Monday, March 29, 2010

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

1. Georgia Thoughts

The Dawgs on Saturday had their first scrimmage of the fall and the 3 man QB race might have turned into a 2 man QB race with the performances of Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger went 7-for-10, with 157 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. His touchdown came on a deep ball, thrown to Rantavious Wooten for a 65-yard score. Aaron Murray Murray ffinished 10-of-15, with a touchdown and an interception. He connected with A.J. Green on a post route for a 40-yard touchdown. Junior Logan Gray did not share the same success as he was sacked three times, throwing 6-for-14, with only 37 yards. Richt claims he has no favorite but I would be shocked if Gray is in the race much longer. Nothing against Logan but if he could not get substantial playing time with Joe Cox struggling last season, he is going to have problems winning the job against Murray or Mettenberger.

a. This week the NFL held its off-season meetings in Orlando and I seriously doubt many had time to visit Disney with all the news coming out of central Florida.
b. The headline was the change of the overtime format for playoff games. I love the new rule where the team that kicks off to start overtime is assured a possession if they hold their opponent to a field goal on the initial possession. If the receiving team scores a touchdown the game is over.
c. For those who do not think the one possession is important in overtime...check this stat. There have been 27 OT postseason games since 1958. In 22 cases, both teams had at least 1 possession.
d. The one thing that I do not like about the rule is how it was implemented. The discussion/vote on overtime was supposed to take place on Wednesday but instead the vote happened on Tuesday while the coaches were participating in a golf tournament.
e.Sean Payton was the most vocal critic of the rule but he is the Colts recovering an on-sides kick away from being laughed at any time he opens his mouth.
f. He now will be stationed behind the offensive backfield rather than in the linebackers area. How will this affect holding calls and teams who run no huddle offenses where the umpire often stands over the ball until it is ready for play? In my opinion it is easier to slide into the defensive side of the field where the linebackers line up compared to sneaking into the offensive backfield.
g. How long before colleges and high school adopt this rule?
h. A third rule that was passed among countless others that might have affect late game strategy is if the clock is stopped in the final minute of either half for a replay review, but would not have stopped without the review, officials will run off 10 seconds before resuming play. Either team could take a timeout to void the 10-second runoff.
i. Saving timeouts just became more important for the last two minutes of each half.
j. Who will be the first coach burned by this 10 second rule? What team will get burned by the overtime rule?
k. The only thing that I wished would have come from these meetings was a 2010 schedule but I guess I will have to wait until April. Why does it take the NFL so long to put together the next years schedule?

3. NCAA Hoop Thoughts

a. I hope everyone stayed up Thursday night for the K-State-Xavier game. How awesome was Gus Johnson who announced the game for CBS?
b. Huggins is now 8-1 versus Calipari all-time. Just as an fyi...they have had about even talent in their careers.
c. Kentucky freshmen John Wall was as fun of a player I have watched in a long time. I know he was only on on campus in Lexington for a year but it was a fun year.
d. Can someone answer this was West Virginia winning at the half by two points against Kentucky despite not making a two point field goal?
e. Poor K-State had no chance against Butler once their game went into overtime against Xavier...Teams coming off an OT win in the tournament have now lost 10 straight games.
f. Why did St. John's offer Billy Donovan less money than he was making at Florida? Did they put together a plan after they fired Norm Roberts?
g. How does Duke get 23 offensive rebounds?
h. Why do I not but Michigan State every year in the auction? Tom Izzo is by far the best coach in college hoops. I love the stories of Izzo and Steve Mariucci growing up best friends in northern Michigan.
i. Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours and is 38-12 in the NCAA Tourney.
j. Butler's filing to the government said its '08-'09 men's basketball team made $2. That's right, $2.
k.Has Coach K ever agreed with a call against Duke? He drops tons F-Bombs & the media (ESPN) tends to overlooks how he bullies the officials. Somehow he gets put on a pedestal that he is holier and better than every other coach in NCAA Basketball. 
l. I have become more intrigued with Brad Stevens with every passing day. He was born in 1976, that is the same year Jim Boeheim started as head coach of the Syracuse Orangemen. Stevens did beat Boeheim on Thursday night.
m. Butler-Mich. State tips off Sat. at 6:07 PM, ET, followed by Duke-WVU 40 minutes after conclusion of the first game.Now we know how to plan our Saturday evening. 
n. Let's hope they put Duke on the cover of SI this week so the infamous jinx can be in full affect. Last week Northern Iowa was on the cover, the week before all 65 (only 4 of them left) but Kentucky seemed to be a little bit bigger than the others.
o. Last week I talked about missed free throws and apparently John Calipari does not read this blog as his Cats missed 13 free throws which allowed West Virginia to stretch the game into double digits.

