Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pennant Fever 2009: Minnesota vs Detroit

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-Digger's Daily-

Did anyone watch yesterday's twinbill between Minnesota and Detroit? The AL Central is at stake (and a playoff birth). Minnesota came in trailing host Detroit by two games. Mr. Clutch Orlando Cabrera won the opener with a 10th inning go ahead single. The Tigers split by winning the second game behind a gutsy performance from ace Justin Verlander.
Every game is a must win. These two square off for two more games this week. Tomorrow's game is national on ESPN. Detroit needs to win both to clinch. Their final 3 games of the year are against Chicago. Minnesota wants to get at least one before heading home to close out the Metrodome for 3 against Kansas City.

The Twins had won 11 of 12 before dropping yesterday's second game. They're red hot even without former AL MVP Justin Morneau. September has been a rough month for Detroit. They lost 9 of 12 during a recent stretch leading up to this series. Never say never. Here come the Twins.

I've always been a fan of Detroit baseball but it's hard not to root for the scrappy Twins. Manager Ron Gardenhire knows how to push his players buttons. They're suddenly hot after most had given them up for dead. The Tigers need to come out of this series maintaining their two game lead. Otherwise, they could very well lose out to the hottest team in baseball.

Recent September's featured storied comebacks and collapses. Colorado stunned the world before losing the World Series to Boston in 2007. Back to back chokes by the New York Mets. Philadelphia's hot final months. Colorado has stormed back late again this season and seem poised to clinch a wild card birth. October baseball Playoffs and NFL games. It's a great time of year. It could get a whole lot better if I'm fortunate to watch a World Series game at Yankee Stadium this season!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obama's New Campaign - 2016 Summer Olympics

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-Digger's Daily-

Madrid, Spain? Tokyo, Japan? Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? Chicago, USA? Which city will receive the International Olympic Committee's nod to host the 2016 Summer Olympics? President Obama has decided to campaign personally for his adopted home city of Chicago by making a whirlwind personal appearance in two days.

President Obama has spent the past few weeks campaigning on television regularly in our country. He's attempting to cash in on his one time star power status promoting wide ranging personal and controversial issues. He's addressed the nation. Conducted multiple interviews most major networks. Appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Addressed world leaders and reprentatives at the United Nations and G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh with plenty of press coverage.

There's more to come later this week as the press is certain to follow the carbon footprint trail of Obama's journey to Copenhagen, Denmark. Our President will be puting his best foot foward trying to bring the Olympics to our nation. His entourage will feature many diplomats, sports celebrities and our First Lady. He's getting ready to play some hard ball against stiff competition. Presidential appeals helped London secure the 2012 Games and Russia hosting 2014 Winter venue. Can he pull it off?

It would be an honor for our country to play host. The Summer Olympics is one of the greatest and most respected sporting traditions. Oympics also represents the one venue where countries put aside personal differences as the world's greatest athletes compete for Gold. Correspondents seem to believe US is in the lead since games were recently held Asia, Europe and Australia. A personal appearance could help seal the deal.

However, Obama's critics at home wonder about the timing of becoming the first US President make an in-person appeal at the Committee meeting. Iran rattled sabres this week conducting military drills, missile tests and war tone rhetoric after announcing to the world they have constructed another nuclear facility. It is a direct slap in the face of the much anticipated "talks" scheduled for this Thursday where nation leaders hope Iran will come clean. It's clear they won't. President Obama vowed to remain personally involved in top agenda issue health care reform which is facing intense debate this week. Our General in Afghanistan made it known he has not spoken with the President in over two months and needs more troop support. Public angst over ecomonic issues, job losses, war and health care. There's also been a backlash from Chicago residents who do not want their city hosting the games. And, from Chicago critics who claim the cities corruption will profit too.

My two cents on this issue is conflicting on varying levels. First off, I think hosting the Olympics would be great for national pride and economic factors. Second, It's too late now but I believe it would have been prudent to have selected a different host city. Chicago is already, and has been, a thriving city. Corruption is another issue. Detroit is a city in trouble and would've been the perfect choice. It could have been an economic boom for a city with unsustainable unemployment figures. For a city decimated by the auto collapse. Detroit on the map forever. State of the art sports stadiums already reside in the Motor City. There's plenty of vacant real estate to build complex facilities required to house games, athletes and visitors. Just think of the thousands of jobs it would have created for people desparately seeking employment. Local merchants and city/state revenue stabilized and revitalized. A complete facelift for a city in need. It's not to be. Chicago is a fine city so no one should take my comments as a slap against it or people living there. That said, I strongly believe Detroit warranted greater consideration.
My last point is all too obvious to anyone paying attention to recent world news during these threatening times. Obama's over exposed making speaches on wide ranging issues while appearing to be completely hands off instead of hands on for solving problems here at home and abroad. Speeches and tv appearances doesn't get the job done or save sliding poll numbers. Sports is not priority number one. The physical and ecomonic safety of our country and allies is job number one. When a General goes public stating he hasn't spoken with our Commander in Chief for over 70 days during a time of war... something is tragically awry.

Our First Lady and entourage carries plenty of star appeal and is quite capable of representing our great nation. This trip is an unnecessary distraction.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Detroit Lions Finally Win!

