Archive for January, 2012

While it’s been floated as a possibility for the last few days, late Friday night word got out that may truly be nearing a deal to join the St. Louis Cardinals. It appears now that the deal is a go, and the former  ace will become a member of his former toughest rival’s ball club in 2012. Oswalt, who rejected a rumored $10 million deal to join the  earlier this week, was also been in discussion with the  and . The terms on the deal with the  are not officially known yet, but an incentive-laden pact with a base around $5 to $7 million has been the general idea of the club’s offer.

Oswalt compiled a 9-10 record along with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts a year ago.

His desire to stay close to the south, and his Mississippi home, has had a strong steering effect on just which teams he will consider. After a season as a member of the much hyped  “Four Headed Monster” pitching rotation, the limelight has shown as brightly on Oswalt in this season’s . Due to back troubles that limited him to 139 innings last season, his lowest amount since 2003, combined with his strict preference on where he would like to live, the market around him as been slow to develop.

However, St. Louis offers a competitive club for a player that has never won a World Series….


For the rest of this article, including what type of situation this leaves some current untradable Cardinals in, head over to St. Louis Sports 360 here:


And for more on this and how the Cardinals puzzle will fit together, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

"Yesterday....all my troubles seemed so far away..." - Peyton Manning...(not really but you get it)

The un-imaginable is really taking place; Peyton Manning isn’t going to be a Colt much longer. Right now, it’s not even for certain that he’s going to be an NFL player again really. But if Peyton is one thing, it’s tough. He never missed a game before 2011, and in that time he rarely even missed a snap. For all the debate about whether he will actually get on the field again, I honestly believe that if there was one player in the game that would die for it, it’s Peyton. Albeit, that’s what doctors and medical staffs are there for is to prevent kamikaze guys like him from actually doing that, but that’s neither here nor there.

I honestly believe that the Colts are going to have to make the toughest call on turning the page at QB since the 49ers had to move on from Joe Montana. In that case Steve Young made that decision a pretty easy one to live with, but the Colts have no reason to worry about who is next with top pick, uber-prospect Andrew Luck being on their roster nothing but a technicality of the NFL Draft making it official at this point.

But a healthy Peyton may be the best second life QB since Joe took his talents to Kansas City after being cast out from the team he built up from the ground to the heavens. He soon showed he had plenty of life left to him, and even pushed the Chiefs to an AFC Championship game. A healthy Peyton Manning is easily worth a few victories some hard up at quarterback clubs lose simply due to inept leadership in the pocket.

The Montana model is what could be in store for a club that looks into the disenfranchised Manning.

What teams are the best fits for a potential 4-time MVP, 11-time Pro Bowl free agent-to-be, which undoubtedly has a few more yards in him to add to the 54,828 he’s already covered? One thing for certain is that it opens up “a need” at QB for a lot more teams than there are without him on the market. A starter kit estimate would make sense for at least half the teams in the NFL to really take a hard look at how good they are now, and how much better they would be with Peyton on board.

The Dolphins, Redskins & Jets are the obvious contenders for his services, and no doubt he makes each of them a much better club (imagine Peyton in the AFC East going head up with Tom Brady and the Pats constantly?). Adding him to the NFC makes for even more intrigue in the most melodramatic division in the game. However, to see the true impact of his availability, the real impact is the fringe teams that come into play.

Regardless of what they say about their dedication to their current signal callers, the 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Broncos would be foolish not at least inquire into his services. These are all teams that are one step away, and a healthy Manning takes everything about those teams to the next level. Cleveland has been a football wasteland for what seems like a millennium now, but nothing could kick the perpetual rebuilding phase to the gaining ground level like a move like this one. In Minnesota, Christian Ponder showed promise, but did he show that much to put off the possibility of pursuing Peyton and instantly reviving a sagging franchise in a super competitive division? They’ve danced a similar dance to this before, and the rewards they reaped were substantial.

