Posted on: September 25, 2012 12:56 am

Green Bay/Seattle Ending

Replacement refs?  I'm tired of hearing about them.  Every call is scrutinized.  If it's right, the announcers let it go.  If it's wrong, they harp about it.  If it's right, but 'picky'- they still complain that they should 'let them play'.  The media circus surrounding the whole situation is worse than the officiating.  
Case in point:  Near the end of the game, pass interference was called on Green Bay, when it was apparent that the receiver pushed the defender.  Nevermind that the defender pushed as well- the announcers were looking for something to nit-pick the officiating on.  During all the yammering about poor officiating- Gruden and Tirico failed to notice on the replay that the Green Bay player had a handful of Seattle jersey- without a doubt, THAT is what the official called. 
As far as the end play- I probably would have ruled for Green Bay.  That being said, I can make a compelling argument against it.  ESPN called in Austin (former official) who insisted possession belonged to Green Bay because the defender held the ball to his chest.  Really?  An official of 27 years uses that as a possession guage?  My faith in the replacements has been restored.  If you watch the replay (without bias for team or officials) clearly, Tate catches the ball with BOTH hands (again, Austin harps about only seeing one ARM on the ball-maybe he has only one good eye, I don't know) at the same time Jennings does.  As any good replacement official knows (I guess Austin doesn't), you may possess the ball without having it against your body.  The technical mistake Tate makes is he adjusts his grip on the ball momentarily- thus giving up possession to Jennings who never loosened his grip on the ball.  Austin ends up being right about the call being bad- but not for the reason he believes.  So much for having 27 years experience.

I can live with replacement officials.  That being said: I'm hoping for a quick resolution just so I can quit hearing all the bitching.
Oh, by the way:  when the 'real' refs start blowing calls- I'm not going to cut them any slack. 
Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 12:49 pm

MLB MVP Awards

Justin Verlander was just announced as the AL MVP, on the heels of his AL Cy Young award.  Does a pitcher deserve the MVP award?  Perhaps.   Instead of answering that, let me throw some ideas at you, and see if the BBWAA is getting it right. 

When talkin Cy Young, it's pretty easy to quantify and compare pitchers.  Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown (Wins, Strikeouts, ERA).  Pretty easy choice.  I can't argue.  Something that happens once every 3.5 years on average.

The MVP award is a bit harder to award, if you're going to allow both pitchers and position players to win the award.  Essentially, you're forced to compare apples to oranges.  Let's not even do that, however.  Let's go visit the NL.

Clayton Kershaw should get the NL Cy Young.  He also won the pitching Triple Crown.  I've got no argument there, either.  His stats are very similar to Verlanders.  (3 less wins, but on a much worse team)

Now is where it's going to get dicy.  Verlander: Triple Crown, Cy Young, MVP.   Kershaw: Triple Crown, Likely Cy Young, and Likely MVP, right?  Wrong.  By most accounts, Kershaw isn't even in the running!  Most articles I've read have not even had Kershaw mentioned as a top 5, or even top 10 candidate.  How is this even possible?  I would bet that you could swap their stats, show them to most baseball writers, and with exception of the Wins column- a majority wouldn't even notice the switch.  (I think the wins is misleading- Verlanders 24 wins were on a team whose batting average was 4th in MLB, whereas Kershaw's Dodgers were 21st:  Put them on each others teams, Kershaw wins at least 24 or more).

The Baseball Writers Association can't even be consistent from league to league with it's definitions and comparisions.  If the BBWAA doesn't award Kershaw the MVP- I say strip them of voting rights and give it to a random fan to throw a dart and determine a winner.  Probably just as much chance of picking the right guy.

