Sunday, October 15, 2017

Picks of the Week

Two weeks without analysis, that ended up OK.  Let's see what happens this week with some actual pick analysis.

My long time readers know how this works, but for everybody else,  a reminder.  Each pick is using the spread (straight up is for wussies), and the betting line is from the same website each week as of the time of typing the entry. I keep a running tally of my record, plus my winnings/losses. We will "pretend" that I bet $100 on each game, with one game each week going for $250. Winnings/Losses will be calculated including a 10% vig to make the math that much simpler.  On to the picks.

Carolina Panthers -3 v. Philadelphia Eagles
Short week road teams are not supposed to cover, much less win outright.

Chicago Bears +5 at Baltimore Ravens
I don not expect the Bears to win this game, but I don't fully trust the Ravens either.  The Bears played the Vikings relatively close last week, so I expect that to continue, and Baltimore is only averaging 18 points per game anyway, so it might be tough to cover.

Miami Dolphins + 13 1/2 at Atlanta Falcons
The Dolphins look like a trainwreck right now, but Atlanta may not have anyone to catch the ball for them except for Julio Jones, who is  a great option, but it does help to have at least somebody else on the other side for the defense to have to cover.

Houston Texans -7 1/2 v. Cleveland Browns
DeShaun Watson is coming into his own, and the Browns have already made a QB change to Hogan.  The Texans are 4th in the league in scoring at 28.8 points per game, and the Browns are only 25th in points allowed.  Look for Watson, Miller, Hopkins, et. al. to have huge numbers today.

Green Bay Packers -3 at Minnesota Vikings
I don't normally like taking road divisional favorites, but Green Bay has won 5 of their last seven at Minnesota.  Coming into this game, statistically speaking, the Vikings are more dominant on offense (9th in total yards to 16th), whereas it is the Packers who are more dominating on defense (6th in passing defense to 20th).  Aaron Rodgers likes those numbers.

Detroit Lions +5 at New Orleans
Raise your hands if you know that Detroit is outscoring New Orleans per game this year?  No you didn't.  Detroit is also third in rushing defense, going against a team that is trying to run the ball to take pressure off Drew Brees.  They are going to have to keep relying on Brees in this game.

New England Patriots -9 at New York Jets
The Jets have gone three-and-out on every opening drive this year.  If they do that to the Patriots, they could end up down 14-0 to a Patriots team that is 1st in passing and total yards, and 3rd in points.  For as much talent as people say the Jets have on their defense, they are 30th in rush defense and 25th in total  yards.

Washington Racists -10 1/2 v. San Francisco 49ers
I hate this line.  I was hoping for 7 1/2 or 8.  But, I have to take Washington as San Francisco is travelling from the west coast to play an early game, which is murder on the road team historically.  That and San Francisco is bad offensively (22nd in total yards and 25th in points scored) and just as bad on defense (28th in total defenses and 22nd in points allowed).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2 1/2 at Arizona Cardinals
Another road favorite, ugh.  Carson Palmer has led the Cardinals to the second most passing yards in the league, but he has almost as many INTs (5) as TDs (6).  Some of Palmer's yards can be attributed to the fact that they HAVE to pass, since they cannot run after the loss of David Johnson.  I am not sure that Adrian Peterson can help with that.  Palmer, and possible Peterson, are shells of their former selves.  Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is second in passing yards per game, with Dough Martin now back after a full game under his belt.

Jacksonville Jaguars -1 v. L.A. Rams
The Jaguars - behind Leonard Fournette - are number one in the league in rushing at 165.2 yards per game, and the Rams are 27th in rushing defense.  Gurley will get his yards as well, but this game is about Leonard Fournette.

Pittsburgh Steelers +3 1/2 at Kansas City Chiefs
Yes the Chiefs are undefeated.  Yes the Steelers have not been as dominating as expected this year (see loss to Chicago Bears).  So, this looks like Kansas City in a romp.  However, Kansas City's defenses is 27th in total  yards allowed and 25th in passing yards allowed.  I think Antonio Brown is going to have a huge game.  Kareem Hunt can have a big game as well as the Steelers are 28th in rushing defense.

Oakland Raiders -3 v. L.A. Chargers
Offensively the Raiders have been horrible (30th in total yards; 26th in passing yards), but Derek Carr's return has to give them a spark and Amari Cooper some receptions, right?

