Archive | November 2013

2013 American League Award Winners

By Dan Lagnado

Gold Gloves

C-Salvador Perez KC (1st win)

1B-Eric Holmes KC (1st win)

2B-Dustin Pedroia BOS (3rd win)-Winner Wilson Defensive Player of the Year

3B-Manny Machado BAL (1st win)-Winner Rawlings Platinum Glove Award

SS-J.J. Hardy BAL (2nd win)

LF-Alex Gordon KC (3rd win)

CF-Adam Jones BAL (2nd win)

RF-Shane Victorino BOS (4th win)

P-R.A. Dickey TOR (1st win)

Silver Sluggers

C-Joe Mauer-MIN (5th win)

1B-Chris Davis-BAL (1st win)

2B-Robinson Cano-NYY (5th win)

3B-Miguel Cabrera-DET (2nd win)

SS-J.J. Hardy-BAL (1st win)

OF-Mike Trout-LAA (2nd win)

OF-Adam Jones-BAL (1st win)

OF-Torii Hunter-DET (2nd win)

DH-David Ortiz-BOS (6th win)

Comeback Player of the Year

Mariano Rivera-RP-NYY

Mariano Rivera had his number retired to mark the end of an illustrious career (Via AP)

Mariano Rivera had his number retired to mark the end of an illustrious career (Via AP)

The Sandman adds to his hall of fame career. Coming into the 2013 season we weren’t even sure if we would see Rivera at all. Coming off of knee surgery at age 43, some people thought he would retire in 2012. Others felt that even if he did come back he wouldn’t be the same old Mariano. They couldn’t have been more wrong. In his final season, Rivera posted 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA, both better than his career averages. Mariano, much like a fine wine, just gets better with age. Of course we will not be seeing Rivera closing games for the Yankees anymore. However, he left us all with the message that if you want to succeed enough, age is just a number and injury just a minor speed bump in life’s successes. There really was no other option for this award.

Rookie of the Year

Wil Myers-OF-TB

There was always a lot of hype around Wil Myers. However, when the Tampa Bay Rays acquired him in a trade for their ace pitcher, the pressure mounted significantly. Myers only played for just over half a season, but boy did he make an impact. Myers led all rookies in doubles (23), extra-base hits (36), OPS (.831) and RBI (53). In addition to that Myers added 13 homeruns, and a .293 batting average. He helped to lead the Rays to a playoff birth where they would lose to the Red Sox in the ALDS. And he’s only going to get better as his career goes on. Myers is actually the third Rays player to win the award in six years, following the footsteps of Evan Longoria and Jeremy Hellickson. Look for Myers to develop into a top-level outfielder.

Manager of the Year

Terry Francona-CLE

Let me take you back to two seasons ago. The Red Sox had just gone through one of the worst late season collapses of recent memory. There was a potential scandal looming with the rumors of beer and chicken wings in the clubhouse. Francona was basically run out of Boston by an angry mob. After a year in the studio, Francona decided it was time to return to the dugout. The Cleveland Indians were coming off a season where they finished 26 games under .500 and 20 games behind the division winning Tigers and 25 games out of the Wild Card. They were certainly a team in need of a fresh start and a new face. Francona had won two World Series titles in Boston and the Indians upper management felt that this experience with winning teams could take them into October. The Indians won 92 games this season, claiming the top Wild Card spot and only barely missed winning their division. The 24 win turnaround tied a franchise record. This turnaround was sparked by Francona’s appeal and ability to recruit free agents and find players that he thought would provide a good trade value. This was a hotly contested award between Francona and his old pitching coach and Red Sox manager, John Farrell but in the end the voters deemed Francona the more worthy recipient. (It is worth noting that voting takes place before the playoffs. Whether that had an impact on the results we can never know.)

Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer-SP-DET

The second Tigers’ pitcher to win the award in three seasons, Scherzer earned 28 out of 30 first place votes. It’s pretty hard to argue with this decision. Scherzer won his first 13 decisions before taking a loss and ended the season at 21-3 (only 8-3 in those last 11 decisions. Must have got in a slump). He was the only pitcher to reach the 20-win plateau this season. His ERA was 2.90, which is an impressive number for any pitcher in any given season (considering that 3 or less runs in 6+ innings is a “quality start”). He was also the only starter in the MLB to allow less than a base runner per inning (.97 WHIP). He also had 240 strikeouts, for a rate of 11.078 per nine innings and an average of 6.22 hits per nine innings. In addition ,Scherzer led the AL in wins above replacement at 6.2, which would have made a huge difference in the playoff race. Scherzer was no doubt the best pitcher in the AL this year and at only 28 years old, look for him to continue to climb in the rankings over the next few years.

