer woth plenty of swing left was tragic. Barely a farewell and thank you for being a top clutch performer throughout an illustrious career. Same was done to one of the "most feared hitters" of his generation, Jim Rice. Tom Seaver was left off the 1986 Red Sox post-season roster altogether. LaRussa vs Ozzie Smith was well publicized too.

Jorge has one option. Hit. Posada must get his head (and bat) 100% focused on baseball. If his average doesn't significantly improve before the All Star break then New York will make a move. For now, he's a left handed DH and occasional pinch hitter until things improve. Just in case the love of playing baseball is gone, then hang up your spikes with dignity and grace.

Yankees fans quickly forgave Posada. Number 20 is certain to receive a standing ovation when he steps to the plate at Yankee Stadium. New York fans love heroes. Jorge, now's your chance to go out in a blaze of glory. We'd all love to see your snap out of it and put up big numbers, win games and contribute towards another World Series Championship.


MLB Power Rankings, May 16

Permalink 12:23:02 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Baseball 2011 has featured drama on every front. Cold starts, hot streaks, franchise takeovers, 3 homer games, no hitters, suspensions, sudden retirements, fan beatings, injuries, team infighting and we're only in mid-May.

Philadelphia remains top dog in NL action. Cleveland owns top honors in AL play and owns the overall top record (25-13). Here's All World All Sports current Top 10:

1 - Philadelphia (25-15) Rotation leading the way. Team winning through injuries as champions often do.
2 - Cleveland (25-13) All pieces falling into place. How long will it last?
3 - Tampa Bay (24-17) Baseball's top team after beginning 0-6/1-8.
4 - Florida (23-16) It's been a team effort in baseball's toughest division.
5 - Cincinnati (24-17) Imagine if they had a true ace?
6 - Atlanta (24-19) Beachy on DL might cost a few wins.
7 - San Francisco (22-18) Giants need slugger.
8 - Colorado (21-18) All they need is a 3B able to hit above .240! Or, is it?
9 - St. Louis (23-19) Plenty of issues need addressing. Is shifting Pujols to 3B an answer?
10- Detroit (22-19) When will this team live up to potential?


Permalink 07:44:06 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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NBA Playoffs
Dallas Mavericks regular season play qualifies as one of the NBA's best this century. Playoff basketball has been another story. Early round upsets haunted this franchise in recent years. They're flying high now resting up for the Conference Finals after domination reigning back to back champion Los Angeles Lakers. Mavs players are back in Dallas attempting to remain focused awaiting their next opponent. Will it be vs cinderella Memphis or tough Oklahoma City? Dallas is firing on all cylindars. 2010-11 Mavs squad could possibly represent their deepest in team history. Is this their year? YES!

NHL Playoffs
Boston avenged their playoff disaster from one year ago by sweeping Philadelphia. Next up, Tampa Bay and I'd be very surprised if B's get bounced. They're ready for another Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
A great series is happening in the West. Detroit has rallied from 0-3 down to tie their series vs San Jose. Every game has been sensational. All hotly contested games including rebounding from a one goal deficit in Game 6. They're on a roll and will take the deciding game. However, Red Wings players might be physically and emotionally spent for the Conference Finals against a well rested Vancouver Canucks squad.

No Hitters - Minnesota's Francisco Liriano (May 3 vs Chicago) and Detroit's Justin Verlander (May 7 vs Toronto) added their names to the no-hitter record books. Verlander dominated Blue Jays hitters allowing only one walk while handcuffing one of baseball's most powerful lineups. Liriano's no-no was the result of effective wildness (6 walks).

Chaulk another stupid (pronounced stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupid) award. Minor leaguer Kevin Frandsen tested positive for performance enhansing drugs. Frandsen was playing for Phillies AAA affiliate hoping for a return to major league action. Forget it. How about a 50 game suspension instead? Anyone caught nowadays should be banned for no less than one full season.

Here's a story which I'm having trouble descerning truths from lies and distortions. One time beloved Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was indicted in Queens Supreme Court on charges that he criminally possessed nearly $2.3 million worth of game-used memorabilia, embezzled $24,955 from the Mets by submitting inflated expense claims and failing to report or pay taxes on $203,789 in tips and dues that he received from Mets players and others in 2008 and 2009. Found in Samuel's possession are various baseball artifacts from signed jerseys, bats, balls, autographs etc. Precisely what nearly every clubhouse attendant in MLB is sure to own or possess. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. How does one determine theft in a case such as this one? Also, there seems to be some sort of backstory involving a fued between embattled Mets owners and Samuels dating back years. Plenty of New York media attention sure to follow. Stay tuned for updates.


Mavs Sweep Classless, Goonish Lakers

Permalink 11:06:25 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Dallas Mavericks completely embarrassed, humiliated, out-played and out classed the Los Angeles Lakers. The wheels really fell off during Dallas' clinching 122-86 romp. Lakers players started taking cheap shots (hard fouls) against Mavs players. Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom lost their cool, if they ever had any, due to goon-like street basketball actions.

Odom's hard body slam blind-sided Dirk Nowitzki with just over 9 minutes remaining earning Lamar an ejection. Bynum soon followed after he lunged elbow first into the ribs of an airborne J.J Barea 40 seconds later. Bynum was quickly tossed. Hard to believe two players on a Phil Jackson coached team lost their cool in the same game, right? True until this series.

Dallas kept the Lakers off balance nearly the entire series. LA's defense was slow & looking a bit punch drunk. Slow off the dribble. Not hustling for rebounds. Not shutting down driving lanes. Very uncharacteristic to say the least. Gasol was reprimanded by Jackson so many times that I thought Phil was about to make him take a lap before play resumed.

Dallas drew first blood and went for the kill in Game 4. Mavs blew LA out in the 2nd quarter before things started turning ugly. Hats off to Dallas players for maintaining composure. LA provided Dallas every opportunity for retaliation. Smart Mavs players took the high road, kept their eyes on the bigger picture... winning an NBA Championship.

Stupidity reigns? Check out this ridiculous Bynum quote:

"We were getting embarrassed, they were breaking us down. So I just fouled somebody," Bynum said after the game. "I was just kind of salty about being embarrassed ... For me, it was embarrassing to have the smallest guy on the court keep running down the lane and making shots."

Simple question for the frustrated Laker. Why didn't anyone play defense against the "...smallest guy on the court running down the lane and making shots?" Perhaps, if Bynum stepped into the lane then running layups would be nullified? NBA Commissioner Stern should be handing out fines, suspensions soon. Not soon enough.

Dallas still has a long way to go. Their dismantling of LA in Phil Jackson's final series is no way for a legendary coach to end a fabulous career. Don't blame Phil. He's every bit as good as advertised. Dallas is simply a much better team.



MLB: All Injured Team

Permalink 09:18:55 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Baseball's injury bug is feasting on players once again in 2011 and showing no signs of slowing down. Managers are faced with plugging gaps trying to weather the storm. Fantasy managers are going nuts attempting to re-shape rosters built around sluggers spending more time on the bench than in line-ups.

How will significant injuries impact teams? Will GN's start trading to fill gaps? They will, and already have, in fantasy land.

Here's my "All Injured Team" of 2011.

1B - Kendry Morales (LAA)
2B - Chase Utley (PHI)
3B - Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
SS - JJ Hardy (BAL)
LF - Josh Hamilton (TEX)
CF - Angel Pagan (NYM)
RF - Franklin Gutierrez (SEA)
C - Joe Mauer (MIN)
DH - Jim Thome (MIN)
SP - Adam Wainwright (STL)
CL - Brad Lidge (PHI)



NBA Playoff Predictions - Conference Semifinals

Permalink 12:16:26 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Ready. Set. Go. Great Semifinal games on deck. The first round of NBA Playoffs produced one huge upset. Memphis knocked off #1 seed San Antonio for their first ever playoff series victory. How far can they go?

Time for round two. Great match-ups will produce thrilling games. Prediction time...

Boston vs Miami - Much anticipated series will not disappoint... unless you live in South Florida. Miami's big 3 up against one of the best defenses. Boston has more than 3 big time players including one of the leagues deepest benches. Celtics in 5.

Chicago vs Atlanta - #1 seed Chicago dominated Atlanta in regular season action. Chicago is destined for East Conference Finals. Atlanta is a great team but no match for Bulls defense. Chicago sweep.

Los Angeles vs Dallas - By far the best semi's match-up. How far can the Lakers go? Can Dallas finally shake their playoff failures? Mavs are one of NBA's best teams. Deep & talented but always seem to find new ways to blow playoff series. Lakers are one of the best taking advantage of opponents weaknesses. Lakers bend but don't break D snarls opponents in late game situations. This one will go the distance. Lakers big game pressure wins vs Mavs big game pressure chokes. Lakers in 7.

Oklahoma City vs Memphis - OKC had no problem sending Denver packing in 5. Memphis stunned top seeded San Antonio. Memphis beat OKC in 3 of 4 regular season games. Each game of this series will come down to the final possession. Grizzlies hungry, determined, win in 6.



NHL Playoff Predictions: Conference Semifinals

Permalink 04:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

NHL players, coaches & teams treated us to a sensational opening quarterfinal round of playoff hockey. Boston and Montreal went Mano-a-Mano in classic Bruins vs Canadiens fashion. Boston dropped the first two games before rallying back and winning game 7 in overtime.

Semifinal action up next. Series match-ups couldn't be better.

(1) Washington vs (5) Tampa Bay. Caps won 4 of 6 regular season meetings and are well rested after besting Rangers in 5. Tampa needed 7 in their opening round stunner over Pittsburgh. Two hot teams. This one will go the distance. Washington in 7.

(2) Philadelphia vs (3) Boston. Another great match-up featuring two old rivals. Boston vs Philly 70's hockey usually led to plenty of gashes, stitches, bruises, high sticks... basically, something resembling the movie "Slap Shot". Nowadays, they play great hockey minus goons-manlike actions. Boston has a score to settle after chocking last year. Bruins led the series 3-0. Then, after Philly forced a game 7, Boston led the deciding game 3-0. Guess what? A monster sized choke and the Flyers were soon celebrating on center ice.
Boston gets redeemed. Bruins prevail in a classic hard fought 7 game series victory.

(1) Vancouver vs (5) Nashville. Canucks nearly gave away their opening round series vs arch rival Chicago. Nashville recorded playoff series victory number one. Who wants it more? I'd bet most eyes are focused on other series. This one will be just as great. Vancouver in 6.

(2) San Jose vs (3) Detroit. Detroit's the most well rested team standing in the playoffs right now. They're exceptional in post-season play. San Jose took 3 of 4 regular season games. However, this is playoff hockey. SJ bested Detroit last year. Detroit will not let it happen again. Red Wings in 5.



Baseball Power Rankings

Permalink 05:48:01 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

The 2011 Major League Baseball season is well underway. The calendar will soon ring in a new month. April showers delivered a little relief for teams battling early season injury bugs. What's in store for May?

Plenty of baseball news from slow starting clubs expected to excel (Boston, Tampa Bay) to a few surprise teams attempting to resurrect flailing franchises (Kansas City, Washington). Injury bug biting hard. AL MVP Hamilton leads the list consisting of Aaron Hill, Scott Rolen, Chase Utley, Ryan Zimmerman, Angel Pagan, Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria, Neftali Feliz, Phil Hughes and Andrew Bailey. So how have teams fared dealing with distractions?

Baseball Power Rankings
1 - Phillies (15-6). MLB's top rotation will keep Phil's #1 all year long unless injuries take over. Utley's been missed but team is responding.
2 - Rangers (14-7). Rangers lost Hamilton. Now closer Feliz is gone. Rangers rotation got off to a flying start. How will they hold up during scorching 100+ degree Texas summer? Time will tell. For now, all systems go on offense.
3 - Rockies (14-7). Colorado's trying something new, 1st place in April. Maybe they've figured out winning in April is every bit as important as winning in September. Rockies getting the job done without much from staff ace Jiminez.
4 - Yankees (12-6). Yankees taking advantage of slow starts by Boston & Tampa. Surviving a less than stellar starting rotation which has impressed during season's opening few weeks. Lineup is one of most feared in the game.
5 - Marlins (13-7). Not many expected Florida to be this high up on the list. Hanley Ramirez hasn't been his usual self. Marlins doing what Marlins to best... playing "team" baseball. Keep an eye on these guys.
6 - Indians (13-8). Here's a team completely surprising us. Team defense has much to do with their success. Outfielders thwarting opposing base-runners. Pitchers getting it done. Timely hitting too. Can it last? Doubt it but fans in Cleveland having fun for now.
7 - Tigers (12-10). Detroit riding a mild 4 game win streak. Does this mean they've shaken off early season blues? Injuries to key players have forced different lineups nearly every night. Pitchers finally beginning to perform.
8 - Cardinals (12-10). It's been the Lance Berkman show. Pujols might miss a few days with a sore hammy. Bullpen is biggest question mark at the moment.
9 - Royals (12-10). Kansas City has a nucleus of fine young players. It's all about pitching for these guys. If starters can finally deliver then good days await. If not, then these guys will sink. There's not middle ground here.
10- Angels (12-10). Weaver will most likely finish April as Pitcher of the Month. Streaky LA came out of the gates on fire. Now riding a 4 game slide. Vern Wells has been an early season bust. Angels counting on big things when Morales finally returns from his grand slam celebratory broken ankle.

Keep an eye on... Brewers, Dodgers, A's & Rays.



Best Sports Movies of All Time - Top 50

Permalink 01:45:56 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

It's been way too long while since Hollywood rolled out a quality sports movie. Many sports flicks from the past have been very inspirational. Some had us rooting for the underdog. Others rekindled fond memories from our youth. A few told stories of perseverance during life's difficult challenges. The best of the best resulted in a common theme among viewers. The good films always left us wanting more.

