Tuesday, June 26, 2007

R.I.P. NFL Europa

I heard the news today that NFL Europa would be ceasing operations after 17 years of existence. Considered the NFL's "minor league" or "developmental league", NFL Europa has become a place where players looking for a chance to improve themselves and maybe show scouts something that may catch their eye. Take this year for example. I actually knew who
Casey Bramlet was before the World Bowl a couple of days ago. However, for those who didn't, and still may not, he is the quarterback of the Hamburg Sea Devils, and a member of the Washington Redskins. He was also the World Bowl MVP this year, with 347 passing yards. He showed everyone something out there, and in the next few years, he could possibly receive more attention. I guess only time will tell.

What interests me is "now what"? What will the NFL do for development now?

Mark Cuban's "league"may be a viable option for the NFL. The league would not be in competition with the NFL, but rather a partner. Because honestly, why bother trying to compete with the NFL? It's a lost cause.

The other possibility could just be another developmental league, this time in the United States, but free of Mark Cuban. I have a solid suggestion for how to organize said league of course.

1. Eight teams, just like NFL Europa, except each division owns one team. Example- the AFC East would collectively hold the rights to a franchise to develop all of their players together. This could enhance the rivalries within the divisions, as well as add more interest to the developmental league for the fans.

2. Center the locations of the new eight franchises in the vicinity of the NFL teams, to create a more regional flavor.

3. Market the development league teams alongside the NFL teams.

Just to make a case here, I'll pick eight citites to put NFL teams in, also listing which division they would be attached to.

AFC EAST- Louisville
AFC NORTH- Des Moines
AFC SOUTH- Norfolk
AFC WEST- Los Angeles

NFC EAST- Long Island
NFC NORTH- Salt Lake City
NFC SOUTH- Oklahoma City
NFC WEST- Portland

So that's just my take on what the NFL should do. I guess we'll see how it plays out, but this seems like a solution that will work in the long term.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Red Sox Are Back In Style

Interesting week in baseball. Following being no-hit by Justin Verlander last week, the Brewers go on a complete tear. Interleague play is still about as one-sided as a pickup game between me and Tim Duncan, in ANY sport. My Mets have resurrected my sanity with a respectable 4-2 week, including the semi-impressive sweep of Oakland. Sunday almost saw ANOTHER no-hitter, this time in Toronto. For a rare feat, we are seeing quite a few players almost go the distance on no-hitters this season, with two actually doing it. I guess that's why it's so rare though. So very few actually complete that game with no hits, even if they take one into the 8th or 9th. In the Fanatic Power Poll, the positions have changed slightly. Boston, who was barely trailing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last week, takes over the top spot due to strength of schedule. Sorry, that's just the college sports enthusiast showing itself a little early.

Also included under the poll is my updated All-Star picks. Enjoy.

The "Fanatic" Power Poll (records as of 6/24)

1. Boston Red Sox (48-26, LW 2)

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (49-27, LW 1)

3. Detroit Tigers (45-29, LW 5)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (43-32, LW 9)

5. Arizona Diamondbacks (44-32, LW 6)

6. Cleveland Indians (43-31, LW 4)

7. New York Mets (41-32, LW 10)

8. San Diego Padres (42-32, LW 3)

9. Los Angeles Dodgers (42-33, LW 7)

10. Minnesota Twins (38-35, LW 15)

11. Seattle Mariners (39-33, LW 16)

12. Oakland Athletics (39.35, LW 8)

13. Colorado Rockies (38-37, LW 12)

14. Philadelphia Phillies (39-36, LW 13)

15. Toronto Blue Jays (37-37, LW 17)

16. New York Yankees (36-37, LW 11)

17. Chicago Cubs (35-39, LW 20)

18. Atlanta Braves (38-38, LW 14)

19. Florida Marlins (36-40, LW 18)

20. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (33-40, LW 19)

21. St. Louis Cardinals (33-39, LW 21)

22. San Francisco Giants (32-42, LW 26)

23. Houston Astros (32-43, LW 23)

24. Washington Nationals (32-43, LW 22)

25. Texas Rangers (30-45, LW 30)

26. Kansas City Royals (30-46, LW 25)

27. Baltimore Orioles (32-43, LW 29)

28. Pittsburgh Pirates (31-44, LW 24)

29. Cincinnati Reds (29-47, LW 27)

30. Chicago White Sox (29-42, LW 28)


AL-C-Posada (NYY), 1B-Morneau (MIN), 2B-Polanco (DET), 3B-Rodriguez (NYY), SS-Jeter (NYY), OF-Ordonez (DET), OF- Guerrero (LAA), OF-Hunter (MIN)

