Thursday, April 15

2010 NBA Playoffs: The Preview

The 2010 NBA season concluded last night with a bevy of games having impact on playoff seeding. The Jazz lost to the Suns which enabled the Nuggets to grab the fourth seed and home court against the Jazz in the first round and the Mavs won to lock up to the two seed. Over in the East the Heat held on to lock up the five seed and a date with the aging Celtics in the first round, while the Bulls won and locked up the eighth seed to set themselves up to play King James in the first round.
The season was long and a lot of fun to watch. One of the most exciting teams to watch this year was Oklahoma City. Led by Kevin Durant the Thunder were in contention for the number 3 seed until late in the season only to finish eighth to set up a very exciting first round series against the Lakers. Durant became the youngest player to win a scoring title, averaging just over 30 PPG. Watching him and Kobe Bryant go at it in a playoff series will be fun to watch and something that should happen for many years to come.
Finally, here is how I think the playoffs will play out and who will be crowned champion and Finals MVP come mid June.

West First Round:
(1) L.A. Lakers vs. (8) Oklahoma City

Season series: 3-1 Lakers.

The Lakers struggled down the stretch losing 7 of their final 11 games and looking nothing like the top seed they are. Everyone assumes that the Lakers were just bored with the end of the regular season and they can turn it on once the playoffs start. Count me as one of the people that don’t see it so black and white for the Lakers. The Thunder, on the other hand, finished the season 8-5, one of those losses being the thrilling OT game against the Jazz, which they should have won. The Thunder are a very young team that has never been in this position before. They are led by the scoring champ Kevin Durant and a great young PG in Russell Westbrook.
This series will be a lot closer than Laker fans will like to admit and the Lakers are going to have to exude a ton of energy to pull out a victory.
Lakers in 6

(2) Dallas vs. (7) San Antonio
Season series: 3-1 Mavs.

The Mavs look very strong. They have a talented core of players in Dirk, Caron Butler, and Jason Kidd. They are 23-7 since they traded for Butler and Brendan Haywood and are clicking on all cylinders and are hoping that a repeat of what happened a few seasons ago doesn’t occur when they were upset by the eighth seeded Warriors.
The Spurs are being called the sleeper of the West because of their championship pedigree. They have won titles before and can possibly do well in the playoffs. I have gone back and forth many times on my opinion of the Mavs, however I think this year will be different. I think the Mavs have enough to pull out a victory and put a lid on Tim Duncan.
Mavs in 6

(3) Phoenix vs. (6) Portland
Season series: 2-1 Blazers.

The Suns are the hottest team in the NBA right now. They are bashing teams left and right. They just put a thrashing on both the Jazz and the Nuggets when both teams had a lot to play for. Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash lead the way for this team that is rich with three-point shooters. Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley have been jacking and making threes all season and there is no reason why they should stop now.
The Trailblazers are playing at a disadvantage. Their star player, Brandon Roy, was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and will try to play through the injury. It will be very tough for him to play through this injury and without Roy at 100% they will not have a solid chance to beat the Suns. Look for the Suns to run all over the court against the Blazers.
Suns in 5

(4) Denver vs. (5) Utah
Season series: 3-1 Nuggets.

The Jazz and Nuggets both limp into the playoffs not playing their best ball of the season. The Jazz lost to the Suns on Wednesday night, which lost them home-court advantage in the first round, which can be huge because the Nuggets are a team that has very difficult time winning on the road. The Jazz are also dealing with injuries to Carlos Boozer, and Andrei Kirilenko. However, Kirilenko should be back for the first round.
The Nuggets have the home-court advantage and look like a very good team at home. However, since the Jazz also play in higher elevation, the home-court wont help the Nuggets a much as it would against a different team. I think the Jazz have the pieces in place to make a strong run in these playoffs.
Jazz in 6

East First Round:
(1) Cleveland vs. (8) Chicago

Season series: 2-2 split.

The Cavs are the best team in the league and have the best record to prove that. The Bulls snuck themselves into the playoffs with a strong finish. King James and the Cavs will use this series as a chance to get Shaq and Antwan Jamison some much-needed playing time together, as they have only played three games together. The Bulls will try to replicate their exciting series they had with the Celtics last season but will not be able to that against a far superior team.
Cavs in 5

(2) Orlando vs. (7) Charlotte
Season series: 3-1 Orlando.

Orlando will open their playoff run looking to repeat as Eastern Conference champions. They have a strong team and can never be ruled out of a series because of Dwight Howard anchoring the middle of their defense. The addition of Vince Carter and the subtraction of Hedo Turkoglu can have an affect on their quest to repeat, but it wont show up this early in the playoffs.
The Bobcats will try to muster up enough will to put up a good fight but will find out just how good this Magic team is.
Magic in 5

(3) Atlanta vs. (6) Milwaukee
Season series: 2-1 Atlanta.

The Hawks played well all season and still look like a team that is on the rise. They have a solid core of youngsters that have been in the playoffs for three straight seasons and know what it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The Bucks looked like a sleeper team before Andrew Bogut went down with a scary injury. They start a rookie PG, in Brandon Jennings, who had a shaky season shooting the ball and this will hurt them in the playoffs. They may be able to sneak out a victory or two but nothing more.
Hawks in 5

(4) Boston vs. (5) Miami
Season series: 3-0 Boston.

The Celtics have struggled all season and are not playing well heading into the playoffs. They look very old and they do not scare anyone in these playoffs. Garnett, Allen and Peirce look a step slower and their days an elite contender look like they are over for the time being.
The Heat has Dwayne Wade, who has a ring, but he doesn’t have much help. They have some young talent, and are athletic, but it is a tough matchup for them against the Celtics. Even though the Celts are not as good as once advertised. The Celtics will be able to prevail in the first round this year.
Celts in 6

West Second Round:
(1) L.A. Lakers vs. (5) Utah

Season series: 3-1 Los Angeles.

