Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Who Cares?

     Every once in a while, someone, or something, does something so stupid and inconvenient that you cannot even dream up half an idea that could explain why. I have done posts defending such acts, such as the post covering marines overseas, and spoke out against them in a post about the Miami Dolphins. Today, it is much to my chagrin that I have to tell you that it has happened once again. Not surprisingly, the government is to blame. No, this is not a botched military attack or a foreign relations meltdown. This directly affects YOU. That's The government is taking your hard earned money and using it to prosecute legendary pitcher Roger Clemens.

     Clemens, 49, was the most prominent and unexpected players named in the infamous steroid expose known as the Mitchell Report. Inside the four hundred nine pages were the names of eighty nine players ranging from baseball heavyweights like Barry Bonds and the aforementioned Clemens, to forgotten players like Paul Lo Duca and Mike Stanton (the pitcher, not the Marlins outfielder). Many of the players mentioned have vehemently denied their supposed using of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), while others have agreed with the findings. However, when called to the stand to testify in a court case, both Bonds and Clemens were asked if they had ever used PEDs, they both responded with a "No." Red flags couldn't have gone up faster. Bonds was widely believed to be doping, as his body, along with his head, kept getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, while certain parts of his body, according to his girlfriend, kept getting smaller and smaller-all symptoms of anabolic steroid use. Clemens, however, had no real evidence supporting the Mitchell Report's claims, except for his trainer and alleged steroid dealer Brian McNamee's word. McNamee had a book coming out, and has recently been accused by Clemens' lawyer of fabricating claims to boost book sales. (Other evidence consisted of a needle and syringe stored and preserved in the sanitary confines of an empty beer can.) If Ryan Braun can get off the hook with a urine sample being held in a refrigerator too long, why didn't Clemens get the same treatment?

     Clemens is being charged in federal court with perjury for stating what I believe is the truth. During his remarkable career, his average fastball velocity never jumped suddenly, nor did his foulball rate, strikeout rate, or walk rate. He was just unhittable. In fact, all of them went down with age. He followed a natural career statistical slide as he aged, his just took a whole lot longer, a fact pointed to many of his accuser. Plus, he never grew bulkier or more muscular as he aged, never needed any bigger helmets or shoes, or know.....

     The worst part here is that the government is using YOUR tax money to help finance this trial. It is unfortunate, because, honestly, nobody was physically harmed by Clemens' use or non-use of anabolic steroids. There's nothing at stake besides his legacy as a baseball player. If the United States of America is this worried about whether or not someone used steroids, I can only imagine how much more absurd a larger, and frankly relevant, case would be. In all honesty, I do not think Roger Clemens used PEDs, nor do I care. I care about the useless spending that has now become second nature to our government. I care about the use of our tax dollars to continually charge a man who may not even be guilty in the first place. I care about the degradation of the United States of America.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

My NFL Mock Draft

     With the NFL Draft fast approaching, I have decided to design a mock draft of my own. However, I'll only focus on the first round, but I'll also add a small bit of commentary to each pick. Despite the popularity of trading down in the first round for more draft picks later on, there will be no trades.

1. Indianapolis Colts- QB, Andrew Luck, Stanford
     Luck could have been the first overall pick last year rather than Cam Newton,  yet he decided to return to Stanford for his senior year. Luck has been compared to another Stanford legend, John Elway, along with the man he is going to replace-Peyton Manning.

2. Washington Redskins- QB, Robert Griffin III, Baylor
     Griffin burst onto the college football scene early in the year, and with good reason. Griffin can make every throw and had a 72% completion rate last season. He's a great leader and seems to be content and/or relaxed with himself and the attention that comes with being the savior of a moribund franchise. He ran a 4.3 40 yard dash, one of the fastest times ever for a quarterback. I honestly think that RG3 will eventually be recognized as the best QB in the 2012 draft, due to the fact that his pure athleticism and strong pocket presence will take over the league.

3. Minnesota Vikings- T, Matt Kalil, USC
     Tough pick between the talented Justin Blackmon and corner Morris Claiborne, but I have a feeling that they will try to get some cover for second year quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Adrian Peterson.