4. Best 4 Not at the Final Four- I think these 4 are better than the 4 that made it to Indy.

1. Kansas
2. Kentucky
3. K-State
4. Syracuse

5. Baseball Thoughts

a. The Braves announced some exciting news on Friday morning when they announced Jason Heyward made the team out of spring training. Heyward will wear number #22 and must play 5 innings in an official game before anyone is allowed to sell or buy his jersey.
b. Braves beat writer David O'Brien does a great job on Saturday with this blog on Heyward and his family's reaction to Fridays big news. ESPN writer Buster Olney also came with some awesome Heyward stories on Saturday. (Must be an ESPN Insider to read Mr. Olney)
c. I was shocked when the Dodgers announced Vincent Padilla as the Opening Day starter, especially when they have two young guns in Billingsley and Kershaw.
d. Most of my Yankee fan friends are excited with Joba being the 8th inning man. With Chamberlain and Rivera to close things out the games just got shorter in the Bronx.
e. Yesterday the Boston Globe ranked all the 30 manager's and their list went like this...1. Bobby Cox 2. Tony LaRussa 3. Terry Francona 4. Mike Sciossa 5. Jim Leyland.
f. My top 5 include:
1. Bobby Cox
2. Mike Sciossa
3. Jim Leyland
4. Tony LaRussa
5. Ron Gardenhire
g. I will let you argue with me about Francona, Torre, or even Charlie Manuel for the 5th spot but I am a big Gardenhire fan as he always seems to get the most out of his teams. The 3-16 record in his last 19 playoff games is not good.
h. How about this minor league record for Yankee 5th starter Phil Hughes: In 65 minor league games, 62 as a starter, he was 31-8 with a 2.37 ERA.
i. Here are some great stats courtesy of Bill Chuck and his awesome website.
j. 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 made one appearance and then his 150-pound frame was caught in a gust of wind.
k. Mark Teixeira has never had a successful sacrifice bunt in his career.
l. Here is how Posada compares with other Yankee great catchers:
Yogi Berra — 2,148
Bill Dickey — 1,969
Thurman Munson — 1,558
Jorge Posada — 1,488

Home Runs
Yogi Berra — 358
Jorge Posada — 243
Bill Dickey — 202

Batting Average

Bill Dickey — .313
Thurman Munson — .292
Yogi Berra — .285
Jorge Posada — .277

World Series 
Yogi Berra — 10
Bill Dickey — 7
Jorge Posada — 4

m. A story that has not been discussed much is the spring of Ricky Nolasco. The Marlins pitcher has a 1.78 ERA and 23 strikeouts in five starts over 27 1-3 innings. By the way he walked his first batter of the spring yesterday afternoon.

n. Quietly the Rays could have an awesome rotation with James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann.
o. John Lackey will like throwing to Victor Martinez as a catcher much more than facing him as an opposing pitcher; Martinez is a lifetime .476 hitter against Lackey (10 for 21).
p. Playing time aside, in 2005, as a member of the Rangers, Gerald Laird hit .225. In 2007, still with Texas, he hit .224. And last year, 2009, with Detroit, he hit .225....very strange.
q. We are 6 days away from Yankees-Red Sox on ESPN2 and 7 days away from Braves-Cubs at Turner Field. Where did the offseason go? Who knows or cares but I am glad Opening Day is almost upon us.

Halftime I need to apologize for not having a halftime last week as I totally forgot about this new feature. This week's song that Smoak and myself use to listen while youngsters is Ghetto Cowboy. I bet all is forgiven with this selection. Here is this week's question...In 2000, Michigan State defeated Florida for their first title since 1979. North Carolina was a member of that Final Four. What was the other team? I was a senior in high school. How awesome was Mateen Cleaves?

6. Best Corner Outfielders

1. Carl Crawford - I would love somehow for him to stay with the Rays after this season but the Yankees are said to fantasize about Crawford in pinstripes. Hitting in front of Longoria he will steal a lot of bases and score a ton of runs. Longoria will also be thankful for more fastballs with Crawford on base. He is due to hit 20 plus homers one of these days.
2. Ryan Braun - If the defense was a tad better he would have been number one on this and I could easily be talked into moving him up a notch. Last season only 37.9% of his hits were for extra bases after 46.6% in 2008 so look for the homers to increase. By the way he stole 20 bases last season.
3. Ichiro Suzuki - Is this 36 year old player going to slow down. In 2009 he hit .352 which I will take every year. His SB's and triples were both career lows last season. However, he still makes play like this which was made this week in spring training. Here are some highlights from his Japanese days that we all need to take the four minutes and watch. Also, how good of a job do the Japanese catchers do in blocking home plate?
4. Matt Holiday - He struggled while in Oakland but his trade to Cardinals in July helped them win the division. Last season he hit .377 in Busch Stadium. These numbers could be scary over a full season. He would have been higher put had a couple of awful ab's in the NLDS and who can forget him dropping the fly ball that would have been out number 3 in Game 2.
5. Andre Ethier - Why did Billy Beane trade him to LA for Milton Bradley? In 2008 he hit .305 with 20 home runs and 77 RBI's. In 2009 he hit .272 with 31 bombs and 106 RBI. If he can combine those numbers I think the term is MVP.

