A recent trip to Sedona, Arizona, brought picturesque views and positive vibes.

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Hello, Fall

Few things are more beautiful than New York State in the fall. I took my dog, my pal Henry, my backpack, and my IPhone6 on a day trip upstate to beautiful Mt. Beacon, NY, the highest peak in the Hudson Highlands (1,531 feet).

Super Bowl Boozin’ – Creating signature cocktails for your bash

(Photo c/o ESPN)

I am a wildly passionate football fan who takes their football viewing very seriously, but on Super Bowl Sunday, I like to give back and share my love of the NFL with those around me by hosting a Super Bowl party.

The guest list for said party often includes a few people that may not be as into football as I am (which, let’s be honest, is basically everyone), and perhaps a few that are more concerned with the halftime show than the actual game. I pride myself in my ability to bring these people with varying degrees of interest in the sport of football together, but one thing helps: alcohol.

Beer and football have always gone together like peas and carrots, but this year I took a different approach, making myself into a temporary mixologist creating signature cocktails for each team. (Hey, I had to pique interest somehow..). The goal was to make delicious, tasty themed cocktails using ingredients readily available around the house. No one has the time (and frankly, I didn’t want to spend the money) to buy a bunch of rarely used products to mix together. I also didn’t want the cocktails to be overly sweet, but rather to be more in line with my usual drinks of choice: Vodka tonic, or Bourbon on the rocks.

Here’s what I mixed for this Super Bowl Sunday.

Denver Orange Crush

-1 ounce of vodka

-2 ounces, equal parts soda water and orange crush (or any other orange soda drink)

-1 ounce of triple sec

-Orange slice with peel

Squeeze orange into drink. Combine and shake, serve over ice with orange garnish. Bonus: Serve with muddled mint.

Alternative: Old Western – 3/4 ounces of whiskey, 2 splashes of Angostura bitters, splash of fresh orange juice , serve with orange peel.

Seattle Coffee Pot Cocktail

-Brewed coffee or espresso

-2 cups of blueberry infused Bourbon (mix a few handfuls of blueberries with the Bourbon and allow to infuse overnight or over the course of several hours if you’re in a pinch)

-1 cup of vanilla/brown sugar syrup (3 cups of water, 1.5 cups brown sugar, 1 TBSP of Vanilla extract, can reduce sugar portion if you want to decrease sweetness)

-Cream (amount based on preference)

Combine in a coffee pot or carafe. Serve immediately or cold over ice.

Alternatives: 12th-Man Manhattan – 2 to 1 ratio of blueberry infused bourbon and vermouth and a splash of bitters.

-Beast Mode martini (Seahawks): 1 1/2 ounces Vodka, soda(or tonic), 1/2 ounce Blue Curaco, muddled lime and a splash of soda (OR, if you just like your liquor straight, mix vodka with Skittles and shake until beverage turns color of Skittles).

This is the part where I tell you to drink responsibly and call a cab before getting behind the wheel.

Imbibe before filling out this printable prediction game and selecting your square.


Why I Would Never Make My Husband Miss The Super Bowl

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, football fans.

I hope you have stocked your fridge full of adult beverages and caloric goodness because today is the day that millions of Americans bust out their gigantic televisions (some of them very recently purchased) to watch the two “best” teams in the league do battle for a gigantic gaudy ring.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of something to write about on this particular Sunday and while it would be very easy for me to sit here and talk about how upset I am that the Jets aren’t in the Super Bowl, the truth is that I got over that about 5 weeks ago. I cried tears, kicked rocks, and then eventually came around to a sane, re-grouped mental state  that’s got me jazzed up about the Super Bowl.

I’ve moved on.

Lucky for me, the Internet is full of people that do and stay stupid things for me to comment on. And yesterday evening, the universe presented my writer’s block with a gift from a magical place called the Huffington Post.

A women published an article in the Wedding section on entitled, “Why I’m Making My Husband Miss the Super Bowl.” Naturally, you can imagine why I might want to click on this article. A woman actually is making her husband miss the Super Bowl? Wow, that’s pretty messed up. I feel bad for that dude.

But as unbelievable as it might sound, this woman’s story is actually eleventy billion times worse than the headline leads you to believe.

(If you don’t want to read my summary of her horrific article, then skip down a few paragraphs…)

This woman (Stacey is her name) is making her husband miss the Super Bowl so that they can attend an 8pm dinner reservation to celebrate their one year wedding anniversary. Stacey and her husband were married the day before last year’s Super Bowl which, as it turns out, was also a bit of an issue at the time but as she explains, she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of her special day (this already sounds like an episode of Bridezillas, the most amazing/awful show on television). And maybe having a wedding the day before, of, or after the Super Bowl isn’t a big deal for some dudes but it is for others. Oh, and there is also the fact that Stacey’s husband is a sports photographer. You kind of have to watch the Super Bowl if you work in sports.

Stacey realized that this “threat” to her anniversary celebration was getting serious when her husband’s beloved Houston Texans made it into the playoffs. So Stacey made a bet with her husband that if the Texans were not in it, she would get her special dinner wish and they would go to dinner during the Super Bowl. As a result of this bet, Stacey admits she rooted against her husband and for a team she didn’t even know the name of (that would be the Bengals and the Ravens, lady. It’s called the internet. Look it up. Your husband might appreciate it.) and got her way.

Don’t be too mad at her though. She makes a lot of sacrifices for her relationship, like agreeing to arrive at the restaurant early  so that her husband could watch the first 90 minutes of the game, rubbing her husbands feet after a hard day at work or  taking out the dog at 6:30 am to he can sleep.

If that wasn’t enough to already make you sick, it gets better….

Stacey is very happy to tell you that in her world, this is called compromise. After all, the first wedding anniversary is a special one (juut ask Kim Kardashian, she says) and that both parties have done something to make the other happy. Oh. my. god.

Not all married couples are as passionate about their football as these two. But wouldn't it be great if they were?

Not all married couples are as passionate about their football as these two. But wouldn’t it be great if they were?


Alright — enough. I can’t go on a second longer (and if you have made it this far without throwing up, you’re a better person than I am). This woman is nuts. Seriously nuts. And let me tell you why:

For the sake of argument let’s leave the Super Bowl element out of it for just one second (even though it’s Super Bowl Sunday and all). As a married woman (yes, I am married, so I can “relate”) this is a ridiculous thing to ask from a man who not only loves football, but earns a living taking photographs of sporting events.

Marriage is, indeed, about compromise but what this woman has done to her husband is not compromise. It’s needy, insecure manipulati­on and for what? An 8 pm dinner reservation?

You see, my husband loves football. But I happen to love it a lot more than him (I happen to love it more than a lot of guys I know). And yes, isn’t that great? It works out for us. But there are some things that we don’t like the same, for example I don’t happen to understand the TV show “Myth Busters.” I feel rage inside my soul when that show comes on and I suspect it has something to do with the fact that while watching it, my husband falls into a trace of amazement and wonder watching explosions and science experiments. But that’s his thing and when it’s on I peace out and do girly things like paint my nails. Or whatever. But I don’t bother him because THAT makes him happy. And he doesn’t bother me when I ask him to watch “The Help” (which, by the way, is a realllly good movie and isn’t what you might think).

Okay, fine — not apples to apples. But you see where I am going with this?

I could site about 8 zillion more examples -and a few of them might apply to this situation a lot better – but my point is WHO CARES? You are picking this battle on the day of your anniversary so you can go to dinner at the time you want to go. Forget everything else. That’s what’s important. (?)

Last I checked “getting your way” is not compromise. But do you know what is a compromise? Celebrating the night before. Or going to an early dinner. Or a brunch. That’s compromise, chica.

As a married person, I can also tell you that an anniversary is just the day on the calendar (it’s what you do the other 364 days of the year that actually matter) and it’s not about strictly adhering to the actual day. Sure, it’s nice to honor the occasion, celebrate the milestone, and to remind each other what you mean to one another, but the best way to do that is not play a game of whose happiness is a bigger priority.

And frankly, the anniversary police don’t give a crap if you celebrate 24 hours earlier or later. It’s about the act of the celebration. This is something Stacey will probably grow to better understand after she has been married for a few years (if they make it that far) and I can’t bestow this wisdom upon someone I hardly know but once again, wrong battle.

And one last thing before I get to the football part (I PROMISE I will get there): the definition of sacrifice in the eyes of Miss Stacey is apparently taking out the dog at 6:30 am and rubbing your husband’s feet after a hard days work. Are you kidding me? Did take a ride in a DeLorean to the 1950’s? You’re married! That’s what married people do! That’s not sacrifice, that’s your JOB.

Okay, so about this whole football things…

It’s the Super Bowl, woman.

It’s not just a damn football game, it’s a cultural event. And it’s vital to your husband’s work. How do you not see this? This is not a day about women’s rights or taking control of your relationship (which you obviously don’t understand because you didn’t know that the Baltimore Ravens wear purple uniforms).  Need I say more?

But more than that, I am completely disgusted at the insinuation that the Super Bowl is some day of torture for the entire female race. In fact, a whopping 44% of football fans are actually female so it seems to me that roughly half of the people watching the Super Bowl tonight will be WOMEN. And maybe not all of them are die hards like me (which is tottalllllly fine) and maybe, just maybe, some of them are watching the game with their husband because their husband is passionate about the game. And you know what? That’s cool. And THAT is sacrifice.

So please, ladies who maybe don’t like football all that much, learn a lesson from this woman’s error. Football and the Super Bowl are not part of an evil plot against you to take away your husband’s attention.

Maybe Im extra sensitive because I am constantly complaining about how I wish that I could see people treat female sports fans as equal to male sports fans. I’m always being told I don’t know what I am talking about or I don’t understand and just when I think I’ve made a little progress, I have to read something like this (alongside a poll  suggesting that women would prefer having sex over watching the Super Bowl).  This gives women a bad name.

So, thank you Stacey. Thank you so much for setting back the female race 50 years with your article. I hope you enjoy your anniversary dinner and and I hope you hate every second of the 90 minute Super Bowl viewing time you have spaced out prior to your meal (and by the way, you should actually have allowed him to watch the latter half of the game because if you’re going to watch a half, it should be the second half. So much for “compromise.”).

I also really hope he enjoys the looks on the faces of all his friends when they read this article detailing how you have made him your bitch (and not in a good way) successfully won a stupid selfish bet.  Because I know that’s what I want from life : knowing I have trained my husband to do what I say and want like a dog.

So check back with me in a few years and let me know how it’s going.

Gentleman (and ladies!!), enjoy the Super Bowl. And don’t do this to your spouse. Just. don’t.


2012 Golden Globes Fashion in Review

Julie Bowen in Reem Acra

I know you are all accustomed to reading my commentary on football but believe it or not, I have other interests. Namely, fashion, clothes and… fashion. Shocking, I know but hey, I just like things any normal girl would.

With that in mind, Award season is obviously one of my favorite times of year because, like most normal Americans, I also enjoy television (way too much of it) and the cinema. Award season is the perfect blend of these wonderful things, all rolled up into one semi-awkward little ball of wonderfulness.

And while it’s certainly nice to see everyone honored for their marvelous work and their contributions to the craft, I think we can all agree that it’s all about the fashion.I mean reeally, that is why you watch. Come on — shut up. Don’t lie.

Oh, and since I don’t do fancy slideshows , you may have to consult the internet (I think Wikipedia is back up and running..) for a visual on some of these. Sorry ’bout it.

The Good

Just fair warning : I don’t have the same taste as most people. I recognize that award shows are different from runway shows and that  red carpet fashion should, ideally, be pared down to a level that is more accessible. But this is Hollywood, people. And it’s the Golden Globes. Go there. Don’t be safe.

Which brings me to my next point : One of my chief complaints is that most of the women, especially the young ladies, looked boring. Yes– they mostly looked lovely but they were boring. Stop trying to be clones of one another and do something to stand out. Oh and eat a freaking sandwich for goodness sake; you all look like aliens.

Here are my favorites of the evening:

Julie Bowen – Bowen, in her Reem Acra gown, was giving us some serious old school Hollywood glamour (And serving up a little nod to Charlize Theron’s Academy award outfit circa her Monster win). The hair and the makeup perfectly complemented the look and she was one of a number of ladies who wore nude gowns to the Awards so bonus point for an on – trend look.

Kate Winslet    – She rarely misses and this was just so Kate : Classy, sophisticated, and streamlined. I love that she doesn’t try to be someone she is not (a starving 20-yr old, a slave to trends) yet she is not afraid to occasionally try something different (Ahem — Jennifer Aniston, I’m talking to you). She also knows how to dress for her body, age and important. (More on that in a minute).

She complimented the look was lovely, soft hair and make-up that drew attention to her gorgeous eyes and face.

Claire Danes – If you haven’t seen Danes’ gown from the back, you’re missing out. Not only was her dress gorgeous from that view, but she also a very cute bum.

Julianne Moore– Earrings. Hair. YES.

Chalize Theron in..what else? Dior.

Sofia Vergarra – She has been nailing it on the Red Carpet lately. Congrats to her , her stylist and Vera Wang, who she frequently wears to Award Shoes. Vera should just give her a lifetime supply of jewel toned mermaid gowns that is how amazing she looks in them.

Diaana Argon – One of the best dressed younger gals out there.

Charlize Theron – Should come as no surprise that Theron stunned in Dior (one of her faves) and I loved how she dared to be high fashion. I expected nothing less from the face of Dior.

George Clonney – You win. Every time. I want to say you looked bad and you never do.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Youthful, modern and fashion-forward yet not so trendy that it’s over-the-top-in-your-face.

Ewan McGregor – Gentlemen, notice McGregor’s tuxedo. It’s in proportion, it’s properly fitted and updated yet he still looks perfectly masculine. Study this and copy ir. No more of that dumpy nonsense, please.

I also loved the skinny tie and the unique lapel on this jacket. Bonus.

Adam Levine – I don’t want to say it, but I have to : He looked good.

(Ps : I love you, Ryan Gosling and I wish you had been there tonight. I’m quite sure I would have loved you, too).

Other honorable mentions : Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Selma Hayek (I loved her in that dress. No one else could have pulled it off), Tina Fey, Heidi Klum, Laura Dern.

The Bad

Too many ladies were dreadfully boring to me : Katherine McPhee, Giuliana Rancic (zzzzzz), Kate Beckinsale (Gorgeous gal but that dress looked kind to name a few. But boring and bad are two different things.

Oh, Buffy. No. (SMG wore Monique Lhullier, btws)

Sarah Michelle Gellar – Let me preface this by saying I have since learned that her daughter picked our her gown. I feel bad insulting her child, but that frock was a disgrace. I love Monique Lhullier but this dress shouldn’t have been created in the first place.

The look wasn’t helped but her late 90’s hair and makeup.

Nicole Kidman – What was that? No, really. What was that? (Here it is). Blegh.

It wasn’t even her. It looked like some 20 year old stylist convinced her wearing that was “good for her image.”

She does look better with red hair though.

Lea Michelle – Dress your age, hun.

Jessica Biel – I usually like her but her dress was like this half wedding, half Victorian doll type thing and to top it off, her hair was too dark. She’s sooo pretty but the combo of the dress and hair looked like she was intentionally going for this tragic period vampire type thing.

Meryl Streep – Love her. LOVE Her. But what was she wearing? I don’t love. Hard to be super critical though. She just isn’t fashion-y. Ever.

Tilda Swinton – I acknowledge that it was out of place and pretty wacky and that is why it qualifies as “bad”. But…at least Tilda consistently tries to wear something different and high fashion, rather than something boring. That said, I just didn’t really like it.

Michelle Williams – This woman is just adorable but it’s almost like she doesn’t want to be a star. She never dresses like one.

Honorable mentions : Amanda Peet ( I love Marc Jacobs but didn’t work for me), Jessica Alba (Yeah, I said it. She can do better than that. She looked like she was going to prom).

The I Don’t Knows

Lady Pitt in Altier Versace

Angelina Jolie – I’ve heard mixed opinions on Jolie’s look but I happened to love it.

It was nice to see her in color (like last year, when she stepped out in that amahzzzing emerald number) and she dared to be matchy matchy with her lips, clutchand lapel. BOLD.

I guess the chief complaint (that I have heard) about Jolie’s look wasn’t the dress or the lips but rather, Jolie herself.

Madonna – It wasn’t a great dress but what I liked about the look was that it softened her a bit. She is always so cold and severe and it was nice to see her in something that had feminine elements with softened hair and make-up.

But the fingerless gloves? WHY?!?!

Evan Rachel Wood – I thought that the dress was really cool and different, I just don’t know if I liked it on her. I do appreciate that she never makes boring choices.

Reese Witherspoon – I didn’t love Reese’s look. Lot of people calling her best dressed and I suppose the dress was pretty, but  it wasn’t very flattering and her hair wasn’t right. I get what she was going for – a sort of messy bed hed type look but it just didn’t come together for me. I love her and her beautiful smile but I have to call BS on what some people are calling one of the best dressed of the night.

My final thought, which has absolutely nothing to do with fashion : It’s truly amazing to me to watch a group of “Actors” (mostly actors) stand in front of a group of people and try to formulate sentences and deliver lines off a TelePrompter with 89 takes and an editing room, isn’t it??

Hey — at least I didn’t have to watch Anne Hathaway for 3 hours. You see, it’s the little things in life.


I’m dying to hear what you thought on Ms. Jolie Pitt. Share your comments below.

Fantasy Football: The Evolution of the Flex Position

Bengals WR AJ Green is performing extremely well for his ADP, making him an excellent flex play.

As a Fantasy Football owner, every week we are faced with the very difficult decision of deciding what to do with our flex position.

When I first played Fantasy Football, my guy friend informed me that you should always use a running back in your flex spot. I asked him why, as my observation was that my wide receivers were outperforming my running backs. He had no answer to my question other than to say, that’s just how it’s always been.

This over-evaluation of running backs was reinforced further by people telling me that I “should” draft a running back in the first round, as if doing anything else was a guarantee that your team would be worthless. As far as I could tell, points are points, so why should it matter what position they come from?

The old mentality was that you should always start a running back in your flex spot is quickly diminishing and for those of us who jumped on the fantasy bandwagon in recent years, the idea seems almost silly and old-fashioned.

In an effort to understand this idea, I conducted a 100% unscientific poll on Twitter to get some insight about what exactly influences people’s decision-making for the flex position week to week.

It goes without saying that most smart fantasy owners allow match-ups, opponents, roster and format dictate their decisions but that wasn’t really what I was interested in specifically. I wanted to know if fantasy players have an idea in the back of their minds if they “should” start one over the other, either because someone told them to or because they felt it was truly better. The answer was that most people believe you “should” start a running back over a wide receiver.

I am here to debunk this theory.

Here are some reasons why you might want to consider using a wide receiver over a running back in your flex position:

  1. An increasing number of offenses are taking a “running back by committee approach,” making it difficult to expect consistent production. Ex. New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers.
  2. Running backs, because of  demands, tend to be more injury prone and therefore, teams are making a concerted effort to preserve these backs. This furthers the argument above regarding production.
  3. The NFL is becoming a pass-first league. On top of that, even teams that have a strong run game are forced to abandon the run when they are playing from behind, making it again, impossible to predict production with any consistency.
  4. On average, wide receivers are out performing running backs in fantasy points week to week. (See below)
  5. The drop off from elite running backs is so dramatic. There are more value players on your waiver wire at wide receiver that you can pick up on a weekly basis and start than running backs.
  6. A runner’s ability to be effective relies heavily on offensive line play, especially when you are talking about the talent pool you would be using as a flex.
Just take a look at the scoring leaders on your Fantasy Site. Here is a list of some of the top skill position performers from Week two,  in a standard scoring non-PPR league, from ESPN:
  1.  Miles Austin, DAL WR
  2. Vincent Jackson, SD WR
  3. Jeremy Maclin, PHL WR
  4. Adrian Peterson, MIN RB
  5. Fred Jackson, BUF RB

It might not 100% highlight my point, as these players will appear in most people’s lineups as #1 or #2 options at RB/WR. Instead, let’s refer to the scoring leaders for players that would appear in the weekly rankings outside of the top 20 at their respective position, as that is a more appropriate assessment of players you would consider using as a flex option. This will give us greater perspective of who performs better for your team. I’m using CBS Sports Flex Rankings for this argument and comparing it to the Week two scoring leaders:

  1. Jeremy Maclin, PHI WR
  2. Fred Jackson, BUF RB
  3. Denarius Moore, OAK WR
  4. Eric Decker, DEN WR
  5. Danario Alexander, STL WR
  6. A.J. Green, CIN WR
  7. Willis McGahee, DEN RB
  8.  Devery Henderson, NO WR
  9. Jordy Nelson, GB WR
  10. David Nelson, BUF WR
There are various factors that might skew this list but the main point is this: eight of these ten players are wide receivers and one of the running backs on this list has value because they also catch passes out of the backfield (McGahee). The passing yards gave McGahee an inflated number and further my point about the NFL being a pass-first league.

Is this enough to convince you that the idea you “should” listen to some non-existent rule is silly?

Now, let me be clear: I am not suggesting you only use a wide receiver in your flex position. That would be bad advice and anyone that thinks you should use one position over the other is not managing their team in the best way possible. What I am simply saying is that times-they-are-a-changing and it’s time for you to manage your team differently.

Wide receiver production is largely dependent on opportunity and that makes it difficult to even rely upon them. I do, however, think it is a legitimate observation that the pass-first trend is here to stay and that more and more offenses are preserving players and spreading the ball around, making the Adrian Peterson types few and far between.

Fantasy Football is a variables game. Now more than ever you must study your match-ups, get to know these teams and these players and make informed decisions rather than doing something the way you have always done it.

This isn’t just advice for Fantasy Football, this is advice for life.

This post was written for Sports of New York. To view this post and others on Sports of New York, click here.


I’m Just Saying Podcast: Jets @ Ravens

The guys on the I’m Just Saying Podcast were kind enough to have me on their show this week.

Check out the podcast and listen to my thoughts on the Jets vs. Ravens. I picked the Jets to win, 24-21. How about them apples?

I come in around the 16:30 mark. >> I’m Just Saying – Episode XVI

Thanks to Geoff and Alex for having me on. They have a great show and are two hilarious dudes. Definitely give the whole show a listen (especially if you are a Philly sports fan).

You can also download the podcast on Itunes.

Btw, I am also the voice of the play out for the should check that out, too.  I’m just saying.

Chris Johnson, Where are you? Love, Fantasy Owners

Week 4 Fantasy Football Mailbag: Oh, CJ, Where Art Thou?


My apologies for not posting a mailbag last week. Life got in the way.

Week 4 already, huh? Wow.

The 2011 season has already been full of drama for Fantasy owners; many people lost Jamaal Charles and Kenny Britt for the season, while others are trying to figure out why Chad Ochocinco can’t seem to catch a pass from Tom Brady (who we all know doesn’t make any mistakes. By the way, that’s sarcasm..).

I continue to get a lot of great questions and feedback from people, especially those that are new to Fantasy, so keep sending your stuff over and I will do my best to lead you to victory.

