Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Ten Annexes SEC, Ends SEC Speed Tyrany

The Big Ten has ended all talk of SEC domination with the inclusion of the SEC into the new SuperConference, which also include Syracuse, Missouri, Rutgers, and Pitt.  The Huge 27, as it will be called, with have 9 divisions with 3 teams in each.  Each will be named after "something to do" with football.

Rumored names are Schembechler, Tressler, Hayes, Musberger, Meyer, Ro-Tel, and Griffin.  Other ideas will soon be made public.  Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State will be in one division.  They will play a triple round robin to determine who gets positioning in the "Velveeta Chase to Late-November."

Four time Heisman winner Tate Forcier had this to say, "I love the idea, maybe, just maybe I can lift this pathetic team (Michigan) to a win over Ohio State.  I get three chances."

Mark Dantonio, head coach of Michigan State and Neil Diamond impersonator, commented, "We are still Michigan State.  October 14th, November 3rd, November 21st."

Big Ten Commissioner, John "General" Sherman said,"I road into the South and burned down the conference until the only choice left we to rejoin the North, the true champions of football."

The Big Ten season will start in early July, to accommodate all the traveling and intraconference games.  The SuperConference now has ties to at least 4 BCS Bowl Games and 33 out of 35 Bowl games.  Notre Dame has the rest.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ovechkin Falls To The Habs, And Behind Crosby

Golf and Tennis has power rankings, and sometimes wish other sports did too.  That is one of the great things about sports, is debating who is number one.  Last night's game showed us who the best player in hockey really is.

Its painful to admit, but Sidney Crosby is now the best player in hockey.  The way I see it with Ovechkin losing, no one is close right now.  I'm sure I will get a lot of crap from Wings fans, but the facts are I don't like him because he is entitled and whiny, not because of his talent.  You don't hate someone with a passion if they aren't very good.

What Crosby has done is very well publicized.  He was the poster boy after the Lockout and became the youngest captain ever.  He went to the Stanley Cup finals twice, winning last year over the Red Wings in 7 games.  He also won the Gold Medal in the pressure packed Vancouver Olympics beating Goalie/Hockey God/MSU Spartan Ryan Miller.  He is a good leader for his team and kept everyone together after Therrien got fired.  Sure he whines and hes a diver, and that's unfortunate, because he really has a lot of talent.  Maybe when he grows up it'll get better.

Lets look at some stats.  Crosby vs Ovechkin head to head.  Crosby 51 G, 58 A 109 Points.  Ovechkin 50 G, 59 A 109 Points.  Pretty even, but Crosby played 9 more games.  Ovechkin had 70 more shots on goal.  Crosby tied for the Rocket Richard trophy.  Both are up for the Hart.

But Crosby has Evgeni Malkin, of course hes gonna score more?  Not so fast!  Niklas Backstrom was 4th in the NHL in points, Alexander Semin was 13th, Mike Green was 21st.  Crosby's teammates?  Malkin, 19th, nobody else in the Top 50.  Ovechkin has a far better supporting cast.

In the Playoffs you ask?  Head to head, Crosby is 1-0, has a Cup and has been to one more.  In the Olympics, Canada destroyed a talent heavy Russian squad.  This year, in 6 games Crosby leads the way with 14 points (5 G, 9 A) with Ovechkin with 7 games is in 5th with 10 points (5 G, 5 A).  Pittsburgh played the Fifth seed Ottawa, 15th best Defense in the NHL this year.  Montreal was 25th overall and played musical goalies in the series before settling with Halak, who they should have started all along.  In the last two games?  Ovechkin had 1 assist.  The best player in the league has 1 point?  That's ridiculous.

Ovechkin is more fun and hits, but no way is he better than Crosby.  This may be a Marino vs Montana argument.  Marino is probably the better player, but Montana made everyone around him far better and won far more big games and therefore is the better overall player.  Ovechkin has a summer to think about this and try and finally win a Cup.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You're Welcome!

1. Al Davis:  The man resisted the urge to take a workout warrior until later in the draft, and actually made the team a lot better with trades and the upcoming Russel release.  Jason Campbell's big arm will fit better with the vertical passing game than the west coast of the Redskins.  A darkhorse for the playoffs?  Probably not.  Hope in the Black Hole?  Maybe.

