Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bobby Valentine to Red Sox

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Bobby Valentine has enjoyed celebrity status. ESPN's former baseball commentator's name was often mentioned whenever a managerial vacancy existed. His popularity rose to championship quality praise. Not bad for a fellow never to manage an American team to a division title. High praise to a former manager out of MLB since 2002.

Enter the Boston Red Sox. One of baseball's top organizations committed to winning. A team coming off a rough 2011 season filled with in-fighting, clubhouse drinking during games and a manager who suddenly quit. Terry Francona was at the helm for Boston's two World Series championships. He was the man who beat the Yankees and broke Boston's curse. Somewhere during the '11 season, Francona lost control of the Red Sox. Various injuries and terrible front office decisions (especially with starting pitching) could be largely to blame. Francona's sudden departure stunned many. He took Boston's bad season to heart. Perhaps, he realized Red Sox players didn't play with any? Perhaps he just wanted out at any cost. End of chapter.

A new page in Boston history is about to be written. GM Theo Epstein is gone - off to Chicago Cubs for millions of dollars. Francona out. New GM Ben Cherington is betting Bobby Valentine is the right man for the job. Question is - what kind of job will it become? A championship opportunity or caretaker for a rebuilding club?

Boston isn't necessarily rebuilding. Or, will they be forced to rebuild? Mostly due to over-inflated salaries of underachieving players. Carl Crawford's first stint in Boston was a complete failure ($20M+/year thru 2017). Lackey pitched like a drunk lackey without any consistency ($15.25M/year thru 2014). Daisuke Matsuzaka ($10M in '12) bombed. As of this moment, Boston has only 12 players signed costing $126,000,000.00! What will Boston due? Rebuilding in the mighty AL East will not be easy or cheap.

Bobby V steps right into the thick of things. Is he just a colorful caretaker until Boston finds a way to reclaim glory days of the 2000's? Or, is this team getting set for some serious wheeling and dealing? This team is carrying expensive dead weight which could curtail aggressive free agent maneuvers. Boston fans will soon find out the direction their team will take once baseball's winter meetings conclude.

Free agency is off to a very slow beginning. Maybe due to economic uncertainties? Maybe owners are finally realizing their players are way over paid? (doubt it). The silence of active free agent signings is slowly becoming deafening. Jose Reyes name was tossed about early on. Pujols to Chicago could be in the works. However, to this observer, a game of chicken seems in play. No teams making big offers to the coveted free agent pitchers. Not much discussion beyond scuttlebutt when it comes to position players. Something will give. I'm guess Epstein's Cubs will be the first to make headlines.

Bobby Valentine in Boston to help discipline a clubhouse drinking team is a bit funny. After all, when managing the Mets Valentines players were caught playing poker in the clubhouse during playoff series vs rival Braves. Bobby V was never known - or respected - as a tough taskmaster. Boston is rolling the dice with Valentine's happy go lucky attitude. I don't see it paying off. Valentine proved many times he's no match for bloated ego's of overpriced ballplayers. Red Sox fans will keep their collective fingers crossed hoping and praying a new face at the helm is all that's needed to restore winning ways.

The only good news seems to be Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis. These players represent the heart and sole of Boston Red Sox baseball. Boston's pitching is in shambles and should be primary focus #1 from rotation to relievers.

Newcomer's Valentine and Cherington have much work to do. 2012 is filled with vital challenges. Decisions made during this off season will have a lasting effect. Hold on Boston fans - turbulence expected.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Football Power Rankings

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

LSU remains #1. Look out for Cinderella team of 2011 - Houston (12-0). Cougars slow and steady rise might get a boost against #24 ranked Southern Mississippi December 3rd. This marks Houston's only top 25 opponent. Houston's offense ranks top dog averaging 52.7 points per contest behind a spectacular passing attack.

This weekend will be teams final shot at making a strong bowl bid, run at number one & Heismann push. Good luck teams.

Top 20
1 - LSU
2 - Alabama
3 - Virginia Tech
4 - Stanford
5 - Houston
6 - Arkansas
7 - Oklahoma State
8 - Boise State
9 - Oregon
10- Oklahoma
11- Georgia
12- Wisconsin
13- South Carolina
14- Michigan State
15- Kansas State
16- Michigan
17- Baylor
18- TCU
19- Nebraska
20- Clemson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 12

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

I rebounded nicely after a disastrous Week 10. Week 11 produced 11 correct picks out of 14. It would have been 13 if the two New York teams played to their potential. Instead, both the Jets and Giants thoroughly embarrassed themselves. Their season's now in turmoil. To the victor goes the spoils - the losers could become spoiled.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thursday's turkey day games could be very entertaining (finally). Undefeated Green Bay travels to surging Detroit. Red hot Miami visits equally hot Dallas. NFC West leading 49ers squares off against AFC North leading Baltimore.