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-Digger's Daily-

The Detroit Lions finally managed to win a football game after 19 consecutive defeats. They've managed to shift laughingstock status over to the Washington Redskins (at least for a day). The monkey is off of their backs. I think many of us were seriously wondering if Detroit was gearing up to shatter the NFL consecutive loss record.

The Lions can now look forward. This young team has a chance for a bright future and today's win was a significant building block. They almost managed to blow it. Leading 19-14, Washington did get the ball back for one last shot but Detroit held on. Lions offense has a solid young nucleus. Rookie QB and top draft pick Matthew Stafford earned his first professional win. It was also his first game without a major mistake. Second year halfback Kevin Smith gained 100 yards. Offensively, they held the ball for over 36 minutes. The defense came up big and held Washington to 2 of 10 third downs and only 57 plays. It was a team effort. Hats off to the Detroit Lions!

Redskins fans must be sick to their stomachs. No team wanted to be the Lions first victim. Washington football has never been lower. They're a talented team without a leader. Jim Zorn seems to make one bad decision after another. QB Jason Campbell is not a field leader. Not a feared NFL QB. He'd be hard pressed finding a job as a backup on most other teams. So, why is Zorn sticking with him?

Heading into this season I figured on Eric Mangini being the first coach to get fired (it might still happen). Now I'm thinking Zorn could be gone by midweek (if not sooner). The Skins aren't responding positively to his coaching philosophy. Campbell can't move the offense. Their team owner is a win win kind of guy and this team is light years from challenging in the NFC East. Something has to give and it might be Daniel Snyder giving Zorn the boot.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

NFL Week 3 Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL teams treated us to great nationally televised games last Sunday and Monday nights. Both games were decided in the final seconds. The New York Giants silenced a record 105,121 screaming Dallas fans in Cowboys Stadium debut, 33-31. Monday night featured a dominating ball control offensive performance by the Miami Dolphins who played keep-a-way for 45 minutes. It wasn't enough as future Hall of Fame Colts QB Peyton Manning stunned Miami's faithful with precision passing for a 27-23 victory.

At least I predicted those two games correctly on my way to a less than inspiring 9-7 record. My two week total stands at 20-12. It's not bad but not quite what I'd want if betting in Las Vegas sportsbooks. Week 2 stunners were NY Jets over New England, Houston exploiting Tennessee, Chicago upsetting Pittsburgh and Cincinnati reminding us Green Bay is nothing more than ordinary.

Time to shoot for the moon in Week 3 (home teams in BOLD):

Redskins 20 LIONS 10 - Lions have lost 19 in a row. Game will be blacked out in Detroit due to not meeting NFL attendance requirements. That's great news for Lions fans who can now watch a quality football game.

Packers 33 RAMS 27 - Green Bay must protect the ball or it will be back to back losses vs weaker teams.

VIKINGS 33 49ers 10 - Battle of 2-0 teams. Vikes playing tough as expected. SF starting to turn heads and could put themselves back on maps with an upset. QB Hill has been effective but now faces an unrelenting Minnesota D.

Falcons 24 PATRIOTS 21 - This game is a pick'em. Atlanta's offensive weapons keeping opposition clueless. Jets held NE without a TD last week. Brady & Co. will have to bounce back after a week of trashing from Boston newspapers. This one could come down to the games final play.

JETS 21 Titans 17 - Coach Ryan's defense has been flying surrendering only 16 points in two victories. Offense is a work in progress with rookie QB Sanchez. Speedy WR's could chew up Titans not ready for prime time defense.

Chiefs 17 EAGLES 16 - KC blew it vs Oakland last week. This once proud franchise will endure another long season. Philadelphia is banged up. No McNabb. Westbrook is questionable. Not a game I'd look to bet on.

Giants 43 BUCCANEERS 7 - New York's WR's have been speeding past defensive backs in 1st two weeks. This is a very favorable matchup for Eli Manning & Co. Tampa's hurting in all facets of the game.

RAVENS 27 Browns 14 - Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has been utilizing all weapons. Ravens offense attacking opponents from all angles and sport AFC best 69 points. Will Cleveland become NFL's next winless team?

TEXANS 34 Jaguars 24 - Houston ripped Titans defense via play action pass all game long last week. Jax struggling for respect and doesn't get any here.

Saints 38 BILLS 20 - Brees has led Saints to NFL high 93 points. Next victim, Buffalo.

SEAHAWKS 26 Bears 24 - Another pick'em game as both 1-1 teams search for their true identities.

CHARGERS 27 Dolphins 17 - LT is out of this one. SD will tear up terrible Miami defense.

Steelers 24 BENGALS 20 - Pittsburgh's 27 total points keeping offense searching for clues. Lack of running game killing drives. Cincy's offense came together last week vs Green Bay.

Broncos 28 RAIDERS 17 - Denver's D has been stellar giving up only 13 points. Orange Crush? They'll get plenty of turnovers from mistake filled Oakland offense.

Colts 38 CARDINALS 33 - Manning vs Warner could see these teams net over 800 total yards. This game should feature quick strike drives vs porous D's.