"All World All Sports" Top 50:

1 - Rocky (1976)
2 - Field of Dreams (1989)
3 - Bull Durham (1988)
4 - Raging Bull (1980)
5 - The Hustler (1961)
6 - The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
7 - Brian's Song (1970)
8 - Hoosiers (1986)
9 - Seabiscuit (2003)
10- Soul of the Game (1996)
11- Cinderella Man (2005)
12- North Dallas Forty (1976)
13- The Longest Yard (1974)
14- Remember the Titans (2000)
15- The Bad News Bears (1976)
16- Slap Shot (1977)
17- We Are Marshall (2006)
18- Eight Men Out (1988)
19- On The Waterfront (1954)
20- The Natural (1984)
21- Radio (2003)
22- Million Dollar Baby (2004)
23- A League of Their Own (1994)
24- Rudy (1993)
25- The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
26- Friday Night Lights (2004)
27- For The Love of The Game (1999)
28- The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
29- Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
30- 61* (2001)
31- Rocky II (1979)
32- Finding Forrester (2000)
33- Downhill Racer (1969)
34- Chariots of Fire (1981)
35- Horse Feathers (1932)
36- Damn Yankees (1958)
37- Knute Rockne All American (1940)
38- Caddyshack (1980)
39- Miracle (2004)
40- Any Given Sunday (2004)
41- Jerry McGuire (1997)
42- Tin Cup (1996)
43- Cool Runnings (1993)
44- Paper Lion (1968)
45- Major League (1989)
46- Victory (1981)
47- Bang The Drum Slowly (1973)
48- Caddyshack (1980)
49- When We Were Kings (1996)
50- Vision Quest (1985)



Dodger Blues

Permalink 01:32:08 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Major League Baseball has taken over day to day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers. An ugly divorce battle between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt have fueled speculation the team was in financial crisis. McCourt reportedly borrowed $50million recently from Fox Sports to meet payroll and was seeking $200million advance payment on television royalties which was subsequently rejected by Commissioner Selig.

There's been plenty of turmoil in LA. McCourt's divorce. A Giants fan critically beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Payroll concerns. Dwindling attendance. Selig thought it was time to step in as this once proud franchise teeters with doom.

"Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club," Selig said in a statement. (

So what becomes of the Dodgers? LA is a lucrative franchise in a prominent city. Buyers should be lining up at the door. Speaking of buyers, all's quiet in New York these days. Mets brass may soon fall under the direction of MLB too if they're not careful. Mets are in steep financial decline rocked by ownerships Madoff association.

Dodger Blues haven't sang this loud since Walter O'Malley & Robert Moses stomped on thousands of Brooklyn hearts many years ago.



2011 NBA Playoff Predictions

Permalink 03:40:46 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

NBA Playoff basketball is about to begin. Grab a seat and catch all the action. Some great opening round series set to thrill. Don't get overly excited expecting upsets. Then again, over confident teams beware.

Chicago (62-20) vs Indiana (37-45). The new era of Chicago Bulls basketball has arrived. Bulls own NBA's best record. No let up here. Indiana outclassed. Bulls in 4

Orlando (52-30) vs Atlanta (44-38). Atlanta won the season series 3-1. Expect more of the same as Orlando's playoff misfortunes soon to be highlighted once again. Atlanta in 6.

Miami (58-24) vs Philadelphia (41-41). Is Miami deep enough to win playoff games? Much publicity surrounding this group. Wade, LeBron & Bosh answered the challenge once. Can they do it again. 76ers lucky to be here. Miami rolls in 4.

Boston (56-26) vs New York (42-40). It's been a long time coming. Boston vs New York playoff basketball resumes as the Knicks earned their first post-season trip since '03-04. This was also NY's first winning season in 10 years. Boston is struggling. Can NY pull off a big 1st round upset? Time will tell. Boston in 7.

San Antonio (61-21) vs Memphis (46-36). Spurs too good to think Memphis has any chance. Spurs sweep.

Los Angeles (57-25) vs New Orleans (46-36). Lakers team is aged, tired and banged up. NO is hungry. The stage is set for an early round upset. Don't bet on it. Lakers own Hornets. LA in 5.

Dallas (57-25) vs Portland (48-34). No team wanted to open up against a hot Portland club. Dallas/Portland split their season series 2 apiece. They match up evenly. Dallas' playoff failures well documented. Get ready to add another chapter. Portland in 7.

Oklahoma City (56-27) vs Denver (50-32). Pick'em. This series matches up evenly on paper. One of the most over looked series outside of respective home cities. Don't miss the action. These teams will thrill. OKC in 7.



In Case You Missed It...

Permalink 07:45:39 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

April's been an action packed month of sports news. Highlights and low-lights splashing sports pages throughout our country. Here's a few eye catchers.

Barry Bonds found guilty of obstruction of justice on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the same jury was unable to reach a verdict on three other counts that the juiced up home run king lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly using steroids and human growth hormone. Bonds was aided by non-testimony of his sullied friend & trainer Greg Anderson who was in jail for the trial after refusing to testify effectively blocking potentially damaging evidence against Bonds. The judge "... would not let prosecutors present evidence of three alleged positive drug tests by Bonds because his personal trainer and childhood friend, Greg Anderson, refused to testify and there was no one to confirm the samples came from Bonds." ( Barry will forever be tainted and it's about time Major League Baseball recognizes Hank Aaron as the games true home run king.

The Masters
Any viewer lucky enough to watch Sunday's Masters finale witnessed a spectacular finish. Rory McIlroy was in command at -11 heading into final round action. One missed swing after another quickly shattered visions of glory. Before it was over McIlroy limped into the clubhouse after shooting an 80. Eventual champion Charl Schwartzel proceeded to steal the show with 4 consecutive birdies on the final 4 holes to earn his first Green Jacket! Tiger Woods thrilled fans with a super five under front nine. Schwartzel was hottest and walked off the 18th hole with a much deserved victory.

It didn't take long for injury bugs to swirl around the league. 2010 MVP Josh Hamilton was involved in the dumbest play of 2011. Hamilton was standing on third with one out. Adrian Beltre batting and a red hot Nelson Cruz on deck. Beltre skied one in foul territory near the third base dugout. For some strange reason, Texas 3B coach Dave Anderson instructed Hamilton to tag up and attempt scoring. When all was said and done Hamilton was out by a mile and broke his upper right arm. The AL's reigning MVP is now out for at least 8 weeks and probably longer. What major league coach tells a runner to tag up on a 30 foot foul pop to kill an inning? And... now Texas is without their top threat. Absolutely unbelievable. Hamilton did err on the play too. He dove head first into home plate. Big mistakes all around. Anderson should be demoted on sheer stupidity!

NFL and NFLPA are no closer to reaching a new collective bargaining agreement. Good news though. Even though a 2011 season seems doomed not to exist... the NFL released a pre-season schedule. Hmm, perhaps it's time owners started thinking of replacement players.

NHL - NBA Playoffs
Will new champions be crowned in the 2010-11 playoff season? If you're a hockey or hoops fan then buckle up for great first round match-ups. NHL Eastern Conference games don't get any better than this: Boston vs Montreal, Rangers vs Washington and Buffalo vs Philadelphia bring back memories of 70's era classic games. The faces may have changed but bet your bottom dollar the intensity hasn't.
NBA regular season ends this evening. Only playoff seeds remain to be determined.

Kobe Bryant Slur
NBA fines Kobe $100,000 for a gay slur. Are you kidding me? Just how overly sensitive has the USA become? Kobe did not rant. He did not storm the court flailing away screaming obscenities. Here's an athlete who muttered one word during the heat of battle. BIG DEAL. Evidently, the NBA though it was a big enough deal to levy a six digit fine. In a world where freedoms are being taken away day by day this one smarts. I do not condone what Kobe said. Not one bit. However, does it warrant a six digit fine? (Or any fine for that matter?). Not a chance. Kobe's apologized and is currently attempting damage control. Had Kobe made an issue or refused an apology or deeper inflamed a situation then "maybe" league intervention could be tolerated. Not like this. No how. No way. "Hey Commissioner Stern... you're....!"



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

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1 - Vancouver
2 - Washington
3 - San Jose
4 - Detroit
5 - Boston
6 - Pittsburgh
7 - Philadelphia
8 - Anaheim
9 - Nashville
10- Los Angeles

1 - San Antonio
2 - Chicago
3 - Dallas
4 - Miami
5 - Lakers
6 - Boston
7 - Oklahoma City
8 - Orlando
9 - Denver
10- Portland

1 - Philadelphia
2 - Texas
3 - Colorado
4 - Cleveland
5 - Baltimore
6 - Cincinnati
7 - White Sox
8 - Dodgers
9 - Yankees
10- Kansas City

NCAA Baseball
1 - Virginia
2 - Vanderbilt
3 - South Carolina
4 - Florida
5 - Texas
6 - Arizona State
7 - Texas A&M
8 - Florida State
9 - Fresno State
10- Oklahoma


2010-11 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

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Playoff hockey is here. Get set for classic opening round series. No sure bets as teams get ready to lace'em up on the road to the Stanley Cup.

Here's how the first round will play out.
Boston survives a classic series against one of their longest rivals. Bruins 4 games to 3.
Buffalo is hot, Philly is not. Sabres over Flyers in 6.
Capitals finally find their playoff legs. Washington over Rangers in 7.
Penguins vs Tampa Bay will net many goals. Each game a shootout, Penguins prevail in 6.
Chicago will continue dominating Vancouver. 'Hawks in 5.
Sharks offense clearly outshines LA. San Jose in 5.
Never count Detroit out in playoff hockey. 'Wings in 5.
Every game was a must win down the stretch for Anaheim and they responded by winning 15 of 20. Ducks will not be contained. Anaheim in 6.



Two Time Loser Manny Ramirez Escapes Sentencing!

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Manny Ramirez retired in disgrace Friday. Good riddance! Ramirez was facing a record 100 game ban by Major League Baseball after a spring training drug test came up positive for performance-enhancing drugs, again. Another steroids era junky bites the dust.

"Manny being Manny." How many times have we heard that saying during Ramirez conflicted career? Manny was usually being selfish and stupid. His outstanding statistical career officially forever tainted. Be cautioned not to dismiss Boston's World Series curse ending season too quickly. All teams were juicing up. Personally, the entire era should be thrown out. Mark McGwire vs Sammy Sosa chase of Roger Maris single season 61 home run record was a farce. Barry Bonds, farce. Owners and Bud Selig escaping their direct involvement and knowledge of steroids ruling the day for personal greed was criminal.

Manny's actions wore thin on Boston teammates. LA was fed up with Manny's attitude (and 50 game PED suspension). Tampa Bay took a $2million gamble nonetheless. It was a one week strike out. Another bridge burned. Another steroid star bites the dust. Barry Bonds must be relieved focus shifted away for one day.

One can always hope Hall of Fame voters forever banish all artificially juiced players. A scandalous era forever erasing legendary names from all time top lists. Enjoy your retirement on the lam Manny.



Rays, Red Sox Winless

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Early season blues biting AL East favorites Tampa Bay and Boston. General managers from both clubs kept busy during the off-season re-arranging their rosters. The pieces are slow to gel.

AL East is on it's head from a year ago. Boston and Tampa dead last (0-5). Baltimore and Toronto tied for first (4-1) as Yanks (3-2) stay close behind. Hometown newspapers buzzing loudly as poor play rules the day.

No need for panic. It's only the first week of a new season. Tell it to the fans. Manny Ramirez already hearing boo-birds. Sox papers calling their heroes woeful. Offenses for both clubs sputtering. Tampa's notched 7 runs in 5 games. B.J. Upton (.333) represents the only starter batting over .176. Boston's plated an unimpressive 16 while pitchers battered for 37 against (8.16 ERA).

Everyone expects winning ways to bless these teams. Good news for Boston. They're about to begin a 10 game home stand against division rivals. New York (3), Tampa (3) & Toronto come to town. Sox pitchers better bring their A games against powerhouse Yanks and Jays. Tampa has a very tough stretch coming up. Four games in Chicago before heading to Boston (3). Things won't get any easier if the Rays keep losing. Minnesota comes to town for four followed by a four game rematch against Chicago.

2011 getting late early? Time will tell.



Orioles Flying High

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Buck Showalter has re-invented Baltimore Orioles (4-0) baseball. Hustling, pitching, fielding, working counts and having fun. Buck's no nonsense approach is undefeated.

It's been a generation since Baltimore played respectable baseball before showing a glimmer of hope after Showalter took over late in 2010. Baltimore's surrendered a league low 4 runs through four games (1.00 ERA). Their bats have been doing just enough. Once heavy hitters break out the lumber things will get interesting in a hurry.

Just how good this team is remains to be seen. Lineup and defense are solid. All question marks revolve around O's starting rotation. So far so good. Let's see how they fare against Red Sox and Yankees lineups. Orioles first major litmus test is April 12 in the Bronx.



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers: NBA & NHL

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1 - San Antonio
2 - Lakers
3 - Chicago
4 - Miami
5 - Boston
6 - Dallas
7 - Oklahoma City
8 - Orlando
9 - Denver
10- Atlanta

1 - Vancouver
2 - Washington
3 - Detroit
4 - Philadelphia
5 - Pittsburgh
6 - San Jose
7 - Boston
8 - Tampa Bay
9 - Los Angeles
10- Phoenix



2011 Major League Baseball Predictions

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It's time. Major League Baseball's 2011 regular season is ready to begin. Buckle up for another thrilling season. 2010 was dubbed "Year of the Pitcher" after hurlers tossed gems including a bunch of no-hitters. What's in store for this season? Our "Spring Training Spotlight" will continue. Right now, it's time to predict how the 2011 season shakes out.

American League
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox*

Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians

Oakland A's
Los Angeles Angels
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners

National League
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves*
Florida Marlins
New York Mets
Washington Nationals

St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates
Houston Astros

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

AL MVP: Carl Crawford (Bos)
AL Cy Young; Gio Gonzales (Oak)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols (StL)
NL Cy Young: Tim Hudson (Atl)
World Series: Dodgers over A's



Spring Training Spotlight: Kansas City Royals

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There was a time when the Kansas City Royals were one of baseball's most exciting teams. Fans of the 70's/80's era remember well many famous thrilling battles against the New York Yankees. Their franchise record 102 win season of 1977. World Series victory over state rival St. Louis in 1985 and a long list of fan favorite players.

It's been a very long time since Kansas City's glory years. Only three winning seasons since 1990. Over the years future stars washed out. Current stars bolted. Team finances and ownership concerns. Dwindling attendance. There was even a period of time when ownership entertained moving the franchise.

2011 represents a new season filled with hope and renewed enthusiasm. Former players and coaches are praising this young Royals team. Quite a few recent KC squads were praised in recent years. What's the difference between recent past lip service and current prognostications? Talent.

Poor pitching and weak team defense haunted this club for years. Pitching talent is nothing to write home about but will receive a boost with solid gloves backing them up and making plays for a change. Luke Hockevar, Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies and Vin Mazzaro represent their projected rotation. Who? 2011 rests on their shoulders. For better or worse. None posted any sort of consistency in their short careers. KC's bullpen has talent and every bit of it will be needed to shut down hitters when starters struggle. Manager Ned Yost hopes relievers aren't burnt out by over use before the All Star break. Royals hidden strength is opponents over confidence vs perennial losers.

