My dream for next year

Pat

There are only two teams left in the NFL Season. Everybody except Denver and Seattle are looking already to next year. I am one of them. I have a grand dream for next year. I am an Arizona Cardinal fan. I go back to the St.Louis Cardinals of the late 60s and early 70s with Jim Hart, Mel Gray, Terry Metcalf, Dierdorf and Dobler and Jim Bakken hitting last-second field goals. That team had limited success but were fun to watch. That was the start of Air Coryell and his legacy of offensive coaching. Since then they have moved to Arizona and given me a lot of long winters with a few light spots and the 2008 Super Bowl.

But in 2013, the organization seemed to have a strong direction toward winning and really did accomplish some goals for the season – enough for me to dream of a huge season in 2014. One accomplishment was holding the Superbowl bound Seattle Seahawks to 10 points and being the first team to beat them in Seattle in two years. So I am using that success to fuel really big dreams for 2014.

So my dream for next year is that the Cardinals improve just enough to truly compete in the very tough NFC West. Now known as the NFC Best. I just made that up! So they go on to win the division and home field throughout the playoffs. Tough as they are at home, they go on to win each playoff game and go to the Superbowl, also at home. That’s right the 2015 Superbowl is at The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona, the home of the Arizona Cardinals. A home game Superbowl and with all the hoopla, the Cardinals go ahead and win their first Superbowl Championship ever! Hey if you’re going to dream, you just as well go all the way!

Here we are dreaming of next year and the 2014 Superbowl hasn’t even been played yet.  Since I live in Denver, and I tend to dislike the Seattle Seahawks,  GO BRONCOS!!!!!

Masha

C’mon people, let him have this little dream. And since my Niners are also in the NFC Best, I have to support the new label… Bruce Arians has brought a breath of fresh air to Arizona and depending on how the draft goes, next year could be a big year for Arizona. But it doesn’t appear to me that Mr. Martin in Seattle or Mr. Kaepernick in San Francisco are fading away, and I don’t doubt that Jeff Fisher is putting something together in St. Louis. Should be a great 2014-2015 season in the NFL.

Soapbox Derby – yeah, it’s not what you think…

Pat

So it’s time for my soapbox! A-Rod is now calling MLB’s investigation into his alleged PED use a witch hunt. Well,, it may well have been. But it also found over a dozen witches, including A-Rod, who were tied to Anthony Bosch. The other dozen all accepted their punishment and apologized, even Ryan Braun. But A-Rod believes the same rules don’t apply to him so he is suing the MLBPA. It’s ridiculous and he can’t win and he won’t play an inning in 2014. All that remains is if the Yankees will try to get out of the contract. We shall see.

On the other hand, Bud Selig has no reason to go puffing up his chest and claiming victory. Anthony Bosch is a small time hack with no medical degree running an “Anti Aging Clinic” in Florida and he is able to come up with a way to beat MLB’s drug testing program. Come on Selig, come on MLB, let’s put together a testing program that will once and for all end the PED era. Let’s put it behind us. OK, off the soapbox. Hello Australian open! Singles tennis is a great one-on-one sport. Speed, Power and strategy, it’s great to watch a match develop. Here we go!

Masha

All right, let’s talk about drug testing for a moment. You have to run a panel, which means you have to determine what you are looking for and then look for it. If you don’t have a test that identifies a particular substance, like human growth hormone, then you’re not going to find it. Seems obvious, right? So MLB started with one of the narrowest test panels in sports and surprise, surprise, a lot of guys never tested positive. That’s because they had already moved on to newer, better substances that were not being tested for (or that a test hadn’t been developed for).

So it’s facetious to say, as A-Rod has, I’m innocent because I’ve never had a positive test result. Neither did Lance Armstrong, and look how that turned out. I’m still putting Neosporin on my wounds from staunchly defending him forever… And I for one believe that the cheaters are ahead of the curve on developing new things that improve their performance. Testing will never be able to catch every substance that athletes are using to improve their performance.

