Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The NFL Team in Washington Might Be On To Something

Well, week 7 is over of the NFL. This is starting to become embarrassing. I have had to write a blog posting that put the Oakland Raiders in a good light and now, I have to do the same for the Washington NFL Team. How is it that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can give away such a big lead to Washington with Kirk Cousins at QB? How is it that the Washington team is still in the NFC East race? My hypothesis: The talent of the team is overcoming the lack of leadership from the Owner on down.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thank You, Blue Jays!

Even though baseball season ended last night for me, I'm not sad. I may have this empty feeling that the NHL and the NFL can't fill, but right now I have a huge smile on my face. From my perspective, the Toronto Blue Jays did something incredible this season. Sure, they went from 52-50 to being within a few games of the World Series. That was quite an accomplishment. Joey Bautista, aka Joey Bats, became the true King Of The North with the home run and bat flip that will forever be etched in memory. While I'm very pleased with what this team achieved this season, I have to give them props for something even bigger.

The Jays got me to care about baseball again.

To be honest, I never thought I'd say those words. My hometown team, the San Diego Padres, were once a good team on the verge of something great. Their owner at the time told us they needed a new stadium to compete with the large market teams. Coming off a World Series run, we put it to a vote and gladly gave them Petco Park.

What did we get in return? The dismantling of the championship caliber team we rooted for, followed by nearly two decades of "dumpster diving" for starting pitching and other castoffs and low-risk projects. They also became the unofficial farm team of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, a place where these teams could acquire young, established talent from the Padres by trading away their better minor league prospects. Which the Padres would develop for a few years before trading them back to the AL East for more prospects.

As you can imagine, I don't have a great love for my local team anymore. I respect the fact they went out and acquired established players during the off season, but with rumors circulating during the second half of the season that they were going to trade away most of these players or let them walk at the end of season I thought to myself, "Same fucking Padres". I figured they were going to have another fire sale at the end of the year, so I conveniently forgot their games were on local TV all season.

I had pretty much ignored baseball during the summer months and then all of a sudden the Jays started stringing together wins. For years, it's always been the Yankees (boo!) and Red Sox (hiss!) at the top of the AL East and no one else dared compete with them. With each Jay win, I kept thinking to myself, "Maybe this year will be different?" It's too hot for me to wear my authentic batting practice jersey from the mid-80s around town during the summer months, so I went to the mall and bought a Blue Jays hat so I could proudly display my rekindled interest in the game.

Now that the ride is over, I can't wait for next season to begin. I might even buy MLB Extra Innings from my cable operator next Spring!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Best Team Doesn't Always Win.

Or a goalie standing on his head , a freshman at that, can steal you one; or this is why they play the games. You pick your preferred title.
We went to the final game of the 2015 Ice Breaker Tournament last night, which is the traditional tipoff of the college hockey season, this year held in Portland, Maine.  $25 got you a ticket to both games held that day but I wasn't going to torture Shelly with that much sports in a day or $45 would get you a ticket to all four games.
Portland is renowned as one of the best restaurant towns in the country. So we had dinner at an excellent Greek restaurant, walked around the city a bit and went to the finale, which turned out to be the game to decide the tourney winner between the host Maine Black Bears and Brent's highly-ranked North Dakota Fighting  Sioux.
There was never any doubt as to which was the superior team -- just look at the shots on goal difference of 2/1.  North Dakota dominated puck possession and zone time.  They're much more polished and experienced, and probably more talented but they couldn't solve Maine freshman goalie Rob McGovern, who turned away 43 of 44 SOG!
To me the turning point of the game came in the 2nd. ND was up up 1-0, was continuing to dominate and I noticed the Maine players start to look dispirited...this was going to get ugly.  But suddenly there was a sloppy clearing pass by ND and a very quick goal for Maine.  While the Souix continued to dominate, Maine played hard again from that point forward, a lesson for you youngsters out there.
Portland is going to bid to host a 2018 regional and I hope they showed the arena and city quite capable last night.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Making The Future Better Than The Past

1972 Alternate Logo

Go back to 2005. The Houston Astros have just played in their first and only World Series. They have just captured their first National League Pennant. Any Astros fan is riding high. We understand that Jeff Bagwell is having major trouble with his shoulder. But we have Lance Berkman moving to 1st Base. We have Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite and Roy Oswalt. We have a future HOF in Craig Biggio. The future looks bright and prosperous. That bright light in the future was an oncoming locomotive that we didn't anticipate as Astros fans. We couldn't overcome a slow start in 2006 and things started breaking down from there.

