February 29, 2012
Within a three week span in January 2011, Crosby fell to a concussion and Malkin suffered a devastating knee injury. For a team that’s expected to perennially contend for the Stanley Cup, having their future Hall of Famers in doubt was worrisome.
While it’s unfortunate that Sidney Crosby is still sidelined with lingering effects of a concussion, Malkin has dominated this season. One would never guess that he shredded his knee not too long ago because he’s playing at such a high level. At this time, Malkin is leading the NHL with 78 points and has the Penguins looking like the Cup contender they’re supposed to be.
Because of Malkin, the Penguins are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. He has scored five points in a game a remarkable five times this season. Five times! In the modern day NHL, that is simply astounding.
Malkin’s 37 goals are second-best in the NHL behind Steven Stamkos at the moment. His eight game-winning goals are just another reason why Malkin will be named NHL MVP at the end of the season.
The scary thing about Malkin is that he’s only 25 years old. He’s in his sixth NHL season and hasn’t even hit his prime yet. He has 195 career goals, 301 assists and 496 points. These numbers are undeniably great.
With an injury-free and solid finish to the season, Malkin will eclipse the 50 goal mark for the first time, which is the pinnacle in the NHL. Watching Malkin bloom into a legitimate superstar is pure fun. He’s proven that he can step out of the shadows of Crosby and shine on his own.
Keep your eye on Malkin down the stretch. There’s no slowing him down.
February 28, 2012
The NBA trade deadline is two weeks away. The trade deadline in your fantasy league is probably even closer. Now is the time to look over your roster and make the deal that will get you into the playoffs. Fortunately for me, I am leading my league, so I am just looking at what will help me when the playoffs start. But if you’re team is in the middle of the pack or worse, you need to make a move. I’ve got a few suggestions.
Jeremy Lin for Kyrie Irving
If you were the first in your league to buy into the “Linsanity” in New York, you were rewarded with some huge games. If you can deal him now for Kyrie Irving, you may be rewarded again. Lin has been getting all the headlines so this could be the perfect time to offer him in a trade. And if you do, Kyrie Irving is your guy. Lin and Irving are putting up very similar numbers over the last 30 days, but Irving has a couple advantages over Lin in the second half of the season. Lin and the Knicks have just 31 games remaining. Irving and the Cavs have 35. An extra four games of production could be the difference between the playoffs and the consolation bracket. Lin is also going to be dealing with some lineup changes with the return of Carmelo Anthony and the signing of J.R. Smith. You can count on those two taking away some of the opportunities Lin had over the last few weeks.
Amar’e Stoudemire for David Lee
Here’s another Knick with only 31 games left on the schedule. Meanwhile, David Lee will be playing 36 games for the Warriors. Like Lin, Stoudemire will have to adjust to Anthony returning and the addition of Smith. Combine that with five extra games and Stoudemire being much more of a household name, and maybe you will find someone willing to give up a guy averaging 20 points, 9 rebounds, and shooting over 50 percent in the last 30 days.
Carlos Boozer for DeAndre Jordan
This is another trade I would try to make featuring a guy with a bigger name who only has 31 games left and a history of missing time (Boozer), for a guy that is lesser known but putting up similar numbers and has 35 games left to play (Jordan). Just 13 of the Bulls 31 remaining games are in Chicago, and Boozer is putting up three fewer points per game on the road.
Dwight Howard for Al Jefferson
Every team in the NBA would jump at the chance to get Dwight Howard. Some guys in your fantasy league will too. Hopefully one of them has Al Jefferson. The Jazz have 34 games left, which is three more than Howard is currently scheduled to play. Of course, currently is the key word here. If I have Howard, who is surrounded with question marks about where he will finish the season and kills me in free throw percentage, I am willing to part with the big man for someone like Jefferson, who doesn’t have the superstar appeal but does put up nearly 20-10 on average and shoots well from the floor and the charity stripe.
February 27, 2012
Speculating on how a current player might finish his career is always tricky. Unless we’re talking about Cal Ripken, injuries almost always play at least a small role. And with age comes decline – just ask NFL running backs. But in looking over Albert Pujols’ mind-boggling career numbers to date, imagining where he might end up is irresistible.
When discussing recent MLB players that had a shot to achieve all-time greatness, the two that come to mind the most are Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. Unfortunately, both have been linked to steroid use in some fashion and in the minds of many, that rules them out of the conversation when it comes to determining if they are candidates for ‘Best Ever’ status.
First order of business: Who is the greatest baseball player to ever live? There’s obviously no real answer since comparing players of generations is a bit like deciding between Ginger and Mary Ann. And since it’s even more difficult to compare pitchers to hitters, for the sake of this debate, I’ll look only at position players. With all of that said, my vote goes to Babe Ruth. Ruth wasn’t only the best power hitter of his generation, but also a tremendous hitter in general, finishing his career with a .342 average. He even led the league once, hitting .378. And when you throw in his nearly 100 wins as a pitcher (winning 20 games twice), Ruth is an easy choice.
