Monday, November 29, 2010

Big News: TCU Going To The Big East

I told you months ago that the moving around in the conferences wasn't done.  And this move of TCU from the Mountain West to the Big East is big news.  For more than one reason.

Reason #1:  It means that the Horned Frogs are now in an automatic qualifying conference for Football.  And that is huge.  Imagine if TCU makes the BCS 3 out of the next 5 years.  That is money rolling into TCU that they could never get in the MWC.  And that more than anything will allow the school to increase their profile in sports and in academics.

Reason #2:  The Horned Frogs other sports programs will be able to improve.  Imagine a TCU Woman's Basketball team that gets to play UConn at least twice a season.  Now when they recruit, they can use the conference to get players that might have not considered TCU before.  After all, if you want to be a UConn Lady Husky and they decide that you aren't good enough to be recruited by them, you might decide to go to another program in the same conference to gain some measure of revenge.  It's the same for the other TCU sports teams.  Improve visibility and improved opposition will get you a better player to recruit.

Reason #3:  An in to the lucrative Texas markets to the Big East.  Imagine now how Rutgers or Louisville will start to recruit around the Dallas.Fort Worth area.  Come play for us and your family will still get to see you play.  You will get to come back home at least every other year and play in front of your friends and family.  Just seems like it will improve all the Big East teams, not just TCU.

Reason #4:  The Big 12 gets hurt in their quest to rebuild their conference.  TCU wouldn't have brought much in expanding the conference borders and where it is seen, but it also would have kept the Big East out of Texas.  Now in Texas, you have The Big 12, The Big East, The SEC, Conference USA, and The Sun Belt having a presence there.  That is a lot of conferences and teams that are going to be recruiting there with an actual chance to be seen.  The Big 12 is down to 10 teams and Missouri just needs to be asked by any other conference and they will be gone.  Texas is starting their own TV network and has bullied the rest of the Big 12 for preferential treatment.  So now you are down to 9 teams and Texas acting like king shit.  Who do you get to come into the league and get the conference strong again?  Houston?  Memphis?  BYU?  The thing about TCU was it would give the Big 12 a respectable name to come in and stop the watching of the conference dissolve.

Reason #5:  The Mountain West is no better off than they were at the beginning of realignment.  The MWC had thoughts of being an automatic qualifier for the BCS with the acquisition of Boise St., Fresno St., and Nevada.  Imagine having a conference with the Top 4 teams being the 3 mentioned and TCU.  If you could get BYU to come back after their experiment in being an independent, you would have 5 teams that are almost always mentioned in the lower half of the Top 25.  It would look better than the current Big East roster of teams.  Hell, it might look better than the vaunted ACC.  But now you have Boise St., Air Force, Fresno St., and Nevada as your top 4 teams.  Utah is in the Pac-12.  BYU left because of inactivity of the WAC to get a better TV contract.  and TCU left for an automatic qualifier conference.  If I were the Conference Commissioner, I wouldn't stand still right now.  I would be pounding down the President's door at the University of Houston, SMU, and Missouri.  I don't think that Missouri would come, but I would try.  For the 12th team, go and get Tulsa.

Watch out for more realignment this offseason from football.  After all when a team from Texas is in a conference with teams from Connecticut, Florida, and New York, there is no reason that other nonsensical alignments cannot happen.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sitting on the Redskins Suck Bubble

There comes a time in the life of a fan when you have to scream and laugh at the same time. For some fans, every time your team plays, that’s the time. It’s come to that for the Washington Redskins. A once very and perennially tough team, it seems the Skins have been permanently relegated to the league’s “folding table,” where the Bengals, Lions, and Clippers (ooops, that's the wrong league!) sit at Thanksgiving. For the Redskins, the last 18 years have been more than just a Super Bowl drought, it’s been a “winning season” famine! Since winning the 1992 Super Bowl, the Skins have had a .500 record only nine times (the best being 10-6 in ‘99 and ‘05), been to the playoffs only three times, and won its division once. Once! In the 28 years between 1971 and 1999, the team has had a losing season (less than .500) only five times! Since Dan Snyder’s been the owner (’99), the team has gone 85-101. Two weeks ago, the Redskins took a double “bitch-slapping” from the Philadelphia Eagles 59-28. For all intents and purposes, the “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!” scored 35 pts (not 28) in the 1st quarter since their first score of the 2nd quarter was a continuation of a 1st quarter drive and the score happened only 48 seconds in.
I’m a die-hard, loyal, rabid DC sports fan—a “homer.” For decades, the Skins earned a reputation of having the hardest season ticket to get. I’ve had mine for the past 4 years, but I might as well have bought them off the back of a truck because the games are no longer “fun” to go to, or to watch. If you want to get a first-hand impression of how really pissed off Skins fans are about their beloved team, listen to the now classic post-Eagles/Skins game rant ( of Chad Dukes of the “LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes” (WFAN 106.7) as he went “Duke Nuke ‘Em” on the Skins. Man, he said it all, and then some!!!
We got to the stadium at 5:00, did the obligatory tailgate, razzed every Eagles fan we saw—it seemed like every other person was wearing green and white. Then settled in our seats for what we were sure to be a slug fest. Within seconds of the opening kickoff, I was texting smack to my Eagles friend—then it happened. TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!!! TOUCHDOWN!!!! TOUCHDOWN!!!!! Then it started to rain. My “pisstivity” with the Skins didn’t start with those five consecutive TDs—I pretty much gave up on the game with the first 2 TDs within two minutes. Now what pissed me off was the long walk down the ramp from our Section 400 seats. At 35-0, in the pouring rain, half the stadium was bailing and the FedEx workers wouldn’t let us down the escalator—they made us walk because they expected more fans to arrive! As I slogged down that ramp, I just got madder and madder—and I hadn’t heard Chad’s ranting yet—that didn’t occur until the next day. I was fuming, steaming mad, but I was chuckling at the same time. “Dan Snyder!” I thought aloud and began laughing.

