Archive for July, 2010

Summer Soaps: NFL Training Camp Stories

Posted: July 30, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL

One of the first signs of the fall coming up is beginning to take place across the country today, and many are rejoicing in the news:

NFL Training Camp

For every team suiting up this week, there are 10 times the issues going on in each camp. From position battles to injury rehab and rookie signing dramas, the NFL season is shaping up. This year there are several established former franchise cornerstones moving on to new residences, both on the field and on the sidelines. It’s time to take a look at some of the many daytime dramas that are shaping up around the 32 training camps that are getting underway.

Cincy either has an unmatched tandem or two bundles of TNT waiting for a fuse....or maybe a mix of both.

The Double Ocho Show: The reality circus meets the gridiron when two of the NFL’s biggest personalities and talents, as the Cincinnati Bengals add the colorful Terrell Owens to their already flamboyant wide receiver threat Chad OchoCinco (a name which says enough by itself). This is undoubtedly one of the most talented pairings in the league, but will it become one of the most controversial as well? Both are known for being spontaneous to the point of detriment to their team chemistry over the course of their careers. Will they be able to co-exist and share the wealth, or could this be a match made in a chaotic hell-to-be? One thing for sure is that quarterback Carson Palmer is in the most interesting spot in the league.

The Young and the Jetless: The Chiefs made a surprising move by adding veteran back Thomas Jones to their backfield, coupling him with the emergent Jamaal Charles. It will be interesting to see how they utilize both in their scheme. Charles had the best finish to the 09 season of any back not named Chris Johnson, with his week 17 259 yard performance as its capstone. Jones, who finished with over 1,400 yards himself with the Jets, had a resurgent season. Will his presence be used to pace Charles’ durability, or will they be equally featured?
The Hangover: The Raiders parted ways with the greatest bust in the history of top picks, JaMarcus Russell in May. It only required a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft to add Jason Campbell to the fold from the Redskins, who found his way out of rocky situation in Washington. Will his steadier hand be able to bring the best out of the young Raider receiving corps; especially much criticized Darrius Heyward-Bey? We shall see.

Sign and Deliver: When the Rams opted against everybody’s top talent Ndamukong Suh for Sam Bradford with their top pick in the draft, it was clear it was a move to provide a face and player to turn the corner of the NFL’s worst franchise. With the his name on a six-year, $78 million contract, “Savior Sam’s” assent to the mantle of savior is underway. With only journeyman A.J. Feeley on the roster behind him, it is likely that he will be called on from day one to step in and lead the Rams back to prominence. How will Bradford, and his faulty shoulder that hasn’t been tested since a season ending injury last October, and when he will be utilized will be decided in August.

How eager will Spagnuolo be to unleash the Ram's new meal ticket?

The Tebow Spotlight: Ever since he was taken by the Broncos in the first round (and of course well before it), Tebow’s role has been subject of speculation. With him in camp now with incumbent Kyle Orton and newly acquired Brady Quinn, his impact on the Broncos offense, the way he is utilized and transition into the pro game will be closely watched.

How will Tebow's unique tool set be utilized in Denver's i crowded QB situation?

Texas Two-Step: The Cowboys made a big splash by moving into position to select Dez Bryant, whose fall in the draft has been much debated. By landing in Dallas, he joined one of sport’s greatest annual drama sources. Bryant immediately threw a match to the first of many fires by refusing to participate in annual team hazing and not carrying veteran Roy Williams’ pads during practice. This could be the beginning of many battles between the two as Bryant’s potential will be placed head up against Williams, an under-performing, yet talented receiver. An ankle injury recently occurred by Dez could add even more suspense to the showdown.

DC Drama and Dreams: It seems that since Mike Shanahan first put on his first piece of Redskins gear, he and Albert Haynesworth have been at odds. First Haynesworth requests a trade, and then does not report to workouts, opting to work out on his own. After agreeing to report to camp, he failed two Shanahan mandated fitness tests. Where this ends up between the new coach and the $100 million tackle is anybody’s guess. However, for all the uncertainties on that end of the team, there finally are none at quarterback. Donovan McNabb was acquired from division rival Philadelphia and is expected to pilot the Redskins back to consistency, which has eluded them for most of owner Daniel Snyder’s reign.

Shanahan has not wasted time making his mark on his new task in reviving the Redskins.

New Birds in Flight: With McNabb’s departure as cornerstone of the Eagles, along with Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook, who was released, the Eagles are turning the page on an era. The keys to the offense have been passed to Kevin Kolb, who commands one of the fastest offenses in the league with blazing wide outs DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy and Mike Bell. The criticisms of McNabb came down annually and rumored he would be moved out. Now that he is will Philadelphia be ready for the reality of it? The tools are there, how will they be used?

Martz in the Windy: Since he piloted Dick Vermeil’s St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl and subsequently took the reins himself, Mike Martz has been one of the most in demand offensive minds in football. Now he is coupled with Jay Cutler and a needy Bears team. Cutler struggled in his first year in the Windy, throwing 26 interceptions to shallow receiving selection and a sub par offensive line. There hasn’t been much change to any of these units, but will Martz be able to bring his scheme out and pull something out of the Chicago offense?

Will Cutler be able to adapt to Martz scheme, or will 09 carry over?

Brett Watch 2k10: It’s time for the annual Brett Favre return rumors. Is this even a question anymore? After two-a-days and at least three pre season games are over, he’s in there. Right on his own schedule. Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson will keep the pocket warm for him.

Yesterday, the Western Conference was summarized through the small changes many of their teams committed to make the difference in their team’s fortunes. Moving along to the East, that couldn’t be further from the case here. If you went to sleep on the NBA after the Finals and woke up in October, you may not recognize many of the teams in the East. The LeBron James saga had every major market team in the Conference gutting their roster in the hopes to add him and another All-Star free agent to change the destiny of their franchise.

After that saga (dramatically) ended and teams reacted and regrouped to “The Decision”, many other teams also changed their membership dramatically as well. Also, some team were left dangerously depleted from the free agent movement free-for-all. This was a case of a group of a few making big leaps, but many others being left without much room to match the major move makers.