After a tough first round series against the Thunder the Lakers will be drained and will be ripe for the picking. The Jazz, who should be fully healthy by the time these two teams meet, will have an advantage against the Lakers. They always play well against them and the Jazz will be able to steal a game against the Lakers in LA.
Bynum will be back, but we don’t know what he will be able to provide for the playoffs, and the Jazz have too much power inside for Pau Gasol to handle. The Jazz will win the PG matchup with Deron Williams a much better player than Derek Fisher. The Lakers will have a tough time flipping the switch to player more competitive basketball and it looks like they will not make the finals for a third straight season. This is my upset special, and you heard it here first.
Jazz in 6

(2) Dallas vs. (3) Phoenix
Season series: 2-1 Dallas.

The Suns and Mavs present a great matchup in the second round of the playoffs. They both have unlimited potential on offense and struggle to play defense. This will be a high-octane series that will be very enjoyable to watch. The Suns have great three point shooting and hold an advantage in that department. The Mavs have Dirk who can score at will. He can carry the Mavs on his back for the series.
The PG matchup is one of the best you can hope for. Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd makes for very exciting games full of assists. The Suns have been in the playoffs for many years now and have yet to put it all together in May and June, however this is the year. They Mavs will not be able to keep up with Amar’e and Nash and the Suns will make it back to the Western Conference Finals.
Suns in 7

East Second Round:
(1) Cleveland vs. (4) Boston

Season series: 2-2 split.

This will be a rematch of the exciting second round series that went to seven games back in 2008. The Celtics went on to win that series and the title. However, this season the Cavs will be the team with the top record in the East. The Celtics look old and slow and while they did manage to win two games against the Cavs this year, they will be lucky to win two in the series. The Cavs look focused and LeBron James looks ready to crown himself champion of the league.
The Celtics can win max two games this series and will be run off the floor in most games. They Celtics need to find away to muster up the defense they used against the Cavs in ’08 to have a chance in this series, but with Rasheed Wallace on this team they have very light chance of that occurring. As much as it pains me to do this, the Cavs will win this series.
Cavs in 6

(2) Orlando vs. (3) Atlanta
Season series: 3-1 Orlando.

This too will be a very exciting matchup. The Hawks have a ton of athleticism and length that can trouble the Magic. The Magic however, control the defensive boards and will make life difficult for the Hawks to convert on second chance points, a place where the Hawks make a living.
Dwight Howard will dominate on the inside and will cause havoc on defense for Al Horford and Josh Smith. The Magic took the season series 3-1 and those three wins were blow outs, while the Hawks lone win came at the buzzer. This matchup will overwhelm the young Hawks and the Magic will advance.
Magic in 6

Conference Finals:
(3) Phoenix vs. (5) Utah
Season series: 2-2 split.

I am all in on the Suns this year. They have the pieces in place to make it the NBA finals and they have the matchups too. The Jazz are hurting and will struggle to protect the paint against the Suns. The Suns will win the three-point line and the paint and it will be tough for the Jazz to keep up with the Suns. The Suns will have problems winning in Utah, but since they won the final game of the season the Suns have home court and will be able to close out this series at home in 7.
Suns in 7

(1) Cleveland vs. (2) Orlando
Season series: 2-1 Cleveland.

This is the year the Cavs make it back to the Finals. After getting a taste of it in 2007 LeBron wants more. He will dominate this series from the beginning and carry the Cavs to the NBA Finals. This could be his last year with the Cavs and he will want to know that when he makes his final decision he will have no regrets. The addition of Jamison will push the Cavs over the top against the Magic as will the loss of the Hedo for the Magic. I think the addition of Vince Carter will hurt them in this series. The Cavs have it all working and should be able to reach the NBA Finals.
Cavs in 6

NBA Finals:
(1) Cleveland vs. (3) Phoenix

Season series: 2-0 Cleveland.

I am sorry to all my friends from Phoenix but this is where their run ends. As mentioned earlier LeBron is on a mission. He wants a ring and will earn it. The Suns will try to defend LeBron, but to no avail. He will get whatever he wants whenever he wants. The Suns will keep the games close with Amar’e, Nash and their three-point shooting, but in the end there will be too much LeBron. He will finally bring a championship back to a championship hungry town.
Cavs in 7

NBA Finals MVP: LeBron James.