How about the clubs that have high priced experiments in the mix such as the Cardinals and Jaguars? A Larry Fitzgerald-Manning combo is flat out Fantasy League-style fun to imagine and Blaine Gabbert could truly benefit from some bench time, just as new ownership could use the boom the league’s most marketable player brings to the gate. In the ultimate case of an emergency, what if (in the very definition and extreme of the term) the Saints can’t get a common ground with Drew Brees? It’s not a bad fall back to bring home town hero Peyton back to lead the Saints is it?

Much of this is speculation at its finest, but with the welcome mat being pulled in the house in Indianapolis, the unimaginable is about to become a very real situation soon. No matter what uniform he ends up in, it’s going to take a lot of eye wiping and head shaking to bring into focus. Getting ready for any and everything to take place in the biggest player auction in forever is going to be something to see, and in the end, could be the caffeine boost that either stagnant or on the verge team needs to have a pretty good run for a couple of years here.

Who’s got it in them to walk out on faith?


Follow me on Twitter, about 900 other folks will tell you it’s a good idea…most of the time. @CheapSeatFan.

While they didn’t make it all the way to the golden shores of Super Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers pushed their turnaround season to limit on Sunday night. Absolutely nobody would’ve picked a team coming off a 6-10 year, featuring a first time NFL coach leading a team with Alex Smith at quarterback, would end up a fumble and field goal away from being the best in the NFC this year.


It just goes to prove even further that nobody is ever truly out of it in the NFL. It only takes a few crucial moves, a quick change in philosophy and a bit of kind scheduling, to put a team in prime position to turn their whole fortunes around in the blink of an eye.

This time last year, nobody thought "Who's the next Alex Smith" could mean anything that didn't lead to a duel.

So who’s next? Can any of the bottom feeders from 2011 take on the full blown Cinderella move the Niners put on this year and wear the “glass cleat” they rocked almost all the way to the biggest dance of them all?

Well, yeah. It’s very possible, and there are a number of teams that have what it takes to have a day to the night that was the season that’s landed them atop the upcoming draft. So I’ve taken it upon myself to name a few of the most likely candidates to shock you later on this year.


Carolina Panthers: When you look at Carolina it’s easy to think Cam and that’s it, and for obvious good reason. The “better damn be Offensive Rookie of the Year to be” put on to the tune of 4,757 yards and 35 TDs this year, and carried the weight of a four game improvement. However, the best is yet to come here.

See, it seemed like it was a one man show because it had to be, mostly because they were among the most wounded teams in the league, with 18 players on the injured reserve. This impacted no side of the ball more than the defense where three starters were lost for virtually the entire season, most notably All-Pro linebacker Jon Beason. Him returning alone changes the whole potential of the club. Add in the the coin flipped eigth or ninth pick in the draft and a division full of teams undergoing makeovers and there could be a lot of noise coming out the Carolinas from more than just Mr. Newton.

The Miami Dolphins: In order to put your feet down and stop your misfortunes full speed like you’re riding that bike you had growing up with no brakes, you have to have a strength to lean on, and the Fins have that in their defense. After taking forever to wake up and realize the season had started, they played good football down the stretch. In all reality, it was more of a surprise that the defense played as bad as it did to start the year allowing the sixth fewest yards as a unit in the league.

Philbin will look to add the final spark to a Dolphins club that went 6-3 after a terrible start.

Now here’s the kicker, despite losing more games in ’11 from ’10, they actually gave up fewer points per game. As a bonus, the offense greatly overachieved in many regards, especially from the coming of age of Reggie Bush. New head coach Joe Philbin has already guarantees a change in philosophy on offense and has made landing a new QB top priority already (can you say Matt Flynn?), so pulling the offense up to speed with the defense is on pace.

Indianapolis Colts: Yeah, I know what just happened down there. It wasn’t even comical how much they got battered around the RCA Dome this year. On top of that, who knows who will be leading the way next year for that mess of an offense, will the defense get any better or who will even be calling the plays in. Sounds like a team that’s prone for another year on top of the draft right?

Wrong. The bottom line is that either Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck will be leading this team next year, and that’s worth between 5 to 7 extra wins itself. Also, they are in a division that is still far from claimed, although the Texans are on the way up.


