Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 College Football Preview!

Greetings everyone... Please forgive the lack of content in previous weeks... It will change! At any rate, let's take a (very) quick look at the upcoming college football season as it kicks off TONIGHT! Predictions commence...

  • Champion - Florida State (11-2) over Virginia Tech (10-3)
  • Sleeper - North Carolina
  • Offensive Player of the Year - Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
  • Defensive Player of the Year - Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
Big East
  • Champion - South Florida (9-3)
  • Sleeper - Pittsburgh
  • Offensive Player of the Year - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
  • Defensive Player of the Year - DeDe Lattimore, LB, South Florida
Big 10
  • Champion - Wisconsin (11-2) over Michigan (11-2)
  • Sleeper - Nebraska
  • Offensive Player of the Year - Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan 
  • Defensive Player of the Year - Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois
Big 12 
  • Champion - Oklahoma (11-1)
  • Sleeper - Texas
  • Offensive Player of the Year - Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
  • Defensive Player of the Year - Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Pac 12
  • Champion - USC (12-1) over Oregon (11-2)
  • Sleeper - Cal
  • Offensive Player of the Year - Matt Barkley, QB, USC
  • Defensive Player of the Year - John Boyett, S, Oregon
  • Champion - Alabama (12-1) over Florida (10-3)
  • Sleeper - Arkansas (not really a sleeper, but I tried)
  • Offensive Player of the Year - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
  • Defensive Player of the Year - Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Preseason Top 10
  1. Alabama - Nick Saban, everybody! As much as this pains me because they open up with Michigan in Dallas on Saturday, I trust Bama the most. Their defense will be top-flight yet again, they have the best O-line in the country, and a nice set of returning skill guys on offense. The defense won't be as dominant as last year in the early going, but by the time they hit the SEC, they'll be ready.
  2. USC- Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, and Silas Redd form the the best skill position trio in the country... and that doesn't even take into account their elite production at #2 receiver and the stable of backs. The only question with USC is their depth because of scholarship limitations, and that's why they land here, but I love them.
  3. Oregon - So much speed. Deanthony Thomas may be the most electric player in America, and they have Kenjon Barner as their workhorse. The QB spot isn't as "set" as in previous years, but reports have even more speed there than usual. The defense will be what carries Oregon this year and with guys like Kiko Alonso anchoring their speedy, swarming unit, they'll be scary. 
  4. LSU - Gone are Mo Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Michael Brockers, and the QB combo of Lee and Jefferson. That said, LSU could be better this year. Their offense will take a step forward with a more skilled guy in Mettenberger, and the defense is still loaded even with the panic surrounding the Honey Badger. 
  5. Oklahoma - Easily the class of the depleted Big 12. Landry Jones returns for his 12th year as a letterman (lol) and will likely throw for 4000 yards. The defense should have enough talent to justify this lofty ranking, and the defensive backfield is a strength even in the pass-happy Big 12. 
  6. Wisconsin  - Grind it out. Montee Ball leads another potent ground game, and new transfer QB Danny O'Brien should step it a la Russell Wilson and be effective right away. He's probably not the same player that Wilson was, but with talent everywhere and their massive O-line, he won't need to be. 
  7. Arkansas - Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis is enough for me. And on the even brighter side? Bobby Petrino is gone!
  8. Florida State - Easily the most loaded team in the ACC. EJ Manuel has been elite at times at FSU and has the experience to put it all together here. The defense could be the best in the nation, and is super deep. Could this be the year that FSU puts it all back together?
  9. Michigan - I could write 5,000 words here (as you know). Denard Robinson is the most electrifying player in the country, Fitz Toussaint returns as a 1,000-yard rusher, and the O-line is virtually in tact featuring All-American LT Taylor Lewan. The defense took a million steps forward in 2011 and they should build on that success with a ton of returning talent in the back seven. The one issue is on the D-line as they replace Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen, but with Denard's uptick in efficiency and another year in the offensive system, it won't matter. 
  10. Michigan State - Best defense in the Big 10 led by Will Gholston, and a big-time running game featuring Le'Veon Bell. They have to replace Kirk Cousins and that's no small task, but Andrew Maxwell looks like he could be up to the challenge. 
The Elite (by Position)
  • QB - 1) Matt Barkley (USC), 2) Denard Robinson (Michigan), 3) Tyler Wilson (Arkansas)
  • RB - 1) Montee Ball (Wisconsin), 2) Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina), 3) Le'veon Bell (Mich St.)
  • WR - 1) Robert Woods (USC), 2) Marquess Wilson (Washington St.), 3) Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
  • TE  - 1) Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), 2) Philip Lutzenkirchen (Auburn), 3) Jacob Pedersen (Wisconsin)
  • OL - 1) Barrett Jones (C, Alabama), 2) Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan), 3) Ricky Wagner (OT, Wisconsin)
  • DE - 1) Brandon Jenkins (Florida St.), 2) Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas), 3) Will Gholston (Mich St.)
  • DT - 1) Star Lotulelei (Utah), 2) Jesse Williams (Alabama), 3) John Jenkins (Georgia)
  • LB - 1) Manti Te'o (Notre Dame), 2) Jarvis Jones (Georgia), 3) Nico Johnson (Alabama)
  • CB - 1) Nigel Malone (Kansas State), 2) Johnny Adams (Michigan State), 3) Nickell Robey (USC)
  • S - 1) Eric Reid (LSU), 2) John Boyett (Oregon), 3) Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma)
The Champs
  • USC over Oklahoma
  • Alabama over Oregon
  • Alabama over USC
Enjoy the pageantry, everyone!

