Monday, January 24, 2011

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

1. Georgia Hoop Thoughts
Another 1-1 week for the Dawgs and if I could sign for another 1-1 week next week I would have already. This weeks games include contests at home Tuesday night on ESPN against the Gators followed by a visit to the Bluegrass on Saturday. While I still am not 100% over last Tuesday's loss to the Vols I am even more impressed with how we responded Saturday afternoon against Mississippi State. Georgia has followed up both of its conference losses this season with 22-point blowouts.  This is a true credit to the character of this team and the leadership of Coach Fox.  When this team has lost SEC games this year, they have not allowed a tough loss beat them in the following game.  On the contrary, the Dawgs have responded with dominating performances. By the way how many times the last two seasons has our football team not responded after a tough loss? One more funny stat. UGA beat Ole Miss and Miss State each by 22 points. The Dawgs played Mississippi Valley State to begin the season and only beat the Delta Devils by 2 points. Go figure.

One more nugget, the last time UGA won back to back SEC games was March 2008 at the SEC tournament. (We all remember when the tornado ripped through town). Safe to say the Dawgs need to win a back to back SEC game and sooner than later will be a lot of fun. If you have not watched this team please do so Tuesday night on ESPN.

2. Georgia Football Thoughts

Really good week for the Dawgs and it seems like we are closing really well in recruiting. Don't like now but maybe Mark Richt still has it. With that being said there are three big recruits out there and if UGA can somehow close on them this has the opportunity to be an unbelievable class. Isiah Crowell was in town this weekend and I absolutely loved the fact the student section at the basketball game broke into chants of Isiah, Isiah, Isiah!!

I absolutely love what the Senator says on his blog Get The Picture. (UGA and college football fans need to make this place a daily visit). Georgia is in serious need of real, positive momentum and at this time of year, an engaged coach who can put together a top-flight recruiting class would make for a good place for that to start.  No, getting the Rome and Mitchell commitments doesn’t mean that the Dawgs are headed for 13-0 country this season, but it’s not like whiffing on them would have helped right the ship, either.

I know September is a long ways away but I can not wait to hear the Redcoats play this song.

3. NFL Playoffs 
Sunday's first game ended up being pretty weird. One it was kind of boring until the Bears decided to put their third string quarterback into the game with less than a minute to be played in the third quarter. It worked out for the Bears but what a dumb move by Lovie Smith. For one if Caleb Hanie would have gotten hurt in the final quarter the Bears could have not gone back to Cutler or Collins and would have probably have to put Hester in the wild card. I will not touch on the Cutler situation except to say that sure looked bad on Sunday afternoon. The Packers have now won three straight road games to reach the Super Bowl. The last three teams to do this were the Giants in 2007, Steelers in 2005 and Patriots in 1985. Just as FYI the Giants and Steelers won the Super Bowl those years. How werd is this stat? The Packers 21-14 win over the Bears was the first NFC Championship game since 1978 (Cowboys 28-0) that did not have a field goal made in the game. How good was the Packers defense on Sunday? The Packers blitzed a member of the secondary 13 times - the Bears' quarterbacks went 5-for-12 with a sack, 12.2 passer rating and two interceptions, including B.J. Raji's pick-six. Furthermore, Sam Shields had just one interception on passes at least 15 yards downfield in the regular season and first two playoff rounds. In the NFC Conference Championship, Shields had two such interceptions.

Sunday night's AFC Championship game was another dud until the Jets made their second half run. Despite the score getting within 7 points in the 4th quarter it never felt like the Steelers had lost control of the game. Ben Roethlisberger had a passer rating of 35.5 on Sunday. Yet, he's won all three postseason games that rank as his worst, in terms of passer rating. Watching the game you had to wonder why the Steelers ever passed except for 3rd and longs the way they were running the ball on the Jets. Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley had one sack, giving him a sack in six straight postseason games, an NFL record. Pittsburgh is 8-7 in AFC championship games, 6-5 at home. Furthermore, Sanchez fell short of becoming the first quarterback with five road playoff wins.

The Packers have opened up as a 2 point favorite and that number has moved to 2.5. The game total has also moved to 46 (46.5 at Leroy's in Vegas) after opening at 45 points.