The offense can still go; it just needs a capable driver to handle it and one way or another that’s guaranteed. Also there is a hyper-competitive owner in Jim Irsay that is embarrassed and doesn’t look to be too gun shy about pulling the trigger on any possible move that gets him back in the playoffs immediately. 2011 was an aberration, and this team is definitely prime for strong 180 next year.


For more on the march to the biggest Bowl of the year and basically everything else I may end up doing throughout the day, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Joe Paterno's place in time, in several regards, was already set long before today.


Joe Paterno died today, and instantly created one of the most awkward scenarios possible. His memory will carry the weight of a lot more than he could handle himself. He just barely beat my two month estimate of how long he’d hold out after this all broke, so it’s no surprise. The kaleidoscope of this whole thing has been in place for a while. See, there hasn’t been a man that was subject to more extremes in recent history. He was both close to the best and the worst all at once; and now finding a way to meet in the middle as the curtain calls on a number of sagas all at once is a road that can split in a variety of ways.

For me, wrong is forever wrong and once you’re in it, it doesn’t change. The circumstances can become clearer, and degrees can be softened, but the judgment of the scenario doesn’t shift just because time passes. However, some rights also aren’t impacted by a wrong in one area. Paterno has given new clarity to this definition with what happened in his life, not his exit from it. However, this will definitely lead to some that will see it as justice and some will see it as a resolution point. It’s neither of those things, no matter how it is turned over and looked through.

Celebrating a death isn’t right, and it doesn’t change anything that’s happened here, but it has already begun. This is one of those scenarios where those types of excesses will be common. But in a time where extremes are the norm, looking past those is where the truth lays.

Much of it comes down not to what side of the road you stand on Paterno today, but where you were at regarding him last November. It takes an extreme circumstance to erase image of the winning coach in college football’s history as anything but an immortal, but that’s what happened. Letting him off of whatever hook you placed him on in the face of the Penn State sex scandal now is too easy, and not the right thing to do. It’s easy to absolve individuals of their faults when they die; to provide a sense of respect for everything they were beforehand. That’s no good. However, the complication in the Paterno case was always compounded by the view of his interaction, and the undeniable reverence that 409 victories gain a man. It’s a high cliff to fall off of.

The responsible and reasonable way to go about it is to take it as a chance to place him in his proper lane. And that’s a merger of where you were already. If you felt he was as wrong as Jerry Sandusky was in the first place for his role in the tragedies that happened under his watch, I’m sure you won’t let his death be a reason to let him be pardon. If you saw him as a bystander caught in the whirlwind of an all-encompassing issue that he was pulled into, as opposed to a proponent of, your view of him won’t change either.

Then there’s the pure sports view on him, which was nowhere near short on opposing views long before the end of last year brought what it did. Can you purely respect him as a long-standing pillar at annually competitive program that reached the summit a few times, or a monarch that held on to his power for too long, past when it was healthy for his team…or himself?

However, the truth of the issue is that while the last few months of his life brought a sharp and new crowd to the opinion of him, the realistic place he falls into now is a purgatory that very few occupy. In the sports world, it’s a rarified air that OJ Simpson and Pete Rose have made infamous. Where the greatness of what they achieved is sharply pulled by an issue that will forever be debated about how deeply or wrongly their crimes should implicate and stand against their achievements as well.

In death Joe Paterno is a lot of things that he already was, and no further event or amount of time will change what he had become already. There’s no reason to rejoice in his demise, but there’s also little reason to have much decided remorse either; a very sudden and strange end to a scenario that had a surplus of everything, and will continue to.


Follow me on Twitter for more pleasant & decided POV’s at @CheapSeatFan

SWEEPING UP THE HALL: My 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

Posted: January 11, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , ,

After a career that afforded few chances too, Larkin will have the spotlight shine only on him.

I got the email to turn in my first Hall of Fame ballot for the Baseball Blogger Alliance at some point in early December I believe. However, I knew at that time that what consistently proves to be a difficult conversation even these days would be a much tougher act to really pull off. For all that is debated about the who, what, how and why is a Hall of Famer these days, it is far more difficult to actually sit down and separate the real from the fake, and then the real from the realest.

