Sunday, January 31, 2010

All Pro Game Missing All Pro Players

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

NFL All Pro game begins in a few moments. Are this years reps really a "All Pro's". Players who will actually participate in on field action are hardly all stars. Not by a long shot.

14 starters will not be playing as Super Bowl players are not allowed to take the field. However, it's mandatory they show up and watch from the sidelines. First, they're penalized by not being allowed to play. Then, financially penalized by NFL if they opt to skip mandatory sideline pacing.
Next, 17 players will miss the contest due to injury. So who's left? David Garrard and Vince Young will be AFC backup QB's. Maybe next year NFL should go after high school QB's. Not many NFL starting QB's had worse stats than Garrard. Yet, here he is ready to suit up and play.

Needless to say I'm not a fan of the new version of this years All Pro game hosted in Super Bowl city Miami vs usual Hawaii format. All Star games in all sports are a tribute to leagues best players honored by fans and peers. Yes, some of the NFL greats will be playing. Unfortunately, at least for me, not enough and barring players from participating is a personal foul of the highest degree. This is exactly why I firmly believe future games should be played after the Super Bowl.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Super Bowl Flashbacks: Buffalo Parties to 4 Defeats?

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Super Bowl XLIV sparks memories of past championship games. As I started searching internet archives for little known Super Bowl stories, as told by players, I came across a very fresh interview given by former Dallas Cowboys star defender Darren Woodson on "ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning."

One of the questions to Woodson touched on the Buffalo Bills experience advantage over the Cowboys. Remember, Buffalo represented the AFC playing four straight Super Bowls from 1990-93.... losing them all. 1990 was an instant classic as the New York Giants held on for a 20-19 victory after the Bills last second field goal attempt sailed wide right. The following three championship games weren't nearly as kind. Buffalo was blown away in all of them as if they were hung over (1991 vs Washington, 37-24; 1992 vs Dallas 52-17; 1993 vs Dallas 30-13). Guess what? Maybe hung over is the perfect phrase. According to Woodson....

“As much as everyone talked about how much experience the Bills had back then, they partied harder than any other team. That’s all we heard about the entire week in L.A., the (Cowboys) first Super Bowl.

“They (Bills players) were out Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Couple guys got into altercations in the clubs, older, veteran guys with the Bills.

“Experience doesn’t mean that much, it’s all about leadership. There’s a reason they (Bills) lost four Super Bowls. They partied harder than any other team.”

I've yet to find any Bills players refuting this story. I'll bet quite a few will in coming days. It did seem odd how easily the Bills lost their final three appearances. Then again, they ran into buzz saws. Washington was very strong but many thought Buffalo should have performed better (especially defensively). They were slow, gave up uncharacteristic big plays and seemed off. Against Dallas, Bills RB Thurman Thomas seemed afraid to play. During one strange moment he claims to have lost (or forgot) his helmet. Nonetheless, Dallas was far better prepared and hungrier for victory.

Buffalo players weren't the only team partying hard Super Bowl week. Atlanta Falcons Eugene Robinson was arrested on the eve before the big game vs Denver for soliciting a prostitute. San Diego players were spotted in nightclubs throughout Miami. Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders had players fail to show up.. and the list goes on....

Was Woodson's statement truth or fairytale? Funny how Buffalo's saga never was reported earlier. Funnier yet is a Dallas Cowboys player from that era claiming another team partied harder than they did! Anyone out there remember "The White House" in Dallas? Or, the multiple incidents from DWI, drugs, prostitutes, fights etc which used to surround the Cowboys during their heyday?

Where was Bills team leadership in the days approaching Super Bowl Sunday? Four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Don't tell me losses were due to partying fools. I'd rather go on believing they were simply outclassed on the gridiron.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Super Bowl Silence?

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

What is up with the lack of publicity for Super Bowl XLIV? Two great teams (Indianapolis vs New Orleans), two great QB's (Manning vs Brees) and, two great coaches leading their conferences best teams. So, what gives?

Ever since the final gun sounded ending the NFC Championship most talk quickly shifted to whether or not Brett Favre will call it a career (again) or, should he come back for another try? Toss in Arizona's QB Warner should I stay or go attitide (expected to retire momentarily).