MVP Award

Miguel Cabrera-3B-DET

And now for the debate that has neither end nor answer: Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera. This is now the second year in a row that Cabrera has beat out Trout for this award. It’s a question of offensive prowess vs. five-tool player. The answer however, does get clearer, at least for this season, if you look closer at the season. Cabrera led the MLB in batting average and broke his personal record by hitting .348, 18 points higher from his historic triple crown last season. He hit the same 44 homeruns as in 2012, and would have led the league in that category as well had it not been for the emergence of Chris Davis. He had 2 less RBI than last season but still put up the ridiculous amount of 137. He also led in OBP (.442) and slugging percentage (.636). And he did it all while injured. Cabrera had been suffering from multiple injuries dating all the way back to June. The most serious of these was a groin injury that required surgery this offseason. Had he not been injured, it’s very possible we could have been talking about a second straight triple crown. That is an argument that is just about impossible to look past. It’s true that Trout has the advantage in defense, stolen bases, extra-base hits and some of the new sabermetrics that analysts and scouts like to look at. However, many people consider the success of the team as a whole an important factor in MVP voting and in that aspect the Tigers were much better than the Angels. Looking at all of these factors it is clear that Cabrera deserved to win, and with a greater margin than his victory last year. And he’s only 30. Cabrera will be giving pitchers nightmares for many more years to come.

______________________________________________________________

Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

2013 National League Award Winners

By Ben Ozur

One of the most underrated times of the sports year- the MLB offseason. All of the blockbuster trades and huge names signing with new teams as free agents, wow. It’s also fun to discuss and debate different awards that players won or should have won. I don’t think we’ll see as many angry discrepancies this year as we did last year with the AL MVP race, but it’s still been a fun ride. Today, I will be reminding you who won each of the major awards in the National League. For each of the awards (with the exception of the first 2, because there are just too many winners for me to defend or fight each one), I will explain who I believe should have won and why. I only disagree with one, but I will still explain the reasoning behind each.

Gold Gloves [position- player (team) (# award)]

P- Adam Wainwright (STL) (2)

C- Yadier Molina (STL) (6)

1B- Paul Goldschmidt (Ari) (1)

2B- Brandon Phillips (Cin) (4)

3B- Nolan Arenado (Col) (1)

SS- Andrelton Simmons (Atl) (1) *also won Rawlings Platinum Glove

LF- Carlos Gonzalez (Col) (3)

CF- Carlos Gomez (Mil) (1)

RF- Gerardo Parra (Ari) (2) *also Wilson Defensive Player of the Year

Silver Sluggers [position- player (team) (# award)]

P- Zach Greinke (LAD) (1)

C- Yadier Molina (STL) (1)

1B- Paul Goldschmidt (Ari) (1)

2B- Matt Carpenter (STL) (1)

3B- Pedro Alvarez (Pit) (1)

SS- Ian Desmond (Wsh) (2)

OF- Andrew McCutchen (Pit) (2)

OF- Michael Cuddyer (Col) (1)

OF- Jay Bruce (Cin) (2)

Andrew McCutchen took home a Silver Slugger Award and the NL MVP (Via SI)

Andrew McCutchen took home a Silver Slugger Award and the NL MVP (Via SI)

Comeback Player of the Year

Who won: Francisco Liriano (Pit)

My pick: Liriano

Hard to have a better individual story than Liriano. Coming up with the Twins as a co-ace with Johan Santana, Liriano showed great poise. Throughout his Minnesota tenure, he was seen as one of the top pitchers in the AL, including a 2011 no-hitter against the White Sox. Then came 2012, and Liriano just looked lost. He got demoted to the bullpen and eventually was traded to those same White Sox. His ERA for the year sat above 5, and when the Pirates signed him as a free agent, everyone questioned what they were thinking. What they were thinking was that he could return to his early Twins form, and he did just that. You’d be hard-pressed to argue against Liriano for this award.

Rookie of the Year

Who won: Jose Fernandez (Mia)

My pick: Fernandez

I get it; Yasiel Puig was a national sensation since his call-up in early June. His numbers suggested he could’ve been an All-Star, despite only having one month of big league experience (I completely disagree with this belief, but that argument is for a different time). Pretty much any other year and Puig would be the hands-down ROY. But not this year. Shelby Miller was also an excellent story, winning the 5th spot in the rotation on the last day of Spring Training over best friend Joe Kelly. What people will always remember about his season was his game against the Rockies, when, after giving off a single to lead off the game, he retired the next 27 consecutive batters. He may also be remembered for only pitching one inning in the entire postseason as a way to make it seem like he wasn’t actually shut down when he really was. If he was in the American League, he’d definitely win this award. But neither of these two finalists stood a chance against Jose Fernandez. Had it not been for a guy named Kershaw, he’d probably win the Cy Young award too. Like Miller, he won the last spot in the rotation at the end of spring training, and only because of injuries in the rotation to Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi. He only pitched above A-ball in 2012, but you couldn’t tell by watching him this season. With a 5.79 H/9 ratio to lead the MLB, an elite 9.7 K/9, and the second lowest ERA in the majors at 2.19, it can clearly be seen that, this wasn’t just one of the best rookie seasons of all-time, this was one of the best pitched season in many years (well, of course, besides Kershaw’s year this year). If anybody saw him at the All-Star game this year, there wasn’t a pitcher that made you say “wow” like the way everyone did for Fernandez. His stuff was absolutely electric, like it was all year. And, oh by the way, his 1.19 home EAR ain’t too shabby either. And keep this in perspective: the only 2 players younger than Fernandez to make their MLB debut with the Marlins – Miguel Cabrera and Mike (at the time) Stanton. Either of those guys sound familiar?