That’s where it gets cloudy, and also that’s where personal definition really steps into the vogue. What is a Hall of Famer to you? Should each HOFer be a transcendent player who stands head and shoulders above any player from every era of baseball’s varied past? Is it a certain player that hits a milestone, which grants an automatic entry? Is it simply a player that was good for so long that they just “become great”?

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is really a mixture of all of these things, and I hate it. Not the Hall of Fame, but the ways that players can become Hall of Famers. I believe that a Hall of Famer is a Hall of Famer in any era he plays in. Babe Ruth should be able to be stood up against Barry Bonds and compared equally. Derek Jeter to Honus Wagner. Mark McGwire to Jimmy Foxx.

Bottom line, I think the door is way too wide open. I don’t think guys should get a chance to linger around for decades and be considered shoulder-to-shoulder icons with the first balloters. Two different types of impact and it shouldn’t be regarded in the same light. My rule that I wish was the actual rule: 5 years on the ballot, then that’s it. Five strikes and you’re out if you will. Within that time, it will be made clear if you are a legitimate all-time great or not, yet still give a reasonable amount of extra opportunities for those that miss out. If you can’t make the cut close as soon as you are eligible, you shouldn’t be in. There are greats, and then there are legends. The Hall of Fame should comprise of legends and pacesetters.

That’s what I voted for here. Every player that I checked “yes” for my ballot either was a defining player in the evolution of the game or made an undeniably big impact along the way. Oh, and my disregard for a certain soon-to-be constant hurdle is about to be introduced as well. With no further delay, my stamp of approval goes too….

Barry Larkin: This was a bit of a foregone conclusion, as Barry made impressive tread way in first year of eligibility and the field was setup well for him to make a much bigger impact this year with virtually nobody to take votes away. But in the end, he deserves this outright.

Larkin was part of the genesis of the shortstop becoming a threat on the box score. His resume: Nine seasons over .300, nine Silver Slugger Awards and nine seasons of 20 or more stolen bases, including a high of 51 in 1995. However, these numbers were both lost in the shuffle of never quite doing what Cal Ripken was doing early or what Alex Rodriguez, Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra were doing later. He’s a man that made a living in the shadows of both his own time, and times to come.

He even made a career of breaking out of the shadows he cast on himself. Also in 1995, an MVP, which made him the first shortstop in 24 years to take home the honor. How’d he follow up that year? He became the first shortstop to ever hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same the year. This is also a man that managed to squeeze three Gold Gloves out for himself during an era when the greatest defender ever at the position was playing along with him, Ozzie Smith. Yet he finished with just as many World Series titles as his NL contemporary in shortstop did.

Once again, Larkin was a man that lived in the shadows, but they had to be pretty broad shouldered ones to keep him from shining as he rightfully deserved, and will get the chance to now.

That’s it for the first year eligibles for me, but I’m not done yet…

Lee Smith: I’m not sure how this oversight habit ever started, but Big Lee Smith was nails. While his stint being the all-time saves leader for a while was the biggest claim to his resume, it’s his impact as a player overall that makes him worthy. That and the fact he was more efficient at his job than others who served in it and made the Hall ahead of him, and he played a large part in establishing the modern closer that is now a definite fixture in the game. He saved 40 games twice, more times than Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage. He also converted more save chances than Gossage, Sutter, Fingers and Hoyt Wilhelm. And there’s only one two retired pitchers with more saves than him and both are locks to reach the Hall: Mariano Rivera & Trevor Hoffman.

By both the numbers and the impact, Lee Smith is a Hall of Famer. Or so you'd think...

Something’s not adding up there…and I doubt enough voters will ever do their part to get it right. But I’ll keep doing my part until he’s knocked off the ballot.

Overall, I voted for two more rather large looming figures to enter the Hall this year, but I’m going to discuss them, and a whole world of others of their “kind” that are approaching soon here in their own completely different piece coming up soon….because like Bob Dylan so appropriately said, “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall”….and there’s a storm coming to Cooperstown over the next few years, and they are just the beginning of it.

And I don’t see any reason even pack an umbrella. But we’ll rap on that soon.