San Diego Clippers: Doomed From The Beginning

San Diego ClippersFor many years I’ve wondered why the San Diego Clippers never succeeded before Donald Sterling bought the team and moved them to Los Angeles. Tonight I decided to check out for the answers and it’s stunning how the former Buffalo Braves (what the Clippers were before 1978) franchise mismanaged their assets in the years before they left New York state for sunny Southern California.

Did you know the San Diego Clippers could have had a frontcourt in 1979-80 with Moses Malone, Cliff Robinson and Kermit Washington? Or a backcourt with Adrian Dantley? How about a frontcourt of Brad Daugherty, Charles Barkley, Terry Cummings and Tom Chambers seven years later along with guards Byron Scott and Danny Ainge? It’s all true. The Clippers could have been a successful NBA franchise in San Diego but the moves the team made years earlier killed any chance the team had of developing a fan base.

Here’s how it all went wrong, starting with Malone and Robinson:

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Hurricanes are still the Bruins' daddy

Nothing's changed since the playoffs where the Canes came back on the Bruins after being down 3-zip.  As of the writing of this piece, the Canes are 3-3 on the power play.  If you'd like to watch a game that defines the thought that hockey can be the most aggravating sport at times, it's this one.  One team's goalie stands on his head while his team is being outplayed, yet they take advantage of their opportunities on the power play to win a game they had no business winning.  Only in hockey.  I think the 'Canes scored 3 power play goals on 4 shots.

Much props to Cam Ward, who was outstanding in this game and is no slouch at all between the pipes. So standing on his head comes as no surprise, getting his first shutout of the season in this game.  And no team is better than the Hurricanes at holding a lead, which usually comes down to great goaltending and smart play with the puck.  So congrats to the Hurricanes for winning a game where they didn't play well or at least as well as the opposition, on the road no less.  That's a sign of a good team.  Repeat after me:  Special teams and goaltending, special teams and goaltending...
By the way, congrats to Mark Recchi on scoring his 1500th point the other night.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week 12 NFL Predictions and Week 11 Results

New England (-7) at Detroit.  I don't see a letdown from the Patriots after an emotional win against the Colts last week.

New Orleans (-4) at Dallas.  There are people picking Dallas with the upset.  That being said, the Saints are 7-3.  Their offense is starting to click, and the Dallas defense still isn't up to snuff.

Cincinnati at NY Jets (-9).  I don't like the line being this high for the Jets.  Their offense is missing something.  Maybe the Bungles coming to town will cure what ails them.

Pittsburgh (-7) at Buffalo.  I think that the nastiness that the Raiders played the Stellers with last week will cause the Steelers to have a chip on their shoulder the rest of the season.  That's not good for the rest of the league.

Tennessee at Houston (-7).  Rusty Smith is the starting QB for the Tennessee Titans.  That is all you need to know.

Minnesota (E) at Washington.  Leslie Frazier will get his 1st win as Head Coach of the Vikings, despite the play of Brett Farve.  Vikings will be motivated after the head coaching change.

Green Bay at Atlanta (-2).  The Falcons are built for the tracks indoors of the NFL.  If this was at Lambeau, the pick would be the Green and Gold.

Carolina at Cleveland (-11).  The world is ending.  The Browns are double digit favorites.  But how do you not pick them against the worst team in the NFL this season. 

Jacksonville at NY Giants (-8).  Tom Coughlin has a soft spot in his heart for beating the Jaguars.  Look for the Giants to roll.

Kansas City (-2) at Seattle.  Kansas City is the better team but Seattle plays well at home.  I'll take the Chiefs to win by a field goal.

Tampa Bay at Baltimore (-9).  The Ravens defense is still extremely dangerous and will show that against a young Bucs offense.

St. Louis (+4) at Denver.  I am going against the grain here.  The Rams have not been Road Warriors and the passing game isn't vertical.  I still see them winning this game against a rebuilding Broncos team.

Philadelphia (-3) at Chicago.  A matchup to watch and see if Michael Vick can run roughshod over the Bears defense.  I say no, but he will get the Eagles the victory.

San Diego (+2.5) at Indianapolis.  The Chargers always give the Colts a game.  Usually winning in the process.  I'll take Rivers and the Bolts offense that is getting Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates back into the lineup this week.

San Francisco at Arizona (E).  Would anybody watch this game if it wasn't on Monday night?  Both teams have QB problems and at least one head coach won't be around next year.  I'll take Arizona.