Manager of the Year

Who won: Clint Hurdle (Pit)

My pick: Hurdle

The Pirates were the most fun team to follow this year. After 21 consecutive losing seasons, a North American professional sports record, and after not making any huge offseason moves (with the exception of acquiring Mark Melancon from Boston in the Joel Hanrahan trade), the Pirates were again expected to settle towards the bottom of the NL Central. A team that starts and ends with Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates were seen as a one-man team to begin the season. Clint Hurdle turned this team’s attitude around. He made each of the other 24 guys on that team feel as important as the runner-runner-up for the NL MVP in 2013. They all stepped up, and the Pirates were a huge success. They finished in 2nd place in the division, earning the first Wild Card spot. They beat the Reds in the Wild Card game and took the eventual NL Champion Cardinals to the maximum 5 games of the NLDS. This team had all of the fight in the world, and Clint Hurdle deserves much of that credit. Fredi Gonzalez and Don Mattingly were worthy finalists for the award, but neither could possibly be seen as a more deserving winner for this award than the Pirates’ skipper.

Cy Young

Who won: Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

My pick: Kershaw

Dare I even make an argument about this one? Saying that anyone but Kershaw is deserving of the award is like voluntarily running into a cage of hungry tigers; you’d be incredibly stupid to do so. He was the only pitcher with an ERA under 2 (at 1.83). That’s not a typo, either. He also led the NL with 232 strikeouts and the MLB with a .915 WHIP. Having this discussion is just silly, really. It seems that the only person who wouldn’t agree with this is the only writer who didn’t give him a first-place vote. (Ironically enough, he gave that vote to Adam Wainwright. This guy is the writer for the Cincinnati Reds.)

MVP

Who won: Andrew McCutchen (Pit)

My pick: Paul Goldschmidt (Ari)

Just to start off: the one argument I don’t want to hear about who is a more deserving MVP is whoever has the highest WAR. If the player with the highest WAR in the league is the MVP, then Ben Zobrist would be a two-time AL MVP. Yes, Ben Zobrist. And Carlos Gomez would be the NL MVP this year. I don’t think anyone would agree with either of those statements (sorry, Rays and Brewers fans).

This is a nice debate. This wasn’t a runaway contest by any stretch of the imagination – or at least it shouldn’t have been. It’s not outrageous that Goldschmidt didn’t win it, but I think he was easily the most deserving candidate. What was outrageous, however, was that he didn’t even receive a single first-place vote! He led the NL in HRs, RBIs, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, total bases, OPS, OPS+, and intentional walks. He was also 4th in the NL in hits, on-base percentage and plate appearances, 3rd in walks, tied for 3rd in runs scored, and 2nd in runs created and AB/HR. He was also one of only 4 players in the MLB to earn both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger (Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Yadier Molina). And let’s put the argument that only playoff-bound players are eligible for this award. He cannot affect what his team could do. (By the way, if you want to make the argument that he can affect his offense, the Diamondbacks actually scored 51 more runs than the Pirates. The Pirates’ pitching is the only reason they made it to the playoffs.) Paul Goldschmidt is at the top or very close to it in so many offensive categories that it is nearly impossible to say that he wasn’t a better offensive player that McCutchen. He also won a Gold Glove, unlike McCutchen, so his defense was actually better, too. Yadier Molina also had a phenomenal season, but he didn’t play enough games to get much of my consideration. When you put it all together, it should be clear that Goldschmidt should’ve won the award, and maybe even ran away with it.

______________________________________________________________

Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Thursday Night Football Preview: Colts vs Titans

By Matthew Wieselthier

It took a while, but we finally have a seriously important Thursday Night Football Game.  This week, the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) visit the Tennessee Titans (4-5) in a crucial AFC South matchup.

Since beating the previously undefeated Denver Broncos in Week 7, the Colts haven’t looked the same, escaping Houston with a comeback win versus the Texans in Week 9 and getting demolished at home by the St. Louis Rams.  The Colts look to expand the running game with Trent Richardson and Donald Brown, but in the end this team relies on their QB, Andrew Luck.  Luck has been sacked 7 times in the past two games and has been running for his life all season with his pocket collapsing.  He has also had a great deal of issues since losing his favorite WR Reggie Wayne to a season-ending ACL injury.

Andrew Luck leads his troops into Tennessee for a Thursday night matchup (Via AP)

Andrew Luck leads his troops into Tennessee for a Thursday night matchup (Via AP)

The Titans are right on the outside of the playoff picture in the AFC at the moment.  Their big issue has been the health of their quarterback.  A 3-1 start to the season with QB Jake Locker is just a thing of the past.  Locker has been on and off the bench with injuries and his replacement, former Bills starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, has not been a suitable replacement.  The team does have one offensive thing to be happy with, and that comes in the revival of their star RB Chris Johnson, who has started to come back to life this season.

Both teams are in need for a win.  The Titans to stay in the AFC Wild Card Race and the Colts to raise their confidence back up since their upset of the Broncos.  The Colts will leave the Volunteer State with a victory in this AFC South matchup, 27-17.

______________________________________________________________

Matthew Wieselthier is the Sports Director at WPOB 88.5 FM, Plainview.  He is also the PA announcer at all sporting events at POBJFKHS.  You can follow him on twitter at @wieselsports66.

