Archive

Archive for the ‘Aaron Booth’ Category

2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

January 4, 2012 1 comment

By: Aaron Booth

One of my favorite things in sports is a hot debate about an arbitrary topic. That’s why awards and college football rankings are so much fun. Those topics leave a lot to debate, the rules are vague, there’s no clearly defined relationship between component A and component B, the qualifications of the voters are often suspect, and at the end of it we, the fans, have dozens of things to complain about. The baseball Hall of Fame is just such a topic. Five hundred or so baseball writers with almost as many different perspectives and principles vote through a ballot of 20-30 players that had at least 10-year careers and have been retired for at least 5 years. They have almost no guidelines to work with, and even though it’s called the Hall of Fame, the voters really aren’t even measuring fame – they’re measuring greatness – kind of.

The voting method that is most obnoxious to me comes from a small group of voters who refuse to vote for a player on the first ballot. Their rationale? Joe DiMaggio wasn’t elected on the first ballot, current player X isn’t as good as DiMaggio, therefore, player X can’t get a first ballot vote. Thankfully these writers are in the minority. For one thing, their rationale is only sustainable provided the majority of voters do the right thing. Any player that fails to get 5% of the vote falls off the ballot, so if all the voters took this stance, no players would go to the HOF because they would all fall off the ballot after the first year. As if this wasn’t enough, these voters have still more egg on their faces. When they look back on all their HOF votes they will realize that they had no hand in electing the best players in the game. A long time voter that takes this stance had nothing to do with electing Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken or Ricky Henderson. They effectively voted against them because those players were elected on their first ballots. The legacy of these writers is that they are shackled by the mistakes of voters from 40 years ago. They embrace a position on principle even though the institution would die if all voters did the same. They vote against the greatest players in the game and only have a hand in electing the lesser HOFer’s, that is, they chose Gary Carter over George Brett.

Another type of voter that has emerged over the last few years is the guy that wants to manipulate the result. These guys were prevalent in the talk surrounding Roberto Alomar and are still present in the Barry Larkin discussion. These guys think Alomar and Larkin are worthy of being in the hall, but they are not worthy of being “first ballot” Hall of Famers. The HOF makes no distinction for how many elections a player went through for enshrinement; a player is either in or not. Yet these voters have created an arbitrary sub-honor called First Ballot HOFer, which they reserve for those players that meet their personal criteria. This voter, like the last voter, employs a method that is only sustainable provided they are in the minority.

Fortunately, these voters are in the minority. On the whole I think the writers do a good job of voting for HOF, better than any group of fans would do, and leaps and bounds better than a group of players and coaches.

For those who are not familiar with the process, a voter must be a 10-year member of the Baseball Writers Association. The voters receive a ballot and may vote for as many as 10 players, but they do not have to vote for any if they don’t want to. Players that receive 75% of the vote become Hall of Famers. Players that receive less than 5% of the vote are removed from future ballots.

The 2012 HOF ballot is exceptionally thin. The best new candidate is Bernie Williams. Williams should get enough votes to stay on the ballot for several. All the other new candidates will likely fall off, as will second year hold over Juan Gonzalez.

After the first year players and Gonzalez, there are thirteen other players on the ballot. I would not vote for Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Larry Walker, or Alan Trammell. These players get votes from a lot of respected voters, but I’m just not convinced. I am open to being persuaded otherwise, but I haven’t been yet. Mattingly and Murphy had elite seasons – MVP seasons, but their periods of dominance were short and their overall careers were too short. I need more time on Walker. I am just not sure on him, and I’d rather be fully convinced than advocate a questionable candidate. On Trammell, I need to hear the narrative. I don’t think the numbers support him, but he was a shortstop, and I’m open to the idea that there is a case for him as a defender or as a leader, neither of which are reflected by the stats.

That leaves the guys I’m sure belong in the hall, plus Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire. Palmeiro and McGwire both had HOF careers and both have a legacy tainted by performance enhancing drugs. Fox baseball writer Ken Rosenthal once argued that he wasn’t voting for McGwire because McGwire refused to stand up for himself, and if he wouldn’t fight for himself why should he [Rosenthal] fight on his behalf. Perhaps Rosenthal has changed his mind, and if so, that’s fine too. In general I don’t get hung up on the PEDs. I would vote for both of these guys, though I don’t think they’ll be elected anytime soon, and I don’t really feel the need to fight for them. When the ballot is thin, I’ll vote for them. When the ballot is deep, I won’t.

