Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Top 10 Baseball Players In The Game Today

This list doesn't include pitchers, because my focus is merely on everyday players who are playing in the game today and to me are the 10 best in their field.  Let me clarify my list as well.  There may be some omissions of players who are great statistically, but who are on the downside of their career, players such A-Rod, Derek Jeter,...etc. This list contains players who will still be in the Majors in the next 4 or 5 years and their numbers will still be comparable to what they are today.

10)  Prince Fielder:   He will continue to hit at least 35 or more home runs in the next 4 or 5 years. He's a game changer and with Ryan Braun hitting in front of him easily the best 3-4 hole hitters in the game today.  

09)  Robinson Cano:  Just a pure hitter, who can hit with power when needed; a tough out for any pitcher and his defense is top-notch.

08)  Joey Votto:  He keeps getting better every year, he'll continue to hit Hr's, but I think he'll be more of a doubles typeof hitter in a few years, but still a hitter that can change a game with one swing, and continue to play a solid first base.

07)  Troy Tulowitzki:  I can see Tulo playing third base one day, and I see him possibly winning the home run title if he stays healthy.

06)  Matt Kemp:  It's scary how easy he make the game of baseball look.  Stolen bases will diminish but average & power numbers will not. 

05)  Carlos Gonzalez:  Arguably the sweetest swing in baseball; if he can cut down his strikeouts, he'll be even more dangerous.

04)  Miguel Cabrera:  It feels like he's been in the league forever, but he's only 28 years old and has hit 30 Hr's or more 6 straight years.

03)  Ryan Howard:  It's scary to think what his career #'s would look like if he came in the league as early as Cabrera did.  People complain he strikesout too much, but you're willing to put up with the strikeouts if you consistently get 35 to 45 Hr's every year.  

02)  Albert Pujols:  Currently the most dangerous hitter in the game and will continue to put up gawdy #'s in the next 4 years or so. 

01)  Ryan Braun:  Easily the most dynamic player.  There's not a weakness in his game; he may never win a Home Run title, and    

that may be the only statistic that will keep this guy from winning the triple crown one day.  You have to like how this kid plays the game.



Category: MLB
Posted on: March 28, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 12:05 pm
 

#1 Seeds Have Fun Watching This Weekend

My heart goes out to Kansas fans.  The Jayhawks were clearly the best team coming into this tournament, and were clearly the favorite to win it all, but played their worst game of the year at the worst possible time; contrastly VCU continues to be the most consistent and aggresive team of the tournament and I'm convinced they can beat anyone, anytime, and any place.  They don't have superstars, but they do have a complete team that works well together and has a knack for ripping the heart out of opposing teams.  They are on a magical ride that may land them their first ever NCAA National Championship.  If there is such thing as destiny, then VCU is the picture in the dictionary right next to the word. 

In order for VCU to win the big dance, they have to go through Butler, yet another team that if you had them going to final 4 last year it wouldn't have been a total surprise, but if you picked them this year, you would've said that's crazy and downright stupid.  I mean an 8 seed that many picked to lose to Old Dominion in the first game and almost did, had Matt Howard not tipped that ball in in the closing seconds.   Then they beat #1 seed Pittsburgh on a last second questionable foul call on Matt Howard after Pitt failed to hit a foul shot that would have won the game for them,  that ending left Pitt fans stunned and bewildered, but left Butler fans believing the magic is still alive.  Butler is a strong team all-around despite their lack of size, which is highly overrated, especially the way Butler out-hustles and out-shoots most of their opponents.  VCU will be a huge test for them and it could be and should be a great game. 