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 2, 2011 7:46 pm

Same Cubs, Different Day

Well, Cubs fans...the Theo Epstein Is A God phase is over.  What was it?  Two weeks?  Today he fired Quade- which was fine with 99% of Cub fans.  What irked many was eliminating Sandberg as a candidate without even giving him serious consideration, much less an interview. 
First, listening to the television, and hearing a list of the 'A' list candidates for the Cub's job...I just kept shaking my head.  There wasn't a Joe Torre, Bobby Valentine, or even freshly retired Tony LaRussa.  No, this list was comprised of guys I had barely, if ever, heard of.  You know the type- you wouldn't hire them to mow you lawn because you're not sure they can start the mower, much less cut it to your satisfaction.
Second, Sandberg is IMO, the most qualified of any one without MLB coaching experience.  Former MVP, All-Star, fan favorite, player favorite- he knows what it takes to play in the Bigs at the highest level. (who remembers that he won a NL Home Run title?).  After a few years off, he wanted to manage.  He did what was asked- start at single-A, where he succeeded.  Moved up to AA.  Success.  AAA?  You better believe it- success again.  In fact- his resume this past year alone is deserving of a ML shot:  He took a team that had NEVER had a season over .500, and took them to the championship game- all without a hitter in the top 20 or a pitcher in the top 10 in the league.  He took a team that shouldn't have succeeded, and turned them into a team that far surpassed expectations.

I don't know what Epstein is thinking.  I really don't.  I understand wanting to avoid catering to what the fans want- however, sometimes the fans know a winner when they see one.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 6, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 12:41 pm

2011 Over/Under valued Players

Just to show off my fantasy prowess, I'm going to blog about who I feel are over-valued and under-valued in this years fantasy drafts.  Check back with me in a few months to see how I did...

Jamaaal Charles- Don't get me wrong, I think he's got great potential.  Potential to put the ball on the ground, that is.  Jamaal is going to get the chance to prove he can be a top back, but once he starts putting the ball on the ground, we're going to see the uber-safe Thomas Jones splitting carries with Jamaal again, making his top-5 pick, about 2 rounds over-valued.

MJD- I think MJD is past the elite-status as a runner.  He found it very hard to shake his injury last year and it slowed him down tremendously.  He's going to be asked to shoulder a huge load again, and when he gets knicked- I see the Jags pulling back quickly on his touches (unlike last year).  I fully expect his production to be not much more than what it was last year.    At least a full round over-valued.

Vincent Jackson- Just a beast.  He should be up with Roddy White and Calvin Johnson.  Besides being a great receiver, he's one of those few 'jump ball' receivers who can bail out a QB.

Marques Colston- A very solid receiver, but his stats will be watered down by Brees' tendency to spread the ball around thin enough to see through.  On a team like the Colts, he would be putting up Reggie Wayne numbers as the go-to-guy.  As it is, he's a solid guy, but not one you can count on every single week.

Ryan Mathews- Break out time.  Finally healthy, he's going to be given the opportunity to shine.  The first few games he may lose a few Red Zone carries and 3rd down opportunities, but I expect Mathews to put up some big numbers.  Big enough to be a strong 1st round consideration next year.

Tim Hightower- Plays for the Redskins.  Need I say much more?  Teams will stack the box, daring Grossman/Beck to throw on them.  Half of Hightowers fantasy points will be from TD runs inside the 10.  The bad news is, there won't be many of them.

Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, and all the other WR's for the Colts will rely on Manning's neck.  If Manning isn't up to starting by week 5 or 6, the Colts will likely be 1-5 and out of the playoff race, and would likely shut down Manning for the season.  Can you hear the whistle as Clark's and Wayne's value plummets?

Ryan Grant- will be a steal in the 5th or later rounds.  A 1st/2nd rounder in 2010 before his injury, there's no reason to believe he won't be running at that level this year- no one will be stacking the box against Rodgers, so Grant should be able to pop off 5-10 yard runs like a teenagers pops zits.

Ochocinco- can you say Patriots and Moss in '10?  Another receiver past his prime, trying to prove something.  His numbers will be better than Moss's, but he shouldn't be drafted with the intention of being a fantasy STARTER.