Clearly the Heat had a good summer break, but did other teams still do enough to keep up in the East?

Miami Heat-Grade: A+

Retained: Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, James Jones, Jamaal Magloire, Carlos Arroyo

Additions: LeBron James (fa), Chris Bosh (fa),  Zydrunas Ilgauskas (fa), Mike Miller (fa) Juwan Howard (fa)

Lost: Jermaine O’Neal (BOS), Quentin Richardson (ORL), Michael Beasley (MIN), Daequan Cook (OKC)

Perhaps no team in the history of the NBA as more radically altered the face of their franchise than the Heat did by luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh into their fold to join Dwyane Wade. While this starting tandem instantly became the best in basketball, the talent and depth they almost instantly attracted is what separates this team’s offseason from all others. Adding Mike Miller and Zydrunas Illgauskas, and bringing back Udonis Haslem among others assured that this team has the impact and depth to play long in to the spring of 2011.

Chicago Bulls-Grade A+

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Carlos Boozer (t), Kyle Korver (fa), Ronnie Brewer (fa), Kurt Thomas (fa), CJ Watson (t), Omer Asik (d-2008)

Lost: Kirk Hinrich (WAS), Hakim Warrick (PHO), Brad Miller (HOU)

The Bulls were players in the James/Bosh/Wade market, but when that didn’t play out as planned, they regrouped and became quickly active in still capitalizing on the depth of the free agent field. The additions of Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer have them being called “Jazz-East”, but that isn’t a bad thing, as the 2010 Jazz would have finished 4th in the East, without the Derrick Rose/Joakim Noah, back-to-back playoff core they are joining.

Milwaukee Bucks-Grade: A

Retained: John Salmons

Additions: Corey Maggette (t), Drew Gooden (fa), Chris Douglas-Roberts (t), Keyon Dooling (fa), Jon Brockman (t), Larry Sanders (d), Darington Hobson (d), Keith Gallion (d)

Lost: Luke Ridnour (MIN), Royal Ivey (OKC), Kurt Thomas (CHI), Charlie Bell (GS), Dan Gadzuric (GS), Darnell Jackson (SAC)

Quietly, the Bucks managed to resign one of the best guards available (John Salmons), make several big value trades (Drew Gooden, Chris Douglas-Roberts & Drew Gooden) and land their #1 target in the draft (Larry Sanders). Never a player for any of the big names on the market, there isn’t much more that can asked from the Bucks from their summer and they will be a tough match up for any team in the East all year.

The Bucks flew under the radar and made all the right moves, including locking up Salmons.

Boston Celtics-Grade: B+

Retained: Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson

Additions: Jermaine O’Neal (fa), Avery Bradley (d), Luke Harangody (d)

Lost: Tony Allen (MEM), Shelden Williams (DEN)

Surprises quickly followed the Celts Finals run, with Paul Pierce opting out of his contract and Rasheed Wallace apparently retiring. However, they score high by how they reacted. Resigning Pierce was a must and landing Jermaine O’Neal to replace Wallace is a push. Despite losing Tony Allen, they resigned Ray and draft pick Avery Bradley could be a steal at #18 overall.

New York Knicks-Grade: B

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Amar’e Stoudemire (fa), Raymond Felton (fa), Kelenna Azubuike (t), Anthony Randolph (t), Ronny Turiaf (t), Timofrey Mozgov (fa), Andy Rautins (d), Landry Fields (d), Jerome Jordan (d)

Lost: David Lee (GS), Chris Duhon (ORL), Al Harrington (DEN), Sergio Rodriguez

The Knicks cleared almost their entire roster in an effort to land any of the top free agents available. While he’s no LeBron, they did end up with Amar’e Stoudemire. Adding Raymond Felton to run with him and getting much depth from a sign-and-trade deal for David Lee could signal a slight changing of the fortune coming to Madison Square Garden, but they still need help at center badly.

Orlando Magic

Retained: JJ Redick

Additions: Chris Duhon (fa), Quentin Richardson (fa), Daniel Orton (d), Stanley Robinson (d)

Lost: Matt Barnes (LAL)

They may have overpaid to retain JJ Redick, but it was necessary in case they lost Matt Barnes, as they eventually did, a blow to the defense. However, Q. Richardson can make up for some of his lost and big man Daniel Orton, while a project, could become a quality contributor under the rim with Dwight Howard.

Redick's salary went up this summer, his responsibilities will in the fall.

Washington Wizards-Grade: B-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: John Wall (d), Kirk Hinrich (t), Kevin Seraphin (d), Travis Booker (d), Hilton Armstrong (fa), Hamady N’diaye (d)

Lost: Mike Miller (MIA), Randy Foye (LAC), Shaun Livingston (CHA)

The Wiz made a huge move in securing their future, making the obvious pick of  franchise guard John Wall number one in the Draft. This is a huge step in the rebuilding process in DC, but its failure to move troubled guard Gilbert Arenas, the former face of the team, could slow this process, but the Wall selection is huge step in the right direction.

Toronto Raptors-Grade: C

Retained: Amir Johnson

Additions: Leandro Barbosa (t), Ed Davis (d), Linas Kleiza (fa), Solomon Alabi (fa), Dwayne Jones (t)

Lost: Chris Bosh (MIA), Hedo Turkoglu (PHO)

The loss of Chris Bosh is an undeniable blow to Toronto, but the Raptors were not on the fast track to the top of the Conference at any rate, so it also gives them a chance to retool. The major move in starting this rebuilding stretch was moving out the disappointing Hedo Turkoglu from their ranks. The veteran presence of Leandro Barbosa and the pick of Ed Davis is a move in the right direction.

Philadelphia 76ers-Grade: C

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Evan Turner (d), Spencer Hawes (t), Andres Nocioni (t), Tony Battie (fa)

Lost: Samuel Dalembert (SAC)

The Sixers are moving in a new direction and brought in even more young talent with #2 overall pick Evan Turner and trading for Spencer Hawes, who will add depth in the front court. Turner struggled some in the summer leagues, but as he settles in more along with Andre Iugodala and Jrue Holiday, he should help the Sixers become a very strong defensive team along the perimeter.

