Monday, March 15, 2010

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

Here are the Ten Things for the week, I know I said I would do 15 Things this week but that ended up being a lie as I was way to busy to write 15 things. We will try for 15 Things this week but no telling what we end up with. Check back during the week for some NCAA previews from the Captain.

1. Georgia Thoughts

The Dawgs went 1-1 this week in the SEC tourney beating Arkansas and losing to Vandy. We finished the season 14-17 and while that is nothing to write home about it showed enough progress and enough signs of hope for one to get excited about the future.

If star sophomores Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie return to school for their junior season their stock will do nothing but rise. These two have been projected as lottery picks in the 2011 season so hopefully they return because if they improve the same amount from 2010 to 2011 as they did from 2009 to 2010 Coach Fox could blow the lid off the program.

Another key jump involves developing consistent guard play to accompany Thompkins and Leslie in the scoring department. Toward the end of the season, many teams, like Vanderbilt did Friday, were able to employ zone defenses to slow Georgia’s scoring duo. With McPhee, Georgia’s lone 3-point threat, graduating, Georgia must find someone who can stretch the floor and alleviate pressure on Thompkins and Leslie. Sources inside the program say Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson Jr., who sat out this season per NCAA rules, could be that guy.

In December I wrote This is a team that you have to watch while remembering this is a process. It's a team you grade on issues bigger than wins and losses. Do they look like they are improving over the course of the season? I think it is safe to say we are a better team in March that the one in November. In fact it is remarkable how far this team has come.

2. College Basketball Thoughts-Couple things to keep in mind when filling out your bracket

a. UK's 6-1 in games decided by 6 points or less.
b. Vandy and Murray St are separated by 125 miles. However, they both have to fly out to California to play each other in the first round.
c. If BYU (7) can beat Florida (10) and K-State (2) in Oklahoma City then the Cougs would be a "HOME" team as a 7 in Salt Lake in 16.
d. Villanova and ND could meet in Sweet 16; conference matchups normally avoided til regional final. Same with Marquette and WVU.
e. Some coaches in Kansas' quadrant: Izzo (five final 4s),Kruger (1 final 4, two 8s), Gary Williams (two final fours), and don't sleep on Tom Penders
f. Houston Cougar coach Tom Penders has won 10 NCAA games as a double-digit seed.
g. The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest have ended the season disastrously, losing five of their last six, and bottoming out with a 21-point loss in the ACC tourney to last-place Miami. Coach Dino Gaudio is 0-4 in postseason games as Wake head coach. In each of those four games, Gaudio's team had the higher seed -- and in each of those four games they lost by double digits.
h.The Maryland Terrapins haven't lost consecutive games since November in Maui and should be able to bounce back after being bounced by Georgia Tech in the ACC quarterfinals. Also, it's been a while since Gary Williams was sent home after the first round; last nine times he's had the Terps have been in the field, they've won at least one game.
i. Michigan State has not done anything impressive in weeks, struggling in at 5-5 over their last 10 games. However, are you man enough to bet against Tom Izzo having his team playing its best ball in this tournament?
j. Jim Boeheim has a tourney record of 42-26. None of his final four teams have been #1 seeds.
k.Rick Pitino and Louisville could be scary for Duke in round 2. He has taken teams seeded sixth (Providence 1987) and fourth (Louisville '05) to the Final Four. What will his 9th seeded team do this year?
l. I found this awesome story on Bill Raftery and along with Verne Lundquist, the pair will make CBS 's best announcing team despite Jim Nantz and Clarke Kellogg announcing the final four.
m. How great would it be to follow him on the road for a college basketball season? One would find some of the best stories that should never be told. It would make an awesome book and or Documentary.
n. Send it in.
p. Like A Belgium Waffle
q. Illinois is playing at Stony Brook in the NIT, the reason why? Assembly Hall is booked with Cirque du Soleil.
r. How good has UK been all-time Kentucky is the first team with 50 tournament appearances. Next is North Carolina and UCLA with 41 (neither in this year’s field). Those three are the only teams with 40, Kansas now has 39.
s. I know it is a 1 vs 16 game but the Syracuse-Vermont matchup has to make the Orange faithful a little uneasy. Vermont's only NCAA tournament victory came against the Orange back in 2005. Just as an FYI the coach of Vermont at the time was Tom Brennan. What do Coach Brennan and The Coach have in common? We are both graduates of UGA. It also HAS to be mentioned that Brennan once was an assistant under Bill Raftery at Seton Hall. Brennan now works as an analyst for ESPN.
t. How is Kansas the #1 overall seed and get the hardest bracket to the final four?
u. Why am I picking Louisville to beat Duke?
v. Onuaku is unlikely to play this weekend for the Cuse but it should not matter and we should see them in the Sweet 16.