Ed Reed to the Jets

By Brett Malamud

Yes, you read that correctly. Nine-time pro-bowler safety Ed Reed agreed to a contract Thursday morning with the New York Football Jets. The move comes one day after Reed cleared waivers, after being released by the Houston Texans. The 35 year old will reunite with his former coach, Rex Ryan, who was with him in Baltimore. Ryan has always praised Reed in the past, calling him “the best safety that’s ever played.”

Ed Reed meets with the media Thursday afternoon. (Via Kimberly Martin/Newsday)

Ed Reed meets with the media Thursday afternoon. (Via Kimberly Martin/Newsday)

The Jets are currently 5-4 and are coming off their bye week. At the moment, the Jets hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. They will play the 3-7 Buffalo Bills on Sunday and Reed will be available to play. The following week should be interesting, as the Jets will head into M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to play the Ravens. In what should make for a good storyline, Ed Reed will play his second career game against his former team. Reed will play alongside Jets safeties Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry (another ex-Raven), although it is not clear who will be the starters. The addition for Gang Green should definitely help though as the J-E-T-S continue their playoff chase.

Was signing Reed a good move for the Jets? Let us know in the poll and in the comments.

______________________________________________________________

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

We’ve Only Just Begun: Recapping the Tip-Off Marathon and The Champions Classic

By Jared Bursky

The twenty-four hour ESPN College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon has concluded. College basketball is officially back. If you tuned in at any point during the marathon, you would think it is in midseason form. Four of the top five teams played, four matchups featured two ranked teams facing one another; new rules, a ridiculous freshman class, and great coaches…what else is their to say? This could have been a great week; we got it in one day. Don’t go anywhere now because March will be here before you know it.

The “Other Games”

No, the two games at The Champions Classic were not the only games being played Tuesday. Yes, the other games mattered. While all eyes were on Chicago, a great slate of matchups helped kick off the college basketball season early Tuesday morning. For some, it is never too early to start building a case for Selection Sunday. Here were some of the key scores:

BYU 112 – Stanford 103: The two started off the marathon with a shootout, as BYU was able to outlast Stanford with hot shooting down the stretch. BYU will look to challenge Gonzaga as the new team in the WCC.

#16 Wichita State 66 – Western Kentucky 49: The Shockers shocked everybody by making it to the Final Four this year. This team will be a force again as they pulled away from WKU in the second half.

Quinnipiac 67 – La Salle 73: La Salle was able to battle back and defeat Quinnipiac after dropping their season opener. After an improbable run to the Elite 8 last year, La Salle will try to repeat their March success after losing just one player from last year’s team.

LSU 90 – Massachusetts 92: A close game throughout, UMass was able to edge out a win against LSU with good free throw shooting and 24 points from their leader Chaz Williams.

West Virginia 82 – Virginia Tech 87: An odd game. WVU jumped out to a big lead in the first half but Va. Tech responded with a 34-9 run that put them in the lead for good. Freshman Ben Emelogu is a name to keep an eye on for VT.

South Carolina 74 – #23 Baylor 76: Baylor somehow pulled out a victory while not scoring in the last seven minutes. Sharpshooter Brady Heslip led the Bears with 18 points as they held on against Frank Martin’s Gamecocks.

NC State 57 – Cincinnati 68: Both of these teams were ranked consistently throughout the 2012-2013 season but both seem to be in a little bit of a rebuilding mode. Cincinnati was able to pull away because of its leader Sean Kilpatrick.

Ranked Matchups

#14 VCU 59 – #25 Virginia 56: A close game throughout came down to the final seconds. VCU’s Treveon Graham nailed a three with just over a second left to secure a victory against a game Virginia team led by Joe Harris (18 points).

#11 Florida 53 – #20 Wisconsin 59: A classic Badger grinder. Bo Ryan preaches defense and his Badgers were able to control the tempo. Keeping games in the 50s bodes well for Wisconsin, who was led by Ben Brust.

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM “THE OTHER GAMES

  1. Wichita State is an awesome college basketball environment, and they are still a very good team
  2. Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams is an unknown stud (24 points vs. LSU)
  3. Baylor may not be as good as we thought.
  4. NC State may struggle in the ACC this year
  5. VCU is tough and knows how to win (10-1 run to finish the game at #20 Virginia)
  6. Wisconsin will always be Wisconsin, a hard-nosed, tough and rugged team.

The Champions Classic

68 NBA representatives attended the two games in Chicago. Four of the top five teams in the country, the top three freshmen in the country, WOW. It is safe to say that The Champions Classic did not disappoint.

Game 1: #2 Michigan State 78 – #1 Kentucky 74

It was experience against youth, and experience won. Kentucky started four freshmen and a sophomore while MSU countered with two seniors, a junior, and two sophomores. Michigan State came out firing, jumping out to quick 10-0 lead. The Spartans dominated the first half from start to finish, leading 44-32 at the break. Kentucky’s star freshman Julius Randle was held to 4 points on 1 of 5 from the field while MSU’s Gary Harris and Adreian Payne combined for 27 points on 10 of 14 from the field. The Spartans were out and running early and often and their defense was smothering. Kentucky seemed out of sorts on both ends. The second half was a different story. Payne got in early foul trouble for the Spartans, which allowed Randle to get loose. Randle had a monster second half and finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Kentucky’s confidence began to grow and it carried over to the defensive end. Michigan State became stagnant on the offensive end as Kentucky battled back, finally tying the game at 66 before the Spartans took the lead back for good. Branden Dawson’s tip in with about 5 seconds left sealed the deal for Michigan State.