Record For Week 11:

Overall:  12-4  Win Pct:  75.0%  Favorites:  8-2.  Road Favorites:  3-0.  Home Favorites:  5-2. Underdogs:  4-2.  Road Underdogs:  4-2.  Home Underdogs:  0-0.

Overall Record:  85-71-3.  Winning Percentage:  54.4%  Favorites:  55-54-2.  Road Favorites:  29-18-2.  Home Favorites:  26-36.  Underdogs:  31-17-1.  Road Underdogs:  19-14-1.  Home Underdogs:  12-3.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In Memoriam: Pat Burns (1952 - 2010)

"…I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that. As for my career, I always said to my kids, 'you don't cry because it's over, you're happy because it happened.' That's the main thing. I'm happy it happened." -- Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Pat Burns, March 26, 2010.

It’s been about eight hours since I found out former Leafs coach Pat Burns passed away and I’m still devastated. But at some point I have to write something about this and tonight I thought I’d share how I became a Leafs fan.

I didn’t know it at the time but my love for the Leafs started in the summer of 1986. Back then, San Diego was a hockey wasteland. The WHA’s San Diego Mariners folded nine years earlier and with the exception of the PHL’s San Diego Hawks (and the immortal Bill Goldthorpe) the only hockey games you saw on television were whatever Los Angeles Kings games you could pick up on KCAL with a rabbit ears antenna on a clear night.

The St. Louis Blues hockey team was owned at the time by La Jolla businessman Harry Ornest, and when the Blues announced they were going to play an exhibition game at the San Diego Sports Arena against the Calgary Flames in late September I made sure I was first in line to buy tickets for the game. The biggest reason why I wanted to go? I wanted to see Doug Gilmour, who was my favorite NHL player after Bobby Clarke retired two seasons earlier. They had a similar style of play, except Gilmour didn’t use his stick like a scalpel on his opponents like Clarke did.

I attended the game with a very attractive “girlfriend” and we sat right behind the Blues bench. It was one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever attended. Not only did I get to see Gilmour, Rob Ramage and Greg Millen in action for the Blues, but I also got to see a very young and feisty Gary Roberts play in one of his first professional games. Not bad for $30, huh?

Let’s fast forward seven years later to the spring of 1993. I’m in my third year of my junior year of college at San Diego State (It’s a long story) and almost all Los Angeles Kings hockey games were now available on cable television in San Diego via the Prime Ticket network. Pro hockey had returned to San Diego in the form of the IHL’s San Diego Gulls and Gilmour was now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a franchise I kept an eye on ever since they drafted Wendel Clark first overall in 1985.

That spring, both teams faced off in the Campbell Conference finals for the right to play the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup. I was impressed with the Leafs because they reminded me of the Oakland Raiders. Unlike my Kings, the Leafs were a blue-collar team that worked hard and mirrored their tough head coach, intimidated everyone that stood in their way and won more often than they lost. They didn’t retire uniform numbers (Bill Barilko and Ace Bailey excepted) and their fans were everywhere. Even here in San Diego!

My most vivid memories of Pat Burns were from Game 1. After Marty McSorley and Clark fought at the Kings blue line, Burns pointed a finger at Kings head coach Barry Melrose and tried to go after him. To this day I still think Burns would have ripped Melrose’s mullet out of his skull if those ushers and police weren’t between them.

Although the Kings prevailed in seven games, I have to admit my heart wouldn’t have been broken if the Leafs had won the series. They played my kind of hockey and up until I disowned the Kings a few seasons ago I rooted for both franchises --even if I had to keep my membership in Leafs Nation a secret for many years.

Pat Burns made me a Leafs fan. That is what I’ll remember about him the most.

Friday, November 19, 2010

3 Time Jack Adams Winner Pat Burns Dies At Age 58

Mr. Burns was the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston Bruins when he won his Jack Adams awards.  He won his only Stanley Cup as coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2003.  Lung Cancer is the cause of death.

“On behalf of the ownership, management, staff, and players of the New Jersey Devils, we are all deeply saddened by the loss of Pat Burns,” Devils’ President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. “Pat was a close friend to us all, while dedicating his life to his family and to the game of hockey. He has been part of our family here in New Jersey for eight years. Today, the hockey world has lost a great friend and ambassador. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Line, and the entire Burns’ family.”

God Speed Pat, and ensure that you take your turn coaching the great players that you will meet in heaven.

Packers vs. Redskins

On October 10, 2010, I attended the NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins. My brother-in-law (BIL), his best friend, and another friend all flew in from my hometown Sheboygan, WI, to attend the game. It was quite hilarious that when we were setting this weekend up, my wife decided that she would fly to WI to visit my dad and sister while our BIL and friends came out to Virginia -- they actually passed each other in the airports.

My BIL's best friend is the Anheuser-Busch (AB) distributor back in Sheboygan. When they learned of this impending game, he sent an email to AB asking for tickets. AB sent him 4 "dream seat" tickets, Section 31, Row 3, in the east end zone. Basically, we were field level, 3 rows up. When I learned of what he received and found out that they're only available as a season ticket purchase and cost $5k per ticket per season. I was so concerned about getting hit with an ethics violations at work that I voluntarily spoke with the Ethics Officer before they arrived. She assured me that neither the DHS or OIG has contracts with AB, why I still can't figure out, and that they were given to my BIL's best friend, who would give one to me.

