Archives for: 2009, week 30

08/02/09

NFL Training Camps Open

Permalink 09:26:34 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports Blog

-Digger's Daily-

Players are reporting to NFL training camps around the country. 2008 was exciting from beginning to the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIII. It's time to start taking notice as teams begin conditioning for what promises to be another action packed season. Here are a few things to watch in the coming weeks before regular season action begins on Thursday, September 10.

Brett Favre officially retired again. He will not be suiting up for Minnesota. Vikings had hoped Favre would return for his 17th season. With all the off-season will he or won't he drama now over, Vikes now have a QB competition brewing in camp between 9th year backup journeyman Sage Rosenfelds and scrambling mistake prone Tavaris Jackson. Just days after Favre announced he was done for good, Jackson sprained his knee. Not good news for a team desperately needing an offensive leader.

Michael Vick is free to negotiate with NFL teams after serving jail time for illegal dog fighting related charges. No takers yet. Controversy has been swirling about whether or not any team should sign him based on the gruesome details leading to his incarceration. Vick was once one of the NFL's most exciting players. Now, thousands of fans have lined up against his reinstatement. Rumors suggested New England wanted him as an insurance policy to back up Brady. No luck. Vick is a public relations nightmare. I doubt any NFL team will sign him for fear of fan backlash. Maybe the new starless UFL might take a chance on this fallen star.

Dallas Cowboys circus continues. No more Terrell Owens. No more Jessica-Gate as Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson have split up. Cowboys soon to unveil their new state of the art $1 billion stadium. Owner Jerry Jones is having withdrawals as Dallas hasn't won a playoff game since 1996. September failures have created many controversies and infighting among players/coaches in recent years. They'll be tough. But, will September demons return in '09. Yep!

New York Giants Super Bowl chances were lost due to Plaxico Burress' self inflicted gunshot wound. Giants were going strong sporting an 11-1 record before dummy Plaxico shot himself in a New York City nightclub. He was suspended then released and now faces certain jail time. Giants finished 12-4 and were dumped by rival Philadelphia in the playoffs. Maturing Eli Manning has no standout wide receivers as targets heading into camp. Someone needs to step up and become the go to guy during pre-season. Otherwise, this will quickly become a mediocre team. I'm stunned and upset their front office failed to sign or trade for an experienced big name wideout.

Defending Champion Pittsburgh Steelers aren't without controversy of their own. Star QB Ben Roethlisberger has been implicated in a rape charge. Not sure how this one will play out. Steelers are one of NFL's best and nobody should be surprised if they're repeat champs.

Chicago Bears finally have a legit QB to lead their offense. Jay Cutler is the man and will need a solid offensive line to give him chances to hit open targets. Defense will be tougher if offense can control the clock. Otherwise, it will be a long cold winter in the Windy City. I'm expecting da Bears to win NFC North.

Tom Brady is back leading the way in New England. He was knocked out for year in game one last season after leading the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 in '07. Fantasy owners will be lining up trying to sign Brady, Moss & Welker. A healthy Brady will lead AFC's most potent attack.

I'll be typing often as NFL pre-season progresses. Stay tuned for official division by division predictions after roster competitions are decided and teams break camp for their regular season openers.

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07/30/09

PED's, The MLB Story Which Never Ends!

Permalink 07:00:26 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports Blogs

-Digger's Daily-

The dark clouds hovering over Major League Baseball refuse to dissipate when it comes to PED's (performance enhancing drugs). David "Big Papi" Ortiz is the latest big name player implicated testing positive back in 2003. Add teammate Manny Ramirez inclusion today as for failed '03 in addition to receiving a 50 game suspension this season for another positive test of a banned substance.

PED stories and accusations will not go away. For those of us sick and tired of hearing, blogging, reading and listening to petty lying denials, MLB will never escape this tainted era. Not then, not now and certainly not when juicing cheaters of this generation come up for Hall of Fame consideration. No player implicated in this pathetic scandal should ever be allowed admittance into HOF. It's up to the BBWAA to make sure each and every suspected thug is locked out.

No penalties were handed down as testing in 2003 was sheepishly used to determine if there was a problem brewing in MLB. The players union (MLBPA) and MLB had an understanding all tests were to be conducted anonymously and no names were ever to be publicly released. Penalties for PED use began in 2004, suspensions in '05. As I've said numerous times, players are the public's red meat running cover for owners and a Commissioner who were all in the know well before baseball was shamed into beginning testing.