Royals starting lineup is young, aggressive and tearing it up in Cactus League games. Don't go rushing to draft Royals hitters for your fantasy team because of the spring power numbers. Their stats are inflated due to playing games in hitter friendly Arizona. However, this new group of KC hitters will score plenty of runs in 2011. Around the horn: (1B) Kila Ka'aihue, (2B) Mike Aviles, (SS) Alcides Escobar, (3B) Wilson Betemit. This crew comes to play. If spring plate discipline carries over into regular season games then opposing pitchers will have their hands full. Batting coach Kevin Seitzer installed a new attitude into these young hitters. Results have been great so far.

Roaming the spacious outfield in Kauffman Stadium will be (LF) Alex Gordon, (CF) Melky Cabrera & (RF) Jeff Francouer. Melky's spring has many wondering if this former Yankees future star finally put it all together. He's ripping everything in site this spring. Spending time with Seitzer and legendary George Brett is paying early dividends.

How many wins Kansas City records after 162 games is anyone's guess. Expect a new look team. New found enthusiasm. Better chemistry. Greater talent. There's finally a reason to watch Royals games again.



Should NFL Ban Tackling, Adopt Flag Rules?

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NFL competition committee activism strikes again. Under the guise of making kickoffs safer, kickoffs now originate from the 35 yard line beginning next season (currently at 30). The goal is to cut down the number of player concussions by limiting returns. Kickoffs from the 30 had 16% non-returns. Expect this number to skyrocket into 40% or greater whenever NFL resumes play effectively eliminating one of the most important part of football games, special teams. Also, no long running starts by coverage teams. Only 5 yards leading up to kickoffs instead of current 10-15 yards.

I do not support changing how the game of football is played. I'm all for protecting players, 100%, while in complete disagreement over how the league has chosen to do so.

Here's a catch-22. The league moves back kickoffs to cut down on injuries? Really? Then why not properly introduce for voting independent proposal's to outlaw players launching to make hits and expanding the definition of a defenseless receiver? Perhaps the two most important factors in preventing blows to the head weren't even considered because they were attached to rules ultimately defeated in committee.

Politics of football. NFL celebrates fewer kickoff returns as a battle won vs concussions? Are you kidding me? Oh, I see, kicking off from the 35 is more advantageous than eliminating hitting defenseless players? Or "launch" hits? Hmmm, one now begs to question why direct rules protecting players weren't written independently especially if stated goals are to protect players? Now, key elements of player safety become deferred to a later date.

Now for a little hard core facts. In a perfect world concussions arising from playing football would never occur. We don't live in a perfect world. Football players "accept" harsh realities of the game from pee-wee through the pro's. Injuries happen. Accidents happen. Injuries are part of life. Going to the grocery store can easily become treacherous. Football's risks are well recorded and understood. Changing basic strategic rules of the game does not increase or decrease injuries. Owners and various committee's would be best served not altering basic game strategies using politically correct language summarizing changes with little or no effect towards desired results.

Effective attempts to reduce injuries include rules eliminating specific blocks, hits to the head, defenseless hits, late hits, fighting etc have been received well by all in the football community.

Instead, we're now getting swift rebukes from some of football's elite return specialists who today learned their opportunities were severely reduced. The game will change and they don't like it. Twitter accounts on fire. I don't blame them one bit.

The Chicago Bears' Devin Hester also blasted the rule change in a radio interview with ESPN 1000 in Chicago.

"They're going too far. They're changing the whole fun of the game," Hester said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show." "Fans come out -- especially in Chicago -- to see returns. That's one of the key assets to the team. Fans [like] our big returns. You take that out of the game, not only do they kick it out of bounds when it's time to punt the ball, now you get the disadvantage on kickoffs. We felt we were guaranteed [a chance] on kickoff returns and now you're taking that away, it's like you're taking the whole return game out of the picture."

If the NFL is going to take this route then perhaps we can eliminate all injuries by outlawing tackling altogether. Why tackle? Just give players a little red flag to attach on hips and let's play ball! Might as well. How about the new college style playoff overtime rules? We got lucky not to see any last season. Just wait until it finally comes into play. It's a fiasco in the making. Don't change the game, fix the problem!



Spring Training Spotlight: Seattle Mariners

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Seattle Mariners management, players and fans thought 2010 was going to be a great season. Seattle turned heads after a busy off season acquiring prime time players. Ichiro and Figgins were to be baseball's best top of the lineup 1-2 punch. Griffey was to have one more productive season. Bradley's dugout troubles left behind. A revamped pitching staff to shut down opponents. Instead, just about everything that could go wrong did. Clubhouse fights, backstabbing comments, ineffective manager and poor team attitudes all directly led to a team full of playoff promise crashing and burning. Seattle lost 101 games in 2010. 2011 isn't looking much better.

Seattle ia an AL West afterthought heading into 2011. Division rival Texas, Los Angeles and Oakland are sporting tough playoff caliber rosters. All improved by way of off season wheeling and dealing. Seattle lost money hand over fist in '10. M's remained relatively quiet this past winter instead of chancing duplicating another year of signing non-performing high priced players.

If the Mariners were smart they would dangle superstars Ichiro Suzuki or Felix Hernandez attempting to pull off a Herschel Walker type of trade. Two players at the top of their game could land plenty of talent from draft picks to rising stars. Seattle fans might revolt at first but, in the long run, this type of deal would reap long term results if handled correctly.

What's up for 2011? Starting rotation anchored by Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. Felix has lived up to all expectations and is far from reaching his prime. Tough knocks probably awaiting remaining starters. Fister, Vargas & Pauley face a daunting task of taming strong opposing lineups. No bullpen help to be found once starters tumble. Seattle's team ERA will be ugly.

It's tough to decipher how Seattle will score runs consistently from game to game. Huge question marks at every single position except for Ichiro in RF. 3B Figgins is coming off a career worst season. 1B Smoak, tagged as a future star, has struggled mightily during early stages of his career. SS is an offensive and defensive disaster with the Wilson's. Anyone's guess as to who will start at 2B. Seattle's around the horn combination is the weakest bunch of hitters and fielders in baseball. None are known for their defensive prowess. Only unproven strikeout artist Smoak offers power potential. None carry high OBA to the dish.

Ichiro's bat and absolutely stellar defense is the long bright spot. Michael Saunders figures to get opening day honors as starting LF. M's have been high on this unproductive kid. He looks lost as a major leaguer. CF sports another underachiever, Franklin Gutierrez. M's need these guys to mature quickly. Hot head locker room distraction Milton Bradley returns after a tumultuous 2010 campaign. He's competing for plate appearances against new DH Jack Cust.

Manager Eric Wedge hopes negatives turn to positives. Good luck. It's going to be a very long season. 100 losses nearly inevitable. A collectively weaker than most hitting, pitching and fielding units equates to doom and gloom. It's been a long time since predicting a team to lose 105-110 games. If ever there was a team suited to challenge Detroit's 2003 record for losses in a single season (119)... this is it.


Spring Training Spotlight: New York Mets

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Is there any magic left in Flushing? The ugliness known as the New York Mets has been well documented in blogs of mine. I've reserved nearly all vitriolic editorials squarely at management. By the way, Mets hierarchy and partners received yet another jolt Friday. The Madoff trustee assigned to recoup victims funds upped the ante to one billion dollars citing too cozy of a relationship between the parties. Plenty of suitors will be ready, willing and able for a shot at purchasing the Mets. Wilpon's have destroyed a proud franchise dragging it down to a laughingstock among those of us paying attention. Bad contracts, Madoff accusations, CitiField, minors in shambles, off field distractions, receiving operating loans from MLB and the list goes on. It's time for this crew to suck it up and step aside.

Enough of the sideshow. Let's talk Mets baseball. Leading off with their negatives. Carlos Beltran cannot be counted on contributing again. His knee is shot. Lost CF duties and can't even suit up to get comfortable in RF. He's done. It's not 2B for recently cut Luis Castillo. A talented player looked lost as a Met. Can Jose Reyes remain healthy for a change? He's a vital key to New York's attack. His certain all star career status has tarnished via considerable time spent on disabled lists. Southpaw supreme Santana's injury rehab has come under microscopic scrutiny of late. Rumors suggesting serious setbacks have been flatly denied by Mets brass never known for preaching truths. Mets bonus babies spent more time off the field than on. Pedro Martinez, Mo Vaughn, Carlos Delgado, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Johann Santana and then last season's blowup by closer Rodriguez.

Is anyone out there expecting New York to succeed on any meaningful level in 2011? Mets players know the answer. No. This is New York's greatest strength. No one will see them coming. Mets have a great shot at a hot start setting the tone for determining 2011 baseball. Laugh if you must. Yes, they're an admitted long shot and I'm not jumping on their bandwagon yet. Just consider this....

Starting rotation puts fear into nobody. Starters would be wise to use this to their advantage when hitters aren't expecting much of a challenge. Good pitching wins games. Mets pitchers have given away a ton of games by not throwing strikes. Walks, hit batters, wild pitches and balks all contributed to failures. Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese, R.A. Dickey and Chris Young are starters 1 through 4. Not household names by any means. But, they're good. If they can keep counts in their favor, avoid walks, throw strikes and get a solid dose of defense.... ? ? ?

Offense never found consistent rhythm in '10 largely due to injuries. They're supposed to be healthy and ready to resume doing what they do best. All eyes are on the new 2B competition. Castillo was cut opening the door for Luis Hernandez and Justin Turner to compete to become New York's newest second sacker. Reyes, Bay and team leader Wright are their most recognizable national names. Locally, fans should be confident Angel Pagan is quite capable of handling CF. 1B Ike Davis will be a mainstay for many years to come. Biggest question marks are 2B and C. Can Thole and Nickeas handle the load of playing everyday and managing an unproven pitching staff? Mets lineup has the ingredients to create havoc. Like I said earlier.. what makes this team dangerous is nobody expecting them to play well. Hitters might get lucky enough to see better pitches (challenged more often). Mets must capitalize on nearly every run producing situation if they're to have any shot at challenging for playoff possibilities.

There's a new sheriff in town going by the name of Manager Collins. He laid the law down early. 2011 is about on-field productions. Not off field distractions (guaranteed to be plentiful). Captain David Wright made a bold statement on day one of spring training. It's an old phrase with heavy importance for teammates. "Put up or shut up!" By all reasonable estimates, I pin New York's season on being lucky enough to squeak out 70-75 wins. A hot April start could quickly turn losers into believers. There's talent to be found but it must be a team effort. Hitting and running. Good outs which advance runners vs an over abundance of worthless strikeouts. Pitchers must throw strikes and stay ahead of hitters. Pretty much the same philosophy every manager attempts to drill into players heads. Mets have to want it more.

In my book, Mets starting rotation is the single biggest key. NL East is loaded with some the leagues best hurlers. Halladay, Oswalt, Lee, Hamels, Hudson, Hanson and Johnson. Time for Pelfrey, Niese, Dickey and Young to step up and deliver career years. Look for the Mets to be baseball's biggest trade deadline seller's if they fall behind early. Bay & Reyes will be easiest to unload. Wright doesn't want to go. Seaver didn't either so anything's possible. A slow beginning will assure this club of 90+ losses. A long April win streak could transform the New York Mets into baseball's uplifting story of the year. Time will tell.



In Case You Missed It...

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March Madness has arrived. Time for the best of the best in college basketball to rise to the top. Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh & Duke represent this year's tourney number one seeds. Will one of the favorites win it all or will a long shot peel off upset after upset? Thousands of fans entered their predictions in office pools and online forums hoping to walk away with a few extra bucks. Even President Obama, with the world on fire from wars to earthquakes to nuclear meltdowns, found time from his busy vacation schedule to create a self fulfilling bracket selection video. Too bad he's not as energetic when it comes to restoring fiscal stability to the United States!

Phillies players, coaches and fans have good reason to be concerned about Chase Utley's injury. There's a good chance he'll begin 2011 on the disabled list. His achy knee will probably be a chronic problem throughout the year. The Phils are cash strapped and publicly state they're not interested in any trades at this point to fill voids created by injury. 3B Polanco gave everyone a scare when coming up lame (elbow). He'll be ready to go after a few days rest. Utley is the main concern. His injury creates lineup and defensive problems while creating an excellent opportunity for NL East opponents to challenge for division title honors.

One of baseball's all time greatest players retired without much fanfare last year. Just the way he wanted. Ken Griffey, Jr. remained silent on his retirement until today. "I just felt that it was more important for me to retire and instead of being a distraction, it no longer became the Seattle Mariners, it became, 'When is Ken doing this? When is Ken doing that?' and that's something I didn't want to have my teammates, who I truly cared about, having to answer these types of questions day in and day out," Griffey said in Peoria, Ariz. "Second, I gave myself a little bit of a head start. There are a lot of people that are friends of mine that would have tried to talk me out of it. And I just felt that it was best for me and the organization to retire. Through no fault of its own. Things happen. I'm not upset," he told reporters. "I think people thought I was upset about certain things, but that's not the case."

Griffey was one of baseball's good guys on and off the field. His skills were second to none until injury problems started popping up. He always gave 110% every night leading to full speed crashes into outfield walls and torn hamstrings. I think almost all of his fans hoped for one last season of respectability before Griff hung up his spikes. It wasn't to be but shouldn't diminish anything "Junior" accomplished. A certain soon to be first time Hall of Famer.

New York Mets troubles never end. Management is being sued for $1billion, team up for sale, players hurting and ticket sales guaranteed to be way down in 2011. Oft injured Carlos Beltran's knees continue to flare up. He lost starting CF duties (now plays RF). It's now all but official Beltran will begin 2011 disabled. His career will never be the same. Add his name to the growing list of Mets free agent busts. Beltran's been a complete waste of money. Johann Santana and Mets officials continue to deny injury rehab rumors. It's been suggested, and strongly denied, Santana will not pitch this season. He was one of the games most dominant pitchers when healthy. Unfortunately, it appears he's done from live action for a very long time.

It really stings me when professional sports unions and owners do battle. It's absolutely disgusting hearing grown up athletes complaining they aren't getting paid enough? Does anyone know what the minimum salaries are in pro sports? High enough to place them in the upper 1% of world earners. To watch them moan and grown is pathetic. Are the players being treated unfairly by owners? No. Are they compensated at the highest rates in the world? Yes. What more do they want? When is enough enough? They don't deserve their current salaries yet it's not enough. Owners must cringe every time a player gets arrested for beating his wife, rape, drugs, DWI or murder. Coaches cringe when overpaid narcissists don't hustle or give up at key moments. And these guys want more? What is the average price of tickets to any major sporting event? Throw in transportation, food etc and tell me how a middle class family of four can afford a trip to the ballpark? Why are ticket prices to high? So owners can afford over priced players. Do the players care fans have to shell out big bucks? Not a chance. Time for the millionaire cry babies to take stock of how good they have it when the rest of the world struggles to put food on their tables and gas in their cars. Grow up!