3. My Elite Eight

Notre Dame

West Virginia

Kansas State

 4. What I read last week

This week I read an article by Vanity Fair writer Mark Seal. Seal takes a look at David Letterman and the 48 Hours producer that Letterman accuses of extortion. This wild article takes a look at Letterman, Joe Halderman the 48 Hours Producer, and Late Show staffer Stephanie Birkit. Long read but very well done and one of the only pieces ever written that takes a look at the private Letterman.

The second article comes from 1980 and takes a look at the Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year which was USA's hockey team. For those without a sense of history the 1980 Olympic Team preformed the "Miracle on Ice" in upsetting the heavily favored Russia team in semifinals before coming from behind to beat Sweeden in the Gold Medal game. I can not get enough of this story.

5 Baseball Thoughts
a. Here is a stat that will make you say WHAT? Only three hurlers have more victories than Joe Saunders’ 33 the past 2 yrs: Roy Halladay (37), CC Sabathia (36) Cliff Lee (36).
b.When Jered Weaver is good, he’s really good: In his 16 wins last season, he had an ERA of 1.84 and a 0.905 WHIP. But in his eight losses, he had a 6.99 ERA and a 1.835 WHIP 
c. The heaviest player as officially posted in the bigs last year was the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton, tipping the scales at 295. The lightest was the Rockies’ Esmil Rogers, who weighed in at 150.
d. For those that participate in fantasy keeper drafts they might want to look at Brewer LHP Zach Braddock. Last season, he struck out 62 and walked seven in 40 1/3 innings between Single A and Double A.
e. How did Jair Jurrjens only have a record of 14-10 last season despite an ERA of 2.65?
f. How much pressure is on David Wright early in 2010? From everything I read Reyes and Beltran will open the season on the DL.
g. Last year Rafael Furcal failed to reach 25 SB for 1st time in full season. 47 RBI tied his worst mark in a year of at least 500 ABs.
h. The SF Giants have real concern w/ phenom Madison Bumgarner. Fastball never hit 90 mph on Thurs., threw a couple at 85 mph
i. From 2006-08, Chipper produced an average line of .342-26-88-92. Last year he went .264-18-71-80.
j. I have been quick to rip the Mets signing of Jason Bay but in 4 of the last 5 seasons Jason Bay has hit 30 homers with 100 RBI, 100 runs and 10 SBs. Only he and Alex Rodriguez have done this.
k. Of the 30 teams in MLB only 11 have all-time records greater than .500. The 11 are the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Indians, Giants, Pirates and Tigers.
l. Yes the Pittsburgh Pirates are 9,753 - 9,579 all time.
m.The Atlanta Braves are 29 games under .500 at 9854-9883 all time. A 2010 record of 96-66 would put the Braves at 1 game above .500 all-time. It should also be noted the Bravos should hit 10,000 wins all time in 2011.
n.Currently only 4 franchises have 10,000 all-time wins and they would be the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, and Cardinals
o. Nick Blackburn of the Twins, as a rookie in 2008, started 33 games and went 11-11 with a 4.05 ERA. He gave up 102 runs, 23 homers, walked 39, struck out 96, and had a WHIP of 1.360 in 193 1/3 innings. Last year, as a sophomore, he started 33 games and went 11-11 with a 4.03 ERA. He gave up 103 runs, 25 homers, walked 41, struck out 98, and had a WHIP of 1.366 in 205 2/3 innings.
p.Nomar Garciaparra finished his career out-homering Derek Jeter, 229-224, but trailed in lifetime average, .317 to .313.
q. Not to often I feel sorry for the Red Sox but the story of Ryan Westmoreland is something I do not wish on anyone. The Boston Herald has more details.
r. MLB Network's 30 in 30 focused a lot on Mark McGwire during the Cardinal episode and I was thoroughly impressed with him as a hitting coach. I even picked up on a couple of things hitting wise that I did not know before.
s. Speaking of MLB Network, I am absolutely loving the daily spring training games even if it is not the Braves.
t. I found an unique stat this weekend and it is Bases Taken (it includes bases advanced on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks and defensive indifference). The top 4:
1. David Wright - 31
2. Denard Span - 29
3. Troy Tulowitzki - 27
4. Dexter Fowler - 27
u. Speaking of Span he had a .667 batting average on bunts (10 hits, 15 at-bats) last season, which was nearly double the major league average of .376.
v. Am I the only one who thinks this is awesome? The Braves lost one split squad game on Sunday 8-5 to the Astros. The beat the Blue Jays in a split squad game 8-5 on Sunday.
w. Homerun leaders by posion last year
C  Joe Mauer - 28 homers overall (23 as a Catcher)
1b Prince Fielder 46 (Pujols had 47 overall but 44 as a 1b)
2b Aaron Hill 36
SS Troy Tulowitzki 32
3b Mark Reynolds 37 (43 overall)
RF Jayson Werth 34 in right 36 overall
CF Curtis Granderson 30
LF Jason Bay 36
x. Last season before the All-Star break Troy Tulowitzki hit 16 homers with a .254 batting average. After the break he also hit 16 homers but his average was .342. (.342 was also Babe Ruth's career batting average)
y. Last season, the Angels led the majors with 91 games in which they had 10 or more hits. They had a 68-23 record in those games. The Reds had the fewest with 50, going 37-13.
z. The two players who had the most games with four or more hits last season were Miguel Tejada and Denard Span who had six such games each.

