Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random Thoughts: Predicting Final 2010 MLB Standings

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-Digger's Daily-

Get ready for a little wheeling and dealing before baseball's trading deadline expires July 31. Philadelphia just completed a deal for Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt. Imagine how their rotation could have looked if Lee wasn't traded? Halladay, Lee, Hamels & Oswalt. Four #1 starters. Oswalt is a superb addition. Philadelphia is riding a 5 game win streak. Oswalt should be able to help Philly retake first place from Atlanta. It'll be a dogfight to the finish.

A few teams have surprised baseball handicappers. Texas is very strong. Adding Lee goes a long way towards playoff legitimacy. Cincinnati and St. Louis figure to go toe to toe right down to the wire. San Diego's pitching keeps steaming along. San Francisco finds themselves back in the West race after fading. Ozzie's White Sox are finally creating positive headlines. Twins have been banged up all year long. They keep finding ways to win as good teams usually do.

There's an epic division battle shaping up in AL East. Yankees vs Rays while the Red Sox lurk ever so close. Yanks lineup is second to none. Relievers has been iffy. Tampa plays big. Starting pitchers and timely hitting earn the Rays baseball's second best record.

Which teams will be active buyers? Sellers? MLB non waiver trading deadline ends midnight Sunday. Yanks need relievers. Rays could use a heavy bat. If they were smart then Milwaukee's Fielder should be on their radar. I'm sure he's not but talk about a perfect fit. Giants, Padres, Dodgers need bats. Red Sox could use a shot in the arm up the middle. Tigers need help as key players are dropping like flies. They'll have a tough time finding a good deal. It's just a case of bad luck in Detroit.

Here's how I see the pennant race shaking out (as of now).

EAST Yanks, Rays, Sox, Jays, O's.
CENTRAL Sox, Twins, Tigers, Royals, Indians.
WEST Rangers, Angels, A's, Mariners.

EAST Phils, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Nats.
CENTRAL Reds, Cards, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Astros.
WEST Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, DBacks.

WILD CARD: AL Rays, NL Giants.

WORLD SERIES: Phils over Yanks 4-1.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - AFC West

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-Digger's Daily-

How will the West be won in 2010? Easy. San Diego (13-3) will run away with the division crown again. Denver had high hopes until reality set in. They're not playoff calibur. Nor is Kansas City and Oakland. KC is rebuilding. Oakland continues to be in a state of confusion.

1) San Diego Chargers S.D. has big shoes to fill. For the first time since 2001 they'll be without RB LaDanian Tomlinson. How does a team replace over 16,000 total yards and 153 touchdowns? Carefully. Running attack will be tested early and often placing more pressure on QB Phillip Rivers to deliver. Future RB hopes focus on 1st rounder Ryan Matthews (Fresno State). A few new faces in place or competing for roster spots. Chargers should have no trouble repeating in NFL's weakest division. Can these guys step up and win playoff games? That's another story.

2) Denver Broncos 2009 was a tale of two seasons. They stampeded out of the gate to 6-0 glory only to stumble losing 6 of final 8. Defense was solid for 1st six, miserable the rest of the way. Offense never found fluidity. Running game was inefficient. Passing game suffered outside of Brandon Marshall. Injuries piled up. Drafting was focused on offense. Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech) is an impact WR who will pay immediate dividends stretching opposing defenses. No one knows for sure if QB Tim Tebow can handle NFL pressure. We'll soon find out in training camp. Many question marks surrounding Denver. Probably just another .500 season on the way? Dropping to 3rd if they're not careful.

3) Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs rebuilding in a hurry. Solid pieces in place on both sides of line. Draft secured hard nosed safety Eric Berry from Tennessee regarded as a gamer with great instincts. The only way to go is up after a harsh 4-12 '09. KC has a few years to go but don't be surprised at all if these guys finish in 2nd place.

4) Oakland Raiders Six games in single digits says all one needs to know about how far this team has fallen. Year after year of great draft position has produced very little to speak of except for monumental busts. JaMarcus Russell was the NFL's #1 draft pick in 2007. An abomination on and off the field. He's gone. Replaced by another inefficient QB, Jason Campbell. This team has self destructed from top (Al Davis) to bottom. No help in sight. Raider Nation will not be happy campers in 2010.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - AFC South

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-Digger's Daily-

AFC Conference Champion Indianapolis Colts (14-2) completely dominated South division rivals (6-0). Houston and Tennessee had big second half surges for respectability. Jacksonville could be seeking relocation if season ticket sales continue declining. The Colts remain South's team to beat. Titans and Texans aim to challenge for wild card.

1) Indianapolis Colts I'll be the first to admit not thinking Indy would have a cake walk season. They could easily have gone 16-0 if it wasn't for a coaching decision to bench starters midway through game 15. Terrible, terrible decision. A perfect season and momentum was theirs for the taking. 2010 should produce another division title. Manning returns with a team greatly strengthened on draft day. Excellent selections addressing team needs: defense. Will we be treated to another New Orleans vs Indianapolis Super Bowl?

2) Tennessee Titans They were the terrible Titans during first six games of 2009 (0-6) before Vince Young took over in game seven. He resurrected the Titans season and his own career finishing the year 8-2. Tremendous coaching staff knows full well how to get every ounce from players. Sensational ground attack opens up passing game. Defense was taxed early but settled down once offense started chewing up the clock. If they're able to beat Indy at least once then Titans will be right in the thick of a playoff race.

3) Houston Texans Houston fans can only wonder what could have been in '09 if the running game showed up? These guys played tight games all year long. Things were looking up when they reached 5-3 right before dropping 4 in a row effectively knocking them out of playoff contention. Strong draft netted a highly ranked gamer in DB Kareem Jackson (Alabama). 2nd rounder Ben Tate (RB, Auburn) has a bright future if he can handle NFL speed. Texans are a good team getting better season after season. 2010 is a key year.

