Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

Here are Ten Things for another week. First time in a really long time. Have you missed me? As always I appreciate your comments, feedback and criticism. Maybe not so much on criticism but if something is weak sauce let me know.

1. Georgia Thoughts
We are 110 days away from the start of college football season. This guy is really excited! A couple of thoughts.
a. Our schedule is really favorable next season. However, the three biggest games of the season will be away from Sanford Stadium. We play at South Carolina, at Auburn and of course Florida in Jacksonville. Some of Richt's best teams have had no issue of going on the road and getting big wins.
b. Look for Aaron Murray to take another big step next season. Look at how his numbers improved from his freshmen to sophomore years. Think how they can improve from his sophomore to junior season.
c. Murray graduated this weekend. I am sure he will enroll in some sort of graduate program. Does the graduate program have a chance to be less taxing on him time wise than if he were still an undergrad?
d. For those that do not believe Murray is the answer at QB, go buy a map or visit because you are lost.
e. Can Isiah Crowell stay healthy the entire season. I read somewhere he played most of the season with a fracture in the ankle. Do not forget he rushed for 850 years in 185 attempts.
f. The baseball team is hanging around with a 13-13 SEC record. They should make a regional. However, if they start swinging the bats they have a chance to make a run at Omaha with their deep pitching.
g. How bout both the Men and Women's tennis made the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament on Sunday. The NCAA finals start next weekend in Athens. A very fun tournament to attend.

2. Top Ten College Football Coaches in the Country-My Opinion
Earlier this week The Sporting News released their list of College Football Coaches. You can read the list here. Below you will see my list. Let me know your thoughts.

1. Nick Saban- Saban has won 3 BCS National Championships in the last  years despite coaching in the NFL for two of those seasons. In the last four seasons he is 28-4 in SEC Games. I love that he preaches to his team the philosophy of "process oriented" compared to "results oriented."

2. Chris Peterson- Has a career winning percentage over .900. In the last three years he has beaten Oregon, Virginia Tech and UGA to start the season.

3. Chip Kelly- Was this guy really at New Hampshire 6 years ago? If you want to know more about  Kelly read this outstanding profile from the NY Times in 2010.

4. Steve Spurrier- This guy won a ACC Championship at Duke of all places. In the last seven years he has turned one of the worst college football programs in the country to a power in the SEC.  Let's not forget what he did at Florida.(For those that do not know history look at the program pre-1990).

5. Urban Meyer- I absolutely cannot stand this guy. I think he is a liar, bully and obnoxious. However, he is one heckuva coach has had monster success everywhere he has coached. (Bowling Green, Utah and Florida).

6. Gary Peterson- His defenses are always outstanding. TCU has won at least 11 games four years in a row and seven of the past nine. Do not forget he beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl two years ago.

7. Les Miles- I know he is goofy but that does not mean he cannot coach. Miles is often the smartest guy in the room while acting the opposite. Has won 11 games 5 of his 7 seasons at LSU. His conference record is 41-15. I love the fact he eats grass while pacing the sidelines at Tiger Stadium.

8. Bob Stoops- 139 wins in 13 years at Oklahoma. I know someone will knock him for his teams getting beat in BCS games. They may lose Bowl Games but he has won a National Championship and is in the top 5 every season.

9. Mike Leach- I am fascinated by this guy who for some reason was railroaded by Craig James at Texas Tech. How long before he starts playing with and beating the USC and Oregon's of the Pac-12.

10. Mack Brown- Before he arrived at Texas the Longhorns were coming off back to back losing season. In his 14 seasons they are 141-39. Is it easier to be the head coach at the University of Texas compared to other schools? Yes, but he is still one of the top coaches in school history so he makes the list.

3. 5 Way to Early Heisman Predictions
1. Matt Barkley- Finished last season sixth in Heisman voting and looks like the frontrunner for the 2012 award. He finished 2011 with a 39-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing 69.1% of his passes. A couple of weeks ago Grantland had a tremendous profile on Barkley and how he told Lane Kiffin he was staying for another season.
2. Denard "Shoelace" Robinson- Where Shoelace at? The Michigan senior has done it all. He currently holds the NCAA season record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,702). If he is able to lead his Wolverines to an upset of Alabama in week one of the season he will jump to the top of the Heisman list.
3. Montee Ball- The Wisconsin running back tied or set the following NCAA records last season; most touchdowns, season: 39 (2011), most consecutive games with two or more touchdowns: 13 (2011), most points scored by non-kicker: 236 (2011)
4. Geno Smith- It took a while but when Smith picked up new coach Dana Holgorsen offense the Mountaineers really took off. How will he fare against the BIG 12 defenses which are not great but better than what he sees week in week out in the Big East.
5. De'Anthony Thomas- Oregon running back who has the potential to put up all world numbers in Chip Kelly's offense. Thomas is also a sprinter, with a personal best of 10.57 seconds in the 100 meters and 20.61 seconds in the 200 meters.
Other potential canidates, Aaron Murray, Tyrann Mathieu, EJ Manuel and AJ McCarron.

4. Baseball Thoughts and Nuggets
a. Josh Hamilton's Four homer game this week has been the talk of baseball. His 18 total bases in one game was even more impressive. The four homer game has only happened 16 teams in Major League Baseball history. To show one how was rare this feat is accomplished, there have been 21 perfect games pitched in MLB history.
b. When I started writing 10 things on Thursday night I wrote: Josh Hamilton equals Roy Hobbs. Then on Saturday afternoon ESPN writer Jim Caple wrote an article with the same headline.
c. For those that do not know of Roy Hobbs, I have no words for you. He is the character portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie The Natural. For those that have not seen The Natural, apologize to me and then rent it this weekend.
d. I am really exited to see both Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg in person in a couple weeks. I am amazed how well the Nationals are playing despite all the injuries that have suffered.
e. Can their pitchers keep the 2.60 ERA going for a full season? (As soon as I wrote that sentence Joey Votto hit a walkoff grandslam to beat the Nationals and put the Braves in first place).
f. Joey Votto would get hot right before flying to Atlanta to play the Braves. Why does that always happen?
g. Willie Mays and Josh Hamilton are the only two players in MLB history with a .400 batting average and at least 17 homers in their team's first 34 games
h.Should we begin to take the Baltimore Orioles seriously this season? In their past 13 games they have played the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Rays. In those 13 games the O's are 8-5. If you play 8-5 baseball over 162 games you end up with 100 wins.
i. This is why baseball is the best. Brandon Inge who has not hit for two years and was released by Detroit this season had 4 games this week with 4 plus RBI within a 5 game stretch. The only other person to accomplish that feat? The Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig.
j. The only winless Opening Day starters are Josh Johnson (not my brother) and Ryan Dempster. I feel sorry for Dempster who has a 1.02 ERA. Johnson's era is 5.87.
k. Before Tuesday no other MLB season had enjoyed a perfect game and a 4 homer game. It is only May 14th and we have had the privilege of seeing both. What else awesome will we see this season?
l. On Friday night Adam Dunn did something unusual. He did not strike out. This was the first time he did not strike out in a game since September 23rd of last season.
m. Here are some crazy Roy Halladay stats. The San Diego Padres are the first team to beat Halladay twice in one season. Even crazier is the fact that as of Sunday morning the Padres only have 12 wins all season.
n. The Phillies have also lost Halladay's last five starts.
o. Does Derek Jeter have a chance to break Pete Rose's hit record of 4256? I have no idea but on Saturday he tied Tony Gwynn for 17th place on baseball's all-time hit list with 3,141.
p. If Jeter can get 143 more hits this season he will pass Willie Mays for 11th of all time. Those that should get passed this season include Robin Yount (3142), Paul Waner (3152), George Brett (3154), Cal Ripken (3184), Nap Lajoie (3242), Eddie Murray (3255), Willie Mays (3283).
q. Jeter has this year and two more on his contract. If he can get 143 more hits this season and then average 175 over the following two seasons he will end up with 3634 hits. That will be fourth all time passing Stan Musial (3630), Tris Speaker (3514), Cap Anson (3435), Honus Wagner (3420), Cary Yastrzemski (3419), Paul Molitar (3319) and Eddie Collins (3315).
r. The top three in hits are Pete Rose (4256), Ty Cobb (4189), and Aaron (3171).
s. A lot of mortals I just named.
t. Still hard to believe Jeter is first Yankee to get to 3000 hits.

5. What I Read This Week

The first great read of the week comes from Grantland and it is a reprint of Hunter S. Thompson classic story on the Kentucky Derby in 1970. This three day tale is amazing and maybe a tad unbelievable. The story begins like many of Thompson's stories (and great tales for that matter), with drinks at the beer. Not many people write like Thompson writes today. Long read so print out and read while on the treadmill or on the throne.

The second read comes from Deadspin and was written in February of this year. This read takes a look at The Simpsons and the making of "Homer The Bat." When I was 10 I thought this was the coolest episode ever. (Who are we kidding I am 30 now and still think it is really cool). The back stories of how everything came together is absolutely fascinating. Hard to believe that this episode drew better ratings than The Cosby Show or The Winter Olympics from Albertville, France.

6. Halftime
This weeks song that Smoak and myself used to rock out to while cruising the streets of metro Sylvania is Plush by the Stone Temple Pilots. I saw this trivia question while watching the Rockies-Dodgers contest yesterday afternoon. So I will ask it here: Name all the managers in the history of the Colorado Rockies. Because I am a standup guy I will give you a hint: The Rockies have been around since 1993 and have only had 4 managers. No cheating.

7. Summer Books

I have often heard their is no better time to catch up on some reading than the summer time. One day my lottery numbers will hit and I will have the time to read all these books. In the meantime here is what I should be reading. Some of these books are a couple years old and should have been read earlier by me. What are you reading that I should be reading? This does not include Fifty Shades of Grey.

