Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mascot Fight: Hillarious! [J. Mark English]

MLB Attendance Record [J. Mark English]

Major League Baseball will set an attendance record, with 74,922,200 attending games through last night, and it is set to eclipse last years mark.

Leading the way were the Yankees with 4,138,605. The New York Mets final tally stands at 3,379,535...making a combined 7,518,140 attending games in New York City alone.

Eight teams in all drew over three million including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim...California), St. Louis Cardinals, and the Houston Astros.

MLB: A New Playoff Formula [Russell Adams]

When the New York Mets and San Diego Padres take the field for their respective first-round playoff series next week, there will be one big difference between the two teams: about $32 million.

That's the gap in what their likely starting nine players are making this year. In fact, the Mets have eight players on their roster who each alone make more than the Padres are spending on their entire starting infield, catcher included.

Thanks to opportunistic trades, calculated gambles and a predilection for underappreciated players, the Padres have assembled a legitimate contender with mostly cheap parts... (For more go to the WSJ site...)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Say It Ain't So: So Long Pedro [J. Mark English]

Deep Thought of the Day: From Ken Rosenthal [J. Mark English]

Sorry, the Mets shouldn't be shocked that right-hander Pedro Martinez is out for the postseason. If anything, they should be grateful that the fragile Martinez is their only rotation casualty.

Left-hander Tom Glavine is 40. Right-hander Steve Trachsel is 35. Right-hander Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez is believed to be significantly older than his listed age of 36. And now he's the Mets' Game 1 starter. Think maybe now the Mets regret keeping outfield prospect Lastings Milledge when they could have traded him for left-hander Barry Zito before the July 31 non-waiver deadline? - Ken Rosenthal

Terrell Owens: Truth or Consequences [EdMcGon]

The whole Terrell Owens suicide story stinks to high heaven, and his denials of a suicide attempt are not convincing me.

Over at the Dallas Morning News website, there is a revealing interview with Terrell's trainer, James Primm.

While Primm does try to confirm Terrell's story, he also gives some insightful comments which might lead one to see how Owens might have tried suicide:

"Primm said Owens underwent two traumatic events Monday involving his 7-year-old son and his fiancée, a woman he has dated for three years.

Owens' son, from a previous relationship, celebrated his birthday Monday, Primm said. Owens was distraught, he said, about not being able to be see the boy, who lives in California.

"He wanted to get together with the boy," Primm said. "But the boy could not come here, and Terrell could not go there."

Then hours later, a woman whom Primm described as Owens' fiancée broke off the relationship. Primm declined to give the woman's last name but said she and Owens had been dating for three years. She also lives in California.

"That's been coming on forever," Primm said of the breakup. "She's not a bad girl. She's cool, she's fine. He said, 'Can I take a break from the engagement?' And she said, 'No, let's just put a stop to it.' And that was a complete surprise to Terrell."

For you amateur psychologists out there, here is the meat of the story:

"...Primm says that [he and Terrell] have forged a father-son-like bond that Owens seems to need. Growing up in abject poverty in rural Alabama, Owens was raised by his mother and grandmother and, according to Primm, has long been in need of a dominant male figure in his life.

...Owens "doesn't have many friends," said the trainer, who contends that the public and news media have long misperceived a man he considers "a gentle soul" and a "caring, highly sensitive" individual with a fragile psyche.

"He's a good person," Primm said. "A very good person."

The other side of this is Kim Etheredge, Terrell's publicist, who first found him during the incident in question. During Terrell's press conference Wednesday, Etheridge denied it was a suicide attempt (although everything she told the EMT's the previous night would lead one to believe it was), and added, "Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive," a reference to Terrell's contract with the Cowboys. So the only reason Terrell has to live is his money? Or perhaps that is the only reason Etheredge sees for him to live, especially since he is her only client.

I don't know if Etheredge is exemplary of the rest of Terrell's entourage. If so, you have a man who is "highly sensitive" with a "fragile psyche", and is surrounded by people who love him strictly for his money. That has "Mike Tyson" written all over it.

Even if Etheredge is not exemplary of the rest of the people in Terrell's life, you have to wonder why she was there for him and others weren't. It may just be a coincidence. Or it may be that she carries a high status with him, in which case I feel sorry for him.

When you consider how many people stand to lose a lot of money if Terrell Owens doesn't play football, including Etheredge and Drew Rosenhaus, T.O.'s infamous agent, and you consider that a suicide attempt could cause the Cowboys to cut strings with T.O., then you can imagine how Etheredge went from trying to save T.O.'s life to denying it was a suicide attempt within the span of 24 hours.

The conspiracy theory goes like this: Etheredge comes upon what she thinks is a suicide attempt by T.O. Etheredge knows she has to save her "cash cow", otherwise she goes back to being a nobody with nothing. Ok, she saves him. Then she realizes how a suicide attempt could impact her client's career, and the spin begins.

Normally, I don't go in for conspiracy theories. But something has always struck me wrong about Terrell Owens. People don't become complete jerks for no reason. Terrell Owens strikes me as someone who is looking for love, but doesn't know how.

Terrell Owens has trouble with women because he had no fatherly role model from which to draw experience. Because of that, he mishandled the relationship with his fiancée, and lost her. Then he took it much harder than anyone expected.

Until Terrell Owens faces the truth about himself and his own inability to give love, he will continue to pay the consequences for his inability to get love.

But this is all speculation on my part. I could be wrong, and T.O. may be the completely selfish jerk he seems to be.

UPDATE: Apparently, T.O. is not as close to his trainer, James Primm, as Mr. Primm would have you believe. At least not anymore, according to a Dallas Morning News report today:

"James "Buddy" Primm, Terrell Owens' personal trainer, said Thursday that the Cowboys wide receiver had relieved him of his services and was no longer speaking to him.

In a telephone conversation with The Dallas Morning News, Mr. Owens acknowledged as much and said Mr. Primm "had no business" discussing details of his private life with the news media.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jeremy Shockey was right [EdMcGon]

Robert George brought up an interesting point to me: Have you noticed how the New York Giants offense doesn't seem to move until they go into a two minute/no-huddle offense, when the coaching staff has the LEAST impact on what they do?

As I pointed out earlier in September, I don't think Eli Manning will ever be a great quarterback as long as Kevin Gilbride is his quarterback coach. The only decent quarterbacks Gilbride has ever coached were Mark Brunell and Warren Moon, and both of them were well-coached before Gilbride ever got his hands on them.

Perhaps we should look at John Hufnagel, the offensive coordinator? According to the Giants website, Hufnagel is responsible for "devising game plans and calling plays".

Hufnagel spent most of the 90's coaching in the CFL, where he got to coach Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia. Impressive resume fact, but it was the CFL. So what has he done in the NFL to warrant becoming an offensive coordinator?

Hufnagel has extensive experience as a quarterback coach. His first job as a quarterback coach was in 1999-2000, where he got to develop Tim Couch, who is currently...not playing.

In 2001, Hufnagel got to coach Peyton Manning, who had already been in the NFL for three years prior. After that, Hufnagel left for Jacksonville in 2002, where he coached Mark Brunell. Hufnagel moved on again in 2003, to the Patriots, where he got to coach Tom Brady, who had already won one Super Bowl by then.

I have to give Hufnagel credit. He has worked with some pretty good quarterbacks...who were already pretty good by the time he got there.

Of course, I am curious why Hufnagel seems to have a problem keeping his job? Before coming to the Giants, he had four consecutive quarterback coaching jobs with four different teams within five years. Why is this guy qualified to be an offensive coordinator?

