Soups diary – May 16th, 2006

 

Dear diary,

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve hit the big 2-3.  I don’t know where the time has gone, but I’m sure it will slow right down from this point on.  What a birthday gift my Oilers have given me!  Last year at this time there was no season and the hope was that hockey would return stronger than ever.  It sure did and now that the lockout is done I can’t see why there will ever need to be another one since the owners got everything they wanted.

But the Oilers, I knew this would make them competitive but wow!  They’re 1 win away from knocking off a loaded Sharks team (can’t see how they don’t win 2 or 3 Cups in the next few seasons) and going to the Western Conference finals.  They’re so hard working and gritty, much like the 04 Flames.  That’s how you build a team, just get a couple of stars and then put grinders around them.  Who knew Daryl Sutter would be such a great GM?!

But then again so is Kevin Lowe.  The Oilers are loaded for the next 4 or 5 years with Pronger locked down who just seems to love it in Edmonton.  But it’s not just Pronger, we got Hemsky, Stoll, Torres, Pisani has now come on, Marc-Andre Bergeron has looked great all year, and then we have Schremp, Pouliot and Cogliano all on the way!  This team is going to be a Cup contender for years to come.

And if that weren’t good enough the Jays are looking sweet to start the season!  Bringing in Burnett, Ryan and Glaus was exactly what they needed to compete in the AL East.  It’s taken Riccardi a few years, but he really looks like an elite GM.  Now if he can lockdown Vernon Wells this offseason.  I don’t care what it takes, just get that done cause he is the leader of the Jays.  When the Jays win their 3rd World Series in the next 2 or 3 years he will be the guy leading the way.

But of course all anyone in baseball is talking about is steroids and Barry Bonds.  I don’t think there is any doubt left after reading “Game of Shadows” that Bonds has taken steroids, so the big question is….who else?  Curt Schilling said a year ago that he guessed it was maybe 10-15% of guys and I would think that’s right.  There are guys like Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada and A-rod who are just workout fantatics, they aren’t guys that would roid up.

Well, that’s all for tonight.  Think I’m gonna play some Ridin’ Dirty and I recorded last weeks episode of the O.C. so maybe I’ll watch it before I go to bed.

 

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NFL picks – week 8

 

3-2!  23-12 now on the season!  And for once, I don’t have to be ashamed of my other picks as my NFL picks were actually my worst of last weekend.  I’m almost confident enough to say “go ahead and start using these picks”.  But I know as soon as I say that they will start to go horrible.  Then I will be known as the Cam Newton of the picking football games world….if that is a world…which I honestly don’t think it is, maybe just an expression.  See, how can you not go with my picks when I figure out brain teasers like that one?!?

 

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Atlanta +2.5

Big fan of this bet.  Both teams are coming off bye weeks so nobody has the advantage there.  I know Atlanta has looked shaky against the Panthers and Raiders, but they will be up for this one.  Matt Ryan is coming home, Philadelphia is a mess on and off the field right now, and the Falcons defense should have their way with Mike Vick.  I’m sure the Eagles will keep it a close game but this line just proves how the public still thinks the Eagles are much better than they actually are.  Take the better team getting points.

 

Carolina at Chicago

Chicago -7.5

YEP!  I hate favorites, even more so I hate big favorties, and I have a rule that you can’t trust the Bears.  But, the Carolina ship is sinking so in a gambling sense I want to get on this Titanic!  Cam Newton is losing his teammates and can’t figure out his own playbook.  The Bears defense should eat him alive and while the Panthers defense is actually keeping them in games I just think the Bears offense should be able to tear them up.  I don’t know if this is a blowout, but I do think the Bears win it comfortably.

 

Indianapolis at Tennessee

Indianapolis +3.5

I love this pick.  2 teams that I view as pretty even.  Now some people are going to point to last week and say “Chris Johnson is back!!!”, but look at the defense he went up against.  The Bills have been torched all season and the Titans just happened to have a good enough offense to be in the group of teams that have done so.  The Colts defense isn’t great but it will play the Titans tougher than the Bills did and Luck should be able to put up some big numbers against the Titans D.  If it was 3 points or less I wouldn’t pick this game, but getting that FG cushion is something I love so take the Colts getting points.

 

Washington at Pittsburgh

Washington +4.5

I love this bet.  I feel like I need to quit picking so many dogs, but this league is so close this season that you pretty much have to pick nothing but dogs.  And while I’m pretty certain the Redskins won’t win this game, the Steelers have no Troy Polomalu for this one and I see RGIII keeping this game tight.  It is scary knowing that Wallace, Brown and Roethlisberger could destroy this Redskins secondary.  But they’ve stayed in every game this season, so this one shouldn’t be an exception.