Friday, March 26

2010 MLB Preview: The American League

After breaking down the 2010 National League earlier this week, which you can find below, I will now break down the American League and give you some predictions for the playoffs and awards. The American League is usually the stronger league and it looks like it will continue with that same trend. So let’s start the show…
American League West:
1: Seattle Mariners (92-70) The Mariners had a major renovation completed on their team in the offseason. They spent money on Chone Figgins, they brought in Cliff Lee to team up with Felix Hernandez to give them one of the best 1-2 punches in the Majors. They also brought in MLB’s Kanye West, his words not mine, in Milton Bradley. They also roll out one of the best defensive outfields that seem to catch every ball that is hit in the air. They did lose a valuable defender in Adrian Beltre, but they slide Jose Lopez, who will hopefully be a sleeper for me in Fantasy Baseball, over to third and put Figgins at 2B. The major question with the Mariners lies in their bullpen. Can David Aardsma have a duplicate of last season? If so, they win the division; if not they most likely finish second behind….
2: Texas Rangers (88-74) It is finally going to all come together for the Texas Rangers. They have some sleeper pitchers in Scott Feldman and Rich Harden. They also shifted set-up man/occasional closer C.J. Wilson into the starting rotation. With that solid core it looks like, on paper at least, that their starting rotation can finally keep up with their offense. I think Josh Hamilton has a bounce back year and puts up similar numbers to what he did two years ago when he was having his breakout season. The major acquisition the Rangers added on offense was with Vladimir Guerrero. He will be a nice addition in that park and add some solid offense to the Rangers. In the bullpen they trot out Frank Francisco to close and most likely Neftali Feliz as his set-up man.
3: Los Angeles Angels (87-75) The Angels, in my opinion, took a big step backwards. They lost Figgins, Guerrero, and John Lackey via free agency. They tried, unsuccessfully to trade for Roy Halladay, and they didn’t find anyone else to replace Lackey in the rotation. They will feel the loss of Figgins on the basepaths. I expect guys like Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales to improve upon their stellar 2009 seasons. However, the loss in the rotation will deeply impact this team. I don’t expect Ervin Santana to put up the numbers that he did last season, they also have question marks, in regards to health, in Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir. If they are healthy they can have a solid season as a team, but if they struggle with injuries this team will struggle to win ball games.
4: Oakland Athletics (78-84) The Athletics are going to be the worst team in the AL West. They lack any star hitters and they seem to pick up hitters who either hit a home run or strikeout. They do have some solid pitchers, Brett Anderson in particular. This is a young kid who can throw strikes and should be the ace of this team. However, the rest of the rotation can’t match his intensity and the offense doesn’t have anyone who threatens an opposing team. They do have a reliable closer in Andrew Bailey, but it doesn’t look like he will get many opportunities to close out games.
American League Central:
1: Chicago White Sox (88-74) The White Sox look like the team to beat in the AL Central. They look upgraded with Juan Pierre, and a healthy Jake Pevey. They have a solid base to build a good starting rotation around. Gavin Floyd, Pevey, and John Danks are all solid starters. They will have good offensive production with Pierre and Alex Rios setting the table for guys like Paul Konerko, and Carlos Quentin. I think Rios will have a solid season in Chicago and he will be able to put up solid numbers, like he used to do back in Toronto. Look for the White Sox to win the Central and make it back to the playoffs.
2: Minnesota Twins (85-77) The Twins are all bubbly with their recent accord with Joe Mauer. He will be the backstop for them his entire career. However, that will not be able to make up for the loss of Joe Nathan. He is done this season after having Tommy John surgery and they will have to rely on Jon Rauch as their closer. He did a decent job while with the Diamondbacks, but I wouldn’t trust him in the American League. They acquired a solid replacement for the departure of Orlando Cabrera in JJ Hardy. He struggled last season in Milwaukee, but should have a nice bounce back year.
3: Detroit Tigers (80-82) The Tigers had a major reshuffling in the offseason. In the midst of the economic downturn their owner needed to dump players in order to save on salary. They traded Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, and they traded Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks. I loved the trade for Max Scherzer, he is studly (a quote from a friend), and he shouldn’t feel the hit of moving from the NL to the AL like most other pitchers because he will pitch half his games in the friendly confines of Motown. The addition of Johnny Damon will add some leadership to the team and possibly keep Miguel Cabrera under wraps, but Damon will see a significant dip in his power numbers.
4: Cleveland Indians (76-86) The Indians are a team that has been struggling the past few seasons. They don’t have enough pitching to really contend in the AL Central. They are hoping Fausto Carmona regains his 2007 form where he won 19 games and competed for a Cy Young, but that could be wishful thinking at this point. They are also hoping Grady Sizemore stays healthy this year and can give them the numbers they have come to expect form him. But even if that happens, they still will struggle to win ball games. Kerry Wood is already starting the season on the DL and it looks like Chris Perez will take over as closer and most likely not give it back to Wood. That is only bright spot on this team, the future closer in Chris Perez. That is saying something.
5: Kansas City Royals (70-92) The Royals are a very bad team. They have Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria on their pitching staff and not much else. They don’t have many good hitters; only Billy Butler really stands out. The additions of Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel are solid ones that might give a boost to the offense, but I don’t expect the Royals to win many games or be in contention in many games this season.
American League East:
1: Boston Red Sox (99-63) Call me a homer sure, but I’m starting to fall in love with the 2010 Red Sox. Sure they wont score 10+runs a game as often as they have in years past, but they will win many games with pitching and defense. They upgraded their defense tremendously with the addition of Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro. Sliding Jacoby Ellsbury over to left is also a defensive improvement. The main concern amongst all the talking heads is how the Red Sox will score runs, but I am not concerned. I think David Ortiz has a solid year, which he did last year but people only remember that he slumped tremendously the first two months of the season. The addition of John Lackey to the rotation gives the Red Sox three aces. Teaming him up with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester will give the Red Sox the best pitching trifecta in baseball, and when you add in guys like Dice-K, Tim Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz, they have a very sound rotation. They also have a solid bullpen with Jonathan Papelbon closing out games and Daniel Bard setting him up.
2: New York Yankees (98-64) The Yankees are coming off a World Series victory and they had a minor overhaul this summer. They added Curtis Granderson to their outfield, while losing Johnny Damon. They also recently named Phil Hughes as their 5th starter as they look to improve their pitching staff. I am not a big fan of AJ Burnett’s and I don’t know how much longer Andy Petite will continue to pitch well, the wheels should come off soon. The Yankees will always be a threat to add someone at midseason, but I don’t think they have the prospects to work out a deal for anyone substantial if they are hit with prolonged injuries, which they avoided last season. Look for the Yankees to stay in the hunt for the AL East all season long.
3: Tampa Bay Rays (83-79) The Rays had a very solid campaign in 2008 and they will look to repeat that, however they don’t have the personnel to do it. They will struggle to keep up with the Red Sox and Yankees. They have some solid pitchers in Garza and James Shields, and some young flame-throwers in David Price and Wade Davis, but they are still too young. The offense isn’t as potent as the Red Sox and Yankees and they are poised to finish behind them once again.
4: Baltimore Orioles (73-89) The Orioles are not very good. They don’t have many solid pitchers and their offense leaves nothing to be desired. They have some young kids, who might make some impact, and they brought back Miguel Tejada, but that won’t help them achieve anything more than a second to last place finish in the East.
5: Toronto Blue Jays (67-95) The Jays are another team in the East that is not very good. They are expecting Shaun Marcum to bounce back form surgery and be their opening day starter, but I don’t think he will have stellar campaign. Their offense looks to rebound from a down year and they hope Vernon Wells will be back to his old ways. But even if Wells is solid this year, they won’t have the firepower to keep up with the beasts in the East.
National League Wild Card Predictions:
Phillies over Colorado in 4
Dodgers over Cardinals in 4
National League Pennant Predictions:
Dodgers over Phillies in 7
NLCS MVP: Clayton Kershaw
American League Wild Card Predictions:
Red Sox over White Sox in 3
Mariners over Yankees in 5
American League Pennant Predictions:
Red Sox over Mariners in 6
ALCS MVP: Jon Lester
World Series Prediction:
Red Sox over Dodgers in 7
WS MVP: Victor Martinez
Regular Season Awards:
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum

There you have all the predictions. Coming up once the NBA season is finished I will have my predictions for the 2010 NBA Playoffs and Finals.