Based on the Giants offensive performance the last two weeks, I feel confident saying Hufnagel is NOT qualified. I also think Jeremy Shockey's initial impression of Sunday's game against Seattle was right on the money: "We got outplayed, and outcoached."

Especially the "outcoached" part.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Parcells/T.O.: Spin Cycle [J. Mark English]

There was no suicide attempt. I went home yesterday after I left the facility. I took a couple of pain pills, and then I had some treatment, I had a physician over treating my hand. And I think after that, I was kind of groggy a little bit, and kind of took some extra pills with my supplements.
The 911 call with Kim, she made because there were some pills that I had separated and the bottle was on the table and it was empty. the rest of the pills were in a drawer, so I think she felt like that I had taken all of the pills and like I was non-responsive, and I think when she made that call, she made a call out of her judgment as far as my well-being. And I think the rumor of me taking 35 pills, I think is absurd. I don't think I'd be here if I had taken 35 pills. Just to dispel rumors that I got my stomach pumped, that's definitely untrue. - Terrell Owens
"I don't know what the hell is going on...Most of the people here probably know more than I do...I really don't think this is a team distraction. I think this is simply an unfortunate set of circumstances." - Bill Parcells

T.O.: Did He or Not? [J. Mark English]

"Man, that didn't happen..." - Terrell Owens

But the police report says:

Football Tragedy: T.O. Attempts Suicide [J. Mark English]

DALLAS (AP) -- Flamboyant Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens tried to kill himself by overdosing on pain medication, even putting two more pills into his mouth after a friend intervened, according to a police report obtained Wednesday.
The report said Owens was asked by rescue workers "if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time (he) stated, 'Yes."'
The Dallas police report said the 32-year-old Owens told his friend "that he was depressed." Details of the police report were first reported by WFAA-TV. Police scheduled a news conference for later Wednesday morning.
This story will be covered in the media more then likely as an extension of the circus show that has surrounded T.O. over the many years.
Instead the media, and the football world should take a step back and realize that this is no longer a story about a football player's unsatisfied ego...but rather a person who is caught in the grips of depression. The hope is that T.O. will receive the help he really needs to escape the mental trauma that has led him to try to take his own life. More then likely this may require him to step away from football.
Many of us have at least known of people who have taken their own lives, or have tried. For the few that have not, they are lucky. Suicide, and attempted suicide is a human tragedy, and creates a sense of wonder of just how low one's confidence must be to take the final plunge.
This story transcends sports, and is much more important then anything T.O. has done on the field. There will be interviews on ESPN of headlining Psychiatrists analyzing what could have been going on in the head of such a talented football player. The hope would be that this can create national awareness to the severity of mental anguish. And the help that those stricken with mental despair really need.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Predictions [EdMcGon]

After my pitiful week 3 results, it is time to climb back on the horse.

QB: Marc Bulger should get the wheels on the Rams passing game as Detroit comes to St. Louis.

For our no-brainer of the week, Donovon McNabb looks super sweet against Green Bay's lousy pass defense on Monday night.

RB: Ronnie Brown should look like Earl Campbell against Houston.

Speaking of great Texas running backs, how about Julius Jones against Tennessee this week? Maybe Jones isn't great, but he should look like it this week.

WR: Chris Chambers should get more than a few looks from Daunte Culpepper against the woeful Texans.

Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce should be able to break into the end zone against Detroit's gasless secondary.

Do I need to tell you Donte' Stallworth will score big against Green Bay?

TE: Speaking of Green Bay, how about L.J. Smith? Against the Pack, L.J. looks like a nice play this week.

This may sound like a no-brainer pick, but Tony Gonzalez doesn't set the NFL on fire any more (12 catches, 88 yards, 1 td after two games this year). However, he should be able to burn the 49ers.

K: Buffalo's Rian Lindell has quietly gone 6/6 this year. Expect Minnesota's bend-but-don't-break defense to give Lindell a few more opportunities.

The Eagles should put up a ton of points against the Packers, including field goals. David Akers should shine.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: The Lions will sleep among the Lambs this week. At least the Lions offense will, which should allow the Rams to notch a nice defensive performance.

Da Bears at home against the Shaun Alexander-less Seahawks? This could get ugly.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Week 3 Fantasy Football Results [EdMcGon]

Ok, I admit it: I stunk it up with last week's predictions.

Here is the damage:

WR Roy Williams: 7 catches, 138 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
K Matt Stover: 3 field goals (including a 52-yarder)
Ravens DEF/ST: 7 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovered, 14 points allowed

QB Byron Leftwich: 107 passing yards, 1 pass touchdown, 2 interceptions, 14 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
QB Daunte Culpepper: 168 passing yards, 5 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
RB Ronnie Brown: 90 rushing yards, 10 receiving yards
RB Steven Jackson: 62 rushing yards, 59 receiving yards

WR Chris Chambers: 4 catches, 39 receiving yards, 39 rushing yards
WR Santana Moss: 6 catches, 50 receiving yards, 2 rushing yards
WR Donald Driver: 3 catches, 20 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, -1 rushing yard
TE Chris Cooley: 4 catches, 18 receiving yards
TE Vernon Davis: big goose egg
K Stephen Gostkowski: 1 extra point
Patriots DEF/ST: 17 points allowed
Panthers DEF/ST: 1 interception, 1 sack, 24 points allowed

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Orleans Ready for Some Football [J. Mark English]

The transformation will begin Monday night with performances by U2 and Green Day. Former President George H. W. Bush, who was nominated at the Superdome in 1988, will flip the coin. News media outlets will include Al Jazeera. Archie Manning, patriarch of New Orleans football, will broadcast for the Home Shopping Network, which is selling N.F.L. merchandise with part of the proceeds going to Katrina relief....
During construction this summer, a small cardboard sculpture was sent to the workers at the Superdome. On one side of the sculpture was a rendering of the dome. On the other side was the rendering of a house. The dome was completed. The house was still damaged.
Connecting the dome to the house was a set of angel wings. -
Lee Jenkins

Quarterback intangibles [EdMcGon]

In my post "The best quarterback of all time", I received a lot of positive feedback from a lot of you, and I truly appreciate it.

I got one comment, from my buddy Myrhaf, which deserves a full response:
"But seriously, I'm sure your statistical analysis is sound. However, I wonder how you measure intangibles, such as will to win, work ethic, intelligence, etc. Do those traits show up in statistics? What if a great quarterback is on a bad team? And what about charisma, fame and overall impact on the game, as in the case of Joe Namath, who became a cultural icon? Should that be a factored in? Broadway Joe probably got more women to watch football on Sunday than anyone else in history. Isn't that important? Is there a difference between importance to the game and greatness as a quarterback?"

A great quarterback's intangibles will show up statistically IF the rest of his team is good enough. Football is a team sport. Unlike golf or tennis, greatness at any football position has to be viewed within the context of the team. Objectively viewing quarterbacking greatness can only be accomplished through statistics, including but not limited to championships. It is there that we view the meeting of ability with opportunity.

Consider "will to win". No matter how much a quarterback wants to win, he cannot do it if his receivers drop his passes, the running back fumbles a lot, and his team's defense is a sieve. On the other hand, a quarterback who is surrounded by a great team, but is otherwise not very capable, may not win despite his desire.

How about "work ethic"? Ask Billy Volek how important work ethic is. He went from being named the Titans starting quarterback in the preseason, to being demoted to second string, to being traded in the same year. From what I hear, it was all because he took the starting job for granted. In the modern era, quarterbacks HAVE to have a good work ethic. We could say Peyton Manning has a better work ethic than Tom Brady, but does that mean Brady is a slacker? No.