Branden Dawson’s alley oop (Via @gifdsports)

Branden Dawson’s alley oop (Via @gifdsports)

KEYS

In my game preview I said that Michigan State had to take care of the ball and Kentucky must rebound. Oddly, both did an outstanding job, respectively. Michigan State only turned it over seven times while Kentucky coughed it up 17 times. However, Kentucky shockingly outrebounded MSU 44-32. Something had to give. The 17 turnovers by Kentucky were the difference. They often turned into fast break points for the Spartans, especially in the first half. Transition defense was a clear weakness of the Wildcats.

TURNING POINT

UK clawed back into the game and finally broke even at 66. However, Michigan State answered as Denzel Valentine found Keith Appling for an open three in the corner. Gary Harris stole the ensuing inbounds pass and hit a driving layup to reclaim a five-point lead for the Spartans.

KEY PERFORMANCES

MSU: Keith Appling (PG) 22 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds.

UK: Julius Randle (F) 27 points 13 rebounds, 1 assist

WHAT WE LEARNED

MSU

  1. Michigan State is the best team in the country as of November 13th.
  2. Gary Harris is not just the top candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year; he is one of the best players in the country. He is a solidified NBA Lottery pick.
  3. Michigan State goes as the transformed and improved Keith Appling goes.
  4. This team has as good of shot as anyone to make the Final Four.

UK

  1. Kentucky is again inexperienced, but they are tough. This team will be just fine and will only get better.
  2. Julius Randle is undoubtedly the best player and leader for Kentucky. Simply put, he is a beast.
  3. Kentucky’s strength is attacking the rim; they are not a great three point shooting team (4 for 20 from distance).
  4. Final Four good without a doubt, if they start playing a “more together” type game, the sky is the limit.

Game 2: Kansas 94 – Duke 83

Do not let the final score fool you. This was a close game throughout. It was back and forth with the two exchanging leads constantly. It was once again a battle of experience and youth. Duke’s starters included a senior, a junior, a third year sophomore (via transfer), a true sophomore and a freshman. Bill Self played seven freshmen in his rotation Tuesday. An even game throughout, neither team established a clear edge early. One thing that was a constant was the execution of Kansas. We saw many instances of Bill Self’s greatness as a coach last night, first with a beautifully designed backdoor out of bounds play for Andrew Wiggins. Speaking of Wiggins, he only played nine minutes in the first half. While Kansas executed, Jabari Parker took on the role of assassin for Duke. Parker was the lifeline for Blue Devils. He did everything. Defensively he was active, he was hitting from deep, and making acrobatic finishes at the rim. The second half featured the same back and forth action until finally Kansas made its move at the end. Wiggins who finished with 22 (16 in the second half) made crucial plays down the stretch including a step back jumper and a dunk in transition, which fouled Jabari Parker out of the game. Kansas also received breakout performances from big man Perry Ellis (24 points and 9 rebounds) and Wayne Selden Jr. (15 points). Kansas outrebounded Duke 39-24, as Parker’s 27 points and 9 rebounds were not enough.

KEYS 

Kansas received many contributions from many different players in a winning effort Tuesday. Wiggins did not disappoint with 22 points, but the “other guys” were a huge reason why Kansas played so well. Perry Ellis and Wayne Seldon Jr. helped lead the charge for KU and Frank Mason and Naadir Tharpe helped pace the Jayhawk backcourt. On the other hand, Duke did not defend Kansas too well. Kansas’ execution often beat Duke’s defensive pressure. I was particularly impressed with the Jayhawk guards and their ability to get the ball into the paint, whether by entry or dribble drive.

Perry Ellis put up 24 points against Duke (Via USA Today Sports)

Perry Ellis put up 24 points against Duke (Via USA Today Sports)

TURNING POINT

Not a tough one here. Andrew Wiggins put the Jayhawks in front for good in the last five minutes with multiple plays on both ends. His step back jumper and transition dunk put Duke away for good.

KEY PERFORMANCES

Kansas: Perry Ellis (PF) 24 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals

Duke: Jabari Parker (F) 27 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals

WHAT WE LEARNED

DUKE

  1. Jabari Parker can do it all; Duke will rely on him heavily all season long. He is special, period.
  2. Duke will need better contributions from their bigs going forward. Kansas outrebounded them 39-24 and Perry Ellis dominated them in the paint.
  3. Duke has perhaps the most scoring depth of anyone in the country. Parker, Hood, Thornton, Sulaimon, Cook, etc. These guys can fill it up.
  4. Duke is still a candidate to make the Final Four, but there are some concerns as of now with rebounding and defense. Expect them to improve in both areas. 

KU

  1. Bill Self is a great coach. Okay we didn’t just learn this, but I was shocked at the execution of Kansas. Coach Self had his boys ready to play.
  2. Kansas, although young, will be just fine. Their freshman, Wiggins, Selden and Frank Mason in particular, were very poised.
  3. Perry Ellis is becoming a star. He was named to the All-Tournament team last April and he is picking up where he left off. When he plays like this, KU will be a tough out.
  4. Kansas is once again a Final Four contender, and should win the Big 12 for a 10th consecutive season.

Final Thoughts

The quality of play we saw over the course of the twenty-four hour marathon was impressive. There are so many good teams with so much talent. This should be an exciting and iconic year in college basketball.

______________________________________________________________

Jared Bursky is a freshman Physical Education major at SUNY Cortland. He was a Captain and starter for his high school basketball team and is pursuing coaching basketball at either the high school or college level. He roots for the Isles, Yanks, Jets, and Knicks but his favorite sport to watch is college basketball. You can follow him on twitter at @jbhoops10

Who Dat: Fantasy Football Week 11

By Sam Breiter

Quarterbacks:

Scott Tolzien (GB)– The quarterbacks in Green Bay are dropping like flies. Rodgers is out up to six weeks, and Seneca Wallace is done for the season. All the Packers have left is Tolzien, and they are running out of options except to use him. With strong receivers, Tolzien will put up some good fantasy numbers as long as he can stay away from throwing it to the other team. He has already proven that he can throw for a lot of yards, but his accuracy is questionable.

Week 10 Stats – 280 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT, 12 PTS

Scott Tolzien is now the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers due to Aaron Rodgers' injury (Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Scott Tolzien is now the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers due to Aaron Rodgers’ injury (Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Running backs:

Andre Ellington (Ari)- Rashard Menenhall clearly isn’t what he use to be during his prime in Pittsburgh. Ellington not only demolished the Atlanta defense in week 8, but after coming off a bye, he still put up five yards per carry against a tough team in Houston. Clearly the Cardinals wanted him involved in some college-like plays, as they ran the wildcat with him a couple of times during Sundays game. Expect Ellington, to put up mind-boggling numbers against a terrible Jaguars defense in week 11.

Week 11 Stats-11 ATT, 55 RUSH YDS, 6 PTS

Andre Brown (NYG)- So another Andre, and his name isn’t Johnson, you’re kidding me right? But this is Who Dat isn’t it? Andre Brown. That name may sound a little familiar if you think back to last year. Wasn’t he that guy who had a couple of unbelievable games last year for the Giants? What happened to him? Injury happened, and in 2013, he had no role for the Giants until last week. This undrafted quick, and powerful runner had his season debut in week 10, and he had himself a week. The Giants haven’t had anyone involved in the run game that they could trust in 2013.  David Wilson, Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hills, and Da’Rel Scott all had chance this year and they didn’t come through. In his first week, Brown almost got more fantasy points then the rest of the guys had all season. If Brown can stay healthy, the Giants are going to want to get this kid involved as much as possible, especially with the surprise that they are still in contention.

Week 9 Stats- 30 ATT, 115 RUSH YDS, 1 TD, 17 PTS

Wide Receivers:

Jermaine Kearse (Sea)- With Sidney Rice out, Kearse has stepped into the third receiver role. Tate, and Baldwin have seen tight coverage, and aren’t elite receivers, so Kearse has proven to be a big red zone threat. Yes, Percy Harvin will be returning, but don’t expect until at least week 13 that he will be playing his normal routine. Kearse is a valuable asset to any team for the next two weeks, and maybe if he proves to be a productive receiver, for the rest of the season.

Week 10 Stats- 3 REC, 75 YDS, 1 TD, 13 PTS

Griff Whalen (Ind)- I don’t recommend Whalen for your standard 10-man league, but rather the 16-20 man leagues. With Reggie Wayne out, Whalen has slipped himself right into the Colts receiving game. He is partnered with his old Stanford teammate in Andrew Luck, so that will only help his cause. Additionally, even though he may not be a run and gun receiver like what many saw out of Tavon Austin last week, he is consistent and comes out with some nice plays. He is due for a touchdown this year, and don’t be surprised if he is the open man against a tough Titans defense in week 11.

Week 10 Stats- 3 REC, 36 YDS, 3 PTS

Tight Ends:

Rob Housler (Ari)- Due to injuries, Housler didn’t have a great start to the season. Yet, now this tough tight end is healthy and ready to blossom. Ever since week seven he has been red hot, and definitely will not slow down against the Jaguars this coming week. Housler has already proven to be a tough tight end to cover, even against tough defenses like Seattle and Houston.

Week 10 Stats- 4 REC, 57 YDS, 1 TD, 11 PTS

______________________________________________________________

Sam Breiter is a high school senior at Plainview- Old Bethpage JFK High School. Sam is looking to major in sports management, with a minor in communications next year.  He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite teams are the Mets, Giants, and Knicks. You can follow him on twitter at @baseballbreiter

Texas Rangers Offseason Report

By Josh Halilej

After winning the American League West and making the World Series in back to back years (2010-11), the Texas Rangers have been in a period of regression these past two seasons due to an increase in competition with the emergence of Billy Beane’s not-so-underdog Oakland A’s, and the massive spending from the Angels. In 2012, the Rangers managed to stay afloat with a wild card worthy 93-69 record, but they lost their grip of the top of the division to Oakland, who bested them by one game. While this one game may not seem like a big deal, the Rangers were forced to play the first ever one game wild card playoff against the Baltimore Orioles, where they lost 5 to 1. Ron Washington and company vowed to come back next year with a vengeance, and after some offseason moves like trading away Michael Young, they seemed fine, until star player Josh Hamilton abandoned ship to go take his talents to the city of Angels. This season, the Rangers tried to cope with the loss of Hamilton who was their offensive rock, but ultimately could not make the playoffs with a record of 91-72. Someone could look at the loss of Hamilton and assume that the Rangers’ problem was largely offensive-related, but with stellar performances from Adrian Beltre and pre-suspension Nelson Cruz, in addition to receiving Alex Rios from the White Sox, I would have to disagree. Their problems lie within the pitching staff.

The Problem:

Pitching wins ballgames. It’s that simple. A solid rotation that can go out on to the baseball diamond with a different threat every game will wear out opponents in a series and make it that much easier to achieve baseball immortality. Having only two pitchers register more than 20 starts (Derek Holland and Yu Darvish) is not going to strike fear into opponents’ eyes. Aside from Darvish (who put up ridiculous strike out numbers this season with 277Ks in 209 innings pitched) and Holland, three of the next four pitchers who had the most starts on the team were eligible rookies. No disrespect to them, but consistency is key in a pitching rotation because you want to have the same guys out there that you had all year to rely on in situations where the team needs it most. That being said, the Rangers definitely need to address pitching this offseason.

The Rangers need more than Yu Darvish in the rotation (Via Star Tribune)

The Rangers need more than Yu Darvish in the rotation (Via Star Tribune)

The Solution:

I suggest that the Rangers don’t have to go after some of the ‘bigger’ names in the pitching market this year, but maybe make some trades with the wealth of young talent they have and add consistent veterans to the rotation. I think Scott Feldman, a Ranger from 2005-2012, could potentially be a good fix on the cheaper side because he gave a solid 30 starts to the Orioles/Cubs this year with an ERA at a respectable 3.86. On the pricier side, there is Ricky Nolasco, whose 199.2 innings last year and 33 starts for both the Marlins and Dodgers make him the #7 ranked free agent this season according to ESPN. Possible trades that the Rangers could approach almost always include trading either highly touted prospect, Jurickson Profar or starting Shortstop Elvis Andrus. However, they have been in talks with the St. Louis Cardinals about a possible trade involving Cardinals rookie sensation Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveres or Matt Adams for either Profar of Andrus.

The Verdict:

I think that the moves that would give the Texas Rangers the best possible chance to succeed would be performing the trade with St. Louis, making a play for free agent centerfielder Chris Young to fill in the vacancy of Nelson Cruz, and signing Ricky Nolasco to a 4 year, 42 million dollar deal. Maybe with that, the Rangers will make a playoff push and possibly make a title run like they did in 2010 and 2011.

______________________________________________________________

Josh Halilej is a die hard fan of both the Jets and the Mets, and is an avid fantasy sports player. He participates in leagues for baseball, basketball and football. You can follow him on twitter at @Mrmet2323

Moments Of The Week: Week 10

By Brett Malamud and Jake Rosenstein

This week in football was pretty memorable and there were a few key moments that stood out in our minds. Here’s a look at some of those moments:

CurryDestroysTolzienHugsUmpire-1

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry made this tackle and thanked the referee for not throwing the flag

andrejohnson

Andre Johnson made a sick catch for a touchdown.

nickfarley

Nick Fairley made a game winning stop and did a little dance to celebrate.

deshawnDeSean Jackson opened up the scoring with a 55 yard bomb from Nick Foles.

tay66

Tavon Austin returned a punt for the 98 yard touchdown, in what would be the first of three touchdowns for him.

the big guy

Offensive Tackle Donald Penn caught a touchdown and slammed it home as the Buccaneers headed towards their first win of the season.

ajgreenAnd finally, our moment of the week. AJ Green caught the game tying touchdown with no time remaining on a hail mary.

______________________________________________________________

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Phillies sign Marlon Byrd… but why?

By Ryan Gillman

According to multiple reports, the Philadelphia Phillies have signed outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year deal worth a total of $16 million, with an $8 million vesting option for a third year (the option vests if Byrd has either 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 550 plate appearances in 2015 and a total of 1100 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015). Byrd had the best season of his career last year, posting a .291 average, 24 homeruns, and 88 RBI with the Mets and the Pirates. This was a huge comeback from Byrd’s miserable 2012 season, in which he was mired by injury, overall poor play, and a 50-game PED suspension. The Phillies are desperately in need of some outfield help, as their outfielders collectively posted a -1.6 WAR last season, dead last in the MLB. While the Phillies do need to improve their outfield, the Byrd signing makes no sense whatsoever.

 

Marlon Byrd goes back to where he began, and signs with the Phillies (Via Phillies Nation)

Marlon Byrd goes back to where he began, and signs with the Phillies (Via Phillies Nation)

The time for the Phillies to spend is most certainly not now. At nearly $160 million, the Phillies payroll was the third largest in the MLB, behind only the Yankees and the Dodgers. Yet, the Phillies were still terrible; they finished 73-89, the 8th worst record in the MLB. The year prior, they finished at exactly .500, which was a huge disappointment given their lofty payroll and high-profile players. Clearly, the Phillies are moving in the wrong direction. Signing a 36-year-old outfielder who’s good, but not exactly a superstar isn’t going to change any of that. With already over $120 million committed to their payroll next year (and that’s not even including arbitration and renewable contracts), it just doesn’t make any sense for the Phillies to commit $8 million to an aging outfielder with an inconsistent track record.