4) Jacksonville Jaguars Vic Ketchman of calls this the "save the whale" juncture in team history. Jacksonville's fan base is diminishing rapidly. If season ticket sales don't pick up dramatically then Jags brass will seek relocation. Team play and conduct has not been inspiring in recent years. Draft grabbed solid defenders. This is a team in a little turmoil surrounding coach Del Rio and QB situation. Division rivals getting stronger. Jags lack of ticket sales straining management ability to secure core players to long term deals. Get ready for local blackouts in Jacksonville. Good news as Gators, Seminoles, Dolphins and Bucs are on local tv.

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and.... Rats!

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-Digger's Daily-

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" recently reviewed and revealed health department inspection reports from all 107 stadiums used by the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. You're not going to like the results unless you enjoy eating rat feces, mold, cockroaches or spoiled (contaminated) food. Yes, the report is that bad.

Now we know why vendors charge $10.00 per beer and $7.50 for hot dogs. Because, there's a little something extra with each and every meal. Perhaps coupons for doctor's visits are in order?

Here's my question. Had these vendors been restaurants wouldn't local Departments of Health shut them down immediately for being a threat to the public? My next question is why only one inspection per year when nearly every major sporting facility has multiple violations?

Commissioners of all sports need to set strict guidelines of vendor requirements. Guess what public? Food prices will necessarily skyrocket. Sobeit. You're already being suckered at the rate of $7.50 for contaminated hot dogs. How about $8.50 for clean ones? Sounds better, doesn't it? Most vendors act independently of teams meaning it's their responsibility, not team or stadium owners, to follow proper guidelines. This needs to change nationwide. It isn't unreasonable to "demand" vendors be responsible enough to ensure proper safeguards and cleanliness. There should also be mandatory bi-weekly or monthly inspections conducted by individual stadiums. So many multi-million dollar beautiful new ballparks have been built at taxpayer expense creating thousands of new jobs and revenue streams. How about looking out for the general public?

How many of you witness food vendors with disgusting habits from wiping noses, coughing or sneezing into their hands right before serving you? How about those 100 degree summer days when we're treated to the fantastic event of ordering food from an over heated attendant dripping filthy sweat on your food as they handle it with money dirtied hands? Delicious thoughts. By the way, servers cleanliness wasn't factored into the report.

Great job by ESPN on reporting. Will anyone act to right an obvious wrong?

Friday, July 23, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - AFC North

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-Digger's Daily-

NFC North was anything but normal last year. It's up for grabs in 2010. Once again Pittsburgh begins with a big question mark. This time it surrounds problem plagued QB Ben Roethlisberger and how Pittsburgh will survive his suspension. Was Cincinnati's '09 success for real? Can they repeat as North champs? Baltimore beefed up in a big way and now has the tools to become a major NFL force. Cleveland's Eric Mangini wasn't as effective as team owners would have liked in '09. He could be the first coach firing of 2010.


1) Baltimore Ravens Not many roster spots are safe. If Coach Harbaugh plays his cards correctly then training camp will be very spirited as players fight to make Baltimore's opening day roster. Roster weaknesses have been addressed. Ravens offense has an air of intrigue with a sound running game and, for the first time in a long while, gifted game breaking wide receivers. Coupled with one of NFL's stingiest defenses means Baltimore will be tough to beat. I don't see them losing often as they run away with the North. 9-7 will jump to no less than 11-5. Baltimore Ravens are ready.

2) Cincinnati Bengals Taking advantage of others misfortunes led to Cincinnati winning their first division title since 1990. Six games were won by 7 points or less. Bengals fans shouldn't expect more of the same in '10. Management made a monumental mistake with their first draft pick taking a TE. Rebounded nicely in 2nd (Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida) and 3rd rounds (Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas). Offense didn't click last year but it was clutch when games were on the line. A handful of WR's will battle for a job in preseason. Benson carried the load last year and Bengals hope there's plenty left in his tank. Defense ranked in top 10 of most major categories. Expectations will be high. Reality is closer to 8-8 or 7-9. Bengals had more luck than skill in '09.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers Roethlisberger's antics earned him a 6 week NFL suspension. Champions suck it up when leaders fall. Pittsburgh's defense will have to set up great field position for a weak offense. Offensive coordinators must devise a plan to score with limited talent. Steelers do not have an answer at QB. All offensive lineman need to put up career years creating lanes for a weak running game under attack from opposing defenses keying on the run. Questions have already surfaced questioning coach Tomlin's commitment to keeping this squad under control. False questions for a head coach one season removed from winning the Super Bowl. Nonetheless, 2010 can easily turn ugly early and often.

4) Cleveland Browns Browns fans suffered through a miserable display in '09. Cleveland was 1-11 after 12 games before giving fans a reason for optimism in 2010 by winning their final 4. False hope considering combined records for 3 of those teams were 16-32. Mangini is not the right coach for a rebuilding team even though he has a vote of confidence from front office officials. Another dismal beginning will be Mangini's last stint as NFL head coach. This team completely blew their draft. Huge question marks at nearly every position beginning with opening day QB, RB, WR. Browns should enjoy their current 0-0 record. At least they're tied for 1st.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - AFC East

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-Digger's Daily-

Indianapolis Colts almost pulled off a perfect season last year until their head coach decided to bench (rest) most starting players. They were 14-0 and leading the Jets at halftime of game 15. Starters were benched after halftime and watched in frustration as subs lost (team finished 14-2). Indy was out played in Super Bowl XLIV and seeks revenge in 2010. Plenty of off season moves by many AFC teams addressing various needs. Colts and Chargers appear to remain top 2 winning teams. Houston, Jets, Dolphins, Ravens & Chiefs on the rise. AFC play will be tough as any season in recent memory.

AFC East will be a dogfight. Brady will try resurrecting New England to dynasty status. The Jets were busy solidifying their roster after a tremendous '09 performance. Did they add talent or locker room headaches? Miami's players and front office brass believe they're the team to beat in the East? They may be right. Buffalo, well, every division needs a cellar dweller.

