Archive for January, 2012

It’s really interesting because everybody is saying “oh this Prince Fielder deal…for $200 million dollars, it’s terrible, it’s bad for baseball!” I think it’s good for baseball; it’s good for everybody because rich people know before the rest of us on when the economy is turning. If you’re spending $250 million in Detroit for one baseball player, the billionaires know something that the rest of us don’t know.

Listen; there’s two ways to look at it. Drew Sharpe works for the Detroit Free Press and thinks it’s horrible, he works in Detroit and he just thinks it’s a terrible deal. When interviewed on The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN last week he said “logically, this deal makes not one damn bit of sense to the Detroit Tigers long-term! It really doesn’t. Basically what you’re saying is that you’re paying Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder – two guys who basically are the same players, offensively and unfortunately defensively, close to $45 million dollars annually. For people to think that you can just move Miguel Cabrera to 3rd base – they tried that already…no way, it was a disaster! They tried him in left field and that was a disaster as well.”

Logically? Its pro sports!!! There is no logic because you’re paying a guy $214 million to field a couple of ground balls and bat 3 or 4 times a night, who cares! In the American League, you can send Pujols to the Angels and Fielder to the Tigers…it makes sense! So what? The last 3 years of this deal, put him at DH, he hits 21 home runs, he’s 36 and will play like 119 games…it works in the American League, and this is why I’m a big fan of the DH spot.

I can take my family to watch who? Bronson Arroyo hit? Dan Haran or Cliff Lee hit? Or I can get Pujols and Fielder to hit – perhaps their outta their prime but you think my future son and daughter will care? Nobody wants to watch pitchers hit. You know what the DH spot has become? It’s the “early bird” special for old baseball sluggers. You don’t’ get it, I don’t get it but it’s a unique group of old people and businesses cater to them. The DH is the “early bird” special…it’s great! Yeah it perhaps sounds ridiculous because it’s a lot of money but you know what – and don’t forget this.

These regional cable television companies make a fortune. The New York Yankees got a 6 to 7 year head start on everybody – the brainchild of George Steinbrenner back in 2001/2002. He started the YES Network and he gets it going. So he gets a head start on everybody and guess what? Everybody else now figured it out and they’re catching up as well. Did you see what Arte Moreno got from Fox Sports out West? That’s why he’s signing Albert Pujols! Did you see what the Tigers just signed with Fox Sports Network in Detroit? A billion dollars over a decade!

The bottom line is that the Yankees had a 6 to 7 year head start on all these cable dollars but everybody is catching up now. The shift in baseball, especially in the American League, is obvious! It’s moving away from Boston and New York. The power in baseball is all spread out in baseball, especially in the American League. Detroit, like have you looked at Detroit’s lineup this morning? Holy God! And it’s younger than the Yankees. Victor Martinez is hurt and set to miss the entire season…have you still seen their lineup? Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young, Avila, Brandon Inge, Brandon Bosh…there are no pitchers hitting in that lineup. Have you seen Texas lineup? Kinsler, Anders, Hamilton, Young, Beltre, Cruz, Murphy, Napoli.

I’m telling you, there is a big power shift in baseball – and I’ve got news for you if you’re a Yankee fan. The days of you getting those big cable dollars and throwing gigantic money at people…you’re not the only ones doing it anymore. By the way, Texas and Detroit were both better than the Yankees at the end of last year anyways. I’m not banging on the Yankees because they’ll still pay their money and make their money, but there is certainly a power shift in baseball. Detroit was like 3rd in baseball in runs, 4th in batting average, 4th in on-base percentage and now they add Prince Fielder. Remember this too, the Rangers get a steady diet of the Mariners and the A’s and by next year my beloved Astros. Those are 3 triple A baseball teams The Yankees have to play the Red Sox’s and the Rays – and the Blue Jays if they become competitive. The Tigers get a steady diet on Kansas City pitching and Cleveland pitching and Minnesota’s starting pitching. Detroit dominated their division last year…and now it’s going to get worse!

So you can look at it like Drew Sharpe and say “this doesn’t make any sense” I think it makes some sense in the American League – it’s the “early bird” special. You bring in all these old sluggers in their last 3 years and though you’re not making any money on them, but I’ve got news for you, you’ll still be selling Prince Fielder jerseys, kids will still want to go watch him jack 450ft home runs. Daniel Schlereth, son of Mark Schlereth was on his dad’s show and said that on paper, Detroit is now absurd saying “All I think you do is ask anybody in the American League and they’ll probably tell you that it’s an absolute nightmare as of right now, they’re [Detroit’s] line up. But we don’t want to say anything serious just yet because we don’t want to be stupid and claim any titles just yet that we don’t have, like some people. But on paper, this team looks like the team to beat.”

So what’s bad about it? It’s good for people in Detroit, the power shift in baseball for so long has always been between the Yankees and Red Sox’s and now it’s finally moving into the mid-west where you’ve got teams like St. Louis winning a World Series, Detroit is big money, Dallas is essentially in the time zone of the mid-west so the Rangers are good. You could argue that the 3 best teams in baseball right now are Texas, Detroit and St. Louis. Your moving west – outside of the northeast, your spending money, I think this is absolutely great for baseball.