"Intelligence" is one of the odder intangibles. Clearly a certain amount of intelligence is required to even be able to play quarterback in the NFL. Beyond that, what does greater intelligence gain a quarterback? Consider the following two Wonderlic scores (which measures intelligence): Dan Marino - 16, Ryan Leaf - 27. Or how about Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach? I think Staubach would have given up a few brain cells to have won the two Super Bowls he lost to Bradshaw.

The "great quarterback/bad team" (otherwise known as "The Archie Manning Dilemna") is the hardest part to quantify. How much does a bad team detract from a great quarterback's statistics?

Imagine if you were the world's best accountant, but you were working for the world's worst company. While your work would be perfect, you would continue to receive no recognition, all because the company was awful. But you stay there year after year, doing perfect work, but accomplishing little in your career. Whose fault is that?

At some point, a quarterback has to realize a team will not help him win. Sometimes, your decision about where to work can be every bit as important as how well you work. In Manning's defense, the free agency rules of the 70's made it a lot tougher to change teams. But Manning never tried until he was already past his prime.

"Charisma, fame, and overall impact on the game". This is the style-over-substance factor. But this also comes into direct conflict with the "great quarterback/bad team" factor. Joe Namath clearly had more charisma, fame, and overall impact on the game than Archie Manning. Ironically, they both played 13 seasons, with almost the same number of pass attempts (Manning had 3,642, while Namath had 3,762). Statistically, theie career numbers are very close (Manning's numbers are first):

Completion percentage: 55.2% vs. 50.1%
Average gain per attempt: 6.57 vs. 7.35
Touchdown percentage: 3.4% vs. 4.6%
Interception percentage: 4.75% vs. 5.85%
Super Bowl championships: 0 vs. 1
Average rush yards per carry: 5.7 vs. 2.0
Passer rating: 67.1 vs. 65.5

At the very least, the statistics prove that Manning belongs in the same class as Namath.

But what about that Super Bowl? The "guaranty"? The first AFL victory over the NFL in a championship game? Namath's importance in the history of the NFL is unquestionable. But by any objective measure, he cannot be named the best quarterback in NFL history. He was immobile and threw too many interceptions. By today's NFL standards, he would be lucky to make a team. Don't believe me? Consider Ryan Leaf, who is considered a failure by modern standards. Leaf's career interception percentage of 5.5% is better than Namath's.

Looking back at Namath's career, the Jets won IN SPITE OF Namath, NOT BECAUSE OF Namath. Even if you look at that one Super Bowl, what did Namath do? Heck, running back Matt Snell, with 30 carries for 121 yards and the Jets only touchdown, deserves more credit for the win than Joe Namath does. All Namath did was NOT throw an interception.

While Namath has become part of football folklore, I would actually give the Chiefs credit for sealing the AFL legitimacy argument. Their victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV gave the AFL two wins out of the first four Super Bowls.

Namath is proof that importance to the game and greatness as a quarterback are two very different things. Namath is proof that historical importance is subjective.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Best Quarterback of All Time [EdMcGon]

I have been asked to rate the best quarterbacks of all time. Who am I to say no?

I will resist the urge to include those guys who are still playing. Although I will include references to current players where they are comparable or even better than the ones I list.

The first quality all rookie quarterbacks must learn is game management. By this I mean the ability to avoid mistakes. Bad game managers today include the likes of Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper. While these two are capable of big plays, they both try to do too much, effectively hurting their teams more than helping them.

On the barest levels, good game managers include Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson. Unfortunately for those two, that is ALL they are. But as they have proven, you have to be at LEAST a good game manager if you want to win a Super Bowl.

I am tempted to give the best game manager of all time to Sammy Baugh. To this day, he still holds the NFL record for most seasons leading the league with the lowest percentage of passes intercepted, with five seasons. There are five players tied with three seasons behind him. None of those five players are playing today.

But, if you look at Baugh's career as a whole, he threw more interceptions in 9 out of the 16 seasons he played.

For consistency over the entirety of his career, I have to give it to Neil O'Donnell. As soon as you clean your drink off your monitor, I will continue.

Believe it or not, O'Donnell holds the NFL record for lowest percentage of interceptions in his career (2.11). In his 13 year career, O'Donnell only had two seasons where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and he only played in 6 games both of those years.

O'Donnell did manage to lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl in 1995, where they lost to the Cowboys 27-17.

In order to throw a lot of touchdowns, you have to be able to throw the ball in the red zone. You won't make a career out of only lobbing 70 yard bombs. You also have to be able to toss the little two yard pass to the tackle eligible in the end zone.

Of the current quarterbacks, Peyton Manning seems most ready to break some career records, having already obtained a few NFL records (most TD passes in a season with 49, most TD passes in his rookie season with 26, most consecutive games with 4 or more TD passes with 5).

Unfortunately for Manning, he still has a long way to go to catch Dan Marino's career touchdown pass record of 420. As of last year, Manning only had 244 TD passes.

While Marino may lead on quantity of touchdown passes over a career, we have to consider the pass-happy nature of the NFL during Marino's career. Even with Marino's prolific touchdown numbers, there is another quarterback who still holds a lot of significant touchdown records from a less pass-happy era: Johnny Unitas.

Consider Unitas's touchdown records. He is tied for most seasons leading the league in td passes with 4 seasons (tied with Len Dawson, Steve Young, and Brett Favre) but only Unitas's 4 seasons were consecutive (from 1957 to 1960). In football's version of Joe Dimaggio's famed hitting streak, Unitas holds the record for most consecutive games with a td pass, 47 (next closest is Brett Favre with 36).

In addition, Unitas is third on the list of career games with 4 or more td passes (17). Only Marino (21) and Favre (19) are ahead of him.

A quick release is not necessary to be a great quarterback, but it seems the great ones tend to have quicker releases than most quarterbacks.

The first quarterback to have an exceptionally quick release was Joe Namath, but the quickest of all time belongs to Dan Marino.

Of today's quarterbacks, the one who impresses me the most is Vince Young. If you watch him closely, you can see that his release is comparable to Marino's release. I won't say Young will be another Marino, but his release should help him to have a good career.

By itself, arm strength is nice, but it won't win games.

Early in his career, Doug Williams had the strongest arm I have ever seen. Unfortunately, when he threw little passes into the flat, the ball would bounce off the receiver because it was uncatchable.

For arm strength to be effective, it has to be combined with touch on shorter passes.

In this category, average gain per pass attempted tells us the quarterback is using his arm strength to its ultimate advantage.

Unfortunately, the two quarterbacks who rate the highest in this are from VERY different eras: Sid Luckman and Steve Young.

Luckman is second all time to Otto Graham in average gain (8.42 to 8.63). I don't include Graham because he only played 6 years in the NFL, whereas Luckman played 12 years.

In addition, Luckman holds the following records: led the league in average gain 7 times, and had the most consecutive seasons leading the league in average gain (5). Luckman also had the second highest single season average gain, with 10.86 in 1943.

While Luckman's records are impressive, I have to give equal consideration to someone I have actually seen play. In the modern era, Steve Young used his arm strength the best.

Young stands firmly in second to Luckman's NFL records for average gain. Young's greatest asset was his ability to stretch the 49ers West Coast Offense with his arm strength. Even though Young was not known for his arm strength, this is deceptive since he was nearly as accurate on deeper passes as he was on shorter passes.