One more note, neither team that won on Sunday scored a touchdown in second half. (ht to the Roomdawg for texting that note from a chilly Windy City.) This was the third time since the NFL-AFL merger that both conference championship games were decided by seven points or fewer. The other two: 2001- Patriots defeat Steelers, 24-17; Rams defeat Eagles, 29-24 1987- Redskins defeat Vikings, 17-10; Broncos defeat Browns, 38-33

4. This Year's NCAA Tournament
This week CBS and Turner Sports (who will be covering the tournament for the first time) made announcements concerning coverage of this week's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Because I feel like I have to read every Media column that is written I feel like an expert on the upcoming Madness. I will get to the broadcasters in a minute. First things first their is some big news concerning the play in games now that we have 68 teams. When the NCAA announced the addition of 3 more teams from 65-68 I assumed the newly created 4 play-in games would include the last 8 seeds (Your 15 or 16 seeds). However I could not have been more wrong.  The four play in games will actually include teams seeded 65-68 (two games) and then the last four at-large teams (two games). This is the first time the last four at-large teams will be revealed publicly. Traditionally, the at-large teams are scattered throughout the seeding process, rarely going past No. 12, making it relatively easy to identify them. Yet the committee now will formally announce the last at-large teams by putting them in the first round. Your last four at-large teams normally come from the power conferences while the last four Automatic's tend to be your lesser known schools from the smaller conferences. For more info here is this article from Andy Katz and within the article Jay Bilas breaks down what all this means via ESPN Radio. If I did an awful job breaking this down email me and I will try to make it make more sense.

While the new format will be a little bit crazy, I actually am intrigued by this years broadcast schedule. For the first time ever every game in the tournament would be telecast on a national basis. Along with the traditional CBS broadcasts TNT (DirectTv Channel 245) TBS ((DirectTv Channel 247) and truTV (DirectTv Channel 246) will be the homes of the NCAA tournament. As far as announcers and studio host go we should have a fun tourney. As for studio programming during the NCAA Tournament, the coverage will originate from both New York and Atlanta, with the main anchor chair shared daily by CBS veteran Greg Gumbel and longtime TNT host Ernie Johnson. TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will provide analysis throughout the tournament from the CBS Broadcast studios in New York alongside Gumbel or Johnson. CBS analyst Greg Anthony will also be part of the New York-based studio show. Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis and TNT analyst Reggie Miller will join the New York studio rotation for the second week of the tournament. Davis will be in Turner's Atlanta studio the first week with host Matt Winer and Steve Smith. I am disappointed we lose Seth Davis from the New York studios because in my opinion he is one of the best analyst in college hoops.

As far as game announcers the Final Four team will consist of Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr. For the first two weekend Kerr will be matched up with the great Marv Albert. The other announcing teams include my distant relative Gus Johnson with Len Elmore, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery, Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner, Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel, Tim Brando and Mike Gminski and Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel. David Aldridge, Sam Ryan, Craig Sager, Marty Snider, Lesley Visser and Tracy Wolfson will serve as reporters throughout the tournament. Wolfson will work with Nantz, Kellogg and Kerr at the Final Four. How great are Johnson and Elmore? How awesome are Lundquist and Raftery (ONIONS)?