Ah yes, there has been some Super Bowl chatter. It mostly involves University of Florida QB Tim Tebow. He's filmed a pro-life commercial set to air during the Super Bowl on CBS. CBS has been under heavy, heavy criticism for accepting to run the ad during the game. Tremendous political and activist pressure has been screaming to "kill" the commercial. Abortion supporters have taken issue with Tebow's story. In short, when his mom was pregnant she was advised to end her pregnancy due to complications. She refused. Result: Tim Tebow. Now he wants to tell his story. It's an American dream trying to be sabotaged by activist radicals.

Super Bowl silence... can you hear it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ready, Aim, You're Fired!

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Another one bites the dust. Make it two. NBA Commissioner Stern suspended two Washington Wizards players for their roles in a lockerroom gun incident. Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton can now duel it out at home without pay. Sometimes it makes one wonder how a select few professional athletes can be so dumb.

The backstory is a bit muted. Rumors claimed both players had guns in the lockerroom when Arenas pulled his out over a gambling debt. Crittenton responded in kind. Two teammates pulling guns on each other. Plus, throw gambling into the mix and it's a wonder how it took Commish Stern so long to hand down an official league punishment. Arenas made his troubles worse by trying to turn this into a joke immediately following the incident by making finger pointing gun motions at teammates during pre-game. Joking it up on Twitter didn't make Stern all that happy either.

Local law enforcement has been all over this episode. Yahoo! Sports and the New York Post, both citing unidentified sources, reported the investigation takes aim at Crittenton too. The Post printed Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling related debt prompting Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then reached for his own gun. D.C. gun laws are strict. Expect this story to resurface in a few weeks.

Arenas & Crittenton might help revive old slang. "Dumb jock" seems to be a virus rapidly spreading to unsuspecting athletes. Is there no cure?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AFC/NFC Championship Weekend

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

New York Jets (9-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
There's plenty of new and old history surrounding this game. It was Broadway Joe Namath who led his Jets to Super Bowl III victory over Don Shula's heavily favored NFL best Baltimore Colts. It was the AFC's 1st SB win and put the league on the map.In my book, the Jets would be sitting home right now having missed the playoffs if it wasn't for Colts head coach pulling all of his key starting players in week 15 instead of letting his team play for a perfect 16-0 season. Indy will now play the team they let into the playoffs. Will AFC's top team lose again to the Jets?

Keys to victory:
Colts Offense: It's all about MVP Peyton Manning's ability to read the Jets swarming defense. Pre-snap reads have never been more important as Colts square off vs NFL's top defense.Offensive line must pick up multiple looks coming from Jets oft blitzing D.

Colts Defense: If the Colts want to win this game they must shut down the Jets running game. Jets will try playing keep-a-way from Manning which means they will try running early and often. Putting pressure on rookie QB Sanchez in passing situations is vital. They'll need to force Sanchez to make hurried throws.

Jets Offense: All talk surrounding Jets seems to revolve around their killer defense. However, if the Jets are to have any shot at knocking off Indy their offensive line must dominate. Everything else goes out the window if New York cannot control the clock and keep the ball out of Manning's hands. Running attack, if successful, will then open up plenty of play action pass situations.

Jets Defense: CB Revis has shut down every top wide receiver he lines up against. Coach Rex Ryan will need to cleverly disguise blitz packages to keep Manning off balance. If they can force three and outs and/or turnovers then expect a very close contest.
Prediction: Indy never should have given up on chasing a perfect season. It was theirs for the taking. Because of a bad coaching decision, the Jets are in the AFC Championship Game. And, they'll win.... 24-20.

Minnesota Vikings (12-4) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Brett Favre vs Drew Brees. NFC's top two QB's go head to head. It's about more than these two super QB's even if headlines and news stories haven't gone deep enough evaluating this matchup.

Keys to victory:
Saints Offense: Brees throws to everyone and anyone who can get open. Big test Sunday vs very aggressive purple defense. Running game is key to opening up passing lanes. Passing game is key to opening up running lanes. Brees will test Vikes defense deep early and often.

