Monday, March 22, 2010

Ten Things JJThinks He Thinks

Here are the Ten Things for another week. We are now two weeks from first pitch and a NCAA basketball champion. When is Spring going to be here for good?

1. Georgia Thoughts

Not much good to report from the Classic City as the baseball team went 0-4 last week losing at Georgia Tech when they walked in the winning run in the bottom of the 8th inning and getting swept at home by the War Turkeys to open SEC play. The scores from the weekend were 20-3, 4-3, and 19-3. Not good, not good at all.

Spring practice has started and there are two quotes I want to share with you and they should only excite you for the 2010 season. The first one comes fro new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham; “We work on tackling even without pads on.It’s all about getting in the hitting position. You’ve got to come to balance, understand it, where’s my help, inside-outside leverage, on the sidelines, closing down an angle, taking away a guy – you can work on all that stuff without pads on.”

The second quote comes from corner back Jordan Love on new DB coach Scott Lakatos. “When the ball’s in the air, he teaches to get your head around and look for the ball. Last year we were playing hands to the receiver, and that’s an adjustment we’ve had to make.”

 I can not tell you how excited I am that our db's will now play the ball in the air.  You think this will help the turnover ratio?

2. NCAA Thoughts

a. This stat is current as of Sunday night, 9:00: in NCAA men's and women's tournaments, SEC is 10-2 ... 6-0 in women's and 4-2 in men's.
b. Next Thursday will begin the sweet 16, of the 16 teams still dancing 11 different conferences are represented. Can we say parity?
c. It is amazing how many of these games come down to free-throws and the ability of certain teams and players to be fearless at the line. I am also disappointed in some teams ineptitude at the line. On Sunday Mizzo lost by 9, shot 60% at the line while West Virginia shot 76% at the time. Not good Mizzo.
d. Example #2 is the game between Purdue and Texas A & M. The Boilers made 83% of their freebies while the Aggies only made 59%.
e. Are we in agreement that the NCAA committee did a bad job seeding Cornell, Villanova, and Northern Iowa?
f. For those that are compulsive gamblers did you get any action on Northern Iowa at 140-1 to win the tournament before Thursday?
g. How crazy was the Robert Morris money line bet against Nova on Thursday? At the Wynn, it was $50 to win $1500. It turned out that the $50 was a bad bet.
h. I think I was more impressed by Syracuse and Kentucky than any other team this weekend. Syracuse advanced to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances for the first time since 2003-04 behind 31 points by Wesley Johnson. The total was a career high for Johnson and the first time an Orange player put up 30-plus points in an NCAA tournament game since Gerry McNamara scored 43 against BYU in 2004.
i. Gonzaga by the way has failed to make it to the Sweet 16 in seven of its last nine nine NCAA tournament appearances.I thought they had been more successful than that the past decade but I think wrong.
j. Just as an FYI...The only other Big East team to eliminate Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament was Connecticut back in 1999. The Huskies were also a No. 1 seed in the West Region that season and went on to win the national championship.
k. Does anyone realize West Virginia has reached the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years and fourth time in six years?
l.How good were the Mountaineers on Sunday? Missouri's trademark pressure defense was not a problem as West Virginia had only 10 turnovers, the fewest against the Tigers this season.
m. Is Tom Izzo the best tournament in college basketball right now? His teams always succeed in the tourney.
n. Some match ups that intrigue me Thursday and Friday of this weekend include Northern Iowa vs Michigan St, Kentucky versus Cornell, Syracuse vs Butler and Duke vs Purdue.
o. Some coaching rumors I hear but do not believe include either Billy Donovan or Paul Hewitt to St. John's and Tubby Smith to Auburn.
p. Sunday was a bad day for Ga Tech which meant it was an AWESOME day for America. Both Tech's men and women's basketball teams lost.

3. NCAA Business Thoughts
I know I am a loser but I love looking at the tournament from 4 angles: 1. Fan 2. Hardcore Gambler 3. NCAA Corporate Sponsor 4. AD of a team in the tourney

