Archive for September, 2011

You Gotta STFU….Tony LaRussa

Posted: September 28, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Dear Tony,

It’s been great. I mean the proof is in the numbers. You’ve done one job for 33 years, and anytime you get a chance to do that, you’re doing something right. The point of your job is to win, and you got that part down as well. You’ve won over 2,700 times and are sure to chill in the Hall of Fame until time ends or the building gets foreclosed on. Legacy = secure.

The feeling is mutual my man....it's about that time.

I’m going to write this as my letter of resignation from my support of you being the manager of my St. Louis Baseball Cardinals. Trust me; it’s you, not me. And it’s a shame, because it didn’t have to end this way. I remember when you first came to town and ushered us out of the dark days that are known as the early 90’s and put us back where we rightfully belong, the Playoffs. After that, you brought one of your protégés from Oakland over and he lit up the ballpark and ran up what I imagine to be a helluva repairs bill on scoreboard bills. Even then, the best was yet to come.

The mid 2000’s were some of the greatest years of my life. The back-to-back 100 win seasons were magical. Along with graduating from college, having shrimp tacos for the first time and losing my virginity, winning the World Series was the absolute biggest moment of my young life. You brought together a struggling team, which was limping at best, together in 2006 for the improbable moment and carved your success at a level that it’s even equaled Whiteyball on the field.

But that’s where it ends.

Whitey Herzog is loved; idolized even. He let the product shine and still won. No issue came from him that ever overshadowed the team. Somehow along the way, you didn’t master this craft. Your presence stands over the team with a presence even Darth Vader would have to give props to. With a resume that should have you on par with the family whose name graces your place of employment in St. Louis, you’ve managed to make yourself the enemy of the state in Cardinal Nation. The 2011 season has been case in point, after case in point of why this has to end between us.

This summer has showcased everything that has been good and bad about you, only magnified by like two million times (exactly what you’re pulling down to put us through this all). Whether it’s refusing to abide by regular baseball logic, like assigning concrete roles to your team (all 26 of those blown saves this year aren’t on you, but failing to appoint a closer for a month when we are in second place is plain stupid), and there’s more. The eccentric ideas over the years, like hitting the pitcher eighth and turning this National League standard bearer into an offshoot of an American League-style team was always ridiculous. Look, we’re the Senior Circuit, leave all that contrived AL-style BS over in Oakland. And then, there’s the complex.

The superiority complex is the black cape that flies over your whole “Emperor of Baseball” thing you do after every game. How about this? Just answer a question one time, instead of running that snappy, “Why are you speaking to me, simpleton?” routine. Anybody that has challenges your authority on any level as been ushered out immediately. Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and most infamously, Colby Rasmus: all drummed out for daring to look the king in the eye and not blink. And for what? Because you know everything that is to be known? Are you Charles Xavier? Of course not, because he’s not real and no matter whom much you want for it to be, your wall of infallibility isn’t either. If that was the case, your team wouldn’t be in a dog fight with the worse team in baseball to make the Playoffs. Because you’d be on your 161st win of the season tonight.

In the end, it’s going to be what it’s going to be. Whether something shakes out or not, this 16th version of your reign of the Cardinals has to be the last one. A whole book worth of pages are turning at once, and I can’t take another summer of bending AND breaking to your solo vision of what the team has to be. This isn’t to not be grateful for what you’ve done, but I’m not the same person I was in 1996 anymore, and neither should my baseball team of natural support be either. I fully support you getting your due from us in the long-haul, which includes a number retirement and life-long local TV sponsorship deals, but for now…?

 

You Gotta STFU Bro.

Kalling All Athlete Nupes: YOUR Journal Needs You

Posted: September 24, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in Uncategorized

Brothers,

Currently we are looking to expand the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal’s impact and content. In order to achieve this, the goal is to include much more of what is happening currently in fraternity on many levels. The sports section of the Journal is no exception to this effort, and it will be undergoing some aggressive changes in content and depth of features on what brothers are involved in on all levels. In order to effectively do this, we need to have an idea of the activities that Brothers are participating in, especially at the undergraduate level. This is where we need for individuals to step up and make themselves known.

Any brothers that are either currently varsity athletes at their undergraduate institutions, in a coaching capacity at any level (high school, collegiate or professional) or have recently turned professional in their given sport, we need you to let us know about you!

For athletes, please submit your name, school, class standing, when you were initiated & position.

For coaches, please submit your all of thee above info as applies to you.