Joe Montana may get the kudos for the success of the West Coast Offense, but Steve Young took it to another level, all because Young could stretch the field with a greater arm strength than Montana possessed.

Of today's quarterbacks, Kurt Warner is the best in average gain, as he is already third on the all time list with 8.21. We will see if he can maintain or improve on that before he retires. At the peak of Warner's career, he was certainly comparable to Steve Young.

Accuracy is another of those areas where it is difficult to compare quarterbacks from the modern era, where short passes are more frequently thrown, with those from previous eras.

If you look at the record for highest career completion percentage, you will see three current quarterbacks (Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, and Daunte Culpepper). But will they still be there when they retire? Perhaps Warner, but I would not bet on the other two.

For modern era quarterbacks, I would have to name Steve Young as the most accurate. having led the NFL in completion percentage 5 times, with 4 of them coming in consecutive years.

However, Len Dawson was the most accurate of the old era quarterbacks, having led the NFL in completion percentage a whopping 8 times, with 6 of them coming in consecutive years.

In a team sport, the championship stands out as the ultimate test of how much a quarterback is helping his team.

This is the biggest no-brainer of all the quarterback categories. Bart Starr stands above everyone with 5 NFL championships and the first 2 Super Bowl victories to his credit.

Currently, Tom Brady, with 3 Super Bowl victories under his belt, looks the most ready to challenge Starr's record.

Should running ability be considered when looking at great quarterbacks? Currently, I would say no. But after watching what Mike Vick did to the Buccaneers last weekend, I cannot say this will always be true.

Take college football for example. A great running quarterback can lead a team to a national championship (like Vince Young did at Texas). Could this happen in the NFL? History would say no.

But history also used to say that a team without a running game could not win a championship. Enter the 1981 49ers to prove that wrong.

Will Mike Vick redefine the quarterback position? Perhaps, but his talent is freakish.

Vick is clearly the best running quarterback of all time. However, for the sake of choosing a retired quarterback, I would have to name Randall Cunningham the best I ever saw, at least until Vick retires.

What I have shown to this point are the best quarterbacks in every facet of the quarterbacking position. But the ultimate test of a quarterback is the guy who can use the quarterback position to carry the rest of his team to victory. The best quarterbacks I have seen, in no particular order: Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Ken Stabler, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Johnny Unitas.

Of those, Steve Young stands out from the rest in most of the categories of quarterbacking excellence.

GAME MANAGEMENT: Young's career 2.5% interception percentage compares favorably with Neil O'Donnell's 2.1%.

TOUCHDOWNS: Young is tied with Unitas for seasons leading the league in td passes (4) and is second behind Unitas with 3 consecutive seasons leading the NFL.

RELEASE: Compared to Marino, this is Young's weak suit. However, Young's release was more than adequate.

ARM STRENGTH/AVERAGE GAIN: Young was the best of the modern era.

ACCURACY: Again, Young was the best of the modern era.

CHAMPIONSHIPS: With only one Super Bowl win to his credit (although Young was named the MVP), Young is pretty weak in this category. Still, there are plenty of great quarterbacks who would gladly switch places with Young (such as Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino).

RUSHING: With 4,239 career rushing yards, 5.9 rushing average, and 43 rushing touchdowns, Young compares favorably to Randall Cunningham's 4,928 rushing yards, 6.4 rushing average, and only 35 rushing touchdowns.

Any mention of Steve Young as the greatest quarterback of all time will naturally draw the comparison to Joe Montana. Let us look at the career numbers (Young's numbers are shown first below. NFL career records are marked with an asterisk):

Completion Percentage: 64.3% vs. 63.2%
Average Gain per Attempt: 7.98 vs. 7.52
Touchdown Percentage: 5.6% vs. 5.1%
Interception Percentage: 2.5789% vs. 2.5783%
Super Bowl Championships: 1 vs. 4*
Average Rushing Yards per Carry: 5.9 vs. 3.7
Passer Rating: 96.8* vs. 92.3

When you consider Young's numbers are a little skewed by spending two horrendous years at Tampa Bay during the start of his career, Young's numbers are even more impressive.

One other thing to consider: If the 49ers had a better defense during the 90's, who knows how many Super Bowls Young might have won?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pedro Martinez: Saviour or Fool? [J. Mark English]

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune:
Omitted, all the voyage of their life,
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. - William Shakespeare, Caesar, 1599

What the New York Mets have accomplished thus far in this season will mean nothing if they lose in the first round, or even in the second. There has been a curse on the divison winner of the National League East over the last 20 years.
Only one team from the division has won a World Series since 1986. The Atlanta Braves won in 1995, but it was in a strike shortened season which tarnishes the achievement of that team. The Atlanta Braves will best be remembered for winning 14 division championships in a row and having hardly anything to show for it.
The other teams to climb near the pinnacle have been the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. The Phillies lost a heart breaking game six to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 off the bat of Joe Carter, crushing the career of "wild thing" Mitch Williams. And the Mets lost to their crosstown rival, the Yankees in 2000, adding to their second team status here in Gotham.
Finally, the Mets moment has arrived. In this post season they can wash away the curses that has settled on this division. Furthermore, they can excercise the ghosts of Gotham and take back the World Series, and the city from the Yankees.
But if Pedro Martinez can not find the right stuff by the time the post season begins, then this team will be doomed. Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca...all these great hitters can be tamed. If you don't believe this...then look at how the Yankees great line ups have been shut down over the past two years in the playoffs. The Angels silenced the Yankee bats last year, and the Red Sox, down 3-0 in the ALCS of 2004, came back because of their pitching, not just their hitting.
Pedro Martinez was brought in to deliver a World Championship to this team. If injury prevents him from standing up when the team needs him most...then once again, a team from the NL East will sit on the sidelines as another team sips the champagne...tasting the sweet success of notching another World Series.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yanks Clinch 9th Division Championship: The Boss Chimes In [J. Mark English]

"Winning the division title is very gratifying to me because it shows the total Yankee organization - on and off the field - demonstrating incredible guts, smarts and quality in the face of adversity and stiff competition...This is just the first step, and I'm excited about playing hard to win the championship.'' - George Steinbrenner

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jurgenson vs. Kilmer

Sonny Jurgenson vs. Billy Kilmer is one of the great football barroom arguments of all time, often inspiring seemingly political partisanship in Washington, where they played for the Redskins back in the 1970's.

Based on pure passing ability, Jurgenson wins hands down. Vince Lombardi said of him, "Jurgensen is a great quarterback. He hangs in there under adverse conditions. He may be the best the league has ever seen. He is the best I have seen."

In passing statistics, Jurgenson had 2,433 pass completions for 32,224 yards and 255 touchdowns and 189 interceptions. Kilmer had a pedestrian 1,585 completions for 20,495 yards and 152 touchdowns and 146 interceptions.

In post-career honors, Jurgenson wins again, since he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Washington Hall of Stars, and the Eagles Honor Roll. Kilmer only made it to the Washington Hall of Stars.

Argument over, right? Not quite.

In rushing stats, Jurgenson had 493 yards and 15 touchdowns over his 18 year career. Over Kilmer's 16 seasons, he rushed for 1509 yards and 21 touchdowns. But that is not a fair comparison, since Kilmer started out as a running back for San Francisco, where he had 987 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two years. By the time Kilmer got to D.C., his legs were shot.

How about Super Bowls? The Redskins made one appearance during the Jurgenson-Kilmer years. Jurgenson got hurt early in the 1972 season. Kilmer led the Skins to Super Bowl VII, where the Skins lost to the Dolphins to complete Miami's "perfect season".