Saints Defense: They'll have to disrupt Favre and get him to force throws. Then, there's the Adrian Peterson factor. Saints can get into his head by forcing the fumble prone star to cough up the pigskin.

Vikings Offense: Favre needs to stay calm, cool and collected. His past playoff failures are largely due to his attempting to force passes into tight coverage instead of throwing it away for another play. Peterson must protect the ball. Offensive line needs to play their best game of the year for the ground game to take hold.

Vikings Defense: Minnesota will have their hands full. How do they prepare to stiffle Brees and Co? For most of the year Saints WR's have been creating havoc against opposing secondaries by streaking downfield.

Prediction: It'll be a shootout which might come down to whoever has the ball last wins. Both teams confidence is riding high after blowout playoff wins last weekend. Favre has been here before. Vikings are hungry.... Minnesota 34 Saints 30.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who's the Best? Majors Top Ten Teams

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

There's been plenty of action lately in all major sports. Baseball players and teams finalizing contracts/rosters prepping for spring training. NBA's top teams jockey for position while bottom half plays spoilers. NHL's Islanders getting hot for 1st time this decade. #1 Texas was stunned in college hoops. Jets advance to AFC title game. Favre vs Brees to decide NFC champ. Time to list my top ten power rankings...

Red Sox

LA Lakers
San Antonio
(no team qualifies for #10)

Michigan State

New Orleans
San Diego
Green Bay

New Jersey
San Jose

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Pro Bowl Moves to Miami

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

NFL Pro Bowl style has a new look for 2010. This years game will be played one week before the Super Bowl in Miami instead of one week after in Hawaii. It's something new as the NFL attempts to attract more viewers.

Personally, I couldn't be more against this new setup for one simple reason. NFL players voted to All Pro squads who will also be playing in the Super Bowl are not allowed to participate. This is the main reason why I do not believe the Pro Bowl should be played before the Super Bowl. What's the point voting in players who cannot play by rule? Mind you there's no way in the world I would want one of my players risking injury before the Super Bowl which is precisely why the Pro Bowl must be played one week later, as always. It's current set up for this year (January 31) penalizes players who earned the right to represent their teams and fans who voted to see their favorite players suit up.

We're down to NFL's final four teams loaded with potential players not allowed to play if their teams reach the Super Bowl. What's wrong with this picture? A replacement cast of characters in the Pro Bowl? Super Bowl stars standing around on the sidelines? What's the point of playing? Money. Simply put, this is all about money. NFL will generate much more by scheduling both Pro and Super Bowl games in Miami. More hands on fans (coupled with Super Bowl week), NFL gambling on larger tv viewing audience, double revenues for Miami. If the NFL really wanted to bulk up their tv viewing audience then they should consider ditching special game rules. Since this is a showcase game the NFL has been very careful attempting to protect players from injuries by implimenting special rules barring blitzes and certain formations (probably a good idea). To make this game truly great then let the best of the best square off in straight up battle to bring meaning to these games. It won't happen. So since this will always be an exhibition game then return it to one week after the Super Bowl. Let all healthy starters play and drop Hawaii for stateside games in domed stadiums different from Super Bowl hosts.

Ok, enough critiquing. Here's my selections for AFC & NFC starters based on best players/position (reserves, replacement players excluded).

QB - Peyton Manning (Indy)
RB - Chris Johnson (Ten)
FB - Le'Ron McClain (Balt)
WR - Wes Welker (NE), Andre Johnson (Hou)
TE - Dallas Clark (Indy)
C - Nick Mangold (NYJ)
G - Alan Faneca (NYJ), Kris Dielman (SD)
T - D'Brickshaw Ferguson (NYJ), Jake Long (Mia)

DE - Dwight Freeney (Indy), Robert Mathis (Indy)
DT - Halati Ngata (Balt), Vince Wolfork (NE)
LB - Ray Lewis (Balt), James Harrison (Pit), Elvis Dumervil (Den)
CB - Darrelle Revis (NYJ), Nnamdi Asomugha (Oak)
FS - Ed Reed (Balt)
SS - Brian Dawkins (Den)

