Monthly Archives: January 2019

Cooperstown 2019…

The Baseball Hall of Fame is due to announce their latest inductees on Tuesday so the Blowhard will lay his “vote” out here as well.

So it probably has been plenty clear that I am a “Small Hall” guy if you’ve ever read my Cooperstown posts.  Jack Morris and Alan Trammell recently got in through the veteran’s vote.  This year?  Harold Baines and Lee Smith.  WHAT???!!!

I have to admit, this kind of disgusts me.  None of those guys are Hall of Famers.  None.  Yet there will be more who will get in on Tuesday, and beyond, that have no business being in Cooperstown.

So now that these 4 guys are in, who is next?  Well, all the steroid guys should be in anyway.  The elite ones for sure.  Rafael Palmeiro with his 500 plus dingers and 3,000 plus hits?  I’d be on the fence about him, but he has to be automatic now.  Mark McGwire?  A third of his hits were homers, and that is nice.  But no Hall of Famer.  But he has to go in now also.  Dale Murphy, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Don Mattingly, Dwight Evans, Jamie Moyer?  WHERE DOES IT STOP?!

Done venting.  But hopefully, you can see how ridiculous this is becoming.

This year, there are 35 names on the official ballot.  Per usual, I added one write-in of my own.

Elected:

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez-We say it every year, these guys are complete arseclowns.  Huge steroid guys.  But also indisputably Hall of Famers.  It may finally be here for the first two.  But they all should be in now.

Mariano Rivera-I know, saves can be kind of a bogus stat.  But when you are pretty much THE BEST at that position over the course of your career and likely in history, you kind of have to recognize that.

Pete Rose-Here’s my write-in again.  He’s showing up more and more now on telecasts and the like.  Colossal dirtbag of course.  But definitely a Hall of Famer.  He WILL get in someday.  But not until he’s been long dead, I can promise you that.

Fantastic careers, but falling a smidge short:

Roy Halladay-8 time All-Star, 7 time Top 5 in the Cy Young voting.  Certainly a stretch of dominance in the middle of his career.  My guess is he gets in.  But I’m not there on him.

Pretty damn good careers, but we can’t induct everyone:

Curt Schilling-Think he will get in eventually too.  But again, not for me.  Not because of his mouth or politics or tweets or any of that stuff.  But because there were too many career ups and downs for my liking.  Despite any postseason heroics.  By the way, there are 16 pitchers in Major League Baseball history that have struck out 3,000 or more batters.  14 are in the Hall.  Clemens is 15.  Schill is 16.  When C.C. Sabathia strikes out 14 guys next season he will be 17.  You can make a case for all 16 currently.  C.C.?  Ugh.  This may change down the road anyway because guys strike out all the time now.  But up until now, it may kind of show that Schill actually belongs in the Hall?

Edgar Martinez-As a DH only for the bulk of his career, the numbers have to be waaaaaay more extravagant for me to put him in.  Like say…David Ortiz-like.  And they aren’t quite that.  But Cooperstown will welcome him in real life on Tuesday.

Mike Mussina-Good pitcher for a long time.  He won 20 games in his final year.  Funny thing is, if he stuck around for maybe 3 more years and won 30 more games, the 300 wins and 3,000 K’s (ended 187 shy) would have put him in automatically.  He may well get in Tuesday as well.

Fred McGriff-The Crime Dog was a solid player pretty much from beginning to end.  But that does not make you a Hall of Famer.

Jeff Kent-His position of 2B helps him here.  But he can probably thank the SF years of batting cleanup behind Bonds for keeping him on the ballot every year.

Larry Walker-Colorado effect.  I don’t know why he keeps getting the support.  Why no love for Vinny Castilla, Dante Bichette or Andres Galarraga?  His numbers weren’t even as good as Baines’.

Gary Sheffield-I never really didn’t think too hard with him.  There’s usually a reason a great talent bounces around and plays on 8 teams.  Didn’t we all see it coming when he came up with Milwaukee as a youngster, they asked him to play third base, he didn’t like it, and as a result fired balls into the stands on purpose?

Billy Wagner-I liked Wagner better than Trevor Hoffman.  But Hoffs pitched in almost 200 more games.  If Wags stuck around for a couple more years, would he have gotten Hoffman-type support?  It’s possible.  But he’s still not in the Hall.

Sammy Sosa-Same story, different year.  609 homers are nice.  But almost half of them (292) came in a 5 year stretch…of an 18-year career.  His .878 career OPS doesn’t even compare to Jim Thome or Vladimir Guerrero, who got in last year.  Nor do many of his other career totals.

