Archive for September, 2011

Yanks meet the Tigers at the Stadium Friday Night

Posted in Yankees on September 29, 2011 by sammywestside

For the Yankees to be successful this October, CC must come up huge

After last night’s epic events in baseball, it’s going to be tough to do better than that this October. The Yankees were very much a part of last night’s script, but it shouldn’t have much effect on the team come tomorrow night. The Yankees did exactly what any other team would do, conservatively play your regulars down the stretch and make sure everyone is healthy and rested for the postseason. Sorry Boston, we did not purposely sabotage your season. The Yankees certainly don’t like Boston, but the Rays did just as much to win it, as you did to lose it.

Now that we move into the postseason we first must wonder who will be there for the Yanks.

Offensively I think the roster is pretty obvious. Jorge is reportedly in, and Cervelli is still out with a concussion. Teixeira is reportedly going to bat third.

Expect the game one lineup to look like this:

1. Jeter SS

2. Granderson CF

3. Cano 2B

4. Rodriguez 3B

5. Teixeira 1B

6. Swisher RF

7. Posada DH

8. Martin C

9. Gardner LF

On the bench: Montero, Chavez, Jones, Nunez

The pitching staff is where it gets more interesting. CC will obviously be the game 1 starter, and Nova will slot in game 2. After that the questions soar. If it were up to me this is what I’d do:

Game 1: Sabathia

Game 2: Nova

Game 3: Garcia

Game 4: Hughes

Game 5: Sabathia

Keep in mind that CC would have to pitch on short rest in Game 4 if the Yanks decided to go that way. Its possible they do that, in that case I bump Garcia and kept Hughes for game 3. I only put Hughes at game 4 because it’s a potential elimination game.

For the bullpen I’d have:

Burnett

Colon

Wade

Ayala

Logan

Soriano

Robertson

Rivera

Arguments can be made to leave guys like Ayala, Wade and Burnett off the roster, but no one else has stepped up recently, and honestly I wouldn’t be upset with Burnett on the roster. He sucks, but he can still come in and get outs. Its pretty obvious once you put him in the game, whether or not he has it going.

The Tigers are going to send Verlander out there twice and the Yanks want to match up CC with him. CC might not be having as great of a season, but there is no question both guys can pitch lights out any night. Doug Fister looks to slot at number 2, and the Tigers will have to decide whether or not to go with a three man rotation with Porcello or Scherzer filling out the next spots.

In general it might be difficult for the Yanks to come out flying because they’ve been sleep walking the last week, but you have to expect them to be ready. Come game 1 the only person who needs to really be focused and ready is CC. A win against Verlander in game 1 would be huge and set the tone for the series.

It’s going to be a fun series and the entire American League playoff picture is anything but clear. Any of the 4 teams I could see winning, unlike the National League where the Phillies appear to be a step ahead.

It all starts tomorrow night at Yankees Stadium at 8:37pm on TBS, so get ready because its time for October baseball! (although game 1 is in September dammit!)

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Choke: The Boston Version

Posted in Not in New York on September 29, 2011 by kfaris89

Well Red Sox and Braves fans, I write this article today, my first for this site, on what to many is just another September day. Kids have school, parents have work, lives are going on just as they would any other day. But last night; last night was not just another night. Last night was a historic night in baseball history. Usually every year a division or wild card race will go down to the wire, some even down to the last day. But last night… last night was different. The Red Sox, who had a 9 game lead September 3rd were fighting for their playoff lives. And the Braves, who it seems like have had at least a 5 game lead since July, were doing the same. Two of the most epic collapses of all time were happening in front of our eyes. It’s amazing how the reaction of two cities can be so different too. People in Boston are acting like they’ve just been through the apocalypse and that they are just waiting for God (or whatever power it is you may believe in) to damn then in hell for all eternity. While in New York, specifically Yankees fans,  have never been happier to blow a 7 run lead in the 8th inning. Cory Wade is possibly the most beloved loser in Yankees history. Thank you Mr. Wade, for knocking out the Red Sox by letting Dan Johnson, who hadn’t  hit a home run since April 8th, hit a game tying homerun off of you in the 9th. You are a hero to Yankees fans everywhere.. and for that your name will be part of stories from generation to generation when we are telling the story of how you knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs.

