February 25, 2014

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5 MLB Stars I’m Avoiding For My Fantasy Team

By: Joe Williams

A new MLB season is just about a month away. That means your fantasy drat is even closer than that. Are you ready? Me either. But I do know that you can’t win you fantasy league on draft day. That takes much more than one day of investment. But if you draft a few stars that don’t perform, that one day could take you out of the running. With that in mind, here’s a few guys you can be sure won’t end up on my roster on draft day.

Can Albert Pujols return to form after a down 2013 season?

Albert Pujols

His 2013 season was a big disappointment. Will Pujols be able to regain his form after all the injury problems? Maybe. But I don’t want to keep my fingers crossed all season. Besides, his numbers have dropped ever year since 2008. Let somebody else draft him for his name and you can snag somebody who will be more reliable (at 1B) like Freddie Freeman or Eric Hosmer.

Ryan Braun

Here’s another guy who had a nightmarish 2013 season. A thumb injury and a 65-game suspension will sure put a damper on your production. Braun’s probably going to put up some decent numbers, but don’t expect to draft him and get the MVP player from 2011. I’d take him with my fourth or fifth pick in the draft, but if you want that long he will probably end up on some other guy’s roster. I’m OK with that.

Buster Posey

I actually love Posey. But I don’t see him re-creating his MVP season from a couple years ago and there are a few catchers that put up nice numbers last season and should do it again this year. I’m not going to tell you not to draft him. But I’d rather wait a few rounds to take a catcher than take him with one of my first couple of picks.

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter’s name alone will probably get him drafted higher than he should be. Somebody in your league will expect him to be the leader of a high-powered Yankees lineup and think that they got a steal with a mid-round pick. Maybe. But he’s old. And he only played 17 games last year. I doubt he’ll make it through this season without getting hurt. Only a true Yankee fan should consider owning him. That’s not me. No thanks. You can have him.

Closers

Somebody is going to pile up a lot of saves. Jim Johnson and Craig Kimbrel had 50 last year. Five other guys had at least 40. If one of them falls into my lap then that’s great. If not, that’s OK too. No stat is easier to find during the season than saves. Closers come and go so unless you know something I don’t, then let someone else waste a higher pick on the top rated closers and find somebody lat

September 9, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Peyton Manning Kicks off NFL Season with Seven TDs: In case there were any growing concerns about the age of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, he removed those with a monster performance in Week 1. The future Hall of Famer dropped seven touchdown passes on the Baltimore Ravens defense en route to a 49-27 romp over the Super Bowl champions. Those seven scores tied an NFL record and Manning also threw for 462 yards in the game. He continues to prove that no matter the receiver, he’ll find ways to get him the ball. In tight end Julius Thomas and the newly-acquired Wes Welker, two of Manning’s three starting receivers were both first-year starters.

Basketball Hall of Fame Inducts 12: The Basketball Hall of Fame inducted 12 players and sports personalities this weekend and the class was headlined by NBA stars Gary Payton and Bernard King, and coaches Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian. All have a right to be thankful, but Tark’s induction came right on time. Now 83 and battling health issues, it was good to see the former UNLV coach get in.

Serena Williams wins fifth U.S. Open: Add another trophy to Serena Williams’ ridiculously crowded mantle as the tennis star won her fifth U.S. Open, defeating second-ranked player Victoria Azarenka this past weekend, 7-5, 6-7, 6-1. The win didn’t come easy as Azarenka staved off Williams’ serves as she went for the match in the second set. However, Serena was too dominant and claimed her 17th major title. Catching Steffi Graf’s record of 22 looked distant not too long ago, but with four majors in the past two years, it’s back up for discussion. Five more majors is still a lot to win and the odds are against her at the age of 32. But if there’s any player that can do it, it’s probably Serena.

Pirates fans can celebrate a winning season for the first time in 20 years!

Hey, Look – 81 Wins: For the first time in two decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have at least a .500 record after the team won their 81st game last week. The streak, the longest in major North American sports finally comes to an end and the Pirates now turn their attention to the postseason where they should be at least a Wild Card team. Finishing .500 is generally not something teams celebrate, but regardless of what Pittsburgh does in the playoffs, its fans will be glad the streak has ended.

Tim Tebow Reportedly Unwilling to Change Positions: SI’s Peter King reported last week that quarterback Tim Tebow is not willing to change positions to stay in the league. Tebow’s in a bit of a tough spot with this, actually. If he continues denying teams the opportunity to bring him in as a wide receiver, tight end, or other position, he may not get another option to play quarterback. Even if he changes that stance later, would teams be put off by his initial refusal? Quite possibly. As I said last week, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Tebow. He’s too young to quit playing football and while others are forced out of the game soon after college, Tebow has shown some ability that will be intriguing to another team down the line. He may have to relent on his ‘quarterback only’ stance, but my guess is he’ll be back in some capacity.

