02/14/11

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

NFL
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

NBA
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

NHL
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

(www.allworldallsports.com)

02/09/11

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 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/sports/baseball/29mets.html?_r=1)....
"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.

(www.allworldallsports.com)

02/06/11

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.

(www.allworldallsports.com)

02/03/11

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...

(www.allworldallsports.com)

01/31/11

Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

Permalink 05:54:18 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

MLB
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

NFL
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

NBA
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

NHL
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

(www.allworldallsports.com)

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