1. The Hunger Games- I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie but I had to see the movie which I absolutely loved. Amazing how much I enjoyed the movie.
2. The Passage of Power: The Lyndon Johnson Years-Another history book that interests the geek in me.
3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business- This looks fascinating and I love reading books on how to improve myself personally and professionally.
4. Calico Joe- John Grisham writing about baseball. How will this book not be awesome?
5. The Art of Fielding - This Book has been on my list for a while now. I need to make it happen.
6. Father's Day: A Journey into the Heart and Mind of My Extraordinary Son: Buzz Bissinger absolutely fascinates me. I absolutely love his tweet rants. His two books Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August were both really good reads.
7. Steve Jobs - We should all read more biographies.
8. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference - Malcolm Gladwell. That is all I need to say.
9. Starting and Closing - John Smoltz's book.
10. The President's Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity - I was sold when I read this description; The inside story of the world's most exclusive fraternity; how presidents from Hoover through Obama worked with--and sometimes, against--each other when they were in and out of power.

8. Summer Movies

Below are the movies I am most interested in seeing this summer. Click on the link for the trailer from each movie.The Avengers would have ranked #2 on this list if I would have written it two weeks ago. I saw The Avengers this week and absolutely loved everything about the movie.
1. The Dark Knight Rises- Have you seen this trailer or the earlier two movies by Christopher Nolan. I will be disappointed in myself if I do not attend the midnight showing when this movie opens. On a side note, how awesome is it that Michael Caine plays Alfred?
2. The Amazing Spider-Man - Do we need another Spider-Man /superhero movie this summer? Probably not but Peter Parker/Spider Man has always been one of my favorite superheros. Spider Man is played by Andrew Garfield who portrays a stronger more confident Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire. The very underrated Dennis Leary and the fabulous Emma Stone also star.
3. The Campaign- Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as dueling small town politicians. What else do I need to add?
4. Moonrise Kingdom- Another movie that looks hilarious. Great cast that includes Bill Murray, Ed Norton and Bruce Willis.Set in the 1960s, a pair of young lovers (Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman) flee their New England island town, prompting a local search party led by the Sheriff (Bruce Willis) to fan out to find them.The film will premiere on Wednesday at Opening Night of the Cannes Film Festival. It will open May 25th in America.
5. Lawless - Another film set to compete at the Cannes Film Festival but will not premiere stateside until August 31st. (The last official weekend of summer) Three brothers find their bootlegging business under threat in prohibition era Franklin County, Virginia. As someone who is a little bit of a history nerd the prohibition era fascinates me.
Bonus: To Rome With Love- As someone who enjoys movies I need to watch more Woody Allen movies. This looks very funny with a great cast that includes Penélope Cruz, Ellen Page, Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg. On a side note Italy is #1 on my list of countries to visit.

9. Non Baseball or Football Thoughts
a. Every year around this town Drew Magary of Deadspin writes a special graduation message to those graduating each year. This year's message is really good. Yes, the world does not care (he uses more colorful language) but the same world that does not care gives one the opportunity for anything and everything imaginable.
b. Here are some other graduation messages that are must reads; 2011 speech, 2010 speech (the hoverboard from Back to The Future is referenced), 2009 speech and his 2008 speech
c. For the past 10 years I have had the goal of going to one new baseball stadium each summer. Right now I have no idea what new stadium I will get to this season. The only stadiums in the Eastern Time Zones I have yet to visit are Cleveland, Toronto and Miami. I probably should have road trip to St. Louis this weekend.
d. The Cubs and White Sox both play at home weekend before my birthday. Very intrigued. I have been to Wrigley but not US Cellular. Only potential issue is I have plans to go to NYC week after my birthday.
e. I would write 10 things more often if my computer was not weak sauce.
f. This is probably my favorite song right now. Dan Patrick even sang some lines on his show on Monday of this past week.
g. Speaking of DP, two Fridays ago he absolutely unleashed on Colin Cowherd.Very fascinating radio. DP has done an amazing job in getting his show on multiple platforms. You can listen to the show on the radio or internet, watch it on television (with televised replays) and download off of itunes.
h. The guys at Awful Announcing do a great job breaking down DP's rant and even has a Youtube clip for everyone.
i. I saw The Dictator on Thursday this past week. A laugh a minute. I will probably need to see again as I missed some jokes from me laughing or other people laughing. Very good.
j. One day I need to write a post with my thoughts on College Football playoffs, conference expansion and the sport in general.
k. I absolutely love the show VEEP. Julia Louis Dreyfus is such a smart @$$ and all the characters are very snarky with each other.
l. I should watch The Apprentice more often. Every-time I watch I get into it and love every moment.
m. Looking forward to the season finales of HIMYM and Hawaii 5-0 tonight. Watching Hawaii 5-0 makes me want to plan a vacation sooner than later to the islands in the Pacific.
n. What else should I be watching?
o. When does Royal Pain start again? One of my favorite shows.
p. Am I the only one who keeps watching baseball when the Braves win, but on the random night when they do not win I do not watch SportsCenter or MLB Tonight. Is this normal?
q. On Tuesday I saw The Avengers at CineBistro in Brookhaven. While the movie was awesome, the story of the night was the movie theater. Two great things about this theater, reserved seating (yes you can pick out your seats when you purchase online) and ultra-luxurious high back leather rocking chairs. If you live in the metro Atlanta area you must visit.
r. Happy Mother's Day Mom!

10. Extra Credit

Quote of the Week
"You know what, I think the Bulldog Nation likes a little piss and vinegar."
-Coach Richt speaking at a Bulldawg Club Event in Macon. Yes we do coach, yes we do. 

Read more here:
Text of the Week
A couple weeks ago I was trying to get Ben to hang out with Smoak and myself. I sent him this text.
If you think hanging with the slice will be more fun than Hollywood Haney and myself go for it, but lets be serious. 

Text of the Week II
From Todd in The Big Apple a few weeks ago.
Nice to see the lady dawgs in their pink jerseys. Women's college softball...I love this game

Text of the Week III
Mr. Easton also sent me this text in December at the start of bowl season.
So do you have tickets to the "carvers country kitchen bowl?"

Tweet of the Week
Of course it would be a Stangel brother with the Tweet of the Week. Follow @justin_stangel

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I hope you follow me on Twitter because I'm not calling.

Photo of The Week
A tweet pic from @cineandreea of the Supermoon last week. We are looking at the Black Sea in Romania.

Have an awesome week!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

Here are 15 Thoughts as the Football Season draws closer by the minute. I do need to mention that thoughts 1-6 were written sometime during the first two weeks of June. Everything from 7-15 was written in the last week. Do not forget to follow me on twitter @justinwjohnson. It is now football season and hopefully I can publish a 10 Things besides once every three months. That is very weak sauce by me and I am better than that. As always please leave your comments or email them to me even if you hate something because it is always cool to get feedback on your work. Enjoy the football and baseball and hopefully no work this Labor Day weekend.

1. NCAA Football Thoughts
It was an exciting week for me as Phil Steele's 2011 College Football Preview hit newsstands. For those of you that are not familiar with Steele's annual preview you should flip through it next time you visit your favorite book store. Here are some nuggets that I found intriguing as we are about 90 days away from kickoff. Again all credit goes to Mr. Steele.

a. In the last 12 years the National Champ had a second year coach four times. In that same time span the eventual National Champ was coming off a 5 loss season 5 times.
b. Correct me if I am wrong but I do believe it is Jimbo Fisher's second year as the head coach for the Florida State Seminoles.
c. The Noles do get to play Oklahoma at home this season. While Oklahoma is a top-5 preseason team they are beatable on the road. In fact in the last three seasons all 9 of Oklahoma's losses have come away from Norman, Oklahoma.
d. Some people are picking LSU to win the SEC West this season but Steele and myself are high on the Tide. This season the Tide lose their QB, Heisman winning RB and top WR. However, when BAMA brought home all the bacon in 2009 they had an inexperienced QB, lost a 1,000 yard rusher and had just four starters back on offense.
e. In 2011 7 starters are back on offense and the Tide have Steele's #4 D-line, #1 linebacking corpse and the #1 secondary in college football. They do not rebuild on The Capstone, They Reload.
f. Since 2004, Georgia Tech hasn’t had a single season in which it completed more than 50% of its passing attempts?  The high water point was a 49.3% mark in 2007. Why did Calvin Johnson choose Tech over Georgia?
g. Only UGA and USC finished in the Top 10 from 2002-2005.
h. Only five SEC Coaches have won 10+ games in four straight years. The coaches would be Mark Richt, Bear Bryant, Steve Spurrier, Vince Dooley and Phil Fulmer.
i. Under Saban, Bama is 13-3 hosting SEC opponents. The three loses were to a 12-2 UGA team in 2007, the National Champ LSU in 2007 and National Champ Auburn last season.
j. The Kentucky Wildcats have gone to 5 straight  bowl games after going to two bowl games in the previous 10 years.
k. Auburns six returning starters are the fewest in the NCAA and they lose 31 letterman from last season's team.
l. The ACC has had one just one team win a BCS bowl game since 1999 and that was VaTech in 2008.
m. Oklahoma is 23-2 in openers in Norman since 1986. Both losses were to TCU, once in 96 and again in 2005.
n. Mike Gundy is 0-10 versus Oklahoma as both a QB and head coach. Oklahoma State has dropped 8 straight to Oklahoma.
o.The home team has lost 5 straight games in the Miami-Florida State series.
p. The loser from the previous year National Title Game has gone 10-2 since 1998. The loses were by Oklahoma in 2005 and 2009. Oregon this season opens with LSU in Arlington, Texas.
q. Heading into this season South Florida is 13-2 against in-state schools outscoring them by an average of 10 points per game.
r. TCU has finished #1 in total Defense 5 of the last 11 years. They are just the 3rd team with three straight #1's.
s. This year's ARMY-NAVY game marks the 10th different venue and since 1963, only 1996 and 2010 saw both teams come in with winning records.Right now Army has lost 9 straight to Navy with the average loss by 26 points.