Here are some thoughts on 3 and 4
a. Cinderellas make good stories but if they get too far they are a TV ratings disaster. Nothing against Northern Iowa I would rather watch Kansas in the Final Four than the Panthers of Northern Iowa.
b. "Boss Button" was clicked 1.7 MILLION times on Thursday vs. 2.7 MILLION times for entire '09 tourney. Now if they can somehow get the boss button sponsored, someone is going to make a lot of money.
c. How crazy is this number? 16.8% (524/3,117) of the Robert Morris student body are NCAA athletes.
d. Murray State coach Billy Kennedy might have the smallest buyout of any NCAA Tournament Basketball Coach. If Kennedy leaves for another school his buyout is only $25,000. For comparable purposes, Memphis got paid $200,000 by Kentucky for John Calipari and West Virginia doled out $100,000 to steal Bob Huggins away from Kansas State.
e. For those of you that are wondering; if Mark Richt were to leave UGA to go to another school he would have to pay Georgia $2 million.
f. Not only did the failure of the Big East this week cast some doubt on the conferences place as the most dominant but it cost the league some serious cash. Each game is worth $222,206 a year, which is paid out in each of the next six years. That makes each game worth $1,333,236.So the failure of the Irish, the Golden Eagles and the Hoyas on Thursday to get to another game cost the Big East a total of $3,999,708 in potential future earnings.
g. Just as an fyi...The Big East has earned $23,109,436 for the 104 games it appeared in from 2004-2009.
The ACC came in second over that time period with its appearance in 82 games worth $18,220,902.
h. Nike has 49 teams in tourney +3 Jordan teams. The 52 represents an all-time tourney high for the brand.
i. Ohio is the only team in the tourney that wears Russell, but they purchase Nike shows since Russell doesn't make them.
j. Adidas schools in tourney: Kansas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Wofford, Louisville, ND, Texas A&M, St. Mary's, Temple, Tennessee and Baylor.
k. File this under a story I do not believe but Duke says its Men's Basketball program lost $2 million last season. Darren Rovell and myself have trouble believing these figures.
l. Duke says it spent $394,068 per basketball player for the 2008-09 season. Last season Kansas spent $97,449 per player, while Murray State spent $14,963 per player. Vanderbilt spends $61,330 per player. Northern Iowa spent $19,099 per player.Why does Duke almost spend 20X as much as Northern Iowa?
m. This stat will only cause more angst among Jayhawk fans; Kansas' Bill Self ($3M) makes MORE THAN 10 TIMES the salary of UNI's Ben Jacobson ($289,900).

4. Coach's Top 5 Teams Heading Into the Second Weekend
1. Kentucky - Averaged win was 29.5 points in the first two rounds.
2. Syracuse - The back to back losses to end their season look like a thing of the past. Butler and either Xavier or K-State stand in their way of Final Four trip
3. Duke - Were not challenged this weekend and CBS in ATL decided not to show their games on TV here in ATL...that is fine with the me.
4. West Virginia - With Mr. Butler it is tough to count this team out.
5. Ohio State - If you would have told me they had a chance of going to Final Four without beating Kansas or Georgetown I would have asked what you were drinking.

5. Baseball Thoughts

a. A wild Sunday for the Twins, first they lose Joe Nathan for the season and then they sign probably the greatest catcher of all time for another 8 years and $184 million.
b. Great move for the Twins and in my opinion great for baseball. Not every great player has to end up in New York or Boston.
c. Did you know Mauer's deal was the 4th largest ever? I did not. AROD's $275 million with Yankees and $250 with Rangers are higher, along with Jeter's current $189 million deal.
d.Safe to say Twins are using the additional revenues from the new ballpark on player payroll; they have locked up Mauer, Span and Blackburn for big bucks.
e. The following are some stats courtesy of Bill Chuck
f. The Braves were the only team last year to attempt fewer than 90 steals successfully stealing 58 bases and being caught 26 times. Outfielder Matt Diaz was 12 of 17 in stolen bases to lead the team followed by Nate McLouth who stole 12 while being caught six times after he was acquired from the Pirates where he had been perfect in seven attempts.
g. Last season in 520 plate appearances, Bengie Molina drew 13 walks. The Padres’ Drew Macias did that in 90 plate appearances.
h. Todd Helton’s power numbers continue to decline. In 2001-2002, Helton had 79 homers. From 2005-2009, he’s hit 74.
i. In Nick Markakis’ first three seasons he played 465 games and hit 9 sac flies. Last year, in 161 games, he led the AL with 10.
j. Over last two seasons combined, no pitcher with at least 30 starts can top Florida’s Josh Johnson’s .786 winning percentage (22-6).
k. In case no one is familiar with Bill Chuck his website is a must read, a lot of good baseball numbers.
l. What are the Cubs going to do with outfield prospect Tyler Colvin (a former Clemson Tiger) when they have the following players signed for multiple years Soriano (five more years), Fukudome (two more years), and Marlin Byrd (three more years). This does not include Xavier Nady. That is a lot of corner outfielders.
m.Interesting idea but I have no idea why they would do it on Opening Day: "Hideki Matsui Blankie Day.’’ The Angels will attempt to break the Guinness world record for “largest gathering of people wearing fleece blankets.’’ The blankets, 40,000 of them, are red, with Matsui’s name and number. The crowd will be asked to wear them for five consecutive minutes. The current record of 17,758 blanket-wearers was set by the Cleveland Cavaliers March 5.
n. According to the Boston Herald tickets are moving slow for the Red Sox and opening night against the Yankees. I think the game is sold out via the Red Sox but those on the secondary market say tickets are going for 30% less than last season.
o. Saw this quote in the Boston Herald, Expect the Braves to be the Mariners of the National League when it comes to dark horses for a big 2010 season. . . .
p. It is hard to believe 14 days and the Cubs will be in town for Opening Day, things get started in 13 days with the aforementioned Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
q. How does Jermaine Dye not have a job for 2010?

