Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Week 8 NFL Rankings

Well, the battle for #1 is all set... Colts and Patriots this Sunday 4:15 ET/1:15 PT... All I can say is GO COLTS! The Pats REALLY deserve a good ol' fashioned smackdown with the way they ran up the score against the Redskins last weekend.

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (8-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (7-0)
3.(3) Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
4.(4) Green Bay Packers (6-1)
5.(5) San Diego Chargers (4-3)
6.(6) Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2)
7.(8) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
8.(9) New York Giants (6-2)
9.(10) Tennessee Titans (5-2)
10.(7) Washington Redskins (4-3)
11.(11) Carolina Panthers (4-3)
12.(14) Cleveland Browns (4-3)
13.(20) New Orleans Saints (3-4)
14.(12) Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
15.(15) Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
16.(13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)
17.(16) Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
18.(23) Detroit Lions (5-2)
19.(19) Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
20.(21) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
21.(24) Buffalo Bills (3-4)
22.(17) Chicago Bears (3-5)
23.(18) Houston Texans (3-5)
24.(22) Oakland Raiders (2-5)
25.(26) Denver Broncos (3-4)
26.(25) Cincinnati Bengals (2-5)
27.(27) San Francisco 49ers (2-5)
28.(28) Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
29.(30) Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
30.(29) New York Jets (1-7)
31.(31) Miami Dolphins (0-8)
32.(32) St. Louis Rams (0-8)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dodgers/Lakers Rumor Mill...

It's been a pretty wild couple of days here in the L.A. sports scene. The rumors that the Lakers may be trading Kobe Bryant away continue to persist. In the meantime, the Dodgers now are reportedly thisclose to signing former Yankee manager Joe Torre and firing Grady Little. With coach Don Mattingly not re-signing with the Yankees and with a son of his in the Dodgers farm system, it just adds some more fuel to the fire.

As I've said before here, trading away the NBA's best player really doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Then again, the Lakers really haven't done a lot of stuff that has made sense here the past few seasons. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has made promise after promise to Kobe to get some talent to help make them a better team, but he's failed to come through. Yes, they did make a sentimental re-signing in getting Derek Fisher from the Utah Jazz... D-Fish though isn't the kind of impact player that really is going to help the Lakers rise from a fringe playoff team to a team that can compete with the Spurs, Suns and other elite teams. If the Lakers trade away Kobe, don't look for them to even be close to the playoffs... and mark my words, there will be lots of empty seats at Staples Center this year if there is no Kobe.

As for the Dodgers, well hiring arguably baseball's best manager would seem to be a no-brainer move. Yes, Grady Little is a nice guy, but when you have the opportunity to sign the best there is, well you just have to do it! And with A-Rod opting out of his contract with the Yankees, is there a chance that he could end up here in L.A.??? Wouldn't that be something???

Needless to say, I'm very excited about the Dodgers prospects, and pretty scared about the prospect of a Kobe-less Laker team... more to come on both of these stories in the coming days.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Favre Does It Again!!!

You know, just when you thought you'd seen Brett Favre do everything, he pulls another rabbit out of his hat tonight in the national spotlight. How in the world can you NOT root for this guy??? He's 38 years old, but he plays with the enthusiasm of a guy half his age... and he just keeps on doing it. What an inspiration he is!

On the first play of overtime, Favre tossed an 82 yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings to give the Green Bay Packers a dramatic 19-13 victory over the Denver Broncos... It capped off yet another historic night for Favre. The future first ballot Hall of Famer was 21-for-27 for 331 yards and two touchdowns, the final of which was the 425th of his incredible career.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Red Sox 2007 World Champs!

For the second time in four years, the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions of baseball! Jonathan Papelbon struck out pinch hitter Seth Smith for the final out of tonight's game at Coors Field to give the Sox a four game sweep.

Congratulations to the Red Sox!!!


Colts, Pats Make a Date...

On a day when I won all seven of my ESPN fantasy football league games, the two most dominant teams in the NFL certainly made it very clear that they are head and shoulders above the rest.

In the early morning games, the Indianapolis Colts got down early as the Carolina Panthers took over 11 minutes of the first quarter in driving the ball 80 yards in 18 plays. The time-consuming drive culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run by former UCLA Bruin DeShaun Foster. The Colts quickly drove down to the Panther two yard line on their first possession of the game, but had to settle for a 20-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal. The first quarter ended with the Panthers leading 7-3.

The Colts offense sputtered early, going three-and-out and then fumbling the ball away deep inside their own territory on their next two possessions. Vinny Testaverde drove the Panthers inside the Colts 10 yard line, but couldn't convert the opportunity as Antoine Bethea intercepted a poor pass from Testaverde in the end zone on a third down play with 6:37 to play.

Late in the first half, Peyton Manning and the vaunted Colts offense began to come to life. The Colts engineered an eight play, 86 yard drive in just under two minutes, culminating in a two yard Joseph Addai run. The Colts took a 10-7 lead into halftime.

The second half started the same way the first half ended - with the Colts in complete control of the momentum. Manning drove the Colts 60 yards in just eight plays, finishing things with a four yard pass to Addai to make it 17-7. Two possessions later, the Colts struck again, as Manning hit wide receiver Reggie Wayne pefectly in stride with a 59 yard pass to make it a 24-7 Colt lead heading into the fourth quarter.

In that final frame, the Colts would score again, as Addai would finish off a 12 play, 55 yard drive with a 12 yard run. At 31-7, this one was over. With the win, the Colts moved their unblemihsed record to 7-0...

The only question left was whether the New England Patriots would be able to take care of business this afternoon against the Washington Redskins so that next week's battle between the Patriots and Colts in Indianapolis would pit two undefeated teams. Unfortunately, the answer to that one was a resounding YES! :(

In the interest of time, space, and wanting to put this one out of my mind as quickly as possible, I will make this a short (and not so sweet) summary... I'll just say it was a massacre! Pats 52, Skins 7. Tom Brady had his standard 29-for-38 day with 306 yards and three more touchdown passes to give him an even 30 for the year. Brady also scored twice on rushing plays for five more total TD's. That would be 42 fantasy points in your standard Yahoo league and 36 in the ESPN one. Thankfully, I didn't face Brady in any of my leagues this week!

On the bright side, the Redskins are still 4-3, and are still looking like a team that could make the NFC playoffs... of course since the Colts and Patriots are so much better than all of the NFC teams, it seems that whomever happens to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC this year is going to have their work cut out for them BIG TIME!!! The New York Giants did happen to win their sixth straight game today 13-10 (in Wembley, England against the hapless Dolphins), so maybe they will emerge as good competition for the two AFC juggernauts over the season's final two months.

While the Colts and Patriots continued to show why they're incredible teams, the San Diego Chargers were just happy to be safe and sound and playing at their home field today. Just two days after Quallcomm Stadium stopped being used as an evacuation facility for those affected by the California wildfires, the Chargers took on the Houston Texans in an afternoon game... and much like New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, the game provided a sense of calm, relief, and normalcy to the community. The Chargers struck early and often as the Chargers dismantled the visitors 35-10. Tight end Antonio Gates only caught three balls on the day, but two of them went for scores, making his fantasy owners like me very happy! Although the Chargers were outgained on offense by a 367-237 yard margin, the key to them winning was simply holding onto the ball. The Texans had five turnovers, while the Chargers had none. At 4-3, the Chargers moved into a tie with the idle Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Western division lead.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sox Rock Rox Again!

The Boston Red Sox struck pounded Colorado Rockie starter Josh Fogg early and often tonight: 10 hits, six earned runs, two walks, and only eight batters retired. The 6-0 lead was one they would never relinquish, though it certainly got interesting for a bit...

The Rockies would come back to score two runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to get to within a run at 6-5. The Red Sox came right back to score three runs in the eighth and another in the ninth. Jonathan Papelbon closed things out in the ninth to give the Red Sox a commanding three games to none lead in the best of seven game series...


Friday, October 26, 2007

President Bush Surveys Fire Damage

Yesterday, President George W. Bush flew in from Washington D.C. to personally inspect the damage caused by the forest fires here in Southern California. The President walked through a San Diego county neighborhood after a half hour flight in in a helicopter with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger where they inspected the damage from the air. On Tuesday, President Bush declared seven counties disaster areas, allowing federal funds to be released to aid in the recovery effort. I must say it was very reassuring to have President Bush out here checking out things and I definitely want to applaud him for the speedy efforts made to make sure federal relief was made available so quickly.

