Thursday, December 31, 2009
of the Week (1......!)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Should all aquaintance be forgot, blah blah blah... you know, that "Auld Lang Syne" song has nothing to do with "year" or "new". It's have been nice if they mixed in the words "Happy New Year" in there.... awwwwwww well!
How ye be fellers?? Ready to do one more LOCKS of the Week this season? I sure am!
I went 1-2 last week, but hope to finish off strong. so here we go, TO THE PICKS!
Talk about "dropping the ball" how about what happened with the Colts last week, throwing the game against the Jets. 3rd quarter... AH LETS JUST SUB IN OUR BENCH PLAYERS... I'm still made about it! Grrr!! Why didn't they want to at least try to go for the perfect season? Very curious.
Anyhow, there is a very unusual case with the Colts final regular season game at Buffalo. It turns out that the Bills are an 8 point favorite. I can't remember the last time the Bills were an 8 point favorite against anybody! Just goes to show how awful the Colts' second stringers are. Nevertheless, I'm picking the Colts to cover the spread (+8) because I can't fathom the Bills scoring enough points to make up that margin. ONWARD...
Next, we stop in at the Meadowlands for Giants' Stadium's last game. Although the G-men played the week before, the Jets will have the honor of hosting the stadium's final regular season game. The Jets are facing Cincinnati, and it seems like the Bungles are all by throwing this game too. IN theory, the Jets, 10 point home favorites, would be s cinch to fly over the Bungles onto a playoff berth.
But these are the Jets we're talking about. Even if JT O'Sullivan throws 5 interceptions, somehow I feel like the Bungles will make this interesting. I dare say take the points (+10) and watch Cincy cover as NY struggles to score points.
And finally for our LOCKS of the Week Season, we go to Minneapolis. The Vikings are playing the Giants in a game they really didn't want any part of. Because they botched opportunities vs Chicago and Carolina, among others, the Vikes are now forced to play all their starters just to salvage a bye week. With Minnesota in such desperation, who knows what will happen?! However, given how much the G-men have struggled defensively, and let's face it, they've out and out QUIT by now, I'll give the nod to the Vikes to cover -9 at home.
Folks, it's been a great year bringing LOCKS of the Week to you and I wish you a wonderful happy new year. Be safe!
Happyyyyy NEW YEAR!!! on
of the Week (BOOM!)
See y'all next season!
To review: IND (+8) at BUF; CIN (+10) at NYJ; MIN (-9) at home
Thursday, December 24, 2009
of the Week (fwop)
Dave's LOCKS of the Week
Again a Merry Christmas to you all! This week, an adbridged LOCKS of the Week to round out the second to last week of the season. You can bet everyone has the holidays on their mind, but let's hope they also have playoffs on their mind too. LOTS of teams still in it for the playoffs. TO THE PICKS!
First, let's do the easy one: Pittsburgh at Balitmore. I don't see how the Ravens lose this game, and to top it off, they get points! Quoth the Ravens "we get points? How did that happen?" The Oddsmakers are pretty smart on this one. They not only factor in the teams but the fans too. Imagine... they're having coffee and say "wow, all those goober Steeler fans must think they're going to run the table now... let's make them a FAVORITE!" No way should the Steelers be favored in this game, but Vegas has played the crowd and made them a 2.5 pt favorite. I want the Steelers to win so badly, but I'm going to use the brain instead and flock to the underdog. I'm going Ravens (+2.5)!
Next to Indianapolis, where the still undefeated Colts are playing the still in it Jets...
STILL the ONE, we're 14-0
STILL the ONE, we barely beat San Francisco
We're still having fun but we're STILL THE ONE.
C'mon, has there ever been a less convincing 14-0 team in NFL history? You gotta be kidding me with all these wins the Colts are pulling out of their pants... Even a magician couldn't pull off half these tricks. I'm not convinced by this team, and furthermore, with everything clinched, I imagine they may not have full intensity for this game. Jets are getting (+5.5). I'm taking the points and taking the Jets out in flyover country.
Finally, we go back in time a couple days to Christmas Day (the last two picks were for Sunday games). The Titans face the Chargers on Thursday Night Football! Yes, I said "Thursday Night Football". YES, they have one. No, I know most people don't get the NFL network... YES, I know Padres cable access baseball gets a bigger audience than NFL network.... I know, I know... ok ok.
Anyway, the Titans are rightfully favored by (-3). One might think that's a mistake, but after the 0-6 start, Tennessee has been doing a marvelous job battling back to about .500 . This team will have a ton to play for, and statistically speaking, the Chargers are due for a loss after 9 straight wins. Not to mention, Chris Johnson leads a Titans running attack that is near the top of the league (2nd overall in YPC). If the Titans are able to exert the runinng attack, it should allow for them to control the clock and minimize Philip Rivers' effectiveness. I'm going BIG, TITAN BIG and I'm going Tennessee (-3) on X-mas day.
I went 1-1-1 last week (yuck) and hope to turn it around this time on
of the Week (beep beep)
Again, here are the picks: Bal (+2.5) at Pit; NYJ (+5.5) at Indy; TEN (-3) at home
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
of the Week (yaaaaah!)
Dave's JINXES of the Week
for Week UN-Lucky Number 13
I was 2-1 last week, continuing my long streak of winners here on LOCKS of the Week. This week, we go for the juggular... or perhaps I'll just jinx all of them. Here we go!
First, to Cincinnati, where the Bungles will be hosting the Detroit Lions. No spiel this time... if the Bungles are as good as they think they are, they better dominate and dominate and DOMINATE the Lions in the Queen city. The only thing is, the Bengals' Carson Palmer has not be impressive in the least, lately. Nevertheless, I pick the Bungles to cover (-13) at home and out roare the Detroit Lions.
Next, we pounce from South Ohio to somewhere in New Jersey. The Giants take on the surging Dallas Cowboys... but wha oh! It's DECEMBER! And that means it's officially time for the Cowboys to suck!! It's going to be an ugly game no matter what, and I dare say the Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-men take it, and take the points +2.
Finally we travel to Greeeen Bay, where the Packers *think* they're in the playoff hunt, hosting the Ravens, but they really aren't. The Packers may have one of the worst defenses in the league, and the Ravens have a middle of the road/solid defense. The Packers always look good against bad teams, but this time around they'll get shut down. Take the Ravens in an upset (+3) on the road.
and that is probably, likely, supposedly...
of the Week (fwat!)
