Mikey’s MLB power rankings
With football season upon us, that’s when baseball gets real interesting. To me, there is no better time of year than that first weekend in October when you have four MLB playoff series and a full slate of NFL games. As for the pennant races, they’re starting to shift and some teams are beginning to pull away while others lose hold on their position…
1. New York Yankees (75-47)—A one-game lead but the Mariners are in town this weekend, so it’s as good a time as any to start padding the margin over the Rays and Sox again.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (74-48)—Still hanging on, as the Yankees continue to look in their collective rear-view mirror.
3. San Diego Padres (73-48)—The Giants had their five-game winning streak, and the Padres answered with one of their own, widening their late August lead to 6 games over the G-men until losing last night. Is there any question about manager of the year here?
4. Atlanta Braves (72-50)—Bobby Cox hopes his team will feast on Cubs’ pitching at Wrigley while the Phils face the Nats at home.
5. Texas Rangers (68-53)—The Rangers lost four in a row this past week but still have a seven-game lead over the A’s and Angels. I’d say they have nothing to worry about.
6. Minnesota Twins (71-51)—As we suspected, the Twins keep adding to their lead, now 4.5 games over the White Sox.
7. Cincinnati Red (71-51)—Just when the Cardinals made a statement, the Reds have now won 7 in a row while St. Louis has lost 5 straight, giving Dusty Baker’s boys a 4.5 game lead and increasing the chances Brandon Phillips will start smack-talking again, if he hasn’t already.
8. Boston Red Sox (69-54)—Time is running out on the Sox, and also on Roger Clemens’ days as a free man.
9. Philadelphia Phillies (69-52)—They’ve stayed hot, but so have the Braves. Do you think the Phils wish they still had Cliff Lee?
10. San Francisco Giants (69-54)—Only trailing Philly in the wild card chase by one game, two in the loss column. But a recent slide took them out of that spot and their hopes of a division crown are fading away.
Posted in: MLB
Tags: Atlanta Braves, baseball, Baseball Power Rankings, Bobby Cox, Boston Red Sox, Brandon Phillips, Bud Black, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cliff Lee, Dusty Baker, football, Los Angeles Angels, Major League Baseball, Minnesota Twins, MLB, MLB Power Rankings, New York Yankees, NFL, Oakland A's, pennant races, Philadelphia Phillies, Roger Clemens, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, wild card
Sports Illustrated lists its Top 20 all-time sportscasters
Sports Illustrated put out this list of what it believes to be the Top 20 all-time sportscasters. Some of these guys are before my time, but unfortunately, most of them are not. Anyway, here is the list and a snappy comment or two, as well as who they missed and who I’m glad is not on here:
1. Jim McKay—The Bob Costas of his time. McKay hosted ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” as well as The Olympics. It’s hard to argue with putting him on top here, but it’s also easy to argue for a few of these others to be #1.
2. Vin Scully—If I hear ol’ Vin doing a game on TV, and with the MLB package it’s nice to still hear him doing Dodgers’ games, I don’t care who is playing….I stop and watch, and listen. It’s just comforting to hear the guy’s voice, which was made for broadcasting baseball.
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Posted in: Barstool Debates, Television
Tags: Al Michaels, baseball, Basketball, Bob Costas, Bob Murphy, Bob Papa, Boxing, CBS, Chicago Cubs, Chick Hearn, Chris Schenkel, College Football, Curt Gowdy, Dennis Eckersley, Detroit Tigers, Dick Enberg, Don Dunphy, Don Meredith, Ernie Harwell, football, Frank Gifford, Gary Cohen, Gary Thorn, Gus Johnson, Harry Caray, Hockey, Howard Cosell, Jack Brickhouse, Jack Buck, Jack Whitaker, Jim McKay, Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, Joe Garagiola, John Madden, Keith Jackson, Kirk Gibson, Lindsey Nelson, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, Marv Albert, Mel Allen, Mike Emrick, Miracle on Ice, Monday Night Football, New York Giants, New York Yankees, NFL Network, Olympics, PBA bowling, Phil Rizzuto, Ralph Kiner, Red Barber, SNY, Sports Illustrated, This Week in Baseball, Tony Kubek, top sportscasters, top sportscasters of all-time, Vin Scully, WGN, Wide World of Sports
Putting the NFL’s potential lockout in dummy terms
If you, like me, live in fear of the fall of 2011 having no NFL football, but don’t understand all of the legal mumbo-jumbo associated with the labor dispute, I’m hear to put things in terms we all can understand.
First things first, and that is that the owners unanimously opted out of the current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) in 2008, one that they had signed off on in 2006. Since I’m making this as easy as possible to understand, let me tell you that a CBA is the agreement two sides, usually labor and management, come to on various topics, most of which include how money will be divided. And in this case, the owners realized that player salaries were escalating out of control and that their profits were being squeezed more each year. Yes, part of the problem is they are agreeing to these salaries, and player agents are a huge part of that. In the bigger picture, the real problem is revenue sharing, a.k.a. how to split the financial pie. And while the NFL is bringing in a ridiculous amount of money ($7.6 billion in 2008), about 62% of that goes to player salaries, a number that keeps climbing due to increases in the overall salary cap. To make matters worse, there is also revenue sharing among teams, meaning the big market teams have to help the small market teams to help them compete with each other on the field.
