Sunday, January 31, 2010

Best MLB Available Free Agents

Here’s a little something to wet your whistle for the upcoming baseball season. Here are the “Big Name” free agents still available. Your team got a need? Here’s what’s left. More important, will your team sign an over priced, over hyped player (Damon, Dye, Delgado…) or will they find the steal that puts them over the top? On the opposite end of Johnny Damon thinking he’s worth more than anyone wants to pay, is Jim Edmonds, who just signed a minor league deal with the Brewers. Have to respect a former big time player that is willing to earn his way back on to a team.

Here's the link to the best available free agents...
MLB Hot Stove Report

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hoops Games of the Week 1/26-1/29

We are rapidly moving to Championship Week, the best stretch of basketball next to the NCAA Tournament's First and Second Rounds. Another exciting event is the Bracket Buster games in the middle of February. Speaking of Bracket Busters, the matchups are selected this weekend. There's plenty of quality hoops action each week and the games are getting more important. Here are the games you don’t want to miss this week, Jan. 16 thru Jan. 29.

#11 Kansas St at #24 Baylor. Two three loss teams square off for some Big 12 fun. Both teams are looking to rebound from conference losses, Kansas St lost to Oklahoma St and Baylor to Kansas in very close games. Some great talent will be featured in this game with the Wildcats’ Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente and Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn.

Tulsa at #25 Alabama Birmingham. The final two undefeated teams from Conference USA meet to set the early surprise leader. Both teams are 5-0 in conference. Tulsa has a stellar 16-3 record on the season and UAB is 17-2. The Blazers haven’t lost yet at Bartow Arena in Birmingham and the loser joins what will become a four team logjam in second. Both teams look to be on the bubble for the Big Dance in March, so both teams could really use this win.

#12 BYU at #23 New Mexico. BYU has the early favorite for player of the year in Jimmer Fredette. Fredette averages over 20 points a game and shoots 45% from 3-point range. He’s been a big part in the Cougar’s 20-1 start. The Lobos, who still seem pissed over last years NCAA Tournament snub, are back with a vengeance. Upsets over California and a then ranked Texas A&M have helped the Lobos start the season at 18-3. Darington Hobson leads New Mexico in scoring, assists, and rebounds. Coach Alford and the Lobos will have their hands full defending The Pit from the Cougar invasion.

#21 Vanderbilt at #14 Tennessee. Two ranked teams. Vanderbilt is tied for first place in the SEC and the Volunteers are tied for second. Vandy’s A.J. Ogilvy is supposedly one of the best big men in the game. Tennessee has All World player Tyler Smith, whoops! Well they have Coach Pearl and some other thugs that are getting the raw end of the deal.

#15 Temple at Charlotte. Atlantic 10 leader Temple is looking to extend their lead over Charlotte, who has won three games in a row. Temple is riding a 6 game win streak. Charlotte is clearly a bubble team and a win over a ranked team would be very important for the 49ers to stand out. The Owls struggled mightily in their last game and could be without star guard Juan Fernandez.

Boston University at Maine. Maine and Boston U are two of the three teams tied at the top of the American Ease standings. Junior John Holland of BU leads the conference in scoring at 19.6 points per game. The Black Bears shot 66% from 3-point land during their last game and have won eight of their last nine games, including five in a row.

#16 Wisconsin at # 10 Purdue. It’s a rematch from January 9th, when the Badgers downed Purdue 73-66 and started the Boilermaker slide. Wisconsin is playing with a short bench and Purdue’s trio of E’twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson seem to be heating up. It’s tough to win when visiting Mackey Arena but both teams need a win to keep Michigan St. from running away from the crowd.

Oakland at IUPUI. Oakland and IUPUI are in control of the Summit League at the half way point of conference play. The IUPUI Jaguars have the Summit League’s top two scorers. Alex Young and Robert Glenn both average over 18 points per game. Oakland’s Johnathon Jones led the county in assists last year and is dishing out over six a game this season.

Butler at Wisconsin Green Bay. The top two teams in the Horizon League standings face each other to start the second half of conference play. Butler currently leads the conference by 2 ½ games over the Phoenix and is undefeated in league play. The Bulldogs are led by the sophomore Gordon Hayward, the teams leading scoring, and the reigning conference player of the year, Matt Howard. The Bulldogs smashed the Phoenix in their matchup earlier in the season by 23 points but this time the Phoenix are at home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

College Hoops: Games of the Week

The college basketball season is quickly flying by. Some of the conference tournaments are only six weeks away and we’ll be filling out the Big Dance brackets in about eight. With some of the not so power conferences nearing the halfway point, it’s time to start looking at some key games. These games will appeal to the die hard basketball fans and are important in the conference battles. Worst case scenario, the conference champions are guaranteed a trip to the NIT. Here are the games you don’t want to miss this week, Jan. 19 thru Jan. 23.

