Blog Post

September 29, 2014

Week 4 New York (2-2) 45 Washington (1-3) 14
All of the pundits said this game would be a slugfest because of the dislike for each other both teams had. Well it was all from one side-the Giants. The Washington’s didn’t hurt the NY chances with their 4 thrown INTs, 2 fumbles, and 11 penalties. This was coupled with NY’s good game plan, spirited play on both sides of the ball to create the lopsided NY win.
Lions (3-1) 24 Jets (1-3) 17
I thought the biggest problem exhibited by the Jets was in the defensive backfield. Even though the Jets sacked Stafford 4 times, he still had close to 300 yards in the air. The Lions only had 88 yds. On the ground. NY had 13. Geno-BOOOO!
The Jet DBs had a busted coverage that allowed a backup wide out to go for a 59 yard TD,
New League
The Sports Curmudgeon wrote about the “FXFL,” “Welcome to the world of the FXFL – the Fall Experimental Football League. The idea here is that the FXFL will be a feeder league/developmental program that ultimately provides players to the NFL. Here is what the league founder, Brian Woods, said about the FXFL objectives:
“Our long-term goal is to establish a partnership with the NFL and we feel can do that on many platforms. It would give them a way to work with younger players that they don’t currently have. We can help them train prospective NFL officials – in the NBA, every referee entering the league (in recent years) comes from NBA go for aDevelopmental League. We can be a testing ground for proposed rules, too.”
The FXFL begins play on October 8 with 4 teams:
Boston Brawlers (they will play in Harvard Stadium)
Brooklyn Bolts
Florida Blacktips
Omaha Mammoths
Games will take place on Wednesday and Friday nights and the schedule extends to Nov 12. The key to survival here is that “partnership with the NFL” that Brian Woods mentioned above. It could keep the league afloat long enough to let it establish some kind of following/fanbase in its cities. By the way, it would be a place for the NFL to work with the FXFL to look at rule changes in live action before instituting them. Changes to the rules regarding point after touchdown tries sound good on paper but may not be nearly so good with real players executing real plays. So, why not give them a “test drive” first?
Dwight Perry Patter From Seattle Times
“Suggested recruiting slogan for the Fall Experimental Football League’s Brooklyn Bolts: We’re Looking For A Few Good Nut Jobs.”
Tim Tebow, in case you missed it, has joined the cast of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” starting a new series called “Motivate Me Monday.”
“When Tebow was done with his report,” noted Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel, “he threw it back to George Stephanopoulos in the studio, but the transition sailed over his head.”
Darren Sproles and the NFL’s all-time Mighty Mites