The other side of the bracket sees two teams quite accustomed to being amongst the last 4 teams standing.  UCONN and Kentucky were supposed to make good runs this year, but they couldn't possibly get by the teams seeded higher, right?  Wrong.  Kentucky had to battle with Princeton in their first tournament game and almost came up short, but they perservered through a bad shooting performance by Brandon Knight who was 1 for 7 from the fied, However, it was that 1 shot that he made that won the game for Kentucky and left Kentucky fans breathing a huge sigh of relief.  Then they beat West Virginia and battled with #1 overall seed Ohio State, which was quite possibly one of the best games of this entire tournament from a defensive standpoint.  Kentucky had to play a flawless defensive game to beat the Big 10 powerhouse and they did by forcing Ohio State to take three pointers they didn't want to take and keeping them from getting too far ahead at anytime during the game, and pulling it out at the end.   They beat North Carolina by out hustling them and being deadly from three point range.  Kentucky was 12 for 22 from beyond the arc and Brandon Knight was 5 for 11.  Contrastly,  North Carolina was a dismal 3 for16, mostly due to Kentucky challenging them on almost all of their three point opportunities.  Arguably, the best defensive team of the four remaining is Kentucky; it's just a matter of them keeping that tenacity and outmatching their opponents tenacity. 

UCONN didn't really have to face much adversity until they played Arizona this past weekend.  They had little trouble in beating their first three foes, Bucknell, Cincinatti, and San Diego State, but Arizona was a team that was feeling a little magical after beating Texas in a weird ending game that in the matter of a 12 second span had them exiting the tournament to moving on to the next round, thanks to some questionable calls by the refs, but hey, that's what March Madness is all about; you put yourself in those positions to win or lose games, so you have to live with the outcome.  UCONN had to watch Arizona miss two three-point opportunites at the end of regulation that would have sealed their fate, but Arizona failed to convert them.  UCONN is led be Kemba Walker who is averaging a ridiculous 26.8 points per game and is shooting 92% from the free-throw line (33 for 36) quite gawdy and well-deserved MVP-Type numbers , but in my opinion the MVP of this tournament so far is Jeremy Lamb, although he might not get it, because he's a freshman, this kid has ice in his veins and has calmly hit a lot of key shots in games where if he doesn't make those shots this team would have been another Big East casualty.  This kid is 27 for 46 from the field (59%) and 11 for 15 from 3-point land (73%) and is averaging 18.3 points per game; this kid is a Freshman and is shooting lights out.  Don't get me wrong Kemba's a great player in his own right, but without this kid UCONN is not getting this far in the tournament.

So While, there are 2 teams that very few expected, and 2 teams that many said had a good chance of getting to the Final 4, there will be two standing on Monady, April 4th, and in my opinion it will be Kentucky and Butler, and don't ask me why, it's clearly a guess at this point, because my bracket is lying in shambles right now after hours and hours of research through each game only to have my final four go down one by one each day this weekend, you see I had Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, and Florida and it saw me go from first to crap in my office pool.  So, I'm going Kentucky vs. Butler, with Kentucky winning it all, if for no other reason then good kharma. 
Posted on: March 18, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: March 18, 2011 11:23 am
 

Morehead State & Richmond, Really?

Right about now Rick Pitino is saying to himself, "Self, how did my team lose to a college that sounds more like a porno movie than a school?"  The answer is quite simple Rick,  your team understimated their opponent.  Morehead State came out of the gate and played aggressive and weren't intimidated by the name of Louisville on their opponents jersey; that's how upsets happen, along with poor foul shooting, which is always a battle that if you win, you win, plain and simple.

Louisville only shot 43.8% (7-16) from the line.  That's not going to win games unless you out rebound and shoot out of your mind from three-point range, by the way, these were both battles that Morehead State won.  This game was a typical NCAA Tournament game that was filled with roller coaster rides for both teams, only to come to a screeching halt for Louisville by a Demonte Harper three-point shot at the end, which left Louisville fans and those who picked Louisville on their office pool to go deep in the tournament, stunned....very stunned.

I'll give Louisville some credit they did battle back from a thirteen point deficit in the first half and actually were up by as many as eight points in the second half, but they couldn't hold off a determined bunch  of Eagles from Morehead State.  Morehead State could land themselves in the Sweet Sixteen with another victory on Saturday versus Richmond, who also pulled of an upset over Vanderbilt, which not to brag, but I had Richmond winning that game and the losing to Louisville, but now that that part of my bracket is in shambles, there sits a number 12 seed and a number 13 seed.

