Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:55 pm

What was the point today's congressional hearings?

Rather than asking tough questions or critiquing baseball leadership for allowing drug use to flourish, Tuesday's congressional hearings were basically a lovefest for George Mitchell, Bud Selig, and Donald Fehr. Believe it or not, the majority of panel members actually congratulated Mitchell, Selig, and Fehr for their work in combating the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Rep. Burton of Indiana even stated that "other sports should take the lead from baseball." Are they serious?

Equally as frustrating is the credibility and reverence which continues to be given to the Mitchell Report. Despite containing very little evidence, the report was treated by Congress as the holy grail of PED investigations.

George Mitchell even offered a glimpse into the ridiculous process which went in to compiling the report. If a player was accused by one of his two sources (Radamski or McNamee), Mitchell offered that player a chance to refute the allegations before his name was published. In one instance, Mitchell stated that Radomski had named a former player, and in response, the player contacted the Senator to say that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. Mitchell told the player to provide evidence to support his claim and the player did. As a result, Mitchell decided to take his name off the report. What is extremely idiotic about this is that Mitchell did not require Rodamski to provide evidence to support his claims. Players were guilty until proven innocent.

There was really only one Congressman who expressed skepticism at Mitchell's Report. Ironically, it was Rep. Lynch of Massachusetts. Alluding to the lack of sources and evidence in the investigation, Lynch asked, "What percentage of the report do you think came from Mr. Radomski and Mr. McNamee?" Mitchell dodged the question by saying that he had not performed that calculation.

By and large, there was no point to having this hearing. No questions were answered. No questions were asked. It was basically a pep rally for baseball leadership and a showcase for Rep. Henry Waxman's nose.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:58 pm

Selig, Fehr check denial of steroids era at congressional door


http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=3198322


WASHINGTON -- When Bud Selig and Donald Fehr left Room 2154 of the Rayburn building on Tuesday afternoon after testifying to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, any resistance to the notion that there was a steroids era had collapsed like a house of cards.

Angry denials on the part of Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, which had condoned a decade-long drug culture, marked the hearing on March 17, 2005. These gave way to a very different mood Tuedsay. Selig and Fehr looked beaten, weary of the subterfuge.

This time, there were no subpoenas or confrontations, no threats that Congress ultimately would oversee baseball's drug-testing program or torpedo its anti-trust exemption. There was simply the public acknowledgement by the two most influential men in the sport that their game had gone awry with them at the controls. It was an obvious, but powerful and unprecedented, moment. Anyone looking for fireworks would have been disappointed. In the larger scope, Congress received its victory by forcing Selig to abandon his former positions and by taking the teeth out of Fehr's usually sharp rhetoric. That left Selig and Fehr where Congress has long wanted them: accepting responsibility for their considerable roles in allowing performance-enhancing drugs to define the 13 years that followed the 1994 players strike.

When Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., asked if they felt they had been complicit in the steroids era, Selig and Fehr answered softly in the affirmative, and this game of running from the truth was at last over.

[+] Enlarge
Bud Selig

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

The question now is what Commissioner Bud Selig will do about front-office executives for their roles in enabling the steroid culture to persist.
It quickly became clear that the day's proceedings were not designed to discuss the methodology of the Mitchell report, but to coronate the report itself. The committee did not question how the investigation was handled, although John Dowd, who investigated Pete Rose, has said he believes Mitchell undermined himself at numerous turns.

Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking minority member Tom Davis, R-Va., did not hammer Selig or demand accountability for his culpability in creating the steroids culture. They allowed the Mitchell report to be the official document of the steroids era and dared Fehr to question its legitimacy and face the consequences.

When he did not question it, the congressmen and women sheathed their swords and returned to their role as public servants, more focused on the effect of anabolic substances on children than the business of baseball.

In the past three years, the combination of the Justice Department and Congress has left no doubt about the existence of the steroids era. What began with Mark McGwire rhetoric -- "There's nothing in a bottle that can help you hit a home run" -- ended when Betty McCollum, D-Minn., referred to those years as a "criminal conspiracy that defrauded millions of fans." It was a devastating indictment of Selig's entire tenure, and he did not challenge it. The power of the government crushed anyone in the game's hierarchy who suggested that steroids were anything but a powerful, devastatingly negative force. Selig and Fehr tried to do so in 2005, and the result was the public disintegration of McGwire and the lowest moment the sport had seen in decades.

At the end of the 2005 hearing, Selig told the committee he felt the game's drug policy was effective, and Waxman, then the ranking minority member, responded by telling Selig perhaps it was time for him to resign.

On that day, it was Selig who was adamant that an investigation was pointless. For the entire spring of 2005, Selig refused to consider the idea of an investigation, clinging to the mantra that history would absolve him. History, he said, would prove his detractors wrong.

During those days, Selig called anyone who challenged his position "revisionist."

Yet, on Tuesday, Selig reversed his position. He sounded like a crusader, no different than Gary Wadler or Dick Pound or Chuck Yesalis, and the acknowledgement of the steroids era was, at long last, after years of denials, finally complete.

"I knew that an investigation would be an extraordinarily difficult undertaking. I knew that an investigation would be painful for all of those associated with the sport. No other sport has confronted its past in such a way," Selig read from a prepared text. "But I knew that baseball must undertake that journey in order to preserve the integrity of our game and maintain credibility with the millions of baseball fans throughout the world."

Donald Fehr

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Players association head Donald Fehr accepted that he did not recognize the true breadth of the problem.
By accepting Fehr's and Selig's words and moving away from threatening to oversee baseball's drug policy, the committee showed it is not a vindictive body. Selig's repudiation of himself and Fehr's acceptance that he did not recognize the true breadth of the problem seemed to be enough for Congress.

Along these lines, Mitchell will be remembered for placing the official seal of authenticity on the steroids era, as it was his voice Selig and Fehr did not refute. The considerable list of anti-doping crusaders has voiced recommendations similar, if not identical, to what Mitchell wrote in his report. Three years ago, Wadler testified to this very committee about the need for independent testing, just as Mitchell wrote in his recently released report. Back then, Selig and Fehr responded by accusing Wadler of attempting to profit from steroid abuse.

Yet Mitchell produced a document Selig was bound to listen to, and Congress used its power to back that document.

"You have to remember how far this has come since 2005," Waxman chief of staff Phil Schilero said. "They were telling us in 2005 that they didn't have a steroid problem. They were telling us it didn't exist. Today was a different day, and you could see a different tone from the committee."

Selig reversed field. So did Fehr. And now, the players are next. Waxman already has petitioned the Justice Department to investigate whether Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada made false statements to the committee during its 2005 perjury investigation of Rafael Palmeiro. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte will be under oath Feb. 13, essentially to refute the veracity of the Mitchell report.

In the end, the committee left the industry of baseball to Selig. Waxman did pressure Selig to take action against the San Francisco Giants, particularly owner Peter Magowan and general manager Brian Sabean, for their role in enabling the steroids culture. Selig responded that he is the "judge" in both cases and is reviewing the information closely. Three years ago, Waxman would have used the Giants as an example of Selig's inability to lead. At the end of the hearing Tuesday, Waxman referred to disciplining Magowan and Sabean as "baseball's issue."

Still, the commissioner is not off the hook. Congress certainly will be watching to see if Selig disciplines anyone other than players. It would be unsatisfactory to acknowledge a pervasive, illegal culture as Selig did Tuesday and yet have owners, general managers and other executives escape unscathed. That would fit neither Waxman's nor Davis' description of accountability. At the end of the day, Waxman and Davis left Selig with the facts of the Mitchell investigation and the prospect of having presided over a decade of scandal in which everyone walked free -- which surely would destroy the legacy he reversed himself to protect.

Congress appeared Tuesday to have said that its job now is complete and that it hopes Selig has the strength to write the final chapter.

Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He is the author of "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball" and of "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston." He can be reached at Howard.Bryant@espn3.com.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:13 pm

Our Knicks writer, Mike Dougherty, messaged me that David Wright got booed at the Garden during the Knicks-Wizards game.

“When they showed him on the big screen, the fans booed the heck out of him. A few relented when he waved and smiled,” Mike wrote.

“Every time they have a Mets player on the screen this season, the fans go to town booing. They did it to Beltran earlier in the season.”

Wright really is the wrong target, but it isn’t hard to figure out why.


Yankees fans are the COOLEST!

I don't know why Wright would bother going there tonight. Just watch American Idol and then go out after...but whatever floats his boat.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:09 am

Blueprint for a Giant victory

By RALPH VACCHIANO
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Wednesday, January 16th 2008, 4:00 AM

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/2008/01/16/2008-01-16_blueprint_for_a_giant_victory-2.html?page=0

The Green Bay Packers almost never lose at Lambeau Field in January, and Brett Favre has hardly ever lost there when the temperature has dipped below freezing. It is about the most inhospitable place on Earth as far as the rest of the NFL is concerned.