6. Best SS

1.Hanley Ramirez - What does he not do? Led the league in hitting at .342 last season (That was Babe Ruth's career average fyi) while hitting 24 home runs, 42 doubles and 106 RBI. He also stole 27 bases as a three hole hitter. In his first two full seasons when he was batting lead off he stole 51 each year...I had no idea.
2.Troy Tulowitzki - Tulo and Jered Weaver were on the same Long Beach State University team in 2004 that did not go to Omaha losing to Arizona in the Super Regionals. Who did Arizona lose to twice in Omaha? The University of Georgia.
3.Derek Jeter - Last year at age 35 probably had his best year offensively and defensively. He will be the first Yankee to 3,000 hits.
4.Jimmy Rollins - Two years ago he would have been #1 on this list. Has suffered the past couple of seasons especially in 2009 when he hit .250 with OB% of .296. He did win his third straight gold glove and stole over 30 bases for the sixth straight year.
5.***Jose Reyes (If healthy) Another player that has slipped the past couple of seasons. When I was living in the big apple he was probably the most exciting professional baseball player of the two New York teams. In 2006 he hit .300 with 30 doubles, 17 triples, and 19 home runs. He also stole 64 bases that season.
5. ***Yunel Escobar (If Reyes not healthy) Starting maturing around the all-star break last season and it was no coincidence the Braves made a big run at the same time. He it .299 while walking 57 times with only 62 strikeouts. He only stole 5 bases a number that needs to improve.

7. Best 3B

1. Alex Rodriguez - Probably among the top 15 players of all time and he now has the so called World Series monkey off his back. Unless he gets a serious injury will break Barry Bonds home run record in either 2015 or 2016.
2. Evan Longoria -Another member of the Long Beach State that did not get to Omaha in 2004. He has been an All-Star in his first two seasons in the big leagues and won a gold glove last season. I will sign for 33 home runs and 133 rbi's out of my third basemen every year.
3. David Wright - His power numbers were way down playing at Citi Field. He still hit over .300 and stole 27 bases. His defense might be a little overrated. On a business side if I was looking for someone to market my companies goods he would be the first baseball player I would call. How awesome must it be to play baseball in that town as a single man in his twenties.
4. Pablo Sandoval - All the big panda does is hit. Has played in less than 200 big league games and his career average of .333. He played games last season at catcher, first base and third base.
5. Chipper Jones - The future hall of famer had a down 09 after a huge 2008. Something says he will bounce back in 2010. He has walked 1343 times in his career while striking out only 1231 times. I need to do more research and find out who else in baseball has numbers like this.

8.Best Closers

1. Mariano Rivera - Is there anyone else who you would rather have the ball in the 9th inning? Best of all time I still can believe he choked the 2001 World Series away. I will never forget him blowing Game 4 against the Red Sox in 04. Despite those bad moments he is the reason the Yankees won 4 World Series in 90's and 2000 and the Braves only paraded down Peachtree St once. Behind Derek Jeter is he is my second favorite baseball player that is not an Atlanta Brave.
2. Joakim Soria - Yes he is the best closer you have not heard of. Has a career WHIP (Walk, Hits per inning pitched) of .967. The great Mariano-1.013.
3. Jonathan Broxton - The humongous righty from south Georgia had dominating numbers in his first season as the Dodgers closer. A killer strikeout rate (13.28) and a very nice ground-ball percentage (54 percent) combine to make him the top closer in baseballs senior circuit.
4. Jonathan Papelbon - Is this Pabs last season in Bean Town with a young Daniel Bard on the way? Despite a shrinking Stikeout per 9 innings ratio Pabs is still one of the better closers in baseball.
5. Billy Wagner - I probably could have gone with an underrated Brian Wilson here but there is something about my new favorite Atlanta Brave. Have a hard time believing he actually hit 101 on the radar gun this week but I do not think he was far from it.

9. What I Read This Week

This week I will give a read about Bill Simmons and few reads by The Sports Gu. For those that do not know about Bill Simmons he writes a column on ESPN and his known for writing the column from the viewpoint of a passionate sports fan. He often uses extended analogies and references to pop culture, on which he is an expert as well, in his columns. He moved to Los Angeles on November 16, 2002 to work as a writer for the Jimmy Kimmel Show. He left the show to work full-time for ESPN.Basically he gets paid to write sports from the same view point as me. I am t jealous at all. I do have to say I just started reading a lot of his work and do not follow him religiously as others.