Tuesday, March 23

2010 MLB Preview: The National League

The 2010 MLB season is about to commence, and as the spring season winds down I want to give you a little preview of what to expect from each League and then what to expect come playoff time and hand out some awards. I will break this up into two or possibly three posts.
Today I am starting with the National League. I have always been an AL guy, as I root for the Red Sox, but since moving to Los Angeles and the decision to play fantasy baseball I have come to know and love the NL too. The NL is represented by the Phillies, who have made it to the World Series the past two seasons, winning once. They also have the Cardinals and the Dodgers, both of which are solid all around teams. So without further ado the preview.
National League East:
1: Phillies (98-64) Like I mentioned earlier the Phillies are coming off a second consecutive World Series appearance and they seem like they should be headed to a third. They are stacked on offense with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of the order. They also have solid pitching in Roy Halladay, which was a huge acquisition in the offseason, and Cole Hamels. They close out games with a nice set-up man and closer tandem in Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Lidge will start the season on the DL and Madson should fill in as closer. If the Phillies were able to withstand the horrible year from Lidge last season and still make the World Series they should be okay.
2: New York Mets (85–77) The Mets were bitten hard and often by the injury bug last season. They suffered through a power outage from David Wright and didn’t live up to expectations for their season. This year they come in with little to no expectations and I expect them to exceed them. The addition of Jason Bay will add some power to the lineup and I think Wright rediscovers his power stroke. They still need some help in the rotation and if Jerry Mejia pitches like a seasoned veteran, and not like a rookie, the Mets will surprise some people.
3: Florida Marlins (82-80) The Marlins have a solid young team. With Hanley Ramirez anchoring their offense and guys like Jorge Cantu, and Dan Uggla, and guys like Rickey Nolasco, and Josh Johnson in the rotation it looks like they have a solid foundation. The only thing is they are still too young. They will try to contend for a second place finish but will ultimately come up short.
4: Atlanta Braves (80-82) The Braves are also a young team in the field. They are not as dominant in the pitching department as they have been in the past, but with guys like Tommy Hanson their fans have something to look forward to. The loss of Javier Vasquez is big as he was the ace of their staff last season and it will be tough to replace him. The addition of Billy Wagner to close out games is huge as he has the ability to be a top 3 closer in baseball and with their rookie stud, Jayson Heyward, they are a year or two away from truly competing for a World Series title.
5: Washington Nationals (70-92) What can you say about the Nationals other than they are a very mediocre team. They have young guns in Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, but they don’t have much else. They aren’t a flashy team and don’t expect them to do anything this season.
National League Central:
1: St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) They have Albert Pujols and Matt Hilliday. They have Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. They have a solid foundation on offense and pitching. They have a solid closer in Ryan Franklin. This is a weak division, maybe the weakest in baseball, and they should have no issue with winning it as long as they stay healthy. There is already talk of Pujols having a bad back.
2: Chicago Cubs (86-76) The Cubs got rid of a basket case in Milton Bradley and replaced him with Marlon Byrd. It was a good addition, but they didn’t do much else. They have a weak rotation with Ted Lilly already being injured. It will be tough to beat out the Cardinals, but they do have a chance.
3: Cincinnati Reds (81-81) I think they have a respectable .500 season. Aroldis Chapman looks like a stud who can win 15 games. They have solid offense in Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Bruce, while he does strikeout a ton, has a ton of power and can hit the ball hard to all fields. Votto, who is coming off a season in which he put up great numbers while spending time on the DL for an inner ear infection and then depression looks like he can have an even better season than last. Look for them to make a hard push towards the top of the division but the ultimately fall short of a crown.
4: Milwaukee Brewers (78-84) They have a power guy in Prince Fielder, but nothing much beyond that. They lost JJ Hardy, who I think it going to have a tremendous bounce back year, and replaced him with Alcides Escobar who will have a good shot at rookie of the year. But that won’t be enough to make a dent in the standings.
5: Houston Astros (70-92) The Astros lost their closer, and replaced him with two guys who the manager is trying to decide on. They are hoping for bounce back years from Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee, and Lance Berkman. However, I don’t think they will all click and lead them to a division title.
6: Pittsburgh Pirates (68-94) They might be the worst team in baseball. They don’t have anyone on their pitching staff who can make a difference and the only guy on offense now is really Andrew McCutchen. They will limp to the finish line of the season and their fans will have to endure another terrible season of baseball. At least the city has all the Ben Roethlisberger issues to read about.
National League West
1: Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68) The Dodgers still have the best team in the West. They have Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, and Russell Martin and Furcal should have bounce back years. In the rotation they have Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw who should anchor a staff that will lead the Dodgers into the playoffs. In the bullpen they have Broxton and Sherill, who are both solid relievers. Look for the Dodgers to have no issues when it comes to scoring runs and preserving leads thus enabling them to win the West.
2: Colorado Rockies (89-73) The Rockies had a spectacular year last season. Their pitching was the best it has been in years. They had rookies in Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzales emerge as guys to watch for the future. They also benefited from a bounce back year from Troy Tulowitzki. They have a solid bullpen and they should be able to have a similar year as they did last year.
3: San Diego Padres (79-83) The Padres lead the rest of the West in terms of talent. They have a solid bullpen and good lineup with Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera leading the way. They should be able to improve on their last season.
4: San Francisco Giants (77-85) We all know what the Giants have in their rotation. They have three solid starters that can all win 15 plus games and strikeout a ton of batters. However, it is the rest of the pitching that is worrisome. They also do not have the hitters that other teams in the NL West have. They will struggle to score runs and they will have a hard time outpitching everyone in every game.
5: Arizona Diamondbacks (77-85) They can have a surprisingly good season. They just need everyting to fall into place at the right time. If Webb can come back smoothly and give them a season that he had two years ago that will go a long way towards helping them have an excellent season. They also need Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds to build upon their stellar campaigns last season. Edwin Jackson is a newcomer that can also help tremendously. He had a breakout season in Detroit last year and if he can carry that over to the NL West they DBacks have a good chance at sneaking up on people.