4. Cleveland Browns- RB, Trent Richardson, Alabama
     Richardson may be the most talented non-quarterback in the draft, and after the loss of hardnosed runner Peyton Hillis, he fills an obvious hole in the backfield. He's the ultimate combination of speed and strength, and literally knocked the Browns off the their feet during a strength drill in his pro day.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- CB, Morris Claiborne, LSU
      The Buccaneers have always been a defensively oriented team, and they need to fix a secondary with many holes and stopgap players. Plus, the Bucs play in a division with franchise quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon is a possiblity, but unlikely after the signing of the speedy Vincent Jackson. Watch for them to take Richardson if he falls to them.

6. St. Louis Rams- WR, Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
     Sam Bradford needs actual weapons to succeed.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars- CB, Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
     Guard David DeCastro is a better pick, but the Jaguars were terrible against the pass last season. I expect them to reach for a player marginally better than any other corner they could get in the second round.

8. Miami Dolphins- QB, Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
     The Dolphins went hard after Manning and Matt Flynn, AND the Dolphins front office isn't very smart. I expect them to reach for the most divisive player in the draft, as Tannehill played wide receiver before converting to his current position, starting only 19 games at the helm of his team's offense.

9. Carolina Panthers- DT, Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State,
     Combine legend Dontari Poe is a possibility, but he wasn't very productive in college (5 sacks in 3 years). Regardless, the Panthers need a penetrating force on the defensive line, and Cox has the potential to be that force.

10. Buffalo Bills- WR, Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
     Floyd is arguably the most pro ready wide receiver in the draft, and has shot up the draft boards as of late. The Bills have sorta-kinda-not really committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and need a second option for him to throw to opposite of Steve Johnson.

11. Kansas City Chiefs- LB, Luke Kuechly, Boston College
     Kuechly went to my high school, and I have had the privilege of watching him fly around the field and tackle everything that moves. He has had the benefit of a St. X education and has been taught to be a "Man for others" (Our school motto). I wish he would fall to Cincinnati, but he's too good for that to happen. As his high school coach Steve Specht states in an interview with our school newspaper, "Talent and work ethic was never a question with Lucke. h was always the first in and one of the last to leave. He wanted to get better and studied the game as much, if not more, than anyone I've ever coached." 
 12. Seattle Seahawks- OLB/DE, Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

     Seahawks need someone to fix a broken pass rush, but also linebacker. Ingram fills both holes.

13. Arizona Cardinals- T, Riley Reiff, Iowa
     The Cardinals could pick guard David DeCastro, but they need a guard to protect the overpaid Kevin Kolb's blindside.

14. Dallas Cowboys- S, Mark Barron, Alabama
     It is a distinct possibility that the Cowboys could trade up to guarantee getting Barron, but no teams in the top fifteen have as dire a need for a safety than Dallas does. They just traded away Terrence Newman, so they are essentially without an identity. Barron rejuvenates an entire unit with his play. He'll be the best safety Dallas has had in a long time.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- OLB/DE, Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
     The man with the girly name but manly game adds another threat to an already loaded Eagles front seven. This reminds me of the Lions picking defensive tackle Nick Fairley to combine with Ndamakong Suh. North Carolina's Quinton Coples is a possibility, but scouts have questioned his commitment.

16. New York Jets- DE, Quinton Coples, North Carolina
     Talented but inconsistent. Rex Ryan may take a risk by taking fellow fatty Dontari Poe, but that may mean fewer donuts for him at team meetings, and we all know that's not going to happen.

17. Cincinnati Bengals- G, David DeCastro, Stanford
     Andrew Luck's best friend on the offensive line will serve the same purpose in Cincinnati. He'll protect Cincinnati's second year quarterback, the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton.

18. San Diego Chargers- OL, Cordy Glen, Georgia
     Marcus McNeill left, and someone needs to replace him. Glen can play both guard and tackle, so his versatility will allow the Chargers to move him around in order to protect signal caller Phillip Rivers.

19. Chicago Bears- T, Jonathan Martin, Stanford
     The line of solid Stanford lineman continues. Part of the reason people question Jay Cutler's ability and toughness is because he can't stay upright. He was getting pressured on every play. Forget about a receiver, your quarterback actually has to have time to get the damn ball in his hands without worrying about getting drilled before he can even focus on throwing downfield.

20. Tennessee Titans- OLB, Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
    Another feminine name with manly game! Mercilus has the potential to be legendary, though raw.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- DT, Dontari Poe, Memphis
     This pick could easily be Dre Kirkpatrick, but anchoring the defensive line is a much more pressing matter considering all the talent at corner in the second round.