It was a beautiful, early fall day in VA. Not a cloud in the sky nor rain in the forecast. I believe the temperature at game time was in the 70's. We caught the Metro to FedEx Field and it is about a mile hike to the stadium (this Marine doesn't hump anymore), and we found fellow Sheboyganites to tail gate with. If you've seen the NFL commercial where it shows the fans who travel with their teams, look for the 1966 Dodge RV that's painted like a GB helmet. That's who we tailgated with. Every Packer fan knows you got to have brats at a tailgate; and another friend from Sheboygan, Chuck Miesfeld, who owns Miesfeld's Meat Market, was there. Johnsonville Brats are made in Sheboygan, but every Sheboyganite knows Miesfeld's is the best. I remember Redskins fans walking by the RV amazed at it, and owner telling them, "Free self-paced tours, just beware there's a 50 percent chance you'll be converted."

So we get to the seats, and they're just beautiful (I guess I owe AB a shout out for them.) We watch the warm-ups and OMG, these players look like highly trained thoroughbreds; well, except for the D and O linemen who are just incredible bulks. To see Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, and Jermichael Finley that close; they might have had 10% body fat combined.

In the 1st quarter, a pass is thrown to TE Donald Lee and he gets hit and fumbles the ball. Jermichael Finley tries to tackle whoever recovered the fumble and gets injured and is out, as we learn later for the season. Clay Matthews is living in the backfield of the Redskins and is giving Donovan McNabb hell. If you remember, the Packers scored a TD pass to Donald Lee in the 1st quarter, their only one, right in our end zone. It appears that Donald Lee sees green Packer jerseys and thinks about doing a Lambeau Leap, but changes his mind and gives high-5's instead. That was my BIL and his best friend he jumped to. We got pictures and video of it, there was even a guy from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel taking pics. What was funny is after it happened, they started getting text messages and phone calls from WI asking them, "Was that you?"

Well, as you know, in the 3rd quarter, Clay Matthews goes out with a hammy problem and there's no longer any pressure on McNabb. After leading 13-3 with over 11 minutes to play in the 4th quarter, the Skins come back, tie the game, and win it in OT. (Yeah, I'm the guy in the Packer hat and jersey right under the "Fox" logo.)

I got to say that for the most part the Skins fans were pretty good. For awhile it looked and felt like Lambeau East in the stadium, and most Skins fans didn't heckle us. Of course, after the game there were some assholes who wanted to rub their win in our face; but, overall, it was a polite host. Of course we were warned it wouldn't have been that way if the Skins were playing the Cowgirls or Eagles.

Overall, I rate my game experience as a 9. A 10 would have included a win, but we gave the game away, which some grizzled Skins fans recognized. That's a plus in my book that even die-hard fans recognize a gimme.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 11 NFL Predictions and Week 10 Results

I need to get on a hot streak over the final 7 weeks to even get over 65% correct.  So here we go.

Chicago (+2.5) at Miami.  The Bears are looking better on offense the past 2 weeks and couple that with their stifling defense, I look for the Bears to beat the Dolphins.

Washington at Tennessee (-8).  Two Jeckyl and Hyde teams here.  I can't shake the felling that the Redskins are still reeling from that debacle against the Eagles.

Buffalo (+5.5) at Cincinnati.  I am leery of any game that the Bengals are favored in.  Factor in the Palmer problems and the TO experiment going wrong in Cincy and I'll take the Bills.

Cleveland at Jacksonville (-1).  The Jaguars offense is starting to look good.  And I don't think that Colt McCoy will be able to exploit that Jaguars pass defense.

Green Bay (-3) at Minnesota.  The Vikings debacle of 2010 continues with the Packers beating the Purple and Gold.  The natives in Minnesota want to see Joe Webb and what he can do once the Vikings are officially eliminated from the playoffs, not T-Jack.  A week 13 injury for the year to Farve is a possibility. 

Oakland at Pittsburgh (-8).  I think the Steelers got the message after Jeff Reed got cut.  Look for the Raiders to slip back to .500 after this one.

Baltimore (-11) at Carolina.  Brian St. Pierre is starting at QB for Carolina.  People are upset that Tony Pike isn't getting the start.  When there is controversy about which 3rd string QB to start, you know that the football team isn't going anywhere.

Detroit (+7) at Dallas.  Dallas is getting too much credit for beating the Giants.  And the Lions are getting no respect after losing to the Bills.  Look for Megatron and Co. to keep it close and have a chance to win at the end.

Arizona at Kansas City (-9).  The Cardinals defense isn't good at all and I think Charlie Weis isn't going to throw the ball 50 times this game.

Houston at NY Jets (-8).  Matt Schaub will be playing on a hurt knee this weekend.  Look for Gang Green to blitz and see if Schaub is comfortable back there.  My guess is that he won't be.

Tampa Bay (+3) at San Francisco.  Tampa might not be the best team in the NFC but they are better than the 49ers.  Raheem Morris is a possible COTY candidate.  Mike Singletary is not.