Whoever wins the game between Morehead State and Richmond will more than likely play Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen, unless if Kansas manages to lose early, which will definitely make a lot of people very angry, but also many very happy all at the same time, escpecially Rick Pitino, because this will take the negative attention off of him and his Louisville Cardinals.  However, the chances of Kansas losing to either Boston University, Illinois or UNLV is extremely unlikely, much like the chances of a mouse defeating a Python, but when Kansas has to face either Morehead State or Richmond all bets are off, because momentum, aggresiveness, and confidence are powerful things, especially when you have nothing to lose and have already won two NCAA Tournament games when most people thought you'd be home watching the remaining rounds from your dorm room already.   

If Kansas loses to Morehead State or Richmond it will be the biggest upset of all time.   I'm not predicting that will happen and I'm 99.999999% sure that it won't, because Kansas is no Louisville and Kansas is just too big and hungry to have a let down like that happen.  However, there may be a moment or two during that game where either Morehead State or Richmond make you think that anything is possible and may even have you crumpling your bracket in your hand a little bit, at the ready to throw the biggest hissy fit of your entire NCAA Tournament watching career, and maybe shopping for a new TV the next morning.  That's what the Madness is all about. 

If Kansas does lose to Morehead State or Richmond somewhere in Louisville Rick Pitino will be saying to himself, "Self, it's not all bad, I'm still good looking, I still where fancy suits, I'm still a good coach, and I still think Morehead State sounds like a porno movie". 




Posted on: March 7, 2011 11:35 am
 

Baseball Should Be One League

A baseball purist and historian will not like what I'm about to say.  "Major League Baseball should do away with both the American League and the National League and just have one league with 4 divisions; you'd have 4 division winners and 2 wildcard winners determined by overall record and the two top division winners by overall record would get a 1st round bye.  The wildcard round would be a best of 5 with the 2 lower division winners playing the 2 wildcard winners in a best of 5 format. 

The winners of the Wildcard matchups would then advance to play the two top division winners in the Championship Series in the best of 7 and then the 2 winners of that play in the World Series. 

Now in order to do that you'd have to first do away with the American League & National League of course, and just use as an example, MLB East, MLB Midwest, MLB North, MLB West.   It may sond simple, but when you have so many teams located in one geographic area it makes things a little difficult.  If I were to re-align the league to my format it would look like this:

MLB EAST

Phillies
Yankees
Mets
Red Sox
Nationals
Orioles
Marlins
Rays

MLB MIDWEST

Indians
Reds
Cardinals
Royals
Astros
Rangers
Braves

MLB North

Brewers
Twins
Blue Jays
Tigers
Cubs
White Sox
Pirates

MLB WEST

Dodgers
Angels
Athletics
Diamondbacks
Padres
Rockies
Giants
Mariners

This would keep every team geographically as close as possible with some unavoidable instances involving the Braves and the 2 Florida teams, but all-in-all not bad.  Also, many of the current divisional rivalries would remain and some new ones would be very interesting.

This would be good for the fans and good for baseball.











Category: MLB
Posted on: January 25, 2011 10:56 am
 

Big Ben: A Legend Waiting To Happen

Say what you want about Ben Roethlisberger, but the guy just knows how to lead a team and win big games.  I'll be honest when the Steelers drafted "Big Ben" I was very skeptical, and I'm not even a Steelers Fan.  I was wondering why a team would draft such a seemingly slow-footed, awkward, and let's admit it, not the sharpest tool in the shed quarterback out of a non-quarterback pedigree college like Miami of Ohio?  Winning a couple of Super Bowls and having some pretty memorable performances changed my mind.

It took a while, but by the end of the 2008 NFL season, which was capped by a second Super Bowl victory in only his fifth year as a starting quarterback, my opinion of him as a quarterback quickly changed, and as much as it hurt to admit it, because of my Pennsylvania loyalty to my beloved Philadelphia Eagles, I had to come to the realization that he was better than good, this guy is great, and I don't use that word too freely. 

The last play of Super Bowl XLIII made me realize that it takes a special kind of talent to throw a football in the only spot possible, having no business completing it, and winning the biggest game on the biggest stage, it's a performance like that makes a good quarterback great.  Even attempting a pass like that in the biggest game of anyone's career, yet alone completing it, is dare I say, "Ballsy".  Well, if any quarterback had lived up to his name, Big Ben Roethlisberger proved just how big those brass ones are.  All of that would've been mute if Santonio Holmes doesn't catch that pass or didn't somehow manage to keep his feet in bounds, but hey, if the ball hits your hands you're supposed to catch it.  The fact that the ball even hit his hands is pretty remarkable in itself.   