This week's song that Smoak and I used to listen as we drove around in circles is Wallflowers-One Headlight. Congrats goes to the greatest kicker in Screven County History who knew that Paris finished second to London to host the 2012 Olympics. He wins two tickets to a Braves game during the 2010 season. This week's question is, tell me the four guys who have won a Heisman and a Super Bowl MVP.

6. Does Spring Training Success Matter?

Here are some statistical numbers to the age old question.
a. In 2007 the eight playoff teams went a collective 125-108 (.536 winning percentage) in Spring Training (ST). Seven of the eight playoff teams went .500 or more in ST with the Phillies as the only exception (11-18).
b. The ten worst teams of 2007 went 134-163 (.451 winning percentage) in ST.
c. In 2007, the eventual World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox, went 15-12 in ST. The National League Champion Colorado Rockies went 13-12 in ST.
d. In 2008 the eight playoff teams went a collective 112-112 (.500 winning percentage) in ST. Only three of the eight playoff teams had a record over .500 in ST. The White Sox were one team that stunk in ST, but went on to make the playoffs. The Phillies (12-18) and Dodgers (11-18), who ultimately squared off in the 2008 NLCS, both had miserable records in ST, as well.
e. The ten worst teams of 2008 went 130-161 (.447 winning percentage) in ST. Of the poor teams, the Giants and Orioles were notably bad in ST at 9-23 and 10-17, respectively. The Giants were 72-90 in 2008, while the O's had a 68-93 record.
f. 2009’s worst eleven teams finished a collective 156-201 (.437) in ST. Eight of these eleven teams finished under .500 in ST. The three exceptions were the Mets, Royals, and Pirates.
g. The eight playoff teams finished with a collective ST record of 153-115 ( .571 winning percentage), but two teams, the Yankees and Angels inflated this winning percentage. The Yankees were 24-10, whereas the Angels were a supernatural 26-8. Still, six of the eight playoff teams were .500 or better in ST.
h. The two playoff teams that failed to reach .500 in ST were the Phillies and Dodgers. These teams went on to face off in the NLCS, so I guess their poor STs didn’t matter much.
i. In 2006 the Braves went 11-18 in Spring Training before going 79-83 in the regular season. In 2007 the Braves had a Grapefruit league record of 18-12 before going 84-78. In the injury plagued season of 2008 the Braves had an overall record of 70-92 while going 15-15 in spring training. Last season the Braves finished 21-12 in March before finishing with an 86-76 record.
j. Have these numbers proved anything? I do not think they mean much but if you are a Phillies fan you have to be worried that the Fightin's actually have an above .500 record two weeks into Grapefruit League play.
k.I think spring training records reflect more on bad teams than good teams meaning that bad teams will preform poorly in the spring while the spring does not effect good teams.
l. Just as an FYI, the Washington Nationals are 0-10 so far this spring. The Orioles are 3-8 and the Angels are 2-6. Do any of these records matter?