Darren Sproles, hero of the Vertically Challenged and one of the best multi-purpose backs of his generation, was at it again Monday night in Indianapolis. The Eagles’ 5-foot-6, 181-pound dynamo had a career-high 178 yards from scrimmage as Philadelphia rallied to ruin the Colts’ evening, 30-27. (The breakdown: 152 receiving — also a career best — and 26 rushing.)
That means that in Sproles’ two outings since joining Philly as a free agent, he’s had momentum-turning 49-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars and a highlight-reel game against Indy, one that included catches of 57 and 51 and a 19-yard draw-play TD.
Nine years into his career, defensive coordinators are still trying to cover him out of the backfield with linebackers. (You almost felt sorry for Indy’s Josh McNary on the 57-yarder.) They’re still trying to pretend, when he comes into the game, that he doesn’t require special attention. Then again, maybe they don’t notice that he’s out there. He’s very adept at hiding behind his blockers.
Sproles’ running style might best be described as Duck and Dart — duck under the flailing arms of would-be tacklers and dart into (and through) hairline cracks in the defense. He doesn’t return kickoffs anymore, and he hasn’t run back a punt for a score since 2011, but he still has it in him. Even at 31, he’s got a nice burst.
He’s also been fortunate to play for coaches who maximized his abilities — first Norv Turner in San Diego, then Sean Payton in New Orleans and now Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. By the time he’s done, he’ll have, by my guesstimate, 7,500 of the quietest yards from scrimmage in NFL history. I say “quietest” because he’s never made the Pro Bowl . . . and probably never will.
Here’s all you really need to know about Sproles: In 10 playoff games, he’s scored seven TDs. (And in one of them, all he did was return kicks.) OK, here’s something else you could stand to know about him: In 2011 he just missed becoming the first running back in 53 years to carry 75-plus times in a season and average 7 yards an attempt. His numbers: 87 rushes, 603 yards, 6.93 average.
Which raises the question: Where does he rank among pro football’s all-time mighty mites? Answer: Well, he’s certainly a first-teamer. A look at some other notable players who measured 5-6 and under:
● “Mini Mack” Herron, RB, 1973-75 Patriots/Falcons – 5-5, 170. Drugs derailed Herron’s career, but he’ll always have 1974. That was the season he set an NFL record for all-purpose yards (2,444), tied for third in the league in touchdowns (12) and also ranked high in yards from scrimmage (1,298, seventh), punt return yards (517, second), punt return average (14.8, fourth) and several other categories. He and fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham were quite a combination in the New England backfield.
● Lionel “Little Train” James, RB-WR, 1984-88 Chargers – 5-6, 171. In 1985 James became the first NFL running back to rack up 1,000 receiving yards in a season — 1,027 to be exact. (Later the same afternoon, the 49ers’ Roger Craig became the second.) Just one back has gained more (Marshall Faulk, 1,048 with the Super Bowl-winning ’99 Rams).”

