Monday, August 30, 2010

NFL 2010 Fantasy Rankings: Tight End

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL Tight End's rarely catch the eye of fantasy drafters in early rounds. I was often chastised for selecting Tony Gonzalez in early rounds during his hey-day in Kansas City. How can you go wrong with a pass catcher reeling in 100 receptions, 1000+ yards and double digit td's?

So how do 2010 Tight End's stack up? There's a big disparity between top and bottom when it comes to fantasy production from this position. Don't get caught short as plenty of points soon to be produced from a few select players.

2010 NFL TE Rankings

1 - Antonio Gates (SD). Averaging nearly 10 TD's since 2004. SD sporting rookie WR's so it's safe to expect Gates to be River's primary target. 1200 yards, 12+ TD.
2 - Dallas Clark (IND). Numbers get better every season. One of Manning's favorite targets nabbed 100 catches, 1106 yards & 10 TD. Look for more of the same in '10. 1000+, 10+.
3 - Jason Witten (DAL). Despite impressive looking bubble gum card numbers (94 rec, 1030 yds) Witten was said to have an off year. Dallas didn't call his number often enough in the red zone. Receptions & yards will mimic '09. Fantasy coaches need more scores. Here they come. 950+, 10+.
4 - Vernon Davis (SF). Lived up to draft hype last year netting 13 TD's. Reliable, big, getting better. His production rests behind center. Davis has the hands to lead all TE's in fantasy points. Question is.. what kind of season will SF QB's produce? 900+, 10+.
5 - Tony Gonzalez (ATL). Usual numbers were down in '09. Gonzo is still one of the league's elite but probably will never be targeted as much as he was in KC. 950+, 7+.
6 - Brent Celek (PHA). '09 fill in and 2010 starter Kolb connected with Celek for two 100 yard games last year. Not a good blocker but who cares in fantasy play? 850+, 8+.
7 - Visanthe Shiancoe (MIN). I'm of the believe Favre to Shiancoe will put up big numbers. Down field attack will be off with injuries to WR's. Favre loves hitting TE's vs blitzes. Respectable numbers and I'm predicting a few multi td games. He'll probably out produce a couple of guys listed above. 900+, 10+.
8 - Jermichael Finley (GB). Rodgers is ready and set to tear up NFC rivals. How much of a role Finley gets remains to be seen. He's solid but scores will probably happen elsewhere. 800+, 5+.
9- Kevin Boss (NYG). Trying to regain form after off season surgery. Boss will have plenty of open field to roam when WR speedsters are streaking down field. 600+, 7+.
10 - Kellen Winslow (TB). Tampa has a long way to go before their offense can be taken seriously. Perhaps being taken for granted is the Bucs best weapon. Winslow's a talent who's had trouble living up to potential based on two factors, injuries and playing for terrible teams. 700+, 5+.

Stay tuned. Defenses up next...


Friday, August 27, 2010

NFL 2010 Fantasy Rankings: Wide Receivers

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-Digger's Daily-

Here's two interesting facts NFL fantasy coaches need to remember. In 2009, 17 QB's threw for over 3,500 yards. 18 QB's tossed 20 or more TD's. Want a third fact? 23 wide receivers topped 1,000 yards.
There's been a growing trend taking hold in the NFL. The passing game is back. Often in years past WR's were looked over during early draft rounds (except for the super stars). 2010 WR list supplies limitless star studded combination's. For purposes of the best of the best, I've prepared my top 10 projections. Plenty of point makers can be had by shrewd drafters. Prepare accordingly.

2010 NFL WR Rankings

1 - Reggie Wayne (IND). Peyton Manning's primary target. Enough said. 1400+, 14+ TD.
2 - Andre Johnson (HOU). Drives double teaming defenses nuts. Back to back 100+, 1500+ yard seasons. No reason to believe he's slowing down. 1500+ yards, 12+ TD.
3 - Larry Fitzgerald (ARI). Warner and Boldin are gone. Fitz is Cards primary weapon. 1500+, 10+.
4 - Miles Austin (DAL). Romo's deep threat will get plenty of opportunities to be a game breaker. 1300+, 12+. Could test 1600 yards if defenders can't keep up.
5 - Brandon Marshall (MIA). Punishing ground attack will open up passing lanes for Miami's first true #1 WR in years. QB Henne has much to prove. Marshall is the instant go to guy in Miami. 1300+, 10+.
6 - Randy Moss (NE). Back to back subpar Moss seasons. Is he ready to step up? Or, still a head case? Brady to Moss all season long. 1200+, 14+.
7 - Roddy White (ATL). Mixed results in '09. Better in '10. 1200+, 10+.
8 - Steve Smith (NYG). Eli Manning's go to guy in '09 is back. 1400+, 6+.
9 - Anquan Boldin (BAL). Has plenty of gas left in his tank. Primary Ravens WR. 1200+, 7+.
10- DeSean Jackson (PHI). A new era has begun in Philadelphia. McNabb is gone. Kolb is in. 1200+, 7+.

Keep an eye on..

