Archives for: 2012, week 04

01/27/12

Crash Landing - Jets Locker Room Turmoil Continues

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-Digger's Daily-

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan promised a Super Bowl championship would return to the Big Apple. Little did he know a late season Jets loss opened the door for another New York team to make a run at Super Bowl history. The Jets were trounced 29-14 by Eli Manning & company ending any shot at Ryan's team advancing to post-season play while simultaneously sparking the Giants hot streak which has taken them into next weekend's game against New England.

By season's end, the Giants were celebrating winning the NFC East and the Jets immediately starting finger pointing at each other after a dismal 2011 performance. The focus of their post-season tirades have been on many levels all centering around a lack of camaraderie with players. Locker room disruptions, lack of leadership, failure of coaching staff to address inner circle problems and too many captains are just a few examples of what's spilled into local papers in recent weeks. Guess what? Maybe there's a bit of camaraderie surfacing? Most players finally agree on something - the 2011 New York Jets problems were based on being their own worst enemy.

Great teams overcome difficulties from injuries to infighting. It begins with leadership. The buck stops here line falls at the feet of Coach Ryan. Heading into 2011 the Jets assembled a team of bad attitude players. Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and a few defenders were thrust into a situation of big heads, big ego's and terrible work ethic. Game day sideline shouting matches between players vs coaches and players vs players eventually took its' toll with on field performances. New York was 8-5 before being embarrassed in their final three contests.

I remember reading New York sports pages warning of locker room misfits and if Ryan would be able to tame fragile ego's. Obviously, he couldn't. Ryan's claims of not knowing problems were brewing carries a stench of non-involvement or turning the other cheek mentality. This is your ship Rex. You decide what is and isn't acceptable. Players don't have to like each other to succeed. Not at all. One thing must prevail - the mission - and how 50 players working as a single unit helps everyone. Jets players with wide ranging playoff experiences of success and near misses should clearly have known better. What they displayed, and continue to gripe about, was an utter disgrace to New York football. Even legendary Joe Namath got in on the action publicly.

Jets fans can only hope this moment transforms into the biggest learning experience in New York football's recent history. There's plenty of blame to be evenly divided between players and front office. Question - will the Jets learn a positive lesson or will they continue griping throughout the spring and into training camp? 2012 off season test number one is getting rid of all disruptive players. Ryan has a chance to get a grip on his team here and now before all is lost before a new season begins.

Power Rankings - Top 10's

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-Digger's Daily-

NBA
1 - Oklahoma City
2 - Miami
3 - Chicago
4 - Atlanta
5 - Denver
6 - Indiana
7 - Orlando
8 - Philadelphia
9 - San Antonio
10- LA Lakers

NHL
1 - Detroit
1 - NY Rangers
3 - Boston
4 - Vancouver
5 - St Louis
6 - Chicago
7 - Nashville
8 - Philadelphia
9 - San Jose
10- Pittsburgh

NCAA Men's
(as of Jan 23)
1 - Kentucky
2 - Syracuse
3 - Missouri
4 - Ohio State
5 - Kansas
6 - North Carolina
7 - Murray State
8 - Duke
9 - Baylor
10- Georgetown

NCAA Women's
(as of Jan 23)
1 - Baylor
2 - Notre Dame
3 - Connecticut
4 - Stanford
5 - Duke
6 - Kentucky
7 - Maryland
8 - Ohio State
9 - Miami
10- Rutgers

01/24/12

Tigers Roar... Sign Fielder to 9 Year $214M Deal

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-Digger's Daily-

Did the Detroit Tigers panic after losing DH/C/1B Victor Martinez for the 2012 season? What else could lead to Detroit's front office offering a contract to another DH? Martinez signed a 4 year $50M deal before the 2011 season. 1B Miguel Cabrera has 4 years & $84M remaining n his deal. Detroit's third and newest DH/1B becomes their richest contract - 9 years, $214M. Welcome Prince Fielder!

This deal will be dissected for years to come. Here's my take.
Pro's: Fielder's career stats are superb (.282/.390/.540, 230 HR, 656 RBI in 7 seasons). Hit 50 HR's in 2nd full MLB season. Led NL with 141 RBI in 2009. Finished in top 5 MVP voting 3 times. He's relatively young and will now play for the franchise where his dad once starred (Cecil Fielder 1990-96). Fielder plus Cabrera creates one of AL's most potent 1-2 punches. Health has always been good (never misses extended time due to injury).
Con's: Nine years is an awfully long contract. Roster moves will have to be made down the road. Initial reports suggest Cabrera will play some games at 3B (where he once played earlier in his career). This risks defense on both infield corner positions, risks potential injuries for 3B. How will splitting time with Cabrera at 1B/DH work out? Fielder's production could take a hit playing AL Central baseball in big parks. Fielder moves from hitters friendly Milwaukee, Houston, Cincinnati and Chicago into pitchers friendly division featuring Detroit, Minnesota, Kansas City & Chicago. Homers or doubles off the wall could become long outs. Expect career number totals to drop off a bit. How about weight issues? How much money does Detroit have left over to find top of the order type players sorely needed for this lineup?