Scott Rolen-Numbers were worse than I remembered and didn’t do a whole ton after age-31.  Rookie of the Year award, 7 All-Star Games and 8 Gold Gloves I suppose gets one some love.  The .158 average in 16 games (over 5 series) in the NLDS can’t possibly help though.  The rest of the postseason numbers don’t stick out either.  Nice player, no Hall though.

Andruw Jones-If Andruw retired after his age-29 season in 2006, he may have had a decent shot at the Hall.  As funny as that sounds.  Based on both his offensive and defensive prowess.  He didn’t, however, and sunk his chances with a pretty disastrous final 6 seasons.  “Disastrous” may actually be being kind.  Jones hit 92 homers in those 6 years, but did little else, but apparently stop doing ‘roids and get fat.  And I think stop caring, but I don’t know if I can prove that.  Anyway, no.

Omar Vizquel-Omar is going to get some serious love because “well, Ozzie Smith is in and Luis Aparicio is in and Vizquel’s numbers are comparable/better…”  And sure, he deserves consideration.  Absolutely a defensive whiz at shortstop, who got better offensively as his career progressed.  He may even get in someday, perhaps by the same group who let in all these other non-Hall of Famers.  But I’m not buying in.  Here is another one though, that if he got to 3,000 hits, he may be in automatically.  He fell 123 short.  That he got even that close is due in part to the fact that he played until he was 75 years old.  Ok, slight exaggeration there, but Omar is just another decent player that is not a Hall of Famer.

Todd Helton-Colorado.  No.

Andy Pettitte-3.85 ERA and 1.351 WHIP for his career.  256 wins, but always seemingly on good teams.  We can call him Jack Morris if you want.  You know what that means…

Are these guys seriously on a Hall of Fame ballot?:

Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Miguel Tejada, Placido Polanco, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Lowe, Freddy Garcia, Vernon Wells, Ted Lilly, Travis Hafner, Michael Young, Jason Bay, Jon Garland, Darren Oliver, Juan Pierre, Rick Ankiel-I’m out of words…

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Conference Championships…

…so the top two seeds in each conference will be playing in their respective championship games.  What a novel idea!  Let’s dive right in…

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans (-3.5)

Both teams spent the better part of the 2018 season scoring a ton of points, but also giving up their fair share of points to boot.  Both had a few hiccups toward the end of the regular season.  Both are currently 14-3.  Seems to be a lot of similarities, no?

Both QB’s, Drew Brees of the Saints and Jared Goff of the Rams, didn’t exactly light it up down the stretch either.  Brees had good numbers last week, but if Alshon Jeffery didn’t let that pass go through his hands, there was a very real possibility that we aren’t even talking about New Orleans today.  Goff didn’t seem to do much last week against the Dallas Cowboys, but he really didn’t need to, since the team ran for like 600 yards.

The Saints handed the Rams their first loss back in Week 9, 45-35.  So what happens this week?  Welp, the point totals seem about right for one thing.

I’m not sure C.J. Anderson is going to continue to run as wild as he has been since he surfaced with the Rams.  But he might since he hasn’t played much this year overall.  Todd Gurley is Todd Gurley.  And of course, the Rams are plenty explosive in the passing game.  I know, so are the Saints.

Does having Aqib Talib in this game turn the tide for the Rams?  Well, he’s only one guy.  And LA spent a ton on top defensive players the last offseason yet still gave up plenty of scores all year long.  But having Talib available shouldn’t hurt them, I guess I can say that much.

I really don’t have any riveting analysis of this game, to be quite truthful.  It should be fun to watch.  Indoors, plenty of big plays.  And all that.  My gut is telling me the road team wins this though.

Los Angeles Rams 34, New Orleans 31.  

New England at Kansas City (-3.5)

Another rematch in this one, as the Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in Foxborough back in Week 6.  And KC had Kareem Hunt back then.  But the Pats also had Kenjon Barner too.  So that evens it out.

All kidding aside, the Chiefs still have plenty of weapons without Hunt.  And more importantly, will be playing at home.  Thanks to the Patriots not being able to tackle on a final kickoff against Miami.  But we don’t need to revisit that now.  As Bill would say, “it is what it is”.

That “minor” detail though?  HUGE.  Arrowhead is a tough place to play.  For anyone, but also historically for the Patriots, no matter what kind of season it was for them.