Denver Broncos -13 v. New York Giants
Big line for a Sunday night game, but the Giants are horrible, and they lost almost every receiver on their roster.  It is time for the practice squad to try to step up against Denver's 1st ranked defense.  Won't happen.

Indianapolis Colts +7 1/2 at Tennessee Titans
The only winners in this game are those that do not watch.  Bad offenses (Indianapolis is 25th and Tennessee is 24th).  Bad defenses (Colts are 31st and Titans are 22nd).  I'll take the points, because, why not.

Big Bet

Houston Texans -7 1/2 v. Cleveland Browns
DeShaun Watson is coming into his own, and the Browns have already made a QB change to Hogan.  The Texans are 4th in the league in scoring at 28.8 points per game, and the Browns are only 25th in points allowed.  Look for Watson, Miller, Hopkins, et. al. to have huge numbers today.
A lot of points to give up for a big bet, but the Texans are at home, whereas the Packers are giving up points on the road, and Denver is giving 13.  I also thought about Jacksonville, but its Jacksonville.

Last Two Weeks' Record:  16-13-1
Last Two Weeks' Big Bet:  1-1
Year-to-Date Record:  37-38-2
Big Bet Year-to-Date:  2-3
Last Week's Winnings (Losses):  $155
Winnings (Losses) Year-to-Date:  ($705)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Picks of the Week

Since I am literally travelling home right now from a college football game, and because it is close to start time, no analysis this week, just picks.  I was 8-8 last week, and will update my record when Ibget somewhere stationary.

On to the picks:

Tampa Bay +4 v.  New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals -3 v.  Buffalo Bills
New York Jets - 1 1/2 at Cleveland Browns
Carolina Panthers + 1 1/2 at Detroit Lions
San Francisco 49ers +1 at Indianapolis Colts
Miami Dolphins -1 v. Tennessee Titans
New York Giants -3 v. Los Angeles Chargers
Philadelphis Eagles -6 v. Arizona Cardinals
Jacksonville Jaguars +7 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Rams -2 v. Seattle Seahawks
Oakland Raiders -3 v. Baltimore Ravens 
Green Bay Packers + 2 1/2 at Dallas Cowboys 
Houston Texans +2 v. Kansas City Chiefs
Chicago Bears +3 v. Minnesota Vikings

Big Bet:  Green Bay +2 1/2 at Dallas Cowboys

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Divisional Series Roundtable

So, the corny, but fascinating one-and-done wild card games are completed, and the major league divisional series start shortly.  The guys at WeMakeItRain gathered together to discuss the four series before they unfold.

Pepster:  So guys, we are going to give our thoughts and predictions for the four divisional series.  Who do you got?

Hopps:  Cubs over Dodgers, Yankees over Indians.  Cubs over Yankees; that will make for great tv.

Pepster:  Those are some good predictions, but why don't we start with the divisional series,  you know, the games that are starting today.  Let's take them in the order they commence. Boston and Houston. 

Hopps.  Sox lose in 3.  Astros definitely.

Pepster:   But wait, don't you live in New England?  Must be the old defeatist attitude is back.  Sinickal?

Sinickal:  Houston.  I hate Sox fans more that I hate that flat, smelly city in Texas.

Pepster:  Ah yes, Houston.  The city that ALWAYS sleeps.  But, I will take them.  All-World starting pitcher Dallas Kuechel complained about the Astros' lack of activity at the trade deadline worked, as Houston then went after - and got - Justin Verlander.   And, their lineup is stacked with Altuve, Springer, Correa, Reddick, Gurriel, and the old man - who always seems to produce in the playoffs - Carlos Beltran.  Especially if David Price ends up playing a major role.  Then definitely the Astros.

How about the other American League series, the Yankees and Indians?  I like the Indians, and not just because of the winning streak.  Cory Kluber is the best single pitcher in this series, including the Yankees bullpen, and because Chapman is still shell-shocked from all the innings in the World Series last year.

Hopps:  (On the phone with someone else) I'll take Tampa and the over tonight.  Oh, right, sorry.  Yankees.  What a World Series if its Cubs/Yankees.

Sinickal:  Indians.  Cleveland will pull out all the stops to ensure that Gabrielle Union stays after leaving Chicago.  She is clearly the good luck charm here.