I got a lot of Chris Johnson related questions this week and it’s not hard to see why. He’s not getting it done and I can bet you the Tennessee Titans are just as upset, if not more, than you.

So let’s get right into by talking about the $53.5 million dollar man ($30 million guaranteed if you’re curious).

Here’s a quick breakdown of Chris Johnson’s production over the past 3 weeks. Points are for standard scoring leagues (ESPN):

Week 1 @Jacksonville : 9 att for 24 yards = 4 pts.

Week 2 vs. Baltimore:  24 att for 53 yards = 6 pts.

Week 3 vs. Denver:  13 att for 21 yards = 7 pts.

That’s a total of 46 for 98 against 3 very different opponents and that, in my book, is enough to qualify as a trend.

Let’s put that into perspective by looking at Shonn Greene, another running back everyone wants to hate right now. Granted, this is not exactly an apples to apples to argument as Greene was drafted WAY later than CJ, but hear me out: Greene is 41 for 134 in his last three games with a touchdown. Both players are not running well but comparing CJ to another RB, who many consider a flex guy at best, makes you realize how poorly CJ is performing.

As far as my thoughts on Chris Johnson (which was specifically asked by one reader)..

I wasn’t really that sold on Johnson to begin with. I saw this coming, only the actual reality of what I imagined is far worse. If I owned him in a league I would be selling him (perhaps to the Jamaal Charles owner?) and hoping I could get something halfway decent in return.

If you would like to wait it out, then so be it, but do not be deceived into thinking that this week’s match-up against the Browns will be cake. The Browns have improved their defense dramatically and the Titans recently lost Kenny Britt, giving opponents even more reason to stack the box against Johnson.

Perhaps it’s that defenses have figured him out and are preparing for him, perhaps he is injured, perhaps there are problems with the offensive line and perhaps he is just out of shape from sitting in his butt waiting for his money. Maybe it’s all of these things. I can’t be sure.

So, at the end of the day my thought is this: Johnson might turn it around or he might not. But I would get rid of him while you can and let him be someone else’s problem.

Dwayne Bowe is messing with me. You think he keeps up a high score for the season or is he as wishy-washy as the Chiefs at large?

The Chiefs don’t look great right now, that is for sure.

Many people believe that Bowe was over-drafted and perhaps his production is actually normalizing. That’s what I think we are seeing (in addition to a little regression from his quarterback).

He did score a touchdown last week and his 4-5 receptions for 80-100 yards are more of what I would expect from him. The Chiefs of 2011 do not look like the Chiefs of 2010 but someone has to score points.

Regardless of what team he is on, Bowe is one of the better receivers in the league and the most dynamic player on this team now that Charles is gone. That is both good and bad. Good in that he can do a lot with a little (and will) and bad in that opposing defenses can load up against him without any problem.

Going forward, I would just be very mindful of the match-ups and count on him being inconsistent. Make sure the rest of your line-up is in solid shape if you roll with him.

I’m having problems with WRs. Too inconsistent. Recommendations?

This is a common problem with wide receivers. It’s obviously a case by case basis and I would have to look at your line-up to make specific suggestions.

I would recommend paying close attention to match-ups and also investigating the stats for your receiver in week’s past. Take a look at targets, which is usually a good indicator for expected production. There will always be outliers and it’s impossible to expect the exact same thing from week to week but trends in targets will help you see how each guy is involved in their offense.

Unfortunately, a big of production for Fantasy is touchdowns, which is nearly impossible to predict.

Because I missed the mailbag last week, let me make it up to you by sharing this post I wrote for Sports of New York, examining the league-wide shift to a pass heavy offense and it’s effects on the Fantasy Football.

The next cover for ESPN: The Magazine, an issue I surely won't be reading. (Source: Deadspin)

Yet Another ESPN Rant By Yet Another Blogger…

…Because it’s sooo hot to rant about ESPN these days.

For the majority of the baseball season, I lamented about how much ESPN favored the Yankees and Red Sox and how they wouldn’t show much love for any other teams (aside from the Brewers and Giants–kind of). They eventually started to come around on my Phillies when the “no offense” argument got old but really, the bias on the whole just went too far. That’s not to say that both the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t good teams, I just felt that the presentation of information had such obvious slant that I could no longer listen to it.

There are a few baseball analysts that work for ESPN that are an exception and I am happy to credit them at a later date but it is currently not relevant to this post.

Because now that football season has officially begun, I have a new bone to pick.

ESPN hates the New York Jets and it bugs the crap out me.

I know that the New York Jets are the NFL team everyone loves to hate and you know what, that is fine. People don’t like the Jets because Rex Ryan is outspoken and overweight and Antonio Cromartie has lots of children. Or whatever. These are the jokes people make so I can only assume that is why.

Nowadays, it’s cool so say Sanchez sucks and he isn’t a good quarterback and to cry that he is over-rated (even though everyone in the universe criticizes his every move so really, that is the opposite of overrated but whatever). It’s even cooler to make fun of his GQ spread and completely discount that he is a young player who is already considered a leader in his locker room and has only ever been a respectable human being in the public eye (in speaking with reporters, taking responsibility for his actions and giving back to the community). I guess it’s just much to easier to crack jokes about interceptions and completely discount that for a young QB in the NFL he is hardly a slouch in terms of accomplishments.

So yes, Rex Ryan guaranteed that his team will win the Super Bowl just like Eli Manning answered that he is as good as Tom Brady but I ask you, what else what you LIKE them to say ?

Unfortunately, football fans (or sports fans), god love them, generally aren’t rational. We are fans of our team and we aren’t fans of teams that stand in the way of our team. That is the way it has always been and that is the way it always will be. This, I forgive.

But we have now entered a whole new territory of hatred and bias. ESPN, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” can’t find a way to overcome their hate for the team in their own reporting.

Just check out this article from ESPN’s AFC East Blog, explaining the stock for each NFC East team. The article points out that the Jets offensive line’s stock is falling, a fair assessment based on their play in the first two games of the season. But there is no mention of the Patriots in this piece, other than to praise Tom Brady.  No mention of a secondary that, let’s face, isn’t that great.

The publishing of this article followed the publishing of another article examining the AFC East QBs not named Tom Brady.  The article completely blasted Jets QB Mark Sanchez, even after ESPN‘s own made-up QBR system gives him a reasonable rating for his performance against Jacksonville.

I bring this up because even when their own made-up quarterback rating system rates Sanchez at 77.6, compared to Henne’s abysmal 30.5, they still come up with a way to rank Sanchez last in the AFC East after 2 games. It’s gross.

(And for the record, I don’t think Chad Henne is THAT bad of a quarterback. I know I might be alone on this island. But there are plenty of QBS that deserve far more of a lashing than Henne).

Basically, what I am saying is this: As a football blogger for ESPN, you need to at least attempt to be objective. If you are going to write an article about how certain aspects of teams is falling, how can you possibly go an entire article without mentioning that the Patriots need to improve their secondary? That they have a non-existent pass rush? That they aren’t perfect? These are legitimate concerns for a team that wants to win another Super Bowl.

Listen, don’t get me wrong, Tom Brady is a really, really good quarterback. One of the best ever. But this isn’t news. Tom Brady was MVP of the league last year. He picks apart opposing offenses and makes even the best teams look like high school squads. But this isn’t insightful or analysis. It’s obvious. It’s boring. Tom Brady is a really good quarterback. There, I said it.

And just to prove how reasonable and objective I can be, I will admit that as a Jets fan and blogger I can easily point out a variety of areas that the Jets need to improve upon.  These areas do include the offensive line, the run game AND Mark Sanchez, but the constant one-sided “reporting” that the Jets aren’t good enough, have “falling stock” and that you are surprised by Sanchez’s QBR rating, which btw is YOUR own creation ESPN, is just obnoxious.

Why don’t you just go ahead and call the AFC East blog the Patriots blog? Because that is what it is, according to these two articles. And I am not just talking about the Jets when I mention this. Why not show some more love to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played excellent and still gets little respect from these writers?

While I have your attention and I’m on this rant, I would like to vocalize my general annoyance with Rich Cimini, the Jets beat reporter for ESPN, who rarely ever has a nice thing to say about the team. His articles are loaded with snide remarks about Rex Ryan, the players and the team from someone whose main following is JETS FANS. I know I sound contradictory when I just went on a rant about how I want reporters to be objective, but it would be nice if Rich could color his assessments with a little more sunshine for the fan base.

For example, compare the general tone of everything Cimini does to that of Jane McManus (the other Jets beat reporter for ESPN), who always presents information with a more positive tone (as it applies to the fans). Jane offers a perspective that is received much better.

I listen to the ESPN Football Today Podcast nearly every day. Ross Tucker and Matt Williamson give fantastic insight into games around the league and I have learned a great deal about the game listening to this podcast. However, both analysts have an outright disdain for the Jets. Williamson even went so far as to predict that the ‘Fins would finish ahead of the Jets in 2011, a prediction that already appears tenuous only 2 games into the season (that said, I do love Williamson’s analysis as a scout, I’m just merely pointing out the company wide bias).

But what can you expect from a podcast produced by a Patriots fan?

And what kind of critique would this be if I did not mention Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd, who can’t find it within themselves to say anything nice about this team because it might be perceived as an argument against their man crush, Tom Brady. I actually find Colin and Skip entertaining most of the time but they should just marry Brady already.

The next cover for ESPN: The Magazine, an issue I surely won't be reading. (Source: Deadspin)

You know what? I am noticing a trend here.  My rant is clearly misguided.

Between the obnoxious Red Sox gushing, the Tom Brady man crushes and the failure to point out anything wrong with the Patriots, I should really be ranting about how ESPN should really just call themselves, “The WorldWide Leader in {Boston] Sports.”

If you’ve made it this far, then you likely agree me and you will be even more annoyed to see this, which was posted today on Deadspin, explaining that ESPN is devoting an entire issue of ESPN: The Magazine to Boston Sports.


Now back to my initial rant, where I plan to wrap it up.

To ESPN’s credit, I have to mention that they  do have vocal two Jets fans, Mike Greenberg and Michelle Beadle, working for them. But the thing about that these two is that they are personalities, not analysts or bloggers.

And I guess I can give them this, too: Hours after every other major sports outlet released their NFL Power Rankings and named the Jets at #3 (check out, Cbssports, SB Nation), ESPN released their Power Rankings with the Jets at #3. So, really, all the spewed hatred in the world doesn’t change the facts. The Jets are a good team, despite their (many) warts.

I leave you with this, from the Worldwide Leader in Sports, which is an article about the Jets being the team that everyone loves to hate . The author intelligently points out that everyone wouldn’t bother hating the team is they weren’t good.  And that, my friends, is FACT.

And because I can take criticism, go ahead and disagree with me by commenting below. I welcome ANY feedback.

Chase Utley, Stutes and Schneider celebrate with a little bubbly.

Phillies Fivepeat

Congratulations to my Philadelphia Phillies, who are the NL East Champions for the 5th consecutive year.

Chase Utley, Stutes and Schneider celebrate with a little bubbly.

Here is video of the final out of last night’s game, which clinched the NL East for the Phils. (Vid courtesy of

Phillies Clinch NL East.

You can purchase your National League East Champions gear at Im not loving the hats but whatevs.

Btw, The Phillies are currently at 98 wins for the season. The win totals for the last six seasons are: 85, 89, 92, 93, 97, 98 (and counting…).

The Phillies clinched a playoff berth earlier in the week. They pretty much rule. we come!


Hunter his life!


Fantasy Mailbag: Your Fantasy Football Questions Answered

Fantasy Football Mailbag: Week 2

Fantasy Mailbag: Your Fantasy Football Questions Answered

Fantasy Football Week 1 is behind us.

How did you do? Did you win your match-up? Are at the top of your league? Or did your opponent have Tom Brady and bury you in the dust? (Or buried them).

I continue to get a lot of great questions from readers, both general and specific, and I once again thank everyone who sent something in.

Good luck in Week 2!

I had a good week, but there was a guy on my bench who did well. What’s the best way to know from week to week what guys should be active and who should be on the bench – how much does a good performance one week mean for the next?

Is it like baseball where you really can tell a lot by numbers?

I covered this a little last week but let’s get into more details now that we are into Week 1.

Here is what you should look at:

  1. Match-up- What team are they playing? If they are facing a top defense (Steelers, Jets, Packers, Chargers, Ravens, Bears, etc) or another top defense you will want to be careful when you decide to start them. Some teams have a better run defense or pass defense, so you’ll want to look into that specifically. There is usually a stat called OPRK (opponent ranking) that will provide the ranking of the opponent against the run or pass, however it applies to your player’s position. Use this to help you decide. For example, if you see an opponent that is ranked somewhere in the 20-32 range, you definitely want to start your guy. You can also check out defensive rankings at
  2. Rankings- I always check out the weekly rankings from various sites. Check out this week’s from CBSSports.
  3. Role in their offense- You will always want to start a #1 over a #3 receiver because they will get more targets. Some offenses are an exception (GB; they like to spread it around). So this is where you can relate it to the baseball mentality and look at the stats for the previous week’s targets. If they were targeted 3 times that is “low,” whereas 8-10 is more ideal.  This is especially true with TEs, because sopme of them act like receivers in their offense (NE comes to mind).
  4. Stats- (Continued from above) You can do this with running backs as well by looking at touches and carries and yards per carry. For QBs, you want high pass attempts.  Some offenses run and pass equally. Some pass more. Passing QBS are better for fantasy football, as I am sure you can imagine (Rodgers, Rivers, Brady…).
  5. Injury- If someone is injured, you have to be careful because they could be limited in the game or lose time to their back-up.
  6. How they looked the week before- Chris Johnson did not perform well last week. I personally need to see more from him and I would consider sitting him until he improves. I know its Chris Johnson, but this is an example of a situation where he did not perform that well last week and  he is facing Baltimore. Less than ideal.
  7. Offensive Line- This could also be a reason why Chris Johnson stunk last week. A good O-line helps a player perform. If the teams offensive line looks sketchy, then keep that in the back of your mind when making decisions.
  8. Just general instinct- This guy might be “due” or may have “looked bad”.

I know this might sound like a lot to those of you that are new to Fantasy Football but as time goes on you will learn more about what to look for.

It is very hard to predict when certain players might break out and nothing is more frustrating than seeing a guy on your bench go off. The best thing you can do is research and make an informed decision and unfortunately, the rest is up to chance.

One last thing: It is important not to overreact to one-week wonders. It is also important not to overreact if one of your studs plays poorly. These things will also work themselves out and after 2-3 weeks you will start to see trends that can help inform your decisions.

Should I be looking at/caring about who my fantasy opponent is this week and who’s on his/her team?

First of all, thank you for saying his/her. So many people refer to him when they speak  about Fantasy Football, as if hims are the only people that play. Girls/women (see what I did there?) play Fantasy, too.

To answer your question, no.

You obviously want to score more points than your opponent but you do that by making your team the best it can be in any given week.  I do look at who my opponent is starting so I know who not to cheer for but I don’t really believe in starting someone just because they are facing my opponent. Points are points.

There have been weeks that I’ve looked at projections and started  a high upside guy over a reliable average type-guy in an effort to win. A sort of go-big-or-go-home strategy. But in all sincerity, I would  just try to make your team the best you can EVERY week.

If you do want to be sneaky, you could look ahead and see who you are playing next week. Maybe they have an injured guy and will need to pick up the back up (example. Cadillac williams who backs up Steven Jackson). You could pick up Cadillac just to take them away from your opponent. It’s a strategy and I have done it before but make sure if you do this you aren’t dropping someone that could be of value to you this week or going forward.

Nate Kaeding tore his ACL. I dropped him and I picked up Folk.  Should I have traded for Janikowski?

No, I wouldn’t trade for Janikowski.

I know some people won their games last week because of his absurd 63-yard FG bu you can’t count on that every week. Seabass is great but I wouldn’t recommend  trading quality skill position players for any kicker. You are better off add/dropping based on match-ups week to week .

There are plenty of other great kickers out there.

Start/ Sit

Who should I start : Saints Robert Meanchum or Bills Stevie Johnson?

My instinct says Stevie Johnson.

Word out of Buffalo on Thursday is that Johnson was held out of practice for a groin injury (this is not a new injury).  Sounds like he was just given a day off so I would worry too much. The Raiders gave up a ton of yards to the Broncos last week and Fitzpatrick will be looking for Johnson for the big play.

My decision to play Johnson over Meachem is also about the New Orleans offense.

There is a possibility that Lance Moore returns this week and while he is not the player Meachem is, it will translate to fewer targets for both players (also factor in Henderson). On top of that, the Chicago defense is good and they took away a lot from Matt Ryan last week. I think Brees, as good as he us, will have to look to Sproles and Graham for the majority of the game.

You can subit your questions for next week’s mailbag on Facebook or Twitter, @KristineReese.

Fantasy Mailbag: Your Fantasy Football Questions Answered

Fantasy Football Mailbag: Week 1

Fantasy Mailbag: Your Fantasy Football Questions Answered

It’s here. Week 1.

Now the real difficult decision making begins: setting your line-up.

Before the season even started, fantasy owners found themselves faced with difficult decisions, from worry over Peyton Manning to whether they should sit their studs against the Steelers.

I know, it’s a tough life being a fantasy owner….

As always, thanks to all of you who submitted questions for this week’s mailbag.  Don’t forget to set your line-ups BEFORE kick off on Sunday!

I drafted Peyton Manning as my starting QB, now what should I do?

My friend who is new to Fantasy Football this year asked me the same question. He called me very upset that his first season was over before it had even begun. I promised him it was not.

Don’t panic. You’re season isn’t over. It’s going to be okay.

Truth is, we still don’t know with absolute certainty (as of Saturday) what Peyton’s status will be for the remainder of the year.

That being said, it is likely he will be out at least 3 months (mid- December).  There is a possibility he could return for the end of the year and be Peyton Manning. There is also a possibility the Colts opt not to break him back for the end of the season or he comes back and he is not quite himself right away.

You have to decide if you want to stash him away or not and that is your decision to make. Hopefully your league has an IR spot for this very reason. If not, then I would advise you to drop him and make the best of it.

Now on to alternative options.  Here are a few guys I like that might still be available:

Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler (and I have a well documented history of disliking Cutler so that is saying something), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton

For deeper leagues (or if the above aren’t available) or to play match-ups:

Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne, Colt McCoy (who has a pretty easy schedule this year, BTW).

Should I start Reggie Bush?

Oh, Reggie Bush, you have me stumped.

I think Reggie is a special kind of player and now that he is headed to Miami he may actually be slightly more valuable as a fantasy running back than he has been in previous years.

This week the Dolphins face the Patriots.  I’m anticipating that the Patriots defense is going to be improved from last year but it’s not as if we are talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers run defense. Someone is going to be running the ball on Sunday and that person is Reggie.

Reggie could potentially have a decent week and here is why: The team has already stated that they would like to use Reggie in the primary back role, Daniel Thomas is injured and the other option at running back is Larry Johnson (ick).  Add to that Henne likes to check down more than Drew Brees which will add receiving yards to his total. I definitely see him scoring a touchdown and probably combing for some nice yardage rushing and receiving.

With all of that in mind, I would still  only use him as a flex play this week. Give him a little more time to show us exactly how is going to be used in his new offense and then play him against the softer match-ups at a #2 RB.

What should I be looking at when I am deciding who to start and who to sit?

I use several tools (aside from my intuition, obviously). :)

Rankings, Projections (but don’t get too stuck on the projections), role they play in their respective offense and the most importantly, match-up.

ESPN has a nice feature called OPRK, or opponent ranking, that tells you how the opposing defense is ranked against the run or the pass. I really like this tool a lot because it’s breaking it down more specifically to your player.  For example, in 2010 the Houston Texans were the worst secondary in the NFL (ranked 32nd in OPRK), so starting your WRs against them was a must.  On ESPN, a tough opponent is marked in red, while an easier opponent is in green.  Other sites have similar tools so check out what yours has to offer.

If you are someone who really likes to use projections, just keep in mind that projections can vary based on how an analyst decides if they are going to get a touchdown or not. Don’t let it be the only thing that influences you.

Flacco vs Pittsburgh or Orton vs Oakland?

I’m going to go with Orton.

Flacco does not have a good history against the Steelers. He will probably throw for at least one touchdown but the issue here is sacks and interceptions which can cut into your total for the week.

The Raiders aren’t a terrible defense, contrary to popular opinion, but Nnamdi is now in Philly so at least you don’t have to worry about him completely taking away your receivers. It’s still hard to say exactly what this Broncos offense is going to look like under John Fox but I still see Orton throwing a fair amount.

I checked the rankings of all the major sites and every one of them has Orton ranked slightly higher, which supports my argument. Play it safe and go with Orton.

Austin Collie vs. Houston or Mike Thomas vs. Tennessee?

I don’t love either.

Austin Collie will be playing his first game with Kerry Collins, due to Peyton Manning’s injury. So much of what Peyton does is about timing and rhythm with his receivers and I don’t know that Collie will have that with Collins right away. In addition to that, Collie is also recovering from a knee (and foot) injury he suffered during the preseason, so I don’t know that I would even start him anyway (he apparently says it’s fine).  He is listed as Questionable, which is very typical of the Colts.

Mike Thomas will also be playing his first game with quarterback Luke McCown, who was named the starter on Tuesday.  It remains to be seen what this offense will even look like, let alone how Mike Thomas will factor in. We do know that Thomas is the #1 WR on this team, and that receiving touchdowns will be mostly split between him and Marcedes Lewis.  So with that, I am going to go with Thomas, if I must choose one.

You can send me your questions for next week on Facebook or Twitter, @KristineReese.

Fantasy Mailbag: Your Fantasy Football Questions Answered

Fantasy Football Mailbag

I’m starting a new feature throughout the Fantasy Football season where you can send in your questions and we are calling it..get ready for the creative name…the Fantasy Football Mailbag! Wow. Impressive, I know.

Fantasy Mailbag: Your Fantasy Football Questions Answered

Questions can range from basic to more in-depth. Ask me anything.

Expect the mailbag at the end of each week, just in time for each week’s match-up.

What are your thoughts on drafting rookies?

It depends on what team and what offense they are in but there are always going to be rookies that have big fantasy football numbers, it’s just difficult to predict.  Temper your expectations because anything can happen.  I would take a risk on some guys in mid to late rounds knowing you can cut them and would avoid relying them as a core part of your team.

What sort of stats are used in a typical fantasy league?

It varies based on your league settings but we are basically looking at:


  1. Touchdowns: Thrown, rushing and receiving. Also touchdowns on returns and defensive touchdowns.
  2. Yards: Rushing and Receiving. Some leagues value receiving over rushing (PPR).
  3. Field Goals


  1. Sacks
  2. Safeties

For leagues with individual player stats, points are awarded for sacks, tackles, assisted tackles and interceptions.

It’s best to check your league settings thoroughly before drafting so that you can see where you will get the most value.

How do trades generally work?

I love this question, because I have some strong opinions on how they should be handled.