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Dreams Blog

September 23, 2014

Another Last Time
When Derek Jeter ends his Yankee Stadium time, Bob Sheppard’s voice will exit with him.
Week 3 Giants (1-2) 30 Texas (2-1) 17
As I watched this game I wondered who these guys, who beat Texas, wearing Giants’ gear were.
The game’s start had me shaking my head and saying, “Oh no, not again,” but it wasn’t that way at all. Aside from an early fumble and a botched long snap, the team played with spirit, confidence, and a sense of enjoyment.
Eli seemed to warm to the new offense and was 21/28, 234 yds. He was hitting his quick short passes and utilizing his run game. NO INTs. Cruz caught 5/107- 61yds RAC. Jennings had 176yds on 34 rushes.
Bears (2-1) 27 Jets (1-2) 19
The Jets couldn’t overcome those two horrible INT’s and 4 fumbles; yet they had 414 total net yds.- 316 gross in the air. The defense gave up 257 less than 50 on the ground.
Geno reminds me of Jim McMahon with a better arm.
My NFL Thoughts
Should the NFL- players, coaches, owners, and other staff members- be looked upon as beacons of behavior? Yeah, they should.
When you see all of that different team gear being worn, you could realize that those standing in the front of team photos might very well be seen to be examples of how to act and what to do. These people might not like this sort of attention but the big bucks they make creates that attention.
Additionally, if it comes out that NFL-Commissioner Roger Goodell wasn’t completely truthful about when he saw the Rice video (that includes someone else playing it while Goodell looked on) along with a subsequent cover-up, his job might hinge on that honesty.
Giant Talent Problem
Jonette Howard (ESPNNY.com) wrote, “It’s easy to say the Giants could’ve been this bad under departed offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, too. But that’s forgetting they were, in fact, very bad. Remember? The 2013 Giants ranked 28th out of 32 teams in total yards, their rushing attack ranked 29th and they were tied for 28th in points per game (18.4, or just .3 ppg. better than then-rookie Geno Smith’s Jets).
Long ago that became a tiresome refrain when it comes to Eli, who has thrown a staggering 85 interceptions since 2010. No other active quarterback had more than 75.
Blocking The Plate
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) wrote: “The rules makers went too far. Runners are so terrified of contact now, they don’t seem to realize that they can initiate a collision if the catcher has the ball and gives them no clear lane. Gripped by indecision, they often leave themselves vulnerable to injury with awkward slides. “And for us,” Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter told USA Today, “you’re causing bad throws because we don’t want to put it right on the plate. The whole thing is stupid.”
Rule 7.13 was changed this week, but only to allow for common sense: If a runner is going to be out by 15 feet, the catcher’s positioning is now irrelevant. But what about Wednesday night’s play in the Rays-Yankees game, when Stephen Drew was bearing down on the plate, the throw arrived directly over his shoulder from the left-field line, and catcher Ryan Hanigan had no choice but set up in front of the plate? Denied a crucial path, Drew was out trying a skewered slide inside the foul line.
“Next time?” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “I’m telling him to bowl (the catcher) over.”
Maddon’s Mayhem
It seems the Tampa manager, Joe Maddon, has made throwing at Yankee hitters part of his game plan. He feels that the Yankees won’t follow their plan of waiting for good pitches if they’re mad. Andrew Marchand (ESPNNY.com) wrote, “After a loss that saw three New York Yankees e jected and the benches clear, a “pissed” Joe Girardi accused the Tampa Bay Rays of pitching inside incompetently.
What made Girardi ultimately erupt was when Derek Jeter was hit by inexperienced reliever Steven Geltz in the eighth inning.
It marked the fifth time a Yankee had been hit by a Ray in the past four games, while the Yankees have not hit any Rays. Jeter has been hit twice, and Chase Headley ended up in the hospital after being hit on the chin (Maddon said that was a graze).
“If you are going to pitch inside, learn how to pitch inside,” Girardi said. “You pitch down in the zone. You don’t pitch up. This is not practice. This is guys’ livelihood.”
“I agree with everything he said, but to pitch inside correctly or incorrectly, that’s not the point,” Maddon said. “It is called baseball; sometimes hitters get hit. But I understand their frustration entirely. We are not going to apologize for it because it is part of the game. But I do get why he was upset.”
Perhaps Maddon would appreciate the baseball play where the hitter drops a bunt down the 1st base line and runs over the covering pitcher who would be blocking the runners path.
Perry’s Patter
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) sent this: “Parting shot
So what’s up with the new Levi’s Stadium needing two turf implants already?
“Scientists can put a lush head of hair on Marv Albert,” wrote Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, “but they can’t put a decent rug on the 49ers’ field? Go figure.”
RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, on banished Browns receiver Josh Gordon working as an auto salesman: “Warning to car buyers: Questions about tires are fine, but don’t ask him about the suspension.”
ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, on Mike Tyson stopping by Toronto city hall to visit embattled mayor Rob Ford: “Mike Tyson and Rob Ford — what could possibly go right?
Brotherly Love?
Philadelphia pitcher Jonathan Papelbon made a lewd gesture to the home crow, earned himself a seven-game suspension.
Or more precisely, two games for the gesture and five for mimicking Phillies fans.”
Dwight quoted this headline from Fark.com, “Floyd Mayweather Jr. earns $32 million for staying out of trouble for 36 minutes.”
No Math Please
Dwight quoted Jim Bouton, “How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field?”

