Wednesday, September 29, 2010

3 NL Teams Fighting for Final 2 Playoff Slots!

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-Digger's Daily-

Atlanta Braves (89-69), San Francisco (89-68) or San Diego (87-70). Which two teams will advance into post-season action?

San Francisco and San Diego are in a heated battle for the NL West crown. Both teams have 5 regular season games remaining. The Giants are closing out at home. They're currently hosting last place Arizona while San Diego hosts Chicago for two more. Then, in true dramatic style, the Padres head to AT&T Park to take on the Giants for the season's final 3 games.

Atlanta has snapped out of their late season funk. Their only shot for the playoffs is via Wild Card. Key players are banged up. Chipper Jones is done for the year. Troy Glaus hasn't started after returning from injury. Star second sacker Martin Prado was just sidelined for the year. Reliever Takashi Saito hasn't pitched since September 17th. They've won back to back nail-biter's vs Florida. Atlanta will play them once again Wednesday before taking a day off to regroup for a final weekend series vs division leading Philadelphia. Atlanta's destiny is in their own hands. Bobby Cox's team leads the Padres by 1.5 games including one in the all important loss column. Wild Card baseball is Atlanta's to win or lose.

I've never been a true Braves fan. As a matter of fact, I don't remember rooting for them at all before this season. 2010 represents the final season in the fine career of manager Bobby Cox. For this reason only, I'm pulling for his club to advance. Division leading Philadelphia won't make it easy for their foes this weekend.

Plenty of score board watching will be taking place over the next few days. Starting rotations will shift daily depending on game results from the day before. No team wants their season decided on the final day. But, if that's what it takes....?

Will we be treated to a three-way tie after game 162? In baseball's storied history, there's never been a three way tie for a final playoff slot. Just when we think we've seen it all.... perhaps another baseball first is in the works? Don't count on it. But, you never know.

Just in case you're now wondering... here's what happens in case there is a three way tie? (click here)
2010 has been a great baseball season. Hang on tight, it's about get even better!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tampa Bay Rays: Why Aren't Fans Watching AL's Top Team?

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-Digger's Daily-

Tampa Bay Rays own the AL's best record (93-63).
Tampa Bay Rays offense has scored third most runs in the American League (788).
Tampa Bay Rays pitchers have compiled the second best AL team ERA (3.85) and tied for AL lowest batting average against (.245).
Tampa Bay Rays are playing to earn their second trip to the World Series in three seasons.

Rays All Star 3B Ray Longoria wants to know "Where are the fans?" ( article, 9/28/10). He raises a good question. Tampa Bay has problems drawing fans. Not only at home, but, on the road too. Tampa ranks 24th of 30 teams in percentage of seats sold averaging 52.3% (22,913/game). Usually fans flock to watch home teams fighting for playoff births. A large noisy crowd can often help home teams in critical game situations. Teams in the playoff hunt are usually a hot draw on the road too. Not for these Rays ranking tied for last in capacity filled stadiums (60.6%).

The Rays are an exciting team to watch. They hit, run, score, play solid defense, pitch, colorful manager and bow down to no one. Longoria has been a team leader and one of Tampa's most popular players. He's admittedly a bit frustrated by lack of fan support at the ticket booth.
"We've been playing great baseball all year. Since I've been here in [2006], the fans have wanted a good baseball team. They've wanted to watch a contender," Longoria told reporters. "And for us to play good baseball for three years now, and for us to be in a spot to clinch again and go to the playoffs, we're all confused as to why it's only 15,000 to 20,000 in the building."
He has a point. Here's one of baseball best budgeted teams. Tampa's opening day team payroll ranked 21st in MLB. Only Texas and San Diego represent playoff bound teams with lower salary allocations (San Diego hasn't clinched playoffs yet). Tampa is so desperate to fill seats during the final week of regular season games management has decided to give away 25,000 seats for free. That's right, free tickets.

The Rays financial constraints may very well crimp their chances of re-signing LF Carl Crawford or slugging defensive specialist 1B Carlos Pena. Tampa will also be limited in finding replacements for key cogs in their winning formula.

Who can blame Rays players for wondering why local fans aren't showing up in droves? Especially during a pennant race vs rival NY Yankees. It's almost inconceivable to see so many empty seats when a home team is playing for their place in baseball history.

Hopefully, there will not be any backlash against the Rays most popular player (Longoria). All he's trying to do is rally the troops. Trying to light a fire under fans to get their butts into Tropicana Field for support. He's also been very careful to state how this isn't a slap at fans. It's more of a wake-up call or rallying cry.