It’s funny though, but everybody always bangs – and there is some racial coding with this but everybody always bangs on the NBA “boo, players only want to go to certain cities” yeah, there is about 9 dog franchises in the NBA. But at least NBA players go for titles and not just money. Do you know how many dog franchises there are in baseball? There are about 9! 6 of them in the American League and 3 in the National League…you know, the Kansas City’s, the Baltimore’s, the Pittsburgh’s…they just can’t compete! So we just don’t like NBA players having a choice yet we don’t have a problem with baseball players having a choice… yet we know that they truly just leave for money! At least NBA guys leave for money and titles. Lebron took less money, Melo took less money…they want titles! They might not get them, but they want them. So I don’t think it’s bad for baseball at all, I really don’t.

When the NBA was the most popular – during the Michael Jordan era, there were 7 dogs in the NBA. Remember, TV money is what makes sports! The Detroit Tigers are not paying Prince Fielder this kind of money because of what they make from the vendors. They didn’t raise hot dog prices by 75 cents. They are making this off television. Guess what? Networks like ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS are not beholding to anything other than putting 7 teams on a year. You never saw the Vancouver Grizzlies when Michael Jordan was hot. They had 7 teams:  the Rockets, Knicks, Pacers, Bulls, Jazz…those were the types of teams they’d put on the air.

Right now you’ve got about 8-10 teams in Major League Baseball that are a great watch! That’s all you need. Doesn’t matter that the SEC’s school’s like Mississippi and such are no good….nobody cares! If Alabama is good, if LSU is good and if Florida is good…then the SEC is good. It doesn’t matter what the bottom of the sport does because TV networks are not beholding to broadcast anything other than the top teams in the league – that’s where all the money is now, it’s all from television. It doesn’t matter about the bad teams in the English Premier League because if Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool are all interesting, then the EPL is interesting…that’s all that matters!

Sorry for ranting for almost 10 minutes here on this – its football season and I’m ranting baseball! But you know what; the top of baseball is healthy. Go online today and look at Texas, New York, Boston, and St. Louis…all these great baseball cities. You don’t have a bad stick in those line-ups at all – other than the Cardinals having Carpenter hit every 4th day. This is absolutely great for baseball!


There was an interesting article from the Philly Post and it was written by Victor Fiorillo and he basically argued that Joe Paterno wasn’t a hero and questioned why all of Pennsylvania was flying their flags at half staff. Let me transcribe it to you – and I’m not here to pick on the guy, it was in the Philly Post and once you’re a columnist, people are definitely going to talk about you and your writing. He writes “Earlier today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett ordered all the flags at commonwealth facilities in Pennsylvania to be flown at half staff. He did this after declaring that Paterno’s place in our state’s history is secure.” He continues by asking “Please, somebody tell me what I’m missing here?” He further continues by saying “There is no question that Paterno was aware of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, the sexual abuse, and there is also no question that Paterno did as little as possible to intervene. He did what was legally required of him, but the legally required minimum shouldn’t be a standard we adhere to when it comes to the protection of our children.”

So I’ve been critical, as anybody else has been, of Joe Paterno in his lapse in judgment before he passed away. The argument against flying flags at half staff – that he’s a football coach and not a war hero, he’s not a president, but just a football coach…I get that. But I would argue this though, that we undervalue the importance of coaches in general, in our society. From a little league coach to a 7th grade girls volleyball coach to a nationally profound college football coach. Now Bear Bryant died in Alabama and Regan gave him the highest civilian honour…he was a football coach no? But if you lived in the south, you’d know how important Bear Bryant was to the citizens of that state.

Think about this with Joe Paterno: he recruited Mike Ditka out of high school – yeah, that’s how long Joe Pa had been around coaching.  So he started in 1950 – and I’ll start from there until he passed recently. That’s 62 years!! Let’s not call it coaching but instead let’s call it “teaching” This isn’t baseball managing where you sit there and put out the lineup card and play with a bat and a baseball and talk to Don Zimmer for 6 hours. This is a “teaching” role; football I’d argue is all about teaching. So for 62 years, Joe Paterno taught, on average they recruited – because there use to be unlimited scholarships but now it’s been reduced, somewhere between on average, for 62 years, about 30 kids a year.  Again, first 30 or 40 years of his career, you could recruit 40 or 50 kids and now at the end, it was closer to about 20-25 kids.

Do the math and it comes out to about 2,000 kids that Joe Paterno basically adopted. He had them for 4-5 years. He molded them, taught them, fed them and educated them, 17-22 year old kids. They were often from tough socio-economic backgrounds. My friends, that is touching – in my opinion, a lot of lives. It was sloppy, it was messy, it was ignorant in the end and it’s terribly sad. But people rioted when he got fired! What does that tell you about the emotional impact of Joe Paterno? 99% of coaches never make big money and you’ve never heard of any of them. All of them, from little league and onwards, have had an impact on young peoples’ lives. I’m okay with flying the flag in Pennsylvania at half staff.