P - Shane Lechler (Oak)
K - Nate Kaedling (SD) ... almost dropped him after watching 0-3 choke vs Jets yesterday.
PR - Josh Cribbs (Cle)
KR - Josh Cribbs (Cle)

Coach - Jim Caldwell (Indy)

QB - Drew Brees (NO), Brett Favre (Min) (tie)
RB - Steven Jackson (StL)FB - Leonard Weaver (Phi)
WR - Larry Fitzgerald (AZ), Steve Smith (NYG)
TE - Vernon Davis (SF)C - Andre Gurode (Dal)
G - Steve Huchinson (Min), Jahri Evans (NO)
T - Bryant McKinney (Min), Jason Peters (Phi)

DE - Jared Allen (Min), Trent Cole (Phi)
DT - Kevin Williams (Min), Jay Ratliff (Dal)
LB - Jonathan Vilma (NO), DeMarcus Ware (Dal), Patrick Willis (SF)
CB - Asante Samuel (Phi), Charles Woodson (GB)
FS - Darren Sharper (NO)
SS - Adrian Wilson (AZ)

P - Ben Graham (AZ)
K - Ryan Longwell (Min)
PR - DeSean Jackson (Phi)
KR - Percy Harvin (Min)

Coach - Sean Payton (NO)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Non-Roids All Stars

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Baseball's steroids issues aren't going away anytime soon. Mark McGwire's recent admission re-ignited the swirling controversy of one of baseball's biggest black eyes. Many steroid era players are now eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. They're going to have a tough time gaining admittance, rightfully so.

Who were some of the good guys during this deviant time? One by one, guilt by association seems to rule the day. Here's my Non-Roids All Stars based on players not mentioned in the nasty controversy. It wasn't an easy task since most are now under a cloud of suspicion. Here's what I came up with...

1B- Fred McGriff
2B- Roberto Alomar
3B- Cal Ripken, Jr.
SS- Derek Jeter
OF- Tony Gwynn
OF- Ken Griffey, Jr.
OF- Paul O'Neill
DH- Bernie Williams
C- Charles Johnson
SP- Greg Maddux
RP- Mariano Rivera

Let's hope this select group of baseball good guys names remain free and clear of PED suspicions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kansas City's New England Connection

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Here come the Chiefs. Kansas City is wasting no time by quickly rebuilding for future success. New general manager, new offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator. What do these three (GM Pioli, OC Charlie Weiss, DC Roman Crennel) all have in common? They're the New England connnection who contributed heavily to the Patriots monster years from 2002-05 (3 Super Bowl Titles).

Everything about Kansas City football is about to improve on and off the field of play. Draft day planning suddenly gets exciting for these guys. On offense, Charlie Weiss is one of the best. The defense better perform if they want to play for new defensive coordinator Crennel.

The Chiefs have been one of NFL's best franchises until recent struggles. They've been a fun team to watch over the years but it's been rough going ever since Dick Vermeil retired. My favorite years for KC was during Marty Schottenheimer's tenure.

Let's see what the Chiefs can do with their new staff.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Green Bay vs Arizona was quite the show last Sunday. Cards won 51-45 on a defensive play in OT! So how will Arizona vs New Orleans shape up Saturday afternoon? Will Favre & Co. be too much for red hot Dallas to handle? Jets D vs a Chargers team on a mission? Is Peyton ready for more 4th quarter heroics vs a stingy Ravens D? Time to toss my two cents into predicting this weekends games.

Cardinals @ Saints: Arizona's coming off a thrilling OT win vs Green Bay, 51-45. Was it a preview for what's next? At times, the Saints can score at will. Both teams have top notch QB's and WR's. Defensive edge is probably says advantage Saints. Take your pick in this one. New Orleans should win but we're talking about the still not respected Cards who surprised everyone last year by coming within one play of winning the Super Bowl. Not many gave them a shot last week. Not many are giving them a shot this week. Guess what? They'll put up points again.Arizona 38 New Orleans 34

Ravens @ Colts: MVP Manning's 4th quarter performances have been nothing short of spectacular. He'll have his hands full against a very aggressive Ravens defense. These teams squared off back on November 22nd. Indy won on a late 4th qtr field goal, 17-15. I'm thinking it'll be another very tight game.
Indianapolis 24 Baltimore 20