Good times ahead to close the season. Again, the picks: Cincy -13 at home; Giants +2 at home; Ravens +3 at GB
Oregon was the victor 37-33, and for that they get to go to the Rose Bowl. The game was thrilling every step of the sway.
Now, do you see the value in a bowl system, as opposed to a fabricated playoff system?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Dave's (bok bok bok)
of the Week (chomp!)
Dave's Turkey LEG LOCKS of the Week
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all have a safe and good weekend with your family. Enjoy the big meal and... that's about it.
I'd say "enjoy the games" but what's to enjoy...?
In DETROIT, we have another Thanksgiving rematch with the Lions and Packers. Perhaps the networks scheduled this years in advance hoping Favre would still be on the Packers. Perhaps the Lions can score points again. After all, they beat the Browns 38-37. And perhaps cows will jump the moon and cheese will grow out of trees. Are you kidding?! Aaron Rodgers tears up the Lions, just like Philip Rivers tears up the Broncos in Denver. Give the points to the Packers, all (-10.5) of them.
Let us also be thankful for an interesting game at night between the Giants and Broncos. Won't make a LOCK of the Week there, so let's go on to Sunday's games...
Off we go to Houston, Texas! At Reliant Stadium the Texans will host a rootin' tootin' good football game against the still undefeated Indianapolis Colts. I'd be hard pressed to see the Colts take yet ANOTHER game, but to be honest, I *do* think the game will be close... in fact, even closer than you think: The Texans are getting only (+3.0) points, but I believe they'll either win or lose by 1-2 points. HIDEE HO!!!!
Our last stop this week is down in Nashville, TN. This almost isn't fair, but the Titans, as hot as they are, will face the Warner-less Arizona Cardinals. And there's no line. It's just not fair... how can you not take the Titans? I'll take the Titans (0.0) and then take candy from a baby, shoot fish in a barrel, make a layup....
And that's the Mayflower edition of...
of the Week (blat!)
Again the picks are: Packers -10.5 at Det; Texans +3.0 at home; Titans 0.0 at home
Friday, November 20, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Today in the City, Andrew Jacobsen stops by to bring the Bests and Worst of the NFL Weekend, PLUS a look at the most predicted Stephen Jackson trade between the Warriors and Bobcats. And a quick look at the NHL and NBA so far.http://daveinthecity.podbean.com/2009/11/16/dave-in-the-city-sportstalk-podcast-11-17-09/
On the Show…
Bests and Worst of NFL Week 10 with Andrew Jacobsen
The Islanders make a mini-comeback in the NHL
The NBA: Who’s Hot and Who’s not, including how the Hawks overcame the world (and a deficit against Portland)
A Preview of Tonight’s big game of up and comers: Bulls vs Kings at Arco Arena.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Gloooory gloory hallelujah!
of the Week (..dang!)
Dave's LOCKS of the Week
Short and sweet this week...
TO THE PICKS!
First, to the Georgia Dome where the Falcons are on my mind against Sweet Caroline (bum bum bum!). Falcons home opener. It wont be too sweet for the Panthers this week as they meet some down dirty and nasty.... Matt Ryan and the falcons soar HIGH and tear apart the Panthers easily, FALCONS BY DOUBLE DIGITS! or at least by more than -6.5 .
Next, to the Motor City... where the auto industry aint the only thing dying. Hell, the Lions franchise has been dead for decades! So the moribund Lions with their new QB (note how we didn't say "improved") Matthew Stafford going up against the Minnesota Vikings and their QB Brett Favre, who's as old as dirt. WHO WINS THIS CONFLAGARATION?! There is no way in hell the Vikings should be challenged in this game, but guess what? The Dave Jinx owns all... nevertheless VIKES to cover on the road (-10) am I nuts? These prognostications are sure to be IN-SANE...
and you know speaking of Crazy Eddie, let's look to another Eddie, former Niners Owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. It's time to make... the PICK to end all Picks.
TO SAN FRANCISCO WE GOOOOOO!!!
I just did that to rile up Jake and Andrew. No SF 49ers prediction from me, instead we head out to WASHINGTON DC, our nation's capital, where four score and 7 days ago, the Redskins were taken down by the G-men in the Meadowlands. This week, they play their home opener against the Lousy St. Louis Rams. Can the Rams repeat the impossible and cover the spread like they did last year (same teams, same stadium too, in DC!). To quote President Obama: YES WE CAN!!
I'm Picking the RAMS to cover +10... take the points and eat them hearty... Rams put a dent into the point spread at FedEx Field.
And THAT is the scoop on
of the Week (mush!)
Enjoy the games, all. This week it was Falcons (-6.5), Vikes (-10), and Rams (+10)
Week 4 is upon us so once again we call upon
Time to start on the losing trail... it's!
Boy look at these lines! The oddsmakers have the point spread of 11 of the 13 game set at 7.5 points or less!!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
It was on the road against a very firece crowd. If ESPN broadcasters Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit are to believed, the loudest crowd they have heard in their lives. It was Ohio Stadium, cheering hard for the buckeyes on a Saturday night, and there they were, up 15-10 in what was touted as a HUGE game between visiting USC and the hometown Ohio State.
Way back in January I remember hearing about this game! There was so much on the line for a Week 2 game. This wasn't just a game for Ohio State, this was a game for the entire Big Ten. Everyone remembers how Ohio State was clobbered in multiple bowl games, and most folks still have USC's 2008 Buckeye Pounding fresh on their mind.
Last night, it seemed like the state of Ohio was going to issue huge payback to the rest of the nation. Before the game started, I insisted Ohio State needed not to win, not to dominate, but needed to compete. I was really fed up with their ineptitude in past games such as this.
Also before the game started, I had two good reasons to believe Ohio State would deliver:
1. In the Fiesta Bowl last year, Ohio State really gave Texas the business, and practically embarrasssed the Longhorns, who were favored in most peoples' minds. This was a big moral victory for the Big Ten. Unfortunately, Texas still won.
2. Not only were the Buckeyes at home, but they faced a USC team that lost most of its defensive starters, and also a USC team with a true freshman, Matt Barkley, at quarterback.