I went and looked it up on the internet,  is where I went. It’s a site that talks about citizens who have died and how those who are prominent citizens can have the flag lowered in their honour. I think Joe Paterno qualifies for that! And why deny how big sports is in society? Sunday afternoons from 3:15 to 10:45pm, America sits in front of television sets, at home, bars and lodges and they watch football. The NFL, for 4-5 years now, has been the #1 television show in America…and be proud of it! It’s not some cheesy reality show where they ply the contestants with drinks, desperate people trying to get attention. Its kids who have dedicated their lives to a sport, discipline, practice, 70 hours a week, giving themselves to a sport, coaches who have molded lives….we should be ashamed of that?  We should be damn proud of it!! Sports are a backbone of any society: discipline, goals, achievements, success, handling and coping with failure…what’s wrong about any of that stuff?

So I have never had a problem honouring somebody who impacts thousands of lives – many of those lives are kids’ that wouldn’t have had the same quality of life without Penn State, despite the fact that it was really really sad at the end. It doesn’t wash away 60 years of general kindness, empathy and assistance to other peoples’ lives, so I’m okay with it.

So I don’t have a problem with the governor and all lowering the flag at half staff on the death of Joe Paterno because I try to compartmentalize things, take the emotion out of it, and compartmentalize Paterno’s life. Fifty years of goodness, decency and empathy and teaching is the first compartment along with a horrible lapse in judgement – that’s the second compartment. The third is “he has passed and how do we honour him”. Maybe as a guy, I can see sports like that – like I look at A-rod for example. He’s a great talent, one compartment. Not a great leader would be the second compartment, a little to hollywoodish for me would be the third compartment. But I can keep them all separate! Hall of Fame, first ballot? Absolutely!! I could even go with like Pete Rose: the great baseball hitter, Pete Rose personally – not my kind of guy, Pete Rose gambled on baseball. I can separate all 3…put him
in the Hall of fame no problem! Maybe I’m wrong on them though.

But I look at Joe Paternos’ 50 years of good, a stretch of really horrible judgments and now that he’s gone, how do we honour him? All 3 are separate and 2 of the 3 would be good. The emails I get in are interesting. One person writes “what Paterno did was a deliberate cover up to protect his image.” No he didn’t, first he did not commit a crime and secondly, he went to higher authorities. That’s not a cover-up! A cover- up is never telling anybody!

This is a better argument against Joe Paterno, an emailer sent me this saying “He made an informed and considerate decision to harbour a pedifile” now, it’s a little strong but it’s certainly a better argument. That he allowed Sandusky to be on the campus for a decade after the incident. That’s a much better argument. I bristle at the “Joe Paterno committed a crime and covered it up” Again, he didn’t commit a crime. Joe Paterno, like many humans, is limited. At 75 years of age, we’re all even more limited. Ask any neurologist, we’re not the same past 58! This guy was like 20 years past that!

Do you want to get in a car, with your 78 year old grandpa on the freeway? That’s just driving! Forget about crucial situations in life. My biggest knock on Paterno is that it’s ridiculous to have a 75 year old man coaching a major college football power. Frank Beamer is old by college football standards – I think he’s like 59 years old. Paterno was 26 years past that and was 36 years past that when he recently passed away! By the way, he was only fired for Sandusky – they were going to let him keep going, he might’ve reached 90 had he kept going. I mean, they were going to let him keep going – that is hero’s worship, small town’s hero worship is pathetic.

Having said that though, I will argue with people who say it was a cover-up. I think Joe Paterno, like a lot of people, was limited….you have to remember what sports coaches are like. Jerry Tarkanian, when he was covered years ago in Vegas didn’t know of the Iran Crisis. He walked through an airport and saw yellow tied ribbons and asked “what’s that?” “Well, it’s the Iran crisis” someone said to him. He then asks “well, what’s that?” Jerry Tarkanian didn’t go to a movie for almost 3 decade, didn’t go to a movie theatre. Coaches are the most myopic people in the world and as the money has gone up and the competitive zeal has gone up, they simply have no life outside of football. Nick Saben, I’ve read about guys on his staff who’ve said that for Saben, it is family, football and nothing else! He’s surely not going to the movies.

Was Joe Paterno isolated? Yes! Do you think he was sitting around and watching the stuff that you and I watch at night? Nope! He’s definitely not. His whole life was coaching and the Penn State Athletic department. So a lot of these coaches are limited socially are limited in their scope and understanding in crisis. Now, any reasonable person would know that when Jerry Sandusky comes to you or Mike McQueary comes to you with this information….you’d get Sandusky off the campus and Joe Paterno does not get a pass on that one. But when you listen to his interview with Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, if you take Joe Paterno at his word – and I never thought that he was an intellectually dishonest person, like I thought he could be cranky, I thought he could be outdated but I never thought of him as a liar.

NCAA sanctions show that Penn State ran one of the cleanest programs in the U.S. Joe Paterno never had any NCAA run-in’s. So you can say a lot about Joe Paterno but you can’t say that he was a dishonest, lying guy. There are a lot of coaches you can say that about – but you can’t say that about Joe Paterno. Heck, he ran that program for 40 years and how many infractions did they have? It was like either between none and zero! They were never in trouble. Michigan had issues, Ohio State had issues, USC, Oklahoma, Texas, Miami…everybody had issues! But Penn State didn’t have any issues. So if you take him at his word, he seemed overwhelmed by the whole sexual allegations…it just seemed well over his skies.