To date nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed by 23 separate wildfires this week. Damage estimates are now well in excess of one billion dollars. The winds have died down here, allowing 13 of the fires to be put out. As of tonight, 10 of the fires are still burning, and with temperatures expected to rise some over the weekend, there is a sense of urgency to get control of the remaining fires.

Those that have been affected by the wildfires this week can either go to the website or call 1-800-621-FEMA.


On a personal note, I'm happy to report that my friends Carla & Will Givens (and their cats) are just fine. They live down in San Diego and had to evacuate Monday night. They were able to return home Tuesday... I just heard back from them today, putting me a little more at ease.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sox Give Rox Lowell Down

Once again, Curt Schilling proved the naysayers wrong. After getting shelled by Cleveland for nine hits and five earned runs in game two of the American League Championship Series, many thought that maybe he should be pulled from the Red Sox rotation. Some of us know the competitor Schilling is and were confident he would bounce back. Sure enough, he was dominant in game six of that series, pitching the Sox to a 12-2 win.

Tonight, it was the same old Schilling. No, he won't throw that 95 MPH fastball by you anymore. These days, Schilling relies on pinpoint location and his patented split-fingered fastball. Perhaps he was feeling some butterflies tonight in game two of the World Series as he hit the speedy Wily Taveras of the Colorado Rockies to begin it. After a Kazuo Matsui fly out, Matt Holliday squibbed a single to left to move Taveras to third. Todd Helton then pulled a grounder to first, scoring Taveras to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.

The Rockies had flame-thrower Ubaldo Jimenez pitching for them tonight, and for three innings, he was what can be called "effectively wild," holding the Sox scoreless, while walking two and hitting a batter. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the wildness finally began to catch up with Jimenez. With one out, Mike Lowell walked. J.D. Drew then singled Lowell to third with a single to right field. Catcher Jason Varitek evened the score at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to center to score Lowell.

The walk would come back to haunt Jimenez again in the fifth inning. With two outs, David "Big Papi" Ortiz walked. Manny Ramirez moved Big Papi to second with a single to left. Mike Lowell then did the hero work, doubling to left to score Ortiz and give the Sox a 2-1 lead and ending Jimenez' night. As it turned out, that was more than enough for Schilling and the rest of the Boston pitching contingent.

After that somewhat rocky start in the first, Schilling settled down to pitch masterfully the next four innings, allowing only two singles and a walk, while striking out four. Schilling got into some trouble in the sixth inning, giving up a one out single to Matt Holliday and a walk to Todd Helton. After making only 82 pitches, he was pulled for Hideki Okajima. Okajima quickly restored order, getting Garrett Adkins to ground out and striking out Brad Hawpe to end the inning.

Okajima was near-perfect in his 2 1/3 innings of work, striking out four batters, while not allowing a hit. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was brought in with two outs in the eighth inning and gave up an infield single to Matt Holliday. For Holliday, it was his fourth hit of the game. He was quickly erased though as Papelbon picked him off first to end the inning. In the ninth, "Paps" simply was dominant, blowing away Helton swinging at a 98 MPH fastball for the first out of the inning, retiring Adkins on a weak line drive to center, and then striking out Hawpe on a 97 MPH fastball to end the game.

Game three of the World Series will be Saturday night in Colorado. Game 7 ALCS winner Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound for the Red Sox, while "the dragonslayer" Josh Fogg pitches for the Rockies. The game will be televised at 8:35 ET/5:35 PT on your local Fox affiliate. As an added bonus, Carrie Underwood will be singing the National Anthem prior to the start of action.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Week 7 NFL Rankings

In case you missed it... the top two teams in the NFL are MILES ahead of the rest... New England put up only 48 points last Sunday against the Dolphins, while Indianapolis COMPLETELY destroyed a very good (and previously #5 ranked) Jacksonville team (in their own building no less) by a 29-7 score on Monday night... It's to the point where if you play the Patriots or Colts, you almost expect to lose by at least two touchdowns, even if you're a good team. The #7 ranked Redskins get the unenviable task of facing the Patriots in New England this Sunday, while the #11 Carolina Panthers take on Peyton and his boys at home...

As for the rest... the big loser of the week? Well, that would have to be the Pittsburgh Steelers, dropping four spots after losing to a much inferior Denver Bronco team in the mile high city... And how about Rob Bironas? Yes, he's the kicker that beat the Manning brothers in back-to-back weeks last year, including defeating Peyton & the Colts on a 60 yard field goal - the 4th longest kick in NFL History. Well, he worked his magic again this past Sunday, kicking an NFL record EIGHT field goals in Tennessee's thrilling 38-36 win over the Houston Oilers. The Oilers trailed at one point 32-7, but battled back to actually take a 36-35 lead with a minute to play... The Titans drove down the field and Bironas kicked a 29-yard field goal as time ran out to win the game. For his record-setting efforts, Bironas was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week. His efforts also help the Titans sneak back into the Top 10 of my rankings this week.

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (7-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (6-0)
3.(3) Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
4.(6) Green Bay Packers (5-1)
5.(7) San Diego Chargers (3-3)
6.(5) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2)
7.(8) Washington Redskins (4-2)
8.(4) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
9.(10) New York Giants (5-2)
10.(12) Tennessee Titans (4-2)
11.(13) Carolina Panthers (4-2)
12.(9) Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
13.(11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3)
14.(14) Cleveland Browns (3-3)
15.(20) Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
16.(15) Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
17.(19) Chicago Bears (3-4)
18.(18) Houston Texans (3-4)
19.(21) Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
20.(22) New Orleans Saints (2-4)
21.(16) Philadelphia Eagles (2-4)
22.(17) Oakland Raiders (2-4)
23.(25) Detroit Lions (4-2)
24.(26) Buffalo Bills (2-4)
25.(29) Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
26.(30) Denver Broncos (3-3)
27.(23) San Francisco 49ers (2-4)
28.(24) Minnesota Vikings (2-4)
29.(27) New York Jets (1-6)
30.(28) Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
31.(31) Miami Dolphins (0-7)
32.(32) St. Louis Rams (0-7)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Computer, No Problem... NOT!

I think I truly discovered today just how tied to this computer and internet I really am... I got up early this morning so I could get to Target first thing in the morning to pick up the new Carrie Underwood album, Carnival Ride. Thanks to the horrible fires around here, traffic was a lot worse than usual on the 101 freeway, so it took me forever to get back home. Just long enough so that I completely missed Carrie's performances on Good Morning America today.

Thankfully, friends on Carrie's official site ALWAYS make sure that we don't miss a thing. There is no one who does a better job of keeping up with all of Carrie's appearances than my friend Vinman. All of us just marvel at the job Vinman does in capturing audios, videos and all other sorts of "Carrie media." In the back of my mind, I knew that if I somehow missed Carrie's GMA TV appearance today that there will be a nice HQ video of it on Vinman's site... I think I say the following at least twice a day. Thank you, Vinman! You Rock!

As for the rest of my day, I'd hardly call it fun or eventful... when I got back home from Target, I discovered my computer wasn't working!! I tried all of the normal troubleshooting and nothing worked for almost two hours. Rather than wait online forever and a day for tech support, I decided instead to leave... I went to the gym and got in a good workout, and then took care of a couple of other things. I then decided to head over to my family's place where I could use my sister's computer... thankfully, it was working, though a few of my favorite sites could not be accessed from there. I spent most of the afternoon, like the past two days, watching coverage of the raging forest fires here in Southern California. Thankfully, the winds have finally died down some, and things are looking a little better in efforts to contain the fires. At last last count well over 1,000 homes had been lost here. Just very tragic. Please continue to keep these people in your thoughts and prayers.

I got back home right around six tonight and noticed while driving back, the sun perched behind some smoke layers, so I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few shots... they turned out pretty spectacular actually...

I made some dinner and then called Time Warner's tech support. I spent nearly an hour and 15 minutes on the phone with them, but finally, about 30 minutes ago, I got my computer back... I think I would have gone crazy if I had been without it for much longer.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Brady's Bunches!!!