Panthers 34 COWBOYS 31 (Monday Night Football) - This is Delhomme's chance to prove there's plenty of football left in his right arm vs a very weak Dallas secondary. Tony Romo has been under fire in Dallas newspapers which will lead to another mistake filled game.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Player of the Week: High Schooler Matt Ziesel

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-Digger's Daily-

It's time for a feel good story based on sportsmanship, fair play and genuine human compassion. Three cheers to 15 year old St. Joseph Benton Cardinals (high school) football freshman player Matt Ziesel who scored his first touchdown this past weekend.

Matt has Downs Syndrome. His football season found him sitting on the bench begging for a chance to play. St. Joseph's was losing 46-0 to the Maryville Spoofhounds when their head coach Dan McCamey suddenly walked across the field with only seconds remaining. He spoke with Maryville's coach before returning to the Cards sidelines. McCamey then called on #45, Matt Ziesel, to take the field.

The play call for a handoff to Ziesel. He had one mission... score! Here's the VIDEO broadcast on MSN. St. Joseph's blockers cleared the way and Maryville's defenders were instructed not to make a tackle. Ziesel sprinted down the right side for his first ever touchdown.

Hats off to everyone involved. Coach Dan McCamey and all players deserve boat loads of credit for making a dream come true. Ziesel quickly became a hit... 150,000+ viewer hits have watched this play on YouTube. He's an instant celebrity gaining notoriety on local and national levels. Many major networks and ESPN ran with this story.

Welcome to celebrity status Matt! Savor the moment.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Giants Spoil Cowboy Stadium Opener on Final Play!

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-Digger's Daily-

The New York Giants (2-0) scored the first ever regular season points in Cowboys Stadium history. After the games final play New York secured the first ever regular season victory in Cowboys Stadium. Let it be written.

Cowboys Stadium set an NFL attendance record as a sellout crowd of 105,121 witnessed Eli Manning direct the Giants game winning drive. No time remained on the clock after Lawrence Tynes 37 yard fieldgoal sailed through the uprights. What a game. A real nailbiter for fans of both teams. It took all 60 minutes to decide this one.

Dallas owner Jerry Jones deserves much credit for building a state of the art new $1.1 billion home for his Cowboys. I thought NBC did a less than stellar presentation of what is being called a NFL masterpiece. There's been endless discussion of the tremendous video screen which houvers 90 feet above the field and seems to run from end zone to end zone. Fans interviewed during preseason stated having a hard time deciding whether to view live action or the screen.

As for the game. It was fun to watch. Lack of execution often had both head coaches scratching their heads. Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw for a personal best last week. He wasn't sharp vs a Giants defense that struggled most of the night. 3 Giants picks of Romo and a fumble recovery set up most of their scoring drives. New Giants starting WR's had huge games. Manningham & Smith both pulled in 10 catches, had over 100 yards and scored. Eli Manning brought his A game.

Sunday night was a big NFC East division game. Giants back to back wins have been against East rivals (Redskins, Cowboys) leaving them sitting pretty early in 2009. Dallas (1-1) will try regrouping this week. Their secondary was terrible and unable to tame NY's attack. Flaws in both defenses were on display tonight. Giants game up over 250 rushing yards. Cowboys not able to cover WR's.

Next week, Giants travel to Tampa Bay and Cowboys show off their stadium on Monday Night Football vs Carolina.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fantasy Players to Watch in Week 2

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-Digger's Daily-

Which NFL player will light up your fantasy team scoreboard in week 2? Drew Brees fired 6 touchdown passes in week 1. Pederson burned Cleveland for 3 on the ground. Eagles D scored big points for owners. John Carlson surprised leading all TE's. So, who will it be this week? Here's my two cents on how things will shake up (or down).

Start 'em...

Adrian Peterson (Min) is primed for a tremedous day vs lowly Detroit. He might even have a shot at 200 total yards. He'll put up no less than 150 and 2 td's.

Tony Gonzalez (Atl) should have no problems finding seems in Carolina's defense (especially on play action passes). 90+ yards, 2 td's.

Matt Hasselback (Sea) will continue his comeback player of the year tour in SF. 300+ yards passing, 3 td.

Randy Moss (NE) will find the end zone this week vs Jets (at least once). 140 yards, TD.

Minnesota Vikings D will frustrate an already frustrated Lions team. Crystal ball says 5 turnovers created and possibly a defensive TD to compliment 5 sacks.

Bench 'em....

LaDamlian Tomlinson (SD) vs Baltimore. Banged up featured back has right ankle concerns. Listed as questionable. Baltimore's defense is no easy task even when 100%. He'll see limited action.

Ronnie Brown (Mia) is not a strong back in ffl. Many leagues drafted him very high. Why?
Steve Slaton (Hou) vs strong Tennessee D. Not a favorable matchup as Titans will key on him all game long.

Philadelphia Eagles D vs pass happy New Orleans Saints. With McNabb out, field position will favor Saints. Eagles D will be challenged on every play. Saints will control the clock.

Keep an eye on...

Cadillac Williams (TB) - listed as 1st on depth chart heading into week two. Will he return to 1000 yard status if given the chance? Could have big day vs demoralized Bills.

Larry Johnson (KC) one time back to back 1700 yard featured back before injuries slowed him down. Oakland is a favorable matchup to see what he can do.