Kevin Kolb- This is a very similar offense to what Warner had 2 years ago.  Kolb is no Kurt Warner, but he's waaaaay more than Derek Anderson. 

Plaxico Burress- One of those 'jump ball' guys I talked about with Vincent Jackson.  He's fresh out of jail, but Vick proved jail time can be one hell of an incentive to give your best.  This is one of the few guys who has a realistic shot at 3 TD's any given week.  I'm betting he has at least one.

Lee Evans- Teams will try stacking the box to slow down the monster known as Ray Rice, daring Flacco to beat them in the air.  With teams trying to lock down Boldin, Evans will get some long ball opportunities that made him a fantasy monster a few years ago in Buffalo.  Not 2nd/3rd round numbers, but better than the 10th round or later he's going for in drafts.

Antonio Brown- this kid flashed his abilities in the preseason.  With teams worried about Wallace and Ward, PITT will slip Brown in and out of games, and he's going to burn some defenses on a regular basis.

Reggie Bush-  Miami drafted Thomas, expecting him to be an impact rookie.  Too bad his preseason was bad enough to make his impact a dent on the bench.  Bush is going to get at least 5-10 carries a game, plus another 5+ swing/outlet passes.  In a PPR league, Bush could have a big fantasy impact- especially if the offense can stay on the field a little more than last year.

Lions DST- yes, the Detroit Lions.  Even I'm not gutsy enough to draft them, the fantasy gurus are putting the Lions at the mid to bottom of the league in terms of DST points.  Wrong.  This is a team that has some confidence, and the talent to back it up on the defensive line.  2 games against each Cutler and McNabb should help their fantasy numbers.  The Lions play a feast or famine schedule with regards to opposing QB's.  When they feast, it should be gluttony.  I see the Lions finishing top 10 in DST points. A great platoon candidate for DSTs.

Category: Fantasy Football
Tags: Draft, elite, RB, value, WR
Posted on: December 2, 2008 1:20 pm

NFL - Rule Change

The current NFL rules allow too much latitude in the way teams are allowed to post their injuries.  While there are fines for mis-representation, there is way too much wiggle room for teams to "fudge" the status of players. 

While most of us can agree it's a nice thought for your home team to "fool" it's opponent with who will play, and who won't- in reality, a team will not alter it's game plan based on an injury report 90% of the time.  The exceptions to this rule, are when key players are OUT.  An offense might pick on a particular hole to run through, if a superstar lineman is out, replaced by a rookie, or pick on a replacement cornerback.  The same can go for defenses, also- gear up for the pass, if the star running back is out, or double up on the wide recievers, if the star-pass-catching TE is out.  Again, this is based on the assumption that the player is OUT.  If there's any real chance they'll play, a team will still prepare for that player.

Why then, the need to shore up the rule?  This is a historic time- a time where interest by the fans is unprecidented.  We're talking Fantasy Football.  The current NFL fan base is the most knowlegable ever- for any sport. As the "sport" of Fantasy Football grows, the interest in the NFL will continue to grow with it.  With the increase in interest, the need for accurate knowledge grows.  Even more so for the more serious fan, who puts money into a Fantasy League.  With leagues costing from $30 to over $1000, who wouldn't want accurate information?  I haven't seen any statistics on the number of money-leagues/players there are, but it wouldn't surprise me if the gross revenues from Fantasy Football leagues aren't getting close to the $1 Billion per year mark.  Big business, no doubt.  As that number increases, there will be pressures never felt before, on coaches, especially, to cater to the fantasy aspect.  Who gets the ball, and how often, are questions that coaches may soon have to answer to, not only to the owner of the team, but to fantasy owners, as well.  With that being said, the importance for truthful information for the fans, is going to outweigh any potential gain by injury deception. 

