crazy colored glasses

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You know...

...who the New York Mets remind me of. Do you know the friend you have who goes to the bar and spends the whole night buying the hot girl at the bar drinks. The girls getting pretty drunk. Your friend, he thinks he has a shot. Then right before last call, some other guy swoops in and takes home the girl your friend wasted the entire night trying to get. Sorry dude. Sorry New York Mets.

While last year I took great pleasure out of the Mets blowing their shot at the post-season, this year I just feel really bad for them. They hold their own destiny. They have a few games to go and are still tied for the wild card. As much as I'd like to say I hope they can pull it out, I simply can't. I think the Brewers would be a better team to watch in the post-season.


Observations and Predictions...

Week 3 provided us with a surprising amount of close games. Most of the unexpected variety. On the subject of unexpected, what in the world happened to the New England Patriots. They ran into an inspired Dolphins team that used some trickery and creative play calling to utilize the full talents of Ronnie Brown. I haven't seen the Pats dominated that thoroughly in years. The game served notice that the AFC is wide open.

One thing that isn't wide open is the dominance of the NFC East. I believe the NFC East contains the top 4 teams in the NFL. Not the NFC, but the entire NFL. The Cowboys and Giants are the two best teams in my the game (in my eyes), even if the Giants did sweat out a close over the Bengals. Dallas dominated a very game Green Bay. Cementing their status as the early team to beat. The Redskins have beaten both the Saints and Cardinals, division leaders who will contend all season. While the Eagles dismantled the Steelers, who I thought were the best team in the AFC. More concerning for the Eagles is the health of both Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb. Both have missed practice time this week. Also concerning was how exposed the Steelers were. I think the Eagles behind a blitzing Jim Johnson scheme were too much for a overmatched Pittsburgh offensive line. For the second time in three weeks, Big Ben was sent to the locker room early. That porous line does him no favors. The Ravens have got to be salivating over playing the reeling Steelers.

The Bills, Broncos and Titans remained undefeated. Some would say surprisingly. The Bills and Titans have a real shot to continue to play well as they both run the ball well and play stellar defense. The Broncos on the other hand can score a ton of points, but they definitely do not have what would be described as a lock down defense.

Top Performers
QB-Brian Griese: Huge numbers in the hurry up offense against the Bears in the second half. 400+ yards and 2 scores.
RB-Michael Turner: 3 scores and another 100 yard game. Truly enjoying being the feature back in the ATL.
WR-T.J. Houshmanzadeh: Big game against the defending champs. Hopefully I sign of things to come.
TE-Kevin Boss: He's been a great blocker in the running game. He finally provided Eli with another weapon in the passing game. Interesting to note that he has his best game the same week Shockey goes down with an injury.
Special Teams-Jaguars: Josh Scobee may have saved the Jags season with a late game pressure kick.
Defense-Philadelphia Eagles: Complete and utter destruction. The same way they provided teams a blueprint with how to defense the Pats late last year they may have exposed the Steelers this year.

Week 4 provides me with a heavyweight rivalry battle in the Redskins coming into big D to play the Cowboys. The Skins always play the Boys tough in Dallas. Owens had a huge game against the same defense last year and is still looking for his breakout game of 08. That could equal a bad situation for the Redskins. I see the Cowboys moving to 4-0. I think the Eagles pull out a close one in a defensive battle against the Bears. The key to that game may be the health of McNabb and whether he could hurry the pace of the game enough to not allow the Bears to make their defensive line rotations. I also see the Steelers pulling out a close one over the Ravens. I think this game could be of the ugly 9-6 variety.

Here are my picks for the rest of the games (I went 10-6 last week). Bengals over the Browns. I think the receivers will make a world of difference versus an overmatched Browns secondary. Jags over Houston. The Texans seem a little lost. The Panthers over the Falcons. I think this one will be closer than most think. I like the makeup of the Falcons, and think they will play well. Broncos throwing the ball all over the Chiefs. Saints over Niners in a shootout. could be 60 points combined in that one. Jets behind a gimpy Favre over the Cardinals. Packers beating the Bucs in Tampa. I see Minnesota having a tough time running against big Albert Haynesworth and the Titans defense. The Titans pulling that one out in Tenn. San Diego continues to roll beating the Raiders. Buffalo continues to live in the land of the lossless beating the Rams (can Jim Fassel be to far away from being named head coach there).