New York Giants WR's vs weak Cowboys secondary. Steve Smith will get plenty of chances. Manningham has exceptional speed. Hixon will get into the mix too. All fighting to secure starting jobs and Manning's confidence.

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NFL Week 2 Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

Week one predictions ended up 11-5 and most likely should have been 13-3 if it wasn't for two last minute flukes. Week 2 has intriguing matchups. Dallas opens Cowboys Stadium vs arch rival NY Giants. Players and fans will be pumped for this game. Patriots take on Jets new rookie head coach, rookie quarterback and new look defense. These teams hate each other from top to bottom. Steelers travel to Chicago in a matchup of hard hitting defenses. Time to predict (home team in CAPS)....

FALCONS 33 Panthers 17 - Atlanta's new spread the wealth offense will have no problems vs struggling Panthers. Delhomme is on the hot seat and needs to show he's still a top flight QB.

REDSKINS 24 Rams 23 - Campbell wasn't good vs stingy Giants D in week one. Portis should have plenty of openings vs weak StL D. Rams playing for respect, don't get any here.

TITANS 23 Texans 10 - Titans rebound after OT loss. Texans manhandled by Jets D last week face a tougher test this week.

SAINTS 33 Eagles 17 - McNabb is out for this one after breaking a rib. Brees connected for 6 TD's vs terrible Lions D. Eagles D will mix up coverages for Brees first true test. Westbrook must produce for Eagles to have any chance of winning.

Patriots 34 JETS 20 - NE will be prepared after Buffalo nearly beat them. Jets D looked great vs Houston. Ryan's first major opponent and AFC East rival. Meadowlands will be rocking. Sanchez will be pressured all game long.

PACKERS 30 Bengals 26 - Cincy continues inventing new ways to lose. This one could come down to the final minutes. Offensive game on paper if Cincy can find their stride. If not, then it's GB in a blowout.

Cardinals 27 JAGUARS 23 - Cards rep still flying high after Super Bowl appearance. 2009 will not be kind. Jags running game could change this outcome. Don't be surprised if home team wins this one.

Vikings 38 LIONS 7 - Pederson rambled for 3 td's last week making Favre's debut easy. Running and passing lanes will be wide open this game as Vikes pick apart Lions.

CHIEFS 20 Raiders 16 - Raiders had shining moments vs SD. I'm not sold. Rebuilding Chiefs find a way to win an ugly mistake filled game.

Bucs 27 BILLS 17 - Buffalo still stinging after handing a certain win to NE. TB's running game will have a field day and seconday shuts down TO. It's going to be a long year in Buffalo.

Seahawks 31 49ERS 20 - Hasselback came out firing in week one. SF played efficient football. Key early season game between division foes. Seattle to take this one but keep an eye on confident Niners.

Steelers 24 BEARS 10 - Bears lost their best defender and new QB Cutler played like crap. Steelers feeling good after opening OT win vs Tennessee. Running games were non-factors for both. Steelers prevail.

BRONCOS 23 Browns 14 - This game is iffy for me. Both teams not looking good but Denver has more talent.

Ravens 30 CHARGERS 20 - Ravens too tough. Offense will surprise many in '09. Defense dominates. SD has defensive lapses. Offense will face stiff swarming D.

Giants 31 COWBOYS 27 - Cowboys $1billion stadium opens. It will be loud. Romo comes off best statistical game. Giants WR's surprised folks last week. Keys: Giants CB's trying to cover speedy Dallas WR's. Can Brandon Jacobs dominate?

Colts 27 DOLPHINS 10 (Monday Night Football) - Indy is too tough for punchless Dolphins offense.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NFL: Opening Weekend Heroes & Goats

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-Digger's Daily-

It was a great opening NFL weekend. It began Thursday night with Pittsburgh's dramatic OT win over Tennessee. What followed were games filled with last minute heroics, goats, solid performances by rookies and old vets. A few of my favorite moments from week 1:
My fantasy teams combined to go 4-1. Figures, the lone loss was in a league with friends! Random ESPN league teams won most covincingly.

Denver at Cincinnati - Denver and Chicago swapped QB's during the off season. Denver gave up Cutler to get Orton. Orton was less than impressive during a boring game until his final pass. Trailing 7-6 with just over one minute remaining in regulation.. Orton weak armed a pass down field which was tipped by a Bengals defender into the waiting arms of Brandon Stokley who raced towards the end zone for the game winning 87 yard touchdown. 13-7 Broncos. It was Stokley's only catch of the game. He was also smart enough to take time off of the clock until Bengal defenders finally caught up to him.

Drew Brees (Saints) threw for 6 TD's in a 45-27 Detroit. How many weeks will it take Detroit to win a game this year after 0-16 in 2008? Single season record holder, Dan Marino, predicted Brees would throw for more than 5000 yards this year. Brees picked apart a terrible Lions D for 6 TD's! He'll have a tough test this weekend vs Philadelphia.

Jets fans are loving their new head coach. Ryan had the Jets defense flying all over the field and completely disrupted a potentially explosive Texans attack. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez remained calm in his NFL debut. Nobody should become over hyped after one game. It was a good beginning to New York's newest era of Jets football.