No, he's not flashy, he's not fast and mobile, and he's at times still very awkward.  However, what he is, is what you want your quarterback to be.  He's a leader on the field, he's decisive, and though not flashy or fast, he knows how to make extra time for himself by using that big frame of his and brushing off linebackers and safeties who are smaller than he is to complete passes or run for first downs.   If the Steelers win Super Bowl XLV and Roethlisberger leads his team to the promise land once again, he will quickly go from being great to becoming a legend of the game, and he's not even 30 years old yet. 




Posted on: January 14, 2011 3:32 pm
 

2011 MLB Predictions

After going through some football withdrawal I want take this opportunity to go through some MLB predictions for the upcoming season.  Trying to guess who's going to win the World Series is not easy, especially with the off-season free agent moves and unforeseen injuries that may occur in exhibition play, but I look at it if I had to pick teams right now and everything created equal how would I predict a winner?  The answer:  PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING; by that I mean Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt.

The Phillies will have to be #1 on everyone's list, no matter how much you may hate them, which to me would be stupid, because if you love baseball, you have to love this team and what they've been able to do over the last 5 years.  However, the trophy goes to the winner in October and this is only January, so let's take a look at how I see it all panning out for the upcoming year:

National League

East

Phillies
Braves
Mets
Nationals
Marlins

Central

Cardinals
Reds
Brewers
Cubs
Astros
Pirates

West
Rockies
Giants
Padres
Dodgers
Diamondbacks

Division Winners:  Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies
Wildcard: Giants

NLCS:  Phillies vs. Cardinals

NL Champs:  Phillies

American League

East

Red Sox
Yankees
Rays
Blue Jays
Orioles

Central

Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Indians
Royals

West

Angels
Mariners
Rangers
Athletics

Division Winners:  Red Sox, Tigers, Angels
Wildcard:  Yankees

ALCS:  Red Sox vs. Yankees

AL Champs:  Red Sox

WORLD SERIES :  PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES VS. BOSTON RED SOX

WORLD SERIES CHAMPS  :  PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES   IN 5 GAMES

This is a no-brainer and I'm not doing this because I'm a Phillies fan, I'm doing this because with that starting rotation and that lineup they can't lose even if they put Ryan Howard on the mound, okay wait, maybe if they did that then I'd change my pick, but that's not gonna happen.  Remember, this is barring any injury and all things created equal, so I may be wrong, but this is my prediction, talk to me in October, by the way I'll be on Broad Street celebrating the Philles 2nd World Series Championship in the last 4 years.  


Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:11 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 12:17 pm
 

Why The NBA Stinks!

I remember when I was thirteen years old back in 1982 and my favorite sport to play and watch was basketball.  I would spend countless hours playing basketball, sometimes waiting up to an hour for a court to open up, because ironically basketball was the favorite sport of so many others in my neighborhood.   In Philadelphia at this time, the 76ers were the talk of the basketball community.  I would play b-ball from 10am to 10pm, only going home for about an hour to eat and check in with my mom and let her know where  I was, as if she didn't know that already.  

Back in '82 we didn't have the video game systems of today, although Atari was kick ass for its time, sports dominated our neighborhood and basketball was the game to play.   I would only stop playing b-ball for two reasons.  One, for the aforementioned dinner time and the other for the Sunday CBS Game of the Week.  Many times it would be the 76ers vs. Celtics, Lakers vs. Celtic, 76ers vs. Lakers, and sometimes it didn't matter, because the game of basketball was different then. 

In '82 basketball was still a game in which defense was key and guard play often determined whether you won or lost.  In '82 it wasn't about individual achievement it was about team play and teams coming together and winning games they had no business winning.  In '82 it was about coaching making the right moves during games and in '82 it was about watching the best teams on a national stage once a week for a few hours on a Sunday.