11-3 last weekend improves my season record to 97-63 (61%). Time for Week 12... (home in CAPS)

Thanksgiving Thursday
Green Bay 38 DETROIT 17
Miami 26 DALLAS 23
San Fran 21 BALTIMORE 17

Houston 20 JACKSONVILLE 16
JETS 21 Buffalo 20
CINCINNATI 27 Cleveland 10
ATLANTA 27 Minnesota 14
Arizona 24 ST LOUIS 10
Carolina 42 INDIANAPOLIS 3
Tampa Bay 23 TENNESSEE 20
OAKLAND 27 Chicago 7
Washington 24 SEATTLE 20
Denver 31 SAN DIEGO 24
New England 34 PHILADELPHIA 14
Pittsburgh 30 KANSAS CITY 0

NEW ORLEANS 31 Giants 28

How did Verlander win AL MVP?

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander was unanimously selected as 2011 American League Cy Young winner. Hands down, the very best "pitching" season helping to lead his Tigers to the AL Central division title.

Verlander caught much of the baseball world by surprise when it was announced earlier this week of another award for his collection. JV also captured the AL Most Valuable Player Award. With all due respect to Verlander - selecting a starting pitcher as MVP is just flat out wrong and an insult to deserving players who played an entire season! Let the debate rage on. There's no way a pitcher appearing in only 34 of 162 games - a mere 21% - gets the nod here. 24-5 record is tremendous. Rightfully selected as Cy Young. Categorically wrong selection as MVP! I'll say it again - the voters messed up picking a man who played in only 21% of his teams games.

Scarier is AL voting wasn't even close. Verlander received 13 first place votes. The next closest was Jose Bautista with 5 (finished 3rd overall). Take your pick, any of these players were hands down more deserving of this esteemed award - Jacoby Ellsbury (finished 2nd), Bautista (3rd), Curtis Granderson (4th), Miguel Cabrera (5th). Look them up, study their statistics, then explain to me how Verlander won?

Nobody claims sportswriters are geniuses. Their lack of fundamental understanding for selecting an MVP is quite stunning. Again, Verlander pitched in only 21% of Detroit's games. 34 games out of 162. Ellsbury was the most dominating leadoff hitter. Bautista won the HR crown. Granderson was clutch all season. And Detroit goes nowhere without Cabrera's big bat.

The sportswriters got it wrong in 2011.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 11

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Sorry folks. My crystal ball was turned upside down last weekend. Never before in my history of picking winners and losers did I ever experience anything so dreadful. Green Bay, Houston, New England, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville represent 5 correct picks. Utterly embarrassing. Won/loss record took a big hit - now rests at 86-60 (59%).

Big divisional games slated for this coming weekend in NFC East action. Dallas (5-4) travels to Redskins (3-6) territory. Under performing Philadelphia (3-6) battles the surging Giants (6-3). Every game is big from here on in. One slip up can cost a team an entire season.

Question of the day surrounds Houston Texans (7-3). One of football's best teams lost their starting quarterback - Matt Schaub. New QB Matt Leinart needs to take advantage of this bye week to grasp the Texans offense. A few Super Bowl championship teams have won after overcoming key losses at quarterback. Two quickly come to mind - 1972 Miami Dolphins lost Bob Griese and finished 14-0 (plus 3 playoff wins) - in 1990 Jeff Hostetler took over for an injured Phil Simms and guided the New York Giants to a stunning victory over the Buffalo Bills in one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played.

Week 11
Jers 27 BRONCOS 17

GREEN BAY 38 Tampa Bay 14
DETROIT 31 Carolina 24
CLEVELAND 14 Jacksonville 13
Oakland 33 MINNESOTA 21
Buffalo 28 MIAMI 21
Dallas 34 WASHINGTON 10
BALTIMORE 20 Cincinnati 17
SAN FRANCISCO 24 Arizona 21
Seattle 27 ST LOUIS 23
ATLANTA 26 Tennessee 24
CHICAGO 27 San Deigo 21
GIANTS 31 Philadelphia 28

NEW ENGLAND 38 Kansas City 14

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011-12 NCAA Basketball Rankings

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Get ready for another spectacular college basketball season. North Carolina opens the 2011-12 season on top of all major polls. Defending National Champion University of Connecticut will do their very best to retain their crown. Time for "All World All Sports" pre-season rankings.