We saw the Buckeyes stifle the Trojans for most of the game. The running game was mostly stopped, and Barkley looked like... well, a true freshman.
Then the fourth quarter showed me something special. The Trojans took the ball at their own 14 yard line. Only about 4 minutes remained in regulation. From then on, Matt Barkley quarterbacked the drive of champions: it was a wonderful Touchdown Drive, capped off by a rushing touchdown, which put the Trojans ahead 16-10 with about a minute left. Pete Caroll wisely went for two, and completed the two point conversion. The Trojans fought all the way back and led 18-10.
The Trojan defense took over from there, keeping the Buckeyes at bay, where they never crossed the Trojan 40 yard line. The game ended and a relatively inexperienced USC celebrated on the field!
What a game! First of all, the kind of drive we saw from Matt Barkley is a feat we don't often see from most Senior Quarterbacks. I've never seen Tim Tebow put a team on a game winning drive such as this. I haven't even seen Matt Leinart do this when he was at SC. I could be wrong (feel free to post below if I am). Anyway, two things impressed me besides this drive:
One was Pete Caroll's game plan. I was amazed at how well he prepared for Ohio State. He knew that on the road, a mostly conservative, run happy, game plan was going to succeed, and by George, he was right! Caroll knew that the name of the game was turnovers, and with fewer turnovers, the Trojans would hang around the whole way. Only one interception was thrown by freshman Matt Barkley on this night.
Secondly, and more importantly, I was impressed by how well Ohio State played last night. I imagine Buckeye fans are so disappointed, but they really shouldn't be. I am very proud of their defense last night and their ability to control the ball. 86 yards is the reason they lost, but there was no true shame last night.
Ohio State will drop in the polls, but they will rise in the minds of many. The respect for Ohio State and the Big Ten is sure to be as good as its ever been. I, for one, feel that Ohio State may not have won the game, but they notched a big win for the Big Ten. As Herbstreit says: this may be one game of a two game series.
The rematch? The National Championship game: at the Rose Bowl. It's otherwise known as "A Return to Glory."
Monday, September 7, 2009
Jacory Harris is a man who I've never seen play before, but on Monday I saw something special. Jacory Harris proved last night that he is indeed quite the athlete. However, unlike most mobile quarterbacks, he decided to use the biggest muscle in his body: his mind. I know some of his success is owed to Florida State's extremely soft pass coverage, but Harris set himself apart from other "mobile QBs" like Michael Vick, Terrelle Pryor, and yes, sports fans, even Tim Tebow. He's still a work in progress, but I felt like Harris made some great moves last night.
and in a twist...
Christian Ponder had a similar style, but opted to use his feet more than his arm in big moments. A highlight of his night included a big run to set up a score mid-way through the fourth quarter. Ponder certainly knows about his counterpart in Gainesville. I wonder if he and the FSU staff weren't inspired by the doings of the Gators?
Travis Benjamin made a terrific catch for Miami on this night. Actually, he made a few of them. Now again, he was wide open on a lot of his receptions, but he did make a great catch near the sideline towards the end of the game. Fortunately he had his back foot firmly on the ground when he got control of the catch. Had he lifted that foot an inch, the huge pass from Jacory Harris wouldn't count, and likely the Seminoles keep the lead.
There were many stars on this night, and it was one reason why I enjoyed this matchup immensely.
Labor Day is a tribute to all of us who put in our hard work in whatever we do. In sports, we often get caught up in the "meaning" of games. Today, I took a day off from this too. Tonight, I just put on the TV and watched some football.
Some of the greatest moments I can remember in sports came as a result of casually tuning in without expectation and last night was no exception. With practically every MLB game in the books this day, all I had left was a mostly meaningless game between Miami, FL, and Florida St. over in Tallahassee.
Was it? If you look at "BCS Standings, Heisman Hopes, and all that", the game doesn't amount to anything. But on this night, we were treated to the most entertaining game of the weekend, bar none.
Imagine my surprise when is saw Miami take a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter. I was full of wonder when sophomore QB Jacory Harris, of Miami, alluded several linebackers, and instead of running wildly, he STOPPED.
A QB with lots of room just STOPPED as if the play was frozen in time! Harris looked down field, found his man Travis Benjamin, and fired a laser right into his arms. It was a sign of great things to come for the Hurricanes, a beaten football program who haven't had much of anything to celebrate lately.
Imagine my surprise when Harris led the Canes to a touchdown, not only through his elusiveness, but with his stellar accuracy on this night. 21 for 34 he was, for 386 yards and two touchdowns. Interestingly enough, the two biggest TDs of the night were capped off not by Harris, but by running backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper.
But what a night. Even though Miami had that 24-23 lead, it was QB Christian Ponder who pulled his best Tim Tebow impression and ran in a semi-spread offense to the tune of two huge first downs, and a great run for some 10-20 yards. Let's not forget the Seminoles' last chance with about 6 shots at the goal line with 17 seconds left (a pass interference call gave a slight boost of life to FSU). The last play of the game was a pass from Ponder out to Jarmon Fortson that was dropped at the bitter end. The game was as competitive as it gets, and in the end the Hurricanes rose victoriously.
Imagine THAT! The sheer thrill of the fight between both teams was one of the greatest highlights of my weekend in sports. I enjoyed every second of the fourth quarter between two teams that, quite honestly, will factor almost nothing into the Championship Race.
No matter. This was a game I will remember for a good while and I was privileged to be a part of it. It goes to show that sometimes, the greatest moments in sport are games, people, and events that we witness by simply taking a... break from our labor, soaking it all in.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Why Should Sam Bradford Worry?
It seemed like the season was over for both OU and Bradford after Sam was pile drived into the turf at the new Cowboys Stadium. OU suffers a major setback with the ensuing loss to BYU. It seems like Sam Bradford's hopes at a big season and another Heisman are dashed. However, Bradfor ought to be back next month. Not all is lost!
Why Should the SEC Worry?
Not a convincing weekend for SEC Football. LSU gets all it can handle at Washington, Florida embarrasses itself and Charleston Southern by even agreeing to play the game (and yes I understand the benefits and money going to CSU). Despite all this, I think it's still clear both teams are solid in the SEC. Florida's action to even host their game is inexcusable and in all honesty, it shouldn't count. The Gators, however, will have a decent enough schedule the rest of the way to make up for it.
Why Should Matt Barkley Worry?