No, I am not a New England Patriots fan, and no I'm not really a big Tom Brady fan (and neither is Carrie Underwood usually from what I found out today on a radio interview)... Carrie is actually playing in a fantasy football league this year and her team is 5-1 (yes, that's better than any of my teams!) Since Carrie is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and is friends with QB Tony Romo, she wanted him on her fantasy team. But Carrie couldn't make the draft and she got stuck with Brady on autopick instead. Poor Carrie... NOT!

Romo's had a very good year so far for the Cowboys despite that one five interception game, tossing 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year for a very nice 95.6 quarterback rating. Those are nice numbers, but pale in comparison to what Carrie's fantasy QB has done. Brady has tossed a ridiculous 27 touchdown passes in the season's first seven games!!! He's on pace for 61 TD's!!! 61???!!! That number is normally associated with baseball and Yankee legend Roger Maris (Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961 - a record which stood for nearly 40 years). Perhaps more incredibly, Brady has tossed just two interceptions so far on the year - he's on pace for four... His QB rating is a ridiculous 137.9. About the only record he's not on pace to break is Dan Marino's yardage record of 5,084 - but hey, he could get onto that pace pretty easily as his 2007 pace would take him to "only" 4,857 yards at the moment...

In yesterday's 49-28 Patriots win over the hapless (and now 0-7) Miami Dolphins, Brady's line looked more like something you'd see on your Playstation: 21 of 25 passes for 354 yards, six touchdown passes and no interceptions for a perfect 158.3 QB rating! I don't know how many times it has happened, but yesterday he had two more touchdown passes than incompletions! That's CRAZY!!! Where's a stat guru when you need one? OK, I am one, but I'll have to do some digging! :)

Where do Brady and his 7-0 Patriots go from here? None of us truly knows, all I do know is this run of his over the first seven games of the 2007 season is as impressive as anything as I've ever seen in all of my years of watching the NFL.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Southern California Ablaze...

Other than earthquakes, there's probably nothing more that we as Southern Californians fear more than forest fires. As I went to bed last night, one of the local news stations made mention that the so-called Santa Ana winds would be making their way into our area today. Sure enough, a little after 1 a.m. this morning a gust of wind woke me from my sleep... this would happen several times during the night. As I got up around 7:30 a.m. this morning, the winds continued. I knew more than likely that forest fires were soon to follow. A call just before 8 a.m. this morning from my sister confirmed my worst fears... A fire had been ignited by downed power lines three hours earlier in the nearby community of Malibu.

With that, my normal Sunday plans would be changed. The strong winds (gusting in excess of 80 MPH in many areas) made highway travel very dangerous. Instead of taking the 25 minute drive by freeway to my church in Simi Valley, I decided to spend the day with my family, taking the much less dangerous streets and canyon roads 15 minutes away... Though I tried to tune in the football games, auto races and other sporting events today, my main focus was on the news of the fires. As the day progressed, fire after fire broke out. One in Castaic, another in nearby Santa Rosa, then one in Agua Dulce. Smoke and soot from the Castaic fire actually blew more than 20 miles toward my local area for several hours in the late afternoon, turning day to near-night and making it next to impossible to breathe outside.

By 9 p.m. THIRTEEN separate fires had broken out in Southern California's mountains. Many of the fires are very near to homes - the worst one appeared to be the fire which had started in Agua Dulce. That particular fire moved approximately 10-15 miles in just four hours and was now bearing down on the Canyon Country community, threatening over 3,800 homes! As of this writing, 25 homes had already been destroyed in Canyon Country. Sadly, I'm afraid that this figure could reach triple digits by morning.

With winds expected to stay strong in the area through Tuesday and with temperatures expected to rise, things could actually get a lot worse before they get better. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with all of the people here in Southern California, particularly those that have already lost their homes...


Red Sox Advance To World Series!

Was I worried? Maybe a little. Did I think they would do it so convincingly? Probably not. Am I happy about it? You bet!

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched a strong five innings, allowing only two runs, while Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each went a scoreless two frames as the Red Sox made it to their second World Series in four seasons with an 11-2 win over the Cleveland Indians tonight at Fenway Park in Boston. The game was a much closer one than the end result though.

The Red Sox had Indians starter Jake Westbrook in trouble seemingly with every pitch in the early going. Westbrook allowed nine hits in the first four innings, but only allowed three runs thanks to his defense bailing him out with three double plays. He then pitched perfect ball in the fifth and sixth innings to keep the Indians in the game - the outcome was still very much in doubt as the Red Sox only led by a 3-2 score after six.

In the bottom of the 7th, Jacoby Ellsbury reached second base on Indian thirdbaseman Casey Blake's fielding error to open the inning off of the usually reliable Rafael Betancourt. Julio Lugo then sacrificed Ellsbury to third. Dustin Pedroia then took a Betancourt fastball and deposited over the Green Monster in left for a two run homer, giving the Red Sox a 5-2 lead. The Indians threatened in the top of the eighth as the first two batters reached base off of Okajima. Papelbon was then summoned and retired the next three batters in order to end the threat. The Sox would erupt for six more runs in the bottom of the frame to put the game away at 11-2. The final out was recorded on a Casey Blake flyout deep to center that Boston outfielder CoCo Crisp made a spectacular catch on - running hard into the center field wall with his left leg as he came down with the ball.

The World Series is now all set. Game one will pit Jeff Francis of the Rockies against ALCS MVP Josh Beckett. You can catch all of the action on your local Fox station beginning at 8:07 ET/5:07 PT this Wednesday night.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Schill, Drew Draw Red Sox Even!

Curt Schilling has always been known as a "big game" pitcher, so it wouldn't have surprised anyone for him to step it up tonight in Game six of the American League Championship Series tonight against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. Sure enough, Schilling did his part, limiting the Indians to two runs over seven strong innings.

Who was the big hero offensive tonight for the Sox? Perhaps the unlikeliest of all people: J.D. Drew! As most of you know, Drew had a very disappointing season for the Red Sox, putting up only 11 home runs, 64 RBI's and a .270 batting average after hitting 20 home runs and driving in 100 for the Dodgers in 2006. Drew gave the Red Sox all of the offense they would need in the first inning tonight, slamming a 3-1 fastball off of Fausto Carmona into the center field stands for a Grand Slam. The Red Sox would not look back, erupting for six more runs in the third inning to build an insurmountable 10-1 lead. Javier Lopez and Eric Gagne each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game as the Red Sox ended up winning by a 12-2 score... You know the rest - Game 7 will be on your local Fox affiliate at 8:07 ET/5:07 PT tomorrow night! And one more time... GO SOX!!!

UCLA upsets Cal!!!

Finally, I have a college football game I actually want to write about!!! It's about time!

Two weeks ago, the California Golden Bears were looking like they might become the #1 ranked college football team in the nation. A stunning loss to unranked Oregon State last Saturday night dropped them from #2 to #10 in the national rankings. In the meantime, the UCLA Bruins spent last weekend licking their wounds and healing after an embarrassing 20-6 loss to previously winless Notre Dame the weekend before.

This afternoon, the Bruins took Cal at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena... and from the outset, it was clear that they Bruins were going to make a game of things. The game was a see-saw battle throughout. The Golden Bears took a 7-0 lead in the first on a 21 yard pass from Nate Longshore to Craig Stevens with 6:48 to play. A 32-yard field goal on the first play of the the second quarter by UCLA's Kai Forbath made it a 7-3 game. On UCLA's next possession Kahlil Bell broke a 64 yard run down to the Golden Bear 2 yard line. On the very next play Patrick Cowan passed to Logan Paulsen for a touchdown to give the Bruins at short-lived 10-7 lead with 11:14 to play. A long kickoff return and a Bruin penalty gave Cal the ball just inside UCLA territory, and they scored five plays later as Longshore hit DeSean Jackson for a 39-yard score to make it a 14-10 Cal lead just a minute and 55 seconds later. Forbath hit another 28-yard field goal for the Bruins late in the second quarter. The Bears would take a 14-13 lead into halftime.

The Bruins came out strong in the second half, driving the ball the length of the field in 10 plays. The 80 yard drive cuminated with a Bruin score on a trick play. Wide receiver Brandon Breazell got the ball on a reverse, then pulled up and threw a 29-yard pass to Dominique Johnson in the end zone to give UCLA a 20-14 lead. The Golden Bears came back with 2:15 to go in the quarter as Longshore hit Jackson again on a two-yard scoring toss to make it a 21-20 Cal advantage.