The spotlight is on Turner, the new franchise building block, after quiet offseason from the Sixers.

Indiana Pacers-Grade: C

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Paul George (d), Lance Stephenson (d), Magnum Rolle (d)

Lost: None

Indiana has built a strong overall roster and continue to build through the draft, with Paul George and Lance Stephenson, the latter of which could be a steal and help a both the point and shooting guard. George will add more immediate scoring to their bench. The failure to add help at the point guard spot could hold them back still however.

New Jersey Nets-Grade: C-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Jordan Farmar (fa), Anthony Morrow (t), Derrick Favors (d), Travis Outlaw (fa), Johan Petro (fa), Damion James (d)

Lost: Tony Battie (PHI), Keyon Dooling (MIL)

Missing out on all of the premier free agents could be viewed as an offseason failure, however this team was so bad last year that any new talent of any sorts pushes them in the right direction. #3 pick Derrick Favors will add athleticism and rebounds immediately. Jordan Farmer, Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw wont push them to the promised land, but they will make sure this team doesn’t challenge for the all-time loss record again.

Charlotte Bobcats-Grade: C-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Shaun Livingston (fa), Dominic McGuire (fa), Erick Dampier (t), Eduardo Najera (t), Matt Carroll (t)

Lost: Raymond Felton (NY), Theo Ratliff (LAL), Tyson Chandler (DAL), Alexis Ajinca (DAL)

The Bobcats just looked to add depth to their roster and came out well by adding Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll to their intact core. They are a solid team that matches up well across the floor and these additions just solidify that more. Nothing spectacular, but not bad either.

Atlanta Hawks-Grade: D+

Retained: Joe Johnson

Additions: Jordan Crawford (d), Josh Powell (fa)

Lost: Josh Childress (PHO)

The Hawks decision to hand Joe Johnson a max contract at the onset of free agency was a brash move that doesn’t make the team better than it already was and could be an anchor to the future development of the team, as he will be 35 when it expires and most likely well into his decline. It could be justified if it was part of a deal with another player to better them, but it wasn’t because they couldn’t afford any more moves. The “win now” philosophy gone wrong.

Detroit Pistons-Grade: D

Retained: Ben Wallace

Additions: Greg Monroe (d), Terrico White (d)

Lost: None

Detroit drafted well in adding Greg Monroe and Terrico White, but their failure to act on a much need clearing house of their older pieces (and even resigning one in Ben Wallace), will continue to keep this team from moving on. These commitments keep them from being able to afford or have room for a much-needed youth infusion. The Pistons are in need of a new look and Monroe is a big grab at #7 overall, who could become a younger Rasheed Wallace if given the time.

Without LeBron backing him, does Mo Williams have enough help to save the day in Cleveland?

Cleveland Cavaliers-Grade: F

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Ryan Hollins (t), Ramon Sessions (t)

Lost: LeBron James (MIA), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (MIA), Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair (MIN)

The Cleveland Nowhere Men may be more appropriate here. The biggest losers of the entire LeBron James move, they are left virtually empty. But their failure to add anything of substance to try to replace LeBron’s impact is their biggest mistake of all. Maybe it’s the fact it’s looked at as a Post-LeBron wasteland by free agents or some other act, but they did take advantage of the open market after he left. At this rate, they will be able to count on the Lottery to help rebuild them for many years.

This has been without a doubt the most memorable off-season in the history of the NBA. The player movement frenzy went from its usual speculation and rumor mill style, to all out pop culture event in some instances. This summer has looked more like a Fantasy League draft than re-ordering of some players in new area codes. The earthquake across the league this summer reset much of the power from being just on the left coast, and into the east. However, the talent in the west is still spread across the board better than anywhere else. Of the 15 teams in the division, 13 of them have a legit chance at making the playoffs every year. While the biggest moves of the off-season didn’t happen amongst the teams from the West side,  a lot of them honestly didn’t need to make huge moves to sustain their success. Here is a showing of where less can be more.

The Thunder added even more pieces to the league's best young group, but how do they fit?

Here are the CHEAP SEATS take on how each Western Conference team made out in the offseason, from additions and subtraction, draft and current free agent moves. Additions are noted as free agents (fa), draft picks (d) or trades (t).

Houston Rockets-Grade: A

Retained: Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry

Additions: Brad Miller (fa), Patrick Patterson (d)

Lost: None

The off-season sealed the march back towards the playoffs for the Rockets by not looking outwards, but keeping their already impressive corps together by resigning restricted free agents Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry in town. Add in well-rounded Patrick Patterson for the bench and potential return of Yao Ming, with Brad Miller for security and depth, and you’ve got a team the is guaranteed to push for the playoffs this year.

Los Angeles Lakers-Grade: A

Retained: Derek Fisher

Additions: Matt Barnes (fa), Steve Blake (fa), Theo Ratliff (fa), Devin Eubanks (d), Derrick Character (d)

Lost: Jordan Farmar (NJ), Josh Powell (ATL)

The champs did exactly what they needed to do, keep their core intact and improve on depth. Resigning Fisher took care of the first part and adding Barnes and Blake handled the rest. Blake will make a seamless transition for the departure of Farmar and Barnes will team with Lamar Odom to make this one of the toughest second teams in basketball. If Shannon Brown returns, this becomes the best graded off-season in the West.

Despite flirting with Miami, Fisher's return to the Lakers keeps intact the two-time champ's starting 5.

Oklahoma City Thunder-Grade: A-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Morris Peterson (fa), Daequan Cook (fa), Royal Ivey (fa), Cole Aldrich (d), Tibor Pleiss (d), Latavious Williams (d), Ryan Reid (d)

Lost: None

The number one team on the verge of breaking through made the right moves to finish that transition this off-season. They already have a solid rotation starting around the All-Universe Kevin Durant and added more depth than nearly any other team. Morris Peterson’s veteran presence could be exactly what this team needs to go over the top. Cole Aldrich, acquired in a draft day trade with Peterson, will be a plus front line bench performer.