Go forward in time to 2011. 2005 is the last time that the team has made the playoffs. The Astros start the first of their 3 100+ loss seasons in a row. But the team is getting out of the penny pinching ownership of Drayton McLane. Jim Crane buys the team and agrees to move the Astros into the American League for the 2013 season. Crane also fires GM Ed Wade in November of 2011. He comes up with a member of the St. Louis Cardinals front office to name as the GM of the Astros, Jeff Luhnow.  Almost no one thinks that this is a good move for the team.

Now here we are in 2015. The Astros are going to be a strong team according to the experts in the future. Sports Illustrated has already proclaimed them World Series Champions in 2017. The farm system is rated in the Top 3 in almost every report that comes out. The Big League team is populated with youngsters. Jed Lowrie is the only position player over 30 on the roster.  Only 4 players from 2012 are still on the team in 2015, and one came back from a 2-year odyssey to Oakland, Lowrie. The other 3? Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Dallas Keuchel. The awards could start coming in for the Astros. SS Carlos Correa could be the AL ROY. Keuchel could be the AL Cy Young. Altuve is a perennial All-Star.

And if you think that the Astros are through with getting talented youngsters from the farm, think again. We have at least 15 players that are rated by scouting services who say that the players can have a long and successful career in the big leagues. Look for RHPs Mark Appel, Michael Feliz and 1B A.J. Reed to become major contributors next year. 3B Colin Moran has a shot at being on the major league roster as well. That is the #2,5,6, and 10 ranked players in the Astros farm system. The rest of the Top 10 will get more seasoning down on the farm. We don't need a bunch of 20 or 21 year olds in the major leagues right now. We have a glutton of prospects up the middle of the diamond. We have 3 SS in our Top 20 prospects, 2 2B, and 3 CF. That and lots of Starting RHPs.

I don't believe that Houston will repeat what the organization did in 2005 with missing the playoffs for the next decade. I do believe that the team has shown that they are young enough not to worry about the pressure of the playoffs. How is it that in the pregame before the Wildcard game with the Yankees that the players are jumping around, playing around, telling jokes and all around not being too serious about what is going on. The two major culprits of horsing around before the game? Carlos Gomez who hit a solo HR in the 4th, and Colby Rasmus, who hit a #ColbyJack in the 2nd inning. If the young players take their lead from the veterans who are staying loose and use that as their model of how to handle things, playoff baseball will become a regular fixture in Houston once again. The Astros can become a major player in baseball if they can continue to develop homegrown talent. Let's see if they can.

Hockey Season Is... Here

That's a pretty accurate assessment of my enthusiasm for Opening Night. After the way the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks have handled the Patrick Kane situation (preferential treatment, anyone?), I decided not to order NHL Center Ice this season. This means I'm at the mercy of NBCSports, Fox Sports San Diego, and Fox Sports West for NHL action. The Anaheim Ducks don't start their season against the San Jose Sharks until Saturday night, so unless there's a free preview of NHL Center Ice starting today, my viewing choices are restricted to the Blackhawks at 5pm PST, followed by the Kings at 7:30pm PST.

Translation: It's one slap on each side of my face by the NHL teams that tolerated domestic violence over the past twelve months. This is the very reason why I didn't sign up for either NHL Center Ice or NHL GameCenter for the first time in a decade, so you can understand why I have very strong feelings about this.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Twitter Humor: Madden '16 Rating Update?

This was too funny not to share.