- Greg Jennings/Donald Driver (GB). 1000 yard tandem. Hot hand will get bulk of red zone looks.
- Marques Colston (NO). Brees spread the ball around last year. Colston was Saints only 1000 yard WR on a team totaling nearly 4500.
- Bernard Berrian/Javon Walker/Percy Harvin (MIN). Who's going to be Favre's primary target? Rice is out. Harvin isn't 100%. Berrian only caught 60% of 92 targeted passes in '09. If Walker is good to go it might be like old times for the former Packers.
- Chad Ochocinco/Terrell Owens (CIN). Which explosion happens first? Both tear it up on the gridiron? Both run off their mouths too much? So far, they seem all business. These two can each top 1000 yards and create red zone havoc.
- Malcom Floyd/Legedu Naanee (SD). Long shots for fantasy owners. Sleepers if drafted correctly. Rivers will be throwing often.
- Santana Moss/Joey Galloway (WAS). Remember these guys? You will in '10 with McNabb throwing. By NFL standards, these three are the cardiac trio.

Stay tuned. Tight End's up next...


Thursday, August 26, 2010

NFL 2010 Fantasy Rankings: Running Backs

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-Digger's Daily-

Here's when it gets dicey. Fantasy coaches have long made running backs draft priority #1. It's also a position no one wants to go bust in. One great RB is usually available for most coaches to snatch up unless you're in a very large league. Last year, Tennessee's Chris Johnson tallied 2006 rushing yards including 11 straight north of 100 yds/game. Vikings Adrian Peterson side stepped his way for 16 end zone trips. However, Peterson rarely hit the 100 yard plateau and had fumble problems (6 plus disastrous NFC Championship Game).

Which speedster will rack up the most fantasy points in 2010? Will anyone reach 2000 yards? 20 touchdowns? NFL has many talented backs looking to become the next cover boy for EA Sports. Potential fantasy team hazard warning. Multiple teams featuring dual backs could throw a wrench into draft day strategies. Don't get caught short. KC, Carolina, Miami, Giants, Dallas, Houston and Tampa Bay might decide to go with whoever is hot on any given Sunday.

If you can't land a top 3 back then this is the season to grab a star QB first.

NFL RB Rankings

1 - Chris Johnson (TEN). No surprise here after a stellar 2009 campaign. Repeating 2000 might be a stretch but he finds running lanes even with defenses taking dead aim. 1800+ yards, 17+ TD.
2 - Michael Turner (ATL). Staying healthy is an issue. One year removed from 1,699 & 17. Looking fit and ready to rumble. 1600+, 15+.
3 - Adrian Peterson (MIN). Buyer beware! Electrifying runner can break a game wide open on any snap. Vikes will limit AP's carries if fumbles become an early season concern. Otherwise, he'll be a gem. 1700+, 13+. 2000 is a distinct possibility as Minnesota's WR's are banged up.
4 - Frank Gore (SF). Versatile Gore will get many touches. Running stats should improve if SF can open up lanes via passing attack. Look out, Gore could become 2010's TD maker. 1500+ total yards, 15+ combined TD.
5 - Cedric Benson (CIN). Turned heads in '09. Might pound defenders in '10. Cincy has two big time WR's which will keep defenses flat footed. Benson should find plenty of running lanes of offensive line can get the job done. 1400+, 14+.
6 - Ryan Matthews (SD). Chargers rookie from Fresno State seems ready to make an immediate impact replacing SD legend, LaDanian Tomlinson. This sleeper pick ranks high and could be worth an early gamble. 1300+, 12+.
7 - Ryan Grant (GB). Pass happy Packers need to get Grant more touches. If they do then he'll climb up the list as one of leagues better fantasy stat point earners. Modest projection with big upside potential. 1300+, 12+
8 - Ray Rice (BAL). Is this Rice's breakout season? Ravens may try opening up down field offenses affording Rice plenty of opportunities to run wild. Not a goal line back but can break one at any time. Needs more touches in '10. 1400+, 10+.
9 - Shonn Green (NYJ). Punishing back needs offensive line to provide daylight. It's his time to shine. Will he step up or be a fantasy bust? LaDanian Tomlinson waiting in the wings if things don't jive or will learn to live as a 3rd down back. 1200+, 10+.
10- Steven Jackson (STL). Rams still in trouble as they continue rebuilding and polishing up young players. Jackson will get as many carries as he can handle returning from injury. Has an opportunity to put up catch up points in losing games. Good news for fantasy owners? Or, is it? 1200+, 12+

Keep an eye on the following backs fighting for carries. You never know who will get the ball in dual team backs. The hot hand usually prevails.

- Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX). Still a bit banged up. Might produce. Might not. 1000 should be well within reach. Health a big issue. Top 10 back when sound.
- Ronnie Brown/Rickey Williams (MIA). Teams have a tough time stopping Miami's dominating running attack. Will it be Brown or Williams getting the ball most often?
- DeAngelo Williams/James Stewart (CAR). Dual 1000 yard rushers will keep fantasy coaches wondering who to start.
- Thomas Jones/Jamaal Charles (KC). Most are high on Charles. Jones was NFL's #3 ground gainer in '09.
- Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG). Bruising Jacobs opens as #1. Bradshaw might see plenty of action if Jacobs struggles again.
- Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush (NO). Ample running lanes as defenses pay close attention to spread formation receivers.
- Marian Barber/Felix Jones/Tashard Choice (DAL). Loads of depth here. Plenty could go wrong if usual sideline troubles infect RB's wanting more touches.

Stay tuned. Wide Receivers up next...