Seattle at New Orleans (-13).  I'm taking a leap of faith with this one.  The Seahawks keep dogging games after winning impressively and the Saints offense hasn't looked like it was in 2009.  That said, look for the Saints to roll up and down the field.

Atlanta (-3) at St. Louis.  The Falcons should run away with this game.  They are the newly anointed best team in the NFC.  So therefore, it will be a nail biter with Atlanta pulling it out in the end.

Indianapolis (+3.5) at New England. These teams play close games.  And even though the Colts don't look like world beaters this year, they can beat All-World coach Belichick.  Look for Manning to keep this real close.

NY Giants (+3) at Philadelphia.  I like the Eagles, just not this week.  Look at the people laughing at the Giants play against the Cowboys last week.  I think the Giants come out and show people that they are a possible Super Bowl contender, not a laughingstock.

Denver at San Diego (-11).  The Chargers are starting to look like they are doing their late season hot streak yet again.  Watch for them to torch the Denver defense.

Record For Week 10:

Overall:  5-9  Win Pct:  35.7%  Favorites:  4-8.  Road Favorites:  2-3.  Home Favorites:  2-5. Underdogs:  1-1.  Road Underdogs:  1-1  Home Underdogs:  0-0.

Overall Record:  73-67-3.  Winning Percentage:  52.1%  Favorites:  47-52-2.  Road Favorites:  26-18-2.  Home Favorites:  21-34.  Underdogs:  27-15-1.  Road Underdogs:  15-12-1.  Home Underdogs:  12-3.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ottawa Senators And Reality Away From The Ice

Hockey teams are always proving that they are a family.  It is the same this year with the Ottawa Senators as they are dealing with a death in the extended family.

Sometimes hockey has to take a back seat and that's why the Ottawa Senators have interrupted their four-game road trip to come home.

Before they face the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, the Senators attended an Ottawa memorial service for Daron Richardson, daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson. She died Saturday at the age of 14.

The Senators learned of her death while beginning their trip in Boston on Saturday night. After playing at Philadelphia on Monday, they made an unexpected return home to pay their respects to Richardson, a former teammate and longtime NHL defenseman, and his family.

"We play hockey for a living, it's our job, but this is more important," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.

Daron Richardson, the younger of Luke and Stephanie Richardson's two daughters, died of injuries resulting from her attempt to hang herself in the family's basement on Friday.

"It's difficult and when you have a family, you start questioning yourself as a parent," said Alfredsson, a father of three young boys. "What would you do, especially when it's coming out of the blue like this?"

The Richardson family is from Ottawa and is well known for its involvement in the community. As a result, a public celebration of Daron's life took place Wednesday morning on the arena floor at Scotiabank Place.

It is sad that Daron Richardson decided that life wasn't worth living.  I don't know the reasons that she decided it wasn't, but my prayers go out to her family and friends.  It goes to show you that even those families that you think have it made because they have money and fame are still just like everyone else.  And I tip my hat to the Senators organization and players.  They understand that their assistant coach is dealing with loss, questions, and uncertainty after this.  And they will be there supporting him and his family every chance that they get, I am sure of that. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Possible NFL Head Coaching Moves

Up here in the Northlands, we have a Head Coach on the hot seat.  The Vikings and Brad Childress look like they will be separated after the season and maybe even before that.  That got me to thinking about which other coaches could eb on teir way out of their current jobs after the season.  So I give you my list of coaches that I believe will be losing their head coaching jobs after the season.

1.  Brad Childress.  The natives are restless and want his scalp.  The seeds of this situation were planted last year during the Vikings 12-4 run.  The Childress/Farve dustups are what caused many of these problems this year.  When Farve basically told Childress that he was doing what he wanted and Childress didn't get the support of Team Management, the entire locker room swung away from the coach.  Just my opinion.  But he will be gone and look for the Vikings to start a major rebuilding project with a new Head Coach, a new quarterback, and about 6-8 veteran starters going to other teams.

2.  Marvin Lewis.  Last year of the contract.  Carson Palmer is regressing in his play.  You have TO and Ochocinco running their flaps nonstop. And Mike Brown hasn't provided the talent to keep the Bengals competitive.  The Bengals need a "strict" head coach, not a "players" coach like Lewis to keep the inmates from overrunning the guards at the asylum.  And with Lewis being a defensive guru, his Bengals defense hasn't looked good.

3.  John Fox.  He is also in the last year of his contract.  The Panthers have the lowest payroll in the league and ownership is still intent on cutting even more expenses.  Fox is a good coach when he gets some talent and that isn't going to happen in Carolina for a couple of years.  Panthers fans know that the ownership is nickeling and diming many things, but their thirst for change might be quenched by having John Fox leaving the head coaching position.

4.  Mike Singletary.  What can you say about this one.  The 1st head coaching stop for Samurai Mike has gone completely wrong.  I like his motivation and organizational skills, but if your head coach is weak on the actual X's and O's, your team isn't going anywhere.  Time management has been a disaster, and feuding with members of your team is not going to let you keep your job for long.  And the fact that the hype for the 49ers was big and starting 0-5 in a season where many people thought that you had an outside shot of making the Conference Championship game makes you a coach that won't be around in 2011.