Either way, it's time for Tampa fans to step up. Tampa has drawn 30,000 or more fans only once in nearly 2 months. Something's gotta give. Hey Rays fans... keep this thought in mind. Would you like a new stadium? Lack of attendance isn't going to help build a new ballpark. Who wants to spend hundreds of millions if no one comes. Tampa is one of the exceptions to the rule of "if you build it, they will come."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baseball's Final Week

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-Digger's Daily-

Here we go. The final regular season week for MLB 2010 has arrived. A few questions remain for certain players and teams ranging from home field advantage, division leaders, wild card winners & the final push for award candidates.

Tampa Bay (93-62) vs New York (93-63) for AL East crown has been an up and down battle for both clubs. The Yanks seemed to have taken a somewhat firm grip on the East mid-week only to lose 4 in a row before rallying to beat Boston Sunday night. They trail Tampa by 1/2 game.

Minnesota (92-63) was the first team to clinch their division and now are in a last week battle to secure home field advantage. They may just do it pressure free as most media attention focuses on TB vs NY.

National League play has followed teams shifting up and down. Philadelphia is NL's top club and look nearly invincible behind a star studded starting rotation (Halladay, Oswalt & Hamels). They'll be tough to beat in playoff competition.

What's wrong with Atlanta (87-69)? Not only have they surrendered first place to Philly, but they're now in jeopardy of missing the playoffs altogether. Not quite how Bobby Cox invisioned his final MLB season. Atlanta is in a hot battle for the wild card vs NL West clubs (SF 88-68 & SD 87-68).

Once again the NL West race comes down to the wire. Will another single game playoff determine West champs? San Francisco currently holds a slim 1/2 game lead over San Diego. These two clubs will go head to head on the final weekend of the season. Every pitch is critical. Whoever finishes second could miss out on the playoffs if Atlanta suddenly wakes up and gets hot.

Baseball awards are up for grabs too. There really isn't any clear cut leader for Cy Young or MVP this year. Here's my revised short list of candidates.
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia (NYY), Felix Hernandez (SEA), David Price (TB), Jon Lester (BOS), Trevor Cahill (OAK).
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay (PHI), Adam Wainwright (STL), Ubaldo Jiminez (COL).
AL MVP: Adrian Beltre (BOS), Robinson Cano (NYY), Josh Hamilton (TEX), Vlad Guerrero (TEX), Carl Crawford (TB), Miguel Cabrera (DET), Delmon Young (MIN), Evan Longoria (TB).
NL MVP: Joey Votto (CIN), Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Troy Tulowitzki (COL), Albert Pujols (STL), Adrian Gonzalez (SD).

2010 represents the final season of a few celebrated baseball stars and managers. Names such as Ken Griffey, Mike Lowell, Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Billy Wagner & Cito Gaston have all announced this is their final season. (Ok, Torre only stated he's not coming back to LA but odds are he's done for good).
Stay tuned... the final week of MLB 2010's regular season will be filled with plenty of excitement and emotions. More to follow as the week progresses....


Friday, September 24, 2010

NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat

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-Digger's Daily-

Sunday marks the beginning of the 2010 NFL's third week of games for all teams. Are all head coaches safe? It's a bit too early in the year for coaches to be on the proverbial hot seat. Or, is it?

A teams bad won/loss record usually isn't the sole reason for NFL coaches getting canned. When teams fail to live up to potential or look horrible in defeat then there's usually something wrong. When teammates can't get along or have discipline problems then be prepared for local sportswriters to highlight in-cohesiveness.

A tell tale sign of a head coach in trouble is when a team owner steps up to the microphone to cast "confidence" statements amid a flurry of public skepticism. This is the first clue that if a team doesn't snap out of it quickly.... then the coach will soon be dismissed.

Here we are today hearing from Dallas Cowboys flamboyant owner Jerry Jones defending Wade Phillips....
"I can just give you a very affirmative 'no,' " Jones told KRLD-FM in Dallas when asked whether he has lost any confidence in his coach, or if Phillips could be fired if the Cowboys fall to 0-3.
Winning is everything to Jerry Jones and Dallas Cowboys fans. Dallas finally shed itself of locker room distractions after years of messy characters ranging from Keyshawn Johnson to Terrell Owens to Packman Jones. The major headaches causing disruption are gone. According to many prognosticators 2010 was supposed to belong to Dallas. Funny, I've heard that in 2009, 2008, 2007 and so on.

Three major problems hound the Cowboys. 1) Offensive line has been atrocious. They can't block and make terrible penalties (remember the holding call on a potential game winning TD pass?). 2) Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett has to go. Dallas has tremendous talent on offense. Speedy WR's, one of the games best pass catching TE, 1 pounding RB, 2 speedster RB's, solid QB. So why does this team have so much trouble scoring from close range? 3) Head Coach Phillips failure to seize control of games when things aren't going according to plan. Instead of standing with a long face on the sidelines how about getting more involved. Over-ride play calls when they don't seem right. Remember opening game vs rival Washington when Dallas ran a horrible final play of the first half? Dallas fumbled, Redskins recovered and returned it for a touchdown. Everyone under the sun was highly critical of the bone headed play selection. Phillips seems like a nice fellow. What he lacks on the surface is a take charge attitude.