Beyond the payroll, the Phillies roster is not set to compete any time soon. Their best player, Chase Utley, will be 35 next season and has had some injury problems of late, with his 131 games played in 2013 being the most he’s played since 2009. Jimmy Rollins will also be 35 and, quite frankly, is not that good anymore.  Their best pitcher, Cliff Lee, is still spectacular, but at age 35, it is unknown how much longer he will be able to keep it up. They have no real group of young talent, save for Domonic Brown and Cole Hamels, who at 27 and 30, respectively, can’t be considered “young” for much longer.

It is clear that the Phillies need to rebuild, but apparently general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. didn’t get the memo. Instead of decreasing the Phillies’ payroll, Amaro is adding to it in the form of a 36-year-old outfielder who is far from a guarantee to repeat his success from last season.

______________________________________________________________

Ryan Gillman is a native Long Islander. He is a long-suffering Mets, Jets, Islanders, and Knicks fan. You can follow him on twitter at @ryangillman

A Knick Fan’s Lament

By Nick Guy

So there I was back in February of 2011, screaming to anyone who would listen, please do not give up the house for Carmelo Anthony. We had chips, lots of chips, and to trade some of them for a super scorer who did not make his teammates better would only serve three purposes. First, it would create a team that would win 45 to 50 games per year. Second, that team would never get past the second round of the playoffs and that was if they even got that far. Third, it would fool the masses and sell lots of tickets.

Let’s look back at what happened on February 22nd of 2011. We did indeed make that trade that concerned me and acquired Carmelo Anthony. The town was abuzz. Tickets were hot. I was disgusted. We knew Denver needed to make the move so we played hard to get, right? No, not the Knicks. Instead of having our experienced GM and team president Donnie Walsh do the negotiating, our team owner Jim Dolan took over the negotiating and he did not give up SOME of our chips. Instead, he gave up ALL the chips we had amassed. Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov, Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, 2012 & 2013 2nd round picks, a 2014 1st round pick, the option to switch 2016 1st round picks and of course the obligatory 3 million bucks. Eleven assets in all. But we didn’t just get Melo. No, we were also able to snag Chauncey Billups and his 15 million dollar salary and four other spare parts who would be gone within a year. And of course we would lose our potential amnesty provision with this deal, as we needed to use it on Billups. And as a byproduct, it also cost us our team president in Walsh because who could blame him for not wanting to work with Dolan and his personal advisors.

That brings me to the next question. Where are we now and what can we do to win a championship? Well its simple really. Trade Carmelo Anthony or bring in a guy above him!!  I agree with all of you who will tell me that Melo is a great player and one of the ten best players in the league. I could see him winning a couple of scoring titles in the next few years. He will NOT win a championship as the lead dog. You can look it up. Bernard King, Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Alex English are just a few. Scoring forwards who hog the ball do not win NBA titles. They never have and they never will. They need to play second fiddle to a player who makes their teammates better. Melo, for all his greatness, does not make his teammates better. Great centers and great guard play win. Scoring forwards just score. The Knicks had a golden opportunity and missed it. Would they be better today with Chris Paul or Deron Williams and Dwight Howard? Could a scorer be added to that combo? Maybe even Melo? Now we’re talking. Knick ownerships shortsighted view cost us as Knick fans. If the Melo trade was not made we could have used the amnesty on Amare instead of Billups and brought in three guys the same way the Miami Heat did. Our three guys ended up being Melo, Amare and Tyson. Where’s the guy to run the game? WOW….

Carmelo won't lead the Knicks to a championship if he's in charge, whether you like it or not. (Via Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

Carmelo won’t lead the Knicks to a championship if he’s in charge, whether you like it or not. (Via Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

And so in conclusion, what do we do? Start over! My only qualifications as a GM are that I’ve been a Knick fan and a basketball guy forever. Does it make me an expert? No, but if I knew not to make the Melo deal, it makes me more competent than the guys running the Knicks. So, here’s my stab at it. Trade Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline. Send Melo to the Lakers in a three team deal but they must take Amare too. What I want in return is simple. I want Pau Gasol and his expiring 19 million, a good young roster player that the Lakers would need to acquire elsewhere and two first round picks. I want their 2014 pick because they probably won’t make the playoffs in a very strong draft year and I want their 2016 to replace ours that’s been traded away. Why would the Lakers do it? Kobe is a lead guy! Nash is a lead guy! Melo will score 30 a night in LA and they will win with Kobe and Nash running the show. Amare can even chip in for the year that’s left on his deal. When Kobe comes back fully recovered for 2014-2015, showtime will sell tickets, be relevant and win alot, which will make Jim Buss a happy guy.

As for the Knicks, it gives us a mulligan to build a championship contender. With a few additional veteran departures in trade, we clear out the cap and add draft picks and young potential cornerstones. Free agents over the next couple of years will include some big time players that we could add. Flush with draft picks and loaded with cap space is the way to go. Getting to the first or second round of the playoffs is not acceptable. I want to feel what its like to win it all! Will the Knick fans or ownership stand for rebuilding again? No way! But if we want to celebrate a Knicks championship in the next ten years there really is only one viable option. I know it won’t happen, but a guy can dream can’t he?