So there you have it. The NL breakdown for the 2010 season. Coming later this week I will breakdown the AL and the playoff race and awards.

Tuesday, March 16

March Madness

March Madness is back baby!!! Diaper Dandies galore!!! OK it’s out of my system. Everyone loves this time of year. We all love watching four games at once the opening weekend and rooting for all the crazy games and upsets. This year should prove to be no different. People are expecting a crazy tournament and we should be amazed. We have a bunch of powerhouses in the tournament. Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, and Syracuse are the four #1 seeds. We also have great 2 seeds in West Virginia and Ohio State. We have young teams that are anchored by freshman, and seasoned teams that boast a lineup full of seniors.
Everyone it seems is choosing Kansas to cut down the nets on April 5th, but I am not so sure about that. We will get to that in a minute. What I have come to notice over the past few seasons, dating back to when Carmelo Anthony was a frosh at Syracuse, is a dominate player can carry his team into the Sweet 16 and beyond. We have a few teams that fit the bill. Kansas with Sherron Collins, Kentucky with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, Ohio State with Evan Turner, Syracuse with Wesley Johnson, and Cornell with Ryan Wittman. Yeah I just mentioned Cornell in the same sentence as Ohio State, Kentucky, Syracuse and Kansas. Another March Madness regularity is a double-digit seed surprising everyone and making it into the Sweet 16 or even the Elite 8. I think this year’s teams are Cornell and UTEP.
Cornell, as mentioned earlier has a kid named Ryan Wittman who can score from anywhere on the court, and has a bit of his dad in him, former NBA player Randy Wittman. They also have a 7-footer in Jeff Foote, who likes to bang inside and has a great nose for the ball. Cornell is the Ivy League champions and will sneak up on the higher seeds so single-digit seeds, you have been warned.
UTEP is one of the best defensive basketball teams in the nation. They have Derrick Caracter, an unheralded transfer from Louisville, and guard Randy Culpepper to give UTEP a great inside-outside dominance. UTEP can also run when they need to, as they have put up 80+ points in 12 games.
OK, onto the games. I am going to skip the first two rounds of the tournament and give you a breakdown of the Sweet 16 matchups all the way until the finals.

Midwest Bracket: (seed in bracket)

Kansas (1) vs. Michigan State (5): Kansas should be able to pull out this game. Kansas is loaded with NBA talent and is fully seasoned with countless seniors on this team. Michigan State normally reaches the Sweet 16 and this year should be no different. However, they struggled late in the season and Tom Izzo won’t be able to coach this team to the Final Four.

Georgetown (3) vs. Ohio State (2): Ohio State boasts one of the best players in the country and the possible #1 pick in the NBA draft. Evan Turner has the ability to put this team on his back and take them to the Final Four. I think they should be able to handle Georgetown, who struggled down the stretch.

Kansas vs. Ohio State: This game should shape up to be one of the best Elite 8 games in the tournament. You have Turner vs. the Kansas team. And like I mentioned earlier Turner has the ability to carry OSU into the Final Four, but I don’t see him pulling off the upset of Kansas. Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins are two first round picks in the NBA draft and they have the experience that is key to winning in March.

West Bracket:

Syracuse (1) vs. UTEP (12): Syracuse has a good defensive team and even though they struggled in their final games of the season, they were ranked #1 in the country just a few weeks ago. Syracuse is stacked at key positions with Wesley Johnson leading the way offensively. UTEP, as mentioned earlier, boasts one of the best defensive teams in the tournament and I think they can slow the game up and give Syracuse a very good game in this matchup. However, at the end of the day Syracuse will prevail based on their experience.

Xavier (6) vs. BYU (7): Don’t sleep on the Mormons. They are talented and experienced, as this is their thirds straight year in the tournament. They have Jimmer Fredette, who is talented enough to bring them to the Elite 8. Xavier has the guy that dunked on LeBron this summer, Jordan Crawford. He, coupled with Jason Love, give Xavier the ingredients to pull off some upsets in the tournament. This game is a toss up and could go either way, but in the end I think BYU pulls it off.

Syracuse vs. BYU: In this Elite 8 matchup BYU will try to slow down the proficient scoring abilities of Syracuse. It will be a tough task, as BYU doesn’t have anyone who can guard Wesley Johnson. Johnson is a lock for a top 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft. BYU will give a valiant effort but in the end they will come up short.

East Bracket

Kentucky (1) vs. Cornell (12): I love Kentucky. John Calipari’s teams always go far in the tournament and he always wins with point guards like John Wall. Wall is a superb athlete and when you pair him with Cousins they can be unstoppable at times. Cornell will ride Ryan Wittman all the way to the Sweet 16 and they will be America’s sweethearts, but this is where their Cinderella run will end. Kentucky will bring too much to the table and Cornell won’t be able to stop them.

New Mexico (3) West Virginia (2): West Virginia won the Big East tournament and the Big East is the best conference this season. They are very stacked with Da’Sean Butler, who can fill up the bucket and defend well. New Mexico is a little bit underrated, as they are not seen on TV very often. They won their conference and have the ability to pull off the upset of WVU, but I think ultimately, WVU hangs on for a victory to reach the Elite 8.

Kentucky vs. WVU: This will be the second best matchup in the Elite 8. Kentucky has the size and the athletic ability to handle everything WVU brings to the table, and WVU has the scorers to keep up with Kentucky. These teams matchup well together and they have similar defensive and offensive numbers. In the end John Wall will be too much to handle and he will carry Kentucky to the Final Four.