Blog Post

September 15, 2014

Week 2 Cardinals (2-0) 25 Giants (0-2) 14
In his post-game presser, when he was asked about this loss, Coach Coughlin said that the players knew what to do but they didn’t execute. That meant they didn’t have the ability. They turned the ball over four times (2 ints-2 fumbles) and committed 9 penalties. Arizona scored 5 times (2 td-3fg). I can’t root for the Giants to make the playoffs; I can only root for them to win 5 games.
Packers (1-1) 31 Jets (0-2) 24
I couldn’t believe that 3rd Q td was disallowed because the officials said time was called. Where were the replays showing that Morningweig ran down the side line to have Ryan call time? I don’t believe it happened. The ref blew it. They didn’t get it right. However, that wasn’t the reason the Jets lost. They were up 21-3 and let the Pack come back. Smith looked pretty good- not so the Jets D. Green Bay had 6 scores with 310 yds. passing.
Discipline
The Sports Curmudgeon gave his opinion: “More than a few folks have written – and sports talk radio is all over this idea – that Roger Goodell has to be fired in the wake of the goat rodeo involving Ray Rice and his fiancée/wife. I do not think that is necessary or justified and I believe that those who are calling for his dismissal are missing the point about what a Commissioner for a major sport is supposed to do. The problem is history.
The first sports Comish in the US was Kennesaw Mountain Landis; he got the job to be the capo di tutti capi in MLB after the Black Sox scandal in 1919. He was supposed to rule with an iron fist and make sure everyone in the game toed the line. Most people think he did that; I happen to think that Landis was a lot more bluster than tough guy but I am probably in the minority there. People have come to think that Job Duty #1 for a sports commissioner is to be a disciplinarian. Not so…
The job of the commissioner is to grow the league and the measures of league growth are things like revenue, attendance, public awareness, TV ratings etc. All of those are intertwined but when you take them as a package and add to them the responsibility to deal constructively with the players’ union, you have the modern set of responsibilities for a league commissioner. Unfortunately, they also seem to carry the burden of history with them and they are also expected to be “The Disciplinarian”. That role does not mesh well with “grow the league” and “deal constructively with the union”.
I think the best solution to the angst and anger that exists at the moment over the Ray Rice matter is to look for ways to evolve the system to a point where “The Disciplinarian” is a job separate and distinct from the NFL front office and from the NFLPA. Like the US, these folks need a “third branch of governance”.
The Disciplinarian” and whatever staff he/she needs will cost money. Everyone in every position is beholden to whoever pays his/her salary. Therefore, the costs for “The Disciplinarian” and his/her staff need to be borne by the NFL and the NFLPA in equal measure.
If there were indeed a person who was “The Disciplinarian”, no one would be thinking that Roger Goodell should be fired about now because he is doing his main job (grow the league) quite well.”
Best QB Start
Dan Daily gave this to us: “BEST WEEK 1 RECORDS FOR STARTING QUARTERBACKS SINCE 1960
1969-79 Roger Staubach Cowboys 9-0 1.000
2002-13 Tom Brady Patriots 11-1 .917
2002-13 Michael Vick Falcons, Eagles 6-1 .857
2007-13 Jay Cutler Broncos, Bears 6-1 .857
1963-68 Frank Ryan Browns 5-1 .833
2008-13 Joe Flacco Ravens 5-1 .833
Quite a group, isn’t it? You’ve got a guy who served four years in the Navy, including a stint in Vietnam, before starting his NFL career (Staubach). You’ve got a guy who’s married to a supermodel (Brady). You’ve got a guy who did time in prison for running a dogfighting operation. And you’ve got a guy who titled his doctoral thesis in math: “Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc” (Ryan).
(The latter will always get a laugh at parties, by the way. Just say, preferably when one of your friends has a mouthful, “I’ll take ‘Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc’ for $1,000, Alex.”)
Anyway, would have expected to see Vick on this list? Or Cutler, for that matter? (Flacco I had a vague awareness of just because he plays up the road.) Some other factoids that might interest you:
● Dan Marino (10-6, .625) didn’t make the cut, but he did win his last eight openers (1992-99). Heck of a streak. Dan Fouts (9-3, .750) didn’t make the cut, either, but he won nine of 10 openers in one stretch (1976-86, an injury keeping him out in ’77). Another terrific streak.
● Brady has won his last 10 (2004-13), though he made only a cameo appearance in the ’08 game, when he blew out his knee against the Chiefs.
● Peyton Manning is almost as good in openers as his father Archie was bad (2-9, .182). Of course, his dad got stuck playing for the Saints in their Paper Bag Days. Brother Eli, meanwhile, is 4-5 Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.32.43 AM(.444).
● Wins by Brady (vs. Miami) and Manning (vs. Indianapolis) would give each of them 12 opening-game victories, as many as any QB has had in the modern era.” More Of Perry’s Patter
Scientists can use DNA analysis to identity 19th Century serial killer Jack the Ripper, but we can’t avoid “added time” to the scoreboard clock in a world-class soccer game?
Ex-PGA Tour golfer Dan Halldorson, to the Medicine Hat (Alberta) News, on how he lost 20 pounds during his three-month stint as an instructor in China: “I was using two sticks to