Fantasy Picks of the Weeks
QB-Carson Palmer: The Browns pass defense is awful. The Bengals seemed to have figured out their passing game. Bad news for the Browns.
RB-Marshawn Lynch: He's been the cog of the Bills offense so far. The Rams should provide plenty of holes for him to run through.
WR-Terrell Owens: This should be the breakout game Dallas has been waiting for. Could be a long day for the Redskins secondary.
TE-Desmond Clark: The only player on the Steelers offense to have a good game was the tightend. I can't imagine the Bears allowing Kyle Orton much time to throw, so I expect lots of dump-offs to big Desmond.
Special Teams-Pittsburgh: In a defensive battle, special teams is key. The kicking game will decide this one.
Defense-Jaguars: Matt Schaub has not played well. The Jags are coming off a big win. Long day in store for the Texans.


Sunday, September 21, 2008


I was supposed to have more time. It came too early. I was supposed to have at least another month. There was supposed to b ea prolonged post-season run followed by a 27th championship banner. Alas... it wasn't meant to be. So even though it's hard, and seems way too early, I must say goodbye.

But how do you say goodbye to a place that holds so many memories. A place that has been a constant in my life for more than 20 years. I can't really. It will always be a place of so many memories. Here are a few memories that stand out...

June 1, 1985. Seattle Mariners against the New York Yankees.
This was the first ever baseball game I ever went to. I was 8 years old and my oldest brother fought with my over-protective Mom for weeks to be able to take me to the game. She finally allowed me to go and my love for the Yankees grew. I remember riding the 4 train and as it rose out of the darkness of the subway tunnel into the Bronx sky you could see a hint of the greenest grass I've ever see. I was finally there. Yankees Stadium. Home to my baseball hero, Don Mattingy, and the field where so many stories I had heard originated. I sat in my upper deck seats in amazement over how far these players could throw the ball. I oohed and aahed at every pop up thinking it was a homerun. Watching in awe through my binoculars as that days starter Ron Guidry was shagging fly balls during batting practice. Don Mattingly went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI's. Rickey Henderson had a few hits and a few RBI's as he looked like the fastest thing I ha ever seen. The Yankees won 8-2 and further cemented this day as one I would always remember.

Reggie Jackson Day
When Reggie Jackson was elected to the Hall of Fame fans in multiple cities waited with baited breath to find out which hat he would be enshrined in. To all of New York's happiness, it was as a Yankee. With that decided the Yankees decided to retire Reggie Jackson's number 44. As long as I could remember my oldest brother has always been the biggest Reggie fan. He wore number 44 for every team I ever saw him play for. To put it lightly it was an important day for my oldest brother. When the tickets went on sale, my brother brought 3. One for him and I, and 1 for my Dad. My Dad was a die-hard Mets fan, but he loved baseball, and always loved the way Reggie played. To our amazement Dad said yes he would go. And even though we really did expect him to cancel and not go as the days drew nearer something happened. He was excited to go. I had been to Mets games at Shea with my Dad, but never to a Yankee game, so I was clearly excited as well.

We tried not to get there to early as we knew how impatient Dad was. We had great seats in the very underrated second deck of the stadium along the third base line. I can still clearly recall looking over at my Dad and brother, as they sat there stoically but emotionally watching the video montage of Reggie highlights set to the song "Like A Rock" from those old Chevy commercials. During the 7th Inning stretch it was announced that Reggie Bars would be sold for a limited time only, so I ran around to find a vendor to buy Reggie Bars for the two most influential men in my life. Mattingly again had 2 RBI's in leading the team to a 4-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Sadly this would be the last live game I ever saw with my Dad. He would be gone 6 months later from cancer. Something tells me he knew something was going on with his body and he had very little time left. He never, ever came out, yet that summer he made an effort to go see not only this game, but a game at Shea. I think he knew, and he wanted to share one of his passions with his boys. All i can say is that I'm grateful that I was able to share this game that clearly meant so much with my Dad and brother. For as long as I live, I will never forget this game.