Memphis Grizzlies-Grade: B

Retained: Rudy Gay

Additions: Tony Allen (fa), Xavier Henry (d), Greivis Vazquez (d)

Lost: Ronnie Brewer (CHI)

Memphis’ summer is best understood by looking at the future. While Gay may not be worth the five-year, $82 million contract he signed to kick off agency, it could pay off in big time if he continues to his personal consistent improvement and becomes one of the premier wings in the League, as he projects to be over the course of the contract. It was premature, it was necessary to keep intact one of the best young cores in the NBA.

Memphis' only move was a big one by locking up Gay with a max contract.

Dallas Mavericks-Grade: B

Retained: Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood

Additions: Tyson Chandler (t), Dominique Jones (d), Ian Mahinmi (fa)

Lost: Erick Dampier (CHA), Eduardo Najera (CHA), Matt Carroll (CHA)

The Mavs kept their franchise’s most pivotal player in place by resigning Nowitzki, but also add pieces that can make it easier for him to maximize his game at his increasing age. Resigning Haywood and acquiring Chandler, will let him spend more time on the perimeter and less contact under the rim.

Minnesota Timberwolves-Grade: B-

Retained: Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic (d-2007)

Additions: Michael Beasley (t), Luke Ridnour (fa), Martell Webster (t), Wesley Johnson (d), Lazar Hayward (d), Nemanja Bjelica (d), Paulao Prestes (d)

Lost: Al Jefferson (UTH)

The Wolves drastically changed their makeup this summer. When you’re as bad as they have been over last few years, anything is worth a try. To their credit the additions of Beasley, Ridnour and Webster give immediate boost to their bench and Wesley Johnson will be the “do anything” type that the team has needed for years. The only concern could be chemistry with so many young players looking to make their name at once on the crowded roster.

Portland Trailblazers-Grade: C+

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Wesley Matthews (fa), Luke Babbitt (d), Elliot Williams (d), Armon Johnson (d)

Lost: Martell Webster (MIN), Juwan Howard (MIA)

At this point the Blazers don’t have much more they can add, or afford to lose. They have to have a fully healthy unit on the court to see how good it is. Luke Babbitt could be nice draft coup for team depth along with Sergio Rodriguez and Wesley Matthews. In the end this team’s roof goes as high as it’s injured list lets it go.

Until Oden get back on the court, Portland's potential may never be reached, regardless of depth.

Golden State Warriors-Grade: C+

Retained: No FA has returned

Additions: David Lee (t), Dan Gadzuric (t), Charlie Bell (t), Ekpe Udoh (d), Jeremy Lin (fa)

Lost: Kelenna Azibuike (NY), Anthony Randolph (NY), Anthony Morrow (NJ), Corey Maggette (MIL), Ronnie Turiaf (NY), CJ Watson (CHI)

The Warriors changed more off their existing roster than any other team and surprisingly landed David Lee to give balance their back court heavy attack. #6 overall pick Ekpe Udoh should a new defensive presence once he heals from a summer injury, but depth could still be an issue considering what they moved out for Lee.

The Jazz hope Jefferson recovers his old work on the glass along with his health, as he replaces Boozer.

Utah Jazz-Grade: C+

Retained: NO FAs returned

Additions: Al Jefferson (t), Raja Bell (fa), Gordon Hayward (d), Jeremy Evans (d)

Lost: Kyle Korver (CHI), Carlos Boozer (CHI), Wesley Matthews (POR)

The Jazz are in transition this year after losing two of their core contributors from the past few years in Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer. However they actively looked to improve everything they lost, with Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and rookie Gordon Hayward. Each could make up exactly for the player they are replacing, but there is experience and health questions that must be answered too.

Phoenix Suns-Grade: C

Retained: Channing Frye

Additions: Hedo Turkoglu (t), Josh Childress (t), Hakim Warrick (fa), Gani Lawal (d), Dwayne Collins (d)

Lost: Amar’e Stoudemire (NY), Leandro Barbosa (TOR), Dwayne Jones (TOR)

Phoenix changed their approach after the departures of Amar’e Stoudemire. Instead of replacing him with a similar presence, they changed the approach to a shooter based team, adding in Hedo Turkglo and Josh Childress. Not Amar’e with similar size could make them sorely susceptible to the big frontcourts in the West.

San Antonio Spurs-Grade: C

Retained: Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner

Additions: Tiago Splitter (d-2007), James Anderson (d), Ryan Richards (d), Gary Neal (fa)

Lost: Ian Mahinimi (DAL)

San Antonio is a study in opposites this offseason. They retained Richard Jefferson for four more years at $10 million per, after he made minimal impact on the Spurs efforts to start to change their attack last year. Finally adding 2007 draft pick Tiago Splitter to the team will make it easier for Tim Duncan to decrease his load, without damaging the team.

Denver Nuggets-Grade: C-

Retained: Antony Carter

Additions: Al Harrington (fa)

Lost: Linas Kleiza (TOR), Johan Petro (NJ)

Denver wasn’t overly active in many roster changes and didn’t add any draft picks to their team. However, they did add Al Harrington to their frontcourt, which will make the minutes load easier for the injury prone Nene and Kenyon Martin, but could add some chemistry issues, due to his desire to shoot at a high level.

Sacramento Kings-Grade: D

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Samuel Dalembert (t), Darnell Jackson (t), DeMarcus Cousins (d), Hassan Whiteside (d)

Lost: Spencer Hawes (PHI), Andres Nocioni (PHI), Jon Brockman (MIL), Dominic McGuire (CHA)

The Kings made the smart pick in selecting center DeMarcus Cousins at #5 overall in this summer’s draft, but didn’t add much else to a team that has needs around the court. With new acquisition Samuel Dalembert also suiting up at center, they are more than set around the rim. Now for everything else…..Tyreke Evans can only do so much.