Again, I’m not giving him a pass, its ridiculous! But the reality of the fact is that coaches are sheltered, isolated, and sometimes socially and completely inept. Belicheck is bordering on complete ineptness socially; his whole life is inside of a film room! He’s not going to be a guy who is hosting a party…that’s just not who he is! The Monday morning after the entire Jerry Sandusky story broke out; it was like 11:30am EST I was publishing my rant and was like “get him outta there…Fire Paterno!” I’m going to bristle that it was a cover-up because he went to somebody above him and said “we’ve got a real big problem” it was the Grand Jury testimony…yet those guys lied! The guys above him made humongous errors, Joe Paterno relayed the information.

So you can say whatever you want about Joe Paterno, but Penn State for 40 years was one of the most ethical programs in the country. When you’re talking about the big boys of college football – the big money programs, it might’ve been the most honest out of all of them! It had its flaws of course, but ethics was not one of them as far as the NCAA is concerned.

According to an LA Times poll from last week, where several thousand people voted – so whenever you have several thousand people vote, your margin of error will tend to be very small, something like 3-4%. Aaron Rodgers is now the third best quarterback in the NFC! Eli Manning – who I love, is number #1, Drew Brees – who I also love, is number #2 and Aaron Rodgers is now the third best quarterback according to an LA Times poll…in the NFC!

Folks, you can’t do it alone. His defense stinks, his pass rush is non-existent, and his head coach sat starters since Christmas. His receivers dropped 7 passes. By the way, Aaron got testy when asked about his lousy receivers and they were lousy against the Giants. “I don’t appreciate you asking me that question, like I don’t even know how to answer that question to be honest with you. We all didn’t play our best game; personally I didn’t feel like I played as well as I could have.” Listen, Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFC, arguably the best in the league. I’ll take Brady because of several factors, one being his “more big game experiences”. But in the last 4 years, Aaron Rodgers has 131 TD with 37 picks, and that’s in a good division. That’s no babysitting like Tebow – limiting throws and all. No, that’s Aaron carrying the team!

Green Bay is a team with a ton of flaws but basically Aaron Rodgers is like cover up make-up and he hid all of them all year. But in the end, not even Aaron Rodgers could overcome a lousy pass rush, a horrific secondary, some coaching gaffs and drops by wide receivers. I love Eli Manning, but he was 7-7 through 14 games and just got outdueled by Rex Grossman at home. In the last year, here is what the fans have voted: Michael Vick, after a Monday night game, as MVP. Brady can’t win a playoff game, Rodgers now the third best quarterback in the NFC and Tebow is amazing! It’s like when you eat your last meal…it’s the best one ever!

Can we just take a deep breath? Listen, T.J. Yates won a playoff game, Tim Tebow won a playoff game…both won and Rodgers didn’t…what does that tell you? Coaching, defense and help matter a lot! You can’t do it alone. It’s like this whole thing, where people have been knocking John Elway because he doesn’t embrace Tim Tebow. Thank God, for people in Denver, that John Elway is the only person in that state of Colorado – and it’s a beautiful state that has a little perspective. Yes Tebow is capable of winning “some” games if he has an elite defense if he has a great running game when they limit his throw, if he faces an average to below average schedule. Is Tim Tebow, facing 10 pro bowl quarterbacks next year, going to manage 11 wins if his defense is average and has a running game that is slightly better than average? No!! They are not going to win many games!

It’s funny because John Elway got caught in the middle of a tsunami – he got caught in the middle of “mania” and there is just simply nowhere to go with “mania” Read the book, The Wisdom of Crowds, people do crazy things in crowds that they would never do by themselves. You go out with 7 or 8 buddies and you just become an idiot! You hang out in a crowd and you do things you would never do. John Elway got caught in the nastiest “mania” in years in North America and yet he was the only guy who had a little perspective. In fact, this is what John Elway said when asked about Tebow as #1 QB for next year. Now, this is not guaranteeing much but again, it’s Elway having a little perspective.

“I think Tim’s earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year. He made some good strides this year, he obviously played very well against Pittsburgh and played very well in a lot of football games – so like he’s earned the right to be the starter going into training camp next year.” That’s not exactly promising a guy the world for next year, that’s like my dad saying to my mom “I’m going on a four day road trip with the boys and I promise not to cheat on you then” My mom would simply say “well, what about the other 24 years?” Like promising a guy that he’ll have a chance in training camp for some snaps isn’t promising very much. But I applaud anybody these days who has any perspective. The sky is not falling, Tebow is not amazing, Aaron Rodgers is not the 3rd best quarterback in the NFC…maybe all of this stems from the fact that we just love football so much and our passion is so great that we just can’t see straight. I’ve said it before, two things that make really smart guys dumb:  hot woman and sports… we just get dumb fast!!

We all love offense like the Saints and the Packers produce…yet who were the 4 teams left in the NFL playoff picture? 49er’s play defense, Giants play defense, the Ravens play defense and if I may suggest this, New England plays very good situational defense. I went and looked it up this morning and found that New England, over the last 9 games prior to the game against the Ravens, had only given up about 18 points a game. So this idea that New England is atrocious defensively…ask yourself this: Do they have the best coach in the league? Yes!