Cowboys @ Vikings: Here's my favorite matchup in this round. Dallas is red hot. Romo's looking great and Dallas defense has played especially well in three consecutive contests. Minnesota has weapons at every offensive position with plenty of depth to boot. Vikings defense is equally tough. Favre had been struggling down the stretch until unleashing hell vs Giants. Minnesota is too tough at home. Adrian Peterson will have a huge statistical game leading the Vikes to victory.
Minnesota 33 Dallas 27

Jets @ Chargers: Jets defense is NFL's best. They can shut down anyone. On Sunday, New York's D needs to score points too. San Diego's offense is too good. Jets offense not good enough to keep up. Turnovers is the key. Chargers win but never bet against the Jets. They're not here by accident.
San Diego 23 New York 10


Mark McGwire* Talks About the Past

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Is anyone surprised to hear Mark McGwire finally admit what most already knew? Big Mac came clean to speak of the past by confirming he was another baseball playing steroid junkie. So why now? Why should anyone care after years of denials? There are a few reasons some should care, especially Hall of Fame voters. So, I'm going to shake a stick at McGwire's confession.

First off, McGwire missed the mark. For me he comes across as a former drunk telling people he used to drink while wondering why he went to bars. No kidding. Somehow, this dillusional guy is trying to tell people steroid use didn't help his ability to hit homeruns two seconds after telling us all how he needed steroids to recover from various injuries. Really? What about the most obvious fact hardly anyone isn't telling you? Mac was only able to suit up because steroids sped up, or helped get over, injuries when most other players might have been forced into retirement or perform below expected capabilities. Of course steroid's helped hit home runs. Just from the simple fact he was able to play.

Next up, he claims not wanting to get bulked up like Governor Arnold or The Hulk. Give us all a break. Has anyone viewed pictures of Big Mac as a rookie? And, then as Bigger than Big Mac during the Roger Maris chase? What made me sick most of all after hitting number 62* was the press conference when he nearly came to tears hoping the record breaking bat would be placed next to Maris' bat in Cooperstown. Mac and Sosa, two overly inflated muscle heads, were media darlings while chasing Maris. Baseball honored them as men who saved the game from ruin after then recent set backs and strikes. It was a complete sham. I suspect, and previously blogged, the Commissioner of Baseball knew full well there was a dire steroid abuse problem rapidly spreading across MLB. Selig has denied it all the way even after former players came forward and even when BALCO first came to light. His bat should be forever banned from the Hall as a symbol to followers so history never repeats in this instance.

No one can ever know for sure how Mark McGwire's career would have turned out had steroid abuse never become an issue. He was a home run hitter before PED's came into play. His 49 as a rookie rewrote history books. He never did come close to 49 again until coming in contact with steroids. He was oft injured. Using was soon becoming the norm with players. Not only for those in need of body repairs but, also for those looking to further careers, better statiscal production, and yes, for the money!

One thing is clearly evident. No way would Mac have hit 583 career home runs. Denying steroid's helped hit homeruns isn't believable and nobody should fall for it. Check this: 1988-1991 he averaged 152 games/played and 31.5 home runs/season. 1993 he played only 27 games, 1994 only 47. This is the time frame when he was recovering and juicing. Well, well, well... guess what happened upon Mark's return to live action? 39 round trippers in only 109 games followed up by 52 & 58 in consecutive seasons (96/97). Is he trying to fool the public into thinking it wasn't about home runs. He had come within 3 home runs of tying baseball's once golden home run record. Is he really telling us he wasn't using more often, trying to get stronger, bigger, quicker swing in an attempt to break an ever elusive 61? It's a joke. Stats prove it too. 1996-99 averaged 149 games/season adn an unreal 61.25 home runs/season including 70 and 65 in 98 & 99. During the record breaking 1998 season a bottle of androstenedione was found in his locker (an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product that had already been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NFL and the IOC). No it wasn't banned at the time but alarm bells should've been ringing. It wasn't only Mac. Plenty of others were suspect. Now we know, again. Baseball from top to bottom and bottom to top knew all along and were complicite as an entity of covering up. Nobody cared when paying customers filled ballparks and baseball owners pockets.