2010 Rookie of the Year Evans can only go so far without more help.

Los Angeles Clippers-Grade: D

Retained: Craig Smith, Rasual Butler

Additions: Randy Foye (fa), Ryan Gomes (fa), Al-Farouq Aminu (d), Eric Bledsoe (d), Willie Warren (d)

Lost: Steve Blake (LAL), Drew Gooden (MIL), Travis Outlaw (NJ)

The Clippers mistakenly thought they could compete in the LeBron derby for a while, but ended up with Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes, which is much more tradition Clipper fare. They did well in the Draft, landing Al-Farouq Aminu to add athleticism and Eric Bledsoe to develop into the point guard of the future, but they won’t have the immediate effect that should have been worked for this summer. Blake Griffin’s return is very critical for any improvement here.

New Orleans Hornets-Grade: F

Retained: Aaron Gray

Additions: Craig Brackens (d), Quincy Pondexter (d)

Lost: Morris Peterson (OKC)

While he didn’t go about it the right way, Chris Paul may have been on to something about the future in New Orleans, or lack thereof. They made no significant additions to the team and moved out original first round pick Cole Aldrich before the first round was over. Due to Paul’s time injured last year, this team was not able to live up to their potential of year’s past however and still could make a playoff push with their franchise player back full-time with what they have currently.

In the conclusion of the CHEAP SEATS look at the top 50 players in the NFL, I’m listing the cream of the crop. The top 10 players in the NFL, which consists of the most game breaking, winning and iconic players in the game. These are the guys that opposing coach plan around, or plan to just make do around them getting their numbers regardless. The greatest players in the game don’t need much intro, so we’ll just go right into it.

With this being the end of the countdown, lets comment on this one at the end and let me see who you think is really the best.

10. Larry Fitzgerald-Wide Receiver-Arizona Cardinals (2009-97 receptions, 1092 yards, 13 TD)

While injuries to his quarterbacks dropped in numbers some from his incredible 2008 campaign, the talent he brings has not. He still tied for the lead in touchdown catches and finished in the top 10 in catches. He is essentially a guarantee in the red zone to pull in the scoring toss and his 69 catches for a first down were third in the league. The departures of Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin could affect his overall performance in 2010, but a talent like his will still show up weekly.

9. Adrian Peterson-Running Back-Minnesota Vikings (2009-1,383 rush yards, 18 TD)

One of the greatest combinations of speed, power and elusiveness the league has seen in recent years, Peterson continued to carry the Vikings to new heights in 2009. In the process of making his third Pro Bowl in three career seasons, he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with a career high 18. He also doubled his previous high in receptions to 43, becoming a more well-rounded threat. He most cut his fumbles down, which soared to 9 (6 lost), but the great definitely outweighs the bad.

The better Peterson runs, the better the Vikings get.

8. Nnamdi Asomugha-Cornerback-Oakland Raiders (2009-34 tackles, 30 solo, 1 interception)

Less is more with the Raider shutdown corner Asomugha. While he ranked towards the bottom of the league in interceptions for corners, it’s a compliment over a detraction. Quarterbacks simply don’t throw his way. Asomugha was only thrown towards 27 times all year and allowed only 13 catches. He is the least targeted cornerback in the NFL by a larger margin, due to his ability to break up any pass in his area.

7. Tom Brady-Quarterback-New England Patriots (2009-4,398 pass yards, 28 TD, 65.7% completions)

Don’t call it a comeback, Tom just got back to what he’s done for a decade now: win football games. He returned from a severely damaged ACL injury to finish fifth in the League in passing yards and 6th in touchdowns. His resume is among the best in the history of the game, containing five individual all-time records and 3 Super Bowl wins. Anytime the 5-time Pro Bowler suits up the Patriots are automatically a threat to win it all.

For Brady, the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year, getting back to business as usual included a return to the playoffs and Pro Bowl visit.

6. Troy Polamalu-Saftety-Pittsburgh Steelers (2009-20 tackles, 18 solo, 3 interceptions)

He is among the elite of irreplaceable players in the NFL, as the effect of his absence from the Steelers was clear. With him healthy in 2008, they won the Super Bowl. Without him, they missed the playoffs, due mostly to dramatic fall off in the defense he leads. No defender in the League gets to more plays than he does, and he is equally brutal making the tackle as he is covering the pass. Pittsburgh will rise to prominence again with him back healthy in 2010.

One of the most irreplaceable players in the NFL, Polamalu's impact on Pittsburgh, and every team they play, is undeniable.

5. Ed Reed-Safety-Baltimore Ravens (2009-50 tackles, 42 solos, 3 interceptions)

No player in the NFL makes more gamebreaking defensive plays than Reed does, many of which end up with ball in his hands, and him in the endzone. He has twice set the NFL record for longest interception return with scores of 106 and 107 yards. He has a total of 13 scores in his career, seven interception returns, 2 fumble returns, 1 punt return and 3 blocked punts. He battled injuries which kept him out of the 2009 playoffs and likely the beginning of the 2010 season, but when he returns it will be more of the same terror for quarterbacks league wide.

4. Darrelle Revis-Cornerback-New York Jets (2009-54 tackles, 47 solo, 6 interceptions)

Widely considered the league’s premier cornerback, Revis makes it a habit not only lock down everyone in his area, but to raise his game to match his match up. He held the who’s who of receivers to minimal impact versus the Jets in 2009, holding Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Terrell Owens and Chad OchoCinco to a combined 12 receptions in their match ups with Revis. His efforts versus the Patriots contributed to the Jets being the first team since 2006 to hold them without a touchdown. The loneliness on “Revis Island” is real.

3. Chris Johnson-Running Back-Tennessee Titans (2009-2006 rush yards, 14 TD; 503 receiving yards)

Perhaps the most unstoppable player in the NFL. From 08 Rookie of the Year to becoming the 6th 2,ooo yard rusher ever in his second year, Johnson rise to the top of the league’s running backs has been phenomenal. A threat to score from anywhere, he had three scoring runs from 85 plus yards out last year, something no other player has done in his career. He broke the season record for most total yards with 2,509. He rushed for 800 yards in November alone, a single month record. Average 125 yards per game, over 20 more than any other running back.

Perhaps the fastest player in the NFL, it doesn't take long for his record-setting runs to take place.