UNI @ Wichita St. Northern Iowa moved into the national rankings for the first time this season this week. The Panthers are 7-0 in Missouri Valley play, lead the 2nd place Shockers by two games, and haven’t lost since Nov 20. UNI relies on an experienced team that prides itself on the defensive side. Senior center Jordan Eglseder looks like the early favorite for Player of the Year. Wichita St. is no slouch at 16-3 on the season. The Shockers are looking to stay unbeaten at home. The game is being televised on ESPNU and should have some comedy moments also, as UNI features some great names that only the late, great Harry Carey would appreciate.

Xavier @ Temple. This game features the final unbeatens from the A-10 conference fighting it out. Both teams are building Big Dance caliber resumes and this is another quality win for the victor. Xavier comes in at 12-5 and #17 Temple is 15-3. The Musketeers face another conference contender later in the week when they play against Rhode Island, they could be tempted to overlook the Owls but POY candidate Jordan Crawford won’t let that happen. Remember Crawford? He dunked on Lebron and then the video mysteriously disappeared. The game isn’t televised nationally; Comcast is carrying it locally, so you’ll have to use your internet weapons to see this game. It will be worth it.

#14 Georgetown @ #11 Pittsburgh. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Pitt. I guess not. The Panthers are unbeaten in the Big East. Georgetown is in the next cluster. The Big East has six teams ranked so the conference crown is far from won yet. The Hoyas will lean on big time NBA prospect Greg Monroe and he has continued to develop this season. ESPNU will carry this game.

Stony Brook @ Vermont. Vermont leads the conference and is the last unbeaten standing. Stony Brook is half a game back. The player to watch in this game is the Catamount’s Marques Blakely. Blakely has been named the conference POY and Defensive POY the past two seasons. Stony Book needs their guard tandem of El-Amin and Dougher to keep them in the game. American East action at its best, folks.

Pepperdine @ #10 Gonzaga. This is a matchup of the final unbeatens in the West Coast Conference. I almost fell for it. Pepperdine started the season with the conference bottom feeders while the Bulldogs knocked off the teams that were picked to challenge them. The Zags win this in a blowout with the Bulldog faithful chanting PU (Pepperdine Univ.)

Robert Morris @ Monmouth. The game will help sort out the top of the Northeast Conference. This is a rematch from last week when Robert Morris defeated the Hawks by eleven. The Colonels sent reserve guard Khalif Foster to the shelf by suspending him indefinitely. Rumors focus on alleged public nudity. Foster didn’t see much floor time anyway, so it’s a minimal loss.

Campbell @ Lipscomb. An Atlantic Sun showdown between the top two teams in the standings, currently. Five teams are within a game in the standings. The Fighting Camels, yes you heard that correct, the Campbell Fighting Camels visit the league's leading scorer Adnan Hodzic and the rest of the Bison. Hodzic has scored in double figures 44 consecutive games which is the nation’s longest current streak and an A-Sun record.

Alabama-Birmingham @ Marshall. Two undefeated teams from Conference USA. UAB and Marshall are both 15-2 on the season. The Blazers sniffed the rankings earlier this season and have only lost to Kent St. and Virginia. The Herd’s only blemishes come from Old Dominion and North Carolina. Marshall tends to put up lots of points. We’ll see how UAB reacts days after coming back from a 24 point second half deficit and winning. Will the Blazers have anything left?

Morehead St @ Eastern Kentucky. These teams are part of what looks like a three team race for the Ohio Valley crown. Morehead St is looking for a return trip to March Madness. Morehead (ha-ha) is lead by big man Kenneth Faried. He has Big East/ACC talent but an OVC brain. Just saying grades kept him from playing elsewhere. The Eagles are riding an eight game win streak into Eastern Kentucky were the Colonels are 10-0 this season. Something has to give. Eastern Kentucky has a modern looking Col. Sanders logo, kinda sweet.

Old Dominion @ William & Mary. The Colonial Athletic Conference has a log jam with four teams tied for the conference lead. These are two of them. ODU returned every starter from last years 25 win team included co-POY Gerald Lee. The Tribe is one of this season's surprises, having lost only three games, and are playing their way into a Bracket Buster game later this year.