2. MLB Thoughts From 12 Weeks Ago
a. I was reading some articles late Thursday night and I came across these stats and my mind was blown. How are their only two teams not to make the playoffs in any sport in the 25 years since 1986. Between the four major sports, 98 franchises have been around since at least 1986. Ninety-six of them have been to the postseason in that span. Not the Royals or the conglomerate known as the Expos/Nationals.
b. The Royals have come close to making the playoff just three times in the past 25 years, and they weren't that close on any of them. In 1989, they were the third-best team in baseball with 92 wins, but Kansas City still finished seven games behind the A's. In 1994, they were 64-51 and three games out of the wild-card spot when the strike ended the season. And in 2003, the Royals shocked everyone by winning 16 of their first 19 games. They led the division by seven games at the All-Star break.Only to finish 2003 seven games out of first.
c. Is this changing with all the top prospects the Royals are thought to had. Let's not forget the Royals have had young prospects before not pan out. Some examples include Bob Hamelin who beat out Manny Ramirez for the 1994 Rookie of the Year award. The next season he hit .168, and the Royals cut him a year later. Angel Berroa was Rookie of the Year in 2003, and within three years he was arguably the worst everyday player in the majors.
d. I still think their is something special being built in KC.
e. The Phillies starters ended June w/1.96 ERA - 1st team since July '92 (Cubs, Braves) to go full month under 2.00.They went 17-10 in June despite losing the first 3 games of the month. The Braves did go 17-9 in the month. Some pretty good baseball being played in the NL East.
f. Speaking of good baseball in the NL East the Nationals went 16-12 in June. They were set up to have a great month until they lost the last three games of the month. The Boys in Queens aka the Metropolitans were 16-11. We will not discuss the Marlins.
g. As of July 1st the Padres have 19 wins in 30 day games and 18 wins in 52 night games.
h.On June 29th Cliff Lee had is third shutout win in the Month. As of that date the Marlins only had three wins for the whole month.
i. Jose Bautista has 43 homers in his last 433 at-bats with the BlueJays. He hit 43 HRs in 1,314 career ABs with the Pirates.

3. Best Baseball Books I Have Read
About a month ago three months ago on the Poscast with Joe Posnanski, Michael Schur (creator Parks & Rec) and Posnanski have a draft with their favorite Baseball books. This got me thinking to the best baseball books that I have read. Here are my starting nine with links to Amazon for more book info.

1. Moneyball- The best baseball book I have ever read and the book I judge all baseball books by. I read this book in about 4 days while in college. This book has been made into a movie that looks tremendous with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Here is the Trailer.
2. The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth- With 20 books already written on Babe Ruth (one of my favorite characters in history) Leigh Montville combines this research into a fascinating read. Montville who also wrote Ted Williams in 2004 brings fresh observations to his subject, one being that Ruth probably suffered from attention-deficit disorder, which accounts for his inexhaustible energy for everything from baseball to food to alcohol to sex, and not necessarily in that order.
3. Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston- I read this book for a Race and Sports class at UGA and was absolutely fascinated by Howard Bryant's research and reporting. Bryant relays the seldom-told story of Jackie Robinson's April 1945 tryout with the team, which resulted in someone (possibly owner Tom Yawkee) booming out a racial epithet. Having passed on Robinson, the Red Sox did the same with Willie Mays. The franchise was the last to include an African American player on its roster.In reading the book one can clearly see why the Red Sox went 86 years with out winning a world series. It wasn't because of some Curse of The Bambino.
5. The Game According To Syd -Read this book when I was 12 years old and knew that day I wanted to work in baseball. I still find the story on why the Pirates were the first team to change color of the brim of the hat to grey instead of green because it improves a players vision. Flipped through the book couple weeks ago and it is still intriguing.
6. Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball-Will Leitch is a modern day hero of mine. Kid from small town that loves his team, moves away to NYC. I moved back but Leitch started a website called Deadspin and now writes for the New Yorker and New York Magazine.
7. The Teammates- Explores Dom Dimaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr as Dimaggio and Pesky drive down to see friend and former teammate Ted Williams who they all know is dying. A lot of stories of growing old and living life outside of the spotlight after being in the spotlight for so long.
8. Last Night of The Yankee Dynasty-Buster Olney uses game 7 of the 2001 World Series as the backdrop and explores how the Yankees went from the grinders of the mid to late 90's to baseball highest payroll and why the World Series titles did not continue when the payroll increased dramatically.

9. The Yankee Years-Joe Torre and Tom Verducci not only give great insight to Yankee history but MLB history as whole in the years from 1996 to 2007. Not all Torre as David Cone gives a lot of insight into those mid 90's Yankee teams.

4. Best Baseball Books I Have Never Read
1. Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck- To be fair I have read about 5 chapters of this book as student at NYU, then I got an email the book was overdue and turned it in without checking the book again. What was I thinking?
2. The Bill James Historical Abstract- The book that started the sabermeterics movement.
3. The Natural- One of my favorite movies, why have I not read the book?
4. The Last Hero:A Life of Hank Aaron-Enjoyed Howard Bryant's book on the racist Red Sox. I know I would enjoy it on the Home Run King
5. The Machine- Written by Joe Posnanski what else do I need to say.
6. 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports- Ted Williams hit .406 and did not win the MVP because of Joe D and the 56 game streak. Man Uggla's streak was a lot of fun to follow this summer and he did not get within 20 games of Joe D.
7. Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy- One of the most mysterious players to ever play. Maybe the most talented lefty pitcher ever.
8. Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero- Did you know in games when Williams had three plate appearances he reached base at least once 75% of the time.
9. A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone- Ever since David Wells book who was a drinking buddy of Wells I wanted to know more Cone. Man he broke my heart with the Blue Jays and Yankees.

5. Non Baseball or Football Thoughts from Weeks 12 Ago

a. I watched Franklin and Bash with the roomdawg this past weekend. Very enjoyable and will be part of the summer viewing this summer.
b. For those not familiar with Franklin and Bash it stars two very memorable characters. Breckin Meyer (Road Trip) plays Jared Franklin. The other character is Peter Bash and is played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar. If you do not know Mark-Paul's other major character in television history do not talk to me as we are no longer friends.
c. I watched some of the spelling bee on television and this year's winning word was cymotrichous. For those that did not have Ms. Taylor as their 11th grade teacher cymotrichous means having wavy hair.
d. I can use the word in a sentence and the sentence is: The coach is a big fan of the broads with cymotrichous hair. Is that even an acceptable sentence?
e. All of the draft talk in the poscast got me thinking and what will be the next great draft idea that we could share with you the readers. So far my drafts ideas include; Sports Movies, Lunch Spots in the ATL,Garth Brooks songs or favorite UGA football players of all time.
f. Any other thoughts for a draft?
g. This past week the Captain emailed me an amazing link. It was titled Who Had the Best Civil War Facial Hair? Click the link to check everything out. Personally I like Ambrose Burnside. My buddy Andrew is a big Carter Littlepage Stevenson fan.
h. Speaking of my buddy Andrew, he had a birthday on Saturday. Feliz Cimpleanos!
i. Last week I dicussed some great country breakup songs, no idea why I did. In researching those songs I found some classic 20 year old Doug Stone songs. I totally forgot how awesome these songs were. The first Doug Stone that I listened to for the first time in about 12 years was Why Didn't I Think That. The second Doug Stone song was In A Different Light. Youtube user countrycutie424 who put this video together used the Jim/Pam dynamic in the video, All Office fans will find intriguing. If you love both Doug Stone and The Office you will find the video to be AMAZING. The third Doug Stone in the trifecta is I'd Be Better Off In A Pine Box.
j. Safe to say the greatest kicker in Screven County history Donald Sheppard and my buddy Goat are the only one's who enjoyed reading letter I. That's how it goes sometimes.
k. This was the Boston Globe's feature property Saturday Night/Sunday Morning on That's high living. In all seriousness I would love to have that view from my balcony. However, I would prefer to have a house here with my own private beach.

6. What I Read 12 Weeks Ago

The first read from weeks ago takes a look at Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and his rise from video intern to head coach. Spoelstra had the job of breaking down video after Heat games and would often deliver the video straight to the Fed Ex plane at 2:00 in the morning so the tape would be waiting at the hotel when the Heat coaches would wake up hours later in a different city. Fascinating by his climb up the ranks to head coach in the NBA.

The second comes from Sports Illustrated and takes a look at Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar. Salazar who lost his left eye and almost his life in a freak accident in spring training overcomes long odds just to coach his team this season.

The third story comes from one of my favorite new web sites which is Grantland is Bill Simmons new website where he has put together some of the best writers in the business and they look at everything from baseball to football to movies to wedding announcements in the NY Times. This story breaks down the process of becoming a movie star and asks the question do we currently have any true movie stars?

7. Halftime
This week's song that Smoak and myself use to rock out to while cruising the mean streets of Sylvania is Bourbons & Lacs by Master P from the Ghetto D which in my very white opinion is one of the best rap cd's but what do I know? The trivia question we had last time was to name the 6 players to have hit at least one homerun in 40 different ballparks. This was an impossible task as no one answered correctly. The right answer will be added when I get into work Thursday afternoon. So check back this afternoon. This week's trivia is SEC football the last SEC Champion to not win a National Title?