Seriously, why should Barkley worry? Everyone wrote him off and declared him a failure from the get go. And yet, he turns up a sparkling performance in his USC Debut: 15 for 19, 233 yards, and a Touchdown Pass. I think it's safe to say he's ready for a starting role.
Why Should the Los Angeles Dodgers Worry?
It would be so easy to write this team off now. After all, they are .500 since the All-Star Break. Perhaps the schedule is just catching up to them. Perhaps injuries are catching up to them. Perhaps the stigma of a steroids allegation is catching up to them. Whatever it is, the Dodgers have shown more truly positive signs over the last week, as opposed to signs of danger.
Indeed, the last few games featured great Dodger pitching, one very spritied comeback that came short, and a lineup that suddenly has a pretty good gauntlet in it: Manny, Ethier, Kemp, Thome, Loney, Belliard (not exactly in that order or the same lineup). I don't know about you, but ignore the standings for now: I think the Dodgers could be looking up towards October. They look ready to break out at any moment.
So Why Should I Worry? It's early, and who knows what the future will bring?
Friday, August 28, 2009
It turns out, the joke is on him. Favre joined the Vikings this month for two reasons:
1) To stick it to the Packers for "giving up on him"
2) To get the front page of the NFL news.
So far, (2) worked out brilliantly... for a week. Eventually we realized the joke's on him. No sooner than he starts his first pre-season game, do we get a stack of reports that the Eagles now have one Michael Vick on their roster. Now THIS is a story. Michael Vick was much maligned for torturing pets and other animals over the years. He has paid serious retribution: two years in jail and a loss of most of his millions.
Now he's trying to make a return to his own normalcy. It's not easy. It's also a much more intriguing story than a 40+ year old trying to recapture glory long gone by.
Just to finish up on Favre, we already heard reports that he is ALREADY causing a rift in the Vikings Locker Room. How about that?! He's wasting no time dividing the team. Except, in another twist, the team is actually rather UNITED. United against Favre, that is.
So now to the three most interesting stories of the NFL far: Tom, Vick, and McNabb
Michael Vick: I think we already know his QB prowess is overblown. Actually, it was overblown even before he was prosecuted years ago. He joins the Eagles as a "gadget guy", so say the Eagles. Basically he's supposed to be an option, but not THE option nor THE QB. So why then, is Donovan McNabb so defensive about his usage last night? Could Vick be the new QB in Philly eventually? It depends...
Donovan McNabb: Donovan McNabb takes a lot of junk from a lot of people. After last season, and knowing his age, he's at a turning point, or more precisely, a breaking point. The Philadlephia un-faithful are fed up with him, as is the Philly media. Basically if McNabb screws up even a little, the whole city will let him have it. Michael Vick represents a threat, in my opinion. A physical sign to McNabb that this is "his last chance."
Tom Brady: and meanwhile, caught in the hulabaloo, is Tom Brady, who has a comeback of his own brewing. Remember his season ending injury in the FIRST SERIES of the year last year? It remains to be seen how a man who was inactive for nearly a calendar year will rebound and become an All Star again. His competitive juices will make it happen, but I don't think it will be immediate. Still, this is a very interesting story, and ironically, a story that has been shifted to the back burner compared to two other car wrecks: Favre and to a lesser degree Vick.
Of the four, you'd figure that Brady will have the most success. Obvious, right? Now I wonder who will come out ahead between Vick and McNabb. For now, Michael Vick has his head on straightest, but who knows? I'll predict, quite honestly that the Eagles fall apart. When there's two strong willed QBs on the same team, it usually doesn't end well.
It really made me wonder why so many experts predicted the Eagles to take the NFC East. I won't! I pick the G-Men of the Meadowlands.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Your dreams were your ticket out...
The first downs and touchdowns are what it's all about
And the plays and defenses will be gathering 'round
While the half backs and full backs will set 'em down
Oooh you're gonna feel it (ooh yer gonna feel it)
Right here where you need it (right heeere where you need it)
Oh its starting round the clock, take your tailgate the the lot, WELCOME BACK
WELCOME BACK, WELCOME BACK, WELCOME BAAACK
WELCOME BACK, WELCOME BACK, WELCOME BAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
It's been busy... here's some thoughts I have from the last two weeks.
Bulls/Celtics might be the best first round playoff series I've ever seen. How often does a series have nearly all its games go to overtime, AND feature a single overtime game, a double overtime game, and a triple overtime game? Game 7 could be electric!
There were a lot of expectations for the Yankees, Mets, Cubs and Rays going into this season. So far, all three of them are flailing to stay above .500. Even the defending Central Division Cubbies are stuck around .500 to start the year. I feel like most of these teams will pick it up. We'll see.
The Lakers and Cavs appear to be on a path of destiny. After seeing the first round, I can't see who would beat either on the way to the Finals.
A-Rod allegations, more fun from Selena Roberts. Much credit is due, however, for most of us not jumping into the recent scandals.
The NFL draft was mystifying all right. How'd SF wind up with an open shot at Michael Crabtree? How'd the Raiders pick a guy they could have drafted in the fourth round? How'd the Browns agree to trade picks *so* many times? How'd the Jets get lucky enough to land Mark Sanchez?
There's much more to tell, but the games must be played! Back soon (I hope).
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Take a look at the game last night at the Rose Garden. It took the game of Brandon Roy's life to beat the Rockets last night. Roy scored 39 points (clearly a career high for a playoff game), and the Blazers STILL only won 107-103.
It took Roy's greatest scoring performance to win by only FOUR?! This series is done. The Blazers still have no answer for Yao Ming in the paint, and most of their front court was in foul trouble. I can't see the Blazers pulling this out.
Take your souvenir pictures on the way out, Portland.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Here are the details from NFL.com:
Harrison will get a guaranteed $20 million, more than any other Steeler outside of Ben Roethlisberger. This also gives Harrison the distinction of being the second highest paid player in team history.
The Contract runs through 2014, however, it is unlikely Harrison will play out the duration of the deal. Harrison will be 31 in the first season of the new deal.
While it's a rather steep price for one guy, it's only right to give the best defensive player on the team his proper reward. One could consider the contract retribution for his efforts in 2008. Either way, it's a great moment for the Steelers and Steeler fans, which ensures Harrison will remain a Steeler as long as he is a productive player.