All in all it's rarely a bad thing when signing a premier ball player of Fielder's caliber. Time will tell. However, I believe Detroit could have found better ways to solidify their roster instead of investing so heavily in one player. $214M could have secured at least 2, 3 or 4 impact players. Tiger's rationale is to win now at any and all costs. Their owner desperately wants to win a World Series. Perhaps his wish will come true in 2012?

01/23/12

Random Rumblings - Rough Week of Sports News

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-Digger's Daily-

It's been a rough week in the world of sports. Family, friends and fans lost two icons. NFL Championship Games won, or lost, by miscue's sending fans into delusional fits of rage. And, a sports hero refusing to meet with President Obama.

Loss
Joe Paterno
"JoePa" passed away this weekend after losing his bout against aggressive lung cancer. Paterno was a college football legend. He coached Penn State University for over 46 years resulting on 409 victories, 37 Bowl appearances (24 wins), two national championships. His 409 victories is the most ever recorded by a Division I head coach. Over 250 of his former players entered the NFL.

Paterno was seen as a father figure within the Nittany Lions community. His image was hurt by the sexual abuse scandal which rocked PSU late in 2011 involving JoePa's former assistant coach Sandusky.

Paterno will be dearly missed by all those who knew and respected this man among men.

Sarah Burke
Sarah Burke lost her battle to survive fatal injuries suffered during practice earlier this year. She was a Canadian freestyle skier who was a pioneer of the superpipe event. Burke was a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, and won the world championship in the halfpipe in 2005. She intensively & successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have the event added to the Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics. She was instantly considered the medal favorite.

A quote from her website says it all: "Sarah is a pioneer of her generation. Her life and legacy embody the true spirit of action sports; a movement of individuals driven to innovate, master and explore the frontier of physical possibility. Sarah’s love of skiing took her life to amazing places.

Her accomplishments on skis continue to inspire girls everywhere to believe in themselves and follow their hearts. Her passing is not a cause to pack up our skis, but rather a reason to step-in and ski for Sarah and the dreams that inspired her star to shine."

Political Statement
Tim Thomas
Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Champion goaltender Tim Thomas refused to join his teammates at the White House to meet President Obama due to political differences. Thomas plans to discuss skipping the event later this evening on his Facebook page.
In the Bruins' 2011-12 media guide, Thomas, cited conservative TV pundit Glenn Beck as the person he'd most like to have dinner with.

Playoff Failures
Exciting AFC & NFC Championship Games were both decided on bad special teams plays. Baltimore Ravens lost to New England Patriots when place kicker Billy Cundiff game typing chip shot field goal attempt sailed wide left. Only a few plays earlier, wide receiver Lee Evans failed to hang onto a go-ahead touchdown reception setting up the ill-fated kick. Baltimore players were stunned at what happened ... and their dreams of playing in Super Bowl XLVI came to a crashing halt as New England players jumped with joy.
The Billy Cundiff watch has officially begun. How long will it take the Raves to sever ties with Cundiff? No quickly enough for Ravens fans.

The Giants prevailed in San Francisco after the 49ers second special teams miscue setting up a Super Bowl rematch against Belichick's Patriots. Rookie backup punt returner Kyle Williams messed up twice. The first time he failed to get out of the way of a punt which grazed his knee and the Giants recovered. The second, and most crucial, was a fumble directly leading to New York's NFC Championship Game winning overtime field goal.
Credit 49ers players for coming to the side of their beleaguered teammate. Too bad crass San Francisco fans can't find their humanity to do the same. Instead, Williams is being victimized by a slew of death threats from irate fans. Not much love found in ultra liberal San Francisco.

Just because both games were ultimately decided by bad plays doesn't warrant fans threatening players. Get a grip folks. At days end - it's only a game!!! They're going to have a very difficult time living with their goat plays. It happens to the best of players and sometimes some who just play the game. Remember Jackie Smith's dropped TD pass from Roger Staubach (Dal vs Pit SB XIII)? Scott Norwood's last second miss (NYG vs Buf XXV)? Donavan McNabb running out of gas (PHI vs NE SB XXXIX)? Or the countless other times in sports history when a bad play turned the tides. Just ask any Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox fan. At the end of the day we're all human and it's only a game. Give these guys a break.