For professionals, please submit name of the league, team, location, position, college attended & when you were initiated.

Also, any additional information such as awards, championships and any other honors received would be appreciated as well. Pictures are definitely welcomed as well. Finally, any online information and links to websites where you are featured is a big help too.

Please send all information to Bro. Matt Whitener at WhitenerCSP@gmail.com. The sooner the better for this info to be sent in, as we are currently looking to feature Brother’s accomplishments for the December issue of The Journal, as well as get a complete roll call of athletically involved Brothers published in the very near future as well.

Thank you in advance, and I look forward to seeing all that is being achieved across the Bond in as many arenas as possible.

(Remember, please do NOT submit here. Emails only)

MIZZOU ON THE MOVE? The Reality of An Uncertain Future

Posted: September 22, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NCAA
Tags: , , , , ,

The Missouri Tigers are in the middle of a hurricane that changes paths every day.

They have an unsettled and abusive home situation, and potentially have a shiny new home waiting to save them from all of their problems. However, such as abusive relationships go, the abusers have come back home and said it’s all going to be alright again. But this time things are different. Help’s come…and it’s come from the form of the most promised of all lands, and has made the University of Missouri the biggest wild card in crazy hand being dealt around the NCAA these days.

The tables have turned for the fortunes of Mizzou, now will they make the move to seal the deal...and where does that land them.

Last summer when the conference was being picked through, there was nothing that Missouri could do but hope for the best. The Big 10 only wanted Nebraska and Colorado was a geographical benefit to the then-Pac 10 to expand its reach into the Mountain Zone area. At this point, the rumor is the rule and nobody is saying anything about a future move, which can be spun either way.

Oh, what a difference a day makes. In the course of well under 24 hours, the entire power balance that has crippled Mizzou’s progress and clouded the view of their future was lifted from over one state, and drifted to the south. When the SEC and Pac 12 simultaneously opened and closed their respective doors, the tables turned on Oklahoma, Texas and all of their neighboring dependant schools and left them to inherit the most uncomfortable space in college sports: a future in the Big 12.

Isn’t that funny? All the schools that held so many of their conference mates hostages to their decision have now had the gun turned on them. The Pac 12 isn’t interested. The SEC, while secretive about its overall intent, or goal to become an absolute Super-Conference, hasn’t said anything more than it wants a 13th and 14th team. Texas A&M’s jump is complete, and if Mizzou is to follow, then the door could be closed for any other Big 12 refugees to follow through. Oklahoma and Texas will get their wish to become the strangest bedfellows in college sports and find out how cold it is in the Midwest these days. A climate they created with their selfish power plays and attempts to get their way with no other considerations made. And the decision to latch onto the future of these two schools from Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State will send them reeling into the same uncertainty that Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State have lived in with Mizzou for the last year. Role reversal is fun, right boys?

The debate about whether Mizzou can make the switch from a division that has meddled to get over multiple humps created by their potential new conference foes on the is both relevant and not. The program has made incredible strides over the last 10 years, and has crafted a niche in its current place that isn’t a consistent champion, but is never much of an underdog either. It will take time to reestablish such a groove in another conference in all sports. The two flagships, money raking programs will have different roads back up the hill. In basketball, the program would slide into a similar place in their potential new home. Old foes Kansas and Texas would be substituted out for new ones in Kentucky and Florida in terms of powerhouse upper tier teams that provide a constant challenge to overcome. The football team however is in for a much greater, yet not completely unfamiliar challenge.

Regardless of which division they join, they would have to step up their performance to keep with the curve. SEC is as good as it gets. It’s the most dominant gathering of teams in all of sports, collegiate or professional. The East Division features the Florida Gators, and current down but strong programs such as the Tennessee Volunteers, among others. The West is where is hot and haziest, with three of the last four BCS National Champions in the Auburn Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers. The team has never faced the upper tier programs in the SEC in recent times, but has fared well in matchups with the division, going 4-1 against the SEC under Gary Pinkel, including two bowl victories in the 2005 & 2007 seasons.

In the midst of the silence of the last few days, an unlikely voice spoke the loudest truth of all. When Pinkel, who has showcased an uncanny blend of stoic agility in dodging any and all questions about his employing institution’s future, called the Big 12 both “sad” and “embarrassing”, it spoke volumes about how bad things have become in the conference. There is no word that can put a concrete future in front of the Big 12. If the invite to the SEC is real, it’s not even a matter of when, rather its how so can we get there. The university should follow the lead of its football coach in moving again the “home” that as treated them as visitors for so long.

