Friday, December 27, 2013

UFC 168 Preview

The biggest rematch since Serra vs. GSP II goes down on Saturday when Chris Weidman faces Anderson Silva. Last time around, as we all know. Weidman put Silva to sleep and ended what many believe to be the most dominant era in MMA. Silva toyed around with the wrong guy and he paid for it. No one had challenged him since Chael Sonnen nearly beat him back in 2010, though that victory would've been most likely vacated since Sonnen test positive for illegal substances. But when push comes to shove, Silva ran the Middleweight division for years. He has a chance to get back on top of that mountain on Saturday.

Weidman is a huge match-up problem for Silva. He's very good on the ground, and as we all witnessed, he has one-punch knockout power. Silva took Weidman lightly the first time around, which was pretty much his style. While I think Weidman has the capability to retain his title, I don't think he will. Silva has waited years for someone to rise to the challenge, someone to motivate him to care, to try, to really train hard again. He has that in that in Weidman. Silva should take this fight more seriously than any fight in his career. He was exposed the last time he was on in the Octagon. He doesn't want to tarnish his legacy by having back-to-back losses to the same opponent. I think Silva takes this fight by unanimous decision.

The other big fight, another rematch, on the UFC 168 card is Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate. This matchup stems from their recent stint as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. Their dislike for each other is well known and probably only grew from TUF. Rousey seems to take it much more seriously than Tate for whatever reason, and it does border on annoying. However, I wouldn't put it past Dana White to tell them both to do whatever they can to hype this fight up. Rousey was first supposed to face Cat Zingao but she ended up blowing out her knee and was replaced by Tate. Nothing against Miesha Tate, but she's not in the same class as Rousey. Ronda should absolutely dominate this fight and win it with an armbar in the first round. Does that mean Tate can't pull the upset? Absolutely not. She is fully capable of jumping on Rousey if she makes a mistake and making her pay for it with her title. Rousey needs to put her emotions aside when she steps in the Octagon and not let her mind get the best of her. She absolutely should win this fight in dominating fashion.

The only other fight on the card I'm interested in is Uriah Hall vs. Chris Leben. Both guys are pretty much fighting for their job. Leben hasn't won since he beat Wanderlei Silva back in July of 2011 and has also failed a drug test since then. Hall has yet to notch a victory in the UFC despite his immense potential. He ran through his season of The Ultimate Fighter until the finale when he looked completely disinterested. He lost again in August in a fight where he just seemed to be bored. Leben is probably closer to the end of his UFC career, but if Hall can't pull off this victory his will most likely be over before it even starts.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mack Brown Leaving Texas

Quite a lot has changed in the last 24 hours for the Texas Longhorns football program. Just yesterday head coach Mack Brown said he would stay there if it were up to him. However now, according the the Longhorns Network Twitter account, he's informed the team and recruits that he'll be resigning after their bowl game.

I can't say I'm surprised. Texas has been average at best recently, and that's just not good enough. For them not to be in contention for a BCS bowl is unacceptable at that school. Brown had a great run, but it sounds like it's coming to a close. 

The biggest question will of course be, who replaces him? Saban has already agreed to an extension to stay at Alabama. I'd think Harbaugh would be insane to leave the 49ers. You and I have a better shot at getting the job than Lane Kiffin does. So who is it going to be? Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE- The University of Texas has confirmed that Mack Brown is resigning his position. So it looks like this one is actually for real this time. Though nothing at this point would surprise me.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

10 Commandments of Turkey Bowl

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, it’s time to address a tradition that many people hold near and dear; The Turkey Bowl. All across this great nation of ours, friends and families will gather to face off in an annual game of blood, sweat, tears, bragging rights, and gravy. I give you here the 10 Commandments of  Turkey Bowl.
  1. Three-drink minimum per person. Turkey Bowl cannot be successful if all participants (excluding minors of course) do not have some sort of liquid courage.  This not only helps dull the pain that will undoubtedly be suffered, but it also encourages to wildest and wackiest of plays. Not only that, but diving for a pass seems like a much better idea if you’re well lubricated. You must be able to stay upright, but after that, it’s fair game. Halftime beers and/or shots are also a must.
  2. Trash talking is required. Sure we’re all friends and family, that’s even more of a reason to psychologically torment your opponent. I’m not saying you should get all Richie Incognito on anyone, but a healthy dose of taunts is a must. This ranges from making fun of dropped passes, missed tackles, to getting juked and terrible throws. Basically, anything you can think of.
  3. Turkey Bowl should be tackle football. Yeah, I said it. Two-hand touch invariable leads to tackles anyway. No one has enough socks to supply an entire team for flag-football. Sack up. Play tackle.
  4. All touchdowns must be celebrated. This goes along with #2. If a TD isn’t celebrated by the dancing of at least 2 members of the team, including the scorer, a 15-yard penalty will be incurred following kickoff. Bonus points for choreographed routines.
  5. At least one female per team (no limit though), and yes, they must score. Not only that, but the girls aren’t allowed to cover each other. This will of course lead to an interception and/or multiple tackles by a female. This is when you will immediately refer to rule #2. Ladies, please feel free to jump in on the trash-talking as well.
  6. If available, play in the mud. Turkey Bowl should of course take place on a grass field. But if there has recently been rain in a nearby area, you should travel to said area and hold your game there. Mud leads to much more entertaining games, not only for the players, but for the fans. And yes, you must have fans for it to truly be a Turkey Bowl.
  7. Losers walk. You get scored on, you walk to the other end of the field and prepare for kickoff. No arguing, just do it. You don’t want to walk? Don’t get scored on. This also aids in keeping it fair in terms of field condition and wind.
  8. There needs to be some sort of trophy. I don’t care if you hot-glue a toy car onto a piece of scrap wood. The winners deserve to be awarded with something. Of course they have bragging rights for a year, but a trophy is so much more. “Turkey Bowl” should be emblazoned on this trophy in some form, and a record of the winners should be kept as well. The stealing and holding hostage of said trophy is not only encouraged, but expected.
  9. No more than one rushing play per series. This does not include reverses. Trick plays are a necessity, and the fans are there to watch you air it out. A ground game is fun for exactly no one.  So line up wide and throw the ball. Remember that liquid courage? Yeah, it helps a ton in this area.
  10. The most important rule of all, have fun. Turkey Bowl comes but once a year. The memories however live on forever. Take it just serious enough so it means something, but not so serious that it ruins dinner and makes people not want to play next year.
There you have it, my 10 Commandments of Turkey Bowl. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. 

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Red October: World Series Preview

I won't even try to suggest I'm not rooting for the Red Sox here. Obviously I am. That being said, I did some research and made my prediction based off that. Yes, I want the Red Sox to win. But that doesn't mean I'm too biased to ignore what the numbers say.

Wainwright and Wacha are clearly the two pitchers that the Cardinals are banking on, and with good reason. Wacha has been arguably the most impressive pitcher in the postseason and Wainwright is already a household name. They give St. Louis an immediate advantage in any series. However, St. Louis doesn't have the home field advantage, which could negate their aces. Wainwright's ERA on the road is nearly a run higher than at home, 3.36 compared to 2.53. I realize that's not much, but considering how evenly matched the two teams are, any edge is going to be huge for either team. Wacha's road ERA is over 2 runs higher than his home ERA, 4.34 compared to 2.15. Granted Wacha didn't pitch on the road in the NLCS, so it's doubtful he starts Game 2. I would assume that means the Red Sox will pitch Lackey in Game 2, who was excellent on the road in Game 3 of the ALCS and throughout the season was much better pitching at Fenway. I'm going to assume this means Buchholz throws Game 3 against Wacha, and I'll give him the edge even though he hasn't been nearly as sharp during the postseason as he was throughout the regular season.