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NFL 2010 Fantasy Rankings: Quarterbacks

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-Digger's Daily-

Get ready for another spectacular NFL season. Thousands of fantasy football coaches have been busy studying draft lists preparing for a new season of play. For the next few days, I'll be posting rankings for key fantasy football point contributing positions. There are various fantasy football games and scoring variations. Do your homework to select the best game for your liking.

Time for segment #1... Quarterback rankings. Which NFL star QB will produce the most points in 2010? Can Brett Favre grind out another super season? Is Tom Brady ready to return to top status? Will Vince Young keep winning? How about Donovan McNabb chances for success in Washington?

2010 Quarterback Rankings

1 - Drew Brees (NO). Pass first offense with plenty of weapons. 4500 yards, 30+ TD's might be a modest projection.
2 - Peyton Manning (IND). Another pass first offense. Manning is a skillful signal caller and exceptional defense reader. Look for a repeat or improvement from '09 stats. 4500+, 30+
3 - Aaron Rodgers (GB). Pack's QB loves to air it out. 4200+, 28+
4 - Tony Romo (DAL). Passing stats work out better for fantasy players than Cowboys wins. Plenty of weapons. Watch out for too many int's. Running attack my subtract passing td's. 4000+, 25+
5 - Phillip Rivers (SD). Chargers could be a scoring machine in '10. Rivers will benefit. 4000+, 25+
6 - Brett Favre (MIN). It would be hard to replicate '09 numbers. Favre will still be slinging. 3800+, 30+
7 - Tom Brady (NE). Still no running attack to keep defenders honest. Brady will be throwing often. 4200+, 25+
8 - Matt Schaub (HOU). Will the real Schaub please stand up. Could be one of the top producers. Could be one of the biggest flops. 4000+, 25+
9 - Eli Manning (NYG). If running game and defense takes hold then Manning's numbers might be off. Yet, a solid pick nonetheless. 3800+, 25+
10- Donovan McNabb (WAS). Playing with a vengeance in '10 for his new team. How did Philly trade him to a hated division rival? 3500+, 25+ plus a few td's on the ground.
11- Matt Ryan (ATL). Has weapons. Needs better play calling from the sidelines. 3500+, 25+
12- Carson Palmer (CIN). The great unknown. Could be a huge hit in '10 depending on temperamental receiving corps. Projecting 3400+, 28+ could easily become 4400+, 35+. Look out for costly int's.
13- Kevin Kolb (PHA). Speedster wr's give Kolb deep threat. Play calling has always been iffy during Reid's tenure. 3300+, 24+
14- Joe Flacco (BAL). This guy can chuck it. Ravens finally have a few players to catch it. 3500+, 20+.
15- Alex Smith (SF). Will SF live up to Singletary's expectations? Smith will be on a short leash so buyer beware. If all goes well... 3500+, 25+. If not, look out.
16- Chad Henne (MIA). Don't expect much from a run oriented offense. Then again, WR weapons are finally in place to open it up when opportunities exist. 3300+, 20+
17- Vince Young (TEN). Which Young will show up in 2010? He's not your prototypical fantasy starter. 3000+, 17+, 5+ rushing.
18- Jay Cutler (CHI). Disappointing '09 highlighted by 26 int's. Only way to go is up. Or, is it? Could be a nice semi-sleeper. 3500+, 24+... watch out for point reducing int's.
19- Matt Cassel (KC). Not many expecting much production. Perfect sleeper candidate. 3300+, 20+.
20- Mark Sanchez (NYJ). Superb defense will set Jets up in great field position limiting passing yards but potentially setting stage for plenty of td passes. 3000+, 17+.

Stay tuned. Runningbacks up next.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Random Thoughts: Big Names, Bigger Headlines

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-Digger's Daily-

Never a dull moment. Big names made for big headlines during the past week in the world of sports...

The waiting game is over. Brett Favre is back for another run at Super Bowl glory. Did anyone really think Favre wasn't going to return? Don't expect Favre to replicate '09 performance. Hopefully, he doesn't have to. Minnesota is a deep and talented team. If they were able to protect the ball better in last years' NFC Championship game... then perhaps these guys would have their names in the history books instead of New Orleans. 2010 will be action packed. Vikings franchise inching closer to first ever Super Bowl victory.

Tiger Woods divorce has been finalized. Woods well publicized transgressions turned his life upside down. He's lost his family and golf stroke while subjecting his wife to world wide humiliation. Tabloid sales skyrocketed trailing Tiger's every move. There's only one way Tiger can silence critics... by winning. Until then, he'll be dogged by infidelity commentary for quite some time.

Goodbye Lou Piniella. One of baseball's colorful figures has hung up his spikes. Perhaps for good this time around. Piniella was a winner as a player and as a manager. Unfortunately, he was just another in a long list of Cubs managers unable to lead Chicago back into the World Series. Cubs fans watched Boston's curse end and had high hopes theirs too would soon be history. It wasn't to be. Chicago is having a terrible season. Piniella had hoped to finish out the season but his mother's illness caused him to step down earlier than expected. Who will be next in Chicago? Rumors pointing towards Ryne Sandberg, Bobby Valentine and perhaps current Yanks skipper Joe Girardi. Plenty of rumors will be written up in Chicago area sports sections for months to come.