So the owners want something like 18% of the pie back, in the form of salary cuts to the players. Naturally, the players do not want to give them this money back, and that is why head of the players’ union DeMaurice Smith announced during the Super Bowl’s hype week that the chance of a lockout were a 14 on a scale of 1 to 10. For his part, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell denounced that, saying he hoped it wouldn’t come to a work stoppage, but he also knows that it’s a very real possibility. The players aren’t necessarily saying they won’t give part of the pie back, either. Smith wants the owners to show the players that they are struggling to run their businesses, meaning he wants them to open up their books. And the owners won’t do it. So are the numbers being reported not what they say? It’s hard to say the owners aren’t lying about these numbers, when they keep agreeing to player contracts and they keep building huge state-of-the-art stadiums, but they also have the right to not open their books if they don’t want to. And the bottom line is that the owners are not happy about doling out more and more of their profits.
Then, of course, there is the issue of an uncapped 2010 season. The current structure calls for a salary cap through the 2009 season, with 2010 being an uncapped year if the owners opt out of the CBA, which they did. Last time this happened, in 1993, player salaries rose to 69% of NFL revenue, and that is expected to happen again. But of course, nothing is guaranteed in 2011, so the players have to be careful of what they wish for.
If organized sports have taught us anything, it’s that the possibility of no games being played can and will happen. You might remember the NFL had a similar situation in 1987, and the owners used replacement players for a few games before the dispute was resolved and the regular players went back to work. MLB cancelled the last two months of the 1994 season as well as the playoffs and World Series, a black mark they have not recovered from. The NBA had a similar situation in 1998-99, with almost half a season being wiped out. And of course, the freshest in our memories is the NHL’s 2004-05 season that was not played due to a labor dispute.
So as fans, we have to hope a few things happen between now and the summer of 2011, which is spewing a black cloud that keeps getting darker and more imposing by the day. We have to hope the owners agree to open up their books, and we have to hope the players agree to give back part of the pie for the health and financial well being of the NFL. Sure, we want the players we love to watch get the money they deserve, but within reason. Certainly it’s not worth much to anyone to have no NFL games being played, but it may very well come to that.
Of course, the NFL is not the only business that would be affected by a lockout. Besides the local businesses near stadiums that thrive during the season, fantasy football and all of the money (reported as upwards of $3 billion in 2007) associated with that is threatened here. Think about that for a second. The folks that make their livelihood in that world will be flattened financially. Well, maybe that’s going to be the subject of my next piece on this, but for the moment I wanted to do my part to help everyone understand the dispute between owners and players, and what it all really means.
Many think that a lockout won’t really happen, and I’m optimistic myself that it won’t. But history surely does make us all nervous, doesn’t it?
Posted in: NFL
Tags: 2011, CBA, collective bargaining agreement, DeMaurice Smith, Fantasy Football, football, free agency, labor dispute, Lockout, MLB, National Football League, NBA, NFL, NFL free agency, NFL labor dispute, NFL owners, NHL, Roger Goodell, Salary Cap, Super Bowl, uncapped season, work stoppage
Q&A with ESPN’s Mike Golic
If you listen to ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike In the Morning,” you know that former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic is one half of the equation and the counterpoint to long-time “Sportscenter” anchor Mike Greenberg. While both share a passion for sports, Golic takes the role of the “man’s man” and frequently discusses his passion for food and in particular, his love for grilling out. Well, lucky for us, Golic recently teamed up with Kingsford Charcoal to promote their new and improved briquets (and their new flavors of KC Masterpiece sauce and marinade), as well as with chef Chris Lilly, who owns Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q and is an award winning barbecue chef. So we’ve got some of their special recipes on our Grub For Guys page on Bullz-Eye.com, but we also had the opportunity to interview Golic about ESPN, grilling out, and of course, football:
The Scores Report: Hey Mike, we know you love to eat and love to grill. What is your favorite KC Masterpiece new flavor and why?
Mike Golic: I’m an original flavor kind of guy – no bells or whistles needed for me. But, I’ve tried the new KC Masterpiece Smoky Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and the smoky, sweet taste gives the original flavor some good competition for best sauce.
TSR: What are your thoughts on the new briquets, and do you use your grill year round?
MG: I have a fairly busy schedule with “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN analysis, and my family, but I definitely try to keep my grill fired up year-round whenever I have down-time. There is no better way to bring family and friends together than over the smokey flavors of a charcoal grill. In fact, when my boys where in high school, I used to travel to their football camps in early-August and grill for their entire teams during two-a-day workouts.
Kingsford MatchLight is my go-to charcoal – it has lighter fluid built into the briquet formula so it lights quickly and easily – which is especially convenient when I’m tailgating. I’ve heard that Kingsford briquets now light easier and faster, which I can also appreciate since I’m always crunched for time with my busy schedule.
TSR: Do you have any go-to items you like to grill for Super Bowl Sunday, or are you usually too busy working to cook that day?