It's nice to see the Steelers finally hand out contracts on par with the rest of the league. It wasn't always the case going back, and furthermore, the dividends are paying off. Roethlisberger, offered a lucrative 8 year deal last year, only led the Steelers down the field in a 2 minute drill most players dream of. Down a score late with the Super Bowl on the line, Big Ben Roethlisberger engineered a near length of the field drive that put the Steelers ahead and won them a championship!
Enough of my Steeler bias! The deal is a good one and a refreshing sign of fiscal assertiveness from the Steeler organization.
After Andre Ethier came so close to one last season for the Dodgers, the LA Dodgers finally... FINALLY have a new player to hit for the Cycle.
In 39 years of Dodger Baseball, no Dodger had been able to hit for the Cycle since Wes Parker's cycle back on May 7, 1970 at the Mets' Shea Stadium. The record withstood several expansions, two huge MLB player strikes, realignment, a steroids scandal, and the 80s. It even survived Disco! Even Shea Stadium itself fell before Wes Parker's long standing "record."
The nearly 40 years between Dodger players to hit for the cycle may be the longest such drought in MLB history. The only team to eclipse such a drought is the San Diego Padres, who never had a player hit for the cycle in its history.
Outside of that, the Dodgers stood alone as the only team to have gone over three decades between when a player hit for the cycle and the next player hit for the cycle. To make things even sweeter, Orlando Hudson was the first Dodger to hit for the cycle at Dodger Stadium.
And how sweet it was! It started with a squib single that was dribbled a total of 50 feet. Hudson legged it out on a close play. Next, a home run that was hit, admittedly, just a few rows past the meager 3 foot wall near the Left Field fould pole. After that, it was a double that split the gap and finally, Hudson went the other way and stroked a triple into the corner. The way the ball was hit, it was roughly 7-10 feet high. There was a split second when it looked like another fly ball, but instead it dropped at just the right spot.
To me, waiting for this cycle was even more arduous than waiting for a no hitter. Oddly enough, both the Padres and Mets share the distinction of having never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter. Anyway, I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time to witness Dodger history. At last, a cycle for the Modern Era, and who better than the O-Dog, a man who was signed just this off season to chip in. If he was chipping in, he surely was using an Axe! Goodness!
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The Broncos traded Quarterback Jay Cutler, their franchise quarterback to the Chicago Bears for two first round draft picks, a third round draft pick, AND QB Kyle Orton.
What a huge trade this is. The biggest trade I've seen in quite sometime, if not the entire decade.
Wow! Who'd have thought this would happen and then happen so quickly? To be honest, I was sure the Broncos would wind up keeping Cutler after all the hubub. I stand corrected! I still don't know for sure who got the better end of the deal. I've been convinced Denver made out like bandits, but we won't know for sure until a few years down the line.
Short term, this seems like a winner for the Bears. They gave up a *lot* to get him, but you get a QB who was very solid last season. The only issue is all the mental baggage. My opinion: Jay Cuter is NOT ready for the intense Chicago Media.
Long term, this could be a big move for the Broncos. Provided they learn how to draft, the Broncos have the potential to completely patch up their holes in only two years time. We know they have issues on defense. We know they need a Running Back. We know it might be a good idea to draft another QB for the future. All three items could be aided through the draft.
There's potential here. Not just for Denver, but for Chicago. There is MUCH more on the subject, along with extensive coverage of the trade on today's Dave in the City Podcast! Do listen and enjoy! Meanwhile, there is also a second companion podcast devoted to the Final Four this weekend.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Talk about excitement! When Verne Lundquist kept shouting in disbelief time after time during the Ohio State/Siena game, he and Bill Raftery knew why they chose broadcasting as a profession.
I have to admit, before the Midnight Madness, I was really disappointed at the Tournament so far. Hardly any big upsets, and ZERO late game heroics. Even the Marquette one-point win over Utah State seemed like a formality. FINALLY some drama for the tournament...
Then today, I see Memphis dominating Maryland, 'Nova blowing out UCLA, and UConn smoking Texas A&M. Man oh mannn... So much for "parity in College Basketball"....
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I can't even begin to tell you why I think USC's Pac 10 Championship is so cool.
Pac 10 Championship: USC 66, Arizona State 63
It is SO cool. Here you had a team that nobody expected to do anything, the same team on the bubble of getting into the NCAA's at all. Here's a group that lost easily its best player in 25 years, O.J. Mayo, and a considerable underdog going up against teams like UCLA, Washington, and Arizona State.
But here you are! The Trojans, usually not much in basketball, rise to the top and defeat both the Bruins and Sun Devils in the Process. I don't have a dog in the fight. In general, I don't root for other USC Sports, and I've also been pulling for Baylor and Georgia Tech for no good reason. But you know what? I am really, REALLY happy to see the Trojans win the Pac 10. This is the greatest underdog story in the Pac 10; obviously it guarantees the Trojans a berth in the tourney, and who knows? Maybe they'll get a chance to upset someone in the first round.
Other Tournament News and Notes...
How about Cal State Northridge taking care of Pacific to win the Big West? CSUN wins 71-66, despite blowing a 18 point lead and having to go to OT to do it. Pacific with all the hype they've been getting looked like the darling of everyone in the Big West. So too did Long Beach State. Yet it's Northridge who takes it all. That's a big win for Northridge, plus, its the first time they've won the Big West Tournament. Granted, they got an at large bid several years ago, but for the Matadors, a strong season for that group.
...but to think UCSB had them on the ropes three times!!!!!
Michigan State ousted by Ohio State, and it wasn't even close. Ohio State won 82-70, and honestly they were up by much more than that. I'm surprised, but I probably should be. Tony Jimenez tells us the Big Ten is really not that strong this season. Be careful about Big 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament!
North Carolina falls to Florida State, and nobody cares. FSU beat UNC 73-70 on Saturday in the ACC tournament. Boy do the Tarheels miss Ty Lawson!
The end of the Line for Baylor: Baylor gets blown out by Missouri 73-60 in the Big 12 Championship Game Saturday. DaMare Carroll scored 20 points as he carried the Tigers to its first Big 12 title since 1993. It was quite a great ride for Baylor, but Mizzou is simply a better team.