Waiver deals landed offensive punch for baseball's pennant chasers. San Francisco bolstered their offense by getting OF's Jose Guillen and Cody Ross. These two right handed hitters should provide instant pop for the Giants inconsistent attack. It was also a counter move against division leading San Diego who had juiced up their attack right before the trading deadline past. The Giants trail SD but are knee deep in the wild card race. Banged up Boston made a claim for former hero Johnny Damon. It's uncertain if Damon, who can opt out, will agree to return to Red Sox nation. As of now, if one is to believe rumors, he won't.

Get ready for NFL version 2010. All World All Sports is busy assembling our fantasy football draft guide where we rank key position players from quarterbacks to place kickers and potential rookie sensations. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for my don't miss rankings to help you draft the best possible fantasy teams.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Power Ranking Time

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-Digger's Daily-

Baseball has its' movers and shakers. San Francisco beefed up by adding Jose Guillen. Yanks went after Austin Kearns but not sure why they took a shot on struggling Lance Berkman. Texas added Lee a couple of weeks back and then Cantu & Guzman (injured). Atlanta wasted no time filling the run producing void of Chipper Jones season ending injury. The Braves bolstered their chances trading for gold glove 1B Derrek Lee. Lee's struggled most of the year but seemed to be snapping out of it recently until a nagging back injury shelved him for a few games. Keep an eye on player movement. Anything from trades to Carlos Delgado returning to AL action (Boston).

Tampa Bay has rebounded from a mini losing streak and swept out visiting AL West leading Texas to climb into a first place tie with the Yanks. Minnesota's sizzling with 6 in a row to take the AL Central's top slot over struggling Chicago (4 game losing streak). Braves doing their best to keep hold of the NL East against a charging Phillies squad. Cincinnati and St. Louis keep trading places. San Diego is beginning to pull away in the NL West. Division races are hot.

Things are heating up. Time for another quick power rank....

1- New York Yankees (74-46)... could have done better than getting a struggling Berkman. Wood and Kearns will be key contributors down the stretch.
2- Tampa Bay Rays (74-46)... expected them to land a big time bat for playoff baseball.
3- Minnesota Twins (70-50)... these guys just know how to win even when injured. They could have used an ace for playoff baseball vs top NY & TB staffs.
4- San Diego Padres (72-47)... pitching rich all season and added a few deadline deal bats (Ryan Ludwig, Miguel Tejada). They're pulling away in the West.
5- Texas Rangers (67-52)... stumbled in Tampa and losers in 7 of last 10. Powerhouse lineup. History tells us August Texas heat wilts Rangers pitching staffs. Will it happen again?
6- Atlanta Braves (71-49)... Adding Lee was huge. Glaus shifts to 3B and Braves are back in business.
7- Philadelphia Phillies (68-51)... coming on strong. Added SP Oswalt and 1B Sweeney. Rollins and Utley both back from extended injuries. Tremendous rotation. Bullpen troubles continue.
8- St. Louis Cardinals (65-53)... LaRussa's squad stuck in 4 game downturn to drop 3 games behind Cincy. Cards starting staff is tough. Lineup struggling to score from game to game.
9- Chicago White Sox (65-55)... lost their grip on 1st to Minnesota. Talented lineup struggling all year to live up to expectations. Rotation has been solid.
10- Cincinnati Reds (69-51)... they keep winning. Lineup has been getting the job done. Pitchers stats aren't pretty to view but they're getting results. Everyone keeps asking how they'll be able to hang on?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Total Hoops Basketball Brings All Timers to Life

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-Digger's Daily-

Total Hoops Basketball by Imagine Sports is a little known fantasy basketball site. IS is well known for their all time classic baseball site "Rob Neyer Baseball" home of Diamond Mind Online. Total Hoops is a basketball simulation game giving fantasy sports players the chance to draft, sign, trade and coach their all time favorite ABA & NBA players ($19.99 single team or 6-pack for $89.99). Unfortunately, the basketball side of things doesn't generate the same type of enthusiasm despite better pricing.

From a fantasy sports junkie side of things it's a solid simulation game. It begins with 3 types of drafts. Private league live or draft list. And the most popular public leagues offer draft list format. Total Hoops catalog contains thousands of players with assigned salaries ranging from $500,000 scrubs to Wilt Chamberlain's $25,615,000 asking price. Coaches have $50M to spend creating a roster of 12 players plus 3 inactive-injury reserves (subs). Coaches must also pick a home stadium. Most all time and new arena's are listed. Teams completing drafts are then placed into a 16 team competitive league and bonus cash is then awarded to all teams to either spend early with penalty, or, let it ride and earn interest for signing a late season free agent gem.

Game play offers multiple game settings from hurry up offenses to stop them at all costs defenses. Fine tuning settings will drive coaches nuts but there's ample help to be found on relatively chatty message boards.

One of my favorite teams was a dominant defensive team until getting steamrolled in the Finals. The "Northern Bazooka's" starting five were: PG- Foots Walker $2,744,000, SG- Adrian Smith $2.511,000, SF- Scottie Pippen $14,003,000, PF- John Salley $3,070,000, C- David Robinson $21,050,000. Standout reserves were Charlie Ward, Manute Bol & Kurt Rambis. This group played dominating defense finishing with a +858 point differential and league low 7187 points allowed (80.4 ppg). They finished 58-24 and probably should have won north of 60. A few games were lost from out coaching myself by over tinkering with settings.