For more on these views, and basically my views on everything from Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy my lunch, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Nnamdi Asomugha, Mike Tomlin, Brandon Marshall, Greg Lloyd, Penny Hardaway, Lloyd McClendon, Allan Houston, Jim Caldwell, Bill Willis, Darren Sharper, Antonio Pettigrew. It could go on and on, and the list wouldn’t get any weaker. What’s the connection here of all these names? Well they are all combined in excellence, and all combined as Brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Today is the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Fraternity, which was founded and grew from oppositional roots in the Klu Klux Klan infested grounds of Bloomington, Indiana in the early 1900’s. From that time, it has spawned to touch and lead the lives of rows of African-American collegiate students, and has seen a great deal go on to become much more than that.

Featuring a ranks that has spawned Senators, Congressmen, mayors, civil rights leaders, prominent military figures and academics, there is no shortage of ACHIEVEMENT in the annuals of Kappa. I myself being a member since the spring of 2005 via the Delta Omega at the University of Missouri, and this being a sports site as you can see, decided to bring together two parts of my world and dedicate a special entry in the LINEUP series dedicated to the top 10 athletes to ever come from the fraternity.

From basketball Hall of Famers to Olympic Gold Medalists to Grand Slam Tennis champions, there are some potent offerings from the 10 men (fitting) that are to listed below. Enjoy, and YO to the Nupes.


10. Alex English: The top scorer of the 1980’s in the NBA kicks things off here. English became the first player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in eight straight seasons . Averaged better than 24 points a night for nine consecutive, with the Denver Nuggets making the playoffs each year as well. Became a Hall of Famer in 1997. (Zeta Epsilon, U. of South Carolina)

9. Kenny Lofton: In a 17 year career, most remembered during his stretch as a Cleveland Indian, Lofton was one of baseball’s most thrilling players in the ‘90s. A six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner & five-time stolen base champion. He finished with 622 base swipes and a .299 career batting average. (Delta Omicron, U. of Arizona)

Lofton’s 622 stolen bases sit as the 15th best total in MLB history.

8. Jon Drummond: Two-time Olympic Medalist in the 4×100 meter relay, taking the Silver in 1996 before closing in the Gold in 2000 in the Sydney games. Also he won Gold in the 1993 and 1999 World Championships, and now coaches Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay as well. (Kappa Epsilon, TCU)

7. John Chaney: The fiery sideline general of the Temple Owls won over 70% of his games coached, and finished with 741 total victories. As a credit to his five Elite Eight appearances and six Atlantic Ten Conference titles, he was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. (Gamma Theta, Bethune Cookman)

Chaney won 200 division II games & an additional 500 after taking over Temple in 1982.

6. Sam Jones: If you asked who’s won the second most NBA Championships of all-time, it may take a while to get around to the right answer, but Sam Jones earned that distinction by being a constant scoring threat for the Boston Celtics of the 1960’s. He brought home ten NBA championships, averaging 17 points per game. He was honored on both the 25th & 50th NBA All-Time Teams and joined the Hall of Fame in 1984. (Alpha Kappa, North Carolina Central)

5. Gayle Sayers: It didn’t take Sayers long to make his impact. He had 22 touchdowns as a rookie for the Chicago Bears.  The six he scored in a single game are tied for the best day in league history. And although injuries stopped his career after only seven seasons, they couldn’t stop him from becoming a Hall of Famer in 1977. (Mu, U. of kansas)

4. Oscar Robertson: A one of a kind force on the basketball court, the Big O still stands as the only player to average a triple double for a season. For his career, his 181 triple double performances are far and away the best mark in league history. He had five seasons of averaging at least both 30 points and 10 assists. Off the court, he challenged to the NBA’s contract structure lead to the beginning of open market free agency as well. (Beta Eta, U. of Cincinnati)

3. Arthur Ashe: As much a champion off the tennis court as he was on it. He won three Grand Slam titles and became the only African-American winner of Wimbledon, the French Open or the Australian Open. During this time he was an advocate of social causes and lead protests for Haitian & South African causes. After contracting the HIV virus due a blood transfusion, he used the last days of his life to raise much-needed awareness to the disease in its early public days. (Upsilon, UCLA)

Ashe’s impact in breaking down sports, civil & heath awareness barriers are remarkable.