2. Peyton Manning-Quaterback-Indianapolis Colts (2009-4,500 pass yards, 33 TD, 68% completions)

He has made phenomenal look average over his career and gathered a record fourth MVP Award for it in 2009. There’s not more that you can ask out of a player than what Manning gives. He has never missed a game in his 12 year career. He surpassed 4,000 yards for a record 10th time and has 12 consecutive seasons with at least 25 TD passes. His 4,500 yards were second in the NFL in 2009 and 33 touchdowns tied for second. He made his second Super Bowl appearance in 09 and when he’s done playing, the NFL record book under quarterback may be renamed after him.

1. Drew Brees-Quarterback-New Orleans Saints (2009-4,388 pass yards, 34 TD, 109.6 QB rating)

Brees reached the summit of the NFL in 2009 and completed the rise to prominence of formerly perennially awful Saints. Brees reached his now usual level of excellence, leading the NFL in quarterback rating and touchdown passes. Since joining the Saints from San Diego in 2006, he has averaged over 4,500 passing yards and 30 touchdowns per season, including 5,069 in 2008, second best ever. He has combined statistical dominance with on field success and now stands tops among all other players in the NFL for complete excellence.

Brees aerial dominance finally landed, but with a Super Bowl win and an inspired city to show for it.

The NFL Elite: Part 4, 20-11

Posted: July 22, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL

Over the past 3 days I’ve been breaking down the top 50 players in the NFL, in preparation of NFL Training Camp starting up next week. So far many of the greatest players currently, including some sure-fire Hall of Famers, have been listed. Now as the countdown continues with the next tier even more irreplaceable players are listed. These are the guys that are essentially on the no-trade list. The faces of franchises and guys that you know will be adding to their Pro Bowl total every year, barring any catastrophic injury or the league locking out (lets not talk that up yet). Lets get back into the countdown with a guy who has been the most feared and effective defender in Maryland for many years now….

20. Ray Lewis-Linebacker-Baltimore Ravens: (2009-134 tackles, 95 solo, 3 sacks)

At 34 years old Ray showed no signs of slowing down in 2009 and is perhaps the most feared defender in the NFL. He was elected to his 11th Pro Bowl, a record for an interior linebacker. His total tackles was good for fourth in the game. His career total of 1,700 plus tackles ensures his spot in Canton, where he may be recognized as the greatest of all players at his position in history.

Arguably the best ever at his spot, at 35 Ray is still the leader of the Baltimore attack.

19. Randy Moss-Wide Receiver-New England Patriots: (2009-83 receptions, 1264 yards, 13 TD)

Randy bounced back from a slow (by his standards) 2008 campaign, bolstered by the return of Tom Brady. His 13 touchdown catches were tied for best in the NFL. yardage total was good for fifth best in the league. He moved into second place all-time in touchdown catches and made his seventh Pro Bowl as well. He says this year will be his last in New England, but you never know what to expect with him, other than some of the best receiver seasons ever.

18. Ben Roethlisberger-Quarterback-Pittsburgh Steelers (2009-4,328 yards, 26 TD, 66.6% completions)

“Big Ben” had his best statistical season in 2009, despite the Steelers suffering from a Super Bowl hangover all season. He set career highs in completions, yards and completion percentage, in the process setting a single season Steelers passing yardage record. He’s been invaluable to the Steelers since he joined the league, and that value will be put to the test to start 2010, as he serves a six game suspension for misconduct during the off-season.

17. Antonio Gates-Tight End-San Diego Chargers (2009-79 receptions, 1157 yards, 8 TD)

Gates is the example of combining size, speed and hands at the tight end position. He continued his reign as the league’s best tight end by setting a personal best with 1,157 yards in 09. The season also marked his sixth consecutive season with at least eight touchdown catches. He made his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, after having his first primarily healthy campaign in the last few seasons.

With his size and speed combination, Gates is a match up nightmare for any defender.

16. Dwight Freeney-Defensive End-Indianapolis Colts (2009-24 tackles, 19 solo, 13.5 sacks)

The blazing fast pass rushing of Freeney has been a problem for quarterbacks for years now. A relentless player, with a non-stop motor, he finished tied for third in the League in sacks last season and gutted through an injury filled second half of the year all the way to the Super Bowl. At 30, he is the all-time sacks leader in Colts’ history & has averaged 9 sacks as season over his career.

15. Jared Allen-Defensive End-Minnesota Vikings (2009-50 tackles, 42 solo, 14.5 sacks)

Finished second in sacks in 09 and his total of 72 over the past seven years is the most by any player. In his two years in Minnesota, he has brought the QB down 30 times. Along with Pat and Kevin Williams, he is a member of the league’s best defensive line.He has played a crucial role in the emergence of Minnesota’s defense as more than a run stopping force.

14. DeMarcus Ware-Linebacker-Dallas Cowboys (2009-57 tackles, 45 solo, 11 sacks)

The most versatile defender in the NFL, Ware is unquestionably the best outside linebacker, regardless of 3-4 or 4-3 alignment. Has recorded 31 sacks in the last two years, with an amazing 20 in 2008. He has never missed a game in his six-year career and despite leaving the previous week’s game on a medical cart, he delivered two fumble forcing sacks against Drew Brees to end the Saints’ undefeated run.

13. Joe Thomas-Tackle-Cleveland Browns

Thomas the complete package at tackle and unquestionably the best the league has to offer. Equally dominant against the pass or the rush and despite constant change at the quarterback position in Cleveland, he has been the constant in protection and has never missed game. For his excellence he has never missed a Pro Bowl in his three-year career either.

Despite playing in an annual mess in Cleveland, Thomas is the standard for all offensive linemen.

12. Andre Johnson-Wide Receiver-Houston Texans (2009-101 receptions, 1569 yards, 9 TD)

After having a breakout 2008 campaign with 115 catches for more than 1,500 yards, Johnson recorded nearly an identical 2009 output. He uses his unrivaled mix of speed and size to separate from most double teams and joined elite company by becoming the only receiver in NFL history not named Jerry Rice to lead the NFL in reception years in consecutive seasons. His total was more than 200 yards above the next best total and took 20 less catches.