But as a Mets fan (yes I still admit to being a fan), I do have a different perspective on last nights events. As hard as I’ve tried to wash away the memories of 2007, I still have the random nightmare that I keep reliving those last three weeks of the season. I wake up cursing Willie Randolph and I immediately start to cry at the thought of Tom Glavine letting up 7 runs in 1/3 of an inning. But here’s the thing Sox fans… As much as you want to crawl into a hole and not come out, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is the difference between your beloved Sox and my dreadful Mets. The Mets have let 2007 stay with them to this day. The team, the front office, the owners, and most importantly the fans, not only haven’t forgotten, but will never forgive for what happened that year.  But the Sox have a chance to be different. They have a chance to make it right with their team and their fans, but there are certain steps that need to be taken to ensure this.

Step 1: The Team has to be changed. New Leadership is essential or this WILL happen again just like 2008 with the Mets.

As tough is may be to hear, the days of Manny, Big Papi and Pedro are over. The self-proclaimed “idiots” are gone.  This is a new team, and Big Papi should not be resigned. He had a great run with the Sox, and you got way more out of him then you thought you would over the last 2 years after he was almost cut, but don’t let your loyalty and heart get in the way of making a smart decision. Papi isn’t getting any younger, his bat is slowing down, and obviously, his leadership skills aren’t what they used to be. When a team like this chokes down the stretch it comes down to team leaders to be able to stop the bleading. There is only so much a manager can do because he is not on the field competing with them, which is why team leaders need to step up and do everything they can to make sure the collapse doesn’t happen. To me, this is why the 2007 and 2008 Mets were such a disaster. David Wright and Jose Reyes were young and not leaders, Beltran played like a leader, but was still immature and not the leader he finally was this past year before being traded to San Francisco. Carlos Delgado was as close to a leader as they had but he was always hurt and even he wasn’t loved by all of his teammates or fans. Sox fans, you need a new leader. Maybe he’s on your roster now. Maybe Pedroia steps up. Maybe Youkilis not being on the field was the reason they fell apart. Whatever it may be. It’s time to turn it over. Papi was one of the faces of the franchise. But it’s time to let go.

Step 2: Don’t make a knee jerk reaction and fire Francona. He deserves a second chance.

This may not be what you want to hear or what you’d expect me to say. But if you’re gonna change over to a new player as a leader, you do need some consistency in the clubhouse and Francona is the guy that should stay. Listen, don’t get greedy. Remember when youguys didn’t win a World Series for almost 100 years. Well Francona has won 2 in the last 8. That, by any teams measure, is successful. Yes this season was a disaster, and yes he is partially to blame, but he has more than earned another chance with this team. If i had told you in 2003 that he would’ve won you 2 World Series by now you all would’ve signed for that in a heartbeat! Francona is a perfect fit for this team, the veterans respect him, and he has a way to make his team gel. Firing him would be a mistake that down the road would be more detrimental than beneficial.

Step 3: Appease the fans and go make a big move.

