2009 NFL Week 13 Top Observations: Dolphins 22, Patriots 21

Here are five quick-hit observations from the Dolphins’ 22-21 upset over the Patriots in Week 13.

1. Miami won this game in the second half.
Good teams win games in the second half and while Miami’s record doesn’t necessarily show that they’re a good team, they are. The Dolphins held the Patriots to only seven points in the last two quarters, which came on New England’s first offensive possession of the second half. The Dolphins stone-walled the Pats from that point forward and rookie Vontae Davis’ pick in the end zone off Tom Brady gave Miami a chance to complete the rally.

2. What finger injury?
Before the game, commentators made a big deal out of Brady’s finger injury, but he played exceptionally well in completing 19-of-29 pass attempts for 352 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for more yards than Chad Henne, yet attempted 23 fewer passes. Of course, you can’t talk about Brady’s day without mentioning the interception that he threw to Davis that proved to be the turning point in the game. Davis made a great play, but it was a poorly thrown ball.

3. Henne continues to step up.
Even though Brady threw for more, Henne still passed for 335 yards today. He completed 29-of-52 passes and tossed two touchdowns, including one to Brian Hartline with under four minutes remaining. The 335 passing yards was a career high for Henne, who routinely picked on rookie Darius Butler and the rest of the inexperienced New England secondary. He looks more and more comfortable with each passing week.

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Twenty-five random MLB trade thoughts and predictions

With the MLB trade deadline approaching on Friday, I have zero time to waste writing a creative intro that you’ll either a) take the time to read or b) take the time to read.

So I’ll cut right to the chase: I have got about a million random thoughts and predictions (25, actually) bouncing around in this noggin of mine, so I’ve decided to compile them in one heaping pile of organized chaos below. Feel free to add your own thoughts and predictions in the comments section and then we can play a couple rounds of “I told you so!” after the trade deadline passes on Friday.

1. I was close, but wrong with my prediction early last week that the Blue Jays will trade Roy Halladay to the Phillies. They would have traded him to the Phillies, but Philadelphia didn’t want to give up a promising major league starter in J.A. Happ, their top minor league pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, and a promising minor league outfielder named Dominic Brown in order to complete the deal. And who could blame them? That’s one steep price to pay, even for a player of Halladay’s caliber.

2. Instead, I fully believe that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi was never going to trade Halladay in the first place, unless he was so blown away by an offer that he couldn’t pass it up. Halladay isn’t a free agent until after the 2010 season, so Ricciardi used this past month to gauge what he could potentially get for the ace for next year.

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Posnanski: Top 100 MLB Players

Joe Posnanski put together a ranking of who he believes are the top 100 current MLB players at this moment (as in right now – not over the past two years, three years, etc).

Here is his top 10:

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals
“Every hitter is human,” says pitcher Zack Greinke (No. 4). “Except Pujols.”

2. Joe Mauer, C, Twins
Could win his third batting title this year … no other American League catcher ever has won even one in history.

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins
Advanced stats suggest he’s better defensively than people think. Offensively, he leads the league in hitting and might have another 30-30 season.

4. Zack Greinke, SP, Royals
Throws four plus pitches, all for strikes, leads the league with a 2.08 ERA, and has won 10 games for a team that has scored the fewest runs in the AL.

5. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
Crushes the ball, plays outstanding defense and, just as a fun side note, has led the league in hit-by-pitch three years running.

6. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees
Disastrous first half splattered with injuries, rumors and a low batting average … and the guy STILL has a 145 OPS+, good for seventh in the AL.

7. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
The Freak is pitching even better this year (10-2, 2.27 ERA, league-leading 159 K’s) than last year, when he won the Cy Young.

8. Dan Haren, SP, Diamondbacks
League is hitting .187 against him and he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 137-18. Baseball hasn’t seen anything like that since the heyday of Pedro.

9. Johan Santana, SP, Mets
He was 2-4 with a 6.19 ERA in six June starts and people screamed that he was done. But Santana is a demon in the second half … and sure enough he has not allowed a run in his last two starts.

10. Roy Halladay, SP, Blue Jays
Not sure where he will be pitching … but he will dominate. A handful of the people in the world can throw 93-mph fastballs that sink. A handful of people can pitch with pinpoint control. One man can do both.