Pepster:  No wonder you went Houston.  You are rooting for the Kate Upton - Gabrielle Union ALCS.  To the national league, the Nationals versus the Cubs.  Silas, you have an interesting rooting interest as you live down the street from Nationals Park but are a lifelong Cubs fan.

Silas:  That's right on both accounts.  My father taught me growing up that New Hampshire was a suburb of Chicago.  But, I cannot openly root for the Cubs; that's bad luck.  Besides, WE don't have Gabrielle Union anymore. 

Pepster:  D-Wade did leave Chicago, that is true.  But, experience means something, and so long as Trae Turner doesn't get on base with Jon Lester pitching (or else he will steal everything in the park, not just the bases), the Cubs will win this series.

Hopps:  I have Chicago in the World Series, so I have to pick them to win this series.

Pepster:  That is solid logic. OK, out west.  Colorado and Los Angeles.  I pick the Dodgers.  Yes, they lost 16-17 recently, but they have the magical Cuban with the amazing batflips - and Yasiel Puig to boot.  (I was referring to Yasmani Grandal, for those that don't get it).  Bellinger, Seager, Turner and veterans to go with Kershaw, Yu and Jansen on the mound.  L.A. it is.

Hopps:  Dodgers.

Sinickal:  L.A.  Gabrielle Union went to high school there, and works there.

Pepster:  I am sensing a theme, and I like it.

Hopps:  I'm enjoying the use of the word "WE".  Like you were involved.

Pepster:  On that note, we are going to have to wrap-up our roundtable discussion.  Enjoy the divisional series, and see everyone back here for the ALCS and NLCS.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Picks of the Week

Boy was last week brutal.  I am a bit busy this morning, so no analysis, just picks.

My long time readers know how this works, but for everybody else,  a reminder.  Each pick is using the spread (straight up is for wussies), and the betting line is from the same website each week as of the time of typing the entry. I keep a running tally of my record, plus my winnings/losses. We will "pretend" that I bet $100 on each game, with one game each week going for $250. Winnings/Losses will be calculated including a 10% vig to make the math that much simpler.  On to the picks.

Chicago Bears +7 at Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints -4 v. Miami Dolphins in London

Atlanta Falcons -6 v. Buffalo Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers - 3 at Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals -3 at Cleveland Browns

Los Angeles Rams +6 at Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans +3 v. Tennessee Titans

Minnesota Vikings -2 1/2 v. Detroit Lions

Carolina Panthers +9 1/2 at New England

Jacksonville Jaguars -4 at New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers +6 1/2 at Arizona Cardinals

Philadelphia Eagles +2 at Lost Angeles Chargers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2 1/2 v. New York Giants

Oakland Raiders +3 at Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts +13 at Seattle Seahawks

Washington Racists +7 at Kansas City Chiefs

Big Bet

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2 1/2 v. New York Giants

Last Week's Record:  5-11
Last Week's Big Bet:  0-1
Year-to-Date Record:  21-25-1
Big Bet Year-to-Date:  1-2
Last Week's Winnings (Losses):  ($875)
Winnings (Losses) Year-to-Date:  ($860)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Football Wrap-Up

Here are my thoughts from Week 3 of the NFL season, based purely on what I was able to see.  For the first time this season (thanks Irma) I watched a lot of football, so I have a pretty good sample size.

Game of the Week

Chicago Bears 23 v. Pittsburgh Steelers 17 - There were a lot of good games, and multiple overtime games, but this one was the closest/best.  Coupled with the Sherrick McManis blocked field goal returned by Marcus Cooper who slowed down and was stripped at the goal line, but with the ball batted out of the end zone by Pittsburgh kicker Chris Boswell for a penalty as time ran out of the first half, giving the Bears one untimed play from the one, which they then false started to settle for a 23 yard field goal.  Crazy.

Best Team Performance

Minnesota Vikings - They thoroughly dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winning the game 34-17, and it wasn't even that close.  The Buccaneers defensive backfield might as well have been absent as Vikings wide receivers did whatever they wanted; Stefon Diggs finished with 8 receptions for 173 yards and Adam Thielen had 5 receptions for 98 yards.