One more great will Barkely be in studio for CBS?
5. MLB Notes
 When you are reading this on Monday morning January 24th we will be three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting. That is ridiculously close. Even more ridiculous is the fact in 9 weeks and three days the Braves will be opening the season in our Nation's Capital. Anyone up for a weekend trip to the District of Columbia in nine weeks and change?
a. Dan Uggla is one of four players w/ a 5-year streak of 27HR, 88RBI, 84Runs. The others you might ask...well they are Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard & Mark Teixieria.
b. I know I have mentioned this before but Uggla has hit 12 home runs at the Ted, this is the most for him in any road park. Furthermore, his career batting average/on base%/slugging percentage line is .354/.399/.652. While I know that is only 199 at-bats but .652 slugging percentage is a .652 slugging percentage. Just as a frame of reference a .652 slugging percentage for a full season would be the 94th best of all-time for one season. That is real good.
c. On the other hand the Jays traded Vernon Wells to the Angels on Friday night. Wells career stats in Anaheim? .226/.267/.340 - with 3 HRs in 159 AB. He hit .182 in 6 games there last year.
d. The Yankees signed Andruw Jones this week. If I would have told you 6 years ago that Jones would sign with the Yankees and it not would have caused a stir in Atlanta you would have me put in the Crazy Ward of the hospital. What happened to that guy?
e. Jones is the only player since 1920, whose primary position was outfield or designated hitter, to have four straight seasons hitting .230 or worse. Only two players who played any position have had more consecutive seasons hitting .230 or worse (200+ AB) in the Live Ball Era (since 1920): Shortstops Ed Brinkman and Dal Maxvill (five each).
f. The crazy thing about those stats is that the two years prior to Jones last four seasons he combined to hit 92 homeruns and 257 RBI's. For his career he has 407 home runs which is 46th all time.
g. While we are picking on Mr. Jones here is this stat: Jones has 94 baseball "hat tricks," (three strike outs in a game) fifth-most among active players.
h. I was kind of surprised by the Nationals trade of Tom Gorzelanny this week. One, why would the Cubs trade a guy I think is a decent pitcher and two how bout this rotation for the Nationals? Along with Gorzelanny, Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, Yunesky Maya, and Chien-Ming Wang are other hurlers looking to nail down jobs in the rotation.
i.I am pretty intrigued with what the Rays are doing in signing former Red Sox outfielders Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Something tells me the Rays will not be as bad as a lot of people think. 
j. Do not forget that David Price won 19 games last season and he should be nothing but better in 2011.
k. I had forgotten that Tim Hudson won 17 games last season. How special could Braves be of we get a Derek Lowe like we saw for the last month of 2010 and a 2011 Hudson similar to the 2010 Hudson.
l. I did not realize this but according to Mets GM Johan Santana will start the season on the DL and Pelfrey will actually be the Mets opening day starter. I would normally rip the Mets for the trade of Santana but look at the prospects they gave up and none have really made the Mets miss them as of now.
m. The last three notes come courtesy of Billy Ball and the Boston Globe Sunday baseball notes. From 2005-08, David Ortiz had a strikeout percentage of 16.4 and a home run percentage of 6.2. However, over the last two seasons, 22.6 percent of all his plate appearances ended in strikeouts and 4.9 percent ended in homers.
n. Here’s why Alex Rodriguez is so valuable. Last season, in 595 plate appearances, A-Rod produced 169 runs (runs plus RBIs minus homers). Also producing 169 runs were Vladimir Guerrero (643 PA) and Michael Young (718 PA).
o. Over the last five seasons, Roy Halladay led the majors with 90 wins, followed by CC Sabathia’s 88. Zach Duke led with 68 losses, followed by Barry Zito’s 67.
p. Prince Fielder was the only player in baseball to hit under .265 while posting an OBP of at least .380 at .261 and .401. Yes you read that right. Prince reached base four out of ten times despite only hitting .265. We will have more discussion on this stat and on base percentage next week. I know you are excited...I am.

6. Halftime
This week's song that Smoak and myself used to rock out to is Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If memory serves me correctly we played the heck out of the CD back in the day. Furthermore, this is one of the more cooler videos that I have ever watched. It should be mentioned that my video viewed count can not be that high. I can not remember our last trivia question but I think it was the week of Thanksgiving and my dad knew that Philadelphia was the site of the first Thanksgiving Day. Man that was a long time ago. This weeks trivia question is What pitcher has the most wins in Dodgers history? Good luck.

7. A Hodgepodge of Notes (Hoops, Tennis, etc)
a. How sick is Blake Griffin? I absolutely love having the NBA package and watching all the Clippers games when I can not sleep at night. On Saturday against Golden State he went for 30 points, 18 rebounds and 8 assissts. Last Monday against Indiana he scored 47 points on 24 field goals.
b. By the way are the Clippers the most fun to watch 16-26 team in the NBA?
c. I know I will reference the ACC later but it is time to take a good look at that conference and how many potential bids they would get. Right now I say Duke is a lock. UNC and FSU probably make the tourney if the season were over right now but they still have to do.
d. The ACC potentially only receiving three bids could open up a couple bids for hopefully the SEC East and maybe the Mountain West conference.
e. Thanks to Darren Rovell for this stat. The number of different teams in final series/game in last 10 matchups: NBA (10), NFL (13), NHL (13), MLB (14).
f. The MLB needs to do a better job promoting its parity. While the Yankees and Red Sox do have a financial advantage the last few years I proved that anything can happen in the playoffs, you just have to get there.
g. That was a bad loss by Kansas yesterday at home to Texas. Especially after the Jayhawks jumped out to an 18-3 lead to start the game, but Texas outscored Kansas 51-28 in the second half. Even more impressive is the fact that the Texas won its first game at the Phog. The Longhorns had been 0-9 in Lawrence entering today's game and 0-7 at Allen Fieldhouse.
h. The Jayhawks had won 69 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse, losing their last game there on Feb. 7, 2007.To give that some reference, I had moved to Atlanta one month prior. Man that was some time ago.
i. I was able to see some highlights of the Villanova-Syracuse game Saturday night. That looked like a pretty cool atmosphere inside the Carrier Dome which is one of college basketball coolest scenes in my opinion. Villanova has won eight of its past 11 meetings with Syracuse dating back to 2006, with four wins coming at the Carrier Dome.
j. Not many programs can go inside the Carrier Dome like Villanova has the past few years.
k. Is now the time Jamie Dixon and his Pitt Panthers will make a run to the final four? It looks like they have one of their better teams with their only loss coming to Tennessee at Excel Center in Pittsburgh. It should be mentioned that this loss was not on their home floor on campus.
l. With Venus retiring in the 3rd round of Australian Open is her career done. She is 29 which is ancient by Tennis terms. I am not sure if she is done but I doubt we see her win another major.