Jones needs to shake things up. If he's loyal to Phillips then can Garrett. He's undeserving of Offensive Coordinator status based on lack of credentials for the job. He's learning on the fly while grounding the offense. Game plans are not executed. Plays often come in late from the sidelines. Cowboys do not exploit favorable personnel match-ups.

This is Jerry Jones 23rd year as Dallas Cowboys owner. Here's a well known hidden "fact" rarely discussed. In his 23 seasons Jones has hired only one head coach with a winning NFL resume (Bill Parcells). Jimmy Johnson was Jones first pick which was perfect for a team in transition. Johnson was lured by his pal to make the jump from collegiate success guiding the championship caliber University of Miami (Hurricanes) to NFL ranks. However, the stunning list of coaches that followed leaves many scratching their heads. Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey & Dave Campo covered years 1994-2002 before Parcells stepped in to resurrect the franchise after years of self inflicted damage.

Dallas will have their hands full this weekend facing a red hot Houston Texans team on the rise. Cowboys have managed only 27 points in two games. If they fail again on Sunday and Jones doesn't make a move then one has to wonder, as Dallas papers and talk radio have been doing, when will significant changes take place?

Who's next on the chopping block rumor mill? A brief look at coaches on my radar...
- Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills. What in the world was Buffalo thinking by hiring Gailey? Terrible team will have a very hard time winning a single game all year.
- Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders. 6 coaches in past 9 seasons. Cable is not good. His team is just as bad.
- Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns. Two tough losses against weaker NFL clubs. Next up... Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Jets. My only question is if Holmgren will let this guy go to 0-8 before stepping in?
- Tom Coughlin, New York Giants. Don't blame him if Giants falter. A very solid coach. However, NY media already has TC in their cross-hairs.
- Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers. I like his style and he seems to be the perfect man for the job of resurrecting the Niners. SF should not can him if the team finishes with a losing season. His only fault is poor clock management. Team needs a top flight QB. If SF fails to make the playoffs then he might be gone since NFC West is rather thin on quality teams.

Most other NFL coaches will probably survive no matter how their teams finish up in 2010 barring a squads self destruction or public humiliation. We'll see who goes first. I'd bet it'll be either Phillips or Mangini before week 8.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

NFL Predictions: Week 3

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-Digger's Daily-

There's never a dull moment in the NFL. Here's a few developments as teams prep for Week 3.

*NY Jets coach Ryan suddenly wants his players to take some personal responsibility in their personal lives after WR Braylon Edwards was nailed with a DWI.

*Dallas offense in completely lost and ineffective. Surprise... Tampa Bay, Kansas City & Chicago remain undefeated. Michael Vick has earned the starting nod in Philadelphia.

*Houston is for real. RB Arian Foster leads all NFL rushers with 300 yards. Next victim. Cross state rival Dallas.

*Minnesota Vikings are winless. Offense searching for a WR to step it up.

*Which lineman will be the first to slow down league sack leader GB LB Clay Mathews (6)?

Time for Week 3 predictions. I stumbled with an 8-8 record last weekend bringing my season total to a terrible 16-15. My worst beginning to a season ever. Time to rebound....

WEEK 3 (home in CAPS)

GIANTS 23 Titans 21. Both teams need to win this one. It'll be tight.
Steelers 24 BUCCANEERS 3. Pittsburgh brings TB back to reality.
Bengals 27 PANTHERS 10. Early season must win game for Cincy. Jimmy Clausen starts 1st NFL game for Carolina.
RAVENS 31 Browns 6. Early season must win for Ravens too.
TEXANS 38 Cowboys 13. Houston rising. Dallas self destructing.
49ers 24 CHIEFS 21. Another SF game comes down to final moments. KC running attack is strong.
VIKINGS 28 Lions 20. Vikes get first win.
PATRIOTS 33 Bills 7. No contest.
SAINTS 34 Falcons 24. Saints too tough at home.
Redskins 20 RAMS 16. NFC East up for grabs.
Eagles 27 JAGUARS 24. This one goes down to the wire.
CARDINALS 14 Raiders 13. Who cares?
Chargers 30 SEAHAWKS 17. SD running game in trouble. Rivers to Gates for 2 scores.
Colts 27 BRONCOS 21. Denver always tough at home. Colts survive Mile High scare.
DOLPHINS 26 Jets 14. Miami looking very strong. Jets offense grounded again.