Don Mattingly Day
My baseball hero has always been Don Mattingly. I loved the way he played the game. I loved that he was homegrown. To me, he embodied everything that was right about the Yankees. He always wore his pinstripes with pride. And even though I'm sure others disagree, I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame (would this even be a discussion had he won a World Series title... I don't think so. His stats are nearly identical to Kirby Puckett, yet he is deemed unworthy... drives me crazy). With all that said, this game took place on August 31, 1997. The Yankees were playing the Expos and retiring the number of Donnie Baseball. Never have I wanted to be at a game more than this one. For added enjoyment, both of my brothers were there as well as some of the closest friends from my neighborhood. The Vega boys have rarely if ever all ventured out together. It happens even less now that we are all adults with families. So this game was extra special. I don't think we've all been back together for a game ever since. All of which makes this game even more special to me. I saw my baseball hero receive great accolades while having his number retired in the company of my two brothers, all while the Yankees won behind a spectacular pitching effort by Andy Pettitte.

4/26/2005 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim versus the New York Yankees
There are not to many people that would recognize this game. Fewer still would be able to tell you that this was the game where ARod hit 3 home runs and drove in 10 runs. None of this is the reason this was memorable. For that, I have to rewind a little.

Earlier in the week my buddy and I had bought tickets to the Mets game. I'm not a Mets fan, but I was going out a ton in those days. The day of the 26th I learn a group of co-workers had gotten free tickets to the Yankees game. I quickly realized that one of the guys going was a diehard Mets fan. Why not switch up tickets with him. I'd get to watch my Yanks, and he'd get to watch his Mets. He agreed, so tickets were exchanged. Later on that day my other buddy who had the other 3 tickets shows up and tells me he has an extra. My one recommendation to him was "you should find a girl to go with us, I don't want to sit next to you all night". Lucky me he found the one girl I wanted him to find. As I walked into his office to meet him to head out to the game we each looked at each other and smiled as we realized that we would be at the game together.

Back to the game... it was very exciting. We talked fantasy baseball, we had a lot of beer, we cheered as ARod destroyed Bartolo Colon. As the game ended this lady and I still had beer. We had to be seen out of the stadium. Wanting to spend more time together we went across the street to Stan's. We drank for so long that we were there till they closed down as well. As we walked on to the train, I told her that I would ride the train with her to make sure she got home safe. As we got off the train in Astoria we found a bar that was still open. We sat down, had a few more and basically just talked to each other till the wee hours of the morning. I remember getting in a cab at 4am and thinking that it was easily one of the best nights in my life. Needless to say I was crazy about her. So much so that I married her (I'm sitting in front of the TV watching football and typing this out as she waits for use of the laptop... thank you baby). So not only was there a great Yankee victory, but I spent lots of time with the woman who would become my wife... the love of my wife.

I could go on and on naming game after game. Incredibly I've only ever been to one playoff game (against the Indians in 1997), and only one opening day. What I can say is what I've always said. Yankee Stadium is the Mecca of Baseball. It is the greatest sporting venue ever. If you are a sports fan, you were better for having seen a game there. So even though I'm excited for the new Stadium next year, I must say goodbye to the original Yankee Stadium... I'll miss you.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Observations and Predictions...

Week 2 had a few heavyweight battles for us. Highlighted by the game of the week on Monday night. As a Cowboys fan I really thought this would be a huge test for the team, and I was right. The Eagles were very game. Donovan played as well as I have ever seen him play... that is until the final drive. Donovan did a great job of finding open receivers and beating the oncoming rush... that is until the final drive. Two sacks and three poorly thrown balls cemented the game for the Cowboys. Even with that final drive, the Eagles are for real. The Cowboys offense looked great. They overcame some sloppy play in the second quarter, and some deficiencies in the secondary to pull out a victory in this shootout. The Steelers had a big game of their own on Sunday night against the Browns. It was a close ugly game pulled out by the tough Steelers. I was incredibly impressed with Ben Roethlisberger in that game. He clearly cemented himself as the leader of that squad. Playing with a separated shoulder he set the tone for the team.

The other teams that stood out and impressed me in Week 2 were the Patriots, Broncos and the Colts. They beat the revamped Jets (who have yet to really take the reins of and let Favre be Favre) in a well played contest. The Pats play good, tough football. They control the clock, control the line of scrimmage. It's a recipe for great success. It could be a while before they have an "L" in the loss column. The Broncos on the other hand received a gift from the refs, but proved they will be a tough out all season. They beat the Chargers in shootout to announce to the rest of the AFC that they are a team to be reckoned with. Jay Cutler may be the best quarterback in the AFC right now (at least until Manning's knee and offensive line are better). Half way through the Colts/Vikings game I was checking the Colts for a pulse. Manning had thrown for only 86 yards at the half. They looked awful. Then they flipped a switch in the second half and pulled out a hard fought close victory. I think they'll continue to struggle a bit until the offensive line is healthy, but they showed what they were made of in fighting back against the Vikings.

Top Performers
QB-Aaron Rodgers: Huge game against a week Detroit defense. A couple of late TD tosses helped cement that one.
RB-Brian Westbrook: Over 100 total yards and 3 scores. The best weapon in football.
WR-Brandon Marshall: A nice welcome back from Jay Cutler. 18 catches and a score. I expect a huge season from him. HUGE.
TE-Tony Scheffler/Jason Witten: Scheffler proved to be a great red zone target with 2 scores. Witten was a huge target in the second half against the Eagles. He finished the game with over 100 yards receiving, while playing with a bum shoulder.
Special Teams-Dallas Cowboys: More specifically Felix Jones. He ran one back 98 yards for a score, but also consistently set the Cowboys up with good field position. Nick Folk also hit 2 field goals over 45 yards.
Defense-Pittsburgh Steelers: They shut down the much hyped Browns offense on Sunday night.

Week 3 provides us with some really interesting matchups. 3 games specifically stand out for me. First off you have Dallas at Green Bay. I expect another close shootout. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one end up 38-35 with the Packers pulling it out behind a late TD pass from Aaron Rodgers. Until the Cowboys secondary is fully healthy I think they'll continue to struggle against good passing teams. Which the Pack is. The second game that stands out is the battle of Pennsylvania. I give the Eagles the edge in this matchup. They are playing at home, and the Steelers o-line still lets Big Ben get hit way too much. Jim Johnson is salivating. The third biggie for me is Jags/Colts. This has been a huge grudge match the last few years. The Jags were the sexy pre-season Super Bowl pick, but I think Indy pulls this one out at home and sends the Jags back to Jackonville reeling at 0-3.

Here are my picks for winners of the rest of the games (I went 10-5 last week). Atlanta behind Michael Turner keeping the Chiefs winless. The Bills going to 3-0 (who woulda thunk it) over the Raiders. Giants destroying the hapless Bengals. How long before Marvin Lewis just quits. The Pats over the Phins, or as I've been calling it, the Matt Cassel coming out party. The Titans over the Texans. Chicago at home over Tampa Bay in a low scoring defensive battle. The Cardinals going to 3-0 over the Skins. Minnesota behind a gritty Gus performance over the tough Panthers. Broncos over the Saints. Cutler might pass for a ton in this one. The Niners over the Lions. Until the Lions toothless defense stops anyone I have a hard time picking them. The Seahawks behind Double J (Julius Jones) keep the Rams winless. Cleveland over Baltimore, they have to win one of these weeks. And Chargers over the Jets on Monday night. Till Mangini lets Brett throw, this squad will continue to struggle offensively.

Fantasy Picks of the Week
QB-J.T. O'Sullivan: Favorable matchup against the Lions. I'm sure Martz wants to run up the score against his old friends in Detroit.
RB-Julius Jones: With really no viable backup, and no one for Hasselback to throw to, I expect another big day from Mr. Jones.
WR-Larry Fitzgerald: A tough cover for the Skins small corners. Plaxico went off on them in week one, I think the bigger, stronger, better Fitzy tears them apart in this week.
TE-Kellen Winslow: If the Browns are going to get one in the win column, it will have to be behind Winslow stretching the field. The blitzing linebackers should leave the middle of the field open for Anderson's favorite target.
Special Teams-San Diego: Darren Sproles and Angelo Cromartie might be the best return tandem in the NFL.
Defense-New York Giants: The Bengals are a mess, I don't expect them to figure it out against the blitzing Justin Tuck.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sad Goodbye

My favorite comic of 2007 (as documented here on CCG) was Catwoman. With sales slipping, Dan Didio and DC decided to pull the plug. Not before giving us one final great story in the solo adventures of Selina Kyle. Issue 82, the series finale, was everything I loved about this title. It was fun, flirty, sexy but dramatic, real and human as well.

Not every DC series came back strong from OYL (One Year Later to those of you not in the know), but Catwoman came out of the box swinging. Her entire status quo had changed. In fact she wasn't even Catwoman any more. Will Pfeifer did an amazing job over his 2 years writing this title. His stories were complex and multi-layered, but often quite simple and very gripping. Selina dealing with being a super-hero mother was quite possibly my favorite ongoing story of any comic last year. The way she struggled with parenthood while also dealing with the trials and tribulations of the East End made her the strongest female character in the DC Universe.

While 2007 was a banner year for Ms. Kyle, 2008 was not as kind. The storytelling in the first half of the year was hampered by the fact that Selina was taking part in DC's Salvation Run. Selina shouldn't be on an alien world. She always works better when she's dealing more with street level crime. So although the year started out roughly, the last 6 issues of the series rounded back into form. She dealt with the criminal who had been trying to discredit her and cleared her name while also reinforcing the fact that she was the top female in Gotham. A perfect foil to the stoic Caped Crusader.

So although I no longer have a solo title to enjoy the exploits of Catwoman, I am enjoying Paul Dini''s take on her in Detective Comics. I look forward to seeing more of her in the future in that title. I also implore Dan Didio to please not forget this great character in his stable.


Lego Masterpieces... Part 2

I've been a little lazy and haven't created a logo for my Lego posts, but I assure you. one is coming.

Here is the second Lego Star Wars piece we put together. Boba Fett's Slave 1. This was a little more complex than the Snow Speeder, but more fun. This was another set that sat in the closet for close to 5 years. With the Lego craze in full effect, we built it. It probably took us around 2 hours to build (which in 7 year old time is like a week) but it was well worth it. The Slave 1 looks great and the Lego Boba Fett is one of the best figures ever. It even has a Carbonite frozen Han (not pictured).

Scrappy as hand model in her room. Superman and Cheetah Girls posters visible behind her.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lego Masterpieces Part 1

One of the best things about freelancing full time this summer is that I was able to spend a ton of time with Scrappy. One of the first things we did in early summer was finish playing the Lego Star Wars video game. I can honestly say it was one of the most fun video games of my entire life. We all know the stories but playing them in a fun cutesy Lego version made it a ton of fun for the whole family.

Discovering that Scrappy actually liked the Lego Star Wars game reminded me that I had a few unbuilt old Lego Star Wars sets. I figured what the hey, why not give it a shot. Scrappy had some Duplo blocks when she was really young, but really didn't pay attention to them. So I broke the Lego set out of the closet and so a new craze was born.

This was a Empire Strikes Back Snow Speeder that spent years in my closet. Now it was finally built and being played with, because we were all in love with Legos again. For that we have the Lego Star Wars video game to thank.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Week 1 Observations... Week 2 Predictions

The state of Pennsylvania football teams looked good... real good. The Steelers look like the class of the AFC. With Brady hurting New England looks vulnerable for the first time in years. Although you shouldn't be so quick to write off the Patriots. Belichik will find a way. The Colts, Jags and Chargers all whiffed in week one as well. The Jets were the only other AFC contender that pulled out a victory. The Broncos looked better than I thought they would... even if it was against the lowly Raiders.

In the NFC, the Eagles came out of the gate very strongly. A nice statement game by McNabb and his trio of unheralded receivers. They did have a favorable matchup against the pourous Rams defense. This week should prove to be a tougher matchup against Cowboys on Monday night. The Boys looked good on Sunday dispatching the overrated Browns. The Giants defense looked strong against the Skins. The Saints and Packers each eeked out close divisional games. Chicago impressed (check the previous post) against Indy. Atlanta pulled out a victory over Detroit to be the feel good story of the week.

Top Performers (each week i'll pick one QB, RB, WR, TE, Special Teamer and Defense)
QB-Donovan McNabb: If ever a QB needed to get off on the right foot. He proved there is still plenty in his tank.
RB-Michael Turner: Finally in the spotlight he absolutely shone.
WR-Eddie Royal: I had never heard of this guy before Monday night. Now all of America knows the name of this speedy Bronco.
TE-Anthony Fasano: Nice game as a Pennington's safety valve. Should be a consistent threat all year.
Special Teams-Will Blackmon: He electrified the Lambeau crowd with his punt return for a TD
Defense-Baltimore Ravens/Chicago Bears: I couldn't pick between these two units which were both up against dynamic offenses. Very good games by both.

Some really intriguing games on the docket for this week. Here are my thoughts. Steelers over the not ready for the limelight Browns. Cowboys in a close one over the very game Eagles. New England over the Jets. With or without Brady the Pats are simply better. The Jets will put up a fight but fall short. The Vikings keep the Colts winless for another week. Here are the rest of my picks. Tenn over Cincy. The Jags beating the snot out of the Bills. Oakland running all over KC in the futility bowl. Chicago over Carolina. Aaron Rodgers lighting up the Lions in a big Packer victory. Giants over Rams and the Saints over the Skins. TB over Atlanta and the Seahawks tripping up the Niners. Denver to announce they are for real over the Chargers. The Cardinals to smack up the Dolphins in the dessert. The Texans to pull one out over the surprisingly tough Ravens.

Fantasy Picks of the Week
QB: Eli Manning: He will light up the Rams.
RB: Ryan Grant: Running over the Shaun Rogers-less Detroit front seven.
WR: Santonio Holmes: Favorable matchup against the Browns secondary.
TE: Jason Witten: Always plays well against the Eagles.
Special Teams: Chicago: I have a feeling the Specials will play a huge role in this game.
Defense: Jaguars: They have something to prove after last weeks loss.


Big Turnaround?

If I asked you which team led the NFL in forcing 3 and outs last year would you be able to guess that it was the Chicago Bears. Neither did I, but I found out that surprising stat this week. The Bears defense forced a 3 and out on 30% of all possessions last season.

I found that number to be quite staggering, and a very good indicator that the Bears defense was just as strong as the defense that went to the Super Bowl two years ago. What was the big difference in last years squad. A very ineffective offense.

Rex Grossman, Brian Griese and Kyle Orton were simply awful last year. It wasn't completely their fault though. I blame Cedric Benson. Cedric did them no favors by being completely unproductive and then getting injured and leaving the ball in the hands of Adrian Peterson (decent back, but not gonna win lots of footraces) and Garret Wolfe (speedy but slightly built back). The lack of a running game put the QB's in a lot of 3rd and longs. Which meant the defense could come full force against an aging offensive line that is built more for run blocking than pass blocking. Thus the offense was rendered completely futile and the injury riddled defense-while talented-had to play lots of minutes.

All of this leads me to say look out for the 08 Bears. I like Matt Forte a lot. He won't dazzle you with his speed, but he is a student of the game with just enough speed to break away from the defense. Just ask the Colts who got burned for a 50 yard TD score Sunday night. His running combined with the grinding style of Kevin Jones, should allow the Bears to control the clock a lot more. Plus, I think Kyle Orton is more of a ball control oriented passer who is very efficient and won't make the same mistakes that Grossman did. Rex while having a world of talent has a little too much gunslinger in him. Not right for this offense. With the offense controlling the clock, and the defense finally healthy (which allows the Bears to rotate their D-line) look for the Bears to make a push for the post season.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The State of the Pinstripers

Although not mathematically eliminated the Yankee season has been over for a few weeks now. It's tough for Yankee faithful to admit, but for the first time since 1995 there will be no post-season baseball. Equally tough to swallow is that not only are the Mets poised to make the playoffs, but so is Joe Torre. Do we think anyone up top (ahem... Hank) wishes this was still Torre's team. I don't, in fact I think it was time for Torre to go and was very happy with the decision with Joe Girardi.

I mean it's tough to blame this season on Girardi. Coming into this season the Yankees placed so much of this season in the hands of their prized home-grown talent. The very capable arms of Chein Ming Wang, Philip Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. If you had told any Yankee fan that each of those arms would spend a significant amount of time on the DL, and all 4 would add up to only 12 wins total, but the team would still be in contention in late August you would take it. Yet any Yankee fan I know looks at this season as a total loss. I think we Yankee fans have been spoiled by the recent history of the team. I mean it's nice to make plans for the post-season each year. But in a season where injuries have forced Darrel Rasner, Carl Pavano and Sidney Ponson to each make important starts-you would have to deem this season a success. Of course I say that with teeth clenched as I wish the Yanks were playing ball next month.

Although pitching and injuries have played a huge role in the Yanks missing the post-season, the offense (and defense) has not gone without blame. All the way down the line, except for Johnny Damon every Yankee in the lineup is having a down year. Giambi will finish the season with 30+ homers and a 100+ RBI's while barely batting .250. Cano has been a big disappointment on both sides of the ball. Even Jeter while batting close to .300 is having a subpar season (accoriding to the high standards he has set). ARod had injury problems early, then distracting family problems in the middle of the season. Statistically his numbers will look fine, but I can't remember a single clutch hit he had all season. Abreu has been steady and solid, but also unspectacular. Melky (who I expected big things out of) was such a mess he got demoted. Johnny Damon hit well, but looked a step slow in the outfield. Bengie Molina played great defense, but has no bat. The Pudge pickup was nice, but he no longer is the force he was a few years ago. I think the absence of team leaders and big-time clutch hitters Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui were major reasons for this teams clutch hitting problems.

My pick for team MVP is really easy. Hands down it is Mike Mussina. Over the course of the season you always felt like you had a chance to win whenever he pitched. How many people would have said that coming into this season. I know I for sure wouldn't have.

So yes, while I am disappointed the Yanks won't be in the post-season, I'm proud of the way they fought threw a very challenging year. It's been a great run, but it's time to sit one out. Who knows, maybe this is exactly what this spoiled team needs to re-energize themselves and make a deep run in their new stadium next year. Till '09 and "the House that Jeter built"


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

NFL Preview

When last season ended for the Cowboys (very disappointingly) I quickly jumped to the keyboard and wrote how I thought the Cowboys would be the team to beat now in the '08 season. Instead of giving away whether my mind has changed in the first paragraph, I think I'll wait till the end of this post... you know, build a little drama.

Last year I picked the Patriots to beat the Bears in the Super Bowl. Not a shocking prediction because everyone and their mother was picking the Pats. This year's road to the playoffs will not come as easily to the Pats. The Jets may have retooled themselves this offseason, but I don't think they closed the gap enough between them and New England. Although I think the Jets are a 10+ win team and will make the playoffs, I think the Pats win the East with a 12 win season. It will be tougher than last year, but I think thats what the Patriots needs. The Bills didn't do enough to upgrade (cue Beyonce) this offseason. That offense is basically Marshawn Lynch and a whole lot of nothing. With no certifiable QB to get the ball to Lee Evans (not sold on Trent Edwards yet) they will be facing a lot of 8 man fronts. Sorry Mr. Lynch. The Dolphins will be better. They will start out slow (like most Parcells reclamation projects) but I'm sure the will be very competitive in the second half of the season.

In the AFC North I don't see the Browns as being able to overtake the Steelers. In fact I think they will miss the playoff again. They don't have enough on defense to run with the big boys yet. If Pittsburgh can get their o-line straightened out they could be the second best team in the AFC. The Bengals are in the same boat as the Browns. Great offense, porous defense. Must be something in that Ohio water. The Ravens will battle, but this is really a transition, rebuilding season for them.

The AFC South I think will be the most competitive division in the AFC. I think they can actually place 3 teams in the playoffs. Two of these teams (Colts and Jags) have a legitimate shot to go all the way. The Colts and Jags will battle for first place all season. They are more similar than most people think. High powered offense, fast defense. The area where the Colts blow the Jags away is in gamebreaking receivers. That will be the difference between those squads. I mean who would you rather throw to. Harrison, Wayne, Gonzalez and Clark or Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, Matt Jones and Marcedes Lewis. Easy pick for me. If Manning is health the Colts will have the best record in the conference. The third team from the South I think will make the playoffs are the Houston Texans. I think they made huge strides last year and are poised to make a wild card run. I think they are a year or two from making real noise, but I think they make the leap to playoff team in 08. The Titans while being competitive and well coached (love Jeff Fisher) will miss the playoffs in the stacked AFC.

The AFC is a one team conference, The Chargers. There is a huge dropoff after them. On paper they are the most talented team in the AFC, but they have so many injury questions its hard for me to pick them to make a deep run come January. They will run away with this conference and make the playoffs, but I don't see them making a lot of noise. The Broncos will be competitive but fall short of the playoffs. The Raiders will be a .500 team with their easy schedule and new offensive star in McFadden. The Chiefs have a shot at being the worst team in the AFC. Too many question marks and unproven players.

Now onto the NFC...

The NFC East is the toughest division in football. All 4 of these teams could conceivably make the playoffs and a deep run. My guess are that only two teams will make it out of the East. The Dallas Cowboys should win the East and have about 13 or 14 wins. They have the look of the 95 Cowboys to me. The thought the Giants had a serious shot at defending their title and then injuries decimated them. The Redskins should be fun to watch under Jim Zorn and while they will compete I think they just fall short of the playoffs to the Eagles. That is of course if the Eagles can stay healthy. A big if. A veteran team that is not very deep could be in serious trouble if anyone goes down. I think they make the playoffs behind the play of Westbrook and McNabb.

The other conference to place two teams in the big dance should be the NFC North. Everyone's sexy playoff pick is the Vikings. I to think they will make the playoffs, but I think they will come in second place in the North. I'm not ready to believe that mistake prone Tavaris Jackson is ready to lead a team to the playoffs. While the running game is magical, and the defense is improved I still don't think they can overtake the Packers. The Packers had the youngest team in the league last year and were an interception away from making the Super Bowl. Even with Aaron Rodgers taking over for the great one, I don't thin the Packers miss a beat. They have a bevy of young talented receivers and tightends and a young stud back which should help ease Rodgers development. The hardhitting defense also remains in tact. All of which will make for an uphill battle for the Vikings. The Bears and Lions are both about a year away. Both are trying to infuse a new back into the offense and should hover around .500 ball. The Bears do have lots of studs coming back from injury on the defensive side of the ball. If those guys can stay healthy and if the Eagles slip up don't be surprised to see a playoff run by Chicago.

The Saints should win the NFC South. I think they have all the pieces in place to be a top team in the NFC. Strong O, improving D, great young coach. They should be fun to watch. It will be important for them to avoid a slow start like last year. The Panthers and Bucs should both play well but barely miss out on the playoffs. Both have strong defenses but question marks on offense. The Falcons should be competitive, but are definitely a few years away. I think they might have the worst record in the NFC, but they will play hard and be fun to watch.

The West has a bunch of teams with question marks. The Seahawks should win the division. The Cards, Rams and Niners are all toss ups. I think the Cards could make a run at unseating the Hawks but theyd have to be healthy and mistake free. Traits that are not typically Cardinals trademarks. Rams and Niners should both be better than last year (they both couldn't be worse than last year).

I see the Pats and Colts meeting in the AFC Championship game and the Pats just barely squeaking by the Colts to get to the Super Bowl. In the NFC, I have the Cowboys hosting the Packers and blowing them out to reach the big game. I think the Pats after being humbled by last years Super experience find a wayy to pull out a close one over the Cowboys. Pats over Boys in the Bowl, 35-31.

Now on to my other crazy predictions. Matt Ryan will infuse the Falcons with energy and be the offensive rookie of the year. He'll get more reps than McFadden, plus the Falcons need a good story at QB. Aaron Rodgers will make the Pro-Bowl. He should throw for 3,800 yards and 25 touchdowns. Vincent Jackson is poised for a breakout 1,000+ yard season. Were everyone predicted this last year, I didn't. Now with Chambers opposite him for a full season we'll see that Jackson's output during the Chargers playoff run was no fluke. Ben Utecht will prove to be a revelation at tightend for the Bengals. I think he could easily surpass 700 yards and 8 TD's. DeMarcus Ware will be the Defensive Player of the Year. Dominant player in a defensive scheme perfectly suited to his needs. Brian Westbrook will win the MVP. He does it all for Philly, and as long as he can stay healthy he could run away with this award. Now that Ted Ginn Jr. finally has a QB look for him to make a big splash with a 1,100 yard season. In the same offense, look for Ricky Williams to top 1,00 yards as well while winning the Comeback Player of the Year. Also look out for these 3 young running backs to make noise as third down backs as well as change of pace backs: Darius Walker, Tim Hightower and Felix Jones.

This should be an amazing football season. I can't wait.



I've been really bad about posting here (or anywhere) lately. I promise I will be better. I plan on posting multiple blogs a week. At least one a week on football and one a week on comics. As well as posting up lots of pics that have accumulated over the summer. There are a ton of Lego pics as well as pics of new art. Stay tuned...

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