Dreams Blog

September 9, 2014

Week 1 Jets 19 (1-0) Raiders 14 (0-1)
We saw Geno open the game making bad choices resulting in an INT and a lost fumble. He turned it around going 23/29 in the air with 1 INT. The Jets’ D was impressive allowing only 158 total yds. The Jets even rushed for 212 yds. (102 by Ivory and 68 by Johnson).
Johnette Howard (ESPNNY.com) gave a few thoughts on game: “Oakland’s rookie quarterback, Derek Carr, make the Jets pay for the error-strewn game Smith and the offense hung up, the scoring attempts they squandered and the offense’s part in committing seven of those 11 penalties, three of them momentum-killers by veteran guard Willie Colon. (An eighth penalty for offensive holding was declined because Smith was sacked anyway.) But the Jets won’t beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers — or survive the Bears, Lions, Chargers, Broncos and Patriots that come right after that — if they’re not sharper.”
Lions 35 (1-0) Giants 14 (0-1)
This was a terrible game for a Giants fan to watch. The Lions had 341 yards in the air, while the Giants had 163- along with 2 INTs and two sacks. NY was 23% in 3rd down conversions. In total yards it was: Detroit 417 NY 197. This wasn’t a failure of the west coast offense as much as a failure of the front office to put talented players, on both sides of the ball, in uniform.
A Look Back
Dan Daley, who wrote for the D.C. Post, now has a sports blog where he wrote about Red Smith, who had a flair for writing that hasn’t been equaled since. One snippet is included here as an example of his talent. It deals with the 1958 “Ice Bowl” between the Packers and the Cowboys: “It was the coldest Dec. 31 in the Green Bay records – 13 below zero at kickoff with a perishing wind carrying misery out of the northwest at 15 miles an hour. In spite of the 14 miles of 1for cleats. On the sidelines, players huddled under canvas hogans warmed by electric heaters, but out on the field there was no mercy.”
Dan talked about the vanishing NFL shutouts, “NFL defenses posted just three shutouts last season, one off the all-time low. There weren’t many the previous three years, either — six in 2012 and five in both ’11 and ’10. You don’t have to be Norman Einstein, as Joe Theismann would say, to figure out that’s one shutout every 53.9 games — in this decade, at least.
The whitewash in pro football is even more of an endangered species than the complete-game whitewash in baseball.
If this offensive explosion keeps up — and it shows no signs of abating — the shutout may go the way of the single-bar facemask. Especially with kickers becoming increasingly accurate. Since 2000, 183 shutouts have been spoiled by a single field goal. That didn’t happen nearly as often in the Pre-Soccer-Style Era.
How about the 1970 Cardinals (8-5-1) — Beat Houston Oilers 44-0, Patriots 31-0, Cowboys 38-0. (Note: A three-week stretch in which they outscored their opponents 113-0.) Missed playoffs. Hall of Famers (2): CB Roger Wehrli, FS Larry Wilson.”
NFL Development
Dan wrote about this anniversary, “A fairly noteworthy 50th anniversary is coming up — on Sept. 13, to be exact. It’ll be interesting to see how much attention is paid to it. On that date in 1964, in the Bills’ opener against the Chiefs, Pete Gogolak kicked the first soccer-style field goal in pro football history. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of too many developments in the game that have been more impactful than that.
In ’57, NFL kickers — all of them using their toes instead of the side of their foot — were successful on 52.2 percent of their field goal tries. Last season they made 86.5 percent (and were good on 67.1 from 50 yards and beyond).
Then, too, kickers are now specialists, among the most important members of any team. In the ’50s, when rosters were much smaller, they tended to be position players who were versatile enough to handle two jobs.(Pat Summerall was an end and Paul Hornung- a RB).
And it all began — in the pros, at least — 50 years ago with Pete Gogolak stepping back at Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium and side-footing through a 13-yarder to give the Bills an early 3-0 lead in Week 1. Two seasons and 47 field goals later, Gogolak was in such demand that he jumped leagues and joined the Giants, a signing that intensified the AFL-NFL war and helped bring about the merger.
Strikeouts Curve Is Trending Up
Ready for today’s physics lesson?
Strikeouts are on a steady rise. Of the top 14 strikeout kings of all time, four are active. When you think of strikeouts, you think of Reggie Jackson, the all-time whiff king (2,597), but he played 21 seasons, and only twice did he top 156 strikeouts. His worst season was 171. Whiff-wise, Reggie couldn’t carry the jock of Chris Carter, who struck out 212 times last season.
The shame factor is gone. When was the last time you saw a batter choke up with two strikes?
Put this on a graph: In 1950, two major-league hitters struck out 100 times or more. In 1970, there were 27. In 1990, 37. This season, there will be about 110.
Babe Ruth never struck out 100 times.
Reasons for the whiffademic? Pitchers throw harder, for fewer innings, have more pitches and throw them in less-predictable patterns. Batters swing harder and miss more. Fewer balls are squared up, catchers are dodging (or not) more bullets.
Sorry, catchers, there’s no solution, unless we can bring back Joe DiMaggio or at least Reggie Jackson. Your bell is going to get rung. In the words of former Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith: “Ice up, son.”
Idle Thought
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) thought that, “Tiger Woods fired his swing coach because the golfer couldn’t fire himself.”
Far Out Debut
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us about, “Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, who hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat, added two more in his third game, leaving him with a gaudy 1.545 slugging percentage.
(Readers: Insert your own “Soler power” punchline here.)”