8/30: Replacement Officials, Braves, etc.

Greetings! Couple of announcements... First, this is a "daily"-type post, but be on the lookout for the College football preview coming later this morning as we kick-off tonight... Secondly, I'll be running out division-by-division NFL previews before we kick things off on Wednesday... don't fear!

  • The NFL is going to have replacement officials in Week 1. The sky is falling! (lol) I really don't think this is a huge issue. For the diehards, we may notice some mess-ups in little things, but for the casual (read: nearly everyone) observer, the drop-off won't be noticeable, and people will forget that the referees are replacements until they disagree with a big 4th-quarter call. Quit crying.
  • Padres 8, Braves 2 - In short, the Padres should never score 8 runs in Petco Park. Tommy Hanson is officially scaring me as he sits in the high-80s with his fastball and doesn't show the type of power stuff that made him an elite prospect. At the moment, he's the clear odd man out come playoff time (provided the Braves get there), and unless he can return to the low-to-mid 90s with the fastball, I'm skeptical going forward.
  • Bryce Harper hit 2 home runs last night. And got ejected. Both of these things are awesome. 
  • One media note: Grantland (the ESPN spin-off site run by Bill Simmons) has stolen Zach Lowe away from Sports Illustrated for the coming NBA season. Lowe has established himself as one of the leading NBA voices in the online world these days, and this is a huge coup for Simmons and Grantland. They are amassing an NBA army with Lowe, Sebastian Pruiti, and Simmons himself. 
What to watch for on Thursday...
  • NCAA Football - #9 South Carolina @ Vanderbilt - 7:00 ESPN - The college gridiron season kicks off on ESPN this evening. South Carolina is a legitimate top-10 team with Marcus Lattimore returning to couple with an explosive defense led by Clowney and company. Vandy has given them fits in the past and the game is in Nashville so they should hang around, but I expect the Gamecocks to get a W.
  • NCAA Football - Washington State @ BYU - 10:15 ESPN - The Worldwide Leader is banking on the fact that people are football-starved... and they're probably right. Washington State should at least be watchable now in the Mike Leach era, and BYU is a nice program. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

8/23: Braves, Colon, etc.

Greetings! Pretty short today, but wanted to get something up before heading up to Jasper to stand up in a great friend's wedding this weekend... Shout-out to DBC.... Let's get it...