AFC East

1) New York Jets Here's an intriguing team. Head Coach Ryan's Jets defense established themselves as one of NFL's top units and most feared. The do just about everything right. Fast, smart and very hard hitting. Jets defense was reason #1 this group qualified for post-season play. Defense was responsible for setting up rookie Sanchez' offense with great field position most of the year. Key off season moves or did NY over spend on older players and trouble makers? LaDainian Tomlinson will try proving he's fit to become #1 back but will probably split time with Greene. WR's must catch the ball as they suffered through too many drops. The pressure is on Sanchez. The bar is high. After a successful '09 New Yorkers are expecting nothing less than a division title and playoff success. So is coach Ryan. Sophomore jinx or stardom? Jets should win no less than 11 (barring injuries). If defense dominates, perhaps 13.

2) Miami Dolphins Dolfans started to believe in their team midway through the year. Miami began slow (0-3) and collapsed at the end (0-3). In between, they were playing inspired football (7-3). Chad Henne finally has receivers. Running game is one of NFL's best. I'm not a fan of Dolphins draft results but this is a talented front office so maybe they know what they're doing. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Miami wins the East. Henne is the key. Is he ready to "lead"? If so, Miami's future is bright. All the pieces are in place for success.

3) New England Patriots New England won the East in '09 but it wasn't pretty. Offense was out of sync often disrupting drives. Running game was non-existent, passing game stats looked solid but actual game play didn't translate into wins. 8-0 at home, 2-6 on the road. No major additions heading into '10. Offensive line needs to open up lanes for less than gifted backs. Randy Moss needs to keep his head in games. Patriots can go either way but appear to be nothing more than a .500 team.

4) Buffalo Bills Buffalo looked pretty solid in 5 of their 6 wins. However, they looked grossly outplayed in 8 of 10 losses. Bills will be lucky to beat any division rivals this year (0-6) which spells doom and gloom. This team isn't maturing. 30th ranked offense should get a jolt with the arrival of draftee C.J. Spiller (Clemson). Nothing else to report. Last place finish is all but guaranteed.

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - NFC West

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-Digger's Daily-

NFC West

NFC West is up for grabs. Each team has something to prove heading into 2010. Arizona's gamer Kurt Warner retired leaving the team Matt Leinart's hands. 49ers no nonsense coach demands excellence. Niners have rising talent. The time is now for them to step up and be counted. Seattle lost their way in recent seasons almost seeming unmotivated at times. The Rams have a long way to go after front office gaffe's and injuries quickly turned a once proud franchise into a laughingstock.

1) San Francisco 49ers The time is now for SF to put themselves on NFL radars. There's no clear cut dominant team in the West. Maturity breeds consistency, or so I've been told. Mediocrity ruled the day last year. SF's once pounding running game never got going until late in the year. QB's never put fear into defenders or confidence into receivers. Overall team stats were just below middle of the road. Room for improvement on all fronts. Their 2nd first round pick netted highly regarded Mike Lupati (OG, Idaho) who many think is already All Pro material. 2nd rounder Taylor Mays (S, USC) is a heavy hitter. Penn State LB Navorro Bowman (according to ESPN) has "great physical skills, natural instincts and a nose for the football." 49ers addressed needs. Now it's time for this club to come together as a team.

2) Arizona Cardinals QB Matt Leinart will be given every opportunity to win the starting nod. He's had mixed results over the course of a short career. Can he step up and play like a #1? Arizona's immediate future depends on it. Running game showed flash for the first time in years with the 1-2 tandem of Hightower and Wells (combined 1,391 yds, 15 tds rushing - 75 rec, 571 yds receiving). Cards schedule was easy in '09. Guess which team has easiest '10 schedule? That's right. Cards opponents, based on '09 records, are 114-142. Worst in football. Leinart & Co. couldn't write a better script for success. Defense has to step up and clamp down opposing offenses. Great coaching staff but draft never lived up to expectations beyond 1st rounder Dan Williams (DT, Tenn).

3) Seattle Seahawks New coach Pete Carroll first season in Seattle will be challenging. 2009 offense was abysmal scoring 14 or fewer seven times. Defense was just as inept surrendering 31 or more points six times. The result, 17.5 points per game scored by offense vs 24.4 given up by defense. It's amazing they won 5 even when playing the Rams twice. Running attack seemed lost. Passing game never bailed out team when needed. Bickering on all levels prevailed starting with WR TJ Houshmandzadeh's personal ratings complaint against Madden Football. 'Hawks draft did not go well. Perhaps Carroll needs a new scouting crew too?! A kick in the butt might re-energize a team clearly playing below potential.

4) St. Louis Rams No winning seasons since 2003 and team has been progressively degenerating. Cumulative record last three seasons stands at 6-42. When you're this bad drafting becomes ultra important. NFL #1 pick was Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. Rams had better be careful not to mortgage their future on this kids contract. That said, Bradford has the tools necessary to become an upper tier signal caller if handled correctly. Rams second 1st round pick addressed another important team need when they selected offensive lineman Roger Saffold (Indiana). I'm a bit skeptical on their remaining picks and firmly believe a golden opportunity to build a powerful team was lost. Rams will not win many and seem years out from returning to competitive football. New ownership needs a big wrecking ball as this franchise needs a complete makeover.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - NFC South

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-Digger's Daily-

Super Bowl XLIV Champion New Orleans are the obvious odds on favorite to win NFC South. They're better, deeper and maturing quickly. They should have no problem as repeat division winners unless they haven't stopped partying.

1) New Orleans Saints Saints take dead aim at back to back titles. Solid draft netted a future starting CB (Patrick Robinson, FSU), future starting TE (Jimmy Graham, UM) and local DT from LSU Al Woods. None figure to be immediate impact players but they'll fit right in with a very deep and talented squad. Brees' targets are maturing nicely. Running game may need a boost to help give the defense a rest. Defensive players are ball hawks. These guys swarm to the ball and create turnovers (26 int, 15 fumbles). They ran off to a stunning 13-0 record. Saints have the 27th hardest (6th easiest) scheduling heading into 2010. 14 wins is a possibility.