That leaves seven guys I believe should be in the Hall of Fame. Here’s a quick summary of my seven HOFer’s in reverse order of importance:

Fred McGriff: The Crime Dog tends to get overlooked. He wasn’t really a vocal player, but he hit a lot of home runs and has a spotless reputation as far as PEDs are concerned.

Lee Smith: Smith bridges the gap between the original closers, (Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter) and the modern guys like Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. That means he didn’t spend his whole career getting 2 and 3 inning saves like the first group, but he also didn’t spend his whole career getting bases empty, 1-inning saves like the modern guys, which means he didn’t compile 600 saves. He was the first to 400 saves, and as a kid I remember having the impression that he was one of the closers the league feared.

Jack Morris: Some voters have become passionate about Morris and I think he will ultimately be elected. Morris was the ace pitcher for 3 World Series champions and the star of one of the greatest postseason games I’ve ever seen – A 10-inning complete game shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Tim Raines: Raines spent his best years hidden in Montreal. By OPS+, Raines had 3 elite seasons and 8 other all-star level seasons. He’s 5th all-time in stolen bases, and he’s a darling candidate of the sabremetric crowd.

Edgar Martinez: For the sake of full disclosure, I am a Mariner fan and I love Edgar. That said, not only would I vote for Edgar, I believe he will ultimately be elected. Some voters penalize him for being a DH, but this is a dying trend. It is definitely an “old” argument: new voters don’t think this way, middle aged voters are open to change, and the old voters are retiring. By OPS+, Edgar had 13 all-star caliber seasons, 7 of which were truly elite. He’s 22nd all-time in on base percentage – 13th amongst modern era players (post 1920), and 34th all time in OPS (on base + slugging).

Jeff Bagwell: Bagwell has never been implicated for PED’s but he has been penalized by the voters for having giant arms in the steroid era. 13 of Bagwell’s 15 seasons were all-star level, and 8 of those were elite.

Barry Larkin: Larkin will get in this year. The only reason he’s not in now is because of the “he’s a hall of famer, just not a first ballot hall of famer” crowd.

Prediction: Larkin will go in alone. Morris finishes 2nd and is on the path of making it in his last year (2014). Bagwell, Edgar, and Raines, have big gains. The rest of the guys hang on, ranging from 10-40%. The only thing certain about their futures is that they will again be Hall of Fame candidates.

Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.

Advertisements

2011 MLB Postseason Awards

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Aaron Booth

I like getting through the baseball post season, taking a week off, and after that MLB gives us a slow trickle of season awards. Not every award leads to interesting discussion, but usually the season unfolds in such a way that we get at least one. This year we get two: AL MVP and NL Cy Young. Here are my thoughts on both.

Image

NL Cy Young

5. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Lee, Halladay and Kershaw were all very close in their final statistical lines. More often than not Cliff Lee finished 2nd or 3rd, while the other two regularly led the league in the important categories. As I looked at it, I noticed Halladay led most of the sabremetric categories, while Kershaw led most of the traditional categories. While I like sabremetric stats and tools, I am coming to realize they are intended to be predictive, which makes them useful for scouting and building a team (or a fantasy team), but they can also rely heavily on assumptions about expected norms and deviations from league average. The counting stats are, well just that, and the traditional rate stats are simple calculations of the counting stats. But the traditional stats are reflective of what actually did happen. I recognize that some of the counting stats, wins and losses especially, are not that helpful in evaluating a pitcher, but the innings, the strikeouts and walks, the hits, the ERA and WHIP, those things really happened. They don’t have to be normalized. They don’t have to be adjusted according the value of a run in the current run environment. There are a thousand hairs to split here – park effects, defense, quality of division, inter-league draw, but at the end of the day, Kershaw threw more innings, struck out more batters, allowed fewer runs and allowed fewer base runners. That’s good enough for me.

AL MVP

10. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

9. CC Sabathia, Yankees

8. Curtis Granderson, Yankees (Granderson had a good season; a surprising season, but he wasn’t really as good as the world believed back in August).

7. Michael Young, Rangers (fantastic season for a guy they wanted to dump back in March)

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees (Quietly the best Yankee – again)

5. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (He’s the new Manny Ramirez: his reputation is just too tarnished to win this award)

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (Fantastic statistical season for a non-contender)

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

First of all, Verlander really did have a fantastic year. He led the AL in almost every category and he tied Jose Bautista for the AL lead in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 8.5. That WAR is the 5th best AL WAR (for pitchers) in the DH era. His 0.92 WHIP is the 2nd lowest in the DH era. He didn’t have the greatest season of all-time, but it was certainly an elite season, even amongst elite seasons.