  • Braves 5, Nats 1 - Kris Medlen is ridiculous. Since moving into the rotation, he's now 4-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA and last night was no different, throwing 7 innings of shut-out baseball. Atlanta scratched out 3 insurance runs in the top of the 9th and Kimbrel utterly slammed the door with a dominant, 3-strikeout inning. This was a huge win for any chance at the division title, and while a 6-game deficit won't be easy to overcome, an 8-game one would've been pure disaster.
  • Speaking of the Nationals, there are reports that Strasburg will likely miss his last 2-3 starts due to the innings cap. I'm beyond tired of hearing/discussing this but in a race for the division, it's relevant information. The bigger issue? His lack of playoff presence. That said, I actually think Washington could still win the NL without him when you consider how good Zimmerman and Gonzalez have been. 
  • Adrian Beltre hit 3 homers last night for Texas in a 12-3 win over Baltimore. He continues to be the most underrated 3B in baseball, and honestly may be the best overall player at that position in the big leagues with apologies to David Wright. 
  • Bartolo Colon was suspended for 50 games due to PED use. There are so many jokes here to be made about his physique and the affects of PEDs, but in the end, it's not surprising since he basically came back from the dead to pitch effectively the last 2 seasons. It's still a blow to Oakland's playoff chances though, despite their pitching depth. 
What to watch for...
  • Braves @ Giants - SportSouth 10:15 - Hanson vs. Zito - Tommy pitched well in his first outing off the DL despite some command issues, and this Giants offense isn't too potent. Could be a huge series for the Braves. 
  • Cardinals @ Titans - Preseason - ESPN 8:00 - Nothing quite like preseason football from a disinterested standpoint (at least for me), but somebody cares...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

8/22: Division Panic


  • Nats 4, Braves 1 - Remember when the division seemed in reach? Well, after being dominated by Strasburg last night and losing the series (already) in falling 7 games back, that dream is going the wrong way. The Braves couldn't put much together all night, and even after getting 2 baserunners (and no outs) in the 9th, zeroes ruled the day. Strasburg was electric as usual, and I'm quite glad the Braves likely won't see him again. Godspeed. 
  • Maurice Jones-Drew is "open to a trade". This passes as news! I expect him to be in a Jags uniform in week one and playing.
  • Chris Paul had thumb surgery yesterday that will sideline him for 2 months. I don't think this is something for Clippers fans to panic about, and it's probably better for him to address it now, but it's at least note-worthy. 
  • Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton stole his 147th base last night. In 120 games. That's insane. He'll be an immediate impact guy in the bigs provided he can get on-base, and he's a riveting X-factor for fantasy baseball in the coming years. Speed, kids. 
Enjoy! And pray for an appearance from the Braves bats tonight against Detwiler...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

8/21: A Braves Heartbreaker

Greetings! First "daily" post in a while... let's go...

  • Nationals 5, Braves 4 (13 innings) - After both teams went scoreless from the 6th through 12th innings, Dan Uggla came up small with the glove in allowing the game-winning run in the 13th. It was yet another poor first inning from Tim Hudson that accounted for all of the Nats scoring before the 13th, as he allowed 4 earned runs in the opening frame before settling down. The rest of the bullpen pitched extremely well but the bats couldn't awaken enough to steal a victory. The next 2 games are critical to any Braves' chances at the division, and anything short of taking both will likely mean the end of that dream.
  • Augusta National added its first female members yesterday. All that needs to be said about this is that it is about time, and it really shouldn't have taken this long. Done and done. 
  • Michael Vick got hurt again in a preseason game last night. There are reports this morning that his ribs aren't broken, so that's a plus for Philly, but at a certain point, the injuries become comical and make it tough for them to rely on him. 
  • Ryan Tannehill named the Dolphins starter at QB. Let me say this. There's always one guy that I'm vehemently against in every draft, and this year it's Tannehill. I won't say he'll be as bad as my most famous pick in this category (Jamarcus Russell), but I don't see him ever being a solid NFL starter.
What to watch for on Tuesday...
  • Braves @ Nationals - 7:00 SportSouth - Maholm vs. Strasburg - On the bright side? The Braves have been historically decent against Strasburg. I'm trying.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Greetings all...