The short answer is, you propose a trade to another owner and that is owner is sent an email. They can reject or accept the trade or make a change and propose it back to you. Then the trade has two days to be approved by the other members of the league (or generally, just has to go without anyone protesting) and then the trade will be awarded.

I am of the strong opinion that you should informally approach an owner before proposing a formal trade through the site, either by email or league message or whatever other method of communication you may have with that owner.  Formally offering a trade to someone without discussing it first can be off-putting -some even consider it rude – which basically means the trade it not going to be accepted (also, if your trade offer is crazy and unfair, I am not even going to respond to it).  I am much more inclined to trade with you if there is open dialogue and negotiation.  (I can site specific examples of this happening to me but I think you get the point).  Also, due to the fact that there is a two-day period before the trade goes through, you guarantee that the trade will move along quicker if you discuss it first and the other owner is prepared.

Make sense?

I know in Fantasy Baseball, I could pick people up on waivers.  Is there something similar in Fantasy Football?

It depends on your league settings. Most people have a 2 day waiver period. You put in a claim on Monday and the players are awarded on Wednesday.

How are injured players handled?  Is there a DL similar to Fantasy Baseball?

As is the case with Fantasy Baseball, this depends on the league settings.  I played in a Fantasy Baseball league this year that did not have a DL spot and I will never do it again, but I digress..

Most leagues have a large of bench six-eight players, so you have to use it wisely and will be forced to make difficult decisions about keeping or not keeping players based on injuries.

Other leagues do have an IR spot (luck you if they do!).  This will allow you to free up bench space for players that may be only nicked or allow you to play match-ups.  You can also use an IR spot to pick up a high upside guy that someone else gave up on.

More likely to have a bad season – Peyton Manning or Eli Manning? 

Good question. Short answer? Eli.

I’m not giving up on Peyton Manning.  If you draft him, be sure to draft a decent back-up because it’s looking like Peyton will not start the season. That being said, I have faith that once Peyton does return to the game, after a few weeks of getting acclimated he will be his usual self. And that is something you definitely want on your Fantasy team.

As for Eli, he is not a terrible Fantasy option. There are a ton of other guys I would take before him and I am more inclined to take him as a backup than a starter (depending on size of the league) but there will be weeks where will rack up some points. Biggest concern with Eli is interceptions but his team will throw.

Does any tight end ranked lower than sixth on any list matter?


Unless you are playing in a 6 team league or in a league that does not have a tight end spot, it matters.

I understand the question. The reader is basically saying that outside of the top tight ends (Gates, Clark, Witten, Finley, Davis, Daniels) that the rest of the tight ends on the draft board are sort of a crap shoot.

While the 6 tight ends above are certainly reliable guys with high upside, there are many other tight ends that have the potential to have fantastic fantasy seasons.  Some of them even have potential to perform better than some of the tight ends ranked in the top 6. I will list them and explain why:

  1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints- The Saint cut Jeremy Shockey because they knew they had Graham.
  2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers- The tight end is a young quaterback’s best friend (and Cam Newton is) the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers).  Also, Greg Olsen is a talent and the Bears were stupid to let him go.  Steve Smith is obviously the #1 receiver in Carolina and there is also Jeremy Shockey but I wouldn’t be surprised if Olsen ends up the a ton of receiving yards this year.
  3. Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots- Not sure which one of these guys will out-perform the other, but one of them is due for a great season.  Gronkowski is more of the red-zone guy and will get you more points with touchdowns. Most projections have him scoring 10 touchdowns this year. That’s one every other week.  I’ll take it.
  4. Mercedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars- See Greg Olsen.  If Gabbert is the starter Lewis could have similar numbers to last year. He is also the #2 receiving option in Jacksonville and a Red Zone target.

Any Sleeper RB’s?

Here are a few that I have on my list. (I can’t give away all my secrets).

  1. Javon Ringer, Tennessee Titans- Despite the Johnson contract news, he could still see time in CJ has an injury.
  2. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos- Word is that McGahee is going to get a lot of goal line carries in Denver, while Moreno will carry the work load.
  3. Delone Carter, Indianapolis Colts- Joseph Addai has an injury history and the running duties will fall to someone should Addai be out.  Colts are a team that throws first but they will still must have some kind of a running game.
  4. Ben Tate, Houston Texans. Despite what everyone is saying about Mason being the back-up, I think Tate is young and talented and will eventually get time be it shared with Foster or in the event he is injured.
  5. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins- Hightower is the clear starting RB for the Skins but knowing how Shanny works, I would not be surprised to see another one emerge.  Word is that Ryan Torain was close to being cut from the team so perhaps it is Helu we want, not Torain.

Which Browns WRs do you see stepping up?

I’m hearing a lot of good things about rookie Greg Little and he has real potential to be a sleeper WR this year.  There is, of course Mohamed Massaquoi, but Little is currently ranked higher.

This post was written for Aerys Offsides on Aerys Sports.  You can submit your questions to next week’s mailbag by tweeting me @KristineReese or @Aerys_NFL.  You can also submit your questions on Facebook.


Jets-Giants Recap: At Least We Won a Snoopy Trophy

It wasn’t pretty but we won the Snoopy trophy.  That’s right, the Jets are the first New York team to win the MetLife Bowl.

That’s the good news.

Now for the bad news:  Monday night’s highly anticipated “Battle for New York” was a sloppy showing on the part of both first-team offenses.  The game had 16 penalties and 2 players were ejected.  The Giants had 327 total yards of offense to the Jets 223.

But a win is a win. And 327 yards was not enough to get the Giants more than 3 points.

So yes, it is glaringly obvious is that the defense won this game for the Jets.  The Jets were apply to apply a ton of pressure to the Giants, pick off throws and force turnovers.

Clearly, Ryan was pleased with the performance of the defense. In his press conference today he admitted, “”I wouldn’t trade this defense for anybody’s in this league.”  Me either.

As for the offense. There were some issues.  The media continues to criticize Sanchez and the remainder of the Jets new passing attack for not living up to the “hype”.  I can’t say I blame them entirely. The Jets were facing a massively depleted secondary and were still unable to be really effective.

Here is more on that, along with several other observations from Monday’s game, good and bad:

  • David Harris and Jim Leonard both picked off passes (that makes 6 interceptions this preseason) from Eli Manning and several other defensive players had huge plays. Bart Scott and Kyle Wilson both had excellent tackles, Nick Bellore came up with two big plays (a tackle and a sack) and Jarron Gilbert blocked a field goal attempt. Ripoti Pitoitua continues to look good.
  • If I had to come up with one criticism, I could argue that the only part of the Giants offense that seemed to be effective was their ground game.  Perhaps it was nothing but something to note. Despite this fact, the Jets did have a huge goal line stand that prevented the Giants from scoring more than 3 points.
  • Wayne Hunter had an unnecessary roughness penalty on the first drive of the third quarter, putting the Jets in a 3rd and 17 scenario.  That kind of stuff cannot continue to happen.  Many have called Hunter’s penalty the mistake of the night.
  • Speaking of mistakes, rookie DE Muhammed Wilkerson was ejected from the game after getting into a fight with RB Brandon Jacobs.  It was more than a little disappointing to see something like this happen from a rookie who is getting the opportunity to start but sounds like Wilkerson is owning up to the boo boo. He commented on the ejection saying, “Was it a smart move? No. Do I regret it? No. It’s football and I’m not going to let someone take advantage of me.”
  • Mark Sanchez really struggled to connect on throws with Burress.  Holmes and Keller once again provided him with a security blanket, indicating that Sanchez still needs time with Burress and Mason.  Sanchez also had an ugly fumbled snap but finished 8/16 with 64 yards and a touchdown.  No doubt that Mark still has plenty of room for improvement and he took the blame for last night’s disconnect, “…, if anything it was me.  It was just me missing throws.”  We probably won’t see much of him on Thursday so we will have to wait until the regular season to make many more assessments.  Bottom line: Yes, he wan’t great last night but he was able to scramble out of trouble and he did not have any interceptions.
  • Plaxico Burress recorded zero catches in this game. He was targeted 4 times.  Looked to be a timing issue.  Before we judge Burress too harshly, I would like to point out that because of his presence on the field opposing defenses are now accounting for him with double coverage.  We could argue he assisted the Holmes touchdown in this regard.
  • Jets special teams made two really good plays, one by CB Antonio Cromartie who ran in a 70-yard return (after bobbling the catch), putting the Jets in excellent field postion. Rookie WR Jeremy Kerley also continues to impress on special teams and saw several snaps from the wildcat (including a 13-yard pass).
  • The run game really has yet to be the superior threat that I think we were all expecting. Good news is that there is a ton of options and the performance of Powell, McKnight and John Connor at FB provides the run game with excellent depth.  LT has been mostly sitting out this preseason so we have yet to really see much from him.  Shonn Greene, while not exactly convincing us that he has improved his hands, is averaging about 5 yards per carry in the preseason.
  • Greg McElroy continues to get it done. I am so impressed with him, especially with how he has risen to the occasion in Brunell’s absense. I cannot see any reason why McElroy will not (and should not) be the back-up to Sanchez this season.
There will be a short recap of Thursday’s game and I will follow up with a season preview before the Sunday, September 11th game against the Cowboys kicks off.
For notes on the Giants from Monday Night, please check out the Aerys Sports Giants site, Big, Blue and Beyond. An update on Monday Night’s game has been posted.
Is third year running back Shonn Greene the key to the success of the Jets running game?

Is Greene the key to Gang Green’s success?

It’s possible that you haven’t really been listening to everything that Rex Ryan has been saying ever since he guaranteed that the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl this year.  Lucky for you, I have.

Is third year running back Shonn Greene the key to the success of the Jets running game?

Here is the cliff’s notes version: Rex Ryan is fired up about his defense, Darrelle Revis looks better than ever, Plaxico Burress is healthy, Mark Sanchez is going to be an elite quarterback and lastly, we have the have one thing that Rex Ryan wants made very clear: the ground and pound running game is here to stay.

Ryan, along with running backs coach Anthony Lynn, intends to give third year running back Shonn Greene the responsibility of carrying out (pun intended) the majority of the work in 2011 and make him the team’s No.1 running back.  He endorsed his strategy stating, “I’m thinking the plan is you’re going to get a heavy dose of Shonn Greene.”

Being a number 1 running back in this league means that not only do you have to take a pounding week in a week out, but that you are going to see a LOT of touches.  Lynn has said that he would like to see Greene get 300-plus touches this year.  Just to put that into perspective, here is some comparative data on running backs’ from the 2010 season in the 300-touches range: Ahmad Bradshaw (323), Adrian Peterson (319), Matt Forte (288), LeSean McCoy (285).

There is no doubt that at 5-11, 226 pounds, Shonn Greene has the stuff to be the No.1 guy.  He clearly has the size and strength to bust tackles and fly through holes, qualities that workhorses like Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles posses.  In the preseason opener against the Houston Texans, Greene’s runs averaged a very efficient 6.4 yards per a carry.

But for every game that Greene shows promise, there is another that causes concern.

There have been questions about Greene’s hands, which caused him to lose the No.1 spot to LT last year, an issue that worked on with Lynn.  By the end of 2010, Greene had improved his pass-catching enough to earn back his spot as the No.1 back and propel him into the starting role this year.

Even more than his pass-catching skills, it is Greene’s durability that has people skeptical and unfortunately, the questions regarding Greene’s sustainability are not completely unfounded.  After showing real promise in the preseason opener, Greene was sidelined for Sunday Night’s game, this time with a low-grade skin infection in this foot.  To be fair, this is a fluky setback; one cannot blame this specifically on Greene’s “durability” but it certainly raises concern that after only one preseason game the guy is already dealing with setbacks.

For what it’s worth, when asked about the infection, Greene clarified that his absence on Sunday was more precautionary than necessity and insisted that it was, “not as bad as everybody made it seem.”  When asked if he would be ready to play this Sunday against the Giants, he responded, “I’m thinking so.”

Still, a “ground and pound” running game cannot exist on one back alone.  In most efficient running systems (the New Orleans Saints immediately comes to mind) there is a system in place designed to maximize the effectiveness of the each runner and highlight individual strengths.  So what about the rest of the Jets running game?

LaDainian Tomlinson had a bounce back career in 2010 and lead the Jets in rushing with 914 yards.  But as his running in the AFC Championship Game indicated, LT is no longer able to sustain that kind of play over the course of an entire season.  Given his age and the amount of wear and tear he has seen, Rex Ryan’s plan to have LT play the role of 3rd down back seems much more suited to the veteran RB’s abilities and is something that even LT himself is comfortable with. You can expect a lot more pass catching from him this year with some goal line carriers sprinkled in (for all you Fantasy Football Players).

As far as the remaining running backs are concerned, it appears that the No. 3 role is Joe McKnight’s to lose.  He had yet to really prove himself but is coming off of an excellent performance in Sunday Night’s game where he scored a touchdown and averaged 5.1 yards per carry.  McKnight was overdue for a breakout performance and if he continues in this way he just might be able to keep rookie Bilal Powell from stealing that No.3 spot. We still have a few more games left to see what he’s got but McKnight just made it a lot more interesting.

Speaking of Powell, the rookie from Louisville really impressed in his first appearance against the Houston Texans.  Lynn has stated that Powell is “definitely making the case” for the No.3 spot but regardless of where he ends up, it is clear Powell has a real future in this league and is a solid option should any one of the other starters suffer a setback.

If the Powell wrench was not enough, the Jets have now find themselves wondering what is to become of Chris Jennings, who was the most effective runner on Sunday night with 81 total yards.  By all accounts, this is a good problem to have.

It is obvious that the Jets have a lot of options for how they can choose to fill out their running back depth charts but one thing cannot be overlooked: the absence of Greene in Sunday night’s game proved that the Jets need Greene to fulfill their ground and pound mantra. The LT/McKnight/Powell combo only accounted for a combined 74 yards on 25 carries, an average of just slightly less than three yards per rush, against a paltry Cincinnati Bengals defense.

For my money, I do not think that the success of the ground and pound run game should rest on Shonn Greene alone.  Yes, Greene is a necessary part of the system but I believe it will be the fine tuned dance between the 5 backs, along with an efficient offensive line, that will produce the best results.  We (the media and fans) are guilty of seeking out a “Number One Guy” to name when maybe we should simply be hoping for a run game that exists on a core of guys working together and winning football games

Plaxico catches a sweet touchdown to end the half. (Photo from

Jets Spank Bengals in Plaxico’s Debut

Plaxico catches a sweet touchdown to end the half. (Photo from

Plaxico Burress with his big touchdown catch. (Photo from first game in the newly named Metlife Stadium was a successful one for the Jets.

Mark Sanchez (and Greg McElroy) made some key plays and moved the chains despite a sluggish run game.  The Jets defense were their usual dominant selves against a poor Bengals team and young quarterback Andy Dalton really struggled.

But the story of the night was all about Plaxico Burress and his return to the field after 2 years in prison.

Here are a few things observations from last night’s game:

1. Plaxico Burress can still play football.

Plax seemed to get more comfortable as the evening went on, ending the half with a 26-yard touchdown pass that capped off  a 10-play, 99-yard drive.

While this was only one preseason football game (against the Bengals, no less) his play last night is proof that despite his time away from the game and his age, he will absolutely still provide the Jets with what they need.  He has the size that Holmes does not and he is a deep Red Zone threat. And we all know the Jets need to improve in the Red Zone.

2. The passing game dominated.  Santonio Holmes had a strong showing with a touchdown while Dustin Keller lead the team in receiving yards (73).  (Side note: is it just me or did Dustin Keller get a little bigger this off-season?)  Rookie Jeff Cumberland also had a great night and made the most of his 2 receptions.

Jeremy Kerley played in place of Derrick Mason in 3 receiver sets, something I suspect we will see a lot this year. Kerley only had one reception but he is being used primarily on special teams. Once Mason is healthy and in the slot, not only will be contribute but he will also help Holmes and Burress be more effective.

Patrick Tuner dropped another pass in the endzone last night. That can’t mean good things.

3. Mark Sanchez is really starting to grow and mature as a quarterback.

He definitely forced a few throws to Burress but overall you can see that he is more patient and careful and is much more efficient as a result.

Sanchez was 12 for 20 with 173 yards and 2 touchdowns.

4. The run game still has a ways to go. Perhaps it was the rain but without Shonn Greene, the run game was not exactly the “ground and pound” that we have been prepared for.  In fact, the running game was barely effective.  We could easily pin the inefficiency on the obvious emphasis of the passing game, but one cannot overlook the fact that LT simply could not pound it out. Greene’s presence should help but it remains to be seen just how much.  At night’s end, LT/McKnight and Powell combined for only 74 yards.

All of that being said, Joe McKnight did step up.  He averaged  5.1 yrds a carry for a total of 36 yards a touchdown and may have kept Powell from stealing the #3 spot.  We still have a few more games left to see what he’s got but McKnight just made it a lot more interesting.

As a side note, running back Chris Jennings, who was the most effective runner last night with 81 total yards, is somewhat of a mystery to me. I do not know where he fits into a already very crowded backfield. I just wanted to mention him because he played very well last night.

5. Aaron Maybin recorded one sack and also had a fumble.  You can put conditions of Maybin’s play all you want but he performed in exactly the way the Jets had hoped.

6. The Jets secondary continues to dominate.  They had 2 interceptions last night and hope to be a regular threat to score this year.

Also, Jim Leonard appears to be 100% and is already contributing. He accounted for one of the interceptions last night.  Eric Smith accounted for another interception and also played well.

7. Andy Dalton facing this defense simply wasn’t fair: In addition to the fantastic play of the secondary, the defense as a whole performed very well, forcing a ton of three and outs and several turnovers. Notable performances include Brashton Satele (with the third interception and a near pick 6), Josh Mauga and Ripati Pitoitua.  I’m still very excited about Kenrick Ellis. He had another nice game.

8. The offensive line is still a mess.  All of the Jets struggles last night revolved around the offensive line.  While things seemed better with Mangold, there were still a lot of penalties and the running game was somewhat hindered by poor protection. Vlad Ducasse had two false start penalties but did show some improvement in his play.

7. The team has to improve their efficiency on 3rd downs.

8. Greg McElroy has the highest passer rating of ALL of the quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft.  Yep. (Per ESPN)

9. No major injuries were reported after Sunday’s game.

This recap was written for my New York Jets blog, The Green Room, for Aerys Sports, the only online sports network run entirely by women.  You can read more from the The Greem Room here.

Rookie Jeff Cumberland lead the team in receiving yards Monday Night.

Jets Preseason Preview: Bengals @ Jets

Rookie Jeff Cumberland lead the team in receiving yards Monday Night.

I have the Bengals as one of my picks for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes this year. Anyone disagree?  I didn’t think so.

That being said, let’s all gather together and repeat the phrase, “Preseason Games Do Not Matter”.  Anything can happen and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that teams get a chance to see their new guys, test out packages and plays and get a feel for how these things perform is live game situations. Its not really about getting a win, although it is very nice.

Thank you for entertaining my mini-rant.

Rather than give a complete game preview, I am going to highlight the Jets players you should keep your eye on this Sunday and give you a preview of what to expect:

-Due to injuries, you can once again expect to see a lot of Greg McElroy (Please please be careful with Mark Sanchex, Rex).  I really enjoyed watching McElroy in the game vs. Houston and I am looking forward to seeing what he’s got.

-The running game will primarily be LT, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight (Shonn Greene is out).  However, McKnight will likely be limited considering he suffered a concussion less than a week ago.  In other words: It’s going to be all about Bilal Powell.  Powell was great on Monday and this will be a chance for him to possibly earn that #3 spot.

-As signs point to Plaxico Burress making his first apperance as a Jet, after sitting out Monday due to an ankle injury. I know just about everyone will be tuning in to watch that.

Elsewhere, Jeremy Kerley (who has likely already solidified his place on the roster) will join Patrick Turner, Dan De Palma, Scotty McKnight, Courtney Smith and Logan Payne as they all try to earn a permanent spot in the receiving core.  (See injury notes below on Derrick Mason, who is questionable).

-Jeff Cumberland was very impressive on Monday and led the team in receiving yards (77).  According to Jenny Vrentras of The Star-LedgerCumberland has also been practicing double tight end sets with Keller. Perhaps we will see some of these on Sunday?

-All eyes will be on the Offensive Line, who are struggling with depth issues.  I’ll highlight a few guys to check out my eyes will be on the unit in general.  Seven sacks cannot happen again.

  • Matt Kroul is making the switch from defense to offense.  Might want to check him out.  Robby Felix may also play, as he needs experience.
  • To the dismay of many, Vlad Ducasse will be starting at RG.  This is his chance to do something. (Other than what he did last week).

-Perhaps we should focus our positive energy on the defensive side of the ball and check out Josh Mauga and Kenrick Ellis, who both showed incredible promise in Monday’s game.  Mauga will be starting in place of Bart Scott and I hope to see him follow up last week’s performance and impress us even further.  Rookie Muhammed Wilkerson has been constantly talked up by Rex Ryan (and he performed well on Monday) but it was Ellis who really impressed.

-Kyle Wilson looked good last week and Im sure he will get some good time, as Ryan will want to continue to look at him.  S Brodney Pool lead the team in tackles last week and has been performing well in camp.

-If you glance down at the injury report below, you might be inclined to side with my most recent theory that the Jets should just sit as many starters as the can afford to sit in an effort to avoid further injuries. There are several positions where we simply cannot afford to lose any more guys.

As for the Bengals, all eyes will be on rookie Quarterback Andy Dalton.  Personally, I am anxious to see how A.J. Green performs against the Jets secondary, as it will be a big test for him.

The Bengals defense was a hot mess last week and I expect them to try and work on their issues.

I don’t anticipate this being much of a fight as I do not think very highly of the Bengals this year.  This will be an excellent opportunity for the Jets to see what they’ve got out of their younger and less experienced players as the match-ups are good on both sides of the ball.  Just remember: It’s only a preseason game.

Jets: Who is In and Out

  • RB Shonn Greene will be out for Sunday’s Game due to a low-grade skin infection.  LT will be the starting running back.
  • RB Joe McKnight (concussion) will play.
  • QB Mark Brunell is still nursing his finger and now has a calf injury as well. He is considered questionable.
  • G Tevor Canfield (knee) is out for Sunday (and was not present at the Jets facility Friday) and obviously, OL Robert Turner is out as well (broken leg).
  • RG Brandon Moore (hip) is out. Vlad Ducasse will start in his place.
  • DT Marcus Dixon (knee) has been ruled out for Sunday.
  • LB Bart Scott (left leg) is out and Josh Mauga will start in his place.
  • WR Derrick Mason (knee) is considered questionable for Sunday.
  • DT Sione Pouha (left knee) will also be out Sunday and either Martin Tevaseu or  Kenrick Ellis will start in his place.





Rex Grossman, Sipping the Silly Sauce

The Washington Redskins are not in the same division as the New York Jets, but that did not stop me from laughing out loud at quarterback Rex Grossman’s recent comments to Comcast Sports Net.  Grossmans’s statements appeared in an article on and here is the gist of what the dude had to say:

“We’re fine being the sleepers right now,” Grossman said Tuesday in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. “You know, we’re just waiting in the wings, ready to take over the NFC East.  Nobody’s talking about us. That’s right where we want to be. You look at us from top to bottom out here, there’s a bunch of great players. And we don’t need people saying we’re the best right now, but when it’s all said and done, I really feel like this team’s gonna win the East.”