Packers 23 BEARS 17. NFC North battle of unbeaten warriors square off in key divisional battle.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Power Rankings Movers & Shakers

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-Digger's Daily-

Who's number one? Always the question of the day debated around water coolers and typed away on favorite team message boards from coast to coast. Has Tampa Bay or Kansas City cracked the NFL top 10? The Yankees own baseball's best record. Are they tops in the game? Plenty of undefeated teams crowding the college polls.

Power ranking time. Here's how they stack up on my lists.

1 - Minnesota Twins
2 - Philadelphia Phillies
3 - New York Yankees
4 - Tampa Bay Rays
5 - San Francisco Giants
6 - Texas Rangers
7 - Cincinnati Reds
8 - Colorado Rockies
9 - Atlanta Braves
10- Boston Red Sox

1 - Alabama
2 - Ohio State
3 - Texas
4 - TCU
5 - Boise State
6 - Nebraska
7 - Oregon
8 - Oklahoma
9 - Arkansas
10- Wisconsin

1 - New Orleans Saints
2 - Green Bay Packers
3 - Pittsburgh Steelers
4 - Houston Texans
5 - San Diego Chargers
6 - Indianapolis Colts
7 - Miami Dolphins
8 - Baltimore Ravens
9 - Atlanta Falcons
10- Chicago Bears

1 - Los Angeles Lakers
2 - Orlando Magic
3 - Boston Celtics
4 - Dallas Mavericks
5 - Miami Heat
6 - Atlanta Hawks
7 - Utah Jazz
8 - Phoenix Suns
9 - San Antonio Spurs
10- Cleveland Cavaliers

1 - Chicago Blackhawks
2 - Washington Capitals
3 - Pittsburgh Penguins
4 - Detroit Red Wings
5 - San Jose Sharks
6 - New Jersey Devils
7 - Vancouver Canucks
8 - Boston Bruins
9 - Buffalo Sabres
10- Phoenix Coyotes

In depth break downs soon to follow. Big names bringing new enthusiasm to already talented NBA & NHL teams. Heismann Trophy watch is ticking. There's plenty to talk about. Stay tuned....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Razzie's Award: Derek Jeter Hams It Up

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-Digger's Daily-

Derek Jeter put on quite a performance Wednesday night in St. Petersburg. One of baseball's true good guys is taking a beating in sports pages nationwide after faking being hit by a pitch during a crucial game against Tampa Bay for the AL East division lead.

Let's set the scene. Top of the 7th. Derek Jeter batting vs Chad Quails. Jeter turns to bunt. Quails throws a heater inside. Jeter twists to get out of the way. During the live telecast, viewers initially thought Jeter was hit by the pitch near his left wrist. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale immediately signals Jeter was hit. This is when Jeter started faking it. He keeled over in pain (or so we thought). New York's trainer rushed out of the Yanks dugout to tend to Jeter. Girardi soon followed. After a minute or two Jeter jogged to first.

Give Jeter the Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie). There really wasn't any need to over act (fake) getting hit to the extent displayed by one of baseball's all time good guys. Sports pages nationwide went on a tirade belittling what happened as replays clearly showed the ball hit the handle of Jeter's bat. Everyone on the field except the umpires knew Quails pitch hit the bat. The ball ricocheted off the bat deep onto the infield.

Jeter's at bat quickly became a game changer. Next batter up was Curtis Granderson who promptly cracked a go ahead two run home run over the right field fence. Tampa came back to win on Dan Johnson's second two run homer but the talk of the town wasn't the Rays win or sole possession of first place... it was all about Jeter's razzie.

Comments ranging from "Jeter's a Cheater" to you name it were thrown around as if DJ was Jose Canseco. Not the case. Did he over act? Absolutely. He probably should have just jogged down to first instead of pretending to be hurt. How many times have we witnessed batters hit but umps missed the call? Plenty. How many times have we witnessed batters faking it who were never hit? Plenty. So when a baseball umpire says "Take your base"... take it.

Derek's only fault was over acting. NOT the fact he took first base. The state of professional media elites these days is to castigate anyone and everyone. The baffling part is why Derek Jeter? Here's a guy who plays by the rules. A humanitarian. One of the few players interacting with fans at home and on the road. Never a bad word spoken of him by players, coaches or umps during a storied career. A true professional who plays through pain. No boozing it up stories. No drug abuse. No groping stewardesses. No steroids. No arrests, gunshot wounds, rapes, reckless driving, DWI, foul mouthed tirades or disrespect of America's favorite pastime. Perhaps, this act gave reporters ammo they've long searched to "create".