8. Georgia Thoughts
Pretty much every day for the past month I have been asked what I have thought about the Dawgs this season and would we be back as a program. I have given the same answer: some days I wake up and I see 6-6 again and other days I wake up and see 11-1 or 10-2. Lately I have woken up and have been thinking more 11-1 or 10-2. The two thing that gives me hope are 1. Year 2 in the 3-4 with Todd Grantham, this hopefully means no more thinking....just playing fast and making plays. In addition, hopefully Grantham has figured out some things scheme wise against the spread and teams that will run the triple option against us. Last season our defense was embarrassing on 3rd down. That can only improve in 2011. 2. Two big donkey's in the middle of the field. Juco transfer John Jenkins and redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers. Jenkins will wear number 6 and Geathers will wear 99. These guys will play nose in the 3-4 right over the center and should require multiple blockers on every play and thus freeing up Christian Robinson and Alec Ogeltree to make plays. I would not be surprised if Ogeltree does not led the team in tackles his first season playing linebacker after playing in the secondary all through high school and his freshmen season last year.

The motto with the offense is in Aaron Murray we trust. Everyone is making a big deal about UGA losing AJ Green and Kris Durham but I find it funny no one is mentioning the fact Boise St lost their two best receivers from last season. The pundits assume Kellen Moore we keep putting up the numbers he has in the past but why are they not saying the same thing about Murray who had a really good season playing tougher competition as a freshman. I am not going to lie I am a little nervous about the offensive line and the lack of depth upfront as this group can not have many injuries. The last time UGA was this inexperienced along the OL was in 2003 and Mark Richt did his best coaching job leading the Dawgs to an 11-3 record with two of those losses to eventual National Champion LSU. I am very excited to see Isiah Crowell and while I do not expect much from him early in the season he might become more of a weapon as he learns more of the playbook and gets accustomed to the speed of play in the SEC.

On Saturday night in the Georgia Dome I have no idea what will happen. I know what I want to early break for Georgia whether it is a turnover, blocked punt, big kick return and let the 80% Georgia crowd let loose after 9 months of frustration turns into pure pandemonium. I remember reading a quote from Terrence Edwards after the 2002 SEC Championship when we blocked a punt after holding Arkansas to a three and out he said the dome sounded like a bomb went off with the pro Georgia crowd rocking the dome. Another thing to keep an eye out on both sides of the ball....can the QB's and receivers make adjustments when they can not hear each other. This is especially important with both teams starting new recievers. I remember the 03 SEC Championship game against LSU and Nick Saban blitzing from every angle causing David Greene to throw multiple intersections right to the Bayou Bengals. What does not get told is some of the receivers making wrong reads and passes thrown right to the Tigers that night.

(Side note that has nothing to do with anything: JaMarcus Russell was a backup on that 2003 LSU team and in pregame warmups I remember asking a LSU fan who that guy was because I have never seen anyone throw a football like he does. Not many can throw the pigskin like he can, it's a shame he didnt care about the mental part of the position. The Sunfire also popped a flat in the parking lot before the game and it was no fun riding back to Athens on a spare. Ben Ross and myself did have a really good tailgate however.)

Back to the game on Saturday, I think Georgia's defense led by the two large human beings upfront will provide the difference and the Dawgs win 31-21. Do not forget the role our great specialist will play in the hidden yardage game.

9. NFL Thoughts
Once again Phil Steele provides the nuggets, I give you some of the most interesting items from his magazine. Both his college and NFL previews are must reads.

a. The Patriots have won 8 straight after the bye week, the Colts have won 6 straight after the bye, and the Eagles have won 12 straight after the bye week. No other organization is close to a streak like this, any wonder why these three teams are thought to be some of the best organizations in football.
b. Meanwhile the Jags have won six straight before the bye while they are 2-6 the week after the bye in the last six years. On the other end of the spectrum the Bills have lost six straight games the week before the game.
c.In the Patriots last 42 December games they are 37-5.
d. Baltimore has lost 5 of their last 6 trips to Cincinnati. How does this happen?
e. Reason for hope in Houston: Last season the Texans were #30 in Defense but they bring in Wade Phillips as defense coordinator and should not have 2 lb's lose 25 starts to injury this season.
f. Indy has never lost to Houston in Indy and have outscored the Texans by an average of 33-17. 
g. Over the last 5 seasons the Jaguars are 3-12 in their last three games of the season.
h. Denver has dropped the last three to the Raiders at home and 4 out of their last 5 to the Chargers at home. The 59 points scored by Oakland were the most points scored by an opponent in Invesco Field history. (Side note: of the 7 NFL venues I have ever visited Invesco Field at Mile High is my favorite.)
i. On the other hand Denver has beaten the Chiefs 10 of the last 11 games in Denver.
j. The Raiders have lost the last 8 games after the bye week. Safe to say the Raiders are the opposite of New England and Philly.
k. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game since 1996. Maybe on of the more crazier stats in the NFL.
l. Including the playoffs Philly is 8-1 versus the Falcons since 2000. They have outscored the dirty birds 65-24 in their last two meetings.
m. The New York Giants are 11-4 the last 5 years in NFC East road games.
n. The Redskins and Cowboys have played 102 times with the Cowboys holding the edge 60-40-2. The Skins are just 3-16 in their last 19 visits to big D.
o. The Super Bowl champions from the previous season has won 11 straight season openers by an average score of 25-12. The Broncos were the last Super Bowl champ to lose a season opener the following season in 1999.
p. The NFC South Champion has never repeated with the Saints 2nd place finish last year was the best finish ever. The other seven years the champion has finished 3rd 5 times and 4th twice. The Falcons won the NFC South last season as an FYI.
q.Coming into this season the Saints have won 5 straight Monday Night Football games by an average of 33-22.
r. The Falcons have lost 5 straight to the Houston/Tennessee franchise. They have not beaten the Titans/Oilers since 1990.
s. The Bucs have lost six straight non-Sunday regular season games. Last win was on MNF in 2003 against the Giants.

10. MLB Power 9
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Yankees
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Detroit Tigers
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Texas Rangers
9. Anaheim Angels

11. Preseason College Power 10
1. Alabama-Two years ago BAMA had a first year QB and won it all with their defense and running game. Saban knows the script and will stick with the script.
2. Oklahoma-Probably the most talented team in the country but will have two very tough road contests at Florida State and at Oklahoma State.
3. Oregon-Despite only returning 11 starters they return QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James. They do have to travel to Dallas to play a very talented LSU team to open the season. The final three weeks could be tricky with a trip to Stanford and home games against USC and Oregon State to finish the season.
4. Florida State- The ACC's most talented team that does not get any favors from the schedule maker. After home game against Oklahoma the Noles must travel to Clemson the following week. At the end of the year they will visit the Swamp to play the Gators and might have to face a 12-0 VaTech team in the ACC Championship.
5. LSU- Very talented team that will face it's share of distractions at the start of the year. The Tigers play away from Tiger Stadium in three of their first four games. This includes games in Arlington against Oregon, at Mississippi State and at West Virginia. The Bayou Bengals have won 17 straight September games.
6. Stanford-The Cardinal return the best QB in the country so normally they would be ranked higher however the loss of coach Jim Harbough is a huge loss for Stanford in my opinion. They do play Notre Dame and Oregon at home.
7. Boise State- Besides the contests against UGA and TCU they Broncos should win every game they play by just getting off the bus. Kellen Moore returns for his senior season but he does lose his two top receivers. I hope UGA beats this team by 30 points. 
8. Texas A&M- Aggies get bot Texas and Oklahoma State among 5 Big 12 games at home this season. They do play Arkansas and Oklahoma away from College Station. The Aggies were very luck last season only losing 4 starts to injuries.
9. Wisconsin- The Badgers only leave the state of Wisconsin once before October 22nd and that is a neutral sight game at Soldier Field against Northern Illinois. Transfer QB Russell Wilson from NC State could have a Cam Newton affect on this talented team.
10. Arkansas- Tyler Wilson replaces Ryan Mallet and the Hogs should nice miss a beat on offense. The injury to Knile Davis hurts but this offense should roll up the points. They do have to play at LSU and at Bama plus Arkansas in Arlington, Texas. Every other game should be a win. Upset a couple teams on the road and Arkansas could easily be playing in Atlanta in December.

12. NFL Division Winners/Wild Card Teams
South-New Orleans Saints
East-Dallas Cowboys
Central -Green Bay Packers
West- St. Louis Rams
Wildcard-Atlanta Falcons
Wildcard-Philadelphia Eagles

South-Indianapolis Colts
East-New England Patriots
Central-Pittsburgh Steelers
West-San Diego Chargers
Wildcard-New York Jets
Wildcard-Houston Texans

13. What I Read The Past Couple Weeks

The first read of the week is a 1995 memo from Bill Gates about this thing called the internet. Click here for a pretty fascinating read.

The second read is an oral history of the television show Friday Night Lights which is the best show no one watched. Why would anyone put a show about high school football on Friday night? Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose.

The third read is titled The Day Kennedy Died and profiles the surgeon that looked after both JFK and Oswald on that fateful day in Dallas.