The moment I saw Louisville clobber Providence despite playing their worst game of the week, I knew this was the team to beat in the Big East Tournament. Surely enough, they took the Big East championship on Saturday night as they defeated a worn out Syracuse 76-66. The headline reads "Louisville takes its first ever Big East Title." That's obvious: Louisville didn't join the Big East until 2005. They are good. I know so often we see them choke before making the Final Four, but depending on seed, I can see them making it this year.
The Tournament in a Nutshell...
Off the top of my head, I see these teams being "Final Four" good. Again it depends on how they're seeded later this afternoon:
North Carolina, good, but iffy (depends on Lawson)
UConn, good, but I have a hard time thinking they'll get a #1 seed now. Losing to Pitt Twice, check that, getting EMBARASSED by Pitt Twice and now the deal with Syracuse in the Big East tourney. I just don't see them doing much past the Elite 8.
Duke, good. Once again I think they're a Sweet Sixteeen team at best.
Teams that didn't impress me.
Hey what about Kansas? No way. You don't lose to the worst team in the conference and live to tell about it. They aren't due a top seed anyway, but I'd be really surprised if they even won a game in the tournament. I don't like Kansas.
Most of the Big Ten, except *maybe* Ohio State... nope, even Ohio State! Pretty much any team with a running game will have their way against the Big Ten. I do see two teams with Final Four potential in the Big Ten, but I'll get to that in a moment. Everyone else? They ought to flame out in the first weekend.
Washington. I don't think I ever considered Washington as a legitimate contender in the Pac 10. I know they had the top seed in the Pac 10 tournament, but I just never take them seriously. It's probably my own fault, but that's been how I've seen them, even though they made a nice comeback against Arizona State on Friday.
USC... well I think they'll have a chance to advance a round, and potentially get a huge upset in the second round. That's the extent to which SC would be a "dark horse".
Penn State and Purdue: ok they lost in embarrassing fashion, but since everyone loves to dog the Big Ten (like me), I have to think they'll use that as momentum to make a big run. There's an outisde shot either team makes the Final Four, but as usual, it will take a lot.
Arizona State and UCLA: Both of them have Elite Eight potential. After that, it's a coin flip. UCLA's defense is overrated, but no slouch. I wouldn't be surprised to see either team get into the big dance.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma had been without Blake Griffin for a while, and while they couldn't round the wagons with him back the other day, I still see OU as a legitimate contender. This probably shouldn't even be in the "Dark Horse" category, but if they get a seed lower than 3rd, I think it qualifies.
I think we're in for another good ride here in the NCAAs. For all we know, we could end up with few upsets, but if Conference Week was any indication, man am I ever seeing some huge upsets this time around.
Disclaimer: I watched a limited amount of college basketball this season, so most of these picks are instinctual reactions. Nonetheless, I'm proud to say I made a similar pick when I chose CSUN to win the Big West Tournament. Who's the man? Oh yeah.. I AM!!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Can you believe all these tournament upsets already?
Whether its Kansas, Oklahoma, or Pitt, not to mention UConn's fall after 6 overtimes, you have one of the wildest Conference Tournament weeks ever. The Big 12 final is completely decimated. The Big East final will feature Syracuse vs Louisville. The Big Ten Semis will have Illinois, and you get a Pac 10 finalist out of nowhere, USC, playing Arizona State.
Man! That's madness if you ever seen it.
This is the most fun I've had watching college basketball in a long while. I've noted on the podcast numerous times how pointless I thought conference tournaments are, but the sheer thrill of the little guy getting a chance to make the party is what draws me to watch.
There are some conferences, like the MAC or the Big West, which need the team to win the conference tournament to make the Field of 64+1. Generally when I spoke of my disdain for Conference Tourneys, I meant with respect to Big Conferences. Nonetheless, I'm having fun with them all! The Big Conferences and the little ones are all offering drama I did not expect.
Another example, in the ACC. Could you imagine if Georgia Tech held on to its 62-61 lead over Florida State with seconds to go? It would have been a last place team making the ACC Semifinals! I don't know if that's *ever* happened in the ACC. Florida State went on to win, but the possibility was fun to think about.
Then in the Big East, after playing a 6OT game the previous night, the Syracuse Orangemen stave off another overtime against West Virginia to win 74-69 and advance to the conference final game.
I certainly hope this is a sign of greater things to come in the NCAA Tournament next week. Lots of huge matchups are to come, I'm sure.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
And then blow the lead
And then get it back on a great three pointer inside of a minute
And then give up a three right afterward to Mo Williams
And then with less than ten seconds to go your fattest player just heaves a 3 pointer from 30 feet with the game on the line, and the shot doesn't even draw iron.
And end up losing 87-83.
That's why the Clippers are the Clippers.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Now to the AL West, where things like curses and goats do not apply.
The AL West: Well, somebody has to win it
Best team first this time...
Angels... No matter how bad or lame their offense is, the Angels are the team to beat in this division. I'm not even doing any buildup here... because its so freakin' obvious the Angels are better than the other teams in the AL West. Starting Pitching is the big reason why. The Angels have four starters who pitched ERAs under 4 last season. Four! Thats impressive, and shows the depth of their rotation. I don't even think the Angels care that Frankie Rodriguez bolted for NY. Not a whit... They still have Scott Shields, one of the best setup guys in the game, along with new closer Brian Fuentes from Colorado.
Offense is going to be the same as it ever was, possibly worse. Anaheim (and yes I said Anaheim, Arte... live with it!) lost Garret Anderson and Mark Teixiera to free agency. Granted, they won't really miss GA, but its a bummer that they don't have much to replace him with. Torri Hunter and Vlad Guerrero have the pop of a soda can, and everyone else would celebrate if they got a ball past the infield. Nevertheless, a very capable manager, Scoscia, will make the most of whatever lineup they have and get them to a division title. Remember, this is a regular season preview, so its irrelevant if their entire rotation is "not built for October".
[that said, it would be REMARKABLE if the Angels lost in the first round again... for a third year in a row]
Now to the teams that will compete for 2nd.
A's... I like the A's, and I have no idea why. But I've always appreciated their commitment to smart management. Some good that "smart management" has done the last two seasons, but this year will be different. For one, they have Matt Holliday and got Giambi back. For two, theres also Kurt Zusuki, Eric Chavez, and a budding bullpen. Yes, we know watching A's games is like watching baseball in slow motion, but it should at least be compelling for half a season.