22. Cleveland Browns- WR, Kendall Wright, Baylor
     The Brownies get cute and try to get as many weapons for Colt McCoy as possible. Wright has below average speed but is a good route runner. This may be the "We tried to get him help, but he just wasn't good enough" pick in the draft. If McCoy fails this season, expect a new face at quarterback.

23. Detroit Lions- T, Mike Adams, Ohio State
     The offensive line needs to get younger, and needs has a reason to protect 5,000 yd. passer Matthew Stafford from any harm whatsoever.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers- LB, Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
     With salary cap-cutting moves costing the Steelers linebacker James Farrior, and with the always possible James Harrison getting suspended for an illegal hit, Hightower makes sense here.

25. Denver Broncos- DE, Michael Brockers, LSU
     Could also go to the Bengals at 21, or the Steelers. He has fallen from the top 15 for no apparent reason, and on potential alone, should be a top 10 pick. Brockers fills the gap created by the departure of Broderick Bunkley.

26. Houston Texans- WR, Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
     Houston picks the speedy but inexperienced receiver to pair with perennial Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. This pick also gives the Texans two wide receivers taller than 6'3- a nightmare for defensive coordinators everywhere.

27. New England Patriots-CB, Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama State
     Risky pick, and I think I'm the only one who has this happening. On talent alone, Jenkins is a top 15 pick, with all the baggage, (criminal record, multiple children) he's a second rounder at best. New England has a way of taking risks on players with character issues and turning them into valuable  players on championship teams.

28. Green Bay Packers-DT, Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
     Last year's defense was anemic. With the departure of defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, the Packers need a big man to fill a gigantic hole.

29. Baltimore Ravens-C, Peter Konz, Wisconsin
    Matt Birk, the NFL's reigning Man of the Year, is old and contemplated retirement. He may be playing on borrowed time as it is, and Konz will be the perfect replacement. He can sit behind the Harvard educated Birk for this season and learn from him.

30. San Francisco 49ers-TE, Coby Fleener, Stanford
     49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh coached Fleener for four years at Stanford, so no coach knows him better. Plus, two tight end attacks are all the rage in the NFL, and pairing Vernon Davis with Fleener is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

31. New England Patriots- OLB/DE, Nick Perry, USC
     The Patriots have to put together a defensive line. They have to. Perry is a great value at 31 and can start immediately due to injuries.

32. New York Giants- S, Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
     The reigning Super Bowl winners have a strong defense, but Smith will put them over the top with his ability to play both safety positions, for he has the speed to play free safety and the tackling ability and strength to play strong safety.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And These Two Belong To The Reds!

     Today is a good day to be a Reds fan! The Cincinnati Reds, one of baseball's most storied franchises, have finally committed themselves to long term success. They have torn down the Berlin-esque wall that has separated high-rollers like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and the Philidelphia Phillies, from the small market teams like themselves and has prevented them from becoming annual contenders. By committing to winning now through big trades and free agent signings, general manager Walt Jocketty finally got Reds owner Bob Castellini to open up his checkbook. He made waves by signing star first baseman and former MVP Joey Votto to one of the biggest contracts in baseball history. This is just another move made by the front office to keep a young, and most importantly productive, core together, as slugging right fielder Jay Bruce was signed to a deal worth over $60 million a year ago.
     However, this is not the first time Cincinnati has made history with a large contract.  They were the first team to sign a player to a $100,000 contract, that player being the legendary Pete Rose. Times have since changed, and only recently have the Reds been taken as serious contenders in a parity filled NL Central division. No one expected a deal like this to happen, and even the most hopeful Reds fans were crying out to trade Votto before he left in free agency. Deals like Votto for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista were supposedly discussed, but no. Votto embodies Cincinnati and symbolizes the rebirth of the Reds. His value to the city was just too much to let go.

     As the iconic Billy Mays said, "But wait, there's more!" The Reds have just resigned second baseman Brandon Phillips to a six year deal. Phillips, a former NL All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, has been a staple in the lineup due to his skill at the plate and his ablility to hit anywhere in the order. However, the $71,000,000 price tag is a reason for pause. Second baseman don't age well, and at 31 years old, Phillips can only get worse. Say hello to $15 beers at Great American Ball Park, my friends.

     In conclusion, I believe that the moves the Reds made over the last few months have set the foundation for a dynasty. I predict that, provided they win the division this season, that they will reach the NLCS, but lose, though the team's outlook is much brighter for the upcoming seasons.

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