Sorry Kilmer, but losing a Super Bowl does NOT make you a better quarterback than Sonny Jurgenson.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Predictions [EdMcGon]

For you fantasy footballers out there, don't forget this coming weekend is the first of the bye weeks, with Dallas, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego taking a hiatus.

One intriguing coincidence I noticed was the two teams at the bottom of the NFL passing rankings both played against Indianapolis so far (the Giants and the Texans). I guess we can expect to see Jacksonville joining them shortly?

As for rushing, the two teams at the bottom of the NFL rankings (the Panthers and the Buccaneers) both played against Atlanta. Next up: New Orleans.

QB: While piling up tremendous passing numbers of their own, Indianapolis seems to give up a lot at garbage time, allowing both Eli Manning and David Carr to pull out decent games at the end. Expect Byron Leftwich to have a little more success earlier to add to whatever he gets in garbage time.

Is this Daunte Culpepper's coming out week? If he is going to, this week against Tennessee is a good place to start. The Titans have made both Chad Pennington and Phil Rivers look good so far.

RB: Speaking of the Titans, their run defense is just as bad as their pass defense. Hello Ronnie Brown.

For my no-brainer pick of the week, the Rams Steven Jackson should get 2 touchdowns against Arizona's defense.

WR: If Roy Williams is going to ever look like a number one receiver, this week against Green Bay is a great place to start.

A few others to look for good games from this week: Chris Chambers, Santana Moss, and Donald Driver.

TE: Chris Cooley of the Redskins should do well against the Texans.

Look for Vernon Davis of the 49ers to get a touchdown and 4-5 catches this week against the Eagles.

K: I will be the first to admit, my kicker predictions have been crap so far this year. So take these with a grain of salt. And a shot of tequila.

The Broncos have been displaying a lot of "bend, don't break" defense this year, so the Patriots rookie Stephen Gostkowski should have a decent game at home against Shanahan's boys.

Pssst! Want a really good waiver wire pickup? If he is available in your league, get the Ravens Matt Stover. He is going to have a good year, and this week will be no exception against the hapless Brownies.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: I can imagine Dean Pees, the Patriots defensive coordinator, was salivating when he was watching the game film from the Broncos first two games. Especially the parts with Jake Plummer passing. Take the Patriots defense this week and enjoy the Sunday Night game.

You also have to love the Panthers against the Buccaneers. The way Gruden is completely ruining Chris Simms is sad to watch, but I am sure the Panthers won't mind.

One more no-brainer this week: take the Ravens against the Browns. Poor Charlie Frye.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

N.Y. Mets: Thank You Fred, Omar, & Willie [J. Mark English]

It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever - the one who recognizes the challenges and does something about it. - Vince Lombardi

Dear Fred, Omar & Willie:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Grateful does not begin to describe the Met fan feels. You have brought to the Queens even some of that, dare I say...Yankee way.
Thank you for nurturing the farm system. Thank you for not trading prospects before they became stars. Thank you for Jose Reyes, David Wright, Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman, John Maine and the countless other players they have come up from Norfolk and contributed to this team.
Thank you for opening your wallets indiscriminately. Thank you for Pedro Martinez. Thank you for Carlos Beltran. Thank you also for Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca. And yes...thank you for the trades...even the bad ones...even the Kazmir trade (hope he recovers from his injury soon)...Thank you for the momentary time we had with Xavier Nady...but thank you for El Duque, Roberto Hernandez, John Valentine, and Shawn Green.
And thank you for stick with the old timers like Steve Traeschal and Tom Glavine.
Thank you for bring fun back into Shea Stadium.
We've won the division, and now everything this is gravy the rest of the season.
Thank you for October. Thank you for a golden autumn us Met fans have to look forward too.
And thank you for the many more October baseball to come in Shea, and then eventually in our new ball park.
And thank you for the network that will broadcast all our games.
Thank you for all of this...from the bottom of this Mets fan heart.
Yours truly,
J. Mark English

Fantasy Football Results from Week 2 [EdMcGon]

Here are the results from my week 2 fantasy football predictions:

QB Peyton Manning: 400 passing yards, 3 touchdowns
QB David Carr: 219 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 10 rushing yards
RB Chester Taylor: 113 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards
WR Marvin Harrison: 7 catches, 127 yards
WR Reggie Wayne: 6 catches, 135 yards
WR Andre Johnson: 4 catches, 56 yards, 1 touchdown
K Shayne Graham: 2 field goals, 4 extra points
Ravens DEF/ST: 3 fumbles recovered, 3 interceptions, 6 sacks, 1 safety, 6 points allowed

RB Shaun Alexander: 89 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
TE Antonio Gates: 4 catches, 55 yards
TE Todd Heap: 5 catches, 17 yards, 1 touchdown

WR Eric Moulds: 4 catches, 59 yards
TE Daniel Wilcox: no stats
K Lawrence Tynes: 2 field goals
Saints DEF/ST: 1 fumble recovered, 1 interception, 2 sacks, 27 points allowed

You may wonder why I put Alexander, Gates, and Heap in the "Ties" category. Simply put, they underperformed. Those numbers might be good for anyone else, but 89 yards and a touchdown from a top 3 running back? Not good enough. Same for the tight end numbers.

Andre Johnson just managed to squeak into the "Winners" column with that touchdown. Minus that, he joins Moulds in the "Losers".

Monday, September 18, 2006

What a Difference a Quarter & OT Makes... [J. Mark English]

For most of yesterday's game against the Eagles, the New York Giants were facing the reality of a lost cause; a lost season.

The day before my own spirits had been crushed by Notre Dame, when they lost at home in South Bend to Michigan 47-21.

The bar where I found myself watching the Giants yesterday also had the Mets game on. The Mets' magic number remains at one after being swept by the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. What is wrong with the universe? The Mets can't score against an inept team, the No. 2 Irish are destroyed at home, and now the Giants are being beaten in every facet of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Then suddenly, a miracle occurs.
Plaxico fumbles, but instead of the Eagles squashing the hope of all Giant fans, Tim Carter finds the ball in the endzone, and the Giants are alive and well at 24-14 early in the 4th quarter.
With momentum taking a 180 degree turn, the Eagles can't move the ball, and the Giants turn into a Super Bowl contender at the flip of a switch.
Tom Coughlin was brought in by the Giants to discipline a team that seemed to have none under Jim Fassell.
To Fassell's credit, discipline may not have been the problem. But mental breakdowns were. There were countless games, and most notably the playoff games against the Vikings in 1997, and the 49ers in 2002 where the Giants outplayed their opponents for three quarters and then just shut down as a whole unit.
Under Coughlin, rare is the game where the Giants don't at least have hope at the end of the game. Most of the Giant wins are not pretty, but they sure do fight despite many of their own mistakes. Last week against the Colts, they may have put themselves in countless holes that seemed impossible to climb out of, but at least at the end of the game they still had a fighting chance to produce a victory. And yesterday, the Giants still had fight in them...they still had pride.
Who knows where this team will go from here. But whether they win or lose the rest of the way, Coughlin can at least count on this team fighting to the bitter end.
My spirits are back, and I'm ready for some more football. And hopefully some champagne after the Mets beat the Marlins tonight at Shea.

Back to the Future: The Atlanta Falcons Innovative Offense [EdMcGon]

I watched the Atlanta Falcons dismantle the Buccaneers yesterday and something occurred to me: This Falcon offense is actually innovative.