So we have to ask ourselves, do we really care? Well, of course we do, if we want to believe that the integrity of the game requires that everyone is on an even playing field. But, I also believe that baseball for one has a long history of guys trying everything under the sun to improve their performance. Tony Bosch is right about one thing – look what we’re asking these guys to do for up to 6 months a year. The travel, the hotels, the heat, the humidity, and all we’ve done to support the athletes is increase the number of games in the season and lengthen the post-season with TV-friendly schedules. I couldn’t perform at my physical peak for 162 games spread over the current baseball season; I don’t believe anyone can. So they turn to outside influencers to improve their peaks, or to numb the pain. Alcohol has been widely used in the past; several athletes admitted to using rhino horn and everything else to help them perform better. There’s always been a split between baseball players who stayed clean and players who tried something to keep the edge longer. That’s not going to change.

Pat

So I just have say that they have been playing either 154 or 162 games through six months for 120 years. Yes, I agree players have been trying to find a competitive edge to make them better. If it breaks the rules it’s cheating. As usual we have to discourage cheating. There are millions of Americans who have grueling schedules all year long and work for a fraction of what a major league baseball players makes. If he breaks the rules, he gets fired. So if science and the cheaters will always be ahead of the MLB testing system, then we have to make the penalty stronger. Break the league drug policy once you are out two years. Twice, out for life.  We’ll see how many try to beat the system then.

Go Crazy, folks, Go Crazy

Pat

It’s getting better all the time! So I’m watching Denver vs. San Diego and so far so good. I am now three for three and well ahead in the fourth! After my one and three debacle last week, I am starting to feel vindicated. The best news for me is that we have the the two top teams in the NFC West in the conference final. I’ve said all year that the NFC West division was the best division in football, and I think this proves it. I also think the division will be even better next year. I also said I just could not go against Bill and Tom in the playoffs and New England goes to the Conference championship again.

And now it is final and the Denver Broncos  make me a perfect four and nothing for the week. Manning against Brady to go to the Superbowl. Both of the Conference Championship games should be excellent games. I’m going to go ahead and pick one road team and one home team.  San Francisco 24, Seattle 17.  Denver 31, New England 24.  Should be a great Superbowl!

Masha

What a great group of games this weekend! My picks were not as stellar as Mr. Sports, but I do agree the best teams advanced – no real surprises in these games. I love that all of the games were well-played and exciting; let’s hope for an exciting Superbowl too! Superbowls can be a bit underwhelming on the game side…

We live in an area that supports one of the advancing teams, and the fans were already bat-crap crazy before the game this weekend. I can’t imagine what this week is going to bring in terms of craziness for the city. Businesses are already decked out in team colors, downtown buildings lit at night with team logos and colors, flags waving proudly on many vehicles, and of course the mandatory team colors worn by everyone out and about. What else could possibly happen to show even more team support?

There is one other little thing happening we’re watching – the 2014 Australian Open. Early rounds can be interesting in Melbourne because the weather is always a test and seeds seem to drop like crazy in this first grand slam. Venus Williams did well in the pre-Open tournaments, so it will be fun to watch her buzz-saw through some seeds that are assuming she still feels poorly.

Oh, and one last shot at the MLB investigation of A-Rod, now playing out on 60 minutes. Too bad we don’t have Mike Wallace doing the hard-hitting interview with Tony Bosch – he’s got lots of motivation to slam A-Rod if MLB gives him immunity. I’m not an A-Rod supporter by any means, but trial by media is becoming a concern for any public figure.

And does anybody really believe that taking down A-Rod polishes Bud Selig’s tarnished legacy? Pluh-lez…

 

Saints/Seahawks and Colts/Pats – woo boy

Pat

Well, the first game of the second round of the NFL playoffs is over and I am one for one.  Maybe I will do better picking winners this week. The Seahawks vs the Saints was freaking ugly. I realize the weather was terrible, but the Seahawks had many chances to put the game away in the first half and they never did it. The Seahawks’ Offense looks out of sync. In the second to last game of the season, the Cardinals turned the ball over four times and the Seahawks were only able to score ten points. This Seahawks team does not look as ominous as they once did. If I were the NFC teams playing in tomorrow’s game, I would feel really good about my chances in a Conference Championship game. I will comment on the other three games in my next blog.

Here’s something to think about. Mrs. Sport and I love to make bets this time of year on what may and may not happen in sports this year. Here’s two we have already bet on.

