Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. Last week, I mentioned two big games that I was excited about…and both were epic games for me. All of the so called experts predicted a rough day for one Johnny Football. With a year of losing sticking in Nick Saban’s craw, prevailing wisdom said there was no doubt that Bama would have an answer for the petulant Aggie QB in the rematch. Another year and another big day for Johnny Manziel. Since Saban has hit his stride at Bama (2008), only 4 teams have reached 30 points against the Crimson Tide. The Aggies put up 42 on Saturday. Here are the totals for Manziel: 98 yards rushing. 28 completions in 39 attempts for 464 yards and 5 TDs. The last part of the stat line was the difference in the game…2 interceptions. As great as Johnny Manziel is, sometimes you just have to take a sack. Both of the interceptions he threw were killers, but the pick six was the one that sealed the deal. You know who Manziel reminds me of? Doug Flutie on steroids. Not off the field mind you, but as he runs around making crazy throws work, I am reminded of Flutie. Hey, I realize there is much to not like about Johnny Manziel the kid, but damn if he does not have some of the magic that Flutie had. It really is too bad that Flutie was not born 20 years later. Boy, would Doug Flutie have loved being a QB today. Hell…after watching him pitch in the knuckleball competition, he still looks like he could play today.
Before last Saturday, there has only been one college QB that has performed better in the rematch against Saban. A Purdue QB named Brees threw for 196 and 2 TDs in 1998 against Saban's Spartans. In the rematch Brees went wild for 509 yards and 5 TDs.
I caught an article yesterday on SB Nation that was an excerpt of interview with Peter King asking Nick Saban about Manziel’s chances to play in the NFL. When asked this question, Saban put his things down and turned to make eye contact then replied, "I think Johnny's a unique player," he said. "Many people have said about these guys, like Robert Griffin III, that they're not really NFL-style quarterbacks. But yet they're all doing pretty well in the NFL.
"I think when somebody's as instinctive as [Manziel] is, and as fast as he is, and as athletic as he is, and he's developing into a pretty good passer-I mean last year he really developed as a passer-I do think he has an NFL future." Saban told Sumlin after the game that the game took 10 years off of his life. Watching him on the sideline, I bet he was only half kidding… After watching this game, King is now a believer in the talent of Johnny Football, but he knows that there are many NFL GMs that remain unconvinced and his size is the stated reason. I also have questions about Manziel’s ability to play at the next level, but it has nothing to do with his size. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have proven that an undersized QB can be successful in the NFL. For Johnny Football to succeed at the next level, he will have to stop throwing those prayers into the middle of the field. I know that several of them were answered last Saturday, but the NFL is a different story. Leadership and commitment also are big questions for me at this time. We all fondly remember Fran Tarkenton. Of course he is remembered for his zany ability to scramble out of trouble. But, if you go back and watch those old videos…he hardly ever ran for yardage. He used his athleticism to buy time to find a receiver. I do think that Manziel can learn to do this. For all of Manziel’s speed, I think it would best be utilized in escaping pressure and not running for yardage. I can see Manziel doing the Tarkenton thing in the NFL, can you? The advantage of scrambling is that it takes the shorter QB out of the pocket and allows them to see their target. It also wears out a defensive line. One of my favorite parts of the old Tarkenton NFL films was listening to the Defensive lineman curse Tarkenton. They absolutely hated chasing that little guy around. It could work for Johnny too, but first he has some big steps to take to make it to Sunday. Those steps are often much harder off the field than on. I hope he figures it out, because he sure is fun to watch. I just hope he does not end up being this guy:
Do you remember Martel from The Replacements? Johnny, don't be this guy!
I read a few comments from fans complaining about the lack of defense. The game was pretty much what I expected. I did not figure that Bama could stop Johnny and after watching the Aggies allow Sam Houston State to roll up yardage and points…I knew the Aggies could not stop Bama. While I am here…how about a big congratulations to the other QB in the game last Saturday! The 49 points that the Crimson Tide scored did not just fly up on the board by themselves. A. J. McCarron has been known as a “game manager”…but Saturday he was anything but. In truth, he looked like a polished senior QB at a big time football school. I never thought much about McCarron abilities as a QB, because he has never had to do too much for Bama to win. With that great offensive line and power running attack, there has been no need for McCarron to throw the ball 30 times in a game, until last Saturday. After falling behind to A&M again, McCarron was the reason that Bama did not lose again. As I reflected on this game, I am left with an surprising image…AJ McCarron is a very good QB. In fact, I think he very much helped his NFL draft stock with this game. He has a much stronger arm than I imagined and his accuracy was impressive. His numbers for the game were excellent…20 of 29 for 334 and 4 TDs. This was a big time performance on the biggest stage. The difference in this game was the ability of McCarron to deliver the ball on target in critical situations…without an interception. To my eyes, this was the difference in the game…I suspect those NFL GMs would agree.