2. Every old guy on the Red Wings:  Last night we all saw why experience matters in the Game 7 versus the Coyotes.  Lidstrom had two goals, Bertuzzi added one, and Holmstrom was a beast all night.  Even Draper made a play or two.  Their leadership and grit is why we are going to see Giant Octopus vs Mega Shark next round.

3. San Antonio Spurs:  Continuing my geriatric You're Welcome is the San Antonio Spurs.  They are steamrolling the Mavericks (although Dallas won the last game) with their combination of Tim Duncan's last stand Dallas' hatred of playing basketball in May.  San Antonio has the talent to sneak up on anyone and ruin their playoff lives.  Never count out the Spurs this year, as Denver losing will make thier path a little easier.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Adding Fuel To The Flames

After another pitiful Sunday afternoon performance, the Red Wings looked uninspired and flat.  Especially pathetic was the defense, which is normally a backbone.  Brad Stuart made another bonehead play with the terrible neutral zone turnover which led to a goal.  I saw Rafalski fumble more than one pass in the critical first period power playapalooza. 

Rubbing salt into our own wound was (my boy) Jimmy Howard.  His comment that Phoenix got lucky only adds more incentive to an already hungry team and city.  Phoenix wasn't lucky, they outplayed Detroit and outworked Detroit (Valenti voice) AGAIN!  MAKE PLAYS!

Detroit got two steals from Howard in game 4 and 5.  He played average and out of position the first three games, with Zetterberg and the offense winning a game in Phoenix.  Zetterberg has been solid, but outside of Filppula, nobody else has really impressed me.  Datsyuk has a moment here and there but it does not match his huge potential.  Franzen has been fairly silent.  Bertuzzi has be relegated to being a grinder.  Helm brings the energy and Albdelkader brings the pain.  Draper looks awful, this could be it for him.

I still think Detroit, the better team, will win on Tuesday night.  I don't care that it is on the road.  Detroit has too much experience.  But anything could happen and the Coyotes could outplay Detroit.  I have a strong hunch that the game will be a high scoring New-NHL thriller.  Lets just hope Jimmy can get lucky.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chicago Bears Draft In Review

The Bears lacked a lot of picks in this year's draft due to the Jay Cutler trade.  That's too bad for them because they could use some of the lineman and other prospects that was featured in the draft.  That is why they were so aggressive in free agency this season.  I was surprised that Greg Olsen wasn't moved beforehand.

Third Round, 75th Overall, Major Wright, Florida:  Nice pick, gives the secondary some athleticism and coverage skills.  Played for a winner and a big time program.  Should get playing time right away.  Nice third round pick.  Grade: B

Fourth Round, 109th Overall, Corey Wootton, Northwestern: Local kid, really good pick.  Has a lot of talent but was coming back from an injury all year last year.  He is going to be more like he was his junior year when he was healthy.  Will need some time to recover and strengthen still, but could be a really solid pro.  Grade: B+

Fifth Round, 141st Overall, Joshua Moore, Kansas State: Doesn't have great speed, but could be a solid Cover-2 corner.  Not a great tackler, but could be groomed into a Nickel corner guy.  Lot of people still on the board I don't really like this pick.  Grade: C-

Sixth Round, 181st Overall, Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan University:  Doesn't fit into Martz's system because of his arm strength.  I really thought he was a higher pick, so this is a good find.  Can run the wildcat, if the Bears choose to run it.  Will need some time, but will be a popular backup and solid player. Grade: B

Seventh Round, 218th Overall, J'marcus Webb, West Texas A&M: Total project, but has size.  Good seventh round pick.  The Bears may play him earlier because they need offensive line help.  Not bad at all.  Grade: C+

Like the Lions, the Bears didn't have a lot of picks.  They took some really good value and I love the Wootton pick.  They mostly took depth players who could contribute in a year or two.  Not a bad draft, but not exciting.  Grade: B-

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Detroit Lions Draft In Review

I'll review every draft in the NFC North and a do a write up on the other 28 teams.  I'll start with my pride and joy Detroit Lions.