The really good coaches – and Belicheck’s background is defense, not offense. Do you think he can make the team good enough defensively to make plays against Joe Flacco? I think he can! So don’t buy into the hype that New England is a terrible defensive team. Points allowed? They are right in the middle of the league. Something else to consider is that they faced Tebow in their first game; they faced Flacco who was average up until they played them this past Sunday. You don’t have to be a great defense against Tebow and Flacco – you do however, now up against Eli Manning, which is why I have the Giants winning the entire thing!

So what’s funny about the NFL is sometimes it all comes down to how you match up. You don’t have to be a great team to make the playoffs – the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs made the playoffs last year and Denver made the playoffs this year. Tebow won a playoff game and Aaron Rodgers didn’t! It’s about the team and New England, defensively, with Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork at defensive tackle; those are elite guys in the middle. They don’t have a great outside pass rush – Mark Anderson is okay, he’s bounced around the league in Houston and Chicago. But the idea that they are terrible defensively – Jerod Mayo is an elite linebacker, Patrick Chung from Oregon is a pretty athletic guy in the back. Again, they are not great, obviously, but situationally they don’t have to be against Tebow and Flacco.

So it’s not simply that defenses win you championships, Kurt Warner got the Cardinals to a Superbowl and they certainly didn’t play any defense, so you totally need a combination of things, but this is still a quarterback driven league. Who won two weekends ago? T.J. Yates and Tim Tebow. Alex Smith barely won and played the best game of his life! So it’s still a quarterback league…I’ll still take Aaron Rodgers and Brees over your Alex Smith, but Alex Smith has a better team because they pay attention to the details. What really wins in the playoffs is not an offense or a defense but rather attention to details. Nobody does it better than Bill Belicheck though honourable mention should go out to Jim Harbough and Tom Coughlin – who really deserve coach of the year awards in my opinion. This team at one point was like 7-7? They lost at home to the Redskins – I remember watching that game and thinking the Giants were absolutely atrocious and were terrible early in the year. Then in the last 3 or 4 weeks they catch fire…so Coughlin, for me, get’s coach of the year.

But here’s the one thing I’m tired of hearing and all theses excuses for Tim Tebow. If I have to hear Tebow fans say one more time “Well, he doesn’t have anything around him” Stop talking because you’re embarrassing yourself! You’re the same idiots who compared Tebow to John Elway. John Elway, by his second year in the league, was 12-2 and by far the best player in the NFL. Tim Tebow has been through 2 full seasons, one as a starter and is the worst quarterback, statistically, in the league….so please stop it! Elway was a superstar by the beginning of year 2. They certainly didn’t babysit John Elway and he certainly had less talent around him than Tim Tebow does. Sammy Winder? He had nobody around him.

The AFC West, when Elway was in it, was the best division in football for about a 4 year run. Chiefs were solid, San Diego was good and the Raiders were pretty tough. Stop babysitting Tebow and don’t tell me that he doesn’t have any talent around him. Eddie Royal had 91 catches as a rookie with Jay Cutler – that’s like 6 ½ a game and with Tebow he’s got like 1 ½ a game. You can look at Eddie Royal and figure out that he has as many catches as good as his quarterback is. He had 91 with Cutler, in 2 years he had 90 with Orton and with Tebow he’s got 19. He was Wes Welker in his first year in the league – an elite slot receiver with 91 catches but now he averages like 1 a game…stop blaming Eddie Royal! Erick Deker had 20 catches and 4 TD’s with Orton this year; with Tebow he had 11 catches in 8 games. Brandon Lloyd is an elite player and demanded to be traded because he wanted to play with a real quarterback…so stop giving Tebow this over-hyped praise. Demorious Thomas is 6 feet 3 inches, weigh’s 235 and runs a 4.38…Brady’s got nobody like that in his roster.

There is talent on that football team with players such as Willis McGahee and Erick Deker’s a solid number two. Eddie Royal was a star in the league with Cutler. I mean, Jay Cutler has made Earl Bennett good. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that quarterbacks make good wide receivers. That’s why Plaxico was great with Eli and wasn’t able to do anything with Sanchez. That’s why Roddy White was okay with Vick but is great with Matt Ryan. We all love the ernest Tim Tebow, he was a predictable 50’s sitcom…aww shucks!  He’s a great kid but take the training wheels off him. Get rid of this stupid 1974 option read stuff, it’s just amazing…take the training wheels off him!

Now, if you want to stay with Tim…like my dad and I got into a discussion last week. In life, if you set low standards…you achieve them. If 46% completion rate, two years into your career, is what you think is the future? Denver, that’s why you have a mediocre franchise and it’s exactly why you’re not the Patriots. If being 20 pounds overweight is your standard, that’s why your 20 pounds overweight! What is your standard in life? In the south, they demand excellence and it’s why they win national championships. Out West, USC demands championships and it’s why they have the most. If you don’t demand excellence, you won’t achieve excellence. Do you think Belicheck, do you think the Steelers and the Ravens…I’ve got news for you, Flacco has all sorts of playoff wins, has 44 wins including playoff in 4 years and they don’t even want to talk about giving him an extension…because they have high standards!

If I was Baltimore, I’m not even sure if I would give him a contract extension because Flacco only completes about 56% percent of his throws! He’s a trust fund kid; he was born into a great family! Half the league gets drafted to teams like the Raiders but Flacco got the Ravens! He’s definitely a trust fund kid, he got the best family!