Cal took that one point lead into the fourth quarter... neither team could do anything with the ball over the first three possessions. With 8:37 to go, the Bruins took over at their own 48 yard line and meticulously drove the ball down the field 42 yards in 10 plays, none of which went for more than nine yards. The Bruins took five minutes and 22 seconds off the clock with that drive and that proved crucial. Forbath hit on his third field-goal of the game from 27 yards to give UCLA a 23-21 lead with only 3:15 to go in the game.

Cal's next possession was a crucial one, and it looked after the kickoff as though the Bruins were going to let this one get away as the ensuing kickoff was returned all the way down to the UCLA 35 yard line. The Golden Bears picked up five yards on two ensuing running plays to bring up a third down and five from the UCLA 30. Longshore went to the air and was intercepted by Alterraun Verner who would take the ball 76 yards to the end zone with 1:33 remaining, giving the Bruins a 30-21 lead. Longshore would desperately try to drive the Golden Bears on their next possession, but he would be intercepted again, ending Cal's chances. The Bruins are now 5-2 on the season and 4-0 in conference play. They will go on the road to take on the Washington State Cougars next Satruday night at 6:30 pm.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Red Sox Stay Alive!

For the first time all year, the Boston Red Sox faced the prospect of having their season ended. Down three games to one to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, their only hope to make it back the World Series for the second time in four years was to win last night's game and hope to send the series back to Fenway Park. Easier said than done, or so it seemed.

Josh Beckett took the mound for the Sox last night and came through, pitching a dominant eight innings, allowing only a run, while striking out 11. For most of the first six innings, Indians starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia was able to get out of trouble as they only trailed 2-1 entering the seventh inning despite him giving up eight hits. A Dustin Pedroia single began the top of the 7th inning. Kevin Youkilis then tripled him home to knock Sabtahia from the game. David Ortiz then hit an opposite field sacrifice fly to score Youkilis and give the Sox a 4-1 lead. The Sox scored three more runs in the 8th inning to put the game away. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the Red Sox win and send the series back to Boston. Game six of the series is tomorrow night and will pit Fausto Carmona against Curt Schilling and as you probably guessed by now, the game will start on your local FOX affiliate at 8:07 ET/5:07 PT.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Red Sox On The Brink...

If the 2007 World Series hopes of the Boston Red Sox are to continue, they are going to need a near-miracle reminiscent of their 2004 pennant year. As you may recall, the Red Sox came from a three games to none deficit against the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series that year and went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals for the championship.

This year, they are "only" down three games to one to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Tonight, Josh Beckett takes the mound for the Sox, while C.C. Sabathia pitches for the Indians. The game will begin at 8:07 ET/5:07 PT on your local Fox affiliate. GO SOX!!!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Week 6 NFL Rankings

The game Sunday afternoon between the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots was definitely the most anticipated one of the week. It's pretty rare for two undefeated teams to face each other so late in the season. As it was, the Patriots were heavily favored coming in and ended up winning by 21 points, 48-27. In reality though, the game was much closer than that as the Cowboys did hold a 24-21 lead with just five minutes to go in the third quarter. All in all, the game went pretty much as expected, except that the Cowboys probably hung in there a lot longer than predicted. Consequently, the Cowboys keep their previous #3 ranking.

One team that's been severely hurt the past two weeks would be the Arizona Cardinals. They've lost both their first string (Matt Leinart) and backup (Kurt Warner) quarterbacks the past two Sundays. Tim Rattay is their third-stringer and isn't anywhere close to Leinart's or Warner's level. The Cardinals looked so very promising two weeks ago and reached #8 in the rankings last weekend. I think their only hope now is to give the ball to running back Edgerrin James as much as possible until Warner gets healthy from the torn ligaments in his left (non-throwing) elbow. Who was most responsible for the Cardinals' loss this past Sunday to the Carolina Panthers? While Rattay should get a lot of the blame, perhaps 43 year-old Vinny Testaverde of the Panthers should get some much-deserved credit for leading his Panthers to victory. For some reason, I'm having flashbacks to that Monday night game several years ago where Vinny led the New York Jets from 23 points down in the 4th quarter to an improbable overtime victory.

With the Patriots win on Sunday, everyone now is anticipating the November 4th game which will pit them against the Indianapolis Colts. It's very possible both teams will go into that week undefeated. The Pats should have no problem with the 0-6 and #31 ranked Miami Dolphins next weekend, but the #8 Washington Redskins could give them a tough battle. The Colts have a very difficult game this Monday night against Maurice Jones-Drew and the rest of the surging and #5 ranked Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts then face another surging team in the aforementioned #13 ranked Carolina Panthers the following week.

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (6-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (5-0)
3.(3) Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
4.(4) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1)
5.(10) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-1)
6.(5) Green Bay Packers (5-1)
7.(11) San Diego Chargers (3-3)
8.(6) Washington Redskins (3-2)
9.(9) Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
10.(12) New York Giants (4-2)
11.(16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)
12.(7) Tennessee Titans (3-2)
13.(19) Carolina Panthers (4-2)
14.(21) Cleveland Browns (3-3)
15.(8) Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
16.(17) Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
17.(18) Oakland Raiders (2-3)
18.(14) Houston Texans (3-3)
19.(13) Chicago Bears (2-4)
20.(15) Seattle Seahawks (3-3)
21.(22) Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
22.(29) New Orleans Saints (1-4)
23.(20) San Francisco 49ers (2-3)
24.(26) Minnesota Vikings (2-3)
25.(23) Detroit Lions (3-2)
26.(25) Buffalo Bills (1-4)
27.(27) New York Jets (1-5)
28.(28) Atlanta Falcons (1-5)
29.(24) Cincinnati Bengals (1-4)
30.(30) Denver Broncos (2-3)
31.(31) Miami Dolphins (0-6)
32.(32) St. Louis Rams (0-6)


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rockies Sweep Out D-Backs!

Did any of us see this coming??? After a 10-2 loss to the Florida Marlins on September 15th, the Colorado Rockies fell 4 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres for the National League wild-card. Rockies elderstatesmen Todd Helton said at the time "These are desperate times. We have to play like a desperate team. Maybe we can get lucky and get some help."

Talk about some prophetic words... The Rockies did play like a desperate team those final two weeks of the regular season, winning 13 of their final 14 games. Other contenders such as the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves slumped badly to open the door some more. Trevor Hoffman of the Padres was within one strike of closing out the Rockies season on September 29th against the Milwaukee Brewers, but Tony Gwynn Jr. of all people tripled off of Hoffman to score Corey Hart (no, not the singer) to tie their game and send it to extra innings. The Brewers went on to win that game in 11 innings. A guy named Gwynn helping keep the Padres out of the playoffs? How bizarre is that??? Well, it happened! The Rockies won their next game, the Padres lost and both teams finished the season at 89-73. We all know what happened in the ensuing one game playoff. Trevor Hoffman blew a two run lead in extra innings, and the Rockies scored three times including the winning run on a play where home plate was not even touched. Nonetheless, the Rockies won that 9-8 thriller and made it into the post season.

The Rockies swept through the Philadelphia Phillies in three straight games last week, and completed a four game sweep of the N.L. West division-winning Arizona Diamondbacks last night with a 6-4 victory. The Rockies scored all six of their runs last night off of Diamondbacks starter Micah Owings in the fourth inning. Series MVP Matt Holliday's 3-run homer after a crucial error on a ground ball by firstbaseman Conor Jackson proved to be the blow which would be too much for the Diamondbacks to overcome. With the win, the Rockies have won 21 of their past 22 games, losing only once in the past month!!! That's remarkable.

Now the Rockies have to wait to see who they are going to play in the World Series. The Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox in game three of their series last night to take a two games to one lead in the American League divisional series. Game four of that series will be on your local FOX affiliate tonight starting at 8:07 ET/5:07 PT.


Monday, October 15, 2007

In The Air Tonight...