These decisions aren’t made in the athletic department, but within Board of Curators meetings for a reason. It’s all about money, and securing the safest yet most lucrative home possible. With all these considered, that makes this whole thing a slam dunk, with a bit of an unexpected bonus as well. Make the jump out of the fray, and while giving in some in results department on-field, but get a safe home…as well as some revenge in the process.

Sounds good over here.

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE – CSP’s Top 50 NFL Players (Part 2)

Posted: September 19, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
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In part two of this season’s ranking of the top 50 players in the NFL, we bring it all home with #25 to #1. This is where the cream of the crop comes out. The faces of the league, the Super Bowl winners and MVPs, as well as the most respected players that may not get the brightest shine. All of that is represented here, as well as the biggest debates of them all.

Whenever word is dropped on who’s the best, it sparks up the most heated of all debates. What determines the best? Is it the biggest winner, the most statistically dominant or the best talent? Is it who’s hot at the moment or who’s got the best resume? All of that and more was represented by the ten voters that participated in determining this year’s top 50, and it is sure to inspire even more debate from here.

So why wait? Let’s get into it, the best of the NFL in 2011, via the CHEAP SEATS:

Vick pulled himself back into the elite of the NFL last season, but how high does he make it against his peers?

25. Joe Thomas (High 12, Low: Unranked): The biggest rock in Cleveland’s foundation is the massive protector that keeps the pressure off Colt McCoy and blows holes open for Peyton Hillis with equal ease. He hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl trip in his career, and if you’re going to beat the Browns, it’s going to have to go through another side than his.

24. Jamaal Charles (High 20, Low: 35): An unfortunate injury ended this season for him, but that’s about all that can stop KC’s speedster. Put the ball in his hands and just look downfield…and usually a long ways down it. Last season, his 6.3 yards per carry placed him only behind Jim Brown (barely) in single season effort. That’s good company for a guy entering only his third year as a starter.

23. Arian Foster (High: 19, Low: 40): The Texans ground threat came out of nowhere to go from undrafted free agent, to becoming one of the most unlikely rushing champions ever last year with 1,606 in his first full season as a starter. He’s battling a hamstring injury early this year, but once he gets right, more of the same is in store for the up and coming Texans.

Nobody had a bigger breakthrough in 2010 than Foster did in his year as a starter.

22. Patrick Willis (High: 8, Low: Unranked): The Niners could probably get away with using just one linebacker with Willis out there. Nobody racks up the tackles like the 49ers middle linebacker does. He lead the league in them each of his first three years, and when teams began to avoid anything he could reasonably get to last year (which takes some work), he set a career-high in sacks instead…and still had over 120 tackles.

21. Clay Matthews (High: 13, Low: 30): He bares a striking resemblance to both Thor and He-Man, and he plays exactly like they would in football pads. In both of his first two seasons he has reached double figures in sacks and opened up 2010 with six sacks in the first two weeks of the season.

20. Antonio Gates (High: 14, Low: 29): Oh what could have been if Gates’ health would’ve held together last year. In ten games and on just 50 catches, he hauled in 782 yards and got in the endzone 10 times. When he went down, he lead the NFL in TD grabs, was on pace to get up to 18. Let’s see if he can pick up where he left off this year.

19. Calvin Johnson (High: 14, Low: 26): There’s no other mixture of size and speed like him in the game. He’s fast enough to run past most cornerbacks, and if he isn’t, he can just dominate them physically. With Matthew Stafford finally getting healthy and being able to feed him the ball, the best is yet to come for Megatron.

18. Jake Long (High: 7, Low: 44): The Dolphins offense may come and go as far as productivity goes, but it can’t say it doesn’t have the chance with Long leading the way. The perennial All-Pro tackle is the main reason why Reggie Bush could be about to live up to his potential in Miami.

17. Philip Rivers (High: 13, Low: 27): It’s no secret he can fling the ball around the field, but last year he did more than he’s ever done, with the most depleted roster he’s ever been surrounded with. Despite his top receiver holding out, his All-Universe tight end out with injuries, a depleted offensive line and a rookie running back, he threw for a career high 4,710 yards.

Rivers has become a perennial candidate for MVP now, and carries as much weight as any QB in the game.

16. Haloti Ngata (High: 4, Low: 35): The most versatile defensive linemen in the NFL, it doesn’t matter where the Ravens place him, he makes plays. For years, he clogged the middle of the defense and was a Pro Bowler at tackle. Last year he set a career high in sacks after moving to defensive end, and still returned to the Pro Bowl.