There was simply no way that after Brady’s performance against the Broncos I was going to let the flu keep me from researching for this rant, though it did delay it by a week. For the record, if you ever want to start your own blog or become a radio show host or something, here’s my advice: if you got against hype…you will win everytime! “Michael Vick MVP” go against it! “Tebow! Unbelievable!” go against it as well. “Green Bay! The best team of all time” what?? Remember when Bill Cowher said that a couple of weeks ago, I said to some buddies that as much as I love Bill Cowher, who works over at CBS…like he’s great and all but it was probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Let me ask you: What does Green Bay do well if you take Aaron Rodgers off the team? Their secondary got all this love last year but last year they had a pass rush, which made their secondary look much better than it was. In the end, they don’t tackle well, their special teams are average, they don’t run the ball, they don’t defend the run, they’re overly aggressive, they can’t stop anybody on third down….it’s amazing!

The two teams in the NFL that don’t get caught up in hype and simply do the little things well – the 49’ers, who I picked to beat the Saints and New England. They don’t do all the big things spectacularly well…pay attention to details in life! Green Bay is flashy, there is a Kardashian quality but they don’t do the little things well at all. Take out Aaron Rodgers…what do they do well? San Francisco may not be flashy, but they run the ball, they stop the run, they never turn it over, have a great pass rush, protect the quarterback, have great special teams. The only thing they’re not great at is TD’s in the redzone. But I mean, six weeks ago Packer fans were sending me hate mail by the truck loads because I kept insisting that this “best team ever” tag was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. Best team ever?? It’s the salary cap era!! You allow 400 yards a game, the 75’ Steelers wouldn’t even allow that in a month!!

ESPN NFL Analyst Trent Dilfur predicted this would happen with Green Bay…that they would get worse over time. Mike McCarthy deserves blame for one thing not the other…get over the on-side kick! Fans love them when you recover them, hate them when you don’t. What Mike McCarthy deserves criticism for is that Aaron Rodgers had not played since Christmas!! Think about that for a moment…how long ago was Christmas? I took my tree down 2 weeks ago and Aaron Rodgers had not really played since Christmas. That’s the opposite of Bill Belicheck who had Brady in the game leading 45-10. Belicheck refuses to take anybody out no matter what the score. Now Green Bay – and yes they deserved the number #1 ranking all year, it was a year in which I said in my rants that I didn’t really know if there was a number #2 team in the league. Now, it’s not that Green Bay didn’t deserve the credit, but don’t ever forget this. That they were lucky to be in the playoffs last year DeSean Jackson’s punt is the only reason why they get in.

Last year, the NFC was watered down because Atlanta was the number #1 seed, Seattle got in, Chicago hosted the NFC championship and Michael Vick could’ve won a playoff game. The NFC wasn’t very good, Packers sneak in and get hot and deserve all the credit. But one ring and they’re the 75’ Steelers? Or the 80’s 49’ers or the 90’s Cowboys? I mean they got hot like the Giants are this year and suddenly we anointed Green Bay – a team as mentioned earlier, does not pay attention to details, that I don’t believe has an elite head coach. They’ve drafted well and have got a great quarterback, but they don’t do a lot of things well. Too many Packer fans had unrealistic views of this team.

I took the Giants at +7 to cover, I thought it would be 27-23, I thought it was going to be a very good football game. Was I surprised at the 6, 7 and 8 drops? No question I was! But as I said a couple of Fridays ago, if you went and looked at the schedule, this Green Bay team was in shootouts all year. 42-34, 30-23, 33-27, 45-38, 35-26, 38-35, 45-41…these are all shootouts! Let’s not make them into LSU where they rolled everyone except Alabama. This team was in shootouts! For the record, the Packers are 2-4 at home in the playoffs…so is Lambeau over-rated? Or do we just love Green Bay so much that every time they are good, we go nuts and overboard?

Aaron Rodgers looked rusty; I didn’t see that coming…I thought rust would play a part. I do also believe that his wide receivers let him down – in fact, Aaron Rodgers got very testy with reporters on Sunday when asked about it, saying “I don’t appreciate you asking me that question, like I don’t even know how to answer that question to be honest with you. We all didn’t play our best game; personally I didn’t feel like I played as well as I could have.” It is amazing with Aaron Rodgers that he had not played since Christmas…it is just absolutely incredible!

The other thing though is that you have got to watch out for the hype! Aaron had a terrific year and you’ve got to give him credit. I still love Aaron Rodgers the guy and the quarterback. But can we slow down a little bit? Aaron Rodgers, in two of the last three years – before we consider Tom Brady a backseat driver to him and before we anoint Aaron Rodgers as the league’s best quarterback…Aaron Rodgers in two of the last three years couldn’t win a playoff game! Has been outdueled by Kurt Warner and Eli Manning and Last Sunday, Eli Manning – not Aaron, was the best player on that football field.