7. Best Center Fielders

1. Jacoby Ellsbury - In the last decade only 3 players have stole 70 bases in a season; Ellsbury last year along with Scott Podsednik in 2004 and Jose Reyes in 2007. Ellsbury who is only 26 should hit .300 steal around 70 bases a score a ton of runs setting the table for Red Sox.
2. Shane Victorino - I absolutely love everything this guy does...why does he have to play for one the Braves biggest rivals? While his numbers are not eye popping he plays one of the better center-fields in the National League. He has to led the league in going from first to third.
3. Matt Kemp - Hard to believe Kemp is only 25 as he has played 3 full seasons. Is there a better outfield in baseball than the Dodgers with Kemp, Manny, and Ethier? A lot of production from those three.
4. Justin Upton - He has yet to have his breakout year but it is coming this season. So far he has been a real streaky player as last May he hit .373 followed by a .240 average in July. It might just be me but the hot streaks are getting longer and more frequent.
5. Denard Span - A lot of you might say who? But Span, who was just awarded a 5 year - $16 million deal by the Twins is a future all-star. He will score a ton of runs getting on base at .400 clip and hitting in front of Mauer and Morneau.

Note: Carlos Beltran would have easily been #1 but in my opinion he has way to many injury questions surrounding him.

8. Best Starting Pitchers

1. Roy Halladay - What is there not to like about the Bad Doc? He has thrown 220 plus innings for the last four years while averaging an ERA of 3.08 and a WHIP of 1.14. His numbers might not be as good pitching in Philly but still the best starter in Baseball.
2. CC Sabathia - All this guy does is pitch deep into games and lead his team to the playoffs. All he did was tie for the league lead in wins and ranked in the top 10 in IP, K's, ERA, and WHIP.
3. Tim Lincecum - The most dominant pitcher the last two seasons. Buster Olney has brought up concern among stats on how his average fastball has dropped 2-3 mph at the end of last season, plus he has yet to throw well in spring training this season. It is amazing how small and skinny this guy is when you stand by him.
4. Dan Haren - His WHIP (Walk, Hits per Inning Pitched) was 1.00...that is Greg Maddux esque. Along with leading the NL in WHIP he led in K/BB while ranking second in innings. If the D'backs could have scored more runs he might have won more than14 games.
5. Josh Johnson - I am talking about the Marlins pitcher not my brother who happens to have the same name...what are the odds? In his first season from Tommy John surgery his average fastball velocity was 95. Note that is average. There is something about pitchers that are his size...6'7'' and 250 pounds that fires me up. I think the term is donkey.

9. What I Read This Week

The first read comes from Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. Verducci the senior writer for SI spent a week with the Toronto Blue Jays at the start of spring training in 2005 and here is his story. This story is five years old and still an amazing read.

The second read also comes from Verducci and this time he is an umpire for a spring training game between the Orioles and Red Sox. I might rip umpires but how about this stat from the 2006 MLB season, there were 167,341 at bats last season over 2,429 games and the men in blue made only 100 incorrect calls, excluding balls and strikes (and in that discipline they were judged to be 94.9% accurate). 

The third read from Verducci comes from an article he wrote in 1995 on Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden. While we all might be familiar with the story of Gooden and Strawberry Verducci takes an in depth look at the lives off the field and how they kept falling into a pattern of self destruction. In reading the story one can not help but wonder if Strawberry or Gooden would have been on any team but the Mets in the 80's would they have fallen into such trouble. Also, how many World Series could the Mets have won if it were not for their hard living life style.

Just as a note all of these reads are long and deserve a printout and read while on the treadmill or exercise bike.