But the location and the beyond frigid forecast won't be the only things sending a chill up the Giants' spines.

There is the strong and speedy Packers defense, which one scout says is as physical a unit as there is in the league. There is a young, powerful offensive line; a fleet-footed receiving corps that goes five deep; a running back that would love to beat the team that cut him.

And then there is Favre, looking to complete one last storybook Super Bowl run.

Given the opponent, the conditions, and the incredibly high stakes, winning the NFC championship on Sunday night will be as tough a task as the Giants (12-6) have faced all season. But they are healthy, they are playing their best football of the season and they have won a remarkable nine straight games on the road.

That's why even though one NFL executive said "Everything seems set up for the Pack," the Daily News still found a few scouts, coaches, executives and experts who could see a path to a Giants victory. With their help, The News put together a blueprint for a Big Blue upset.

Here is the plan:

TURN PRINCE FAVRE INTO A FROG

As spectacular as Favre can be, he can also be spectacularly bad. He's not the NFL's all-time leader in interceptions for nothing. It won't be easy to do, and it doesn't happen often, but he can be rattled into having a terrible game.

"First and foremost, if you are able to put pressure on him and get hits on Favre, it changes the complexion of the game," one NFL personnel director said. "When he perceives pressure he gets out of that comfort zone of dinking and dunking, and all of a sudden he feels like he needs to pay you back and throw the ball down the field. That's when he gets in trouble. That's when he ends up throwing three to four interceptions."

Favre, by nature, is a gambler. He loves to squeeze passes into spots when most quarterbacks would not even try. And when he feels things start to go wrong, he is even more likely to try to be a hero.

So the Giants and their NFL-best pass rush need to hit him the way they did Jeff Garcia two weeks ago (12 times) and pressure him like they did Tony Romo in the second half on Sunday. And they have to do it carefully, because Favre is behind one of the league's toughest offensive lines, he has a dangerous array of receivers, and according to NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, "They do a lot of things that can nullify any quick pressure you can put on the quarterback."
(Page 2 of 3)

That's especially true when they go to their very successful, five-receiver set they've nicknamed "The Big Five."

"But (Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) is pretty good," Baldinger added. "A lot of the pressure they got on Sunday had nothing to do with one-on-one pass rushers. They'd overload certain sides and disguise how they are coming."

The best bet may be to blitz up the middle, the softest part of the Packers' line, and avoid trying to pressure tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. One key player to watch, according to several executives and scouts: defensive end Justin Tuck, the Giants' best multi-purpose defender. He has the strength and speed to get to the quarterback from anywhere on the line.

WATCH YOUR BACK SIDE

Big Blue is pretty familiar with Ryan Grant, the ex-Giant who torched the Seahawks for 201 rushing yards and three touchdowns last Saturday. But as wonderful a story as he is, it's not really about him. It's about the seemingly impenetrable zone-blocking scheme run by the Packers' offensive line.

The linemen are adept at walling off the defensive line, allowing blockers to get through to the linebackers. When that happens, it creates enormous holes and room for Grant to cut toward the backside of the play.

"That absolutely killed Seattle," one NFC scout said. "When your linebackers over-pursue, there's a lane there. And if they can get a body on a body (in the defensive backfield), it's tough to defend."

That means Spagnuolo must find a way not just to pressure Favre, but also to not over-commit his defenders because Grant will just cut behind them. He also has to figure out how to counter the zone-blocking and fill up those holes. He has to make sure the linebackers or linemen who aren't blitzing stay patient and fill their gaps.

Once again, noted one scout, the key to that could be the versatile Tuck, who can be maneuvered to plug gaps all along the line.

"Seattle's got a good linebacking corps, but their linebackers were blocked all day long," Baldinger said. "You can not allow these fullbacks to get to the second level and block these linebackers. You've got to disrupt, you've got to get penetration at the snap. If they don't figure out the zone-blocking scheme, Ryan Grant will run for 200 yards more."

The Giants were pretty good against the run this season, but they had a lot of trouble with cut-back runs early in the season. Some of that was due to Mathias Kiwanuka, in his first few games as a linebacker, over-pursuing. Kiwanuka is on injured reserve

USE A LITTLE MISDIRECTION

The Packers have a young, talented, aggressive and physical defense that, in the words of one scout "will try to out-physical you." Their primary goal, on a cold day against Eli Manning, will undoubtedly be to stop the Giants' running game. And to do that, they are likely to slowly inch safeties Nick Collins and Atari Bigby toward the line.

Collins and Bigby are extremely physical and aggressive players. According to one NFC personnel director, "On every tackle they're looking for the knockout hit." Eventually, that will make them susceptible to a big play.

"You'll have to be more physical than them and your running backs will have to pound it," said the personnel director. "Then (run) play-action off of that. Green Bay's safeties are going to cheat up to stop the run, so play-action is going to be good."

It would be, the personnel director said, a perfect spot for Jeremy Shockey, if only the powerful tight end wasn't on injured reserve. "(Rookie tight end Kevin) Boss is not the same as Shockey," he said. "But there could be an opportunity for a tight end to have a big game."

Manning has been pretty good at play-action passes. He used them - and pump fakes - particularly well in the Giants' 24-14 wild-card win in Tampa Bay. Those are ways to knock an overly aggressive defense off balance.

"They really challenge the quarterback and receivers on every throw," Baldinger said. "But if you get behind those guys, you can hit big plays."

PLAY IT SAFE, PLAY IT SMART

The two biggest numbers for the Giants in the playoffs so far: eight penalties, zero turnovers.

They are not doing anything to kill their momentum. They are playing smart, efficient football. They are utilizing a game plan that is controlled. And the fact that the Giants are doing it on the road in high-tension situations is pretty amazing for a team that used to routinely undermine itself.

"Last week they didn't have a single offensive penalty or special teams penalty and they didn't have a lot of negative runs," Baldinger said. "If you can do that you'll be in a lot of manageable third-down situations. If they can eliminate all penalties offensively, that's huge."

They will have to, because as one scout said, "The Giants will have to play flawless" to beat the Packers. Mike McCarthy's team is incredibly poised and Favre knows how to take advantage of miscues. And on a ridiculously cold day when holding onto the ball could be tough, it will be easy to make mistakes.

So far this postseason, the Giants have not made any. But if they do it in the NFC title game at Lambeau Field with the crowd going nuts, the game could snowball out of control - whether or not there is any snow on the ground.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:11 am

If I were to pick Joba, it would be by a somewhat small margin, not taking into account the fact he's a Yankee and that Buchholz is a Red Sox player (as Bizast has clearly done). I'll say that any comparison you make with Buchholz is tough because we haven't "seen" him yet. He pitched a few less innings than Joba and his were starting, while Joba's was in relief. For that reason, it's tough to say what both really have to offer. As far as pure stuff goes, I would nominate Joba by a nudge, but who knows with Buchholz.

Fastball: Chamberlain
Curveball: Buchholz
Changeup: Buchholz
Slider: Chamberlain
Control: Neither have any serious control issues

Chamberlain is 22, Buchholz is 23(?)...that isn't a major factor either.

Buchholz has more expierence in the minors, both made it to the big leagues last season. Chamberlain was domiant out of the bullpen, Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second career Major League start.

Both have injury risks, as do all pitching prospects. No real character issues with either.

Both will be pitching in the same league, same division. I for one, would eat up a Chamberlain/Hughes vs Buchholz matchup sometime this season. That'll be downright awesome but as far as who's better; all three are studs and have potential superstardom in their futures. While the Ian Kennedy and Jon Lester's of the world might be innings eaters and solid middle of the rotation potential....neither are in the same class. Buchholz and Lester have less pressure for the upcoming season due to Boston's rotation and bullpen state while Chamberlain and Hughes will be asked to do more and will play a much larger role in their team's success in 2008. That's a big risk...not just for the team's success but for the pitcher's future as well.

But, I don't think you can get a whole lot more even than what these three are.


QUOTE
"I know what it's going to take for me to have to stay on the team this year," said Buchholz. "A lot of hard work and dedication goes into being prepared for 162 games and that was my offseason this year, that was [what]I put all the dedication toward. I think I'm right at 191 [pounds] right now actually. It's better than the 178 I was last year."


Link

QUOTE
"He's had a really good winter. We tested him the other day. He went to the API [Athletic Preparatory Institute]in Florida and he's been making gradual progress. He's up to 190 pounds and he looks as though he's grown an inch. Physically, he's put on some weight in his shoulders and his chest."

When we last left Buchholz, the Sox medical staff had shut him down in late September because his shoulder had tested for weakness and they didn't want to take any chances.