It’s hard to argue Pujols being in the top spot and with how good Mauer has been this season (especially considering how there were huge concerns about his back in spring training) I’m not going to debate Posanski about his second slot either.

But I guess I’m a little confused about his ranking system overall. He says that he’s doing a top 100 of players RIGHT NOW (to use his exact phrasing of the words “RIGHT NOW”), but what does that mean? Over the past two weeks? Over the past couple days? Over the entire course of the season – what?

Because if it’s over the entire course of the season, he’s got A-Rod way too high and I don’t think Johan Santana should be ranked ahead of Roy Halladay either. Also, and I know I might catch some flack for this, but I think Lincecum is the best pitcher in baseball right now. Greinke has been absolutely phenomenal, but Lincecum just recently went 29 innings without giving up an earned run and could easily have 13 or 14 wins if it weren’t for the Giants’ pathetic use for an offense.

But hey, as with any ranking, you can debate every slot 1 through 100 and I like the feature on a whole.

Top 20 Canadian Athletes

Lennox LewisThe Love Of Sports paid tribute to our neighbors to the north by ranking their top 20 favorite Canadian athletes.

Fair warning to hockey nation – the writer chose not to list any players from the NHL because he says that would have been too easy. You won’t find Steve Nash’s name on the list either, so don’t look or get pissed off when you don’t see it.

5. Bronko Nagurski, NFL Hall of Famer
Nagurski was one of the inaugural inductees to the NFL Hall of Fame who played on both sides of the ball. He was also one hell of a professional wrestler and has the largest NFL Championship ring in the history of NFL Championship rings at size 19½. He hails from Rainy River, Ontario.

4. Jacques Villeneuve, Auto Racing
His dad Gilles could make the list too, but this list is for the Internet age and that’s the time of Jacques. He was the 1995 CART Series Champion, winner of the 1995 Indy 500 and the 1997 Formula One Championship. Villeneuve also was part of the Peugeot team that finished second in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and has even started to make a foray into NASCAR. One of the best drivers of the last 20 years, regardless of series, Villeneuve hails from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

3. Mike Weir, Golfer
The little lefty who won the Masters before Phil Mickelson ever donned a green jacket is a proud Canuck from Bright’s Grove, Ontario, and a valuable member of the President’s Cup team every other year.

2. Lennox Lewis, Boxer
The best heavyweight champion of the last 10 years was raised in Kitchener, Ontario and won a Gold Medal under the Maple Leaf long before he moved back to England. While he fought under the British flag as a professional, Lewis will always be a Canadian in my eyes.

1. Ferguson Jenkins, Hall of Fame Pitcher
The 1971 Cy Young winner is the pride of Chatham, Ontario, a city I was able to call home for a number of years and was able to meet the three-time All-Star. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, Jenkins is the only Canadian in the Hall (so far) and is one of only four pitchers to ever strike out 3,000 batters while amassing fewer than 1,000 walks. As an added bonus, Fergie played once played with the Harlem Globetrotters. Beat that!

I don’t know Bronko Nagurski was Canadian!

Sports clichés we could all do without

The Love of Sports put together a great list of sports clichés that the general public could do without hearing for the next couple decades.

Plaxico Burress1. “One Day (Game) at a Time”
Ah, how Zen. It’s great to know our admired athletes live along the same space-time continuum as the rest of us, despite possessing extraordinary physical skill. You may want to stay humble to maintain that underdog mentality, but don’t try to wow us with your existential wisdom.

4. “Nobody Believed In Us”
Really, no one? How very lonely you pro athletes must be. If this were true, then we should all be thankful none of us has to deal with the crushing abandonment that a come-from-behind sports franchise must. Even the Rays had a few thousand “believers” and they claim the most anemic following of anybody. Save the pity card and enjoy the win.

6. “We Never Gave Up”
On behalf of the millions of other fans who invest their money and time to watch you do your job, thank you. This should go without saying. So, by all means, don’t say it.

8. “We Just Had to Come Out and Play Our Game”
Uh huh. And? What a way to say nothing, yet hint at something truly profound. We know what game you played, but damned if we have any idea what “your game” actually was – or is. Clearly the game the other team played, though technically the same as the one you were playing, was inferior to this mysterious “You” game. Tell us more.

The “Nobody Believed In Us” is beyond the point of annoying. Players like to assume that everybody is against them now and it’s ridiculous. The whole “respect” thing is getting really tired.

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