The two main objections I get on my top three are 1) Jose Bautista actually had the best season of any AL hitter and 2) Pitchers should win MVP because the “have their own award” and they only play every 5th game.

On Bautista – he did have very good season, though he tailed off significantly over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, he played for perpetually .500 Blue Jays. Some of the statistical analysts have started leaning toward the idea that being on a contender shouldn’t matter. In a vacuum, that’s fine, but that model kind of sucks the fun out it. If baseball wants to do that, just make it a statistical contest and call it a day. That way there will be no debate; it will just be a numbers game and we will wait for the results like an election. Personally, I like the discussion and the argument, so I am just fine with the idea that an MVP should come from a contender. That’s not to say a great player from a non-contender can never be MVP. They can, but it should only happen in seasons when there’s not a strong candidate from a contending team.

On Verlander – The Cy Young Award is for pitchers. A hitter cannot win that award. The MVP, however, is not restricted to hitters. If it was the writers association would include a statement to that effect in instructions to the voters. The charge is to identify the most valuable player in the league. The more I have thought about this the more I suspect pitchers have been over looked in this award for a long time (maybe it should be officially defined as a hitter’s award).  Say it out loud: Could the Red Sox have contended without Ellsbury or Pedroia or Gonzalez? Yes. Could the Yankees contend without Robinson Cano? Yes. Could the Tigers have contended without Verlander? Not a chance.

On the surface the idea that a starting pitcher does not contribute to a team as much as an everyday player makes sense. I have swallowed this argument my whole life, but it’s really not as simple as that. When is an everyday player influencing the game? The answer is simple enough: when the player is batting and when the player is fielding. When a batter walks to the plate any number of things can happen, and whether the batter makes an out or reaches base that batter has influenced the game. Likewise, when the player is in the field, if he catches, throws or makes an error the player has influenced the game. So, a crude way to measure a players influence would be to add a players plate appearances (PA) to the total chances in the field (putouts+assists+errors=TC).  Let’s call this number Influential Moments (IM). Here are the IM’s of the hitters on my MVP ballot:

 

Not surprisingly, the first basemen have high TC’s, most of which are putouts on routine infield plays. Jose Bautista’s total was a bit lower, partly because he spent some time at DH, but also because he played a fair amount of third base – a position that produces the fewest TC.

Now that we know the hitter’s IM’s, we can turn our attention to the pitchers. When is the pitcher influencing the game? Again the answer is simple: when he faces a batter and when he fields (and when he bats in the NL). So, for the pitcher we add batters faced (BF) and TC to get their IM. Verlander faced 969 batters and had 237 total chances in the field, which comes to 1,206 IM’s. That’s a few more IM’s than the outfielders and utility types and a bit less than the middle infielders, but the point stands. Measured in IM’s, an elite starting pitcher has a similar number of opportunities to influence a game as a healthy, everyday player. The only difference is that the pitcher gets about 35 IM’s per game, while the position player gets about 7.75. This doesn’t necessarily close the case on whether a position player or a pitcher makes a greater contribution to a team, but it does cast some serious doubt on the assumption that hitters are by default more influential than starting pitchers over the course of a season.

Verlander had a truly special year. He led his team to the ALCS. The idea that pitchers don’t contribute as much as position players isn’t true. So, why shouldn’t Verlander win the AL MVP? He was certainly the most valuable.

Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.

MLB Postseason Picks

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The Sports Smithy baseball Jedis submit their MLB Postseason picks.  You’ll notice a trend on who makes the World Series below.   We’ll come back and re-visit our picks after the World Series.

Deacon Blues

ALDS
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games
Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees in 5 games

NLDS
Philadelphia Phillies over St. Louis Cardinals in 3 games
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks in 4 games

ALCS
Texas Rangers over Detroit Tigers in 6 games

NLCS
Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 5 games

World Series
Philadelphia Phillies over Texas Rangers in 5 games

World Series MVP: Roy Halladay

Aaron Booth

ALDS
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games
New York Yankees over Detroit Tigers in 4 games

NLDS
Philadelphia Phillies over St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks in 5 games

ALCS
Texas Rangers over New York Yankees in 6 games

NLCS
Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 5 games

World Series
Philadelphia Phillies over Texas Rangers in 5 games

World Series MVP: Raul Ibanez


Nate Douglas

ALDS
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games
Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees in 4 games

NLDS
Philadelphia Phillies over St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks in 3 games

ALCS
Texas Rangers over Detroit Tigers in 6 games

NLCS
Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 7 games

World Series
Texas Rangers over Philadelphia Phillies in 7 games

World Series MVP: Adrian Beltre

College Football vs. NFL…Counterpoint

September 24, 2011 2 comments

By: Aaron Booth

A few weeks back Sports Smithy contributor Britton Norris laid out his case for why the NFL is better than NCAA football. Saying the NFL is better is a bit of a stretch. The NFL is not better, nor is it worse. It’s different, but that’s okay.