There's a hard core regular group of coaches who always seem to find winning combination's season after season. Needless to say, these leagues are filled with experienced coaches assembling tough teams. Results can be fun to watch with play by play simulation, full complete score sheets and box scores. Complete team by team cumulative and individual player stats plus all league and all defensive selections.

If you're into fantasy sports simulation games and haven't found a favorite basketball site... then check out Total Hoops Basketball.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Flashback: 1970's Baseball

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-Digger's Daily-

1970's baseball. When the game was still a game before agents, widespread drug usage, steroids and owners turned commissioners. All Star Games were played for the love of the game. World Series games thrilled with historic moments. Free agency was born. Bubble gum was still in nearly every pack of baseball cards. Starting pitchers went the distance with regularity. Players seldom begged out of games with minor injuries. George Steinbrenner buys the Yankees. Final seasons for superstar players such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bob Gibson and so many more heroes. Unfortunately, tragedy struck too when the world lost the likes of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente in a plane crash during a humanitarian mission (1972). Another sombering plane wreck in mid 1979 took the life of Yankees captain Thurmon Munson.

The 70's also gave us a few dominating teams. Oakland won the World Series three straight from 72-74. The Big Red Machine (Cincinnati Reds) played in three straight, winning two (75-76). Steinbrenner's Yankees were dismal when he first took over. Before the decade ended they resumed winning ways taking two titles of their own in 1977-78. Current day laughingstock Baltimore Orioles were great for most of the decade. Led by Earl Weaver they won the AL East 5 times. Pittsburgh was great back then too led by Clemente and Willie Stargell winning 6 NL East crowns. Tommy LaSorda's Los Angeles Dodgers went toe to toe vs Sparky Anderson's Reds. LA finished 2nd 6 times but did win their way into 3 World Series appearances (won 1974). The Boston Red Sox had some powerhouse teams which just missed during the curse years and played in one of the most memorable World Series ever in 1975 vs Cincinnati.

I was just starting to learn of MLB back then being only 5 years old in 1970. I started going to games and was lucky enough to personally meet some of my all time favorites from Willie Mays to Pete Rose to Rusty Staub. During these formative baseball years of my youth, as with millions of others kids, Strat-O-Matic Baseball played a large roll. So did having, trading, flipping and studying thousands of Topps Chewing Gum baseball cards. Believe it or not, I even selected a few of players pictures used on the actual cards in the late 70's.

Playing Strat-O-Matic was great fun. Setting lineups for all MLB teams quickly became the focus of classroom daydreaming and writing down lineup matchups for World Series, All Star Games or upcoming Mets battles. A few of my 70's favorites:

Cincinnati: Pete Rose (3B), Ken Griffey, Sr. (RF), Joe Morgan (2B), Tony Perez (1B), Johnny Bench (C), George Foster (LF), Cesar Geronimo (CF), Davey Concepcion (SS). Tony Perez might be one of the most under appreciated player outside of Cincy.

Boston: Cecil Cooper (DH/1B)), Dwight Evans(RF), Fred Lynn (CF), Carl Yastrzemski (1B/LF), Jim Rice (LF), Carlton Fisk (C), Rico Petrocelli (3B), Rick Burleson (SS), Denny Doyle (2B)... Rick Wise (SP).

Los Angeles: Davey Lopes (2B), Bill Russell (SS), Reggie Smith (RF), Steve Garvey (1B), Ron Cey (3B), Dusty Baker (LF), Rick Monday (CF), Steve Yeager/Joe Ferguson (C), Andy Messersmith (SP).

Yankees: Mickey Rivers (CF), Roy White (LF), Thurman Munson (C), Reggie Jackson (RF), Chris Chambliss (1B), Craig Nettles (3B), Lou Piniella (DH), Willie Randolph (2B), Bucky Dent (SS)... Ron Guidry (SP).

Mets: Willie Mays (CF), Felix Millan (2B), Rusty Staub (RF), John Milner (1B), Cleon Jones (LF), Wayne Garret (3B), Jerry Grote/Ron Hodges (C), Ted Martinez/Bud Harrelson (SS), Jon Matlack (SP).

Many memorable moments from wide ranging events. Playing catch and pitching to my dad. Hank Aaron become All Time Home Run King. Carlton Fisk's 1975 World Series game winning homer. Willie Mays on his knees in disbelief at home plate in 1973 World Series Game 3 in Oakland protesting a blown call. Pete Rose vs Bud Harrelson fight during 1973 NLCS. 1978 Boston vs New York pennant race and one game playoff. Reggie Jackson vs Billy Martin square off in Fenway. Tug McGraw and "You Gotta Believe". Catfish Hunter. Joe Rudi crashing into walls. Carl Yastrzemski. Rollie Finger's mustache. Nolan Ryan's 100 mph fastball's and no hitter's. Mike Marshall pitches in 106 games (1974). Curt Flood's anti-trust suit vs MLB. Marvin Miller becomes MLBPA leader.