Let me give you a classic example.  Week 13 of this season, Brian Westbrook was listed as "Questionable", with knee and ankle injuries. By definition, a player listed as "Questionable" has a 50-50 chance of playing.   He had performed poorly the previous month, so there was no reason to doubt the accuracy of this information.  So what happened?  Westbrook rushed 22 times for 110 yards, two TD's, caught 3 passes for 20 yards and 2 more TD's.  I think to most people, this over-qualifies for the term "questionable". 

What impact did this have on the Fantasy Football community?  Well, as you may have guessed, it affected me.  I had 2 other "healthy" options at RB- Matt Forte, and Chris Johnson, both whom performed well that week, though by comparison, Westbrook almost outscored them both combined.  If I had expected Westbrook to be "Probable", I would have started him- after all, he was my #1 draft choice.  The result of my choosing to bench Westbrook?  I lost that week by 1 point, which also eliminated me from the league playoffs. 

Sour grapes?  Sure.  After all, I did my homework on the subject.  I didn't just listen to a guru, or flip a coin, or let the computer pick for me.  I used all the tools at my disposal.  Could it have been prevented?  Absolutely.  I think that the Eagles knew Westbrook was healthier than a 50-50 chance to play.  If he was hurting that badly, they would have limited his playing time, in an effort to prevent a setback to his health.  Without a healthy Westbrook, the Eagles become a pass-oriented team.  No doubt Arizona came prepared to defend against the pass.  Many fellow fantasy owners argue that I should have started him anyway- you always start your stud.- they did.   These people obviously didn't have decent options for replacing him, as I did.  Basically, they got lucky- it had nothing to do with following the "stud" rule- after all, Westbrook outscored his previous 4 efforts combined- and then some.

In my opinion, and I'm sure some other angry/disappointed fantasy owners, the NFL should modify the injury status reporting rules.  They need to define, in better detail, what each status is, and what is expected from that player.  The NFL should also monitor teams and the accuracy of their reporting.  For example- if 10 players are listed as "Questionable" (50-50 to play), and over the course of 4 or more weeks, 75 or more percent of those players played significant playing time- then a red flag should be raised concerning their reporting practices, and a fine/sanctions levied against that team- perhaps extending to reduction of a roster spot for a number of weeks. 

Sure that $30 I spent on that league is a pittance- but multiply that by the millions of fantasy owners who get burned like I did on any given week,  plus those high rollers who spend upwards of $1000 per league- and we're talking no small bananas.  Don't forget that losing hurts, too- whether you pay for your fantasy league or not- you can't put a price on that.
Posted on: October 25, 2008 4:33 pm

Fantasy Football Unified Rules

I would like to propose a commission for the unification and standarization of fantasy football rules.  While some differences between leagues are good, there are some that can create problems and confusion.  There are also overlooked areas that could be tapped into for fantasy football points, making it even more competitive.

My personal favorite rule change to FF that I propose, concerns DST- or Defense/Special Teams.  As current rules in all leagues I've ever played in, part of the DST points are based on the amount of points the Defense gives up.  In reality, this number isn't always a true number.  If a quarterback throws two INT's for touchdowns, the DST gets unfairly penalized for the 14 points the QB gave the other team.  In my proposed rule change, these points would be subtracted from the DST point total given up, fairly reflecting the DST's performance. 

Another proposal to be considered is Win/Loss.  A lot of FF points get racked up by players on teams who are behind, and are forced to score, and score fast, to attempt to get back in the game.  For example, let's say the Giants get a 21 point lead on the Lions after 3 quarters.  The Giants can now sit on the ball, and try to run out the clock.  Any Giants player from this point on, fantasy-wise, is next to worthless, barring a huge defensive mistake by the Lions.  The Lions offense will now be racking up yardage on offense, trying to get back into the game, while the Giants defense sits back in 'prevent' mode- merely trying to avoid the 'quick score'.  By the time the game is over, the Giants will probably hold off the Lions, and win by 7, but the game was never technically that close.  Anyone who has played FF for some time knows exactly what I mean, and has been frustrated by the fact that his the Giants players on his team hit a 4th quarter roadblock because of their own success, meanwhile his FF opponent, who has Lions players, ends up winning the FF game because of this 'slow-down/catch-up' mode of play in the real game.  My proposal is to give FF players, including DST's, 3 extra points if their NFL team wins.  This also adds another dimension to the FF draft- now you need to consider how well a player's team will fare during the season. 