You may have heard rumors that Nick Saban is traveling to Austin to visit with folks on the 40 acres. I really have no idea if this is true or not, but it is impossible to ignore. Things are not good in Austin at the moment as the Longhorns are reeling from back to back losses. Talk radio is blistering over the inability of Texas to stop the run. Teams run the same play over and over again and the coaches and players seem unable to make any adjustments. I am a big Mack Brown fan and really respect what he has done at Texas. I was very hopeful that he would be able to turn things around before he retired. I have thought long and hard about what Saban coming to Texas would mean and I have to admit that this would be good for the football program. Texas needs a coach that is hands on. Texas needs a coach that is more than a figure head. Once upon a time, Mack Brown was a great coach, but now he does not coach. Besides...it would really piss off the Aggies if Saban came to Austin...so, what the hell? Saban does look good in burnt orange as well.
The Seattle/San Fran game was not quite the close game that many expected. I know for San Francisco fans, it was disappointing to see Seattle thump their squad…but I found it compelling. Hey, the 9ers are for real and they will be back. Their front 7 on defense and Kaepernick are simply too good not to win at least 12 games. Seattle is a different team at home almost unbeatable when they play like they did on Sunday. I know that Kaepernick will get the blame for losing this game, but his receivers simply could not get any separation on the Seahawks secondary. I really think that the next time they play that San Fran needs to pound the rock. Use the great wheels of Kaepernick to burn them on a few zone reads and make Seattle put a safety in the box. It certainly will be better than what they did on Sunday. It is early in the season and although Seattle looked tough, they will go on the road to St. Louis or Indy and lose…mark my words. This was an emotional game for the Seahawks and everything played out perfectly for them. But the 49ers get another shot at them December 8th…I will definitely be watching the rematch.
Farewell Tour for Mo...
Switching gears a bit…since the Twins presented Mariano Rivera with the ultra cool rocking chair made out of broken bats…there have been a long list of teams presenting Mo with retirement gifts. In case you are like me and missed a few of them, I figured I might as well check out the list and see what’s what. Here we go:
The KC Royals and Seattle Mariners made a donation to Rivera’s charity. Nice…but not too original.
The Colorado Rockies also donated to Mo’s charity, but they presented him with a giant check too…Happy Gilmore would approve. Not sure who the presenter is...
The Los Angeles Angels gave Rivera a large oil painting of himself.
The LA Dodgers presented Mariano with a very nice rod and reel…of course Magic had to join the presentation.
The San Diego Padres came through with custom bikes for the entire family…pretty cool.
The White Sox somehow still had the first scorecard from Mariano’s first game at Comiskey Park and they made this their gift.
The Orioles took a page from the Twins and gave Mo a bronzed broken bat.
The Mets went with the fireman theme and presented Rivera with a mounted fire hose nozzle and a call box.
Oakland As…a surfboard and wine.
The Tigers- framed pictures of Mo with dirt from the mound in Detroit.
Tampa Bay gave Mo a sand sculpture as in the Sandman.
The Rangers…a cowboy hat and custom boots.
The Indians were clever…a gold record of Metallica’s Enter the Sandman.
The Red Sox went way cool in giving Mo the 42 from the hand operated scoreboard at Fenway.
The Twins began this thing with the totally cool rocking chair from broken bats.
All of these gifts were great, but one thing stood out for me. The Red Sox team presented Mo with the 42. Most of the other teams had a manager or management do the presenting. We have all written something about Rivera over the past few months. I think it is clear that everyone at the Gab recognizes the unique brilliance of this man. As great as he was a player, his actions as a man will be what I remember. The Sandman is a class act that will no doubt be a first ballot hall of famer. Well done Mr. Rivera, enjoy your retirement and thanks for the memories.
In his classy way, Mariano Rivera had one last message for the Red Sox. This was on the wall in the Fenway visitors dug out.