10. Non Football or Baseball Thoughts

a. Wow! The Office was very good on Thursday and dare I say best episode of the season?
b. How funny and awesome was Kevin?
c. Slowly Andy Bernard has become more of a main character on the Office and I absolutely love his character. Just as an FYI Andy Bernard is played by Ed Helms (Hangover among others) is born and raised in the ATL and graduated from The Westminster School. Furthermore, Brian Baumgartner who plays Kevin also attended Westminster graduating one year earlier. Here are my favorite Nard Dawg moments.
5. The Nard Dawg Reminisces about Cornell
4. Andy First Tells Us About His Days In Ithica
3. Break Me Off A Piece
2. Oommpa Loommpa
1. Take A Chance On Me

d. I watched Undercover Boss for the first time last night and I absolutely thought it was awesome. I will have to add this to the rotation for my Sunday night viewing pleasure.
e. It is great to see a person that runs a company as big as Herschend Family Entertainment understand the most important part of any company is the people and he puts his people first.
f. How am I just watching this show for the first time?
g. I watched The Amazing Race last night and because the roomdawg did not see it I will not comment to much except to say what high drama.
h. Last week I gave a list of people who I think would have been good partners for Amazing Race and I totally forgot about my buddy Todd who would provide the most laughs of any contestant in the history of the show. The only problem is all the delayed flight waiting for a seat belt extender for Bobbagaloosh. (His response to me calling him out is going to be classic)
i. In looking at the brackets for Captain and Coach right now Mrs. Lauren Ross has a twenty point lead but unfortunately for her she does not have any more teams participating in the contest.Melissa is in second and can win the whole thing if her Devils can bring home the title.
j. The King of NY is sitting in 12th place right now. With a West Virginia win Saturday night he will finish second and Stretch it out Coach will tie Melissa for third place. By the way Stretch It Out Coach is in last place right now.
k. Basically The Better Half wins if West Virginia wins Saturday night. She was also the only person in the group to get two of the four final four teams. I am proud of you Lauren Ross.
l. Am I the last person on earth without one of the three following items...1. A Facebook Page 2. A digital camera 3. An Ipod or similar device? Some may not have all but I would think 98.6% of the country has one of these items.
m.What is even more depressing is I think my mom has all three.
n. This is the last season of 24 and that is sad news for any Bauer fan and that includes me.
o. Speaking of Bauer I was turned on to 24 at the start of season 5 when I was living in The Big Apple and we had a great crew that would meet at my buddy Dan's apt every Monday night around 9:00. The show is a lot better when you have a solid crew to watch it with. "Who Wants Pizza?"
p. The softball league has returned and if you find yourself in the Peachtree Hills, Lindbergh area on a Wednesday night stop by to see first base played at a level we have not seen since Donnie Baseball. Just saying.
q. Just as a heads up for everyone we are 12 days away from the annual G-Day game and I think it is a great excuse to spend a weekend in beautiful Athens, Ga. In the words of Jeff Dantzler...spring time in Athens, Ga is undefeated.
r. I plan on going up on Friday as the Kinchafoonee Cowboys play Friday night. We need to put together a tailgate (failgate) for Saturday. Who is in?

Quote of The week

First quote comes from ESPN screamer Dick Vitale who said this Saturday night in previewing Baylor and Duke

"Baylor does not realize how hard Duke is going to play on Sunday with a birth to the final four on the line."

That type of insight is why Mr. Vitale was 34-60 as coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Quote of The Week II

Again from ESPN this time Linda Cohn.Cohn was giving highlights of the Kentucky-West Virginia game and at the end of the highlight she said this....

"Kentucky's big three freshmen in John Wall, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins must now decide if they will turn pro after just one season on the bluegrass."

Patrick Patterson is a Junior as an fyi.

Text of The Week

I did not receive an awesome text this week so we will go with couple random quote from Texts From Last Night. I am disappointed in everyone and you all are better than that.

At one point we asked the guy to play "the lion sleeps tonight" with his bagpipes. Best version ever.


Just saw an old man buy two cases of keystone light, a case of milwaukee's best and a case of icehouse. Degenerate alcoholic of senior citizen of the year?


I'm so glad i pay social security

Tweet of The Week

Comes from @drewmagary who writes for Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolberg. He also has written a book called Men With Balls. No I have not read Men With Balls but I will soon. Here are a couple of tweets from Drew.

#twitterpublichumiliationdiet weigh-in: 212.6 lbs. Oops. Must've been the pizza. And the ice cream. And the bagel. And the bacon.

If you've ever wondered what writing a book feels like, find a bucket of water, stick your head in it, and leave it there for a fucking year

I'm oddly disturbed that the cable news nets are now spending all their time talking about actual lawmaking. Can't a white chick go missing?

Photo of The Week

This would be Andre Johnson and Santanna Moss riding the bus because...well because I have no idea. On a side note I am always amazed how professional athletes can make a white v neck so come I can not pull this off?

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