Hi, this is Ryan Braun: Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun took an interesting approach to his recent suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs. While many players shy away from attention after being busted, Braun has instead stepped to the forefront. Last week, Braun took his apology straight to the fans, telephoning season ticket holders to say what he did was wrong. Whether Braun himself hatched the idea or whether it came from a smart PR person, the move is a borderline brilliant. While Braun will likely get his share of angry tirades from some fans, he’ll also help win some of them back. The fact is that Braun is still a fairly young player that should be around the game for many more years. While older players could fade away into the background, Braun is still going to be playing baseball for a significant amount of time.

So … the Lasagna Invite is an actual race: No, really.

Canucks to Retire Pavel Bure’s Number: Former NHL star Pavel Bure will have his number retired by the Vancouver Canucks. He didn’t play his entire career there, suiting up for the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers as well, but was with the franchise for seven of his eleven seasons. The Russian Rocket had two 60-goal seasons with the Canucks and finished his career with 437 goals. His 342 assists also helped him to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.

NCAA Transfer Rules Could Change: The NCAA currently allows players to transfer to another school on a scholarship, providing their current school approves it. Technically, players are allowed to transfer wherever they want, but their current school can dictate if they are allowed to take a scholarship in their first season – otherwise, they have to pay their own way. However, the rule could be altered soon and allow players to transfer anywhere they want without approval from their former college. The rules are complicated here, but that’s probably the right move. Coaches often are able to break their contracts and leave for other opportunities with any other program they want and players should be able to do the same.

July 31, 2013

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In Case You Missed It

By: Joe Williams

We all know about the Aaron Hernandez situation, Dwight Howard taking his talents to Houston and Ryan Braun getting suspended, but that’s not all the crazy stuff that happened in July. In case you actually have a life, here are a few stories that you may have missed.

Longtime New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur actually got to draft his son Anthony Brodeur for the Devils during the NHL draft.

During last week’s RBC Canadian Open, Hunter Mahan withdrew from the tournament to attend the birth of his first child. Mahan was leading the tournament and didn’t pull out until just before he was supposed to begin his third round, leaving his playing partner John Merrick playing in the final group by himself.

Not only did the Cincinnati Reds play a game in San Francisco as the home team, but during one of the  four-game series between the teams, the Giants grounds crew had a bit of trouble lining up the batter’s box. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a photo of the screw up online.

When former Florida State offensive lineman Menelik Watson received his championship ring for the team’s win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, he was the only Seminoles player that got a ring that reads “2012 SEC Champions.” The rest of the team got rings with the correct conference inscribed on them.

The NCAA claimed that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo committed an NCAA violation when he tweeted “Welcome to the family” to a Class of 2015 wide receiver who recently committed to the University of Michigan.

“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen fired one of the worst first pitches I have ever seen. Video of that won’t be hard to find either.

A linebacker at the University of Florida was arrested for sticking his head in a police car and barking at a police dog.

One Cleveland Indians fan pulled off an incredible feat, catching four foul balls in the same game…the odds of which are about one in one trillion.

Another fan in Cleveland wasn’t so lucky. When Scott Entsminger passed away earlier this month, this ended up in his obituary…”A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder, he also wrote a song each year and sent it to the Cleveland Browns as well as offering other advice on how to run the team. He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time.”

A battle royal erupted between two former Thai Olympic teammates during a doubles badminton match. They started trash-talking before the match even started and things continued to escalate until they fought from one end of the arena to the other. Both players received a black card.

And in the wildest story of the month former NBA player Baron Davis (the guy with the huge beard before James Harden) said that he was abducted by aliens while on a drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles during a podcast interview. I’m not even going to go there on this one.

I can’t wait to see what happens in August as the NFL season approaches, and the baseball playoff races heat up.

June 10, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

NBA Finals tied up 1-1: After a close loss at home on Thursday, the Miami Heat rebounded for a 103-84 blowout win in Game 2 over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals on Sunday. The Heat still find themselves without home court advantage, but now have a fighting chance to win the series. Another loss would have put the team in an 0-2 hole facing three straight games in San Antonio under the 2-3-2 Finals format. And against the experienced Spurs, that may have been too big a deficit to overcome.

The Heat tied the NBA Finals series at 1-1 with their Game 2 win on Sunday.

French Open concludes: Tennis’ French Open wrapped up with a couple of the game’s biggest stars finishing on top. For the men, Rafael Nadal won a record eighth French Open title, defeating David Ferrer this weekend. Nadal won easily in straight sets and his eighth title at the French is the most of any man at any Grand Slam tournament. On the women’s side, Serena Williams won her 2nd French title, also in straight sets, over the defending champ Maria Sharapova. For Williams, it was her 16th major championship.

Major League Baseball/Biogenesis scandal: Major League Baseball is reportedly trying to suspend a group of 20 players linked to the Biogenesis/PED scandal. The alleged list includes some big names such as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, and Bartolo Colon. If the suspensions happen, some teams could find themselves in a bind. Players like Nelson Cruz, and Jhonny Peralta are parts of teams (the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, respectively) in playoff races. Because of that, it will be interesting to see what types of moves that clubs make in advance of any potential suspensions.