I was surprised to see that Travis Kelce only had 61 yards in that Week 6 game.  The Pats have a lot of trouble covering tight ends.  That number could (should?) spike this week.  Hunt had over 100 yards receiving in that game, so there will probably be more targets for Kelce anyway.

Wouldn’t shock me if the Pats blanketed (or tried to) Kelce and Tyreek Hill and maybe even force them to run the ball with Spencer Ware and Damien Williams more, while also maybe sprinkling in a few Patrick Mahomes scrambles.  I really don’t know what the hell NE is going to do…that KC offense scares the bejesus out of me…especially against a very average Patriot defense.

KC’s D?  Not so great really.  But getting Eric Berry back and having Justin Houston available in this one when he didn’t play in the first game won’t hurt them.  They have some dudes that can get to the quarterback.  Sure, Tom Brady can get the ball out quick.  But still…

The weather?  Pffffft.  Don’t see much effect.  If original forecasts of single digits held true, I may have given the Pats a little bit of an edge there.  But the mid-20s and no wind?  Business as usual.

Wildcards?  Two that I can see.  One, how will Mahomes play in a game that means something?  He cruised through the regular season.  Then the Indianapolis Colts were so bad last week, that game pretty much didn’t count.  Now?  We will see.  I’m guessing he is fine.  But you never know.

Second wild card?  Andy Reid.  Yup.  There is a track record.  Inevitably, he will exhibit poor clock management.  That is a given.  But what else will happen?  Maybe this is the year he overcomes that though.

I suppose there is a third wild card:  the Patriots doing the whole “no one believes in us” nonsense.  All of that is completely silly.  But they’ve been known to use lesser things as motivation.

End result?  I hope I’m wrong.  But that stupid Miami kickoff return basically will play a big part in ending the Patriot season.  Arrowhead will be too much to overcome.  But the fact is, the Chiefs simply have the better team, as much as it pains me to say it.

Kansas City 31, New England 27.  

Week (against the spread):  2-2

Week (straight up):  4-0

Season (against the spread):  145-119

Season (straight up):  169-95

Divisional Round…

Not a banner Wild Card week, though I will say if Seattle fails on their last two-point conversion, then the Blowhard picks that score exactly…and covers.  Although if Sebastian Janikowski is available, they probably kick the point there…though we still cover.

I know, who cares?

In any event, seems like we have a pretty good slate coming up this weekend.  Looking at the point spreads, however, it appears that Vegas doesn’t seem to think so.  And we know Vegas has a pretty good idea on what they are doing.

Another interesting note:  When is the last time the New England Patriots had the lowest spread among the teams participating in a playoff weekend?  Is this accurate?  Perhaps.  But again…that’s why they play the games.

Indianapolis at Kansas City (-5.5)

There are a lot of people out there that think the Colts are going to win this game.  All of a sudden Indy is the “best team in the AFC”?  Huh?!  The Colts are on a nice run, no question.  But let’s not get carried away, please.  I’ll point back to their schedule and mention once again that it wasn’t exactly a Murderer’s Row they played down the stretch.  Sorry to beat a dead horse here.  Not to mention the fact that they should have walloped the Texans last week.  Yeah, I guess they kind of did beat them pretty good.  But they probably should have won more like 42-7 instead of the 21-7 they did win by in the end…especially the way they started.

The Chiefs went 3-3 down the stretch, coach Andy Reid’s postseason struggles are well-documented, their defense stinks and will yet again be without Eric Berry, not to mention Kareem Hunt thankfully ain’t walking through that door.  But KC is at home and had a week off.  Indy has that stud Darius Leonard on defense, but how good really is that D?  They shut down Houston?  Yippee!!  I’m not buying into the hype.  Though of course, I will be rooting for Indy, cuz if the Colts and Patriots win, the AFC Championship will once again go through Foxborough.  Just not seeing it though.

Kansas City 38, Indianapolis 27.

Dallas at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5) 

Like the Chiefs, the Rams sputtered a bit at the end, going 2-2 to end the season.  And like the Colts, we feel like the Cowboys are getting waaaaaaay too much love out there.  Kind of feel the same way about this game as I do Chiefs/Colts.  This version of the Rams doesn’t necessarily have any kind of (good) playoff track record.  But they’ve had a week off, are at home and probably are in a better situation health-wise…especially with Todd Gurley supposedly ready to go full speed.  Looks like most of the injured Cowboys will suit up, but we will see how much some of them can give.  A big game from Ezekiel Elliott would keep the potent Rams offense off the field and go a long way to giving the ‘Boys a chance.  Not out of the question.  But that being said, the Rams can score quickly…and often, so a big game from Zeke may not really matter.  That’s pretty much the way I’m leaning.