I also have to give the edge to Boston when it comes to the bullpen. Their ERA is a full run lower than the St. Louis bullpen and they've thrown 2 more innings. Koji Uehara, the ALCS MVP, has been the most impressive reliever in MLB this year. He throws nearly nothing but strikes and has the stuff to get anyone out. Yes he did give up a walkoff home run to the Rays, but he hasn't looked back since. If the game is on the line, there is no one else in baseball I'd trust more than Koji.

The team batting stats also favor the Red Sox. They've hit .236/.325/.365 while the Cardinals have hit .210/.285/.325 throughout October. Both teams faced some of the best starting pitching in baseball in their Championship Series and the only offensive explosion was the Cardinals in Game 6. Even then they still trail the Red Sox in hitting.

The players I'm most interested in watching throughout the series are Carlos Beltran and Xander Bogaerts. One a 16-year veteran outfielder who is finally getting a taste of the World Series. The other a rookie who has a seemingly long, illustrious career ahead of him. Which one will rise to the occasion and which one will be outshined? It won't surprise me however it shakes out. Beltran has been a monster in the postseason throughout his career. His career batting average in the playoffs is .337, certainly something to be concerned with if you're the Sox. Xander actually reminds me of Beltran too. Kind of quiet, unassuming, but undeniable talent. His ability to get on base is a huge boost to Boston's lineup.

Lastly, the Red Sox ability to come from behind has been ridiculous. Two grand slams late in ALCS games, clutch bullpen pitching, and a never give up attitude pushed them into the World Series. The Cardinals didn't face adversity like that in the NLCS. They outmatched the Dodgers, as much as it pains me to say, I'm not so sure you can say that about the Red Sox. Yes, Boston deserved to win when it all boiled down, but beating the Tigers when they trotted out Scherzer twice and Verlander was amazing. I believe they have a mental edge over the Cardinals.

All in all, I have to pick the Red Sox. I highly doubt it's going to be easy, I'm thinking at least 6 games. But given the depth of their bench, bullpen, and the fact that they have home field advantage (thank you, AL All-Stars) I have to give them the edge. Should be a great Series, and I can't wait for it to start.


UPDATE-The Cardinals will send Wacha to the mound in Game 2, which is definitely not what I was anticipating. I think that game could be the pivotal one in the series. He's been their ace so far, but the pressure of the World Series and pitching in a place like Fenway has to be intimidating for the rookie. Will he step up and dominate like he did in the NLCS, or will he be hittable like he was during the regular season on the road?

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Does Tony Romo Drive An Automatic?

Because he just can't figure out the clutch.

Alright, stupid jokes aside, let's stop with the over-analyzing of Tony Romo. How'd he play on Sunday? In a word, amazing. Over 500 yards, 5 TDs, and just one pick. The problem is, that pick came at the absolute worst time. That one interception is just another reminder of the kind of quarterback Tony Romo is and probably will always be.

My opinion of Romo has been the same since he muffed that snap back in 2007. He's as physically talented as any quarterback in the NFL, but he's just not mentally strong. He has some sort of block that hinders him when it comes down to "the moment." In elimination games Romo is 1-6 for his career. Sunday's late interception was just another manifestation of Romo's mental demons.  Instead of rising to the occasion, when the game is on the line, Romo cracks. He panics and makes bad decisions. He threw into triple coverage and got picked off. There were plenty of people who said he didn't have any other choice on that play; those people could not be more wrong. He had DeMarco Murray open on a check-down, or he could've simply thrown it away. By the way, WHY DOES HE NEVER THROW THE BALL AWAY?!? He takes bad sacks or tries to force a pass instead of just getting rid of the ball. It kills me, but I digress. Anyway, Murray was open. How open? Have a look.

Thanks to @Munchdown for the image
Yeah, I'd say he was pretty open, wide open in fact. But for whatever reason, Romo didn't see him. His brain just doesn't work like that. 

Now to those of you who think the blame should fall on the defense, I'm not saying you're wrong. But you're not right either. The defense gave the offense a chance. They picked off Peyton and held the Broncos to field goals on two separate occasions. Is giving up 51 points ok? Never. Monte Kiffin should be fired immediately. And no, I'm not joking about that. But it's not like they were playing the Jaguars. Denver has carved up every single opponent they've faced this season, and for the first time, they were in danger of losing. Romo was all set up, thanks in part to his defense, to lead a game-winning drive and take a massive step towards shedding his reputation as a choker . He didn't, he failed.

Rodney Harrison explained Romo perfectly during halftime of the Sunday Night Football game. I'm paraphrasing here as I was watching baseball by then and only heard it in the background. Harrison said that Romo is the guy you see on film and are amazed at what he can do. He has big-play potential and does things that don't seem possible. But when it's crunch time, and the cream rises to the top, he's going to make a mistake. He's not thinking about what he can do to make the play, he's thinking about what kind of mistake he might make.

That is Romo's downfall. He doesn't have confidence in himself. It's said that sports are 90% mental. Tony Romo is proof.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Praising Peyton

Let me preface this whole thing by saying I'm very much a Peyton Manning fan. Not only is he a great QB but he seems like an all-around good guy. Plus he makes funny commercials. Now, let's get started....

I'm sick and tired of all the praise being heaped on Peyton lately. Yes, he has the Broncos 3-0 right now and looking like the best team in the NFL. Yes, he's been untouchable in terms of touchdowns. Yes, he's looking more and more like the Peyton that lead the Colts to the Super Bowl 2006. But pump the brakes just a bit before we anoint him.

Who have the Broncos played this season? No one, that's who. They beat the Ravens and Raiders at home and he punked his little brother's team in New York. These teams are nowhere near the top of the league. The Ravens are a shell of themselves from a year ago, the Giants are the biggest mess in the NFL, and the Raiders are, well, the Raiders. It's not like Peyton took the Broncos to Seattle and laid a beatdown on the Seahawks. He's been very good against bad teams. I'm not trying to diminish his amazing start, because it's been literally record-setting, but praising him like he's beating the cream of the crop is just ridiculous.

My next point is one that has bothered me for years. Peyton Manning is not the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time. Is he high on that list? Of course he is. But he's not the GOAT. There are quite a few guys who jump to my mind that I feel are better overall QBs than Peyton. Steve Young, John Elway, Tom Brady, and Joe Montana all are more impressive to me than Peyton. Their postseason record speaks for itself. Montana was 16-7, Young was 8-6, Elway was 14-8, and Brady is 17-7. Peyton is 9-10. I'm sorry, you can't be considered the GOAT if you have a losing record in the playoffs. I mean, put it this way, had Peyton lost in the Super Bowl in 2006 he'd have the exact same postseason record as Dan Marino. And as much as I love Marino, he definitely isn't the greatest QB to have every played the game.

I'm not going to dig in to the veteran QBs like Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Otto Graham, or Bart Starr. I just don't have the energy. If you don't know those names, look them up. They're some of the best to have ever played the game. Peyton just doesn't measure up.

I get it, his accuracy is surgical. His drive is amazing. But he doesn't adapt. There's a reason Peyton has been so good in the regular season and not so good in the postseason. I heard it explained like this. Peyton prepares for every game the same way. He breaks down teams and figures out how he's going to attack. That's great for the regular season when the majority of your games are against teams who don't measure up on the talent/athleticism level. But when you're in the playoffs, you have to step your game up. It's not that Peyton doesn't, it's that he can't. He's already prepping and playing at the highest level possible. So when the playoffs come around and teams go to another level, Peyton can't do the same thing. His brain doesn't work like that. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Again, I'm not saying Peyton isn't a great QB. I'm not saying he isn't one of the best of all-time either. I'm just saying he's not on the top of the list. He's also doing exactly what a future Hall of Famer should against bad teams so far this season. Thinking he's going to keep up this torrid pace is nothing short of ridiculous.

All that being said, I could not be happier to have him on one of my fantasy teams.