15. Larry Fitzgerald (High: 12, Low: Unranked): The most dangerous endzone target in the game, Fitz still managed 90 catches and actually ended up with more yards than he did with Kurt Warner tossing to him the year before. Now with Kevin Kolb hooking him up way downfield again, he could easily add both a 4th year of over 1,400 yards and a 5th double digit touchdown year.

14. Michael Vick (High: 6, Low: Unranked): Vick’s renaissance took him from backup to Pro Bowl starter in under one season. He’s still the ultimate weapon in skills; has fast as a receiver and with an arm as good as any in the game. However, now he’s a better passer than ever before and has weapons around him just as quick and dangerous. The best is yet to come here.

13. Julius Peppers (High: 8, Low: 19): While he had better statistical seasons in the past, the story of Julius Peppers runs deeper than that. He’s never played better football than he is now. He’s just as dangerous running down rushers as he is chasing the quarterback and he brought an intensity that was undeniable and placed the Bears four quarters away from a Super Bowl in his first year.

12. Chris Johnson (High: 8, Low: 23): He’s the only back in the game that can say he’s going for 2,000 yards, and it’s not seen as crazy talk. Arguably the fastest player in the game, and is instantly a threat as soon as he touches the ball. He’s the all-time record holder for most yards in one season and will continue to carry the weight of the Titans world on his shoulders.

11. Nnamdi Asomugha (High: 9, Low: Unranked): So dangerous that teams don’t even throw his way. Since his eight interception breakout season in 2007, opposing QBs have only been brave enough to throw his way often enough for him to grab a total of three in the last four years. Now he moves over to Philadelphia and has a legit chance of turning that fear into the only number that counts: his first Super Bowl ring.

10. DeMarcus Ware (High: 9, Low: 21): It’s starting to seem like he can get sacks whenever he wants them. The best pass rusher in the NFL has led the league two of the last three seasons in QBs landed, and has averaged a ridiculous 13 sacks a season in his six year career. 20 of these came in one season, and it’s not a stretch to think he could top that number again.

9. Andre Johnson (High: 4, Low: 16): It’s not so much about if he’s the best receiver in the game now anymore, that’s a given. It’s more about how high up the all-time list the ninth year Texan is. He gets the job done early and often, and is one of two receivers to ever lead the league in yards two consecutive seasons (and passed 1,500 yards in each year).  The other player to achieve this? Some guy named Rice.

8. Darrelle Revis (High: 2, Low: 15): Revis Island is real, and it’s lonely. The Jets cornerback is a silencer: he takes the biggest and best receivers in the game on one-on-one, and takes them out the game. For his efforts, he’s made three consecutive Pro Bowls and pushed the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games.

7. Ed Reed (High: 4, Low: 10): No player turns defense into offense as often as Reed does. He has 13 touchdowns in his career from a mixture of interceptions, punt blocks, punt and fumble returns. For all of this, his greatest act, in a career with plenty of them, may have come last season when he lead the NFL in interceptions with eight despite playing in only 10 games.

Reed sometimes seems like an entire secondary by himself, and has legit claim to being the greatest free safety of all-time.

6. Aaron Rodgers (High: 2, Low: 17): The wheeling and dealing Rodgers threw the Pack on his back and took them to the top of the NFL a year ago. He leads one of the deepest receiving groups in the game and is the most dangerous passer on the move in the game. He doesn’t waste passes either: he is the All-Time leader in both regular season and playoff passer rating, and has the lowest interception rate in NFL history as well.

5. Drew Brees (High: 3, Low: 9): The face of the New Orleans Saints has made a career of being able to thread the needle like no other QB. To date, he has a 5,000 yard season and four 4,000 yard efforts. He is tied for the most consecutive seasons with 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, and opened up this year with a 400 yard day in Green Bay against the team that succeeded his Saints as Champions.

4. Adrian Peterson (High: 3, Low: 9): He’s the highest paid runner in the game, and for good reason. There’s no player that combines power, speed and instincts like AD. He reached 5,000 yards in third fastest time in league history and passed 6,000 early this year already. He has reached at least 10 rushing touchdowns in every season of his career.

In just four years, Peterson has become one of the most revered runners in the game's history due to his rare overall ability.

3. Troy Polamalu (High: 3, Low: 8): His effect on the Steelers over the last few years is simple, yet major. When he plays, they go to the Super Bowl. When he doesn’t, they aren’t even a playoff team. In 2008, they won the whole thing. In ’09, they miss the Playoffs when he misses most of the season. He comes back last year, plays better than ever and they go back to the Bowl. He’s the very definition of difference maker.

