Archives for: 2012, week 10

03/07/12

Peyton Manning Signs Contract with....

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-Digger's Daily-

Peyton Manning Signs Contract with (fill in the blank) will soon grace sports news pages in the coming days. In a not so stunning move - and completely professional by both the Colts and Manning - Indianapolis cut their star quarterback.

Manning's legacy in Indianapolis will live on forever. His on field and off field actions are a model for all to follow. Manning has created many programs aimed at helping the less fortunate - especially disadvantaged children. Peyton's NFL career has been exceptional. He had started 208 consecutive games. Indy won 10 or more games in 11 of 13 Manning's seasons. He compiled a 141-67 regular season record. Threw for 54,828 yards - 399 TD's - 94.9 rating. Won 2006 Super Bowl XLI. 4 time MVP. Records galore. Then came 2011. Manning's neck injury...

Peyton didn't play a single game in 2011. All concerned are asking two questions. First is all about health. Can or should Peyton risk further injury? Is he, or will he ever be, sound to play at the same high level? Second, assuming Manning wants to play... which team will he select?

To nobody's surprise Manning was cut by the Colts in a cost cutting move. Indy is in a massive roster restructuring fast forwarded after a dismal 2-14 season without their leader. Coaches and front office firings immediately after the season sent shock waves throughout Indianapolis. Everyone was caught off guard - including Manning.

I'm sure Manning will miss playing for the only franchise he's ever been associated. Time for him to turn the page. Many teams will come running. I'm sure he's already picked a few favorites. Here's a player who has nothing left to prove. He's done it all. Perhaps a political career after NFL? As for now, my only advice to Peyton is do what you know deep down in your heart is the right thing to do. If your neck is 110% healthy with little risk of permanent injury by way of a hard NFL hit... then go for it. If you're not 110% then retire with the same dignity illustrated throughout your professional life.

Peyton Manning Signs Contract with..... time to fill in the blanks.

New York Jets. Sanchez is the Jets future. Manning can be their now man. I can't think of a better tutor than Peyton Manning. Peyton & Eli playing in the same city, same stadium, opposite leagues. Intriguing to think of Manning vs Manning Super Bowl. Both Manning's grabbing headlines every week would bring a new level to New York football excitement. They'd both be on the same stage. The Jets promised a Super Bowl only to watch Eli & Giants win it again. Jets have plenty of WR weapons and his leadership can quickly turn around a leaderless team. There's no better bit. The Manning brothers take New York. Endorsements galore. Victories plentiful.

Miami Dolphins. Here's a team sorely missing a field leader for the entire century. Not a single top flight QB has been under center since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season. Miami has some talent. Add another pass catcher and they're good to go. Pass protection shouldn't be much of an issue either. Miami's new owners itching for playoff return and will offer up a big dollar deal.

Tennessee Titans. Here's a team never mentioned? Why not? Manning's starred at University of Tennessee. Titans have a good line, solid receivers, a featured back and solid defense. They're probably a great fit. Manning can quickly turn this team into playoff caliber. Question is salary cap room. Hasselback proved he's not the answer to QB problems.

Washington Redskins. Perhaps only the Raiders have made as many (or more) worse player decisions than Washington under Snyder's rule. Revolving door of coaches, front office staff & player personnel. Redskins "NEED" a quarterback. They need a lot more too which is why Washington will be big bidders. However, there's no way Peyton enters NFC East to face Eli twice per season. And, there's no way Peyton signs with a shaky team. He's just not desperate enough to play here.

Arizona Cardinals. Plenty of hype trying to match Manning with Larry Fitzgerald. That's about as far as it goes. Offensive line isn't very good and options beyond Fitzgerald aren't consistent. On the upside, Cards could have top notch defense in 2012. Good climate. I just don't see it.

Seattle Seahawks. Seattle's QB is Tavaris Jackson. These guys need help. A team on the rise really needing a solid QB to compliment an ever improving roster. Not quite the team one pictures Manning finishing an illustrious career. He's high on their list. Are they on his?

Kansas City Chiefs. It worked once before when KC brought in legendary Joe Montana to lead them into playoffs. Romeo Crennel holds no punching with enthusiasm of potentially signing one of the all time greats. If they commit to upgrading offensive line then these guys are in the running. KC can take the AFC West with Manning calling the shots.

Denver Broncos. I'm including Denver only because everywhere I turn their name enters Manning sweepstakes competition. Why? Tebow might not the answer just yet. This is a team in late rebuilding stages. Why commit so much money and cap space to a player in twilight of career vs signing multiple younger future stars? It'll be a tough call for Denver to make.

In my book the Manning sweepstakes has two legit contenders. I'm of the belief Manning knows exactly where he wants to play next season (if he doesn't retire). New York Jets or Miami Dolphins. Playing in the same city with brother Eli is too hard to resist. Option 2 is sunny Miami. Option 3, Tennessee. Expect a quick decision.