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

Now that my drafts are over, meaning my friends who I play with can't learn/steal my strategy, I'll post this. I know it's pretty late, but just in case you haven't drafted for your fantasy league, here is how I go about drafting my team.

First off, know your league's rules. This is probably the most important aspect aside from actually drafting players. Is your league QB heavy? For instance, one of the leagues I play in gives you 6 points for every passing TD. This makes the QB the most "profitable" position. That being said, drafting a QB with the 1-5 pick still isn't all that advisable in this format. Running backs are going to be your bread and butter. Plus, the drop off between top tier RBs and 2nd tier is greater than that of QBs. In summation, know the rules. If you don't, you're doomed before you start. 

Now that you know the rules, which positions should you draft where? Regardless of the rules, if you have a pick in the top 5 or 6, you should be taking a running back. Like I said, these are the workhorses of Fantasy Football. However after that, you can theoretically get away with going for a QB. Think of it this way, if I'm drafting 7th out of 10 positions in the first round I'm probably drafting 4th in the 2nd round. By this point all of the huge name RBs are going to be gone. But I've got a shot at Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady. And if they're all gone that means there is still a star RB available, so draft him. Anyway, in our hypothetical situation I'm taking a top QB in the first round and then a RB in the second round. This is where a lot of guys make a mistake. You have to wait quite a few picks before making your 3rd round selection. In all likelihood most of your starting RBs are going to be gone. But you should have a good shot at a #1 wide receiver. Draft someone who is on the same team as your QB. If you can, get his favorite target. You do run the risk of having one or the other go cold, but the reward outweighs this in my mind.

The forgotten positions. Everyone says don't draft a kicker until the end and leave the Tight Ends for the later rounds. While you can certainly get a viable kicker late in the draft, you definitely don't need to wait until the last round. For instance, Blair Walsh was the top-scoring kicker in the league I run last year with 165 points. He outscored all but 8 TEs and only 22 RBs scored more points than that. Getting a top-tier kicker is one of those things that can put you over the top in a close week. That being said, only draft one. You will need a replacement during your kicker's bye week, but they're plentiful on the waiver wire. A 1-week replacement should be easily found. As far as TEs go, I'm a big advocate of their role in Fantasy Football. These guys are the unsung heroes of wins. They're often the safety valve for the QB and typically the go to Red Zone receiver. Don't draft one in the first 4 or 5 rounds, although I guarantee someone in your league will, but don't overlook them either. Once you have your starting QB, at least 3 of your 4 starting WRs/RBs, think about a TE. If there are still viable WRs and RBs available, go that route. But if you're into the backups now, go for a top TE. It's worth it. The top 10 TEs in my league last year scored 162 or more points. Having one of these guys instead of the 30th ranked RB (Marcel Reese-127 points) gives you an advantage. 

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. This one is tough. Someone in your league will draft a defense probably before the 10th round. This person will likely not make the playoffs. You can wait on this one too, but again, no reason to make it the last round. Again going back to my league last year, the top 10 D/STs scored 131 or more points. That's on average better than a low-tier RB/WR. Also the difference between D/STs is pretty big. Top D/ST last year scored 212 points, compared the #5 who netted 159. That's a huge gap, don't wait too long to take a D/ST.

Subs. Alright, you've got your weekly starting lineup filled, now for the bench. I always try to go with a lineup that will start every week except in the case of bye weeks or injuries. I value my bench, but not to a huge extent. You do need viable options to plug in, but you don't need try to draft top level guys for your bench. This is where backups, short-yardage guys, and handcuffs come in to play. For instance, if you get Matt Forte, think about Michael Bush. You're not going to start Bush on a week to week basis, but when one of your starters gets hurt (and they will) or is on a bye, Bush can be a decent plug in.

So there you go, some things to think about when you head in to your draft lobby. Also, look up rankings from guys like Matthew Berry. He may come off a little snobbish, but he does know what he's talking about. However don't take his word for gospel. He plays in leagues with guys who have been doing this for decades. They have their own theories on which positions to draft where because their league's rules are probably different than yours. Also, the draft kit from ESPN can help as well. But again, sometimes you have to go with your gut. For example, I'm not going to draft RGIII to be my starter. I'm not convinced his knee is going to be 100% and we all know about the sophomore slump, Cam Newton last year is a perfect example. But if he's available in the later rounds, he's worth a look as a back up. When it comes down to it, have some rankings in front of you when you're drafting but don't be afraid to take a risk.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

In It To Win It

What's in a win? The hot debate right now in baseball, thanks largely in part to Brian Kenny, is what to do about the win stat for pitchers. He's started this idea that we should "kill the win" because it means nothing. I won't go into his no-hitter nonsense because I find that to be nothing more than an attention grab. But this idea that the pitcher wins mean nothing is interesting. I'll be the first one to say it's probably the most unfair statistic when it comes to baseball. But the notion that we could just do away with it is beyond preposterous.

The win/loss column for pitchers would seem to tell you a lot about that player. This is simply not true. Take Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg for example. Kershaw is 7-5 this year, by all means, not impressive. Strasburg is an even less impressive 4-6 so far this season. But Strasburg's ERA is 2.24 and his ERA+ is 167. Kershaw is currently at 1.93 and 189! But their record indicates they're having seasons that by any measurement is poor to barely average. But reading just a little further proves that's simply not the case. Both guys have been incredibly effective when it comes to their job; getting hitters out.

Another important aspect of this debate is run support. We all know Max Scherzer is 13-0 right now. Quite impressive. But it certainly doesn't hurt that he leads all of MLB when it comes to getting runs at 6.82 per game. Guess who is last on that list. Yup, Strasburg 2.44 runs per game. So even if he throws a quality start he's still statistically likely to lose. Kershaw was actually getting the 2nd lowest runs per game until this week when the Dodgers exploded for 8 when they trounced the Rockies. Now he's getting the 11th fewest. A lot more goes into the game than just pitching. I'm not even going to bring up things like inherited runners or blown saves. This'll just get way too long if I talk about those. To put it bluntly, neither should effect the starting pitcher's win/loss record.

Remember back in 2010 when Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award? His record that year was 13-12. 1 win above .500, yet he was deemed the best pitcher in the American League. I thought for sure this would be a clear turning point for baseball. While the range of statistics that are talked about has become more and more popular, people still focus on the win. But why shouldn't they? The game is all about winning and losing right? You don't ask someone, "hey, who had the quality start last night." No, you ask them who won. It's understandable that people are going to look at pitcher win/loss records. Let's be honest here, the typical baseball fan doesn't understand WAR, ERA+, or even WHIP. Sure they're easily explained, but they're not concerned with all those fancy numbers. They want to know who won and who lost.

I don't mean to talk down to anyone or sound like I'm holier than thou. I'm just saying that the majority of people who fill the stands aren't sabermatricians. They're casual fans who like watching the game when they get a chance. But for those of us who obsess over this crazy game, something should be done. Focusing on wins for a pitcher for awards is just plain irresponsible. We've already seen the voters do it once, hopefully it becomes more prevalent. I'm in no way suggesting we "kill the win" as that would alienate a ton of fans and it's completely unnecessary. Pitchers have been "winning" games for over 100 years, that shouldn't change. The thought process on what makes a pitcher successful, at least statistically speaking, should.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Biogenesis: Bust Or Busted?

So this Biogenesis story keeps getting weirder huh? At first, and I mean at first as in this week, it sounded like Ryan Braun, ARod, and the rest of the players who are connected to the now-defunct Miami clinic were up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Turns out, that may not be the case.