#6 Duke @ #16 Clemson. Duke is 15-2. Clemson is 15-3. John Scheyer vs. Trevor Booker. An ACC battle on ESPN in primetime. Enough said.

Enjoy the games everyone and we’ll see you next week.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The BCS Decoded

When the BCS Bowl game opponents were announced on Sunday, you knew there was going to more debate than usual. Unbeatens TCU and Boise St were matched against each other in the Fiesta Bowl and immediately the shit storm erupted. Message boards were overwhelmed with BCS is crap talk. Sports writers across the nation were crying about how we needed a playoff. I immediately tweeted that the BCS took the easy way out matching them together. For money reasons, I didn’t think the powers that be wanted a Big 6 team to lose to one of the “little guys.” It seemed there was more BCS hate directed at the Fiesta Bowl matchup than at the five undefeated teams vying for the championship game spots. After Chris and I had lunch with our friend Herbie, I now see the whole situation different. Herbie explained that the BCS determines which teams are eligible and the selection process, but the actual Bowl representatives pick the teams to play in their games. I checked out the BCS website and here is the process in an easier to understand format.

There are a few steps to determine which teams are actually eligible for BCS contention. The top two teams from the final BCS Poll receive automatic bids to the title game. This put Alabama and Texas in the BCS National Championship game. The champions of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, Big East, and Southeastern Conferences also are rewarded with automatic qualification into the BCS pool. This provision added Georgia Tech, Ohio St., Oregon, and Cincinnati as auto qualifiers. The third step in determining automatic qualification is that if a conference champion from one of the other conferences finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS poll. This added TCU to the pool. The Notre Dame clause is next. If the Irish finish in the top 8 they are guaranteed a BCS bid. Luckily we didn’t have that problem this year. The final two provisions weren’t needed this year as the third and fourth ranked teams had all ready qualified.

If there are fewer than ten automatic qualifiers, the remaining teams are then looked at to determine if they qualify for at large consideration. The remaining berths are comprised of any bowl eligible team that has at least nine wins and finished in the top 14 of the BCS poll. This added Iowa, Boise St, Penn St, LSU, Virginia Tech, BYU, and Florida as at large possibilities. If fewer than 10 teams are eligible at this point, there are other provisions but weren’t needed this year.

Here are the BCS eligible teams:
Automatic Qualifiers
Georgia Tech
Ohio St.
At-Large Consideration
Boise St.
Penn St.
Virginia Tech

The team selection process in done next and conferences are capped at two teams that can be selected. Again the top two teams are in the title game. Some of the conferences have tie-ins to specific bowls unless the conference champion is selected for the title game. The ACC is committed to the Orange Bowl so they get Georgia Tech. The Rose Bowl gets the Big 10 and Pac 10 champions. This year that’s Ohio St. and Oregon. The Big 12 champ typically hosts the Fiesta Bowl while the SEC is teamed with the Sugar Bowl. Since the league champions were selected for the title game, the Sugar and Fiesta Bowl gets to pick a replacement host from the pool of eligible teams. The Sugar gets to select first this season because the SEC champ was ranked number one. The remaining spots in the Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange Bowls are then picked in an order that is rotated yearly.

I don’t know if it this clears things up for everybody but it did for me. After reviewing the process and walking through it, I feel I have a better understanding of it. I can’t badmouth the BCS as much as yesterday but I now think the Fiesta Bowl reps should be bitch slapped. Next question. Would a playoff format work better? Nope but that’s a different story.

This originally was pot on 12/8/2009 on

NFL Wildcard Weekend

The march to Super Bowl 44 is beginning, the NFL Playoffs are here. Opening week of the playoffs is traditional called “Wildcard Weekend” but we decided to go with “Rematch Revenge.” Three of the four games are rematches from Week 17 and other a rematch from Week 4. Hence, “Rematch Revenge.” It has a sweet ring to it.

The playoffs begin on Saturday. The first game is a battle between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals in “The Jungle”, Paul Brown Stadium. Last week the Jets pummeled the Bengals 37-0 in New York. Cincy had little to play for as they had a playoff spot wrapped up. The Bengals sat Cedric Benson but started the game with the rest of their first team and had pulled most starters, including Carson Palmer, during the early stages of the third quarters. The Jets still had a commanding 24-0 halftime lead against the Bengals starters and the Jets should be very confident coming into this game. Cincinnati is going to need a big game from Benson as they will probably get little production out of Chad Ochocinco. Ochocinco will surely be covered by the Jet’s Darrelle Revis. Revis has continuously shutdown the opponent’s top receiver all season long and is a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. The Jets will also look to run the ball well to win this game. Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene will be counted on to take some pressure off of rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has looked good, efficient, and very bad during the roller coaster ride this season. The key for Cincinnati is which team will show up to play. The Bengals have been very inconsistent this season and appears to play down to their opponent. The Jet’s key is can Sanchez avoid the costly rookie mistakes. Vegas has Cincy as a 2 ½ point favorite. I’m taking the Jets; their top ranked defense could be very dangerous in the playoffs. I guess Rex Ryan agrees, he says the Jets should be the favorites to win the whole enchilada. Let’s not get carried away Rex.