NBA push for the playoffs is on. Would anyone have believed me if I told you months ago that the Chicago Bulls would own best record in the Eastern Conference? One really has to feel for Cleveland fans. Cavs basketball was strong. One of the leagues best. Advanced to conference semi-finals in 3 of last 5 years (lost), conference finals (lost) and NBA finals (lost). Star LeBron James toyed with them for much of the off season before deciding for big Miami Heat money. Now Cleveland is in shambles. 13-53 represents the NBA's worst record. Quite a turnaround. Cleveland owner's felt duped. Fans outraged. It will be a long time before Cleveland turns around this train wreck.

Can the Devils do it? New Jersey was left for dead during one of their worst starts in team history (5-13-2 & 10-29-2). Players were puzzled and disgruntled. Superstar net-minder Brodeur was playing terribly. After a 23-4-2 run the Devils find themselves within reach of the playoffs. Coach Jacques Lemaire to the rescue. They've won 24 since he took over a team in disarray. Brodeur's been stellar of late winning 15 of 18 after dropping 8 contests in a row during late December, early January. Devils still have work to do currently 6 points off the playoff pace. However, they're the leagues hottest team and playing exceptional hockey. Go Devils!



Spring Training Spotlight: Atlanta Braves

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2011 marks the first time in 20 years spring training began without Bobby Cox managing the Atlanta Braves. A new era of Braves baseball has begun. Atlanta's new manager Fredi Gonzalez takes over a very talented group of players. The Braves are in somewhat of a transformation stage. GM Wren did a masterful job assembling the 2011 roster. Injuries to key players on division rival clubs leaves Atlanta sitting pretty and ready to play ball.

When National League pitching is discussed most quickly bring up Philadelphia and San Francisco. Little attention has been focused on these four names: Derek Lowe (16-12, 4.00), Tim Hudson (17-9, 2.83), Tommy Hanson (3.33) and Jair Jurrjens (2.60 in '09). All are sound. All give deep innings and quality starts. Braves front four will keep games close. Lowe and Hudson are steady vets. The future is bright for Hanson and Jurrjens. Hanson may actually churn out an Cy Young caliber season.

Braves bullpen is intriguing as they bring a new look staff into '11. Remember the name Craig Kimbrel. He's a flame thrower auditioning to become their new full time closer replacing retired Billy Wagner. A great future awaits this kid if he keeps his head screwed on straight. Good luck getting hits against the likes of Venters, O'Flaherty, Moylan, Linebrink, Sherrill and possibly Proctor. Gonzalez has plenty of options for key late inning match-ups. An injury free staff guarantees Atanta will be in the playoff hunt all season long.

The face of the Braves returns for one more season. Chipper Jones looks great recovering from MCL surgery. How well he holds up against the rigors of everyday play remains to be seen. Braves traded for 2B power man Dan Uggla. I like this move. Uggla's young and Atlanta secured a great lefty/righty power punch coupled with RF Heyward. Unfortunately, sophomore Heyward is battling back issues in spring training. Which McLouth will show up 2011? .190 from one year ago? Or the slick fielding 20 homer, .260 guy? Uggla's arrival shifts Prado to LF which has been problematic in Atlanta for a few seasons. Prado's a perfect fit. All Star backstop McCann hopes to remain healthy. He'll see plenty of RBI situations. 1B is Atanta's unknown. Freddie Freeman (who?) gets a shot to win the job. He's been okay so far during spring games. Veteran Hinske is backing up and main man off the bench in key pinch hitting situations.

I think Atlanta has a great formula for success in 2011. Key injuries most likely hurt Phillies chances of running away with the NL East opening the door for Atlanta. Overall excellent health, solid lineup and excellent pitching gives manager Gonzalez all the tools needed. All he has to do is find a way for the pieces to gel. Atlanta has a serious shot at World Series glory.



Spring Training Spotlight: Colorado Rockies

Permalink 04:50:37 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Is Colorado ready to become best in the NL West? Rockies baseball isn't for weak heart fans. Late season heroics in two of three past years catapulted Colorado from being afterthoughts and into playoff baseball action. They were 11 games behind on August 21. Rockies then got hot after being left for dead running off victories in 17 of 21 and 20 of 26 contests to claw within one game of first place. Nearly everyone in the baseball world anticipated another late season Colorado baseball miracle. It didn't happen. They proceeded to drop 13 off their final 14 games finishing a distant 9 games behind. What's in store for 2011?

The Rockies are locked and loaded, for better or worse, as they've signed many players to long term deals. Several players recently received lucrative deals: SS Troy Tulowitzki - 7 years $134MM, LF -Carlos Gonzalez - 7 years $80MM, RP Matt Lindstrom - 2 years $6.6MM ($4MM club option for 2013 with a $200K buyout), SP Jason Hammel - 2 years $7.75MM, RP Rafael Betancourt - 1 year $4.25MM ($4.25MM mutual option for 2013 with a $250K buyout),RP - Matt Belisle - 2 years $6.125MM. Rockies gold rush spending could eventually burn bottom line numbers and simultaneously hamstring future rosters. Deals with extra years and dollars guaranteed to Huston Street, Chris Iannetta, and Aaron Cook were less than shrewd.

Colorado's offense is an anything can happen crew. Carlos Gonzalez & Tulowitzki form the new nucleus. Veteran Helton hopes to bring back glimmers of the player he once was. Plenty of question marks for the rest of their lineup. Is RF Smith ready for everyday action? Production and defense from new 2B (Lopez/Young)? Stewart's (MCL) ability to mature and stay healthy. Can CF Fowler step up his level of play? Former catcher of the future Iannetta has never lived up to bloated hype. Ty Wigginton provides plenty of pop and continues his fight for everyday playing time. Jason Giambi is chomping for more AB's. This might very well be Colorado's most powerless bunch of hitters in recent memory.

Another possible team first, pitching could be the Rockies strength heading into 2011. That's a scary thought. Only #1 starter and Cy Young runner-up Jiminez can be counted on to deliver a heavy dose of quality starts. It's a mixed bag for the rest especially if defense falters. De La Rosa, Chacin & Hammel round out 2-4 slots while #5 has yet to finalized. Bullpen will be heavily taxed due to starters anticipated failures to get deep into games.

2011 will be a long year for Rockies players and fans. Offense will have to produce. On paper, it's difficult figure out where runs will come from beyond Gonzalez and Tulo. If either were to miss significant time then this team is cooked. Pitchers need to reach back for a little extra while trying to keep their over worked arms sound.

Outlook. 2011 will be a very challenging season for manager Jim Tracy. Plenty of questions including how to get maximum production from a team hitting 72 points lower on the road than at home.



Spring Training Spotlight: Oakland Athletics

Permalink 12:06:09 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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The Oakland Athletics youth movement is maturing. 2011 could be Oakland's turn to shock the baseball world. They must be sensing their time is now judging by an active winter of wheeling and dealing. New faces counted on to contribute include Hideki Matsui (DH), David DeJesus (rF), Josh Willingham (LF), Grant Balfour (P), Brandon McCarthy (P) and a few others currently competing for roster spots. A's brass aggressively perused the likes of Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre and Japanese import Hisashi Iwakuma but lack of big money offers failed to entice.

Oakland's starting rotation progressed wonderfully in 2010. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez & Dallas Braden represent the front four. All talented and primed to take a step to the next level. Middle relieve is nearly unhittable setting up lights out closer Andrew Bailey. Opposing teams will have a tough time scoring against my prediction for AL's top ERA unit. Question, can offense find ways to generate enough runs to win ball games?

Offense received a boost. Matsui & Willingham will be heavily counted on as run producers. A healthy Coco Crisp and DeJesus will be top of the lineup table setters. Remaining injury free has been a major problem for Oakland players in recent seasons. Most major contributors missed time derailing potential team success and, in some cases, prematurely ended careers.

A's lineup isn't geared to go toe to toe with powerhouse clubs. However, if they can score just enough then expect their pitchers to take care of the rest. There won't be many late inning rallies against these guys. If Oakland can manage a relatively injury free season then they'll be in the hunt all year long.



Spring Training Spotlight: Chicago White Sox

Permalink 08:14:14 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Feisty White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen expects 2011 success after key injuries sidetracked division title dreams one year ago. Five season's have gone by since winning the 2005 World Series over Houston. What to expect in 2011...

Chicago was fairly quiet during the winter but did manage to land one of baseball's biggest sluggers, 1B/DH Adam Dunn. Paul Konerko re-signed providing the Sox with a big time 1-2 power punch. Many players attempting to rebound from nagging injuries. Carlos Quentin is two years removed from 36 HR, 100 RBI season. 3B has been a problem position for a few years. Mark Teahen has first crack at trying to win the job. Juan Pierre returns to everyday duty. He's been a forgotten man of late. Pierre is one of the games top lead off hitters. He's going to enjoy a fine '11 campaign. Chicago's batting order can be dangerous when healthy. Bench depth is lacking.

Starting rotation gets an immediate boost if Jake Peavy's right arm is sound. A big if. Peavy's still one of the games top hurlers. Buerhle, Jackson, Danks & FLoyd create a formidable four. Throw in a sound Peavy and this is one of AL's deepest 1-5. Bullpen gave Ozzie fits last year. They failed to keep one run games close and handed away a few wins too. Matt Thornton gets a crack at everyday closer duties in 2011.

AL Central figures to be a three team race on paper. Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago are the divisions top guns. All clubs faced serious injury concerns one year ago. Make sure to tune in when these teams play head to head match-ups. Chicago's fate rest squarely on health issues. They'll score runs in bunches. Does Chicago have the right chemistry to overtake Minnesota? We'll find out by game 162.



Spring Training Spotlight: Chicago Cubs

Permalink 02:54:13 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

The "Lovable Losers" continue tacking on years to their World Series drought with no end in sight. 1908 was the last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series. It also marks the last time they won a playoff series. Chicago has another dubious streak in tact. 1935 was their last 100 win season. NL Central is up for grabs. Cubs find themselves legitimate contenders as no team has a stranglehold over foes. What's in store for the 2011 Chicago Cubs?

2011 begins with a new manager, Mike Quade. Quade energized the Cubs to 24-13 record after Piniella's early departure. Players realized they were trying out for '11. Limited off season payroll options turned Chicago into shrewd buyers. 2011 fate rests squarely on starting rotation. Matt Garza jumps into the NL fray after making his bones in Tampa Bay. He joins a talented staff featuring Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells and Carlos Silva. Keep an eye on both Carlos'. Zambrano's mid-season implosion was one of many distractions within Chicago's dugout contributing to their 5th place finish. Silva already exploded during spring training. If these hot heads can't control themselves then the season's over before it begins. However, if they're able to bring A games...? There's no dominant NL Central rotation placing the Cubs back in the race. Only downside is no left handed starter.

Bullpen looks as strong as ever. Kerry Wood is back! Wood returns to Chicago by choice and for less money than others were willing to pay. He becomes set up man to flame throwing closer Carlos Marmol (138 K's in 77 IP). Sean Marshall (90 K in 78 IP) delivers darts as left handed specialist. Middle relievers will be decided by the time camp breaks.

Cubs offense has the pieces but doesn't seem to take advantage of game changing situations. Clutch performances have been lacking. Mental errors, base running gaffe's and useless strikeouts often kill key moments. LF Soriano's health held up after back to back injury plagued years. '11 presents a golden opportunity for Soriano to prove his skills haven't diminished as stats suggest. Wrigley Field is perfect for CF Marlon Byrd who will see a spike in power numbers. RF Fukudome was a star in Japan who hasn't been able to live up to hype in USA. A Japanese League career .305 hitter who routinely smacked in excess of 30 2B's, 20 HR's has been anything but clutch during three Major League Baseball seasons. Batting .259, low RBI totals, high OBA suggest Fukudome being mis-used deeper in batting order. This guy should be given a shot leading off or in the two hole. Should Soriano and Fukudome put together respectable .280 averages their contributions will go a long way towards winning close games. 32 one-run losses were the most in baseball last year.

Cubs infield sports a new look. Only 3B Aramis Ramirez returns looking for redemption after battling nagging injuries. 1B Carlos Pena takes a stab at NL baseball. Strong range and solid glove guarding the RF line. It'll be interesting to see how he handles NL pitching in a great hitters park division. His only downside is 150-170 strikeouts. Blake DeWitt (2B) and Starlin Castro (SS) form the dp combo. Add backstop Geovany Soto's name to oft injured Cubs. He's a talented ball hacker vital to run production.

Chicago's lineup needs to avoid prolonged or nagging injuries. They've endured two consecutive season's of devastating hard knocks. This lineup can be dangerous when healthy. 2011 is also a year for players to prove they've still got it. Strikeouts are game killers for the Cubs. Runners fail to advance while hitters swing wildly at dirtballs. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has his hands full teaching these guys how to hit with two strikes and/or two outs. 2B is a weak area. Baker/DeWitt platoon hasn't provided stellar D. Lineup could use another left handed bat vs a right handed pitching rich division.

Keys to Cubs success. How well can Quade manage on and off the diamond? Quirky to volatile players in the dugout completely destroyed team moral last year. Tempers already sprouting during Cactus League games. Lack of discipline will doom Chicago. Jaramillo must teach these guys to cut down on strikeouts, put the ball in play and drive in runners. Can former stud Zambrano keep his cool and pitch effectively? Can Garza become an effective NLer? Is Silva's spring meltdown history or waiting to boil over? 2011 is a key year for most veteran players. Thin bench not ready for prime time if recurring injuries strike. Cubs need cosmic tumblers all to lineup. 100+ years of frustration.

NL Central division title well within their grasp if they wise up. A big IF.



Spring Training Spotlight: New York Yankees

Permalink 08:01:52 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

The Texas Rangers crushed any hopes the Yankees had of back to back titles as they dismantled the world champs in the ALCS. New York's off season nearly turned into the Bronx Zoo II. Yankees had many decisions to make. How much to offer aging stars Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera?. Could they lure free agent Cliff Lee to the Bronx? Would Andy Pettitte return for one more year? What will become of the starting rotation?

Most questions were answered relatively quickly. But, the process was very muddied. Cliff Lee spurned Yankees cash and returned to Philadelphia. Andy Pettitte recently announced his retirement. No Yankees fan was prepared for how captain Derek Jeter's contract renegotiation played out in the press. Tensions nearly boiled over as Yankee brass went public with negative comments before a deal was finally consummated.