Chipper Jones added to his legendary status last night with 2 home runs including his 2700th hit on the second one. All on a night where his likeness was covered on bobble heads throughout the stadium. Doesn't he ALWAYS come up with something big in this type of spot?

Let me say this: I have never, ever been a "Chipper Jones guy". His personality for the majority of his career has never meshed with me. That said, there's something undeniable about his impact, and with age, I've come to enjoy him as a leader. Oh, and being a no-doubt hall of famer probably helps too.

I should mention that Kris Medlen tossed a complete game shutout last night. We're at the point where he CANNOT come out of the rotation. Pitch for your spot, Tommy and Mike.


Friday, August 10, 2012

The Dwight Howard Trade

Get ready for the fastest 5-minute trade recap ever....

  • LA Receives: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark
  • Philly Receives: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson
  • Denver Receives: Andre Iguodala
  • Orlando Receives: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, 3 1st-round picks
Okay... Quick analysis!
  • LA Lakers - they get the best big man on earth. That's really the end of the analysis, but since I have to mention Bynum, they basically flip guys with identical contract situations and receive the better player and the better fit. Grade - A
  • Philly - Essentially, this is Iguodala, Vucevic, and Harkless for Bynum and J-Rich... I like it for Philly. Iguodala has been expendable for some time now, I'm not high on Harkless, and Vucevic is likely a backup in the league. Bynum is the 2nd-best center in the league and J-Rich (while overpaid) is still a contributor. Grade - B+ (only because I don't know where J-Rich plays)
  • Denver - Iguodala is better than anyone they jettisoned. That's a good sign, but with the newly signed Afflalo being a favorite of mine, it's a tough one. Is Iggy playing shooting guard? He's the only guy on that roster right now that "can" play that spot, but that's not ideal. On the bright side for Denver, Afflalo probably got overpaid, and Iggy's deal is much shorter. I like it, but not without reservation. Grade - B
  • Orlando - Trade a top-5 player and the best big on earth AND not be able to get rid of the Hedo Turkoglu contract atrocity??!?! They must have got a good package, right?! Nope! Afflalo is a really good player, but not a cornerstone, and the rest of the deal is uninspiring. Harkless is a decent find, but if the picks are lottery-protected (as reported), this is not nearly enough to part with Howard, no matter how ridiculous he has been publicly. Grade - D-

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Return

Greetings all! I'm back from the hiatus... and while this will be short, things are going to rev up in a big way in the coming days as football approaches and baseball winds down. Let's go...

  • USA 119, Australia 86 - This game was a lot more competitive than the final score indicates, but Kobe Bryant went absolutely nuts, hitting 6 threes (basically in a row) in the second half and putting them away. We learned two things last night about the USA hoops team. 1) Lebron James is incredible (okay, well, we didn't "learn" that, but he reinforced it)... and 2) Kobe Bryant is capable of shooting the US out of a game or back into a game. If there's one weak link of the squad, it's the lack of size, but if there's a second? I think it's Kobe's belief that he's still the best player, and the team's willingness to lift up that belief. At any rate, it's another blowout win and onto the semifinals.
  • The PGA Championship starts today. Did you know that? Is there any coverage of a major championship? You have to know that golf enthusiasts are hating the fact that the PGA is going head-to-head with the olympics, baseball, and NFL preseason, right? Anyway, Tiger takes aim at his first major in a few years. 
  • Braves 12, Phillies 6 - Tim Hudson had a mid-inning implosion, but other than that, the big story is Dan Uggla's 3-for-4 game. It's great to see him squaring the ball up all of the sudden, and if he hit one of his patented 6-week hot streaks right now, that would be huge.
That's all for now... stay tuned and enjoy!