"My shoulder feels great," said Buchholz, who acknowledges he was very disappointed to learn he wouldn't be on the postseason roster. "I don't feel the fatigue anymore.


Link

This is really great news, Buchholz has yet to reach the body he is going to have going forward. I wonder if the added upper body weight will result in his fastball being a tick faster [maybe a MPH or 2].



I think its fair to say that Joba has the better fastball and the best offspeed pitch of the two. Clay on the other hand, has an excellent change-up and curveball, something that Chamberlin is lacking. That might change this year though.

right now, I'd take Buccholz. His fastball isn't as good as Chamberlin's but you can't deny his change-up or curve, they are uber pitches. For the future, I'm not sure who I would pick.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:12 am

After feud in St. Louis, Rolen was ready for change


http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3198614

Updated: January 15, 2008, 10:50 PM ET


TORONTO -- His relationship with manager Tony La Russa growing more strained, Scott Rolen expected life to be uncomfortable if he stayed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Offered a chance with a new team, Rolen sat down to discuss things with his family. Everyone soon agreed: Rolen would waive his no-trade clause and join the Toronto Blue Jays in a deal that sent Troy Glaus the other way.

"This is an opportunity we couldn't pass up," Rolen said Tuesday evening at an introductory press conference. "It's a great fresh start for me in my career, and my family."

Rolen and La Russa, the longtime Cardinals manager, have clashed since the 2006 playoffs, when La Russa benched the third baseman. Rolen requested a trade after last season.

La Russa, who signed a two-year contract extension in October, was still talking tough at the winter meetings in December, saying if Rolen played hard, he'd be in the lineup and if he didn't, he'd be on the bench.

"If he doesn't like it, he can quit," La Russa said.

Rolen joined the Cardinals in a midseason trade from Philadelphia in 2002 and helped St. Louis reach the World Series twice, falling to Boston in 2004 before beating Detroit in 2006.

"I don't regret the time I was there at all," Rolen said. "There were some unfortunate things that went on that aren't significant to me sitting on this podium in this uniform right now."

With Glaus bothered by heel and foot injuries aggravated by playing home games on turf, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi began inquiring about Rolen at the winter meetings. He said he was never put off by Rolen's feud with La Russa.

"This is a situation where a player had an incident with a manager," Ricciardi said. "It doesn't mean one is right and one is wrong. It just means sometimes you have to move on from it. I don't sit here and let one incident say this is what type of guy the player is."

Rolen doesn't intend to use his spat with La Russa as motivation.

"To go out and try to prove to somebody else, whatever your motives, I'm not sure if that's healthy," Rolen said. "I want to focus all my attention and my competition on the field. Too many times the last year, year-and-a-half, some of the focus was off the field instead of on the field, where it should stay."

A five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner, Rolen's offense has declined since a collision with Dodgers first baseman Hee-Seop Choi in May 2005. The 32-year old missed 176 games due because of a lingering left-shoulder injury over the past three seasons.

Rolen had eight homers and 58 RBIs in 112 games last year, but said his tender left elbow hampered his swing until he was shut down on Aug. 31.

"I couldn't get the bat back where I needed to," he said. "That was my biggest problem. I was basically just diving at balls and trying to run into stuff. It was a pretty painful four months."

Rolen had season-ending surgery in September to clean up scar tissue and restore mobility and has since been cleared to resume hitting and fielding drills.

"I feel as good and as strong as I've been in the last three years, by far," he said. "I feel right now that I'm back where I wanted to be before all the destruction. I don't have any restrictions right now."

Rolen has three years and $36 million still left on an eight-year, $90 million deal he signed in 2003.

"There's a lot of things Scott can do that are going to help our club," Ricciardi said. "Defensively, he's one of the best. He's a good hitter, he hits right-handers really well. I think the power will come back, I think playing in this ballpark helps a little bit. Obviously, the whole deal was premised on the fact that we had good reports, medically, from several people. We wouldn't have done the deal if we didn't feel comfortable that way."

The trade to Toronto reunites Rolen with shortstop David Eckstein, who signed a two-year deal with the Blue Jays last month.

"It'll be nice to stay together and have a familiar face right away," Rolen said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:14 am

NO CHANCE IN HELL
HEY, BIG BLUE, PIN THAT ON YOUR BULLETIN BOARD

http://www.nypost.com/seven/01162008/sports/giants/no_chance_in_hell_705474.htm?page=0



January 16, 2008 -- THE PACKERS probably won't do it, won't comply in sucker Cowboys fashion, won't set a dumb trap for themselves by opening their mouths or escaping Green Bay to head to a warmer spot (Nome, Alaska, perhaps?) with their celebrity babes for a few days of R&R. They won't rile up perpetually-riled Brandon Jacobs or give Plaxico Burress the desire to once again redecorate his locker or utter as much as a peep, which is all Antonio Pierce needs to sound the alarm (or air horn).

The media this week arrives in droves, not to bury the Giants but to praise them. There's no doubt Brett Favre this weekend is the sentimental choice, and the Packers on Sunday are solid seven-point favorites to beat the Giants in the NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field.

None of this works for the Giants. Mere underdog status isn't enough. Their coach is being hailed as The Great Communicator and their quarterback is now The Younger Brother Who Could. No one is assailing their character, commitment or confidence. For a team that admittedly thrives on beat-downs and put-downs, there's simply not enough here to whip them into an “I told you so" frenzy.

Until now.

The Giants don't win this game.

Is this an honest opinion? Doesn't matter. It's what the Giants need to hear. You think Packers coach Mike McCarthy is going to say it? You think Ambassador Favre is going to denigrate anyone? Even Ryan Grant, traded away back in the summer by the Giants - inadvertently depositing a running game on the Packers - will have nothing venomous to contribute. How does that help?

The best way to jump-start the Giants is to disrespect them, tell them, “No you can't" when they think “Yes we can." It's for their own good.

With apologies in advance for the lack of perforations (which would make it easier to rip out and post on eagerly-awaiting bulletin boards) here is fodder the Giants can use:

DEALING WITH DESTINY: This could be the last go-round for Favre, and he's not about to let some half-baked Giants secondary stop him. He shredded the Giants defensive backfield back on Sept. 16, completing 29 of 38 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns, and that was back when the Giants were healthy on the back line.

ICE MANNING COMETH: “We played in Buffalo, I don't think it can be colder than Buffalo," Amani Toomer said. Oh yes it can. Eli Manning is hot, but what happens when minus-13 wind chill stiffens his ungloved hands? The fair-weather Eli is about to again meet his evil twin.

Note: Since Eli ignores this kind of stuff, one of his caring teammates should make him aware of this lack of faith in him as an outdoorsman.

BACK ATTACK: In case anyone noticed, Marion Barber last week couldn't be hauled down very convincingly by the Giants on his way to 129 rushing yards. Now comes Grant - aka The One Who Got Away - and his hard-charging, physical running that accounted for 201 yards in the snow last week against the Seahawks. Taking a dig at a team's ability to stop the run is a shot across the bow to any defense and especially Pierce. Take that.

SAFE SACKS: Nothing riles Michael Strahan up more than bringing up that “sack" he got off “Whoops, I fell" Favre back in 2001 to set the single-season sack record of 221/2. Strahan hasn't sacked Favre since then and clearly has a guilt complex about the whole sordid affair. Just ask him about it. Then duck.

DEPTH CHART: Aaron Kampman (12 sacks) is a better pass-rusher than Osi Umenyiora, Donald Driver (82 receptions) is more dependable than Toomer, Greg Jennings (12 touchdown catches) makes more big plays than Burress. That should successfully tweak some of the Giants key players.

HAPPY TRAILS: Sure, the Giants are 9-1 on the road but Lambeau isn't the road. It's purgatory in a freezer.

SATED APPETITE: The surge of emotion expended and released after knocking off the rival and mouthy Cowboys can't be replenished in one week. The Giants are satisfied to get this far and won't summon up the same competitive fire for the more likeable Packers.

There, that should do it. Something disparaging for every one of the Giants, plus one parting shot for the coach: There's already a Lombardi Avenue and Holmgren Way in Green Bay, but nary a plan in place for a Coughlin Crossing in East Rutherford.

paul.schwartz@nypost.com

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:22 am

January 16th, 2008 at 1:02 am

I thought the post concerning the Cashman situation was an over reaction without really knowing all of the facts. We as fans and bloggers don’t really know what is going inside the Yankee organization, all we know is what is being fed to the media. I agree that Hank is way too mouthy to the press but we don’t really know how this is affecting Cashman and his decision to stay on after this year or not. Hank has said many times that he values the Yankee prospects as much as anyone, that he was devastated when his father traded off some of the prospects during the 80’s and 90’s and that he is commited to making the team younger and making the farm system stronger. The biggest arguement between he and Cashman is whether or not to pull the trigger on a Santana trade, and since Santana is considered to be the best pitcher in the major leagues right now, at least the best lefty starter, why wouldn’t there be some difference of opinions? Come on, Hal has the right to have the opinion that adding Santana would be nice. Its his team and his money for crist sakes! But it is funny that he does say to some reporters that there is no way he is going to give Santana a 6 or 7 year deal, so if that’s true then what’s the big deal? Santana probably is going to want a huge 7+ year deal so it appears it doesn’t really matter what Hal wants in the end.