Norris argued that college football is about big schools beating other big schools, while in the NFL it’s “about the game.” The NFL, he says, is about particular players and matchups. There’s another way to look at this: college football is about the name on the front of the jersey and the NFL is about the name on the back of the jersey. In fairness, the nature of the NFL game is that a fan will get to know players over a longer period of time. I certainly see the appeal of that. NCAA by its very nature is transient. The players come and go. That’s just how it works. If having decade-long attachments to players is important then college football isn’t for you, but complaining about it is like complaining about bicycles because they don’t have enough wheels.

 

I do agree that college football is corrupt at many levels. If, however, you are running from the NCAA to escape corruption, the NFL isn’t exactly the place to find sanctuary. The NFL in its professional honesty embraces thugs and criminals, slapping them on the wrist with fines and suspensions when they feel it will help their image, but getting them back on the field as soon as possible because, after all, it’s “about the game.” Again, I totally agree that the NCAA is a mess with corruption, but what we have here is pots and kettles, not sinners and saints.

 

The NFL has playoffs and the NCAA does not. This subject has been hotly debated in print and on the airwaves for a long time. I hope to treat this subject at length another time, but that will have to wait. In staying focused on the arguments in the previous post, I would like to make a few quick points: 1) The NCAA does not employ computers alone to determine their championship game. Computers are a part of it, but they are not all of it. 2) The NCAA, to my knowledge, makes no claims that the bowl system is better than the NFL playoffs or that it is the most ideal system for crowning a champion. They would say that the combination of the rankings and BCS system is the best way to crown a champion in a league with 119 teams that can only play 11-12 games a season. By the way, having 16-game schedules wouldn’t fix this problem. 3) Some universities do “schedule games to win” but this rarely results in a shot at the title. The strength of schedule, or lack thereof, is precisely why Boise State and TCU have not played for the title. LSU has 12 regular season games – seven against ranked opponents, including two in the top 10, and neither of which were or will be played at home. The good conferences make it impossible to simply schedule garbage. A sweeping generalization that all teams fill their schedules with cream puffs simply isn’t true.

 

I would like to offer this defense of the BCS as compared to the NFL playoffs: The team that goes home with the glass football more often than not really is the best team in the league. That claim is a lot harder to make about the Super Bowl. Were the 10-6 Packers really the best NFL team in 2010? Were the Giants really better than the Patriots in 2008? The BCS isn’t perfect, but on the whole, it produces a credible champion. The Super Bowl gives us an entertaining spectacle between two good to pretty good teams that happened to have the right combination of luck and health in January.

 

The NFL compared to other sports leagues is fantastic as an organization. The NFL gives the fan a feeling of consistency and certainty that college football can’t match. College football is too big, with too much history, and too many different authority figures. Short of a complete dismantling of the structure, college football will never rival the NFL in this area. In spite of this, college football gives fans some things that the NFL doesn’t.

 

At the top of college football there is urgency every single week. Every team is not playing a marquis game every week, but some teams are playing marquis games every week. There is the possibility to an upset – even a big upset, but that’s not the most important or dramatic part of it. Because losing even one game in college football can end a team’s shot, every game matters. The great college teams don’t rest starters in the final weeks of the season. They can’t. The games in November are must-win. This isn’t about noble college coaches playing the stars out of a sense of pride while NFL coaches rest their lazy stars; it’s just the nature of the two leagues. The last two games of the season in NCAA are urgent for the top teams while the last two in the NFL aren’t (for the very best). This can be a problem in college football if you are only interested in your own team. Sometimes for that one team the dream ends early (sorry Mississippi State). The story of the NCAA season is far from over, and something that happens in this Saturday’s games could very well shape how it all turns out. In the NFL, provided your team’s star player doesn’t go out for the season, a win or a loss this Sunday means very little for your playoff hopes.

 

Urgency doesn’t make college football better, but it is an element I particularly enjoy and it doesn’t really exist in any sport. There are pockets of urgency in other sports, but no sport delivers urgency from start to finish like college football.