Of course my, and just about everyone else’s immediate reaction was ARE. YOU. SERIOUS?  You know you play for the Redskins, right?

But before I get into all the reasons why this might be the most ridiculous thing I have ever hear, I’ll throw the guy a bone. Just for a second.

There is a little something to be said about a quarterback who is confident enough to think that his team can win it all.  As a coach, that is obviously something you want, right? I would also like to point out the fact that Grossman did lead the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl 5 years ago.  Fine.  Congratulations.  But let’s be serious: It was 5 years ago.

This has got to be one of the most moronic statements in the history of all moronic statements.

So now that I have played “devil’s advocate” let’s examine the facts.

We aren’t really talking specifically about Rex Grossman and whether he is a good or a bad quarterback (we haven’t even discussed whether or not he will be the starting quarterback the entire season).  We are talking about the Washington Redskins, as a whole.

Rex showed up to camp looking a little out of shape..

ESPN recently released their pre-season football rankings. The Redskins landed at #29, predicting they will finish the season with a 6-10 record.  Am I the only one who thinks that is being generous?  Apparently I am not.  I asked around and 100% of people took the under on that 6-10 prediction. In fact, 4-12 seems more reasonable.  Last time I checked, Rex, 4-12 (or 6-10 for that matter) was hardly enough to win anyone a division (even in the NFC “Worst”).

In addition to their absolutely abismal draft (seriously..what was that?), the Redskins had an equally offensive free-agency.  2011 was their chance to really go for it.  Due to the new collective bargaining agreement, the ‘Skins were forced to spend almost $60 million towards the salary cap.  And they have nothing to show for it.  They basically re-signed Santana Moss (who has, let’s be honest, seen better days) and instead of going after some other high profile targets for Grossman (or whoever they plan on using as quarterback) they signed 3 mediocre receivers along with Tim Hightower.  While the running game is just about the only part of the ‘Skins offense I would put any stock into (and that isn’t saying much), it’s not going to single handedly win you an NFC Divisional Title.

Lastly, and this is what I am really wondering: Does Rex Grossman even know what other teams play in his division? He is talking about having a better record than the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants (who don’t look so good themselves) and the Philadelphia Eagles (who, according to one Mr. Vince Young are the NFL’s “Dream Team”).  Good luck.

On top of ALL of this, there is owner Dan Snyder, who is silently campaigning for Worst NFL Owner of the Decade.  He clearly just doesn’t care about winning.  So, Rex, honey, I appreciate the enthusiasm but didn’t your mommy teach you never to make promises you can’t keep?

Although many people dislike fake Twitter accounts, I think this one summed it up best:

@TheFakeESPN: RexGrossman retracts his prediction of Redskins winning NFC East title after media reminds him he plays for the Redskins.

You can only laugh.

RHB Hunter Pence has given the Phillies offense some pop.

MLB Power Rankings: Week 18

RHB Hunter Pence has given the Phillies offense some pop.

My apologies that this has not been updated since the All-Star break.  You may notice my patience has worn slightly thin in this regard, but that is due in part to my opinions becoming increasingly more firm after listening to “experts” talk for the past few weeks like a bunch of broken records.  Without further ado, let’s get this started…

1.Philadelphia Phillies- I don’t feel like I should have to explain this but here are a few reasons why they are still #1:

-Leading up to Sunday’s game, the Phillies were on a 9-game winning streak thanks in part to the addition of RHB Hunter Pence into the line-up. So shut up about their offense, will ya?

-They have the best pitching staff in baseball.  I don’t want any arguments about it. Go to this site and check out a site called xFIP. Stats don’t lie.

-The Phillies just took 3 of 4 from the Giants. You know, the team everyone says they will meet in the playoffs? I’ll try not to express my disgust for this recycled conversation.  I will add that the Phillies didn’t just win the series, they pushed the Giants into a tight race with the Dbacks.

-Not only do the Phillies have the best record in the NL (74-40), but they also have the best record in baseball.  In addition to that, they are NINE games up of the Brewers, who have the next highest number in thh NL at 65.

Any questions?

2. Boston Red Sox- I’ll be honest. It pains me to continue to have to write this but the Red Sox are one game up on the Yankees, therefore I have put them there.

I think CC’s loss on Saturday was really tough. I respect the heck out of CC but the Sox just know how to score runs.  Frankly, the Yankees, by all accounts, should have won last night’s EPIC battle and then this would really be a toss-up but it just didn’t end this way. I look forward to the play-offs and seeing how a longer series between these two teams would shake out. Just try to keep it under 4 hours.  Thanks!

When it comes to these two teams, I defer to standings.  I think they both share the same strengths (offense) and weaknesses (pitching).

3. New York Yankees- I don’t want to have to do this but..I guess I have to. The standings don’t lie. This could very well be reversed next week so please don’t send me any hate mail.

I’m going to say something that might not be popular: Does anyone aside from me think that if Posada was out of the line-up it might just help to make up the difference between these two teams? Someone do some statical research for me and make a little chart comparing the difference in wins between Posada and guy a,b,c or d who should be in the line-up instead.  It could involve WAR among several other stats.  Just saying.

Ps- I still love Mariano Rivera no matter what he does or doesn’t do.

4. Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers are on a hot streak.  Nevermind that part of that streak was against the AAA Houston Astros (no offense to any real Astros fans but I think even they can admit the team is not that great..).  The Brewers have continued to offensively dominate other teams, but it now appears that their pitching is coming around to the mean.  They face the St. Louis Cardinals AGAIN this week a series that has huge playoff implications.  Brewers/Cards series are now the new Yankees/Red Sox. Get into it!

The Brewers are currently 3 games up on the Cardinals.

5. Rangers- The Rangers made some fantastic moves before the trade deadline to stack their bullpen and fortify their already offensively dominant team. While they have cooled a little this week, I still feel that they, more than any other team, have the power to overthrow the AL East in the playoffs.


Who’s up: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs (too late too late).

Who’s down: Pittsburgh Pirates (sigh), Houston Astros (duh), Baltimore Orioles (sorry).

This diagram shows you how a typical 3-4 defense lines up with a nose tackle flanked by 2 defensive ends would look.  Note that the lineman behind them are 4 across.  So there are 3 in front, 4 in the back. Opposite would be true in a 4-3 scheme.

Gridiron Girl’s Guide to Football: Defensive Positions

Now that we are getting into defensive positions things are going to start to get a little more  complicated.

Before we begin, understand that each defensive has a formation and a scheme for stopping the run or the pass.  There is a huge amount of variation in the schemes, and we will dive into that in a later lesson.  I just want to throw out that most NFL defenses are basically either running a 3-4 or a 4-3.  For a really quick reference, consider this:

Three defensive linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs make the 3-4 formation.  Some examples of teams that run the 3-4 are: Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Four defensive linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs make the 4-3 formation.  Some examples of teams that run the 4-3 defense are: Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants.

Alright. Let’s do this.  Refer to my diagrams throughout.

Defensive End- In the simplest of terms, the defensive end is the defender at each end of the defensive line.  Their job is to contain, meaning that no one should get outside of them.

In a running play, their job is to run forward a few steps and make sure that the running back cannot outside of them and into the territory of the safety and cornerback.  They will do this by trying to divert the runner into the middle where all of the lineman and linebackers are going at each other, stopping them with all of the bodies.  But really, they want a sack. A sack is where it’s at.

In a passing play, their job is to get to the quarterback as soon as possible and interrupt the passing play.  They can tackle him (sack), block the pass (swat), cause a fumble or just give the quarterback general accuracy problems.

Defensive ends also need to shed tackles, tackle backs/receivers carrying the ball and defend against screen passes.

Not to confuse you further, but here is where it gets very tricky: 3-4 and 4-3 defensive ends will have slightly different physical types:

As a general rule, Defensive Ends usually need to be fast and agile (as they have to beat players to the ends of the field or run towards to the QB) and are smaller than the defensive tackles, which really isn’t saying much because they are still pretty huge dudes.  But in a 3-4 defense, defensive ends are used primarily to stop the run are therefore bigger than “traditional” defensive ends. More and more defenses are adopting the 3-4 scheme and the prototypical defensive end is getting larger.

Side note: Defensive ends will sit a three or two point stance.  Their fingers will be touching the ground.

Example: Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings; Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears.

Defensive Tackle- Much like the defensive end, defensive tackles will be asked to do several different things depending on the scheme.  For now, let’s start simple in understanding what they do. A defensive tackle usually lines up opposite of the offensive guards at the line of scrimmage. They can be asked to do one of the following:

  1. Holding their position and using their size and strength to stop other players.
  2. Running to a gap between two offensive lineman to disrupt a play.
  3. Disrupt a quarterback (or the pass) in a passing play.
  4. Drop into zoe coverage when called for.

In a 3-4 defensive, there is one DT and he is called the nose tackle.  In a 4-3, there is no nose tackle, there is a right and left tackle. Just keep that in mind when you see certain rosters listing positions.

B.J. Raji is a great example of a 3-4 nose tackle. (Photo c/o Bleacher Report).

  • Nose Tackle (also called a Nose guard)- The nose guard aligns himself opposite the opponents center in what is called the “0- technique” position.  It is rather complicated to explain all of the things that the nose can do at this level, so I will try to break it down by saying they are usually flanked by two men on either side and their promary job is to absorb tackles (and double-teaming opponents) so that other defenders can get to the quarterback or the runner.  Example: Kris Jenkins, New York Jets; B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers.

This diagram shows you how a typical 3-4 defense lines up with a nose tackle flanked by 2 defensive ends would look. Note that the lineman behind them are 4 across. So there are 3 in front, 4 in the back. Opposite would be true in a 4-3 scheme.

Defensive tackles are typically the largest and the strongest of all the defensive positions.  I mean NO offense to any professional football players but some of the “bigger” guys in the NFL typically come to mind when we are talking about this position.  I will put it this way: Some of them are up around 400 pounds.

Examples of Defensive Tackles: Albert Haynesworth (now of the New England Patriots), Cullen Jenkins; Philadelphia Eagles.

Linebacker- Linebackers are defensive players that line up behind the lineman (which is the term that encompasses both the DE and DT).

Lineman are sub-divided into the following types:

  • Middle Linebacker- Middle Linebacker is generally referred to as the quarterback of the defense.  It is fair title as they are the play callers for the defense by reading opposing offenses formations and plays and then calling coverages for the defense accordingly.  In addition to being the play caller, the middle linebacker can tackle, blitz, drop back in coverage or spy the QB (which basically means he is following the quarterback around the field).  (If you don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry. You soon will!) Ex. Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens.
  • Outside linebackers- Outside linebackers will contain everything on the “outside” and try to direct it towards the middle where there are more men and a greater chance of stopping the play.

-Strongside Linebacker (one type of Outside Linebacker)-  The strongside LB will line-up against the stronger side of the opposing offense, which is usually across from the tight end.  He is also usually the strongest of all the linebackers so the name fits but he also needs to be quick.

This diagram of a 4-3 defense shows you how the lineman set up against the opposing offense. It will hopefully visually explain the strong/weakside linebacker placement. The strongside linebacker is up against the tight end in this defense scheme. Note that because it is a 4-3 defense, there are two defensive tackles, as opposed to a nose tackle.

-Weakside Linebacker (another type of Outside Linebacker)- The weakside linebacker needs be the quickest of all the linebackers because he is darting around. He is called the weakside because he is not covering the strong side of the offense.  So that name fits, too!  The weakside is generally involved in stopping the pass more than the run.

  • Not to confuse you further but some formations will not use a strong or weak side linebacker, they will just designate a lineman to play to to the right or left/ inside or outside.  See the diagram.

Side note: Linebackers will get into a two point stance which is an upright position. Look for that.

Examples of linebackers: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers; James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers; Bart Scott, New York Jets.

The next 2 defensive positions are considered the “secondary”. The secondary is primarily used to defend the pass, which is why they are further back towards the end zone.

Cornerback- Cornerbacks are responsible for covering wide receivers.  They will either try to swat away the ball, tackle the receiver or intercept the pass. If the offense is using a running play, they will try to contain the runner to the middle of the field.  There are all sorts of coverages that a quarterback will be asked to run but we will touch more on that later.

Cornerbacks have to be very fast and agile. They are some of the most superior athletes on the field.  To sum it up as quickly as I can, they have to be able to do everything that all of the other defenders do and pretty much everything a receiver can do.  In addition to that, they must be able to read the quarterback and where he is going to throw. That’s a big job. For that reason, the cornerback is one of the higher profile positions on the defense.  You may have heard a lot recently about a guy named Nnamdi Asomugha who was the most sought after free-agent this year.  And it’s easy to see why. Not only is he extremely skilled and important to the defense but the NFL  is increasingly becoming a pass first league, making cornerbacks even MORE valuable.

Nnamdi, along with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, are both referred to as “shutdown corners”.  The earned this title because they shut down their entire side of the field. Definitely worth the money for an NFL team.

Examples: Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles; Darrelle Revis, New York Jets; Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers.

Safety- Safeties are defensive backs that have similar responsibilities to a corner, only they are on the interior of the field (see above diagram).  They get their name because they are the “last line of defense” against the pass.  They have to be good tacklers to get guys down and prevent them from scoring or nearly scoring.

Safeties are also divided into categories: Strong and free. The duties will vary depending on the scheme. I know what you’re thinking..not again!

-Strong Safety- These guys are stronger and and larger but that is not why they gets this name. Remember that whole strongside linebacker thing? Well it’s back. The strong side lines up with the strong side of the opposing offense (he will line up opposite a tight end).  Strong safeties are responsible for stopping the pass and the run so they are a sort of hybrid position.  Example: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers.

-Free Safety- The Free Safety has to be faster than the strong safety and usually tends to be a little smaller.  The free safety gets his name because, for the most part, he is running “free” to mirror the quarterback (in man coverage).  The free safety is also available for double coverage where it is needed.  These guys have got to know how to read the quarterback and anticipate what is coming as well as adapt to what’s going on very quickly. The quarterback will try to trick them by calling plays that will bring them up closer and give receivers an advantage.  Example: Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens.

Defensive Backs- Corners and Safeties are technically defensive backs but some other schemes will call for a 5th or 6th defensive back.

-Nickelback- When the scheme calls for one more DB it is called a nickel defense. The additional DB is called the nickelback.  The nickelback will take place of a lineman or a linebacker, depending on the defense. Nickels are used against a pass, when the opposing defense is going to run 4+ receiver sets (the Packers do this a lot).  Example: Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers.

-Dimeback- When two extra DBS are needed it is called a dime package.  When they do this, they will bring in the nickel to replace a lineman/linebacker and then they will bring in the dime.  The dimeback is usually the 3rd corner on the roster. They would replace a linebacker to defend against the pass.


I know this was a lot of information to cover and it was probably a bit confusing. So how about this? You can post questions below and I can answer them so that all of the readers can learn.  I will be getting more into defensive schemes next week so you can better understand all of this.  Enjoy!


Mike Brown. Disappointing Bengald Fans since 1991.

WTF were they thinking? NFL Edition

Wow. What a week in the NFL.  A lot of stuff happened. And you know what that means? A lot of opinions. Here is my take on a few of the crazier moves.

The Seattle Seahawks- Oh. boy.

As you now know, the Seattle Seahawks have parted ways with Matt Hasselbeck in favor of a Tarvaris Jackson/Charlie Whitehurst combo (Word was that they would try to nab Matt Leinert as the 3rd QB but the latest news has Leinert remaining in Houston). Whitehurst was the back-up guy last year and started a few games to meh results and Tarvaris Jackson is coming from Minnesota where he played back-up to Brett Favre (and not very well).  I have heard many rumors that Peter Carroll inquired about Carson Palmer but we all know how that went (more on that later).

The Seahawks have also spent a good chunk of change acquiring Sidney Rice from the Vikings, signing him to a 5 year deal worth $41 million.  I’m not exactly sure what they are doing right now.  Sidney is absolutely a talented receiver and he left Minnesota for the pay check. But careful what you wish you, Sidney.  You now have your money but at what “cost”?  It’s unfortunate that he won’t have anyone throwing to him.  Despite any “connection” that Sidney Rice may have to his Vikings teammate Tarvaris Jackson, I can’t imagine it’s going to help the Seahawks sneak in another NFC West title.

Of course, Matt Hasselbeck made out like a bandit in this situation and has agreed to a multiyear deal as the guy in Tennessee (where he will mentor Jake Locker, who could probably use a year or two of development).  I think this is a great move for Tennessee.  Hasselbeck may not be the greatest QB in the NFL but he will play a perfect role here and will help make the Locker transition smooth.

Mike Brown. Disappointing Bengald Fans since 1991.

Mike Brown Announces Carson Palmers Retirement- I think I have heard it all on this subject and I maintain my position that this is absolutely the worst decision of the week.

In case you aren’t up to speed on the situation, let me download you as quickly as possible.  Palmer, earlier this spring, declared that he would like to be traded from the Bengals and if he was not traded, he would retire from the NFL.  In other words, playing in Cincinnati was something he was no longer interested in.  Many people questioned how serious he was about this.  Would he actually rather retire from football than play for the nightmare that is Mike Brown?  He certainly doesn’t need the money as Carson nailed down a big fat contract a few years back.  So, yeah, I believe that the guy doesn’t want to play for this organization THAT badly. (He even put his HOUSE up for sale). And who can blame him? Mike Brown has got to be one of the worst owners in the NFL and the team is always the punch like of jokes.

Here is what Mike Brown had to say about the “retirement” of Carson Palmer”:

“I’m not expecting [Carson Palmer] to be back. Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren’t going to reward him for doing it

Here is my issue with the Mike Brown logic:  He is a hypocrite.

Like almost every other owner in the NFL, Mike Brown has walked out on his own committments many times by cutting players that he had a contracts with.  Just yesterday, he traded Chad Ochocinco to the Patriots for draft picks (I’ll get to that in a second).  (Oh and by the way, Chad asked to be traded back in 2008…see?…hypocrite).  He seemed to have no problem doing this, so how is it that he cannot trade Carson and GET SOMETHING BACK for the good of the team? This guy is an idiot and you know what? Carson Palmer just proved it (not that we needed to be convinced).  How do you let him go without even trying to get a valuable piece for your team? How can you be that big of a dummy?

To those of you who think that Palmer is acting like a big baby, consider this: This is not a new development.  Palmer made this decision 6 months ago and he relayed his wishes to the organization at an appropriate time for them to do something valuable with the information, including drafting another quarterback (since, you know, there was a lockout and stuff..).  The Bengals then drafted Andy Dalton and from the looks of that move, I would say that they were prepared to let him go.  So why not trade him to Seattle or Arizona and get something BACK?  Everyone knows that these contracts aren’t iron clad. That is why they add things like guaranteed money into them. Because that is the only part that is guaranteed.

This is not about morality.  This is about stupidity. Spare me the moral high ground Mike Brown, this is the NFL. It’s a business, not a place to slap someone on the wrist and teach them a lesson. Keep letting the Steeler and the Ravens destroy you every season and enjoy your mediocre franchise.

By the way, I went to school in Cincinnati.  I even followed the team for a few years. It was exhausting and disappointing. I feel bad for Bengals fans.

Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins– When the Saints drafted Mark Ingram, Reggie saw the writing on the wall.  I think we all knew this was coming and it’s probably not all that shocking.  Reggie was offered a 2  year, $9.75 million deal and he will get $5 million in 2011.

But I offer you these two nuggets:

  • According to Mike Lombardi, Bush was assured by the Dolphins that he would be the primary guy.  I am not sure that Reggie can be the guy. It’s just not really what he does.  He is part running back, part wide receiver. But I digress…
  • The Saints have agreed to a deal with San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles, who will play exactly the same role that Reggie did.  When Reggie was moved, I initially thought the Saints let it happen b/c they had Ingram. But the addition of Sproles confuses me? They now have at least 4 running backs (Ingram, Sproles, Thomas AND Ivory) who are going to be playing a role in the offense on a regular basis.  How is this going to work? Sure, Sproles plays the Bush role out of the backfield with some special teams work but I am just scratching my head at this entire situation.

I like Reggie and I hope this works out. It smells a little bit like a move that was made just to be flashy but who can blame them? The Dolphins needed to shake up their offense and this move helps them do just that.

Albert Haynesworth to the New England Patriots- Textbook Belicheck move; taking someone else’s trash and trying to make it into treasure. I suppose if anyone can work with Haynesworth, it’s Bill Belichick.

Two things I like about this move.  One, the Patriots need a pass rusher and it is a need that they did not address in the draft (despite the opportunity). Two, this cost them next to nothing(a 5th round draft pick).  Bill just gave up one of his 8 zillion draft picks that he is storing for god only knows what reason.  This is a hell of a discount on a guy that the Redskins signed to a 7-year $100 million dollar contract not too long ago.

Now for the bad news. The guy was a cancer in Washington.  He had a bad attitude and, on top of that, he was in bad shape.  This we know.  Question is, how will he fit into the Patriots locker room? Will BB be able to smack some sense into him.  I guess it ultimately doesn’t matter that much, because it only cost them a draft pick. Something they have plenty of.

Interesting that Albert pouted his way out of Washington because he supposedly didn’t want to play in a 3-4 defense and he gets moved to a New England where he will again play in a 3-4.  Although Belichicks defense is a hybrid.  They only ran the 3-4 40% of the time last season.

We will see how this shakes out.

Ochocinco to New England Patriots- Now this is a move that really shocked me.  Not necessarily because I think it’s a bad idea-on the contrary, I love it-but because I hadn’t heard boo about it.

Be careful before you lump Chad and Albert in the same group.  They are not the same.  Sure, Chad Ochocinco rides bucking broncos, tries out for soccer leagues and dances with the stars.  The guy is a character. He isn’t a cancer.  He works really hard and he still has something left. And his physical type of receiver is actually what the Patriots are missing.

My dad used to call the Oakland Raiders the land of misfit toys. BB is making a run for that title right now.

By the way, Ochocinco was traded to the Patriots for a 5th round pick in 2012 and a 6th round pick in 2013.  His 3-year contract will be restructured.  May I just take this opportunity to once again point out that Mike Brown is a hypocrite?

Also- looks like Aaron Hernandez gave up #85 for Ochocinco.  He will now be sporting #81.  That’s a good guy, right there.

Greg Olsen Released from Chicago- In a move that no one saw coming, the Chicago Bears traded Tight End Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers for a TBD 2012 draft pick.  In addition to trading Olsen, the Bears acquired former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth.

Alright , I get it. Mike Martz prefers to use tight ends as blockers, not as receivers.  The acquisiton of Spaeth makes that clear.  That being said, I don’t think this is the best move. Olsen was one of the Bears best offensive weapons last year and has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the league.