Chicago at Green Bay - Cutler was supposed to resurrect Chicago's underperforming offense. He played miserably. I can't remember the last time I saw such an anemic performance... (until I flipped channels to see Delhomme implode with 5 int's). Chicago had managed to survive four Cutler interceptions until Aaron Rodgers threw a 50 yard TD strike with 1:11 remaining. Devastating news for Bears players and fans.. All Pro LB Brian Urlacher is done for the year. Chicago just slipped a notch.

Goat of the Weekend Award: Leodis McKelvin (Buffalo).... Buffalo had just played a terrific game. They were leading heavily favored New England 24-13 on Monday Night Football. Pats closed the game to 24-19 and kicked off with 2:06 remainiing. They opted to kick deep where a waiting McKelvin stupidly decided to return a kick out of his own end zone. All he had to do was HOLD ONTO THE FOOTBALL. Not only did my goat pick try returning the kick. Noooooooooooooo! This guy felt the necessity to attempt breaking tackles instead of falling harmlessly to the ground. Buffalo would have been able to run out the clock. So what happened? McKelvin fumbled while trying to break a tackle. New England recovered at Buffalo's 21 yard line. QB Brady had been ineffective most of the game until the final minutes. He threw his 2nd TD pass within 66 seconds to snatch victory from defeat, 25-24. Bills must still be stinging from handing away a hard fought win.

Other notables: Pederson (Min) 180 yds, 3 TD; Brett Favre (Min) 1-0 for new Vikes team; Tony Romo (Dal) career high 353 yards; 49ers beat NFC Champion Cardinals 20-16; Hasselback (Sea) is back 25-36, 279, 3 TD.

Week one prediction results 11-5 thanks to last minute losses by Cincinnati & Chicago.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

NFL Week 1 Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

Here we go. NFL regular season football is set to snap. It's opening weekend. Plenty of new faces, new coaches and rookies to watch. Time to try my hand at predicting game scores (home team in bold).

Pittsburgh 16 Tennessee 6 (Thurs)

Dallas 23 Tampa Bay 17
Carolina 34 Philadelphia 24
New Orleans 44 Detroit 10
Baltimore 23 Kansas City 9
Houston 24 New York Jets 20
Atlanta 33 Miami 16
Cincinnati 26 Denver 23
Minnesota 34 Cleveland 3
Indianapolis 31 Jacksonville 13
New York Giants 27 Washington 23
Seattle 28 St Louis 24
Arizona 26 San Francisco 10
Chicago 29 Green Bay 27

New England 48 Buffalo 3 (Mon)
San Diego 31 Oakland 3

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Jets Tossed Favre Under Bus!

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-Digger's Daily-

The New York Jets finally admitted throwing Brett Favre under a bus after last years late season collapse kept them out of the playoffs. New York newspapers, ESPN, Green Bay fans, Jets players and thousands of fans pointed their collective fingers at Favre when the Jets lost 4 of their final 5 games.

Favre showed pure class taking the heat left at his feat. New York was sitting pretty at 8-3 and big city folk were talking New York vs New York Super Bowl. Too many fans seem to forget Favre wasn't the only problem in their losses. If anything, he probably kept them close. Coach Mangini's play calling was pathetic. Running game disappeared. Wide receivers ran wrong routes and dropped plenty of passes in key situations. Special teams was awol. A total team effort. Yes, Favre made mistakes with forced throws when he probably should have tossed the pigskin out of bounds to save possessions.

Favre's now playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Wednesday, Brett stated the Jets knew he was playing with a torn biceps and had told team coaches and front office personnel it was probably best if he sits in favor of his healthy understudy. Ha-ha, the joke was on Jets fans. Not only did the coaching staff violate NFL rules by not declaring his injury... but, they knew Favre's arm strength was shot.

So many critics blasted Favre when his throws went haywire. Here was his take when interviewed this week: "Absolutely, I was receptive to it last year (being benched to rest/win)," he said. "When we finally did an MRI and found out I had a torn biceps last year, I felt like, with about four or five games left, that even though I was making some pretty good throws and some decent plays, I felt like I was doing the team more harm because I was missing on some throws. Subtle, just a yard off, 2 yards off, maybe a tad behind."

Guess what folks? It was the coaching staff applying pressure for him to play. Smoke and mirrors everywhere these days from sports to phony politicians. Investigative journalism is all too often non-existent. The Jets kept their mouths shut about his injury. After losses, Mangini said Brett did this or didn't do that. Teammates became unnerved and did the same.

NFL is now investigating the Jets for failure to report Favre's status which is against league rules. Go get'em NFL. It'll only be a fine but let it be on record. Gutless move by an entire organization from top to bottom. You can google this saga to read up on how the Jets GM & coaches failed miserably to rest Favre so he could regain arm strength. I was never a Jets fan. Stuff like this will keep me rooting against them all year once again.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Did Redskins Sign Ex-Giants QB for Signal Stealing?

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-Digger's Daily-

Washington Redskins will be traveling to the Meadowlands to play the Giants in week one. Will they be bringing a secret weapon? If New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin has a say then the answer is yes.