Coach Jason Kidd?: The recently retired Jason Kidd doesn’t want to spend a season without basketball. ESPN reports that the former point guard is interested in coaching – specifically, he wants the Brooklyn Nets’ job. A few years ago, that may not have been a half bad idea. But the Nets have a lot invested in this team and if I’m GM Billy King, there’s no way I’m taking a call from a player with no coaching experience in college or the pros.

The ‘Average’ Lebron: Dennis Rodman made headlines again when he said LeBron James would be an average player in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The comments were made when comparing James and Michael Jordan. James may not be as great as Jordan, but average? It’s hard to envision the 6’8” freak of nature as just an average player in any era. Rodman made a good point in that the game may not be as physical as it once was, but James does so much more other than score. He’s a tremendous rebounder and passer and there’s no question he would still be a star in that era … or any other, for that matter.

Marc-Andre Fleury to return as Pens’ starter: The Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup favorites after, were unceremoniously swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals. In the process, starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, was replaced by backup Tomas Vokoun who played well in the series. But head coach Dan Bylsma said afterwards that Fleury is a franchise goalie and will return as the team’s No. 1 starter – and that’s probably the right move. Fleury is only 28 years old and helped the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals appearances only a few years ago. And with two years and $10 million left on his current contract, the Pens have little choice but to at least give him another shot if they are against trading him away.

Tommy Rees chosen as Notre Dame starting QB: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly recently lost his starting quarterback Everett Golson to an academic-related suspension. As expected, Kelly announced that he will turn to Tommy Rees as the starter in 2013, per mlive.com. That’s no surprise as he’s the most experienced player of the other options, Andrew Hendrix and newcomer Malik Zaire. The Irish are fortunate to have Rees as few teams have two quarterbacks with as much experience as he and Golson. Instead of turning to an inexperienced backup, Notre Dame has Rees, who started nearly every game in 2011 and has played in 33 career games.

Brett Favre takes blame in parting with Packers: Quarterback Brett Favre accepted some of the blame for his ugly divorce from the Green Bay Packers in a recent radio show interview. That’s good news for the two since Favre will always be recognized as a Packer even though he also played briefly with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets. The Packers will want his participation in team-related events for the rest of his life, and it’d be much better if the two sides can reconcile and get along since Favre has been such a big part of the organization.

June 6, 2013

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10 MLB Teams That Will Miss The Playoffs

By: Joe Williams

It is hard to believe, but the MLB season is already one-third of the way over. Obviously, nobody has locked up a playoff spot yet, but several teams have dug themselves into such a big hole that they won’t be able to climb out of it. Therefore, it’s time to eliminate a third of the teams. Who are the 10 teams that aren’t going anywhere in 2013?

After signing Josh Hamilton in the offseason, the Angels would be disappointed to miss the playoffs.

Miami Marlins

We knew the Marlins would be bad after another fire sale sent their top talent elsewhere, but did we know they would be this bad? They are on pace to lose 120 games and are starting to make the Astros look pretty good.

Houston Astros

Speaking of the Astros…switching leagues hasn’t seemed to help their winning percentage and they are again headed for a 100-loss campaign. On the bright side, the worst they can finish in the AL West is fifth, instead of sixth like they were in the NL Central last year.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers went 6-22 in May and were outscored by 50 runs. They weren’t just losing games. They were getting crushed. And now things could be getting worse with the news of a possible suspension coming for Ryan Braun.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are currently in last in the A.L. East. They are under .500 at home. Their pitching staff is near the bottom of the league. All the big-name acquisitions have been disappointing and the division is too tough.

San Diego Padres

They have not been the same since the 2010 season when they blew the lead in the N.L. West and missed the playoffs by a game. The Padres aren’t the worst team in California, but they aren’t going to the playoffs.

Los Angeles

The “honor” of worst team in California is a tie between the Angels and Dodgers . Both teams entered the season with world championship aspirations and are playing .440 ball and well back in the playoff chase. The superstar signings haven’t paid off and it’s going to be a long summer in a city that is used to seeing meaningful games in October.

Chicago

Speaking of big cities with disappointing teams…why can’t the Cubs or White Sox get anything going? Neither team has been to the playoffs since 2008 and it’s not happening in 2013 either. But it does look like they’ll battle for best team in Chicago all season long.

New York

I might as well go all-in on the big market clubs being left home this October. I’m not going out on a limb to say that the Mets won’t be playing past game 162, but I’ll throw the Yankees in that boat too and make it 11 teams that aren’t going to be in the playoffs this year. Sure they’ve had guys stepping up for their injured stars all year and have guys coming back, but I’ll take the younger and fresher teams like Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cleveland to hold off the Yankees in the AL East and Wild Card races.