11. Patrick Willis-Linebacker-San Francisco 49ers (2009-152 tackles, 114 solo, 4 sacks)

The best linebacker in the game. In his first three seasons he has twice led the NFL in tackles, with 174 in 2008 and 152 last year. He finished second with 141 during his sophomore campaign. He added in four sacks and three interceptions to his 09 resume, and there really no way to avoid him on the field. The leader of one of the most improving defensive units in football and has already been called one of the two best linebackers he’s ever seen by 49ers’ Head Coach Mike Singletary, a legend at the position himself.

Under Singletary's guide Willis has become the league's best at linebacker within his first 3 years.

There’s a few things you are not going to tell me.

I’m not believing that the world isn’t round, that gas prices are reasonable and that Wendy’s value menu isn’t the best in all of burgerdom. I’m just not entertaining any of these as being valid in the reality I live in.

Also, I’m not believing that something I saw, repeatedly for years, didn’t happen. However, the NCAA is attempting to convince me that the USC Trojans that dominated NCAA football for the middle of the last decade never happened, and I should just continue on with business as usual. Nope, you could give me all the illegal funds that came through Pete Carroll’s program over the years and it still wouldn’t be enough to convince me I didn’t see the 2003-2005 USC teams play. I’m sorry, but while I can get good amounts of rest, with some “Inception” level dream activities, I can’t sleep that for that long or imagine anything that big.

Evidently I am to believe that this never happened....okay. Sure, NCAA...

The NCAA has tried the alleged magic trick before and I didn’t go for it then either. Some of their more egregious attempts a using an eraser on history are the facts that if you ask them the Fab Five in Michigan never happened, that Memphis didn’t win 38 games in 2008 because of Derrick Rose or that Alabama didn’t win any games between 2005 and 2007. No, it happened, all of it. Going back and taking away these games, and potentially championships, does not change any of the wrongs that happened. At the end of the day, these players and programs will still be regarded as great for the times that these wins took place. Unless some kind of mind wiping device is commissioned by the NCAA as part of its Infraction Committee, to regulate fans as well, I don’t see the point in trying to erase history, especially if I’m a player.

The bottom line is that the games were played and they won them. Reggie Bush, OJ Mayo, Matt Leinart, Mike Williams

I think this picture sums it all up perfectly.

and the tons of other current pros that played for Trojans in basketball and baseball won these games. The end. If they catch a program red-handed while the ineligible players are within the ranks of the NCAA, then by all means get that team, it’s players, coaches and athletic director, and punish them past the limits of the law (since they make their own laws, of course). But if they pull it off right underneath the NCAA’s nose and win in the process, I’m sorry but you’ve been bested. Since they didn’t find this in five years ago when it took place, those players were not pulled off the field and those wins need to stand up. The Trojans won those championships and Reggie Bush won that Heisman. OJ Mayo dominated for a year and left, in and out. Good bye. Everybody who say that season knows that all of that happened.

It is totally within reason for the NCAA to want to go back and see what exactly was happening within its programs. I don’t deny the validity of doing this. However, it should be used to regulate the future, not the past, where it is useless. Instead, erase the future. For every game that Bush played in, take a scholarship from the future, not a win from the past. Bush played in 39 games at USC over 3 years, pull 39 scholarships from the team. He played three seasons in every game that the Trojans participated in, including bowl games. Pull their bowl eligibility for three seasons without possibility of reinstatement. If you can pinpoint the funds that were pulled in Bush and any other participants, fine the University that amount annually for duration of the punishments. As a final slamming of the gavel, pull that team off of TV for the entire duration of the sanctions and damage their financial intake, in the future, as they did the integrity of the game in the past.

If the NCAA could catch up to Reggie now, it would probably look something like this.

Do I think what Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo did was wrong? Hell yes. I also think that Pete Carroll knew exactly what going on and that there is a lot more to the whole scenario than is being let on. Just like ex-basketball coach Tim Floyd did. But does this change what has happened? No. However, you can make the past destroy the future by crippling the program appropriately. Going back and wiping the past is pointless, because what is done is done. Shatter the future, without compromise and let those titles and trophies stand as rewards for a selfish regime.

Go head and keep it Reggie, it's your legacy's parting gift.

Let them have their BCS and Heisman Trophies as blood money rewards. And leave the University and fans as custodians of the mess. That will really uphold the legacy of the “heroes” of yesterday.

There have been generations of great players in Major League Baseball. Since the league’s official inception around 1869 there have been many different eras and changes to the game. It is difficult to place each great player against each other, but here is the CHEAP SEATS take on the greatest players, by position, the game has ever produced. (All stats are current of June 1, 2010)

**Right Field**

Right field is the final outfield position, which is similar, yet different, from left field. Where the other outfield posts are counted on to cover ground and use their speed to cut of the field, that isn’t always as the case for right fielders. While they are by no means expected to be bad defensively, they are counted on to have a strong throwing arm due to making the longer throw to third base and to home plate. Usually the least mobile outfielder plays right field, and as a result of this many of the best and strongest hitters in many lineups play the position. The spot boast many of the greatest players from several different areas of hitting. However, the top-tier of the position has the most separation of any other in this study and his occupied by the two preeminent power hitters of the 20th century.

An icon in not just baseball, but American history, the Babe revolutionized the game & is arguably still its biggest name 74 years after his last game.

1. Babe Ruth: New York Yankees (1914-1935): 89.5 points

–          .342 Avg. 714 HR, 2217 RBI, .472 OBP, 2874 Hits, 2174 Runs, 123 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 7 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 12 HR Titles, 2 All-Star Game (Presumptive 11 awarded)

The biggest icon in the history of game, and arguably in all of sports. He revolutionized the game as the first great power hitter in history, breaking the former career record of home runs (138) in his second season as a full-time hitter. His career home run total stood for 39 years. In 1927 he hit 60 home runs stood for 34 years and was more than any other TEAM in the American League. He led the AL in home runs 12 times, the most in MLB history. He finished with season totals over 45 homers nine times. His .690 slugging percentage is the best ever. He has the second most RBI and fourth most runs scored in history. Was a successful pitcher before becoming a right fielder, with a record of 90-46 until 1920. His nine shutouts in 1916 was a record for 62 years.