5.  Gary Kubiak.  The Texans have under performed this year.  More specifically, the defense.  When you have all the draft picks and money that the Texans have tied up in that defense and it looks like a MAC team playing against the pass, there must be changes.  Add the fact that the Texans haven't made the playoffs in their existence and you have a couple of bad bullet points going against your head coach.  They beat Indy in Week 1 and everybody jumped on the bandwagon.  That will aslo play into the fact that I don't see Gary Kubiak in Houston next year.

6.  Jack Del Rio.  I said last year that Jack should have taken the USC job if it was offered to him.  And to Mr. Del Rio's credit, he has the Jags playing hard.  However, his seat was hot according to various NFL "insiders" last year.  Missing the playoffs this year will cause it to become scorching hot.  The ownership isn't happy about the lack of fans paying to see the Jaguars and are skimping on a couple of things.  Look for ownership to fire Del Rio to tell their fan base that we are changing and trying to win.  Whetehr or not that is true, is another story.

Those 6 are the coaches I feel will be released after this year.  The next 5 are if the teams go South before the season ends.

Eric Mangini - Browns.  I don't think that 5 wins saves his job.  7 might.

Josh McDaniels - Broncos.  Look at his record after the phenomenal start last year.  Pat Bowlen might make a move.

Norv Turner - Chargers.  The Chargers are a perennial playoff team and then choke in the playoffs.  Time to get a coach that knows what it takes.

Lovie Smith - Bears.  If the Bears don't make the playoffs, Lovie is out.  If the Bears lose in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, I still think Lovie is out.

Mike Shanahan - Redskins.  1st year in Washington and has alienated lots of his players according to reports.  I would be surprised if he does get fired, but with Dan Snyder being the owner, stranger things have happened.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to Alfond Arena

I shouldn't wait until I have relatives attending the University of Maine to get around to going to Alfond Arena.  With the exception of taking my daughters to see the women's basketball team there several years ago, Saturday night was the first time I'd seen a hockey game there since my brother was an undergrad, almost 21 years ago.  I did see them play in Portland at the Cumberland County Civic Center a few years ago.  At least I can brag that the Black Bears are 3-0 in games I've attended.
Saturday night I had dinner with my eldest daughter, a senior at Maine, and her new husband at their new apartment and then the three of us went to The Alfond for the second game of a weekend series with the Northeastern Huskies.
Things started out slow for Maine.  They weren't anticipating well nor coordinating very well, and the Huskies tactic of standing the faster Maine team up at the blue line was successful at disrupting Maine's rushes in the Offensive zone.  In the 2nd Maine seemed to be more together and tied the game during a power play but Northeastern managed to get the go-ahead goal late in the period.  Well, much to the delight of the always raucous and full Alfond, Maine made the proper adjustments and played like the better team, outscoring Northeastern 3-0 and winning the game 4-2, completing a weekend sweep.
Thanks again to my darling daughter and son-in-law for a very enjoyable evening, putting up with dad's need for sports.  I think they would confirm why Maine has such a great record at the venerable Alfond and why opposing teams don't like to come...the place is so intimate and the crowd is right on top of the rink that it's very loud and intimidating.
If you'd like a full game report, you can read this article from the Bangor Daily News.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 10 NFL Predictions and Week 9 Results

Week 10 Games

Baltimore at Atlanta (-1):  The Atlanta running game is better.  The Ravens defense is better.  Even matchup between the teams.  I'll take the home team.

Detroit at Buffalo (-2.5):  I don't trust Drew Stanton to play well for Detroit.  And even if Shaun Hill plays for the Lions, I don't think that he will finish the game.

NY Jets (-3) at Cleveland:  The difference in this game is Marc Sanchez and Colt McCoy doing against the respective defenses.  I favor Sanchez.

Houston (+1) at Jacksonville:  Schaub-Johnson is better than Garrard-Sims-Walker.  Both defenses are porous against the pass.  I'll take the Texans to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Carolina at Tampa Bay (-7.5):  Do you take a team that has Jimmy Clausen and Mike Goodson staring in the backfield to stay close at the final gun?  I don't think so.

Minnesota (E) at Chicago:  The only reason that I'm taking the Vikings is the talent level between the 2 teams.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis (-8.5):  Peyton Manning and the Colts are marching yet again into the playoffs.  The Bengals are as bad as the T.Ocho show.

Tennessee (-2) at Miami:  Good move in starting Chad Pennington, but I still don't see Miami winning.

Kansas City (-1) at Denver:  I expect the Chiefs to run, run, run, and run some more vs. the Broncos.  The Broncos won't be able to score enough with their offense sitting on the sidelines.

Dallas at NY Giants (-15.5):  The Cowboys train wreck cannot be turned around in 1 week.  And I don't think that Jason Garrett is the answer.

Seattle at Arizona (-3):  At 3-5, the Cardinals are in the drivers seat in the West.  They play Seattle, San Fran, St. Louis, Carolina, and Denver yet this season.  If they go 4-1 in those games, they have a major shot at winning the division.  It starts here.

St. Louis at San Francisco (-6):  Ugly game here.  Rams can't win on the road and cannot throw downfield.  The 49ers have won 2 games lately and are looking halfway decent.  I'll take the home team and the team starting to win.