7. The Best Second Basemen in Baseball
1. Chase Utley - Not only the best 2B in baseball but an overall top 10 player. His strikeout numbers might be a tad high but every other number is first rate.
2. Ian Kinsler - Did anyone realize he was a 30/30 guy last year? His batting average in 09 was .253 after hitting .318 in 08. If he is healthy he might challenge Utley for the top spot.
3. Dustin Pedroia - Just a notch behind Kinsler and I do not think you can go wrong with either. With everything else being close to equal I will take Kinsler's 31 home runs over Pedroia's 15.
4. Brandon Phillips - A 20-20 guy the last four season while winning a gold glove in 2008. A class behind Utley among NL shortstops but no other NL 2B is close to Phillips.
5. Brian Roberts - Would have been number four on this list except for the constant questions about his health.

8. College Football Nuggets
a. How awesome is Alabama's Home Schedule in 2010? They have home games against Penn St, Florida, and in state rival Auburn. The other four home games are average with San Jose St, Ole Miss, Miss St and Georgia State.
b. Alabama's final six SEC opponents this fall (South Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn) are scheduled to have bye weeks before facing the Tide-why does the conference do this to anyone?
c. This is probably the best time in the history of collegiate athletics to be an assistant coach, especially a coordinator. Nearly a dozen schools in the NCAA’s 120-school Football Bowl Subdivision have made deals under which they will be spending at least 38% more on their offensive or defensive coordinator in 2010 than they did in 2009.
d. In 2009, two football assistants made more than $650,000: Kiffin ($1.2 million) and Muschamp ($900,000). This year, assuming Kiffin did not take a massive pay cut from USC, six will be making at least $700,000.
e. Does anyone realize UGA and Arkansas lead the SEC in returning starters at 18 a piece. Alabama returns the least amount of starters with only 10 returning to the Tide. However, 8 of the 10 are on offense.
f. Florida is  #3 overall in the SEC in draft picks the last 10 years with 50 (Georgia #1 with 55).How come we can not beat the Gators on the last Saturday in October in Jacksonville?
g. How talented have the Men of Troy been the past 10 years? USC has now had 60 players drafted over the last 10 years ranking them #1 in the Pac-10. The Trojans have had more 1st round draft choices than any other school (74) including 14 during the Pete Carroll era.
h. Tennessee is #2 in the SEC in overall draft picks the last 10 years with 54, but is only #5 in the SEC the last 5 years with 18 including just 1 last year (Robert Ayers , #18 Denver).
i. Factoid of the week #1:  “The 2009 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Georgia 44, Texas A&M 20) gave ESPN2 its highest- rated and most-viewed bowl game ever, averaging 2,334,000 households; 3,276,000 viewers; and a 2.4 rating.”
j. Factoid of the week #2:  “Back in 1951, Frank Branch completed 60 percent of his passing attempts (24-of-40). No Mississippi State quarterback has been that accurate since.”
k. Speaking of Shreveport, The closest Atlantic Coast Conference school to Shreveport is Georgia Tech, some 597 miles away in Atlanta. Seven members of the Southeastern Conference are within that range.
l. Can anyone still explain to me how Auburn went to the Outback Bowl while UGA went to Shreveport?
m. I think it is pretty cool that Notre Dame is trying to play a game at Soldier Field while Illinois and Northwestern are trying to play at football game at Wrigley Field.
n. Something tells me we would never see UGA-GT at Turner Field or the Georgia Dome.

9. What I Read This Week

The first article comes from GQ and takes a look at Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao is quite possibly the best pound for pound boxer that has ever walked the face of the earth. He also the first boxer ever to win seven world titles in as many weight divisions. A great look at a boxer that we know little about.