NL-C-Martin (LAD), 1B-Fielder (MIL), 2B-Utley (PHI), 3B-Cabrera (FLA), SS-Reyes (NYM), OF-Holliday (COL), OF-Griffey (CIN), OF-Lee (HOU)


Monday, June 18, 2007

The First Weekly MLB Power Poll

As I stated in my post yesterday, the All-Star picks and Power Poll will become a weekly staple of the "Fanatic" blog. Following this week, the picks and poll (yes, I know I promised that I woud think of something better than "Power Poll", but well, I didn't, so sorry) will be posted on Mondays in the same post.

Just to add a brief note about the last week in baseball, my Mets are starting to scare me a little. The team has won 3 of their last 15 games, and has played miserably overall, save the 3-0 gem in the first game against the Yankees on Friday. The scari-ER part of the whole thing- they're still in first place. I'd like to thank the Braves, Marlins, Phillies, and Nationals for that. We couldn't have done it without you. That being said, the Number 1 team this week is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Congratulations.

The "Fanatic" Power Poll (records as of 6/18)

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (44-26, 6-4 L10)

2. Boston Red Sox (44-24, 7-3)

3. San Diego Padres (40-28, 5-5)

4. Cleveland Indians (40-28, 4-6)

5. Detroit Tigers (39-29, 6-4)

6. Arizona Diamondbacks (40-30, 4-6)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (39-30, 5-5)

8. Oakland Athletics (37-31, 6-4)

9. Milwaukee Brewers (38-31, 5-5)

10. New York Mets (37-30, 2-8)

11. New York Yankees (35-32, 9-1)

12. Colorado Rockies (35-34, 7-3)

13. Philadelphia Phillies (36-33, 6-4)

14. Atlanta Braves (37-33, 4-6)

15. Minnesota Twins (34-33, 6-4)

16. Seattle Mariners (35-31, 5-5)

17. Toronto Blue Jays (33-35, 5-5)

18. Florida Marlins (33-37, 4-6)

19. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (30-37, 5-5)

20. Chicago Cubs (31-37, 5-5)

21. St. Louis Cardinals (30-36, 4-6)

22. Washington Nationals (30-39, 6-4)

23. Houston Astros (30-39, 6-4)

24. Pittsburgh Pirates (30-39, 5-5)

25. Kansas City Royals (28-42, 6-4)

26. San Francisco Giants (30-38, 3-7)

27. Cincinnati Reds (27-43, 5-5)

28. Chicago White Sox (28-37, 2-8)

29. Baltimore Orioles (29-40, 2-8)

30. Texas Rangers (26-43, 5-5)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Mid-June All-Star Picks

I love baseball season. It's almost as good as football season and the college basketball season. I say almost, because I only start to get enthralled in the baseball season around 2 months in, while I am fixed on football and college basketball from beginning to end.

With this blog still in its virtual infancy, I've decided to start up a couple of traditions that I hope will become long-standing. We'll start with this weekly update of my picks for the All-Star Game. Tomorrow will begin my weekly "Power Poll", for lack of a better name right now. I'm sure I'll figure out something a little less "used", shall I say by the time I post it up.

So, without further delay, my picks for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game. All stats prior to the games played on June 17th.

American League

C- Jorge Posada, NYY (.347 BA/8 HR/41 RBI)
1B- Justin Morneau, MIN (.275 BA/19 HR/51 RBI)
2B- B.J. Upton, TB (.320 BA/9 HR/.545 SLG)
3B- Alex Rodriguez, NYY (.309 BA/26 HR/70 RBI)
SS- Derek Jeter, NYY (.343 BA/49 R/.421 OBP)
OF- Magglio Ordonez, DET (.367 BA/61 RBI/.653 SLG)
OF- Vladmir Guerrero, LAA (.329 BA/61 RBI/.565 SLG)
OF- Torii Hunter, MIN (.307 BA/54 RBI/.560 SLG)

National League

C-Russell Martin, LAD (.288 BA/7 HR/41 RBI)
1B- Prince Fielder, MIL (.291 BA/24 HR/53 RBI)
2B-Chase Utley, PHI (.314 BA/12 HR/54 RBI)
3B- Miguel Cabrera, FLA (.337 BA/16 HR/51 RBI)
SS- Jose Reyes, NYM (.319 BA/48 R/37 SB)
OF-Matt Holliday, COL (.360 BA/52 RBI/.601 SLG)
OF- Carlos Lee, HOU (..305 BA/55 RBI/.514 SLG)
OF- Ken Griffey Jr., CIN (.288 BA/18 HR/.575 SLG)