I texted a buddy during the Giants/Packers game and told him this about Eli Manning “ the gap between Peyton and Eli is not as great as fans or fantasy football players want you to think” Eli is now 5-1 on the road and much like Derek Jeter, Eli’s playoff numbers are slightly better than his regular season numbers. Peyton who is a greater natural talent much like A-rod, his playoff numbers often playing at home are less than his regular season numbers. A-rod is the better natural talent than Jeter but Jeter ticks up in crisis and Peyton’s ticks down. Never forget this – where Peyton plays in 72 degree weather every home game. He has in-division home games: @ warm Houston, @ warm Jacksonville, @ usually warm Tennessee. Eli plays in New York, often windy New York. Road games in Philly, D.C. in November, December and January.

I’m not saying that Eli is better than Peyton, but in a big playoff game, I’ll take Eli over Peyton. Statistically? Peyton, Natural talent? Peyton. A-rod is better than Jeter as a talent, but two on and two out in the 9th inning, who do you want at bat? I’ll take Jeter…and I’ll take Eli!

So I’m watching the games yesterday and there was a moment where I was sitting and watching football from like three in the afternoon until like 10:45pm at night. That’s seven hours and forty-five minutes of football! So the media and fans like to rank quarterbacks without any consideration of who they are playing with, who they are playing against or the responsibility that coaches put on their shoulders. There was a moment in the San Francisco/New York game – very late in the game, that said it all folks! 49’er’s are about to get the ball, Alex Smith is on the sidelines. He overcomes his star receiver Michael Crabtree – first round pick, 4.38 in the 40, he’s long, and fast…everybody in this league would die for a kid like that. In a monsoon in the bay area and what did I see? Michael Crabtree’s jersey…the cleanest on the field.

I mean, I’ve seen mob bosses targeted more on one afternoon than Michael Crabtree was yesterday. On the other side, you’ve got Eli Manning – who they never babysit, playing with division two Victor Cruz, on the road, in a wind storm, is under constant duress. They put the entire playbook on him as a rookie, he plays in New York, and he’s booed at home. Has made a division two nobody a star in this league and Alex Smith, who they babysit, can’t even target his star receiver. They’ve got one guy that they throw to. Eli got hit 20 times, his shoulder pads broke, he’s in a windstorm, his other receiver (Nicks) is hurt and there is Eli. The difference between Eli and Alex Smith wasn’t three points; it might as well have been 300 pages of a playbook. You can go ahead and cling to second tier quarterbacks, but once again we’ve got a Superbowl with both Manning and Brady and there is a reason. To be fair, Brady wasn’t great, but why did he have home field advantage? Which against the Ravens was the difference in the game….why? Because consistent greatness allows for occasional mediocrity! With no deep threat and a horrible defense, he had 39 TD’s and 12 picks and they went 13-3.

Brady and Aaron Rodgers go 28-4 with crappy defenses and most wins by a blowout! Alex Smith with the best defense in the league, home field advantage, can’t even get the ball to Crabtree. It is absolutely amazing! Again, you can cling to all these second tier guys; there is a reason why we keep ending up with Manning and Brady in Superbowl’s. You’re allowed to be occasionally average like Brady was – although, let’s be honest here; he was going against the Ravens’ defense. Flacco had to go up against the Patriots’ defense where Julian Eddleman was their star closer at corner by the end of the game…big difference there. But it is amazing what Eli Manning has forced upon himself. Relentless media, crappy weather, on the road, booed at home…this kid is incredible! Brady and Eli Manning have made guys like Victor Cruz, Wes Welker, and Dion Branch….just ordinary guys into great players and win rings. Alex Smith has Michael Crabtree; he had a clean jersey after a 4 hour tsunami in the bay. Go and cling to these guys that you have to build perfect football teams around! You sit and watch what the great ones can do in this game.

Switching gears though, I have never been more surprised in my life with what I saw this morning. I generally – and I would consider myself to be okay at this, having read a lot about odds makers and occasionally asking questions on forums and emailing Las Vegas Sports Consultants directly, try to come up with my own betting lines. I think I’m pretty good at it and I think a lot of you are as well, it’s not like a special gift or anything like that. I honestly think that if you watch Football or any other sport and take the emotion out of it; a lot of you guys out there can make your own lines. I’ve followed this business for the past 4 years and in my short time have never seen a stranger line than this. The New England Patriots are favoured over the New York Giants….what??? And they are favoured by 3 points!

Excuse me?? Ask yourself this: what don’t the Giants do well and what do the Patriots do well? I mean, here is how bad the AFC was this year: Tebow and T.J. Yates both won playoff games. Here’s how good the NFC was this year: Aaron Rodgers couldn’t! The NFC was Brees, Eli, Matt Ryan, Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and the two best pass rushes. The AFC was just won by a team with no pass rush, no deep threat, whose quarterback didn’t play well in the AFC championship who uses Julian Eddleman as a lockdown corner. I tried guessing the line on the Superbowl, I had the Giants at about 6 ½ – 7 and Vegas has got the Patriots as a favourite? Wowww!!! I certainly do not encourage gambling, but if I lose my house in 2 weeks, you’ll know why!