14. Non Football or Baseball Thoughts

a. Pretty good summer. Made a trip to LA which was awesome. First time in LA and I have to go back. The weather is something else and I think I would like the laid back California lifestyle. Like every else it cost to much to live but to visit it was solid.
b. Of course I also made a trip to NYC with a day trip mixed in to Atlantic City. Went to White House Subs in AC for the first time. That place is legit. When I was in AC I also went to see Stone Temple Pilots at the Borgota. Solid spot and small venue which is always nice for a concert. First time seeing STP in person and they absolutely rocked it. Very good show.

c. Other concerts this summer include Chesney at Lakewood in May and Montgomery Gentry at Turner Field in June. I also did see Corey Smith in July at the Verizon Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. Pretty cool set up, its a shame the venue is up in the Burbs and not closer to the City.
d. Everyone knows Corey Smith for "21" and "Every Dawg." I have yet to meet anyone who went to UGA or has visited Athens on a weekend who does not love the song "21." The song Every Dawg basically are my exact thoughts every Sunday morning I spent driving back from Jacksonville after having my heart ripped outby the Gators every year. That has to change this year.
e. Other Corey Smith songs that are must listens include Maybe Next Year and If I Could Do It Again.
f. It has been a pretty good summer of movies. The best movie I have seen this summer is Horrible Bosses. The second best is Hangover 2. Other movies that I have enjoyed this summer include Friends With Benefits, Super 8 and 30 Minutes or Less.
g. I was disappointed with Bad Teacher and Captain America. In the case of Captain America, just because a movie is in 3D does not make it a good movie. I left the movie theater a little disappointed that night.
h. A couple of movies that I have yet to see but hope to include Bridesmaides, Cowboys and Aliens and Crazy, Stupid, Love.
i. This movie might look like the best one of the summer. The movie is called The Devil's Double as Latif Yahia is an Iraqi forced to act as a fedai ("body double") for Uday Hussein the son of Saddam Hussein.
j. My quest to see a new ballpark each summer continued as I attended a game in Anaheim between the Angels and Royals. Very cool ballpark and very family friendly atmosphere. Other ballparks I have visited this year besides Anaheim and of course Turner Field include Citi Field in NYC, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Nationals Park in our Nation's Capital.
k. It has been a decent summer of television. In my opinion Curb Your Enthusiasm is the best comedy on television right now. We have had some classic episodes this season with Larry David and Rosie fighting over a broad and Larry proclaiming that "the tie goes to the hetero." The Palestinian Chicken episode might be the best Curb episode ever in my opinion.
l. Is Larry David getting more creative the more shows he writes?
m. While I have enjoyed Entourage a lot this season it has moved more from a comedy to a drama and that should happen as characters age and develop. I am disappointed they haven't worked in a joke about Turtle losing a ton of weight.
n. By the way Eric is turning into the worst excuse of a Hollywood manager/agent that one has ever witnessed. It's Hollywood and what do you care about your ex-fiance anyway?
o. Royal Pains on USA and Leverage are must watches for the roomdog and myself.
p. Why am I not watching Breaking Bad?
q. What other great shows am I missing? I need to watch The Wire, Rescue Me, and Mad Men. What other great shows am I missing out on?
r. Go ahead and pick on me for not watching The Wire and Mad Men.
s. What other shows look good this fall?
t. Very excited for college football and shenanigans in Athens and other municipalities around the SEC this season. Feel free to make your way to Athens for a tailgate or two or three.

15. The Fun Stuff

Tweet of The Week From 12 Weeks Ago
This week's tweet comes from @BENGREENMAN who is an editor for The New Yorker.
Spelling Bee: Champion says "it's hard to find the words." That was a good joke. Too bad the unctuous interviewer didn't get it.

Not sure if I got it either.

Photo of The Week From 12 Weeks Ago
Mark Cuban with the Championship trophy. Just awesome.

Tweet of The Week
Comes from @justinwjohnson who is me. In the words of DP on self promotion....if not me, then who? If not now, when? This tweet comes from me two mornings ago after it was announced the Miami players would only be suspended one game while my man AJ Green got four games last season.

If AJ Green would have traded his jersey w/ a hooker instead of sold it would he have only been suspended one game?

Quote of The Week
From Larry David a couple weeks ago. See this clip for the whole dialogue.

I want to make that smaller.

Photo of The Week

A deer running through flood waters in Lincoln, NJ. This was the third time ever a hurricane has made land fall in the Garden State.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

1. UGA Thoughts
Not many UGA thoughts but that goes with the territory this time of the year. This is what I do have.

a. For the 2010-2011 academic year UGA and Florida were the only SEC teams to play in bowl game, NCAA Men's Tournament and make a NCAA Baseball regional.
b. Does it count if you lose to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl?
c. When you read this Wednesday morning we will be 94 days away from kickoff. Here is to a quick summer.
d. The guys over at the great UGA blog Bubba N Earl are doing a great job with a daily countdown. You should visit everyday. It will only make the summer go quicker.
e. The more I break down our team the more I love our Defensive Line and Linebackers. WIth that being said we are really weak at the back end of the defense especially at Safety.
f. While UGA is traveling across the country to play in the Oregon State regional. It will not be the first time these teams have met on the Diamond.
g. In 2006 when I was living in the Big Apple Oregon State eliminated UGA in the College World Series. The Beavers would go on to emerge from the losers bracket to win the whole that year.
h. In 2007 the Beavers swept a series in Athens while the Dawgs lost two out of three in Portland against Oregon State in 2008.
i. Oregon State has ended the season on a skid, dropping six of their last seven outings, including five straight. The Beavers’ next win will be their first since May 20, and Oregon State’s losing streak has included two three-run decisions, a five-run setback, and, most recently, a six-run loss.
j. The Beavers have lost five of its last nine outings in Corvallis, which could become the fourth different city to have hosted a Georgia-Oregon State baseball game in the last six seasons.

k. A couple of weeks ago it was announced that the UGA hoops team would be hosting the Cincinnati Bearcats in the ESPN made for television event SEC/BIGEAST challenge.
l. As a UGA season ticket holder for hoops I am liking next year's home schedule. Along with the SEC home schedule the Dawgs also get Georgia Tech at the Stegasorous. This is a big time step up from last seasons out of conference schedule.
m. The question now becomes; do we have the players to handle a step up in quality of opponent?

2. MLB Thoughts
a. Has Bobby Abreu ever swung at a pitch outside the strikezone with two strikes? That guy is an OBP machine.
b. BlueJays' Bautista has 80 home runs since Sept. 26, 2009. No other player has more than 50. For those wondering, Cabrera, Pujols and Teixeira are the players with 50 homers behind Bautista's 80 since Sept. 26, 2009.
c. Pirates have now reached double-digit runs three times in their last 137 road games. All three came against the Cubs in Wrigley Field.
d. Something to keep an eye on this summer: The RedSox are a major league-best 64-27 in interleague play since the start of 2006. Keep this in mind as the Boston 9 have interleague series at the Fens against the Padres and the Brewers. The Sox do have to visit the Pirates, Phillies and Astros.

e. When the Nation takes on the Phillies in late June I guess I can join the good doc and everyone else who is not from the Northeast and cheer for the Red Sox.

f. CC Sabathia threw a complete game last Tuesday, and it was the first by a Yankee in 341 starts, an American League record. The major league record was set by the Nationals from 2006-09 with 388 straight games.
g. The 19-inning Phillies-Reds game Thursday wasn’t even the longest game of the week in professional baseball. Jupiter beat Clearwater, 2-1, in a 23-inning Florida State League game. The next night’s game had the same score but was played in 2:11.(great nugget from The Boston Globe's Sunday Baseball Notes)

h. Last week the Cubs for the first time in their history played 10 games in a row at night.

i. I remember watching their first night game as a kid and the game was eventually rained out. The best part of the night was watching Mark Grace, Greg Maddux and others tarp slide. Good stuff.

j. The Cardinals have a 28-12 record when Carpenter does not start. When he starts, they’re 2-9. How does that make any sort of sense?

k. Here is a great nugget from Jayson Stark, other than Jose Bautista, only one active outfielder as won a home run title. I racked my brain for the answer and came up blank (that should not be a surprise), however the other active outfielder to win a home run title is Andruw Jones. How about that stat.

l. It needs to be mentioned that right now outfielders lead in both leagues. Bautista in the AL and Jay Bruce in the NL.

m. For a while on Sunday night it looked as if the Reds were going to win 1-0. This would have been fascinating while irritating. The reason I what have found it fascinating is the fact the Reds have never won a 1-0 game in Atlanta. Last 1-0 road win at Braves-- 1958! (we were the Milwaukee Braves then).
n. I am so glad that did not happen. Also, David Ross Sunday night picked a guy off of first base and threw another Red out at second. He has thrown out 3 of 5 would be baserunners this season.

o. On Saturday night Chipper Jones had his 12th career walk-off hit as the Braves beat Reds in 12 innings...7 of Jones' 12 walk-off hits have come in extras.

p. Why does it seem he has more than 12 career walk off hits?

q. How crazy are the Brewers and the way they win games? On Saturday the Crew won on a pinch-hit walk-off bunt by Jonathan Lucroy.. Last time the MIL won game on any bunt single: April 28, 2004 (Bill Hall).
r. Even more crazier is the fact The last PINCH-HIT "bunt-off" in the majors was also by the Brewers. (Former Met great) Glendon Rusch in 14th inning against the Astros on April 19, 2003.
s. Earlier in the week Brewer closer John Axford accomplished this feat...loaded the bases in the ninth inning Tuesday -- AFTER he'd already struck out the side. How'd that happen? Easy. Axford whiffed the first three hitters in the ninth, but the third (Ian Desmond) reached base on a strike-three wild pitch. Then Axford allowed a single and a walk, and only then got the final out for real, on a fly ball to right.
t. I love when something crazy like that happens!

3. Some fun September Weekends
Everyone knows I enjoy a good multi-city, multi-sport legendary weekend. If I win the lottery between now and then this is what I will be doing every weekend in September.

Labor Day Weekend-My birthday is on Friday
9/2 Friday Night- Dodgers @ Braves
9/3 Saturday- College Football Season starts w. Boise St-UGA at the Georgia Dome

An Empire State/Keystone State/Garden State extravaganza
9/8 Thursday- US Open, Flushing Meadow
9/9 Friday- Cubs @ Mets, Citi Field
9/10 Saturday- Alabama-Penn State, Happy Valley
9/11 Sunday- Cowboys @ Jets, Meadowlands Stadium

A visit to Chicagoland and the Hoosier State
9/16 Friday- Astros @ Cubs, Wrigley Field
9/17 Saturday- Michigan State @ Notre Dame, South Bend
9/18 Sunday- Browns @ Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium

A MLB Legendary Weekend in the Big Apple
9/23 Friday- Red Sox @ Yankees, Yankee Stadium or Phillies @ Mets, Citi Field
9/24 Saturday- Red Sox @ Yankees, Yankee Stadium or Phillies @ Mets, Citi Field
9/25 Sunday- Either of the games above or a quick Amtrak ride to DC for Braves-Nats
Only football option is Giants @ Eagles on the 25th.