Make fun of his performance if you wish. He deserves a ribbing in good fun. Lay off the personal attacks. Jeter did nothing to warrant condemnation from pencil scribblers who probably never played an inning in their lives. Instead of celebrating felonious thugs masquerading as athletes how about cutting a good guy a break?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NFL Predictions: Week 2

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-Digger's Daily-

Week one is in the books. It was a great opening weekend. Fans were treated to a few great games. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit hard. Jets lost DT Jenkins for the season. Packers RB Grant is also done for the year. Detroit's starting QB Stafford is smarting too. Plenty of team doctor's are busy trying to get banged up players ready to get back onto gridirons. Coaches are now scrambling to revamp game plans and hunt for suitable replacements.

There were big disappointments to be found throughout the NFL. Perhaps, reality will set in for over zealous coaches. A few reality checks 1) Jets have no offense, 2) Cowboys offensive line is horrendous, 3) Houston is for real, 4) San Diego's passing game may not survive starting rookies, 5) Minnesota needs better game preparations, 6) Jets coach Ryan's team recently nicknamed Animal House thanks to their wild roster, 7) Al Davis should sell the Raiders!

Opening weekend predictions also disappointed. 8 correct, 7 wrong. Not an impressive beginning. Time to right the ship....


TITANS 20 Steelers 13. Big test for both teams.
VIKINGS 27 Dolphins 17. Both coming off unimpressive week 1 performances.
FALCONS 34 Cardinals 10. Big mismatch. Falcons offense snaps out of funk.
Ravens 23 BENGALS 17. Ocho & T.O. need to make this a statement game. Don't bet on it.
Chiefs 24 BROWNS 10. KC ground game to strong for weak Browns.
Bears 30 COWBOYS 17. Bears win line of scrimmage battles.
Eagles 27 LIONS 3. Vick plays huge.
PACKERS 42 Bills 7. Green Bay tees off on terrible Buffalo.
PANTHERS 21 Buccaneers 17. Rebuilding teams square off in mistake filled contest.
BRONCOS 24 Seahawks 16. Broncos bounce back after tough loss.
Rams 21 RAIDERS 10. Will Oakland win any this year?
Texans 23 REDSKINS 20. Don't be surprised if Skins win.
Patriots 30 JETS 0. Patriots embarrass Jets trash talking D.
Jaguars 23 CHARGERS 21. Another slow start for SD. Upset pick of the week.
Giants 37 COLTS 33. Eli vs Peyton. Both top 325 yards. Super Bowl preview? Game of the week.

Saints 26 49ERS 14. Saints find better rhythm this week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NFL Stunners Highlight Opening Weekend

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-Digger's Daily-

NFL kicked off its' 2010 season this weekend. There was plenty of everything from blowouts to final second nail-biters. Houston played a statement game and knocked off AFC Champion Indianapolis. Highs and lows for NFL rookies. Games decided in final seconds, Plenty of trash talking. Tons of heavy hits unfortunately produced potential season ending injuries. It's apparent a couple of offenses looked completely lost and need to rectify problems or 2010 will become a huge disappointment.

I've decided to focus on two teams. First up, the New York Jets. Coach Rex Ryan has been trash talking of how his Jets will win the Super Bowl this season. Jets players trash talked all week leading up to their Monday night home opener. A few players even got into a bit of over blown trouble by catcalling and hooting after Mexico TV Azteca stunning sideline reporter Ines Sainz. Sainz, a former Miss Universe contestant, will soon become the most Googled woman on the internet.

Expectations are high for Jets fans. Perhaps, a bit too high. Defense may win Super Bowls, but teams need an offense to get there. The Jets offense looked horrible for most of Monday night. It's tough to determine if the culprit to poor performances are due to play calling or QB Sanchez. Perhaps a bit of both. One thing is for certain. Not many teams will be fretting matching up against the Jets offense.

The New York Jets are clearly a team of no discipline on or off the field. Coach Ryan doesn't seem overly concerned with lack of team discipline. It showed on Monday's 10-9 defeat. The Jets were penalized 14 times for 125 yards. That's an awful lot of field position and positive plays wiped out by bone headed sloppy play.

Two things should come out of the Jets loss. First up, Ryan needs to crack his whip. His offense is not focused. They have weapons to stretch the field. Sanchez needs some extra time. Games are won on the field. Not by local newspaper hype. Second, drill into the heads of the NFL's most penalized team that penalties help your opponent. It's going to be a very disappointing season for Jets fans. They're no better than a .500 team unless they find a way to score.

The second team which looked completely disoriented was Dallas. Terrible play calls by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. If ever a team needed to make coaching changes....? Head Coach Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Garrett need to be canned. The Cowboys are loaded with talent on both sides of the field. Their big weakness of a terrible offensive line was exposed for all to see Sunday night.