The Mitchell Report was half farce, half distraction to the true problem of how deeply steroids were being used. Releasing players names was mostly fodder and cover for general managers and owners who often conducted trades by discussing which players were juicing (and not). One of the most biased reports ever to be published, The Mitchell Report (investigated and written by former Senator George Mitchell), was a sham from the beginning. His "independent" report cannot be taken at face value when one considers Mitchell was a Boston Red Sox executive. So baseball trumpeted out one of their own full of commendations to investigate their own league. What came from this report was a half-assed assertion that there was a problem. Most players named in his report involved former players who had played on New York teams. Funny as to how Mitchell omitted star athletes who were currently under contract with his team (Boston). Neither Ortiz or Ramirez names were ever suggested by Mitchell as dopers. In 2004 Boston won their first World Series since 1918 breaking a streak known throughout baseball as "The Curse".

We can all kick and scream as loud as we want. Baseball has always run a sideshow to cover up their erroneous acts. Not one owner, general manager, field manager, coaches or team doctor has ever been implicated or suspended for conspiring to cover up PED use by players when they knew full well a problem was brewing in each and every major league clubhouse. Commissioner Selig has somehow remained unscathed throughout this tortuous mess by publicly living in denial and acting surprised of various reports which surfaced well before and after 2003.

PED's have completely tainted baseball records from the 1990's thru today. Remember how baseball came alive when McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris' single season home run record? Now proven to be a sham. Remember Barry Bonds breaking McGwire's record soon thereafter? A sham! Bonds then breaking Hank Aaron's all time home run record? A sham! The list of stars who were juicing and climbing up baseball's record books forever tarnished previous accomplishments by non-cheating players. Remember how Bud Selig proudly testified how "... baseball has been setting record revenues..." A sham! The bottom line was for as long as players were knocking the ball out of stadiums, re-writing records, striking out hitters etc... fans packed stadiums, television contracts exploded and owners profited. Greed played a very instrumental part of MLB baseball executives turning a blind eye to a well known problem which invaded the sport and to which they contributed.

Nowadays players names are slowly leaking out by an individual who managed to get their hands on 2003's anonymous testing results. Current players will take their lumps bur not for long. Steroids never fully investigated story will not go away any time soon. I remain miffed at how sports reporters nationwide have yet to call for Selig's head on a platter for allowing PED's to run rapid throughout MLB. This owner turned commissioner has rarely been an independent impartial figure. He's a joke in a world where cronyism prevails in sports and politics. If the owners had nothing to hide, then Selig would have been canned a long time ago. It's time for him to either step aside or be forcibly removed.

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07/29/09

2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Candidates. Who Would Get Your Vote?

Permalink 03:23:49 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports Blogs

-Digger's Daily-

Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were officially inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame representing the Class of 2009. Both players had distinguished and celebrated careers. Over 21,000 fans attended the induction ceremonies. Focus is now shifting towards players eligible for 2010.

The Baseball Writers Association of America decides who gets in and who does not. We're entering the era of how this group will handle the steroids generation of players eligible for consideration. My personal feelings is to keep each and everyone out. This is a subject to be debated intensely in years to come. In some cases, a handful of players have been suspected of doping without any concrete evidence. How the BBWAA handles suspected players remains to be seen. Observing how Mark McGwire receives only a few token votes then it's safe to say most suspected players will be on the outside looking in as those who played within the rules, or with stricter moral's, earn their stripes. Writers can select up to 10 players on their ballots. Players need to be named on 75% of ballots to get in. Any player receiving less than 5% is dropped from future ballots.

2010 class includes returning players and a few new one's for consideration. Here's the list:
(First time players on ballot) - Paul Abbott, Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Danny Bautista, Brian Boehringer, Darren Bragg, Dave Burba, Ellis Burks, Greg Colbrunn, Mike Fetters, Brook Fordyce, Andrés Galarraga, Karim Garcia, Tom Goodwin, Ricky Gutierrez, Jimmy Haynes, Pat Hentgen, Sterling Hitchcock, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Curt Leskanic, Josias Manzanillo, Edgar Martinez, Brent Mayne, Fred McGriff, Mark McLemore, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Scott Service, Chris Stynes, Scott Sullivan, Todd Van Poppel, John Vander Wal, Robin Ventura, Fernando Viña, Turk Wendell and Todd Zeile.
(Returning players) - Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

As you can see 2010 is a loaded ballot. Plenty of deserving players on this ballot. Whether or not they gain entrance as first timer is yet to be seen. Here are my picks for the Class of 2010:

Andre Dawson
Bert Blyleven
Roberto Alomar
Fred McGriff
Edgar Martinez

Official BBWAA results will be announced in November. Debates will soon start raging on blogs around the country.