NCAA Basketball Top 20
1 - North Carolina
2 - Ohio State
3 - Kentucky
4 - Connecticut
5 - Syracuse
6 - Duke
7 - Florida
8 - Vanderbilt
9 - Louisville
10- Pittsburgh
11- Memphis
12- Kansas
13- Baylor
14- Wisconsin
15- Xavier
16- Arizona
17- Michigan
18- Alabama
19- UCLA
20- Texas A&M

Prediction: Final ranking National & Tournament Champs - Kentucky

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Football Power Rankings

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

NCAA Football continues to be rocked by a Penn State scandal getting worse by the minute. More to follow in a separate column.

Top 20 (Week 10)
1 - LSU
2 - Oklahoma State
3 - Stanford
4 - Alabama
5 - Boise State
6 - Oklahoma
7 - Arkansas
8 - Oregon
9 - Clemson
10- Virginia Tech
11- Houston
12- Penn State
13- Georgia
14- Wisconsin
15- South Carolina
16- Kansas State
17- Texas
18- Georgia Tech
19- Southern Miss
20- Cincinnati

NFL divisional races heating up. Baltimore knocked off Pittsburgh for the second time this season. Week 10 features Oakland vs San Diego, New England vs New York Jets, New Orleans vs Atlanta, Detroit vs Chicago. Almost playoff-like atmosphere in mid-season. A great weekend for finding your favorite place to watch games.

NFL Top 15 (9 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay
2 - Baltimore
3 - Giants
4 - Detroit
5 - Pittsburgh
6 - San Francisco
7 - Cincinnati
8 - Houston
9 - New Orleans
10- New England
11- Jets
12- Atlanta
13- Chicago
14- San Diego
15- Tampa Bay

NFL 2011 Predictions - Week 10

Check it out - "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Coming off my worst week of the season, 7-7 (50%). Miami finally won their first game by scalping Kansas City 31-3. The Jets and Dallas won too effectively blowing out my upset selections.

Week 10 kicks off Thursday Night Football (on NFL Network). You don't get NFL Network? Same here. I really have a problem when prime time games are only afforded to subscribers. This just doesn't sit well with those of us left in the dark. And so it goes....

Looking to turn it up a notch. Even money last weekend was disappointing. 81-49 (62.3%). No bye's this week. Week 10 crystal ball says....

CHARGERS 31 Raiders 20

EAGLES 30 Cardinals 17
PANTHERS 28 Titans 24
Texans 28 BUCS 21
Redskins 14 DOLPHINS 13
Jaguars 17 COLTS 10
CHIEFS 31 Broncos 27
Bills 34 COWBOYS 24
FALCONS 31 Saints 30
BROWNS 21 Rams 14
Steelers 27 BENGALS 14
Ravens 20 SEAHAWKS 13
Giants 35 49ERS 21
Lions 24 BEARS 23
Patriots 23 JETS 20

PACKERS 45 Vikings 7

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Scandals, Strikes & Fines

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-Digger's Daily-

It's been a week filled with ugly news coming from the sporting world. Shocking scandals ending a legendary coaching career, sickening NBA negotiating impasse and disgruntled NFL players reacting to another round of fines by Commissioner Goodall. What's next? Hopefully nothing else to shock our systems.

Penn State's football program sent shock waves throughout America. The scoop is Paterno's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was charged over the weekend with 40 counts of molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009 through his charitable foundation The Second Mile (for at-risk youths). Also charged - in an apparent cover-up from 2002 - Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz for failing to notify authorities.

It's an ugly scandal. Legendary coach Joe Paterno is taking the news hard. Earlier this afternoon, Paterno announced his retirement effective at the end of this season.
"I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today," Paterno said in his statement.
"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.
"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."
This is a bitter pill to swallow. Brooklyn born Joe Paterno "JoePa" is one of the most respected men in all of sports. A walking legend and Hall of Fame coach compiling over 400 victories. This is no way for a man of his stature to retire. However, this scandal isn't going away any time soon. Paterno will forever second guess, and be questioned, for not contacting law enforcement when learning of Sandusky's conduct with a 10 year old boy years ago in Penn State football's shower facilities. He did notify Athletic Director Tim Curley the next day. Paterno was cleared of wrong doing. But - On November 7, Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said that though Paterno and others may have fulfilled their legal obligation to report suspected abuse, "somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child," and that, "I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you're a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us" (from

Sandusky's story is certain to get uglier before it gets any better. Many will fall from ranks within Penn State. Stay tuned, more to follow.

