Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chris Cooley's New Wife Christy

My Google inbox was nice enough to send me this link.

If that's not an off the field/on the field distraction I don't know what is.
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The Return of Da Wiz

He’s Baaaaaack – For those of you who didn’t get the memo (most of you probably missed the Wizards’ 81-62 rout of Cleveland in the first preseason game for both teams on Tuesday), Agent Zero is back. While he’s still treading lightly on that surgically repaired knee, Washington’s All-Star point guard made quite a statement in his return. With time winding down in the first half, Gil drove the ball up the court, pulled up just above the three-point line, and banked home a trey just as the buzzer sounded. That’s typical Arenas, something Wiz fans have grown accustomed to seeing time and time again. And it was certainly a welcome sign that Arenas is feeling more comfortable on his knee, and is ready to erase the bitter memory of last year’s injury-plagued playoff debacle. Sure he went 2-for-11 in the game in his limited action, but if there’s anything we know for sure, it’s that Gil is going to get his points and he’s going to have the ball in his hands in key situations.

Brendan B-Good – It sounds as though chronic under-achieving center Brendan Haywood and Eddie Jordan have finally resolved their differences – or at least that’s what they’re telling us. After Jordan benched him for the majority of last season’s first round sweep at the hands of the Cavs, Haywood stormed off the court before Game 4 had even concluded and ripped his nameplate off his locker. That appeared to be that. With multiple physical altercations between himself and teammate Etan Thomas in the recent past and a major rift between himself and the coach, Haywood was said to have demanded a trade.

Well, it’s a good thing that never happened. Everyone expected the Wiz to go big with their first-round draft choice last spring, but after taking a shooting guard and a small forward, they appeared to be stuck with the old Brendan/Etan terrible twosome yet again. Jordan traveled to Haywood’s home in Charlotte to meet with his disgruntled center and the two settled whatever it was that needed to be settled. Now, with Thomas out indefinitely following open heart surgery only a couple days ago, the Wizards will need Haywood to step up more than ever. The former Tar Heel helped UNC to an improbable 2000 Final Four run on the strength of his NCAA-leading field goal percentage. He has never been able to establish that kind of post scoring dominance in the NBA and his defense comes and goes. But with only the 6-foot-8 Darius Songaila and still raw third-year man Andray Blatche behind him, this is the year Haywood needs to step it up.

D-Mac Attack – I’m still not sold on Washington’s decision not to draft a big man in the 2007 draft. I’m also not sold on Nick Young, a flashy scorer from USC who seems to fit the DC pedigree only because he has never played a lick of defense in his hardwood career. But, anyone who saw Dominic McGuire play in college (they don’t televise many Fresno State games this side of…well…Fresno) or in the Wizards’ pre-season opener has to be excited to see him suit up this season. Seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, two blocks, a board and a steal in 17 minutes of action. Not too shabby.

McGuire (the 17th pick in the second round) brings all the things to the table that Young (selected 16th overall) lacks. Rebounding, an uncanny ability to elevate and block shots and aggressiveness on both ends of the floor. Oh yeah, he can score, too. But coming off the bench, the Wiz will be looking for the San Diego native to bring a spark on the defensive end that helps propel their transition offense. D-Mac (a nickname that good should make you even more excited to see him in action) will give Washington quality minutes this season backing up Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison and could be an X-factor in the Wizards push for their fourth consecutive playoff birth.

Who got the Freshy Pechy? – Don’t let Oleksiy Pecherov’s down-syndrome-esque appearance fool you. This Ukranian is ready to ball. I’ll be the first one to admit I’ve never been keen on Ernie Grunfield taking fliers on foreign players in the draft and letting them float around overseas until the Wiz have enough room/money to pay for their passage over to the NBA. In fact, I was livid when Washington drafted two Eastern Europeans two years ago. It’s not that I don’t think foreign players can make an impact on this team, I just prefer the philosophy of using first-round picks to fill the needs of the team now. If you want evidence of what I’m talking about, look no further than Juan Carlos Navarro – the Spanish star who the Wiz handed over to Memphis on a silver platter because they didn’t have the salary cap space to sign him. That, in my opinion, is a wasted draft selection.

Nevertheless, it looks like Pesh really has the tools to make him a solid role player coming off the bench. He needs to work on his conditioning and has to become more physical on the block to cement himself as a key contributor on this squad, but right now, the Wizards just need him to buy some minutes so their big guys can rest. And it won’t hurt if his silky touch from 12-18 feet allows him to knock down some jumpers. This kid will definitely have an impact this season and he’ll continue to develop as he gets adjusted to the NBA game. Maybe then we can do something about his hair.