While we can now see that Bears are looking to add better receivers to their core in 2011, I still find this move puzzling. Look around at  all the teams who have effective offenses with the help of the tight end: Patriots, Packers, Chargers, Cowboys and the Colts to name a few.  Maybe the problem isn’t the player.  MAYBE the problem is the game plan (and Jay Cutler).  Carolina made out BIG time in this trade.  Good for them and good for Olsen.


Vote in the Aerys Sports NFL poll and share your opinion on the most shocking move of the week.

*Stay tuned for a Nnamdi Asogmugha reaction piece this weekend (I’m writing this as the news is coming in).




THis is an example of a play with Wide Receiver sharing the backfield with a Tight End. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Gridiron Girl’s Guide to Football: Offensive Positions

The next step in understanding the game is breaking down the positions on the field.  I will explain each position-offensive and defensive-and provide an example of a “famous” or recognizable player for each position.

Keep in mind that there are 11 players allowed on the field during a play.


Quarterback- In the simplest of terms, the quarterback is the leader of the offense and is responsible for calling every play in the huddle.  Not only does the quarterback call the play but he also makes decisions after the snap.  A quarterback will often call a play or alter a play based on his reading of the opposing defense’s formations.

ex. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts; Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

THis is an example of a play with Wide Receiver sharing the backfield with a Tight End. (Courtesy of Wikipedia). Refer to this diagram when referencing the offensive positions.

Wide Receiver- The Wide Receiver is the primary target for the quarterback in passing plays.  His primary job is to catch passes from the quarterback but they can also run “routes” (a planned path to run on the field as part of a play) to distract defenders from coverage or they can block for the running backs.

Because they are asked to perform multiple duties, wide receivers are generally the fastest, biggest and most athletic players on the field and usually involved in some of the more flashy plays you would see on Sports Center.  Wide Receivers are also referred to as “Wideouts”.

Here is where the term “wide receiver” comes from: The two players who begin the play on either end of the offensive line are eligible receivers (as are any other players in the backfield*, like the tight end or running back. This will vary based on formation..more on that later).  But, because these two receivers begin the play nearest to the sidelines -widest out from the center-they are called “wide receivers”.

Ex. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons; Wes Welker, New England Patriots

Running Back- The main job of the running back is to receive a handoff from the quarterback and carry the ball in a running play. The running back can also catch short passes out of the backfield* and block defenders to help out wide receivers or tight ends who might be running routes.  Much like with the wide receiver position, the running backs are another one of the more high-profile positions in football.

Running backs tend to suffer more injuries and have slightly shorter careers due to the sheer amount of direct hits they are taking. This is obviously something that can be disputed but is more of a general observation.

There are two “types” of running backs”:

Halfback/Tailback- (Runner) It is easiest to the think of halfback/tailback as fitting into the more traditional mold of a running back.  They must have speed, agility and good hands for both hand-offs and catching passes.  Most running backs are large and well-built but slightly more compact than a receiver.  This is what allows them to drive through defenders to gain yardage.  The only difference between a half and a tail back is their position on the field at the snap.

Not to confuse you further, but there are two ways to further classify the tail/half back: Scat backs and power backs.

  • Scat backs are more speed  guys.  They are usually shorter and smaller in bulk.  Their low center of gravity  and agility allow them to dart around defenders.  ex Chris Johnson; Tennessee Titans.  
  • Power backs are bigger and stronger guys who use their size to break tackles.  They are typically not as fast and you wont see them darting and weaving as much.  Ex. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns.

Fullback- (Blocker) Fullbacks are more blocking backs than runners.  Their main purpose is to block defenders from reaching the running back/receiver.  There are some occasions where a fullback will carry the ball in a short down situations (as you recall from the last post, a short down situation means they only have a few yards to go before they get a first down).  Fullbacks are rarely used as ball carriers in the NFL.  For those of you that watched Friday Night Lights, Tim Riggins was a fullback.  I am sure you can imagine, simply by looking at the size of the actor, the big main differences between a fullback and a running back (Size, Bulk). Fullbacks resemble an offensive lineman in stature.  Ex. John Kuhn, Green Bay Packers; Heath Evans, New Orleans Saints.

Some more examples of running backs include: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings; Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints; Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons.

Tight End- Very simply, the tight end is a combination of a wide receiver and an offensive lineman.  Their role will vary on the play calling and also on their physical attributes (Tight Ends are usually larger and slower than a wide receiver).  Tight End is a very important position not only because they have many different functions but because they  add more complexity to the play calling and another person the defense has to worry about.

There can be anywhere between 0-3 tight ends in a formation.

As I mentioned, the role of the tight end will vary by play, down, player, coach and team.  Please bear with me while I try to explain..

-Some coaches will use a tight end as a sixth offensive lineman, which basically means they block (we will get to lineman very soon).  An example of a tight end who is used as a blocker almost 100% of the time is Alge Crumpler of the New England Patriots.  Some tight ends are better run blockers, some are better blocking the passing game.  The coach will substitute players for blocking situations as needed.

-Other times, a coach will use the tight end as another wide receiver.  A coach might do this to confuse opposing defenses (with so many people running routes) or to create mismatches in coverage (because tight ends are typically bigger).  NFL offenses are becoming more and more complex and so the use of a tight end as an as a receiver is becoming more widely used.  Ex of receiving tight ends are Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys; Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers; Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers.

-Some NFL offenses will even run what is called “two tight end sets” which means that two tight ends are on the field being used as wide receiver.  Forgive the abundant Patriots references, but Bill Belichick makes excellent use of the “two tight end set” with Rob Gronkowsi and Aaron Hernandez.  Belicheck constantly confuses defenses with his use of the tight end.

Center- The center hikes the ball to the quarterback at the “snap” (or “hikes” the ball between his legs) and also performs the functions of an offensive lineman (blocking).  The name “center” is given for an obvious reason.  If you look at the wide receiver diagram above, you can see that he is the middle or center of the line.

The center is a very important position because not only does he give the quarterback the ball, but he will also assess the defensive line, the type of coverages they have set up and the gaps (more of this later if you have no idea what any of that means).  The center will often call for adjustments to be made at the line of scrimmage (which is why you will see guys moving a round a lot before the snap).  After the ball is snapped, the center then becomes a blocker.

The center will also snap the ball to the punter or kicker.

One side note: You may have heard of something called “shotgun” formation.  Shotgun basically means that instead of the center handing the ball to the quarterback at the snap, he will snap it back several feet (5-7 feet). This is when you get more of  “hike”.

ex. Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers; Nick Mangold, New York Jets

Offensive Guard- The offensive guard is a member of the offensive line.  The Offensive guards line up on either side of the center and just inside of the tackles.  The guards job is to protect the quarterback from the opposing defense (their defensive line or linebackers).  They also help create holes for the backs to run through.  The lineman do this in many ways:

They can “pull” or speed block, meaning they will pull behind the other lineman at the start of the play.  You know what, here is a little video to explain what pulling means:

The other way that guards block defenders and create holes is by using their size.  Most offensive guards are big dudes.  Some even weigh over 300 pounds.

ex. Logan Mankins, New England Patriots 

Offensive Tackle- The offensive tackle is a member of the offensive line.  The offensive tackle will play outside of the guards in the formation.  Their job is primarily to block for running and passing plays.  Interestingly enough, they don’t really do a whole lot of tackling.  The tackling term is left over from the days when lineman played both defense and offense.  Just wanted to clear that up.

On the whole, the tackles will play against the opposing teams defensive ends.  They are usually some of the biggest guys on the field; think 6’4″ and at least 300 pounds.  SOLID.  They also need to have very quick feet (they will also “pull” like the guards, and then some).

A right tackle is the best run blocker and the left tackle is the best pass blocker.  For a right-handed quarterback, the LEFT tackle is assigned to protecting the quarterbacks blindside. Therefore, the left tackle is typically faster and more athletic than the right tackle because he must go against the opponents right defensive end (who is usually their best pass rusher..think Jared Allen, Clay Matthews type guys…monsters!).

Ex. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets; Jake Long, Miami Dolphins.

Kicker- (Placekicker) The kicker is responsible for kicking field goals and extra points. The kicker can also serve as the teams kickoff specialist of punter, but they will rarely do both duties anymore, especially in the NFL.

Ex. David Akers, Philadelphia Eagles.

Punter- The punter does “kick” the ball in the traditional sense, but he is actually kicking it off to the opposing team.  The punter is actually a special teams player who receives the snap and kicks (punts) the ball to the opposing/receiving team when changing possessions.  The punter will try to punt the ball to a place that will give the opposing team less advantage on the field.  We will get into all sorts of ways this is done at a later time.

Ex. Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders.


I hope that this helped you understand more about the offensive positions.  I started with the offense because I feel that these positions are best known and therefore, are the best place to start.  Please let me know of any questions!  If you missed Part One, you can check it out here.



*Backfield-The area of the football field behind the line of scrimmage



MLB Mid Season Report: National League

This took me much longer than I expected.  Apologies.

Young Cole Hamels has as many wins as Roy Halladay

National League


Philadelphia Phillies- The Phillies have the best record in baseball, the National League and lead the National League East by 3 games over Atlanta.

Obviously the pitching rotation is the primary reason for the success of this team: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have all been outstanding. Lee has not be as consistent as Halladay and Hamels but had an unbelievable June.  Vance Worley is filling in nicely for the injured Roy Oswalt, who is expected to be out the majority of the second half.  (I’m not even going to mention Kyle Kendrick).  Joe Blanton has also been a non factor (and the reason we have to watch Kendrick). Hopefully he will return at some point.

The bullpen has certainly been a ride on the closer carousel (I did not coin this phrase).  Brad Lidge has yet to pitch a single inning this season and Jose Contreras (who has supposed to assume the role in place of Lidge) has already had 2 stints on the DL.  Ryan Madson was lights-out, going 15/16 before he was also put on the DL.  And then, from the dust of Madson emerged Antonio Bastardo.  Ole dirty Bastardo.  I am willing to bet that Madson will continue to get the majority of the saves once he returns, but it is nice to see Bastardo rise to the occasion. He will really help in middle relief, especially on those days Kendrick is pitching.

Everyone has complained the Phillies offense that is the real problem.  While they have been inconsistent, here is how I see things: Shane Victorino has been great, Chase Utley gave the team a much-needed kick and Ryan Howard’s 71 RBIS (tied for best in the league despite all of his strikeouts) have delivered in the clutch. Polanco had a great Apri and May but back problems have put him in a slump and Raul Ibanez went from the worst to the NL Player of the week.  Obviously the Phillies could use some more punch and a little more consistency.  I wonder if Ruben Amaro Jr. will acknowledge their need from another bat (although, from the sounds of it, Phillies are more interested in a closer?).  If he does, the Phils could be players in an interesting trade.

Going forward, the Phillies have one of the more difficult schedules of the second half.  I look forward to seeing them maintain their dominance and get back some of their key guys.

Atlanta Braves- I had high expectations for the Braves going into the year, as did many. They got off to a rough start but appear to be getting hot.

The Braves share a weakness with the Phillies in that their team batting average is poor, with several people are hitting in the low .200s.  They also have the 3rd most strikeouts in the NL.  The Braves DO hit for power (4th home HR’s in the NL) and that has won them their fair share of games.

Also like the Phillies, they have an excellent pitching staff that boasts a 3.12 ERA, the best in the NL.  Of course, Jair Jurrgens is a huge part of that success. He now has 12 wins on the year and a sub 2.00 ERA.  Jurrgens has not done it all alone; Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Brandon Beach have also pitched well.  The Braves bullpen have thrown superior relief with set-up many Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel (who has converted 28 saves).

Atlanta also has a 17-16 record versus divisional opponents.  They are 6.6 versus the Phillies this year and will face them one more time in early September.  They will need ti improve their divisional play in the plan to catch up to the Phillies.  Martin Prado returns to the line-up in the second half.  Look for him to make a difference.

New York Mets- I don’t care what anyone says this team has performed above expectations.  Sure, the financial situation for the Mets is still unresolved and those unnecessary and unwarranted quotes from Fred Wilpon did nothing to help the team’e image but I would honestly say that the first half of the season has been a success.  I also think it’s time to stop the Mets jokes and replace them with Astros jokes.

After losing Ike Davis and David Wright (and Chris Young and Johan Santana…among others)  it looked like it was all downhill for the Mets.  Thankfully, the Mets have had a few surprises (to both us and them) up their sleeves.  Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy have really stepped and Dillon Gee has emerged as a young pitcher to watch.

The Mets big story has been all about Jose Reyes who has had a RIDICUlOUS first half -I would argue MVP first half-and is leading this team on incredible run.  He is basically on top of the NL in batting average and runs scored and is on pace for 31 triples, which would rank second most of all-time.  By the way, no one has hit more than 23 triples since 1925. The current triples record was set in 1912 (according to USA Today).

To finish the season, the Mets need to move Angel Pagan from the lead-off spot and Jason Bay needs to show up more consistently behind the plate.  The rotation is actually pretty good , with the exception of Mike Pelfrey, who will hopefully improve in the second half.

Mets fans feared that Reyes will be traded for prospects as the team “rebuilds” itself when all of a sudden the Mets announced they were trading K-Rod to the Brewers for cash and 2 prospects to be named.  I would bet this means the Mets plan to keep Reyes in New York.  I am also willing to bet that this signifies that the Mets realize they are not contenders in 2011.

I hope to see them get all their ducks in a row to make a run in 2012.

Washington Nationals- I would consider the Nationals first half a success.

The Nationals were on a 11/12 winning streak in June when their manager, Jim Riggleman quit (explaining it was due to his contract).  The team is still playing .500 ball without him.  I don’t know much about Davey Johnson who has replaced him, but I do know he not afraid to take risks.

Without a doubt the offense is the biggest problem.  Jayson Werth is being paid a lot of money to do mostly nothing and Ian Desmond is being paid not as much money to do nothing.  Ryan Zimmerman, arguably one of the best 3rd baseman in the NL, was on the DL for most of the 1st half and has yet to really provide a consistent bat.  All of those things aside, the Nationals have hit fairly well, thanks to Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa, among others.  If Zimmerman and Werth can deliver some power, there is no telling where this team could end up.

The rotation has faired surprisingly well, even without ace Stephen Strasberg (who is reporting via Twitter he is feeling better and throwing).  Jordan Zimmerman and Tyler Clippard have both been fantastic. Only question is whether Zimmerman will be shut down early.  The Nats pitching staff has kept this team competitive but has unfortunately not won as many games as they should due to lack of run support.  The bullpen has held its own in saves, however, with Drew Storen converting 23/26 (8th in league).

Bryce Harper was called up to AA recently and there is no doubt this young prospect is going to be a huge star when it comes up to the majors.  I don’t know that the Nationals can be legit contenders for a playoff spot this year, but I am excited by their young players and prospects and what they have made of this season so far.

Florida Marlins-The Marlins were in second place in the NL East in May.  That is no longer the case.  Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez left the team in the middle of their downward spiral and the Marlins replaced Rodriguez with 80 yr. old Jack Mckeon. All of this is a long way of saying things totally sucked for them.  They are now 15 games out.

There are many problems.  First, the hitting. The Marlins are hitting .241 as a team.  Hanley Ramirez (who has been an enigma and a disappointment to Fantasy Baseball owners everywhere), John Buck and Chris Coughlan are all stinking up the joint, although Ramirez looks to be heating up.  Gabby Sanchez and Mike Stanton are trying their best to help out and Logan Morrison has injected some star power (if you aren’t following him on Twitter, you should be; @LoloMarlins).  Hopefully they can warm up the bats and stay in the mix.

Marlins ace Josh Johnson started the season in Cy Young form but was placed on the DL in May and has not returned since.  Word is that he will return in August but I personally would not be surprised if he does not return at all.  Despite the absence of Johnson, the Marlins rotation has pitched fairly well.  Unfortunately the lack of run support has not translated their 3.90 team ERA into many wins.

I see the Marlins making a few trades before the deadline.  Many have named Hanley Ramirez as the chip in any trades.

*Prediction: Call me a homer and see if I care.  The Phillies will win the NL East but it will not be easy.  The Braves will likely represent the NL Wild Card spot.  I could even imagine a Braves/Phillies National League series being a real possibility, fueling an intense rivalry in my household (my husband is a Braves fan).


St. Louis Cardinals- First things first: Tony LaRussa is crazy.  Not saying it’s bad, not saying it’s good; just saying. They are tied for first place, so maybe crazy is the way to go?

This team has taken a lot of hits.  Ace Adam Wainwright went down in spring training to get Tommy John surgery and then Matt Holliday went on the DL.  Albert Pujols even spent some time on the DL with a forearm injury that he freakishly recovered from.  In addition to all of these injuries, the team has been dealing with a question mark at the closer role most of the season.  Somehow, despite all of these issues, the Cardinals are sitting in first place.

Without question Albert Pujols is the backbone of the Cardinals offense.  Interestingly enough, Pujols struggled behind the plate early in the season and others had to rise to the occasion. John Jay and Lance Berkman have stepped up and delivered some power while Matt Holliday has maintained his usual form (when healthy-to be fair, the guy had an appendectomy). Unfortunately Colby Rasmus, the Cards young CF, hasn’t lived up the expectations of many.  I like Rasmus and I have seen him show streaks of brilliance this year (he has had several grand slams already) but trading might help the Cards win their division now (and perhaps Rasmus can help out another team once he grows into the league).

The pitching has been good, not great. Chris Carpenter had been inconsistent but looks to be returning to form as of late.  Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia are both pitching fairly well, keeping opponents from outscoring the Cardinals offense.  The bullpen is the real head scratcher.  Here is a list of guys that have been called up for saves this year: Ryan Franklin, Fernando Salez, Eduardo Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte..I can’t keep it straight.  Good for LaRussa that he has a deep pen but honestly.. make a decision!

Perhaps the Cardinals can get something out of Rasmus in the second half: either in a trade or by lighting a fire under his butt.  The Cardinals have had a fairly “easy” schedule so far so the second half may be more of a struggle.  There is not doubt this team will be scoring a lot of point but will in be enough to keep away the Brewers?

Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers have had up and they’ve had downs.  Tied with the Cards for 1st in the NL Central, the Brewers have great at home and stinky on the road.  The Brewers went on a tear in May but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I would like to remind you that it was an “easy”stretch in their schedule.  They could win the division but they have work to do.

When you’ve got Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks in your line-up, you’re going to win a lot of games.  Fielder is hitting the crap out of the ball-as anyone who watched the Home Run Derby can see-and is on the list of names for NL MVP.  Having power like that in your line-up really helps.  Weeks has been top-notch in the lead-off spot and Braun has offered something offensively in nearly every category (defense has been a little ugly though).  Too bad Casey McGhee is hitting in #5 spot. The rest of this team needs to pitch in at the plate.

The Brewers went all in when they acquired Zach Greinke in the off-season, so it was a tough pill to swallow when he spent the first few weeks of the season with an injury suffered playing pick-up basketball.  Greinke is a high strikeout pitcher and has looked great at times but he also got rocked at Yankee Stadium.  Shaun Marcum has been a little more consistent (a little).  Narveson, Gallardo and Wolf have all had their fair share of rough starts (and decent ones) so everyone needs to get themselves figured out.  As far as the bullpen goes, thankfully, John Axford has been solid (23 saves).  Axford’s excellent relief makes the K-Rod trade with the Mets a head scratcher.  The Brewers are saying K-Rod will mostly see time in middle relief but it will be interesting to see how the situation shakes out.

In conclusion, the Brewers need to play consistent baseball to contend for the AL Central title.

Pittsburgh Pirates- Thinking about the Pirates being .500 team for the first time in over a decade makes me happy.  They could potentially break an 18 year streak of consecutive losing seasons.  (As I write this-Friday evening-the Pirates just moved into FIRST PLACE in the NL Central.  Who knows if this will still be the case when you read this).

3rd baseman Andrew McCutchen was finally named to the All-Star team last Sunday, and I cannot think of a more deserving guy. McCutchen has been the Pirates offensive MVP so far and is without question the new face of the franchise.  Then you have got this Alex Presley kid who came out of nowhere and is definitely someone to watch in the second half.

Kevin Correria, Charlie Morton, Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens are without a doubt the biggest reason the Bucs are where they are right now.  The starting rotation is also the most improved aspect of the team. Coincidence? I think not.  Add to that the fact that the entire Bucs bullpen has a 3.17 ERA. Not too bad.

It’s been a great run so far and I have enjoyed seeing them have one of their best seasons in YEARS, but I do not think they are equipped to make a playoff run this year.  I would love to see them continue to play great baseball and beat a few more good teams (like they did with the Red Sox series)

Word is that the Pirates are shopping around for a veteran outfielder who can provide a leadership presence.

Cincinnati Reds- Sort of like my friends the Chicago White Sox (See AL Mid Season Review), the Cincinnati Reds have also been disappointing.

Statistically speaking, this team should be better. They are leading the NL in runs scored.  While this is true, their inconsistency behind the plate is costing them games.  Case in point : Drew Stubbs, who is normally someone who delivers across the board, has been striking out far too much.  Jonny Gomes and Scott Rolen have also been streaky (and need to get healthy).  Joey Votto remains the one consistently bright spot on this offense and is currently leading the league in OBP.  Their success in the second half unfortunately, will rest a lot on his shoulders.

The pitching has been as erratic as the hitting. Bronson Arroyo has  history of pitching a strong second half but he has been all over the place so far this year (velocity down, giving up a ton of homers).  Travis Wood, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey have all struggled at some point this season-giving up tons of runs- while Johnny Cueto has really blossomed into the one solid part of the rotation.  Closer Francisco Cordero has been pretty good and the rest of the relievers have also performed well (Aroldis Chapman being the exception-although he has been better since his trip to AAA).  If they can get better performances on the mound  they might have a shot staying in the game.

Chicago Cubs- I don’t have too many nice things to say about the Cubs.  They have the second worst record in baseball.  On the positive side, they are in the same division as the Astros which has mercifully spared them from being in last place in both their division and in baseball.  Oh, goodie.

Not going to spend too much time highlighting all of things that are wrong with the Cubs.  1. The defense is bad.  2. Half the pitching is inconsistent and the other half has been terrible(with an ERA in the high 4s) 3. Basically the whole team has been injured.

If I were a Cubs fan I would start trying to focus on the positives: Starlin Castro (defense aside) and Darwin Barney.  Hopefully these two young player will be around for the next few years and can help this team turn a page.  The Cubs could also be big sellers before the trade deadline and acquire some more young talent and re-build for the future.  Carlos Pena has been one of several Cubs named in potential trades.

Houston Astros- Did you know the Astros have the wors record in the league (30-62)? Something tells me you did.

Do I really have to talk about this team? Here is my take on the Astros? When I look at my fantasy baseball line up and I see that a pitcher is playing the Astros, I start him.  When I see a batter is playing the Astros, I start him.  I take nothing else into consideration.

I have nothing else to say.

*Prediction: If things continue on this path, it’s going to be a tough race.  I don’t know how long Pittsburgh will stick around but for now, they are definitely making things more difficult for the other NL Central teams. I do believe this will ultimately come down to the Cardinals and either the Reds or the Brewers.  For now, I am feeling the Brewers.  They seem to be all in this year and willing to make the trades to win now.  A piece or two there could make all the difference in this race.  Should be noted I am not super confident with this pick.