Dawson (493 career HR) played hurt throughout his career. He was a class act on and off the field. His stats speak for themselves. Not sure what's holding up his nomination.
Blyleven has been a controversial nominee for years. He pitched admirably for many subpar teams and ranks 5th all time in strikeouts. He's eligibility has been denied for years. Many point to his 287 wins being less than the "auto" nomination of 300. Those nay-sayers fail to appreciate he pitched many years for poor teams.
Alomar was a tremendous talent who helped revolutionize how 2B was played. Outstanding fielder, clutch hitter and perrenial All Star. Might become one of the few 1st timers elected.
McGriff was steady as they come. His 493 home runs seem most impressive considering he played clean while others around him were juicing up. A true model of consistency. Deserving 1st timer will get many votes.
Martinez was DH extraordinaire. He may have to wait since DH became his primary position but there's little arguing with his hitting prowess. He'll probably have to wait a few years to get in. He's another 1st timer on my hypothetical ballot.

Let the debate begin. Who would get your vote from this 2010 ballot?

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07/28/09

New York Mets Organization Imploding

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

All World All Sports Blogs

-Digger's Daily-

2009 has been an excruciating year for New York Mets baseball fans. This was to be a new season filled with hope and high expectations. Their front office had a busy off season solidifying a once horrid bullpen with big names such as single season saves record holder Francisco Rodriguez, solid closer turned set-up man JJ Putz and rubber armed long reliever Sean Green accompanying left handed specialist Pedro Feliciano. Their lineup was to be a run scoring machine led by David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Shea Stadium was torn down and replaced by state of the art Citi Field. New excitement, better team, deep minor league organization. And then.....

At first, Citi Field opened to rave reviews for its' presentation of Jackie Robinson Rotundra. Thousands of fans quickly soured on the new park for varying reasons beginning with ownership's lack of homage towards team history. Many season ticket holders soon complained of obstructed views from their expensive seats. The field itself is so expansive we all quickly realized it would never be thought of as a hitters paradise. During the seasons first month, New York talk radio was filled with irate phone callers agitated claiming Citi Field was built for Dodgers fans instead of our hometown Mets ball club. It wasn't the beginning ownership had hoped for their $800 million dollar stadium debut.

Things quickly worsened on the field as the Mets began with a losing record in April dropping 12 of 21 contests. Rumors of ownership losing hundreds of millions in the well publicized Madoff scandal didn't help matters either. New York was able to rebound nicely in May claiming a two game NL East lead sporting a 19-15 record before the wheels started falling off. Mets players began dropping like flies. Disabled list casualties began mounting. Key players Delgado, Schneider, Reyes, Beltran, Pagan, Maine, Castillo, Church and Putz were lost. Replacement players offered little to no help. GM Minaya has been peppered relentlessly by media types questioning when the team would make a deal to secure quality and "talented" players to fill gaping voids. No trades were completed, no free agents in waiting were signed. It was very evident to everyone paying attention... New York Mets franchise was in deep trouble both financially and by a lack of minor league talent.

Stars out of action created a circus-like atmosphere on the field resembling the Bad News Bears. Fielders booted the most simple of plays. Sure handed second sacker Luis Castillo's dropped game ending non-catch vs cross town rival Yankees is still being replayed. I attended a home game at Citi when the Mets made 3 errors in one inning without a ball leaving the infield (unless it was thrown away). There's next to no power coming from any hitters... certainly none on a consistent basis. Clutch hits are far and few between. Scouts league wide have suggested it's nearly impossible to trade with the Mets based on an overall lack of minors talent. Desperately needing a boost from somewhere, the front office refused to re-sign free agent Pedro Martinez. Albeit, Pedro was a multi-million dollar bust. But, this is a team in need and they passed only to watch arch rival Philadelphia sign him two weeks ago. As of right now, Mets trail first place Phillies by 10.5 games.