MG: I will be working the whole week leading up to Super Bowl in Miami, but I’m excited to be able to go home and watch the actual game with my friends and family. But, while I’m in Miami, I will be firing up the grill with my buddy, world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly earlier in the week. Chris has taught me quite a bit about grilling over the years and has inspired me to create a few tailgate recipes of my own. I will be demonstrating my BBQ Blitz Chicken Wraps for a few TV interviews with Chris before sharing a little tailgate with the lucky winner of the “On the Grill with Golic” sweepstakes that took place earlier this year. The recipe is attached in case your readers want to try it at home. For more great grilling recipes become a fan of Kingsford on Facebook at Facebook.com/KingsfordCharcoal.
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Posted in: Interviews, NFL
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, Brian Kelly, Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco, Charlie Weis, Chicago Bears, Chris Henry, Chris Lilly, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland, College Football, Connecticut, Dallas Cowboys, ESPN, ESPN Radio, football, Grand Valley State, Grub For Guys, Indianapolis Colts, Jay Cutler, KC Masterpiece, Kingsford Charcoal, Kingsford MatchLight, MAC, Matt Forte, Miami, Michigan, Mike and Mike in the Morning, Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg, Mike Zimmer, Notre Dame, South Bend, South Euclid, SportsCenter, Super Bowl
Five players that got shafted by Pro Bowl voting
It’s easy to sit here and play armchair Pro Bowl GM, and while indeed all of us have the ability to influence the player selections, that doesn’t mean as a collective group that we get it right. So as always, there were a few players, even after injury substitutions were announced, who are home this weekend instead of playing in the Pro Bowl in Miami—players who truly deserved a spot on the NFC or AFC roster. Here are a few glaring omissions as we see it:
Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals—For as good as the Bengals’ defense was in 2009, they won all those games early in the season in part because their running game was downright dominant. And a big reason for that was Benson, whose 96.2 yards per game was second only to Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. Benson, who just turned 27 in December, has been injury prone most of his young career, but this was by far his best season, and he even led the NFL in rushing for a bit before Johnson caught fire. Of course, Benson’s six touchdowns are probably what kept him out of the Pro Bowl (Maurice Jones-Drew had 15 and Johnson 14), but there is no question about how valuable he was to the Bengals, helping them to exceed all expectations.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers—With all due respect to every other QB in the AFC, how do David Garrard and Vince Young get in ahead of Big Ben? I can sort of understand Young, who took the Titans on his back and may have even warranted MVP consideration. But Garrard? Roethlisberger had 4328 yards, 26 TDs and 12 picks, while Garrard threw for 3597 with 15 TD throws and 10 interceptions. Of course, Ben also dealt with concussions, so I can understand an injury keeping him out, but he’s not listed with the injured players selected, so that means more people than not left him off the roster. Does that make sense to anyone?
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles—This one was purely a numbers game, because you absolutely can’t argue with Jason Witten and Vernon Davis getting in ahead of Celek. But that’s not his fault. Look, I’m a Giants fan so it’s not easy for me to admit this, but I love this kid as a football player. He’s tough, makes big catches with consistency, and is always open for Donovan McNabb in the end zone. He’ll also take a defender’s head off if they get in his path. Of course, Celek’s numbers were stellar too–he caught 76 passes for just under 1000 yards (971) with 8 scores. They should have allowed an extra NFC tight end just this once.
Andre Carter, DE, Washington Redskins—I get why Jared Allen and Trent Cole made the Pro Bowl roster, but I don’t get how Andre Carter missed out while Julius Peppers got in. Peppers has the name recognition, but Carter led all defensive ends in solo tackles (48) and had twenty more total tackles than Peppers (62 to 42). He had 11 sacks to Peppers’ 10.5, sure, but when you look at the whole picture, somebody blew an assignment. And the thing is, everyone talks about Albert Haynesworth, but Carter never gets the credit he deserves, not even on his own team.
James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis Rams—I get why Jon Beason is the top dog at ILB for the NFC, and I also get why London Fletcher finally made the roster when Jonathan Vilma’s Saints reached the Super Bowl. I’m just not sure why rookie Laurinaitis didn’t make it in ahead of Vilma. Laurinaitis led all rookies in solo tackles with 107 (Vilma had 87), and in the NFL he trailed only Patrick Willis, Beason and Kirk Morrison in that department. Laurinaitis also had 2 sacks and 2 interceptions. This kid was a beast in the middle on a team that won only 1 game in 2009, and short of having to pay dues, I’m not exactly sure how he was left off the Pro Bowl roster.
Posted in: NFL
Tags: AFC, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Ben Roethlisbger, Brent Celek, Carolina Panthers, Cedric Benson, Chris Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, David Garrard, defensive ends, Donovan McNabb, football, Jacksonville Jaguars, James Laurinaitis, Jared Allen, Jason Witten, Jonathan Vilma, Julius Peppers, linebackers, London Fletcher, Maurice Jones-Drew, Miami, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFC, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, players left off Pro Bowl, Pro Bowl, Pro Bowl 2010, Pro Bowl roster, quarterbacks, running backs, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans, tight ends, Vernon Davis, Vince Young, Washington Redskins