 

San Francisco at Arizona

Arizona +6.5

I don’t know how with not much of a run game and average quarterbacking how the Cardinals can keep this one tight.  Having said that, I think they’ll keep it tight.  It will be a dog fight between 2 great defenses.  Arizona will be really desperate in this game, divisional games are always tighter, and Alex Smith has NOT looked good in his last few games.  I don’t know how else to explain it other than that.  It will be a low scoring game, and the Cardinals will keep it close.

 

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Addition by subtraction

 

Jays fans are livid.  The big bully on the block came up to them and Alex Anthropolus just handed them his bike, no questions asked.  So now the Red Sox have John Farrell.  5 time manager of the year, led the Jays to 3 World Series titles, and had completely turned the franchise around….at least that’s what you would think he was.

Look I know Mike Aviles isn’t much of a return.  But the fact of the matter is that John Farrell showed this season what kind of manager he is, and it wasn’t pretty.  If things are happening in a clubhouse like the Yunel Escobar incident, then you don’t have control of things.  Omar Vizquel said as much before the season ended.  The clubhouse totally got away from this guy.

And if that weren’t enough, the way he conducted himself at the press conference should have showed everyone just what kind of guy this is.  On one hand he would talk about how he was good with Blue Jay management, and then he would talk about how he needed more input into management decisions.  John, I know you’re title is “manager”, but that’s for on the field.  You’re not in management.  He threw Alex Anthropolus under the bus by claiming AA would bolt for Montreal if the Expos were still in the league.  He went out of his way in the last few weeks to tell people how he was going to stay in Toronto, and then he bails.  This is one SHADDY individual.

He is not a leader.  I know the Jays were hit drastically with injuries this season, but things shouldn’t have got as bad as they did and that’s on Farrell.  So my point in all this is while Jays fans are ticked, there is no reason to be at all!  This guy should have been fired for this kind of season, injuries or not.  Too much BS went on under his watch for him to be brought back.

There are plenty of candidates out there that can do at least as good of a job.  I’m really high on Brad Ausmus, who the Red Sox apparently were high on too.  Since there isn’t a veteran manager available with a solid track record then the Jays pretty much have to go with an unproven guy.  Catchers simply work as managers.  The 4 LCS managers this season were all former catchers.  Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre, so many examples of catchers who make great managers.  You can’t find anyone in baseball that has anything bad to say about Ausmus.  Not that I have any connections, but that was always said as a player, and now it is being said as a manager and it would be great for the Jays if Anthropolus could land him.

If not Ausmus, sticking with the catchers theme, Sandy Alomar Jr was one of the final candidates for Anthropolus the last time around and it is suspected Alomar will be one of the top candidates this time around also.  Again, so highly respected as a player.  Always called a great game behind the plate, very high baseball IQ.  He would be 2nd on my list but I don’t think AA could go wrong with either guy.

The fact is no matter who gets this job they have an uphill climb as this organization has a ton of talent but is still extremely raw and really need a guy that will keep them in line running the clubhouse.  Farrell wasn’t that guy.  Now I don’t think Farrell will necessarily fail in Boston.  That clubhouse is more veteran ladden and he is “their guy”.  But he wasn’t working in Toronto, so the Jays will be better off as long as Anthropolus makes the right hire.

 

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World Series preview

 

Here we go!  This has the makings of a classic World Series.  The LDS series was the best round of baseball I’ve ever seen!  All 4 series going the distance, and it was capped off by that amazing comeback by the Cards against the Nationals.  We were spoiled in that round, and it got made up for in the LCS.  Yes, even the NLCS despite the fact that it went 7 games.  I’ve never seen a 7 game series with that many blowouts!  It was like winning the lottery but only winning 5000 bucks.  Sure its sweet to win, but that’s it?  5000 bucks?  However this matchup will make up for the LCS….

I can’t believe one of my 2 LCS winners actually made it as I didn’t get much else right in these playoffs!  The Tigers look dominant heading into game 1.  You can’t touch Verlander, he is just on another level right now.  Like Josh Beckett in 07, Curt Schilling in 2001, Jack Morris in 91, Orel Hershiser in 88, every time he takes the mound he will win and you will be lucky to get 4-5 hits off him.