Back to my earlier question. Why is Mac trying to come clean now? Two reasons. The Cardinals recently re-signed Mac as their hitting instructor so it makes perfect sense from an organizational side to get it over with now before spring camp opens. Plus, manager LaRussa has openly wondered aloud of activating McGwire August 31 for late season and playoff eligibility. Might as well have the distraction out of the way now. Second, in my eye's it's really all about one thing and one thing only.... I offer no proof other than Mac's former actions are repeating once again. It's only about the Hall of Fame, period. Here's my analysis. 58 home runs came so very close to breaking baseball's home run record. Mac did anything he could to get past a record which had stood since 1961. A coveted number only a few had even remotely approached. So, Mac did what he had to... "cheat"... artificially pump up his body and his ability. In 1998, 70 home runs shattered the record. Soon to be broken again by another body swelling Barry Bonds. History repeats, and it's doing so now. Mac now wants into the Hall badly. His rep forever tarnished by Congressional testimony and questions. Legacy tarnished badly enough only 20% of votes. Just as he had done chasing after Maris & 61... he's now coming clean to do everything possible get in. Just wait and see. Here was a guy who tried avoiding interviews and the spotlight since retiring. Now, he's going to transparently suck up to sportswriters nationwide. Suddenly, Mac will be doing interview after interview as the Cards travel from city to city. Just to cozy up to the voting sportswriters hoping and praying for enough votes to a Hall of Fame nod.

McGwire and Pete Rose denied when 99% knew they were covering up past actions. Why? To make the Hall of Fame. If sportswriters ever vote this guy in they're rewarding and creating new outside the lines type of players. Steroids era players should have a very difficult time getting HOF votes and rightfully so. Guilty by association for some? Yes, sobeit. Steroids era represents many things. Perhaps most of all the game is guilty of not protecting itself from outside influences. Non-using players guilty of not protecting the game and deserve harder scrutiny as enablers of this tarnished period of baseball history.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Baseball Finance 101: Collusion or Scared Money?

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Spring Training is one month away. Major League Baseball owners have been very slow to sign free agents leaving players wondering (or worrying) where, or if, they'll play in 2010. The state of our economy and how it's effected teams/owners bottom lines may be factoring into why so many talented players remain without jobs. Or, is it? America's favorite pasttime has never been a stranger to controversy. Owners colluding has been famously proven in years past. Is it resurfacing again? To contradict many blogs I've been reading my answer is no.

Owners are concerned as economic trends remain worrisome. Some MLB teams have clamped down. Tightening their purse strings at any cost. Big market teams in New York, Boston and LA continue to spend as they see fit. Smaller market, less competitive teams continue to struggle with dwindling gate receipts and escalating costs. There's one team with perennial lackluster attendance cellar dwellers spending more than most anticipated. Ironicly, they're based in Washington! The Washington Nationals have opened their piggy banks by signing veteran All Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez (2 years, $6M hoping he can settle down one of baseball's most pathetic and oft injured pitching staffs. Throw in Jason Marquis (2 years, $12M) plus Mike Capps (1 year, $3M) and it may appear as though the Nationals are finally trying to build a competitive team. Seattle Mariners have been busy too making blockbuster trades and key additions as they see a clear opportunity to challenge in the AL West.

I remain completely surprised so many talented players remain unsigned when a majority of teams need help. Taking a look at some of these remaing free agent notables: Jermaine Dye, Vlad Guerrero, Aubry Huff, Miguel Tejada, Jon Garland, Johnny Damon, Rick Ankiel, Orlando Hudson, Rod Barajas, Russell Branyan, Orlando Cabrera, Felipe Lopez. These names represent a few of what I call potential impact players ready to contribute. Perhaps their asking prices are too high. A few haven't even been offered deals. Most surprising to me isn't the lack of bigger named signings outside of Dye & Tejada. Not by a longshot. It's the lack of activity surrounding more versatile guys and starting pitchers. Here's the complete list of available free agents listed on

Time is ticking. Pre-season games begin in March. I expect there to be a flurry of activity as spring training is only weeks away. Time will tell.