First Round, 2nd Overall, Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska:  A once in 15 years talent, can rush the passer and disrupt the running game as good as anyone in the league.  Will need time to learn the pro game and gain a little weight like any rookie, but the learning curve for someone so talented should be smaller.  Great character and work ethic.  Improved a lot at college.  Best player in the draft.  Great pick.  Grade: A+

First Round, 30th Overall, Jahvid Best, California: Filthy nasty speed.  4.35 40 yard dash.  Durability is a problem, but work ethic and character are not.  Added a lot of weight in college, might have to do more.  Can split out, run outside the tackles and return kick.  A great compliment to a power back.  Very smart player.  Grade: B

Third Round, 66th Overall, Amari Spievey, CB, Iowa: Big physical corner the current regime loves.  Doesn't have very good speed, and can improve his ball skills, but still a very good pick.  Will get a chance to start, and probably will somewhere in the season.  Fills a need with a nice player. Grade: B

Fourth Round, 128th Overall, Jason Fox, OT, Miami:  Has a ton of upside.  Had minor knee surgery to end his senior season, and is still rehabbing.  Won't miss training camp.  Has to add weight and work on the finer points of playing on the OL.  Can play LT, RT, or OG.  Needs some time and seasoning, but could be a nice starter in the NFL.  Grade: B

Seventh Round, 213th Overall, Willie Young, DE, North Carolina State: Streaky, needs to add weight to play DE.  Nice height, but needs a lot of work, like Fox.  A year or two away from having an impact.  Can be a solid rotational guy until then.  Struggled some in college.  Thought to be a 3-4 OLB.  Solid choice in the 7th round. Grade: C+

Seventh Round, 255th Overall, Tim Toone, WR, Weber State: Mr. Irrelevant.  Really wanted Blair White here, a good possession guy with at least a draft rating.  Brett Swenson would have been nice here too.  All I can find is he is 5'10'', 165 lbs and has 4.5 40 yard dash speed.  He is a play maker for a small school.  From the sound of that, he has a shot at slot receiver/return specialist.  Kiper and McShay had him rated a priority free agent.  Could fill a need, if he makes the team.  Grade: C

The Lions made some really nice picks, but traded away a lot before the draft, which I felt mixed feelings about.  In such a deep draft, it would have been nice to keep some picks, but we got good return on them.  We did move up in the draft, giving up a 7th rounder, and swapping two picks, 30th and 34th and 100th and 128th.  I like the first three picks a lot, and they should all make big contributions early.  Fox has a lot of upside, but needs a lot of work, so does Young.  Toone was a strange pick with some other good options on the board.  Soon we will see the undrafted free agents come in.  Overall, a very good draft. Grade: B+

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 1: Winners And Losers

The obvious winner in all of this is the NFL and ESPN/NFL Network by the draft moving to the current format.  I have more time to enjoy and digest more of the draft than ever before.  Its far superior to the marathon two day by the end of the time I'm exhausted approach.


Seattle Seahawks:  Okung and Thomas were great building block picks.  Pete Carroll didn't disappoint in his first draft.  He didn't reach to get anybody and resisted Spiller.   Way to start a new era.

San Francisco: Building the team you want is huge.  Any offensive line problems should go away soon.  Singletary is building his team.

Tim Tebow:  Can't believe he went so early.  Nice story, but is it smart to draft someone so high that you don't know where he is going to play.  But good for him.

Al Davis:  Made a smart pick with the MLB Rolando McClain.  He has Raider swagger and fills a need.  Everybody was waiting for him to take Spiller or Clausen and Davis made the smart pick.


ESPN:  ESPN was late on cuts and returning to action.  They ruined suspense by showing the players celebrate with their families before Roger Goodell came up to the podium.  The move to prime time was great, and ESPN dropped the ball.  I wish I had NFL Network in my apartment.

Mel Kiper Jr.: is as qualified as you and me.  He has no college degree, was never a scout, player, coach, general manager,  or anything I don't have.  His picks looked awful last night and his players usually sucks.  I really don't like him, I'll be honest.  I agree with him sometimes, but hes still bad.

Denver Broncos:  After trading and moving down for extra picks, they take some of those picks to move up and get.....Tim Tebow?  Right now he is developmental player, possibly Wildcat QB.  Demaryius Thomas was a nice character pick, but is an Option WR and a big question mark.

Jimmy Clausen: He has fallen so far that the money is just gone.  Tebow went first, and McCoy could go before him too.  I still think someone will get a bargain, but he is Aaron Rodgers/Brady Quinn/Chad Henne/Brian Brohm all over again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lion's First Round In Review

I am really happy.  For the second year in a row, I like our first rounders.  I mean, last year, it took forever for me to warm up to it.  But that was because of the new regime, and taking a QB. 