The Giants don’t have that guy, but they have a staff of guys that are capable of giving them that game.  Of course Matt Cain is the most likely candidate, but Cain hasn’t looked that dominant this postseason.  Sure he won game 7, but he lost game 3, lost game 1 vs the Reds, and escaped game 5 vs the Reds.  He’s been good don’t get me wrong, but the Giants will need him to be even better in the World Series.

I don’t think however the Giants could ask for anything more than what they’ve got out of Ryan Vogelsong.  “Voggy” has been incredible for them.  Same goes for Barry Zito, as he turned back the clock in game 5 against the Cards and looked like Barry Zito circa 2002 carving up steroid users left and right and riding on the back of Scott Hatteberg and the leadership of David Justice because as we all know THEY were the big reason the 2002 A’s were so good.  Not because of the best pitching staff in the league, not because they had AL MVP Miguel Tejada….Someday I will get over that, it just won’t be anytime soon!

Finally the Giants still have Madison Baumgarner if he is healthy, and they still have 2 time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum.  I know he has had a nightmare of a season, I know his velocity is way down, I know all the negatives with him….actually that’s about it but those are some big negatives.  But I’m never going to throw in the towel on a guy who has a track record like Lincecum.

The Giants will really need the guys they throw 2-4 to out pitch Fister, Scherzer, and Sanchez.  But then even if they do that, you still have the Tigers great lineup to deal with.  Not too often you have a triple crown winner to deal with in the World Series.  Actually, not since 67 has a team had to do that (Cards beat Yaz and the Sox that year by the way).  And if he’s not enough, you got Prince Fielder hitting behind him.  Prince hasn’t been hitting well this postseason, but that could be a bad sign for the Giants as you would think he will bust out.  He is familiar with the Giants pitching and familiar with that ball park.

The dirty little secret heading into this series however is that the Giants have the better lineup.  Marco Scutaro literally doesn’t miss a ball.  He swings, he makes some sort of contact.  1-8 that lineup is smokin’ hot right now, and while the Tigers have the more star studded lineup, the Giants have the better lineup as we head into game 1.

Where the Giants can get to the Tigers is the bullpen, so I have to think they will be looking to work the Tigers starters every game and get into that pen.  If they can make 3 or 4 games a battle of the bullpens then they will have a great shot to win it.  Jose Velverde is a circus out on the mound, and Phil Coke didn’t look much better when he was given his shot in game 3 against the Yankees.

It really is a great matchup.  On paper the Tigers have the better team but the Giants have the home field, they have most of the 2010 roster still intact, and they won’t die as they’re now 6-0 when facing elimination this postseason.  I’m expecting this one to go 6 or 7.  As for who would win, it would be ridiculous of me to sit on the fence.  I’m not a guy that likes to sit on the fence.  But man….this is one sweet fence!  Ok screw it, Giants in 7.

 

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Cam’wrong

 

Most of you probably don’t get that reference…that’s a YOU problem.

It’s something that sports fans always get caught up in. They always want to point out the exception to the rule, not the rule. Anyone who knows me or reads my stuff knows I’m not a big Sam Gagner fan, more so a fan of how he fits with the Oilers than the kid himself. But when I make my case of how he hasn’t progressed, people want to point out to me how the Sedin’s took a long time to progress. Well that’s all well and good, but they would be the exception to the rule. They fail to point out the hundreds of guys who have slowly progressed and never lived up to their billing. This leads me to Cam Newton.

Last year people were drooling over this kid. He was going to be the exception to the rule.  He was the future of the quarterback position. He has it all. 6’6, 240 pounds, big arm, mobile, charisma, there is nothing Cam can’t do. THIS is the what an NFL quarterback will look like going forward. Just about everyone in the media agreed once they saw him play. It’s not fair to the rest of the league that one player has this much talent, right?

When will the media learn? I fully admit while I wasn’t big on Newton going into last season, no doubt he made me a believer as the season went on. But when I say believer, I mean I believed Newton could be a franchise QB and a top 10-5 guy in the NFL. No way did I think the way a large majority of the media did! Some guys were saying things like “he has a chance to be the greatest ever”. WHAT?!?

I’m sorry, but in no way did I think a guy doing a Superman pose after every single TD he scores was going to be the greatest ever. No way did I think a guy who got kicked out of the University of Florida for stealing a lap top would have the maturity to be a great leader. There was all kinds of evidence while he played at Auburn that he his father was paid for Cam to attend Auburn, it just goes on and on and on with this kid.

The tipping point seemed to be in the Giants game earlier this season, with the Panthers getting destroyed, Cam scores their first TD of the game and you’re thinking watching the game “this is going to be one of those pissed off celebrations”. Nope. Cam does the Superman pose and acts like everything is cool.