No one can really pinpoint when the NBA changed its philosophy, or when the league became money hungry.  Some may say the NBA is great today, but most of those didn't grow up in the era I did, and I respect their opinion, but all I know is I would rather watch any college basketball game before watching any NBA game.  There are numerous reasons why I think the NBA stinks today. Here are a few:

1) THE MICHAEL JORDAN COMPLEX:  Ever since Jordan came along back in 1984 the NBA gradually switched gears from a team oriented sport to an individual sport.  Not that I didn't like Jordan, he was awesome, and at first I loved all that he did on the court; he changed the game, but he also changed the way the game is played, and in my opinion that's not a good thing.

2)  DAVID STERN:  Ironically David Stern became NBA Commissioner in 1984 and fell in love with Michael Jordan and what he did on the court.  He wanted the game to go in a new direction and market it more toward individual play, instead of pure team play.  I'm not saying this wasn't smart from a dollar and cents point of view, because the Jordan bandwagon was a pure money maker and he was definitely exciting to watch, but basketball purists like me who at first were on board gradually hopped off once Michael Jordan wannabes started coming along in the 90's.

3)  CABLE TELEVISION:  Hey I like the fact that I can watch almost any sporting event at anytime of the day nowadays.  However, there's a price to pay for over indulgence.......boredom.  I am completely bored by the amount NBA games that are on TV and I am especially bored of the cookie cutter coverage of the games.  Back in '82 there was the one game on Sunday that I always looked forward to and maybe a couple games during the week that our local station would cover, but that was it.  Cable TV has led to over coverage and underwhelming enjoyment of the game.  

4)  TOO MANY TEAMS :  Back in 1982 there were 23 teams in the NBA, today there are 30 teams, which may not seem like a lot, but consider this, that means that there are roughly 100 more players in the league now that wouldn't have been in 1982.  Growth is good, but just because you have more teams it doesn't mean you'll get more talent.  The philosophy of the game has changed, therefore the players way of playing the game has changed.  Defense is second fiddle; scoring is king.  A watered-down league is a problem in many, if not all sports today. 

These are just a few reasons, but there are some others I didn't mention, like the fact that pure shooters are almost non-existent today, there are the exceptions for some teams, but back in '82 almost every team had 2 or 3 pure shooters.  Guard play is important in today's game, but not as important as it was back in '82; if you didn't have a point guard and a shooting guard you didn't win, now all you need is a bunch of huge tall guys to sit under the basket and dunk all day. 

The core of the game has changed and the coverage of the games has changed.  There are no great teams throughout the NBA only a few within a conference.  I still love basketball, I still watch College games as much as I can, but I haven't watched an NBA game, and believe me I've tried, since 2003, right around the time I said to myself, "The NBA Stinks!" 

Posted on: January 25, 2009 11:06 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2009 11:08 pm
 

Why The Phillies Will Repeat

The Phillies have some obstacles to overcome on there way to repeating as World Series Champions.  The first hurdle, possibly, is to see how they play without Chase Utley in the lineup for at least the first month of the season.  Believe it or not, I don't think they'll miss his offense as much as they will miss his defense.  Utley, in my opinion has not received enough credit for his defensive play over the last two years.  He has made some great plays that always seem to change the outcome of a game, and he and Jimmy Rollins are a great double play combo.  His bat will be missed of course, but I think they can overcome that with the depth they have offensively. 

The second obstacle will be how much they will miss Pat Burrell; a lot of that will be answered by Raul Ibanez.  Ibanez is very good player, but he hasn't put out the offensive production that Burrell has and he might not throw as well as Burrell does in Left Field.  However, Ibanez will not strike out as much, he will put the ball in play, and he obviously will get to more balls hit in the outfield, because he is a little faster than Burrell. 

The third obstacle, and the most important of all, they can't let their heads get too big.  Charlie (Manuel) will need to address this on the first day of spring training and keep them focused all year.  The bullpen will be okay, even without J.C. Romero for fifty games, but that also could make this a difficult challenge to repeat as World Series Champions.  Their bullpen, in my opinion, will continue to be this team's strength; they will keep them in games and the Phillies will again win a lot of games in the last two or three innings, which they seemed to do on a regular basis last season. 

My prediction for the World Series:

Phillies vs. Yankees  ( Phillies in seven). 

You heard it here first

Category: MLB
Tags: Phillies
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com