It appeared Dallas had beaten Washington on the games final play with time running out. Tony Romo maneuvered around Redskins defenders and found a wide open Roy Williams for a winning TD. Guess again. Lying on the field was a yellow flag. Another holding penalty against lineman Alex Barron turned a game winning play into a game losing play. Washington won 13-7.

Dallas Cowboys offensive woes are hard to fathom. They were completely out of sync during pre-season. They weren't any better vs Washington. Dallas controlled the clock. Ran more plays. Out gained Washington by 130 yards. Out rushed and out passed Washington. But, they lost where it counts most. On the scoreboard.

The biggest play during the Cowboys loss wasn't necessarily the bone headed negated TD. It was an ill conceived play which ended the first half. Instead of running out the clock from their own side of the field with halftime approaching, Garrett called a passing play. The plan went sour in a hurry. Romo was forced to scramble and shoveled a short pass to RB Choice who was promptly hammered. Washington stripped the ball away from Choice and DeAngelo Hall scooped it up and ran 32 yards for a 10-0 lead.

For most of the contest Dallas had opportunity after opportunity to score. Just about every key play was negated by penalty. 12 yellow flags were tossed. None bigger than the games final play.

Dallas is clearly in deep trouble. Romo still hasn't stepped up as a team leader. Phillips isn't able to preach a winning attitude into these guys. Garrett has no clue calling plays. Especially in red zone situations where Dallas is one of NFL's worst.

It's only one game into the 2010 season. Dallas and New York have the tools to regroup.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Colorado's September Deja Vu

Look out National Leaguers. Here comes Colorado, again!

Racing to baseball's finish line is nothing new for the Colorado Rockies. The NL West all but seemed destined for a two team battle in September. When the calendar turned to September San Diego was leading the West by 4 games over San Francisco. Colorado seemed a distant 7 games back in third place. After back to back losses to begin this month Colorado cashed in on a golden opportunity to get back in the race. The Rockies swept three from first place San Diego. Then swept four straight from Central leading Cincinnati. What next? A sweep of Arizona provided by Jason Giambi's walk-off pinch hit home run earlier this afternoon.

Here we go again...

Flashback. 2009 Rockies win 10 of first 11 September games helping them advance into the post-season.
Flashback. 2007 Rockies win 14 of final 15 September games including winning one game tie-breaker to qualify for the playoffs. In playoff action, winners of 7 straight advancing to the World Series.

So, what's it going to be in 2010? Looks like NL West teams had better take notice. The Rockies are back. They were 11 games out of first on August 21. Colorado has won 17 of 21 since and now stand only 1.5 out of first place.

Never say never when it comes to the Colorado Rockies. NL West is now a 3 team race. San Diego and San Francisco are tied. Rocks are closing in fast. Colorado takes on San Diego for 3 beginning Monday.


Friday, September 10, 2010

NFL Predictions: Week 1

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Ok, so this is posted a day late. 2010 NFL has begun. New Orleans survived NFC Championship Game opponent Minnesota, 14-9. It wasn't pretty at times as both teams seemed out of sync. NFL training camps and pre-season games left fans in cities across the country wondering when offense will begin clicking? Cowboys, Jets, Bears, Lions, Cards & Bucs all struggled to get on the same page. Anything can happen opening weekend. It's the first time starters play entire games so pay attention to fourth quarter fatigue.

My 2009 record was 162-96. Not quite up to snuff. 2010 will be better. Prediction time. Don't forget. NFL opens with TWO Monday Night Football games. Home team in CAPS (not for betting purposes).


GIANTS 33 Carolina 16. Giants open new stadium in style.
Falcons 26 STEELERS 17. Steelers offense one dimensional without suspended QB.
BUCCANEERS 20 Browns 17. Bucs ride Cadillac to victory.
Denver 27 JAGUARS 14. Any Jags fans showing up?
Colts 35 TEXANS 21. Pigskin will be flying in this one.
Dolphins 24 BILLS 13. Dolphins swim. Bills sink.
BEARS 19 Lions 10. It's going to be an ugly opener in Chicago.
TITANS 38 Raiders 3. Johnson goes for 200 yards and 3 scores.
Bengals 31 PATRIOTS 27. Game of big headed players.
RAMS 23 Cardinals 21. Do you think Arizona still has Warner's cell number handy?
49ers 26 SEAHAWKS 10. Niners are for real... especially in NFL's weakest division.
Packers 36 EAGLES 27. Both QB's top 300 yards.
REDSKINS 24 Cowboys 21. Fans in Dallas are worried heading into 2010.