Colin Cowherd (who you MAY have noticed I listen to his radio show daily….) always preaches how your QB is like the CEO of a major corporation. He has to be the leader, he has to be sharp, he has to be mature, and he has to have the work ethic. THIS is where Cam doesn’t have it. Don Banks made the comparison to Vince Young a few weeks ago and it’s a lot closer than a lot of people may recall.

Young was getting the same kind of reviews out of the gate. He had an amazing rookie season, he had charisma, he was exciting, and he was only going to get better….right? Young digressed dramatically after his 2nd season and now he isn’t even in the league. Newton is a MUCH better thrower than Young, but like Young he is way too immature and will need to do a LOT of growing up if he wants to be one of the greats.

The media gets much too worked up about finding the next big thing in sports and in football in particular. You know what works in the NFL? A pocket QB who can drop back and pick apart defenses while knowing the playbook inside and out and keeping his team focused. He is the most mature player on the team, the first one to the stadium and the last one to leave every day. It’s not the sexiest thing, but that kind of QB has won every Super Bowl. Every, single, Super Bowl.

 

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Blessing in disguise

 

Not much has gone right for Oiler fans since 2006.  Don’t know if anyone knows this, but Chris Pronger asked for a trade.  I’m sure most Oiler fans forgot about that.  Then Ryan Smyth got traded, and I’m sure that has slipped their mind as well.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 06, they’ve finished 30th, 30th and 29th the last 3 seasons, the proposed arena deal is taking a ridiculous amount of time to get done, and now there is a lockout.  But that last little piece might not be so bad for the Oilers.

Most teams in the NHL have their players really spread out.  Lots are at home training but obviously not playing.  Some are over sea’s (over 100 I believe).  And then you have the kids that are in the AHL.  Well this is where the benefit for the Oilers comes into play.

No other team in the NHL has their 3 top players playing together right now, but once Taylor Hall gets cleared to play the Oilers will.  More beneficial than that for the Oilers, Justin Schultz gets to be eased into pro hockey.  My concern for this kid no matter where he was going to sign was that he would be rushed into the league.  Coming out of college, it’s a drastic change going straight to the NHL.  It’s good, especially for a d-man, to get in time in the AHL.  And the kid looks like the real deal thus far.  4 goals and 5 assists in 9 games for Schultz and was named AHL player of the week last week.

Oh and let’s not forget about 1st overall pick Nail Yakupov.  While he isn’t getting time in the AHL, getting time in the KHL is the next best thing.  It’s so much easier for both these kids to enter pro hockey without the big expectations.  They can work on their games and don’t have to face any scrutiny.  And Yakupov is doing just fine as well with 6 goals in 10 games.  Neither guy is playing at a level that will hurt them, unlike Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Magnus Paajarvi, etc.  This team has a nasty recent history of rushing their young guys and this lockout has forced them to avoid doing that.

Add to this, and I know nobody wants to think about this being a possibility (nor do I believe it will happen), but SHOULD the season be cancelled the Oilers would have another great shot at landing the 1st overall pick.  The way it worked in 2005 with the lottery, it was based off teams performances over the previous 3 seasons.  You got balls for everyone of those seasons you had missed the playoffs.  So this would put the Oilers alongside the Leafs, Flames, Jets, Wild, Canes, Stars, and the Islanders as having the best chance of winning the lottery.  None of us want that, I know even Oiler fans wouldn’t want that trade off, but it could be a silver lining.  WHEN the season does start up, I would guess the Oilers will be closer to a playoff spot than the basement that they haven’t just rented, but were the landlords of the last 3 seasons.

It’s painful to have to listen to the NHLPA and the owners bicker back and forth when there is clearly a deal to be made here and all of us are fully aware that it’s more about ego then anything.  Add to that, Oiler fans have to listen to the same sort of thing from city council and the Katz group as they fight over getting a deal done for the downtown arena.  But if there is something to take out of this, its that this should help the Oilers out much more than any other organization.

 

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NFL picks – week 7

 

4-1 last week, 20-10 now on the season.  20-10.  This is what scorching hot looks like, right here.  Check it.  I’m just getting cocky as hell about this.  The other day a woman at Sobey’s asked me if she could help me and I responded with “woman do you know who the **** I am?!?  I’m 20-10!!!  I don’t need your help getting 200 grams of black forrest ham!!!”  Turned out I did actually need her help getting the ham, I have no idea how that slicer works.  So now pappa needs a new deli slicer (if that’s what its called, I really don’t know), and the only way to afford one is to pick more winners…

 

Arizona at Minnesota

Arizona +6

Are the Cards really getting 6 points in this game?!  Vegas does realize that John Skelton was the starting QB for the Cardinals and only lost the job because he got hurt….don’t they?!?  I like the Vikings, but the Cards matchup with them very well.  The Vikings have been able to push some teams around this season but they won’t do that to the Cards.  No doubt, Jared Allen could end up with 4 sacks in this game as the Cards o-line is THAT bad.  But Skelton seems more in control than Kolb and gets rid of the ball quicker.  I believe this will be a tight game.