2) Atlanta Falcons After an 11-5 finish in '08 and additions to key positions on offense heading into '09 Falcons fans had high hopes. Atlanta soared early before crash landing mid-season. 4-1 quickly turned into 6-7 before rebounding to finish 9-7. Team needs were met in the draft with the selections of LB Sean Weatherspoon (Mizzou) and DT Corey Peters (Ken). To help protect oft pressured QB Ryan Atlanta tabbed 2 guards, Alabama's Mike Johnson & Joseph Hawley (UNLV). Atlanta has all the tools to return as a playoff challenger. Solid talent at most positions. Falcons middle of the road defense holds the key to success or failure.

3) Carolina Panthers I was a bit off last year in one of various NFC synopsis. I expected Carolina to put the naysayers to rest and make the playoffs. Their 8-8 record is quite deceptive. Offense scored 10 or fewer points five times. Play selection was miserable which was no help to Jake Delhomme who looked weak armed and lost while posting career worst numbers. Panthers really needed to better position themselves before draft day. Their first pick came in round 2, 48th overall. A very questionable pick taking Notre Dame's QB Jimmy Clausen. Many question marks heading into training camp covering all bases from starting qb to health issues with runningbacks. 2010 will be a transition season unless questions are answered early and new role players step it up.

4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa production on both offense and defense ranked near last in all categories. They're a long way from climbing back to championship status. QB situation was a revolving door before Josh Freeman took over. Weak running game produced only 5 td's. Bucs gave the ball away 34 times. Offense scored 10 or less six times. Another long year awaits but there's light at the end of the tunnel if fans can be patiently supportive. They had a great draft. 3rd pick of the NFL draft was Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. 2nd round pick UCLA's DT Brian Price. Their presence will be felt immediately and should mature into fine players for years to come helping restore Tampa's reputation for no nonsense defense. 4th rounder Mike Williams (WR, SYR) might turn out being the steal of this draft if he can straighten out personal off field issues. 2010 will be filled with ups and downs. No reason this team can't win 5-7 games.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - NFC North

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NFC North

Let's for now speculate Brett Favre is back for another title run in '10... Green Bay piles on points... Chicago finally lives up to potential... and, Detroit fulfills dreams of winning at least one game.

1) Minnesota Vikings 6 NFC Championship fumbles, including two lost inside the red zone at key moments cost the Vikings a Super Bowl trip when they had every opportunity to blow out the eventual champion Saints. Favre will be back. So will a maturing and gelling team of gamers. Peterson must protect the football his number is called. As a safety precaution, Minnesota went after another RB in this years' draft. Stanford's powerful Toby Gerhart. Offense has it all. Defense must tamper their over aggressive play to eliminate long td's. Coaching staff is one of NFL's best groups. Vikings will be in the thick of things all year long. 12+ wins can be had again (health permitting).

2) Green Bay Packers Green Bay's stunning opening round overtime 51-45 loss stung. The Pack's defense entered the game on a roll. Until Kurt Warner completely dissected them completing 29 of 33 passes and 5 touchdowns. Needless to say opposing offenses will be testing this squads secondary early and often in 2010. No help came by way of draft so it appears Packers brass are comfortable with current talents turning it up a notch this year. Pack defensive lapses of letting teams march downfield in closing minutes is clearly what separates them from elite status.

3) Chicago Bears Jay Cutler was never able to live up to the savior status bestowed by local Chicago media groups. Lack of positive play making by wide receivers and an ineffective ground game severely hindered Bears chances of advancing up field. Bad field position and poor time of possession kept Bear defenders on the field for way too long. 2010 can go either way. Coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat.

4) Detroit Lions Detroit pulled off another good paper draft. Problem is this organization's recent history seems to make rookies go bust. There's no upside in Motor City. Repeating two wins in 2010 might be a long shot. Lions combined 2008 & 2009 record? 2-30.

Monday, July 19, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Predictions - NFC East

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-Digger's Daily-

The 2010 NFL regular season kicks off September 9th with a bang. In a rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game, Minnesota takes on defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Dallas is getting a head start on competitors when they become the first team hitting practice fields (July 24th). From coast to coast plenty of news will be coming from NFL cities as teams try to stay injury free this preseason prepping for a grueling 16 game war. Every division will be a fierce battle. Plenty of question marks will be answered one way or another. Can Romo finally step up a become a big game QB? Will the Giants bounce back to Super form? Can New Orleans take advantage of a weak schedule and repeat? How about those tarnished stars? Will Roethlisberger, Vick, Owens and company ever straighten out their troubled persona's?

Each day this week I'll be breaking down the NFL division by division. First up NFC East.

1) New York Giants A series of devastating injuries to key personnel derailed New York's season (8-8) after they opened up 5-0. Manning and a young receiving corps were often out of sync. Look for the offense to be explosive this year if the line is sound. On defense, draft picks were a bit questionable and may not provide immediate impact. However, if all returning injured players are fully healthy then this will be a dangerous team in every facet of the game. 7th hardest NFL schedule heading into 2010. Coaches will have them ready to play. Giants are hungry and will emerge division winners.

2) Dallas Cowboys The Cowboys finally enjoyed a strong regular season finish in '09 winning their final 3 (2 by shutout). Dallas even found a way to win their first playoff game since December 28, 1996. Excitement is in the air once again heading into 2010 for a team which many think has never realized full potential. QB Tony Romo continues to be plagued by lack of leadership critiques and inability to perform in big games. Coaching staff play calling and lack of player control/respect carries over once again. If they can keep the sideshow off the field then Dallas could be primed for a Super run. Explosive weapons on offense and aggressive defense (NFC low 250 points against) set the stage for a big year. Despite all their talent something always seems to unhinge this squad. 2nd place on the way vs NFL's 3rd toughest schedule. They'll be in the wild card hunt.