Saturday’s prime time match up pits the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. The game is at lavish Cowboys Stadium where Dallas is 6-2 on the year and the Cowboys are going for the season trifecta against Philly. The Eagles lost a close one at home 20-16 earlier in the season and got shelled 24-0 last week in Dallas. They always say its tough to beat a team three times in one season but recent history doesn’t support that claim. The Cowboys will go as Tony Romo goes. Romo has been pretty nails lately and is trying to shed his playoff inadequacies. The Cowboys are trying to avoid the annual late season choke. The Cowboys need to ride the two headed horse of Marian Barber and Felix Jones. If those guys can keep the chains moving, it will keep the explosive Eagles offense on the sidelines. Philadelphia’s offense spreads the ball all over the field. The running back tandem of McCoy and Westbrook are duel threats as they catch the ball well and Westbrook should see more playing time after coming back from two concussions. Brent Celek, the Eagles tight end, leads the team in receptions and seems to make a big play every game. Philly also has the deep threat in speedsters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Macklin. Jackson leads the team in Internet trash talking and his doing his best to fire up the Cowboys. These are two similarly matched teams and who ever can force some turnovers will win in an exciting game. The Cowboys are 4 point favorites in Vegas and I think the Cowboys will cover but it will come down to the end.

The NFL matinee on Sunday features the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. The Patriots love playing in Foxboro and are unbeaten at home this season. Baltimore and New England faced off in week 4 of the NFL season. The Pats held off the Ravens and won by the score of 27-21. Tom Brady, who was just named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, leads the Patriot offense and will be missing its leading receiver, Wes Welker. The Pats really don’t have much of a running game so I expect Randy Moss to be the weapon of choice. The Ravens are lead by their physical defense. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs can be game changers. Baltimore’s offense can usually piece together enough points to eek out the victory. Here’s my key to the game…Ray Rice. Rice is a human bulldozer and plows through, over, and around tacklers. He’s a good target for Flacco out of the backfield also. If Rice can get on target, watch out. Obviously it will be cold and miserable in New England, it is January. I think Baltimore has a better ability to control the ball and ultimately the clock. The Patriot defense will get wore down over the course of the game and their offense isn’t as potent as years past. The spread from Vegas has the Patriots a 3 point favorite but the Ravens win in an upset on the road and advance to the next round.

That brings us to the final game of “Rematch Revenge,” Green Bay visits sunny Glendale for the second week in a row to face off with Arizona Cardinals. Fresh off a 33-7 beat down of the Cards, Green Bay is oozing confidence. It should be mentioned that Arizona pulled most of its stars quickly with nothing to gain in the playoff seeding. The Packers defense has been getting headlines this season. They lead the league in interceptions and turnover margin, both key stats. Woodson should be back from injury for the playoffs and he is another leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. The Packers front seven are one of the best units in the league. Matt Rodgers put together a fantastic year. He threw for over 4400 yards, 30 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions. On the other side of the field, are the Cardinals. They come into the game with some key people banged up, including Anquan Boldin. Kurt Warner has always been a miracle worker in the postseason and with his quick trigger, he’s able to avoid trouble. The Cards spread the ball around well and utilize many targets. They should be able to survive with a below 100% Boldin because Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best receivers in the game. Fitzgerald catches everything that is close to him and the Fitz-Woodson matchup will be a great battle to watch during the game. The key for the Cardinals is to avoid turnovers from Warner, which he’s usually good for a couple. The Packer defense holds their key to victory. The defense line needs to get to Warner and make some sacks or knockdowns. Constant pressure on Warner will cause him to make poor decisions. The brains in Vegas have the Cardinals as a 1 point favorite. I’m going to disagree and take Green Bay. The Pack wins by eleven.

We seem to like the road teams in Rematch Revenge. All the home teams are favored so we are underdog lovers this week also. To wrap it up, we like the Jets, Ravens, and Packers in upsets and the Cowboys to cover at home. Enjoy the games everyone.