New England (+4.5) at Pittsburgh:  Brady and Belichick are smarting after losing big against the Browns.  The Steelers have injuries on the offensive line and are coming off an emotional win vs. the Bengals.  Look for the Pats to roll inot Pittsburgh and come out with a win.

Philadelphia (-3) at Washington:  The reign of Mike Shanahan is causing many people to wonder if he has lost something since his Super Bowl winning teams.  Meanwhile, Andy Reid is pushing all the right buttons for the Eagles.

Record For Week 9:

Overall:  7-6  Win Pct:  53.8%  Favorites:  5-3.  Road Favorites:  3-3.  Home Favorites:  2-0. Underdogs:  2-3.  Road Underdogs:  2-1  Home Underdogs:  0-2.

Overall Record:  68-58-3.  Winning Percentage:  53.9%  Favorites:  43-44-2.  Road Favorites:  24-15-2.  Home Favorites:  19-29.  Underdogs:  26-14-1.  Road Underdogs:  14-11-1.  Home Underdogs:  12-3.  

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Week 9 Predictions

San Diego at Houston (+2.5):  I'll take the Texans and the points.  Still not sold on the Chargers this year, and Gates has a real bad ankle.

Miami (+5) at Baltimore:  Baltimore should win this, but the Phins get 5 points from a Ravens team that usually has problems putting up points?

New Orleans (-7.5) at Carolina:  Does Brees have leg and foot problems?  Does it matter in this game?

NY Jets (-4.5) at Detroit:  I love what the Lions are doing, but I'll take the Jets this game.  Rex should have his boys pumped up for this one.

Arizona (+9) at Minnesota:  Talent wise there is no argument here.  However, the Vikings aren't playing up to their talent level.  And the rumors swirling around Brad Childress makes me wonder if there are some players that might accidentally miss an assignment here or there.

Tampa Bay (+10) at Atlanta:  Yes, the Turner, White, and Ryan trio are very good.  But look at the Blount, Williams, Johnson trio in Tampa.  They are almost comparable and the Bucs defense is very opportunistic.

Chicago at Buffalo (+2.5):  Look for an outright Buffalo win here.  Their defense can stop the Bears.  And they have played better than the Bears over the past 3 weeks.

New England (-4) at Cleveland:  I just don't think that Belichick will let his team let up against the Browns.

NY Giants (-8) at Seattle:  Hasselbeck is out for Seattle.  Watch that Giants pass rush start teeing off.

Indianapolis at Philadelphia (-1.5):  11-0.  That is the record for the Eagles coming off a Bye under Andy Reid.  Cannot go against that kind of record.

Kansas City (E) at Oakland:  Tom Cable and his insistence to play Gradkowski baffles me.  I think that Crennel and Weis can come up with a gameplan that will allow the Chiefs to win.

Dallas at Green Bay (-9.5):  This game is hard to pick.  If the Cowboys play hard, they will cover.  If they quit like last week, then the Packers might roll them by 21.

Pittsburgh (-5) at Cincinnati:  Carson Palmer looks confused and scared out there.  Playing the Steelers defense won't help.

Week 8 Prediction Results

Carolina at St. Louis (-3):  10-20.  Win.  The Rams are 4-4.  1st Place in the NFC West.  Sam Bradford must be considered the front runner for ROY.

Jacksonville (+7) at Dallas:  35-17.  Win.  The Cowboys have quit on this season.  Now can we stop talking about them?

Buffalo (+9) at Kansas City:  10-13 OT.  Win.  It looks like the Bills have found some fight in themselves.  Chiefs not looking as good as the first couple of weeks.

Denver (E) at San Francisco (played in London):  16-24.  Loss.  Could Josh McDaniels be out after 2 years in Denver?  The heat is getting real warm for him.

Miami at Cincinnati (E):  22-14.  Loss.  The Road Warriors from Miami kicked 5 FGs.  Didn't come back and haunt them here.  Does Marvin Lewis coach the Bengals after this year?

Washington at Detroit (-1.5):  25-37.  Win.  Shanahan/McNabb dispute could erupt big time.  1st Haynesworth, now McNabb.  Doesn't Shanahan like vets?

Green Bay at NY Jets (-6):  9-0.  Loss.  Shutout off a Bye.  Jets looked out of synch.  But what can you say about the Packers besides they might be the team to beat in the NFC.

Tennessee (+3) at San Diego:  25-33.  Loss.  Chris Johnson was overhyped coming into this season.  Chargers mistakes didn't come back and haunt them this game.

Tampa Bay (+3) at Arizona:  38-35.  Tie.  Cards need a real QB.  LeGarrette Blount a great waiver wire pickup by the Bucs.  Josh Freeman is the real deal for Bucs at QB.

Seattle (+1) at Oakland:  3-33.  Loss.  Another away game, another thrashing that the Seahawks took.  Why take Jason Campbell out of the starting lineup when the offense finally looks good?

Minnesota at New England (-5.5):  18-28.  Win  Team dysfunction couldn't pull out the win here.  And the Moss post-game conference tells you what you needed to know about the move Monday from the Vikes.

Pittsburgh (E) at New Orleans:  10-20.  Loss.  Would the defense stop whining about the NFL and their helmet-to-helmet policy and actually play for the Steelers.