This might be the biggest and most important thing the Red Sox can do this offseason. Even the Mets front office was smart enough to realize after 2007 they couldn’t go into the next season with the same team, so they made a calculated risk by trading off a lot of top prospects to get Johan Santana. This was needed to bring the fans back and to give the players on the team the hope and confidence that next year would be different (even though it turned out for the Mets to not be enough to matter). This is not a year the Red Sox can afford to be cheap. Here’s my suggestions. Cut/eat John Lackey’s contract. Let him start 4 or 5 games next year and if he’s not better, its time to cut ties. Hell you might be able to trade him to the Mets for Jason Bay at that point. Sign Jose Reyes and/or CJ Wilson. If the Sox did this, that lineup would be unstoppable. It would bring energy that they thought they were getting with Carl Crawford except Reyes would not disappoint. He’s a once in a generation type player with his speed and excitement. He would be a steal for the Sox and if you pay enough, the Mets are too cheap to match and he will be yours. CJ Wilson is another one that won’t come cheap but you need a pitcher. Starting pitching is what caused this problem, and by signing him, or trading for another big name starter, you will be fine for next year with Buchholz getting healthy again, Lester, Beckett, and Wilson/TBA.  With those 4, a good bullpen, and the best lineup in baseball. You will have a big enough lead in September where you could lose out and still make the playoffs.

So Red Sox fans, what have we learned… The end is not here. God doesn’t hate you, and you will all be fine. Take a deep breath and get ready for next year. You have a great front office, with great ownership whose not afraid to spend money. The core for this team is intact and for the most part is fairly young! You guys will be around for years to come and Yankees fans won’t admit it today, but they are happy you’re not in the playoffs and you are still the team they least look forward to playing every year. Think of it this way… you could be a Mets fan.

Week 5 College Football Predictions

Posted in College Football on September 29, 2011 by sammywestside

Bo Pelini and the Cornhuskers head to Madison, Wisconsin for their first Big Ten Showdown

Some big undefeated matchups loom this weekend, and the BCS National Championship picture will start to stake shape now with fewer teams in the hunt. There still remains a group of teams that hasn’t done a lot to prove much of anything yet on the playing field. First, South Carolina has looked remarkably mediocre in securing 4 straight wins to start the year. The Gamecocks are led by the troubled and often horrible Stephen Garcia, who doubles for a turnover machine. The saving grace is Marcus Lattimore at this point, who has not been stopped on the ground. If somebody can learn to stop the run against South Carolina, then the pressure would be put on the shoulders of Garcia to make throws. The defense for South Carolina finally showed up last week, but was it Vanderbilt who is that bad, or can the Gamecock defense play that well against a high flying offense. This weekend South Carolina plays host to Auburn who has been anything but impressive so far, despite starting 3-1. The Auburn defense will probably not stop South Carolina, unless Stephen Garcia has something to stay about it, and its hard to imagine the Tigers can have a ton of success offensively to keep up with that.

Another proving ground game will be Florida-Alabama in Gainesville. The Tide have played a couple tough games so far and came out victorious easily, but this will be their toughest test so far. Meanwhile the Gators have coasted to a 4-0 start with their  toughest opponent being Tennessee at home. The Gators have proved they are very stout defensively, but they will need to stop the run in order to beat Alabama Saturday. Offensively the Gators have showed life but it hasn’t come as easily as they want. Red Zone struggles are a problem, and against arguably the nations best defense, its hard to imagine they’ll look better this weekend.

In Blacksburg the surprising Clemson Tigers will look to continue their magic against a 4-0 Virginia Tech squad. The Hokies have yet to really be tested, but from what we can see their defense is extremely good, while offensively they have relied on a heavy dose of David Wilson running the ball. Look for the Hokies to try and prove they are a top ten team by blitzing the Tigers, and forcing Clemson to throw the ball under duress. The Tigers have struggled at times running up the middle and its hard to imagine they will start being successful there this weekend. Virginia Tech will likely run the ball at Clemson and make them prove they can stop it, but if successful expect play action shots down the field by strong armed Logan Thomas. The atmosphere should be electric in Lane Stadium, and it’ll be tough for the Tigers to leave Blacksburg with a win, as only 4 times in the last 6 seasons has someone done that.