Least Impressive Team Performance

Baltimore Ravens - I think the Ravens missed their flight to London, losing 44-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Baltimore's score came after surrendering 44 straight points to the Jaguars.

Most Impressive Individual Performance (Offense)

Stefan Diggs, WR - Minnesota Vikings.  The aforementioned Diggs gained 173 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 8 catches and scored 2 touchdowns.  So far this year he is the best receiver not named "Antonio Brown".

Most Impressive Individual Performance (Defense)

DeMarcus Lawrence DE, Dallas Cowboys - Lawrence tallied 3 sacks against the Arizona Cardinals, as the Cowboys defeated the Cardinals 28-17 on Monday night.  He now has 6 1/2 on the season to lead the NFL.

Most Impressive Individual Performance (Special Teams)

Sherrick McManis, DB - Chicago Bears.  In the first quarter he was the gunner on a punt, and fielded the muff from Steelers' punt returner Eli Rogers.  At the end of the second quarter, McManis blocked the field goal that led to the craziness described above.

Most Impressive Team Performance (Premier League)

Machester City.  They defeated EPL bottom dwellers Crystal Palace 5-0, as they should have.  What made their performance the most impressive of the weekend is that they possessed the ball 72% of the time.

Most Impressive Individual Performance (Premier League)

Alvaro Morata, F - Chelsea - He scored a hat trick against Stoke City and is now tied for the league lead in goals with Romelu Lukaku, the Manchester United forward that everyone expected to sign with Chelsea.  And he did so during the week in which Diego Costa, the high scoring forward that Morata replaced at Chelsea, completed his transfer to Atletico Madrid.

Goat of the Week

Marcus Cooper, CB - Chicago Bears - Pulled his best Leon Lett impression at the goal line as time expired in the first half.

Goat of the Week (Premier League)
No real goats this week.

Hit of the Week

Donald Trump's reputation among rich NFL owners', as many of them stood arm-linked-in-arm with their players before and during the national anthem.

Breakthrough Performance

DeShaun Watson, QB - Houston Texans - He almost became the first rookie QB to ever go into New England and win, and if not for a scared decision by Coach Bill O'Brien to not go for first down on fourth - instead kicking a field goal and giving Tom Brady back the ball - he might have accomplished it.  He still finished with 301 yards passing and 41 yards rushing in a 36-33 defeat.


Carson Palmer, QB - Arizona Cardinals - After the first two games, most people had written Palmer off for dead.  However, against the Dallas Cowboys, he had a phenomenal first half, and finished the game 29-48 for 385 with 2 touchdowns.  Welcome back Carson Palmer.

Impact Injury

Bryan Bulaga, T - Green Bay Packers.  The rock of the Packers offensive line went out of the game with an injury and didn't return.  If he is out for a number of games, expect Aaron Rodgers to take a bit more of a beating than usual.

Team Rising

Jacksonville Jaguars - By thumping the Ravens the way they did, people are starting to remember, and perhaps the team will as well, that they do have some serious talent.

Team Falling

Oakland Raiders - Yes they are still 2-1, but the offense has not shown up in either of the last two games.  Since their defense outside of Khalil Mack isn't stellar, this is discouraging for Raiders fans.

Best Teams
(All undefeated teams will be ranked ahead of all others until all teams have at least 1 loss, then I will rank them based upon which teams I think is best, regardless of record.)

1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. New England Patriots
4. Minnesota Vikings
5. Philadelphia Eagles

Worst Teams
(All winless teams will be ranked here until all teams have at least 1 win, then I will rank them based upon which teams I think are the worst, regardless of record.)

32. New York Giants
31. San Francisco 49ers
30. Cincinnati Bengals
29. Los Angeles Chargers
28. Cleveland Browns

Middle Teams

15. Jacksonville Jaguars
16. Los Angeles Rams
17. Buffalo Bills
18. Baltimore Ravens

Preview - Game(s) of the Week

4. Carolina Panthers v. New England Patriots - One of two really big inter-conference games this week as both teams enter 2-1.  Much more at stake for the Panthers who are on the road, but will have to keep up with the Falcons and fend off the Buccaneers in the NFC South.

3. Detroit Lions v. Minnesota Vikings - The winner takes the lead in the NFC north (along with Green Bay if the Packers win Thursday).  This may not be the best division in football, but top-to-bottom this could be the closest division in the NFL.