Houston (+7) at Indianapolis:  17-30.  Loss.  Yep.  Dumb pick here.  It's not the receivers in Indy that make the plays.  Texans defense isn't playing to it's potential.

Week 8 Results:

Overall:  6-7-1  Win Pct:  46.4%  Favorites:  3-4.  Road Favorites:  0-2.  Home Favorites:  3-2.  Underdogs:  2-3-1.  Road Underdogs:  2-3-1  Home Underdogs:  0-0.

Overall Record:  61-52-3.  Winning Percentage:  53.9%  Favorites:  38-41-2.  Road Favorites:  21-12-2.  Home Favorites:  17-29.  Underdogs:  24-11-1.  Road Underdogs:  12-10-1.  Home Underdogs:  12-1.   

Friday, November 05, 2010

A little AHL love

Buffetfan and I had a challenge regarding a two-game series between my Portland Pirates and his Norfolk Admirals, which was probably unfair to him since he's very new to this blogging thing and neither of us were in a position to follow the games.  I was able to listen to the first period of the first game on the internet and I did see updates on my Facebook wall for both games.  Based on what I did hear and see, they were very competitive, high-scoring games, both won by the Portland Pirates in OT, the first in a shootout.
If you're a hockey fan and have the luxury of having a minor league team in your area, go out and support that team.  The level of play is quite high, especially in the AHL, but even in a league like the QMJHL, which I'm fortunate to have a team in that league 45 minutes away that I don't support enough.  In fact, the Maineacs are home tonight...thanks for the idea!
Again, these leagues play at a high level, the ticket prices are family priced and the atmosphere is great for any sports fan.
So Buff, even though my team took both games and on the road at that, in the old days both games would have been ties.  So you're off the hook this time.  You won't be so lucky next weekend when my Pats bury your overrated Steelers.   Maybe next time we'll be able to watch these teams play each other together in person, like we did when I visited and we went to a Norfolk Tides game together.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bad News About Sparky Anderson

It is a sad thing that one of the best minds in Baseball ever has to have this happen to him.

A message from the family of Sparky Anderson

Hall of Fame Manager Sparky Anderson has been placed in the care of hospice for complications resulting from dementia at his home in Thousands Oaks, California.

The Anderson family -- wife, Carol; sons Lee and Albert; and daughter Shirley Englebrecht -- wishes to express appreciation to all friends and fans for the support and kindness they have shown throughout Sparky's career and retirement.

The family is particularly grateful for the respect for privacy the national and local media has demonstrated during this trying period. 
I have said a prayer for Sparky.  

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Congrats, San Francisco

I'm happy for a good baseball city that they finally have a World Series champion, even though I'm an American League fan and root for those teams to win, except for the Yankees, of course.  And you have to like that team from a baseball purist standpoint -- great, smart pitching and a bunch of grinders who play fundamentally smart baseball.
So while I was rooting for the Rangers, it doesn't break my heart at all to see the Giants win; and it was a win for the Rangers in many ways and a win for baseball.  While I'm not going to say the Dallas area will or could become a great baseball town like those in the Northeast and Midwest, I think it has the makings of becoming a good baseball town.  It has the population base to draw from and it is a good sports town.  So I expect with this new ownership that they'll be competitive and draw well.  It won't be like the Florida cities who can't draw even when they're winning.
Was I the only one who felt during game 2 that this series was essentially over?  It felt like the Giants were going to continue to pitch great, hit clutch and that the Rangers weren't going to come out of it.  The  Rangers did win game 3 and Cliff Lee seemed back on his game for game 4; but as soon as you could see that Lincecum was also on his game, you knew who was going to end up winning that game.   It was for that reason mostly that for me this series wasn't that interesting.  Some well-played baseball but it never felt close and, therefore, no real excitement and anticipation.
And by the way, what's not to love about Tim Lincecum?
Looking at next year for a second, I think the Giants caught lightning in a bottle.  Their pitching will continue to be great and they have a young superstar catcher, but they're not going to win again without revamping that offense.
Hey Rick, I know you have a soft spot for the Giants similar to mine for the Padres.  I suspect you're happy to see this.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Who has the best record?

That's who.  Still can't believe our everyday logo is that sissified thing on a silver background.  The above is THE Patriot helmet logo as far as I'm concerned.  It was great to see them wear it this weekend.  Are they the best team in the league?  Probably not.  They have flaws and they're young but    6-1 is 6-1, the best record in the league.
Speaking of the Patriots, Jim, we're coming your way in two weeks.  Consider yourself challenged.
The Vikings released Randy Moss today, the day after his old team put a beating on his new old team.
Hey G, I'd love to hear your take on Shanahan benching McNabb yesterday or that your Skins got wooped yesterday.
Rick, thanks for the fact your Pack beat the Jets this weekend.
Rest in peace Maurice Lucas
Oh yeah, I don't know who won our Talladega challenge.  I just know my guy was on his roof at the end.
UPDATE:  I've now seen much more of the Moss press conference.  My oh my, he did everything but kneel and blow every member (pun intended) of the Patriots.  I've never seen a player who was just beaten by the other team act that way.  Shameful.