While no one will call the option offense innovative, since it has been used extensively on the college level for decades, no one has been able to bring it to the pro level, due to defensive players being too fast. Until the Falcons did it this year.

I take back everything I ever said about Jim Mora and Michael Vick. Credit Mora for trying it, and Vick for executing it.

But there is a catch to this: ONLY Michael Vick could pull this off. It would take an extremely athletic (Read: FAST) quarterback to run an option offense at the pro level.

But there are questions to be resolved: Can Vick stay healthy all year? What happens when they play against a good 3-4 defense, like when they play against the Steelers on October 22nd? How will this new offense do in the playoffs, assuming they make it?

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions. In the meantime, enjoy the show.

A Bloggers Mea Culpa [J. Mark English]

Last Sunday night, I had the misfortune of being one of the 80,000 at Giants Stadium to see Big Blue lose to the Colts.
I lost not only my voice, but my pride in sports for about one week. The loss brought my sports personality deep down into the depths of depression.
This blog suffered due to negligence on my part. Accept my mea culpa, and I promise to not let upsetting losses hurt the performance on this site.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mets: Hold the Champers; Pedro in Anguish [J. Mark English]

New York Mets: Champagne on Ice; Pedro Takes the Mound [J. Mark English]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fantasy football tips for Week 2 [EdMcGon]

QB: Peyton Manning serves as the no-brainer pick of the week. While you should start him anyway, you have to feel good going against the woeful Houston Texans, especially considering what Donovan McNabb did to them last week (314 yards and 3 td's).

On the flip side, I also like David Carr against the Colts. The Giants pulled a lot of boneheaded blunders that lost them the game against the Colts last week. If the Texans can keep the blunders to a minimum, expect a fun game of pinball between these two offenses.

RB: If Shaun Alexander cannot run on the Cardinals, he should retire. The Cards made Frank Gore look like Marshall Faulk last week.

Was the Panther defense last week that bad, or was the Falcon running game that good? We will find out this week when Chester Taylor of the Vikings gets a crack at the Panthers. With LB Dan Morgan out for the Panthers, Taylor looks like an even better play.

WR: Along with the Manning no-brainer above, I have to also include Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Throw in Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds for the full Colts-Texans list of receivers to play.

TE: Repeat after me: Antonio Gates, Antonio Gates, Antonio Gates...

Seriously, Gates should put up some better numbers against the woeful Titans this week.

The Todd Heap/Daniel Wilcox two-headed tight end monster in Baltimore should have a walk-through over the Raiders this week.

K: Considering what Jeff Wilkins of the Rams did to the Broncos last week, you have to like Lawrence Tynes of the Chiefs this week. As long as Jake Plummer is playing QB for the Broncos, their opponents should have plenty of oppurtunities in field goal range.

Shayne Graham of the Bengals should also have a solid week against the Browns.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: You have to love the Saints defense/special teams this week for two reasons. First, they get to feast at the Brett Favre buffet. Second, Reggie Bush returning punts.

Do I even need to suggest taking the Ravens against the Raiders? Jerry Porter should be laughing it up again this week.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fantasy football review: Week 1 predictions [EdMcGon]

Time to toot my own horn. My week 1 predictions were not too bad. Ok, they were great:

*QB Kurt Warner: 301 passing yards, 3 touchdowns
QB Chad Pennington: 319 passing yards, 2 touchdowns
*RB Tatum Bell: 103 rushing yards
*RB Mike Bell: 58 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
RB LaDainian Tomlinson: 131 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
RB Frank Gore: 87 rushing yards, 83 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
*WR Anquan Boldin: 4 catches, 62 yards, 1 touchdown
*WR Larry Fitzgerald: 9 catches, 133 yards
WR Laveranues Coles: 8 catches, 153 yards
WR Jerricho Cotchery: 6 catches, 65 yards, 1 touchdown
*TE Antonio Gates: 2 catches, 26 yards, 1 touchdown
TE Dallas Clark: 3 catches, 39 yards, 1 touchdown
*Bears Defense/Special Teams: 0 points allowed, 1 fumble recovered, 2 interceptions, 3 sacks, 1 punt return touchdown

*K Jason Hanson: 2 field goals

RB Shaun Alexander: 51 rushing yards, 1 receiving yard
WR Chad Johnson: 5 catches, 48 yards
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh: did not play
K Phil Dawson: 2 extra points
Broncos Defense/Special Teams: 18 points allowed, 3 sacks

My first picks, highlighted by an "*", were clearly better than my second and third picks. I may have to limit myself going forward.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th, 2001: Thoughts and Prayers [J. Mark English]

For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire. - President George W. Bush

During a Boston Red Sox game there was a sign held up saying Boston loves New York. - Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

Five years have come, and five years have gone, and still we stand together as one...We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary - and each person who died here - those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us." - Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty. - President John F. Kennedy

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom. - President George W. Bush

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. - President Abraham Lincoln

O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt

September 11th, 2001: Never Forget [J. Mark English]

Ten things from the opening NFL Sunday [EdMcGon]

1. I was over at my dad's house to see the games on NFL Sunday Ticket. They have a new "Superfan" package, which was free this weekend. I happened to watch the new "Redzone Channel"(RZC), which is included in "Superfan".

For the 1:00 games, RZC was PERFECT! It takes you to whatever game is having something interesting happen. It is a football junkie's dream come true! When Vince Young played his first series, I saw it. When teams were in the red zone, I saw it.

But then the 4:00 games happened. RZC was too caught up in the Jacksonville-Dallas game. Truth be told, the Arizona-San Francisco game was a LOT more fun to watch.

The lesson learned is that RZC is great when the NFL has a lot of games on, but not so good with fewer games.

2. Speaking of Arizona-San Francisco, that was the game of the day. Tons of offense with just a smattering of defense for dramatic effect.

Even though the 49ers lost, running back Frank Gore is one to watch. He looks a lot like Charlie Garner. The 49ers will be competitive this year just because of Gore.

Kurt Warner is back. He has not looked this good since his days with the Rams. He is a perfect fit for this offense. If he stays healthy, there is no quarterback controversy here. Matt Leinart will be holding the clipboard the rest of the year.

3. On the subject of quarterback controversies, hey Jake Plummer! You hear that sound? That is the growing chorus of Denver fans calling for Jay Cutler! Get used to it. You will be hearing it for the rest of the year.

Seriously, Denver-St. Louis was the second best game of the day (I am not counting the Indianapolis-N.Y. Giants game last night because I did not stay up and watch it, although it looked good from the highlights I saw).

The Broncos should have won it, except for Plummer, who kept giving the ball away. In Plummer's defense, his lone fumble could be partially blamed on having rookie running back Mike Bell try and pass block Rams defensive end Leonard Little. In a "Welcome to the NFL, rookie", Little flattened Bell on his way to Plummer. I wonder what genius thought of that pass blocking scheme? Hello, Mike Shanahan.

4. I think the ghost of Jerome Bettis has possessed Rams running back Steven Jackson. I am sure a few Bronco defenders were having nightmares about Jackson last night. It looked painful trying to tackle him.

5. Saints running back Reggie Bush looks like the second coming of Lenny Moore. Too bad Drew Brees is nowhere close to looking like Johnny Unitas.

That said, it is almost sinful for the Saints to be blessed with two running backs like Bush and Deuce McAllister. The last time the Saints had two running backs of this caliber was in the early 80's when they had George Rogers and Earl Campbell. But I would take Bush and McAllister over Rogers and Campbell any time.