I think some standardization of some rules are in order also.  For instance, the use of Flex players.  This is perhaps the biggest difference between league rules, and can make a huge difference in how you draft.  Some leagues don't use the Flex player option at all, some use it, but only use RB/WR, others allow TE's, some QB's, a few allow all four.  With the myriad of rules and options, if you forget an option like this during your draft, it can cripple your team.  For example, I have a team that I forgot didn't use the Flex option- it used 2 RBs, and 3 WRs.  During the draft, there were great RB's available, so I grabbed them, expecting to use a 3rd RB at the flex position.  I drafted RB heavy, WR light, and after an injury to my #1 WR, my team was crippled at that position, and unable to replace him with a quality player either through trade, or waiver wire.  Granted, it was my mistake for not remembering the 'rule', but with so many options, it can be very tough to keep to a draft strategy, trying to flow with how players are being drafted, while remembering how your league point system works.

This brings other point variations to the forefront.  Some leagues give 6 pts for a TD, others 4.  Some give Points Per Reception, others don't.  Some give bonuses for 100 yard games, or long runs/receptions.  These and many other differences can add another dimension to the game, but at the same time, it can detract from the game, and spoil it, if not accounted for. 

Standardization of the rules doesn't mean inflexibility of the point system- it just provides for a consistent, fair set of rules to use as a base for all fantasy football systems, whether on CBS, Fox, ESPN, or independent FF leagues.  With a base set of rules for everyone to use, the game is easier for new players to use, and easier to keep track of variations, because a variation from the standard set of rules is easy to call out in league rules.  In fact, leagues can be rated for difficulty, based on the amount / type of variations from basic league standards.

If CBS would like to help back me in my efforts, I'm listening !
Category: Fantasy Football
Posted on: October 25, 2008 3:25 pm

NFL Drug Testing

It looks like we're going to have a few suspensions coming to the NFL.  Apparently, we've got a few players who thought they could beat the system by using diuretics.  In my opinion, the NFL should throw the book at these guys.  If we look at the mess that steroids has caused MLB, the NFL should be taking a hard-line stand against steroids.

Older NFL veterans have enough crippling medical problems from playing the game the way it has been, that to compound those issues with steroid side-effects is ludicrous.  If they don't take a stand on the issue, I could see a future floodgate open on lawsuits against the NFL for 'looking the other way'- whether from direct use of steroids, or a life-long injury occurring from a player who used steroids.  MLB has basically only the power home-run issue to deal with, concerning the integrity of records.  Virtually no discussion has happened concerning potential injuries inflicted by a person artificially bulked up by steroids.

One can argue that 'most' players do them anyway- why make an example of the few who get caught?  My answer to that is simple:  Because of the ones who don't.  Non-prescribed steroid use is illegal for a reason.  There are unpredictable side effects.  Roid-rage.  Sterility.  Brain-damage.  These are only the celebrated ones- there are many more that don't get press coverage such as liver damage, prostate enlargement, cholesterol problems, and so on.  Maybe some players are willing to take the risks involved in using steroid, but many well-informed people aren't.  These are the people who need protecting- the ones who don't want to assume the risks, but without steroids, couldn't physically compete with those who do.  In this multi-million dollar career, it's too hard to pass up.

There are ultimately a few wacko fans who like to see 22 non-green incredible hulks beating on each other.  To them I say this:  I don't see you on the field, risking life-long disability to either play the game you love, or to make a great living at something you're good at.  This game is just as exciting without steroids- why do we have to accept them as 'part of the game'? 
Category: NFL
Tags: drug, NFL, Steroids
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or