 

Obviously the talent level in the NFL is much higher than NCAA and that produces a certain kind of satisfaction for fans. An NFL play is fast and powerful and precise – no margin for error – very fitting for the highest level of the sport. In contrast college football produces excitement in a way the NFL can’t, and it is because the overall talent pool is lower and the gap between the best and worst players is larger. College football lends itself to a lot more highlight real plays. Trick plays work in college. College teams convert 4th downs. Those things happen in the NFL too, but not often. Women’s tennis is as exciting – maybe even more exciting – than men’s because they are not as fast and strong as the men. In much the same way, the difference in talent between NFL and college creates a different product on the field, and that’s a good thing. The guy that thinks of himself as the high and mighty “true” fan might cringe at this thought, but the wide talent pool in college makes the game a little more cartoonish, and that makes for a satisfying product.

 

I personally enjoy college more than NFL, but I really like both. I don’t necessarily believe one is better than the other. I believe they are different – preferring one or the other isn’t a matter of which is better. It’s burgers one day and pizza the next – everybody wins.

Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.

Back On Top…

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Sports Smithy Staff 2011-12 NFL Season Picks

 

Aaron Booth:

MVP – Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers

ROY – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

 

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Indianapolis Colts y
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Tennessee Titans

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens  y
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Oakland Raiders

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Dallas Cowboys y
  3. New York Giants
  4. Washington Redskins

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC West

  1. Arizona Cardinals
  2. St. Louis Rams
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Seattle Seahawks

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Packers, Eagles, Patriots, Steelers

Round 1 – Cowboys over Falcons, Saints over Cardinals, Colts over Chargers, Texans over Ravens

Round 2 – Cowboys over Eagles, Packers over Saints, Patriots over Colts, Steelers over Texans

Round 3 – Packers over Cowboys, Patriots over Steelers

Superbowl Prediction

Final:     Patriots over Packers

 

 

Aaron Watson:

MVP – Tom Brady, QB Patriots

Last years unanimous winner dominated teams with weapons like Deon Branch, Danny Woodhead and two rookie tight ends. This year the team adds Ochocinco, the rookies are a year older and more experienced and Danny Woodhead is back and raring to go. Oh, they also win a ton of games every year and look much improved on defense.

Runner up – Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers

OPOY – Darren McFadden, RB Raiders

The often injured burner finally showed what he is capable of last year, averaging 5.2 ypc and leading the league in rushes of forty yards or more. If he stays healthy (obviously a huge if), he could be primed for a monster season. He is explosive both between the tackles, on the perimeter and in the passing game.

Runner up – Arian Foster, RB Texans

DPOY – DeMarcus Ware, OLB Cowboys

The league is obsessed with sack totals, and Ware is one of the premier players at getting to the quarterback. Rob Ryan will move him all over the field to get him good matchups, so expect his numbers to be fantastic for a team that should be better on defense.

Runner up – Ndamukong Suh, DT Lions

OROY – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

High profile player on a high profile team, he will split carries but will look good doing so. He also will rack up great TD totals as he acts as the goal line back. His ability as a receiver and blocker will help him see the field than a lot of other rookies might.

Runner up – Cam Newton, QB Panthers

DROY – Von Miller, OLB Broncos

I know being the highest defensive player drafted almost assures he will not win this award (although Suh did it last year), I still think he has the talent to be a difference maker in his first season. Early reports have him dominating in practice and he appears to have a great feel for rushing the passer as well as dropping into coverage, especially for such a young player.

Runner up – Jimmy Smith, CB Ravens

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – 13-3
  2. New York Jets – 10-6 y
  3. Buffalo Bills – 6-10
  4. Miami Dolphins – 3-13

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans – 10-6
  2. Indianapolis Colts – 9-7
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10
  4. Tennessee Titans – 5-11

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4
  2. Baltimore Ravens – 11-5 y
  3. Cleveland Browns – 7-9
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 2-14

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers – 12-4
  2. Oakland Raiders – 9-7
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – 8-8
  4. Denver Broncos – 4-12

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys – 10-6
  2. Philadelphia Eagles – 10-6 y
  3. New York Giants – 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins – 5-11

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints – 11-5
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 10-6 y
  3. Atlanta Falcons – 10-6
  4. Carolina Panthers – 4-12

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – 12-4
  2. Detroit Lions – 9-7
  3. Chicago Bears –  7-9
  4. Minnesota Vikings – 6-10

NFC West

  1. St. Louis Rams – 9-7
  2. Arizona Cardinals – 7-9
  3. San Francisco 49ers – 6-10
  4. Seattle Seahawks – 5-11

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Chargers, Patriots, Saints, Packers

Round 1 – Bucs over Cowboys, Eagles over Rams, Jets over Texans, Ravens over Steelers

Round 2 – Packers over Bucs, Eagles over Saints, Patriots over Ravens, Chargers over Jets

Round 3 – Patriots over Chargers, Packers over Eagles

Superbowl Prediction

After defeating the Chargers in the Championship round, the Patriots will play the defending Champion Green Bay Packers in the Superbowl.