In case you can't read the message...it says: Last to wear #42. Thank you for everything. Now, that is how you say goodbye...
If I say the name Chubbs…surely you know who I mean. If you have seen Happy Gilmore, you immediately recognize the character that lost his hand to an alligator while playing golf. I know this is not funny, but apparently there is a real life Chubbs. Harold Lunger was golfing in Cancun when this incident happened. I left this in the article form to give an exact account...
The 50-year-old engineer took a couple of practice swings and then chipped out of the bunker. He heard leaves rustle.
“All of a sudden, his arm went back, and his head went back,” pal Mark Martin recalled. “I saw the crocodile leap up.”
The angry female chomped down on Lunger's left arm up to his elbow, using its tail and claws to drag Lunger to the sand, the men said.
“She pulled me back and flipped me, and I went to the ground,” Lunger said.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Holtsville resident managed to brace himself by getting a knee on the ground.
“The crocodile was holding me down, and I pulled myself out,” he said. “I don't remember even doing that.”
Adding insult to the devastating injuries he faced, Lunger said Iberostar reps began pressuring him to sign papers absolving the resort of responsibility — and when that failed, it allegedly spread rumors that Lunger prompted the attack by teasing the croc with chicken.
“We came with nothing,” Martin fumed. “We rented the clubs there. We [bought] the balls there. Where would we be getting chicken?”
Let’s be real…can you envision a couple of guys bringing some chicken to the golf course to tease the gators? Really? The resort deserves to get nailed if for nothing else being stupid. I am no gator expert, but this mama was probably pissed that the golfer got too close to her young uns…It does make you appreciate playing courses without water. This resort might want to consider adding signs warning their guests about gators.
The Astros have made news for being terrible and making a huge profit doing it. There was a time that my son and I watched almost every Astro game, but no more. The Astros signed a new TV deal leaving Fox Southwest and joining with CSN in Houston. The problem is that the signal reaches an estimated 40% of the folks in the Houston viewing area. Of course, I am not sure it matters this year…for their Sunday game against the Angels, they drew a .004% share of viewers…915 households or about 1000 people watched the game. The turnaround better happen quickly or the Astros may not have any fans left.
Given how bad the Astros have been the past few years, I guess I have to look for humor whenever it happens. I had to add this video of a very unique play from Tuesdays Astro/Reds game. A new phrase has been coined...you do not want to be out with a butt tag...just ask Jonathan Villar. A brutal way to be out.
That’s all I have for today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
"I think people tend to forget that trees are living creatures. They're sort of like dogs. Huge, quiet, motionless dogs, with bark instead of fur."
"It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man."
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…
How can the worst team in baseball be the most profitable? Well it could happen if you are the 2013 Houston Astros who are on track to make $99 million in operating income. They only have a payroll of $26 million and with sharing in MLB’s TV revenues, plus their own TV and Radio incomes lead to this oddity.
Chris Paul was named President of the Players Union, and he wants to fight the NBA about implementing HGH testing, eliminate flopping fines, and ban any more changes to the league’s dress code. Are players hiding something? It would lead me to believe that NBA players are juicing up. Looks like Paul is trying to shake things up.
You see how the NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the Patriots on behalf of Aaron Hernandez. The union is seeking to collect some $82,000 in workout bonuses from Aaron’s contract.
It’s college football time as the season has kicked off this past weekend. While I would like to think that my team, Syracuse, has a chance for the title game, its just not going to happen. They are in a new conference with a new coaching staff. Though new head coach, Scott Schafer (Cuse Defensive Coordinator the last several years) will continue the path that former coach Doug Marone took. We also have new offensive coordinator (and outstanding recruiter) George McDonald and defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough. We might not be that great, but we won’t be as bad as everyone thinks we are going to be. Well I hope not after Cuse lost to Penn State.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. Last week, I mentioned the heavy rain we received and the hassle of our flooded home. The upside of the rains is the benefit to the wildflowers this month. If you have never been to the Texas hill country, April is a great time to visit. The weather is pleasantly warm (usually) and the bluebonnets are on display. As the month goes along, the vibrant blues are joined by the bright red of the paint brushes and the yellows and pinks of other flowers. But for my money…the bluebonnets are worth viewing.
A sea of blue...
Here is the mixture that begins later in April...