8. College Hoops Power 5
1. Ohio State-The Buckeyes are 20-0 for the third time in school history. Both previous 20-0 starts resulted in Ohio State advancing to the NCAA title game.
2. Duke- Is the ACC a three bid conference with Duke, UNC and FSU? Do they get three teams?
3. Pittsburgh-How do the Vols beat this team in the Steel City?
4. Texas-The last team to beat UNC, Kansas and Michigan State in same season was Michigan in 1993. (UNC would beat Michigan in the rematch at the National Championship game)
5. San Diego State- Do not sleep on the Aztecs. Very fun team to watch and the Mountain West is a really good basketball conference. College Basketball's game of the week will be Wednesday night at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah as the Aztecs take on Jimmer Fredette's BYU Cougars.

9. What I Read This Week
The best article that I read this week takes a look at Editor A.J. Daulerio. As a big Deadspin reader it was fascinating to take a look at what goes into some of the stories that they publish and why they publish these stories. I for one had no idea the paid $12,000 cash for the incriminating Brett Favre voice-mails and pictures.

The second read of the week comes from the NY Times and profiles the head of the NFLPA DeMaurice Smith. Smith does not back down in this interview saying that "We are at war" and that “Nobody gets strong without fighting, nobody stays strong without fighting. Nobody negotiates their way to strength. Nobody talks their way to a good deal. Nobody sits down and just has miraculous things happen.” A real fascinating read and we may miss some of the NFL next week.

10. Non Football or Basketball or Baseball Thoughts
a. I saw No Strings Attached for the second time this week. That is right I went to this movie twice before it premiered and no I am not a sucker for romantic comedies.For the most part no bad lines to the end which better than a majority of romantic comedies.
b. Natalie Portman is so gorgeous and enjoyable on the big screen.
c. Did anyone else allow the Tsunami warning on Hawai 5-0 suck them in last night? I ended up enjoying the show when I had no plans to watch it? Good job CBS.
d. Speaking of CBS hopefully by next years NFL season Phil Simms can get better at booth reviews and the rules. Awful job on Sunday.
e. By the way Phil Simms on Dan Patrick last Tuesday was awfully bitter. I had no idea why but he did not come off real well.
f. I watched Modern Family from two weeks ago this week and it was absolutely hilarious. I have not seen the one from 5 days ago but will watch it sooner than later. Emphasis on sooner.
g. Another busy week with work and other responsibilities. Hopefully I can use Sunday afternoon to go catch up on some movies.

Quote of the Week
DeMaurice Smith provides the quote of the week from one of our articles of the week.
“You want drama? Stand up in a courtroom and be a prosecutor with a guy who just killed four people, set his girlfriend on fire and then shot her in the back of the head twice and you know if you lose this, he goes back on the street. How do you sleep at night?

Text of the Week
From an old coach/boss. I changed the name to protect the innocent/guilty.
I'm on my way to the state wrestling tournament. Our 141 pounder told me today....Mr. Mosby I wanna fu**** kill someone tomorrow.

Tweet of the Week
This week's tweet comes from @si_damonhack who had just arrived in the Steel city for the AFC Championship game.
PA at Pitt Airport baggage claim just now: "Would passenger Rex Ryan please stop by the info booth and pick up his medicated foot powder."

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