 

Dallas at Carolina

Dallas -2.5

Everyone is waiting for the Panthers to bust out.  Newton is going to take off one of these games right?  Well, I’ve never been as big of a Cam Newton fan as others.  The Panthers coaching staff has given him the full playbook this season and he is clearly having trouble grasping it all.  Now it will help coming off a bye week, but if I’ve learned anything about the Cowboys it’s that when people think they’re about to fall off the cliff they find a way to hang on just to tease their fans.  The Cowboys defense could cause big problems for Newton.  The Panthers were dominated by the Giants, and lost to the Seahawks who are a BAD road team.  Romo should pick apart this defense that has virtually no pass rush.  Newton will have trouble moving the ball and I wouldn’t be surprised if Carr and Claiborne pick him off 2 or 3 times in this game.  It’s less than a field goal, so go with the Cowboys.

 

Green Bay at St. Louis

St. Louis +6

I understand the logic here putting the Pack at -6.  They’re obviously back.  The went down to Houston and crushed the team that many believed was the best in football.  Well, I never believed they were the best in football, and the Packers were desperate.  Now they’re back to .500, playing their 2nd game in a row on the road, and they’re playing a Rams team that is very tough defensively.  If you have read my NFL stuff all year, you know I’m big on the Rams and that hasn’t changed through 6 weeks.  They’ll be up to play the Pack and will make this one a dog fight.

 

Washington at NY Giants

Washington +5.5

The Redskins are going to be flying high after that big win over the Vikings at RFK.  Theismann looked great throwing the ball, Riggins just couldn’t be brought down, and Art Monk simply doesn’t drop a ball.  Meanwhile the Giants went out west and knocked off Montana and the niners.  They shutdown Jerry Rice, Phil Simms was on as usual picking apart Ronnie Lott and the niners defense.  The key in this game is Lawrence Taylor as it always is for the G-men.  Ok, you caught me this isn’t the 80’s.  I don’t know why I did that, just like I don’t know why the Giants always play up and down to their opponents.  Remember, the skins won both games last season and now they have a QB.  It will be a 3 point game.

 

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Pittsburgh -1.5

I know the Steelers are old and beat up.  I know the Bengals have looked great at times this season and are poised to take over the AFC North sooner rather than later.  But let’s just cool it on them only being 1.5 point dogs in this game.  National game, the Steelers have owned them even last season when the Bengals were respectable.  The Bengals have yet to prove themselves in this spot, just look at the opener vs the Ravens on Monday Night Football.  They were dismantled.  Now I’m not saying this will be a blow out, but I strongly believe the Steelers win this game and win it by a field goal or more.

 

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NFL picks – week 6

 

Nooooooooooooooooooooo!  My first losing week!  And are you kidding me, it’s the 2 bets that I probably felt best about that cost me!  2-1 heading into the Sunday nighter.  Surely the Chargers will keep it within a field goal right?  No, the REFS said no!  Bring back the replacements!!!  Or at least make a movie about them with Keeanu Reeves playing the role of that schmuck that called the interception a touchdown, that would be a good flick.  Maybe have Gene Hackman play Pete Carroll?  Anyways, so that one lost, but I thought no big deal, just means I won’t go 4-1 I will go 3-2.  NOPE!  You learn things about teams when you bet on them, and what I learned about the Texans Monday night is that they have ZERO killer instinct, and Matt Schaub was horrific inside the red zone against what is not a top 10 defense in this league.  If Schaub struggles with them, how’s he going to do against Pittsburgh or San Francisco should they get that far?  Regardless, still red hot this season picking NFL games, so I will just pick winners this week.

 

Indianapolis at NY Jets

Indianapolis +3.5

This will go up to at least 3.5, it actually hasn’t as of writing this.  So if you’re looking to bet this game bet it in a day or 2.  Always nice to have a FG to work with, but I think Indy will take this game outright.  Indy is flying high after not just beating the Pack, but erasing a 21-3 deficit in doing so.  It was awesome, and they’re playing for their coach.  The Jets are still a mess, they’re on a short week, and they won’t play as desperate as they did against the Texans.  I’ve liked the Colts all season, I’ve disliked the Jets all season (we’re still friends though, right Colin?) and neither opinion has changed so take the Colts and the points.  #chuckstrong indeed!