Defense? We’re talking about Defense? – Yup, I said it. The “D-word.” Usually only muttered in frustration by fans watching opposing scorers slash through the Wizards’ ranks on the way to uncontested layups and dunks. But this season, Washington looks like they’ve finally realized that you can’t always outscore your opponent.

Eddie Jordan brought in Randy Ayers, whose pressure-defense helped Larry Brown’s Philly teams to five consecutive playoff appearances, including the 2001 NBA Finals. Ayers is the perfect guy to get the Wizards to put some effort in on the defensive end. His up-tempo style is perfectly suited for Washington’s speed in transition and if Tuesday night was any indicator, the Wizards should be able to create more turnovers and easy transition buckets if they stick to the game plan. Yes, both teams were dismal from the field as Jordan and Cleveland coach Mike Brown shuffled through bench players to see what they have to work with. But holding any team to 61 points and a .306 shooting percentage is a good sign that Ayers has his players focused and committed to improvement.

Check back in next week for a full preview of the 2007-2008 Washington Wizards

- The Tar Heel
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A little Early Season Caps Action

Rangers: 3, Capitals: 1
Shots:Rangers: 41; Capitals: 25

The Good: I had to watch the game on the Rangers network since I live in Georgia and the Rangers announcers used the phrase "great save by Kolzig!" quite a few times. Also Shaone Morrison hit Jagr when Jagr wasn't looking and had his head down, dropping him to the ice.

The Bad: Everything else.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

I Botched It

Yeah, I'm sorry clowns, I lead you into the hornets nest and I apologize. I looked the statistics in the face, wrote them down and then threw them away, which was just plain dumb.
I am currently sporting a 3-3 record in this year's playoff predictions, which is horrid compared to my sweeping dominance last year, calling the Cardinals to win it all in June. But I am here to rectify the inequities that have held me back.

I love my boys, but I also know what they do and what they don't. Doug Davis is not good and is primed to get shelled in Game 2. His curveball that was so devastating against the Cubs will not show up tonight,and I don't think he has the consistency to bring the type of intensity he needs against this Rockies team.

The Rockies have a good team, and I like Tulowitzki and Holliday, but I'm bitter because Francis is so ordinary and Helton has been a roided out freak for the last 10 years.

That's all I have to say, just wait until they are pitching some clown named Fogg, Morales or Cook in Games 3, 4, and 5. This game is coming back home to Phoenix.

Rocks 9, Dbacks 3

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Tribe vs. Socks


The Red Sox managed to put up 887 runs this year (tied for second in the American League), so their offense is still quite formidable, but their home run totals had to be a little disappointing. David Ortiz's 35 were his lowest total since 2003; Manny's 20 were the fewest he's hit in any season where he played more than 91 games, and new signings J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo combined for just 19 (after hitting a combined 32 last year). The Red Sox put together their stellar year by getting guys on base (.362 OBP - second in the A.L.) but seems like it could be a challenge against Carmona ( 2.55 BB/9), Byrd (1.31 BB/9) and Sabathia (1.38 BB/9 and a 5.65 K:BB ratio). If they want to score the Sox are going to have to hit and especially get extra base hits.Cleveland's most obvious offense strength is their depth. The Indians had six players who had 18 or more home runs; of those six, five had at least 21 (by comparison the Red Sox had one hitter, Ortiz, who hit 21 or more). Not only are there no easy outs in the Indians line-up - there are a half dozen guys who turn one bad pitch into a big inning.

Advantage: Cleveland. Both teams have solid pitching staffs, and especially solid starters so it's going to be critical to capitalize on every mistake. The Indians, with their lineups depth, will be in a better position to do so.

Rotation: Josh Beckett has received a lot of press for his lights-out season which has continued into the playoffs, but has he really been that much better (or at all better) than Cleveland's ace C.C. Sabathia? Sabathia has a better K:BB ratio, a lower ERA, a WHIP equal to Beckett's and allowed only three more home runs in 40 more innings. Beyond Beckett, Schilling has always been good in the postseason and should keep Boston in the games in his starts at the very least, but Matsuzaka and Wakefield have been inconsistent all season. On the contrary Cleveland's rotation has been largely consistent, and still gets a good number of strikeouts and doesn't walk many opposing batters.

Advantage: Cleveland. Sabathia takes Beckett in ERA 3.21 to 3.27; Carmona takes Schilling 3.09 to 3.87, Westbrook takes Matsuzaka 4.32 to 4.40, Byrd takes Wakefield 4.59 to 4.76. Plus the consistency thing.