New York – and the best part if you’re a Giants fan, New York is better as a dog. If they were favoured by 8, I would certainly worry about it. Nobody plays better as a dog than the Giants. That line to me is absolutely shocking! So I researched this morning – and remember, New England has got no pass rush. I looked up this morning the last 5 games that Eli Manning has played against teams with no pass rush: Green Bay, Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay and New Orleans. His quarterback ratings have been: 102, 101, 138, 130 and 115. You think Eli was impressive yesterday? When you can’t even get to him… like Green Bay couldn’t, New Orleans couldn’t, Atlanta couldn’t…he’s unbelievable! I’m just absolutely shocked! I woke up this morning and saw the line on Twitter and I just went “what??” Who set that? My 8 year old cousin? Who set that line?

I’ll tell you, first thing is first…I don’t think San Francisco is getting any respect. If I have to hear an analyst one more time say “well Drew Brees is better than Alex Smith” …that has already been established! But Drew Brees is going to face the best front 7 in football in San Francisco on the road. Alex Smith will face virtually no pass rush whatsoever from New Orleans. It’s amazing how good a quarterback gets with time and how average a great quarterback gets under duress. It’s the same with the Giants and the Packers: Eli Manning is going to have a lot more time to throw than Aaron Rodgers! I can guarantee you that! Is Rodgers better than Eli? Absolutely!! But don’t forget that pass rush is the great equalizer. If it was all about quarterbacks, Brady and Rodgers would never lose any games!

There is a reason why the Saints got clobbered by St. Louis, do you remember that game? St. Louis put up a huge pass rush…why? Because their former coach is a smart defensive guy and the Rams’ talent – most of it is in the defensive line. So I think San Francisco is so undervalued this weekend. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the game that will get the highest ratings – and it won’t be close, that is the Denver Tebow’s against the New England Patriots.

I’ve always tried with Tebow, to quantify it this way: Love him as a human, I’m not going to mock his faith  because I think there is no place for that kind of cynicism, he’s a good human being…but not my kind of quarterback for the future. I’m not going to build around that kind of style of quarterbacking. I said the same thing about Vince Young and Michael Vick. You know me if you read these rants on a weekly basis. It’s not about Tebow the dude, it’s about “I’m not a fan of quarterbacks who run”…I’m just not! I want guys who sit in the pocket and throw darts.

But I was saying this to a friend earlier today – who likes Tebow and I said to him “let me add some perspective here…and I get your like thing” which is something I’ve always taken pride in. What if Tebow loses tonight? Now, he’s not going to take play great or terrible. I went to accurscore, where they simulated the game 10,000 times and when it’s simulated for so long, here’s what they predicted for Tebow tonight in bad weather: 1 TD, 1 pick, 191 yards, 68 quarterback rating,11 for 22. By the way, you would all destroy Mark Sanchez for that, even if he won.

So if Tebow gives you the game –again he’s not terrible or great, but just gives you the game that I just wrote, I would think it’d be predictably average for Tebow. Can I ask all you Tebow fans something…”what are you left with?” I think you’re left with 4 out of the last 5 starts are losses (3 of the 4 are ugly) with 4 TD’s and 3 interceptions. You’re left with – starting with the Miami win, overtime win over a non-playoff team, win by 7 over bad team, win by 4 over non-playoff team, overtime win over non-playoff, 3 non-playoff’s, overtime non-playoff…all those win’s at home, all those impressive wins. Now you did crush the Raiders, good for you! But does that sound like – when I list that out for you, does that sound like the future of greatness in the NFL? That’s all I’ve tried to add

Next year, I’m not sure Denver fans realize this! That because Denver won its division, we already know who Denver is going to face next year…we just don’t know the dates. Do all you Tebow fans realize that you’re going to face the Steelers, Texans, Ravens, Bengals, Pats, Falcons, Saints and Panthers. So 10 of 16 weeks next year, you will either face: Philip Rivers, Joe Falcco, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady on the road, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matt Schaub and Big Ben who is healthy. The schedule is already out; we know who you’re going to play…the NFC South and all the division winners! We just don’t know when you’re going to play them.

Now everybody has got tape, no more Caleb Haines, no more Chad Henne’s, no more catching anybody by surprise…lot’s of tape and arguably 10 pro bowl levelish quarterbacks who have a year to prep. So what are you left with? So in this entire Tebow story, all I have tried to add is some perspective. By the way, as Ted Brusky ESPN NFL Analyst said, you won’t get the disrespectful game plan this year, which Tebow has often faced….arrogance. So that’s always been my perspective on Tebow, Mania doesn’t grow to the sky. So what happens if Tebow has the game that Vegas and Accurscore predict? What are you left with? No more mania, 47% significantly tougher schedule, 10 out of 16 pro bowl level quarterbacks, many games on the road and a year of film…what are you left with?

That’s why when John Elway – the only honest person the entire time in Denver, is asked about Tim Tebow and handing him the key to the future, John Elway has always had the same response and it’s the exact same response that he should have. “You know what, we’re going to go through the entire list and evaluate everybody on the football team. We’re not going to worry about next year now, we’ll try to finish the year strong and hopefully we’ve got a long way to go. Once we then get into the off-season, we’ll then sit down and evaluate everybody”

What I love about this story is that when this is all over, be it Feb 5th and Tebow’s got a ring or tonight in New England. We will look back …because the further the story and the games get away from us, everybody will have perspective and I will ask the questions again…what are we left with? No mania, no games, it’s the off-season, they’re playing baseball, deep breathe…what are you left with? Is it what you’d be willing to build your future around? I guess we’ll see…