3) Washington Redskins Welcome Mike Shanahan, new coaches and new team field general Donovan McNabb. The Redskins are finally getting their act together. Questionable first two draft picks could pay huge dividends if these players are committed to excellence (Trent Williams, OL, Oklahoma & Perry Riley, OLB, LSU). Washington is probably another 2 years from making a serious run. However, do not take this team lightly. 'Skins will be greatly improved from a dismal 4-12 shellacking of 2009. Expect these seasoned vets to play inspired football. 8-8 is well within reach.

4) Philadelphia Eagles I've always believed a few screws must be loose in the minds of Philly's personnel decision makers. On and off over the years the football world has wondered aloud what life would be like without Donovan McNabb under center. Well they're about to find out how quickly life changes after trading away a career 92-49-1 quarterback who led Eagles teams into the playoffs in 8 of 10 seasons. Worse yet, McNabb was traded to division rival Washington. Revenge is sweet McNabb gets two cracks per seasn vs a team he knows inside and out. Kevin Kolb filled in well when McNabb missed time and will be given every opportunity to claim starter status. On the field Michael Vick gets a crack to unseat Kolb. Off field troubles continue haunting this guy and might lead to getting cut or traded. It's going to be a very long season in Philadelphia. Terrible draft picks makes one wonder if it's time to replace their entire scouting staff. 11-5 might become 5-11 (if they're lucky).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Random Rumblings: This Week in Sports

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-Digger's Daily-

News from the world of sports is plentiful this week. There's plenty to talk of from good to bad to sad.

The Good.

Spain won the World Cup in a hard fought 1-0 victory over a gutsy Netherlands team on a 116th minute goal by Andres Iniesta. It was the first time South Africa hosted a World Cup tournament. If you were able to overcome the seemingly disturbing headache induced ear drum piercing sounds coming from vuvuzela's then you were treated to 31 days of exciting soccer action.

Something finally happened in the baseball world for the first time since 1996. The National League won an All Star Game! The NL was on the verge of making it 14 in a row before MVP Brian McCann (Atlanta) lashed a game winning 3 run double in the 7th inning. The last NL MVP was also a catcher. In 1995 Mike Piazza won top nod after NL's 6-0 shutout of AL rivals.

Effects of steroids finally wearing off in Major League Baseball? Apparently so and there's a new breed of ballplayers coming up through the ranks making instant impacts on today's style of play. In a world where everything is anything but normal, baseball is back on track. There's been 4 no hitters (Ubaldo Jiminez, Edwin Jackson) including two perfect games (Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay). Every division is hotly contested. Potential triple crown threats. Now, we head into a potential deadline beating trading frenzy.

The British Open Golf Championship is underway across the pond. The opening rounds have been great to watch. Weather conditions have played havoc as golfer must adjust their game natures vengeance. Only the players who remain calm, cool and collected stand a chance when Mother Nature comes calling. It's anyone's guess as to who will be crowned champ on Sunday.

The Bad

LeBron James needing a nationally televised event on ESPN to announce choosing a new team. LeBron should great disrespect by placing himself above the game. Disrespect for former teammates and management in Cleveland. Disrespect towards those who courted his services. He'll be cheered every night in Miami as Heat fans are deliriously excited day dreaming of future championships with Wade, Bosh & James leading the way. I'd be willing to bet he'll be booed intensely by cities left in the dust without so much as a thank you call.

New York Yankees players did not attend Bob Sheppard's funeral. The 99 year old iconic legendary voice of Yankee Stadium died this week and not one single current Yankee player attended funeral services. Sheppard was a beloved member of the Yankees family. His voice will always be remembered by dedicated Yankees fans. Shep won the praises of generations of players young and old. Upon learning of his passing, Yankees captain Derek Jeter requested from now on there will be a taped recording of Sheppard's voice announcing his name. Ok, great... then why didn't the Yankees captain, one of Shep's most outspoken supporters, attend the funeral service. Shame on Yankees management for not arranging a Yankees style funeral.

A terrorist group linked to al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for two explosions that killed at least 74 people in Uganda as they watched the World Cup finale. The two simultaneous blasts occurred at a rugby club where Ugandans were watching the Finals and at an Ethiopian restaurant.

Rumors are starting to surface claiming Rogers Clemens used steroids extensively during his career. Former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette went on the record this week... "I'll just say this...let's let it play out a little bit more, I think there is more information and evidence that will show that Roger used performance enhancing drugs in a significant way." Perhaps this had something to do with Clemens Boston career coming to an abrupt end. Don't forget, Clemens is still under investigation by a grand jury for perjury during a 2008 trial.

The Sad

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, 80, died this week at his home in Tampa. His career as Yankees owner was dedicated, colorful, vocal and with plenty of turmoil. He bought the Yanks from an inept CBS ownership crew for a mere $10 million. Today, the Yankees empire is valued well over $1 Billion. Steinbrenner, "The Boss", spared no costs when it came to building a winning club. He's one of the main owners who turned free agency into a windfall of money for players. Other owners would soon find themselves shelling out big bucks or risk losing baseball's stars to a free spending Steinbrenner. The Boss' career and legacy will be closely scrutinized as not all actions were honorable. Either way, there's no denying Steinbrenner as one of baseball's most flamboyant icons during the past 37 years. RIP Boss.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All Star Break Power Rankings

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-Digger's Daily-

2010 Major League Baseball's first half was sensational. There's been standout performances from no hitters to 3 homer games. long winning streaks, losing streaks and personal bests. A few surprises in the standings along the way have teams jockeying in and out of playoff contention. Many teams remain in the hunt heading into the second half of our baseball season. Anything can happen. If history repeats, then hold on for a wild ride down the stretch. Don't forget about baseball's trading deadline. There will be plenty of buyers and sellers as teams attempt to load up for playoff runs.