4. Some Fun October Weekends

A Sunshine State Trifecta
10/1 Saturday Alabama @ Florida
10/2 Sunday New Orleans @ Jacksonville
10/3 Monday Indy @ Tampa Bay

Rocky Top, Carolina and the ATL
10/8 Saturday UGA @ Tenn
10/9 Sunday Saints @ Panthers 1:00
Drive like a Bat Out of Hell
10/9 Sunday Packers @ Falcons 8:20

Mid-Atlantic to The Big Apple
10/15 Saturday Purdue @ Penn State 12:00
10/15 Saturday Clemson @ Maryland TBA (Could be done if Night game. 199 miles between State College and College Park).
10/16 Sunday Bills @ Giants 1:00
10/16 Playoff Baseball TBA
10/17 Monday Dolphins @ Jets (Monday night in the Meadowlands, enough said)

Another Sun Shine State Trifecta
10/22 Saturday Maryland at FSU
10/22 Saturday Georgia Tech @ Miami
10/23 Sunday Broncos @ Miami
10/24 Monday Ravens @ Jaguars

Texas Four Step
10/27 Thursday Rice @ Houston
10/28 Friday BYU @ TCU
10/29 Saturday Missouri @ Texas A&M or Kansas @ Texas
 10/30 Sunday Jaguars @ Texans

5. Podcasts
Last weekend I mentioned my love for twitter and how it has changed how we get our news, sports information and communicate with those who 5 years old ago seemed untouchable. This year I will tell you my favorite Podcasts. I believe in 5 years every new car that we purchase will have the availability to download podcast automatically. No more downloading Dan Patrick to the IPOD, plugging in the IPOD to the adapter, etc. Dan Patrick will now be waiting on me when I crank up my car every afternoon for the ride home. As a big fan of Sports Talk radio how awesome would it be to have interviews from the top Sports Radio programs waiting on me when I get in my car every afternoon. One should also imagine the possibilities on the business side. The ability to focus your advertising by knowing who is listening to certain podcasts etc is knowledge that some will pay top dollar.

I was listening to Jonah Keri's Podcast from May 6th when he interviewed the great Sean McDonough. Sean who is the son of the late Will McDonough the go to NFL scribe for the Boston Globe from the 1960's through the early 90's. One of the items I found so fascinating is that one of Sean's brother is the Director of Player Personnel for the Jacksonville Jaguars. His other brother Ryan is Director of Player Personnel for the Boston Celtics. One sister is at Harvard Business School and another sister is head of Baptist General Hospital in Boston. What a family.

Here are my must list Podcasts Downloads
1. Rich Eisen- Every time I listen I learn something new about the game of football. Eisen is the master at interviewing his guests and often the subject does leave football. I also enjoy hearing the background info on the workings of the NFL Network and this includes the travel schedules that fascinate me.
2. Bill Simmons- The Sports Guy who is a basketball expert but is well versed in every sport. Sometimes the podcasts get to Boston centric but who am I to judge? I respect the passion the people in that town have for sports.
3. Up and In: The Baseball Podcasts- This should be number 1, they only problem is this podcast gets a little lengthy but still awesome none the less.
4.  The Poscast- My current favorite writer interviews some intriguing guests. How is it not awesome?
5. Behind The Bets with ESPN- I love hearing from wise guys and the house on how the numbers gets set up etc. The casino's do not get built by mistake.
6. Jonah Keri- I have only listened to the one podcast which I referenced earlier. Still fascinated by the opportunities that are available.

What am I missing? What are you downloading?

6. Halftime
Instead of linking one awesome song that Smoak and myself used to rockout to while juveniles in the metropolis of Sylvania I will give you two songs that we listened to on the way back from TMAC's wedding to the hotel. I thought it was ironic that we played two songs about cheating after seeing one of our best friends get married but who am I to judge? The first song is I Let Her Lie and comes from Darryl Worley who has a Scotty McCreery sound to his voice. The second song that we listened to was All These Years by Sawyer Band. Random fun fact: I once saw Sawyer Band at Effingham County High School when I was in high school. What does that even mean?

Last Ten Things trivia question was not answered correctly by anyone. The four sets of Father/Son combos with 200 homeruns apiece are Gus and Buddy Bell, Cecil and Prince Fielder, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Felipe and Moises Alou.

This week trivia question is just as difficult. Their have been 6 players to have hit at least one homerun in 40 different ballparks. Name them. Just some hints for everyone. Think players who have played in both leagues and in the not so distant past with the Stadium Boom and Interleague Play.

7. College Baseball Thoughts
This weekend will mark the start of the NCAA Baseball tournament with 16 four team regionals set up throughout the country. My Dawgs will make a west coast trip to Corvalis, Oregon. I hear it is lovely their this time of year. Hear are some thoughts and my predictions which should help you fill out your college baseball bracket. You are filing out a bracket right?

a. The ACC has never had a team win a National Championship. Yes, Miami has won multiple National Championships but none as a member of the ACC.

b. UGA is playing in its 7 NCAA tournament since 2001. Before 2001 the Dawgs had only made 3 NCAA tournaments. Those were 1987 when they went to Omaha, 1990 when the Dawgs won it all and 1992 when UGA lost in the Tallahassee regional.

c. In this years tournament seven SEC teams made the tournament, as did seven teams from the ACC. The Pac-10 joined the Big 12 with six teams selected.
d. One shocker was six time NCAA champion failing to make the field of 64. The Bayou Bengals went 36-20 overall record, an RPI of 26 and 18 wins vs. RPI Top 100 teams. The negatives include a dismal ninth-place finish in the SEC, 13-17 record in conference, and perhaps the most damming statistic, just three true non-conference road games.
e. Meanwhile, the St. John's Red Storm of the Big East finished the season with an RPI of 54 and a 35-20 overall record. They also finished second in the Big East in the regular season and reached the Big East tournament title game. However, they were just 1-3 vs. RPI Top 25, 1-6 vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-16 vs. RPI Top 100.
f. With LSU missing out on the tournament it makes me wonder if the SEC invited all 12 teams instead of the top 8 could they have still made the NCAA tournament? I know if I was on the NCAA Baseball Committee and we were discussing teams I would say how can we invite them to the National tournament when they can not make the SEC tournament.

g. With that being said the Bayou Bengals need to play more than three true non-conference road games.

h. St. John's on the other hand played 26 road games this season. The Johnnies also played an early-season series at Georgia Tech, won a series at Georgia Southern (a postseason club) and played North Carolina in a midweek bout.
i. Safe to say RPI was not a major factor when a team like Arkansas with an RPI of 14 gets shipped to Arizona State as #2 seed. Also, UGA is a 3 seed in the Corvalis regional despite having the best RPI of all the teams involved.

j. For the first time since the NCAA tournament was expanded to 64 teams, the West does not have a team seeded in the top eight. Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, defending champion South Carolina, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Texas and Rice are the top eight teams.
k. My 16 Regional winners are Virginia, UCLA, Florida, Southern Miss, UNC, Cal State Fullerton, South Carolina, UCONN, Florida State, Texas A&M, Vandy, UGA, Texas, Arkansas, Rice, TCU.

l. I do love the SEC and not the ACC with Clemson and GaTech losing home regionals. Besides those upsets I was mostly chalk.

m. My 8 College World Series finalists are Virginia, Florida, Cal State Fullerton, South Carolina, Texas A&M, UGA, Texas and TCU.
n. We will have a Virginia-Florida final with the Gators winning it all. (I can not believe I just typed that).

8. MLB Power 9
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Boston Red Sox

3. Cleveland Indians
4. New York Yankees

5. St. Louis Cardinals

6. Arizona Diamondbacks

7. Tampa Bay Rays

8. Texas Rangers
9. San Fransico Giants

9. What I Read This Week
A couple of long reads about the sporting world. The first one is the New Yorker profile of Fred Wilpon that made news last week. While Wilpon does call out his three marquee players those comments come in one paragraph of an article that is 21 pages when printed. Also last week Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated profiled Wilpon as well for the magazine. Here is that article. I am still fascinated how Wilpon went from a middle class Brooklyn kid to owner of the New York Mets. His American Dream.

The next article can be found in this week's Sports Illustrated and it is the story that forced Ohio State to deal with Jim Tressel since the school would not investigate on their own. Fascinated that Tressel did not think what he was doing was wrong and how he underestimated the severity of the issues in Columbus. Where was the Athletic Director when all of this was going on? How silly does school president Gordon Gee look today?