It has now been revealed that Tony Bosch, founder of Biogenesis, struck a deal with MLB in order for his testimony against the players. Originally Bosch was facing a lawsuit from MLB. apparently he went to Alex Rodriguez and asked for money to aid in his legal defense. ARod, in his infinite wisdom (and I'm not really sure if I'm being sarcastic there or not), denied his request. Bosch then went to MLB and said that if they drop their lawsuit against him, he'll testify against the players. Not exactly what you'd call a credible witness. The player's union is going to have  field day with this guy.

This whole thing brings up 3 big questions in my mind. One, do I care about these players who allegedly used performance enhancing drugs supplied by Bosch's clinic? Well, kinda. I'm fully convinced Ryan Braun took PEDs in his MVP year, we already know ARod has taken them in the past as he's admitted to it, and there are a handful of other guys that it's not really hard to believe did as well. But do I care? I guess I do. If they broke the rules they should be punished. But it doesn't really change my opinion of them. There is no one on the list that I really root for or follow. Like I said, if they did the crime they need to do the time, but it's not really shocking that there are MLB players using PEDs. There was a whole damn era named after it. We know that professional athletes in all sports, don't kid yourselves NBA and NFL fans (especially NFL), are going to do whatever they can to gain an edge. I'm not suggesting all or even the majority of them are, but it's blatantly clear that PED use isn't going to stop any time soon.

Secondly, will these suspensions actually happen? I'd like to think so, but I'm starting to seriously second guess it. If Bosch is the only witness MLB has and his only evidence is some notebooks and receipts, you have to like the player's chances. Guess what, I can write a bunch of stuff down that says Mariano Rivera has been on juice since 1994. That doesn't make it true. For the record, I'm not suggesting Rivera has ever taken anything illegal, it's just an example. Chill. What I'm getting at is without any positive tests it's going to incredibly difficult to make any suspensions stick. The player's union will fight that every step of the way and I'd have to believe they'd win. Hell, they got Braun's positive test from 2011 overturned because some FedEx guy left in the fridge too long. I'm still pissed about that if you couldn't tell. There's a reason the MLBPA is considered one of the strongest unions in the country, they're not going to take this lying down.

Lastly, where do we go from here? It's widely reported that the vast majority of players want PEDs out of the game. Fine, prove it. Tell the union reps that you want drug testing done several times a week, including blood, and I'll believe that. I guarantee every single team has a player either currently using something or seriously exploring the idea. Why not use HGH? They didn't start testing for it until this year. Not only that, is this list of 20 guys clearly didn't come up dirty and they're some of the biggest names in the game. So assuming they did use PEDs from Bosch's clinic, they obviously got away with it on the tests. And therein is MLB's problem in this case. None of these guys ever tested positive. How can you suspend someone for violating the drug policy when they didn't test positive for the drugs? Last time I checked it's not illegal to talk to a drug dealer.

The case that MLB had against these players took a major blow when the news broke about Bosch's attempted deal with ARod. There is no way that's the last leg of this story either. Instead of jumping to conclusions about who is going to be suspended and for how long, like I did initially, let's wait and see how this thing plays out. It's going to be a long summer.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

10 Things I Think I Think So Far About The MLB Season

Sorry Peter King (yeah, like he'll ever see this) but I'm stealing your 10 things I think I think idea. Anyways, below you'll find 10 things that I think we can tell about the MLB season through 2 months. And away we go...

1-I think the Dodgers are in major trouble. Forget all the injuries, this just isn't a team built to win. The bullpen is nothing short of atrocious, they don't have a closer, and their offensive production outside of Adrian Gonzalez is simply not good. Unless it's Kershaw or Ryu on the mound going at least 8 innings, it's tough to have faith in the Dodgers winning.

2-I think the AL East is going to be a lot more fun than we expected. The Red Sox are currently in first place by 2.5 games over Baltimore. The Yankees and Rays are both 3 games back. Remember when everyone picked the Blue Jays to run away with the division? Yeah, I told you that wasn't going to happen. They're 10.5 games back and it doesn't look like things are going to turn around any time soon. The other 3 teams however have all been better than I expected. I didn't think the Red Sox pitching would be as good as it has been, I never expected the Yankees to compete this early on with so many injuries and a thin rotation, and while I did pick the Orioles to win the division I didn't think they'd be 7 games over .500 at this point in the season. The AL East is definitely going to be a lot of fun to watch this summer.

3-I think the Angels have once again dug themselves a hole they won't be able to get out of. They're 10.5 games out of the division lead, and only 1 game better than the Mariners and 5 games better than the pitiful Astros. Speaking of the Astros, the Angels can't beat them!! They have trouble scoring runs, they're bullpen is shaky at best, and other than Weaver and Wilson their starting rotation is ugly.

4-I think Miguel Cabrera is better than we thought. Seriously, can anything stop this guy? He's hitting .367 right now, best in the league, has 17 home runs which is the 2nd most in baseball, and he has 65 RBIs already which again is best in the league. He's absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. If he can keep up this torrid pace, and we saw last season that he's capable of doing just that, we might be talking about a 2nd Triple Crown. No one has ever done that. I know it's early to bring up such a thing, but it's hard not to right now.

5-I think we need some form of instant replay in baseball. Too many dumb mistakes have been made so far this season. Missed calls on home runs, plays at first base, and most recently a pickoff at 2nd that ended a game. I realize human error is a part of the game, and I like that. But it seems to me that umpires are getting lazy. Too many calls have been missed simply because the umpire has been out of position. My simple replay suggestion/solution. Have the crew chief wear a pager and another umpire in the booth or clubhouse or whatever watching on TV. If there is a questionable call, the umpire in the booth pages the crew chief to let him know he's looking at the play. Once he does he then pages the umpire to let him know if the call was correct or incorrect. I don't want strikes and balls to be a part of this, only safe or out, home runs, and fair or foul calls.

6-This one probably isn't going to be popular, but oh well. I think I'm sick of the Mariano Rivera farewell tour already. Yeah it was cool when he threw out the first pitch against the Mets and was honored in a pre-game ceremony. The only problem was this was a road game for the Yankees! What are the Mets thinking? Mo is by far the greatest closer of all time. They should just induct him into the Hall of Fame right now. He's a great pitcher and an even better person. But I'm tired of all the tributes. Let the man go out and do his job and celebrate him once he's actually retired. If you know me, you know I hate the Yankees. This has nothing to do with that. They should be honoring him every chance they get. I'm sick of all the other teams doing it. Plus it has be worried what's going to happen if Derek Jeter announces that he's going to play one more season and then retire.

7-I think the Nationals have no idea what they're doing. I'm not going to sit here and speculate on what might have been if Strasburg hadn't been shut down last year. But I am going to say that this latest injury scare should show them they need to just let him pitch. Careers can end in the blink of an eye. You don't play for next season or two seasons from now, you play for this year. They -26 in terms of run differential and are watching the Braves take the NL East with relative ease. There is no reason that they should be losing as much as they are and not scoring more runs than they are. Also, they have to learn how to play without Bryce Harper. Having a 20-year-old kid as the centerpiece of your team isn't going to work in any professional sport, but especially in baseball.

8-I think the NL Cy Young race is going to be as good this year as it ever has been, at least in recent memory. Patrick Corbin is 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA. Clayton Kershaw is 5-3 with a 1.85 ERA, and both of those stats would be better if the Dodgers aforementioned bullpen didn't allow a ridiculous number of inherited runners to score. Shelby Miller currently leads the NL in ERA at 1.82, and Matt Harvey is having a breakout season and is 5-0 right now with a 2.17 ERA. If all this keeps up, the NL Cy Young award could be just as big of a debate that the AL MVP was last year.

9-I think MLB has to do something about Jeffery Loria and the Marlins. If I was Giancarlo Stanton I'd do everything in my power to not play this year. That team is 16-41 so far this year, by far the worst in baseball, and they're not going to get any better. Loria clearly doesn't care about winning and built a brand new stadium under the guise of he was going to bring talent to Miami. Well he did, and when they didn't perform he sent them all away. I don't what, if anything, MLB can do. But something has to be done to get the Marlins a new owner.