2. Wilt Chamberlain: The most prolific scorer in NBA history. His 100 point game, 50 point average season average, 27 rebound per game year & incalculable amount of blocks all stand as testaments of his dominance under the rim. He even led the league in assists once. All in all, the Big Dipper owns 72 different on court records, and one particularly infamous off-court number that is safe as well. (Mu, U. of kansas)

Russell & Chamberlain sit at the summit of the NBA’s big men all time, as well as Kappa’s contribution to the sports world.

1. Bill Russell: Simply put, the greatest winner in professional sports history. A two-time NCAA Champion & 1956 Olympic Gold Medalist, it was his status as the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty that made him immortal. In 13 seasons, he won 11 titles, five MVP’s & made 12 All-Star games. In Game 7’s, his record was a perfect 10-0. He is widely considered the greatest defensive presence in league history, and never averaged lower than 19 rebounds a game.

Russell also was the first African-American coach in North American pro sports history, as well as the first to win a title, which he did as a player-coach in 1968 & 1969. In 2010, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his career & Civil Rights achievements. (Gamma Alpha, U. of San Francisco)


For the here, there and everywhere of everything else, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Well, the season that many months ago we thought might not be has finished it’s qualifying round and is headed towards it’s real season now. Unfortunately for most, only 12 clubs qualify for the bonus round, which leaves 20 left in line waiting for next fall already.

That means that the NFL Draft rumor mill can get to spinning it’s wheels with a bit more of a concrete picture now that the order in which the league’s lessors is set. One of the most intriguing races yesterday afternoon was to see who would not end up in, but who would end up the furthest out. When the Colts kept to their usual form of the year and fell to the nearly equally depressing Jacksonville Jaguars, it locked them in atop the Draft for the first time since 1998, when they selected Peyton Manning…who is now in hot water with them landing this pick and the best QB to approach the NFL since him sitting right there for the taking as well.

Bill Polian & owner Jim Irsay have a big decision to make, and Manning is at the "heart" of it in more ways than one.

However, there will be a lot of time for the dynamics of how this will all play out to be discussed, so for now here is how the non-playoff NFL Draft will go, along with a few of the biggest needs of each spot. Coin flips will be used to decide who will go in which spot in a few locations, and they will be noted with asterisks.


1. Colts (2-14): Luck or a QB (not the same thing)  DT, WR, OLB, Guard

2. Rams (2-14): OT, WR, LB, DT, CB

3. Vikings (3-13): CB, OT, S, WR

4. Browns (4-12): WR, RB, DE, QB, OT

5. Buccaneers (4-12): OLB, CB, OT, OG, RB

6. Redskins (5-11): QB, CB, OT, DT, WR

7. Jaguars (5-11): WR, CB, DE, QB, OT

8/9* Panthers (6-10): DT, OLB, WR, OG

8/9* Dolphins (6-10): DT, OT, QB, ILB, S

1o. Bills (6-10): OLB, WR, CB, OT, DE

11/12. Chiefs (7-9): OT, DT, QB, CB, TE

11/12* Seahawks (7-9): QB, DE, DT, OG, RB

13. Cardinals (8-8): OT, OG, OLB, QB, C

14. Cowboys (8-8): CB, S, OLB, OT, C

15. Eagles (8-8): ILB, OT, OLB, SS, DT

16. Jets (8-8): OLB, SS, OT, OG, RB

17. Bengals [via Raiders for Palmer] (9-7): CB, SS, OLB, DT, OG

18. Chargers (8-8): OT, DT, OC, OG, WR

19. Bears (8-8): WR, OT, FS, OLB, SS

20. Titans (9-7): DE, OG, DT, OLB, F/SS


There’s a lot of debate to be had and there’s a lot of football to play….except if you’re on this list. But no matter what, my advice is to not get too comfortable with where your team may be today, because this draft will have more wheeling and dealing than maybe the last three combined. Stay tuned.


In the in-between time, follow my wheeling, dealing, bumbling AND stumbling on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.