Bullpen: Boston's closer has an ERA that is \n3.22 runs lower than Cleveland's. Other than that Cleveland matches up fairly well with the Sox, but no one should have faith in a closer with a 5.07 ERA, going against the Red Sox, I don't care how many saves he has.

Advantage: Boston. Period.

Difference Makers:

Boston: Kevin Youkilis had the second OPS and OBP on the Sox this year and could step up at a crucial time for the Red Sox

Cleveland: Joe Borowski. The Indians may not be relying on one player to win them the ALCS, but it wouldn't be shocking if Borowski brought back memories of Byung-Hyun Kim in the 2001 World Series, and in turn loses the series for the Tribe.

Prediction: Cleveland in six. The Indians have more depth than the Sox both in the lineup and the rotation. The only real weakness for Boston to exploit is Borowski and it's unlikely they will be able to do so enough to steal more than one game.

Players to Watch: C.C. Sabathia (Cle), Grady Sizemore (Cle), Fausto Carmona (Cle); Josh Beckett (Bos), John Papelbon (Bos).
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Rocks-Zona thoughts

Rockin' & Rollin'

It's time to stop. For your own good and personal sanity, just stop picking against the Colorado Rockies. This run-away freight train isn't showing signs of derailing any time soon, so fans of the underdog and fans of baseball in general should just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Our very own D-back devotee has made the mistake of doubting the Rocks not once, but twice in their first four games of the 2007 playoffs. The way things are looking, he might only get seven more chances to make another prediction. In his Game 1 breakdown, the Arizona aficionado pulled the Brandon Webb trump card - "Webb will show you what I'm talking about in Game 1 at home. He has a silly sinker, a good fastball to keep you honest, a curveball to make you look like a fool and a changeup just to mess with you while you are grasping at anything."

Yes, Webb is a dominant pitcher and a prime candidate for his second Cy Young award in as many years, but for all of his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, the cool customers from Coors have been his Kryptonite. In 11 match-ups against Colorado in the last two seasons, Webb is just 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA. Against all other teams, he's 32-14 with a 2.83 ERA. And these aren't 2-1 squeakers either. This season, Arizona's ace has allowed four runs or more six times in seven starts against the Rocks compared to just five times in 29 starts against the rest of the majors. Clearly the men in purple and black know something the rest of the league hasn't quite figured out yet.

Then there's the offense, which has been hotter than a mid-October week in the district (yeah, I'm talking about last week). Kaz Matsui is still scorching, Holliday should be the league's MVP, Tavares is back in the lead-off spot and Brad Hawpe knows Webb better than the back of his hand. Thursday night's hero, Hawpe is hitting an insane .647 (11 for 17) with 13 RBI against Webb this season. Ownage anyone?

Then there's Jeff Francis. Yes he was the last pitcher to lose a game for the Rockies (the only one in the last 19 games). And yes, that loss happened to be a win for Mr. Webb. But that game was at Coors while Francis seems much more comfortable in the home of the rattlers. He's now 5-0 at Chase Field. Oh yeah, he's also 18-5 since May 12. In that same period, Webb is 15-8.

And finally, there's that defense. The Rockies set a record with their team fielding percentage this season, and we all know that DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. They've commited just one error through four postseason games and that tenacious d came into play once again Thursday night. Agree with the call or not - Justin Upton throwing his shoulder into the legs of an airborne Kaz Matsui was as easy as an interference call gets - the reason Upton felt compelled to take out Kaz at any cost was because he knew a double play was imminent. When you're pitching is lights-out (see Francis) and you're bats are scorching (see Hawpe), the opposition knows it can't waste chances when runners are on base, it just doesn't happen often enough.

This series should still go at least six. But I wouldn't bet on it. The Rockies could just as easily snuff the snakes in four and take some well-deserved time off to scout their next victims.

- The Tarheel
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dbacks vs. Rocks

In my last post, I declared that there were a lot of bad baseball teams in this year's playoffs, and that the cream would rise to the top quicker than most pundits expected, and I was right. It was especially gratifying in the National League to watch the Chicago Clowns and the Philadelphia Sillies get blown out to the previously unrecognized superior teams. Just another example of the ignorance that is ESPN and the main stream media. Screw major market viewership! Just give me good baseball and I’ll watch it.
If you want a feel good story on either of these teams, about how they are misunderstood diamonds in the rough and how they are riding their youthful exuberance one day at a time into a fairy tale kingdom, go to I'm here to break down what actually matters come playoff time and that is strong starting pitching and a rested bullpen.