Talk around town is how will New York manage to field a competitive starting rotation? CC Sabathia represents the Yankees only true performer. AJ Burnett has a Cy Young repertoire but hasn't pieced it together in pin stripes. #3 man Phil Hughes was sensational during early 2010 but tapered off in the 2nd half. Plenty of spring competition for rotation slots 4 and 5. Young stud Ivan Nova is projected to be their 5th starter. 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon has looked impressive this spring trying to prove his right arm is finally sound. Colon hasn't pitched a full season since winning the '05 award.

Yankees relief corps promises to be one of the franchises best ever. Rivera returns as the closer chasing MLB's all time saves record. New York signed former Rays closer, and probably heir apparent to Rivera, Rafael Soriano as their new setup man. Coming across town from the Mets is southpaw specialist Pedro Feliciano. Joba's role now appears to be middle relief specialist to get New York over the hump when starters fail to go deep into games.

Much has been made regarding lack of Yankees starting rotation depth. Well, there's plenty of future stars on the horizon. Nova gets his shot this spring to prove he's ready to handle major league batters. One of the most pleasant surprises this spring is southpaw 19 year old sensation Manny Banuetos. A tremendous talent who possesses poise beyond his years and a major league arsenal firing away from a powerful left arm. He looks like a young Johann Santana. Scouts from around the league also have their sights set on following the progress of Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman, Yanks GM Brian Cashman continues to be steadfast against mortgaging New York's future. With good reason. If these young guns remain healthy and live up to their billing... then Yankees have another dynasty decade in the making.

New York's lineup has a few minor tweaks. Jorge Posada's catching days are over. He's the new full time DH. Russell Martin will guide the staff while top catching prospect Jesus Montero figures to secure the official backup role. Montero reminds me of Mike Piazza. Explosive bat with questionable defensive skills. Make no mistake, this kid can flat out pound baseballs. I predict he'll soon be starting catcher or involved in a blockbuster trade. Bench depth received a major boost this winter. Andruw Jones figures to platoon in LF and fill in at all three OF positions when needed.

Can Mark Teixeira avoid another horrid beginning? 2009-10 April performances were flat out ugly. Alex Rodriguez is completely locked in this spring for the first time in years. Derek Jeter's swing is still off. What's happened to Jeter since last May? Believe it or not, free agent signee Eric Chavez may win a roster spot. Chavez' signing might prove to be one of the winters shrewdest moves if this guy can finally put an end to perennial injuries. EC will back up 1B/3B, fill in at DH and be the top lefty PH. Utility infielder Ronnie Belliard might make the team as a versatile backup. Plenty of decisions left for manager Joe Girardi. Making cuts will quickly become a difficult process.

When it comes to picking the AL East division winner most seem to be looking in Boston's direction. Not so fast. AL East is wide open in 2011. All divisional games will be tough. Baltimore and Toronto vastly improved. Boston and Tampa retooled. Yanks represent AL's strongest lineup and relievers. Will it be enough to overcome a question mark riddled rotation? If New York's rotation solidifies and comes out blazing then there's no stopping this crew. If they falter, it'll be a long summer of vocal headline making discontent from the Steinbrenner clan. We're only a few short weeks away from finding out how 2011 unfolds.

I'm expecting AL East baseball to be 2011's most exciting race.



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 07:36:22 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Rankings shake up from league to league...

1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - San Francisco Giants
3 - Chicago White Sox
4 - Boston Red Sox
5 - Minnesota Twins
6 - Oakland A's
7 - New York Yankees
8 - Atlanta Braves
9 - Texas Rangers
10- Los Angeles Angels

1 - Vancouver Canucks
2 - Philadelphia Flyers
3 - Detroit Red Wings
4 - Boston Bruins
5 - San Jose Sharks
6 - Tampa Bay Lightning
7 - Washington Capitals
8 - Pittsburgh Penguins
9 - Chicago Black Hawks
10- Montreal Canadiens

1 - San Antonio Spurs
2 - Boston Celtics
3 - Dallas Mavericks
4 - Miami Heat
5 - Los Angeles Lakers
6 - Chicago Bulls
7 - Orlando Magic
8 - Oklahoma City Thunder
9 - Atlanta Hawks
10- New York Knicks

2011 NCAA Men's Basketball (as of 2/28/11)
1 - Ohio State
2 - Kansas
3 - Bringham Young
4 - Duke
5 - Pittsburgh
6 - San Diego State
7 - Purdue
8 - Texas
9 - Notre Dame
10- Syracuse

NCAA Women's Basketball (as of 2/28/11)
1 - Connecticut
2 - Tennessee
3 - Baylor
4 - Stanford
5 - Duke
6 - Texas A&M
7 - UCLA
8 - Xavier
9 - Miami
10- Notre Dame

*Countdown to lockout*


Spring Training Spotlight: Tampa Bay Rays

Permalink 03:19:20 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Tampa Bay (96-66) won the AL East on the last day of regular season action. Their season came to a screeching halt in the playoffs as they ran into a red hot Texas Rangers club. World Series dreams came crashing down.

Tampa spent a busy off season retooling their club. They cut loose a bunch of fan favorite performers and players who helped turned this franchise into winners. Here's the list: Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Joaquin Benoit, Lance Cormier, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate, Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Fernando Perez, Zach Rosscup, Willy Aybar, Gabe Kapler, Dioner Navarro, Brad Hawpe, Rocco Baldelli, Chad Qualls, Dale Thayer. That's quite a turnover for a 96 win team.

So who's new? Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta & J.P. Howell. Other notables fighting for roster spots (minor league contracts): Felipe Lopez, Juan Cruz, Joe Inglett, Chris Bootcheck, Chris Carter, Casey Kotchman, Ray Olmedo, Dirk Hayhurst, R.J. Swindle, Cory Wade. On paper, Tampa has taken a big step backwards offensively and, most importantly, on defense.

Tampa Bay will rely heavily on their starting rotation to keep games close. Offense took a hit so every pitch becomes most important. David Price and James Shields provide the 1-2 punch. #3 Garza is now a Cub. Who's going to step up their game? Wade Davis? Jeff Niemann? Perhaps the biggest pitching question mark surrounds one of their former strengths. Bullpen. They lost all key players here and Farnsworth is no Soriano.

I think Tampa Bay made some key personnel errors. Table setters and shut down bullpen has been wrecked due to cost cutting moves. Cost cutting is fine and dandy when replacing stars with sure handed players. Time will tell if Tampa missed the boat. AL East powerhouse Yankees have pitching concerns. Boston continues to battle health issues. 2011 could have been the year Tampa blew away the East. Prospects will have to step it up and become major contributors or Tampa will be lucky to play .500 baseball. Team chemistry takes a hit too.

Tampa needs to duplicate last season's hot April. They began 17-6 and finished May with a 34-18 record. A slow beginning in an improved division will cost the Rays any chance of success.



In Case You Missed It....

Permalink 05:51:33 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

So much for February being a quiet month for sports news. Major happenings from coast to coast. Here's my highlighted version just in case you blinked or asleep at the wheel...

Look out, here come the New York Knicks. They pulled off the trade of the season in a blockbuster 3 team deal with Denver & Minnesota. Knicks landed Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman. Knicks gave up a kings ransom for instant bliss. Denver may not be an immediate winner after this deal but their future is bright. New York dealt forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, guard Raymond Felton and center Timofey Mozgov to the Nuggets. New York also shipped centers Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to Minnesota for forward Corey Brewer. Denver acquired center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, plus New York's first-round draft pick in 2014, second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 and cash.

So where do the Knicks stand now? Exuberant New Yorkers expecting Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire to immediately dominate. Not so fast. The new look Knicks need to gel first. Playoffs will happen. A title? One never knows how playoff hoops will unfold. New players need play better defense than their predecessors. If everything goes according to plan, Knicks will be top contenders. New York is now loaded with talent. Hungry to win. Time to put it together. Knicks will be a force for years to come. Doom and gloom days soon to become a distant memory in rear view mirror.

New Jersey Nets quickly followed suit with a trade of their own. After publicly ridiculing the Carmelo experience, Nets management re focused and pulled off a big deal. The Nets will send Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations to Utah for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Nets have a very long climb to respectability. This was a first good step.

Spring training in full speed. Regular season baseball is less than one month away from opening day. Early injury news struck hard in St. Louis with the Cards losing dominant starting pitcher Adam Wainwright for 2011 (Tommy John surgery).

Carlos Beltran will be the Mets new RF. Knee injuries created limited range for Carlos and opened the door for Angel Pagan. Pagan becomes New York's every day CF. New York remains clouded in controversy as team owners face a stiff lawsuit resulting from their involvement with Bernie Madoff. News reports this morning suggest Mets brass aggressively pursuing loans. MLB reported they loaned New York $25 million last year to help the team cover payroll. Mets have continuously denied cash flow problems. It's time for the Wilpon's & Katz' to sell this franchise before they do any more harm to a team within one pitch of the World Series only a few short seasons ago.

Boston manager Terry Francona performed near miracles keeping the Sox in contention most of last year. Injuries popped up at almost every position. Yesterday, ace Josh Beckett got nailed in the head during spring drills.

Yes or No? Football in 2011 or not. It's owners vs players. NFL Players Association and owners seem destined for an ugly showdown. Believe what you want but both sides are nuts. In January the NFLPA filed a motion of collusion against the owners. Good luck. Owners clearly in the drivers seat here. Players griping owners making too much money, players not enough. They're fooling themselves. NFLPA may try a tactic to decertify before the current bargaining agreement expires Thursday night. It's a gamble. Both sides seem very far apart. What exactly to the players seek to gain? Owners holding all the cards. NFLPA has no muscle in this issue.



Stars Aligned? Keep Your Fingers Crossed.

Permalink 09:01:23 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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Players returning from injury are being tested gingerly during early days of spring training. Teams, players, management and fans all sticking with cautious optimism when it comes to some of the games biggest names. The injury bug was prevalent all around the league in 2010. New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels faced injury challenges all season long. How will returning players fare in 2011?

Spring training injuries to healthy players has begun. Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright is out for the season and needs Tommy John surgery. Rangers new 3B Adrian Beltre might be sidelined a month or more after aggravating his hamstring. Here's a short list of a few bigger name players attempting to rebound. Fantasy managers remember one rule, "buyer beware".

Carlos Beltran (Mets) was cut to shreds in New York after bum knees and poor team oriented decision making on best method for treatment. He's back and looking better but far from 100%. Most likely lost CF job and will begin in RF. Mets handling him very gingerly.

Jose Reyes (Mets) hamstring injuries have clouded his entire career. When healthy he's one of baseball's best. One never knows when Jose's hammy will pop again.

Chipper Jones (Braves) is clearly in twilight of career. How much gas left in his tank? Still a feared clutch performer but Chipper's on the down-slope of a great Hall of Fame career with a bum knee.

Johann Santana (Mets) is the second consecutive big money free agent to visit the DL for an extended stay (Pedro Martinez). He's out for at least 1/2 of '11 and shouldn't be counted on at all this year. Santana will be on strict pitch limits upon returning.

Justin Morneau (Twins) bad concussion days are over. At least that's what everyone hopes. MVP type season in 2010 cut short by a fluke knee to his head. He's not 100% and only recently returned to full time baseball duties. He's a keeper on one of my ESPN teams. Might be a long year.

Joe Nathan (Twins) is getting rave reviews recovering from Tommy John surgery. Big time closer hopes to be back on track in 2011.

Derrek Lee (Orioles) becomes Baltimore's new big man on campus. Retuning from off season thumb surgery he's ready to transform losing O's into challengers. Get ready for Orioles baseball.

Jason Bay (Mets) appears ready for 2011 after season ending concussion. Ready to continue his productive career? Or, another New York free agent bust?

Justin Duchscherer (Orioles) feels soreness in his surgically repaired hip. Perennial injuries plaguing a promising career. O's were counting on a healthy hurler. Caution time. Orioles plan to give him downtime before re-evaluating status.

Brandon Webb (Rangers) offers no fantasy value on the surface. 22 game winner in '08 has only pitched once since. Role undetermined. So is his stuff. Is there anything left.

Kendry Morales (Angels) was another star sidelined in '10 and his absence was a major reason why LA couldn't keep up with Texas. LA won't let him overdue it this spring and he may begin '11 as full time DH in April.

Francisco Liriano (Twins) could become a Yankee within days if one believes rumors. Wouldn't it be fitting for New York to make headlines right before the season starts? He's 27, unsigned beyond 2011 and ripe for the picking. Yanks have talent to trade but Liriano's health is iffy at the moment. Hard to imagine Twins not opening with Liriano at least until the trade deadline unless they use his health as a reason to unload now to a team desperate for pitching depth? Yanks had better not overpay in future talent.

Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox) left foot is ready to go. Major cog in Boston lineup hopes to remain fit all season.

Shin-Soo Choo (Indians) has a sore elbow and being watched carefully. Indians OF's have been banged up in recent years. Grady Sizemore is another to keep a close eye on.

Martin Prado (Braves) put up MVP type credentials until getting sidelines. Big table setter and up the middle defender hopes to pick up where he left off.

Mike Cameron (Red Sox) may not be the greatest fantasy value but he's a big time player in real life. Defensive specialist with plenty of pop was missed after multiple injuries during his first stint in Boston.

Jake Peavy (White Sox) shoulder issues won't fade. Optimistically slated to return by mid to late April. News hasn't been positive. One of baseball's finest when arm is sound.

Keep a close eye on team pages for latest updates before drafting squads. Stay tuned for our annual position by position fantasy rankings. A must for every fantasy manager.



Spring Training Spotlight: St. Louis Cardinals

Permalink 05:03:12 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Baseball's 2006 World Series champs were dealt a tremendous early season blow. 2010 Cy Young runner-up Adam Wainwright was officially declared out for the season this morning due to Monday's right elbow injury. Manager LaRussa is an expert at getting the most from his players. An improved lineup will be counted on to make up for a rotation now lacking depth.

Cardinals 2011 rotation competition is a new ball game with Wainwright out. Second year starter Jamie Garcia needs to mature in a hurry as he now takes over the 2nd slot in the rotation behind Chris Carpenter. Health is always a question mark for #3 hurler Jake Westbrook. No clear cut winners to round out the rotation. Cards may now find themselves talking trade for pitching help. Ryan Franklin must improve from last season's disappointments. He's the key to hold down the fort in the 9th.

Lance Berkman (RF) and Ryan Thierot (SS) are the two big new additions on offense. Berkman had a rigorous off season conditioning program in an attempt to rebound from a career worst 2010. If he's fit and can regain batting prowess, then Berkman's signing can provide huge dividends with plenty of RBI potential batting behind Pujols and Holliday.