Yes, I had to borrow a classic Phil Collins song title for my blog today - did you know it's played at pretty much ALL NFL Stadiums during warm ups??? It gets the players in the mood apparently... I got up this morning and it was that awful pea soup fog here and it never did clear up... kind of like my day today... It was just one of those days that got off on the wrong foot for me and never did quite get on the right one (with the exception of Eli Manning getting me just enough points tonight to win one of my fantasy league games this week)...

My Red Sox lost... they're now down 2-1... not good!!! I get the feeling I'll be asleep by the time the Rockies/D-Backs game ends tonight and I wouldn't at all be surprised if it ends in a four game sweep. Then again, would you bet against a team that's won 20 of their past 21 games???

Tomorrow's another day... hopefully it will be a better one personally...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jones-Drew, L.T. Run Wild!

Perhaps that embarassing loss by UCLA to Notre Dame two weekends ago was all it took to light a fire under Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The day after his (and my) alma-mater's loss he had a big day against the Kansas City Chiefs, with 112 yards of total offense on twelve touches including a 52-yard touchdown run. I said in my blog this past Wednesday that all he needed was "more touches" to be back to the 2006 version who burst onto the NFL scene with 16 touchdowns.

With only 14 yards on five carries late in the first half in today's game against the Houston Texans, it appeared this was going to be another long day for Jones-Drew, but with 2:30 to go in the first half, he rambled 27 yards on a play to help set up a 37-yard field goal by John Carney. The Jaguars took a 10-6 halftime lead.

The game was still very much in doubt as the third quarter wound down. The Jaguars had a 16-9 lead, and Jones-Drew, for the most part, had been ignored in the offense. With 1:30 to go in that frame, he only had touched the ball nine times on offense: two receptions for 34 yards, and seven rushes for 47 yards...

As the third quarter ended though, Jones-Drew FINALLY was allowed to become more involved in the Jaguar offense... a four-yard rush, followed by a 25-yard pass from David Garrard closed out the quarter. The fourth quarter opened with a Garrard pass to Jones-Drew for no gain. He then gained 10 yards and a first down with a run to the left side, setting up a first and goal. Two plays later, Jones-Drew cruised into the end zone with an easy 7-yard run to the right to give the Jaguars a 23-9 lead.

Houston nearly drove the length of the field with their next possession, but quarterback Matt Schaub was sacked, forcing a fumble. Daryl Smith of the Jaguars picked up the loose ball and rambled 77 yards for another score to make it a 30-9 game with 8:55 to play. Schaub was intercepted on his next possession, setting the stage up for Jones-Drew again. The Jaguars took over at their own 27 yard line. They handed the ball to Jones-Drew on the first play of the drive for no gain... Garrard then passed to Michael Lewis for a 16 yard gain to give the Jaguars anothe fresh set of downs... Then, just like last week, Jones-Drew broke the big one... a 57 yard scamper down the right side with 5:48 to go in the game made the Jags lead 37-9.

In a little less than 11 minutes, Jones-Drew had touched the ball seven times, accumulating 103 yards and two scores... making those of us who have stuck with him on their fantasy teams like me VERY happy!!! The commentators doing the game gave him the ultimate compliment today, comparing his moves to the great Barry Sanders. At only 5'7" tall and with his shiftyness and ability to break the big play seemingly at any time, I think those comparisons just might be valid... Even with his big day, he only touched the ball 16 times on offense today. With what he's done the past two weekends, you wonder just what kind of numbers he would put up if given say 25-30 touches a week? I can only hope! In the meantime, the Jaguars ended up cruising to their fourth straight win, with the final result being 37-17.


One guy who doesn't have ANY problems getting touches is LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers. To be precise, he ended up with 27 touches today in the Chargers game against the much-improved Oakland Raiders... What did he do with those touches, you may ask? Well, one look at the box score is pretty much all you need to see:

Q1 9:24 SD TD Tomlinson rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain (Kaeding made PAT) 7-0

Q1 6:51 SD TD Tomlinson rushed to the left for 27 yard gain (Kaeding made PAT) 14-0

Q3 9:42 SD TD Tomlinson rushed to the left for 13 yard gain (Kaeding made PAT) 21-7

Q4 2:52 SD TD Tomlinson rushed to the right for 41 yard gain (Kaeding made PAT) 28-14

Yes, there's a reason why L.T. goes #1 year after year in fantasy league drafts, and the above only tells part of the story. Yes, he scored FOUR touchdowns in the Chargers 28-14 win over the Raiders today, but he ended up accumulating some REALLY gaudy numbers on the day: 24 rushes for 199 yards, 3 receptions for 16 yards. In a typical league this day would give you 44 fantasy points... yes, that's a lot!!! With the other consensus top five overall fantasy picks (Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Shawn Alexander, Frank Gore) disappointing their owners a lot so far, it's good to see at least one of the big five guys starting to live up to his reputation and lofty draft day status. FYI, Johnson had his second 100 yard game in three weeks today (and a score) for the Chiefs as they beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-20. So, maybe there's some hope for him as well...

As for the rest of L.T's football game, the Chargers defense kept the Raiders in check pretty much all day. Raider QB Daunte Culpepper was sacked six times, threw two interceptions and also lost a crucial fumble in the red-zone as the first half ended. His lone highlight on the day was completing a touchdown pass to Zach Miller with 5:18 to go in the game. The highly-touted Raider running game was non-existant all day long, mustering only 53 yards on 22 carries. The only other Raider score came on a very bad misfire by Charger QB Philip Rivers with seven minutes to go in the second quarter. With the Chargers driving, Rivers tried to force a ball down the left side and instead was intercepted by Thomas Howard who returned the ball 66 yards for the Raiders first score of the game. At 3-3, the Chargers are now tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West division lead.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

College Football Notes...

I was really hoping to spend a lot of time on my blog talking about my UCLA Bruins and their chances at getting to a BCS game or maybe even more. After all, we came into the season ranked #14 in the nation and still were carrying that victory over USC last year fresh in our memories. We won our first two games and got up to #11 in the polls.

Things were looking very good... almost "Rosy" if you get my drift... things soon though took a turn for the worst and my interest in the 2007 college football season suddenly sank. On September 15th, my Bruins went to Utah and got blown out 44-6! It was awful!!! Thankfully, I didn't see much of that game as I was headed to the Rascal Flatts concert that night. Certainly, it couldn't get any worse than that for my Bruins, right??? WRONG!!! On our home turf (the Rose Bowl) we lost 20-6 to the 0-5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish last weekend!!! Thankfully, this loss didn't get as much press nationally as it normally would have because our crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans, were at the Coliseum losing a game to Stanford by a 24-23 score after going in as 41 point favorites!!! It's one of the few times ever I've actually been thankful for something that USC did!

USC put in another subpar effort last night, beating Arizona 20-13 at home. Clearly, this team is not living up to the hype! After our latest embarassing loss, my Bruins had this week off to recover - though coach Karl Dorrell has made them have some 6 am practices this week. Shock therapy? Hey, anything's worth a try!!!

Last night, #1 ranked Louisana State lost, as did #2 ranked California. LSU fell to #5 and Cal to #10 with the new rankings. Ohio State is now ranked #1 after beginning the season ranked #11. LSU is the only team remaining from the pre-season top 10 in the current top 10. Clearly, this year, has been the toughest in recent memory when it comes to predicting college football games. That national championship is wide open. Wouldn't it be something if the South Florida Bulls somehow won it all? They've only had a football program for 11 years! It should definitely be an interesting next few months...


Friday, October 12, 2007

Are You Ready for a CARNIVAL RIDE???!!!

If you're a big Country music fan like me, then you've probably really enjoyed the past several weeks. Over that time, we've had new releases come out from Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, and a "duets" set from Reba McEntire. Faith Hill and Sara Evans have put out Greatest Hits sets the past two weeks as well. And OK, I still like my pop/rock stuff - last week I bought the new Matchbox Twenty greatest hits CD Exile On Mainstream which also features six new tracks. Next week, there really aren't any significant new Country releases coming out (this makes my credit cards happy)... however, the following week we have perhaps the year's most anticipated release in Carrie Underwood's sophomore effort Carnival Ride.