 

St.Louis at Miami

St.Louis +3.5

Ironically again, this game is only at 3 right now but the public is HEAVY on the Dolphins.  So wait til it goes to 3.5 and pounce on it.  I honestly can’t believe the public is so heavy on the fish in this game.  The Rams defense is really coming together, and that front 4 I’ve been pimping all season came up big against Arizona, ask Kevin Kolb!  I know the Dolphins beat a good Bengals team in Cincinnati, but the Rams have the better defense, right now they have the better QB (though Tannehill looks like a beauty), and they have the better coach (though Philbin looks like he can coach).  Add on top of all this, the Rams will have had 10 days off.  This should be a pick ’em, and eventually getting 3.5 points is a gift.

 

Buffalo at Arizona

Buffalo +4.5

There is no reason for this pick.  Sometimes you just get the feeling that there is no way a team will stay close in a game.  I believe that’s how the public will feel about the Bills.  They’ve looked DISGUSTING in their 3 loses, and their 2 wins were against KC and Cleveland.  This team somehow is a bigger mess right now than the Jets!  Meanwhile the Cardinals have had 10 days off, and they’re 4-1.  Having said all that I just think this is a game the Bills keep close.  Don’t forget they’ve got a lot of talent on that team.  After getting humiliated in San Fran they’ll come out pissed.  The Cards on the other hand finally lost a game and what seems to happen with overachieving teams is once they lose 1 there swagger is gone.  Kolb still isn’t a great QB, and even without Mark Anderson that Buffalo d-line has the talent to make it another really long day for him.

 

NY Giants at San Francisco

NY Giants +6.5

You notice a theme with these picks yet?  The Giants were another team I missed on last week, and the Browns started out strong, but this time the Giants got their act together before it was too late unlike last year against the Redskins twice, Seahawks, or this year against the Cowboys.  But they still proved my point which is they play up and down to their opposition.  This is a huge game in San Fran, and despite going cross country (always difficult for NFL teams) and despite the niners being in my mind the best team in the league, the G-men will likely keep this game tight.  It’s one of those bets that while it may not win, it’s the smart bet.  I can’t think of any good reason to say the niners will take it by a touchdown.  They might, but more likely this is a 3 or 4 point game.

 

Green Bay at Houston

Green Bay +3.5

5 for 5 with the dogs this week!  Tough game for the Pack walking into Houston to face one of the best teams in the league.  But 3.5 is too many points for a Green Bay team that will be very desperate and a Houston team coming off a short week who showed signs of complacency against the Jets.  I will take Rodgers over Schaub, I will take McCarthy over Kubiak, and I will take the Packers big game experience over the Texans inexperience.  3.5 is just too many points, the Pack will keep this one really tight if they don’t take it outright.

 

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No Fehr

 

YES!!!  You see what I did there?!  Fehr, not fear, get it?!  Oh I’m sure you don’t, it’s just that clever….I don’t want to do a lot of pieces on the lockout.  I’m sick and livid about the situation.  It’s well beyond absurd with what’s going on.  And it bothers me a lot that TSN and Sportsnet give it so much attention, giving both sides the impression that anyone cares.  I care a bit, otherwise I would go on not saying a word about it.  But I don’t care very much, I just feel like I needed to point some things out.  One of which is that the players brought this on themselves.

I understand why fans are for the most part siding with the players here.  In 04/05 the owners said they needed to get their linkage and when they had their system things would be right.  And yet here we are.  So I get it, and part of me feels the same way.  But the players can’t hire Don Fehr and then cry about not having a deal done.

If they wanted to actually DEAL with Gary Bettman, then they would have brought in a guy who can get deals done.  That’s not Fehr!  Fehr is just like Bettman!  Fehr’s whole negotiating style is just like Bettman and that is to be petty, and ask for everything, and refuse to budge, and try to break the owners.  And it won’t work.  Oh and while I’m on what will and won’t work, the players rocking suits at one press conference and then rocking hats, t-shirts and shorts won’t make fans go “oh see, they’re just like you and me” either.

If the players had been smart here, they would have brought in a guy who will go to the table, and actually look to negotiate.  And it’s pretty simple to most people what needs to be done here.  The players need to give the owners a little bit of coin back here.  Not much, but some.  And they need to eventually give them 50% revenue.  If they did those 2 things, the owners would be ready to deal and THEN the players could start winning other battles.