Final:     Green Bay – 24                  New England – 31

 

 

Britton Norris:

MVP – Tony Romo, QB Dallas

He’s in the prime of his prime.  He was an MVP candidate in 2009, but Peyton Manning was carrying the Colts on his shoulders.  Romo has matured.  Last year was a disaster and his season was cut far too short when Giants linebacker Michael Boley came charging through the line unblocked.  This year, Romo has the benefit of a head coach that has been his offensive coordinator the past four seasons.  While the concern will be the Dallas O-line and their inexperience, Tony Romo will have a field day throwing downfield to targets like Witten, Bryant, Austin and Murray.

Runner up – Drew Brees, QB New Orleans

OPOY – Andre Johnson, WR Houston

Johnson has a classy persona, but he’ll never back down from a fight – check out his beat-down of Cortland Finnegan a year ago if you want to see NFL attitude at its best. Johnson puts on a clinic every year.  He’s a big powerful receiver that wants to win.  In fact, he’s on record this year declaring that he’s tired of watching the NFL playoffs from his sofa and is determined to get the Texans into the postseason for the first time in franchise history.  A fantasy superstar every year, expect Andre Johnson to make a bid for OPOY.

Runner up – Ray Rice, RB Baltimore

DPOY – Ndamukong Suh, DT Detroit

This guy is a stud.  If I’m lining up as an offensive center or guard I’m shaking in my boots.  “There are two types of intimidation,” Suh said. “There is dirty intimidation, which people have accused me of. And there is the intimidation of always being in somebody’s face, doing the right thing, causing them problems, not allowing them to run their offense. I think that’s what I have consistently done. That’s what my job is. That’s what I want to do. We do that as a front four. Quarterbacks are aware at every single point, that all four or eight of us can come in and cause you a problem.”  Enough said Mr. Suh.

Runner up – Brian Orakpo, OLB Washington

OROY – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

The Saints already have an offensive machine and rookie running backs are notorious for picking up an NFL offense fast due to the position’s reliance on instincts.  This is one of those picks that seem to be pretty popular.  In Head Coach Sean Peyton’s mind, Ingram will be everything Reggie Bush wasn’t.  He has hefty expectations, but I can see him excelling in this offense.

Runner up – Julio Jones, WR Atlanta

DROY – J. J. Watt, DE Houston

This is a shot in the dark.  I do think that Houston will have a much improved defense with new coordinator Wade Phillips.  This defense has several high profile draft picks and just hasn’t gotten it done year after year.  The buzz about Watt is strong and he’s won the starting job… who knows.

Runner up – Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – 11-5
  2. New York Jets – 9-7
  3. Miami Dolphins – 6-10
  4. Buffalo Bills – 3-13

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans – 11-5
  2. Indianapolis Colts – 6-10
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10
  4. Tennessee Titans – 4-12

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens – 13-3
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers – 10-6 y
  3. Cleveland Browns – 5-11
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 1-15

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers – 12-4
  2. Kansas City Chiefs – 9-7 y
  3. Denver Broncos – 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders – 4-12

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys – 11-5
  2. Philadelphia Eagles – 9-7
  3. New York Giants – 7-9
  4. Washington Redskins – 4-12

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 12-4
  2. New Orleans Saints – 11-5 y
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8-8
  4. Carolina Panthers – 4-12

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – 12-4
  2. Detroit Lions – 10-6 y
  3. Chicago Bears –  5-11
  4. Minnesota Vikings – 5-11

NFC West

  1. Arizona Cardinals – 9-7
  2. St. Louis Rams – 8-8
  3. San Francisco 49ers – 4-12
  4. Seattle Seahawks – 3-13

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Baltimore, San Diego, Green Bay, Atlanta

Round 1 – Dallas over Detroit, New Orleans over Arizona, Houston over Kansas City, Steelers over Patriots

Round 2 – Atlanta over New Orleans, Green Bay over Dallas, Baltimore over Pittsburgh, Houston over San Diego

Round 3 – Atlanta over Green Bay, Houston over Baltimore

Superbowl Prediction

Final:    Atlanta – 30          Houston – 28

 

 

By: Nate Douglas

MVP – Tom Brady, QB Patriots

I must concur with my colleague, Mr. Watson.  Brady made a gourmet meal of steak, potatoes, asparagus and a good cabernet out of a McDonald’s happy meal last year, and it’ll only get better this year.