The first read come from The Atlantic and takes a look at Simmons and his place in the sports media/pop culture. The next two reads were sent to my by The Admiral (who celebrated a birthday in grand style this weekend). Both reads are written by Simmons and follow a weekend last August with Simmons and his childhood friends as they hold their fantasy football draft in Las Vegas of all places. Here is part one of the adventure. Here is part two of the adventure.

Here is a paragraph excerpted from part one; Grady's birthday trip came together in less than two weeks, and only because the preferred plan (a college football weekend in October) couldn't work because of scheduling issues. But the crappy last weekend of August before Labor Day when it's a kajillion degrees outside? Absolutely, that one worked!!! As amazing as this sounds, we hadn't done a draft with everyone in the same room since 2000. That's what happens when you get old. People move, people have kids, and it's not uncommon to go 18 months without seeing one of your best friends. If somebody told you this would happen when you were 25 or younger, you would punch them in the face. You would refuse to believe it. But it happens to everyone. It just does. I hope this doesn't happen to me and the boys.

10. Non Football or Baseball Thoughts
a. 24 is starting to pick up steam and last week we had our best episode of the season. It is amazing that no one else at CTU can see what is happening the way Jack does. Do they not go through any sort or training?
b.Speaking of 24 their are a lot of rumors that the season will not be renewed for a 9th season; however there are also rumors that NBC could be interested in a 9th season if Fox passes.
c. Can anyone explain to me why How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and CSI NY were repeats last week?
d. The Roomdog, the Farrell's and myself attended Repo Man on Tuesday of last week. Lots of blood and guts which I was not a big fan. Slow moving movie that had a twist at the end which I enjoyed but it did not make the movie that much better.
e. For those that did not attend the cookout or barbeque on the rooftop this past Saturday, they missed a great time.
f. I have to give credit to A-Train for the idea and getting it organized. I also need to credit to Brice for doing an amazing job with the ribs, potatoes, and macaroni. The brats and burgers were also amazing. Well done Mr. Scott, well done.
g. I was awesome on Saturday...the first time in a long time I can say that.
h. Saturday was also the nicest day in probably 5 months, I can not wait to get more days like these in the near future. Sunday was an awful day in ATL. If I had to choose I would go with nice Saturday over nice Sunday any day of the week.
i. The Amazing Race continues to be one of my more enjoyable shows to watch on television. My favorite team the cowboys put a scare in me when they just drove to the wrong city without asking for directions but they were able to rally the troops and finish 4th.
j. I keep wondering how I would do on the show as a contestant and who would make a good teammate. I think my brother would be decent as he has no fear and would just dominate some of the tasks that include heights and other things. The roomdog would be decent as well and would keep his poise better than a team made of me and my brother. I think Brice and myself would be decent teammates as well as we would bring two opposite skill sets to the competition.
k. In my opinion the Cowboys, the cops and the brothers have three best chances of winning the $1 million.
l. How are the feeble-minded models still on this show?
m. Rumor is Tiger's people offered an interview to CBS but they turned it down after they were only given 5 minutes. Why? As soon as I type that I find this article to the back story on why CBS said thanks, but no thanks.
n. By the way despite what they tell ESPN did not have an exclusive interview with Mr. Woods on Sunday. The golf channel also was given 5 minutes. Funny they do not mention that.
o. The Captain and Coach march madness bracket has 15 participants and right now The Better Half is winning with 49 points. Second place has 41 points and that would be Mr. Costantino from New York. By the way The Better Half is run by Lauren Ross and her husband is also in the bracket. He is in 10th place with 36 points.
p. I am not picking as I only have 38 points and an eliminated National Champion.
q. By the way The Better Half has a final four of Kansas, Butler, Kentucky and Duke so things can easily change.

Quote Of The Week

I can not think of one but their had to be one from the bbq and all I can think at this moment is Teddy Graham and myself hollering: "New Song"  I will have to update later in the week so check back with us.

Text Of The Week
From good friend Pablo who is a big women's basketball fan.

Hot coaches match up in womens basketball. UCLA and nc state coach. Seen Kellie Jolly Harper in person. Legit. Nikki Caldwell is other. Worth a google.

I agree.

Tweet Of The Week
From @BaseballGuys

Coming home from 1st Vegas weekend for #NFBC. Fight delayed 40 mins. Someone ran naked on tarmac. j/k, but it sounded good anyway.

Photo of The Week

From the Cornell-Wisconsin game...thanks to deadspin for the photo. Safe to say The Big Red of Ithaca, NY is making the Nard Dog proud.

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