All just snippets in time so many years later. Frozen moments of remembering when baseball was still baseball. When players played for the love of the game. It would have been fun to watch the Ruth/Gehrig, DiMaggio/Williams or Brooklyn Dodgers era's too. Growing up in the 70 was great nonetheless.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

2010 Baseball Awards Up for Grabs

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-Digger's Daily-

Who's the best of 2010? Candidates for baseball's end of season awards are plentiful. Some early season odds on favorites have hit rough patches. In some cases, their names were added to an ever growing list of injuries. There's plenty of season to go. Here's my short list of current candidates and players to keep an eye on.

1- Josh Hamilton (Tex)
2- Adrian Beltre (Bos)
3- Delmon Young (Min)
4- Paul Konerko (CWS)

Not too long ago this list would have read: Robinson Cano (NYY), Justin Morneau (Min), Miguel Cabrera (Det). Cano and Cabrera might bounce back from their early August slumps. It's Hamilton's award to win or lose as of now.

1- Albert Pujols (StL)
2- Carlos Gonzalez (Col)
3- Joey Votto (Cin)
4- Aubrey Huff (SF)
5- Martin Prado (Atl)

Odds on favorite Pujols mini-slump is over and is a putting together a triple crown type season. Carlos Gonzalez has emerged a future star. Votto and Huff don't get much attention but have put together strong seasons. Prado was leading the league in hitting before derailed by injury.

1- David Price (TB)
2- Cliff Lee (Sea/Tex)
3- CC Sabathia (NYY)
4- Clay Buchholz (Bos)
5- Trevor Cahill (Oak)
6- Carl Pavano (Min)

AL Cy Young is a wide open contest. This list fluctuates from day to day. Others to keep an eye on: Jon Lester (Bos), Andy Pettitte (NYY, injury may end his bid), John Danks (CWS), Jared Weaver (LAA). Felix Hernandez (Sea) can't get any run support for his stellar performances. It's a battle to game 162.

1- Adam Wainwright (StL)
2- Ubaldo Jiminez (Col)
3- Roy Halladay (Phi)
4- Mat Latos (SD)
5- Tim Hudson (Atl)
6- Josh Johnson (Fla)

Jiminez was the early favorite after blowing away hitters in April & May. Halladay and Wainwright have been hotter of late. Hudson has been Atlanta's top hurler.

1- Austin Jackson (Det)
2- Brennan Boesch (Det)

1- Jaime Garcia (StL)
2- Gaby Sanchez (Fla)
3- Jason Heyward (Atl)

1- Ron Washington (Tex)
2- Ron Gardenhire (Min)
3- Terry Francona (Bos)
4- Ozzie Guillen (CWS)
5- Joe Girardi (NYY)

1- Bud Black (SD)
2- Bobby Cox (Atl)
3- Bruce Bochy (SF)
4- Dusty Baker (Cin)
5- Charlie Manuel (Phi)

Manager races will probably be determined by hottest finishes. Gardenhire & Francona have dealt with a roster full of injuries and kept their teams in the playoff picture. Bobby Cox is doing a masterful job in his final season.

Hot days of summer baseball are here. Don't miss any action.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Misplaced Journalism Rips Tiger Woods

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-Digger's Daily-

How much is enough? It's obvious the media, from sportswriter's to main streamers, will be dogging Tiger Woods for a long time. The one time golf superstar-legend-greatest ever ball striker has a few stone throwers.

Is it because of past actions with strippers and whore's? Because he potentially placed his family in peril? Is the press ticked off because they weren't invited to his VIP parties? Or, simply because Tiger hasn't won a tournament?

Stardom is not easy. One day your sitting on top of the world. Then, at the flip of a switch, it might feel like the world is sitting on you. Journalistic malpractice at its' finest. One can easily become frustrated watching the press climb all over celebrities while letting a sitting President lie, cheat, swindle, double talk and bamboozle a nation leaving a slimy trail for all "investigative" types to follow. Investigative journalism is non-existent. Unless, you want to know where Brad & Angelina are vacationing or what Snookie is up to.

Tiger's paid heavily for his actions emotionally and financially. All sorts of polls came out after Tiger's worst round as a pro at the Bridgestone Invitational. Maybe all Woods needs to do to get everyone off his back is to have one exceptional day. So many questions of "Is he done?" "Will Tiger retire winning the most ever majors?" "Can Tiger ever win again?" "Should Tiger be left out of Ryder Cup action?" I guess it's anything to sell a newspaper and it shows which is probably why print publications are way down. They'll never learn. People want news, not soap operas.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is Thomas' Return to Knicks a Double Dribble or Personal Foul?

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-Digger's Daily-

New York Knicks and former failed team President and Head Coach Isiah Thomas have been reunited. The Knicks have hired Florida International coach Thomas as a consultant. This has raised all sorts of red flags. At some point in the not too distant future expect NBA Commissioner Stern to strike down this agreement.

Thomas' tenure in New York was a shipwreck. Thomas on and off court publicity was mostly negative highlighted by a sexual harassment suit levied against the former team prez costing his employers over $11 million.

So what makes Isiah's signing bad? The very fact he's a college coach signed by New York to help evaluate talent. There's a big conflict of interest here. First off, he has two employers with conflicting interests. Second, it's a violation of NBA policy which prevents team officials from having contact with players who aren't yet eligible for the draft. There's a clear and present danger by the Knicks/Thomas agreement. Thomas will be in a position of having contact with players (every team member plus future recruits). Young teenage players could easily be pressured into making decisions they normally wouldn't do. What about agents undue influence of cash and perks which often leads to severe sanctions against universities and suspension of players? This deal is rigged to fail.