San Francisco Giants- The reigning World Series Champs haven’t exactly dominated the NL the entire first half of this season, but looks like they have started to regain some of their 2010 form.

The Giants, like so many other teams, have suffered a lot of injuries.  Brian Wilson, Barry Zito, Pablo Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez have all spent time on the DL and let’s not forget the crippling injury to catcher Buster Posey.  They have dealt well with the injuries but the loss of Posey drew more attention to the Giants weakness: Their offense.  Posey was one of the most consistent pieces to the Giants offensive .  The team does not hit well or consistently in general.  Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff are about the only players who add anything reliable at the plate.  Add to this the fact that Brandon Belt has not lived up to expectations and you get a team that plays very low scoring games and relies heavily on its pitching to get them wins.

More to that point, the Giants find themselves in the same boat as so many other NL teams.  It is the pitching that is winning them games.  Tim Lincecum has a pretty subpar season but still remains one of the best pitchers in the game.  The remaining rotation-Bumgarner, Vogelsong (whose career was almost insignificant), Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez-have all held their own. Collectively they have the 4th in the league in ERA, 5th in WHIP and 1st in strikeouts.  Of course the always ridiculous Brian Wilson has racked up his share of saves and continues to be one of the best relievers in the game.

With everything this team has gone through on and off the field they have managed pretty well.  It’s going to take more than good pitching to win get them another World Series but I should be careful to judge; they did it once and they can do it again.

Arizona Diamondbacks- The Dbacks have played well thanks to great starting pitching and some solid offensive production.

Justin Upton, Chris Young and Kelly Johnson have all contributed a lot of power at the plate and driven in a lot of runs.  (Catcher Miguel Montero has also had a surprisingly great season).  While the rest of the line-up is not as productive it is of no matter. The Diamondbacks are 7th in the league in runs scored and 6th in home runs.  The have 5 players with double digits home runs and it’s only halfway through the season. If this continues into the second half, it just might tip the scale in their favor over a team like a San Fran.

Their pitching has also been solid.  Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders have all been very solid and left the game in the hands of a very capable bullpen (that was led by the now injured JJ Putz.  David Hernandez now gets majority of saves).  The Diamondbacks are another team that is supposedly seeking a reliever from a trade.   Many have called for Mike Adams.  A trade of this kind would solidify their bullpen even further and allow them to remain competitive.

I personally think they have a lot of offer across the board and could very well beat the Giants for the top of the division.  As has been the case with so many teams this year, I would love to see Arizona pull ahead of the Giants and give us the unexpected.

Colorado Rockies- The Rockies are another team I would argue went “all in” during the off-season.  Unfortunately, those investments have yet to pay off.

Troy Tulowitzski and Carlos Gonazalez are without a doubt big stars, but their play so far this year really has yet to back that up.  If these two can provide the offense they are being paid to provide, it will make all the difference.  Todd Helton, Ty Wigginton and Mark Ellis have helped out at times but have mostly added streaks of power and average. Overall, the Rockies DO have the potential to be an offensive powerhouse, they just have yet to really met that potential.

The pitching is the larger issue.  Jorge De La Rosa is out for the rest of year (a lot of money was spent on him) and so hope is lost on his arm contributing to the rotation. Ubaldo Jimenez has been all over the place and until recently regained his footing.  Jhoulys Chacin has been equally frustrating.  The relievers are nothing to write home about, and so the Rockies overall pitching staff has become the larger problem.  I would imagine they shop around for a replacement to De La Rosa prior to the deadline.

Los Angeles Dodgers- This team has unfortunately been clouded with so much controversy over the McCourt divorce that is difficult to focus on anything involving actual baseball.  And the, on top of all of that McCourt nonsense, the team has not played well and no one is attending the games.  Bad news all around.

Here a few things on the plus side: Matt Kemp is pretty awesome.  He is among the top 3 in the NL in home runs, RBIs slugging and stolen bases.  PitchersClayton Kershaw also has people interested. Kershaw leads the NL in strikeouts and is tied for shutouts.

The Dodgers added Juan Rivera to the line-up after acquiring him from Toronto.  Rivera has contributed a great deal to the Dodgers offense, who along with Kemp and Andre Ethier keep the sparks going.  I am not all that impressed with Ted Lily’s pitching this year, and I can imagine either are Dodgers fans.

Honestly it is difficult to even learn much about this team outside of the McCourt situation. I don’t get to see much of their games and when I went to research more I literally found nothing but McCourt divorce details. Very sad.

I see the Dodgers surviving this awful mess in one piece but I doubt it will be enough to overcome the rest of the division. I hope for the sake of baseball that McCourt is eventually pushed out as owner and that someone capable – with big pockets – can take over this team and get them where they deserve to be (and can also win back the heart’s off Dodgers fans).

San Diego Padres- After fighting their way well into last fall the Padres have fallen hard in 2010.

Padres rock star closer Heath Bell

The Padres pitching staff- which is performing rather well statistically- is not winning games.  The offense is not helping them AT ALL.  The Padres are in the top 10 in most pitching stats but have nothing to show for it.  Matt Latos (who is arguably one of their best starters) had a shaky first half, most likely because of the high number of innings he put in last year.

Padres closer Heath Bell has 26 saves for the year and is a big name circulating around in trade rumors. Sounds like a lot of teams want a piece of his perfection.  Some of the names include the Phillies and the Diamonbacks.  Mike Adams, who has thrown in middle relief and has also been great, is another potential chip for the Padres to trade away.  It is unlikely that the Padres would trade both Bell and Adams, but either reliever is an excellent addition to any club.

What this team needs is offense. It is nearly non-existent.  Again, so many teams in the National League have great pitching that keeps them ahead of the pack with less than great hitting but the Padres have some of the worst hitting stats in the league.  They are 30th in HRs, 30th in RBIs, 29th in runs, hits and batting average.  They can thank the Astros for not being dead last in nearly every category.

Best hope for the Padres is to sell to teams before the trade deadline and rebuild for next year.

*Prediction: I would love to see the Diamonbacks continue on their great run and win the division. The Diamondbacks did have a rather easy schedule in the first half, so perhaps their play will normalize and San Fran will dominate.  I love an underdog, so I am taking the Dbacks.



The ESPY Awards: The Good, The Bad and Brian Wilson

The ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards were presented Wednesday night in Los Angeles.  The event celebrates athletes, recognizes achievements and reflects on the best of the past 12 months in sports.  The ESPYs were created by ESPN.

This is my second time watching the event.  While I enjoyed the awards, I also noticed a few other things.  This is in no way a serious recap.  If you are looking for one of those, I would like to direct you here or here.  In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite (or least favorite, in some cases) things:

Brian Wilson. Stop. You are hurting my eyes. As if that ridiculous beard wasn’t enough..

You know what would have been truly shocking? If he showed up looking good.

And…a Cougar cane, huh?  He obviously thinks he is Lady Gaga.  (Here are a few more photos).

Brooklyn Decker: SI Supermodel Brooklyn Decker (and wife to tennis star Andy Roddick) was best dressed of the night for me in this number by Jay Ahr. I give her the award because she was effortless from head to toe.  This kind of look suits the event.  Also, she is stunningly gorgeous and very charming.

Michelle Beade.  Looking fierce, Beadle! Runner up.  I love that she went with a knee length dress.  Knee length is a bit more modern than a full length gown and also more appropriate for the event.

Serena Williams: WOW! I guess tennis does a body good.  Check out pics of Serena working it in her dress and sky-high Louboutin glitter heels.

Accesories (On guys!): Lots of them. I like it. Arian Foster and Kemba Walker all represented the bowtie trend while Amare Stoudemire and Cam Newton sported the geek glasses.

3 piece suits were also popular. Blake Griffin and Clay Matthews lead the way on this trend.

Overall Fashion

  • Erin Andrew and Michelle Beadle (who I have alrready mentioned) both wore shorter, knee length dresses. I thought that ladies looked great and fashionable.  As I said before, the knee length dress is more fun, youthful and fresh than a full length gown that will see on so many award shows.  Nice work, ladies (I didn’t love the bow on Erin’s dress..but that’s my only criticism).
  • Hannah Storm looked nice and appropriate for her, although I dont think a necklace was necessary with her sparkly dress. As Coca says, take off one thing before you leave the house….
  • Jenn Brown is beautiful; Gorgeous face and smile but that dress is just not my taste.  A little sparkle is nice but something about the fit was off for me and on camera you mostly see the waist up.  I think she needed one more visit to the tailor.
  • Amare Stoudemire  looked like a total stud.  Come on! Nailed it.
  • Aaron Rodgers: Need a say more? On full awesome display in a sleek black suit.  I prefer him clean shaven but I’m still not complaining.
  • Tim Tebow also looked great and very on trend.  The checkered shirt is everywhere right now.
  • I loved Adrian Pederson’s suit.
  • Justin Beiber should have been dressed a little bit nicer.  This is not the teen choice awards, Beibs. Selena got that memo.
  • Other notable fashion: Kerry Washington (always looking gorge), Lindsey Vonn (loved her dress) and Maria Sharapova.  Tennis ladies rocked in general.

Flowers: Baby’s breath with white roses lined the pre-show desk for Michael Wilbon and Jon Barry.  Baby’s breath went out with the 1990’s.  Don’t ever do this again, ESPN. Ever.

Justin Beiber: Why is he even at the ESPY’s?

Ryan Reynolds can show up anytime he wants, however.

The Dallas Mavericks were the talk of the night and Dirk Nowitzki was the star.  I don’t know how you can’t like Dirk and I was incredibly happy for him.  I definitely thought that the Packers should have won Best Team but the Dallas Mavericks story is a special one.  We are all rooting for this team.

Comedy: While many people cracked jokes about how Seth Myers wasn’t funny I CAN tell you that it was a whole lot funnier than anything on the Oscars!  I personally enjoyed the Blake Griffin/Kevin Love skit but that whole Justin Timberlake/Aaron Rodgers thing was just like every episode of SNL….A big fat #fail. (I don’t blame you, Aaron). 

Other thoughts: 

  • The intros to each category were rather long. Nice display of computer graphics but unnecessarily lengthy.
  • The Arthur Ashe Award Presentation featured a documentary about Dewey Bozella, a man who spent over half of his life in prison for a murder he did not commit. It was unbelievably touching and if you missed the broadcast, I recommend you try to find it online.
  • The 2011 Jimmy V Award was presented to Division I National Wrestling Champion Anthony Robles.  It was another powerful and emotional moment.

Here is a list of last night’s winners (There were many awards given prior to last night’s show):

Best Breakthrough Athlete Blake Griffin (L.A.  Clippers)
Best Championship Performance Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)
Best Upset VCU
Best Male College Athlete Jimmer Fredette
Best Male Athlete Dirk Nowitzki
Best Female Athlete Lyndsay Vonn
Best Game Eagles vs.  Giants
Best Play Abby Wambach (U.S.  Women’s Soccer Team)
Best NBA Player Dirk Nowitzki
Best NFL Player Aaron Rodgers
Best Driver Jimmie Johnson
Best NHL Player Tim Thomas
Best Comeback Player Mark Herzlich
 Best Team Dallas Mavericks

This blog entry was written for The Kitchen Sink on Aerys Sports.  You can view the original article on Aerys

Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers

MLB Mid-Season Report: American League

While the official second half of the season has already begun, the All-Star break seems as good a time as any to take a look at all 30 MLB teams, assess their season so far and think about where they go from here.

Think of it as power rankings meets standings with a dash of commentary.



Adrian Gonzalez. That's all.

Boston Red Sox-  I think it’s safe to say that 0-6 start is a very distant memory.

The Red Sox now own the best record in the AL and also have arguably the best offense in baseball (It also doesn’t hurt that they play the majority of their games at Fenway).  Adrian Gozalez and David Ortiz have just been absolute monsters this year and Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis have rebounded from difficult 2010 seasons.

While the Sox have had their share of injuries-Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Caly Bucholtz (man, that is a lot of pitchers)-they seem to be managing it well.  Their pitching staff obviously needs some more time off and the ASG break should serve them well. They face the Rays to kick of the second half.

New York Yankees- The Yankees have maintained the best run differential in baseball the past month or so and it’s easy to see why.  Well, there’s Curtis Granderson, Mark Texiera, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano (who won the Home Run Derby!!)….just to name a few. It’s kind of ridiculous.  Obviously, this is not their problem.

I have made it very known my concerns about the Yankees pitching staff.  I’m not sure how much longer this Bartolo Colon experiment will go on.  I haven’t actually watched him pitch a game so it’s an actual honest question.  As for Phil Hughes, from what I have heard his first start back was fine but nothing to write home about.  But If Hughes can recover they might be okay. Obviously CC is still CC but he is only one guy.  AJ Burnett is probably not going to win them a pennett anytime soon.

Now there is that little Alex Rodriguez out for 6-8 weeks problem.  Or is a problem? They do seem to be built to survive this kind of loss.  Maybe we won’t even notice.

The Yankees also face a fairly difficult schedule the second half beginning with matchups in Toronto and Tampa Bay.  They have also played significantly fewer road games than other divisional competitors and have several make-ups games that will take away from their off days.

Tampa Bay Rays- The Rays have really hung in there with the Yankees and the Red Sox and I think this organization has done a fantastic job developing a team-especially the pitching staff-through the draft and farm system.  Clearly they do not have the budget that the Red Sox and the Yankees have but they are staying somewhat competitive despite that.

Unfortunately, they have one of the most difficult schedules going forward. They play the Red Sox/Yankees in 26 games the second half of the season.  The Rays have the best defense in the AL and the pitching is fantastic.  Buit James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and David Price can only so much.  Evan Longoria (batting .239) and the rest of the offense has to show up..and soon.

I read on Twitter yesterday (via @DKnobler) that the Rays were one of the teams that asked to be considered for realignment : “Move us. Please.”

I’m all for it.

Toronto Blue Jays- The Blue Jays have actually had one of the most difficult schedules in MLB thus far, mostly because of the sheer number of times they have had to play their AL East opponents.  Without question, their biggest weakness is the bullpen. They have only converted 57.1% of their save opportunities which is reflected in their less than .500 record.

On the plus side, the story this season has been all about Jose Bautista who already has 31 homers for the season.  Bautista is flanked in the lineup by Adam Lind and Eric Thames, which has kept opponents from pitching around him.  The Jays should hold on to this going forward.

My opinion is that the Jays are a re-building team. There are a lot of bright spots on this roster but they are a fairly young team with some exciting prospects looking to come up in next few years.  If the pitching depth can improve, they can absolutely compete.

Baltimore Orioles- Hopes were high for the Orioles heading into the season. I think it’s safe to say that is no longer the case.

I so badly wanted things to be better for this team for the sake of Buck Showalter, but I guess we will have to re-ignite that dream next year.

To add insult to injury, the Orioles announced they have optioned Zach Britton to AA.  This is significant in that Britton was supposed to be this exciting difference-making prospect for the Orioles. He started off hot but has struggled lately.  I also think this is the Orioles way of saying that they recognize they are out the race, and rather than over work the guy, they sent him back to hopefully try again next year.

*Prediction: The Red Sox and Yankees will duke it out till the bitter end while the Rays will try to keep one of them at bay and sneak into the Wild Card race.  Red Sox will take the AL East, simply because they have more depth on the mound.


Detroit Tigers-  Justin Verlander has been amazing. And that is the arguably #1 reason why the Tigers are 1/2 a game over the Indians.  He has allowed 4 earned runs in the last 4 games.  Without that, the Tigers may very well by 3/12 games out..

Okay fine. I can’t honestly say Verlander has single handedly kept them on top.  In addition to Verlander, the Tigers put up points with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and AL All-Star Catcher Alex Avila to name a few.  Although they have been “outscored” by opponents the majority of the time, they do have a legit offense.

On the not so positive side? Ryan Raburn is pretty stinky and the Tigers have a definite lack of pitching depth.  Perhaps the                   Tigers will upgrade that 5th spot in the rotation with an exciting trade? Could serve them well.

Cleveland Indians- At the beginning of the season I had as good as counted this team out.  Surprise Surprise! We are still talking about the Cleveland Indians and I will not hide my excitement.  Are they legit World Series contenders? Probably not? But they are sticking around and I like it.

Biggest problem for the Indians is their offensive inconsistency (team has been shut out several times).  Asdrubal Cabrera has  been on the league’s breakout stars this year but he is prone to steaks.   Grady Sizemore has also been streaky and Shin Shoo Chin won’t be back anytime soon.  Michael Brantley has been a sort-of surprise, and the team will look to him, Cabrera, and other semi unknowns to boost the offense.

To stay in the race, they really need to rely on the first half of their starting rotation (Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco) and Chris Perez in the bullpen. The rest of their staff is fairly iffy and is in need of an upgrade.

They Indians took 2 of 3 from the Yankees this past week and head into the ASG 1/2 game behind Detroit. Anything is possible  in the AL Central.

Chicago White Sox- One word: Disappointing.

Here are some examples of why: Adam Dunn=disappointing. This guy was brought to the team to boost the power and has been pretty much a non-stop Twitter punchline since.  He is hitting .160. Gross. Alex Rios=Disappointing and inconsistent.  Also brought to the team for power and is now sporting a poor .213 BA.  Juan Pierre=Mostly disappointing.  After an early  season slump, his bat has heated up. But the guy has been caught stealing a lot.  He only has 13 steals after he stole 68 bases last year! Come on’re killing my fantasy team.

Gordan Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Paul Konerko and A.J Pierzynski might-if they can stay consistent-keep them competitive offensively.  But I am done with Adam Dunn.

Pitching and defense are the strong point of this team (6-man rotation experiment appears to be working!). They are also second to Tampa Bay in team defense.  Sergio Santos has also been a rock-star reliever (18 saves for the season).

While any baseball analysts are predicting the White Sox will improve in the 2nd 1/2; I’m not so sure. Only silver lining for the White Sox is that this whole division is up for grabs.

Minnesota Twins- It did not start well and for a while there it was looking really bad.  They have picked themselves up the past month and

Here is a short list of the people who have spent time on the DL : Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Joe Nathan, Jim Thome.  That is just the short list.

Mauer is finally back and will see some time at 1st base with Morneau out.  Hopefully his presence will bring back some much-needed power.  Cuddyer has completely carried the offense load up to this point.  I am willing to bet the offense will continue to improve in the  second 1/2.  Hopefully it will be enough.

As for their other problems? Well, the starting rotation is up-and down (just look at Francisco Liriano) and the bullpen is a big fat mess.  After Joe Nathan was put on the DL, Matt Capps provided a temporary band-aid that now needs to be ripped off.  Apparently, they are not going to go with Glen Perkins and I doubt Nathan will have more than 10 saves for the rest of the year.  Not sure where this leaves them.  The defense has also been pretty pathetic but they seem to be figuring it out.

All signs point to a trade for Michael Cuddyer being traded to another team.  I would like to see them get more than prospects in return.

Kansas City Royals- Things started off so well but then, reality stepped in.  This team is not good.

The Royals pitching staff has a 5.15 ERA for the season.  That’s dreadful.  Their bullpen isn’t bad but they aren’t exactly getting a ton of save opportunities.

They actually have the 3rd best batting average in the AL (.266) and are leading the AL in stolen bases.  They clearly don’t have a problem getting on base, but the overall lack of power has hurt them.

The Royals have an excellent farm system and the baseball lover in me wants to see them rise up in the next few years.  Better luck next year.

*Prediction: The Indians and the Tigers have been in a tight race for weeks now.  I read this today, “Advanced sabermetrics shows that, at this exact pace, the Tigers will finish with 86.282609 wins and 75.717391 losses. They will win the division by 0.88435 games.”  Prediction? Tigers (Justin Verlander tie breaker).  I am giving the edge to the Indians and Detroit in the second half due to their “easy” schedules.


Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers- The Rangers have won the past 7 games in a row, which is a positive trend for a team that has battled its ups and downs.

Josh Hamilton is having a spectacular season offensively and defensively.  Adrian Beltre has been an RBI machine  and Michael Young is 3rd in the league in batting average.  Offense has not really been the issue, although it was not quite as consistent when Hamilton was out on the DL.

In the starting rotation, C.J. Wilson has stepped up nicely since Cliff Lee was traded and Alexi Ogando has emerged as one of the many surprises of 2011.  Ogando has had his inconsistencies but it looks like things are normalizing a bit and his spot  in the rotation is secure.  Neftali Feliz, however, needs to pick up his game and get back into 2010 form (as does the rest of the bullpen).

I definitely think they have a legitimate shot at contending for the AL Title again this year.

Los Angeles Angels- The Angels are 14-3 in their last 17 games (month of June) and are now in the conversation.

The pitching staff has been the bread and butter of this team.  Jared Weaver and Dan Haren have been totally lights-out with the strikeouts, and Weaver was named the AL starting pitcher for the ASG.  Joel Pineiro has also emerged, giving them depth in the rotation as well.  Jordan Walden already has 20 saves for the Angels this year and will replace Mariano Rivera in the ASG.

Once they recovered from the loss of Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo stepped in and the offense started to click.  Even Vernon Wells is showing signs of life!  They will need to keep this up to remain competitive with the Rangers, who have a beastly offense.

The Angels just called up Minor league prospect Mike Trout who is being called one of the most exciting minor league prospects in all of baseball.  Hopefully it will give them an edge in the pennett race.

Seattle Mariners- Mariners have been a bit of a surprise this year.  They are going to have to fight off the Angels and the Rangers if they want to contend for a playoff spot, but I am encouraged by how they have performed thus far.

Obviously, 2010 Cy Young Award winner Feliz Hernandez is an Ace and continues to pitch well.  But it’s Michael Pineda-my pick for the AL Rookie of the Year- who has impressed me the most.  If the Mariners get to a place where they are definitely out of contention they will probably just Pineda down early.  He already has 113 innings; most first year pitchers throw for about 178.  Pineda throws so hard that I have no doubt we wont see him into September.  Either way, I really enjoy watching the guy and I look forward to seeing him develop.  As far as the rest of the staff, Erik Bedard has not been too shabby either.

The Mariners do not have the most potent of lineups but Dustin Ackley has given the offense a little boost (Justin Smoak has also emerged).  Should be interesting to see what he can do in the second half and if the Mariners can acquire any other offensive players to help them win games.

Oakland Athletics- What a rough reason for the A’s.  They are now 12 games back in the AL West and I think it is safe to say that they won’t be playing deep into September.  They are last in the league in home runs, 28th in batting average, 29th in runs scored and 27th in OBP.  Yikes.  Basically, they have a complete lack of offense.  Coco Crisp is their best hitter.  I like Crisp, but c’mon.

This was a team that at the beginning of the season- on paper-appeared to be stellar. Unfortunately the staff has been plagued with injuries (Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden). On the flip side, the remaining pitchers have been solid.  Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill have been solid.  The bullpen has also performed well.  Too bad they can’t put up any points for their pitching staff.

*Prediction: Tough call for me.  My gut says the Rangers will take this division. I really believe in their offense just a little bit more.