For those of you counting, Carrie's debut album Some Hearts has sold nearly six million copies here in the U.S. to date in the 99 weeks since it was released. Likely soon, it will be certified SEVEN times platinum for shipments totalling over 7,000,000 copies here in the States. Yes, the audience certainly got it right in season four of American Idol. Of course, Carrie's biggest fanbase is at Country, but she's also had crossover success and top 10 hits at Christian AC, Adult Contemporary, Hot AC, and even the pop charts, where the ubiquitous "Before He Cheats" climbed to #9 on the Mediabase charts back in May. That song is like the Energizer Bunny - it just keeps going and going; in fact it's perched at #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart this week. This is more than 15 months after she first hit the top 50 of the Country chart (she later spent five weeks at #1 there).

As for the current and that which is to come, well I'm sure you've heard her first release "So Small" from the Carnival Ride album - it's doing very well at #8 on the Mediabase Country chart at the moment, and is looking to become her fifth straight #1 Country hit... I got some very exciting news regarding the Carnival Ride project today - you can now hear snippets of ALL 13 tracks which will be included on the album!!! Just go to this site:

Carnival Ride preview @ Arista

Here's the track listing:
1. So Small
2. Last Name
3. All-American Girl
4. Just A Dream
5. Get Out Of This Town
6. Crazy Dreams
7. I Know You Won't
8. Flat On The Floor
9. You Won't Find This
10. I Told You So
11. The More Boys I Meet
12. Twisted
13. Wheel Of The World

I've listened to the previews several times now, and let me just say I'm VERY impressed... I have no idea how the songs are going to sound in their full form, but if the snipets are any indication, this one is going to be as big if not bigger than Some Hearts. There's a lot of variety in the songs both stylistically and lyrically... slow songs and faster ones, some twangier, others sounding more contemporary... Of course, Carrie's amazing vocals shine through on each track - did I really need to say that? ;) Needless to say (yes, I say that A LOT) I'm HUGELY anticipating this release... the Carnival Ride will come to a store near you on October 23rd. Don't be left off!!!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

And Then There Were 4...

If you've been following the baseball playoffs like me, you're well aware that there are now four teams left fighting for the 2007 World Series title... The two surprise National League contenders - the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies - face each other tonight in game one of their series at Chase Field in Phoenix. Brandon Webb takes the mound for the D-Backs, while Jeff Francis will pitch for the Rockies. The game will be televised on TBS starting at 8:37 ET/5:37 PT tonight.

As for the American League series, it begins tomorrow night from Fenway Park in Boston as Josh Beckett leads the Red Sox against C.C. Sabathia and the Cleveland Indians. That game will be on your local Fox affiliate starting at 7:07 ET/4:07 PT. GO SOX!

I've also put a poll up with the remaining four teams, asking you to choose which one you think will win the World Series this year. Please feel free to vote and leave me your input!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fantasy Football Ramblings...

Now that baseball's regular season has been over for more than a week, I've actually been able to transition pretty fully from fantasy baseball mode into fantasy football mode... It seems to never fail - I have good drafts, but for whatever reason, my football teams usually seem to get off to slow starts. I'm thinking it's probably because I'm so focused on my fantasy baseball teams and trying to win those leagues that my football leagues and teams do tend to get a little neglected until the calendar hits October... That's OK though... it's not how you start, it's how you FINISH!!! I won three leagues last year out of the seven I was in, and the one team I had that did get off to a good start didn't even make the playoffs! Last year, one of my teams was 6-7 during the regular season and won the league championship, so if you're sitting at 1-4 or 2-3 right now, DON'T PANIC, there's still hope!!!

There's one thing most of you fantasy players are probably well-familiar with at this point - lopsided trade proposals. I seem to be getting a plethora of them of late! Yesterday I was offered Carolina's backup RB DeAngelo Williams in that same league I won last year for Jacksonville's little dynamo, Maurice Jones-Drew... Williams has all of six carries the past two weeks. By the way, if you own Williams, it's time to dump him unless you are using him as insurance, as DeShawn Foster is the only Carolina RB getting touches or looks... And check this out - just now in another league, someone offered me WR Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets for Larry Johnson!!! Hmmmm. Johnson was the number three overall draft pick in Yahoo leagues this year, while Cotchery went in the middle of the ninth round around position 85. I basically just told that owner something to the effect that "I think you meant to offer me someone else for LJ, didn't you?" By the way, it turns out that he meant to make me a different offer so I don't feel so bad now. Buy low, sell high. It works pretty much in any realm of life - economics or fantasy sports. Don't EVER get caught on the short end!

As for Jones-Drew, yes, he's off to a slow start this year, but he's still the same player that scored 16 touchdowns last year. Judging by that 52 yard touchdown run he had last week against Kansas City and the rest of his touches, he looks like he's just fine - he simply needs a few more chances per game. Unlike Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Johnson and Shawn Alexander don't appear to be on the way to getting well anytime soon. The consensus #2, 3 & 4 draft picks this year are certainly looking like fantasy duds so far... as I've said before, running backs are NOT nearly as reliable as quarterbacks, wide receivers or tight ends. That said, it wouldn't be a bad idea to try and trade for them now as you know that they can put up some BIG numbers if/when they're healthy.

Check out this year's top 10 overall draft picks and look at where they stand so far in fantasy points accumulated and their overall rank in parenthsis through week five in your typical Yahoo league. Assume 20 yards per point passing, 10 yards per point receiving or rushing, 6 points for any touchdown, 2 points per 2-point conversion and -2 points per interception or fumble lost.

1. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) - RB: 73 (T19)
2. Steven Jackson (StL) - RB: 22 (T144)
3. Larry Johnson (KC) - RB: 35 (T89)
4. Shawn Alexander (Sea) - RB: 49 (T56)
5. Frank Gore (SF) - RB: 53 (T50)
6. Peyton Manning (Ind) - QB: 125 (3)
7. Joseph Addai (Ind) - RB: 73 (T19)
8. Rudi Johnson (Cin) - RB: 28 (T86)
9. Willie Parker (Pit) - RB: 54 (T47)
10. Brian Westbrook (Phi) - RB: 67 (27)

Does anyone now understand why I don't advocate taking running backs early??? Simply put they're inconsistent, unreliable, and much more prone to injury than players at the other offensive positions. Tomlinson, Addai and Westrbook have been decent this year, but nothing special. In fact, they are the only three of the top 9 drafted RB's in the overall top 45 in points scored! That's not good and just goes to show just how overvalued running backs are on draft day. As for the rest, they've been HUGE disappointments so far. And yes, I own Johnson in a couple of leagues - lately he's been been riding my pine. There's no sign of life there.... yet! I'm not about to sell him low though!

Who is doing well, you may ask, asides from Peyton Manning??? Check out the overall top 10 fantasy players and their fantasy point totals...

1. Tom Brady (NE) - QB: 156
2. Tony Romo (Dal) - QB: 151
3. Peyton Manning (Ind) - QB: 125
4. Brett Favre (GB) - QB: 117
5. Derek Anderson (Cle) - QB: 116
6. Carson Palmer (Cin) - QB: 106
7. Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) - QB: 100
8. Ronnie Brown (Mia) - RB: 99
9. Jon Kitna (Det) - QB: 97
10. Randy Moss (NE) - WR: 95

Hmmmm... Lots of quarterbacks, one running back and a wide receiver. If you happened to get Brady (who I said was overrated coming into the season - oops!!!) or Romo in your drafts well, count your lucky stars... Both of these guys have tallied more than TWICE as many points as Tomlinson! Manning has been a rock as usual - there is no single more consistently reliable fantasy player than him - this is why I take him and shy away from the less reliable running backs year after year on draft day. And look at the energizer Favre... still going strong, setting all kinds of NFL records, and once again being a HUGE fantasy contributor.

FYI, Antonio Gates is doing just fine at tight end - drafted on average 28th in Yahoo leagues, he's #30 overall in fantasy points scored, putting up 64 points so far... he's the TE equivalent of Manning at QB - consistent and always reliable. If you happen to have those two on your fantasy teams (as I do in many leagues), chances are you're doing just fine.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Week 5 NFL Rankings

Certainly the most exciting game of week 5 was last night's thriller between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills. In case you missed it, the Cowboys scored nine points in the final 20 seconds of the game to take a 25-24 win and remain undefeated... Embarrasing losses by the Lions, Seahawks and Broncos on Sunday push them way down in the rankings. How did the Broncos win two games again???