6. QB Vince Young probably pulled off the fastest play-action pass I have ever seen. Unfortunately, that is NOT the purpose of a play-action pass. You have to SELL it. On the bright side for the Titans, the Jet defender did commit a pass interference in the end zone on that play.

Regardless, I still love Young's rocket release. The only other quarterback I ever saw with that fast a release was Dan Marino. It may take a few years for Young to reach Marino's level of competence, but when he does...

7. Speaking of releases, does any quarterback in the NFL have a slower release than Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich? You could eat a sandwich by the time he releases the ball. One of the announcers in the Jaguars game yesterday compared Leftwich's throwing motion to a "windmill". Quite appropriate.

8. Was the Seahawks-Lions game as dull as it looked? From what little I saw of it, it looked like an excuse for a Sunday afternoon nap.

9. Who would have thought the Texans would single-handedly outscore the Buccaneers and the Packers combined? (10-0)

10. Get well soon Trent Green! When a defensive lineman plays basketball with your head, a concussion is the safest injury you can have. Count your lucky stars! (pun intended)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Happy Football Season - Enjoy the Games [J. Mark English]

Humor of the Day: Baseball vs. Football [J. Mark English]

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.
Also: in football,basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.
In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform,you'd know the reason for this custom.
Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.
I enjoy comparing baseball and football:
Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park!Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.
In football you wear a helmet.In baseball you wear a cap.
Football is concerned with downs - what down is it? Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?
In football you receive a penalty.In baseball you make an error.
In football the specialist comes in to kick.In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch. Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness. In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home! -George Carlin

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Photos of the Night:: Maria Sharapova Wins U.S. Open [J. Mark English]

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Gilbride of Frankenstein [EdMcGon]

I just read something disturbing. Kevin Gilbride is the Quarterbacks Coach for the New York Giants.

This man still has a job in professional football? The only offensive coach to ever be slugged by a defensive coach (Buddy Ryan) on the same team? Because his offense was so wretched?

Worse yet, you are going to entrust young quarterback Eli Manning to him?

For you Giant fans who think Eli is going to be the second coming of Peyton, forget it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

And We're Off...Steelers Unveil Banner; Honor Bettis [J. Mark English]

Reyes Safe at Home After Inside the Park Home Run [J. Mark English]

Video: Are You Ready for Some Football? [J. Mark English]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Rookie Anibal Sanchez Pitches a No-No for the Marlins [J. Mark English]

Mets Take Two; Delgado & Green Lead the Way [J. Mark English]

There may have been overcast over New York City, but there was nothing but sunshine rays spreading from the baseball field at Shea.
The New York Mets swept the twin billing against the Atlanta Braves today.
Shawn Green hit two home runs on the day, which happened to be his first two in a Mets uniform.
But the real hero was Carlos Delgado. He climbed up to the 100 RBI mark for the 8th time in his career. This would be the 9th year in a row he reached that number if it weren't for an injury hampered season he had a few years ago. He finished that year with 99 RBI's.
Before the game, the Mets honored Delgado as their candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award. He would be the first Puerto Rican to ever win the award. Not bad for a player who changed his number to 21 to honor Clemente.
Just a quick note...I liked what Keith Hernandez said today on SNY talking about how players today can afford to be much more charitable then players back in his day. People who gripe about how much Major Leaguers make these days probably do not appreciate the increase in donations towards charitable organizations. David Wright has already donated over 1.5 million dollars towards Met charity foundations. As Keith said, if only he made more money back in the 80's...he would have supported many more charities.

Fantasy Football Plays of the Week [EdMcGon]

For you fantasy footballers out there, here are my recommended plays for the first week of the NFL season.

QB: Gotta love Kurt Warner of the Cardinals going up against last years worst pass defense, the 49ers. Opposing teams averaged 276 passing yards per game against the lowly 49ers last year.

Another good option is Chad Pennington of the Jets going up against the Titans, who gave up 33 passing touchdowns last year.

RB: The two Bells of Denver should toll for the Rams this week. Considering Mike Shanahan won't name a clear starter for the Broncos, this is a high-risk/high reward play. However, as bad as the Rams are against the run (giving up 136 yards per game last year, plus 22 touchdowns), it is possible both Mike and Tatum could have a big day against the lowly Rams.

If I have to tell you to start LaDainian Tomlinson against the Raiders this week (or against whomever the Chargers play against ANY week), you need some major fantasy football therapy. The same goes for Shaun Alexander against the Lions.

If you are looking for hidden gold, how about Frank Gore of the 49ers against the Cardinals? The Cards gave up 22 rushing touchdowns last year.

WR: Look for the Cardinals wideouts, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, to have big days against the 49ers.

Of course, Laveranues Coles of the Jets should have a big day against the Titans, but watch what Jerricho Cotchery does. Cotchery may surprise a few people this week.

No one should ever ignore the two Bengals wide receivers, Chad Johnson and T.J. "Who's your mama" Houshmandzadeh, but they are particularly nice this week against the Chiefs, who gave up 229 passing yards per game and 25 touchdowns last year. Considering Herm Edwards is installing a new Cover Two defense in K.C., expect some growing pains for the Chiefs defense.

TE: Antonio Gates starts EVERY week. Over any other tight end in the NFL. Period. Do not question this, and you will enjoy a prosperous fantasy football season.

For the best of the rest, try Dallas Clark of the Colts against the Giants. The Giants will be blitzing to stop Peyton Manning, which will leave their underbelly exposed for Clark.

K: For kickers, always look for a team which will move the ball between the 20's, but get stopped in or near the red zone. For that, I like Jason Hanson of the Lions this week. The Seahawks should be able to keep the Lions from the endzone.

On the other hand, Phil Dawson of the Browns is a solid choice against the Saints, who give up all kinds of points in bunches.

DEFENSES: For defenses, the best barometer is how often the opposing offense turns the ball over. Most leagues give you points for turnovers, but turnovers also create oppurtunities for defensive touchdowns.

The best defense this week? Da Bears. As the first stop on Brett Favre's Farewell Tour, they should benefit richly from a quarterback who has not realized he has gotten too old.

Denver's defense is not a bad play against the Rams this week either. While I cannot be sure whether the Rams offense will play as sloppy as they did last year, the Broncos defense should cause a few turnovers regardless.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New York Metkees/Yanktropolitans Part I [J. Mark English]