Photo c/o SBNation

Derek Jeter Knocks Out 3000

3000 watch has officially ended. And in style.

Derek Jeter homered on his 3,000th hit yesterday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, making him the first Yankee to ever have 3000 career hits (and all of them AS a Yankee).

Jeter also went 5/5 on the day.

Congrats to Derek Jeter.  I have not really been singing the guys praises the past few years mostly because I think he is in decline and is overpaid and overrated.  Sorry, Yankee fans.  Im not afraid to admit, however, that I turned on YES to watch this happen and that I could not be happier for the guy.  He’s a pretty classy dude (minus that whole faking being hit by a pitch thing last year..ick).

23 year old Christian Lopez, sitting in section 236 at Yankee Stadium, caught Jeter’s home run and without hesitation returned the ball to Jeter.  He explained why saying, “Mr. Jeter deserved it. I’m not going to take it away from him. He’s worked so hard for 15 years or so.”  The Yankees rewarded Lopez with 4 front-row Legends seats for the rest of the 2011 season, along with 3 Jeter signed balls and bats and a signed Jeter jersey.  Lopez is a pretty classy guy himself. He could have made a lot of money selling that ball but he did the right thing.

One of my favorite stories of the day was this ooopsie: CNN reporting on Jeter’s milestone…incorrectly.  CNN should probably just stick to politics.

Photo c/o SBNation

If you are a huge Jeter fan you might enjoy this archive from Newsday of ALL of Jeter’s 3,000 hits. You can search for each hit using 8 categories, including by opposing pitcher and stadium.  Pretty cool.

Would you have given the ball back? (Weigh in on Gridiron Girl’s Facebook page).


A Girl's Guide to Football: Part One

Gridiron Girl’s Guide to Football: The Basics

A Girl's Guide to Football: Part One

I am about to state something very obvious:

Football is America’s most popular sport.

If you are a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, niece, girlfriend, wife, etc. etc. etc. then you are probably thinking yeah, thanks! I had noticed.

Here is something else: Guys like football.  Perhaps this is a nuisance to you; You aren’t interested, couldn’t care less, why can’t my friend/husband/fill in the blank spend more time with me and less time sitting at the bar with his friends talking about a bunch of guys in tight pants?  And what is all this fantasy football stuff?

Or how about this: Maybe you just don’t understand the game but wish you did so that you could join the guys every Sunday on the couch?

You are not alone.

There are several categories that females fall into when it comes to football but regardless of how you feel I am willing to bet that the great majority of you want to know more.  And so I would like to invite you to hang in there with me while I try to help you better understand the game that is beloved by so many.

Football start in 8 weeks (Yep..still operating as if the season is happening.  Let’s all do ourselves a favor and not even get into that whole lockout thing…)  Are you ready?  Probably not.  The season starts of September 11th so let’s not waste any time.

I’m going to start at the most basic level and expand on it as we go.  I plan to add videos and video chat components to the Girl’s Guide as the week’s move on, depending on the level of interest and feedback.  So, please feel free to comment below, or comment on the Facebook page or on Twitter with all of your questions.

So let’s begin Part One of an 8-week “Girl’s Guide to Football”.  As always, are welcome.  Not only am I am all-inclusive but I also won’t tell.

The Basics:

– Objective: Football is a 2 team sport with a 11 men on the field (if you have more than 11 players on the field at once you earn a penalty. More on that later..).  Each team has a 53-man roster (the specific make-up on the roster varies with each team). The main objective of the game is to score points in the opposing team’s end zone.

– Teams: The team is divided into three units: Offense, Defense and Special Teams.  (We will break down the specifics of these teams later).

– Field: The football field is 100 yards from goal line to goal line.  There are stripes to indicate every 5 yards and hash marks every yard.  The 50 yard line divides the field in half.  The total length of the field is 120 yards.

Football field. Note the 5 yard dashes and the hash marks for every yard. At each of the field is the end zone.yard. The 50 yard line divides the field in half. The total length of the field is 160 yards.

– Down and Distance: One of the biggest aspects to understanding football involves down and distance. In the simplest of terms, a down is a play.  The play begins when the ball is snapped to the time the whistle blows.

There are 4 “downs” in football.  Teams advance down the field trying to earn a first down, which is a 10 yard gain. If they do not earn enough 1st downs to score (they get to 4th down) they can either attempt to kick the ball or give the ball to the opposing offense (change of possession).

Let’s look at a few plays for an example: A offense begins their possession with a 1st & 10(this is true 100% of the time).  The offense runs the ball 6 yards and is awarded a 2nd down. At the start of the next play, they are at 2nd & 4.  Maybe they throw on this play, 12 yards, earning them a first down.  Now they are back to 1st & 10 on the next snap.

– Points can be scored by:

Throwing a touchdown (6 pts) – Quarterback to Wide Receiver, Tight End, Running Back.

Running a touchdown (6 pts) – Running back or any other offensive player running ball over the goal line. (Defensive players can score a running touchdown as well if they intercept or recover the opponent’s ball).

Kicking an extra point (1 pt) – After a touchdown is scored, the offensive has an opportunity to kick the ball between the goal posts to score an extra point.  This happens the majority of the time.

Two-point conversion (2 pts) – Two point conversions happen when a team chooses to “go for 2” points instead of kick.  In the NFL, the two-point conversion starts at the 2 yard line and the play proceeds as if they were attempting to score a touchdown. They get on attempt to score.  If they do not score, they are awarded no points.  We will get into strategy of “going for it” at a later date.

Kicking a field goal (3 pts) – Teams kick a field goal in several situations on a scoring drive. One, it is 4th down and they are within field goal range.  The goal post is an additional 17 yards past the goal line, so the average NFL kicker will aim to be within the 35 yd range to make an attempt.

Safety (2 pts) – A safety is the only way that the defense can score points.  There are 8 different ways a defense can score a safety, but it usually happens when a defensive player tackles an opponent in their own end zone.

Fair Catch kick – You know what? Let’s not even go there right now.  This basically never happens.

If you add up these numbers in various combinations, you will see why games do not always result in 17-10 or 21-17.  Sometimes, you will get a 9-7.  If you are the gambling type-not saying I am, not saying I’m not-it is important to consider that a game score will not always be made up of touchdowns.

That should give us a good start on the Basics. Next week we will begin learning more about Game Play.  Things will get more lengthy and complex from here on out.  Stay tuned and please feel free to share questions and feedback.

A Girl’s Guide is a new category aimed at educating and inspiring female and casual sports fans.  It will always be about YOU, the reader, and topics/questions/feedback is always welcome.



Commissioner David Stern has a tough labor battle ahead of him

Lockout Woes

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard more than you ever wanted to know about the NFL Lockout, which is now entering day 112.

And now, to add insult to injury, the NBA is locked out, too.

Commissioner David Stern has a tough labor battle ahead of himAnd now, to add insult to injury, the NBA is locked out, too.

I hope you like baseball, because right now that is all you’ve got.

Friday morning, day one of the NBA lockout, I read this little tidbit from USA Today:

Shortly after the lockout went into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, and team affiliated websites began scrubbing players’ images, video involving current players, 2010-11 box scores and any relevant summary of the Dallas Mavericks’ Finals victory against the Miami Heat.  Even the NBA’s touted Stats Cube statistical analysis database has been disabled.

All links to recent game news and video re-direct users to, which is now a depository for labor news and video, minor team news and historical features and information.

As similar as the two situations may appear, they are not.  There are some elements of these labor situations that are similar but on the whole they are fundamentally different.

Here are a few bullet points on the NBA lockout, to help you understand what is going on.

  • Teams cannot negotiate with, communicate with, sign or trade players.  Players are not permitted to enter team facilities and their insurance has been suspended.  Basically, no contact of any kind is permitted between the league and its players.
  • The current collective bargaining agreement did not expire.  Instead, the owners opted out of the former agreement in favor of a new one.  This is an extremely important distinction in that the players ARE NOT going on “strike”  as so many people have stated.  It should also be noted that, as of this moment, the NBA Players Association has NOT decertified, as the NFLPA did, but that does not mean it will not happen.
  • The owners want more money.  (The biggest issue is always money)

Here is the situation:  As it stands, NBA players make well over 50% of  the “basketball related income”, or BRI.  BRI includes tickets, parking and concessions (revenue sharing and expansion is included as well) and is based on gross revenue.  Here is how the BRI comes into play: NBA owners state that when they spend part of that gross to expand the league-on promotions or advertisements-the owners take the hit and the players do not.

The league is reporting a total of $300 million in losses last year and claiming that 22 teams lost money. In this regard, the NBA dispute is much like the NFL labor situation; the owners are claiming that the cost of operations exceed the revenue.  Sound familiar? Then this will too: The NBA players believe that the losses the owners are reporting are not accurate.

But here is the difference between the two leagues when it comes to the finances: The NFL owners are not claiming that the former model didn’t work, they simply just want more money under the current system.  The NBA owners, on the other hand, are claiming that the current model does not work.  They claim this is not only because owners are reporting losses, but also because it’s a big market vs. small market issue (take a look at the last 4 teams to win the NBA Championship: Dallas, Los Angeles (2X) and Boston.  ALL big market teams).

In the simplest of terms we are looking at 2 parts of the “we are losing money as a whole” argument: 1) The smaller and mid-market teams cannot afford to own a team because they are losing too much money and 2) The system does not allow for competitive balance

Which brings us to our next point…

What now?

Owners will push hard for a salary cap, a reduction in length and size of contracts, and league revenue sharing. This means that owners and players will fight over pay cuts, hard caps, BRI percentages and-the toughest point of all -hopeful resolution between the big and small market teams.  This is a really tall order.

Players will obviously fight hard to avoid taking a pay cut and the right to determine where they will play and for how long.  A report from CBSSports (from someone who knows a lot more about the situation than I do) states that the player have already agreed to reduce their BRI from 57 to 54-a pretty big concession-but that it is not enough for the owners.  It’s not going to be easy to get the players to give up what they have got when, in their eyes, the system is working.  Ratings for the 2011 season were at an all-time high.  However, it is hard to sit here and say that the players do not make too much money.  Compared to the NFL, the NBA contracts are ABSURD and the 7 year guarantee deals that currently exist need to be tossed out.

As for the revenue sharing? As it stands right now all NBA teams share the revenue from national TV rights fees but individual teams keep 100% of the local TV rights fees. Under a new agreements, teams like LA, Boston, Miami etc will have to share some of their local TV revenue with smaller market teams like Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.  This might sound familiar, as it the model that currently exists in Major League Baseball.  It is my hope that the NBA adopts a similar model (30% of local revenue is shared by league).

Phew. head hurts.  Basically..we have a lot going on and we have two separate arguments in which both sides are VERY far apart.

Based on most everything I have read and heard, unless the players can back down, games WILL be lost.  As one writer from put it,

“The NBA owners will be worse off if they play games than miss games under the current deal. The NBA owners will lose less money by canceling games than if they play the games. And that’s why the NBA owners are willing to hold out for a longer period of time, why they’re willing to lock out and miss regular-season games. They’re convinced they cannot exist without that fundamental shift.”

Doesn’t sound very promising.

Enjoy the baseball.

Cole Hamels is having a career year

Mid-Season Cy Young Award Candidates

I know it’s only half-way through the season, but in the Year of the Pitcher Part 2, now seems as good a time as any to start talking about early Cy Young Award candidates.

As far as I can tell, the primary stats considered by Cy Young voters are overall record, strikeouts, and ERA (Although Felix Hernandez did make the case for winning the award wins aside, indicating that there is much more to it than we previously thought).  I did a little research and Rob Neyer of ESPN actually came up with a little formula for calculating projected Cy Young winners.  It’s not perfect, but it does help.

Cy Young Points (CYP) = ((5*IP/9)-ER) + (K’s/12) + (SV*2.5) + Shutouts + ((W*6)-(L*2)) + VB.

I have a few picks for each league with the 2011 YTD stats listed as of today, June 29th (Win/Loss, Innings pitched, ERA, WHIP, Strikeouts).  All Stats are from Fangraphs.

Warning: When it comes to comparing a lot of these guys, really intense stats like WAR, CERA, DIPS, K’s/12, FIP and other nerdy abbrevations are going to factor in.  I will try my best to explain them if I feel it’s really necessary.  But let’s be real and make this as simple as possible.  (Here is a quick glossary if you have no idea what any of those things mean.)

American League Candidates

1. James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays (8-4, 121.2 IP, 2.23 ERA, .96 WHIP, 117 SO):

Shields has an 8-4 record with a 2.29 ERA, the third best in the majors.  His WHIP is significantly down from last year’s 1.46. He is also on pace to lead the league in strike outs when he makes his 16th start this week (is now battling Ks against Verlander and Hernandez). While his ERA and WHIP don’t lead the league, his WHIP, IP’s strikeouts and K’s per nine (8.65) are in the top 5 in the AL.

Furthermore, his xFIP, which is  around 2.98, is a case for why to study peripherals when comparing pitchers.  His ground balls, strikeouts and walk rates are all dramatically improved since last year and he is single-handedly winning games for the Rays.I would argue that James Shields is part of the reason that the Rays are in a position to fight for the AL Wild Card in the first place. Without him. the Rays would probably be several more games out of the Red Sox.

2. Josh Beckett, Boson Red Sox (6-3, 98.0 IP, 2.20 ERA, .93 WHIP, 80 SO):

Fact: Beckett had a rough 2010.  But 2011 has been much better.

I included Beckett in the conversation because so many “experts” have.  His numbers are decent, but I tend to think he has been a little lucky and has been helped out by the Sox dominant offense.  I do not think that he should legitimately win the AL Cy Young, however, he is making a strong case  for consideration when you compare his performance this year to last year.

Also, Beckett has not won all that many games and he is moderate in strike-outs. When you compare him to Shields or Verlander in that regard, he doesn’t even come close. Those are all factors that voters will look at.







Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is my early AL Cy Young pick.

3. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers(10-3, 128.20 IP, 2.38 ERA, .84 WHIP, 124 SO):

Verlander has a .84 WHIP, the lowest in baseball. He also leads in strikeouts and innings pitched and is averaging nearly a strikeout an inning and holding opponents to a .178 average for the season.  But wait, there is more: He is also averaging 115 pitches a game and is throwing for speed (according to USA Today, he clocked 100 mph on the gun in Arizona on Saturday-on his 116th pitch).

Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays (second career no-no) and an almost-no hitter against the Indians.

The reason I am the highest on Verlander is that his innings pitched are so much higher than that of the other candidates, and to me means that his statistics are proven and more consistent when you also consider that along with the high innings count (and high pitch count in games) he also has the lowest WHIP.  Hard to argue against that.  (Take a look at the MLB 2011 pitching stats and then argue with me against Verlander).

4. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels (9-4, 123.1 IP, 1.97 ERA, .93 WHIP, 106 SO):

Weaver is the primary candidate to start for the American League in the All-Star game (Verlander is in-eligible due to his scheduled start in Tigers rotation).  Weaver got off to a really hot start but had a more difficult run in May.  He has since stabilized, leaving him with the fantastic stat line he is currently sporting.

A “rough May” might be hard to believe considering he has a sub 2.00 ERA and a .93 WHIP (third best in baseball).  But consider this: Baseball analysts look at sabermetrics to analyze statistics objectively, taking into account situational stats like BaBIP and WAR and FIP. Weavers FIP is 2.46, the lowest in baseball, and that is a difficult factor to overlook.  Weavers WAR also indicates that he is more likely to maintain his statistics over the course of a season than Verlander.

Weaver has the consistency, but loses out slightly in wins and strike-outs. Slightly.

My AL Cy Young pick: Justin Verlander

Side note: Michael Pineda will win the AL ROTY.  If he wasn’t a rookie, I would argue he could be a Cy Young candidate. Hellickson and Britton have both cooled off a bit and have gotten rocked one too many times.  Pineda has had his moments but the 6’7″ physical powerhouse that is Pineda has been part of the reason the Mariners are where they are.  Rumors that the pitching staff will shut the him down early have begun to swirl, but the fact of the matter is that the Mariners are legitimate contenders and will need Pineda to make a playoff run.

National League Candidates

1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies (10-3, 127.1 IP, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 123 SO):

These things we know: Roy Halladay won last year and Roy Halladay is still really good.  In fact, Halladay might even be having a better 2011 than 2010, which is sort of unbelievable.  Question is, is it unlikely he will win again?

Only Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander have more strikeouts that Halladay (and not by much) and Halladay is pretty much tied with Verlander in inning’s pitched, wins and strikeouts.  As Verlander is my pick for the AL, I suppose it would only be fair to hold the NL to the same standards.

Halladay also leads the NL in strikeouts, wins and innings pitched.  Add to that his strangely high BaBIP (batting average on balls in play), which should stabilize, making his ERA and WHIP lower by the end of the season.

2. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies (9-5, 122 IP, 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 119 SO):

After getting off to a bit of a rough start, Lee has been LIGHTS OUT for the past month.  He has pitched 3 complete games with a .21 ERA and has allowed one run in the month of June.  You read that right: a.21 ERA.

Lee started out with several shaking outings and as a result his ERA and whip are slightly inflated.  That could be an issue if you are looking at overall stat lines(but he continues on this pace, he may be untouchable..but let’s face, that’s pretty unlikely). Going forward, Lee’s most impressive offerings are the strikeouts and his ability to go deep in games.  He has the stuff to strike out some of the best hitters in the league and at the end of the day, that is what it takes to win games.  Perhaps he won’t win the Cy Young, but I will tell you this: I wouldn’t want him pitching for the opposing team.

3. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (9-4, 112 IP, 2.49 ERA, .96 WHIP, 108 SO):

Much like Cliff Lee, Hamels got off to a bit of a shaky start. I am specifically speaking on his first start. If you completely eliminated the stats from his first start, he would have something around a 2.o0 ERA, which would be one of the best in the majors. Unfortunately, we cannot take one game out of the equation but what we can do is make it part of the argument.

Cole Hamels is having a career year

He has been hot as of late, going 9-3 and has been pretty much one of the best pitchers in the National League, holding opposing offenses to a .208 batting average while going 9-3-pretty much the exact same numbers as Halladay.  He is also tied with Halladay in the NL for quality starts.  Add to that the fact that Hamels has the best DIPS in the league, a below average BaBIP and a strikeout to walk ratio just behind Doc.

To further comment on his numbers, Hamels actually has a lower FIP (Fielding Independant Pitching) than ERA and, in the games he has lost, I would argue the losses were more on account of a lack of run support than anything else.  I’m being dead serious when I say this.  It’s almost as if he has suffered from a bit of bad luck in this regard.

Hamels is a stike-out pitcher and always has been. But this year he added the cutter and it is making all the difference.  He is also entering the prime of his career, meaning there will be  plenty more Hamels excellence in the next few years.  As it stands, I think that Hamels will continue to dominate and I doubt his BaBIP will stabilize, as he throwing stuff that opposing batters have never seen from him before.

Oh, and one more thing: Hamels might be the best hitter in this bunch.  He actually has a .229 batting average and has an over 50% contact rate. Just thought I would add that in there.

4. Jair Jerrgens (10-3, 95.2 IP, 2.07 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 55 SO):

Jurrgens tops most everyone’s early picks for the NL Cy Young.  I get it.  He has been fantastic.  Jurrgens has as many wins as Roy Halladay with a slightly lower ERA.  He is definitely getting it done. but I have questions about the sustainability of the ERA for the second half of the season and the strikeouts simply do not compare to that of the Philly crew. In fact, when I went to look up the NL strikeout leaders, Jurrgens did not even appear in the top 40 (he was ranked 59th, behind teammates Bechy and Hanson).

Hamels, Jurrgens and Roy Halladay have practically identical stat lines aside from the obvious ERA discrepancy, but if you look at innings pitched, Jerrgens is also behind by several starts.

All these things factored in, the only thing Jurrgens really has is wins and ERA, which is pretty much on point with Halladay (same number of wins, Halladay has a 2.4 ERA and Jurrgens has a 2.07).  So let’s look at little closer to see how else we can measure them against each other by comparing the FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) which is considered to be a better stat in determining actual ERA.  Halladay’s is 2.16 and Jurrgens is 3.23.  I will have to give it to Halladay on this one.

5. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (8-3, 116.2, 2.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 128 SO):

I had to include Kershaw in the conversation, as his strikeout numbers have been phenomenal.  He is currently pitching a career best Ks per nine (10.1).  He is only 23 years old and he is definitely someone to keep your eye on.  Unfortunately, up against the likes of the Phillies pitching staff, the numbers simply are not there.  I had to throw in someone aside from 3 of the Phillies aces, and Kershaw is next in line after Jurrgens.

For the Dodgers, Kershaw and Matt Kemp are two brights stars that will continue to sell tickets and become the face of the franchise.  I look forward to watching.

My NL Cy Young pick: Cole Hamels

Halladay is the easy pick, but I’d like to see it go to his younger teammate this year.  Btw, I asked around and Hamels was the most popular answer.

This is a real website.  I'm serious.

Why MLB Needs to Let Mark Cuban In

This is a real website. I checked.

Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks have been one of 2011’s great sports stories.  Cuban purchased the Mavericks when they were nothing.  When Cuban took over, he completely rearranged the way the franchise did business and has subsequently turned them into one of the most successful franchises in the NBA.

Two years ago, Cuban tried to purchase the Cubs (He also tried to purchase the Texas Rangers but was outbid by Jim Crane).  Bud Selig and MLB did not allow the purchases of the Cubs-even though Cuban made the highest initial bid-and instead allowed an out of touch old fart to pay the bills.  Consequently, the club is still terrible (no offense) and no one goes to the games (attendance is at an all-time low).  There are several reasons why Selig and baseball did not allow the transaction but I am going to be real blunt about this: Those reasons are stupid.

ESPN baseball analyst Jayson Stark recently wrote a column on Selig’s opinion of Cuban:

“Bud does not have any interest in an owner who wants to be The Story. … Also, Bud’s not interested in owners who are going to overtly challenge him publicly.”

So this much is obvious:  Cuban has the cash but he doesn’t have the votes to own a team (he needs 23 of 20).  The reason, in my personal opinion, is that baseball ownership is an ‘old boys’ club.

You see, baseball has a little problem.  On the one side we have the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Phillies (maybe add the Angels and the Cubs to that list).  And on the other side, we have pretty much everyone else.  The Pittsburgh Pirates’ and the Kansas City Royals’ of the world cannot afford to ‘stay competitive’ with these teams and therefore, in my opinion, the quality of the game overall is compromised.

When I said baseball had one little problem, I meant it has two.  The other problem is that they need a little make-over.  I LOVE baseball and I love that it is a little “slow”, that is considered to be a more “intellectual” game and that it is rooted in tradition but it’s 2011 and it’s time to enter the modern era.  Baseball needs to get hip.  At the risk of once again sounding agist, this is never going to happen if all the dudes making all the decisions aren’t hip.  No offense (oh god, I can only imagine the kind of nasty comments I am going to get from this..) but it NEEDS. TO. HAPPEN.  I’m not asking for the sport to change; I am asking for it to evolve.  Like everything else.