2. Peyton Manning (High: 1, Low: 2): No player means more to his team than Peyton does. His greatness has long been defined by numbers, but now it’s shown in presence. With him on the sideline for the first time in his career, the Colts look more like a team that lives at the top of the Draft every year, than one that has taken home seven of the last nine division titles. Last year, Peyton carried the entire team on his shoulders more than ever due to a rash of injuries. Now this year, they are healthier as a whole, but one injury has sunk the rest of the ship. He should win MVP this year even if he doesn’t throw one pass.

1. Tom Brady (High: 1, Low: 2): No one came in at the top of more lists than Brady, and for good reason. It’s bigger than the 14 win, MVP season he had a year ago. It’s the fact that he makes playing the most difficult position in the game look effortless. After landing his second MVP nod with a ridiculous, record-setting 9:1 touchdown to interception season, he picked right back up where he left off in 2011, throwing for 517 yards in the season opener, the fifth best performance in League history. Point proven.

It's his world: Brady didn't get a vote lower than #2, and came in at #1 on 80% of the ballots cast.

 

Follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for more on the never ending debate on who’s man around the NFL week-to-week.

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE – CSP’s NFL Top 50 Players (Part 1)

Posted: September 16, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL, The Lineup
Tags: , ,

Every year in CSP (which would be exactly two years now…I’m growing up) I do a top 50 players in the NFL rank. It’s not based on who’s the hottest model at the moment or just who’s most attractive on “Madden”, skill wise. Rather it’s a mixture of both; who makes the biggest impact overall. Who’s the best regardless of situation, team, etc.

This year, I decided to take a step outside of myself. After countless Twitter discussions on “Who’s best” or even just “better than” whoever else, I sent out a call to as many as would answer to figure out what we all are really saying: who are the people’s choice best players in the NFL? So here’s how this goes:

Ten ballots were cast of the top 50 players in the NFL. They are all ranked against each other, with the tie breaker being the highest standing rank on any ballot of that player. Rocket science right? Now that we all know what we’re looking at, here’s how it played out this year…

Suh had an instant impact on QBs around the league, but where does that place him among the NFL's true elite?

(High/Low = Ranking on lists for poll)

50. Jonathan Vilma (High: 39, Low: Unranked): The leader of the Saints defense is one of the most active tackling middle linebackers in the game. He made his second Pro Bowl last season, and hit a career high in sacks as well.

49 (tie). Ryan Clady & Justin Tuck (High: 33, Low:  Unranked): A tie in regard amongst the lists, Clady and Tuck represent opposites on the field, but not in impact. With Clady guarding the gates, the Broncos passing attack still finished in the top 10 in the NFL and Kyle Orton had time to make Brandon Lloyd the most productive receiver in the league. As for Tuck, he reached double digits in sacks for the 3rd time in his five year career and had a pair of three sack games last season on the way to total of 11 for the year.

48. Terrell Suggs (High: 27, Low: Unranked): He once again became the outside rushing terror that he began his career as last year. He racked up 11 sacks for the year after managing only 4.5 in ’09. He added three more in the Ravens’ playoff match up with the Steelers.

47. Asante Samuel (High: 32, Low: Unranked): Why people still throw at Samuel, I don’t know. He’s snatched 20 interceptions in the last 3 years and led the NFL three times. This trend may not be ending anytime soon with Nnamdi Asomugha scaring QBs at him more than ever now.

46. Jason Witten (High: 35, Low: Unranked): Tony Romo’s favorite target did pretty good to say the least in a year without his QB. He brought in 94 catches for the second straight year and went over 1,000 yards for the third time. He also reached 600 career catches quicker than any other tight end in history.

Witten is definitely the only #3 option in the game that is good for 1,000 yards a year.

45. Michael Turner (High 34, Low: Unranked): The Falcons workhorse got back to what he does best: punishing defenses and finding the endzone. He found the endzone 13 times, and the Falcons rode him to their first division title since 2004.

44. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (High: 21, Low: Unranked): The foundation of the Jets formidable offensive line, Ferguson is one of the premier pass protectors in the game. His mixture of length and speed behind Mark Sanchez’s back enabled the QB to reach a career high in yards and touchdowns in his second year.