I cannot turn on a sports radio station any more with out hearing some variation of "the Yankees are going to kill the Mets in the World Series" or "the Mets are going to silence Yankee fans in a Subway Series."
Well first both teams have to get there. And both teams have enough short comings that they can both be taken down in the first round of the playoffs.
But in the spirit of Ed's earlier post of combining all New York football teams, lets combine the Mets and Yankees. If you could combine the rosters, and start the best players from the collection of personel, what would the team look like? And would that team be a lock for a World Series?
Lets take a look at each position:
PART I - The Infield
FIRST BASE: The best player for the Mets would be Carlos Delgado, and for the Yankees, Jason Giambi. Looking at the stats, these two players are very similar. They are nearly even in SLG. Delgado has one less HR then Giambi, and eight less RBI's. But his batting average is 18 points higher then Giambi's .251. Giambi's OBP is nearly fifty points higher, which would give him the edge if you only are looking at offense as the standard. However, in 122 games Delgado only has 7 errors at first, whereas Giambi has 7 errors in 59 games. If this team were playing in an American League ball park you'd have to start Delgado at first, and make Giambi the DH. In the National League, its impossible to take Giambi's deadly bat out of the game. The nod would go to Jason Giambi.
SECOND BASE: Robinson Cano easily beats out the competition. He's young, and has a wicked swing. His .338 batting average leaves players like Jose Valentin & Chris Woodward way behind. And defensively he has been solid, with only eight errors in 98 games.
SHORTSTOP: On the one hand you have the young, speedy and offensive igniter Jose Reyes. On the other, you have Derek Jeter, a true champion who is making a case to be named the MVP of the American League. Four years from now, Jose Reyes may be able to start ahead of Jeter, but today Jeter is by far and away the better player. He has discipline, poise, and the confidence to lead a team. In his 11th year as a pro he is hitting better then ever with a .344 batting average.
On defense these players are comparable. They have both played an equal amount of games, and nearly have the equal amount of errors.
Earlier I had said that Giambi should be the DH, but in this case (as will be with 3B) you could also consider Reyes as the DH in the lead-off spot. Its almost unimaginable to leave a guy out of the line up that could almost guarantee a run everytime Reyes is on base. The biggest problem with Reyes though is his OBP. Its only at .350 as opposed to Jeter's .421. Giambi would be the DH because his OBP is above .400 as well. If Reyes can get his OBP up to the .400 mark, then he'd have a very good chance of starting on this team. But for now, Derek Jeter gets to start.
THIRD BASE: So far this infield has been all Yankees, and it will continue to stay that way. For sure this will upset Met fans, but perhaps even Yankee fans. Alex Rodriguez starts ahead of David Wright. ARod is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He is in the midst of what many consider to be a poor season. Wright is having what many consider to be an outstanding season. Despite these perceptions, ARod has 7 more home runs the Wright. ARod's BA is 18 points below Wright, but only has two less RBI's then Wright. The rest of their numbers are fairly even. But keep in mind that ARod's numbers are well below his average. Is it more probable that ARod is up to the caliber of the numbers he put up the last ten years, or this one year? If you assume the former then ARod rounds out the infield.
CATCHER: Finally we get a starter from the Mets. Paul Lo Duca is better in almost every category. He's a solid defender, calls a great game, and he's an All Star.
That rounds out the infield. On to the out field and pitching tomorrow.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ramblin' Wreck runs into the Fightin' Irish [EdMcGon]

Not often will you see the top two individual college prospects meeting each other this early in the college football season. So I could not resist watching QB Brady Quinn and Notre Dame going up against WR Calvin Johnson and Georgia Tech.

It was a great game to watch, even though Notre Dame won 14-10 (sorry, I am NOT a Notre Dame fan). Georgia Tech came out on fire, going up 10-0, before Notre Dame came back to win. Tech made a run at the end, but it came up short.

Notre Dame is number 2 in the country? That must be a joke. If Notre Dame is the second best team in the nation, this must be a bad year for college football.

Even with Georgia Tech playing above their heads, the number two team should beat these guys easily. Georgia Tech is too small to play with a great team. Tech also doesn't have much endurance, as they started looking burned out by the second quarter. The fact that Notre Dame could only muster two touchdowns against Tech is a testament to just how overrated Notre Dame is.


QB Brady Quinn, Notre Dame: For all of Quinn's hype, I was not impressed. When Georgia Tech got pressure on him, he looked bad. When they didn't get pressure on him, he looked good. Even when he looked good, there were too many times his receivers made him look bad. The jury is still out on Quinn.

I must give one kudo to Quinn though: The play where he ran it in for a touchdown at the end of the first half. If the Irish ran the ball from the five yard line and didn't score, the clock would have run out in the half. Notre Dame came out in a spread offense, and Tech took the bait with four linemen in the box. My first thought was, if there is a hole, Quinn should run. He did, and scored.

I don't know if that was a called play, or Quinn's improvisation, but it was gutsy and brilliant at the same time.

WR Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech: I can imagine how NFL teams must be salivating over Johnson. Picture Terrell Owens playing at the college level NOW. That is how dominant Johnson is.

At 6'4", 230 pounds, he looks like a man among boys.

During the game, the idiot announcers suggested Georgia Tech should throw to him in double coverage. Unfortunately, Johnson's quarterback is not anywhere near Johnson's talent level.

QB Reggie Ball, Georgia Tech: When I watch Reggie Ball, I think "running back". I know a lot of college quarterbacks end up playing wide receiver in the pros, but I can more easily picture Ball playing as a third down running back. At 5'11", 195 pounds, he is a good size for it.

Ball was why Tech was not throwing to Johnson in double coverage. Sure, Johnson is extremely talented at going after the ball. The problem is Reggie Ball has a scattershot arm.

LB Philip Wheeler, Georgia Tech: Wheeler was the main reason Quinn had so much trouble last night. Wheeler was making plays all over the place, including in Quinn's face.

Wheeler is a little too small to play linebacker in the NFL (6'2", 225 pounds). Unless he adds some bulk to stay at linebacker, he might make an outstanding safety. He is still a little raw now, as I saw him over-pursue on quite a few plays. But Wheeler has a good motor and a pretty good nose for the ball.

NFL DRAFT PROJECTION: At this point, I would call Calvin Johnson the first pick in the draft. This kid could play in the NFL now. He may be the best wide receiver I have EVER seen in a college game.

Brady Quinn's draft stock has fallen. For now, call him the second pick in the first round, although the rest of the season will be more telling.

If Philip Wheeler keeps playing like this, he could easily be a first round pick. At worst, I see him as a third round pick.

Reggie Ball will probably drop to the end of the draft, if he gets drafted at all.

Fighting Irish Survive Yellow Jackets [J. Mark English]

In typical Irish fashion, they did not make it easy on themselves. But by the end, the score read No. 2 Notre Dame 14, Georgia Tech 10.
When a team ranked as high as No. 2 faces off against an unranked team, the contest should not be close. But Notre Dame seems to play down to the level of their opponents in these type of games. The atmosphere was ripe for an upset by Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech led 7-0 at the end of the first, and 10-7 going into half time. Notre Dame took the lead for good in the 3rd quarter off a Darius Walker 1 yard touchdown score.
Then Notre Dame's defense tamed the Tech offense. The Yellow Jackets only managed a few pitiful drives in the second half. Notre Dame sealed the win late in the fourth on a gamble 4th and 1 conversion with only a minute left.
It may be safe to say that Notre Dame has the toughest schedule in all of football...they play No. 19 Penn State next week...but this could go down as one of the toughest challenges for Notre Dame. To come out of the gate with such high expectations, and to play on the road in a hostile environment, against a team that has had its entire summer focused on this opening match up...and pull out a victory, even if it is not pretty, is an accomplishment. Most of all it is a test of character. These tests will only continue to build, and so far Notre Dame comes out 1-0.
We'll see next week if they can keep it up.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Your College Football Fix 9.2.06 [J. Mark English]

  • I-AA Montana State shocks Colorado in Coach Dan Hawkins first game.
  • No. 5 West Virginia destroys Marshall - sophomore Steve Slaton runs for 200 yards.
  • No. 14 Michigan sluggish in win against Vanderbilt 27-7 - Mike Hart gains 146 yards for the Wolverines.
  • No. 23 Tennessee polishes off No. 9 California. Robert Meachem catches two touchdown passes, including an 80 yarder at the start of the third quarter.
  • No. 15 Georgia runs all over Western Kentucky 48-12. Quarterback situation still up in the air.
  • Idaho Vandals nearly knock off Michigan State, lose eventually 27-17.
  • Randy Hill with the continuous talent at U.S.C.
  • Charlie and the Irish Factory tries to hold off Georgia Tech.