Washington recently signed former Giants practice squad QB Andre Woodson and now Giants players are livid thinking this was done strictly for spying purposes. Woodson knows the Giants signals. He knows their audibles. Of course, Redskins coaches will be grilling him all week for any information possible leading up to this weekends game.

'Skins Coach Jim Zorn has denied this was Washington's motivation for signing Woodson. Yeah, right. But, he did acknowledge Woodson would provide some info. Quoting "He might be able to help us a little bit," Zorn said. "He knows their stuff. He certainly knew their snap count and just the obvious things, but we're not trying to glean every little (detail), we're not going to put him under the microscope."

Ok Coughlin, this is what coaching is all about. Improvising from week to week, opponent to opponent. Change your audibles. Set them up (Redskins) on snap counts. Make this work to the Giants advantage. The men in blue should actually be happy with this news. There's still plenty of time for adjustments. Now go out and get it done. Use this as a teaching moment or motivational tool. Whatever it takes.

Spying, video taping, coaches calling other coaches for tips. Football is football. This is nothing new. Get a grip and adjust. Championship teams survive all obstacles. This is only week one. Get it done!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 End of Season All Star Team

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-Digger's Daily-

2009 baseball season is winding down. I covered just about every worthwhile topic this season. It's been a rollercoaster year for some players. Early MVP candidates have wilted in the summer heat. Some slow starters turned red hot. Here's my end of year AL/NL All Star lineups by position.

American League
1B - Mark Teixeira (NYY)
2B - Robinson Cano (NYY)
3B - Evan Longoria (TB)
SS - Derek Jeter (NYY)
LF - Johnny Damon (NYY)
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
RF - Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
C - Joe Mauer (MIN)
DH - Victor Martinez (CLE/BOS)
SP - Zack Greinke (KC)
RP - Matt Guerrier (MIN)
CL - Mariano Rivera (NYY)
MGR - Joe Girardi (NYY)
ROOKIE - Jeff Niemann (TB)

National League
1B - Albert Pujols (STL)
2B - Chase Utley (PHI)
3B - Pablo Sandoval (SF)
SS - Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
LF - Ryan Braun (MIL)
CF - Matt Kemp (LAD)
RF - Andre Ethier (LAD)
C - Brian McCann (ATL)
SP - Chris Carpenter (STL)
RP - Kiki Calero (FLA)
CL - Ryan Franklin (STL)
MGR - Tony LaRussa (STL)
ROOKIE - J.A. Happ (PHI)

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Fantasy Football Draft Results - Team #2

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-Digger's Daily-

I was at it again Thursday night drafting another fantasy football squad in a random ESPN 10 team free league. On Monday night, my New York Muggers drafted from the second slot (results posted on blog dated 09/01/09). I went with the same league format again and finally drafted from the middle of the pack which is right where I wanted to be (#5). Drafting fifth (of ten) allows fantasy owners opportunities to gain valuable players even though some of the games projected elite players get gobbled up 1-4. Unfortunately, 3 drafters never showed up. Luckily, one of them had pre-ranked players.

Here's my round by round results for the "Gridiron Bruisers" (round #/overall pick #):

1/5 - RB DeAngelo Williams (CAR) - Almost went with Brees here but had to nail a top RB in 1st round. Williams had huge fantasy games in '08. Hoping for bigger and better in '09. Peterson, Turner went 1-2.

2/16 - WR Andre Johnson (HOU) - Went off script early. Rule of thumb is pick up the best RB's early. However, most were taken so I gambled a quality back would still be available by my next pick especially since Moss/Fitzgerald were taken right before my turn. Johnson is a playmaker. He just needs a healthy QB to get him the ball. Had big yardage games in '08. I'll need him to record more td's to make this pick look better.

3/25 - RB Ronnie Brown (MIA) - I like this pick here while most others might scoff it. Brown completely healthy and in a contract year. You know what that means. He's going to be on top of his game. Miami is a run first team. Hoping he's the go to guy in goal line situations.

4/36 - RB Thomas Jones (NYJ) - Don't really like this pick. TJ hasn't played well in preseason but I credit this to Jets giving rookie QB Sanchez every opportunity to find his rythm. Leon Washington is also hungry for carries and could cut into Jones playing time. TB's Ward & Indy's Addai would have been better here. This could be a strong pick or major early round bust.

5/45 - TE Tony Gonzalez (ATL) - Future Hall of Famer should get plenty of looks from 2nd year QB Ryan as Atlanta opens up their new passing game. Gonzo is one of my all time favorites.

6/56 - WR Eddie Royal (DEN) - Denver's #1 speedster wideout will see plenty of deep passes. He's been going late in most drafts. I'm expecting major production here. 91 catches as a rookie and NFL 2nd best 72.2% catches of balls thrown in his direction.

7/65 - RB Cedric Benson (CIN) - Most analysts do not like his fantasy value. I'll differ for one reason and one reason only. He's never played with a game breaking QB. Was last of full time starting RB's available. Plenty of QB's remained so this was a no harm no foul depth pick.

8/76 - K Stephen Gostkowski (NE) - Why take a kicker here you ask? Because he's #1 on my charts worth no less than 140 points playing for one of NFL's best offenses. That's why.