Finally this weeks premiere game is Wisconsin-Nebraska, in the Cornhuskers first go around in the Big Ten. So far this season both teams have handled expectations a bit differently. Wisconsin, led by Russell Wilson has shown he’s a dynamic offensive weapon, as the Badgers are finally led by a passing threat in Wilson. The always strong defense and offensive line make Wisconsin very dangerous and they’ve looked very impressive so far. Meanwhile the Cornhuskers have struggled at times. Playing mediocre Fresno State and Washington, the Huskers had problems making stops defensively, while struggling to throw the ball effectively. With the game in Madison, and based on results so far its hard to imagine the Cornhuskers are really as closely ranked to the Badgers as they are. At the same time this is the first real big game for both and how they respond will say a lot about where each team goes from here.

South Florida 24, Pittsburgh 21

Arkansas 31, Texas A&M 28

Mississippi State 31, Georgia 28

Wake Forest 24, Boston College 21

USC 27, Arizona 21

Georgia Tech 38, NC State 24

Michigan State 17, Ohio State 14

South Carolina 41, Auburn 24

Baylor 28, Kansas State 24

Virginia Tech 31, Clemson 21

Utah 24, Washington 17

Texas 27, Iowa State 17

UNC 28, ECU 21

Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 20

Notre Dame 28, Purdue 17

Alabama 20, Florida 13

Arizona State 38, Oregon State 17

Stanford 35, UCLA 17

(68-18 through first 4 weeks)

Every Baseball Fan Must See “Moneyball”

Posted in Shout Out of the Week on September 28, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

So I just returned from seeing the film, “Moneyball” and I have to admit, this movie exceeded all of my expectations. Since practically every baseball movie in the last decade has sucked, I was a little skeptical to find out how Hollywood interpreted my all-time favorite book. I was picturing this film as a cheesy “come from behind story” with corny one-liners, unrealistic game action, and a storyline that suits the non-baseball fan. This film was the complete opposite. It portrayed baseball the way it’s supposed to be – hard-nosed and cut throat. This was a very simplistic film, and I mean that as a compliment. There were no crazy effects, flashy camera angles, bright lights, or any of that bullshit. It was just a story about a general manager who had a completely different perspective of the game. Since Beane put together a team that had the best record in the Majors with the lowest salary in baseball, he revolutionized baseball. Since the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season, every ball club has adapted a least a part of Beane’s philosophy.

The acting was incredible. I couldn’t ever picture Brad Pitt starring in a baseball film, but he was perfect for this role. He nailed Billy Beane’s character. I’ve never been a fan of Jonah Hill as an actor, but he sold me as the role of Paul DePodesta (Beane’s right-hand man). Even though DePodesta in real life is nothing like Hill, this character worked perfectly with Pitt. Phillip Seymour Hoffman did a great job as Oakland manager Art Howe, the antagonist in the film. Even though it’s true that Art Howe wasn’t always on great terms with Beane, Howe came out publicly and complained that he was wasn’t as “villain-like” that season. Nonetheless, Hoffman and Beane’s confrontations throughout the film were fantastic.

If you’re a baseball fan, you have to see this movie. It’s unlike any sports film I’ve ever seen. Since it goes so deep in the world of baseball’s front offices, every die-hard fan will love it. I’m talking goosebumps for two straight hours. Believe me, it’s worth seeing.

College Football Wrap Up: Week 4

Posted in College Football on September 27, 2011 by sammywestside

Trent Richardson and Alabama continue to roll

It was another fun weekend of college football across the country and we saw a bunch of great top 25 match ups.

In the SEC Alabama handled Arkansas easily in Tuscaloosa. The Razorbacks looked hopeless against the dominant Alabama defense. I’ve come to the conclusion that Alabama’s defense is the best in college football this year, though that’s not very surprising. LSU beat up West Virginia, but it wasn’t their defense that always shined in this one. Yielding over 500 yards wasn’t great but the Tigers once again came up with timely turnovers and special teams play to overcome another road environment. LSU has wiped through the toughest schedule so far this year, and for that they deserve a lot of respect. While most people would be shocked and awed by the way they played against West Virginia, I do have some concerns about the LSU secondary which was torched often by the Mountaineers. LSU is clearly a top notch team, but the question once again remains who is the best? I’m still not sure.