Will not re-signing Albert Pujols become a season long distraction? Pujols is one of baseball's greatest ever players. A future first ballot Hall of Famer and without question the player of the decade is without a contract beyond 2011. He's driven in over 100 runs in every single season of his 10 year career. Scored 100 all but one (scored 99 in '07). 10 year batting averages ranging between .312 and .359 compiling a .331 career average. Pujols and Cards management had been trying to work out a contract extension which failed to get completed before Pujols self-imposed pre-spring training deadline.

Keys to success rely squarely on Cardinals pitchers. Barring injuries, the offense should produce. Question is whether or not starting pitchers can effectively shut down division rivals. NL Central is very competitive. No single team stands above the rest. No imposing starting rotations. Plenty of hitters parks. Cards ability to win one run games may be the difference. 37 year old closer Ryan Franklin faces the biggest challenge of his career. Blown saves will not be tolerated.

Hard to handicap Cards before their final rotation is announced. A healthy team will compete for 162 and should be considered division front runners.



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 08:00:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

Big news of the week. Carmelo Anthony lands on Broadway as Knicks pull off a blockbuster deal. I think it's safe to say everyone throughout NBA-land is happy knowing all Melo trade distractions have finally ended. Countless rumors, near deals, no deals kept most teams involved off balanced. Circus act is over. NBA East promises to be great for years to come.

Speaking of circus style atmosphere... circus aroma's emanating from the Yankees spring complex. The Bronx Zoo version 2.011 simmers. Hank Steinbrenner criticized 2010's non championship season claiming players spent too much time celebrating their 2009 world championship and not enough time concentrating on baseball. Get ready for plenty of headlines coming out of the Bronx in '11. Yankees might produce disastrous results with a very thin starting rotation.

Rankings time...

1 - San Antonio Spurs
2 - Boston Celtics
3 - Miami Heat
4 - Dallas Mavericks
5 - Chicago Bulls
6 - Oklahoma City Thunder
7 - Los Angeles Lakers
8 - Orlando Magic
9 - Atlanta Hawks
10- Portland Trail Blazers

1 - Vancouver Canucks
2 - Philadelphia Flyers
3 - Detroit Red Wings
4 - Pittsburgh Penguins
5 - Boston Bruins
6 - Tampa Bay Lightning
7 - Phoenix Coyotes
8 - San Jose Sharks
9 - Washington Capitals
10- Nashville Predators

NCAA Men's Basketball
1 - Duke
2 - Ohio State
3 - Kansas
4 - Pittsburgh
5 - San Diego State
6 - Brigham Young
7 - Texas
8 - Purdue
9 - Arizona
10- Notre Dame

NCAA Women's Basketball
1 - Connecticut
2 - Tennessee
3 - Duke
4 - Baylor
5 - Stanford
6 - Texas A&M
7 - UCLA
8 - Xavier
9 - DePaul
10- Michigan State

MLB (pre-season)
1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - Boston Red Sox
3 - Tampa Bay Rays
4 - San Francisco Giants
5 - Minnesota Twins
6 - Chicago White Sox
7 - Oakland A's
8 - Texas Rangers
9 - Los Angeles Angels
10- Atlanta Braves

1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - Pittsburgh Steelers
3 - New York Jets
4 - Baltimore Ravens
5 - New England Patriots
6 - New Orleans Saints
7 - Philadelphia Eagles
8 - Chicago Bears
9 - New York Giants
10- Kansas City Chiefs



2011 Spring Training Spotlight: Baltimore Orioles

Permalink 04:17:54 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

The year was 1997. Davey Johnson skippered Baltimore to an American League best 98 wins. Orioles seemed destined for long term greatness. Mike Mussina, Jimmy Key and Scott Erickson anchored their starting rotation. Rafael Palmeiro, Cal Ripken Jr, Roberto Alomar, BJ Surhoff, Chris Hoiles and Brady Anderson were the main offensive cogs. Who would have believed it was to be Baltimore's last winning season?

Ownership changes, managerial failures, poor free agent selections, dwindling revenues and division rivals getting stronger all factored into creating the longest losing era in franchise history. Can the 2011 Baltimore Orioles return this once proud organization into winners?

Orioles 2011 roster is very promising. There's reason for optimism heading into spring training. Orioles begin the year with a serious manager, Buck Showalter. Buck's late season arrival woke up a team left for dead. Players auditioning for future considerations rejuvenated this once lifeless club to a 34-23 record to close out '10. Baltimore is ripe to make a move in 2011. At the very least, they'll be challenging opponents for 162 games. How many they win remains to be seen.

What's new for 2011? Big defense and bigger bats. Baltimore's defense has been monumentally transformed. No longer will simple ground balls roam unopposed for base hits. A sputtering offense has been retooled to keep pace with slugging AL East teams. Welcome new additions Derek Lee (1B), Matt Reynolds (3B) & JJ Hardy (SS) join veteran and fan favorite Brian Roberts (2B). All have Gold Glove potential. Pitcher's ERA's will drop significantly. O's offense received another boost recently by signing slugging free agent swinger Vladmir Guerrero to take over DH duties. Behind the plate is a very capable Matt Weiters who stands to benefit by the new veteran chemistry. Nick Markakis has been a doubles machine. '11 could see a big surge in his RBI totals. Baltimore's offense is ready to fly. Defense set to cut down opposing batters.

Pitching staff has been a concern for too many recent years. Team defense will turn past weak hits and errors into outs. Offense will finally generate run support. Now it's up to the staff not handing out free passes. There's no doubt in my mind Showalter will insist O's arms throw pre-season strikes. He's a no nonsense style of manager eagerly attempting to transform Baltimore into winners. Recent history has proven anything can happen. Starting rotation is an up for grabs free for all spring competition. Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz head into camp 1-2.

Baltimore's disabled list has been a revolving door. A few question marks regarding Lee, Hardy & Roberts ability to remain healthy. If these guys can average 150 games each then returning to winning ways is not a crazy thought or pipe dream. Boston, New York, Tampa Bay & Toronto all have issues of their own. Orioles offense can keep pace. Defense is 2nd only to New York. Attention Baltimore Orioles players... the time is ripe to make a move. Colorado, San Diego, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay all overcame skepticism to shock the baseball world. Will Baltimore be next...? Their first winning season since 1997 probable. 90 wins possible if cosmic tumblers fall into place.

Baltimore Orioles baseball will be fun to watch in 2011.



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 07:01:47 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Happy Valentine's Day! Power rankings may not be happy for all as teams keep moving in, out, up and down lists. Let's get right to it...

MLB (pre-season)
1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - Boston Red Sox
3 - Oakland A's
4 - Tampa Bay Rays
5 - San Francisco Giants
6 - Minnesota Twins
7 - Chicago White Sox
8 - New York Yankees
9 - Los Angeles Angels
10- Atlanta Braves

1 - Green Bay Packers
2 - Pittsburgh Steelers
3 - New York Jets
4 - Baltimore Ravens
5 - New England Patriots
6 - Chicago Bears
7 - New Orleans Saints
8 - Philadelphia Eagles
9 - New York Giants
10- Kansas City Chiefs

1 - San Antonio Spurs
2 - Boston Celtics
3 - Dallas Mavericks
4 - Miami Heat
5 - Los Angeles Lakers
6 - Chicago Bulls
7 - Orlando Magic
8 - Oklahoma City Thunder
9 - Atlanta Hawks
10- New Orleans Hornets

1 - Vancouver Canucks
2 - Philadelphia Flyers
3 - Detroit Red Wings
4 - Pittsburgh Penguins
5 - Boston Bruins
6 - Dallas Stars
7 - Tampa Bay Lightning
8 - Washington Capitals
9 - Anaheim Ducks
10- Phoenix Coyotes

NCAA Men's Basketball
1 - Kansas
2 - Ohio State
3 - Texas
4 - Pittsburgh
5 - Duke
6 - San Diego State
7 - Brigham Young
8 - Notre Dame
9 - Georgetown
10- Purdue

NCAA Women's Basketball
1 - Connecticut
2 - Duke
3 - Tennessee
4 - Baylor
5 - Texas A&M
6 - Stanford
7 - UCLA
8 - Xavier
9 - Notre Dame
10- Michigan State



Mets Ownership in Trouble? Seeking New Partners?

Permalink 07:30:01 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

New York Mets principle owners have been targeted by the trustee representing victims of the Madoff ponzi scandal. Mets owner Fred Wilpon adamantly denies allegations of any wrong doing (partner Saul Katz also named). Nonetheless, partial ownership of the Mets is open to the highest bidder.

Mets miseries know no bounds. Late season collapses plagued Mets teams in early part of this decade. General Manager roster decisions backfired. CitiField was an immediate bust in eyes of long time Mets fans. And now, financial ruin could be forming quickly on the horizon. Mets brass tightened their belts for the 2011 season. New York is taking a new approach after squandering tens of millions on players who failed to produce. It's a direction that's keeping fans wincing. Now, we're subjected to rumors, innuendos, denials and a very public search for new limited partners.

Accounts and details of trustee's allegations have been played out to extremes in New York media circles. Quoting from New York Times, January 28, 2011 (
"The trustee’s lawsuit against the Mets takes aim at roughly 100 financial entities owned or controlled in part by the Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, and could imperil the assets held by the two men, an array of holdings that includes the baseball team, the regional cable sports network that televises its games, as well as commercial real estate holdings and investment funds.
The lawsuit seeks to recover not only $300 million in what the trustee, Irving H. Picard, calls “fictitious profits” — the difference between what the Wilpon and Katz entities put into Madoff’s investment firm and what they took out over their many years of investing — but also additional millions, according to the two lawyers, who would not be identified because of the secrecy surrounding the case."

Should the Wilpon's and his various businesses be worried? You betcha. Irving Picard, trustee for the Madoff victim's, has successfully won nearly $10 billion in settlements from other Madoff investors. Wilpon, Katz and their various financial entities should have been aware of what Madoff was up to. They were close personal friends for many years with various business relationships too. One doesn't need be a lawyer, accountant, judge or jury to realize something stinks here.

Did any employees of Sterling Equities recognize reason for concern? Especially after similar experience with an investment in Bayou Hedge Fund Group (another ponzi). Did the Madoff's, Katz or Sterling Equity partners cash out of the Madoff ponzi with knowledge of imminent demise? There's much left to be answered. Picard seem intent on proving all parties involved knew and cashed in to recoup or profit from the scheme. When the Madoff scandal first went public, Mets brass was quick to defend the team as solvent and unaffected. Soon thereafter, Mets claimed to have lost a ton but remain in good standing.

Mets management has to be smarting from weakening attendance figures in new CitiField. Poor play on the field doesn't help either. The Mets also quietly refinanced $450 million debt on SNY (regional sports network). This deal paid out over $240 million in "dividends" to various owners with Wilpon's being largest recipient. Good to know banks are making loans when 1/2 is to be paid out to ownership interests. What's wrong with this picture? The borrowers refinance to avoid being squeezed. Bank agrees and then watches large portion of new loan go directly into partner's pockets instead of the corporation refinanced loans were intended?

So what does all this mean for Mets fans. Wilpon's will be holding onto every dime for various reasons from personal to legal. Attendance will continue dropping as team struggles to remain out of NL East cellar. No top tier free agents will be signed. Mets pitching staff is in desperate trouble of paper. Farm season has been depleted. Ownership has been getting blasted daily in the new year. It won't let up if the Mets begin slowly in April. Wilpon's have no desire to sell majority ownership of the Mets. The Wilpon family has made clear their intention to keep the team as kind of a family legacy passed on from generation to generation. That's quite a respectable desire. However, changing times and potential pitfalls may just doom these plans. Who's willing to become a minority partner with men accused of financial trickery saddled with growing debt, uncertainty and weakening brand?

New York Mets franchise has been tagged in the neighborhood of $858 million by Forbes Magazine ranking them as one of sports most valued commodities. Various names have been thrown around as possible investors. Nothing finalized. Rumors floating claiming 25% of the team is up for grabs. Declining US dollar values, a team entrenched on decline, poor attendance, massive inflation awaiting and vicious political and financial instability creates a very bleak picture for anyone seriously considering a run at becoming a sports owner. Throw in a nasty billion dollar lawsuit against majority owners complicates everything.

Economic and present day realities should be carefully examined by current Mets ownership. A wise decision would be to sell majority ownership in the best interests of New York Mets baseball and their loyal fans. Current owners are exacerbating a situation doomed to get worse by the day.

There's one card left to play....... the players.

Team captain David Wright created a buzz by demanding "Put up or Shut up!" It's time to play. Borrowing a partial quotation from one of my favorite sports sayings of all time (Field of Dreams)... "The one constant through all the years... has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past... It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again."

All can be good once again. Just win. Baseball history has proven time and time the game will always go on. It's also shown us money doesn't guarantee victories. Playing the game does. The best team isn't always the one winning. Teams that win consistently play with heart. Winners never quit, give up or become intimidated. They hustle 100% every single play no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. They play hard, with pride, poise and determination. They don't swing for the fences when a single will do. It's all about heart and committing to stick within the fundamentals of baseball placing team success well above personal glory. Role models: 2003 Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins, 2007 Colorado Rockies, 2010 San Francisco Giants, 2010 Texas Rangers and reflecting back within team history... 1969 New York Mets.



Super Bowl Sunday: Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Permalink 04:27:42 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Super Bowl Sunday...

Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Are you ready? Super Bowl Sunday has arrived. Green Bay vs Pittsburgh is a tremendous match-up. Two of the most successful NFL franchises in a winner take all battle. Pittsburgh is the all time NFL leader with 6 Super Bowl titles. There's a reason why champions are handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy. He was Green Bay's legendary head coach who guided the Packers to the first two Super Bowl titles in NFL history. 2010's two best teams about to lay it all on the line in the final game of the year. (Quite possibly the last NFL game in a long time to come unless owners and players can hammer out a new agreement before next season).

The nation seems evenly split on who will win. Almost all predicting a very close contest. Many of us hoping for another dramatic finish. Time to examine key elements of today's game...

Pittsburgh's starting center has been shelved. Maukice Pouncey is out with a high ankle sprain. Anchoring Pittsburgh's offensive line and making is first ever NFL start is rookie Doug Legursky. Everyone has to be ready for Green Bay's defense to pound the daylights out of Legursky. He will see plenty of blitz packages and defensive pressure. His impact will be highlighted all game long. Question remains... how will he perform? It's anyone's guess. If I was calling the plays, very first one would be a run right up the middle behind Legursky. Get him involved right away, shake out his butterflies.

Quarterback's calmness under pressure. Green Bay and Pittsburgh love to blitz. Steelers blitz packages brings players from all angles all game long. Green Bay provides more of a power rush. Both teams put serious pops on opposing QB's. Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers styles are very different. Big Ben leads a ball control offense. An expert at crisp short passes, cool head facing blitzes, thrives on big game pressure and 2-time Super Bowl Champ. Rodgers is a bit more of a gunslinger. He'll have to be razor sharp as Packers running game faces their stiffest challenge vs Steelers league best run defense (62.8 yards/game).