Los Angeles Rams 31, Dallas 20.  

Los Angeles Chargers at New England (-4.5)

Tough road for the Chargers this postseason.  Finishing tied for the best record in the AFC, but losing the AFC West division tiebreaker to the Chiefs, dropping them to the #5 seed.  Then they have to travel cross country to Baltimore in Round 1.  Then once again traveling cross country to New England for Round 2.  LA won in the Wild Card round, can they win in the Divisional Round?  Absolutely!  Are we picking them?  You’ll see.

The Chargers took a 23-3 lead last week in Baltimore with about 9 minutes left in the game when they then inexplicably let the Ravens back in the game.  To the point where Baltimore had the ball close to midfield with less than a minute left.  With at least a little bit of a chance to go ahead as the clock approached zero.  The Ravens ran for less than 100 yards in the game after going the last half of the season seemingly averaging double that.  Lamar Jackson was HISTORICALLY BAD.  Seemed like a good opportunity for John Harbaugh to (reluctantly) go back to playoff-tested Joe Flacco and he declined.  Sure, the Chargers got conservative.  But this was a second AFC Wild Card game that should have never been in doubt after the way it started.

We’ve been through it all year, that the Patriots are not the juggernaut this year that they have been for years.  But take the repeated cross country travel above.  The Patriots being at home, and being undefeated this year.  (Yes, I know the Chargers are 8-1 on the road.  Impressive, no doubt.  But this is Gillette, in January, in the playoffs.  Different animal).  Weather?  Perhaps.  A warm weather team coming into the cold.  Could have some effect.

Ultimately, I believe it will be a close game.  LA sacked a mobile Lamar Jackson seven times last week.  So how many times can they get an immobile Tom Brady?  Yeah, Brady will be more prepared than Lamar to combat that pass rush so he won’t get sacked nearly as much.  BUT, he sure as hell will probably be pressured just as much.  If Julian Edelman doesn’t have butterfingers, perhaps the real Gronk shows up and maybe someone like Phillip Dorsett has a career game so the Pats can put some points on the board and make that pressure irrelevant.  More than likely though, the Patriots try to run the ball…and maybe even too much.  I suppose that would cut down on the sacks anyway.

Here’s what I’m thinking…it wouldn’t be surprising if it came down to the Chargers kicker, Michael Badgley.  It’s been no secret that LA has had their share of issues with their kicking game in recent years.  They think Badgley has been a pretty good solution.  He’s been good.  But remember that Sunday Night game against the Steelers about a month ago?  Didn’t he miss a 39 yarder with no time left?  Then a Steelers penalty gave him another chance.  Then a missed 34 yarder followed.  Then…another Steeler penalty.  He did hit the 29 yarder to win it…but that’s quite a route.

What is he going to do if it comes down to a kick like that?  In Gillette?  In the playoffs?

My guess?  Two words:  Billy Cundiff.

New England 23, Los Angeles Chargers 21.  

Philadelphia at New Orleans (-8.5)

I’m extremely hesitant to pick against Nick Foles these days.  Isn’t everyone?  Yeah, yeah, yeah, if Cody Parkey could hit a kick, we wouldn’t even be talking about Foles this week.  But he’s here and we need to talk about it.  Even though Foles threw a couple of bad picks last week, he also brought them down for the go-ahead score with less than a minute left in regulation.

So does this “Saint Nick” magic mean that the Eagles have a chance this week in New Orleans?  Well, sure.  But even though the Eagles have won 6 of their last 7 and seem to be on a similar run like last year which led to a Super Bowl, I believe this is where it comes to an end.  You know what game was right before the 6 of 7 run?  A 48-7 loss to these same Saints in the same place where they will play on Sunday.  Of course, the Eagles are not the same team now as they were at that point in the year.  But New Orleans was 13-3 this season…13-2 if you don’t count the last game of the year in which they mailed things in.  In a recurring theme, they are at home and have had a week off.  Drew Brees should be a little refreshed.  The game won’t be as ugly as the mid-season one.  But I suppose there is a chance it could be.

New Orleans 34, Philadelphia 17.  

Week (against the spread):  1-3

Week (straight up):  2-2

Season (against the spread):  143-117

Season (straight up):  165-95

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