So how does Pujols stack up to the baseball giant?
When it comes to power, Phat Albert is more Hank Aaron than Ruthian. Pujols is a threat to be sure, but his power is more consistent than it is mind-boggling. Aaron, the former home run king, hit 755 homers. The incredible thing, though, was that he did it without racking up large individual totals. Aaron never hit 50 in a season and led the league in round trippers a surprisingly low four times (as opposed to Ruth, who did it 12 times). Aaron was wildly consistent and that’s exactly what Pujols is. Like Aaron, Pujols has never hit 50 home runs in a season. He’s also only led the league in that category twice and since he’s getting a bit up in age, may never do it. In a nutshell, Pujols falls a bit short of Ruth in terms of dominating the league with power. But with 445 home runs already, he could approach the Sultan of Swat’s 714 career number.
In terms of hitting, Pujols is right there with Ruth, who finished with 2,873 hits. To this point in his career, Pujols has averaged nearly 200 hits a season and with 2,073 heading into 2012, barring major injuries, should easily reach 3,000 at some point. The easy argument is that he has had the benefit of longer seasons. While that’s a valid point, batting averages were higher in Ruth’s era before most pitchers were hurling as much heat as guys like Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. The better argument for Ruth’s hitting acumen is that he drew considerably more walks than Pujols. But all in all, when it comes to flat out hitting, it’s safe to say that Pujols’ numbers to date stack up pretty good with the Babe’s as things stand right now.
Ruth gets a slight nod in driving in runs, though the numbers are close. Over the course of a 162-game season, Ruth has averaged nearly 20 more runs batted in despite about 15 fewer at bats. But over an entire career, the numbers aren’t all that far apart. The significant factor is that Ruth, again, was more dominant in his era. He led the league in RBI six times while Pujols has done it only once to date.
Defensively, both players have endured their shares of struggles. Ruth’s 155 errors as an outfielder, where he played the bulk of his career, rank fairly high at 6th all time. As a rookie seeing time at first, third, and in the outfield, Pujols had a gaudy 25 mistakes in 2001. But even though he’s had some other down seasons in the field, he’s also rebounded to win two Gold Gloves and has become a serviceable defensive player. Pujols gets the nod in the field over Ruth.
Pujols has put up impressive offensive numbers compared to Ruth. If he plays another eight to ten seasons (which is realistic considering he just turned 32), he could easily wind up in the neighborhood of 700 home runs and 3,500 hits. But here’s the thing – the variable that sets Ruth apart is his pitching. He wasn’t only a good pitcher, but a great one for a short time. He won 94 games and over a two-year span, racked up nearly 50 of those victories. He led the league in ERA in one of those seasons, 1916, and also got it done in the postseason winning all three of his World Series starts in 1916 and 1918. He had the ability to win the World Series with his arm as well as his bat.
Unless Pujols manages to pull a reverse Rick Ankiel, he falls a bit short of Ruth when it comes to debating him as the best player of all time. He would need to not only surpass the Babe as an offensive player, but dominate him … and I don’t see that happening. Can he be the best position player of this generation? Maybe. But of all time? No – that crown belongs to Ruth.
February 24, 2012
The NBA gave us some great games last week. The Clippers and Spurs went to OT, and the Knicks made a big 4th quarter comeback against the Mavs. The NBA has All-Star Weekend going on, but it will have plenty of company with the Daytona 500 and the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend. We think this weekend should have something for everyone. (All times EST).
Vancouver at New Jersey – NHL – 7:00pm
This is the only time these two teams will meet this regular season and they couldn’t meet at a better time. The Canucks are riding an incredible hot streak, and with a win against New Jersey, could take over the top spot in the West. The Devils have been hot as well, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Vancouver is in the middle of a road trip in which they ended Detroit’s 23 game home winning streak. The Devils will try and keep Vancouver from taking down yet another hot team in consecutive games.
Rising Stars Challenge – NBA – 9:00pm
The first of many All-Star game events on our schedule, the Rising Star Challenge will give you a glimpse into the future, and in some ways the here and now, of the NBA. Young stars like Ricky Rubio, Jeremy Lin, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and John Wall are sure to light up the court in what should be a much more competitive game than the All-Star game. These young stars are looking to prove they belong on the brighter stage next year.
St. Louis at Winnipeg – NHL- 2:00pm
Both of these teams will be looking to gain ground in the points with a win in this game. St. Louis is 4 points behind Detroit in the Central, while Winnipeg has a 1 point lead in the Southeast. This will be the second game in a six game road trip for the Blues, who meet Winnipeg in the middle of an 8 game home stand. The Blues bring with them the best goals against average in the league, which they will need. Winnipeg isn’t a huge offensive team, but they are opportunistic on the power play.
(#3)Missouri at (#5) Kansas – 4:00pm
Two Top 5 teams playing this late in the season? You knew this was going to be on the schedule. Add to that Missouri is only one game behind the Jayhawks for 1st place in the Big 12, and this game could be the most compelling of the weekend. These two teams played an incredible game earlier this month, with Missouri squeaking by 74-71 at home. That was the Jayhawks last loss, and with the game now going back to Kansas, you can bet they will be looking for revenge.
NBA All-Star Saturday Night – 8:30pm
The part of All-Star weekend that many people find more entertaining than the game itself, All-Star Saturday night is basically the NBA’s skills competition. This event includes: the Shooting Stars competition, Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Three Point Contest and the Slam Dunk Contest. Some of the stars competing in these events include: Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker & Deron Williams. Overall, it should be a fun event to end your Saturday night.
Scouting Combine – NFL – 9:00am
We wake you up early this weekend, but you have to put in the time to watch these future NFL stars work. The first televised portion of the Combine is Saturday morning, and while I let you sleep in then, you have to watch the skill position players (QB, RB, and WR) jockey for position in their respective groups. The NFL has truly turned into a year round priority, and this is the kickoff to the main event of the offseason, the NFL Draft.
Daytona 500 – NASCAR – 1:00pm
The Super Bowl for NASCAR, this is a must watch event even for those of you who may not be racing fans. Danica Patrick will be making her first run in the event, and defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart will look to defend his title with a win in a race he has yet to win. The Daytona 500 has produced amazing finishes and I am sure this year won’t disappoint.
All-Star Game – NBA – 7:30 pm
Anytime the best players in the world get together on one court to play, it is something to be seen. Four of the five starting spots on the West roster come from Los Angeles, as Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum of the Lakers will join Chris Paul and Blake Griffin of the Clippers. The East will have a pair of teammates as well, with Miami’s Lebron James and Dwyane Wade getting the start. With that much offensive firepower on the court it will be a shootout, but when the 4th quarter starts, look for both teams’ competitive nature to really kick in. It should make for an entertaining end to the weekend.
February 23, 2012
Almost two months ago, I broke down UFC 141 on this blog. I said that I knew very little about UFC, and I backed it up with my picks, going 1-4. I refuse to let that record stand, so I am back again, no smarter than the last time I made these picks, but with the same confidence I can predict who will win these fights. Besides, could I really do worse than last time?
Main Event – Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson – UFC Lightweight Championship
I feel a lot of pressure with this pick, as last time the Main Event was the only pick I got right. UFC Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar defends his title against Ben Henderson, a former Lightweight champion in WEC. To someone who has admittedly never heard of either fighter, this sounds like a great fight. Both guys are takedown fighters, but Edgar looks like a great striker as well. Both have great records, and Henderson has the height advantage, but I really like Edgar in this fight. I think Henderson gives him a run, but in the end, Edgar retains the Lightweight championship.
“Rampage” Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
I always find it strange when the Main Event has two people I have never heard of, yet I have heard of both guys in an undercard fight. That may have to be chalked up to my lack of knowledge again. This is a huge match for both fighters. Bader will try to make his name against Jackson, who is trying to prove he is still a great fighter in the UFC. Bader will try to take this fight to the ground, where Jackson is weakest. Jackson will be trying to knock Bader out as early on as possible, but Bader isn’t afraid to throw punches either. Jackson will have the crowd on his side, as he started his career fighting in Japan. I don’t know why, but my gut is telling me Bader takes this fight.
Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo
This fight seems like such a mismatch, I feel like I am missing some information. Cheick Kongo is 6-4, 240 lbs., and just plain ripped. Mark Hunt, (5-10, 265), doesn’t have the body that one would associate with a professional fighter. If the stats seem skewed, the records are worse. Kongo is 17-6-2, while Hunt is 7-7. They are similar fighters, both strikers who also have complimentary ground games, so I don’t see where Hunt has an advantage. I think Kongo ends this fight quickly.
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Fields
While neither fighter is a terrible striker, I feel like a lot of this match will take place on the ground. Shields is a submissions fighter, while both fighters are successful with takedowns. I think Akiyama packs a lot of punch in what will be a smaller frame than his opponent. Shields is the more experienced fighter, but Akiyama isn’t a rookie by any means. This is another fight where I have never seen either guy, but purely on statistics and style, I like Akiyama to find a way to pull out a victory against Shields.
Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
My final pick for this event, and I couldn’t be more clueless. Okami is more experienced and has the height advantage, while both are pretty much equal in striking. To be honest, before looking into this fight, I would have thought this would be a slugfest. However, Boetsch is solid on takedowns, and both can use submissions. Boetsch is a wrestler, while Okami is more a ground and pound type of fighter and I am going with Okami in this fight.
Have your own opinion on these fights? Leave me a comment on the blog or tweet us @Fathead and let me know why you disagree.