Running game dramatically favors Pittsburgh. Or does it? At least it did leading into this game. Center Legursky is the game's variable. The great unknown. If he's successful pancaking Packer defenders allowing Pittsburgh's ground game to chew up the clock (and protecting Roethlisberger) then dreams of title number seven come closer to reality. Another unknown... playoff leading rusher... Green Bay's James Starks. Packers ground game doesn't put fear into defensive coordinators. However, Starks has banged out several key playoff runs. Pack's back's are key contributors in passing attack and must be accounted for out of the backfield.

Game within a game. One of my favorite things to watch during most games is trench battles. Offensive and defensive lines are vital keys to success. One tenth of a second or an inch can make the all the difference in the world. Packers pass rushers racked up 47 sacks. However, porous offensive line surrendered 38. Steelers QB's taken down 43 times while defense recorded 48. Make no mistake, winning the line battles is key number one. Whoever controls the line, barring turnovers, will win. Packers pass rush might be licking their chops heading into the game. Big Ben was sacked 32 times in 12 games. Obviously, Steelers compensated but this is the Super Bowl and playing without their starting center provides a big challenge. Not many second chances will be given, if any. Rodgers will be scrambling around too. How well Green Bay's offensive line give Rodgers time to find passing lanes without being forced into errant throws looms large.

Much talking leading up to today has focused on defense. No defensive line stingier than Steelers. 62.8 rush yards/game was head and shoulders NFL best. 4429 total yards allowed ranked as NFL's 2nd best. Packers D unit finished up NFC 2nd best (4945 yards). That said, don't be surprised if Super Bowl XLV turns into a shootout. I'd venture to say both defenses will blitz no less than 75% setting up key one on one situations and golden opportunities begging for screen plays. Offenses might have a field day exposing blitz vulnerabilities. An oddity but distinct possibility.

Wide Receivers vs Cornerbacks. Most over looked in Super talk has been Steelers wide receivers. They combined to create 62 plays of 20 or more yards in 2010. Wallace led all teammates with 1257 yards (21/catch) and 10 td's. Roethlisberger favors nobody by effectively spreading the ball around to slow down opposing defenders. Charles Woodson is Packers shut down cover man. Pack ball hawking secondary has devastated playoff opponents snagging pick after pick. Greg Jennings and James Jones can expect big hits if they dare going over the middle against Pittsburgh. Rodgers does a fine job spreading the ball around as 5 different players hauled in 40 or more receptions. Key for Pack attack will be WR's ability to recognize blitzes and break off routes quickly enough for Rodgers to keep drives alive.

Coaches. Coaching to win or coaching not to lose? Far too often I've felt too many coaches shied away from what made them playoff contenders. Buffalo seemed clueless vs Dallas teams. San Diego unnerved vs 49ers. Eagles poor clock management in closing minutes. Defining success for Pittsburgh resides with setting up and converting on short yardage first down situations. They're masters at this style of play and I suspect they'll stick with what works and challenge Green Bay's defenders to stop them. On the other hand, I think Green Bay's offense is more worried with combating Steelers defenders. If the running game is shut down early then Packers will become one dimensional. Pack must force the issue if confident Starks won't turn it over. No way Packers wins this game if forced into 3rd and long time after time.

Tangibles. 1) Current Pittsburgh roster is familiar with Super Bowl bonanza and big game pressure. Green Bay has been riding a big wave without too many big time games under their belt. Will it make a difference? 2) Turnovers. Whichever team does the best job with protecting the football should win the game. We might witness 5 or more turnovers coming from heaving hitting ball hawking D's. Possibly more if Legursky/Roethlisberger snaps are muffed. 3) Special Teams. Kicking indoors benefits both place kickers. Indoor games also provide returners with sure footing. Super Bowls have produced plenty of touchdown returns. Will we see another today? Yes! 4) 3rd and short. 3rd and long doesn't bode well for either offense vs either defense. Effective drives need rely on short conversion attempts. 5) Ball control. Can either offense dominate time of possession? If Mendenhall's pounding offensive line can get the job done then Steelers will own the clock.

Key's to success. All of the above. Pittsburgh strikes me as the best disciplined NFL team. They stick to game plans. Compensate/adjust well in all game situations. Able to keep cool in pressure cookers. Multi-dimensional offense is effective and often overlooked. Green Bay must find a way to run effectively. Blocking schemes must be executed to perfection. Rodgers ability for quick strikes against single coverage, or lack thereof, determines Packers fate.

Unspoken fact: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones $2 Billion stadium will host two of the cities most hated playoff rivals... Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Jones built this stadium dreaming of his Cowboys playing at home for all the marbles today. Dreams turned into dark nightmare as Dallas stumbled to a pitiful 1-7 beginning. Now he's playing host to Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Fighting wicked winter weather conditions to boot. That's gotta hurt.

Prediction: It all rests on the shoulders and blocking ability of first time starting center Legursky. Clean crisp center to QB exchanges and effectively playing unnoticed will earn Pittsburgh their seventh Super Bowl ring. I'm betting on Pittsburgh to stick to their guns. Pounding time consuming running attack and effective passing from a calm and cool Roethlisberger. Green Bay will bring their A game, they're ready. Super Bowl XLV will be decided late in the fourth quarter. Steelers 30 Packers 24.



In Case You Missed It....

Permalink 05:24:27 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

The biggest news of the week was supposed to be Pittsburgh and Green Bay prepping for Super Bowl XLV. Instead, headline grabbers surround treacherous weather across the USA and Egyptian unrest. It's high time Digger's Daily expanded into the world of politics. For now, let's dive into sports top stories of the week.

In Case You Missed It...

Only a few days remain before the NFL has a new champion. Talk about a great match-up (at least on paper). Green Bay's high powered offense against Pittsburgh's heralded tenacious defense. Protecting the pigskin is essential for victory. Stay tuned for in depth analysis and predictions before game day.

Speaking of game day, Texas weather has severely crimped Super Bowl style. A recent ice storm wrecked havoc on Texans. Rolling blackouts forced Texas to borrow power from Mexico. That's right. Texas power grid was overwhelmed resulting in state officials seeking emergency backup systems. When will USA residents stop falling for wasteful green energy baloney? Stop relying on foreign sponsors of terror for our energy supplies? And put our country back to work by developing and harvesting our natural energy resources? The bad southern weather has canceled many planned events or kept visitors from safely attending.

Lou Piniella is back in baseball. He's recently signed on as a special assistant for the San Francisco Giants. So much for a long lasting retirement. Nobody should assume Lou is triangulating on assuming Giants managing duties. However, Piniella's role is far from clear.

It's official... Andy Pettitte has officially retired from baseball. New Yorkers will certainly miss one of their most famous and successful left handers in team history. Pettitte's retirement complicates an already complicated starting pitching scenario in the Bronx. Yanks lost out on top free agent pitching talent. Yanks hoped Pettitte would return even if it was only for one more season. Pettitte's arm is sound. Looks like his head wasn't into it anymore. Andy Pettitte, a true Yankee hero and solid citizen, to wear spikes no more. Enjoy your retirement Andy. He leaves with a 240-138 career record. New York thanks you!

New York Mets management routinely dismissed rumors of any involvement in the Madoff scandal from losing hundreds of millions to being insiders in the well celebrated ponzi scam. As I mentioned many times... hogwash. Now the Mets are looking to sell a minority stake in the team to the highest bidder. Mets baseball is in trouble. Lengthy big time contracts, poor attendance, poor minor league talent, a puzzled public wonders why management chose Collins as new manager, divisions weakest starting rotation and lack of winter free agent acquisitions has fans put off in a big way.

Time for the New York Knicks to pony up $200,000.00 for illegal draft workouts. The league has been investigating the Knicks since a Yahoo! Sports report in October that team scout Rodney Heard, in a three-year span, conducted workouts of draft prospects in violation of league's rules. Knicks have no official comment and are said to have paid the fine. No surprise. A host of major league sports teams have been circumventing rules for years. It's about time they're held responsible.

30 seconds of Super Bowl air time at a cost of $3,000,000. Get set for a Super Bowl ad blitz and new venue. Viewers will be encouraged get online and interact with various commercials. Advertisers are looking for effective ways to get the public involved beyond watching a $3M 30-second ad. Super Bowl ads are often innovative and quite memorable. I can't wait to see which ad's quickly become water cooler fodder.

Stay tuned ... Super Bowl XLV preview coming soon...



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 05:54:18 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Big league teams are soon to open spring training camps. Get ready for another thrilling season. Teams fine tuning, trade rumoring and negotiating with remaining free agents.

1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - Boston Red Sox
3 - Oakland A's
4 - Tampa Bay Rays
5 - San Francisco Giants
6 - Minnesota Twins
7 - Chicago White Sox
8 - New York Yankees
9 - Los Angeles Angels
10- Atlanta Braves

Super Bowl XLV. Pittsburgh Steelers vs Green Bay Packers. Green Bay 2.5 point favorites. In a few days NFL will crown a new champion. A terrific contest on paper. We'll soon witness how it all unfolds on the playing field.

1 - Pittsburgh Steelers
2 - Green Bay Packers
3 - New York Jets
4 - Baltimore Ravens
5 - New England Patriots
6 - Chicago Bears
7 - New Orleans Saints
8 - Philadelphia Eagles
9 - Kansas City Chiefs
10- New York Giants

Pro hoops is steaming right along. One can already tell this seasons' playoff series will be hotly contested contests.

1 - San Antonio Spurs
2 - Boston Celtics
3 - Dallas Mavericks
4 - Chicago Bulls
5 - Miami Heat
6 - Los Angeles Lakers
7 - Orlando Magic
8 - New Orleans Hornets
9 - Atlanta Hawks
10-Oklahoma City Thunder

Back to action after All Star weekend. NHL All Star format was anything but enjoyable. At least it's over. Now it's time to regain focus on the season's second half.

1 - Philadelphia Flyers
2 - Vancouver Canucks
3 - Detroit Red Wings
4 - Pittsburgh Penguins
5 - Tampa Bay Lightning
6 - Boston Bruins
7 - Dallas Stars
8 - Washington Capitals
9 - New York Rangers
10- Montreal Canadiens

NCAA Men's Basketball
One major university remains undefeated. Ohio State (22-0) keeps rolling. All others keep jockeying up and down the rankings ladder.

1 - Ohio State
2 - Kansas
3 - Pittsburgh
4 - Texas
5 - Duke
6 - San Diego State
7 - Bringham Young
8 - Connecticut
9 - Notre Dame
10- Kentucky

NCAA Women's Basketball

1 - Duke
2 - Connecticut
3 - Tennessee
4 - Baylor
5 - Texas A&M
6 - Stanford
7 - UCLA
8 - Xavier
9 - Notre Dame
10- DePaul



2011 Pre-Season MLB Predictions

Permalink 03:57:03 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Spring Training begins in less than one month. Baseball general managers are busy fine tuning their teams via trades, gobbling up remaining free agents and soon to be held arbitration hearings. It's time to take a quick peak at how the standing will look after 162 games. Note, many roster moves will take place before opening day rosters become final. The following predictions will be revamped upon team breaking camp for regular season action including in depth analysis for all squads.

2011 Pre-Season Predictions

American League
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Chicago White Sox
*Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians

Oakland A's
Los Angeles Angels
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners

National League
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins
Washington Nationals
New York Mets

St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates

San Francisco Giants
*Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks

Stay tuned for team by team coverage when spring training ends...



All World All Sports 2010 NFL Awards

Permalink 11:19:35 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

The regular season is done and results are in. All World All Sports NFL Awards. NFL 2010 was a wild ride filled with early season upsets, unlikely winners & losers, turmoil and plenty of fines. Here's our list of the best of the best from 2010 regular season action.

Team of the Year: (tie) Atlanta Falcons (13-3), New England Patriots (14-2).
Coach of the Year: Mike Smith (Atlanta Falcons)
Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady (New England)
Defensive Player of the Year: Clay Matthews (Green Bay)
Special Teams Player of the Year: (tie) Leon Washington (Seattle Seahawks), Devin Hester (Chicago Bears).
Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Vick )Philadelphia Eagles).
Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions).
Most Improved Team: (tie) Kansas City Chiefs (10-6), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6).
Most Disappointing Team: Dallas Cowboys (6-10).



Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 01:15:27 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

It's time for our first power rankings of 2011. There's been quite a rankings shake-up since our year end post. Baseball general managers heating up headlines with trades, free agent signings and salary extensions. Hockey teams streaking from hot to cold. NBA stars battling injuries, Melo trade negotiations and the battle for league supremacy. College basketball is as thrilling as ever. Only a few teams remain undefeated as the collegiate season counts down to March Madness.
Time for rankings....

Baltimore has been very active prepping for 2011. Vlad Guerrero is rumored to become the birds newest acquisition. They've already brought in the likes of JJ Hardy, Mark Reynolds & Kevin Gregg. More on the way? Angels made a big trade sending Napoli & Rivera to Toronto for Vernon Wells. Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are AL East teammates once again soon to lace up for Tampa Bay. 2011 promises another action packed season. Pre-season rankings.

1 - Philadelphia Phillies
2 - Boston Red Sox
3 - Oakland A's
4 - Tampa Bay Rays
5 - San Francisco Giants
6 - Minnesota Twins
7 - Chicago White Sox
8 - New York Yankees
9 - Los Angeles Angels
10- Atlanta Braves

Playoff results shuffling teams a few notches. Jets mastery over Patriots left New England fans bewildered. Seattle pulled off the upset of the year over champion Saints. League Championship Games on deck. It's beginning to feel like a Green Bay vs Pittsburgh Super Bowl.
1 - Pittsburgh Steelers
2 - New York Jets
3 - Baltimore Ravens
4 - New England Patriots
5 - Green Bay Packers
6 - Chicago Bears
7 - New Orleans Saints
8 - Philadelphia Eagles
9 - Kansas City Chiefs
10- New York Giants

Headlines shifting from Miami's big trio to Knicks early season success to Melo trade fiasco to league wide injuries. Playoff action will be intense. Right now, it's all about teams returning to full strength and taking care of business.
1 - San Antonio Spurs
2 - Boston Celtics
3 - Los Angeles Lakers
4 - Miami Heat
5 - Orlando Magic
6 - Chicago Bulls
7 - Dallas Mavericks
8 - Oklahoma City Thunder
9 - Utah Jazz
10- Atlanta Hawks

One week to go before NHL All Star experiment (not a fan of new format). Only 5 NHL teams with sub .500 records translates into one heck of a late season playoff battle. How many would have predicted New Jersey was one of the 5 losing teams?
1 - Philadelphia Flyers
2 - Detroit Red Wings
3 - Vancouver Canucks
4 - Pittsburgh Penguins
5 - Washington Capitals
6 - Boston Bruins
7 - Dallas Stars
8 - Nashville Predators
9 - New York Rangers
10- Montreal Canadiens

NCAA Men's
Ohio State, one of four remaining undefeated teams, is ranked #1 in all major polls. Do they have the right stuff to all the way? No clear cut "best" team in the nation right now. OSU, Syracuse, Duke, Kansas and Pittsburgh all itching for #1 slot. Time will tell.
1 - Ohio State
2 - Syracuse
3 - Kansas
4 - Duke
5 - Pittsburgh
6 - San Diego State
7 - Villanova
8 - Connecticut
9 - Brigham Young
10- Texas

NCAA Women's
Duke holding strong. Connecticut suffered first loss. Tourney time will be here before you know it. Big games soon to determine how final rankings shake out.
1 - Duke
2 - Connecticut
3 - Tennessee
4 - Texas A&M
5 - Stamford
6 - West Virginia
7 - Baylor
8 - UCLA
9 - Xavier
10- DePaul

Get ready for a new NASCAR points system. Nothing finalized yet. Both drivers and officials seriously considering transforming current format.
1 - Jimmie Johnson
2 - Denny Hamlin
3 - Ken Harvick
4 - Carl Edwards
5 - Kyle Busch
6 - Tony Stewart
7 - Kurt Busch
8 - Jamie McMurray
9 - Jeff Gordon
10- Clint Bowyer



NFL Conference Championship Weekend Predictions

Permalink 09:57:30 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Is it possible Super Bowl XLV will feature two number six seeds playing for all the marbles? It very well may shift from possibility to reality if the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers win on Sunday. Strange but true. AFC & NFC Championship Games will be hard fought tooth and nail games. Time to break down the games.

Green Bay Packers (6) @ Chicago Bears (2)
(3 pm)
Chicago Bears defensive back Charles Tillman claims Green Bay has the best receiving crew in football. The Bears main focus is taking away Packers QB Rodgers targets and shut down their powerful passing attack. Will they do it? The home team won both times during regular season action. Chicago taking the first game 20-17. Packers won their season finale in Chicago 10-3 to secure NFC sixth seed.

What will it take to win on Sunday? Controlling the line of scrimmage. Packers must protect Rodgers and give him enough time to find passing lanes. Rodgers needs to remain cool in the pocket and play callers refrain from looking for 50 yard bombs all game long. Crisp over the middle crossing routes could provide tremendous gains vs an aggressive pass rush. No one really fears Packers rushing attack setting up a perfect opportunity for solid misdirection gains. Packers defensive front four and linebackers must shut down Chicago's running attack. Another defensive key for Green Bay is to limit Bears QB Cutler's ability to dance out of the pocket. Cutler is dangerous on the move.

In order for Chicago to be the NFC Champ they'll need a very strong ball controlled performance to chew up the game clock and keep Green Bay's celebrated offense on the sidelines. Ball control will also set up great field position for da Bears offense, defense and special teams. Cutler must be efficient by not taking drive killing sacks or forcing passes against a ball hawking Packers defense. On defense, Bears fans never know which unit will show up bringing us right back to ball control & field position issues. Do whatever it takes to chew up the clock and keep defense rested. A shootout is not in Chicago's best interest.

Prediction: All indicators tell me to say Green Bay. My gut says otherwise. Chicago Bears 26 Green Bay Packers 24 in a thriller!

New York Jets (6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
(6:30 pm)
In the second #6 vs #2 seed game....
Get ready for a hard hitting bone jarring game. These two defenses come ready to play hard. No mercy. Jets and Steelers defenders are some of the best football has to offer. Both coaches do an excellent job game planning and prepping players for game day. Jets every changing and diligently disguised blitz packages will try to keep blockers and QB Roethlisberger out of sync all game long. Steelers defenders will put a hurting on whoever touches the ball. Success for both clubs lies squarely on offensive lines. Can they effectively hold up blitzers and talented linemen from disrupting QB timing and clogging running lanes?

Jets offense rests on offensive line opening gaps for New York's two back attack. Staying away from often called play action passes will give Sanchez a few extra seconds to find receivers. Steelers will bust apart play action calls. Pittsburgh's defense represents Jets greatest challenge in the season's most important game. New York did pound out a hard fought 22-17 win earlier in Steelers country. It will take fighting for every inch on every play to be successful a second time. Special teams for either side could be the big unspoken difference maker in this contest.

QB Roethlisberger is no stranger to big game competition. I'm expecting him to be on his game Sunday night. Steelers front line and blocking backs should offer Big Ben time in the pocket. Steelers key is finding a way to get wide receivers open. Jets CB Revis rarely falters. If Big Ben beats blitz packages then this game may not be as close as everyone suspects. Many prognosticators expressing how running game is key for the passing game. Not Sunday. Pittsburgh will come out throwing going right after the heart of New York's defense (as good champions always do). Once the Jets fall back, then Pittsburgh's running game will take over right up the middle. On defense, hard hits are nothing new to these players or their wallets. No Jets player will escape heavy hits.

Prediction: Jets are pumped up for this one but will hit a Steel Curtain. Pittsburgh prevails 27-13.



Hey Patriots.. Win Like Champs.. Lose Like Champs

Permalink 10:51:56 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Congratulations New York Jets! One of football's most heated rivalries was on display in Sunday's AFC Division Playoffs. New York prevailed 28-21 and now advances to play Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship.

There was plenty of trash talking between Jets (11-5) and Patriots (14-2) players leading up to the big showdown in Foxboro. Things were getting so heated in the papers NFL commissioners office felt compelled to urge both sides turn down the rhetoric. The two had split their season series with New York 28-14 in week 2 and New England sealing the AFC East after a 45-3 demolition job on Monday Night Football in week 12.

Animosity between these rival clubs has been well publicized for years. Bill Belichick's post game antics, trash talking players, SpyGate (Patriots illegally filming Jets), finger pointing, cheap hits and on field taunts have become the norm when Patriots & Jets go head to head. When the Patriots win they imitate Jets soaring celebrations, finger point at players and coaches after scores followed by post-game insults. Patriots celebrations have bordered on nonsensical for years. Make no mistake, Patriots have been a dynasty type franchise since Belichick's second season, winning their first Super Bowl in 2001. After finishing 14-2, Pats players set their sights on their 4th Super Championship. The Jets put an end to those dreams on Sunday.

Jets players celebrated victory emphatically. Patriots players were quick to moan and groan of the Jets exuberance. Many Patriots players didn't have the decency to shake hands with their rivals. Instead, they turned an ran off the field as the game clock ticked towards :00. New England, one of football's most successful teams in recent history, looked like spoiled children denied candy. Even post game press interviews recorded Pats players dissing the Jets as classless individuals. The Patriots aren't known for their sportsmanship. A team accustomed to winning needs to learn how to lose gracefully from their owner to coaching staff to players to fans.

The Jets celebrated and gave the Patriots a taste of their own medicine. A classless celebration? Perhaps. But, when New England teams are used to taunting, insulting, mimicking and disrespecting everything New York for nearly a decade then they have no solid ground to stand on after the Jets finally win a big playoff game.

Win like men. Lose like men. Something tells me this rivalry just got turned up a notch.



In Case You Missed It...

Permalink 07:34:06 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL: The road to Super Bowl XLV has already been great after one weekend of playoff football action. Defending champion Saints were stunned by a well prepared 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team nobody thought could compete. The Saints Super Bowl challenger from one year ago was also eliminated during Wild Card weekend. The Jets and coach Rex Ryan finally figured out how to beat the Colts on a late field goal, 17-16.

On to the divisional round which promises to be every bit as good. The trash talking New York Jets head to Foxboro to face arch enemy New England Patriots. Jets players have been bad mouthing New England all week. Pretty lame considering New York was completely annihilated by Brady & Co earlier this season 45-3. The game of the week could be Baltimore @ Pittsburgh. All four of these teams has what it takes to win it all which only adds to the drama of action to come.

NFC features Seattle taking on Chicago. Bears fans already believe this game is in the bag. Wake up Chicago, New Orleans fans thought the same thing. In playoff football often times the best teams fall to hotter ones. Will this be the case on Sunday? NFC power match-up features Green Bay @ Atlanta with the winner holding an inside path leading directly to Super Sunday.

Predictions: Steelers 24 Ravens 23, Patriots 36 Jets 14, Bears 21 Seahawks 17, Falcons 28 Packers 24.

MLB: After recent weeks of heavy player movement most teams seem stuck in holding patterns. Yankees still awaiting on Andy Pettitte to make up his mind on retiring or coming back for one last hurrah.

Big names from our just ended decade still waiting on contract offers. Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones & Johnny Damon keep hoping to receive a decent offer before spring training begins.

Baseball's all time saves leader officially retired this week. Trevor Hoffman enjoyed an illustrious major league career. His bullpen heroics will soon earn him a place in Cooperstown.

Speaking of Cooperstown, congratulations to Bert Blyleven who waited 14 years to be voted in. Joining Blyleven is 2B sensation Roberto Alomar who hails from a baseball rich family.

NHL: It's getting time for All Star Hockey. I'm not a fan of the new format instituted for 2011. It resembles a school yard pickup game. No more East vs West. Predetermined team captains will pick one by one until rosters are deemed complete.... "A coin toss will decide first pick with the team captains, joined by their two alternate captains, alternately drafting the 36 remaining All-Stars through 18 rounds. Each team will consist of three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards total. For sake of fairness in the draft, the captain and alternate captains for each team will consist of two forwards and one defenseman. Also, to ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not simply predetermined due to position requirements, each team’s three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10 and each team’s six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15." Is this the NHL? Really? Can someone please explain the point of this worthless exercise?

Stay tuned... more to follow...



The Road to Super Bowl XLV

Permalink 06:13:07 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Wipe the slate clean. It's time for NFL football playoff style. Four games on this weekends schedule. Three might go down on NFL Films as games to remember. Then there's New Orleans (11-5) playing a potential laugh-er in Seattle (7-9).

Time to break down the games.

New York Jets (11-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
Has Jets coach Rex Ryan finally figured out a game plan to beat the Colts? Manning has his number. Only this time, Indy is banged up on both sides of the football. Colts running game is non-existent. Passing game relies 100% on Manning's decision making. Timing with an ever changing receiving corps had its' share of snafu's during regular season action. Jets opportunistic defense feasts on mistakes. If there was ever a golden opportunity for the Jets to take out Manning, this is it.
Jets will try playing ball control chew up the clock style offense. Indy beware of the big play action pass. Jets would be wise to turn Saturday's game into the LaDanian Tomlinson show.

Prediction: Jets 31 Colts 23

New Orleans Saints (11-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
Seattle isn't your every day playoff football team. They won the West by default in NFL's worst division. As a reward, they'll face Super Bowl XLIV Champion Saints in Saturday's late game. Saints shouldn't have any problems knocking the stuffing out of Seattle. Only one thing can unhinge New Orleans... turnovers. Over confidence can lead to careless mistakes. Brees is a savvy vet ready for action.
Saints hold the advantage in every phase of this match-up on paper.

Prediction: Saints 44 Seahawks 3

Baltimore Ravens (12-4) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Intriguing game in Sunday's opener. Baltimore's defense has been well documented for years. Kansas City is a heavy run oriented team with the two headed attack of Charles and Jones. Does KC have blocking schemes to thwart Ravens aggressive defense? If not, it will be a long afternoon in Missouri.
Ravens offense is efficient. QB Flacco had 25 td's vs 10 int's in a ball control style system. Matt Cassel finished with impressive numbers (27 td, 7 int) but wasn't consistent week to week. Ravens promise to feature plenty of disguised blitz packages.
Ravens defense must win the field position battle or this one might come right down to the wire. Most expecting a Baltimore victory. KC defense shouldn't be taken likely. Their bend but don't break style often stops drives dead in their tracks. Don't be surprised to see an upset, however unlikely.

Prediction: Ravens 24 Chiefs 16

Green Bay Packers (10-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
Wild Card rounds final contest is the game of the week. Packers and Eagles both advanced by stunning the suddenly hapless Giants to earn playoff seeds. Packers passing attack is dynamic. Running game struggles. Eagles blitz from every direction causing havoc for opposing QB's. Aaron Rodgers will have a target on his back all game long. Eagles #1 defensive strategy is disrupt the passing game.
How will Green Bay's defense contain Michael Vick? Only one team scored more than 30 against Packers (New England 31). Pack defenders intercepted 24 passes and jarred 14 footballs loose.
Eagles had deep threat receivers and a QB in Vick who can buy time for them to get open. Vick is the obvious wild card in this game of aggressive defenses. His elusiveness is unparalleled in NFL history. Love him or hate him, Vick is a gamer.
This will game will be decided by big plays. I'm expecting to see at least 3 scoring plays over 50 yards.

Prediction: Eagles 38 Packers 30



14 & Done, Blyleven Voted into Hall of Fame!

Permalink 04:56:41 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Baseball's great debate is over. At least one of them. Bert Blyleven has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Blyleven waited 14 years for enough voters to finally realize this guy was a Hall of Famer. Nominee's must receive 75% of votes to be elected. Bert made it as one of 2011's representatives with 79.7% Blyleven pitched 22 big league seasons compiling a 287-250 record, 60 shutouts, 3,701 strikeouts in 692 games. He had the misfortune of pitching for teams rarely advancing to post-season play. Was this one of the reasons Blyleven was denied entry for so long? Say it isn't so. Bly was magnificent in 3 playoff years (5-1, 2.47) and was a member of the 1987 Twins championship club.

Better late than never...

"Fourteen years of praying and waiting and I want to thank the baseball writers for, I think, finally getting it right," said Blyleven. "I've got goosebumps."

Way to go Bert Blyleven! A well deserved Hall of Famer.



2011: New Year, New Champions

Permalink 01:35:52 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Happy New Year! 2011 has arrived. Another new year will soon crown new champions. Time to play prognosticator once again. Here's quick rundown of future 2011 champions.

NFL - Pittsburgh Steelers
NHL - Pittsburgh Penguins
NBA - Dallas Mavericks
MLB - Philadelphia Phillies
NCAA Basketball - Duke (Men's), Connecticut (Women's)
NCAA Football - Ohio State
NASCAR - Jimmie Johnson
PGA Money Leader - Ernie Els
LPGA Money Leader - Cristie Kerr
MLS - New York Red Bulls
ATP - Roger Federer
WTA - Serena Williams