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (5-0)
2.(3) Indianapolis Colts (5-0)
3.(2) Dallas Cowboys (5-0)
4.(5) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1)
5.(4) Green Bay Packers (4-1)
6.(8) Washington Redskins (3-1)
7.(6) Tennessee Titans (3-1)
8.(9) Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
9.(10) Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
10.(11) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1)
11.(16) San Diego Chargers (2-3)
12.(12) New York Giants (3-2)
13.(20) Chicago Bears (2-3)
14.(14) Houston Texans (3-2)
15.(7) Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
16.(13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
17.(15) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
18.(17) Oakland Raiders (2-2)
19.(24) Carolina Panthers (3-2)
20.(23) San Francisco 49ers (2-3)
21.(19) Cleveland Browns (2-3)
22.(21) Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)
23.(18) Detroit Lions (3-2)
24.(22) Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)
25.(29) Buffalo Bills (1-4)
26.(28) Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
27.(30) New York Jets (1-4)
28.(27) Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
29.(25) New Orleans Saints (0-4)
30.(26) Denver Broncos (2-3)
31.(31) Miami Dolphins (0-5)
32.(32) St. Louis Rams (0-5)


Monday, October 8, 2007

Cowboys Win Folk Tale!

In a game where Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback threw five interceptions, Tony Tomo managed to lead them into a field-goal range after a successful onside kick with 20 seconds to play... Nick Folk hit a game-winning 53 yard-field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys a stunning 25-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. The Cowboys either were tied or trailed the entire game. In addition to the interceptions, Romo also lost a fumble. The now 5-0 Cowboys will face the team that is arguably the best in football right now, the also undefeated New England Patriots, next Sunday afternoon in Dallas. It should definitely be a great game to watch!


Skins, Bolts Turn Up the D!

There are statement games, and then there are STATEMENT games. Yesterday the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers both decided to let everyone know that they were alive and well, both completely controlling their opponents.

In the Skins game against the Detroit Lions at RFK Stadium, Jason Campbell was very efficient in manning the ship, completing 23 of 29 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Skins also ran the ball effectively as Clinton Portis, Mike Sellars and Ladell Betts combined for 118 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown.

The big story for the Skins on the day though was their defense. Jon Kitna could do no right all day long, completing 16 of 29 passes for only 106 yards. Kitna was sacked five times by the Redskins including once in the end zone by Andre Carter for a rare safety early in the third quarter. Kitna was also intercepted twice, the last of which was returned 61 yards by Carlos Rogers for the final score of the game. Interestingly, the game featured nine fumbles, but only Clinton Portis' 4th quarter fumble with the game well in hand was the only one not recovered by the fumbling team.

The 34-3 win was the Redskins' largest margin of victory since a 52-17 demolishing of the San Francisco 49ers at RFK back on October 23, 2005. The 4-1 Redskins will take on the Green Bay Packers next Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field. The Pack lost a tough 27-20 game last night against the Chicago Bears to drop to a 4-1 mark on the season.


While the Redskins may be one of the NFL's most pleasant surprises this year, up until this weekend the Chargers had been one of the biggest disappointments. Yesterday, the Bolts played the Broncos in Denver in a contest which was almost over before it began. The Chargers scored on their first drive of the game, courtesy of a rare touchdown run by quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers would score again just 11 seconds later as Brandon Siler recovered a fumble by the Broncos' Brian Clark on the ensuing kickoff, taking it 23 yards to the end zone. At 14-0 with 6:15 to go in the quarter and this one was all but over. The Broncos could never get things going offensively as their only points came on a Jason Elam 30-yard field goal in the second quarter. By halftime the Chargers margin was 20-3.

A steady dose of Rivers to Antonio Gates along with some Ladainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner keep the Chargers offense in high gear the rest of the game. Rivers was a very efficient 13 for 18 and 270 yards with two touchdown passes, including one to Gates for 9 yards to make it a 27-3 game early in the third quarter. Gates tallied 113 yards for the second time in three weeks and now has 489 on the season - yes, he's on pace for 1,500 yards, nice if you happen to own him on a bunch of fantasy teams like me!. L.T. had 140 combined yards, while Turner rushed for a season-high 147 yards on just 10 carries including a 74 yard run with 9:42 to go in the fourth quarter to make the rout 41-3 - it would be the final score of the game.

Although both teams are now 2-3, the Chargers clearly are the team going the right direction. Ironically, the idle Oakland Raiders at 2-2 now own the AFC Western Division Lead. Don't expect that to last long - the Chargers seem to finally be firing on all cylinders!


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Red Sox Sweep Out Angels

On Friday night, the Angels pitched around David "Big Papi" Ortiz one too many times. Five at bats, a hit and four walks. His "big brother" Manny Ramirez made him pay that final time, hitting a prodigious 3-run shot out of Fenway Park off of Francisco Rodriguez to give the Red Sox a stunning 6-3 victory in game two of their American League Divisional Series. Perhaps the best strategy may have been to just pitch around both of them!

In game three of their best-of-five series against the Red Sox, the Angels Jered Weaver faced Curt Schilling (aka: the pitcher with the best post-season winning percentage in major league history). For three innings, the pitchers dueled without allowing a run. Then, in the blink of an eye, the Red Sox had a quick two run lead courtesy of Big Papi and Manny, each of whom deposited balls deep into the seats off of Weaver for solo home runs. The game and series for all intents and purposes was over at that point as there's not a better "big game" pitcher in baseball today than Schilling. The post-season master would pitch to form, shutting out the Angels for seven innings, giving up only six hits and a walk, while striking out four.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Red Sox would put the game completely out of reach, as they tallied seven runs off of Scot Shields, Justin Speier and Darren Oliver. With a 9-0 lead, the Sox felt safe in pulling Schilling... Howie Kendrick would plate Maicer Izturis in the bottom of the ninth off of Eric Gagne to spoil the Red Sox shut out, but that would be the only blemish on their parade today. Robb Quinlan's fly out to right fielder J.D. Drew ended the game and the Angels' season.

The Red Sox now await the winner of the series between the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees for a chance to play in the 2007 World Series. The Indians lead the series two games to none going into tonight's game three of that series.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Local Hero Jones Takes A Fall

All I can say is this is just really sad to see... Marion Jones was perhaps the most famous athlete to grow up in my hometown of Thousand Oaks, California. With three gold medals and two bronze ones in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she had reached the pinnacle of success in the sporting world. Sadly, Jones admitted in a Washington Post article today that she took a substance known as "the clear." Baseball players Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield have already admitted to taking this powerful steroid, and Barry Bonds also is thought to have used it.

At one time, Jones was making a seven-figure income annually in endorsements. Today she is broke. If found guilty what she's accused of, she could spend a good amount of time in prison and more than likely will be forced to give back the five medals she won in the Olympics.

One can only hope that Jones and others can learn from this experience. As the old saying goes, "cheaters never prosper."


Thursday, October 4, 2007

High Hopes For Nats in '08!

While watching the playoffs the past couple of days, I started to look a little deeper into the 2007 standings. The 9-25 start by the Washington Nationals has been a point about which this season turned for me. There seemed to be a whole bunch of articles out about this time predicting the 2007 edition of the Nationals would break the 1962 Mets record for losses of 120... I took issue with these articles, and with a quick turnaround in fortunes, these articles soon went away - the memories of them though didn't.

Look at where all of the National League teams stood (playoff teams in bold) as of that date (5/9/07):

1.Milwaukee: 24-10
2.Atlanta: 21-12
2.N.Y. Mets: 21-12
4.Dodgers: 20-14
5.San Diego: 18-16
6.Arizona: 19-17
7.Chi.Cubs: 16-15

8.San.Fran: 17-16
9.Houston: 16-17
10.Florida: 15-18
11.Phillies: 15-19
12.St. Louis: 14-18
12.Pittsburgh: 14-18
14.Colorado: 14-20
14.Cincinnati: 14-20
16.NATIONALS: 9-25

Notice anything there? The five teams that had the fastest starts didn't even make the post-season this year!!! The Rockies, in the meantime, were tied with the Reds for the 2nd worst start...