Ravens 34 JETS 7. Ravens leave droppings on Ryan's bold prediction.
CHIEFS 24 Chargers 20. Ryan Matthews vs Jamaal Charles. Upset pick of the week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

All World All Sports 2010 NFL Predictions

"All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints kick off the 2010 NFL regular season vs NFC Championship Game foe Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night. We're about to be treated to another action packed year. All teams are finalizing opening day game plans hoping to get the new season started on a winning note.

Division battles figure to go down to the wire. Plenty of rookies have won starting assignments. Players on new teams are looking to make their mark. Rebuilding franchises keeping fingers crossed for positive growth. Perennial powerhouses fine tuning for greater success. Will passing continue to rule the day or will there be a re-emergence of pounding running attacks? Buckle up. All questions will be answered as teams battle for a shot to play in the Super Bowl.

Here's how they'll finish.


New England Patriots - It won't be easy but NE finds a way to get it done.
Miami Dolphins - Ball will need to bounce their was vs tough tough schedule.
New York Jets - Expectations are too high. Jets struggle to play .500 ball. NY reminds me of young Bears team in early '80. Once offense kicks in.. these guys will be great.
Buffalo Bills - Cellar dwellers for years to come.

Baltimore Ravens - Ravens finally have all the pieces for a successful offense (at least on paper). Defense tough as nails.
Cincinnati Bengals - Playoff caliber team should secure Wild Card birth.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Defense will have to play big all year long for Pittsburgh to have any chance with or without Roethlisberger.
Cleveland Browns - Will challenge for AFC's worst record.

Indianapolis Colts - They'll repeat but it won't be as easy as '09.
Tennessee Titans - Came on strong after dismal beginning last year. Outstanding ground game.
Houston Texans - Houston is a tough team. Running game was sore spot in '09. Not looking better for '10.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Turmoil surrounds this team. Losses will evade this team. Jacksonville's ownership will seek relocation quickly.

San Diego Chargers - Rookie starting RB and two at WR. It may take some time for offense to find rhythm. Gates will be double teams all season long if rook's falter.
Denver Broncos - Solid team at home. Fragile on road. Denver's passing game ready to rumble. Defense unpredictable.
Kansas City Chiefs - Soon to be good again after the disastrous Edwards era.
Oakland Raiders - No hope.

Wild Cards: Cincinnati, Tennessee.
AFC Champion: Indianapolis.


New York Giants - All the pieces are healthy and ready for a Super run. Running game only question mark. New Meadowlands Stadium ready for action.
Dallas Cowboys - Coaching staff hurting this team. Garrett as offensive coordinator has been a total bust especially in goal line situations. Romo still has leadership insecurities. If it all finally falls into place then they'll be one of the best.
Washington Redskins - Shanahan will have these guys playing inspired football for the first time in years.
Philadelphia Eagles - They'll have their moments. .500 team.

Minnesota Vikings - Vikes need to compensate for early season injuries. Peterson must protect the football. Outstanding defense.
Green Bay Packers - Exciting team trying to become great team. Minnesota stands in their way.
Chicago Bears - Are they finally ready to challenge for the Wild Card?
Detroit Lions - 32 game recap. 2 wins, 30 losses. Enough said.

New Orleans Saints - Champs have no problems repeating as South champs.
Atlanta Falcons - Legit Wild Card contender hopes to keep players healthy for a change.
Carolina Panthers - Roller coaster season on the way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Problems everywhere. Rebuilding team will be blown out often.

San Francisco 49ers - Timing has never been better for current 49ers generation to step up.
Arizona Cardinals - They're really going to miss Warner.
Seattle Seahawks - Pete Carroll era has begun.
St. Louis Rams - Rams hoping draft picks mature quickly. Good luck. Previous 48 games, 6-42.

Wild Cards: Dallas, Green Bay.
NFC Champion: New York

Super Bowl XLV (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington Texas): Brother vs Brother. Manning vs Manning. Giants D dismantles another explosive Super Bowl offense. Giants win.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Triple Crown Threats Swinging for Glory

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-Digger's Daily-

Baseball hasn't had a Triple Crown batting winner since 1967. Boston legend Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to lead his league in batting (.326), home runs (44) and RBI (121). National Leaguer's haven't had a TC rep since the Cardinals Joe Medwick in 1937.

Is the 43 year drought over? It seems amazing only a few players during this span have challenged especially when considering the black eye steroid era. Plenty of big names seemed like legit challengers ranging from Ken Griffey, Jr, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, Don Mattingly and a few others.

Fast forward to present day 2010. Three National League players are battling to win the Triple Crown and lead their teams into playoff action....

Three time NL MVP and two time runner up Albert Pujols (career stats) is one of the top hitters in Major League history. His average has slipped recently but he's still within rage. 5th in batting (.311), 1st in HR (35), 2nd in RBI (96). He'll be feasting on weak NL Central pitching. The power and run production will continue. One question remains, can Pujols get a hot streak to up his batting average?