2. Washington Racists v. Kansas City Chiefs - Not because of all the Native American themes, logos, clothing and other paraphernalia that will be all over this Monday night clash, but because Washington looks like they could be a very good team, and to prove it all they have to do is beat the team that has looked the best through the first 3 weeks.

1. Las Vegas Raiders v. Denver Broncos - One of these teams could conceivably fall 2 games behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.  Should be a tough, good game.

Since I have not written after the first two weeks of NFL games, so you get two trivia questions today - although they are related.

By starting this year, Tom Brady is one of two NFL Quarterbacks to have started for 15 years all for only one team.  Who is the other?

Tom Brady is also one of only 2 players in the four major North American sports (baseball, basketball, football, hockey) to play 18 years, all under only one head coach.  Who is the other?

Sports Bar Review of the Week

No review this week

Trivia Answer

No answer as of yet.  Tune in next week.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Ole College Try

What a crazy couple of weeks in college football, and that is just with the University of Florida's endings.  Here is the recap of the season to date, with an emphasis on last week's games.  For those that don't remember, I write this column as if every player is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Why? Because it is ridiculously ludicrous that the networks, including the World Wide Leader, nay, especially the World Wide Leader, emphasize the Heisman Trophy race all season at the expense of everything else.  Consider this my sarcastic homage to stupid reporting.

Heisman Watch

Quarterback Edition

Favorite - Baker Mayfield -Oklahoma - He doesn't have the yards of Josh Rosen or Mason Rudolph, but he is 9th in passing yards, 3rd in Touchdowns, and has the biggest win of the season.  With Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph both having lost, and Josh Rosen having lost twice, it is going to take a lot to move Mayfield out of this position.

Rising - Will Grier - West Virginia - We wanted, and still want, the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State game to mean something, but the West Virginia - Oklahoma game on November 25 has the potential to really mean something!

Sleeper - Luke Falk - Washington State - The undefeated cougars are rolling, primarily because of Luke Falk.  He has thrown for 1378 yards, and more importantly, has completed 77 percent of his passes.  His 14 TDs to 1 interception is astounding.

Falling - Sam Darnold - USC - Struggled at times against what should have been an overmatched California Bears team.  He still may be the top pick in the draft, but he isn't the Heisman favorite.

Running Back Edition

Favorite - Saquon Barkley - Penn State - He gained 211 yards and scored 1 TD against a tough Iowa defense as the Nittany Lions eeked out a 21-19 win.  He also had 94 yards receiving off 12 receptions.  Right now nobody else is close.  Barkley is the Heisman frontrunner overall.

Rising - Bryce Love - Stanford - He leads the NCAA in rushing with 787 with a 10.8 yard per carry average.  Stanford's two losses will keep him off the Heisman podium, however.

Falling - Jordan Scarlett - Florida - Not only has he been suspended the entire season, but freshmen Malik Davis and Kadarius Toney looked way more exciting running the ball than Scarlett ever did.

Sleeper - Mark Walton - Miami - Even though Miami has only played two games because of Hurricane Irma, Walton is still 34th in rushing with a whopping 13 yards per carry.  He is going to fly up this list with more games..

Wide Receiver Edition

Favorite - James Washington - Oklahoma State - Easily the best receiver in the country.  Has 520 yards on only 19 receptions (a 27.4 ypc).

Rising - Cam Phillips - Virginia Tech - 34 receptions, an NCAA best 523 yards and 5 TDs.

Falling - Ahmmon Richards - Miami - Last year's freshman All-American has yet to play this season.

Sleeper - Steve Ishmael - Syracuse - Leads the NCAA in receptions with 45, including 11 grabs in a close 35-26 defeat at LSU.  Plus, he was just added to the Biletnekoff Award watch list.

Defensive Edition

5.  Khalil Hodge.- LB - Buffalo - 52 total tackles, including 1 forced fumble.  Primarily on here because the last time Buffalo had a LB named Khalil - he turned out to be pretty good (Mack).