Much was written before the 2013 season about the anticipated ineptitude of the Houston Astros. I was more than a little surprised that the Astros won on opening day against the big bats of the Texas Rangers. Of course, until last night…that was the only game that the Stros won. Houston is on pace to set an all time record for strikeouts. But of course, Chris Davis is on pace to hit 120 HRs as well. Basically, one week does not make a season. When Bo Porter was hired to be Houston’s manager, he was an unknown to me. I did not know him as a player or have any idea of what kind of manager he would be. I think we got a pretty good glimpse of what sort of manager he will be Monday night. Each manager expects their hitters to have a plan in each at bat. For each hitter there is a different plan. The Yankees and Red Sox have made a living of plate discipline. If you don’t throw strikes, they don’t swing. This must be what Porter is trying to impart to his young team as he removed JD Martinez from the game on Monday night for swinging at the first pitch. Monday night, Porter and Martinez sat down and had a long discussion. Martinez admits that Porter is the most direct manager that he has ever played for. By removing Martinez, I think Porter got his team’s attention. While there will continue to be struggles this year, if Porter can get his team pulling on the same end of the rope…it is a huge event for this young team. Tuesday night saw the Astros explode on Seattle. The 16 to 9 thumping of Seattle was their 2nd win and was exactly what this group needed. Of course, I suspect that the pitching rich Mariners will provide more resistance the rest of the series, the victory is significant. The high strikeouts don’t bother me as much if you mix in the long ball. The Astros had to know what they were getting when they added Chris Carter and Carlos Pena. Hopefully for Astros fans, Tuesday night was a sign of things to come and not an anomaly. And hey...they have as many wins as Toronto, with much less pay roll.
Don’t look now but Justin Upton is comfortable in Atlanta. I have listened to several ex players discuss Upton the past few years. It seemed like the DBacks were just not happy with Upton. Despite his early success, there always seemed to be trade rumors. The guys on the MLB channel felt that once Upton was removed from the situation in Arizona that he would be able to realize his full potential. I remain somewhat skeptical, but since I have the Braves as my fantasy pitching staff this year, I am very hopeful that I have finally picked a great staff. I suspect that the Braves and Nationals battle for supremacy of the NL East all season. I know the Reds and Giants will have something to say, but I really think one of these NL East teams will be in the WS this year. Maybe those predictions of Upton for MVP are not so outrageous?
Did you happen to see that Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) returned from a torn meniscus after 12 days? Wow…that really is crazy. Of course, when discussing someone named Metta, crazy is a good word. When reporters asked Artest about his quick return, his answer was…”I am just too sexy for my cat”. Wow…this is one very strange guy...but of course we knew this!.
I think any real football fan recognizes the name of Johnny Unitas. He was truly the beginning of great QB's known for clutch play. I read this week that there is an argument brewing within the Unitas family over which QB should play John Unitas in the upcoming movie, "Unitias We Stand". Joe Unitas has chosen Joe Flacco and John Jr. and others think that Peyton Manning is the logical choice to play Unitas. John Jr. went as far to say that Flacco is goofy. I have nothing against Joe Flacco and have to give him props for winning the super bowl last year...but, Peyton Manning would definitely be my choice. After watching Manning in his Colts helmet all those years, I don't see how anyone else would be better. Who would be your choice to play Johnny U?
I saw today that the Lions are putting Jason Hanson into their ring of honor. I have nothing against kickers, but wonder if any kicker is worthy of a spot in a team's ring of honor? Maybe it is just me, but special teams are called such for a reason. It helps to have a good kicker, but to put them in the ring of honor? I figure that our Gab's Lions fans will definitely weigh in on this...
I am going to "borrow" something from SI today. Do you remember the spot that they use called signs the Apocalypse is upon us...
Did you grow up riding a bike? I know that I did. It was a great form of transportation and also provided great exercise. Hyndai engineers have developed something called E4U. This "egg" goes up to 20 mph. I think someone at Hyndai needs to be slapped. Actually, I have a better idea. We should send fired basketball coach Mike Rice to Hyndai to be the research and development "coach". Maybe he can motivate them to research in a different area...
The music sucks too...
I am sorry that my post got up late today. I fell asleep writing m blog and had to finish this morning...
That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey...
It's probably not a good idea to be chewing on a toothpick if you're talking to the president, because what if he tells a funny joke and you laugh so hard you spit the toothpick out and it hits him in the face or something.