As for Cashman drafting players, correct me if I’m wrong but Oppenheimer is in charge of the draft with I’m sure Cashman’s and Newman’s help and advice.

And I’m sure in the end if Cashman leaves that the sun will come up tomorrow and the Yankees will still be a contender, and that they will hire a very capable GM. I for one, think that Cashman could use a break and it might be time for a new face in the GM’s role. He has made lots of terrible moves and trades, ie, Weaver and Farnsworth, just to name 2, but he has made some good ones and he did help initiate the new philosophy of building a strong farm system and getting better by developing your own talent by spending more in the draft and spending more for non-drafted free agents.

And I don’t believe at this time that Cashman is going anywhere even if the Yankees trade Hughes and others for Santana. He understands that Santana is a once in a lifetime pitcher that could easily tip the balance in the AL to the Yankees.

But if he doesn’t want to renew his contract at the end of the year more power to him and hopefully the new GM will at least work as hard as Cash has for the last few years, for the one thing that you can say, good or bad decisions, no one works harder than Brian Cashman

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:27 am

NFL sentiments: Packers will win

By BOB MCGINN
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL SPORTS WRITER

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/2008/01/16/2008-01-16_nfl_sentiments_packers_will_win-2.html?page=0



GREEN BAY - A pair of 8-8 teams from a year ago will settle the NFC championship Sunday night at Lambeau Field.

The Packers (14-3) have been established as a 7-point favorite to defeat the Giants (12-6). That made perfect sense to three assistant coaches and two executives in personnel, all of whom played at least one of the two teams this season and all of whom picked the Packers.

"I would say the Packers," said Jim Haslett, defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. "I thought they would go down there (Dallas) and win. I'd say they'd be a touchdown favorite. I think weather conditions will have a lot to do with it."

One day after Super Bowl XLI, Las Vegas Sports Consultants put out odds on winning Super Bowl XLII. Leading the way in the NFC were Chicago (6-1), New Orleans (12-1), Seattle (15-1), Dallas (18-1), Philadelphia (20-1) and Carolina (25-1).

Seventh in the NFC were the Giants at 30-1. One of three NFC teams at 75-1 were the Packers.

"Green Bay's an excellent team, they've got a lot of confidence and that's a very difficult place to play," Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Where the Packers came from, 8-8, they didn't have a lot of expectations. Then they got on a roll, and when that happens it seems to bond you as a team.

"I just think Green Bay is playing very well as a team right now, as are the Giants. I just think it will be a good matchup."

The current odds from Sports Consultants have New England as the prohibitive 1-6 favorite to win the Super Bowl. Green Bay is next at 9-2, followed by San Diego at 8-1 and the Giants at 14-1.

Regarding possible Super Bowl matchups, New England would be favored by 13½ over Green Bay and by 16 over New York, and San Diego would be favored by 3½ over Green Bay and by 6½ over the Giants.

"Home-field advantage," said Bobby DePaul, director of pro personnel for the Bears. "I'm going with the Pack. Close game? I don't know. Green Bay went in there before and beat them up pretty good, but I think they (the Giants) are a different team now."

An assistant coach for Tampa Bay, which dropped a 24-14 wild-card decision to the Giants, said injuries in the secondary might be too much for New York.

"I think the only way they have a chance is if they can play a possession game," the coach said. "If Green Bay gets up on them early, it's no contest.

"The big boy, (Brandon) Jacobs, is 6-5 and 265. He can run the ball now. They have a great change of pace with that little kid (Ahmad Bradshaw). If it's a particularly nasty day, the fact they can run the ball might play in their favor."

An assistant for the Cowboys, who were stunned by the Giants, 21-17, says the Packers have too much firepower.

"(Donald) Driver and (Greg) Jennings, they won't be able to cover those two guys," the coach said. "Trust me. But if they get after Brett (Favre), they can make it tough. Their front seven is as good as anybody's. But Green Bay's strong. Their defense will be all over New York's offense."

Finally, a personnel man for a common opponent picked Green Bay, 28-17.

"The real key will be how fresh the Giants' defense is," the scout said. "Because if the Giants are holding the ball on offense it means those defensive linemen will get a chance to stay fresh, which means they'll be flying off the edges all day long."

McGINN's VIEW

Anyone who makes coaching football a career inevitably will experience extreme highs and extreme lows. One of those lows for Tom Coughlin occurred in January 1988.

Coughlin had just completed his second season in Green Bay as Forrest Gregg's receivers coach and passing game coordinator. When Gregg abruptly bolted for Southern Methodist on Jan. 13, Coughlin was one of eight assistants without a job.

A week later in Mobile, Ala., where the Senior Bowl practices were being conducted, Coughlin and the others were job hunting. It's a somewhat demeaning process, with head coaches annually besieged by job-seekers. But just about everyone who coaches in the NFL for any length of time has had to go through it at least once.

One afternoon after practice, almost 20 years ago to the day, the 41-year-old Coughlin asked me whether I thought he had done a good job in Green Bay. He was agitated about Gregg's departure, cursing his fate, worrying about a wife and four children and undoubtedly was in one of the most vulnerable points of his career.

My response? As I recall, it wasn't much. There was no way a reporter just having finished his fourth full-time season on the beat would even attempt to evaluate an NFL assistant coach.

Less than a week later, the New York Giants fired their receivers coach and Bill Parcells hired Coughlin. He got the job on Jan. 27, five days before his contract in Green Bay was to expire.

"My family and I have been very happy in Green Bay," Coughlin said at the time. "We have a great staff here and our coaches all will have an opportunity. But in this business you don't have forever to wait."

On Feb. 3, six days after Michigan State's George Perles got cold feet and backed out of taking the job in Green Bay, the Packers hired Lindy Infante. Eventually, three members of Gregg's staff - Dick Jauron, Willie Peete and Virgil Knight - were retained by the new coach.

Coughlin won a Super Bowl ring in his third season with the Giants, then parlayed it into the head coaching post at Boston College. After going 21-13-1, he became coach of the expansion franchise in Jacksonville. He had a brilliant start but lost AFC Championship Games in 1996 and '99. Eventually, he was fired after the 2002 season with a 72-64 record.

After a year's hiatus, Coughlin rejoined the Giants in 2004. Given a reprieve from management after forging a 25-25 mark in three seasons, he now is one game away from reaching the Super Bowl.

On Monday, Coughlin said he couldn't remember some specifics about his time in Green Bay. I can't remember much about those seasons, either. But I'll never forget our conversation at the Senior Bowl.

bmcginn@journalsentinel.com

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:32 am

Pierce need to step up if they are to stop Grant and Packers

Pierce should be a big factor in the Giants' run defense if they are to win this game -- though he did not play all that well against the run in Dallas last week.

For the Giants to win, Manning needs to manage the game. He will most likely throw about 25 times, unless they fall behind and are trying to catch up. Manning has played well the past three games. He has the arm strength and the ability to find open receivers. Inclement weather should not bother him because he's used to the tough winds of the Meadowlands.