4.  Demetrius Monday - CB - Kent State - Your NCAA leader with 4 interceptions.

3.  Peter Kalamabayi - DE - Stanford - Leads the NCAA with 8 sacks, and he does it in a tough conference.

2.  Anthony Winbush - DE - Louisville - He has 8 sacks and leads the NCAA with 3 forced fumbles.

1.  Frank Ginda - LB - San Jose State - Leads the NCAA in tackles with 73 (21 more than the next highest total).  And it isn't because he is the only player on the defense that can tackle opponents, as teammate, safety Ethan Aguayo, is 5th in the NCAA in tackles with 48.

Player(s) to Watch

Keith Bryant - QB - Clemson - He doesn't have the eye-popping stats that DeShaun Watson did, and he may not look as exciting as DeShaun Watson did, but he does look in control of a team that looks destined for the playoffs.

My New Favorite Player

Logan Woodside - QB - Toledo - The senior is in complete control of an extraordinary offense, and he looks well on his way to another 4,000 yard passing season.  This is what a guy that stays four years at a mid-major school looks like - a great college quarterback.  He may not translate to the NFL, but he looks great for Toledo.

Players of the Week (Just Week 2)

5.  Mark Walton - RB - Miami - He gained 204 yards on only 11 carries in Miami's victory over Toledo after a three-week layoff due to Hurricane Irma.

4.  Manny Wilkens - QB - Arizona State - He threw for 347 yards in the Sun Devils' upset victory over Oregon.

3. Zach Smtih - QB - Baylor - The only loser on this list, but he kept Baylor in the game against Oklahoma falling 49-41 despite his 403 yards and 4 TDs on 33-50 passing.

2.  Bryce Love - RB - Stanford - he rushed for 263 yards as the Cardinal stomped UCLA.

1. Saquon Barkley - RB - Penn State - He gained 305 total yards from scrimmage, and Penn State needed every yard in a close victory over Iowa.

Goat of the Week (Player Edition)

Nick Haynes - OL - Kentucky - His 10 yard late game holding penalty proved costly as the Wildcats missed a very long field goal at the buzzer by a mere 3 or 4 yards.  The fact that it wasn't a holding penalty notwithstanding, Haynes has to feel awful for costing Kentucky its first win against the Gators in 31 tries.

Goat of the Week (Coach Edition)

Mike Gundy - Oklahoma State - The Cowboys, who seemed on track for a potential playoff-qualifying rivalry game against Oklahoma, just were not ready/prepared for Texas Christian.  Playing in the Big 12 with one loss will not get you into the playoffs.

Predicted Playoffs/Championship Match Ups

Alabama (1) v. USC (4)/ (2) Clemson v. (3) Oklahoma

Again, still way too early to tell as tons of teams are still alive.

Final Unbeatens

Alabama, Central Florida, Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Memphis, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Navy, Oklahoma, Penn State, San Diego State, South Florida, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, USC, University of Texas - San Antonio, Utah, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin

Rant(s) of the Week

No rants this week.  Which in and of itself is an upset.

Under Performance of the Week

Oklahoma State.  This was supposed to be the year they challenged for the Big 12 title; which they still can.  But losing to TCU doesn't help matters.

Last Year's Trivia Answer (or perhaps even two years ago)

As a reminder, the question was:

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen threw for at least 300 yards for the 12th time in his collegiate career, breaking the school record held by whom?

The answer is Cade McNown.

Trivia Question of the Week

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has set the school record for touchdown passes with his 88th TD in last week's game.  Whose record did he break?

Match up(s) to Watch

5. Miami v. Duke - Other than my number 1 game to watch, this is the game of the week that could go a long way to determining a place in the ACC championship game, as 2 unbeatens play at the site of one of the more crazier endings in NCAA history.

4.  Mississippi State v. Auburn - The winner takes a big step forward in seeing who the number one contender is against Alabama in the SEC west.

3. Vanderbilt v. Florida - Not because this will be a good game, but have you seen the last two endings in Florida's last two games?

2.  USC v. Washington State - Can Luke Falk make a big step toward making Washington State a real contender in the Pac-12?  He can with a win over USC.

1.  Clemson v. Virginia Tech - Two undefeated ACC teams with incredibly strong defenses face-off in Blacksburg, which I can attest is an excellent college football crowd..

Monday, September 25, 2017


I have been thinking about doing a column along this topic for sometime.  My plan is to do this as many Mondays as possible.  This column does a few things:  (1) It gives me another writing outlet, not necessarily limited to sports; (2) It allows me to make fun of the typical sports television/radio games; and (3) Who knows what kinds of fun we can get into.