A funny thing is if you're out hiking and your friend gets bit by a poisonous snake, tell him you're going for help, then go about ten feet and pretend YOU got bit by a snake. Then start an argument about who's going to get help. A lot of guys will start crying. That's why it makes you feel good when you tell them it was just a joke.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own...
The 2013 Major League Baseball season is just weeks from first pitch. Teams are starting to make cuts in camp, pitchers are starting to ramp up their workloads, and hitters are starting to dial in. In those few weeks, teams will quickly go from the dreams of next year to the sad realities of this year, and baseball fans are looking forward to seeing which ones step up and which ones sit down.
With that in mind, there are a number of interesting questions heading into the season, questions where the answers could very well shape the outcome of the pennant race and separate the contenders from the pretenders.
1.) Will a full season of Stephen Strasburg give the Nationals the lift they need?
The Washington Nationals arguably had the best team in baseball in 2012, yet they opted to shut down their ace due to concerns over his workload just one year after Tommy John surgery. The decision likely cost them the NLDS against St. Louis by not having Strasburg to turn to when the Cardinals came storming back. Will a full 200+ inning season from the 24-year-old phenom be enough to give them that final push?
2.) Who will be this season's Oakland Athletics or Baltimore Orioles?
Both the A's and Orioles seemingly took players from the Island of Misfit Toys and crafted playoff teams from the remains, storming past heavily-favored rivals to make the postseason in 2012. With a retooled pitching staff and a 15-2 record this spring, could the Kansas City Royals be poised to make a similar run in a vastly improved AL Central division? Could the Seattle Mariners and their new-look offense and shorter fences replace Oakland in the West? Or will there be a new black sheep to root for in 2013? That's one of the best reasons to watch the new world order in MLB.
3.) Will Service Time Clocks Impact A Stellar Rookie Class?
We know for a fact that Wil Myers will start the season in Triple-A for Tampa. The same is likely true for Jackie Bradley Jr., Oscar Taveras, Gerrit Cole, Jedd Gyorko, Nick Franklin, Dylan Bundy, and a host of other rookies looking to make the jump in 2013, all in the name of team control. Gone is the philosophy of having the best players make the team out of camp and in steps the business side of the game, trading a month or two for another full season. Thank the Tampa Bay Rays for this model. It will strip some of the excitement out of the game for the first few months of the season.
4.) Which big trades will pan out in 2013?
The Blue Jays added R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Emilio Bonifacio in trades. The Braves picked up Justin Upton in a blockbuster. The Royals and Rays both benefited in the Wil Myers / James Shields swap. These teams won the offseason on paper, but can they translate that to success in the regular season and beyond? It's a tall order to make big moves work as intended and eventually, someone is going to be disappointed, but someone is going to be very happy. Will it be one of these teams?
5.) Will a winter of inactivity kill the Rangers and Yankees?
Neither the Rangers or the Yankees accomplished much this offseason, with the Yankees standing pat on their aging roster and the Rangers putting all of their eggs in the Zack Greinke basket before the pitcher chose Los Angeles. That decision cost Texas Josh Hamilton as well, to the division rival Angels nonetheless. Meanwhile, the Yankees are reeling from the loss of a quarter of their offense from 2012, and will be without Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson for the first few months of the regular season. With both teams playing in tough, improved divisions, their runs may be over.
6.) How much of a horror show will the Astros move to the AL West really be?
It was a natural fit to move the Astros to the American League West, but this is a team that lost 107 games in 2012. Judging by their offseason moves to dismantle the team as well as get it ready for American League play (i.e. The Designated Hitter), the Astros could easily be the team that challenges the 1962 New York Mets as the worst team in history. Outside of Lucas Harrell and Jose Altuve, you would be hard pressed to find a Major League level talent on this team. Put on your seat belts because this is going to be a trainwreck.
7.) Will contract years hurt or help Cano and Ellsbury?
Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury promise to be two of the biggest names on the looming 2014 free agent horizon and both are in for big paydays. However, both will have a lot of pressure to perform. Cano will want to justify a contract greater than any Yankee before him, including Alex Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Ellsbury will be looking to make a healthy return and try to prove that he is more like the 2011 MVP Runner-Up than the injured shell he was in 2010 and 2012. Oh, and they will do it on two of baseball's biggest stages. Did I mention both are represented by Scott Boras?
What other questions do you have looming for the coming baseball season?