Al Harris plays right corner in most all of their defenses. Rarely does he get into the slot. He likes to get his hands on you and play bump-and-run. He has very good hands playing the ball, but his game is won in the line of scrimmage. He has problems with speed receivers, but should do a good job with Giants receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, who are not burners.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:52 am

Scott Wright's Overall Rankings updated to include JR's
luckynumber0 Post #1: 1:48 am Quote | Report Violation
Total Posts: 287
1. Darren McFadden JR RB Arkansas
2. Glenn Dorsey SR DT L.S.U.
3. Jake Long SR OT Michigan
4. Chris Long SR DE Virginia
5. Kenny Phillips JR S Miami (FL)
6. Vernon Gholston JR DE Ohio St.
7. Sedrick Ellis SR DT USC
8. DeSean Jackson JR WR California
9. Jonathan Stewart JR RB Oregon
10. Ryan Clady JR OT Boise St.
11. Matt Ryan SR QB Boston College
12. Derrick Harvey JR DE Florida
13. Brian Brohm SR QB Louisville
14. Michael Oher JR OT Ole Miss
15. Keith Rivers SR OLB USC
16. Limas Sweed SR WR Texas
17. Reggie Smith JR S Oklahoma
18. André Woodson SR QB Kentucky
19. Rashard Mendenhall JR RB Illinois
20. Malcolm Kelly JR WR Oklahoma
21. Mike Jenkins SR CB South Florida
22. Calais Campbell JR DE Miami (FL)
23. Dan Connor SR OLB Penn St.
24. Jeff Otah SR OT Pittsburgh
25. Felix Jones JR RB Arkansas
26. Gosder Cherilus SR OT Boston College
27. Phillip Merling JR DE Clemson
28. Leodis McKelvin SR CB Troy
29. Sam Baker SR OT USC
30. Aqib Talib JR CB Kansas
31. Kentwan Balmer SR DT North Carolina
32. Early Doucet SR WR L.S.U.


http://www.nfldraftcountdown.com/sub/rankings.html

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:06 am

Statistical Breakdown

Catagory Packers Giants

PPG 27.2 23.3

OPPG 18.2 21.9

PYPG 270.9 197.1

OPYPG 210.4 207.3

RYPG 99.8 134.3

ORYPG 102.9 97.7

YPG 370.7 331.4

OYPG 313.3 305

Givaways 24 34

Takeaways 24 34

TO margin 0 0

Statsitical Edge: slight advantage Packers

When the Giants have the ball...

The key will be for Green Bay to contain the run, they don't nessesarily have to shut them down but they can't let the Giants run all over them. They need to force Manning to make big plays in the passing game against a very good Packer secondary. Buriss will have to find away to beat the jams on a bad ankle while Tommer will have to find a way to be consistantly open which will ve very difficult. For the Packers D I think Bibie is a very important factor, he can't alow anything easy over the middle to the Giants recievers and he has to come up and suport the run in big running situations, he did a very good job of this against Seattle. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw will have to have big days against a very good Packer front seven to take the pressure off of Mannnig.

Advantage:Packers

When the Packers have the ball...

The biggest Key for the Giants will be the ability of the front seven to put pressure on Favre particlarily up the middle. The Packers have two of the best pass blocking Tackles in the NFL in Toucher and Clifton and will use several short routes and 3/5 step drops to counter the pass rush. The Giants Corners cannot miss takles or the Packers wide outs will be runnnig all day. Umenyiora and Strahan cannot completly sell out on the pass rush and take themselves out on the running game every play or Grant will have a lot of big gainers to the edges. The Giants cannot over pursue like the Seahawks did or Grant will have another huge day. The Giants pressure has to get there or Favre will pick apart a depleted Giants secondary.

Advantage:Even

Intangables...

What can you say? The Giants are on fire and and have won 9 in a row on the road. Grant will be eager to stick it to the Giants for letting him go and Favre wants to win another one before his career is over.

Advantage:Even

Final Prediction: Packers 31 Giants 27

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:06 am

Any idea on the injuries to the Giant's DBs in the last game? I know they were down to mostly reserves by the end, who did a great job.

Big difference here from the Cowboys- the Packers do not take big drops and hold onto the ball. What passing is done will be quick hitters so the D-line can't get major pressure.

The major question- will the Giant's defense and depleted secondary be able to contain the NFC's #1 passing offense; the #1 rushing attack from week 8 on (when Grant became starter); and #1 YAC receivers?

On the other side- will the Packers be able to hold the Giant's RBs down; and what Eli will show up in the cold?

Here's to a good game and there's not many people happier than me that the Giants knocked off the Cowboys.




I think Grant will show the Giants FO how poorly they evaluated his talent. after putting 200+ on the Seahawks, the Giants are going to have to gameplan to stop him. That puts a lot of pressure on the already depleted DBs against the (arugably) best corps of WRs in the game if they stack the LOS.

If it's not windy, the Pack will throw. Heck, they threw consistently last week in a blizzard against what was supposed to be a vaunted pass rush. It is going to be bitter cold and the wind shouldn't be a factor.

I'm surprised at the amount of confidence the Giants fans have in Eli to deliver in this game.

Bradshaw (and of course Jacobs) will have to be stopped. I think the Packers D can do it, can stack the LOS because NY's WRs are hurt and we have very capable (some call them the best tandem in the NFL) CBs and fast, hard-hitting safeties. Shockey would have been a big factor, we'll see how Boss does.

And don't cal me "bud" or "sweetheard". If you want to flame, go elsewhere- we're trying to talk football here.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:22 am

Analyst's Role With YES Shifts away From the Studio



http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/sports/baseball/16justice.html?ref=baseball


David Justice, who was cited in the Mitchell report as having purchased human growth hormone, will no longer be a studio analyst for the YES Network but will contribute columns and participate in chats on the channel’s Web site.
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Justice, whose house was destroyed in the San Diego wildfires last year, said his departure was based on wanting to be with his family during the rebuilding and not on being named in the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

“I don’t want my wife to go through the strain of the building process alone,” he said in a phone interview. Justice is in the last year of his contract with YES, which was expecting him to return in his studio role this season. He made 40 appearances in 2007.

He said he would have returned if not for the fire. But he did not expect to renew his deal after the season; he wants to spend more time as a baseball coach to his sons.

Eric Handler, a YES spokesman, said Justice requested that his role be cut earlier this month. “We understand his decision,” said Handler, who added that YES “had no reason to doubt” Justice’s denial of the allegations in the Mitchell report.

Justice said he had never met Kirk Radomski, who said in the Mitchell report that he sold Justice, the former Yankees and Braves outfielder, two or three H.G.H. kits. The report does not offer any evidence about purchases by Justice, like a canceled check, as it did with some other players. “At least have something tangible,” Justice said. “They had nothing.”

Justice has confirmed the report’s claim that he discussed H.G.H. with Brian McNamee, Roger Clemens’s former personal trainer, but denied admitting to him that he had bought any from Radomski. “I didn’t do anything,” Justice said. “I just had a conversation.”

According to the report, Justice provided the names of “many players” he suspected of using steroids, but said he had no direct knowledge about their use.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:23 am

AccuScore Game Details
New York (305) vs Green Bay (306)
20/01/2008 (week 20)


http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/trends?gameId=280120009


AccuScore Game Forecast
Team Win Percent Average Score Big Win Close Win
New York Giants 33.0% 19.1 13.0% 11.3%
Green Bay Packers-66.9% 25.0 38.7% 14.7%

AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NFL game, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated one play at a time and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages and player statistics, as listed above. For more, visit AccuScore.
AccuScore Composite Index


AccuScore Player Forecast
New York Giants
PASSING
Player QBR YDS TD INT
Eli Manning 74.7 199.2 1.3 1.1
RUSHING
Player RUSH YDS YPC TD
Brandon Jacobs 18.3 82.7 4.5 0.4
Ahmad Bradshaw 9.9 58.1 5.9 0.2
Reuben Droughns 2.0 6.3 3.2 0.0
RECEIVING
Player REC RECYD YPC RECTD
Plaxico Burress 4.4 67.0 15.2 0.6
Amani Toomer 4.0 51.2 12.8 0.3
Steve Smith (NYG) 1.8 19.5 10.8 0.1
Kevin Boss 1.5 18.2 12.1 0.1
DEFENSE
Player SACK INT FUMR TO
NYG 1.9 0.8 0.9 1.7

Green Bay Packers
PASSING
Player QBR YDS TD INT
Brett Favre 89.6 234.6 1.6 0.8
RUSHING
Player RUSH YDS YPC TD
Ryan Grant 20.1 109.6 5.4 1.1
Brandon Jackson 4.5 16.6 3.6 0.1
Vernand Morency 0.7 2.6 3.8
RECEIVING
Player REC RECYD YPC RECTD
Greg Jennings 3.2 50.8 15.9 0.6
Donald Driver 3.2 42.5 13.3 0.1
James Jones 2.1 28.1 13.4 0.1
Donald Lee 2.1 22.6 10.8 0.2
DEFENSE
Player SACK INT FUMR TO
GB 1.6 1.1 1.2 2.3