10-I think I'm not drinking the Evan Gattis Kool-Aid just yet. The guys is clearly good and is going to hit a lot of home runs. He's currently on pace for 35 home runs, 93 RBIs, and a .922 OPS. If he does that, then yes, fill up my glass. But he's hitting .269 right now and his last 16 games have been against the Dodgers, Nationals, Blue Jays, Twins, and Mets. Those aren't exactly teams that strike fear in the hearts of opposing hitters except for Kershaw and Harvey. He did hit .317 for the month of May, and if he does that in June I'll definitely be a believer. But for right now, I'm just not convinced he's a guy who didn't just have a great month.

So there it is. 10 things I think I think about the MLB season so far. Depending on the reaction this gets I'll keep doing these. Hopefully the legal department at Sports Illustrated doesn't come hunt me down because I totally stole Peter King's idea. Then again, they're probably busy with something NFL-related. I'm not too worried.

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oh Donny Boy

It's been awhile since there has been so much speculation about an MLB manager getting fired as there is right now about Don Mattingly. It seems like every writer, fan, and analyst thinks he should be giving his walking papers. While I don't necessarily disagree with them, it's not really all that easy.

Yes, the Dodgers are bad right now. They're in last in the NL West with a record of 19 and 26. They're team payroll is north of $200 million and they're simply not winning. But they're only 6 games out of first, and it's May. I know the expectations are high, but lets not freak out quite yet. Also, what has Mattingly done to deserve to get fired? Is it his fault the team isn't scoring runs? Not really, most of that blame should fall on the hitting coach. Is he to blame for their miserable bullpen? Nope, he didn't go out and spend millions upon millions of dollars on players that forced management to let veteran guys go. He didn't not sign a legit closer in the offseason. You certainly can't blame him for the multitude of injuries they have. So why is he getting the blame?

It's simple really, he's the manager. He's the one who does the press conferences, he's the guy they show in the dugout on TV. Mattingly is essentially the fall-guy. They could get rid of McGwire and Honeycutt but changing pitching and/or hitting coaches midseason hardly seems like a reasonable thing to do. They can't fire the players, so who is left? The manager.

Mattingly didn't do himself any favors on Wednesday when he benched Andre Ethier and then essentially called him for not being tough enough. I don't even know what that means to be honest. Does he think Ethier isn't trying to make plays and get on base? Odd thing to say. What it does tell me is that Mattingly is fed up and sounds like he's looking for a way out. He went from saying things like "we or us" when referring to the team and used "I and my." That just won't sit well. Not only did he criticize one of the team's most popular players, but he also went after the front office. You just can't do that these days. Is he right in saying they weren't able to keep experienced guys on the team because they spent so much in the offseason? Absolutely he is. But you just don't say it publicly. He criticized his employer and basically blamed them for the team's poor record. Not the brightest of ideas.

Look, I'm not saying Mattingly should be fired, but I think he has to be at this point. The Dodgers need to make a change, and right now that's the only change that can be made. The front office has to respond to what Mattingly said on Wednesday.  They can't just let him criticize players and upper management without some sort of action. Several sources have said he'll be the manager at least until the start of the series with the Cardinals on Friday, but his future after that is unknown, at least to the public. Also, I don't think the Dodgers want to have a situation like there was in Boston last year. Bobby Valentine wasn't right for that team and for whatever reason they waited until after the season to let him go. It might not have changed much if anything, but it shows that the front office is paying attention to more than just dollar signs.

If the Dodgers continue to be cellar dwellers, Mattingly is gone. Actually, unless they win the World Series he's probably gone. His contract is up at the end of the season. Anything short of a miracle at this point won't save his job. What will be interesting is what happens with Ethier. I can't imagine he's too pleased by what was said about him on Wednesday and if they don't pick things up I won't be surprised if he's no longer wearing Dodger Blue by the trade deadline. Things are a mess in LA right now, and while they did win their series against the Brewers, I don't think that's going to turn their season around. Not suggesting that Mattingly getting fired will, but I can't imagine them winning a few games here and there will save his job.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

First Impressions

April has come and gone and the MLB season is in full swing. Now that there have been enough games played to show some real trends it's a good time to reflect on what we've seen so far. There have been some surprises, some disappointments, and some just as we expected. Not going to go team by team here, just going to point out my thoughts so far.

Biggest surprises-Have to go with the Red Sox and Rockies here. The Red Sox currently have the best record in baseball at 19-8 and the Rockies are 3rd best at 17-10.  I said in my MLB preview that I thought the Sox would make the playoffs. I did not however expect them to look as good as they have. Their starting pitching has been much better than anyone anticipated, thank you very much John Farrell, and they have the best run differential in MLB right now at +47. If things continue the way April went, we could see Boston making a serious title run.

The Rockies have been equally surprising, if not more so. No one I saw had them anywhere above about 75 wins this year before the season began.  That hasn't stopped them though. They've scored the second most runs out of any team and their team ERA is 10th in MLB.  If they can stay healthy they could very easily be this year's 2012 Oakland A's. They're going to have a tough time with this as the Giants are clearly still very good and the Dodgers should pick things up if/when they get healthy. For now though, the Rockies are turning a lot of heads and rightly so.

And as much as I hate them, the Yankees deserved to be mentioned. They're way better than I think anyone anticipated. Kind of scary to think about the players they're going to get back later this season.

Biggest Disappointments-Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Angels. All three of these teams made big offseason acquisitions and all three haven't done squat with them. Granted the Dodgers are dealing with a ridiculous amount of injuries but they should be scoring more runs. They're second to last in batting average, runs, and 3rd worst in slugging percentage in MLB. That simply isn't going to win ball games. Add in the injuries to Greinke and Billingsley and this season could seriously be slipping away from them.

The Angels and their fans have to be sick of this. Their owner breaks the bank and signs guys to massive contracts only to have them fall flat on their faces in April. Josh Hamilton is so lost at the plate he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat right now. They've only got 2 regular starters hitting over .300 right now and their team ERA is 4.91 which is next to last in MLB. They're simply not a good team right now. The scariest thing for Angels fans is there is no Mike Trout waiting in the wings to come rescue them this year. He's already there and he's only hitting .270 right now. Will he pick it up? Absolutely. But there is no way he's going to put up numbers like he did last year. And if he does, they should just enshrine him in Cooperstown right now. All of this and I didn't even mention their bullpen. Which is terrible. Their save percentage right now is 38%, 2nd worst in all of baseball.

Toronto has to be the biggest disappointment of all.  Nearly everyone I saw picked them to win the AL East with relative ease. I'm not really sure why, the guys they got didn't do ANYTHING last year except for Dickey. But Dickey isn't a typical pitcher. It's not like they got a guy like Kershaw or Verlander. They got a guy who had an ERA lower than 4.62 only once before last year. He throws a completely unpredictable pitch and is therefore a completely unpredictable pitcher.  The amount of pressure heaped on the Blue Jays doomed them from the time Spring Training started.

So what does this all mean? Nothing. It's only May, we still have a TON of games to play. But if these trends continue there are going to be a lot of analysts and experts in line for a nice crow dinner. Not to mention managers and GMs on the hot seat. You have to think Scioscia is worried about his job and Mattingly can't be too comfortable right now either. It's a long season, can't wait to see how the rest of it plays out.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Green Jacket Time

RJ Bell of just sent out his awesome rundown of odds for The Masters. Check it out, pretty interesting to see who the bookmakers think will win. Some cool prop bets too.