2012 MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

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-Digger's Daily-

Answer: 1992. Question: When was Pittsburgh Pirates last winning season? One play transformed Pittsburgh's destiny for decades. Barry Bonds refusal to better position himself in left field - stayed deep in LF instead of listening to teammate (CF) Andy Van Slyke to move in - allowed just enough time for slow footed and hobbling Braves 1B Sid Bream to score the winning run in bottom of 9th, Game 7 NLCS.

Soon thereafter Pittsburgh attempted cost saving measures. Star players signed multimillion dollar contracts elsewhere. Future talent never materialized while wearing a Pirates uniform. Pittsburgh has won more than 75 games only twice since 1992.

In an attempt to secure their new future Pittsburgh signed CF Andrew McCutchen to a 6 year $51.5M deal. McCutchen enters season number 4 with room to grow. A gifted defender and squad's top offensive threat. It was a good to see this team finally commit to a future.

As for the present, Pittsburgh hoped trading for A.J. Burnett would solidify a staff in need of veteran leadership. It didn't take long for a fluke injury to sideline the teams new number one starter. A fouled bunt attempt crushed Burnett's face. He's out for at least 3 months and probably longer without any baseball related activities for the foreseeable future. The rest of Pittsburgh's spring rotation battle is a hodgepodge of future contributor's and elder statesmen returning from injuries. Eric Bedard, Jeff Karstens, James McDonald, Charlie Morton, Kevin Correia and a few others battle it out this spring trying to earn a shot in the rotation. Joel Hanrahan (40 saves) returns to save victories. Middle relievers are a sore spot again heading into 2012. Spring training determines who makes the trip up north to begin the year.

Offense and defense will be interesting. 1B may become a platoon with Garret Jones/Casey McGehee. Neil Walker returns at second. Clint Barmes at short. Pirates hoping 3B Alvarez puts a disappointing '11 behind and makes great strides this year. Perhaps the Bucs most significant player is catcher Rod Barajas handling the pitching staff. McCutchen anchors the outfield with position battles in left & right taking place right now in Bradenton, FL.

Prediction: Don't expect much from Pittsburgh in 2012 - but don't count them out either. Starting rotation has ability to surprise. Talented hitters need day to day consistency. Bullpen is biggest question mark as middle relief is lacking in a big hitting division. 72+ wins is the line here. Pittsburgh fans are hoping their 2012 team becomes a Cinderella story taking NL opponents by surprise. Same old story. Same ending.

03/06/12

2012 MLB Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

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-Digger's Daily-

2011 Philadelphia Phillies were picked by many to go all the way. They seemed on the right track until getting stymied in NLDS by eventual World Series winners St. Louis. More bad news. Slugging 1B Ryan Howard was injured on the series final play (ruptured Achilles). Howard will miss at least the first month of 2012.

2012 offense has many question marks. Predicted again to win the NL East by many. Health is already a nagging concern. In addition to Howard double play combination Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins haven't posted solid numbers in years. Blossoming LF John Mayberry is getting a chance to win the everyday job. Ty Wigginton opens up the season filling in for Howard at first. All in all, Phils lineup should be able to generate runs.

The heart and soul of this club has been a stellar starting rotation. 1-2-3 is Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Vance Worley put together a solid rookie campaign going 11-3. Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick battle it out this spring for the last rotation slot. Phils pitching domination will make it difficult for any team to take 2 of 3 from these guys. New closer is ex-Red Sox fireman Jonathan Papelbon.

Prediction: NL East is Philadelphia's to win or lose. They shouldn't get too confident with Atlanta and suddenly competitive Washington aiming to knock off the top seed. 92+ wins well within reach.

Power Rankings Top 10's

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-Digger's Daily-

It's time for All World All Sports Power Rankings Top 10's. It's a fun time of year to be a sports fan. NCAA Tournament Basketball is right around the corner. Fitting we begin this weeks rankings with college basketball. Baylor's women's team is riding an incredible 31-0 season. NBA & NHL second half battles for playoffs means every game counts. Baseball spring training in full force - the regular season begins in less than a month! Power Rankings time....

NCAA Men's
1 - Kentucky
2 - Syracuse
3 - Kansas
4 - North Carolina
5 - Mizzouri
6 - Duke
7 - Ohio State
8 - Michigan State
9 - Marquette
10- Murray State

NCAA Women's
1 - Baylor
2 - Stanford
3 - Notre Dame
4 - Connecticut
5 - Maryland
6 - Duke
7 - Delaware
8 - Miami (FL)
9 - Green Bay
10- Tennessee

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

NHL
1 - Rangers
2 - Vancouver
3 - Detroit
4 - St. Louis
5 - Pittsburgh
6 - Nashville
7 - Boston
8 - Philadelphia
9 - Chicago
10- New Jersey

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