But, Lions fans, for real.  Stop complaining about the Best pick.  I have a feeling I will hear about this for a long time.  No Offensive Lineman was worth reaching up and getting.  Every Cornerback worth a 34th overall pick was gone.  Who we going to take?  Workout warrior Bruce "can he play left tackle" Campbell?  No guards or centers were worth a pick.  Brown from Texas would have been a reach.  Millen would have reached for Campbell.  Millen would have stayed put.  Mayhew got his man, at the price of swapping the 34th for the 30th pick and 100th pick for the 128th pick (and a 7th Rounder).  Great move, for a great player.  If it wasn't for an injury, he would have been picked well before 30.

Also available was Sergio Kindle, but the coaching staff seems to have a lot of faith in what we have now.  He could have been nice tomorrow, but he could have the Ray Malaluga effect where everybody passes on him for (later) obvious reasons.  The Lions won't ever win if they only take lineman whenever they can.  Remember Stockar McDougle?  Aaron Gibson?  Yeah, lets not go down that road.

Stay patient, the Lions are still in best player available mode.  Best adds a lot to the offense.  Smith is not the answer at Running Back.  He is more injury prone that Best.  He is slower (and now has a knee injury) and doesn't offer anything that a usual backup/change of pace guy doesn't.  Lions fans love him because of his toughness and grit, but he looks like Kevin Jones 2.0 to me.  I just hope he can compliment Best now.

Suh is obvious.  Great player, can get pressure inside and create a formidable Defensive line.  He makes the whole team better, plays hard, has high character etc.  He will make the job easier for a pathetic defense.

What to look for on Day 2?  The Lions may move up again, but if not, look for either a DE/CB/OLB/OL in the next two rounds.  They could pick a slot receiver or maybe a safety if they find one they like.

Please digest these picks Lions fans.  Don't automatically complain we don't take lineman every pick.  Look at the big picture.  We had an excellent 1st round.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You're Welcome!

The draft is tomorrow, and there still could be a lot of trades that flip everything around.  Luckily, the draft keeps things interesting during the spring.  The Wings won big last night (playing well in one period) and Howard got his first career shutout. 

1. Philadelphia Flyers:  Shocking, positively shocking.  I can't believe the Flyers are taking it to the Devils like they are.  Up 3-1 and only needing one more win, the Flyers has this almost all locked up.  I thought with the Kovalchuck trade and Broduer playing like a Hall Of Famer this year the Devils would at least make the Eastern Conference finals.  The Flyers resemble their city playing tough defense and scoring more goals than anyone could imagine against Broduer.  I don't think Philly can go much farther than the second round, but this team is playing past its talent level right now.

2. Boston Celtics: Without KG, who is not the player he used to be, the Celtics smoked the Heat last night in an emotional game.  Garnett is the emotional leader, and his Technical near the end of the game got him a one game suspension.  The Celtics are on their last run.  The team's big players are getting older, and they won't be in Boston much longer.  With this their last run, maybe they can be the Magic of last year and upset the Cavs.

3. Phillie's Pitching Staff:  After trading Cliff Lee (the only reason the Phillies had a shot to beat the Yankees last year) for Roy Halladay I was a little suspect of that move.  Halladay has come through to be a killer ace in the NL.  He is mowing down pitches and has a really good shot for 20+ wins.  On top of that Cole Hamels has begun to play like Hamels version 2008.  He has more Ks than innings pitched and a 3.86 ERA.  Those don't sound breathtaking, but for how he was playing in the World Series (being skipped over for starts in the World Series with a 7.20 ERA) this is huge.  What an amazing 1-2 punch for the best team in the National League.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We're All Counting On You

It is frustrating to watch the Wings in the playoffs.  So many talented players are on the team, and somehow, someway our offense doesn't get production.  I know the intensity is turned up all the way to 11, but even still.  We have a Hall Of Fame Defender and still give up 4 goals to the Doan-less Coyotes.  After the fun and offense of Game 2, Game 3 was absolute garbage.

Howard will get the start in net, but needs to be on a short leash.  He gave up a goal too quickly Game 3, and was out of position consistently.  He looked like the future in the regular season, now he is looking like Manny Legace.  He wasn't helped by the defense with two awful neutral zone turnovers and sloppy puck carrying.  The game was sloppy non Red Wing hockey.  It was there, but only in flashes.  I went away from the game with a bad taste in my mouth.

I believe this is Lidstrom's and Draper's final go at a Cup.  Lidstrom isn't playing at an elite level anymore, and next year he could be a shell of his former self.  Draper just looks old and his skills have eroded.  He can be replaced nicely with Helm.  Luckily, Detroit opted for Abdelkader over Jason Williams (who I won't ever understand why we resigned him) and instantly paid off.

Without their best player, the Coyotes are more vulnerable.  But they have a lot more veteran depth than you think and a Vezina finalist in net.  The Wings need to possess the puck more and get more good shots.  Those shots they take from the side of the net aren't working.  Bryzgalov gives up some big rebounds and the Wings need more people floating around the circles in front of the net.  The Coyotes are being more physical, and the Wings need to knock that off.  They aren't a gritty team, but somebody hit somebody.  If the Wings don't win tonight, then we can start panicking.  But right now we need to keep our championship composure and take Game 4.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lions Trade Shows Nothing But Bad Signs

In my 200th blog, I look at the most recent (this morningish) trade for the Lions, and how not happy I am with it.

The Official Trade so far is:

Philadelphia Receives: LB Ernie Sims

Denver Receives: 5th Round Pick from Philly

Detroit Receives: TE Tony Scheffler, 7th Round Pick from Denver

Not bad on the surface, and Scheffler is a WMU Bronco.  He is being traded because Josh McDaniels hates tight ends and won't use them in his system.  Scheffler is still young and a good receiving tight end.  The Lions now have 4 picks in the 7th Round of the NFL Draft.  Some will probably be packaged to move up come Saturday.

What does this trade really tell us?  It says the Lions don't believe Pettigrew isn't getting healthy enough and will miss time this season, which resembles Kevin Smith's knee injury.  Some of this has to be because Casey Fitzsimmons sudden retirement due to concussions.  Pettigrew was pretty disappointing until later in the season.  I really don't know what to think of him right now.  Scheffler is a good player, but he fills a need I thought we took care of.  We don't need more holes than right now.

It shows even more about our defense.  Sure, Ernie Sims doesn't fit the Lion's system but thats no excuse when you have consecutive last place squads.  He is usually hurt but does bring something to the table.  All Mayhew said was having a hole at LB is better than not having one at TE.  Outside of Levy, I don't feel confident in anybody else (Dizon, Follett, Campbell, Peterson) and even Levy doesn't where he'll start.  What once was a strength is now even worse.  After Suh/McCoy with the second overall pick, I hoped the Lions would upgrade their sorry secondary outside of the trades they have already made.  But Linebacker is just as big of need now.  I just don't like this move, because at the very least, Sims could be a stopgap until we got some more pieces.  If the defense doesn't get any better, the Lions won't ever sniff the playoffs.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weston Corbitt's Big Board

First, a little while ago, I entered a writing contest on the excellent sports blog The Lions In Winter which covers the Lions exceptionally.  I didn't win, but you can find the post here and read about my proudest moment of being a Lions fan.  The writer, Ty, is an awesome guy who was nice enough to link STWWC during the post.  Check out my article and the blog, you won't regret it.

I love the draft, but I don't want to bore you with another mock draft.  Look how different they are now since all the trades.  More trades will follow before next Thursday.  I like the new format, (First round Thursday at 7:30 pm, Second and Third round Friday at 6:30 pm, and rounds Four through Seven starting at noon on Saturday) because it splits up and gives the most important round the most coverage, then splits up rounds on matter of importance and cuts daily watching time down. 

For my Big Board, I rank the top 10 players and give a little write up on each.  We have less than a week until the draft, so its getting close to showtime.

1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska:  He is disruptive, getting into the backfield often.  He gets more sacks than most DTs could dream off.  He out lifted Gerald McCoy and had a great combine, running a sub 5 forty yard dash.  Hes big and powerful.  Comes with a lot of hype, but could be amazing.

2. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Best deep ball in the draft, and the positives are obvious.  He played in a pro system, for a pro coach, taking snaps under center and has the timing.  Remember when he came in as a freshman?  He got destroyed.  He bulked up and studied and threw for 3,762 yards last year (ridiculous in College Football for a team who isn't Texas Tech or Hawai'i) and a 28:4 TD to INT ratio.

3. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: Super accurate, worked out really well, gained weight and worked hard.  Brittle in his last year of college.  I'm not convinced he has the arm strength to make all the throws.  On top of that, he played in a spread offense.  Still has the size and comes from a major program.  Has played in huge games.  Just behind Clausen for me. 

4. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma:  A banner year for DTs and the Sooners.  McCoy would be first overall in most years.  More of a pass rusher than Suh, has the size and speed you want in a DT.  Didn't lift as well as I would have wanted.  Is that because he isn't driven enough or because he isn't strong like we think.  Played for a better defense than Suh.  Didn't have a "wow" game.

5. Russel Okung, LT, Oklahoma State: Played in a spread offense, but has great pass blocking skills.  Has the size and strength to play at LT in the NFL.  I would put him inside then/or have him play RT, to learn to run block.  Had a good combine, and no behavior problems.  Should be the first OT taken.

6. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State: Would be higher, but he has some "behavioral problems." By that, he worked out with Deion Sanders and was mentored by the former All-Pro.  He is flying off most teams boards, but he is too talented for me to not to include.  He has the size and speed to be the number one wideout for most teams.  Someone will get great value for him.

7. Eric Berry, S/CB, Tennessee:  Great player who played in an NFL system his last year.  Has the skill to play Safety or Corner Back.  Hes a little lower on my board because I don't know what he will end up playing in the NFL.  Smart and tough, great guy and could go Top on Thursday.  I would put him at Safety and let him ball hawk.

8. Joe Haden, CB, Florida: Best cover corner in the draft, and has everything you want.  Ran a better forty after being hurt in the combine.  Played in the SEC so you know hes fast.  Could shut down a side of the field.  Played on a very good defense.

9. CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson:  Has great size and speed, can be a receiving and returning threat as well.  That versatility will be excellent in today's running back by committee approach.  Can bring a home run threat to any team and could play WR too.  Hes a Reggie Bush type player but without the price tag.  He could go anywhere, because you can never have enough RBs.

10. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama: Great leader, tough and played great down the stretch in the BCS Championship game and the BCS Playoff game (SEC Title game).  Played in a pro defense, and played on a great defense.  Is a complete LB that can play in the middle in the NFL.  He has a lot of leadership and swagger.  Needs to play in a 4-3 though.  It would best show his talents.

There is my Top Ten.  I don't have a lot of OTs because I don't think they (Brian Bulaga, Trent Williams, Anthony Davis) really don't separate from the pack.  I do like Jimmy Clausen more, although Bradford will go first.  Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You're Welcome!

Over on my Twitter account I made my NHL Playoff predictions.  This year has a lot of really good teams, and young stars and hopefully enough Olympic hype to keep the momentum going. 

1. Phil Mickelson:  Nice Guy Phil won the Masters this last weekend, shooting an incredible 16 under.  The tournament was overshadowed by Tiger's return, but was actually some great golf too.  How about that?  Mickelson's mother and wife both have been battling breast cancer and Phil even took some time off for it.  Meeting his wife on the 18th green after winning was a great image, something to remember the tourney by, not just the continuation of the Tiger Woods drama.

2. Trades In the NFL:  I remember the days when trading in the NFL didn't exist.  Not this season.  Now that the asking price for many players have gone down, trading has become very popular this season.  The Lions have pulled a ton of trades in Mayhew's tenure.  Roy Williams, Donovan McNabb, Santonio Holmes, Brandon Marshall, Jay Cutler, Antonio Cromartie have all changed teams.  Prospects get moved like baseball, when Charlie Whitehurst went to Seattle.  He has thrown as many NFL passes as I have.  Its cool to see the market expand like this.  Trades are a great part of every sport.  Now, Pro football joins in the fun.

3.  Steve Stamkos:  This poor guy never gets any recognition outside of hockey addicts.  Most people probably don't know who he is.  For those who don't, hes a former first overall pick.  He plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning, not exactly a hockey hotbed.  He plays on a terrible team, with bad management, and ownership change coming.  He was even buried on the bench by Barry Melrose his first season.  But Steve has shaken all this off to tie (with Crosby) for the Rocket Richard trophy (most goals in the NHL Regular season) with 51 goals.  He is a great young player and I really hope he gets out of Tampa Bay soon so he can matter in the league.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Draft Fast Approaching, I Try To Stomach Some More Speculation

I love the draft. My team is lucky enough to get two Super Bowls every year. One on Thanksgiving, and one in late April. It happens right after bracket season when we are all experts on predicting sports. The speculation is a lot of fun, and don't get me wrong, I love talking about it. But I just want to hear Detroit Lions select Suh at number two. After that, I will take anybody Mayhew selects. He is still innocent until proven guilty. Two is probably the toughest number. We can't sign anybody early, and it all comes down to St. Louis. So far it looks like Sam Bradford will go first overall, leaving the decision to the Lions.