The Diamondback starters are Brandon Webb (R) (3.01), Doug Davis (L) (4.25), Livan Hernandez (R) and 4.93 Micah Owings (R) (4.30).
The Rockies starters are Jeff Francis (4.22), Ubaldo Jimenez (4.28), Franklin Morales (3.43) and Aaron Cook (4.12).
Each ace has to win for his be successful and one of the remaining starters has to be consistent for their respective team to win this series. That being said, I feel that the Dbacks have the edge and will demonstrate it over the 7 game series. It won’t be easy and each team will go balls to the wall, but the talented and experienced DBack staff will get it done.

Webb will show you what I’m talking about in Game 1 at home. He has a silly sinker, a good fastball to keep you honest, a curveball to make you look like a fool and a changeup just to mess with you while you are grasping at anything. Most importantly, Webb got stronger as the season went on, posting a ridiculous (10-4) record after the all-star break a 2.56 ERA and most importantly raising his K/BB ration from 2.35 to 2.93.
The Rocks will make it tough because they have success against Webb: Matsui (.423) Hawpe (.342) Helton (.300 against) and Holliday (.244), but his ability to put together quality starts and make quality pitches will put a lot of pressure on them and which, throughout an entire game, can wear down a team.

Webb goes against a pitching staff that I haven't seen a lot of. Rockies pitchers over the years have been a joke, amassing astronomical ERAs and struggling to win ballgames. And while I got to see a bit of them in Spring Training this past year, I wasn't paying close attention.
I wouldn't really call game one starter Jeff Francis a Dback killer but he does sport a pretty legit 7-2, 3.54 record against. What I look at that will hurt him in a playoff situation, his is propensity for giving up hits and walks (WHIP) 1.38 vs. Webb's 1.19, and leave the ball up in the zone. Struggling control destroys playoff teams. Not only do more pitches and higher pitch counts limit what you can do batter to batter, but it puts extra strain on your ability to work deep into ballgames and, as a consequence, thins your bullpen. In these early games, the team that is forced into their bullpen first will struggle later on in the series when they invariably have to lean on relief pitching in must-win situations.
I'm not saying Francis isn't good and his success shows, but in the big playoff picture, where each pitch has an affect on the rest of the series, it's imperative that these guys work efficiently, work deep into ballgames, reduce their walks and keep their bullpens fresh so that when Livan Hernandez and Franklin Morales give up some early runs in Game 3 your bullpen hasn’t already checked out.

Other guys to watch: Chris Young, Eric Byrnes, Stephen Drew, Kaz Matsui, Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki.

Dbacks vs. Rocks Game 1: Oct. 11, 8:30, TBS
Dbacks 5, Rocks 4

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Oct. 10 -- Redskin chat with Rocky McIntosh

If you go to on Oct. 10, you'll be able to submit a question for Rocky to answer. You need to register an account on the website, but it could very revealing to pick the young LB's brain a little bit. In 2007, the second year man out of Miami has 26 solo tackles, a forced fumble and 2 sacks.
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Monday, October 8, 2007

Hockey in the District? could be fun...

With their win over the Islanders today the Caps improved to 3-0 to open the season, despite being with their number two scoring threat Alexander Semin out two of the three games. New additions Viktor Kozlov (2g, 1a), Michael Nylander (1g, 1a) and Tom Poti (more than 24 minutes per game) are playing well.
The Capitals defense, supposed to be their question mark heading into the season, has allowed just three goals thus far and is 12-12 on the penalty kill. It's not exactly time to start planning a Stanley Cup parade route through D.C. (or even put down deposits for playoff tickets), but it's certianly encouraging to see the new-look, overhauled Caps looking good out of the gate.

- The DMG
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Not buying Brandon Lloyd