What will it take for NBA owners and players to finally settle their differences? Caught in the cross fire are plenty of non-millionaire pay me more money non-players. Street vendors, parking attendants, concession stand employees, ushers, ticket takers, local transportation, restaurants, hotels and right on down the line. Wake up folks! Commissioner Stern has been slammed by pro-union media types. Owners called "Plantation owners" by NBAPA's executive director Billy Hunter (who seems less than honest in media dealings). 133 days of lockouts now threatens the entire NBA season for the first time in league history.

Hey players - when is enough enough? The world is burning. Finances of millions in ruins. The players holding out for more - despicable. Let's face it, next round (season) of tickets from arena to arena will skyrocket. Average families, already snake-bit by rising costs of everything from heat to milk, will now bear the burden of lining pockets of individuals least in need. I, for one, am fed up with sports labor negotiations. Days of owners taking advantage of players are long since over. Nowadays, it's clearly the other way around.

The Steelers have been fined 13 times for more than $182,000 this season for questionable tackles. Their latest fine has one player mighty miffed. NFL leveled a $40K fine against safety Ryan Clark and he's lashing out at Commissioner Goodall. NFL has levied many fines this season with the goal of curtailing head to head tackles which often lead to concussions. Players all know if they intentionally launch helmet first into another players helmet - a heavy fine is coming. However, during the natural course of a game, head to head hits will happen and aren't always intentional. In most cases, it's not intentional but NFL hands out fines nonetheless.
I suspect it's difficult to determine players intentions beyond clearly obvious launching hits. Defensive players around the league have become a bit miffed at Goodall's fines. How is a player to avoid helmet to helmet contact when players on offense often lower their heads a split second before a tackle is made. The original intent of fining players was for protection from clear helmet leading tackles. Not so anymore.

All Pro LB Ray Lewis:
"You can't stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play," Lewis said. "When the receiver has the ball, your job is to disengage him from the ball. You never want to hurt nobody. I've been in this business too long. I just think once you start getting into these fines I don't know how they come up with the numbers most of the time."

It's time for the NFL to refine their system. Protecting player safety is always of utmost concern. But, let us not lose sight of the fact football is a dangerous game. There's a certain amount of risk on every single play. NFL needs to find a better way of determining avoidable hits from unavoidable hits - something they've yet to figure out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NFL 2011 Predictions: Week 9

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

Week 8 featured a few major upsets. Saints were caught by surprise by first time winners St. Louis 31-21. Philadelphia bludgeoned division rival Dallas 34-7. Kansas City capitalized on sloppy late game play by San Diego to grab their share of the AFC West lead. NFL has a few hot games on the slate for Week 9.

9-4 last week brings my season total 74-42 (63.8%). Now is the time of year when good teams must rise above early season imperfections on the field and start winning. Struggling teams aren't out of the picture yet and need to find a way to shine. Then we have winners with alligators chomping on their heels attempting to knock off division leaders. Mid-season crunch time.

Here we go. Week 9 picks.... (home team in CAPS)

CHIEFS 34 Dolphins 7
Falcons 28 COLTS 7
SAINTS 30 Bucs 28
BILLS 35 Jets 24
Seahawks 21 COWBOYS 20
TEXANS 48 Browns 10
49ers 24 REDSKINS 20
TITANS 27 Bengals 24
RAIDERS 23 Broncos 17
Giants 31 PATRIOTS 30
CARDINALS 20 Rams 10
Packers 33 CHARGERS 21
STEELERS 17 Ravens 16

EAGLES 38 Bears 14

2011 Football Power Rankings

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

NCAA (9 weeks completed)
1 - LSU
2 - Alabama
3 - Oklahoma State
4 - Stanford
5 - Boise State
6 - Oklahoma
7 - Arkansas
8 - Oregon
9 - South Carolina
10- Nebraska
11- Clemson
12- Virginia Tech
13- Houston
14- Kansas State
15- Michigan
16- Penn State
17- Michigan State
18- Georgia
19- Arizona State
20- Wisconsin

NFL (8 weeks completed)
1 - Green Bay
2 - Pittsburgh
3 - Baltimore
4 - Detroit
5 - San Francisco
6 - New England
7 - New York Giants
8 - Cincinnati
9 - Buffalo
10- New Orleans
11- Houston
12- Kansas City
13- San Diego
14- Atlanta
15- New York Jets