Archives for: 2011, week 12


Spring Training Spotlight: Kansas City Royals

Permalink 12:46:46 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

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?

Permalink 10:07:37 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs by Digger  

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-Digger's Daily-

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!