It hasn't been any better in the Mets farm system. New York's top farm clubs are flirting with last place. Bernazard was just fired after the New York Daily News ran an investigative story detailing how he ripped off his shirt and challenged members of the Mets' Double-A Binghamton affiliate to a brawl during a postgame tirade this month. Binhamton players were not performing and often spotted partying hard on nights before games. He also had run-ins with Mets closer Rodriguez. Rumors cited excutive Tony Bernazard had actively lobbied for Willie Randolph's firing last year. Bernazard was said to be very adament in pressuring management to can Randolph until they finally did midway through last season. Finally, after this was all made public, something had to be done. Minaya canned the temperamental Bernazard.

The firing of Bernazard was expected. However, during the press conference announcing his dismissal Minaya seemed to self implode too. Instead of sticking with the plan of announcing the firing, Minaya went sideways implying NY Daily News reporter Adam Rubin had ulterior motives. Here are a few excerpts of what transpired at Monday's press briefing concerning Rubin who first broke the Bernazard fight challenge story.

"You got to understand this: Adam for the past couple of years has lobbied for a player development position. He has lobbied myself, he has lobbied Tony," Minaya said.

Rubin was in attendance and jumped on Minaya's comments which seemed to question his motives. Minaya tripped over his own words a bit. "No, I'm not saying that," Minaya said. "I am saying, in the past, you have lobbied for a job."

"Over the years he said a number of times that he would like ... he asked me personally ... to work in the front office," Minaya said, "in my front office. Not only me, but he's asked others."

I think it's safe to say this is a side story ready to explode. I watched reports from ESPN's nightly telecast and read a story on their site posted early this morning which quotes Rubin being "flabbergasted" and NY Daily News standing behind their reporter, and his story, "1000%". No one has refuted the article detailing Bernazard or the Mets minor league system in shambles. No one. So, it leaves me wondering why Minaya would offer up a side show against a NY reporter?

This is the Mets team "Minaya" built. It's the Mets team known as "Magic-less" after back to back September chokes. It's the injury riddled team currently sitting in fourth place without any help in sight. It's the team getting beaten often on the field (18-30 since June 1), pounded by fans and hounded by reporters all season long. It's a team not only losing games. Management has completely imploded by missteps, miscommunication and complete failure to resemble any sort of professionalisim within their organization. I can't wait to turn on sports talk radio stations later this morning. It's going to be a blast. Mets back to back wins have been overshadowed by last night's Minaya outburst. What a shame for a team which hasn't won more than two in a row since the end of May!

Guess what fans? Good news is to be had between all this negativity brewing in Flushing. The most positive event bestowed on fans is there will be no September collapse this season! Second most positive event comes from the Bronx. New York Yankees are looking stronger by the day as they try tightening their grip on the AL East lead.

All World All Sports

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07/27/09

Madden Football Rating Irks Veteran Receiver

Permalink 02:17:16 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports Blogs

-Digger's Daily-

Seattle Seahawks receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh isn't a happy camper when it comes to his rating by EA Sports Madden '10. The Madden series video games have been one of the biggest sellers in video gaming history. It's popularity has spawned players of all ages, including NFLers.

TJ was so miffed by his 91 rating (99 is best) he sounded off. Sounds like he's crying over spilt milk since 91 is considered upper echelon. TJ was not a league leader in any receiving category last season. His 92 catches for a pathetic Cincinnati club was very impressive which warranted Madden's 91 rating as one of the games (Madden '10) top receivers.

Last season, TJ played for a lowly infighting 4 win Cincinnati team. He recorded only 4 touchdown receptions in '08. That stat is way down from 12 in 2007. Who do you think is most upset? 2008 Fantasy football coaches banking on TJ's previous season stats. The same coaches who were visibly upset on fantasy message boards sounding off on his lowly 4 TD total? I doubt many fans have any sympathy for an NFL vet just because his feelings are hurt by a lower than wanted video game ranking.

Houshmandzadeh losing it publicly over a Madden rating is laughable. He did pull in 92 passes successfully last year garnering a top ranking. TJ's will be playing in Seattle this season. Wonder what his motivation will be? Playing for better Madden ratings? Or, trying to help lead his new team to a Super Bowl title?

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