Like they want their own hotel rooms on the road after a certain amount of games.  Once you make the revenues more owner friendly, THEN you can start getting things like that.  But if we have learned anything from the NFL and NBA lockouts, when the owners have 1 thing they’re adamant on getting, they get it.  So give them the reduction they want and go from there, you will make the money back rather than just lose more and more and more by sitting out and eventually losing it anyways.

Something else that nobody is pointing out here is that the owners know how difficult Fehr was to deal with for MLB owners.  Don’t kid yourself, the NHL owners want this guy out.  They’re looking to make this guy resign once this mess is over so they never have to put up with him again.  I can’t help but feel that a big part of this for the owners is bitterness over them bringing in a guy who would be difficult to deal with rather than a guy who would work well with the league.  The PA by bringing in Don Fehr essentially said “we don’t want to work with you guys, we want to **** you guys the way you ****** us!”  And here we are.

In the end both sides are being simply ridiculous.  But the players have to own some of this, they have to quit crying about how the owners locked them out.  I roll my eyes when Fehr says “we were willing to work on things without a lockout”.  No you weren’t Don, you did that dirty trick to the MLB owners in 94 and then went on strike causing the cancellation of the World Series.  He’s like that used car salesman who screws over a bunch of people and then can’t figure out why nobody wants to deal with him after.  And the players actually thought this would be the solution to their problems.  Maybe he will be, but it sure doesn’t look that way.

 

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MLB playoff preview

 

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest adding the extra wild card spot has been a good thing.  I know, it’s a stretch to say that.  Call me crazy but more teams in the race = more excitement in more cities.  Nice to see Bud and his boys get something right, it happens so rarely.  Ok, I won’t turn this into a “rip Bud” blog as we know I could do that non stop.  And while I complain about a lot of things in MLB, few playoffs can be more riveting.  Every pitch is huge.  By their standards, there had been some lousy post seasons from 2005-2010, but last year they got back to being amazing.  Let’s hope it’s more of the same this year!

The big story for me in the AL is that the Rangers find themselves in the wild card game after leading the AL West for just about the entire season and as I’m sure you know by now had a 13 game lead on June 30th.  For much of this season they were just leading the West but they’ve been considered the heavy favorites to go back to the World Series.  Now they’re facing a team that finds every way to win possible.  The O’s don’t do it pretty, but they find a way and come into this game having absolutely NOTHING to lose.  I would love to say I have a good idea of what will happen in this one but I don’t.  Logic says the Rangers.  They’re at home, they have all the experience, but the O’s haven’t used logic all season.  It’s Yu Darvish vs Joe Saunders and again based on talent I would give the big advantage to Darvish, but Saunders has pitched in his share of some big games and I like sending a lefty to the mound in that stadium.

Whoever wins that game gets the Yanks.  They managed to hold off the O’s for the AL East title, and in the process earn the top spot in the AL.  The offense is great as it has been forever.  But I still don’t like this pitching staff.  We all know what Sabathia brings to the table and of course it’s vital that a team has an ace to lean on.  But after that it’s a lot of question marks.  Can Andy Petiette turn back the clock?  He will have to if they want to get back to the World Series.  They’ve only got the 1 World Series title since 2000 and they’ve been known more for falling on their faces then being clutch in that time.  If they fail once again, it might be time to make major changes in the Bronx.

The Tigers are led by triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera who in my mind should be the AL MVP.  Oh yeah, they also got last years AL MVP Justin Verlander.  Every time he takes the ball they have a great shot at winning.  I actually really like that staff with Fister, Scherzer and Sanchez more than capable of locking teams up as well.  Pretty much the same team that was in the ALCS last season, excpet the lineup now has Prince Fielder.  Don’t kid yourself, if Prince isn’t in that lineup to protect Miggy then he doesn’t win a triple crown.  They have the least amount of wins out of all the playoff teams in the AL, but I’m here to tell you they’re a threat.  It’s a great lineup, great staff, people are talking about Cabrera but nobody is talking about this team heading into the playoffs and they have the ingredients to be very dangerous.