I'm not sure how or why the Knicks would even entertain entering into any new relationship with Thomas? Aren't the Knicks supposed to be heading in a new direction? Building a new future? New President? New coach? He was an embarrassment to the team and ownership. I believe in second chances but this is a little absurd. Especially, when violating league rules. It'll be a shocker if this deal survives Commissioner Stern's review.

We seem to be living in an era where history is often ignored and repeated.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Random Diamond Thoughts

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-Digger's Daily-

Look out, here come the Baltimore Orioles. New manager Buck Showalter has his O's flying high winning 6 of 7 since he took over for a very ineffective David Trombley (187-283). Buck's club has quickly become a spoiler favorite beating up on AL playoff hopeful Angels and White Sox. This is a relatively young team suddenly believing they can win. Look out unsuspecting foes.

Random thoughts leads to wondering which Major League manager has done the best job so far in 2010. There's no clear cut winner but a few certainly stand out above the rest.
- Bobby Cox has his team where no one thought they'd be... in 1st place. Hitters and pitchers performing in most key situations while Bobby's substitutions keep coming through. It's been a complete team effort so far from the players to coaches right on up to front office. Philadelphia became much stronger with two big pitching guns (Halladay & Oswalt) so look for the fiercy Cox to keep Atlanta focused and motivated.
- Dusty Baker's Reds are clinging to a slim lead over the Cardinals. He's getting the most from his players but everyone knows this pitching staff is about to break down. Or, is it?
- Buddy Black has made Padres players believers. SD's pitching staff is nothing short of sensational from starters to relievers. Lineup had centered around Gonzalez with little but timely production from all others. Padres stunned many by making deadline deal trades for Ludwick and Tejada proving they're focused on winning now.
- Terry Francona continues to deal with crippling injuries. Boston is lurking in the playoff picture when most teams would have imploded. Martinez, Beckett, Pedroia, Lowell, Youkilis, Cameron and Varitek have all missed considerable time. Rookie fill-ins and aggressive play has kept the Sox from fading in the standings. 2010 might be one of Francona's best managing seasons.
- Ron Gardenhire's in the same boat as Francona. Multiple players lost to multiple injuries. Nathan, Morneau, Thome, Mauer, Hudson etc. It's been the walking wounded. RG has kept Minnesota close. Don't be surprised if AL Central goes down to the wire once again.
- Cito Gaston is being over looked because his team is in 4th place. I guess it goes with the territory. Don't turn your back on Toronto (59-52). They're 10 behind division leading New York and 8.5 behind wild card leading Tampa. Lineup crushing long balls at will except for slumping 2B Hill. If Hill's bat comes alive then these guys might start creeping closer. Either way, Gaston has been making all the right moves.

Is it time to turn on the Triple Crown watch? There hasn't been much of a challenge by anyone to pull off a triple crown feat in many years. Here comes Albert Pujols. Pujols has emerged from a mid-season mini-slump and is tearing it up at a fevered pace. He's begun August smashing 4 home runs, 10 RBI at a .481 clip. His season totals are .313 (5th), 28 HR (2nd) & 83 RBI (1st). If ever there was a player to pull it off it's Albert Pujols. Just in case you haven't already figured it out a baseball triple crown is when a player leads his lead in all three categories of HR, RBI & BA. Something tells me NL MVP to be Pujols will do it... especially if he continues on an August power surge.

Cubs hot headed Carlos Zambrano is back starting games for the beleaguered Cubbies. Poor Lou Piniella. This is no way to retire as Chicago is on a collision course for 90 losses. Cubs have been terrible all season. The good news is whoever steps in next does have a talented crew and you can bet on plenty of off season moves. Who will manage next is the million dollar question. Joe Girardi is from the area and refused to feed into any rumors via New York media. Perhaps someone from within the organization? Or, another big name? Too many "what if's" in Cubs heart breaking history.

Friday, August 6, 2010

2010 College Football Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

Get ready for another season of fantastic college football. Each season the drama has intensified. 2010 will be no different. College pre-season polls are beginning to surface. Time for a little crystal ball gazing to predict the final end of year poll rankings (top 10).

1- Alabama
2- Texas
3- Florida
4- Ohio State
5- Virginia Tech
6- Oklahoma
7- Nebraska
8- Iowa
9- TCU
10-Penn State

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can Nolan Ryan Strike Out Mark Cuban?

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-Digger's Daily-

Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan vs billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. These are two headliner names competing to purchase the Texas Rangers by way of an unusual bankruptcy court auction. It's become a bidding war as both groups of investors keep upping their ante's. According to latest reports, Cuban's group has offered the most money while Major League Baseball had been siding with Ryan's group.

The AL West leading Texas Rangers (61-45) are putting together one of their franchises greatest seasons. No Ranger team has ever won 100 games. They're not on pace right now to reach triple digits. However, their chances of 100 improved with recent acquisitions. Much credit needs to be given to Rangers President Nolan Ryan. Ryan is a true blue disciplined baseball man. Since Ryan arrived on the scene in 2008, Texas finally started playing fundamentally sound baseball. His hands on presence has been felt throughout the Rangers organization on and off field. Outgoing owner Tom Hicks finally made one good decision, hiring Ryan as President.

A group of investors including Ryan seemed on the verge of becoming new team owners. Mark Cuban's name had been rumored as leading another group of potential bidders. Until recently, it was just a rumor. Well, from rumor to wild bidding frenzy reality, Cuban's group seems prepared to better any offer. Legal maneuvering and battles between the groups have led into heated shouting matches between competing principle's and attourney's in court hallways. Procedural actions have been called into question as has qualifying bids. It'll be hairy until a decision is rendered. Bids are said to be in the $520million+ range.

Personally, I'm steadfast in Ryan's corner even if his group doesn't put forth the highest bid. Leave Cuban to his Mavericks. Ryan is Mr. Baseball in Texas. Besides, one of the determinations the judge should be considering is which group can be trusted with the Rangers franchise? A free spending tycoon with no baseball experience? Or, a group of baseball men? Advantage Ryan. Then again, in today's world of greed at all costs... the highest bid may prevail.

Watching the Rangers finally come together on the field has been long awaited in the Lone Star state. Ryan understands what it means to build a team from the ground up. Texas finally has restocked their farm system. They seem to have a grasp on scouting and evaluating pitching talent. Front office decisions and player signings have been very prudent and fruitful. Texas enjoys an 8 game lead heading into tonight's action. Their lineup measures up very well against any team in the league. Pitching staff added an ace in Cliff Lee. Bullpen has been clutch. Defense improving. The Rangers are an exciting team again.

If Cuban's group were to win we could soon witness a free wheeling baseball owner much like George Steinbrenner in his heyday. Cuban's leadership of the Mavs earns him praise in Big D and fines from NBA Commissioner Stern. He's dedicated to his ballplayers. Meddlesome? Yes, but not necessarily to a fault. If he were to install a good baseball man as GM (Ryan already claims he's out if Cuban is in) and then open the vault who knows what will become of Texas baseball.

No matter who wins this crazy bidding process the Texas Rangers are sure to dramatically improve from the disfunctional Hicks ownership group.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trade Deadline Dead, Waiver Wire Alive

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-Digger's Daily-

July 31 was MLB's official trading deadline. That doesn't mean no more trades can be made by teams looking to beef up playoff chances or by cash strapped organizations looking to economize.

Here's how late season waiver claims/trades work: A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team, and if there are multiple claims, the player would be offered to the team with the worst record. At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.

An intriguing variable included in waiver rules creates a wondrous chess match among major league general managers. It states waiver claims are "...a secret within the personnel of the Major League Baseball clubs; no announcement of a waiver is made until a transaction actually occurs. Many players are often quietly waived during the August "waiver-required" trading period to gauge trade interest in a particular player. Usually, when the player is claimed, the waiving team will rescind the waiver to avoid losing the player unless a trade can be worked out with the claiming team." (, "Major League Baseball transactions").

Basically what this tells fans is teams do not know who is bidding on players until a deal is actually completed. I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of waivers. Washington just placed slugging 1B Adam Dunn on waivers. There could be plenty of suitors. Boston lost key cog Youkilis to a thumb injury yesterday. Philadelphia, already without All Star 2B Chase Utley, lost slugger Ryan Howard to an ankle sprain. Anaheim also needs 1B help as they've been playing short handed without Kendry Morales. The White Sox had been actively chasing Berkman, who opted for Yanks, might throw their hats into the ring. Detroit has been bitten hard by injuries lately and need offense. Texas has been busying adding in hopes of advancing to their first ever World Series. Dunn could go a long way to creating a pound for pound heavyweight playoff matchup vs Yanks. San Francisco could use a power hitter too. All in all, know one will know until we know.

Dunn happens to be baseball's first big name exposed to waivers. There will be plenty of others. How many claims will be successful? We'll find out soon. Get ready for more big headlines and deadline deals. Also, be prepared for blocks by teams attempting to prevent opponents from gaining strength. It's baseball's version of poker. Waiver period ends (for playoff eligibility) August 31.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Injuries Mounting in NFL Camps

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL training facilities should start posting signs for players reading "enter at your own risk". Nearly every team is facing a rash of injuries. There's sure to be more once pre-season games begin. (click here for team by team injuries courtesy of

Denver lost 2 runningbacks within minutes of each other (Buckhalter, Mareno). Cowboys coveted rookie Dez Bryant will miss the rest of pre-season. Throw in players holding out for bigger paydays, returning from previous years' injuries, plus those placed on PUP lists and it's easy to realize head coaches will have many tough personnel decisions. Another factor will be key players missing opening weeks due to suspensions. In some cases, game plans will be drastically altered to fit players healthy enough to suit up or forced into action.

Last year a few teams suffered through season altering injuries. NY Giants, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers all had a change in fortune once key cogs were lost. Not only did these three lose key starters but they also endured the misfortune of backup players going down.

There's nothing better than strategic planning in football. No other sport is like it. Play to play is carefully designed for specific opponents. Of course, some plays work out better than others if players fail to execute. Watching how head coaches on both sidelines adjust when sudden disturbances arise is part of the behind the scenes action I enjoy focusing attention towards. There will be plenty of in game adjustments all season long.

Get ready, preseason football games begin this coming Sunday, August 8 when Cincinnati hosts Dallas.