1.  Will Roger Federer win a grand slam event this year?

2.  Will Tiger Wood win a major this Year?  What do you think?

Masha

There’s a old joke from the time when Bear Bryant died and told often by a close friend of mine. A man asks God why the Tide ran a certain play and the punchline is God saying “I don’t know. Bear, why’d we run right?” Mr. Sports and I use this punchline now for all those times when you’ve made a pick or a decision and it turns out to be ill-advised and stupid. Let me just take a moment to say “Bear, why’d I pick the Colts?”

So far the playoff games have gone totally according to the expected outcomes. I don’t know why I persist in believing that somehow Tom Brady won’t pull it out in the end. Andrew Luck will be an amazing QB in the future, but against Mr. Brady, the dye was cast. I allowed last week’s amazing win over the Chiefs to persuade me that the Colts had turned things around. Watch out next year, because Ridley is going to join Edelman in the most amazingly resilient offense in the NFL.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Sports answers to the above questions were 1 – Yes, and 2 – Yes. The more cynical in me says 1 – No, and 2 – No.

 

Playoffs worth coming home for?

Our location during the playoffs.

Our location during the playoffs.

Pat

So I picked the Bengals, Chiefs, Eagles and 49ers! One out of four is bad! That’s what I love about the NFL playoffs – you never know what will happen.  I can’t do much commentary on the games; we were out of the country, in paradise (see attached photo). So we did not get to see much football. The bad news is, we missed the first round of the playoffs. The good news is, we were in paradise! So, back to the playoffs. One of the few parallels between baseball and football is if you can just get into the playoffs, you have a legitimate shot at the big prize.  The Chargers just slid in the playoffs on the last day of the season. They are now in the second round and have played the Broncos and Peyton really tough. The Broncos got their heart broken last year after a first round bye loss to the Ravens. It is set up to happen again against the Chargers this year. But, I don’t think it will happen again; I think the Broncos will pull this one off. Broncos 42, Chargers 30. In the other AFC game, how can you ever pick against New England in the playoffs? I can’t, Brady will lead the Patriots to a 35-20 victory over the up and down Indianapolis Colts. In the NFC, I’ve got the 49ers winning on the road against the Cam Newton lead Panthers, 31-28. Should be a great game! Lastly, I have the Seattle Seahawks beating New Orleans at home again in another rout 40-20. Well, let’s see if I do better in this round.

This would provide great match-ups for the Conference Championships,  Seattle vs San Francisco and Denver vs  New England.

Masha

So excited for Sunday’s games – I know there is a question as to whether the Chargers should even be in the playoffs because of the missed call in the final game (which we also missed… anyone?). The NFL obviously decided to dismiss the guy’s suit and to carry on with the playoffs, so the Chargers are in. The Chargers had the Broncos number in the last regular season game, but the playoffs are a totally different mentality. Peyton can taste that Super Bowl ring and is going to have what’s left of the Broncos defense up to face Mr. Rivers, while he leads the offense to some mile-high magic. I think the score will be closer, with less scoring, Broncos 27-24.

Pagano says he’s got Brady’s number and Luck sounds like he’s figured out how to exercise his name, so I’m picking the Colts to beat the Patriots, 24-21. Now all the Colts have to do is actually play the way they obviously can, as opposed to playing the way they have too often this season. It also provides a much better post-game coach interview – more than Belichick’s 3 word answers.

Seahawks totally stop the Saints, in a rout, 33-14. ‘Nuff said, Who Dat nation.

Of course, I’m picking the 49ers, but I have to say that I’m worried. Cam Newton is fulfilling his destiny and I’m always afraid of the team of destiny. That team isn’t always the best team, but they are the luckiest. I believe that the Colts are the team of destiny this year but that’s based on oddly-written articles we read in French Polynesia about last week’s games. This could be Cam’s year, but I’m unfolding my 9ers t-shirt and holding out for Colin to run the ball like crazy and win the game, 27-21.

So much happened while we were gone, Black Monday, college bowl games, national championship game and now the hiring frenzy begins. More to come tomorrow on Australian Open, once the seedings are out this afternoon and we can see what’s happening in Sydney.