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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yankess Land Tanaka

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Yankees Land Tanaka

A year removed from missing the playoffs for the first time in years the New York Yankees needed to make a big splash this off season. They took a plunge with catcher Brian McCann, make a little wake stealing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from rival Boston but really needed a move to rock the boat in the AL East. 

A small craft advisory has officially been issued and its cause is coming all the way from Japan.

The New York Yankees won the sweepstakes for star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday signing the right hander to a seven year $155 million dollar contract. The prize of the 2014 off-season, Tanaka was highly coveted by at least 10 known teams.

The 25 year old was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the the Rakuten Golden Eagles, who will receive a $20 million posting fee. 

The Yankees have been very active this off-season. The signings of McCann, Ellsbury and now Tanaka total $491 million. It appears the Yankees are returning to the Yankees of old. Hey, can you blame them? If it worked back in the Championship years, why not bring it back. Publicly, they had said they were going to try to keep the team under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. It was their rational for not resigning Robinson Cano. That thought process has clearly been thrown out the door at this point.

The Yankees have a strong history with players coming over from Asian markets. Hideki Matsui, Chien-Ming Wang and Hideki Irabu have been some of the more notable successes they have had in past years. They certainly hope that trend continues now with Tanaka.

Watch out AL East. The waters just got a little more choppy.

NFL Through My Eyes: Conference Champ Edition

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NFL Through My Eyes:
Conference Championship Edition
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jennifer Jeffery

I think Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, were the favorable team to win this past Sunday in the NFC championship game. But, the Seattle Seahawks disagreed.

The game did not start off so hot for the Seahawks. The Niner’s had them in an early 10 point deficit.
Marshawn Lynch ran a third down touchdown, quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 4th quarter touchdown to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and kicker Steven Hauscha kicked 3 field goals. The Seattle defense did all the rest.

Kaepernick was on top early in this game. The Niner’s forced a turnover by Wilson on the first play which helped them gain a 10-0 lead after a touchdown in the 2nd quarter by Anthony Dixon.

Kaepernick threw a pass to Anquan Boldin in the 3rd quarter and after scoring a touchdown, San Francisco was still in the lead with a 17-10 score.

Seattle snatched their first lead when Wilson threw a 35 yard touchdown to Kearse.
The momentum finally changed, Kaepernick fumbled the ball when we got sacked by Cliff Avrie.
The play that sealed the win for Seattle was the pick from Malcolm Smith. And, in case you didn’t know, Kaepernick had three 4th quarter turnovers.

Linebacker for the Niner’s, NaVorro Bowman, had a horrible injury to his leg. If you saw the play that he got injured on, you saw that one of his legs bent sideways and kept bending until he lay, yelling, obviously in great pain.

As he was carted off the field, Seahawk fans threw food and stuff at him. Way to stay classy Seattle.
Richard Sherman was not able to remain humble after the 23-17 win. Pretty much saying, you can’t mess with the leagues “best corner”, especially if you’re mediocre, like apparently Michael Crabtree is.

The New England Patriots and Denver Bronco’s game was a little hard for me to take, being a Patriots fan.
With that said, I am not a sore loser, the Bronco’s outplayed New England, from the start of the game all the way up until the end.

Peyton Manning had so many offensive weapons in Wes Welker, Demaryous Thomas, Julius Thomas and Eric Decker. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, no one can argue that. The Patriots defense just could not stop the Denver offense, they got trampled over.

Tom Brady is also one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, people try to argue that fact, but, come one now, stop hating. He did not have a good game Sunday. He overthrew the ball a few times, he just wasn’t on target. People can make excuses and put the blame on anyone they choose, but the simple fact is, Manning and the Broncos just played better.

It was a slow day for the overall team: Julian Edelman had 10 catches for 89 yards, Austin Collie had 4 catches for 57 yards and Danny Amendola had only one catch and one drop (0 yards).

New England’s defense was almost a non-factor against the Denver offense. Peyton threw for 400 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Patriots team doesn’t see it the way fans and non-fans do. They don’t use the excuses that they had no receivers or too many injuries. Belichick said they just did not play good enough, they were outplayed. Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.

As much as it pains me to say this, Denver deserved to win this game.

The Pats didn’t have a good day, it’s time to accept what is and move on.

These two conference champs had the best record in the league. It is the first time since 2010 that the two top seeds played against each other in the Super Bowl, #1 offense (Denver) and #1 defense (Seattle).
Neither game was pretty to watch, but in the end, the two well deserved winners will meet in New Jersey (where Eli Manning plays) for Super Bowl XLVIII (which means 48, just so you know).

