Monday, April 10, 2006

Lefty Seeing Green and Sox Off to Hot Start

Phatty Gets New Coat as Couples, Woods Fall Short
So Mickelson put another green poncho on yesterday as he collected his second Masters title. Phil outlasted a star-studded leaderboard that included former champs Freddy "Boom Boom" Couples, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods. Just like last year, most players had to complete 27 holes on the final day because of rain Saturday. Unlike a year ago, Tiger was unable to put together a run, despite his great play from tee to green. So, instead of a great champion like Woods, Couples or Singh, we get stuck with Phatty the loser. There is really no reason for me to dislike Phil, but truth is I'd rather see him choke than watch Tiger win. I guess I just got so used to watching him blow leads at the US Open, or pull putts when it mattered in other majors. I like the way things were. I like it when Phatty was hooking 3 woods and pushing putts, and my main man Elderick was walking away with all the jackets. jugs and trophies. Well Phil, you just pissed Tiger off. Look for T. Woods to stay on the practice green until the British Open, where he will lap the field, including a certain hefty lefty who will be too busy wiping fish and chips off his Ford shirt.

Check Your Calendar
The NFL released it's schedule for the upcoming 2006 season this week, meaning that every fan now thinks their team has either the easiest or toughest schedule in the league. Looking at the schedule before free agency is over and before the draft is just pointless. I mean is it me or don't draft picks make a difference sometimes? And don't players get hurt in the pre-season or in mini camps? This is just the nature of the NFL now though. The sport is so huge right now that virtually everything it does is goin to make news and start discussions and debates. I love it, simply because I love the NFL and can't wait for another great season to start. But I don't wasn't to start going through the Patriot's schedule and start marking off wins just yet.

One thing though that I feel I should make clear (and many of you have had this explained to you personally probably more than once by yours truly). While the league may choose when teams play, the matchups have been determined long ago by a system put in place by the scheduling office. So when you see the Dolphins and Vikings hooking up this year, it has nothing to do with Daunte Culpepper. The league follows this easy formula for each team to come up with the schedule:

Each team plays...
1) 6 games within its division, two against each divisional team
2) 4 games vs AFC division which is determined on a rotating basis (entire division plays these 4 games)
3) 4 games vs another NFC division (same rules as above)
4) 2 games against teams in conference that had same finish in the standings in previous season

So just for an example, the Patriots this year play...
1) Jets, Bills and Dolphins twice each (6)
2) Colts, Texans, Jaguars, Titans (4)
3) Vikings, Packers, Bears, Lions (4)
4) Bengals and Broncos (2)

It may seem like the NFL fixes it so they get great matchups, but the fact is that there are just so many good rivalries and storylines in the league, that there are always going to be captivating games.

As for the new scheduling of Sunday night games, it's also pretty easy to understand. The league has yet to schedule Sunday night games for some late season matchups. They will chose which game to move to 8:30 about a week before, so they can have the most relevant and entertaining game in the primetime slot. Fox and CBS will get to protect 8 of these games however, because the Sunday night games air on NBC now. Still, there should be plenty of big games to chose from, and there's no reason to think this new scheduling shouldn't work out.

Red Sox Update
1st place by 2 games
Hitter of the Week

Trot Nixon - .300, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Pitcher of the Week
Josh Beckett - 7.0 IP, ER, BB, 5 K

Diamonds are Forever
*Seems like just yesterday I was typing away, talking about how Manny Ramirez had played his last game in a Red Sox uniform. Well, apparently that was just "Manny being Manny", and he's back in action this year. Does this mean we won't have to go through another trading deadline scare where he is all but out of town again? Probably not. But either way it's great to have his big bat in the lineup, and his nappy dreads in the outfield.

*Paging George Steinbrenner. Your team, the one you paid almost $200 million for, is off to a blazing 2-4 start. I'm not dumb enough to think that the Yankees are doomed because of their slow start, after all, I did sit and watch the Yanks start at 19-28 last year, only to catch my Sox in the final days of the regular season. However, one of the best parts of playing the Yankees, is watching The Boss light up his squad on the back pages of the NY Post. So, even though I picked the Yanks to win the East, I wouldn't mind watching them slide a little further to start the year, so we can get a few more memorable quotes from Steinbrenner, one of the most entertaining figures in sports. Come on Georgie don't let me down!

