Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baseball's All Time Cinderella Teams

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

What makes a cinderalla team? A team expected to lose more than they win ends up winning more than they lose. Baseball's history is filled with tales of teams expected to lose winning big games. Let's look at a few of the games most notable cinderella World Series championship teams.

1) 1969 New York Mets Nobody anticipated the Mets sudden success. They entered the NL as an expansion team in 1962 inventing new ways to lose during their inaugural record setting 120 loss season. New York lost over 100 games in 5 of their first 6 seasons and were the laughingstock of MLB. Then came the 1969 season. Led by Tom Seaver (25-7) and Jerry Koosman (17-9), the Mets came out of nowhere after trailing division leading Chicago by 10 games in mid August, they went 38-11 and won the NL East by 8 games. Nobody gave NY a chance in post-season play. The Mets stunned Hank Aaron's Atlanta Braves in NLCS. Then they shocked the world by beating Baltimore 4-1 in the World Series.

2) 1914 Boston Braves Boston was coming off a dry spell of 11 consecutive seasons winning less than 70 games. They were left for dead in July twelve games below .500 and 15 out of first place before getting red hot. They finished 94-59, 10.5 games ahead of 2nd place NY Giants. Heavily favored Philadelphia A's were baseball's best having won 3 of the previous 4 World Series. Boston stunned everyone, epecially the A's, winning 4 straight games.

3) 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh had just one winning season in 11 leading up to their 1960 championship year. By the end of May, the Pirates were in 1st place and never looked back. Their World Series opponent was the mighty New York Yankees. New York's powerful attack out scored Pittsburgh 38-3 in their 3 wins. Yet, it was the Pirates who won the Series by way of a dramatic Game 7, bottom of the 9th inning home run by Bill Mazeroski, 10-9. It was one of the most exciting Game 7's in league history as both teams came back from big deficits until Maz homer won it.

4) 1987 Minnesota Twins '87 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Minnesota. A new manager (Tom Kelly) and a very young team didn't have many giving this squad any shot at doing much more than slightly improving from a dismal 6th place finish in '86. This cinderella team didn't come back from double digit deficits. As a matter of fact, they almost lost out thanks to finishing the year with 7 losses in their final 9 games. However, they regrouped in playoff action. Before it was all said and done, the Twins clawed their way to a 4 games to 3 World Series victory over favored St. Louis.

Baseball has it's share of cinderella almost champs worthy of recognition (all lost World Series)...
1967 Boston Red Sox, 2007 Colorado Rockies, 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, 1984 San Diego Padres, 1993 Philadephia Phillies,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend of Flaring Tempers

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Sports fans had plenty to cheer and jeer during the past week. World Cup, Wimbledon, inter-league baseball play, NHL & NBA drafts have been front and center. So have blown calls, temper tantrums and near fights between teammates.

World Cup officiating has been nothing short of pitiful. US was robbed of a goal in the opening round costing them a win and near elimination. Today, another really bad missed call nearly marred Germany vs England. Perhaps it did take the wind away from England's sails? We'll never know. What we all do know is the ref's failed to give England a goal on a ball that clearly passed the goal line. Had the goal been allowed, England would have tied up their match 2-2 (Germany eventually won 4-2). Moments later in Mexico's loss to Argentina, the refs missed an obvious off sides resulting in a score which never should have been allowed. There's plenty of faulty officiating in World Cup action having direct impact on game results. Politics, favoritism or just flat out ineptitude? It's been a sad state of affairs in 2010 World Cup play.

Earlier this week Chicago Cubs hot head starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano went postal after allowing 4 first inning runs to cross town rival Chicago White Sox. The Cubs starter doesn't have his best stuff this year. Their one time ace is struggling and was even demoted briefly to bullpen duties earlier in last month. After surrendering 4, he stormed off the field into Chicago's dugout and went berserk. He singled out fellow teammates before getting into Derrek Lee's face. Zambrano was immediately tossed from the dugout and suspended by Cubs management. It's uncertain when he'll be allowed back to pitch. Zambrano's $20 million price tag will make it nearly impossible for Chicago to trade their disgraced and disgruntled pitcher.

Feathers were also ruffled in struggling Tampa Bay's dugout. After CF Upton lackadaisically chased after a gapper to left center which eventually went for a triple instead of double, team leader Evan Longoria took exception when Rays players returned to the dugout. Upton put his finger in Longoria's face just before the two were separated by teammates.

Turning up the heat isn't just for weather temperatures in 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Baseball's All Star All Stars

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Have you taken time to vote for your favorite selections of baseball's All Star Game yet? If not, set aside a few minutes to visit MLB.com. As the Mid Summer Classic draws near, All World All Sports decided to have a little fun by assembling a list of All Star All Stars. The following list is comprised mostly of players selected to participate in at least 10 games. All listed had productive All Star Game results. DH selection is for entertainment purposes only since it didn't exist before 1973.

"All World All Sports All Star All Stars"
1B - Steve Garvey (LAD/SD) - 10 time All Star. .393 BA, 1.255 OPS, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR.
2B- Charlie Gehringer (DET) - 29 plate appearances (10-20), .500 BA, .655 OBA.
3B - George Brett (KC) - Perhaps the toughest selection based on lack of standout hot corner ASG performances. Batted .292
SS - Derek Jeter (NYY) - .429 BA, 1.074 OPS for Yankees captain.
OF - Willie Mays (NYG/SF) - The "Say Hey Kid" shined. 23-75 (.307), 2 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 20 Runs.
OF - Ted Williams (BOS) - Teddy Ballgame played in 18 ASG, 1.091 OPS, .304 BA, 4 HR (tied for 2nd most), 12 RBI ranks #1.
OF - Fred Lynn (BOS/LAA) - .308 BA, 1.204 OPS, 4 HR (tied for 2nd), 10 RBI (tied for 2nd), 1st ever ASG grand slam.
C - Gary Carter (MON/NYM) - 2 All Star MVP Awards.
DH - Stan Musial (STL) - .317 BA, 1.029 OPS & most HR in ASG history 6.
SP- Don Drysdale (LAD) - 2-1, 1.40, most ASG IP (19.3), most ASG strikeouts (19), 2nd most wins (2, tied), 2nd most games (8, tied).
CL - Mariano Rivera (NYY) Shines in prime time. All Star record 4 Saves (8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.625 WHIP).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Early NL MVP Race

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Time to pick up where we left off yesterday handicapping first half MVP candidates. Today's focus is on National League players. NL MVP race has a long list of worthy considerations. Let's take a look at who stands out as baseball approaches the halfway point of our 2010 season.

Ubaldo Jiminez (SP-COL) - Jiminez is on collision course to accomplish a rare feat. CY Young & MVP. This guy has been lights out for Colorado. MLB best 13-1, 1.15. It doesn't get much better than this. He may also re-write modern day record books for single season ERA. Only one team has scored 3 runs against Jiminez. In 14 starts, he's held opponents to no runs 6 times (2 shutouts), one run 4 times and two runs 3 times. Jiminez also tossed a no hitter vs Atlanta on April 17th. Some argue pitchers shouldn't be considered for MVP's but it's hard to cast aside this kind of dominance.

Adrian Gonzalez (1B-SD) - Gonzo has been a one man show in San Diego's 25th ranked offense. Excellent pitching captures local headlines. It's been Gonzo's bat carrying the offense with absolutely no lineup protection. NL leading .969 OPS compliments a .313 BA, 18 2B, 15 HR, 47 RBI & .411 OBA. Pretty solid numbers for a player being pitched around. Perhaps SD will finally take Gonzo's name out of ever swirling trade rumors.

Martin Prado (2B-ATL) Who? That's right, Martin Prado should be considered an MVP candidate. NL leader in AB (303), hits (103), total bases (147) and tops in batting average .340. Toss in stellar defensive play up the middle and his contributions should be recognized by the baseball world. He's been one of the main reasons Atlanta is in first place (NL East, 42-29).

David Wright (3B-NYM) The Mets seem to rise or fall based on Wright's production. MVP's are often selected by an individual's consistency throughout a given season and by how on field contributions equate victories. Wright has been a hot run producer this month (18 Games, .375 BA, 6 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI). His batting average now stands at .291 and 55 RBI's is tied for NL's lead. Wright has played a large part of Mets 14-4 June.

Keep an eye on ... Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Andre Ethier, Joey Votto & Aubrey Huff.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Early Season AL MVP Race

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

As the 2010 Major League Baseball season nears its' halfway point a few players stand out above the rest. Five AL players performances have created MVP buzz talk. Their on field contributions have directly led to their teams success. It's too early to declare any one player a front runner. Anything can happen with over 80 games to play. Time for a quick look at the AL's leading first half candidates.

Justin Morneau (1B-MIN) - AL 2006 MVP is perhaps the major factor behind Minnesota leading the Central. Morneau's numbers are outstanding. Batting .340, 1.070 OPS, 20 2B, 15 HR, 47 RBI and AL best .448 OBA. He's been getting it done without much lineup protection. His defense has been nearly flawless with only 1 error in 63 starts at 1B.

Robinson Cano (2B-NYY) - Cano has been a hitting machine while playing Gold Glove caliber defense at 2B. Heading into '10, a few wondered if Cano would be a productive #5 hitter in New York's prolific attack. He's been sensational. AL leading 100 hits &.365 BA, 21 2B, 14 HR, 49 RBI & just 1 error in 367 chances. Cano has developed into AL best 2B. Perhaps, the best 2B in the majors.

Josh Hamilton (OF-TEX) - How hot is hot? Hamilton is on fire. His numbers are getting better each month. June will be hard to duplicate (.474 BA, 14 extra base hits in 19 games). 3rd in AL in hits (91), HR (16), RBI (52) & top 5 in most other major statistical categories.

Miguel Cabrera (1B-DET) - Detroit's 1B is one of the most consistent heavy hitters in the majors. He's on pace to exceed his career seasonal averages. If one equates MVP candidates by how their teams perform, Cabrera might be tops on the list. AL leading 19 HR, 60 RBI, .632 SLG. He's never finished higher than 4th in MVP voting.

Keep an eye on... Vladmir Guerrero, Kevin Youkilis, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 All Star Game - National League Deserving Starters

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Save the date. 2010 Major League Baseball All Star Game. Tuesday, July 13th at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. If you haven't already voted for your favorite baseball players, then go to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot to help select this season's All Star starters. Fans can vote up to 25 times per email address. Talk about stuffing ballot boxes. Baseball's selection system is geared for maximum fan participation. Critics call it a ballot stuffing popularity contest often relegating deserving players to bench duty while fan favorites receive the honor of being named an All Star starter.

Time to select All World All Sports NL deserving starters....

1B- Adrian Gonzalez (SD) Gets the nod based on great production with no lineup support in a pitchers friendly division. 15 HR, 46 RBI, .302 BA, .938 OPS.
2B- Martin Prado (ATL) Leading NL hitter (.338 BA).
3B- Scott Rolen (CIN) Leads NL 3B with 14 HR, .939 OPS and main reason Reds challenging for NL Central crown.
SS- Juan Uribe (SF) Started 2010 as utility backup. Having big year in SF. Leads NL SS in HR (11) & RBI (42).
OF- Andre Ethier (LAD) Leads OF in BA .330, OPS (.995) & SLG (.603).
OF- Andrew McCutchen (PIT) Lone Pirates star batting .313 with 17 SB.
OF- Corey Hart (MIL) NL HR leader (17), 2nd in OF RBI (47).
C- Rod Barajas (NYM) Excellent signal caller and defensive backstop. Leads NL C's with 11 HR.
DH- Adam Dunn (WAS) 2nd in HR (16), 2nd OPS (.967), 2nd SLG (.588).
SP- Ubaldo Jiminez (COL) Nearly untouchable all year long. 13-1, 1.15 ERA tops in MLB.
CL- Jonathan Broxton (LAD) 16 Saves, 0.92 ERA, only 3 BB & 3 ER in 29.1 IP.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 All Star Game - American League Deserving Starters

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Save the date. 2010 Major League Baseball All Star Game. Tuesday, July 13th at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. If you haven't already voted for your favorite baseball players, then go to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot to help select this season's All Star starters. Fans can vote up to 25 times per email address. Talk about stuffing ballot boxes. Baseball's selection system is geared for maximum fan participation. Critics call it a ballot stuffing popularity contest often relegating deserving players to bench duty while fan favorites receive the honor of being named an All Star starter.

All World All Sports has selected "deserving" All Star starters. AWAS has no bearing on voting procedures or All Star participants. Simply put, we're selecting the best players (or most deserving) on a position by position basis. First up, 2010 American Leaguers....

1B- Miguel Cabrera (Det) AL slugging, RBI and OPS leader.
2B- Robinson Cano (NYY) hands down best AL 2B.
3B- Evan Longoria (TB) Leads AL 3B in most offensive categories.
SS- Alex Gonzalez (TOR) HR, Slugging & OPS leader at SS.
OF- Josh Hamilton (TEX) leading OF in RBI (50) & OPS (.970).
OF- Magglio Ordonez (DET) 1st in OBA (.410), 2nd in BA (.333), 2nd OPS (.931).
OF- Torii Hunter (LAA) Mr consistency near top of AL OF leaderboard.
C- Joe Mauer (MIN) stats are off but he's still AL's best backstop.
DH- Vladmir Guerrero (TEX) .331, 15 HR, 56 RBI blows away DH competition.
SP- David Price (TB) 10-2, 2.31 AL ERA leader and 1st to win 10.
CL- Jose Valverde (DET) 15 Saves, 0.61 ERA, allowed only 10 hits & 2 ER in 29.1 IP.

Stay tuned for All World All Sports NL All Stars.

Friday, June 18, 2010

MLB Power Ranking Surprises

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

It's been a roller coaster type season for many MLB teams in 2010. Win a few, lose a few. Not many expected the Mets or Braves to challenge for top spot in their divisions. Same can be said for San Diego, San Francisco and Texas. Did anyone expect Philadelphia to drop out of PR's? Fans in Chicago, Colorado and Milwaukee are scratching their heads too. Here's a quick look at my top 10 baseball power rankings...

1) New York Yankees (41-25) - Too much talent. They lost Granderson, Posada, Johnson to prolonged injuries and still won in their absence. Now it's ARod's turn to miss some time. Yanks keep winning.
2) Tampa Bay Rays (41-25) - Doing it better on the road (23-10) than at home (18-15). Pitching is key to their success.
3) Boston Red Sox (40-28) - Look out. Here they come.
4) Texas Rangers (38-28) - 31-18 after beginning 7-10. Rangers have history of wilting in 100+ degree Texas summers. Maybe this year will be different?
5) Atlanta Braves (39-28) - Complete team effort. Chipper retirement talk put on hold. He has to step it up if Braves are to win NL East.
6) New York Mets (38-28) - Mets riding 7 game winning streak. Subway Series starts tonight vs Yanks.
7) Los Angeles Dodgers (38-28) - Key contributors banged up all year long. LA still winning.
8) San Diego Padres (38-28) - Padres given up MLB low 218 runs. Pitchers dominating. Will offense ever show up?
9) San Francisco (37-28) - Young SF team will only get better.
10) Minnesota Twins (38-28) - Twins getting it done but must start winning road games.

Closing in: Detroit, Cincinnati, Angels, Toronto

Coincidence? Phils Offense Struggles Without Sign Stealing

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Philadelphia has been slumping at the plate and in the standings. Is it a coincidence their slump coincides with being caught stealing opponents pitching signals? For those of you who forgot or missed the hub-bub... Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was caught on camera peering through binoculars from the bullpen bench at Coors Field earlier in May. He then tipped off Phils hitters which pitch would be thrown. During the same game centerfielder Shane Victorino was spotted on the bullpen phone before stepping up to the plate (also caught on camera). MLB issued a penalty free warning to stop. Philadelphia has been on a steady decline ever since. Coincidence? Or, was sign stealing directly related to Phils success?

One can hardly ignore the National Leagues top offense has since been sputtering. Philadelphia was 20-12 leading NL East by 3 games. They've since gone 12-17 and were shut out six times dropping them from first to third. A few hitters, including All Star 2B Chase Utley, have been slumping. On May 12th, Utley was enjoying a fine season batting .314. His batting average now stands at .255 and dropping. Jayson Werth dropped from .348 down to .281 (after a career year in 2009). Ryan Howard now struggles to drive in base runners and has lost his power stroke which produced 4 straight seasons of at least 45 home runs and 136 RBI.

Sign stealing is nothing new in baseball. It's not against the rules either. If a team is sloppy enough to let their opposition catch on it's one thing. From time to time pitchers tip pitches. However, using binoculars to peer in towards home plate and then signal hitters is off base. Before this incident, Phils were accused of using cameras or planting personnel in perfect position to let hitters know what was about to be thrown.

Time will tell if all of this is all just a pure coincidence. However, all signs point to the Phils being lost without knowing what's coming next. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Grand Slam Debut by Red Sox Rookie

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Every now and then a feel good story comes to life. Today, in Boston, recently promoted rookie Daniel Nava needed only one pitch to become talk of the town in grand style. Nava became baseball's 2nd player to hit a grand slam on the first pitch of his first Major League at bat. It gets better....

Nava's parents raced to the game after learning Daniel was promoted. Their baggage was delayed at the airport. Not wanting to be late for their son's first big league game, they bolted straight to Fenway Park instead of waiting. Daniel's grand slam ignited the Red Sox and their fans. He finished 2-4 with a double, grand slam and 4 rbi's leading the Sox to a 10-2 romp over Philadelphia.

Instant area folk hero? Time will tell. No matter how Nava's professional career unfolds, Boston fans will never forget this rookie's debut.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 2010 - Big Headliners Highlight Sporting World

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

No rest for the weary. Lately, news headlines of the world have been flat out ugly. Wars, turmoil, financial debacles, nuclear proliferation. It's enough to make you head spin. Where can the average Joe escape for a bit of normality? How about in the world of sports. Plenty of sports headline makers were reported during June's early days. Here's a few which stood out....

Ken Griffey Jr retires. Earlier this week, one of baseball's legendary players hung up his spikes. Ken Griffey Jr. called it quits at age 40. One can only wonder if Junior would have re-written most of baseball's major records had injuries not interfered with his sensational career? He was an instant hit finishing 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting back in 1989 as a young 20 year old soon to be star centerfielder. Griffey, Jr was quickly filling highlight reels with circus catches and big hits as a Seattle Mariners rookie. His game was soon to take off and comparisons to some of the greatest names ever were soon to follow. Griff finished his career with 630 home runs. Many, including myself, believe if Griff could have stayed healthy then he would be baseball's all time home run champion. Junior's injuries robbed him of over 500 games. Despite various injury ending seasons, Griff averaged 38 HR & 111 RBI's highlighted by back to back 56 HR years in 1997-98. He was a 10 time Gold Glove winner and 13 time All Star. One of his greatest personal moments might never be duplicated again. On September 14, 1990 Griffey Sr. & Jr. homered in consecutive at bats for the Mariners setting a father/son record which may stand forever. Griff is one of baseball's good guys. He will be missed.

Ubaldo Jiminez
is pitching like a bionic man bringing back memories of Bob Gibson's modern day record ERA season 1.12 ERA (1968).been lights out this season. 11-1, 0.93 ERA. In 12 starts, he's allowed 2 runs 3 times, 1 run 3 times, and no runs 6 times including 2 complete game shutouts and a no hitter on April 17 vs Atlanta. Can he keep up this incredible run while pitching in the mile high air of Colorado? The all time mlb ERA record was set in 1880 by Tim Keefe (0.86). It's a stretch to believe Keefe's record will ever be touched but Gibby's is currently within range. Jiminez has quickly become the pitcher to watch whenever his name is penciled onto lineup cards. Don't miss out.

Chicago Blackhawks
have one more win to go for first Stanley Cup Championship since the 1960-61 season.long time coming for Chicago hockey fans. It's not written in stone yet but the engravers are getting the Cup ready for inscription. Standing in their way is a resilient Philadelphia Flyers team which is no stranger to coming back with their backs against a wall. Philly has rebounded from huge deficits this post-season. Most notably, beating the Boston Bruins after trailing 3 games to none including a monumental comeback from down 3-1 in Game 7. Chicago has been the most well balanced NHL team during the 2009-10 season. Their 52 regular season victories were tops in Western Conference and they've faced little resistance so far in Cup play until 7th seeded Philly reeled off back to back wins in games 3 & 4. The puck drops for Game 6 in Philadelphia Wednesday night. Flyers fans will be shaking the rafters. One thing is for certain. Chicago doesn't want to play the cardiac kid Flyers in a Game 7 showdown.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sportsmanship Survives Perfect Blown Call

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

How about a round of applause for Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and MLB umpire Jim Joyce. A pitcher denied a perfect game by a bad call at first by Joyce on what was to be the final out of the game. Today, they were shaking hands at home plate before the Tigers/Indians series finale in an ultimate display of sportsmanship. Here's a brief recap just in case you missed the news....

Public controversy continues swelling. Yesterday, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Armando Galarraga had been perfect for 8 2/3 innings vs Cleveland Indians hitters. Not a single Indians batter had reached base. Austin Jackson had just made a spectacular running catch to keep Galarraga's perfect game bid alive. With two outs, little known Jason Donald hit a grounder wide of first. On a bang bang play, Galarraga ran from the mound to cover. He received the throw from 1B Miguel Cabrera in time for the out on a close play. However, firstbase umpire Jim Joyce blew the call. Tiger's fans went from an instant celebratory cheers to emphatic booing within seconds. No amount of arguing changed Joyce's call. Donald was safe. Galarraga's perfect game ended. Controversy over the blown call is now deepening. At least with everyone except Tiger's players and Joyce.

Most often after blown calls are ridiculed by analysts umpires hold their ground. Rarely do MLB umpires admit blowing safe and out calls. Understandably, immediately following the call, the play was disputed. Now we're hearing the replay promoters coming out claiming it's time MLB instituted official replays for close plays. No way! Isn't baseball trying to speed up games? What about human elements of baseball? Baseball isn't perfect. Allowing replays on all calls will bring the game to a standstill especially if balls and strikes are included. Baseball is imperfect. So is life. No replays other than disputed home runs is fine by me.

Back to Galarraga. What a class act. Most players would have been mouthing off after the game. While watching the game, and it's aftermath, I heard Detroit broadcasters claiming "... have you ever felt worse about winning a 1 hit shutout?" Galarraga refused to take reporters baiting ways as they attempted to get Galarraga to denounce umpire Jim Joyce. He did chime in saying Joyce blew it but failed to condemn the shaken ump.

Joyce was quick to state he blew it after watching replays. He even went the extra mile to personally apologize to Detroit's hurler after the game. Fast forward one day later to this afternoon's contest. Joyce is umpiring behind home. Galarraga brought out the lineup card. Both players exchanged handshakes. This was classic. Both are human. Joyce apologetic and deeply saddened over the events from yesterday. Galarraga a big man to accept without reservation. Life lesson's never end.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Crystal Ball Gazing - NFL 2010

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

NFL teams are planning strategies for the new 2010 season. Plenty of question marks remain for GM's and head coaches with training camps soon to open for business. Does New Orleans have what it takes to repeat? Is the Jets defense as good as advertised or just one personnel incident away from implosion? Is Tony Romo finally ready to become Dallas' team leader or will 2010 be just another season filled with drama in Cowboys country? How many more years will Raiders fans suffer without a respectable team?

Here's a quick long distance preview of what's in store for 2010 standings.

1) Jets - Terrifying defense, improving offense.
2) Dolphins - Punishing ground game.
3) Patriots - Never the same after spygate.
4) Bills - Who in their right mind would pay to watch Buffalo?

1) Ravens - All they need is a WR who can catch.
2) Bengals- 2nd by default over troubled Pittsburgh.
3) Steelers - QB suspended. Ground game in trouble. Defense will spend too much time on the gridiron.
4) Browns - No signs of short or long term improvement.

1) Colts - AFC champs want revenge. Defense holds the keys to playoff success.
2) Titans - Came on strong when Young returned. Can Johnson rush for 2000 again?
3) Texans - Look out. Houston is becoming very strong. Running game cost them wins last year.
4) Jaguars - Has everyone thrown in the towel? Jax franchise sinking fast.

1) Chargers - Hasn't figured out key to winning playoff formula.
2) Broncos - Exciting at times. Lucky to play .500 in '10.
3) Chiefs - Might be ready to begin smart football. Still recovering from Edwards disastrous era.
4) Raiders - No coach can help this bunch of losers.


1) Giants - Health issues killed their chances in '09. New stadium, new enthusiasm.
2) Cowboys - So close yet again. Big D fans are getting used to monumental collapses.
3) Eagles - McNabb is gone. Soon, fans will wish he was back.
4) Redskins - Look out Eagles. You might get leapfrogged by McNabb's Redskins.

1) Vikings - Most spoke of Favre's playoff interception. What about 6 fumbles including what was to be goal line game clincher?
2) Packers - Defense stands between good and great. Which will it be in '10?
3) Bears - Expectations were too high in '09. Ditto for '10 but very, very talented team.
4) Lions - 33 wins in past 9 years. No, it's not a typo!

1) Saints - Champs explosive offense matures. Was D for real in '09? We'll find out soon enough.
2) Falcons - Huge let down in '09.
3) Panthers - Delhomme was horrible. Team showed promise when it was too late.
4) Bucs - 5 games scoring in single digits last year. How many this year?

1) 49ers - By default in NFL's worst division.
2) Cardinals - It's Leinart's team now.
3) Seahawks - Many believed '09 would reap positive results. West is there's if they learn to play smart football. It all begins and ends with coaching staff.
4) Rams - Past 3 seasons = 3, 2, then 1 win. Nope, they're not playing Detroit in '10. There's no hope.

There's a long way to go before NFL 2010 kicks off. Plenty of personnel decisions & changes will be make during the coming months. Obviously, this is far from any sort of final analysis. No Cinderella predictions just yet although Tennessee or Houston would rank high on long shots to bet on. More to follow when news from training camps shake out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Era, Same Rivalry - Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Bring it on! Another Celtics vs Lakers NBA Finals promises to dazzle us all. The names have changed over the years. Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Dick Barnett & Wilt Chamberlain of the 1960's. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parrish, James Worthy & Kevin McHale of the 80's. Now, going toe to toe in the Finals for the 2nd time in 3 years, a new Celtics vs Lakers era features the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Andrew Bynum & Paul Gasol. Get ready. We're soon to witness a great series.

Boston Celtics (50-32, 12-5) - One of the NBA's most celebrated franchises. Perhaps in all of sports second only to the New York Yankees. Boston's winning ways have stood the test of time. 17 NBA Championships includes a record 8 in a row from 1959-1966. Two years ago they won their 17th in six games vs the Lakers.
The Celtics are clicking. They seem to be doing just about everything right. Pierce (19.1), Allen (16.8), Rondo (16.7) & Garnett (14.8) have been near unstoppable. C's passing game has worn out defenders. Transition offense has been one of their keys. Too many weapons to defend. Orlando was stunned at how handily they were defeated. Boston had better beware. 2010 LA defense is stingier than 2008 match up.

Los Angeles Lakers (57-25, 12-4) - 15 NBA Championships. Will they take home #16? At times, there's no finer team than LA. At other times, LA looks completely lost on the court. 100% focus and composure needs to be maintained or else this will be another Lakers team notched upon Celtics belts. Kobe (29.4) needs early support when he dishes to open players. When he's on it doesn't seem to matter if teams play double teams. Paul Gasol (20.0) seems to sink every shot (56.5%). How he plays against a stingy Boston D could very well determine LA's fate. Ron Artest (11.5) has been one game on, one game off. Complete failure at the free throw line shooting a dismal 61%. Odom, Fisher & Bynum have provided valuable defense and quite a few momentum changing baskets this post season.

Prediction: Expect to see fast and furious action. Rondo and Kobe will be pushing the ball looking for quick baskets or open lanes. Celtics own offensive edge as a team. Many weapons available if one individual has an off night. On the other hand, the Lakers have to attack the basket when Boston closes in on Bryant. They can't miss easy layups or open 12 footers. Both squads will play a spirited defense. Celtics transition offense brings it home. Raise another banner in Boston.
Celtics win in 6.