South Bracket

Duke (1) vs. Texas A&M (5): Duke is normally a team that scores, and scores, and then scores some more. They normally lose games when they go cold because they don’t have the players to stop other teams from scoring too. However, this year is different. Coach K has compiled a great defensive team and it has allowed Duke to win some games this year when in years past they would have lost. Normally in the tournament Duke gets bounced early because of their lack of defense, but this year it shouldn’t be the case. Texas A&M on the other hand is not as great on defense. They also struggle form the free throw line, shooting only 66% as a team. Duke will win this game easily.

Baylor (3) vs. Villanova (2): Baylor has one of the best backcourts in the nation as well as a shot blocking defensive powerhouse on the inside. They average close to 80 PPG and can score at will sometimes. ‘Nova on the other hand does not have the defensive presence to stop many teams. They struggled down the stretch and it will be difficult for them to compete with Baylor.

Duke vs. Baylor: This will be a great defensive matchup. Duke will try to hold the Bears down offensively, but it might be difficult. Baylor has the defensive abilities to disrupt Duke and force them to play catch-up. Duke doesn’t seem as strong as they do in recent years. Baylor will be the unlike presence in the Final 4 with the upset over Duke.

Final Four:

Kansas vs. Syracuse: Kansas is big and talented. They have players who can defend Wesley Johnson. He is a super athlete, but Xavier Henry will be able to counteract his talents and he will have a big game to carry Kansas the Finals.

Kentucky vs. Baylor: Kentucky is great. John Wall will be able to penetrate the lane and kick to Eric Bledsoe and Cousins. Wall will be named MVP of this game and he will lead Kentucky to the Finals.

Championship Game:

Kansas vs. Kentucky:
In what looks like on paper to be an amazing championship game. Wall vs. Collins, Aldrich vs. Cousins, Bledsoe vs. Henry, there are crazy matchups all over the floor. You also have the experience of Kansas vs. the youth of Kentucky. This will be a back and forth matchup that will come down to the wire, and in the end the Youth of Kentucky will pull off the upset and be crowned champions of college basketball this year. John Wall will be named the tournament MOP and solidify himself as the number 1 pick in the NBA draft.

Starting Thursday I will break down each MLB division daily and handout my awards and playoff spots and crown the champions.

Friday, March 12

AI Season 9 Follow-up

**************Spoiler Alert**************

I have officially given up hope of the new season of American Idol turning itself around. Last night when Lilly Scott and Katelyn Epperly were kicked off for the girls, and Alex Lambert for the guys was eliminated, it showed that the people too have given up on the season.
Guys like Alex Lambert always do well on this show, just look at Jason Castro from a few seasons ago. He was a likeable guy who had the most unique voice amongst the guys, however it didn’t turn out that way. Andrew Garcia, who peaked way too early, and Tim Urban, who you knew once he started to sing Hallelujah that he was going to survive, survived. How do guys like Urban, or Paige Miles, or Didi Benami make it though when the people with greater talent do not?
One explanation is because this season is full of the singer/songwriter types. You have Crystal Bowersox, Lacey Brown from the girls who are all going to have the same fan bases as Lilly Scott. I thought her rendition of I fall to pieces was very good and she deserved to make it into the top 12. The reason Paige and Katie Stevens make it though is because they have their fan bases that vote for them. Paige has the gospel groups and Katie has the likeable “I am only 16 and cute” vibe to her, so she gets all the high school votes. It seems like that is the audience this year. The high schoolers are the only ones who continue to watch this show. Which is also shown through the expatriation of Todderick Hall’s time on the show. Normally he would pick up the Broadway musical fans, especially after Simon told him sounded like he belonged on stage, but he didn’t get the votes to survive.
The season only has 3 people that can carry the show now. I think Lee Dewyze is very talented, and so is Crystal and Casey James. I still think that Katie has a chance to sneak up on people especially now that she is in the top 12, an achievement I didn’t think she deserved after her performance this week, but the only way for her actually have a chance is for her to find herself. That can be a very tough assignment this far into the game and I fee like she will be out sooner than later, but that won't be the end of her time on AI. She will be back next year, if she chooses to try out.
Big Mike had a very powerful performance this week and I think it raised his stock into a dark horse candidate. He has a great back-story, plus a loveable personality. He is great up there on stage and he continues to grow each week.
Overall this season stinks, but yet I continue to watch to see how the singers grow week to week. I still like the finals to come down to Crystal and Casey. Let’s see if that holds true.
Next week I will break down and give you my March Madness predictions. Should be great.

Friday, March 5

American Idol Season 9

**********Spoiler Alert***********
If you haven’t seen this week’s performance of American Idol, do not read until you have viewed the episodes.
We are nearing the midway point of the ninth season of American Idol. As we stand today on Friday March 5th 2010, there are 16 contestants left, 8 guys and 8 girls. So far this season has been very subpar, and there are only about 4 people that have a good chance at winning this season. This season has already been unpredictable as 2 of the girls that I had rated in the top 5 at the beginning of the season have already been kicked off (Janell Wheeler and Michelle Delamor) and people like Didi Benami and Paige Miles are still around. Anyway I will rank the remaining guys and girls in order from best to worst, I came up with this list before the elimination show aired last night and I had three of the four correct contestants being eliminated. (I blundered on Michelle Delamor, as I had Didi Benami being sent home with her karaoke edition of Lean On Me). I had to rearrange a bit when Michelle, who I had ranked 4th, was kicked off. The guys I had spot on.