Early 2010 Random Rumblings

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head with one week of the new year barely completed.

Hats off the College Football's new National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. What happened to Colt McCoy? This kids draft stock is on serious hold in my eyes. The biggest game of his young football career and he didn't have the guts to come back out onto the field. You have to feel for his Texas Longhorns teammates who played a great game to just stay close until Alabama pulled away late. For those who missed it, QB McCoy was hit during Texas' 2nd series. He immediately went to the sidelines never to return. Apparently, all the hubbub is over a pinched nerve. It didn't seem too severe when McCoy was jumping around the sidelines after halftime. Buck up kid. Be a man. At the very least, he should have tried playing at least a few snaps. He did not look hurt. Flashbacks of Thurman Thomas Super Bowl chicken out move vs Dallas.

What in the world gets into the heads of pro athletes. Now, it's NBA star Gilbert Arenas who gets brandished a gun. IN THE LOCKERROOM! I give a ton of credit to Commissioner Stern for immediately suspending this nut who was crazy enough to then finger point gun motions at his teammates moments later. A law enforcement investigation is currently underway. Throw the book at him. Maybe Gil's cell will read "Plaxico was here!"

Theo Epstein is quietly rebuilding another tough Red Sox ballclub. 2010 theme is big time defense. Beltre's arrival to man 3B is a nice addition and I'm betting his bat reawakens within Fenway's cozy confines. They may not have enough guns to win the East, but Wild Card is always well within their grasp.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 to Crown New BCS & NFL Champions!

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Get ready for serious football action. Thursday night is college football's BCS Championship Game, #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #2 Texas Longhorns. Two of the nations perrenial top football programs will go head to head in a winner take all game. Following closely behind, NFL Playoffs kick off with the Wild Card round beginning Saturday. Here's my two cents version of how the games will play out...

Texas Longhorns (13-0) - Barely challenged by opponents in '09 until beating Nebraska by 1 in the regular season finale 13-12. Nation's 3rd ranked offense led by senior QB Colt McCoy and WR Jordan Shipley will have their hands full vs nation's 2nd ranked Alabama Crimson Tide defense. Texas plays a high powered game featuring speed on both sides of the line. Alabama's offensive line might be the difference maker in this one. If they're able to pound Longhorn defensive line into the ground (no easy task) then Heisman Trophy winner Ingram will have a huge night. Texas LB's will need to play big and they will.
Prediction: Texas 23 Alabama 19

Jets (9-7) @ Bengals (10-6): Jets trifecta - rookie coach, rookie qb, NFL #1 defense. Jets defense is NFL's best and will be needed to set up great field position for suspect offense. Chad Ochocinco lost his own challenge and was supposed to change his name back to Chad Johnson (hasn't happened) after being shut out by Jets CB Revis. Chad whoever may get shut out again.
Jets 20 Bengals 9

Eagles (11-5) @ Cowboys (11-5): Cowboys snapped a December dry spell to win NFC East in final game vs Philadelphia. Dallas defense has posted back to back shutouts. I've always been a firm believer in momentum heading into playoff football and Cowboys are hot, hot, hot. Did Eagles defense play possum last weekend? They're a blitz first defense and hardly blitzed Romo last weekend. Expect a very aggressive D this go around. If so, watch out for Romo to Witten as Philly is weak defending TE's running wide open vs blitz schemes.
Cowboys 31 Eagles 20

Ravens (9-7) @ Patriots (10-6): Ravens are dangerous. Problem is their game is inconsistent on both offense and defense. When they're good, they're good. When bad, they play like crud. I'm expecting Baltimore's D to be very motivated and agressive. Same goes for offense vs Pats weak and exposed secondary. This isn't the same Patriots team which not too long ago dominated games. They won't on Sunday either. Brady lost a key weapon last weekend (Welker). Defense is banged up. Running game has no chance vs Ravens D line. Moss will be double teamed. Belichick needs one heck of a game plan run to perfection if New England is to have any chance on Sundaay afternoon.
Ravens 27 Patriots 17