43. Nick Mangold (High: 26, Low: Unranked): Another testament to how solid the Jets line has been, Mangold stands at its core & is the only center to make this list. He was instrumental in the rebirth of LaDainian Tomlinson, and could work the same magic in Shonn Greene’s assumption of full-time duties this season.

42. Brian Urlacher (High: 36, Low: Unranked): The Bears defense rose back up to the forefront of the league this year and delivered them back to the Playoffs for the first time since 2006. It’s no coincidence that Urlacher also returned from an injury that kept him out of the entire 2009 campaign to lead them as well.

41. Steven Jackson (High: 31, Low: Unranked): SJ39 long carried the heaviest weight in the league, with the burden of the bottom feeding Rams on his shoulders alone. That weight was lessened with the Rams improvement of a year ago, but his results didn’t decrease: he surpassed 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive year, the longest streak in the NFL.

Jackson grinded, smashed and willed his way to yet another 1,000 yard running season.

40. Jahri Evans (High: 34, Low: Unranked): Evans productivity on the inside of the Saint’s offensive line has given Drew Brees every inch of space he needs to make the pinpoint tosses he specializes in. The Saints put the trust in him to watch their most important asset, he has returned on the investment with two Pro Bowl appearances.

39. Greg Jennings (High: 37, Low: Unranked ): Being Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target has its benefits, and it ended with Jennings reeling in two Super Bowl touchdowns, along with a ring for his efforts. Overall, he made it to the promised land 14 times and proved he can “put the team on his back” like few other receivers.

38. Mario Williams (High: 28, Low: Unranked): The lone difference maker in the Texans defense moved to linebacker this season to be able to start his rush even quicker. Considering he has averaged over nine a season already, the league could be getting a new leader this year and a lot more to come.

37. Logan Mankins (High: 32, Low: Unranked): After a lengthy holdout a year ago, Mankins played so well in his nine active games that he still made his second consecutive Pro Bowl. With a new contract in his hands, a full season of Mankins in the New England mix makes them even more dangerous.

36. Vince Wilfork (High: 23, Low:Unranked): He’s the wall in the middle of the Patriots defense that has made them go for so many years, Wilfork has been the best pure nose tackle in football. Now he will move over in their new 4-3 scheme, and now quarterbacks as well as running backs will learn to fear him.

The massive 6'2, 330 pound frame is more often than not where it all starts and stops when running at the Pats.

35. Ndamukong Suh (High: 34, Low: Unranked): Suh wasted no time in becoming one of the most feared presences in the entire league. He returned in the Lions investment in rebuilding the defense around him with 10.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl nod in his first year.

34. Reggie Wayne (High: 18, Low: 50): The player represented on every list, Wayne had a career-best season last year as he shouldered more of the burden of the Colts offense than ever before. His 111 catches were a career high and he passed 1,000 yards for the seventh consecutive year. It was also the 3rd time he had at least 100 receptions in a season.

33. Maurice Jones-Drew (High: 24, Low: 41): Long standing as the Jaguars only true threat, MJD is more than happy to carry that weight. He’s a warrior in the process as well: he ran for over 1,300 yards for the second straight year despite a torn meniscus in his knee the entire season.

MJD has been a one man offensive show for the Jags, and is one of the toughest runners in the game.

32. Charles Woodson (High: 13, Low: 46): He didn’t turn in another Defensive Player of the Year performance last season. But he did turn that same effort into another Pro Bowl season and leading the Packers defense to its best performance, as well as his first Championship year.

31. Ray Lewis (High: 5, Low: Unranked): How Ray Lewis didn’t appear on one list completely is beyond me. Maybe they felt like he is slowing down, but considering he still the most feared middle linebacker in football & reached his fifth straight (and 11th overall) Pro Bowl a year ago, there’s not much fact to back that up. He’ll still be able to force a fumble when he’s 80.

30. DeSean Jackson (High: 15, Low: 32): No player keeps defenses on their toes more than DeSean does. One of the few guys that can score from anywhere, whenever he touches the ball, his “Miracle at the Meadowlands”, 65-yard game winning return proved the Eagles are never out of it when he can get his hands on the ball.

29. Ben Roethlisberger (High: 18, Low: 38): After beginning 2010 with a four game suspension and finishing it in the Super Bowl, Big Ben’s knack for making the big comeback is indisputable. However, despite reaching Super Sunday three times, he remains one of the more underrated players in the game: he has made only one Pro Bowl in his young, but accomplished career.