The Second read comes from a link from Darren Rovell and takes a look at Short's Travel Management. We might not have heard of this travel company but the 1,029 tickets he issues just last Sunday alone for NCAA coaches, athletes and other related personnel for travel to various championship events know this company  real well.Talk about thankless jobs, here is one.

The third read takes a look at the development of the batting helmet. When reading this I can not help but wonder how much safer kids playing baseball are now that ten years ago when I would get a couple of ab's.

10. Non Football, Baseball or Basketball Thoughts
a. The past couple of The Office episodes I think have been pretty good. A lot of people including Peter King did not like the childbirth episode but I thought it was funny and better than the wedding episode.
b. Is it any coincidence that we have started seeing more of Kevin in the past few episodes and we are laughing more?
c. Also the NardDog has done a good job going from an also ran to one of the main characters.
d. Amazing Race continues to entertain and one has to think the Cowboys and Steve and Allie are the two best competitors left.
e. If I were to ever win a MegaMillions or PowerBall lottery I would probably become the youngest snow bird in history of snow birds. Florida in the winter and early spring, ATL in the fall and April, the Cape and NYC in the late Spring, Summer and Fall.
f. The Roomdog and myself watched Law Abiding Citizen Saturday night and it was a great flick. Jamie Foxx ain't nothing but the man. Has he been in a bad movie? I am sure he has but I can not think of one.
g. Does the Donald have a thing for former UGA football players? Last year Herschel was on Celebrity Apprentice and now Bill Goldberg.
h. I did see former NY Met, Yankee and Dodger Darryl Strawberry as a contestant on the show. Since every contestant is playing for a charity I just can not help but wonder if Strawberry is playing for former teammate Lenny Dykstra?
i. I need to congratulate a former roomdog at the Polo Club and 10 Things reader A.D. for his engagement to long time girlfriend Jenny. I did not get the whole story but he proposed while on a trip to Germany. Well done sir, well done.
j. You know what this means? Of the 4 Horsemen only TMAC and myself haven't taken the plunge.The 4 Horsemen now-those were some times we will never have again.
k. Just a couple of reminders we are 21 days from Opening Day-who is excited?
l. The weekend of April 9-10-11 will be a pretty good one in the Classic City. Kinchafoonee Friday night. G-Day on Saturday with some Georgia Baseball. Can things get any better?
m.They could if I could get some passes to Augusta for Sunday but I will settle for practice round on Tuesday with the Good Doctor.
n. Do not forget to sign up for the 10 Things Bracket Challenge, free to enter, 1st, 2nd, and last place will get prizes of some sort. (I need to find the keys to the prize closet.)
o. To sign up for Bracket Challenge click here. Our Group Id# is 26940. Our group password is onions.
Thanks to The Captain and Baba Galoosh for signing up.

Quote of The Week

From former Cubs outfielder and current Mariner outfielder (and one helluva a board game creator) Milton Bradley.
"Two years ago I was good. I go to Chicago, not good.Been good my whole career.Obviously, it was Chicago, not me"

Quote of The Week II

From co-worker Anthony to co-worker Brewster

I am not going to lie, you are a great athlete but you do not have it all upstairs.

Quote of The Week III

By me to no one in particular as I walk up to the World Series trophy in Tampa and a guy in a Cubs jersey is having his picture taken with the World Series trophy. I did get some random laughs.

"That's the closest that jersey is getting to that trophy"

Tweet of The Week

Comes from Conan O'Brien who is planning a comedy tour across this great land of ours;

Tour preparations have begun. First step: Groupie auditions at Randy's Donuts off the 405 fwy. Knock twice on the white minivan.

Text of The Week 

A convo between Yankee season ticket holder Todd and myself while we were at George Steinbrenner Field or The House That Corporation Built as my buddy Todd called the ballpark in Tampa

My buddy Mark is wearing a red sox hat...I hope he gets his @$$ beat

Yea at least he will get his @$$ kicked in decent weather

Photo of The Week
Rick Barnes and the Texas mascot enjoy some hoops-Hard to believe this team was once ranked #1

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