All World All Sports All Star Break Power Rankings (top 10):

1) New York Yankees (56-32) - Yanks hanging tough with mlb's best record. They could be looking for catching depth or another starting pitcher after getting burned by Seattle for Cliff Lee. Perhaps a setup man will settle down a somewhat erratic middle relief corps.

2) Tampa Bay Rays (54-34) - Rays hot on Yanks trail while trying to fend of Boston. Tampa will be challenged for wild card honors and will do their best to catch division rival Yanks. Southpaw Price (12-4, 2.42) starts for AL All Stars Tuesday night.

3) Chicago White Sox (49-38) - Hottest team heading into the break winners of 8 in a row to take over AL Central lead. Their bats have come alive. Starting pitching biggest question mark. Especially after losing Jake Peavy who was finally hot. Expect trade rumors seeking out a stud starter.

4) Atlanta Braves (52-36) - Not many gave the Braves a shot at winning the East. Atlanta has NL's best record in Bobby Cox's final season. Solid pitching, good defense and timely hits leading the way for the Braves. They just took 2 of 3 in New York. It'll be interesting to see if the Braves look for CF or LF help down the stretch.

5) San Diego Padres (51-37) - It's been all about pitching and defense (MLB low 304 runs against). Padres would be running away with the NL West if their lineup was able to produce runs. Don't expect deadline deals even though they could use a few bats. Colorado is hot on their trail. Fate rests on pitching staff.

6) Colorado Rockies (49-39) - Guess who's heating up after another slow start out of the gates? Winning 8 of 10 heading into the break lands Colorado in 2nd place 1/2 game ahead of Dodgers. Cy Young Award leading candidate Jiminez leading the way (15-1, 2.20) has been named NL All Star starting pitcher.

7) Texas Rangers (50-38) - Heaving hitting lineup and solid pitching has Texas leading all AL West teams. Rangers finally acquire a top notch starter landing lefty Cliff Lee from Seattle. Can Rangers survive intense summer heat and hold on? Time will tell but this is the best team in the West. One more pitcher could be on the way? Will it be Oswalt?

8) Boston Red Sox (51-37) - Boston remain within striking distance despite numerous injuries to key players all season long. Beckett is rehabbing and will be a welcome addition if arm is sound. Sox could be busy traders in the days to come attempting to fill voids created by injuries (especially on defense). Boston could go either way in 2nd half.

9) Detroit Tigers (48-38) - Trailing Central leading Detroit by 1/2 a game at the break. Detroit has finished terribly in recent seasons. Pitching and middle infield defense need a shot in the arm. Cabrera and Ordonez leading the offense. Tigers could be a busy trade deadline team.

10) Cincinnati Reds (49-41) - Reds were hot until 4 straight losses cooled them off. Dusty Baker has these guys playing inspired baseball. Lack of consistant starting pitching could doom Cincinnati. As of now, it's only a two team Central battle. Lineup needs to keep up clutch hitting to make up for lack of pitching.

Stay tuned for 2nd half predictions.

2010 Home Run Derby Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

Every once in a while fans are treated to a tremendous All Star Home Run Contest. Not too long ago, Josh Hamilton put on one of the most memorable displays blasting 28 long balls at Yankee Stadium (no, he didn't win). This years' contest has a few new names as many sluggers opted not to participate. It's a shot in the dark trying to predict which player will walk away with top honors.

The hackers:

Miguel Cabrera (DET, 22 regular season HR) - Cabrera is one of my favorite current baseball players and has been since his rookie season. Everything he does seems effortless and he continues to be one of the games greats. Miguel might be able to advance out of the opening round but I just don't see him walking away with a win here. His swing is almost too perfect and tends to crack more line drives than deep flies.

Corey Hart (MIL, 21) - Hart is a free swinger which gives him a legit shot at winning this contest.

Vernon Wells (TOR, 19) - Wells is serious about winning. Look for him to nail some deep blasts. I'm thinking he'll hit double digits in the opening round.

David Ortiz (BOS, 18) - Big Papi is my odds on favorite this year. He's no stranger to being in the spotlight and has the perfect upper cut swing to do some serious damage tonight. It wouldn't at all surprise me to watch Ortiz nail a combined 25+.

Matt Holliday (STL, 16) - Similar to Cabrera whereas line drives may not have enough juice to clear the outfield wall. Tremendous hitter but might not be able to turn it up enough to get out of the first round.

Chris Young (AZ, 15) - Free swinging Young might surprise the field tonight. I'm not putting much stock into thinking he'll walk away as 2010 champ. However, he's a serious underdog who might do some major damage.

Nick Swisher (NYY, 15) - I'm hoping Swish doesn't damage his swing after participating. Often times hot hitters enter this contest and emerge powerless during the seasons' second half. Nick will probably hit the least of all contestants.

Hanley Ramirez (FLA, 13) - Marlins super star SS can do it all. But, can he win a home run contest? We'll soon find out.

Projected order of finish:
David Ortiz (winner), Vernon Wells, Corey Hart, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Holliday, Chris Young, Nick Swisher.

Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBron James Getting Trashed for Choosing Heat

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-Digger's Daily-

The suspense is over. NBA star LeBron James has chosen to play for the Miami Heat. ESPN helped turn James decision into a spectacle by hosting a one hour prime time special, "The Decision", where analysts debated which team would be the best fit for one of the games greats. Never before has the sporting world witnessed such an event. Instead of talking directly to the teams involved (Cleveland, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Clippers and Miami) James chose to go prime time angering many along the way.

Headlines from the losing cities are tenaciously attacked LeBron. Sports editorials ripping him a new one. Some catchy headlines include (links included):

NY Post front page headline "LeBum" and front sports page shouted "Son of a Beach!" (NY Post)

NY Daily News front page "Who Cares!" and back sports page headline also read "Son of a Beach!" (NY Daily News) (online edition) has headline after headline tearing apart James decision.

You get the idea. The manner in how this all unfolded has ruffled many players, coaches, teams and fans. The harshest words have come directly from James former employers in Cleveland which even questioned LeBron's lackadasical playoff performances when the Cavs were eliminated by Boston. Team owner Dan Gilbert went the extra mile publishing an open letter to Cavaliers fans. I don't ever remember a team owner ripping apart a former player in this manner (read here). Gilbert called James decision a "cowardly betrayal" and went on to claim "In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight: "I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former 'King' wins one."

The only positive news came from South Florida newspapers who are joyfully predicting Wade, Bosh & James will deliver many titles. Personally, I feel James made the right choice in playing in Miami for many reasons. Tax concerns (no local & state taxes) allows James to keep much of his soon to be large contract and endorsements. New York & Federal taxes would have consumed 2/3's of money earned. South Florida is also a great diverse environment to live. Miami Heat are dedicated to winning and have a terrific organization. James also gets to play with close friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

On the flip side, did LeBron James really need to have a one hour ESPN special to announce his long anticipated decision? No! This was not the proper forum to flip off all those who worked so hard attempting to better their teams. A personal phone call saying "thank you for honoring me"... at least something somewhat responsible and respectful. To each their own choices but can anyone blame those left in the dust for having a bad feeling? James will hear it loud and clear from fans in losing bid cities once the regular season begins. He's now public enemy #1 in Chicago, New York, Cleveland, New Jersey and L.A.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NFL Rumblings: 1st & Goal or 4th & Long?

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-Digger's Daily-

A select few National Football League players have much to think about lately. 1st & goal or 4th & long? What will it be for some troubled players? Will they get take control of their personal troubles and get on with their careers? Or will teams simply give up on signing talents filled with off field distractions? Some players just can't seem to take positive advantage of many second chances offered. Here's a few making negative news lately as the 2010 season quickly approaches.

Terrell Owens is flapping his gums again. Pointing fingers is nothing new for the outspoken T.O. This time taking aim at ESPN. "A lot of people have listened to a lot of the commentaries throughout a lot of the media outlets, mainly ESPN, that has my character in question as far as things that have happened in the past," Owens said. "And I think even though I may do 99 good things right and if I do one thing wrong, ESPN and the people on there is gonna make it out to be the worst thing ever." Let's be clear. Owens has never been known as a team player. He disrupts team chemistry everywhere he plays. There's always a blame game from trash talking head coaches, quarterbacks, offensive coordinators and teammates. It's been this way throughout his NFL career from San Francisco to Philadelphia to Dallas to Buffalo. Now, blaming the media for lack of a contract. At this stage, and price tag, why would any team want his services? As of now, none do. There's only one person to blame but T.O. rarely engages in self analysis. Owens' career is in the 4th and long stage.

Former Oakland Raiders JaMarcus Russell's fame will be remembered as one of the biggest draft busts. The former LSU college star was Oakland's #1 pick in 2007. It's doubtful Russell will ever suit up for another NFL team. 7 career wins in 25 starts accompanied by a "myriad" of off field problems. The latest was a recent arrest for possession of a controlled substance (codeine syrup). UFL might come calling. NFL teams will not.

There's a new substance spreading across NFL locker rooms. NFL drug testing policies make it difficult for players to find a new high. But, those who want to find a way now turn to "purple drank" (liquid codeine). Purple drank is a slang term for a recreational drug popular in the hip hop community in the southern United States and now seems to be catching on in NFL circles. Its main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine. Cough syrup is typically mixed with soft drinks or pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. The purplish hue of purple drank comes from dyes in the cough syrup. Look out NFL, there's a new drug in town which seems to slip past current testing policies. No one knows for sure how wide spread this has become. Rest assured teams and local law enforcement will be hot on the trail.

How long before Michael Vick distances himself from trouble? He was one of the NFL's most exciting players before getting busted in a dog fighting ring. Philadelphia went so far as trading star QB Donavan McNabb to division rival Washington opening the door for Vick compete for the job of Eagles top signal caller. This ex-con continues to defy logic. Vick was out celebrating his 30th birthday recently. The celebration soon turned to gunshots placing Vick front and center of a police investigation. "I want to assure everyone that I had nothing to do with that incident," Vick said in a statement released to the press almost a week after the June 25 shooting. "I left the restaurant prior to it occurring and did not witness what happened." Vick's lawyer told The Associated Press the victim was Quanis Phillips, a high school teammate and co-defendant in Vick's infamous dog fighting case for which Vick served 21 months in federal prison. Doesn't sound like Vick has successfully distanced himself from questionable friends. Will Philadelphia soon jettison Vick? Unconfirmed rumors suggest he's being shopped around the NFL. Maybe he'll finally get a grip after this latest incident. More will follow after a full police investigation.

Has Jacksonville had enough of the Jaguars? Vic Ketchman of calls this the "save the whale" juncture in team history. Apparently intra-squad scrimmages will only be for season ticket holders. Jacksonville's fan base is diminishing rapidly. Team play has not been good in recent years. Florida has the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Bucs. The Jags are in jeopardy of home game television blackouts and team officials are sounding alarm bells. 2010 might be their last year in Jacksonville. Their official website is quoted as saying... (Vic Ketchman) "At this time, I would like to speak to everyone from my heart. I ask that you, please, read my words carefully and embrace them. Here goes: Folks, this is it. This is save the whale. Forget, for the moment, about kids and growing the fan base for the future. We’ve been doing that since 1995. Back then, it was about the future. In 2010, it’s about the present. The decision to limit the scrimmage to season-ticket holders was made for the purpose of adding value to a season ticket. It was carefully considered and the decision was made, not for the purpose of punishing those who don’t have tickets, but to reward those who do have tickets because adding value to a season ticket might help sell more of them. That’s all it is. The focus has become that sharp because ticket sales, not the futures of David Garrard and Jack Del Rio, is the number one issue confronting this team, and it’s not about next year’s ticket sales or growing the fan base for 2020, it’s about selling tickets for this year. This is it. This is save the whale and, from my perch on the beach, the whale is struggling to live. I think everyone would do well to understand that the radical nature of this decision underscores the team’s desperation to sell tickets. The team knew this decision would be harshly criticized, yet, it went forward with it. Why do you think it did? If your answer is that we have reached the tipping point, then you are a logical person." It's safe to guess professional football in northern Florida will soon end.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NBA Free Agent Frenzy Heats Up

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-Digger's Daily-

One by one the biggest names in basketball are being signed to wealthy contracts. Stars of the game are being wined and dined to the max. New York is one of many teams attempting to lure LeBron James. The Knicks showed how James could net well over $1 Billion in contract money plus Big Apple endorsements. New York recently signed another big name by gambling on oft injured Amare Stoudemire (5 years, $99.7M) hoping this too would help land LeBron. Personally, I don't think James necessarily wants to sign with New York. LeBron James can write his own future. He'll sign for maximum dollars no matter where he decides to play. Why would he want to take a step backwards from a championship calibur team to play for a rebuilding New York squad? He doesn't.

Miami has turned up the heat. Wade has been re-signed. Joining Wade is another sought after free agent, Chris Bosh. Adding James would instantly give Miami the leagues best 1-2-3 punch, Wade, Bosh & James. Florida living is superb. Miami is an excellent organization. The way I see it, James will either land in South Florida or decide to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls who just signed Carlos Boozer earlier today.

Decision day is Thursday during an hour long ESPN special. Sorry New Yorkers, it's going to take more than just money to turn around a desperate Knicks franchise struggling to create new glory days.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

All World All Sports Random Thoughts

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

No rest for the weary eyed headline readers. Action abounds everywhere in the world of sports from around the globe.

World Cup 2010 is nearing its' climax. The Neatherlands team reached the Finals for the first time since 1978 after an exciting 3-2 victory over Uruguay. Oranje has won all 6 matches and now awaits their next opponent for Sunday's World Cup Finals match. Will they play Germany? Or Spain?

NBA's free agent frenzy rumors are heating up. New York's Knicks made their first big move signing Amar'e Stoudemire to a 5 year $100M contract. Stoudemire's first order of business is to lure another big name free agent, or two, to play in the Big Apple. Knicks brass has been tempting James with the league max offer plus enticing endorsements which could net the total package in excess of $1 billion. Looks like there's no recession when it comes to throwing money at top NBA players. Teams and fans are checking twitter updates to find out if their favorite players will be returning to current teams or signing elsewhere. Bosh, Wade, LeBron, Dirk...? Where will they sign?

Baseball's All Star starters have been announced. As usual, plenty of controversy will soon follow when deserving players get left behind and replaced by questionable stars. Injuries are forcing some big name players out of this years contest in Anaheim. Will National League players finally win for the first time since 1996? Is it finally time to can awarding World Series home field advantage to All Star Game winners? YES! No way should the World Series be determined by All Star Game winners. Enough is enough. The experiment was successful for a number of years. Time to find other All Star incentives.

So far, the toughest All Star draw has been luring players to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. As of now, only 6 sluggers have signed up. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit), Robinson Cano (Yankees), David Ortiz (Boston) and Vernon Wells (Toronto), Corey Hart (Milwaukee) and Matt Holliday (St. Louis). Cano is a great hitter but the league is reaching if he qualifies as a "slugger". Seems as though players aren't into the contest anymore.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 1776

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Happy Independence Day America!

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


Friday, July 2, 2010

Underdogs Leading NL Division Races

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Yes, baseball is a funny game. Has anyone taken notice of what's happening in National League divisional races? East favorite Philadelphia seems destined to surrender their hold as ranking NL pennant winners (2008 & 2009). They've fallen victim of a vicious injury bug continuing to sideline key players. SS Jimmy Rollins and RP Brad Lidge are back after missing most of the first half. Unfortunately, both 2B Chase Utley and 3B Polanco will miss considerable time after recent injuries. It's up to replacement players to keep Philadelphia in the hunt. Atlanta and New York are two hot teams who would love to dethrone their cocky arch rival Phillies .

Cincinnati leads the Central and appears more than ready to challenge '09 division champion Cardinals. As of this moment, the Reds have a 0.5 game lead after completing three consecutive winning months. Cincinnati's offense ranks #1 in NL. Most runs (389), hits (758), total bases (1218), batting average (.276), slugging (.444) and OPS (.785). It's a good thing their bats are producing runs because pitching remains a potential division race killer (4.44 ERA). Reds roster is a good mix of young stars on the rise and solid veterans. Don't take this crew lightly. We've all witnessed teams like Colorado and Florida come out of nowhere to shock rivals. Perhaps 2010 is Cincinnati's turn? Time will tell.

Los Angeles won the West last year but can't seem to find any sustainable rhythm this year. Pitching has been inconsistent and 58 combined home runs is well below NL team average (71). NL West gem thus far is San Diego led by the majors best pitching staff (3.10 ERA). It's safe to say nobody outside of San Diego imagined the Padres challenging for the West title. They're an NL best 46-32. If they could only hit (.247 is 14th) then these guys might have 60 wins. 1B slugger Adrian Gonzalez represents SD's only starter batting over .280 and slugging double digit home runs (.302, 16 HR). Their future beyond 2010 is bright. Lack of run production could haunt them in the 2nd half as only a few believe these pitchers can continue dominating. LA, Colorado and SF are within striking distance. Baseball fans will be treated to another wild west finish.

Hopefully all learned never take anything for granted after recent dramatic late season races each and every year during the new millennium. Don't be at all surprised to watch all three division races go right down to the finish line. Buckle up! National League baseball promises to keep fans on the edge of their seats.