Runner up – Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers

OPOY – Jamaal Charles, RB Chiefs

Last year’s leader in yards per carry will finally get the touches he deserves, and will run away with this award.

Runner up – Roddy White, WR Falcons

DPOY – Ndamukong Suh, DT Lions

Adding Nick Fairley to the mix will give opposing o-lines fits, and Suh will get even more opportunities this year to eat QB’s.

Runner up – Eric Berry, CB Chiefs

OROY – Julio Jones, WR Falcons

Julio will be targeted frequently, has good hands and great speed.  He will make an immediate impact at the WR position as Roddy White draws the tougher assignments.

Runner up – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

DROY – Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona

If you’re considered a part of the Heisman conversation as a cornerback, you’re good.   Peterson will rack up interceptions, many returned for TDs for the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Runner up – Von Miller, LB Broncos

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – 12-4
  2. New York Jets – 10-6 y
  3. Buffalo Bills – 4-12
  4. Miami Dolphins – 3-13

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans – 11-5
  2. Indianapolis Colts – 10-6 y
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10
  4. Tennessee Titans – 5-11

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens – 12-4
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers– 9-7
  3. Cleveland Browns – 7-9
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 3-13

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers – 10-6
  2. Oakland Raiders – 9-7
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – 9-7
  4. Denver Broncos – 5-11

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – 11-5
  2. New York Giants – 9-7
  3. Dallas Cowboys – 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins – 4-12

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 11-5
  2. New Orlenas Saints  – 10-6 y
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8-8
  4. Carolina Panthers – 4-12

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – 13-3
  2. Detroit Lions – 9-7 y
  3. Chicago Bears –  6-10
  4. Minnesota Vikings – 4-12

NFC West

  1. St. Louis Rams – 9-7
  2. Arizona Cardinals –8-8
  3. San Francisco 49ers – 5-11
  4. Seattle Seahawks – 3-13

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Patriots, Ravens, Falcons, Packers

Round 1 – Texans over Jets, Colts over Chargers, Eagles over Rams, Lions over Saints

Round 2 – Patriots over Texans, Ravens over Colts, Falcons over Eagles, Packers over Lions

Round 3 – Patriots over Ravens, Packers over Falcons

Superbowl Prediction

Final:     Green Bay – 35                  New England -21

Sign Stealing in Toronto, Logan Morrison, Umpires

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Aaron Booth

About a week ago, Amy K. Nelson of ESPN wrote an article exposing an elaborate sign stealing scheme the Blue Jays were using at the Rogers Centre. Assuming the report is true, the Blue Jays crossed one of many unwritten rules of the game. I’m not big on these unwritten rules, but as a long-time baseball fan I can’t deny that “everybody” knows that it’s unacceptable for teams to use sign stealing tactics outside the lines.

Also, assuming it’s true, it seems pretty wild that observer X could read the sign, relay it to white T-shirt guy, who can then send the signal to the batter, who will have enough time to see the sign and adjust accordingly, all in the time that elapses between the catcher giving the sign and the pitcher throwing the ball.  Seems like an awful lot to do in one second, but that’s okay. Let’s just assume that all of it is true and the Blue Jays are twice as good as a result. I have a suggestion for the other teams in baseball that don’t like sign stealing: use better signs.

I know this seems like a simplistic solution, but think about it: what is a sign in the first place? A sign is an attempt for players to communicate information they would prefer to be private, but they have to do it in a public setting. For those who don’t know the signs, the sign somewhere between an unknown mystery to completely unnoticed. For those who know the signs, it is the equivalent of shouting, “Hey, throw him fastball, in.”  If the guy who does not know the sign learns the sign, the other guy has to decide to either accept the fact that the signs are known or decide if it is important to maintain secrecy and change the sign. When I was a toddler, my parents would spell things to each other when they wanted to discuss a topic in my presence and still keep me from knowing what was going on. When I got older, they switched to Pig Latin. When I figured that out they left room. This is the same thing. If the opponent knows the sign, change the signs.