Team Trends and Angles
New York - Recent ATS Trends
Against the spread Over/Under Straight Up
2007 2005-2007 2007 2005-2007 2007 2005-2007
Description W-L W-L O-U O-U W-L W-L
All Games 10-6 28-19 8-8 23-23 10-6 29-19
Road Games 6-2 14-8 2-6 11-10 7-1 15-8
Underdog by 3.5 to 9.5 1-1 3-4 1-1 3-4 1-1 1-6
Underdog All 4-2 10-7 3-3 8-9 3-3 7-11
Road Underdog 2-1 7-5 1-2 6-6 2-1 6-7
Over/Under 40.0 to 47.0 6-2 17-9 4-4 13-11 5-3 17-9
After 1 Week Off 10-4 26-16 6-8 20-20 10-4 27-15
After a Road Game 4-3 11-8 4-3 10-8 3-4 10-9
vs. NFC Opponents 7-5 23-12 5-7 17-18 7-5 22-14
vs. NFC North 2-2 2-4 2-2 3-3 2-2 2-4
On Grass 3-1 8-6 0-4 7-6 4-0 10-4
After Win 6-4 14-12 5-5 12-14 6-4 15-12
vs Team with .500+ Record in Previous 6 Games 6-5 20-17 6-5 18-19 5-6 19-19
After Covering Spread 10-6 27-19 8-8 22-23 10-6 28-19
vs GB 0-1 0-1 1-0 1-0 0-1 0-1
After Scoring 18-24 PTS 3-0 12-3 0-3 5-9 3-0 11-4
After Allowing 17 or Less 4-4 8-12 4-4 11-8 5-3 11-9
Green Bay - Recent ATS Trends
Against the spread Over/Under Straight Up
2007 2005-2007 2007 2005-2007 2007 2005-2007
Description W-L W-L O-U O-U W-L W-L
All Games 12-3 25-20 12-4 25-21 13-3 25-23
Home Games 6-1 11-11 5-3 11-12 7-1 13-11
Favored by 3.5 to 9.5 4-1 7-6 4-1 7-5 4-1 9-4
Favored All 7-2 11-8 8-2 13-6 8-2 14-6
Home Favorite 4-1 8-7 4-2 9-6 5-1 11-5
Over/Under 40.0 to 47.0 7-1 16-7 5-4 12-12 8-1 15-11
After 1 Week Off 10-3 22-17 12-2 24-16 11-3 22-20
After a Home Game 5-0 12-5 5-1 13-6 6-0 12-7
vs. NFC Opponents 8-3 19-14 9-3 18-16 9-3 20-16
vs. NFC East 2-1 2-3 2-2 2-4 3-1 3-3
On Grass 8-2 17-15 7-4 16-17 9-2 18-16
After Win 9-3 12-10 10-2 11-10 9-3 13-9
vs Team with .500+ Record in Previous 6 Games 6-3 15-15 7-3 15-15 7-3 14-18
After Covering Spread 12-3 24-18 12-4 24-19 13-3 25-20
vs NYG 1-0 1-0 1-0 1-0 1-0 1-0
After Scoring 25+ PTS 7-2 11-6 8-1 10-6 7-2 11-6
After Allowing 18-24 PTS 2-0 9-5 1-1 4-8 2-0 9-5

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:27 am

Belichick Sells Team on Chargers’ Strengths


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/sports/football/16patriots.html?ref=football

Bill Belichick is wary of the Chargers. “They beat the Colts twice,” he said. “I don’t know what else they need to do or can do.”

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Out in San Diego, at least one player, swimming in the giddiness of the Chargers’ upset of the Indianapolis Colts, thinks the New England Patriots are more worried about having to play the Chargers in Sunday’s A.F.C. championship game than the Chargers are concerned about the undefeated Patriots.
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How did he know?

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, as skilled at making an opponent sound like the greatest team in history as he is at getting the Patriots to play like it, set the tone for the week Tuesday when he delivered a blistering accounting to his players of the Chargers’ strengths. Then, he backed up his argument by passing out a sheet full of glowing statistics attesting to the Chargers’ worthiness as the next team to try to end the Patriots’ perfect season.

“If he was a trial lawyer today, he won by a landslide,” fullback Heath Evans said. “If fear is ever good, he put fear in us by what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve done consistently for the last two months.”

The rest of the country may still think that the Patriots received a free pass to the Super Bowl when the Chargers knocked out Indianapolis, the Patriots’ greatest foil, in the divisional round to spoil what had been a highly anticipated rematch of the Patriots’ victory over the Colts in Week 9 and last season’s stunning loss in the A.F.C. championship game.

The Patriots are favored by 14 points, indicating that the Chargers, their eight-game winning streak notwithstanding, might have an image problem. They are 13-5, but to the public they seem stuck in time. The Chargers began the season 1-4 and the home fans serenaded Coach Norv Turner with chants of “Mar-ty, Mar-ty,” invoking his fired predecessor, Marty Schottenheimer.

But Belichick was taking no chances that his players might not fully comprehend how much the Chargers have changed since the Patriots blew them out, 38-14, in Week 2. So he detailed for the Patriots and for reporters how, over the last eight games, the Chargers have allowed an average of 13 points, have scored an average of 28.5 points, and how Chargers opponents turned the ball over 48 times.

Belichick is nothing if not disciplined. Once he has decided on a weekly theme, players and the news media alike hear it, and players, inevitably, parrot it back to reporters, as if a chip had been implanted in their heads. That is why nearly every Patriot who spoke Tuesday noted that the Chargers were the best team in the A.F.C. during the second half of the season. The fuzzy logic continued when Belichick said that the Chargers — because they played in the wild-card round — actually have a better record than the Patriots since Thanksgiving.

“They’re good, they’re real good,” said Belichick, sounding slightly exasperated that everyone in the media room was not following his line of thinking. “They beat the Colts twice. I don’t know what else they need to do or can do. They couldn’t do any more. They’ve done everything they could do since that middle part of the season.”

Belichick, perhaps looking to cut off any distractions, was even more edgy than usual in his news conference Tuesday. He repeated the phrase “it’s a one-game season” at least three times. His voice was tinged with incredulity when someone asked about whether the knee injury sustained by quarterback Phillip Rivers, who is listed as questionable, would impact his preparation.

Belichick has insulated his players from the chatter so much that defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who followed Belichick to the podium, insisted he had no idea if any Chargers were hurt.

“I think who is hurt are the teams they’re playing against,” Seymour said, in vintage Belichick speak.

When a reporter tried to ask an obligatory weather question — the forecast calls for temperatures in the teens — Belichick cut off the question, jumping in: “I’m not really too worried about the weather. I’m worried about the Chargers, that’s who we’re playing.”

The laserlike focus is classic Belichick. The Patriots have been hearing about a one-game season for 17 undefeated weeks. Belichick kept the video taping scandal from engulfing the first part of the season — the week before the Patriots and the Chargers played the first time — by repeating that he had moved on and was focusing on the Chargers until reporters gave up trying to delve into his psyche.

This week, there is no subterfuge about his thinking. He has laid it all out for everyone.

“Bill mentioned it in the meetings: Don’t get sucked in by what everybody is telling you,” receiver Donte’ Stallworth said. “They’ve won more games than anyone — including us — since Thanksgiving.”

Sounds familiar.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:33 am

21 Comments

1.
steve (different one) says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:08 pm (Reply)

both are really good prospects.

but a more interesting debate is Hughes vs. the Dell Dude.
2.
YankCrank20 says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:09 pm (Reply)

the hype around buchholz makes me wonder…you see a first round pick of the sox throw a no-hitter, at home, in his second ever major league start. then you look at the hype phil hughes could have had if he threw a no-hitter, on the road, in his first ever major league start at texas. add that to the original hype and expectations that are through the roof, and phil was one hamstring pull away from being included in this debate instead of joba.

to be completely fair, we have small sample sizes of both joba and clay…both with great success. my bias leads me towards joba, but i also think phil hughes will be a better year as a starter than joba. i see no reason why phil can’t emerge as our number 3 this year
3.
jason says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:18 pm (Reply)

Reading some comments on the chat about Joba and his stuff can get a fan pretty excited.
Phil was tremendous in his last several starts and in the playoffs.
Ian put up numbers equal to or better than the above.
This will be a very interesting year.
4.
Bbig says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:20 pm (Reply)

I like this part the best:

“We talked to nine non-Red Sox or Yankees personnel people, and the verdict was decidedly pro-Joba.”
5.
Mike A. says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:25 pm (Reply)

I can’t wait for the “Where’s my lap-top? clap, clap, clap clap clap, Where’s my lap-top?” chants at the Stadium.
1.
dan says:
January 15th, 2008 at 4:30 pm (Reply)

Ah shit I was just about to write that. Speaking of…. when do individual game tickets go on sale?
2.
Count Zero says:
January 15th, 2008 at 4:35 pm (Reply)

Oh man — I have that stuck in my head all afternoon now.
6.
David says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:42 pm (Reply)

Hughes will be better than both.
1.
Rich says:
January 15th, 2008 at 7:53 pm (Reply)

I tend to agree.
7.
Bbig says:
January 15th, 2008 at 3:46 pm (Reply)

Sci, UT: Are people down on Clay because of his size, stuff, make up, or what?

Jerry Crasnick: Sci,

Buchholz had an off field issue at McNeese State where he was arrested for stealing some computers.
8.
Jeff says:
January 15th, 2008 at 4:36 pm (Reply)

I thought it interesting how it mentioned the scouts little love for IPK. Wonder if they watched the game he pitched in Toronto. Anyways, I think IPK could be a young Mussina. He is just so crafty.