American Idol Season 9 Guys Rankings:

1: Casey James: This guy has excellent vocals and has a great sound. He looks like a rock star and has the potential to carry his own records for years to come. He takes songs and makes them his own and clearly has the look to win this competition. By pulling out the guitar and showing off his ability to play it, set him head and shoulders above everyone else. Kara has a huge crush on this guy, but despite that, he is clearly the guy to beat among the men.
2: Andrew Garcia: He knocked it out of the park in Hollywood week when his cover of Straight Up by Paula Abdul, and every week since we have been waiting for him to do the same or better. He may have peaked too early and that may hurt him in the long run because everyone is going to compare his performances with what he did in Hollywood week. Whether that is fair or not, that is the way American Idol works. However, with that said, he still has really good raw talent and natural ability, and we know what he can do with a song, and once he hits that again he will start flying in this competition.
3: Lee Dewyze: Now this is a guy who has a great and distinct sound. He sounds like he could be putting out his own albums and I would buy them. He has that raspy rocker sound that America has fallen fall. He is continuing to grow each week and if Andrew continues to slouch with his song choices Lee will overtake him at number two on this list. The only reason why he hasn’t yet is because we know where Andrew can go, however, Lee has yet to hit his full potential, but the possibilities are endless for him.
4: Alex Lambert: This kid has great natural and raw talent. He looks shy and awkward at times on stage, but his performance this week left him very vulnerable and he pulled it off. He was excellent this week. He made his performance of Everybody Knows his own and he is slowly creeping up this list, and is the dark horse in this competition, who I can see dueling it out with Casey as the last two men.
5: Aaron Kelly: This is another one of the young ones who has a very good voice, but the stage presence isn’t there. He had a decent performance of My Girl but he didn’t separate himself from the rest of the competition. He has the potential to go far in this competition, but we will have to wait to see if he can gain some more confidence and stage presence that will push him up this list.
6: Mike Lynche: Big Mike has some good vocals, but had some pitch problems this week. He needs to get in touch with some good soul songs so he can position himself to win this competition. As of now he is in the middle of the pack and seems more like someone who will be entertaining you in a hotel bar, and not the bright lights of Hollywood. He is dropping down this list each week with his subpar performances.
7: Tim Urban: He has a forgettable voice. Don’t take that the wrong way because clearly he is very talented, he is in the top 20, but what I mean by that is he sounds like so many other artists. He needs to take his voice to the next level and develop his own sound and if he does that he may be able to climb up this list and save himself. However, if he gives another lackluster performance like he did this week he will be sent home with Todderick Hall next week. (Unless only 1 person gets sent home next week)
8: Todderick Hall: This is the dancer who likes to sing, but he should stick to dancing. His performance this week earned him a ticket off this show, he was just saved by horrible performances by the two who were kicked off this week. He sounds like he is yelling, and he didn’t take the constructive criticism of the judges and looked stiff up there on stage. Unless he comes out next week and kills it, he should be sent packing next week.

American Idol Season 9 Girl Rankings:

1: Lilly Scott: She has the looks, she has the sound, she has the stage presence, and she is a great performer. She is clearly the favorite, even though Crystal might have had a slightly better performance this week, but who looks more like a singer than Lilly in this competition. This is her competition to lose amongst the girls. She looks great up on stage with a guitar and I look forward to her performance each and every week.
2: Crystal Bowersox: First off I’m glad she is feeling better, and what makes her performance this week even better is the fact that she was so sick and spent the night in the hospital and she comes back with that amazing performance. She has great vocals and an extremely powerful voice. However, what is, and will continue to hold her back is her look. She doesn’t have that superstar look. Her teeth, however, continue to gain whiteness week to week. With all that said, she has great natural talent and she will be in it at the end with a good chance to pull off the victory.
3: Katetlyn Epperly: How great did she look up there on stage? She looked amazing sitting behind that Piano; she is cute and has a very powerful voice. She has grown leaps and bounds since her audition and I am starting to like her more and more with each performance. Sure the song was a little slow and Ellen thought it would have made a babysitter’s job much easier, but the overall performance was spectacular and she will be around to stay.
4: Katie Stevens: Wow this girl is only 17, but she has an excellent look and reminds me a bit of Kelly Clarkson. However, she has yet to put it all together for an outstanding performance that I know she has in her. She has crazy raw talent and natural abilities on stage and looks like she belongs up there. Sadly, these characteristics can only carry her for so long, and unless she comes out next week and kills it with a perfect song choice, she might be gone way to early. She is the dark horse amongst the girls and with the right song choices; she will be here until the end.
5: Paige Miles: Another one of the girls who didn’t wow me. She didn’t do anything that makes her stand out in the competition. Everyone at this stage of the season knows how to sing and she clearly has a good voice, or else she wouldn’t have made it this far, but at this point the contestants need to start showing their artistic side and Paige did not do that. The girls in this competition are not that great and she is in the bottom half.
6: Siobahn Magnus: She showed a little potential when she hit that high note at the end of her performance this week, however, overall I didn’t like the performance. She is a kooky looking person and she doesn’t strike me as someone who would be able to sell albums to the American public. Like many others in this season she has a very powerful voice, but nothing she does stands out.
7: Lacey Brown: The red hair girl…she has an interesting voice, but she has yet to put it all together with the perfect song. The first week she sang a Debbie Downer song, and this week with her rendition of Kiss Me, while it was more upbeat, she still didn’t knock it out of the park. What has kept her in this competition so far, and what will keep her in it a little longer, unless she has a drastic improvement, is her distinct sound. It’s cute and catchy and America likes that kind of look and sound.
8: Didi Benami: I thought this performance was terrible, worst of the night and I can not believe that she is back for another week, when a girl like Michelle Delamor, who granted, had her issues, but looks and sounds a lot more like a professional singer than Didi, did not make it though, I don’t know how Didi did. She does have a country vibe to her but continues to choose the wrong songs and she will not be around for the foreseeable future unless she taps into the niche that makes her unique.

There you have the rankings of the girls and guys of season 9 of American Idol. Right now I think the top 4 overall are Casey James, Lilly Scott, Crystal Bowersox, and Andrew Garcia. This is their competition to lose, but don’t sleep on Lee Dewyze and Katie Stevens. Overall the season is pretty weak, but it still fun to watch as these artists grow week to week and adjust and adapt to the limelight and see who can pull it off and become America’s next Idol.