Obviously some teams have alternate sets of signs they use at different times, especially when there is a runner on second base. That’s great. The problem is that they go back to the standard signs the rest of the time. Why should there be such a thing as “standard signs?” Everybody in baseball knows what it means to “give ‘em the ol’ #1.” Ridiculous. If Joe Blow in the stands can accurately read the signs with a pair of binoculars the team deserves what they get.

On another note, the Florida Marlins have to be the absolute worst organization in MLB. I can’t think of another team where the owner and front office could possibly be more clueless. The recent release of Wes Helms in conjunction with the demotion of Logan Morrison is lunacy. Seth Everett of “Stayin’ Hot w/Seth & Bone” gave a fantastic rant about it on their 8/15 episode.

Two Quick Thoughts on Umpires:

1)      Does umpire Rob Drake have a background in pro wrestling? In the scuffle with Yadier Molina a little over a week ago, Drake flopped like an international soccer player when a little bit of spittle came out of Molina’s mouth. Does Molina spit acid or something?

2)      This is older, but remember umpire Joe West? Cowboy Joe West? In 2010 he got some attention for some quick ejections to Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle and the stole headlines a few weeks later for criticizing the pace of a Yankees/Red Sox game. He’s also frequently near the top of the worst umpires list from annual player polls. Good umpires are supposed to be invisible. This guy is the opposite. He has a nickname! A nickname people know! In fact, he even has his own website: www.cowboyjoewest.com. Hilarious.

Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.

Exposing the Good, Hard-Nosed Play

By : Aaron Booth

A few times a year the baseball world gets worked up about a violent collision at home plate (or second base), especially if the collision results in an injury. This year Buster Posey and Tsuyoshi Nishioka were seriously hurt in baserunner collisions. While I have thoughts about these particular plays, how they shook out, who was at fault, and whether or not there was malicious intent (there wasn’t), I’m not interested in that today.

Take a step back. What are the discussions that flow from these plays every year? This very first question that gets asked is, was it a dirty play? Once that question is asked, the answers pour in. The fans of the team with the injured player are outraged. They’re convinced that the instigator came to the ballpark that day with evil intentions in his heart and a plan to execute it. The fans of the team of the instigator line up to tell us how the instigator is really a good guy, and he feels really bad about the situation, and he was just doing what everybody else does. The writers, commentators, and “baseball people” will tell us that it’s a good, hard-nosed baseball play.

That line, “a good, hard-nosed baseball play,” is what got me thinking about this. When do we hear this line? Usually right after the question about whether or not that last play we saw was dirty. Nobody describes a sliding catch in the outfield as a good, hard-nosed play. Running to first on a dropped third strike isn’t a good, hard-nosed play. Those things are just plays. Likewise, ordinary collisions on the field are not described as good, hard-nosed plays either. If the runner and the shortstop collide in mid-base path we use another word for that: accident. It’s not a good, hard-nosed play; it’s an accident.  Chest-first collisions at home plate, take out slides and retaliatory beanings are the kinds of plays that get described as good, hard-nosed plays. Those plays are described that way because they need justification. We need to be reminded of it every time that the play was both good and hard-nosed, which apparently is also good.

The funny thing is, a large percentage of the interested parties need to be reminded of this every-single time player limps off the field after a home plate collision. Why is it that we need to be reminded that it was a good, hard-nosed play every time? Why can’t we remember the last time this happened and accept the play as being good and hard-nosed from the outset? The reason is that we just don’t buy it. We need to be told every single time that it’s good and that it’s hard-nosed so that we’ll keep believing it.

The whole thing is kind of like the tooth fairy. My oldest child has been visited by the tooth fairy several times, but each time she says, “Come on, Dad, you and mom put that dollar under the pillow, didn’t you?” We in turn dodge the question and repeat the myth. If you repeat a story (or a lie) long enough, eventually you’ll believe it. (Governments have understood this for centuries.)

So the next time you see this play, and the talk radio and Sportscenter banter begins by asking, “Was this a dirty play?” The answer is, “Yes! It is a dirty play.” We’ve been over this a hundred times. If it wasn’t dirty, we’d only need one explanation about it being a good, hard-nosed play, and we could refer back to that. The very fact that we have this discussion two or three times a year should tell you that that at the very root of it we all know baseball shouldn’t be played this way. It is the way players are taught to play, and they’ve been taught this for decades, but it’s a dirty play, and calling it a good, hard-nosed play does not cover the stain on wall.

 
Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.