10. Non Football or Baseball Thoughts
a. Saw the Hangover 2 twice this past week. Very funny, not as funny as the first but who would have expect that?

b. They used the same formula as the first movie but why change? The first Hangover was the highest grossing "R" rated movie of all time.

c. Mr. Chow is one amazing character. I can not remember another like him. Also, Doug's wife is amazingly gorgeous. She needs a better agent, or on screen credits only include Hangover, Hangover 2, American Pie (where she was a random hot girl), Jezebel's Kiss, Homer and Eddie (when she was four).

d. The actress I am discussing is Sasha Barrese. How does she not have a major role in a movie or television show?

e. Went to Kenny Chesney about ten days ago. As always a very good show even though I was dissapointed in only one encore song. The encore song was "Boys of Fall" while very good, not what I am looking for in an encore song.

f. Kenny did cover the David Allen Coe song, You Never Even Called Me By My Name....has that song ever been played when it has not turned into a great sing along?
g. Billy Currington is a better artist than I give him credit. I totally forgot how many really good songs that he has. Who doesn't love "Good Directions" "People Are Crazy" "Pretty Good at Drinking Beer" and "Let Me Down Easy"?

h. It has to be noted that Luke Bryan actually wrote Good is Mr. Bryan singing one of my favorite country songs.

i. Does anyone realize that Billy Currington is from the 912 and Rincon, Ga? He also recorded this song with Shania Twain which might be the worst song ever recorded.
j. I think my wedding season is coming to a more wedding in Athens the last weekend in June. One thing about wedding season is that I get to see and hang out with an A-list crew that I do not see that often.
k.With that being said if I ever find someone who is as awesome as me (let's be serious I am perfect and look like Brad Pitt) the festivities will not be outside in May. With that being said it was still an awesome time.
l. In a couple weeks Peter King (the guy I stole the 10 things from) is looking for guest writers for his column. If I were him I would ask Mike Mayock or Joe Posnanski. King also gets players or coaches to write for him and I would to hear from guys like Kurt Warner, Tony Dungy, Tom Coughlin, either Harbaugh brother, Marshall Faulk or Drew Brees. I will email or tweet him my thoughts. Let's see who he chooses?
m. Three years ago I could not tell you a thing about Mike Mayock. Today I think he is the premiere football analyst whether college or professional. This season he will team with Brad Nessler who is one of the best in the business for the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football. Mayock will also color commentate Notre Dame football on NBC.
n. Because I am a geek I looked up the NFL Networks and Notre Dame's schedule to find potential crazy travel schedules.
o. Their are two weeks that Mayock will have to pull double duty. The first is Thursday November 10th with the Raiders at the Chargers on a Thursday night. Mayock will then take the Red Eye to the East Coast for a Notre Dame home game against Maryland at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The second crazy travel week for Mayock will be the following weekend when the Jets take on the Broncos in the Mile High City. After the game or the next morning Mayock will fly to Indy or Chicago and drive over to South Bend for Saturday's battle of the Jesuits when Boston College plays Notre Dome. That's a cool schedule.
p. With the Mav's in the NBA finals is everyone else surprised by how quiet Mark Cuban has been?
q. Week away from a trip to Tinsel Town, has anyone ever been? Does anyone have any recommendations?

Text of The Week
From the Good Doctor in the SAV who was doing what Doctors do in the summer.....visit the beach.
Eating breakfast at the Donut Hole in sunny Destin, Florida. If you ever in the area, I highly recommend the pancakes and the red velvet donuts. If Charlie Weis finds this place during the SEC meetings he will be buying a fat boy seat belt extender for the vehicle.

I need to learn more about these red velvet donuts.

Tweet of The Week
Actually last weekend but who is counting? This week's tweet comes from who is Steve Politi a columnist for The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)

Quote of The Week
From Allen who is played by Zach Galifianakis in Hangover 2

Are we not desert any more? I didn't get the memo.

Photo of The Week
One more item from The Star-Ledger (how does New Jersey's paper get two references in 10 Things)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

First time, long time. And we are off...............

1. What I have been up to?
February 21-Last 10 Things
February 28th- Weekend in Statesboro
March 5th- Spring Training
March 12- Event in Chattanooga and family time in Rome, Ga
March 19- NCAA Tournament in Charlotte
March 26- Spring Training
April 2- In DC for Braves/Nats
April 9- Braves Opening Weekend and meeting half of Screven County in Athens
April 16- Braves Weekend versus Mets and Westphal wedding
April 23-High School Baseball and stock the bar party for TMAC in Augusta
April 30- Daley Wedding in Sylvania/Statesboro
May 7th-Derby Party/Shennanigans for TMAC
May 14th- Braves home games
May 17th-New 10 Things
May 21- Kenny Chesney and cousins high school graduation in Rome
May 28- TMAC Nuptials and Braves home weekend
June 11- Trip to LA
June 18-Braves home games
June 25- Wedding in Athens
July 2-Braves home games
July 9-No Idea?
July 16-Braves home games
July 23-No Idea? Maybe a road trip to the Nati.
July 30-Braves Home Games

2. Georgia Thoughts

A couple quick thoughts and we will begin first with the UGA Hoops team. I attended my first NCAA tournament this spring and it was one of the highlights of my spring. Despite the losses to Thompkins, Leslie, Price and Barnes I still feel the future is bright for UGA Basketball. The upcoming recruting period is huge for the future success of the program as the state is loaded and it seems more of the top recruits are atleast considering UGA, something they have never done in the past. Now we need to get two or three of these players to enroll in Athens. UGA also steps it up scheduling wise next season as the Dawgs make trips to USC, Xavier and Colorado. Our for sure home games include Mercer, Georgia Tech and a Big East team as part of the SEC/Big East challenge. We are also part of the CBE Preseason Basketball tournament the weekend before Thanksgiving in Kansas City. Future opponents include Missouri, Notre Dame and Cal.

As far as the football team I am loving what I am reading and hearing. Of course that is usually the case when reading about UGA football teams but something about this season seems different. I am not saying we will win the SEC but I like our chances as much as any other team in the SEC East. I also need to discuss the transfer of Washaun Ealey. Judging by the comments of Mr. Ealey one can not wonder that he was part of the problem not the solution. I also hope that entitled attitude displayed by Ealey is not one that still festers in the UGA lockeroom because this attitude has given us a 8-5 record in 2009 and a 6-7 record in 2010. We are better than this.

3. MLB Thoughts
a. On Sunday the Braves beat Philly ace Roy Halladay in what was the 2nd straight CG loss for the Phillies ace. Halladay now has 6 CG losses since start of 2009, no one else has more than 3.
b. At one point during the game on Sunday the Braves had 6 hits, all singles and three of the six were broken bat hits. Reading the box score this morning they looked like line drives.
c. One of the surprises of the 2011 season is the struggles of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. What makes these numbers even crazier is that After a 9-for-13 series against the New York Yankees in early April, he was hitting .400.
d. Here are some reasons for the struggles, Pedroia is swinging and missing at a much higher rate this season, an issue that’s clearly connected to more strikeouts. In his first four full seasons in the majors, Pedroia had an 8.6 miss percentage on his swings, the seventh lowest in the majors over that span. This season, that has skyrocketed to 20.7 percent, second highest on the Red Sox.

e. Furthermore, his .258 BA with two strikes entering 2010 ranked fifth among active players. However, the spike in strikeouts has led to a .178 average with two strikes this season.
f. In addition, Pedroia is hitting just .239 on fastballs and cutters, down from .320 in 2010 and .310 in 2009. However, the biggest discrepancy can be found on inside pitches. Before his injury last season, Pedroia was hitting .359 on at-bats ending on an inside pitch.
g. In 2011, that has plummeted to a .159 batting average. He already has more strikeouts on inside pitches (10) than he had in all of 2010 (7). So how about inside fastballs? The difference there is massive. In 2010, Pedroia hit .478 (22-for-46) on at-bats ending on an inside fastball. This season, he is just 6-for-31 (.194).
h.So far this season Major League Baseball has had 26 rainouts. All of last season MLB as a whole had 21 rainouts. This season the Braves have already had two rainouts while not having any games postponned in 2010.
i. On average April accounts for 37 percent of all rainouts each year (an average of 12), or more than double the amount of rainouts the league has seen for any other month during the season from 2002 to the present.
j. Over the last ten years the Red Sox and Mets have had the most rain outs. This is a list I hope the Braves never lead.
k. Year of the pitcher? There have been a record 73 shutouts in the majors thru May 10, 7 more than the next-best total, set in 2008.
l. Hitters throughout baseball are hitting .249/.319/.382. Even comparing that only to April performance over the last 17 years, the numbers are way, way down.
m. From 1994 through 2010, hitters in April batted .264 — so that’s down 15 points.Their on-base percentage was .345 — so that’s down 26 points. Their slugging percentage was .421 — so that’s down almost 40 points.
n. On Thursday, when the New York Yankees lost an 11-5 decision to the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, not a single New York batter struck out. It was the first time the Yankees had gone an entire game without striking out since July 8, 2009, when they defeated the Twins during their final trip to the Metrodome.
o. The last time the Yankees lost a game in which they didn’t strike out was a 7-1 defeat in Detroit nearly a decade ago -- on July 19, 2001. The last time they lost at home without striking out was June 17, 1994, in an 8-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
p.The lowest walk rate among batting qualifiers belongs to Oakland leadoff man Coco Crisp, who has drawn just two walks in 30 games -- an average of one walk per 62.0 plate appearances. As a group, leadoff hitters in the majors are drawing an average of one free pass for every 12.6 PAs, walking nearly five times as often as Crisp.
q. Among the 176 relievers who have appeared in at least 10 games in 2011, only two have yet to allow a first batter they’ve faced to reach base. San Diego’s Mike Adams has retired all 18 of his first batters, and the Angels’ Rich Thompson has set down 13 in 13 games.
r. First batters have gone 0-for-18 against another Padre, Chad Qualls, though he has given up a walk for a still-stingy .053 opponent OBP. Washington closer Drew Storen has the same opponent OBP, limiting first batters to one hit in 19 at-bats. 
s. With a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 18-17, marking the latest point in the season that they’ve been above .500 since they were 23-22 on May 29, 2004.
t. The Pirates, with 18 consecutive losing seasons heading into 2011, have been above .500 in the second half in only two of those 18 seasons -- the last time in 1999. In five of them, the Pirates never were above .500. In fact, they failed to surpass the .500 mark for nearly three full years, from May 2004 until April 2007.
u. I need to thank the great people at for the last 8 nuggets.

4. Joe Posnanski
Currently Mr. Posnanski has taken over the ledger as my favorite current writer. For a while Rick Riley held that post but he went to ESPN and his work has never been the same. Mr. Posnanski (who once wrote for the Augusta Chronicle) currently works for Sports Illustrated and is a twitter must follow. (more on that topic later) Here are some of my favorite Posnanski reads over the last year. A couple of these have nothing to do with sports. Joe looks at the difference between home and Home. A 16 game baseball season?. Joe looks at The Biggest Winner. Zero Intentional Walks. The last two posts are my favorite Posnanski stories that I have ever read. The first is titled Frenchy and Hope. The second read is titled Katie The Perfect and should be a must read for anyone that works in customer service, etc.