28. Roddy White (High: 11, Low: 38): Despite entire defenses hanging on him, Matt Ryan’s favorite target led the NFL with 115 catches a year ago and a personal career high in touchdowns with 11. He has led the NFL in receiving yards over the last four years with 5,158.

27. Dwight Freeney (High: 22, Low: Unranked): The Colts defense is far from anything to get excited about, but it’s not Freeney’s fault. The franchise all-time leader in sacks notched his third straight season in double digits a year ago, and will surpass 100 for his career this season.

26. James Harrison (High: 18 , Low: 44): He’s like a missile flying around the field, and there’s very parts he can’t reach on every play. He is arguably the hardest hitter in the entire league; and has a dent in his bank account from fines to prove it. I don’t say he’s dirty like he gets painted to be; he just is such a machine it just looks worse than it was intended to be.

On a Pittsburgh defense full of weapons, none can cause the damage Harrison can.

Check back tomorrow for the rundown from 25 to 1, and keep up with the debate more by following on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

It’s been a busy year in the big time record breaking (and setting) department around Major League Baseball. Derek Jeter became the 28th member of the 3,000 hit club in July, and is rapidly climbing up the list still (he currently sits at 20th all-time in total hits). Jim Thome hit his 600th home run in August with the Minnesota Twins, and has since return to the Cleveland Indians where it all started for him back in 1991.

The record pace kept moving along yesterday, when the game’s most dominant closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, notched his 600th save. He joined Trevor Hoffman has the only player to ever reach that level of game ending excellence, and by the end of the week he could be in solo waters once again. His 43rd save of the year would also be his 602nd of his career, moving him past Hoffman and making him the all-time saves King.

Rivera secured a milestone summer, but A-Rod and a few other Yankees have dates with big numbers soon.

So what’s next? Next season won’t be able to match this summer in career excellence coming to age before us in big, round “WOW” numbers. Apologies to Ivan Rodriguez and his prolonged attempt to be the first catcher to surpass 3,000 hits, but it’s not looking like that’s going to happen. But there are more than a few milestone markers that are in the sights of a few either potential or ticket-punched Hall of Famers. However, how many will be able to seal the deal and when could it come to pass? Here’s the magic numbers that could be met next summer, and what it would take to meet the mark.

 

200 WINS – One guy is guaranteed to hit the mark, and could do it before the All-Star. Roy Halladay sits at 186 wins today with two or three more 2011 starts remaining. That will put him most likely as needing 12 to 13 W’s to get to his next mile marker as a starter. With the way that Doc has pitched in his first two years in the NL and the Phillies standing to return another great club, he’ll hit this level easy. For prediction’s sake let’s say July 2012.

Outside shot: CC Sabathia and Tim Hudson. CC sits at 176 wins currently and saying he wins another two this year, it would still require a 22 win season to match it. If he stays in the Bronx, 22 wins are very possible, but it’s still a tough number to put an absolute on. Early 2013 (like his first two starts) is more likely. Hudson actually sits closer to the record than CC with 179 wins and plays for a good Braves club, but has only won more than 17 games twice, so early 2013 for him as well.

 

2,500 HITS – Ichiro is guaranteed to top it, and Bobby Abreu won’t be too far behind. Even after a step backwards (by his unreal standards) this year, he is still among the most productive hitters in the game. With his career mark sitting at 2,414 right now, he’ll get over 2,600 as well most likely. First things first, and by June, he’ll be past 2.5k. His division mate Abreu will continue to quietly accumulate more impressive numbers in his career as well, with 2,500 being the next. He’s at 2,374 and by August of next year, he’ll be at his next milestone.

Ichiro's slower production this summer won't throw his historic hit pace off too far.

Outside shot: Todd Helton has a chance, but it’s about how often he’s out there. His with good health, his current 2,363 hits and a few more set him up to meet an important number for his Hall of Fame candidacy next September.

 

2,000 HITS – A record eight players reached this mark in 2011 alone. Not quite that many will get there next summer, but it’s a clear shot for a few. Placido Polanco (1,956), Derrek Lee (1,944) and Carlos Beltran (1,900) will all pass it by midsummer; June for Polanco, July for Lee and Beltran.

Outside shot: Andruw Jones (1,881) and Jason Giambi (1,946) are close, but playing time is an issue, as neither is a regular at anymore.  Jimmy Rollins (1,848) has the best shot to make it with a combination of range and playing time opportunities, but health is his struggle and if his recent trend stays up, 2013 will be his time.