There is some talk the Lions could go with Russel Okung. That would be, in a word, dumb. Lets examine that scenario. Okung at two, with the intention of him eventually playing left tackle.

1) Okung starts the season at Right or Left Guard, to get playing time. Unless an injury pops up, then he would start at Tackle.

2)Left Guard seems to be covered with the signing of Rob Sims. I hope (as do the Lions) to resign him to a long term deal, but lets not go all D-Train Willis with this signing. Right Guard is manned by the underrated Stephen Peterman, who should be healthy for the season. Right Tackle is set with Godser, who isn't going anywhere. Backus is a better Left Tackle than many think he is. Yeah, I said it.

3) So, with Backus and Cherilus making too much money, and all other positions being covered (not saying they are good, but covered) where would he play. I don't want to just kick Backus inside. He can't pass block, but still can run block like a champ. Okung needs work being a spread system.

So Okung could play sparingly at first, then pick up time. The signing of Sims and the commitment to Backus by the staff don't make a Left Tackle likely, but Mayhew is talking like the Lions could take anybody. Obviously Mayhew is trying to pay the second pick. The pick, with all its money and the rookie salary cap looming, is pretty unattractive. If the Lions take Suh, he can play as much as any lineman can, rotating in, learning the system and speed of the NFL (probably gaining some weight) and generally just making the transition.

Bottom line, the Lions need defense badly, and Suh makes everyone around him better. He is more talented than Okung, and will make the Lions much better. The signing of Sims and late round picks should make the Lions better, and make taking Okung a luxury pick a team with more talent than the Lions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You're Welcome!

1. Washington Redskins: Your team pulled a trade not giving up too much (a 2nd rounder and a conditional 3rd or 4th next year) and made your team significantly better. McNabb can manage the game well enough to let the Redskins "Over The Hill Gang 2.0" win enough games to sniff the playoffs. I am not convinced the Giants are going to improve next year, the Cowboys are hard to predict and the Eagles lack defense and are very young on offense. Now, with Shanahan, is time to strike and see if you can pull something off.

2. UConn Women's Basketball: Going undefeated 2 straight season in a row is difficult to do in anymore sport. And the way the UConn ladies did it (46-12 lead at the half, in the tournament) was quite impressive. They could reload and do it again next year, and break the UCLA Basketball record for wins in a row with 88. Even more impressive is the team sticking together and playing so well and not letting their egos or skill the best of them.

3. Jason Heyward: The Braves ultra prospect hit a home run in his first at bat and looks like the future all star he has been made out to be. I know its one game, and it was against a struggling Zambrano, but the future looks bright for him and Atlanta, who I think will make the playoffs this season. Lets see how the season pans out, but this kid looks really talented.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Detroit Tigers Season Preview

The Detroit Tigers had a rough offseason. They blew a huge lead in the division, lost a one game playoff and traded away a very popular and successful player. Miggy Cabrera was fat and hungover (I'm not bitter) near the end of the season, but still put up great numbers and is in the best shape of his life (heard that before) and is looking for redemption. Magglio Ordonez probably went to Subway and worked out with Miguel because he is looking slim this spring. He is trying to resurrect his career as a singles hitter.

The rotation looks solid at the top. Verlander is a top pitcher in the Major Leagues. Scherzer looks like a very good pitcher in the making, but maybe not this year. I really want to believe Bonderman will come back with a solid season, but I don't think it will happen. Willis made the rotation because the Tigers are paying him so much and he may have gotten over his anxiety disorders and "batting practice" style of pitching. Zumaya won't ever live up to the talent he has and will be hurt again. Rick Porcello has to be more consistent.

Sizemore and Jackson could really make the rebuilding project easier by producing. I think both will have good seasons, but could be streaky, like rookies usually are. Jackson adds speed, but we will all see how valuable Granderson was. Everette is not a good option at shortstop,and needs to be replaced soon. Laird is a fan favorite and a solid catcher. I don't see Inge hitting more than 20 home runs. His bionic knees are really going to have to hold up. Damon will give the team a lot of hitting but his defense will be fading as he nears 40.