Joey Votto's (career stats) hot bat is one reason Cincinnati has shocked the baseball world (1st in NL Central). 2nd in batting average (.323), 3rd in HR (32), and 1st in RBI (97). He's sitting pretty right now and plays in a very hitter's friendly home stadium. This forth year player keeps getting better. MVP in the works? Triple Crown? Votto has quickly established himself as one of the games best.

Carlos Gonzalez (career stats) has been turning heads lately. NL leading .331 average, 5th with 31 round trippers and 3rd with 93 RBI. He's the hottest of this trio and has been Colorado's main man on offense. He may lose a few MVP votes since the Rockies will probably miss the playoffs.

What makes it so difficult to win a Triple Crown. The debate has raged for years. In my mind winning the batting average title is the hardest. It seems power hitters usually have no problems supplying long balls and producing runs. However, only a few are able to manage high average batting seasons outside of Pujols. Times are changing.

Can the Triple Crown be won? Yes. Carlos Gonzalez is red hot. Playing in Colorado is a monumental plus towards finishing with the leagues top average. Homers and runs batted in can only go up with reaching base safely. How strange will it be if Gonzo pulls off a Triple Crown but doesn't win MVP honors? It's a distinct possibility.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NFL 2010 Fantasy Rankings: Defense

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-Digger's Daily-

It's countdown time. The 2010 NFL regular season is only a few days away. NFC Championship Game rematch kicks off the new season. Right off the bat we'll see how well two quick pursuing, hard hitting defenses match up against two of the NFL's top quarterbacks and lightning fast receivers.

The following defense rankings are based on potential fantasy point values only. Some of the NFL's most stifling units may not reflect strong fantasy value. Throw into the mix a defense or two which gives up a ton of yards but returns turnovers for scores.

Here we go... Top 10 Fantasy Defenses for 2010:

1 - Minnesota Vikings. We'll know right away how valuable (or not) this squad is after they play a few power house offenses in early weeks. Solid pash rushers, fast hard hitting linebackers, and takeaway corners. They should score quite a few defensive td's and plenty of sacks. Potential for a few doozy Sunday's giving up big points.

2 - Baltimore Ravens. Defense never seems to slow down. They'll be tougher with more rest as offense seems ready to control the clock and score board. Plenty of turnovers if well rested and better field position than recent years.

3 - Cincinnati Bengals. Almost by default here. They play in one of the weaker scoring divisions and have a strong control oriented offense. Bengals might not force many turnovers. Cincy might finish in top 3 fewest points allowed in the league.

4 - Indianapolis Colts. Manning will be a ball hawking scoring machine. Colts offense near impossible to stop at home. Defense will be playing with large leads allowing a few ripe interception and sack opportunities. Weak scoring division and favorable schedule lands Indy near top of all major defensive stats. Worthy mid round draft pick will put up some heavy fantasy stats.

5 - New Orleans Saints. 2nd in NFL with 39 takeaways in '09. Ball hawkers playing with large leads against teams playing catch up. Might finish #1 in fantasy points.

6 - New York Giants. Yes, that's right New York (or should I say New Jersey?). The Giants have the best defense in town. At least as of now. Great depth, solid pass rush and healthy secondary playing behind a ball control offense spells success. Giants to be one of NFC's best.

7 - San Francisco 49ers. 33 takeaways and 4th lowest points allowed in '09. Singletary's defense getting better. So is offense to keep these guys well rested. Niners a safe play 7th or higher benefiting from NFC West featuring NFL's weakest collection of offenses.

8 - Green Bay Packers. Defense seems to be on one year, off the next. Which is it for 2010? Pack might have a few tough outings but should be just fine if they're winning.

9 - San Diego Chargers. True test coming in 2010. This is a great defense. Alert! Problem could arise for fantasy owners if offense has too many three and outs due to rookie starters. Rookies usually cough up the ball too with potential of putting defense in short field situations. Buyer beware.

10- New York Jets. Darrelle Revis holding out will cost the Jets dearly. They're NFL top 3 defense with him and much different without the NFL's best shut down cover man. This is not being a team player. Jets are legit division winning contenders with him and might suffer consequences as a team based on Revis' contract demands. These guys might get torched all year long. NFL low 236 points against in '09 keeps them in my top 10 (for now).


[September 6, 2011 ... update ... Bump the Jets up to #4. Revis expected to sign and end holdout today. Jets offense holds the key for how well this defense does in fantasy land. Too many 3 and outs will severely tax these ruthless hard hitters. However, there's not doubt plenty of sacks & takeaways will be had by these guys.]