 

2,000 RBIAlex Rodriguez stands to jump a lot of Hall of Fame hurdles in route to becoming the 3rd player to meet the mark (the names Mays, Cobb, Musial, Gehrig and Bonds should be familiar among others), along with Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. His career number will be over 1,900 after this season, and hitting in the heart of the Yankees order will get him the 100 RBI he’ll need by September.

 

That’s the best of what could be to come from next summer, and some of what to expect from 2013. However, the summer of ’13 has some big moments from the biggest names in store:

Entering his early 30's, Pujols will meet some rare numbers for full careers just past the halfway point of his.

–          500: Albert Pujols stands to hit this number in both home runs and doubles.

–          1,500: Once again, Pujols shows up here, as he’ll hit that level in RBI.

–          3,000: Alex Rodriguez will get to yet another big number in his career and get past the big number for career hits…but the focus will will be on…

–          700: A-Rod could conceively become the 4th player to smack this many home runs

–          Also…: Derek Jeter stands to enter the top 10 hitters of all-time this summer, which will require him to top Willie Mays’ 3,288 hits. At his current level, he could get as high as sixth all-time this summer.

 

Follow me on Twitter for more random rants, stats, thoughts and everything else Baseball and more at @CheapSeatFan.

The Ultimate Weapon Gets More Ammo

Posted: September 12, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , ,

There’s always the tendency to want to take the crown to the throne; to not want to build up expectations for an athlete too high, too soon. There are some instances however, where you just know right away that there is something is the real deal. Cam Newton created those moments one after another in his NFL debut on Sunday.

Newton’s assault on the record book is clear now. He became the first player to throw for over 400 yards in his debut (he finished with 422), and what was more was just how he did it. He used every bit of his rare mixture of speed, arm and strength to take apart the Arizona Cardinals’ defense on repeat, completing an impressive 24 passes to hit on nearly 65% of his passes. The stats were real, and the impression was made, once again.

Newton set the bar higher than any other rookie has in a year, in just four quarters.

It’s more than just a numbers game though, as he went over and above just what stats define. The stats will tell you he leads the NFL in passing yards. It will say he totaled as many touchdowns in his first game as more accomplished NFL dignitaries Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees did in their debuts. However, what he did go over and above statistics, he proved everyone wrong. When he was drafted, nobody said he was ready, and the claims of “why” were heaped on him non-stop. He couldn’t make the transition from the college game. He can’t throw or read NFL defenses. He’s immature and can’t lead a team. Well, he not only checked all of these concerns off the list in just four quarters; he ripped the list in half and burned it.

However at the end of it all, the most important number is the smallest of them all: one. That’s the number of losses he has in his NFL career. Despite making the two-win in 2010 Panthers look more relevant than they have since they were challenging for a Super Bowl back in 2004, he still learned the biggest lesson he needed to have at the perfect time: how to not be enough. At the end of the day, he sat on the bench in the same stadium that he finished arguably the greatest single season effort by any player in College Football history with a National Championship, and realized even his amazing performance wasn’t enough. It was the first time he had lost a game that mattered in nearly two years.

After everything he did the for the first 58 minutes of the game, he had a chance to make yet another of the seemingly undeniable drives he has come to make look so easy. Between a mixture of running through, throwing over and jack hammering his way into the endzone to grab victory at his own will. But what happened? He went 0 for 3 in shots into the endzone to win the game, and the Panthers had to watch Kevin Kolb run the clock down, and win his debut.

Does this decrease the effort? Absolutely not, if anything it arms him yet another weapon that he proved to be dangerous when given in the past: a chip for his shoulder. He watched his ideal reality be lived through his opponent that he clearly had outdid…until the end of the race. He had to confront the fact that he wasn’t enough.

The significance of what he did only matters to the headlines, fantasy footballers and merchandisers who sell shirts with his name on it. Because to Cam, it means absolutely nothing at all without a win.  It’s what drives him, and for all of the highlights and smiles that he puts forth, underneath him is a furnace worth of fire that makes him into the winner he is, and now wants to be more than anything else at pro level.

In defeat, Newton became more dangerous than he ever has been before...think about that.

This loss was the perfect end for his amazing first day on the job. He played amazing, better than any other rookie has ever played, and it ended up not being enough. Now, he’ll have yet another weapon to add to the buffet of skills he has, that cannot be challenged, counted or turned against him: desire. Be easy Panthers fans, this will be the best loss you ever had. Like Steve Smith said after the 28-21 loss, “He was everything that everyone didn’t expect him to be.” Now he has all the tools to continue both being, and not being, that at the same time.

Good loss, rook.