The Tigers will contend for the division all year, but they lack the hitting to make the playoffs. The back end of the pitching staff could be good, or could be really awful, but I expect some shuffling will take place. The bullpen will be better than people think.

AL Central

The Twins have a new ballpark and a really good team. They always seem to hang around and contend. Ron Gardenhire is probably the most underrated manager in the MLB. The White Sox have a lot of really good players, Jake Peavy and could have the least amount of power an AL team could have. The Royals will be awful, and can look forward to not losing 100 games. Poor Zach Greinke. The Indians are in full rebuilding. They have traded too many good pitchers. Kerry Wood is done. I am sad to see him break down. The glory days of 2003 were so long ago. The Tigers will stick around and maybe even shock some people if their younger players step up and the pitching staff shines. I have the Twins winning the division, the White Sox and Tigers will battle for second and could sneak up and take the division. The Royals won't finish in last place, and the Indians will be terrible.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rough Way To Go

With a chance to take the lead, with about 6 seconds left, the Spartans missed a shot. Butler took the ball, got fouled and after about 10 minutes of watching time outs, the Spartans lost. This was a rough, physical game and hard to watch sometimes. The MSU offense was pitiful for most of the second half. If they hit any of their shots during the dry spells they would have won. The Spartans got in foul trouble early and often, but kept Howard on the bench.

It was a great season, and MSU played very well despite loosing their leader and best player. It was a great game against a great team. Did you know Butler is just 7 miles from Indy? I never heard that before today.

The loss makes one feel empty, and there were some terrible calls. Excellent season, and it gives the Spartans something to build on. Right now, it just sucks.

Tournament 2010: MSU vs Butler

Sorry for the weird schedule lately. Soon, after the tournament, we will go back to regularly scheduled programming. So on Fridays, I'll post my "professional" articles (Funny Fridays sounds lame) and write about more than MSU Basketball. But here is my preview for the Final Four Matchup between the Michigan State Spartans and Butler Bulldogs.

Michigan State comes into this on a hotter streak than any Spartan team in recent memory. Usually, the Spartans are a little more favored in their games. But after backing into the Final Four versus lower seeds, the Spartans find themselves in Indianapolis. Cinderella/underdogs/fan favorites/media darlings Butler takes the court being only 7 miles from home. Butler has a legit big man and shoots the ball well, a perfect recipe for a winning mid major program.

Butler shoots 34.3% from 3 point land. MSU shoots 34%. So Butler isn't a great three point shooting team, because MSU isn't right? Butler takes a lot more threes than MSU, misses many and only makes .3% more. So if MSU can rebound (which is Izzo's bread and butter) and use their size to out-physical Butler.

Gordon Hayward is 6'8'' and averages 15.1 PPG (points per game) and 29.5% from 3. He is a NBA prospect but gets into foul trouble often. If MSU can abuse him down low with a tandem of Roe and Nix (maybe a little Draymond as well) and get him in foul trouble, MSU could do themselves a lot of good. Butler can not win without Hayward. Hopefully Chris Allen is healthy enough to defend Shelvin Mack, who shoots 38.6% from three and averages 14.1 PPG. Lucious needs to keep playing like he has been and not lose focus like he does (3 turnovers in 4 possessions against Tennessee) and distribute the ball to the big man, who have to show up. Raymar had a great game against Tennessee, and he needs to keep that up. He can be even bigger than he was last weekend. Also, with this nice weather, it needs to be Summer Time.

The team is healthier than last week. Its a marathon now. Izzo has proven he is the best coach in the nation after losing Kalin Lucas. I don't care the game is in Indianapolis. UNI had a huge home field advantage and State still beat them. MSU will not be scared to play here or be in the Final Four. They are experienced and smart. Butler sure isn't used to this. Butler does play Big Ten defense. Their coach Brad Stevens is staying up well past his bedtime to coach this game.

I am going to go out on a limb. Nobody has said MSU will win big. I will. I see this being 10+ during the last ten minutes and MSU takes over. Their size is too much and Butler will be forced to shoot from deep. Izzo has had one week to prepare for this, and his team is better and healthier than ever.

MSU 65 Butler 54