Packers (11-5) @ Cardinals (10-6): No one gave Arizona any chance heading into last years' opening round playoff game. Guess what? They ended up one play from winning the Super Bowl! I doubt many are giving them much of a shot in this game either. Green Bay is hot and playing great football lately. Their defense has been making big play after big play. On offense, Rodgers is in the zone leading the NFL's 3rd highest scoring offense. Warner won't go easily and is usually money in big games. Young RB Wells will need to play the game of his life and not fumble. Protecting the pigskin is key for turnover happy Cards.
Packers 34 Cardinals 23

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Andre Dawson Voted into Hall of Fame

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

It's official. After 8 years of wondering and waiting the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) voted Andre Dawson into the Hall of Fame. Dawson, named on 77.9% of ballots (75% needed for election), was one of the NL's most feared hitters during his 21 year career.

21 year MLB career stats include: 1977 NL Rookie of the Year, 1987 NL MVP, 438 HR, 1591 RBI, .279 BA, 314 SB, 8 time All Star, 8 Gold Gloves.

Debates often rage when it comes to discussing future HOF candidates. Dawson's name was often debated as are many of this years nominee's who failed to garner enough votes (Blyleven, McGwire, Dale Murphy, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Tim Raines). For me, Dawson's selection was never about why or why not. It was only a question of when? The question has now been answered... 2010.

I was lucky enough to watch Dawson play live many times when his Expos and Cubs played at Shea Stadium. He was a gifted 5 tool player that did it all offensively and defensively playing hurt throughout most of his career. The only knock of his career was a relatively low on base percentage meaning he didn't walk enough (or made too many outs) for the naysayers. However, when he hit, he hit everything hard and was a big time clutch hitter when games were on the line. Defensively, his shot gun right arm not only cut runners down on the base path's but, they would often reconsider attempting to go for an extra base.

Andre Dawson was a man who simply loved to play the game. It wasn't about money as evidenced by his once signing a "blank contract" with the Chicago Cubs. He told Chicago to fill in any amount... he just wanted to play. Dallas Green filled in $500,000 (2nd lowest salary on Cubs) during a period when owners colluded against free agents. Dawson went onto win NL MVP honors posting a career season (49 HR, 137 RBI).

Today's headlines of Andre Dawson... the "Hawk"... finally landing where he belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame is great news. Perhaps, next year will finally be Bert Blyleven's turn.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ochocinco No More? Trash Talker Loses Own Challenge!

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Happy New Year!

What a great few days of football from college to pro games. It's only gets better from here. Soon a new National Champion will be crowned. Next weekend NFL Playoffs begin.

Here's a little side note from Sunday night's pre-game interview with Chad Ochocinco. Remember, Chad's real last name used to be Johnson before he legally changed to Ochocinco. This week, Ocho has been engaged in lighthearted trash talking of how he was going to beat New York Jets defensive back Revis. One of his twitter posts read as follows:

"I'm coming to the big apple to give NY what they've never seen, an escape inmate gone wild on Revis island. Try and cover me."

Today he took it to a new level. And, if he's a man of his word, Chad Ochocinco will soon be legally re-named Chad Johnson. During the Bengals/Jets pre-game interview Chad stated how Revis couldn't cover him. I guess playing top notch defense vs Randy Moss & Terrell Owens two games each didn't mean much to Chad. Not to mention shutting down nearly every opposing wideout.

Ochocinco's trash talking was all stated in good fun and without malice. He's a colorful character always looking to say or do something on the shocking side to garner attention on and off the field. But, did he go too far tonight? Will Revis call him out? Here's the pregame challenge quote during the Costas interview:

"If Revis were to shut me down, I will change my name back to Johnson. That’s how confident I am. It’s not happening.”

Guess how many catches Mr. Ochocinco recorded Sunday night? ZERO. New York's defense laid it all on the line. A win guaranteed them a playoff birth. They did more than win. It was total domination 37-0. Chad didn't catch a single pass. Revis was all over him from the very first snap.

The question remains.... will Chad honor his word even if spoken in jest and revert back to Johnson?