I was listening to the Sports Junkies on 106.7 this morning as they interviewed Brandon Lloyd and, I'm going to be honest boys, I wasn't sold on Lloyd. I think it was Bickel who was all over his nuts about being a legitimate #2, but a secondary receiver in the NFL has to be a move the chains kind of guy. He's got to have great hands and no fear about going over the middle. It also doesn't hurt if he can throw in a little bit of run blocking here and there. Because Lloyd is obviously not as explosive as Moss or Randle El, his 6 foot 200 lbs. frame is a liability in these capacities.
When you are not a physical specimen, or a dominant talent in the NFL, you better do all the little things right to get playing time. He said in the interview "I'm just being Brandon Lloyd." Well, guess what pal!? Brandon Lloyd isn't that good! Maybe you should try being a Reche Caldwell or a Keenan McCardell or a James Thrash. There is a reason these guys bounce around the league and find playing time. It’s because they know how to play the game at a high level and fill the overlooked roles on the field. Pay some dues! You’ve been in the League for three years and you are expecting to be game planned into a system! It's that kind of arrogance and laziness that's gotten you into this predicament and it certainly isn't going to mesh well with an old school coach like Gibbs.
I'm sure he's a nice guy to hang out with, which is why the players all fight for him, but you tell me who you want in the game when the game is on the line; The guy who is going to man up and fight for the ball or chase down a DB after a pick? or the guy who dogs it?
Instead of rising to the challenge, practicing to become better and showing his doubters they are wrong, Lloyd has obliviously ignored the signs of his immaturity. What he fails to understand is there are dozens of guys just like him. The difference between greatness and mediocrity is miniscule in the NFL and the ones that take that to heart and set themselves apart through hard work succeed. From what I've seen, because he is content and stubborn enough to continue being who he is, and not improve, he's just a hack. Redskins, know when to cut your losses. We don’t need him, or his blasé attitude.

- The Hokie
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Redskins ruminations

The Redskins definitley looked like a class act team against the Lions. They played to perfection both offensively and defensively. Defensively we saw them play in a dominant cover 2 style and offensively, Jason Campbell had the best game of his career thus far. He was making plays, his vision for forward thinking and most importantly he wasn't overthrowing receivers.
My uncertainties stem from the sample size of their excellence, which is thus far one game against an extremely mediocre team. We looked good doing what we do, but do we have the personnel that can make up against the elite teams in the NFL?
Defensively, we can. There is no doubt that we can play smash mouth phycial football on that side of the ball. Our front line is young and hungry. Our linebackers can straight out fly around the field - sack the QB or get picks - and the secondary is led by Taylor and Landry who are straight ballers.
Offensively, we can not. Jason Campbell made strides in this game, and it's always nice to see his completion percentage go up, but the Lions defense is disgusting. They have zero playmakers and when the skins roll into Lambeau next weekend they will be met by a defense hungry and ready to hit and hit hard. I'm sorry, but Campbell does not have a deep ball. Yes he's got an arm, and can get it the distance, but he doesn't have the accuracy to make those throws yet and teams will start to challange him to beat them deep, especially if Moss and Randle El are out for an extended period of time. We have a long way to go folks and you need to put up points to beat the elite teams and thus far, we've broken 20+ points once against a bad defense.

They get an A this game, but will need to bring an A+ game to make our next contest close against an angry green machine.

- The Hokie
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Skins vs. Lions recap

Defensively, the Skins were stoudt and aggressive - even with Gregg Williams not calling many blitzes. We finally got that breakout performance from Andre Carter (eight tackles, two sacks and a safety) that we've been waiting for since he arrived from San Fran. The guy is a monster coming around the end of the line and there are few tackles who should be able to keep him away from the quarterback for an entire game.
The defensive front punished Jon Kitna - nothing new for an o-line that has given up more sacks than any team in the league and a possible explanation (see concussions) for Kitna's 10-win prediction. The most promising part of their performance was the two interceptions. The Skins have been floundering around at the bottom of the league in that stat for several years now, but when you put constant pressure on a pocket passer, int's are supposed to result. Sunday they did. Speaking of interceptions, how about Carlos Rogers finally doing something worthy of a first round pick? It's about time.

Offensively, I think we're finally seeing the complexities of Al Saunders' 600+ page playbook. The direct snaps (we'll forget about the one that flew by Portis' face on the opening drive that resulted in a drive-killing turnover) to Portis, lining up Campbell as a receiver, all of the shifting from the wideouts, inside runs to Sellers - this is what we've been looking for. Al Saunders autonomy in the coaches' box. This will only be a good thing.

I'd give out game balls to Sellers - for demanding the ball and proving he deserves it with his career highs in carries (5), total yards (60) and touchdowns (2) - the 'young' Mr. McCardell for coming in after just one week of practice and being a key component in the passing game (2 receptions for 39 yards), the afore-mentioned Carter and of course, Jason mmm mmm good Campbell who had a career day.

A dose of negativity - Suisham has got to make that field goal in the third quarter. Sure, 48-yards is no chip shot but if he wants to prove himself as the clutch kicker that Joe Gibbs and the Skins need (there will be many more close games this season), he has to put them through.

- The Tarheel

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