Thursday, February 25

Top 20 NBA Players

So for my newest column I’m going to breakdown and give you my top 20 players in the NBA. The factors I will be considering are 1: if there were a draft of everyone in the NBA, who would the first 20 picks be. 2: if you were starting a team from scratch which player would you want. 3: the rankings will factor in the age of the players, so a player who is younger but has uber talent, he will be ranked higher than someone who might be have better numbers.
So without further ado…the rankings:
1: LeBron James: This kid is a beast. He makes his teammates better by playing the point forward and has the vision to know what his teammates will be doing. He has the tools to take over a game on offense and defense. He has yet to put this all together to bring home a championship to Cleveland, but he is young and will have plenty of time to win some.
2: Kobe Bryant: He has having one of his best seasons this year. Coming off the NBA title, the first he won on his own, he has put together a season that has solidified himself as one of the best scorers in the history of the game. He can take over games offensively and if the game is close in the final minutes you know the Mamba is coming through. The reason why he is second is his age, LeBron is just way too young not to put him first.
3: Carmelo Anthony: a natural and silky smooth scorer. He puts up huge offensive numbers and he has positioned his team to be the 2 seed in the West. He has yet to put up the numbers and lead the Nuggets to the Finals. He has picked up his scoring this season and is a guy who can carry his team offensively for long stretches of games.
4: Dwight Howard: He is a monster in paint. He blocks shots, rebounds, and defends like one of the best in the league. However, He needs to pick up his offensive game and he will be higher in this list. He needs to develop a consistent turnaround jumper and 10-15 footer. He also needs to start taking the game more seriously and acquire a killer instinct so he can lead his team to a title.
5: Kevin Durant: This kid has it all. He is 6’10 and can score on any part of the court against any type of defender. He will win the scoring title this year, and will continue to improve his rebounding and assist skills. He will average close to 30PPG this year and he is only 21! He is a natural leader and scorer. He has a clean-cut image and is fun to watch. This kid has it all and will be playing in this league for almost 20 more years. It’s crazy to think of how his career will play out.
6: Dwyane Wade: Mighty Mouse is one of the best at getting into the lane and finishing. He has an NBA title as an alpha dog and he gives 110% every single night. He plays hurt and he continues to throw his body around like a young Allen Iverson. He is going to make a ton of money on the open market this summer and make a new team an instant contender.
7: Chris Paul: He is the best point guard in the league. He gets his teammates easy shots and buckets while also having the ability to score. He can take over a game on the defensive end allowing his team to get easy breakaway points.
8: Chris Bosh: This guy is quietly one of the best superstars in the NBA. Did you know he averages over 24PPG and 11RPG? Yea me neither until I started doing some research for this post. He is still somehow only 25 years old and continues to mature on the court on a daily basis.
9: Brandon Roy: He is young, athletic and a great scorer. He is 25 and has many years to come that will produce greatness. Can you imagine what would have happened had Portland drafted KD instead of Oden that would be one the greatest What If’s in NBA. But I digress, Roy, carries himself very well offensively, he helps his teammates, and he has the ability to carry his team to the Finals.
10: Dirk Nowitzki: The big German is arguably the best big man shooter in the NBA. He is a consistent All Star who continues to produce on a daily basis. His blocks and steals are up from years past and he will continue to thrive in the Dallas offense.
11: Amare Stoudemire: Amare has the ability to take over games on both ends of the floor, when he chooses. The problem is he chooses a lot of the time to coast. However, he still has to be considered one of the top 20 players because he is so dominant. He can score when he wants, however, he needs to be more consistent with his rebounding and he could be ranked higher on this list.
12: Joe Johnson: He is still in the beginning of his prime; he can score from outside and by taking it to the hole. He is a good rebounder and passer for someone in his position and his size. He is an impeding free agent and will instantly help the team his signs with in the offseason.
13: Tim Duncan: He is on his way out of the league, but he can still bring it when he knows he needs to. He is still averaging just under 20 PPG and 11RPG. He also pitches in with some assists and a nice amount of blocks. He is just fundamentally sound and a great teammate who demands a double team when he is in the post.
14: Deron Williams: The second best point guard in the game and he is still growing each year. He averages a double double with 18PPG and 10 APG. He is a very good defender and leads the Jazz on the court.
15: Rajon Rondo: Now I know what you’re thinking…what a homer, how can you say someone who cant shoot the ball consistently is in the top 20. However, hear me out. Sure this guy is shaky, and that might be an understatement, with his jump shot and free throw shooting, but he can dish out assists like no one else in the league, he is fearless when going to the hole and has such big hands that he can do things with a basketball others can’t. Now, while his shooting is still suspect, he has worked on it very hard since he came into the league and he has developed his shot tremendously over the past few years, and if he continues to trend up, he is a top 10 player in this league.
16: Steve Nash: This guy is still one of the best point guards in the game. He takes over games with his passing abilities. He still has one of the sweetest jump shots in the game and knows how to play the game to his advantage because of his age. He is also towards the end of his great career and thus ranking him higher than this is difficult because people above him have brighter futures.
17: Brook Lopez: Yup a member of the New Jersey Nets is on this list. While the Nets might struggle to win 10 games this season, Lopez is not the reason. He has ridiculous athleticism for a big man and he averages 19 and 9 a night and he is a sophomore in this league. He is 21 and has a very bright future in this league.
18: Al Jefferson: Big Al has the tools to be one of the few 25PPG and 12 RPG players in this league for years to come. He is having a little bit of a down year as he is still not 100% from his knee injury that ended his season last year after 50 games. However, he still dominates on the defensive end. He is the kind of big man you build a championship contending team around.
19: Carlos Boozer: He is in the prime of his career, and he knows how to score. He averages 20 and 11 a game. He has a nose for the ball on the glass. He has solid footwork in the post and knows when to gamble on defense. He is one of the best power forwards in the game.
20: Pau Gasol: He is a smooth 7 footer who has a decent jump shot and knows how to grad some rebounds. He is very soft on the defensive end and can get lost in games when he faces a tough big man inside. He is still young and in his prime and has a solid future ahead of him in this league. As much as it pains me to put Gasol on this list, I just don’t like watching him play, He is just too solid to ignore.
There you have it folks, Let me know what you think of the rakings. If you think I left anyone off email me or comment…
Fyi did you know the Lakers are 7-8 versus the top 8 teams in the NBA. How crazy, for all the Laker Cool-aid drinkers that live near me, and insist that are a lock for the Finals and the title, perhaps it is not so given. Let’s just wait and see how the end of the season plays out.