Then you have the cinderella story of the season, the Oakland A’s.  They ripped that gig from the Baltimore Orioles by taking the AL West crown from the Rangers on the last day of the season, and now the team with a rookie pitching staff (not a rookie in the staff, a rookie staff) and 15 total rookies on the roster heads to Detroit to face that Tigers team I’m high on.  Talk about a team with nothing to lose, they’ve already overachieved massively on the season.  Forget being 1 year ahead of schedule, they’re 3 or 4 years ahead of schedule!  And while most of the world now knows about moneyball, this team doesn’t follow that formula.  What they failed to MENTION in moneyball is that the A’s had the best staff in baseball during the 2002 season, just like they had in 2001 and 2003 as well.  The lineup is solid but not great, so they’ll need timely hitting and we will see how this young staff of Parker, Millone and company perform in their first postseason.

I’m going to take the Rangers experience over the O’s magic, then I’m going to take the Rangers to bounce the aging Yanks.  I will say the Tigers will sneak past the youthful A’s, and then in a rematch of last seasons ALCS I will take the Tigers to avenge their loss and get to the World Series.

I feel confident about picking the Tigers to come out of the AL.  I look at the roster and they just seem to have a bit of everything that you need to win in the postseason.  But the NL, I got to be honest here and say that I just have no idea.  All these teams are just so evenly matched.  But I will try to break it down.

Starting with the wild card game and you have the Braves against the Cards.  The Braves have been the better team all season long.  They finished 6 games ahead of the Cards, Kris Medlin has been LIGHTS OUT this season, and they have more talent.  But don’t sleep on the defending champs, this is where they live.  Nobody gave them a chance against the Phillies last year, especially in the 5th game that was in Philly, against Roy Halladay.  And all Chris Carpenter did was throw a complete game shutout and we know what happened the rest of the way.  I could argue this one either way, and all I can say right now is that if any game had the makings to be a classic, it’s this one.

The winner will get the Nationals.  And as we all know the Nats have one of the best staffs in baseball led by Stephen Strasberg.  He is amazing, he has taken MLB by storm since coming into the league in June of 2010.  Of course he had the Tommy John surgery later that season but in this his first full season back he is clearly the leader of this staff and this team won’t go anywhere without him….WOAH!  They sat him?!  Well that’s a horrible decision!  Amazingly, this Nats staff is still good enough to get them to the World Series.  Jordan Zimmerman ain’t no joke, neither is Mike Gonzalez.  You know what the storyline will be here.  If they win it will have been the best decision ever to sit Strasburg down, and if they get bounced early it will be a disaster.  I actually think it will be more about their lineup producing for them.  He may only be 19 years old, but Bryce Harper was made for the spotlight and it won’t get any brighter than in the playoffs.

For the 2nd time in 3 years the Reds took the NL Central.  It is perhaps the most quiet 2 time in 3 season division champion in baseball history.  For real, how many people even knew the Reds were in the playoffs?!  The thing I love about this team is power arms in the rotation.  Cueto, Latos, Bailey are all power arms and power pitching wins in the postseason.  Add in a crafty vet like Bronson Arroyo and I really love their staff.  Then in the pen they have Aroldis Chapman who was lights out all season.  So if they get it to the 9th, you won’t beat them.  Also love some of the sticks they have led by Toronto boy Joey Votto.  The 2010 Reds were overwhelmed, the 2012 Reds won’t be.

And finally back in the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 seasons as well are the San Francisco Giants, the 2010 World Series champs.  Simple math here sees that no Buster Posey means no playoff for the Giants.  Buster Posey was healthy all season, and the Giants are back in the playoffs.  Still don’t love this teams offense, especially without a juiced up milk man.  But the pitching staff is one of the best in baseball.  I expect Tim Lincecum to rebound with a fresh start after a horrid campaign.  Much like 2010, this team will lean heavily on the staff, but they have a ton of experience and have a knack for getting timely hits.

As I said before I don’t really have a clue what will happen as I just think all these teams are so evenly matched.  But I’m going to say the Braves will be highly motivated with this being Chippers last run, so they will get past the Cards, and knock out the Nats in 4.  I love the Reds coming in so under the radar and so I will say they take the Giants down in 4, and that leaves the Reds and Braves in the NLCS….a rematch of the 1995 NLCS.  Sorry Braves fans, Mike Devereaux isn’t walking through that door!  Fortunately for them, they won’t need Devereaux this time around.  They won’t sweep the Reds…mainly because Chipper Jones is the only player left from either of those rosters, but I will say the Braves take it in 7 games to get Chipper back to the World Series for the first time since 99.

Why do I make all these predictions?!  They’re guaranteed to go wrong!  Well…whatever.  I will take the Braves to win it all.  I like the staff, love the bullpen, like the lineup, and they’ve played a big chip on their shoulder all year after last year’s collapse.  But that’s just a predicition.  What I hope is for another amazing postseason.  They RARELY disappoint!

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups