Thursday, August 12, 2010

Triple Crown Part III

Guess what? It's time to read more about my fascination with baseball's Triple Crown. Today, the focus will be on something completely different from what we've looked at before. The first thing we looked at was the margins by which people won the actual Triple Crown. And last time, we looked at alternate Triple Crowns. Well, now I have something completely different. We're going to look at what's been called the Modern Triple Crown (for the record, I hate using the word "Modern" in the name-- what if someone comes up with a different one in 20 years? Then what? So, I'm going to use a different name). It got a lot of press in 2009 because it was won by Joe Mauer. It means leading the league in all three slash stats. For those unfamiliar with sabermetrics, that would be batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, which are usually presented as such: .365/.444/.587 (that, by the way, is Mauer's 2009 line). Well, here I present to you the all-time Slash Stats Triple Crown winners:

Nap Lajoie, 1901 PHA AL: .426/.463/.643
Nap Lajoie, 1904 CLE AL: .376/.413/.546
George Stone, 1906 SLB AL: .358/.417/.501
Honus Wagner, 1907 PIT NL: .339/.408/.513
Honus Wagner, 1908 PIT NL: .350/.415/.542
Honus Wagner, 1909 PIT NL: .354/.420/.489
Ty Cobb, 1909 DET AL: .377/.431/.517
Sherry Magee, 1910 PHI NL: .331/.445/.507
Ty Cobb, 1914 DET AL: .368/.466/.513
Tris Speaker, 1916 CLE AL: .386/.470/.502
Ty Cobb, 1917 DET AL: .383/.444/.570
Rogers Hornsby, 1920 STL NL: .370/.431/.559
Rogers Hornsby, 1921 STL NL: .397/.458/.639
Rogers Hornsby, 1922 STL NL: .401/.459/.722
Rogers Hornsby, 1923 STL NL: .384/.459/.627
Rogers Hornsby, 1924 STL NL: .424/.507/.696
Babe Ruth, 1924 NYY AL: .378/.513/.739
Rogers Hornsby, 1925 STL NL: .403/.489/.756
Rogers Hornsby, 1928 BSN NL: .387/.498/.632
Chuck Klein, 1933 PHI NL: .368/.422/.602
Lou Gehrig, 1934 NYY AL: .363/.465/.706
Arky Vaughan, 1935 PIT NL: .385/.491/.607
Jimmie Foxx, 1938 BOS AL: .349/.462/.704
Ted Williams, 1941 BOS AL: .406/.553/.735
Ted Williams, 1942 BOS AL: .356/.499/.648
Stan Musial, 1943 STL NL: .357/.425/.562
Ted Williams, 1947 BOS AL: .343/.499/.634
Stan Musial, 1948 STL NL: .376/.450/.702
Ted Williams, 1948 BOS AL: .369/.497/.615
Ted Williams, 1957 BOS AL: .388/.526/.731
Frank Robinson, 1966 BAL AL: .316/.410/.637
Carl Yastrzemski, 1967 BOS AL: .326/.418/.622
Fred Lynn, 1979 BOS AL: .333/.423/.637
George Brett, 1980 KCR AL: .390/.454/.664
Larry Walker, 1999 COL NL: .379/.458/.710
Todd Helton, 2000 COL NL: .372/.463/.698
Barry Bonds, 2002 SFG NL: .370/.582/.799
Barry Bonds, 2004 SFG NL: .362/.609/.812
Joe Mauer, 2009 MIN AL: .365/.444/.587

Well, there are clearly a lot of pretty good players on this list. That shouldn't be a shock. It also shouldn't be a shock how many of these are widely considered to be among the greatest seasons ever played. Also, as you can see, the list is absolutely dominated by the first half of the twentieth century-- 29/39 seasons occured by 1948, and there have only been a scattered few since then. One in the 50s, two in the 60s, one in the 70s, one in the 80s, one in the 90s-- but four in the oughts. So that's interesting (even if one was aided by Coors Field and two of them by steroids). It's especially odd, since in 1909 (Wagner and Cobb), 1924 (Hornsby and Ruth), and 1948 (Musial and Williams) it was done in both leagues in the same year. The American League just had it's longest Slash Stats Triple Crown drought come to an end last year with Mauer after a 29-year hiatus. The National League, though had a much longer drought-- 51 years, from Musial in 1948 to Walker in 1999. That's quite a wait.

Overall, it's been done 39 times, by 21 guys. How about their credentials? Well, George Stone, Sherry Magee, and Fred Lynn are not in the Hall. The other 14 eligible players are.

So, Wagner set the early pace, by winning three, and doing it consecutively. But how about Hornsby's run of dominance in the 1920s? Is it even possible to overstate how much that guy owned the NL? He made the Babe look like a one-trick pony. He won the Slash Stats Triple Crown 7 times in 9 years, including 6 in a row. Wow.

Here are the seven me who won the SSTC twice or more:

Nap Lajoie (1901, 1904)
Honus Wagner (1907-09)
Ty Cobb (1909, 1914, 1917)
Rogers Hornsby (1920-25, 1928)
Ted Williams (1941-42, 1947-48, 1957)
Stan Musial (1943, 1948)
Barry Bonds (2002, 2004)

Talk about a who's who! This is perhaps the most important list in all of baseball-- not in any real respect, except that there isn't a player on this list who isn't considered among the very, very best of all time. I would say all are HoFers, but we'll see what the voters say about Barry...

Anyway, Cobb won his first in 1909, and his last 8 years later. Hornsby did the same thing. But they're both dwarfed by Williams, who won his first in 1941, and his last a whopping 16 years later. I think he was juicing.

A couple of real surprises on here. First, the Ruth being on only once shouldn't be a surprise, since he didn't really win batting titles. But it's still weird to make a list and not see his name dominate it. Anyway, there were some others. For example, if I had been asked to pick which Jimmie Foxx season was his best, 1938 would have been my third choice (behind 1932 and 1933). Interesting.

Also, of the 13 official Triple Crown seasons, only 10 of them are listed here. Conspicuously absent are Foxx's aforementioned 1933 season, Joe Medwick's 1937, and Mickey Mantle in 1956, which really, really surprised me. Apparently, Ted Williams just got on base far too much for Mick to win this particular crown.

Other than that, I don't really have much else to say. Hope you enjoyed!

Research performed on

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jordan and LeBron

This is a tiny side-light of a story, the way I see it, in light of training camps opening, midseason in baseball, and the British Open. Honestly, I'd love to be writing about one of those things instead of this, but here I am. Why? Partly, I can't help it. Partly, because I know I'm right about this. Mostly, because I listened to ESPN radio and Eric Kusilias talked like an idiot about Michael Jordan's comments regarding LeBron James's recent move.

MJ's comments basically went along these lines (and I'll use quotation marks, even though this isn't a direct quote):
"In hindsight, I wouldn't have done anything like that. I wouldn't have called up Magic and Bird and try to join a team together... We were on the Olympic team together, and there was no animosity... I wanted to beat those guys."

I remember a few key phrases (perhaps not verbatim), so that's what I'll comment on. On the radio, Kusilias was making the argument that this makes it sound like MJ won his titles all on his own, when, in reality, he had great players around him. True. However, THAT'S NOT EVEN RELEVANT!! He says it's a small difference for him to join Wade rather than the other way around-- I see that as the WHOLE difference. Basically, I think that Jordan is right. Would he have wanted Bird or Magic on his team? Of course. But would he have stooped to the level of colluding with those players to join him so that he could get their help? No. Here's the reason:

James doesn't have the killer instinct of MJ. That's the thing. Jordan thought (read: KNEW) that he could win a title, even without the help of those guys. Did he need SOME help? Of course. But not the best players in the game. Look at Kobe. Call it arrogance, but he said he didn't need Shaq. When he had the chance to bolt to Chicago, he didn't. You absolutely have to give Kobe Bryant credit for one thing, if nothing else: he knows that every move he makes will be scrutinized, and that the tiniest little thing could impact his legacy forever. James is clearly not as image-conscious as Kobe, or Mike. We all thought he was. We were wrong.

Second, everyone is analyzing this Jordan statement from the perspective of MJ vs. James: who's better? What about the real way Jordan was probably thinking-- as person with a management perspective on the game of basketball. Here's what I mean: If players start colluding, and that becomes a big thing for free agents to do, it's bad for the other management in the NBA. However, if the greatest of all time comes out and calls you out for that, guess what? All of a sudden, image-conscious players may not be so willing to do that. So let's talk about this honestly. Yes, Jordan was knocking James as a player. That's clear. But let's not forget that there's more to MJ than just the player these days, and this may just be a sighting of MJ The Executive.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Early Prediction

I talked to David about this and we agreed it was too soon. However, I can't help but make early predictions about the upcoming NBA season...well at least for the East. I know, I know there is a lot that still needs to unfold, but with the majority of big named players signed I think I have just enough information to foresee how things shall unfold.

15) Toronto Raptors: They sucked with Bosh so I shouldn't be surprised to see them suck even more without him. They've already lost Hedo, but they did get Leandro Barbosa which is a good addition to the team. Ed Davis has played well in the Summer League games and Demar Derozen should have a bigger impact on the team than last year. But you know a team is in trouble when they say their new leader is Jarret Jack.

14) Detroit Pistons: This team could be a playoff team, but I just don't like this teams makeup. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are extra players. What I mean is these guys should be features and not star players. Unfortunately Detroit has them as stars. I see them clearing themselves of that 04 Pistons team completely by trading Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince either before the season starts or at the trade deadline. I think this is a definite lottery team and I think once they realize that the tanking will begin.

13) Washington Wizards: John Wall will do wonders for the Wizards, but this team is still a year away. I like getting Kirk Hinrich to teach Wall, but the backcourt of Gilbert and Wall just does not do it for me. JaVale McGee is looking like a real good player for the Wizards and the development of Andray Blatche should continue, but in the loaded east ( feels good to say that again) I don't think they will be able to compete this year.

12) New Jersey Nets: Well their is only one way to go for New Jersey. They have good young players like Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Courtney Lee is a solid two guard who is in the mold of Kerry Kittles. I like Derrick Favors even though he hasn't looked all that great in the Summer League games so far. I love the hiring of Avery Johnson and that alone is worth 5-10 more wins. This team could compete for a playoff spot especially if they continue to make moves (They just signed Anthony Morrow) that fits their team's scheme.

11) Indiana Pacers: First off I think this is a really solid team. Paul George and Magnum Rolle look like the real deal and "Born Ready" Lance Stephenson might be the point guard that they need. However, I still think this team is not deep enough to make it in to the playoffs. They have a lack of depth at every position, but especially at the point guard spot. I think with next year's draft being so point guard heavy, being in the lottery is exactly what they need to get back to the Miller time days.

10) Cleveland Cavaliers: It hurts to put them here and I hope I am wrong, but an Antwan Jamison lead team has never been very good. I think more than anything Byron Scott needs for this team to be in the lottery. If Byron does get this team to the playoffs it only going to stunt his growth. He needs superstars to get him back to the top and this team has great roll players, but that superstar hole is extremely large. They have athleticism with JJ Hickson, Anderson, Moon, and Parker and that might be enough to squeak them into the 8th or 7th seed. However, I just don't see it. Good luck Cleveland!

9) Charlotte Bobcats: This is probably wrong, but it might be right. I know Larry Brown coached teams don't usually take a step back after just making the playoffs, but this team hasn't gotten better, but everyone else has. I hope for MJ's sanity that they do make the playoffs, but I don't see it.

8) New York Knicks: Before the David Lee trade I didn't think much of this team, but after the trade I started to see the sunny side of the Knicks. I like where they are going. If Amare stays healthy along with Anthony Randolph, this team becomes very scary. They could be the old Phoenix Suns, but in New York. Danilo will continue to grow as a NBA player, and the addition of Raymond Felton should sure up that hole at PG. New York will be motivated to make the playoffs and that should be enough to put them in a first round playoff matchup.

7) Philadelphia Sixers: Call me a homer, but I believe this was a playoff team last year, but they just had a crappy system. I know they can't shoot, but they can play D and run the floor and that's what Doug Collins likes to do. Eddie Jordan didn't believe in defense and that's what cost the Sixers last year. Their offense depends on their defense and no fast breaks basically means no points for the Sixers. Jrue Holiday is the real deal and Evan Turner will catch on as the season progresses. The addition of Hawes and Nocioni will be huge for this team and will propel them back into the playoffs.

6) Atlanta Hawks: Basically the same team with a new and unproven coach. I like Mike Woodson and I think losing him will cost ATL in the seeding. Having Joe Johnson is huge for their development, but in order for them to make it over the top they need more shooters and an offensive presence at the 5 spot.

5) Milwaukee Bucks: David likes them way more than me and he might be right. Same coach and much more improved roster. I absolutely love the addition of CDR and Corey. Redd won't be back until February, but what else is new? If they can pull off a McGrady type deal with Redd my expectations for this team change dramatically. A healthy Bogut is key, but not as much as last year. The staple of bigs they got in the draft was awesome. All of them should contribute this season and more people will fear the deer.

4) Chicago Bulls: Love getting Boozer and Korver. This team is looking legit. Rose and Boozer can be just like Williams and Boozer but better. Having Korver come off the bench as their sniper is just like having Steve Kerr back in those championship days. I like coach Thibodeau a lot. I wanted the Sixers to hire him two seasons ago and I think he's a chip off the old Celtics block. He preaches defense and efficient offense 24/7. They still need to fill out their roster, but right now I believe their core is as good as anyone in the league.

3) Boston Celtics: The Boston Three-Party is back. And Doc is back too! I like the Jermaine O'Neal signing, but losing Tony Allen is a tough blow. I like having Luke Harangody coming off the bench and if Avery Bradley can step it up than maybe losing Tony Allen won't be as bad. The bench is deteriorating and so is the big three, which means maybe Boston has ran out of luck.

2) Miami Heat: I question this very much but, how could you not put them in the top two. They have two great players and a very good low post player, but that's it. Mike Miller is okay, but getting Udonis Haslem back is what put them in the two spot for me. Without Udonis they would fall to the three seed. Dexter Pittman is a big body that should do wonders for them, but who else is on that team? I mean Jerry Stackhouse announced publicly that he'd play for the minimum for the Heat, but I mean will they have to ransack the 2000 All-Star team to come up with a bench? They've reportedly talked to Juwan Howard and Shaq and they might as well throw in Stephon Mabury, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady. It takes a complete team to win a title and I don't think they have it. Also I don't trust Erik Spolestra to be that championship coach that they need.

1) Orlando Magic: Great roster, and coach. Howard should continue to improve his offensive game and Nelson is very good point guard and Rashard Lewis is the perfect inside/outside player that they need. They also have a deep bench that got much deeper with the addition of Chris Duhon. If they can sign Matt Barnes and JJ Redick back that will go a long way in Orlando's run to the title. I think Orlando so far has the best combination of change and stability in the East.

Yes this is early and it is a very fluid subject, but I had to get this off my chest. Now I can sleep well...for now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


This is more so in a response to what my esteemed colleague and newly married friend already stated. This move smells more like the 04 Lakers than the 08 Celtics. It's a move of desperation at such a young age. To me this move hurts on so many fronts, but on two particular fronts.

1: What happened to competition?

When I buy a new sports game I always pick the highest rated team versus the worst rated team and play that game, but as the lower rated team. I like to test myself and see if I am good enough to beat the best team possible. I think LeBron would pick the higher rated team, just to guarantee himself a win. David is right, we care about earning titles not just winning them. I mean what happen to wanting to beat the best to be the best. I understand when guys like Karl Malone, Gary Payton, and Charles Barkley started hoping teams just to win a title because they were in the Twilight of their careers and had nothing missing from their hall of fame resume's but a title. LBJ, Bosh, and Wade have many years to become great players and anchor their own title. For pete sake's Wade already did it! I also understand wanting to play with your friends, but this isn't high school basketball people! I mean Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were friends when they played, but I bet you Larry would never go play for the Lakers and Magic wouldn't play for the Celtics. By LeBron going to play with Wade and Bosh in Miami he proved to me that he doesn't care about his basketball legacy which leads to my next point.

2: RIP to Wade county and King James.

When Wade, Bosh, and LBJ played on team USA in 2008 Wade's numbers were 16pts, roughly 2asts, and 4rbs. LBJ had roughly 16pts, 4asts, and 5rbs. Do those numbers look like MVP numbers? No, they look like Andre Igoudala numbers. John Barry actually made a very good point in a discussion with Michael Wilbon. He said, "Wade and LeBron can no longer play basketball the way that they have been playing and for that I am sad as a basketball fan." I completely agree. Remember when Wade completely took over the 2006 NBA Finals and was the clear cut best player on the court. Or how about when LBJ scored 25 straight points against the Pistons and winning a pivotal game 5 on the road? These are moments of greatness built by great players in great moments. Can anyone tell me the greatest individual Team USA moment? I didn't think so. Wade and LeBron are going to have to be watered down versions of their superselves in order to win a title. And who suffers? Me and the entire world. LBJ and Wade have decided that being considered one of the greatest isn't that important to them and that's fine...if you're Robert Horry or Steve Kerr. These guys are suppose to be future hall of famers. They are suppose to want to put their own stamp on the league's history. I know people criticized Kobe for driving away Shaq, but I do respect his desire to be considered one of the greatest. LBJ just want's to be one of the guys and that's sad. Wade can technically still be the same Wade since this is his team (Yes, it's Wade's team. He built the Heat so LBJ is coming to be second fiddle to Wade), but if he wants to win Wade can no longer be Wade.

Sidenote: Who the fudge is Chris Bosh? He's a great player? He's alright? I mean he's played in some All-Star games and made the 08 USA team, but so did Michael Redd and no one is calling Redd great. I use to like Bosh, because he was an under appreciated player trying to win in Toronto. Somehow we went from one extreme to the next. Look Bosh is just about as good as Pau, which isn't saying much. Pau's a good player but I hold off the word great when I think about Pau. Honestly I think Miami would be better off with a guy like Boozer or a 100% guaranteed to be healthy Amare. If you think Pau is soft than Bosh must be air. Bosh is to tall to not want to bang, and in the East where guys like Perkins, Howard, Bogut, Horford, and the whole Bulls front line like to hit people in the mouth, Bosh is going to have to firm up if he want's a title. It took Pau some time and for Kobe to basically ride him before he could be tough enough to win. I don't know if Bosh can do that, which is why I don't think this team is built to win and all of this sacrifice of talent will be for nothing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long Time, No See

Okay, so first, I apologize for the long layoff. I've gotten married and moved in the last month, plus I'm working two jobs right now, not to mention being a newlywed. But here it is: the story big enough to get me out of my hiatus: LBJ. The Heat. However you want to call it. Here's what I think:

1. Money.
Here's what LeBron's thinking. He thinks he needs to win a title. This is true. He thinks that that's his best chance to become the billionaire he so wants to be. But here's the truth. He has no greater earning potential there than in Cleveland. That's the truth. He has no earning potential greater ANYWHERE than in Cleveland. But he doesn't see that. He sees an opportunity to win the championship. Unfortunately, what he doesn't realize is that NONE OF US will count this title. People will think about this as the time that three players colluded to win the championship without giving each team a fair shake. Dumb.

2. Expectations.
Unless the Heat win 70+ games and the title, they've underachieved. First of all, people are going to make the point that the bench will be weak. That actually doesn't matter. Many of the "great" teams in NBA history had bad benches. The 72 win Bulls had an AWFUL bench, and they were the best that ever played. So that doesn't matter. What does matter is that the Heat have made unreasonable expectations for themselves. Chris Broussard made the point tonight that we should respect these athletes for valuing winning over money. Wrong. You know what people value? EARNING a championship. That's the thing. Bringing three players in like this is unprecedented. And don't compare it to the Celtics three years ago-- that was done by a GM making smooth moves, not players getting together and deciding for themselves, so it's way, way different. I don't like how this smells-- not one bit.

3. Dwight Howard.
He tweeted (according to Sportscenter) that it was "messed up" that Cleveland fans were burning LeBron's jersey. He was just doing "what's best for him" and that he gave them "7 good years." Well you know what? They gave HIM 7 good years. And they were doing what was best for THEM, which was purging their bedroom of their girlfriend's picture after they found out she was sleeping with someone else. But no. The FANS don't have feelings, do they, Dwight? I don't have a problem with athletes playing where they want to play-- and this is as a Packer fan who thought that Favre and the Packers were inseparable. But here's the thing: if the players are free to do whatever they want, so are the fans. If LeBron gets booed in Cleveland for the rest of his career, and the people of Cleveland hate him, and he can't walk downtown in his own hometown-- well, that comes with the territory. Now, if people commit acts of vandalism against him or people stalk him or harass him, that's too much. But barring those CRIMINAL things, the people of Cleveland owe LeBron NOTHING right now. He had the chance to stay there, and he decided it wasn't good enough for him. That he couldn't win there, and that he didn't want to work as hard as he would have had to to build a winner there. That's fine. That's his prerogative. But don't feed me that garbage that suddenly everybody owes somebody something. No no no. This was a clean break, and it's over. LeBron made his decision, and, inevitably, there are consequences. Now it's time for him to deal.

4. The NBA.
Well, I guess it's prediction time. You have to make the Heat the team to beat in the East, but I bet they won't win it all. They'll start off hot (because every team starts the season without chemistry, and the most talented teams always start well), but then they'll struggle. They'll come in to the playoffs with a big, fat target on their backs, and they'll lose in the Eastern Conference Finals, or maybe the Finals (if they're lucky). Orlando, Boston, and Milwaukee will be incredibly tough, and whoever comes out of the West will be good. Jordan can attest to the fact that, the night Boston got KG and Ray, I said they would win the Finals, and have a three-year run. I know he can attest to it, because he agreed with me. Well, I was right (although their run may actually last longer than I initially stated). Let's see if my gut is right again.

5. The Letter.
Loved it. I hope the Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert is right. I also heard a Clevelander say that LeBron would never be Jordan, Bird, or Magic. Frankly, at this point, it's hard to see him being as good as Kobe, or maybe even Wade, depending on how things work in these upcoming years. Now, right now, I would say that LeBron is no-doubt better than Kobe RIGHT NOW. But in terms of legacy? I have a hard time believing that LeBron will EVER eclipse him-- and I remind you, I'm a Kobe-hater. Maybe this is just emotions talking, but I think LeBron will have a hard time overcoming the fact that it appears that he "cheated" to get it. That's pretty much how it works.

6. Cliff Lee.
If the trade of Pennant-Ace-for-Hire Cliff Lee gets completely forgotten because of LeBron, I'm gonna be mad.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mock Draft Round 1

The NBA Draft is on Thursday night and everyone has their mock drafts so why not us. Here is what the teams should draft in the first round if they all kept their picks. However, we know that's not gonna happen.

1 Wizards: John Wall
He is a Rondo and Derrick Rose type of player. Shoots like Rose but has the body of Rondo. Obviously not as good of a defender as Rondo but a much more explosive athlete. Can he play with Gilbert? Who really knows but he is by far the best player in the draft so you can't pass him up.

2 Sixers: Evan Turner
He is a Brandon Roy type of player. Does he fit perfectly with this current Sixers team? No, but he's the best player available and you can't pass on that. Just ask the Wizards.

3 Nets: Derrick Favor
He is an Amare/Dwight type of player. He has the same type of athleticism as Amare when he was a rookie and the same type of jumper as Amare now. Favor and Lopez would create the most devastating front court in the NBA.

4 T-Wolves: Wes Johnson
He is a Danny Granger type. Better jumper than Danny but not as built. Should help that team become a better offensive team.

5 Kings: DeMarcus Cousins
He is Charles Barkley with height. On and off the floor he reminds me of the Chuckster. Things are looking up in Sac-town if they can get DeMarcus to focus on the court.

6 Golden State: Greg Monroe
Vlade Divac type of player. One of the best passing big man to come out of the draft since Pau Gasol. Monroe can get the ball to those shooters in Golden State and create even more open space for them.

7 Pistons: Cole Aldrich
Todd MacCulloch/Greg Ostertag comes to mind when I think of Cole Aldrich. That's not a bad thing both guys were very serviceable in their NBA careers. Cole would bring a skilled big man to the Pistons which they desperately need.

8 Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu
He reminds me of Shawn Marion with a better jumper: I'm not a big Aminu fan because I see bust all over his face. He does remind me a little bit of Marcus Haslip and we all know how that turned out.

9 Utah: Ekpe Udoh
Travis Outlaw comes to mind minus the shooting. Big time rebounder and defender. I think his athleticism would be a welcomed addition to the Jazz

10 Pacers: Patrick Patterson
Chris Webber comes to mind minus the build. Despite what people may think Webber was a very smart and crafty player. I see the same type of game with Patterson. He's one of my favorite players in this draft and the Pacers would do well to draft him

11 New Orleans: Gordon Heyward
Believe it or not but he reminds me of Paul Pierce. He has deceptive athleticism and a good jumper. He's a big time sleeper and could be the best player from this draft

12 Memphis: Paul George
I see some Iggy in this guy. This pick might be unnecessary if Gay comes back but I don't see that happening.

13 Raptors: Hassan Whiteside
He is a Sam Dalembert type player with a slightly better jumper. He's a bit immature, but who isn't at the age of 20? He's huge and skinny, but has the frame to put on weight. Hassan can occupy the 5 and put Bargnani at the 4 to replace Bosh. If the Lakers taught us anything this season it is that you can't teach height.

14 Rockets: Solomon Alabi
This is a Mutombo type of player. He's a much better jump shooter than Mutombo, but doesn't have as good of defensive skill as Mutombo. The Rockets played well when Mutombo was their center when Yao got hurt. Why not have a younger version as their insurance policy?

15 Bucks: Xavier Henry
He's a Michael Redd/Ray Allen type. He can put it on the floor but his strength is being a knock down shooter. Henry and BJ would be a great back-court for the future.

16 T-Wolves: James Anderson
Glenn Rice/Isiah Rider come to mind. Solid shooter and knows how to use his body to get to the hoop. Not a willing defender and has a bit of a lazy side. This pick may not be necessary for the T-Wolves but I like the combo of Flynn and Anderson for the future.

17 Wizards: Damion James
Reminds me of Mbah a Moute. A better shooter than Mbah a Moute, but not as good of a defender. Great addition with John Wall.

18 Thunder: Daniel Orton
Reminds me of big Perk down in Boston. Very big body and very raw on the offensive side. Having Orton will give the Thunder a tough big, which they desperately need.

19 Celtics: Avery Bradly
Reminds me of Shannon Brown. He could be their Ben Gordon/Jamal Crawford off of the bench.

20 Spurs: Larry Sanders
Reminds me of Theo Ratliff. Very long arms and can fly down the court. He is very raw offensively like Theo Ratliff and will give the aging Spurs a young forward.

21 Thunder: Ed Davis
Al Horford type of player, but has that UNC aroma on him. UNC players haven't really produced lately so I am a little leery on Ed Davis. However, if he can put everything together this would be a big steal for the Thunder.

22 Trail Blazers: Kevin Seraphin
Portland loves French players so why not draft another good one? He's kinda like Jason Thompson but more athletic. He's a solid pick for Portland that learned the hard way last year that you can never have too many bigs.

23 T-Wolves: Craig Brackens
He reminds me of Kenyon Martin minus the explosiveness. I hope the T-Wolves don't keep all three picks because they need veterans more than rookies. I like Craig Brackens. He's a tremendous player, but I think his talent would be wasted in Minnesota.

24 Hawks: Luke Babbit
More athletic Austin Croshere. He can hit the three and get to the hole. He can't defend which is why I have him outside my top 20. Not a whole lot of potential but he's good enough to give a team 15- 20 good bench minutes each game.

25 Memphis: Eric Bledsoe
Mario Chalmers type of player. Conley has been a disappointment and Bledsoe maybe the upgrade they need.

26 Thunder: Jordan Crawford
Reminds me of Gilbert Arenas. He's a volume shorter with crazy athleticism. Yes he's famous for dunking on LeBron, but his leadership ability with Xavier is the reason why people should take notice of this kid. He'll be a solid player for this young Thunder team as they continue to stockpile young talent.

27 Nets: Dominque Jones
Martell Webster type of player, with a better jumper. He would greatly elevate the Nets bench. He was the most exciting scorer in college basketball last season and Jersey would be stepping in the right direction with him.

28 Memphis: Lance Stephenson
He's a Latrell Sprewell type of player. He's got some attitude issues but so did Brandon Jenning. He's a good scorer and has the most NBA ready body and game out of all the prospects. Not sure how he works in Memphis, but Memphis usually draft the best player available and Lance would be that guy.

29 Magic: Stanley Robinson
He's a lesser talented Vince Carter. Very athletic, but needs a more consistent jumper. Vince Carter is at the end of his career and Stanley Robinson would be a very welcomed addition.

30 Wizards: Quincy Pondexter:
A Mickael Pietrus type of player. He can play terrific man to man defense and can spot up an hit a J. Could be drafted higher but has a very inconsistent game. With John Wall his game should become more consistent.

Well this is how the first round should go, but we will see which GM will be trying to lose their job come Thursday night by reaching or adding players that just don't fit.

Sit back and enjoy draft night.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't Talk to me Unless You're a Sports Fan !

Excuse me but, this is personal. I know that sports is a common part of human nature. This is because we are all naturally competitive. However, that does not mean that we are all sports fans. Sports provide a social venue for all of us. Sports provide us with the great opportunity to relax, yell, and be a part of a group. According to a study by the University of Kansas students that regularly attend sporting events generally have better GPAs. However, those people that go with their face painted or the hot chicks that only know the players by number are not sports fans. According to me their either leaches or one dimensional fans. You see when I was a kid I was like any other naive boy who thought I could play in the NBA, NHL, MLB, or NFL. All I had to do was choose and I'll be their on draft night. However, as high school approached and my height stayed the same, I started to realize that the only way I would be in any of those professional leagues would be if every capable athlete in the world was killed or had career ending injuries and my services became required like being drafted into the army.

My lack of athletic build and skill never deterred me from watching or following sports. In fact it made me want to know more about them. I even broadened my scope as the years passed. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a city that had a professional team in all of the four major sports leagues (Philadelphia). I was instantly hooked on the four major sports by the age of 6. Over the next 16 years I became a follower of other sports such as NASCAR, Tennis,Golf, Women's basketball, MMA, and soccer.I mean there are a lot of other sports that I have looked into but they never really did anything for me like horse racing, rugby, or eating contest.

I guess at this point you're probably wondering what am I getting to. Am I here just to list all the sports I know...No. Am I here just to brag about myself? No. Then what is my point? Well it is simple. Look at the title of the post!

I am sick and tired of non-sports fans calling themselves sports fans. Just because you like your local sports teams does not make you a sports fan. It just makes you a homer. I mean I like Garth Brooks, but that does not make me a country music fan. It just means I like Garth Brooks...and Darius Rucker ( you know...Hootie from Hootie in the Blowfish). I am not trying to be an elitist I am just trying to clarify the difference between me and the guy in the sports bar that considers sports jerseys as business casual. Getting into sports conversations with these people are awful. It like getting into a political conversation with Glenn Beck.

Typically the conversation with me and the sports bar guy goes like this:

Bar Guy: Man, Kobe is just as good as Jordan. Don't you think so?
Me: No. Not even close. Kobe isn't even the best Laker of all-time so how can he be just as good as Jordan?
Bar Guy: What are you talking about? Everyone on ESPN says that Kobe is just like Jordan so it must be true.
Me: No. Not even. ESPN exaggerates all the time just to start debates. I bet you most of them would probably not rate Kobe better than Magic Johnson.
Bar Guy: What? Kobe is way better than Magic Johnson, he scores more points than Magic.
Me: And?
Bar Guy: So he's a better player.
Me: No.
Bar Guy: That's all Jordan did. All he ever did was score and dunk and people call him the greatest. Kobe does that too and he scored 81 points in a game! Jordan never did that!
Me: Okay.
Bar Guy: Okay what?
Me: Jordan did more than score. He played defense very well. He even won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He was also the ultimate teammate. I mean he was a part of the winning-est team in NBA history and never lost in the NBA Finals. He also won the Finals MVP every time he was there. Not to mention he left for a year and a half to play baseball. Imagine if he didn't retire. He could have won two more titles and two more MVPs. Jordan also has the....
Bar Guy: Whatever. I don't think that is all correct. I never saw Jordan win the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Me: (sigh) I'm gonna go grab another drink. It was nice talking to you (not really)

I understand not everyone has the same passion for sports like myself and David. I mean we write a sports blog that nobody reads besides us. And we enjoy it. Sports Bar Guy wouldn't do this. He's too busy yelling, playing beer pong, eating nachos, and/or watching Sportscenter all at once. I watch Sportscenter, but I also read articles to mold my own opinion. Many people watch sports for the social experience. It's like social drinking. However, I can watch the Super Bowl by myself and be perfectly fine. I watch sports because I absolutely love it. My day begins with sports and it ends that way, seriously. When I wake up the first thing I do is turn to Mike and Mike in the morning on ESPN2. When I fall asleep the last thing that I see is Sportscenter. Sports Bar Guy doesn't do that. I recite sports sports players the way preachers quote bible verses. Sports Bar Guy can tell you his team's all-time great players and nothing else.

Some may say that I have an obsession with sports, however it's far from that. Sports is part of the fabric of society and I recognize that it is important. Sports Bar Guy understands the importance of his team and nothing else. Sports provide the ultimate equalizer in society. Racial issues disappear, poverty issues are non-existent, and classicism is banished. Sports is the ultimate proving ground where politics do not influence the outcome. I absolutely hate when people say that, "It's just a game." Ask New Orleans if the Saints are just a team? Or ask the Ivory Coast if Dider Drogba is just a soccer player? Teams and their athletes provide us an escape from the trials and tribulations of life. Though sports provides us with just as many heartaches as blissful moments it is still a break from that brute force called responsibility. Life is hard enough and Sports makes it much more bearable.

I am not calling out people, but I just want to set the record straight. A German Shepard is a dog, but it does not deserve to be lumped in with all the toy dogs, it has it's own category. Me and Sports Bar Guy both will watch a basketball game, but we are not in the same category.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

24 Does Not Equal 23

As Kobe Bryant reaches for his fifth title out of seven title series that he has played in many people feel compelled to put Kobe in the Jordan category. Many even try to seriously argue that Kobe is just as good if not better than Jordan. As a very knowledgeable basketball fan I must say nothing angers me more than this so called argument.

Yes, Kobe is the best player in the NBA. I will agree with that. Until he retires or his skills seriously diminish he will hold that title. However, this label is fairly recent. I would say Kobe has been the clear cut best player in the NBA since about the 05-06 season. Tim Duncan in my opinion has been the best post-Jordan era player, but Kobe could surpass him if he continues to play at this level. Kobe will go down as one of the top 25 greatest basketball player of all-time maybe even in the top 10, but never number 1. MJ is in the realm of untouchable greatness. The club of untouchable greatness is a very small club. Jordan, Babe, and Gretzkey are guys that you can't argue against. Kobe will never reach that club, but that is not to say that he is an underachiever. Kobe has done a lot for the league. I give Kobe a lot of credit for wanting to be great. I think his desire to be great is what separates him from LeBron James.

Kobe will do whatever it takes to win and has the killer instinct just like Jordan. However, Jordan is an icon and a titan of his sport. I know people like to point to stats and Kobe may break the all-time scoring record, but points per game, will go to Jordan. Plus Jordan won a defensive player of the year award as well as several MVPs in the regular season and in the finals. Also, it wasn't like he was playing with some slouch as his sidekick. Scottie Pippen is probably the best to ever play defense at the three position. He was good enough to win a finals MVP, but couldn't because he was Jordan's teammate. Kobe has won four titles but only one finals MVP. He's won only one regular season MVP and only two scoring titles. Jordan is better than Kobe in all of those categories.

Jordan played in an era of great players. Because of Jordan players like Barkley, Ewing, Miller, Malone and Stockton did not win rings. And if he never played baseball you could probably add Hakeem, and Clyde to that list. I mean if a person wants to look at stats, AI has more scoring titles and just as many regular season MVPs as Kobe. The only thing he doesn't have is a ring, which is I guess you can say is due to Kobe, but I'd say it's more because he played with George Lynch, and Eric Snow.

Kobe is a special player and even a great player. However, the label of the greatest is too far from his reach and he will never obtain it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PFC #11 Denver Broncos

QB: John Elway, Craig Morton, Jake Plummer
RB: Floyd Little, Terrell Davis, Sammy Winder
WR/TE: Rod Smith, Lionel Taylor, Shannon Sharpe
OL: Gary Zimmerman
DF: Tom Jackson, Karl Mecklenburg, Champ Bailey, Steve Atwater
ST: Jason Elam
CO: Mike Shanahan, Marty Schottenheimer
Extra: Ed McCaffrey, Clinton Portis, Riley Odoms, Willie Brown, Tom Nalen

Well, I had pretty high expectations for this Broncos team given that around the time I started watching football, this was one of the premier franchises in the NFL. Also John Elway is my favorite non-Eagles QB of all-time. However, it seems that this team was more a collection of good players that maximized their talents and not a group of great players. I mean Willie Brown, John Elway, and Gary Zimmerman are HOFers, but the rest of the group is lacking. Besides Elway, their QB core is a group of perennial backups that had a few good years with the Broncos. Terrell Davis’ career unfortunately was cut short and leaves us with a lot of questions. For two years he was the best back in the league and was on his way to being an all-time great. However, a devastating knee injury ended his rise to greatness and left him with a poor man’s version of Gale Sayer’s career. Floyd Little is a great back and is very underrated in the NFL history and Sammy Winder is even more underrated, but these guys fall short to the upper echelon of running backs in this tournament. The receivers are very good, but not great. I mean Shannon Sharpe is one of the best tight ends ever and Rod Smith is a fringe HOFer who has a chance of making it in, but Lionel Taylor is just a very good player. The Defense is pretty good, but the orange crush doesn’t seem like they will be good enough to stop these other all-time offenses. Steve Atwater is one of the best safeties I have ever watched and Champ Bailey is a pure shut down corner. I am not to wild about Tom Jackson and Karl Mecklenburg, but they are solid all-time defensive players. The O-line made Denver during the Shanahan years and Gary Zimmerman was the best. I mean the Denver O-line made guys like Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson look like great running backs. Denver also has a great kicker in Jason Elam, which should come in handy in these close games against the all-time great teams. The coaching in Denver also falls into the very good, but not great category. Mike Shanahan has two Super Bowl wins and did go to the AFC title game with Jake Plummer as his QB, but his career has suffered since losing Elway. Marty is also a good coach, but could never perform on the big stage and no stage is bigger than this tournament. It will be interesting to see how this team will matchup in the first round against their AFC foes the Cleveland Browns. Historically they have owned the Browns, but we’ll see if that matters in our tournament.

Friday, May 28, 2010

PFC#1 Dallas Cowboys

QB: Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith
RB: Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith, Don Perkins
WR: Michael Irvin, Bob Hayes, Jason Witten
OL: Rayfield Wright
DF: Darren Woodson, Mel Renfro, Chuck Howley, Bob Lilly
ST: Deion Sanders
CO: Tom Landry, Jim Johnson
Extra: Daryl Johnston, Randy White, Lee Roy Jordan, Cliff Harris, Tex Schramm, Harvey Martin, Nate Newton, Flozell Adams
They are ranked number one for a reason. America’s team has an abundance of talent from the top down. It is amazing that this franchise almost spent the last twenty years without winning a playoff game. This team is deep at every position. Dorsett and Emmitt Smith create possibly the best backfield that any of the other teams will have. Also, Dallas has a stable of Hall of Fame QBs with Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. In addition, they also have Don Meredith who isn’t a bad player either. Irvin and Bob Hayes create the perfect combination of speed and power at the WR position. They didn’t call Bob Hayes , “Bullet” for no reason. The speed of Bob Hayes running those 9 routes and with the unstoppable force of Irving going across the middle, there is no amount of down in distance that this team can’t easily cover. Also they have Jason Witten as a tremendous red zone option. On defense…forget about it. The Cowboys have four defensive players that have won Super Bowl MVPs, even though two of them shared the award. The Cowboys are stacked everywhere defensively and have a tremendous special teams player in Deion Sanders. This team’s biggest edge is probably at coaching. Tom Landry is basically the symbol of coaching with no disrespect to Vince Lombardi. The hat, suit, and stoic look of Tom Landry is unforgettable and is synonymous with greatness. Jimmy Johnson was also able to etch his own image in Cowboys history. He engineered an unstoppable offense and a defense that was as impenetrable as his hair. The Cowboys are the favorite since they are the number one overall seed, but that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to win this tournament. They should be able to dismantle the Eagles in the first round, but after that it will be a tough road for them to travel through.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PFC #16 Philadelphia Eagles

QB: Donovan McNabb, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham
RB: Steve Van Buren, Willbert Montgomery, Brian Westbrook
WR/TE: Tommy McDonald, Harold Carmichael, Pete Retzlaff
OL: Bob Boomer Brown
DF: Reggie White, Brian Dawkins, Chuck Bednarik, Eric Allen
SP: David Akers
CO: Earle Neale, Andy Reid
Extra: Bert Bell (owner), Troy Vincent , Mike Quick, Irving Fryar, Norm Van Brocklin, Sonny Jurgenson

I am a life-time Philadelphia Eagles fan, but I’m not going to lie to the world. This team isn’t going anywhere. A lot of it is due to the fact that the Eagles have either had a lot of moving parts or solid to good players. Donovan McNabb and Chuck Bednarik are by far the two best players the Eagles can offer, but besides that there really is not a lot to show, especially against the other 15 teams. The Eagles’ best position is at QB. Donovan is a possible HOF QB. Jaws use to hold the record for most consecutive games played and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance. Norm Van Brocklin is a HOFer and so is Sonny Jurgenson, but their better known for playing with other teams. However, Norm Van Brocklin did win a MVP and a championship with the Eagles in 1960. Randall Cunningham is by far the most exciting QB ever in NFL history and opened the door a little wider for African-American QBs. The other positions are not as deep as the QB position. On defense they do have Reggie White, Chuck Bednarik, and Brian Dawkins, but once you get pass those players the talent level drops tremendously. Troy Vincent and Eric Allen are very good players but in the realm of greatness they fall short. You know a team is in trouble when you have to add an owner to the all time great list. Unfortunately for this all-time Eagles team they go up against their rival the Dallas Cowboys in the first round, which should spell the end for this team. But who knows.

PFC #10: Indianapolis Colts

QB: Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas, Bert Jones
RB: Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Lenny Moore
WR: Marvin Harrison, Raymond Berry, John Mackey
OL: Jim Parker
DF: Gino Marchetti, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Art Donovan
ST: Mike Vanderjagt
CO: Weeb Ewbank, Tony Dungy
Extra: Earl Morrall (QB), Alan Ameche (RB), Reggie Wayne (WR), Don Shula (CO),

Let's see...
By far the best QBs of any team yet presented. Best coaches (heck-- the all-time wins leader is ON THE BENCH, for goodness sakes!), best overall receivers, and their running backs are so stacked, I had to put a Hall of Famer in the "Extra" section. Lenny Moore would also be a fine returner, by the way. One of the best in this tournament, actually, and he's already on the roster, which is why I didn't include him a second time. As for the defense, I know it's a little early on Bob Sanders, but the guy is lights-out. Also, Marchetti is one of the 10-12 DEs who got absolutely SCREWED by the fact that sacks were not counted until the 80s. One of the best passrushers of all-time-- and Dwight Freeney is another, so that will go nicely together. The hardest choice was a fourth defender. To be honest, Colts defenders are a pretty lackluster group (especially at linebacker), but since we're not emphasizing defense too much, that'll work in their favor. By the way, I knew Jim Parker was a great offensive lineman, but what I learned is that he was the first full-time O-lineman in the Hall of Fame. Interesting, no? Anyway, I really, really like this team, and expect them to do very well. They're first-round matchup with the Niners should be fascinating, since this team is probably the most similar team to San Francisco of any team in the tournament.

PFC# 8 Oakland Raiders

QB: Ken Stabler, Rich Gannon, Jim Plunkett
RB: Marcus Allen, Clem Daniels, Bo Jackson
WR/TE: Tim Brown, Fred Biletnikoff, Dave Casper
OL: Gene Upshaw
DF: Howie Long, Willie Brown, Ted Hendricks, Jack Tatum
SP: Ray Guy
CO: John Madden, Al Davis
Extra: Lester Hayes, Mike Haynes, George Blanda, Art Shell, Jim Otto, Sebastian Janikowski
The Raiders might have the most complete all-time team in this tournament. The QB position is a little lacking, but they are set at their skilled positions. Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson would be a deadly back field, creating the perfect combination of speed and power for any team. They would also have wide open lanes to run through too. I mean Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, and Jim Otto would clear lanes wide enough for me to run for a 100 yards in a game. Furthermore, if the run game was not working they can toss it to their hall of fame receivers and tight end. Despite the somewhat lack of talent at the QB position offensively this team would be difficult to stop and they can stop everyone with their defense. The Raiders have an amazing history of secondary players. I think any all-time team would have to run well to beat these Raiders because any ball in the air is probably landing in the hands of a Raiders secondary player. The training staff would be extra active for the opposing team facing these Raiders. I mean just having to face Jack Tatum alone spells trouble, but also having to go against Howie Long and Ted Hendricks is a lot to ask out of anybody. And don’t forget about Ray Guy. The Raiders would win the field position game against almost any all-time team and with great kickers like George Blanda and Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders are pretty much guaranteed to score on every possession. This Raiders team might have the best combination of coaches as well. They have the voice of football in John Madden and “Just win baby” Al Davis. It will be interesting to see how far this team will go in this tournament. They are seeded number eight in our tournament but that should not scare the Raiders. I mean they were the first franchise to win a Super Bowl as a wild-card team. So winning this tournament should be a piece of cake. First up for the Raiders are the New York Giants.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

PFC#6: Cleveland Browns

QBs: Otto Graham, Bernie Kosar, Frank Ryan
RBs: Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Marion Motley
WR/TE: Ozzie Newsom, Paul Warfield, Dante Lavelli
OL: Gene Hickerson
DF: Len Ford, Warren Lahr, Jim Clay Matthews, Jerry Sherk
ST: Lou Groza
CO: Paul Brown, Blanton Collier
Extra: Bobby Mitchell, Bill Willis, Mike McCormick, Joe DeLamielleure,

I choose to do the Cleveland Browns due to their historical importance. The Browns are one of the oldest franchises in NFL history and have done a lot for the history of African Americans in pro football. Marion Motley and Bill Willis were the first African-Americans to play pro football in the modern era. In addition, the Browns drafted Jim Brown who was an important black activist during the civil rights era and is arguably the best running back in NFL history. Furthermore, the Browns also drafted Ernie Davis who was the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy. The Browns have not had great times in recent years, but the base of this franchise’s history will give them a chance to go far in this tournament. They have two positions (kicker and running back) in which they can claim they have the all-time best. In addition, Otto Graham is a top ten QB and Bobby Mitchell was an electrifying player way before his time. I like this Cleveland team, but it will be difficult to compare them to other teams since a lot of their great players are pre-merger players. However, Cleveland has 16 HOFs which is fifth most out of all NFL teams. The Browns are an important part of NFL history and they should get the respect that they deserve. First up for them is the Denver Broncos.

PFC #15: San Diego Chargers

In our Pro-Football Challenge, I'm going to lead off with my lowest-seeded team, and perhaps the most surprising inclusion of the top 16: the San Diego Chargers. Well, here are the players.

QB: Dan Fouts, Philip Rivers, John Hadl
RB: LaDanian Tomlinson, Natrone Means, Chuck Muncie
WR: Lance Alworth, Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner
OL: Ron Mix
DF: Junior Seau, Leslie O'Neal, Rodney Harrison, Fred Dean
ST: Darren Bennett
CO: Don Coryell, Sid Gillman
Extra: Antonio Gates (TE), Darren Sproles (KR)

This is a really trick franchise to pin down. They have some really stong points, like QB and especially special teams (I didn't mention Andre Coleman above, but you may remember this play, formerly the longest play in Super Bowl history; also, his 1995 season was pretty great all-around). The defense isn't strong past these four, but what a strong four! Fred Dean may be the most underrated defensive player in the history of pro football. Look him up.
The rub with the Chargers, though, is that the other positions are just awful. True, Lance Alworth and Kellen Winslow are all-time greats, but there's really not much after that. I like Charlie Joiner, but his numbers, even for his era, aren't great-- they're very, very good, but not great. The gaps that hurt the most, though are at running back and o-line. I find it pretty hard to believe that they'll go very far in this tournament with the three slightly-above-average backs on this roster. I shouldn't be so harsh: Tomlinson is an all-time great. But seriously: no one better? I thought about Terrell Fletcher, but if you're even CONSIDERING Terrell Fletcher, what does that say about the team you're working with? Well, we'll see how they do. First up for them is the Dolphins.

Pro Football Challenge

Here's a little dose of football for you in the offseason, so my baseball posts don't keep boring you.

Jordan and I were discussing the other day about which NFL franchise was the greatest. We decided that perhaps the best way to determine this would be choose an all-time team for each franchise, and have them "play" in a tournament. We decided on 16 teams, because not all 32 (nor the many that have folded) actually merit inclusion in this discussion. Here are the teams we are using:
Cowboys - .580
Dolphins - .579
Bears - .577
Packers - .558
Vikings - .555
Browns - .553
49ers - .551
Raiders - .550
Giants - .547
Colts - .531
Broncos - .528
Patriots - .518
Steelers - .517
Redskins - .517
Chargers - .503
Eagles - .483

They are seeded by all-time winning percentage. The Steelers won the honor of playing lower-seeded Green Bay while Washington will play Chicago because the Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowls. It was an arbitrary tiebreaker, but I knew the answer offhand and didn't need to look it up, so that's why it was chosen. Anyway, each "team" will consist of the following:
3 QBs
3 RBs
1 OL
4 Defensive players
1 Special teamer (meaning kicker, punter, or returner)
2 Coaches
Any additional players or coaches the picker sees fit. For example, if, as a picker, one of us we saw that there were two, three, or even four offensive linemen who merited inclusion, we would certainly be entitled to mentioning those players here. The above numbers are simply minimums (or minima, if you're into Latin plurals).

Beyond that, things should be pretty self-explanatory. We split up the teams, so we'll each take eight. We're hoping to post at least one per week, but that is going to be a little tricky for me in the coming weeks, since I'm getting married two weeks from today. If nothing else, I'll catch up when I get back. Regardless, it'll start with a quick team-profile, and once all 16 teams are selected, we'll start the "tournament." Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rethinking OPS

So, I've been thinking about baseball stats lately. Of course, I spend a lot of my time thinking about baseball stats. Particularly, what I was thinking about, though, is Bill James's reason for creating Win Shares-- he wanted a simple number (integer, actually, but I'm not that picky, since even a percentage could be converted to a larger number and rounded, if one were so inclined) to define players. That's what I'm after, too. Specifically, what I've looked into was OBP, SLG, and OPS.

For a long time, I've felt that those three statistics were really key in determining the value of a player. Now, that's probably the most obvious thing ever, but we have to start somewhere. Anyway, here's what I've thought about those stats:

OBP: Perfect. Well, as close to perfection in the history of baseball prior to sabermetrics, anyway. This is a fantastic way of valuing offensive contribution for two reasons: one, we know that on-base percentage is more closely tied to run-scoring than slugging percentage. Second of all, most "sluggers" have high OBPs anyway. And third, it actually measures contribution on a per-plate-appearance basis, which is extremely valuable in assessing a batter before he comes to the plate.

SLG: Positive and negative. In my humble opinion, not as strong as OBP for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's much more affected by ballpark than OBP (although both are certainly affected, it's undeniable that SLG is affected more). That's an issue I'm not really ready to touch. But, there are other problems. First of all, it's inadequate to value a batter before he comes to bat, because SLG does not factor in alternative ways of getting on base to hitting the ball. Third, while it certainly does an excellent job of covering most offensive situations, it does not cover the stolen base, which is an incredibly important thing, particularly to a few players (Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Tim Raines, Maury Wills, Ty Cobb, Vince Coleman, etc.) who are incorrectly undervalued without it.

OPS: You know what's funny about OPS? For a long time, it's been the Holy Grail of stats. Sure, it's simple and crude, but it's easy and it gets the job done. Well, the point here is accuracy, not just adequacy. In my opinion, the first major flaw of OPS, which is really obvious to me, anyway, is also the biggest. If you imagine OBP and SLG as fractions, rather than as decimals, it's pretty obvious that the denominators (that's the bottom number, in case you've forgotten) are different. While OBP is over PA, SLG is over AB. That's an issue for me. So, I tried to correct this problem. Here was my process:

I first went about with the theory that SLG was the right idea, but that it merely needed to be tweaked. Therefore, I decided the best thing to do would be to tweak it. So, I decided to incorporate on-base (and steals, actually) in the best way I knew how. I "fixed" the denominator to be "total offensive chances (TOC);" that is PA+SBA. Pretty easy, huh? So, then I had to fix the numerator. I called this "distance travelled," because it measures the distance on offensive player moved himself with his bat, his eye, or his legs (or any part of his body that were to be hit by a pitch). Anyway, that looks like this: TB+BB+HBP+SB. I was later informed that I should have been accounting for GDP (just to name-drop, the person who suggested I should do this was none other than Sean Forman of I sent this to him the day I figured it out, and he looked at it because he's a wonderful human being. Anyway, it was also his idea to include CS. He mentioned Ks as well, but I've decided that doesn't really jive with what I'm going for, so I decided to ignore that suggestion while I accepted his others), which I should have. Initially, I subtracted this from the numerator, but decided it was actually better described as a wasted offensive chance than as the removal of a Total Base, so I added that to the denominator instead. The only downside to this approach is on the micro-level (because in the course of a season, it all works out): that is, if a player did nothing but ground into double plays, he would have a value of "0," when anyone can see that his value is, in fact, negative. I would, though, like to point out that this problem is also present in OBP, SLG, and OPS, and my goal wasn't to create a perfect stat (not yet, at least)-- merely a better one. Anyway, when you divide the whole thing out, I call it "average distance travelled (ADT)," and it looks like this:


The vast majority of the time, this number will be pretty dern similar to SLG. Personally, I like doing all this extra work, though. Other than the extra work, the only real downside is trying to factor in CS, since those data are not always available. Anyway, I thought this would be a passable substitute for OPS, since it factored both statistics into the equation. I did this two summers ago, and have only looked at it a couple of times since then.

Yesterday, though, I had a breakthrough. I realized that what I had really done was fix slugging percentage, which I knew from the beginning. What I didn't really realize until yesterday was that this statistic, in and of itself, was not, in fact, enough to compensate for OPS. I thought that modifying SLG to incorporate OBP would be to fix the problem of why SLG wasn't sufficient by itself. What I now think I did (by accident, I'll admit) is to fix a standard error in OPS-- or at least I removed a small chunk out of that error. For those who don't know, OPS actually slightly overvalues SLG. What we know from research is that OBP is actually slightly more valuable than SLG. That is, it's more important to get on base often than it is to go far on the basepaths. Since I've "corrected" SLG, what I actually needed to do was to still add in OBP. The only issue with OBP, as it would normally be used, is that to simply add it to ADT would be creating the same fundamental problem of OPS I railed against earlier-- the different denominator. So, I merely fixed that issue, again by incorporating steals, since they represent additional offensive chances-- in other words, chances to make outs or bases. There's the much higher success rate of stolen base attempts to be contended with here, but, for the vast majority of players, that won't really fudge their numbers too deceptively. Anyway, the new on-base (nOBP) formula looks like this:


Obviously, combining the two makes a newer formula for OPS. I call it "expected offensive contribution (EOC)," and it looks like this:


or, more simply:


It kind of looks complicated compared to OBP SLG, or OPS, but I really think it's a simpler and much more elegant estimate of how much a player has contributed. Here are some examples of some well-known seasons, and what they look like with the traditional measures (OBP/SLG/OPS), and my modified measures (nOBP/ADT/EOC). First, some that change very little:

Babe Ruth, 1920: .532/.847/1.379; .526/.862/1.388

Robin Yount, 1982: .379/.578/.957; .377/.589/.966

Hank Aaron, 1959: .401/.636/1.037; .397/.643/1.040

Interestingly, if Ruth had grounded into as few as 5 double plays (those data are not available), he would actually be worse by EOC than by OPS. Anyway, here are some of the players with a more “normal” difference:

George Brett, 1980: .454/.664/1.118; .455/.680/1.135

Albert Pujols, 2003: .439/.667/1.106; .435/.693/1.128

Sammy Sosa, 2001: .437/.737/1.174; .433/.761/1.193

This seems to be (for high-caliber players who are more traditional power/average hitters) about the normal rate of change—somewhere in the .015-.020 range. Here are some guys with big changes:

Ted Williams, 1941: .553/.735/1.287; .542/.783/1.325

Lou Gehrig, 1936: .478/.696/1.174; .475/.748/1.223

Mickey Mantle, 1957: .512/.665/1.177; .518/.737/1.255

As you may notice, the huge difference here is that these guys walked a lot, and that added plate discipline makes them much, much more valuable. Anyway, the common thread you’ll notice in this last group is that these are guys with uncommon plate discipline and base-stealing numbers. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since SBs are weighted so heavily by this system. Anyway, some .100+ point guys:

Craig Biggio, 1997: .415/.501/.916; .444/.593/1.037

Rickey Henderson, 1982: .398/.382/.780; .469/.544/1.013

Ty Cobb, 1915: .486/.487/.973; .620/.714/1.334

There were a lot of other guys I could have picked here (Maury Wills in 1962 had a difference of .164; Vince Coleman in 1987 was a difference of .192; heck—Ron Hunt, virtually on the strength of HBP alone moved up .097 in 1971), but I thought this was an interesting sample. Biggio’s is truly fascinating, as it’s powered by the big, fat goose-egg in GDP, a ridiculous 34 HBP, 47/57 in SB, and enough patience to draw 84 walks. An all-time underrated season. But enough about that—as you see, Cobb’s difference is over .350 points! It’s really interesting, actually, that by traditional OPS, Cobb’s best season is 1911 at 1.088, followed closely by 1925 at 1.066. That may sound suspicious to many of you baseball fans out there, since 1925 was well after Cobb’s prime. However, he did have limited PAs that season (490). Anyway, people who are familiar with Cobb’s career may know that he had an excellent 1915 season—although his OPS that season was only .944—which is one point below his career average. However, throw in 96 steals (caught 38 times), 118 walks, and 10 HBP, and suddenly we have an interesting discussion. Here are Cobb’s numbers from those two seasons:

1925: .468/.598/1.066; .469/.646/1.115

This is a sizeable difference, as measured by EOC. However, the next one is unbelievable:

1915: .486/.487/.973; .620/.714/1.334

I think it’s safe to say that Cobb was a better player in 1915 than in 1925, and this number supports that.

Another interesting case is Hank Aaron’s. Here are what I think are his two best seasons—1959 and 1963 (even though they’re printed above, I’ll repeat them side-by-side):

1959: .401/.636/1.037; .397/.643/1.040

1963: .391/.586/.977; .407/.629/1.037

Wow. What a difference, huh? Obviously, the stolen bases are huge (31 compared to 8), but so too are HBP (4 to 0), and his improvement in GDP (from 19 down to 11). Likely, though, it’s the walks that make the biggest difference. With only 51 walks in 1959, Aaron wasn’t setting the world on fire. However, his 78 in 1963 make a huge difference. Anyway, the 60 points of OPS are reduced to a statistically insignificant level, more accurately depicting these two seasons.

Finally, because I found this amusing, I think I’ll share it with you. In conducting this research today, I sample 41 seasons, and no two had a smaller difference (.002) than two A’s players of the 1980s—Rickey Henderson in 1982, and Mark McGwire in 1987. Sorry to re-hash Henderson, but I want you to see the comparison:

Henderson, 1982: .398/.382/.780; .469/.544/1.013

McGwire, 1987: .370/.618/.987; .367/.649/1.015

I found this hilarious. Can you imagine a funnier pair than the top SB season of the decade (and the century, for that matter) to be paired with the top HR season of the decade? You have to love baseball.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Good To Be Young

Hello sports fans!

The NBA playoffs is up and running (along with the NHL playoffs) and these are exciting times. The NBA might be in the best shape it has ever been in since the 1980s. The NBA has a great combination of declining, well established, and rising stars that makes this league possibly the most exciting professional league in all of sports. Today I'd like to comment on the young rising stars in the league that well continue to propel the NBA to the status of being the worlds most popular sports league. Below is a list of the best players that have been in the league from the start of the 05-06 season to the present. I've created a first to third team of young stars in the NBA. Now I know you might disagree with me, but I only speak the truth.

1st Team

PG: Chris Paul: CP3 is the best PG in the game period! I know everyone gets caught up with players when they have a great post-season and Deron Williams is having one, but let's not forget the impact of CP3. CP3 has more career ppgs, spgs, apgs, a better shooting percentage, and more rpgs. I know CP3 does have injury issues, but when he is healthy there is no point guard in the game that can keep up with him

SG: Brandon Roy: I am sure that the Minnesota fans wish that they would have kept Brandon Roy instead of trading him for Randy Foye, but nobody's perfect right? In four seasons Brandon Roy was able to turn the Portland Trailblazers from a toxic wasteland back into Rip City. Brandon Roy is basically the new Tim Duncan of the NBA. A four year college star, an instant impact player, and light skin and quite.

SF: Kevin Durant: While watching Kevin Durant in his one year at Texas I knew that he was going to be a star in the NBA. He's George Gervin part 2. I hope that he continues to develop and stay healthy and become the superstar that we already claim him to be. It's still to early to tell if he will be a superstar player. he could be Kobe or he could be T-Mac.

PF: Al Horford: This is probably the toughest position to chose. I choose Horford over Aldridge basically due to his defense. Aldridge is a better offensive player than Horford, but only by a little bit. However, Horford is a better defensive player than Aldridge and that's by a wide margin. So advantage Horford.

C: Andrew Bogut: Bogut gets this spot mainly because Dwight Howard doesn't qualify for his group (Howard was drafted a year before). Andrew had his best season this year and has gotten better each season he has been in the NBA. Bogut is by far the second best center in the East and is probably in the top 5 centers in the NBA today (which really isn't a big deal though).

2nd Team

PG: Deron Williams: Deron Williams may never be John Stockton, but he will go down as one of the best point guards to ever wear a Jazz jersey. Deron Williams is one of the strongest guards in the league and has a crazy combination of court vision and scoring ability. With Deron Williams in a Jazz jersey I find it hard to believe that Jerry Sloan will be leaving the bench anytime soon.

SG: Derrick Rose: So I know he's not a shooting guard, but I figure it makes more sense to have a guy like Derrick Rose on this list instead of Nick Young or Rodney Stucky. Derrick Rose is one of the most athletic guards in the NBA and if he continues to improve his defensive efforts he could someday overthrow CP3 for the thrown of best point guard in the league.

SF: Danny Granger: Has the skills to be the best small forward in the game. He can score, defend, and has natural leadership ability. He does need players around him to make him better and he needs to improve his offensive game a little more. However, Danny Granger is the type of player that you can build around and create a winning team.

PF: LaMarcus Aldridge: I could have put Jokim Noah here, but I think Aldridge has been more consistent in his career than Noah. If Aldridge could just have Oden healthy he could be his Duncan to his Robinson. Aldridge has the offensive game down, but it is imperative for him to learn to play defensive if he ever wants to evolve into a NBA superstar.

C: Andrew Bynum: This is more so based on speculation. Bynum has the body and skills to rival Dwight Howard for the number one spot at the Center position. However, he has a terrible work ethic and he seems too immature to be able to ever put it all together. I hope he can someday put it together because the NBA needs quality centers just as much as the NFL needs quality QBS. Bynum is close, but will he ever reach his potential? Only time will tell.

3rd Team

PG: Rajon Rondo: You could argue that he should be rated ahead of Rose, but any PG that shoots free throws worst than me can't be on the 2nd or 1st team. Rondo has the defense, court vision, and offensive game to become a hall of fame point guard. If he continues to work he will become that player, but he has to improve his free throw shooting and have a more consistent mid-range game.

SG: Russell Westbrook: Again I know he's not a shooting guard, but he's a much better player than the other shooting guards out there. He's been in the league for only two years, but he is a tremendous player. Playing along side Kevin Durant probably helps, but Westbrook's performance in his first post-season series and his performance this season shows that he's got the goods to be a great player in the league.

SF: Rudy Gay: Rudy Gay is a rare case of a UConn player actually living up to their ability. His performance in last summer's Team USA tryouts showed glimpses of greatness. He then went on to have his best season in his career and lead Memphis to 40 wins, which is pretty darn impressive. Rudy Gay may not turnout to be anything close to a hall of fame player, but he does have that potential to be an influential player in the NBA.

PF: David Lee: Whoever thought that a good player in New York would be under the radar? David Lee is one of the most complete forwards in the league. He's a threat for 20 and 20 every time he steps on the court. He's an athletic freak of nature and if a team can't sign Chris Bosh this year I wouldn't be upset if David Lee was my constellation prize. I thought about putting Noah here but David Lee is a much more complete player than Noah

C: Brook Lopez: You could argue that he's better than Bynum, but Brook Lopez did just play for a 12-70 team. Though it wasn't his fault, he surely didn't help that much. Brook Lopez has a great array of low post moves that remind you of the great centers that played in the NBA and his defense is solid. He still has a lot of room to improve and has the time to do so.

Well that's the future of the NBA and I didn't even mention players like Jennings, Curry, Evans, Luc Richard, Omari Casspi and many more. We are in great hands and I can't wait to see how these players and future players develop in the NBA.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Favre or Fiction

2 posts tonight, to make up for the general laziness of the last couple weeks. Enjoy!

In my wildest dreams, here's what we find out in the coming months, in 2 minutes or less:

July 14: (from the Associated Press) Vikings' coach Brad Childress reports today that Brett Favre is still undecided about returning to the NFL, and that there is still no deadline for Favre's return. It is widely assumed that Favre will rejoin the team after training camp is over.

August 15: (from the Associated Press) Now that training camp has ended, Brett Favre has yet to return to the Vikings. Sources close to the team indicate that he will likely rejoin the Vikings sometime next week.

August 17: (from the Minneapolis Star Tribune) Our Savior has returned! Not since the Jesus' early followers awoke that first Easter morning to the empty tomb, has a group been as excited to be reunited with their leader as the Vikings are to have Brett Favre back. The Vikings took pains this offseason to avoid taking a quarterback to please Favre. Minnesota passed on quarterbacks round after round in the draft (although they did draft one who will be converted to receiver), and chose to remain with Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson. This, they hoped, would indicate to Favre that the Vikings had no intention of pushing him out the door. All that was left was to hope and pray that Favre would return. And it looks like that strategy has paid off.

September 3: (from the Minneapolis Star Tribune) In a shocking move, it appears that Brett Favre has elected to re-retire. This is a surprise for everyone, but most particularly for Vikings' coach Brad Childress. "Since last winter, Brett and I had the understanding that this whole "retirement" thing was a ruse to allow him to skip training camp. I'm just beside myself." The other Vikings players felt much the same. "Total shock. Total and complete shock," was Jared Allen's only comment to the media. Favre released a statement ealier in the day, alerting EPSN, CBS, and several other major news outlets before informing his employer, the Vikings. He then read aloud the statement in a public press conference. "I believe that I have already given everything I have to give. I am now going to spend more time with my family, and more time golfing. I can't thank the NFL, the organizations I've played for, and my teammates and opponents enough for my many years of football. I will miss the game, but my retirement will be my complete severance from the game. Thank you." Favre did not take questions from reporters after delivering this prepared statement.