*Few surprising starts from teams like the Tigers and Brewers have the whole league a buzz. Detroit has the best pitching and hitting numbers in the AL, while the Brewers took their first 4 games, all of which were saved by second year closer Derek Turnbow. It has to be a good feeling for fans in these cities, neither of which has enjoyed a winning season in about a decade. But for them to expect continued success is probably a little foolish. Both of these small market clubs are young and inexperienced, and while the Brewers had a strong finish last year in the NL Central, Detroit is coming off a year where they were only better than the cellar-dwelling Royals. No matter where these teams end up at seasons close, these little runs are what make baseball interesting for all fan bases. These cities have hope for their young players, and maybe a few years down the road they can put together a wild card run, but as for this season, these starts seem more away from the norm than what we can expect to see through the rest of the summer.

Dutch Off the Deep End
Former Phillie and Marlin catcher Darren Daulton is apparently nuts. I had heard that Dutch (Daulton's nickname) had gone a little crazy lately, but the story I saw on ESPN really put it into perspective. He is the best type of crazy, because he thinks he's normal! Daulton, like many nutjobs, found his new frame of mind while in prison for beating his wife. Now, not only is he a new man, but his new beliefs have him thinking he can see the future. He is so in touch with a new cosmic force, that he is certain the world will come to and end in 6 years. December 21. 2012 to be exact. He also claims to have "skipped time" and as the ability to "astro-travel", where he flies through the sky at night. Well thanks for that Darren, now I have no reason to save any money, or bother trying to build any lasting relationships since the world is going to end. I think the more likely scenario, is that Daulton drinks himself to death in the next 6 years. Stay off the sauce Dutch, we all liked you better when you were a fun loving catcher, as opposed to a liquored up prophet.

A Little Too Lax
I don't want to dwell on this Duke lacrosse scandal, but I figured I'd throw my two cents out there. Going to a school where lacrosse was big, (relative to other schools...make no mistake about matter how good the 'Cuse LAX team was, nobody really cared) I feel I can relate to the stigma surrounding the team. Also, there is all the talk about the Durham community being the total opposite of the Duke students, much like Syracuse. When the students come to school, they treat it like a vacation. They have very little interaction with the locals, and when they do, it's usually in a role where the student is the paying customer and the local citizen is the server. So do I blame the Durham community for being pissed? Hell no. For once, these kids who they view as spoiled brats have gone too far. The city of Durham has a large African-American population, and all but one of these lacrosse players are white, so there is bound to be tension. We will have to wait and see how this situation plays out, but to me, this is just another classic example of spoiled rich kids going too far for their daddy's checkbook's to bail them out. They may have cancelled their season, and the coach may have resigned, but there will be no resolution here unless a Duke player ends up in jail. If the story kind of "goes away", it will only continue the thinking that rich kids/athletes get away with anything, and that the big bad University that contributes so much money to the community, is really a heartless business that will do anything for the almighty dollar.

Fantasy Update
As many of my loyal readers know (loyal in this case meaning all 4 of you), I am a big fan of fantasy sports. While football is my favorite and by far the most fun to play, fantasy baseball allows me to indulge one of my many vices, general managing. I've read countless books on general managing and next on my list is Braves super-GM John Schuerholz latest "Built to Win". If I had the drive to get a law degree, I would love to be a GM, but alas it's not to be. So right now I'm in a league with my good friend Kevin Tomasso (aka Frosco; aka Froscowitz; aka Frosty the Sco Man; aka Kevin DiMarco: Swim Instructor) and some of his friends on the reservation (aka Florida St.). It is a head to head league where you battle one team each week in 22 statistical categories (10 hitting and 12 pitching), receiving one point for each category you win. It is my goal to embarrass these fools and take the title, and chronicle the debacle right here on my little piece of cyber space. So, as week one has come and gone, here is where my team, Centerfield Cereal, stands. (Note: My team is named after Coco Crisp, whom I intended to draft, but Frosco chose him before I had the chance, for which he will pay dearly. Perhaps it was in some way revenge for me naming my fantasy football team Frosco Sucks)

Week 1
Centerfield Cereal (0-0) vs KY Jackin' Juicers (0-0)

Final Score: 13-5-4
Record: (13-5-4) 1.5 games back

Sco is goin down.....down, down, down ------------->

Week 2 vs Underpants Gnomes (4-15-3)


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