9/85 - QB Carson Palmer (CIN) - Once a gambler, always a gambler. Palmer's elbow is a concern after missing 3/4 of '08. He has great WR's (Ocho Cinco & Coles). Threw for 32, 28, 26 TD's and averaged 4000 yard seasons before getting banged up. Calculated gamble should pay dividends especially when Cincy plays most of their games from behind meaning more passes to catch up.

10/96 - WR Devin Hester (CHI) - One of NFL's best deep threats. Pure speed. Outstanding special teams kick returner. Finally has a QB who can deliver a deep pass. One question... can he catch?

11/105 - WR Laverneaus Coles (CIN) - Deep threat left Jets for bigger bucks in Cincy. Another depth pick gamble. My opinion he was best available starting WR. He'll probably only start when my others have bye weeks unless he becomes a favorite target for Palmer.

12/116 - D/ST New England Patriots - Uncharacteristically waited a long time before selecting a defense. One of two things can happen with Pats D. Either they'll pick off a ton of passes when playing way ahead (NE has top offense) or they'll give up a lot of meaningless late game points. Maybe both. Not expecting much here and will start them in favorable matchups. Buffalo is opening game. Pats D will play big vs terrible Bills.

13/125 - QB Jake Delhomme - Everyone except me seems down on Jake in '09. He's healthy, a winner and plays for a great offense. Running game will take away passing attempts but open up play action for potential red zone td's. Solid backup and starter in favorable matchups.

14/136 - D/ST Miami Dolphins - Nice compliment to NE's D. If offense can play ball control games then Dolphins D could record good fantasy numbers.

15/145 - K Nate Kaeding - 607 points in 5 Charger seasons. Good backup for Gastowski.

16/156 - TE Visanthe Shiancoe (MIN) - Favre loves his TE's and looks for them often. Final two picks in this draft mirrored Monday night. Surprised no one has been taking Shiancoe. I'm betting he's a big go to guy inside redzone in '09.

Gridiron Bruisers aren't great on paper. However, favorable scheduling matchups could provide big dividends from this bunch. Selecting Thomas Jones was this drafts snafu. My crystal ball claims this team will put up points. Having multiple teams affords plenty of drafting variations. Two drafts in the books. First draft far better on paper. Bruisers have me curious.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009 NCAA Football Ranking Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

College Football's opening kickoff took place earlier this evening. Now it's time for me to rank NCAA Football's Top 20. Last year, preseason experts ranked 1 thru 5 Georgia, Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma then Florida. Not quite how things unfolded as the Florida Gators ended up National Champs (Final AP Polls: Florida, Utah, USC, Texas, Oklahoma). I don't have too many suprises in these rankings. However, a few boosters might get miffed...

Digger's Top 20:

1- Florida
2- Texas
3- USC
4- Alabama
5- Oklahoma
6- Virginia Tech
7- Ohio State
8- Mississippi
9- Penn State
11-Oklahoma State
12-Boise State
13-Georgia Tech
18-North Carolina

National Champions: Florida Gators

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2009 Cy Young Races (AL)

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-Digger's Daily-

How voters determine who wins AL Cy Young Award will be interesting. There's no clear cut odds on favorite anymore. Earlier this season, Roy Halladay and Zack Greinke were favorites. They've slumped recently. CC Sabathia has been on fire going deep into games and has been nearly unbeatable since the break. Mariano Rivera has been nearly perfect saving 38 of 39 including 34 in a row. My short list might make for a few upset fans. And so it goes...

Mariano Rivera (NYY) 1-2, 1.78, 38 of 39 Saves. Rivera is my pick at the moment unless CC reaches 20 wins. No American League pitcher has dominated hitters more than Mariano. 34 consecutive saves. Relievers seldom win. Dennis Eckersley was last closer to win in AL back in 1992. Rivera was runner-up in 2005. This could be his year.

CC Sabathia (NYY) 16-7, 3.48 CC had a rough beginning in the Big Apple. April is long gone as CC has gone 9-1 in his last 11 starts just in time for Cy Young voters to take notice. He'd get my vote by reaching 20 wins.

Felix Hernandez (SEA) 14-5, 2.65 Felix is having a great year for a so-so club. He deserves far more recognition than received. Big city media has ignored him which might hurt chances. Perhaps voters will take notice and reward him with CYA? Time will tell.

Justin Verlander (DET) 15-7, 3.38 Detroit's big name starter has enjoyed a fine season. He has devastating stuff. Not as dominating lately but remains a strong candidate. 215 K's leads AL starters.

Zack Greinke (KC) 13-8, 2.32, 202 K. AL ERA leader and #2 in K's. Might have been a 20 game winner if he pitched for a respectable team? His first five starts netted 5-0, 0.50 ERA. He's come back to earth since. Lack of run support hurts. Easily best pitcher of 1st half. Competition caught up in 2nd half.

Honorable mention: Roy Halladay, Scott Feldman, Josh Beckett.

Rivera would get my pick if the season ended today. CC is he reaches 20 wins. Let the debate begin. AL Cy Young race is wide open.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2009 Cy Young Races (NL)

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-Digger's Daily-

Baseball's 2009 Cy Young Award features many eligible pitchers. Last year's winner Tim Lincecum has been getting much attention from the sporting media again in '09. He's definitely in the hunt, but, there's more than one horse in this race. Only a few more starts remain for NL candidates. Here's my short list of NL's top hurlers. All of these guys have a legit chance of taking home the hardware...