November 1: (from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) In the biggest show of loyalty perhaps in the history of professional team sports, Brett Favre announced in an interview last night with Bob Costas his intentions in playing for the Vikings. Here are some excerpted quotations from Favre:
"Well, sure. Ted [Thompson, Packers' GM] and I had an understanding. I was going to move on, help my statistics, and that was that."
"I know it seems sketchy, but the Packers were my team. And while I was in Green Bay, I learned to hate the Vikings. I actually agreed with the Packers before they let me go that I would never help either the Vikings or the Bears to win a Super Bowl, so I made sure of that last year. Remember that 'fumbled handoff' to Adrian Peterson? I hit it against his arm on purpose. And don't think that interception at the end of the NFC Championship Game was an accident."
"I figured the ultimate blow would be letting Minnesota think I was playing and string them along for as long as possible. Now, I couldn't retire mid-season-- that seemed too mean after all I've put them through, not that it didn't cross my mind. But right after the preseason seemed like it would sting the most."
A rush of crime in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area last night is blamed on Favre's confession.

The Exception to the Sabermetric Rule

A lot of times, if you are a believer in sabermetrics, as I am, you'll believe that, except in some very special circumstances (for example, a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game is really just a different matter, because maximizing run-production is not as important as a single run), some conventional baseball ways to "manufacture" runs are not the best ways to maximize run production. I'll condense the sabermetric rule here for you: outs are worth more than bases. That is to say, a trade of one out for one base is a bad trade. In fact, a base is not very valuable at all. Most sabermetricians will tell you all about what I'm going to write about today: that is, the stolen base. Now, conventional wisdom says that, if a guy is stealing around 60% of his bases, he's doing just fine. Well, sabermetrics would disagree. Sabermetricians state that you need at least a 2/3 success rate to just break even on run expectancy. Some estimates I have read put it as high as 80%(!!!), which I think it a little exaggerated, but the point is that if you have a player who stole 20 bases in 30 attempts, you probably would have scored just as many runs or more had that player attempted no stolen bases at all, and saved your team the ten outs. This makes a lot of sense, when you think about it, even if you don't want to see the math behind it. But there is one huge exception to this rule of not stealing bases unless you're good at it. That exception's name is: the 2010 Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are currently 1/39 at throwing out base-stealers. That's right. approximately 97.5% of base-stealers are successful. Can you even believe that? Now, here's my theory: even if you take a player who's a mid-level base-stealer (say a 50% guy), when the defense is that bad, you might as well go for it. I mean, if they're going to allow you to steal that many bases, they might improve their percentage throughout the year, but unless there's a dramatic improvement in the Martinez/Varitek catching combo, this team, which is largely designed around sabermetric defense, will end up having a huge, huge hole on defense which will cost them any chance the had of the playoffs. Now, admittedly, I already think that they weren't going to make the playoffs (as you may remember from our baseball preview), but that's because of two factors: 1) I believe the Red Sox slightly overvalued defense in their offseason plans (having only pitching and defense may cover 40% of the game, but it's impossible to win baseball games without scoring runs). 2) More importantly, the Red Sox neglected to think about the age of their team. I don't understand how this oversight happens, but apparently it did. And it is a problem.

Let's assume the Red Sox can increase their percentage of throwing out runners tenfold. That means they'd throw out 25% of runners. Here's the scary thing, though. That would mean that, if their average is that low, that means an average baserunner should be able to steal bases at 75% (this is, obviously, an oversimplification, but bear with me). If this is true, then teams with speed should basically be running as soon as they get on base. It's hard to imagine that strategy backfiring with that low of a percentage of baserunner kills. So I say, run. It may not, in normal circumstances, the best choice, but this is definitely an exception.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Fighters Objective

David and I both like watching MMA, but I wouldn't say that we know a whole bunch about the sport. I've only recently started following WEC, Strikeforce, and Bellator, but I've been following the UFC since the beginning of the Ultimate Fighter television series. Because of that show, Spike replaying old UFC events, and the MMA live show on, I've developed a passion for the sport. I have not missed a UFC fight card since the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Fight Night, which means I surely caught last nights card in Adu Dahbi. UFC 112 was a very stacked card that was highlighted by it's main event bout of Anderson Silva versus Demian Mia.

The card started off very well. Phil Davis showed how he deserves to be talked about as a future light heavyweight champion. Mark Munoz and Kendall Groove gave the fans in Adu Dahbi one of the best fights of the young UFC year. Kendall was on the edge of victory in the first round, but just could not finish the scrappy Munoz. Mark made Kendall pay in the second round showing his tremendous ground and pound game stopping the Ultimate Fighter winner 2:50 into the second round. DeMarques Johnson showed wicked knockout power in stopping Brad Blackburn in the third round which earned him knockout of the night and an extra $75,000. Renzo Gracie and Matt Hughes provided a compelling three round war between to legends of the sport. Renzo was the hometown favorite and Matt Hughes had to deal with a hostile crowd on top of fighting a man who in one fight let his arm break instead of tapping. Matt Hughes came out victorious with a TKO 4:40 in the final round. Though Renzo lost he did not disappoint his fans and everyone is looking forward to see Renzo back in the Octagon.

Frankie Edgar provided the UFC with it's Rocky moment of the year, though I believe it was not legitimate. Frankie Edgar was a 7:1 underdog going into his fight with BJ Penn. For those who do not know, BJ Penn is pound for pound one of the best fighters in the world. BJ Penn has been absolutely dominate in the 155 pound division. BJ has rolled through talented fighters like Joe Stevens, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, and Sean Sherk. BJ's last lost going into his fight with Frankie Edgar was in 2002 to another legend in Jens Pulver. Frankie Edgar is a good fighter, but his talent level is not up to par as say a Kenny Florian or a Diego Sanchez, but Frankie Edgar was the next contender on the chopping block. Nobody had any reason to believe that BJ should lose this fight, but in the words of Chris Berman, "That's why they play the game." Frankie had a game plan and stuck to it. He used his speed to not stay in front of the powerful BJ Penn and mixed his takedown attempts with strikes which kept BJ off-guard. The fight went the distance, which gave Frankie the decision. However, if anyone watched that fight BJ still won that decision. Frankie did do a lot better than people thought BJ still had control in that fight and Frankie did little damage to clearly show that he deserved to be called the new champion. I don't want to take anything away from Frankie Edgar, but it's clear to me that the Frankie Edgar era will be short lived.

Though the decision for Frankie Edgar was controversial it was the fight between Anderson Silva and Demian Mia that provided the most controversy of the night. Anderson Silva is without a doubt the best fighter in the world. There is no question the Silva is the pound for pound king of the Octagon. Going into his fight with Mia, Silva won 10 straight fights and has defended his title five straight times. Anderson has destroyed the 185 pound division and has also defeated a former champion in the 205 pound division. The only negative thing against Anderson Silva has been his fight performance. In Anderson's first five fights none of them went past the second round. However, he recently has had two lackluster fights in the 185 pound division that went five rounds. The UFC had a lot invested in having Anderson Silva as their main event in their first event in Abu Dhabi. Whenever the UFC goes to a new market for the first time it is vital for them to put on a good show. Unfortunately many people think that objective was not accomplished due to Anderson's most recent performance. In the first round Anderson imposed his will showing that he was a class above Mia. It seemed like it was only a matter of time for Anderson to finish his fight with Demian, but it somehow went all five rounds. Anderson reached for his inner Ali, and started showboating and embarrassing his opponent. But, unlike Ali he did not finish his fight. Silva taunted, cursed, and in the later rounds ran away from his opponent causing a cascade of boos to shower down on Anderson Silva. The crowd even started chanting for Mia's name as well as GSP's name, who was not even involved in the fight. The fight upset UFC president Dana White so much that he left in the fourth round and did not put the belt on Silva at the end of the fight. After the fight Dana White let the press know his displeasure with Anderson Silva. Dana even mentioned that the super fight between Silva and GSP would be put on hold because Silva did not deserve a shot at GSP.

I can understand why Dana was upset, but I think he's overreacting. Anderson Silva is the most exciting fighter that the UFC has to offer. Nobody has more highlight moments than Anderson Silva. There is not a single fighter in the world who can do the things that Silva can. I think we all have been spoiled by Anderson Silva and we overreact when he doesn't have a highlight fight. Also, Dana White should be more disappointed in the rest of his fighters in the 185 pound division instead of Silva. As a champion your number one objective is to defend your title, and he's done that six straight times. It seems that most fighters are mentally defeated by Silva with in the first minute of the fight. All Anderson has to do is hit them one and the fight is all over. Why is that? Because when most fighters look at Silva they just see a lanky 185 pounder. He doesn't look like someone who can hurt you but after one punch fighters are in shock by the power and speed he displays in his strikes. Anderson has defeated every contender in the 185 pound division and honestly I just think he's bored. Dana White should not punish Silva by making him fight in the 185 pound division, when that is obviously bad for business. Since Silva is obviously head and shoulders above any one in his division, why not give a shot at his most difficult opponent. Anderson Silva versus George St. Pierre would be the biggest fight in UFC history. It doesn't matter what a fan may think of Anderson Silva they would definitely buy that fight. Anderson Silva versus George St. Pierre is the fight that every MMA fan wants to see just like in boxing everyone wants to see Manny versus Floyd. Dana White has publicly criticized boxing for not giving fans the fight they want to see, well isn't he doing the same thing. If Dana wants Anderson to be focused for a fight he has to provide him with a challenge. Basically having Anderson fight in the 185 pound division is like having LeBron James play basketball on a Fischer Price hoop. Give Anderson a challenge and I promise everyone will see a tremendous fight.

I'm not mad at Anderson Silva, but I am disappointed that he does not give his all in every match. However, I believe Dana White needs to challenge Anderson Silva and the fighters in the 185 pound division need to step their game up. Anderson Silva has one objective in each fight and that is to win. Based off of that...he is clearly doing his job.