M's... No Ibanez? No problem! We'll bring back Jr. Griff! He's almost as good, and older, but less expensive! there ya go! The M's also feature Kenji Johjima at catcher... not great, but listen, he's a catcher, and um... ok he has good defense? Oh and they have beltre!! He's not that bad but he's not that great. Maybe Franklin Gutierrez would be a bright spot, but we have yet to see.
"Not bad but not great" is basically the M's in general. I still can't believe how dumb that Bedard for Adam Jones trade is. Unless Bedard pitches Cy Young quality innings this year, I doubt they're getting the better end of that deal. Just wait until Bedard hits the DL... again! The rest of the staff... Felix Hernandez, who's solid, and three scrubs. The bullpen isn't much better without JJ Putz. This team might have one good month of baseball in them.
Rangers... Go go power raaaaangers! More like go go steroid juicers. What a joke this franchise is. I didn't say "become", because they were a joke to begin with. Even when I was a little kid, their highlights were a 59 year old pitcher pounding Robin Ventura and a ball going off Canseco's skull. To even attempt to break them down is an insult to baseball. That is ALL.
Dave's Take: The Angels win this thing fairly easily. One could make a case for Oakland, but they'd really rely on their bullpen to get it done. Unless someone knows of farmhands in the Oak Farm System, I doubt they'll muster anyone to get through innings 1-6 consistently.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I'm in one of those loopy moods today, so I'll do this in order of "Teams Least Likely to Win" first.
We know where this is going...
Astros... Man oh man, the Astros. Oswalt is one tweaked elbow from turning into a frog, Ed Wade may be gone, but his stench is still destroying the franchise. Goodness... Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman may pick up where they left off, but everybody else... ugh. Tejada won't be that great, Wigginton, Towles, Pence, Blum, oof, oof, oof, and oof... The Pitching just ain't all that either. This is a bad team, no way around it.
Pirates... Yeah, they suck. While overall, they're awful, they have a couple of talented guys on the team. The biggest of the bunch is Nate McClouth who can occasionally sock it to 'em. I saw that first hand in an April night game at Dodger Stadium. McLouth belted a 3 run homer in the 9th inning with, I believe, 2 outs against Saito to power the Bucs to a win. That was just the beginning. McLouth went on to hit .276 with nearly a .500 slugging percentage, 26 Home Runs, and 94 RBI's in '08. What a tremendous breakout year for the blonde-haired knick knack in Center. Doumit, ADAM LaRoche, and Freddy Sanchez will be pretty decent this season, while not spectacular.
How then, is this team consistently in last place most of the time? Generally the pitching lets them down. It hard to believe too, because Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny were supposed to be the GOOD pitchers, but last year, both posted ERAs over 5. As Andrew Jacobsen says, "Yikes!" This year, I suspect both guys will be better, joined by Paul Maholm (3.71 ERA) and a cage match between Zach Duke, Jeff Karstens, and Ross Ohlendorf. The Pirates have a good GM for once, so they won't be lousy for long, but right now, I see them as a just below .500 club.
Isn't it funny how much easier it is for me to write NL previews? Uncanny. Moving on...
Reds... Another one of those deals where you just don't know how good their pitching will be. In theory their rotation should be very good, because they're going to get another year out of Volquez, Cueto, Harang, and Arroyo. Even Arroyo is underrated, if nothing else. His ERA was never great, but he's not supposed to be an ace to begin with, one, and secondly, he still winds up with around 150 Ks a year along with 200 innings a season. Innings eaters are very valuable over the course of a long year. Again, the bullpen will be solid. It ought to be, when they pay their closer 12 million! Goodness!! Cordero, the 12 million dollar man, is flanked by Arthur Rhodes, Jared Burton, Mike Lincoln, and Dave Weathers. Yep, I like the Reds bully.
You know, usually we just pencil in "great offense" for the Reds. Not this year. It might be a down year for the Reds bats. They used to have Dunn, Griffey, and Kearns all in the outfield. Now its Willy Taveras (really?!), Jay Bruce, and possibly Norris Hopper out there. Major downgrade, albeit a younger group. The Infielders are the better hitters. Joey Votto ought to maintain pace, Brandon Phillips is solid at 2nd, Edwin Encarnacion never met a pitch he didn't like, but he'll be pretty good. The pitching might be better than most years, but the lineup is weaker than usual. Despite this, I could see a Reds division championship. Do you believe it?!
Brewers... Most of you fellas are familiar with the Brewers, so I'll just summarize. Bullpen sucks, Rotation is shaky, and the offense is fantastic. The whole universe thought Fielder was leaving, but he instead stayed put. With that, you are looking at a deep lineup, with Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, JJ Hardy, and Mike Cameron, you get a lot of tough outs. I have to admit, the entire rotation is guys who "could be good". Almost all of their remaining starters had ERAs at 4 or above last season. Not a positive sign when combined with a lousy bullpen. And Hoffman as closer? GOOD LUCK. I think the Brewers have potential to slug their way to a few wins, but how far they'll go remains to be seen.
Cubs... Basically the same team as last year, and while streaky, I still like the lineup. The ability to choke is beyond comprehension, so I simply throw that out, and look at how Cubbie hitters did in the regular year. I liked it. Lee, Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Soto, and to a lesser degree Theriot, and Milton Bradley. The biggest obstacle will be health.
Now as far as the rotation, it might be the best in the division. They have some very good starters. Zambrano, a full season of Rich Harden, Ted lilly, and Ryan Dempster are all pretty good. Definitely the deepest starting staff, when healthy, considering Aaron Heilman is in the wings as a 5th starter or a spot starter. The Bullpen isn't that bad... I loved bagging on it, but its really not terrible. Kevin Gregg will be interesting to watch, but I believe he's just setting up Carlos Marmol the closer. Combined, thats a decent 1-2 punch, depending on if Marmol can handle the role. I think he does, and I think the Cubs might be a good wild card team. I really really want to pick them to win the Central, but I can't. The Cubs normally don't even win back to back division titles... theres no way they win three in a row! I can't trust that team to stay healthy. Something will happen, maybe another goat curse or something.
Dave's Take: Again, most folks will pick the Cubbies to take this easily, and normally I would too, but... it's the Cubs. Instead I see possibly the Brewers or Reds taking it, but I'll give the edge to the Reds, because their pitching is so, SO much better. After that, the Cubs might be good for a WC, and while everyone else just plays out the string.