Tim Lincecum (SF) - Dominating in first half (10-2, 2.33) but has managed only 3 wins since the All Star break. He's been the main reasons Giants remain in playoff contention. Overall, 13-4, 2.33, 222 K. Mighty fine numbers but faces stiffer competition this year.

Adam Wainwright (STL) - 16-7, 2.47 has been improving every year. 6-2, 1.29 since the break. AW has a shot at being NL's only 20 game winner. If he gets 20, then he's my pick. Dominating 2nd half has helped Cards pull away in NL Central. Only 1 complete game and no shutouts might work against him if voters are stat happy. Nonetheless, Wainwright is one of NL's top hurlers.

Chris Carpenter (STL) - 14-3, 2.20 Former winning has returned to dominating form after recovering from surgery. Nasty stuff and my current front runner to take home CYA. I'm expecting LaRussa to restrict Carp's innings down the stretch in an attempt to keep him well rested for playoffs.

Matt Cain (SF) - 12-4, 2.60 but only 2-2 after break. Victim of lack of run support even though his 2nd half ERA is better than 1st half. Also working against his chances is Lincecum's popularity. He's deserves consideration even though I don't belief he has any shot at winning CYA.

Ryan Franklin (STL) - Relievers generally don't bring home CYA's. Franklin's career year is worth noting. 2-1, 1.37, 36 of 38 Saves has been dominating and a key ingrediant to Cards winning NL Central. Never had an ERA below 3.00 in career. He's making it look easy.

Three Cardinals and two Giants on my short list. Some might argue Florida's Josh Johnson (13-4, 3.08) deserves to be in the mix. The others have been far too dominating so I doubt JJ will garner any first place votes. We'll see how it shakes out. As of this moment, Carpenter is my pick unless Wainwright reaches 20 wins.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fantasy Football Draft Results

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-Digger's Daily-

Tonight I participated in my first fantasy football draft. I usually draft up to 3 teams. It was a snap decision as I entered a random ESPN 10 team free public league (usually join private leagues). Generally speaking, I seldom enjoy drafting 1st/2nd or 8th-10th because way too many players get gobbled up by other owners between picks. All things considered, if you can't draft from the middle of the pack then going early is preferred. As luck would have it, my New York Muggers drafted from the second position. After my first pick, Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner, most of my early wish list players were long gone before the Muggers second selection was on the clock.

Here's how the New York Muggers rosters filled out round by round (round #/overall pick #):
1/2 RB - Michael Turner (Atl) - wanted Pederson, he went #1.

2/19 WR - Randy Moss (NE) - happy to sign Moss this deep.

3/22 RB - Clinton Portis (Was) - one of my favorite backs and was best of the rest at 22.

4/39 TE - Tony Gonzalez (Atl) - altered thinking and went after my fav big game TE.

5/42 QB - Matt Ryan (Atl) - not expecting big numbers from week to week, missed out on bigger names.

6/59 WR - Eddie Royal (Den) - explosive play maker, expecting big numbers and td's, nice pairing with Moss.

7/62 WR - Anthony Gonzalez (Ind) - should get plenty of opportunities with Peyton tossing.

8/79 RB - Jamaal Lewis (Cle) - not sure what to expect this year after a flat '08.

9/82 D/ST - Minnesota Vikings - took a gamble & played a hunch taking Vikes D. I like their speed and ability to cause turnovers. Offense should keep these guys well rested for a change.

10/99 RB - Julius Jones (Sea) - not a great pick, went for depth. Seattle will be much better creating opportunities for Jones if he can produce. Was terrible last year.

11/102 QB - Eli Manning (NYG) - Eli was still available, I'm a Giants fan, what the heck? If no-name receivers step up then he might be my full time starter. Brees & Brady were my top 2 choices (both drafted very early).

12/119 D/ST - Chicago Bears - needed solid backup D/ST for Vikes.

13/122 K - David Akers (Phi) - didn't want any Eagles but Akers was a solid pick here (wanted Gostkowski).

14/139 WR - Chris Chambers (SD) - why not? he was still available and plays for a big play offense.

15/142 K - Nate Kaeding (SD) - should get plenty of chances to put up points, might end up as #1 K.

16/159 TE - Visanthe Shiancoe (Min) - needed a backup for Gonzo, will have a career year as Favre loves his TE's.

In retrospect, only a couple of picks might come back to haunt me. Romo was still available when I selected Ryan. As a Giants fan, no way did I want Romo. Instead of Anthony Gonzalez, perhaps another RB would have been a better choice (Ward, White & Benson remained). However, getting Jamaal with my next pick for depth purposes might offset my second guessing. Jones will probably ride the bench unless he gets off to a quick start. Seattle picked up vet Ed James to back up or replace a less than stellar Jones.

All in all I'm pretty satisfied considering how may players were taken between draft picks. Muggers should be in good shape barring injury. No single team stands out above others right now. Of course, this can all change once games are actually played.

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