Who will win the ring? A quarterback that wants to leave his legacy with one more Super Bowl or the young, fresh quarterback who wants to prove his worth?

Sunday, February 2, the whole nation will find out.

NHL Power Rankings - Jan 22

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NHL Power Rankings
January 22, 2014

Surprise, surprise -- the Ducks are on top once again. They finally lost a regulation home game but at 79 points lead the league by a couple of games over our #2 this week, Chicago. The Blackhawks jump up two spots this week thanks to wins over Anaheim and Boston. How about that game against Boston Sunday afternoon? Would anyone be upset if those two teams met in the finals again this year? Coming in at #3 again this week appears to be the class of the Eastern Conference this year in the Pittsburgh Penguins. They had a 13 game home winning streak snapped this week but remain 7-2-1 in their last 10 and have a 13 point lead in the Metropolitan Division. Dropping a pair of spots this week are the St. Louis Blues. The Blues of lost 3 of 4 and are headed to New York for a set of games with the red hot Rangers, Islanders and Devils. Rounding out the top 5 are the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are winners of four straight and are trying their best to not led Anaheim run away with things in the Pacific Division.

Where does your team rank this week?


Rank
Last Week
1 Anaheim Ducks 1
2 Chicago Blackhawks 4
3 Pittsburgh Penguins 3
4 St. Louis Blues 2
5 San Jose Sharks 5
6 Colorado Avalanche 7
7 L.A. Kings 9
8 Boston Bruins 6
9 Tampa Bay Lightning 8
10 Minnesota Wild 13
11 New York Rangers 12
12 Montreal Canadiens 11
13 Columbus Blue Jackets 22
14 Toronto Maple Leafs 21
15 Detroit Red Wings 15
16 Vancouver Canucks 10
17 Phoenix Coyotes 20
18 Philadelphia Flyers 16
19 Ottawa Senators 14
20 Washington Capitals 18
21 New Jersey Devils 23
22 Winnipeg Jets 27
23 Carolina Hurricanes 17
24 New York Islanders 19
25 Dallas Stars 24
26 Nashville Predators 26
27 Florida Panthers 25
28 Buffalo Sabers 28
29 Calgary Flames 30
30 Edmonton Oilers 29

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two Needed NFL Rule Changes

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Two Needed NFL Rule Changes
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

There has been a lot of lobbying over the past 48 hours for a couple of changes to the NFL rule book and honestly, I'm 100% on board with both new proposals. The two hot button issues are the inability to challenge a turnover (fumble) and the possibility of a scoring change to eliminate the extra point.

First and foremost, the turnover in regards to an unchallengeable play should have been changed years ago. It should be an automatic replay just like any scoring play. If the rule did in fact allow for a challenge currently there is a very good chance we would be looking at the 49ers as the NFC representative at the Super Bowl this year, not the Seahawks. NaVorro Bowman got robbed of a hell of a play and to add insult to injury, or in this case injury to insult, was badly hurt (torn ACL, MCL) on the play. 

Change this rule, and change it now!

Now onto the more interesting and in my opinion the much more debatable topic: the extra point. 99.6% of extra points were successful. of that .04% most of the challenge was a botch snap or what have you., not a missed kick. It might be the easiest scoring play in all of sports. Its like tapping a putt in from 2 inches away, we know its gonna happen -- that's why we call it a gim'me.

The real debate on hand here is how the NFL decides to change it. Roger Goodell even addressed the topic in a Monday press conference, ""The extra point is almost automatic. I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd [attempts]. So it's a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play."

All very logical. Excitement  means more viewers, more viewers means more money. Any doubt this thing is changing now?

Goodell made mention of a proposial that the competition committee had been mulling over that would call for the touchdown to now be worth 7 with the option to go for the extra point (in the form of a run or pass) that would either give you 8 in total or if you were unsuccessful 6. 

This new idea adds a whole new element of strategy to the game. You can no longer go for two, which will be a sore subject for some, but still gives you the ability to trip an opponents lead at a potential cost.

Quite frankly, I love the idea. Why not add a new wrinkle? There have been a number of proposals thrown out there from moving the extra point back to forcing a team to run or pass from different yardages (one yardage worth 1, another 2). 

All in all, this new proposed plan sounds like a great one. For the enjoyment and excitement of football fans I hope it comes to fruition.