Well, those are my picks as of right now. Yes, I know, my National League is a joke. And I also know that I picked 3 Yankees for the A.L. squad, despite the fact that I despise the team. Let the debates begin.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Closing the Door on the NBA Season, Though Mine Has Been Shut For Over A Month

Well, we've finally reached the formerly highly entertaining event that is known as the NBA Finals. I'd have to say I'm a little disappointed, but hey, you can't win'em all- or any, in the case of me with the NBA. Even with my disappointment in the worst playoffs I've ever witness (or failed to by the second round, when I stopped watching), I will say that it is has given birth to a new point in NBA, maybe even sports history. You all recall "one of the greatest playoff performances ever" last week, when LeBron James lit up the Pistons and single-handedly carried the Cavaliers on his back. Well, that could finally be the passing of the guard we were looking for since Michael Jordan retired the second time.

Think of everyone that has been dubbed the "Next MJ" since His Airness retired following his sixth title, a monumental victory against the
Utah Jazz in six games with Jordan himself putting the exclamation on the sixth game, series, and at that time, his career. After that, many wondered who the "Next MJ" would be. They thought it was Vince Carter, but though he's self-absorbed enough to be like Jordan, he lacks the raw skill and intensity to be considered anywhere close to Jordan in the history of the Association. Some thought Allen Iverson, but he just wasn't the game-changing force that Jordan was. People grabbed onto Kobe Bryant as well, but he's not really liked by anyone at this point, so I think we can all just count that one out. Other names have been tossed about as well, but then a couple years ago, we saw real hope. LeBron James, donning Jordan's #23 entered the league, for the downtrodden Cleveland Cavaliers. We all thought this could've been it. An 18 year old was going to save the NBA, bridge the gap between MJ and the travesty we have watched since his second retirement. Four years later, King James has assumed his throne.

LeBron James, though heralded, is NOT the next Jordan, because that person does not and will not exist. However, he WILL make his name remembered and his story told by those of us who witnessed it, to our children and grandchildren. LeBron is not as good of a defender as Jordan, and he may be slightly behind in the intensity department, but for all the criticisms we all laid upon him, especially after the first two games of the Eastern Finals, I will say this: LeBron is the scariest player I have ever seen.

LeBron's physical presence is that of a linebacker, on the basketball court. He can be a pounding brute under the hoop or a finesse shooter. He can carry a team on his back like not even MJ could. The man can play ball. And he may have just saved the National Basketball Association with his performance last week.

After all of this LeBron hype, I so badly want to pick the Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals, especially since they are facing the
San Antonio Spurs, who you should know that I despise by now. However, after plodding through the crowd of cameras surrounding The King, I can see that it just isn't meant to be.. this year. Remember, the guy is only 22. The fact that he single-handedly beat the best Eastern Conference team of the past 5 seasons already proves to me that even if he can't pull it off this year, he'll be back and better than ever next season. He's got that drive now, and it's what will carry him into the record books and our memories.

After all of that, my Finals prediction: San Antonio 4- Cleveland 3.
LeBron makes this series an interesting one and the Cavs miraculously force a Game 7, only to lose to Tim Duncan, who I hate. Let's just hope that I'm not as accurate with this prediction as I was with my Stanley Cup one.

Brief Gloating Session

Now I'm going to make this short, because I don't feel like I have THAT much to say here. However, you never know, I may surprise myself. This post though (whatever the length) is for one purpose. To remind all/any readers out there that I PREDICTED THAT THE ANAHEIM DUCKS WOULD WIN THE STANLEY CUP IN 5 GAMES!

That's right. For anyone with short-term memory loss, I had predicted a Ducks victory in 5 games at the start of the Stanley Cup Finals. Now I know it may have been more impressive if I had done so before the entire playoffs, but well, you can't be right ALL THE TIME.

The thing that gets me charged up though is not only the fact that I correctly predicted the outcome of the Finals in the accurate amount of games, but I also did it in spite of the fact that many "experts" (::AHEM:: ESPN, I'm talking to many of your hockey reporters) picking the Senators in about 6 games. Sadly, I missed the boat on
Scott Niedermyer winning the Conn Smythe, only because I didn't think that Chris Pronger would a) get suspended again or b) said suspension would inspire another gritty victory for the Ducks reminiscent of the Detroit series. So, my bad on that one. But still..
And that's all that matters. Thanks for your time.