Oklahoma made Missouri go easier than the score indicated, and once again showed why they are one of the nations best. Oklahoma State came back and beat Texas A&M in College Station, but this game didn’t tell me a whole lot. Clearly the Pokes can throw the ball around the field, but I’m not convinced they can do it against a top notch defense. For now, they are a clear favorite to finish second in the Big 12, but how good are they really?

In the ACC Georgia Tech took down UNC in the 4th quarter, and once again the Jackets lit up the scoreboard with points and yards. UNC’s defense isn’t as good as last year, but they certainly were the biggest test so far for the Jackets and they passed. Right now I am very surprised by Georgia Tech, but from what I see this team looks to have the makings of a huge season. With Clemson, Georgia and Virginia Tech all having to go to Atlanta to play them, the Jackets could be racking up a lot of wins in 2011.

Also, Clemson came back after the Auburn game and looked impressive again against a much better FSU defense. Tahj Boyd now has 13 TD’s and 1 INT on the year, and true Freshman Sammy Watkins looks like one of the best receivers in the country already. With weapons across the board the Tigers look very dangerous, but their secondary still is giving up big plays. With a very tough trip to Blacksburg this Saturday the Tigers still have a lot to prove on both sides of the ball against a smash mouth Virginia Tech team, in one of the nation’s toughest environments.

Now that we have moved past this week, I’ll give you my top 25. Look out for this week’s predictions on Thursday.

1. Alabama

2. LSU

3. Oklahoma

4. Wisconsin

5. Stanford

6. Oklahoma State

7. Virginia Tech

8. Florida

9. Boise State

10. Clemson

11. Georgia Tech

12. Oregon

13. South Carolina

14. Nebraska

15. Texas A&M

16. Texas

17. Arkansas

18. Florida State

19. West Virginia

20. South Florida

21. Baylor

22. Michigan

23. TCU

24. Illinois

25. Notre Dame

Close: Michigan State, Arizona State, Houston

 

WHAT DREAM TEAM?

Posted in Giants on September 26, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Aaron Ross after his 2nd Interception

I couldn’t picture a better scenario than what occurred yesterday at the Linc. In just one game, the Giants proved that they are the real deal. Like I said before, this team is starting to learn how to play together with this depleted roster. These players understand who needs to step up and make the most of their opportunities. Yesterday, every player on the roster stepped up their game to help the Giants earn their biggest victory since Super Bowl XLII. Victor Cruz, who I thought was the real deal last summer, had a stellar game with three catches for 110 yards and two key touchdowns. Eli Manning kept the ball out of harms way and threw for four touchdowns with no interceptions. Ahmad Bradshaw established the running game early for the Giants and finished off the Eagles with his touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Let’s not forget to give a shout out to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride for his intelligent play-calling.

Victor Cruz Stepped Up Big Time

Every player on the Giants defense contributed to this victory. First, I can’t say enough about this defensive line. For the last two weeks, I have praised this d-line and yesterday’s performance showed that this is the best front four in the league, even without Osi. Jason Pierre-Paul is officially a beast. If he stays healthy this season, book him a ticket to the Pro Bowl. Since the d-line played so well, there was much less pressure on the secondary. Aaron Ross came back from a disappointing start of the season and had two interceptions. Jacquaian Williams, a 2011 sixth round pick, recorded 10 tackles in just his third career game. But Michael Boley had the most important tackle of the game when he stopped LeSean McCoy on a crucial 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter. I’m confident to say that the Eagles weren’t ready for this dynamic defense.