Masters Odds:

TIGER WOODS: 7/2 ($100 wins $350)

Big-Name Long shots:

ERNIE ELS: 125/1
TOM WATSON: 2000/1

Tiger Woods Props

Will Tiger Woods win Masters?
Yes: $100 wins $350 (22% chance)
No: $420 wins $100 (78% chance)

Will Tiger Woods OR Rory McIlroy win Masters?
Yes: $100 wins $250 (28% chance)
No: $300 wins $100 (72% chance)

Will Tiger Woods make the cut?
Yes: $1,400 wins $100 (91% chance)
No: $100 wins $1,000 (9% chance)

Lowest round by Tiger Woods: over/under 67.5

Highest round by Tiger Woods: over/under 72.5

Over/Under for Tiger Woods finish position: over/under 4.5 place

Will Tiger Woods win by 5 or more shots: $100 wins $1,200

Will Tiger Woods lead (or tie for lead) after all FOUR rounds: $100 wins $1,600

Will Tiger Woods have a hole-in-one? $100 wins $8,000

How many majors will Tiger Woods win in 2013?
Zero: $130 wins $100 (52% chance)
One: $100 wins $200 (31% chance)
Two: $100 wins $700 (11.5% chance)
Three: $100 wins $2,000 (4% chance)
Four: $100 wins $6,600 (1.5% chance)

General Props

Winning Score: over/under 275.5

What age will the winner be: over/under 34.5 years old

Lowest round, any golfer: over/under 65

Will any golfer have a hole-in-one: Exactly 50% chance!

Over/Under for Phil Mickelson finish position: over/under 10.5 place

Big-Name Match-ups

(best score wins between two golfers)

Tiger Woods ($190 wins $100)
Rory McIlroy ($100 wins $170)

Tiger Woods ($190 wins $100)
Phil Mickelson ($100 wins $170

Phil Mickelson ($110 wins $100)
Rory McIlroy ($110 wins $100)

(Odds are a consensus from multiple Las Vegas and online sportsbooks. LVH deserves mention for being especially creative with golf odds)

While I don't think Tiger is going to win, I do like those odds. He's playing well and he knows now is the time. Other than that I really like the Over for the lowest round at 65, and I definitely like Tiger to beat Phil. I'd like to pick someone to win the whole thing, but I just don't know. There have been way too many first-time winners over the past 2 years in majors for me to make a confident pick. But like I said, if someone gave me $100 to put on one guy, it's hard to ignore the decent payout for picking Tiger. If it was my money, I'd focus strictly on the prop bets. 

Again, big thanks must go out to RJ Bell of He really is the best in the business when it comes to this stuff.

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions

I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve right now. Can't sleep because I know when I wake up, there is going to be presents under the tree, err, on the TV. Baseball is back. Finally. Here are my predictions for this season.

AL East-As much as it pains me, I'm going to go with the Orioles winning the division. I can see Boston getting a Wild Card spot, or at least being in contention late in the year. For all those singing the praises of the Blue Jays I have one question. How did all those guys do last year? They were awful. Just because they got traded doesn't mean they're going to regain their form. Plus Toronto has a new manager. I think they'll finish better than the Yankees (praying for a 65-win season out of them) but I don't think they'll be much of a threat to the playoffs. The Orioles got hot last year at the right time. I think that confidence boost will carry over.

AL Central-Tigers. Unless one of their key guys gets hurt, who in that division is better? No one, that's who. They're far and away the best team in the division.

AL West-This one is tricky. The numbers say go with the Angels. They said that last year too and they missed the playoffs. I don't think they'll win the division, but I do think they get a Wild Card spot. I think Texas takes the division this year. Yes they lost Hamilton but they have so many other guys that can help fill that void I don't think they'll miss him too much. The Angels will be tough, but they lack a decent bullpen. I also don't see much leadership on that team. No one seems to want to step in and be "that guy."

NL East-I think this one is going to come down to the final week of the season between Atlanta and Washington. What will Strasburg look like without a leash? Will Kimbrel be unstoppable this year? How will the Braves play without Chipper on the field? There are so many exciting story-lines in the NL East I can't wait to see those teams go at it. Apologies to Mets and Marlins fans, that's gotta suck. Either way, I have Atlanta and Washington both making the postseason.

NL Central-The Cardinals, I guess? Losing Carpenter would be a lot bigger if he'd been there last year. They know how to win without him. The Brewers could make some noise, but I just don't think they have the arms to get it done down the stretch.

NL West-Hopefully I not putting the jinx on my boys, but I'm going with Big Blue. I think this is the year the Dodgers put it all together. Yes, they spent a boatload of money. I'll be the first one to tell you that buying a championship is much more difficult now than it was 15 years ago. However, they already had a good amount of talent on that team, with established leaders, so I don't think bringing in the stars they did will have a negative impact. This is another race that I think will come down to the finals weeks. The Giants are still a very good team. They proved last year they know how to win even when Lincecum struggles. Cain is now the ace of that staff and with Romo anchoring the 'pen they are definitely a scary team. I'll say the Dodgers win the division and the Giants will take a Wild Card spot.


NL Cy Young-Kershaw. He's just too good. If he's healthy, I'll take him over anyone else in baseball right now.

NL MVP-Three names come to mind for this one. Joey Votto, Matt Kemp, and Andrew McCutchen. All three are already bonafide stars in the league. Kemp may have trouble because he has so much talent around him. 'Cutch will have trouble because the Pirates probably won't win enough games for him to receive the recognition he clearly deserves. Seriously, think about how bad they would be without him. Votto is my front-runner.

NL Rookie Of The Year- Travis D'Arnaud. He's probably going to be the guy that gives Mets fans hopes and dreams for the next few seasons.

AL Cy Young-Man it's hard to go against Verlander here, so I won't. He's filthy. He throws hard, he goes deep into games, and he's in a weak division that will inflate his win total and shrink his ERA. That's not to suggest he isn't good, he's amazing. Easily one of the top 5 pitchers in all of baseball.

AL MVP-Have to go with Mike Trout here. I argued last year that he should've been the MVP and I think this year he'll make it impossible not to vote for him. He's too good to have a sophomore slump and with more experience under his belt I can see him running away with this award.

AL Rookie Of The Year-I'm going with Jackie Bradley Jr. here. Yes I'm a homer. I know it, and I'll freely admit it. But you can't deny his talent. If he can put together a year where he hits about .280 with 20-25 home runs and 30-35 stolen bases, he can take this award. Plus, if the Red Sox can make the playoffs, it's going to hard to ignore his contributions. Again, I know I'm a homer. Get over it.

I'm going to say the Rangers win it all this year too. I think this is the year they finally get over the hump. If Yu Darvish can pitch consistently as well as we all know he can, that's going to be a tough team to beat 4 out of 7 games. However it shakes out though, I'm just thrilled baseball is back. So there ya go, my predictions for the MLB season. Agree? Disagree? Think I'm unworthy of watching baseball? Well, in the wise words of The Dude, "that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

March Madness Is Here

Here's the most comprehensive information for March Madness that you'll find anywhere. Thanks to RJ Bell of for providing me with this. 