5. Twitter 
It's no secret that I absolutely love twitter and how it has changed how we get our information, how companies market their products and how people once unreachable now have communicate with regular joes (me and you) regularly. Here are some of the favorite people that I follow by category.

Sports Business/General Sports: Andy Gray,  Neil Best,  Richard Deitsch, Tim Layden, darren rovell, Richard Deitsch, Joe Posnanski, Bill Simmons

Baseball Peter Moylan, David Hale,  Jayson Stark,  Kevin Goldstein,  Jim Powell,  STATS LLC,  Joel Sherman,  David O'Brien,  Buster Olney, Jon Heyman

Football Andrew Brandt,  pat hanlon, Rich Eisen, Sam Farmer LA Times, Peter King

College Sports: Jay Bilas,  Gentry Estes, Mark Schlabach, Tony Barnhart,  Mark Fox,  Seth Emerson, Joe Schad

Humor Gary Carter RAW, Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel, Conan O'Brien,  Drew Magary

Etc: Longreads,  Jamie Dupree, 

Etc, Etc: I know I left alot of friends of the list but I did not have a friend tab or everyone would have been on it. The only two friends I am going to add are and who are absolutely hillarious and must follows during Yankees (kingdj27) and Indians (Mhejduk) baseball games.

Next week I break down my favorite Podcasts. Who are some quality people that I should follow on twitter?

6. Halftime
In the past few weeks since their concert at Turner Field I have become a huge Avett Brothers fan. I had vaguely heard of them and now they are one of my favorites. Currently my favorite Avett Brothers tune is I And Love And You. I am also a huge fan of Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. This group from right outside Charlotte played the Grammy's with Mumford and Sons and also Bob Dylan. Here is that video. Am I the only one who thinks the lead singer of Mumford and Sons is actually Tim Tebow?

This week trivia question comes courtesy of @Buster_ESPN and co-worker Bob Askin. Their are four sets of Father/Son combos that each have hit 200 career homeruns. Who are they?

7. The 5 Best Baseball Stats Today
We all know about Batting Average, ERA, WHIP but what are some different stats that give us a better way of determing a player's value. I wish some of these stats were listed in the newspaper and on scoreboards inside the stadium like we currently see home runs, rbis, average and ERA.

1. BABIP-Batting Average Balls In Play-BABIP measures exactly what it says: a player’s batting average on balls that defenders can actually make a play on. Strikeouts and home runs are stripped out and subtracted from the player’s total number of at-bats, then batting average is calculated as usual. The point of all this is basically to find out how lucky a player is or isn’t. League average BABIPs are around .300, so a BABIP higher than that means the player’s success is generally luckier than average.

2. Win Share-Comes from the 2002 Bill James book that I might not be smart enough to read. It considers statistics for baseball and basketball players, in the context of their team and in a sabermetric way, and assigns a single number to each player for his contributions for the year. A win share represents one-third of a team win, by definition. If a team wins 80 games in a season, then its players will share 240 win shares. The formula for calculating win shares is complicated; it takes up pages 16–100 in the book. The general approach is to take the team's win shares (i.e., 3 times its number of wins), then divide them between offense and defense.

3. Ultimate Zone Ratings (UZR)-UZR is an advanced defensive metric that uses play-by-play data recorded by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) to estimate each fielder’s defensive contribution in theoretical runs above or below an average fielder at his position in that player’s league and year. Thus, a SS with a UZR of zero is exactly average as compared to a SS in the same year and in the same league. If his UZR is plus, he is above average, and if it is minus, he is below average. If you want more info go to this Fan Graphs website for the breakdown of UZR. On a side note why do I not visit more often?

4. Run's Created- This is another baseball statistic invented by Bill James to estimate the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team. The Technical version of Run's Created formula reads like this:

 Thanks to the fine people at Baseball Reference here is the career leaderboard for Runs Created.

5. Wins above replacement player- Commonly known as WAR, this is a non-standardized sabermetric baseball statistic that is used to show how many more wins a player would give a team as opposed to a "replacement level", or minor league/bench player at that position. While WAR values are scaled equally for pitchers and hitters, the result is calculated differently for pitchers versus position players: position players are evaluated using statistics for fielding and hitting, while pitchers are evaluated using statistics related to the opposing batters' hits, walks and strikeouts.

Yes I am a stat geek. My apologies.

8. MLB Power 9

The Reason for Nine? Nine Innings. Nine position players.Ted Williams #. Babe Ruth Squared and Chipper Jones minus one. All records as of end of games Sunday night.

1. Cleveland- 24-13- Tied with the Braves for the best run differential +41 in all of baseball.
2. Tampa Bay- 23-17- How are they in first place again? This team has won the AL East 2 out of the last 3 years.
3. Philadelphia-25-14. Despite losing two of three the past two weekends to the Braves best overall body of work in the NL. Their schedule does get tougher the next few weeks.
4. Florida- 23-16. Their bullpen has been in my opinion one of the biggest surprises in baseball. Leo Nunez has not blown a save all season. This has to change.
5. Atlanta-23-19 Starting to play better baseball and if this team can get Uggla going, Lookout!
6. Detroit-22-18. Hottest team in base right now going 9-1 over their last 10.
7. Cincinnati- 23-17. Second hottest team in baseball right now going 8-2 over their last 10. Jay Bruce starting to heat up. Big sweep of the Cardinals at home.
8. San Francisco-22-17. Last week we heard of rumors of a Jose Reyes trade. If that happens, look out.
9. Anaheim Angels 22-19. Big series win over Texas is the only reason they are nine and the Rangers are not.

9. What Have I Read?

A couple decent reads over the past few months. The first is an excerpt from the new tell all book on ESPN titled Those Guys Have All The Fun. This excerpt takes a look at the brilliant Keith Olbermann and his lack of regard for authority and the role he had in building the network and the pay cut it took to be on SportsCenter. The NY Times gives us a breakdown on the 770 page book written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. These two also wrote the 2002 book on the crew of Saturday Night Live titled, Live From New York.

The second read comes from Time Magazine and asks the question Is The FBI Up to the Job 10 Years after 9/11? This article was published a few days before we killed Osama Bin Laden and is still very fascinating. An inside look at FBI Director Robert Mueller's efforts to remake the department after 9/11, and the internal battles that almost led him to quit. Mueller—who was sworn in just seven days after the World Trade Center attacks—threatened to resign twice while serving under President Bush.

The third read comes from the May 3rd New York Times two days after it was announced that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Titled, Behind The Hunt For Bin Laden the New York Times investigates the CIA and US Military search for Bin Laden, how we found him and how everything went down on the fateful Sunday. 

10. Non Football or Basketball Thoughts
a. I absolutely loved the season finale of How I Met Your Mother. I do not even get excited when I see at Woman that we the viewer are made to believe that it is Ted's future wife because I am tired of falling into that trap.
b. In the first episode of the season we see Ted at a wedding where he supposedly meets his wife. In the season finale we learn that it is Barney's wedding but I think the bride to be is Robin not Nora despite Nora's appearance in the finale.
c. I am glad Zoey is now gone as she lasted about four episodes to long but that is just my opinion.
d. Overall an above average season that was better than season 5 but not as good as seasons 1 and 2. I felt like the show was picking up steam before Marshall's Dad died and then it was hit and miss.
e. Looks like a decent movie summer and I think May gets us off to a strong start. From everything I read and hear Bridesmaids looks hilarious and it is more than just a chick flick. Here is the trailor. Some funny broads in that movie.
f. The movie I want to see more than any other this summer has to be Hangover 2. How does this not look funny?
g. The most entertaining drama on television that I watched this season had to be Hawaii 5-0 and the finale did not disappoint. Holy smokes that was a great episode and now we have about 6-7 story lines to start next season.
h. I do know they need to find Wo Fat and find him fast. Hard to believe I started watching this show weekly thanks to a Bill Simmons tweet and leaving the television turned to CBS after one of the NFL playoffs.
i. Not sure about this movie but I will give it a try because it has Will Ferrell.
j. Speaking of Will Ferrell I have not seen the past 5 or 6 Offices but I have them DVR'd.
k. Three years ago would anyone have known that using DVR the way I did in the previous sentence was a verb?
l. Still a couple Modern Family episodes behind but the funniest show on television in my opinion.
m. I do know the A-list crew of Smoak, Shep and Ben are 22 days away from LA. Good chance the City of Angels will never be the same after we visit.
n. For those that have ever been or currently reside in LA do you have any tips for the trip? Unfortunately no Dodger Stadium as the Bums that originally played in Brooklyn will be out of town. We will attend a game at the Big A in Anaheim. Maybe put our toes in the Pacific? I don't know if we will have enough time.
o. I do know I am ready for some Embassy Suites happy hour and breakfast.

Tweet Of The Week
From the very talented Justin Stangel. It truly is amazing how talented and funny the Stangel brothers are.

Quote of The Week
Comes from Florida Gator Ja'Juan Story who tells it like it is when asked about his favorite pregame ritual.

I doodoo and then listen to Katy Perry.

If you do not believe me click here for the interview.

Text of The Week
From the price conscience Good Doctor from Savannah
At the Savannah Sand Gnats game for thirsty thursday. Tickets are more expensive than the bravos. Justin Grimm on the bump for the hickory crawdads.

It should be noted the Savannah Sand Gnats have $.50 Natty Lights and $3 Captain and Cokes the hour before first pitch on Thursday nights.

Picture of The Week
This weeks picture of the week comes from the NY Post. Below you will see Friday's borderline inappropriate cover, followed by Saturday's borderline inappropriate cover. I miss reading this paper on a daily basis. Despite my multiple calls and emails they have no plans to add daily delivery in Atlanta.