Now onto the Eagles. It’s safe to say that this is no dream team. Like I’ve said before, you can’t put together a football team by signing the top free agents and expect them to have the perfect chemistry. Philadelphia has plenty of talent on the field, but there isn’t really a core nucleus. Their offensive line is terrible, which is the reason why Vick is so banged up right now. If their O-Line continues to play this way, Vick will not finish this season. The Eagles’ prized free agent Nnamdi Asomugha has played terribly in his third straight game. Of course now everyone is saying, “The guy is a bust…he sucks…can’t handle the pressure…blah blah blah.” I completely disagree. While with Oakland, Nnamdi played man-to-man, and was just as good as Revis at covering receivers. But in Philly, they have him playing more of a corner-safety type roll. He now has more space to cover, which something he isn’t used to. Can he learn this new defense? Who knows.

I assume everyone heard Michael Vick’s press conference after the game (see below for the video). I have absolutely no sympathy for Vick at all. You don’t get any calls? Tough shit bro! There was one play where Vick scrambled and looked like he was headed out of bounds. Then at the last second, he decided to fake out the defense and goes another five yards. If you want to play that kind of football, expect to get your head knocked off. “Every play I’m on the ground.” This is a contact sport right? If you watch any quarterback in football, they get knocked down almost after every pass. Obviously Vick is pissed about inuring his right hand when Canty hit him after the ball was thrown. Too bad! He wants to complain about injuries? Try having an entire team hurt. Stop crying and act like a man!

With this unexpected victory, the Giants find themselves at 2-1 and head to Arizona for Week 4. Hopefully, the Giants will keep up this kind of play and gather some much needed wins in the next few weeks. Since the second half of the schedule consists of the best teams in the NFL, it’s crucial for the Giants to put together a winning streak.

NCAA Week #4 Predictions

Posted in College Football on September 23, 2011 by sammywestside

Intriguing Gameday Matchup This Week

We’ve now moved out of mostly non-conference battles and are starting to see some important in-conference matchups. This week we have some very nice top 25 showdowns across the country.

In College Station the Aggies play host to Oklahoma State in a top ten battle. This game should separate which team is perhaps really a top ten team, and also who will try and compete with Oklahoma for a Big 12 title this season. Without a championship game, each of these teams will need this win, and one over Oklahoma to stand a chance of breaking into the BCS and toppling the top ranked Sooners for the title.

In the ACC Georgia Tech and UNC battle in Atlanta in which should also be an early eliminator game. Georgia Tech has been more impressive early on, but UNC’s defense is far superior to those the Jackets seen so far. Both teams appear to have good squads this year and if they want to compete in the Coastal with Virginia Tech, this is a huge game to do so. While Miami was impressive last week, they are 0-1 in conference already.

Also in the ACC Florida State visits Death Valley to take on Clemson in a huge Atlantic Division matchup. It’s hard to argue this game is going to put the winner at a huge advantage for winning the division. While Maryland has looked decent so far, these two teams appear to be the class of the division and a win here would put them two games ahead of the other. Clemson’s offense has been great, as has FSU defense, but on the other side its weakness vs. weakness as both FSU’s offense and Clemson’s D have struggled early on. This should be an interesting matchup in that regard, and if FSU is unable to play guys like EJ Manuel it could be tough for them to get in the end zone.

Finally West Virginia hosts LSU in this weeks ESPN Gameday matchup. LSU has looked dominant defensively but will have their hands full with a potent Mountaineer offense. Once again this should be strength against strength and weakness against weakness like in the Clemson-FSU matchup. I expect a hostile environment in Morgantown, but will it be enough to topple the LSU Tigers of 2011?

Now onto my picks for the week.

NC State 27, Cincinnati 24

BYU 20, UCF 14

Michigan 31, San Diego State 21

Notre Dame 34, Pittsburgh 24

Georgia 28, Mississippi 17

Ohio State 20, Colorado 13

California 24, Washington 20

South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 14

Florida 27, Kentucky 17

Oklahoma 38, Missouri 21

Oregon 41, Arizona 31

USC 31, Arizona State 28

Georgia Tech 38, UNC 24

Alabama 31, Arkansas 17

Oklahoma State 41, Texas A&M 38

Clemson 27, Florida State 20

LSU 24, West Virginia 17