NFL 10 Takes Tuesday: Champ Recap

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NFL 10 Takes Tuesday
Bu Wild on Sports Analyst Billy Ball

Each week I give you my 10 takes from the weekend that was in the NFL

1. What Richard Sherman did after the NFC Championship was despicable. His team just made a fantastic come back after trailing for most for the game. The defense was bending but no breaking as the momentum was in complete shift. He had just made a play to win the game for the Seattle Seahawks. The Seattle Seahawks! Not the Richard Sherman's. I understand that emotions run high but to go on that gloating rant about being the best and how Michael Crabtree was a sub-par receiver is simply not OK. Yes Richard, you are an elite player. No one, outside of maybe a little on field trash talk, is going to tell you otherwise. You made a great play to help your team win, but that was just one play of 100's that were made in the game by the Seahawks. The group is of far more importance than the individual.

2. Good for Peyton Manning, but its still an up hill battle. Manning has been through a lot over the past few years and played his tail off over the weekend. He deserves a trip to the Super Bowl and earned it on Sunday. Now the real test begins. The best offense in the league takes on the best defense in the league. That will be must see TV. I think Peyton will be able to score enough points to give his team a chance to win. Where I am concerned in on the other side of the ball. Will the Broncos defense be able to hold the Seahawks under 20? That is what it is going to take and I'm just not sure that's happening.

3. The loss should not tarnish Tom Brady's legacy. Brady is one of, possibly even the best player in the history of the NFL. His team has gotten to the Conference Championship game year after year after year. Why is he getting knocked for losing one? Would it have been better if his team didn't get there? Are we penalizing him for constantly leading his team as far as he can? Is it his fault the top 4 defensive players on his team played a combined 7 snaps on Sunday? Give me a break with the tarnished legacy crap. The man is special. Did he get out played by Manning last week? Yes. But how many times has that gone the other way?

4. The pressure got to Colin Kaepernick down the stretch. The worst thing that possibly could have happen to Kaepernick in that game was the TD pass he threw to Anquan Boldin. It was a poorly thrown ball and he got away with it because the DB was out of position. After that he tried that same play two more times and got picked each time. Things were not going well for Kap & crew on offense and he got desperate and got away from what had been so successful earlier in the game: extend the play with your legs until something becomes open or take it yourself. We didn't see any QB scrambles in the 4th quarter. He looked like a mad man possessed prior to that. The pressure to succeed got to him and he got away from what got him there.

5. I actually kind of like Richard Sherman the columnist. Periodically throughout the season Richard Sherman has joined SI's Peter King and the famous Monday Morning QB Column with a column of his own. After all the attention from the post game chaos, Sherman wrote what was actually a very compelling read. Lost in the chaos was the fact that Sherman is actually a Standford graduate, playing for ironically, Jim Harbaugh. Hes a smart guy and a rather good writer. Read his column here: Richard Sherman MMQB Column

6. I don't care for Bill Belicick's comments regarding the Welker hit, but can't blame him. One of Wes Welker's more famous quotes as a Patriot talked about how it was kind of nice to stick it in Bill's face once in a while. Is that what he was doing here? Might be a bit of a stretch but if you watch the replay you can see why Belichick would be upset. Welker clearly made no attempt to avoid the contact, instead directing the brunt of the collision on Aquib Talib's mid section. The NFL has a penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver. Could a case be made that something should have been call for a hit on a defenseless DB?

7. Riding off in the sun set would serve Peyton Manning and Wes Welker well. I hope for the long term health of both players that they win the Super Bowl and walk away. I don't think either will and it would be horrible for the NFL if they did. All that in mind, Peyton Manning will be a 38 year old who has had his spine refused. Wes Welker has had more concussions that he has fingers over the course of career and at this rate may run out of toes to count them on as well. He was running around out there last weekend with a big padded helmet and just has that look in his eyes that he has been hit so many times that hes just not all there. I hope for their sake that they realize there is life after football and football takes a major toll on that each day.

8. What happened to NarVorro Bowman made me sick. Bowman was arguably the best linebacker in the NFL this season. He was have a great game up to the point of his injury and made a hell of a play in the process of getting injured. Tearing his ACL and MCL is a tough blow to a guy who had a career year and in the NFC Championship games was oh so close to creative the turnover that very well could have won the game for 49ers. Due to replay rules the result in the game we will never know. Outside of that play was happened was a devastating injury to a great player. It was down right nasty to watch and watch we did -- over and over again (I wonder what kind of slap on the wrist FOX will get this week?). I hope for his sake that he has a full recovery in time for next season. He is a huge part of that 49ers success and an amazing talent.

9. I'm interested to see how the new "fantasy draft" system plays out for the Pro Bowl. Dion Sanders and Jerry Rice are going head to head in the first real life fantasy draft and game. It is an interesting take on a game that desperately needed a shot in the arm. You can't blame the NFL for going this route. Fantasy football has made the NFL into the mass craze that it is today. I'm intrigued to see how it all plays out.

10. Denver 23 Seattle 17 --- Take it to the bank folks.

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