As far as Joba being a started it is going to be awesome to see that one. I really can’t wait.
9.
dan says:
January 15th, 2008 at 5:13 pm (Reply)

I want to point everyone (especially the melky haters) to this article

http://www.baseballprospectus......cleid=7053

Scroll down to the 2 paragraphs about Melky (towards the bottom).

he’s going to pop 80 extra-base hits and slug .500 in a season very, very soon.
1.
Mike A. says:
January 15th, 2008 at 5:36 pm (Reply)

We don’t hate Melky. We hate below average players.
2.
Mr. Faded Glory says:
January 15th, 2008 at 7:30 pm (Reply)

I hope that’s right, but seriously it’s laughable.
10.
Colter says:
January 15th, 2008 at 5:19 pm (Reply)

From what I’ve read in various comments sections, fans of other teams are pretty much counting the Yanks out this season if they go ahead with the young rotation (including Chamberlain, Hughes, and Kennedy plus Wang and Andy). I guess they don’t think the youngsters can bring it. I would say to that that the Yanks have had inconsistent and sometimes downright terrible pitching for a few years now and they’ve still contended because of the offense.
11.
kenxe says:
January 15th, 2008 at 5:35 pm (Reply)

Kennedy is the sleeper. I saw all three pitch in the mil. Kennedy is a very young Mussina. Phil is just an all around good, thinking tough pitcher with good control of his pitches. Joba is, well, Joba! A young Roger, with better or as good stuff. Everyone will see good things from them, if no one gets hurt. I hate comparing Joba to roger…roger was sometimes very mean, like Sal the Barber… I don’t think Joba is that way. But he will come inside to anyone that pushes it…see last year.
12.
Ivan says:
January 15th, 2008 at 5:48 pm (Reply)

Is it me or that the Mussina Comparison for Kennedy a little off here.

I like Kennedy, and I think he has a chance to be a good pitcher, and he’s better than what people think he is. That said interms of stuff, he’s no Mike Mussina I am sorry.

I understand that Mike for the last couple years relies on control and smarts and guile but did people for get his baltimore O’s days or even his early yankee days. Mussina had sick stuff with a very good fastball, nasty knuckle curve and a good change up. Kennedy’s stuff right now doesn’t match that and hell even Kennedy would like have stuff like that.

I think you guys are underrating Moose.
1.
kenxe says:
January 15th, 2008 at 8:30 pm (Reply)

Ivan
I respectively disagree with your assessment of IPK. His fast ball gets up to 91/92 (at times) and hitters don’t center the ball very well. He gets a lot of swinging s/o…just like moose. In other words, don’t over remember how fast the moose was…91/93. I believe what my eyes have seen, rather then going with what someone may read. Maybe only me, but he looked good to me. And this from a old Eddy Lopat type pitcher.
13.
Pettitte's stare says:
January 15th, 2008 at 6:55 pm (Reply)

The most interesting thing for me was that some people like Marquez better than IPK. We all talk about Horne, but maybe we should be talking more about Marquez!
14.
Travis G. says:
January 15th, 2008 at 7:22 pm (Reply)

i believe Joba AND Hughes will be better than Buchholz.
15.
bill kolb says:
January 15th, 2008 at 10:53 pm (Reply)

My favorite Buchholz Booster line was, “Besides his fastball, Joba doesn’t have any other pitches as refined as Clay”

So Joba is just a fastball? You have to try to say something like that.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:38 am

The day after reports & Hank said the Yankees were likely out of the Santana sweepstakes you heard rumors about the Sox interest in trading Crisp for Street.

Now the Yankees are saying hold on now we are still in this, so what do the Sox do now?

It's obvious they dont want Santana and were never going to pay that kind of money anyway...

If they trade Crisp... 1. their Ellsbury offer would be off the table 2. Their Lester offer has no CF. They would officially be out the mix and the Yankees could top any offer from the Mets without Hughes in the package.

The Yankees stating their continued interest screws up the Sox if they want to move Crisp for relief help image

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:39 am

I expect a big year from the Yanks as well. Plus, I expect other teams to falter. Book it, the Red Sox will be lucky to win 92 games. People talk about the Yankees but the Red Sox only have two starters under 30 (Youk and Pedroia). The Yankees have Melky, Cano, and whomever plays first. The Yankee rotation is younger too---especially if Wakefield ends up being a starter again.



Teams don't make it back to the postseason with the exception of the Yankees so expect a down year for Cleveland, Detroit or Anaheim. My vote goes to Cleveland or Anaheim.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:46 am

Jeter said that clemens deserves the benefit of the doubt. he also said that if he knew some1 was taking steroids on the team, he'd talk to them and tell then what happens to their body health wise.. He misses Torre holding his bat(thatll be the thing he misses most) lol.

The Arod thing was a soap oprah to him, and he was on vacation when he came back. He said he was happy when he found out Arod was coming back.

It's difficult 4 him when they dont win the offseason( duh). He's never happy when they dont win the WS.

Jeter has got a Super Bowl ad coming out for a sports drink (called G2) URL: www.drinkG2.com

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:47 am

*


Peter Abraham is the Yankees beat writer for The Journal News and LoHud.com.

January 16:

January is usually a slow month for baseball news. So we’ve lined up a series of guest bloggers to entertain you. Next up is Nick Shlain from True Yankee Blog.

Nick is originally from Manhattan and currently resides in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He has been blogging about the Yankees for eight months now. Nick is somewhat of a Moneyball-disciple and relies heavily on statistical analysis to back up his baseball opinions.

Here is his post:

To me, the apparent changing of the guard in the New York Yankees front office over the past few months is extremely troubling. Full control has changed hands from General Manager Brian Cashman (a True Yankee favorite) to loudmouth owner Hank Steinbrenner. This is an appalling development in everyway and could very well lead to a Cash-less front office in ‘09.

The Yankees are taking away final say from Cashman, clearly the best baseball mind in the organization. This is just completely insane. Since October 2005, when Cash got full control, the Yankees minor league system has leaped from one of the worst to one of the best (this has been well documented). The guys who deserve the credit for that complete turnaround are Cash and Vice President of Pro Scouting Damon Oppenheimer. They were very successful in the short time they had full control. What is the upside of ending their full reign prematurely in favor of a man without a baseball background?

In 2008, the last year of Cashman’s contract, Cash will have an entirely new role in the front office. His recommendations will definitely be heard, but as to how seriously they are considered by Hank is yet to be seen.

Yes, we know that Cashman drafted Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, but is he even going to be in the Boogie Down Bronx long enough to see their primes? There has been plenty of speculation as to how Cash is dealing with his sudden relaxation of power and the possibility of him leaving after ‘08 is more than out there. Frankly, I can’t say I blame him. If I was Cash and I had to put up with an owner who tells anyone who will listen exactly what the organizations plans are, I’d have to consider leaving too. In the movie Rounders, Mike McD says to “throw your cards in the moment you know they can’t win, fold the hand.” I wouldn’t be at all shocked if Cash grows tired of Hank during the ‘08 season, realizes he can’t beat him, and folds his cards for new ones in ‘09.

On another subject, I’ve been getting some emails about why Don Mattingly doesn’t get more votes for the Hall Of Fame, here’s my take on that:

The main point that should be stated in the Mattingly case is that those who don’t support Donnie for the hall aren’t saying he wasn’t a great player. He was. In fact his peak WARP3 is above average for Hall Of Fame. 1B. But, his career WARP3 is well below average hall-of-fame 1B because he didn’t do it long enough thanks to a bad back (tough luck, still doesn’t get him in the Hall).

It’s not because he wasn’t amazing. Mattingly is the best fielding 1B ever not to appear on Seinfeld and he retired with a .300 EqA+. Those are great things, but the lack of longevity is what’s keeping him out.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:55 am

Round #1- Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin CB - He is the real deal. This dude is as quick as they come and can tackle with the best of them. The real great thing i love about him is that he is 6-1 200lbs and runs a 4.38. If we draft him then we need to get rid of Madison this season. We'll have Ross, Webster, Ikegwuonu Dockery and MaQuarters.

Round #2- Jaison Williams*, Oregon WR- Plax will be 32 next season. Toomer is a clock just clicking towards retirement. Steve Smith and Sinorece Moss are both slot recievers over the middle. Now check this out, Williams is 6-4 243 lbs. Yes thats not a typo- 243 lbs. Now if he runs anything near a 4.5, who is going to stop this guy?