Rather than just list a bunch of people/places/things/teams/qualities/ideas, etc. and then stating whether they are over-rated/under-rated/or just rated exactly right, I will select a topic and then name people/places/things/teams/qualities/ideas, etc. that are over-rated/under-rated or rated exactly right.  For example, if the category is colors:  I could say red is over-rated, then explain why, say green is under-rated, then explain why, and say that yellow is rated correctly, then explain why.  For your color aficianados, this is just to show how the system works.  One over-rated/one under-rated/one rated correctly for each topic.

My first topic grew from a facebook post of friend of WeMakeItRain Allison after visiting Camden Yards for a baseball game early this year.  I saw her post and I new I wanted to do something with it, but it only recently occurred to me how to do it.  That post, admittedly is unrelated to this column, but like my ideas, they sprout away from the original gestation.  Here is her post:

I was kind of surprised that so many Cal Ripken shirts were still available in the team store this many years later... but I bought one anyway. #2131

My topic then is:  Baltimore Orioles


Yes, he is a great player.  Yes, he is deservedly in the Hall-of-Fame.  Yes, he was part of the three that saved baseball (along with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa - company with whom Ripken probably doesn't want to be mentioned.)  All this is true, and he is still way overrated.

First off, let's consider that Cal Ripken, Jr. is considered a God by Baltimore Oriole fans, as well as by other baseball fans.  Some might even try to argue that he is the best shortstop of all time.  But, let's look at the numbers in comparison to other Hall-of-Famers.

Ripken's career batting average is .276, which puts him at 136th among Hall-of-Famers, tied Roy Campanella and Harry Wright.  However, the average batting average among hitters in the Hall-of-Fame is .302.  Ripken is a full .027 points behind the average.  For those more interested in Moneyball stats, Ripken's career .OPS is .788, or good for 123rd among Hall-of-Famers, tied with Frank Chance and behind such legendary powers as Craig Biggio, and even fellow shortstop Barry Larkin.

To be fair, Ripken rates better in the power numbers; his 431 homers ranking 25th among Hall of Famers and his 1695 RBIs ranking 20th, although he still trails legendary shortstop Honus Wagner in RBIs.

So, Ripken is truly great, and deserves to be in the Hall-of-Fame; but he isn't the greatest Oriole as most would suggest, nor is he the greatest shortstop, as others would argue.

Thus, Ripken, Jr. is over-rated.


Frank Robinson deserves consideration among the best baseball players ever, not just relegated to the third or fourth Baltimore Oriole ever (conventional wisdom has Ripken and Brooks Robinson as the two team favorites).

Frank Robinson ended with a career batting average of .204 (105th among Hall-of-Famers), but with an OPS of .926; 23rd among those in the Hall of Fame, ahead of guys like Duke Snider, Mike Schmidt, and y es, Cal Ripken, Jr.

Like Ripken, his power numbers are much more impressive, ranking 5th among Hall-of-Famers in home runs with 586 and 16th in RBIs with 1812, playing the exact same number of years as Ripken.

Add to his resume the facts that he won MVPs in both the American and National Leagues (with the Cincinnati Reds) and was the major league's first African-American manager while playing in Cleveland.  After that, he became the first African-American manager in the National League.

Frank Robinson is continually, under-rated.


This was a tough category because seven names came to my mind:  Jim Palmer - who might be a bit overrated because of the underwear commercials; Brooks Robinson - but he is a bit overrated because of his defense; Boog Powell - but he is a bit overrated because of his BarBQ restaurants; Mark Mussina - too New York Yankees; Adam Jones - too recent; and Mark Belanger - quite possibly the true definition of this section.  But, when all is said and done, it is about Eddie Murray.

Eddie Murray, always thought of as good, never makes the list of greatest of his era, or greatest at his position.  Hell, his nickname for some was "Steady Eddie".  Although he was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, you would be hard pressed to come up with his name if you were to go through the list of first ballot Hall-of-Famers.  He hit .287 for his career with 504 homers, but, of course, he is last in the 500 homer club among those in the Hall-of-Fame.  

Yes, a great player, but thought of as exactly that:  Great.  Not exceptional, not amazing, just great.  He is properly rated.