I'm hedging my bets here, picking Chicago to finish 2nd. AL West preview tomorrow!
The AL Central: (Middle) America's Game
The only division in baseball where you can make a case for any team to win the division. Any team except the Royals. They Royals won't be that bad this season, but likely still under .500, lets begin with them.
Royals... Its been too long since they've been any good, but there are signs of change afoot. Theck this out. We knew about Gil Meche, with a pretty decent line last season (3.98 ERA, 183K, etc), but how about Zack Greinke last year? Only 24, and already piling up strikeouts... 183 of them to go with a 3.46 ERA. Not a misprint, Meche and Greinke had the same number of strikeouts. In addition, Joakim Soria, already a VERY good closer, now has some help in the bullpen. Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz, and Ron Mahay, will all be stepping in to set up. Boy that Royals pitching staff looks pretty good all of a sudden!
Offensively, we're looking at a Buck and Olivo platoon at C, they're ok. but wait until you see the rest of the infield... Mike Jacobs takes 1st coming in from the Marlins... he can slug it! 29+ HRs last year. Then there's Callapso who's mostly unproven but serviceable, and Aviles barely out of the farm. Alex Gordon might be the best guy of the bunch, and he too is under 25. This infield has a lot of potential. The outfield is Coco Crisp, Jose Guillen, and David DeJesus... not fantastic, but DeJesus ain't so bad. This isn't your brother's Royals... they'll still be a non-factor but I think they'll be better than most years.
I had to be more in-depth with the Royals since I didn't really follow them last year, and neither did anyone else.
Now to the teams that matter...
White Sox... I have no idea how good their pitching is. Even Mark Burhle is good not great, and even at that I'm not sure if he'll keep it up. Last year, John Danks and Gavin Floyd had great seasons, but its hard to tell if they're keepin that up. reason is that before last year, their ERA was well above 5... no clue and given the mediocre periphs, we just won't know how good any of these guys will be. The best thing is, most of them are very young, so its not as if they're injury risks. The Bullpen is going to be interesting to watch, because Jenks will have to stay sharp to keep the Sox in games. Linebrink underperformed last season (lots of injuries, otherwise very good).
Offensively, ugh... do I really have to get into this? this offense sucks!! Even guys like Konerko and Jermaine Dye... They're ok, but just not that big a deal... honest to God! All right, well Alexi Ramirez was pretty good and so too was Carlos Quentin. Jim Thome also made decent contributions. But despite all this I get the impression we're looking at a team that was assembled using the "throw @$%! on the wall and see what sticks" strategy. The White Sox are probably a below .500 team all told. To be better, they'd have to have better rotational depth and more "WOW, look at that guy" hitters. They have neither.
Twins... Twins lose Santana, no problem! Twins lose Hunter... oh hell NO theres no problem! Hunter, as it turns out, was quite overrated. Seems to me the offense worked just fine without him. Span, Morneau, Mauer, and Punto all can slap the ball past the infield. Those are just the names I got off the top of my head. They dont have a TON of power, but they are a good good offense. Ok when I said "don't have a ton of power", I mean they were DEAD last in the AL in HRs last year (only 111). But they still averaged 5.09 runs a game, good for 3rd in the AL... boy how good is your offense when you average 5 runs a game AND are dead last in HRs? wow!!
Pitching is middle of the pack... Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn and others will be their rotation this year... mostly home grown, and no FA pitching pickups for the Twins this season. The Bullpen is again solid with Joe Nathan taking his spot at closer among others. I like the pitching on the Twins. They're as good as anyone to compete for the crown, but the complete absence of power could eat them alive!
Tigers... It's too predictable to roll out the Tigers preview last, so instead I'll go next to last. While they lose Renteria, the remainder of the lineup will be excellent. Miguel Cabrera was not as good as usual, but damn he was GOOD last year. Even in a "down year" he led the AL in HRs. Mags is still there, Sheff is still there, Guillen is still there, and Polanco is still there. Provided Granderson doesnt wreck his thumb again he'll be ready to go opening day, and that will do a lot to spark the offense. I think not having him was as big a reason as any the Tigers got off to a slow start. I'll bet anybody 5 garrets the Tigers don't lose six in a row to start the season. It won't happen.
Now for pitching, their rotation will be much better. Verlander should be good again. Jeremy Bonderman was bad last year, but he is a very good pitcher... I'm not giving up on him yet. Plus, the Tigers picked up Edwin Jackson who even now has a lot of potential. Sure I'm biased; Jackson was a former Dodger and Ray, but he can turn it around. The bully? Better! Yea Brandon Lyon is a gascan, but with that HUGE ballpark he'll get his share of saves, plus lots of run support. Lyon will be fine. Then there's Rodney and Zumaya, both likely to be at full strength. Tigers' pitching will be a TON better this season. I like the Tigers... I've liked the Tigers in this division since 2002, but still... I think they can be the team to beat.
Indians... If there's going to be a chic, popular, "in" pick for the AL Central, it will be the Indians. And why not? They have Carlos Santana waiting in the wings to take over if Victor Martinez falls apart. They have Sizemore wowing audiences in CF. They've got Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona anchoring the rotation. And this year they have............... (gasp!) a closer! While they grossly overpaid, Kerry Wood will end up being a very good pick to close for the Tribe, provided he stays off the IR. We shall see... This year, the Indians' record will be much closer to the 2007 team than the 2008 team. Roll out the barrel for the Indians!
Dave's Take: I gotta give this one to the Tigers. Isn't it obvious? They have the World's Greatest Offense. They have a much better pitching staff this year. They have a lot of experienced hitters. They have no weight of expectations. Think about it: If you thought the Red Sox were getting overlooked, how about Detroit? Nobody expects them to be any good. This is going to be the second story of MLB this year (the first story is how the Dodgers challenge the 2001 M's for the most wins in a season). The Indians are going to be very close behind. I really like the Tribe this year, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Cleveland take it. I'd leave out an olive branch for Minnesota, because their lineup has been together for a while now, give or take a guy. Love the Twins' pitching. I'd even give the Royals an outside shot... I have no hope for the White Sox... too many things are on tenuous ground. Too many "ifs" on that team. They're last.