Only TWO lower seeds favored:
(11) Minnesota -3 vs. (6) UCLA
(9) Missouri -3 vs. (8) Colorado State

Best first round point spread for each seed (i.e., best chance to win)
1: Gonzaga -21.5 vs. Southern
2: Duke -17.5 vs. Albany
3: Florida -20 vs. Northwestern St
4: Syracuse -14 vs. Montana
5: VCU -7 vs. Akron
6: Arizona -4 vs. Belmont
7: Creighton -3 vs. Cincinnati
8: Pitt -4.5 vs. Wichita St
9: Missouri -3 vs. Colorado State
10: Iowa St +1 vs. Notre Dame
11: Minnesota -3 vs. UCLA
12: Oregon +2.5 vs. Oklahoma St
13: New Mexico St +9 vs. St. Louis
14: Davidson +4 vs. Marquette
15: Pacific +12 vs. Miami-Fl
16: Western Kentucky +19.5 vs. Kansas

Best odds (seeds #1 through #8) to win TOURNAMENT:
1: Louisville 9/2
2: Duke, Miami-FL 8/1
3: Florida: 10/1
4: Michigan 18/1
5: Wisconsin 25/1
6: Arizona 50/1
7: Notre Dame, Creighton 100/1
8: North Carolina: 50/1

5 Teams with Strongest Early Round One Support
New Mexico St opened +10.5, now +9 vs. St. Louis
Albany opened +19, now +17.5 vs. Duke
Florida Gulf Coast opened +14.5, now +12.5 vs. Georgetown
San Diego St opened -1.5, now -3 vs. Oklahoma
Wisconsin opened -4, now -5.5 vs. Ole Miss

Odds to Win NCAA Title:
DUKE 8/1
OHIO ST 15/1
VCU 60/1
BUTLER 100/1
OREGON 100/1
UCLA 105/1
UNLV 105/1
TEMPLE 500/1
IOWA ST 500/1
OLE MISS 500/1
ST MARY'S 1000/1
BELMONT 1000/1
LASALLE 1000/1
BOISE ST 1000/1

2012 NCAA Tournament Action:

Over $12 BILLION worldwide expected to be wagered on NCAA Tournament
That’s more action combined than on the Super Bowl!
Less than 1% of worldwide sports betting occurs in Nevada

Over 100 million people expected to take part in tournament bracket contests!

Perfect Bracket Odds:
There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets (9.2 quintillion)
That's the number nine follow by eighteen zeros!
That’s ONE MILLION times bigger than 9 TRILLION!

Some examples of just how big this number is:
If everyone on the planet each randomly filled out a bracket, the odds would be over ONE BILLION to 1 against any person having a perfect bracket.
If one bracket per second was filled out, it would take 292 BILLION years to fill out all possible brackets (that's 20 times longer than the universe has existed).

If all the people on earth filled out one bracket per second, it would take over 43 years to fill out every possible bracket.
If all possible brackets were stacked on top of each other (on standard paper), the pile would reach from the moon and back over 1.1 million times.
All possible brackets (on standard paper) would weigh 90,000 times more than every man, women, and child on earth combined.
Even if a person had a 90% chance of winning each game he picked, his odds would still be 763 to 1 against picking a perfect bracket.

68 vs. 64 teams:
The calculations above assume a 64 team bracket – if expanded to consider 68 teams, multiple the figures by 4.

Bracket Picking Rules & Tips from Vegas!
(all records since modern era began in 1985 unless noted)

TIP: Pick ZERO #1 or #2 seeds to lose.
#16 seeds are 0 for 112
#15 seeds are 6 for 112

TIP: Pick at least ONE #13 or #14 seed to win.
At least one Top 4 seed has lost in the first round 24 of 28 years
#13 and #14 seeds combined win 18% of first round games

TIP: Don't be shy picking upsets with #12 through #9 seeds.
#12 seeds have won at least one game 22 of 24 years
#9 seeds are 4 wins above .500 vs. #8 seeds

TIP: Advance #1 seeds into the 3rd round unless very good reason not to.
88% of #1 seeds advance to the Sweet 16

TIP: Keep advancing any #12 and #10 seeds you picked to win in Round One.
#10 and #12 seeds combined win about half the time in Round Two
#12 seeds have the same number of Sweet 16 appearances overall than #7 seeds
A double digit seed has made the Sweet Sixteen 26 of 28 years

TIP: Pick at least ONE upset of a #2 or #3 seed.
Only once in 28 years has all the top three seeds (#1, #2, #3) made the Sweet Sixteen

TIP: Do NOT pick any seed worse than #12 to win in the 2nd round.
Only 7 of 448 teams (1.6%) advancing past Round 2 were seeded worse than #12

Sweet 16 round picks:
TIP: Advance exactly three #1 seeds into the Elite 8.
72% of #1 seeds make the Elite 8
(that's a higher percentage than #5 seeds that win a single game!)

TIP: Advance no team worse than a #11 seed into the Elite 8
26 have made it the Sweet 16, but only 1 has ever advanced

Elite 8 round picks:
TIP: Advance exactly ONE or TWO #1 seeds to the Final Four.
The Final Four has included exactly one or two #1 seeds 22 of 28 years

TIP: Advance no team worse than a #8 seed to the Final Four.
Only 3 of 112 Final Four teams have been seeded worse than #8

FINAL FOUR round picks:
TIP: Advance NO team worse than a #6 seed to the Championship game.
Only ONE team worse than #6 has made it in last 27 years

TIP: Do NOT advance TWO #1 seeds to Championship game
Since tournament seeding began 34 years ago (1979)
only 6 times have two #1 seeds made the finals

TIP: Pick a #4 seed or better to win it all.
For 24 straight years the champion has been a #4 seed or better!

Thanks again to RJ Bell of for putting all of this together. I can't imagine how long it took, but I'm certainly grateful. There is a ton of good information here and some very helpful hints. Good luck to you all, unless of course you're in my bracket pool. If that's the case, disregard everything above.

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports

Thursday, March 14, 2013

UFC 158 Preview

Let's be honest, the title fight for UFC 158 is the only fight we really care about. Georges St. Pierre, the current Welterweight champ, is facing off against Nick Diaz. This fight has been in the works for the better part of two years and there is no shortage of bad blood between these two guys.

We all know about Diaz by now. He's a hothead, a trash talker, a guy who has been suspended for testing positive for marijuana, and a former Strikeforce, WEC, and IFC Welterweight champion. He's got great hands, probably some of the best in the division, but I don't see him doing a whole lot of damage to GSP. St. Pierre answered a lot of questions when he beat Condit and I don't see him having any trouble with Diaz. Sure Diaz has the potential to put him to sleep with one punch, that's undeniable. But GSP is too smart to just walk in and get caught.

This is a fight that will probably end up being boring compared to all the build up. I can see the majority of this fight taking place on the ground and GSP dominating. Diaz just doesn't have the ground game that GSP has, and I don't think he can defend himself against what GSP is so great at doing. I want to say I'll be surprised if it ends up being a submission, I think GSP would rather ground and pound him for 5 rounds, but if the opportunity presents itself GSP won't hesitate to choke him out.

Diaz has a puncher's chance in this fight, but that's about it. He doesn't have the ground game and GSP loves to fight on the mat. Game over if you ask me. It also won't surprise me if Diaz ends up getting cut from the UFC after this unless he has a great performance. Dana White has to be sick of dealing with him and his antics, maybe that'll serve as some extra inspiration for Diaz. Then again, I'm sure GSP would love to be the guy who gets Diaz cut. So it works both ways.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

UFC 157 Preview and Predictions

It's finally here. The first female fight in UFC history will go down tonight. Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche is going to not only be a historic fight because of their gender, but this fight has the chance to do for the UFC what Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar did back in 2005.

The viewership won't be as high as the Griffin/Bonnar fight was, but the potential implications are just as high if not higher. MMA is dominated by men and the audience is almost 100% male. Rousey and Carmouche are breaking down a barrier and could lead the UFC into a whole new demographic. Like Jemele Hill said on Around The Horn, she's not a UFC fan, but she is ordering this fight because of the main event. That has to be music to Dana White's ears.

Alright, enough off that, prediction time. I can't stand Josh Koscheck as a person, but he is a damn good fighter. I think he outclasses Robbie Lawler quite easily. Court McGee vs. Josh Neer should be an interesting fight. McGee has dropped down to 170lbs. which is probably a better fighting weight for him. As much as I like Neer, I think McGee imposes his will and gets the victory.

Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar has the potential to be great or a total snoozer. I really like Faber and can see him dominating this fight start to finish. Hopefully he gets an early submission and moves on. Admittedly I don't know much about Menjivar, but I know how good Faver can be and when he's on his game he's tough to beat. Machida vs. Henderson is the fight I'm most interested in on this card. Machida's whole career has been based around not getting hit. But he's slowed down quite a bit over the last few years. While Hendo is old now, at least by MMA standards at 42, he's still got cinder blocks for hands. I'll take Hendo by knockout.

Like I said earlier, the main event has all the potential in the world to break down doors for the UFC. However, I don't see this fight going past the first round. Rousey has won all of her professional fights by armbar in the first round. She's much more experienced with all the hype, the big stage, and MMA in general. That's not to say Carmouche can't win this fight. All it takes is one punch, and she can definitely punch. I just think Rousey's judo background is too much for Carmouche to overcome.

So there are my thoughts, what do you think? Do you agree with my picks? Are you interested in the title fight?

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Brains Over Braun

Alright Ryan Braun, now what? You've already tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, though the results were dismissed and you were exonerated based on a technicality. Now your name has shown up on two documents that seem to implicate other PED users. You've had excuses for the first two instances, what's it going to be this time?

As stated above, Braun's positive test was dismissed based on the handling of the sample he gave. What stands out to me though, and always will, was that when he addressed the situation publicly, he said, "People are going to have different opinions. Most of them don't know the real story. It's tough sometime to base your opinion or formulate a decision when you don't know what happened. Overall, everybody has been real supportive." So what is the real story? Why has he only told his teammates what really happened? After doing a fair amount of digging, I was still unable to find the real story. What doesn't make sense to me is the supposed gray area here. He either took PEDs or he didn't. 

Earlier this year, Braun's name popped up on a document created by Anthony Bosch, who founded the Biogenesis of America clinic. Among the names on that list were known PED users such as Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera. Braun's explanation for his name being on that document was that he consulted with Bosch during his eventual successful appeal. Possible explanation? Sure. Heck, that's even probable. It seems a bit odd, but whatever. It's plausible enough to be accepted.

Today, it has been reported that Braun's name is on yet another document, along with A-Rod, Cabrera, and Francisco Cervelli, that seems to suggest he still owes Bosch money. The original document with his name said that he had already paid for whatever he got from Bosch, be it consultation/advice or whatever, but this one doesn't. This one shows the player's names, the amount owed, and a plus sign that is either circled or not. According to sources, the circles were for when payment was made. Braun's plus sign is not circled. The ESPN post about this, (which can be found here) says that the list "was a list of players who received PEDs, and that there is no other reason to be on that paper." I'm not the smartest man in the world, by any stretch, but even I can connect the dots. 

How many times does Braun have to be connected with PEDs before we just accept the fact that he used them? He can't say he never tested positive, because he did. Three times now he's been connected to the use of performance enhancing drugs. Twice he's wriggled his way away from the connections. Does he have another trick up his sleeve, or is this the connection that will ultimately be his downfall?

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl Picks And Predictions

I've put this off long enough, it's time to make my Super Bowl predictions. I've looked at all the "experts" picks, all the stats I can find, and talked to my friends. I'm picking the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

This boiled down to one thing really. The Ravens have trouble stopping the run. They haven't played a team in the playoffs that has an above average ground game. San Francisco clearly has an above average rushing attack. Everyone keeps talking about how Kaepernick can't throw from the pocket, so all the Ravens have to do is contain him. Did anyone watch the 49ers beat the Falcons? There was only one play called that was a designed QB run. Kaepernick threw for 233 yards. That's not a ton, but the thing about the SF offense is they are versatile. In that game against Atlanta, Kap threw for a TD, Gore rushed for two, and LaMichael James rushed for two. Oh, and that TD that Kap threw was to Vernon Davis. So now in addition to having Crabtree and Moss, Kap has finally found Davis. This isn't an offense that can be stopped by playing one scheme. You have to be ready for anything and everything.

Now I'm not saying the Ravens defense isn't good. Lewis, Suggs, and Reed are all great. But I don't think they're fast enough to keep up with the SF offense. They stack the box to stop Gore, Kap either uses his legs or hits one of his 3 more than capable receivers. I just don't think the Ravens have seen anything like the 49ers offense. In fact, the two games they played against "running" quarterbacks, I prefer the term mobile but whatever, they lost. In week 2 they lost to the Eagles, giving up 371 yards in the air to Michael Vick. They contained him on the ground, but didn't do squat down the field. Yes that game was ages ago, but it's important. Also, they lost to the Redskins. This was in week 14, so much more recent. RGIII hit them for 242 yards in the air and 34 yards on the ground. Clearly they were more prepared for a mobile quarterback. Problem is, they gave up 129 yards on the ground to Alfred Morris, a rookie. That 'Skins offense is fairly similar to San Fran's. Baltimore had trouble against Washington, I have no reason to believe they won't have trouble against San Francisco.

If I was a gambling man, which I am 100%, my money is/will be on San Francisco. I like San Fran at -3.5 and I definitely like the over at 47.5, in fact I'd probably take the over if it was 51 or lower. My final score prediction is 34-24 and my MVP pick is of course Kaepernick.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hall of Fame Voters Toss A Shutout

The results everyone expected were confirmed Wednesday, no one has been elected to the baseball Hall of Fame this year. This was one of, if not the most controversial ballots in MLB history. Names like Clemens and Bonds appeared for the first time. Also making their inaugural appearance were Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio. But after the votes were counted, no one received enough votes to be enshrined in Cooperstown this year.

Like I said, coming into today it seemed as though this was going to be the outcome. Personally, I don't like it. I don't see how Biggio, who led all vote-getters with 68.2%, and Piazza, 57.8%, didn't get elected. Yes, I know they will eventually get in, but it only gets muddier from here. Guys like Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux will be eligible next year. They're sure to get take some votes away from Biggio and Piazza. That's not to mention guys like Jack Morris, who will be nearing the end of their time on the ballot.

The surprising result, to me at least, was the lack of a disparity between the amount of votes Clemens and Bonds got. Clemens got 37.6% and Bonds got 36.2% of votes. Even if you add their percentages together, they're still not eligible. For me, Bonds should never be enshrined, but I'd vote for Clemens.  Clemens never tested positive, and has never been convicted in anything related to performance enhancing drugs. The same can't be said for Bonds. I know that may be a thin line to some, but it's enough for me. That also means McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, and when the time comes A-Rod would not get my vote. I simply don't think people who cheat should be honored with baseball's most prestigious individual honor.

I realize there are cheaters already in Cooperstown. The use of uppers, aka greenies, was rampant throughout baseball for decades. Sadly, there is nothing that can be done about that now. But electing more cheaters just because there are already people who cheated doesn't make it right. Like the old cliche says, two wrongs don't make a right. This isn't to suggest guys like Bonds weren't great. He was great. Perhaps one of the greatest hitters I'll ever see play the game. He put the bat on the ball amazingly well, and no amount of performance-enhancing drugs helped that. But I firmly believe his power numbers would've been nowhere near as high without PEDs, and that says to me he wouldn't have won as many awards.  The sad part in my mind is that Bonds would've been a Hall of Famer without using PEDs. There's no debate that he had an incredible amount of talent.

It is completely understandable why people think Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. I'm not saying my way of thinking is right, it's just my opinion. I can argue for Bonds just as easily as I can argue against him. I do have one radical idea that will never happen. Cooperstown creates a wing that is just for cheaters. Members of the 1919 White Sox would be in there. Pete Rose would finally have a home. All of the steroid guys could go in. The selection process would be the same, but don't give them the induction ceremony. No speeches, no celebrations, just a plaque/bust/exhibit commemorating their achievements in the game and explaining why they are in this special wing of the Hall. Never going to happen, but I sure wouldn't be against something like this.

My ballot, if I had one, would've been-Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, Clemens, Murphy, Morris, Schilling, and Edgar Martinez. If you filled out a ballot, who would you have voted for?

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