2. Hank Aaron: Atlanta Braves (1954-1976): 84 points

–          .305 Avg. 755 HR, 2297 RBI, .374 OBP, 3771 Hits, 2174 Runs, 240 SB

–          3 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 4 HR Titles, 21 All-Star Games

Broke Ruth’s historic home run total in 1974 and his record career total stood for 32 years. Only player to ever hit 30 home runs 15 times and hit at least 24 for 19 straight years. He has the most RBI in Major League history and finished in the top 3 for hits and runs scored all-time.  Aaron was the first player in history to accumulate both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He made 21 consecutive All-Star Games. Was the last player to complete in both Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball.

No power hitter has ever approached "Hammerin Hank's" maintained excellence, which led him resetting baseball's most legendary mark.

3. Frank Robinson: Cincinnati Reds/Baltimore Orioles (1956-1976): 65 points

–          .294 Avg. 586 HR, 1812 RBI, .389 OBP, 2943 Hits, 1829 Runs, 204 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 2 MVP, 1 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 1 Triple Crown, 1 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games

The only player to win an MVP Award in the National and American Leagues. Retired with the fourth most home runs of all-time. Became the first, and still only, Black player to achieve a Triple Crown season in 1966. A huge presence in both the Civil Rights Movement and progression of Blacks in baseball, he became the first Black manager of a Major League team in 1975 with the Cleveland Indians.

4. Mel Ott: New York Giants (1926-1947): 64.5 points

–          .304 Avg. 511 HR, 1860 RBI, .414 OBP, 2876 Hits, 1859 Runs, 89 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 6 HR Titles, 12 All-Star Games

The first National Leaguer to surpass 500 home runs. Led the New York Giants in home runs for 18 consecutive seasons, a Major League Record. First NL player to have eight consecutive 100 RBI seasons. Has share of Major League record with seven consecutive walks. One of six NL players to ever spend 20 years with one team. At only 5’9″, he is the shortest member of the 500 home run club.

5. Tony Gwynn: San Diego Padres (1982-2001): 58.5 points

–          .338 Avg. 135 HR, 1138 RBI, .388 Avg. 3141 Hits, 1383 Runs, 319 SB

–          5 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 8 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 15 All-Star Games

One of the greatest contact hitters in history, he never hit below .309 in a season. Hit over .350 seven times in his career. Gwynn’s career average is the highest of any player whose career started after World War II. His .394 average 1994’s strike shortened season is highest National League total since 1930. His eight batting titles are tied for the most in NL history.

A great pure hitter in an era where power hitters dominated, Gwynn set the standard for hitting consistency over the 80's and 90's.

6. Al Kaline: Detroit Tigers (1953-1974): 57. 5 points

–          .297 Avg. 399 HR, 1583 RBI, .376 OBP, 3007 Hits, 1622 Runs, 137 SB

–          10 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 15 All-Star Games

The youngest player to ever win a batting title in 1955, at age 20. Also the youngest to hit three home runs in one game, also at 20. Hit 25 home runs or more seven times and .300 nine times. Noted for his strong defensive play and arm, he is one of few outfielders to win at least 10 Gold Glove Awards.

7. Reggie Jackson: Oakland A’s/New York Yankees (1967-1987): 56.5 points

–          .262 Avg. 563 HR, 1702 RBI, .356 OBP, 2584 Hits, 1551 Runs, 228 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 5 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 4 HR Titles, 14 All-Star Games

Named “Mr. October” for his incredible performances in World Series play, Jackson hit 10 home runs (including four on four pitches in 1977, had a .357 average and 24 RBI in 27 World Series play. Won the regular season and World Series MVP Awards in 1973. Was the first player to hit 100 home runs with three different teams, the A’s, Yankees and Angels.

8. Dave Winfield: New York Yankees/San Diego Padres (1973-1995): 56 points

–          .283 Avg. 465 HR, 1833 RBI, .355 OBP, 3110 Hits, 1669 Runs, 223 SB

–          7 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games

Part of a small group of players to reach both 3,000 hits and 450 home runs. Played throughout a back and forth rivalry with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Oldest player to get an extra base hit in a World Series, at 41 years. A tremendous all-around athlete, he was drafted into the NBA and NFL as well.

9. Roberto Clemente: Pittsburgh Pirates (1955-1972): 55 points

–          .317 Avg. 240 HR, 1305 RBI, .359 OBP, 3000 Hits, 1416 Runs, 83 SB

–          12 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 4 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games

A pioneer for Hispanics in baseball and one of the greatest overall talents of all time. First Hispanic player to win an MVP Award, a World Series as a starter and an All-Star Game MVP. His 12 Gold Glove Awards are tied for the most ever in the outfield, and his arm is ranked among the strongest ever. Hit above .340 five times. Only player to hit a walk-off, inside the park grand slam in 1956. Tragically died in an airplane crash on a relief mission to Nicaragua in 1972.

An amazing talent, Clemente's impact and legacy may be greater than even he was on the field.

10. Harry Heilmann: Detroit Tigers (1914-1932): 48 points

–          .342 Avg. 183 HR, 1539 RBI, .410 OBP, 2660 Hits, 1291 Runs, 113 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 4 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 10 awarded)

His career average is second all-time amongst right-handed batters. Post four seasons hitting above .390, with a high mark of .404 in 1923. Had 200 plus hits four times and had seven consecutive seasons of 100 plus RBI. Was the first player to hit a home run in every park in baseball while he played.

10a. Willie Keeler: Baltimore Orioles (1892-1910): 48 points

–          .341 Avg. 33 HR, 810 RBI, .388 OBP, 2932 Hits, 1719 Runs, 495 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 11 awarded)

A remarkable contact hitter, his 44 game hitting streak in 1897 was longest ever until broken in 1956. Maintained an average above .370 for six consecutive years. His 424 mark in 1897 is the fifth highest single season average ever. His record of eight consecutive 200 hit seasons stood for 108 years until 2009. 206 of his 216 hits in 1898 were singles, a record.

Left on deck: Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Sam Crawford