(I could go on and on about this but why don’t I save that for another post on another day?)

Where was I?

News broke earlier this week that Cuban was “very interested” in purchasing the Dodgers, “if the deal is right and they’re fixable.” I’m sorry Bud, but you have to suck it up and let him in.  The McCourts have royally messed up a beautiful thing in a relatively big market.  Obviously, Frank’s gotta go.  It’s time for a change and it starts with you, Bud, yes YOU letting it happen.

If Cuban were to purchase the Dodgers-or any other “struggling” baseball team-it could only mean good things.  Cuban would not be afraid to take risks and he is not afraid to the spend money necessary to make improvements to the club and the roster.  He would acquire exciting players and bump up the visibility and overall quality of the franchise.  Sure, maybe he can be a little much at times (and I have heard the Steinbrenner comparisons and frankly, I don’t buy it) but I don’t think anyone in Dallas is complaining about Cuban and although they might be afraid to admit it, I don’t think anyone in the NBA is either.  His ownership has benefitted the entire league.

So yes, I think someone like Mark Cuban should own a baseball team. Yes, I think he would be good for the Dodgers.  I can also see that perhaps he would be even better for a number of other teams and I can see why he might not be exactly right for the Dodgers.

I, for one, wouldnt mind seeing someone like Cuban purchase the Mets.  That might sound insane coming from a Phillies fan, but so what?  Mark Cuban wouldn’t just be good for the Mets, he would be good for baseball and baseball needs it.  At a time when the parody in baseball is at an all-time high (and the NFL and NBA are fighting over billions of dollars and pissing off fans left and right) why not improve the game and the business of baseball for the good of the league?  That is what Mark Cuban would do.

Let him in guys.  Let. him. in.

Do you think that Mark Cuban should make a move to purchase the Dodgers?

The Best Athletes to Follow on Twitter

I started making a list of my favorite athletes to follow on Twitter and I asked my followers to share some of their favorites.  The response I got was unbelievable and I am so excited to share what I found.  This is by no means a FINAL list.  I will definitely be following up in a month with some more not-to-be missed athletes on Twitter.  Please let me know if there is someone you recommend.

Chad OchoCinco @ochocinco : (Wide Receiver, Bengals) When it comes to athletes on Twitter, Ochocinco is king.  Ochocinco’s timeline includes everything but the kitchen sick: daily workout updates, pop culture commentary  and regular engagement with his followers.  He currently has over 2 million Twitter followers, the 6th highest number among athletes, and the highest among NFL athletes.

Logan Morrison @LoMoMarlins : (Left Fielder, Florida Marlins) You may not be that familiar with Morrison as a player, but he is becoming very well-known for his tweets.  In fact, LoMo has had his wrist slapped a few times by Marlins ownership for his Twitter habits.  Logan is becoming a must-follow for his sense of humor and his willingness to completely open himself to his fans.

Shaq @SHAQ : (Retired NBA Star, Rapper, Actor in the smash hit Kazaa) First of all, how do you not love this guy? Shaq totally gets that fans want to see videos and converse.  For an close-up of Shaq’s Twitter style, just read his profile: “VERY QUOTATIOUS, I PERFORM RANDOM ACTS OF SHAQNESS.”

Aaron Rodgers @AaronRodgers12 : (Quaterback, Green Bay Packers) The first athlete I ever followed on Twitter, and one of my favorite players in the league. He is very funny and I enjoy reading his tweets.  Seriously, is there anything this guy DOESN’T do?

Devin and Jason McCourty @McCourtyTwins : (Devin: Cornerback, New England Patriots; Jason: Cornerback, Tennessee Titans) The only twins in the National Football League are two adorable, super nice and super hilarious guys that you need to follow.  They always sign out of their tweets with (J-Mac) or (D-Mac) so that you know which is which.  Funny part is, they are likely sitting right next to each other.  Good times.  Must follow.

Jayson Werth’s Beard @JWerthsBeard : (Right Fielder, Washington Nationals) Okay, so this is not ACTUALLY Jayson Werth. It’s still verrrryy funny. If  you want to follow the real Jayson Werth, don’t bother searching.  He’s not on Twitter as far as I can tell.

Nick Swisher @NickSwisher : Highest number of Twitter followers in MLB, Swisher’s total is near 1.32 million.  It’s easy to see why.  Swisher is known for re-tweeting fans in addition to tweeting about his wife, baseball and life in general.

DJax @DeSeanJackson10 : (Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles) DeSean is know for his west coast speak on Twitter.

PaMacAfee @PatMcAfeeShow : (Punter, Indianapolis Colts) Not only did a ton of my followers mention him, but I have since started following him myself. Very funny guy with a lot of follower engagement.  I have always known who he was but I definitely feel I know him much better thanks to good old Twitter.  I’m not the only one who enjoys following Pat.  ESPN’s new Twindex has him ranked  #5, something I am sure will make him very happy.

Ryan Clark @RealRClark25 : (Free Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers) I have grown to deeply respect Ryan Clark for his play on the field and for the way he conducts himself off the field.  Clark has been very actively involved in the NFL Labor negotiations  and I find him highly intelligent.  Example? Clark tweets in nearly complete sentences.  UNBELIEVABLE!


In other news, Clark made quite a statement about teammate Rashard Mendenhall’s comments, saying, “My first reaction to it really is that social media is ruining the world.”  Clark actually quit twitter during the 2010 season because he disagreed with how people spoke to him. He later re-joined.  Do yourself a favor and follow him.  Then treat him with respect.

Heath Evans @HeathEvans : (Fullback, New Orleans Saints) Heath is well-known for his doing good and he continues to grow his efforts with his incredible twitter following.  Let’s all celebrate someone who uses his celebrity and visibility to make good and spread a positive message.  Heath also has a high follower engagement level and is known for responding to fans.

Hop on twitter and let him know how much for enjoyed seeing him battle Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take.

Brian Wilson @BrianWilson38 : (Relief Pitcher, San Francisco Giants) Brian tweets just about everything.  I’m not going to lie to you; I think this guy is a little strange.  Not in a bad way, but I am more convinced of this fact after following him on Twitter and reading his random stream of consciousness.  Also, who grows a beard like that?

Drew Brees @DrewBrees : (Quarterback, New Orleans Saints) Much like Ryan Clark, Brees has been very intimately involved in the NFL Labor negotiations, and has used his twitter to reach out to NFL fans and inform them about the lcokout.

Rajon Rondo @RajonRondo : (Point Guard, Boston Celtics) #1, I love this guy. #2, Rondo has a huge number of “likes” on Facebook (over 2.2 million “likes”), and his success on the social networking site has now leaked over to Twitter.  His facebook page is like no other athletes.  If you are a huge fan I encourage you to check it out.  As for his twitter, re is known for regularly re-tweeting fans and posting his thoughts.





Quit Throwing The Same Old Players In With The Jets

I am very excited to share my very first column for’s The Jets Blog.  I will be writing a weekly column on the site going forward, so be sure to check it out. Special thanks to Brian Bassett for bringing me on board.

At the conclusion of OTA’s Thursday, Rex Ryan revealed he was pleased with the team’s young up and coming receiving corps. However, GM Mike Tannenbaum could be on the lookout for another wide receiver to add to the group.

For months, reports have indicated that the Jets were planning to sign a veteran free agent wide receiver after the draft, and with Holmes being the most experienced wideout on the team, a veteran presence would certainly be beneficial.

Unfortunately, the timing of Ryan’s statement, along with the reports about the teams search for a veteran wideout, re-set in motion a popular narrative involving once-productive, high-profile players and the New York Jets.

This week’s subjects?

Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

While on one of my regular morning quests for Jets news and nuggets, I stumbled across a Yahoo! Fan article titled, “Should the Jets Sign Terrell Owens?: Fan’s View.” Upon reading, I spit out my coffee on my laptop. (Thankfully, said coffee did not embed itself into my keyboard and fry my hard drive because, in case you weren’t aware, coffee spit-takes are NOT covered under Apple Care).

I know this article is representative of a fan’s view and it is not, in fact, a “report” on the team’s interest, but you and I both know it doesn’t take much for the internet to go on, especially when it involves the Jets and players with a penchant for the spotlight.

When I shared the article with my Twitter followers, I did so in the hope that the rest of the internet would find this suggestion as implausible as I did. I was wrong. In fact, I was shocked and saddened to discover that a number of people thought this might actually be a good idea.

To be fair, Terrell Owens used to be a very good football player albeit with rampant self-sabotaging behavior. But the six-time Pro Bowler is is now 38-years old, recovering from an ACL repair, and hasn’t seen an NFL game for almost two years. While he is reportedly in very good shape in spite of all that, his “lack of effort both on and off the field” lead to his release from an IFL team he had an ownership stake in.

Everyone deserves a second, third or in this case, sixth chance, but the guy has an entire section of his Wikipedia page devoted to controversies and touchdown celebrations for a reason. Is this really the kind of player you want a Jets team we just watched make front page headlines for six months to take a flyer on? Do you really think pairing him opposite Santonio Holmes is going to get us where we want to be?

The answer is no.

Then you have Chad Ochocinco, who was was released from the Patriots just minutes after Ryan’s presser wrapped. It took 46 seconds for both NFL fans and the media to begin suggesting the the Jets take a look at Ocho, and seven minutes for SNY’s Adam Schein to rationalize the chatter by tweeting that the Jets were not interested.

No doubt the “not interested” line is one we have heard from the Jets before, but you have to believe the team knows that Ochocinco is not going to do anything for them, not even share secrets about Bill Belichick’s offense.

While T.O. and Ochocinco’s off-the-field personas greatly differ – I actually think Chad Johnson Ochocinco is a decent guy – I have used these two players as examples of a predictable and frankly lazy conclusion made by many that the Jets are now the land of misfit toys.

I briefly explored this idea earlier in the spring, when just about every free-agent football player of this ilk looking for a new home was linked to the Jets in print. Names like Randy Moss, Brandon Jacobs and Hines Ward were all described as a “perfect fit” for my favorite team, mostly because someone with a lot of Twitter followers had a cute idea.

Truth is, history has in fact shown that the Jets have a certain propensity to make moves that are perhaps more about making headlines and less about improving their actual football team, and for that reason alone, these suggestions are fair. But, the “circus in town” headline is played out thanks to the Tebow trade (and that is the only time I will mention that name today; you’re welcome), and, to borrow a phrase from our head coach, the pulse of the fan base indicates they are ready for a different outlook on their team.

Perhaps they are not the only ones.

I stated in my article at the time – and have continued to try and point out – that if this team really wants to compete with their fellow stadium inhabitants, then they must try and commit to a different manner of doing things, because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

I feel the Jets approach in the draft and free agency this season has represented the beginning of a philosphical shift that they know they needed to make, and that is why you will not see Plaxico Burress back this season, nor will you see T.O. or Ochocinco wearing the Green & White.

Fans banged their heads against the wall in free agency because the team didn’t go out and grab a high-profile player at right tackle, safety, wide receiver or outside linebacker. We shook our heads and thought they were stubbornly refusing to address positions of need. I believe we were wrong.

Instead, the team somewhat re-focused their energy, opting to build a new brand of football emphasizing youth, speed and a refreshed attitude; a solid plan for both the present and more importantly, the future. I think I speak for everyone when I say it is a welcome change.

So instead of a receiving corps loaded with recognizable names, we now have a roster full of young talent with upside, a trend that is growing in popularity in today’s NFL. Santonio Holmes, the veteran, will remain in his role as the number one with this years’s second round draft pick Stephen Hil opposite him on the outside. Young Jeremy Kerley earned his role as the number three receiver last year, so that leaves Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner and Jordan White (and I suppose Scotty McKnight and Eron Riley) to battle for the remaining spots.

While Turner, Schilens and White certainly do not have the body of work that guys like Owens or Ocho have, they do have their health (save for the broken foot), speed and the right attitude, something this team desperately needs. They also can contribute on special teams.

Now, it’s unreasonable for me to except every football fan to be familiar with the Jets depth chart, but just because you’ve never heard of Schilens, Turner, Kerley or Hill does not mean they should not start for this team. Some people had never heard of Victor Cruz before last season and we all know how that turned out.

On the flip side, just because I have heard of Anne Hathaway doesn’t mean she should be Catwoman.


To be clear, I don’t have an issue with adding a veteran receiver for depth. Injuries happen, players don’t progress up to expectations, and things change. Adding an experienced and relatively inexpensive free agent like Roy Williams, Mike Sims-Walker or yes, even Braylon Edwards is wise, and I am in the business of making suggestions to improve this football team.

In fact, Braylon Edwards – who has been linked to the Jets since he was released by the 49ers last season – recently tweeted he has been given the thumbs up to participate in football activities. Provided he is healthy enough to play at the start of the season, adding a player that is already familiar with the team and on the right side of thirty is a much more likely possibility than adding a 38-year old diva or a player better know for his Twitter account than his performance on the field.

will eat a giant piece of crow if by some chance T.O. or Ocho ends up on this team, but I can assure you I will not defend it. Though I have stood by a lot of decisions by this team that I felt were questionable, the time has come for both the team and the narrative to challenge themselves to be better.

As for T.O.’s possible future to the NFL, Owens announced that he had fired his long-time agent Drew Rosenhaus earlier this week, replacing him with Jordan Woy. In a statement, T.O. revealed, “It was important for me to hire someone who believes in my ability to help an NFL team and believes in me as a person.”

Meanwhile, Ochocinco is still represented by Mr. Rosenhaus.

I wish them both the best of luck. I just wish for it well away from my team.

Reggie is clearly #1 on this list.

Tighest Ends : The Best Butts in the NFL

Reality TV star  and general annoyance to society Kristin Cavallari thought she would be really cute and offer  boy toy Jay Cutler a little shout-out before last night’s appearance on Monday Night Football.

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

First of all, Kristin? Please don’t ever do anything like this again. It makes every Bears fan in America very upset.

Second of all, I think even Bears fans would agree that Jay Cutler does NOT have the best butt in football. I watched last night’s Monday Night Football game and you can say what you want about his gun slinging arm or his baby blues (I don’t know, some people are into that sort of thing) but a fine behind he has not.

While I really try to stick to serious football topics (or making fun of serious football topics) this whole Kristin Cav thing got me thinking : Who does have the best butt in the NFL?

I was unable to come to a conclusive decision but I can tell you a lot of people, both male and female, had a lot of opinions on the subject. Thanks to my polling, I came up with a nice list of the best tight ends in football. Pun intended.

Btw, this is in no way a definitive list. It’s more of a celebration.


Reggie Bush :Say what you want about Reggie’s play on the field. Off-the-field not a soul has a complaint.

Reggie is clearly #1 on this list.

Kim K has done a lot of questionable things with her life but breaking up with Reggie was by far the worst. Then again, she was probably angry that his butt was getting more attention that hers. At least from me.

Calvin Johnson : Thank you Acura. Thank you.

Cam Newton :  Thank goodness Cam is a rookie because I will be enjoying his presence in the National Football League for years to come.

Christian Ponder : There is a little bit of an Aerys chick fight going on over who is the rightful fangirl of CP. Apparently he has a girlfriend but that won’t keep us from looking.

Julio Jones : Julio has had my attention since his workout at the combine and not just for his speedy 40.  I would not bet the least bit surprised to see this guy get a ton of endorsements in the next few years. Hopefully all of them require that he wear tight pants.

Steven Jackson, ladies and gentlemen.

Steven Jackson : Just look at the photo. Look at it. No further comment is needed.

Adrian Peterson : We’ve all seen plenty of AP’s backside as he continues to run past defenders and into the end zone. Extra credit for really nice abs and arms (check him out in ESPN’s the Body issue).

Mark Sanchez : As a Jets fan I feel qualified to make this assessment. You can judge me all you want but Mark is a total stud. And besides, two appearances in GQ mag have to count for something.

Clay Matthews : Just google him and you will see what I mean.

Wes Welker : My aforementioned Jets fandom prohibits me from saying too many glowing things about Wes but I do have eyes, people.

Dallas Clark : I can honestly say I hadn’t really investigated Dalls’ tight-end but I’ve heard it’s quite nice.

Vince Wilfork : Glad to see some people have a sense of humor.

Fantasy Football Week 9 : The Official List of Guys You Wish You Hadn’t Drafted

Misery loves company and if this year’s Fantasy Football climate is any indication, there is an awful lot of miserable people.

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer about things but as we are midway through the Fantasy Football season, it seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past, think about what we have learned and how we will draft better next year.

Being in several leagues, I could very easily come up with my own list of Fantasy busts but I don’t only write this column for myself, I write it for all of you. So, I figured what better way to come up with the perfect list of guys we’d rather forget we drafted than to ask the people who drafted the guys they wish they hadn’t drafted? (You’re with me, right?)

I asked all of you on Twitter and you answered: What one player do you most regret drafting this year?

Based on the response, it seems most of you are feeling the way I am feeling as you were all too happy to offer a response. In fact, some of you offered more than one.  Except one guy I have to give major props to, who told me, “Honestly, none. Traded away/dropped most of bad picks before they bottomed out.” Nice work! We are all very jealous of you, friend.

While I will happily allow us all to commiserate over decisions past, you know the rules: Hindsight is 20-20 and if we knew then what we know now then we wouldn’t be in this position.

Also, to all of those who the players who are injured, we wish you happy healing.

So without further ado, here it is…

The Official List of Guys You Wish You Hadn’t Drafted (and make you long for a time machine) :

1. Chris Johnson – I really hope I don’t have to explain to you why this guy is on the top of the list.

The artist formerly known as CJ2K is averaging only 6.7 Fantasy points a week, hardly what you would expect from your first round draft pick. Johnson has only 1 100-yard rushing game and 1 rushing touchdown this season. If that isn’t enough to convince you how poorly he’s performed, consider that CJ managed only 34 rushing yards against a pretty terrible Indianapolis run defense and is dangerously close to losing carries to rookie Javon Ringer.

No one can say for sure what’s up with CJ. Is it the offensive line? Maybe those heavy pockets are weighing him down? Either way, it’s an ugly situation. Just imagine how the Titans feel. They played the game with real money.

Speaking of Twitter polls, I asked my followers who own Chris Johnson what they are doing with CJ : Dropping him, selling him for anything they can get or waiting or him. It was 50/50 split on selling him or waiting it out. Seems a little silly to drop him but I can say that I would love to let him be someone else’s problem.

Btw, If you are into non-fantasy stats, CJ is averaging only 43 yards a game on 2.8 yards per carry.

2. Peyton Hillis – Talk about the Madden Curse.

The Madden Curse Strikes Again.

As bad as Chris Johnson has been, at least he has been on the field. Then again, maybe we’d feel a whole lot better about his numbers if he hadn’t. I’m sorry for the digression; this is the Peyton Hillis section.

Hillis has failed to follow up on his freakish 2010 performance and while most people anticipated a slight digression, this is hardly what we imagined. Hillis has had one solid week on the field: a 94-yard, 2 touchdown game against the aforementioned Indianapolis Colts but has been mostly invisible since. He is averaging only 5.1 fantasy points a week and has been collecting dust on the bench of many while we hold out hope he will get healthy.

It looked like Hillis might finally return to the field again this week until he “significantly re-aggravated” his hamstring in practice today and will now miss several more weeks. Great.

But even when Hillis wasn’t injured, there were several other factors keeping him off the field. A sudden illness made him a Week 3 scratch (although some reported he was advised to sit by his agent in light on contract talks) and then a report was released today that there was a Browns locker room intervention concerning Hillis’ attitude.

Hard to know what to do with him going forward but unfortunately, I think you might be stuck with this one. There is no way anyone in their right mind is trading for this guy.

Was the 2010 Peyton Hillis a mirage or is this truly the Madden Curse at its worst?

3. Matt Ryan – When the Atlanta Falcons went all in on Julio Jones in the draft people got real excited about what this upgrade could mean for their offense. Perhaps we got a little too excited?

Matty “Ice” Ryan has struggled to deliver the kind of conservative, yet reliable fantasy numbers we have seen in years past . He’s averaging only 13.1 Fantasy points a game, an average that is hurt by the fact he has thrown 8 interceptions in as many games (he has near 1-1 TD/INT ratio). He’s 17th overall among Fantasy Quarterbacks, which makes him a borderline sit in most leagues.

As I understand it, the frustration with Ryan is not that he has been terrible, it’s that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. If you took him later in your draft, you might be perfectly fine with how he’s performed.

I offer a more hopeful closing on Matt Ryan in saying I think it will get better. He has some great match-ups coming up (indoors, where he is at his best) and the Atlanta offense seems to have found it’s rhythm. He’s actually an excellent start this week at Indianapolis (wow, Im really sorry that I keep bring up that Indy defense. Please forgive me). Hold tight.

4. Philip Rivers – Rivers hasn’t just been a bad Fantasy quarterback, he hasn’t been much of a real-life quarterback either.

Rivers currently ranks 16th among Fantasy quarterbacks and while he has thrown for over 2000 total yards, his touchdowns are way down and his INT and fumble are way up. The lack of production in the end zone combined with the ugly turnovers are hurting him and hurting us.

Many have speculated over what exactly is wrong with Rivers, who is surrounded by talent and seemingly has no good reason not to be producing. Both the Chargers and Rivers himself have denied that there is an injury but there is no doubt that the quarterbacks accuracy has suffered and for a guy we are so used to seeing drop the ball in the perfect place, we can only hope better days are ahead.

In the meantime, I will continue to start Cam Newton until the 2010 Rivers shows up thankyouverymuch.

5. Roddy White – Unfortunately for Fantasy Football ownersRoddy White goes the way of Matt Ryan.

That Roddy was so fantastic last year makes him such a disappointment this year. Many of us were relying on him for much of the same production and for a good reason: Consistency is king in fantasy and Roddy was the 2010 wide receiver poster child.

To be fair, he actually has been pretty consistent this season, just not in the way we would like. He is averaging 8.4 (60.7 yards/g) Fantasy points a week, mostly because he has just 3 touchdowns for the year (he had 10 total in 2010).

So while he has only had 1 100-yard receiving game despite being targeted 70 (yes, 70!) times, you’ve got to believe that all of those targets will eventually translate to better numbers.

It’s possible that White’s lingering injuries (Knee, thigh) have held him back and now that  he is fully healthy (at least, according to him) and Julio Jones also appears to be recovered, White can hopefully deliver more of what we were expecting.

Guy We Say We Wish We Hadn’t Drafted But What We Really Mean is We Just Need Him Back: Andre Johnson. Please come back to us soon. Please.

Guy We Have to Mention But Feel Guilty Complaining About : Jamaal Charles. This one hurt both of us. Ouch.

Other Guy We Have to Throw in There but Really Needs No Explanation : Peyton Manning. Get well soon, Peyton.

Honorable Mention (Got a few mentions but might not be hurting you that badly) : Nate Kaeding (some people go for kickers early), Austin Collie, Percy Harvin, Mark Ingram, Larry Fitzgerald, Felix Jones.

For your consideration (Guys no one mentioned but I’ve heard complaints about ) : Reggie Wayne, Chad Ochocinco, Desean Jackson