Check out the N.L. teams from 5/10/07-forward:

1.Colorado: 76-53
2.Phillies: 74-54
3.Arizona: 71-55
4.San Diego: 71-58
5.Chi.Cubs: 69-62
6.N.Y. Mets: 67-62
7.NATIONALS: 64-64
8.St. Louis: 64-66
9.Atlanta: 63-66
10.Dodgers: 62-66
11.Milwaukee: 59-69
12.Cincinnati: 58-70
13.Houston: 57-72
14.Florida: 56-73
15.San.Fran.: 54-75
16.Pittsburgh: 54-76

Yes, only six N.L. teams played better ball than the Nationals from May 10th forward... considering all of the injuries the team had to deal with throughout the year, this is truly an admirable achievement. Kudos to Manny Acta for not giving up on this team when many others just threw the towel in. The Nats outplayed the Dodgers, Braves and even the 2006 World Champions from that point on. How good would the Nats have been in 2007 if the team had been healthy? Is it any wonder that some of us have very high hopes for them in 2008???


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Nat's Young Hooks Comeback Award!

Dmitri Young (also know as "Da Meathook") came into the 2007 season just looking for a job. He comes out of the season as the National League Comeback Player of the Year. For much of second half of the season, Young flirted with the league batting title while playing first base for the Nationals before a September fade ended his hopes. Still, he picks up the award with a .320 batting average, 13 home runs and 74 RBI's. Congratulations, Dmitri to the culmination of a comeback season that really beat the odds! Click on the link below for the full story on the award:

Young named NL Comeback Player

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Week 4 NFL Rankings

Week four of the NFL season certainly was an "upsetting" one, if you get my drift... five teams in last week's top 10 lost and another (the Titans) didn't play. The Patriots, Cowboys, Colts, and the surprising Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers (and congrats to Brett for breaking Dan Marino's record of 420 TD passes) remain the only teams that to maintain an unblemished record...

The upset of the week had to be in Atlanta, where the last ranked Falcons stunned the #7 ranked Houston Texans by a 26-16 score. The abysmal St. Louis Rams take over the bottom slot this week after a 35-7 drubbing at the hands of Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Brady to Moss - that combo sure is impressive, isn't it??? It's going to take a lot for anyone to beat the Pats this year - they're easily the most balanced team at this point, and murmurs are starting to already be heard from the 1973 Miami Dolphins... Four 20+ point victories to begin the season? That's almost unheard of!

Without further ado, here are this week's rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (4-0)
2.(2) Dallas Cowboys (4-0)
3.(3) Indianapolis Colts (4-0)
4.(6) Green Bay Packers (4-0)
5.(4) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
6.(10) Tennessee Titans (2-1)
7.(14) Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
8.(11) Washington Redskins (2-1)
9.(16) Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
10.(5) Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
11.(13) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)
12.(18) New York Giants (2-2)
13.(20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1)
14.(7) Houston Texans (2-2)
15.(12) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
16.(8) San Diego Chargers (1-3)
17.(25) Oakland Raiders (2-2)
18.(22) Detroit Lions (3-1)
19.(24) Cleveland Browns (2-2)
20.(9) Chicago Bears (1-3)
21.(27) Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)
22.(15) Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)
23.(17) San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
24.(19) Carolina Panthers (2-2)
25.(23) New Orleans Saints (0-3)
26.(21) Denver Broncos (2-2)
27.(32) Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
28.(26) Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
29.(31) Buffalo Bills (1-3)
30.(28) New York Jets (1-3)
31.(30) Miami Dolphins (0-4)
32.(29) St. Louis Rams (0-4)


Ump, Rockies Send Padres on Holliday

In a dramatic 13 inning game, Jamey Carroll's sacrifice fly off of San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman scored MVP candidate Matt Holliday to give the Colorado Rockies a very controversial come-from-behind 9-8 victory. After catching Carroll's flyout to medium right field, Brian Giles made a strong throw to Padre catcher Michael Barrett. Barrett blocked home plate from Holliday, but dropped the ball while trying to tag him as he slid by. Barrett then picked up the ball and tagged Holliday for what should have been the second out of the inning. However, home plate umpire Tim Mcclelland incorrectly ruled Holliday safe. This just adds further fuel to the case for the use of instant replay in baseball. Hopefully, one of these days soon, Major League Baseball commissioner Bed Selig will look into instituting a replay system similiar to that used by the NFL.

Both starting pitchers proved ineffective in the thin air of Denver. Likely 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy gave up six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. Rockie starter Josh Fogg allowed five runs of his own in four innings of work, four of them coming on a third inning grand-slam by Adrian Gonzalez for his 30th home run of the year. The Rockies carried a 6-5 lead into the eighth inning until former closer Brian Fuentes gave a double to Giles to score Geoff Blum and make it a 6-6 tie. Each team then got four innings of shutout ball from their relievers.

The Padres had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 13th inning on a two-run homer by Scott Hairston. Kazuo Matsui led off the bottom of the inning with a double. Troy Tulowitski then followed with a double of his own to score Matsui and make it an 8-7 game. Holliday tripled high off the right field fence scoring Tulowitski to tie the game at 8... this one will be remembered for a VERY long time by Padres fans...

The Rockies travel to Philadelphia for game one of their divisional series tomorrow afternoon. Cole Hamels takes the mound for the Phillies while Jeff Francis takes the mound for the Rockies.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Padres, Rockies: OT!

It was about 3:37 PM in Denver, Colorado yesterday when the Milwaukee Brewers finished polishing off the San Diego Padres by an 11-6 score. At the time, the hometown Rockies were tied 1-1 with the Arizona Diamondbacks as they entered the 8th inning of their game. With that result, the Rockies knew that they would only need to win their game to force a one game playoff Monday at Coors Field against the Padres for the N.L. Wild Card… Not five minutes later, the Rockies were well on their way to playing at least one game in October. Garrett Adkins singled in Troy Tulowitski to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead over the D-Backs. Brad Hawpe then doubled in Todd Helton and Matt Holliday to give the Rockies a 4-1 advantage… there were still no outs in the inning, but Brandon Lyon was able to strike out Yorvit Torrealba and then induced Cory Sullivan to ground into an inning ending double play to end the threat. A three run lead and a closer with a 1.89 ERA made it certainly look like it was a safe bet to start selling tickets for a game 163.

But, as we know these things are never easy. Manny Corpus (he of that 1.89 ERA coming in) was summoned to close the game for the Rockies, and for once, he was very “rocky.” Miguel Montero squibbed an infield single towards first and Carlos Quentin doubled Montero to third. Suddenly, the tying run was at the plate with no one out! Augie Ojeda hit a scoring flyball to left to make it a 4-2 game. A Jeff Cirillo ground out moved Quentin to third and got the Rockies to within one out of October… Alberto Callaspo then lined a single to left-center to score Quentin. Now, the go ahead run was at the plate in the form of a .229-hitting Stephen Drew. Corpus quickly got two strikes on Drew, who then hit a sharp grounder by the mound. Corpus fielded it brilliantly, however, and then tossed the ball to firstbaseman Todd Helton to record the final out at right about 4:04 PM local time, pushing the Rockies’ 2007 season into October.

It’s been a few years since a one game playoff determined the final team to make it into the divisional races. Actually, this is the first time this millenium it’s happened - the last being in 1999 when the New York Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds by a 5-0 score for the N.L. Wild Card.

Tonight, the Padres will trot out their ace, and the likely 2007 N.L. Cy Young Award winner, Jake Peavy to face the Rockies and Josh Fogg. The game will be televised nationally on TBS (the Atlanta Superstation) beginning at 7:37 ET/4:37 PT and most importantly for those in Denver, 5:37 Mountain Time.


Tonight’s game has a lot of impact in one other type of leagues - fantasy ones! Against all odds, I happened to finish in a dead-heat tie for first in one of my leagues - my competitor and I each finishing with exactly 79.0 out of a possible 100 points. I also happen to own Padre playoff starter Jake Peavy and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitski. To make a long story short, if Peavy gets a win and pitches decently (an ERA of 5.0 or less and a WHIP - walks+hits per innings pitched - ratio of 1.56 or less per 9 innings), I will win the league. A similar strong outing from Peavy without a win and a Tulowitski steal or three runs scored from him would also give me the outright win. If Peavy has a poor outing (as he did last year at Coors 5 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings with 8 hits and 3 walks) then I would lose… and of course, there are all kinds of scenarios involved where I could end up tied… you better bet that I’ll be glued to my TV set those entire nine innings tonight! Go Peavy!!!