Round #3- Bruce Davis, UCLA OLB- It's hard not to call Davis a tweener, given his lacking size and tremendous speed. I'd like to see him put on 10 pounds this year while maintaining his 40. He has first-round production: a who[ping 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2006. He plays with plenty of emotion also. He is a get in your face kind of guy who is out to hurt people. I would love to have him next to Pierce and Kiwi.

Round #4- Kory Lichtensteiger, Bowling Green C- Arguably the best offensive lineman ever to play at Bowling Green. Lichtensteiger was in the middle of a line ranked second in rushing and third in fewest sacks allowed in MAC play. Shaun O'Hara is already 30 years old and has a banged up knee. Lichtensteiger could back him up for a year or two then become a possible starter.

Round #5- Duane Brown, Virginia Tech OT- Perfect for any zone-blocking scheme. Can also play special teams. Could be there to replace one of our offensive linemen due to injury and fill in with success. A very solid back-up in the NFL.

(1) Round #6- Bernard Morris, Marshall QB/WR- Bernard Morris opened some eyes when he went toe-to-toe with West Virginia, going 19-of-29 for 256 yards and two touchdowns. I'm not sure if Morris will play quarterback at the next level, but he has the athleticism to engage in some sort of Brad Smith role. Could be a solid pick-up for the future. If anything it's great to have versatile players that can play many positions just in case of injurys

(2) Round #6- Shaheer McBride, Delaware State WR- If Shaheer McBride drops his 40 to 4.45, he will get drafted. Compiled a total of 1,572 yards and 17 touchdowns the past two seasons. Could be the marques colston of 2008? If we draft him lets hope so

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:58 am

Packers' defense is strong up front

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=nfl_nfc



The Packers' defensive line is a big reason why they have reached the NFC Championship Game, and at least some of the credit should go to the coaching staff for doing a tremendous job of rotating big bodies in and out of the game.

Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins start at defensive end and are a formidable duo. Kampman is one of the best defensive ends in the league and is headed to the Pro Bowl this season. He is a master technician who uses his hands extremely well and never gives up on a play. He runs well and gets off the ball low with explosiveness and power. Kampman is an exceptional two-way end and truly one of the best defensive players in the league today. Jenkins is heavy for a defensive end but is a fine all-around player. He is strong, quick and aggressive and has really come into his own this season. He shows great versatility and brings very good penetration as an interior rusher in passing situations.


Plus, pass-rush specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who normally comes in on throwing downs, puts the Packers in a terrific position at defensive end. He impacts the game with his pure speed, array of pass-rush moves and lightning-quick first step. Gbaja-Biamila isn't able to handle the rigors of being an every-down player, but this rotation keeps him fresh, which gives the Packers the best results all around.

On the interior, DTs Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams are the starters and both are bigger players who clog up running lanes, show good quickness and get off the ball quickly when fresh. With the presence of Johnny Jolly, Justin Harrell and Colin Cole, and Jenkins' ability to move inside, Pickett and Williams have stayed spry all season and still have a lot of excellent football ahead of them. Jolly and Cole are now on injured reserve, but few teams in the league have such a deep group of defensive tackles they can count on to play valuable snaps. Pickett can have stamina issues if left on the field too long, but that hasn't been a problem with the wealth of defensive talent that Green Bay had at its disposal this season. The depth inside isn't as good as it once was, but considering the Packers have only two more games at most, they are still in exceptional shape up front.

It is apparent that Green Bay's front office values defensive linemen a great deal. Without any massive needs on draft day in 2007, the Packers selected Harrell with the 16th overall selection. Harrell was widely regarded as a talented player and had a very good junior season but was coming off a major injury and wasn't able to properly show his abilities in his final season at Tennessee. Green Bay knew that he would be a project and this has more or less been a redshirt season for Harrell.

Whether or not Harrell develops into a productive lineman is anyone's guess at this point, but it goes to show that the Packers' philosophy is that you can never have enough talented defensive linemen. That philosophy is paying off and it wouldn't be shocking if Green Bay pulls the trigger on another talented defensive lineman early in the 2008 draft.

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 6:50 am

View this discussion in full-window mode, or bookmark it.

1.
Andrew — January 15, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

Phil above Clay, at this exact point in time, is stretching it a bit I think. I would not be surprised at all if both turn out to be better, but again, I would not be surprised either if Clay beats them all. No, he’s not a power pitcher, but Clay himself has two extremely nasty offspeed pitches. Now, I don’t know if one can really (or even wants to) command a curveball and a changeup at the same time, in the same game, so maybe that matter can be handled by others more knowledgable than I. But Buchholz has outstanding command of his pitches. Don’t sell him short just cuz he’s from Boston.
2.
EJ Fagan — January 15, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

The differences between Clay and Phil are minor if anything. I’d take Phil, but I’m invested in him. The important part:

Phil + Joba + Kennedy > Lester + Buch + Whomever.
3.
Ashish Skaria — January 15, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

EJ that’s an excellent point. The Yankees have the better depth and that in turn that will help them be more competitive.
4.
Billy — January 15, 2008 @ 11:33 pm

I’d take Phil as well. If you look at the minor league #’s they’re very similar. However, after all the interviews that Phil has given, plus the fact that he threw so well in his 2nd start, it gives me faith. He’s got great pure stuff, he challenges hitters. He can truly be a top of the line guy if his fastball gets back up there.

Buchholz is good and has good stuff, I’m not going to say he’s a slouch or anything. The only thing though is I wonder how hitters will respond once they’ve seen him a few more times. And when he does get smacked around for the first time, how does he rebound. Does he become scared and timid and stop throwing a certain pitch, etc.. that’s why I’ll take Hughes now, for his maturity and mental toughness.

And our big 3 is definitely better. I think Lester is completely overrated in terms of where people are ranking him. Some people seem to believe he’ll be an ace, I just don’t see that. Now if you want to make an argument that he can be a great #3 pitcher, I’ll definitely support that.
5.
Mike R. — January 15, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

I think it is a slight difference depending on what you are asking. I think that at this moment Buchholz is the better prospect. What I mean by this is that general opinions of scout and team execs are higher with Buch than with Phil. I also believe that Buchholz has more trade value right now than Phil.

If the question is “Who would you choose to have a better career?” I would select Hughes rather comfortably. He is years ahead of Buchholz in regards to development and better control is normally better for longer careers. Hughes has enough control to compensate for the inevitable loss of a few MPH while I am not convinced that Buchholz has that same control.

In summary. I’d rather have Buchholz right now, but I’d rather build a rotation around Hughes.
6.
dan — January 16, 2008 @ 1:10 am

I think that if, at this point, we are saying that Phil and Clay are about even, then we have to pick Phil. Whether we believe it or not, all of our views have been tainted by the post-injury Hughes that we saw in August, September, and briefly in October. The Phil Hughes we saw and use as part of the comparison to Clay is one that nibbled with a 91 mph fastball and a diminished curveball– not the one that challenged hitters with 94 mph heat and a devastating curve.
7.
Rich — January 16, 2008 @ 3:04 am

Yup, Phil’s rating has been diminished because of the hamstring and ankle injuries. He will regain his standing this season. It would be extremely short-sighted for the Yankees to trade him

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Re: Twins betting Santana Stakes still 3-horse race

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 16, 2008 6:52 am

Off to Green Bay

Headed to Wisconsin to immerse myself in all things Brett Favre ….

Oddly enough, I don’t even have to leave Queens to get a glimpse of the legend. Gift shop at Northwest terminal in La Guardia is prominently displaying the autobiography of Brett Favre’s wife. Bet stores in Green Bay aren’t selling the Archie Manning Story.

Something else catches my eye. Newspaper headline. Says something about a wind-chill factor of negative 11 projected for Sunday’s Packers-Giants game. Since this newspaper isn’t Newsday, I write this off to typical tabloid sensationalism. Then, I check the seven-day forecast on the internet. So much for sensationalism.

During a layover in Detroit, I call crazy cousin Mark, who now lives in Washington D.C. but grew up in the shadow Lambeau Field. Mark and his daughter, Lexi, are flying back for the game, and he is pumped by the weather forecast.

“It’s all about layers,” he explains. “Just wear what you would wear for ice fishing.”

Ice fishing? Gee, I left my ice fishing ensemble in the closet, right behind my scuba gear and parachute. Which brings me to this question: Don’t you think if Newsday is assigning me to hang outside the press box and do a weather story on Sunday (this indeed is the rumor) that they ought pop for some state-of-the-art thermals? Thermals are what cousin Mark tells me they now call long underwear.

Long ago -- way back in the Knick beat writer days when the Knicks were good -- it was supposedly a Newsday policy that you could expense clothes in an emergency; you just had to give them to Newsday when you were done. This begs one question: What would anyone back at the office want do with a pair of used underwear?

Barbara Barker

P.S. I just landed in Milwaukee and it's actually a balmy 25 degrees

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