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Alex Cora…

…so I feel like I should comment on the whole cheating scandal going on in Major League Baseball.  Not only because it involves the Boston Red Sox.  But also because the New England Patriots have been known to ummmmm…push the envelope a time or three as well.  So I guess it is in the water here.  Or it’s prevalent around all leagues.  Either way…

The punishment has not come out against the Red Sox as of yet, so I am not really sure how I feel about them in particular.  Though the punishment has been levied against the Houston Astros already, they still seem to be the focus of the public somehow.  I’ll take that.

There is nothing really to write about the actual Red Sox team either.  Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has spent the offseason basically exchanging bum/unproven relievers for…bum/unproven relievers.  And NOT cutting payroll, as he was apparently “mandated” to do.  He also got rid of some AAAA infielders and signed a backup catcher.  So there’s that.  Oh, and now he has to find a manager.  Seems pretty productive thus far, right?

So instead of wasting any words on Sam Travis, Bobby Poyner, Jeffrey Springs or Matt Hall, here are some completely random thoughts on the cheating coming out of my head, in no particular order.  And I am not even guaranteeing they will make any sense either:

*As written in an ESPN article, “Cora is described by commissioner Rob Manfred as being “involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.””

YIKES!!

Yeah, based on that, I can’t say I am surprised by the Sox firing him…oops, I mean, “agreed with Alex to mutually part ways…”  Sorry about that.

But what penalty can Cora expect?  Based on the year that former Astro manager A.J. Hinch received, is there a chance Cora gets banned for life?  Is it worse than what Pete Rose did to get him banned for life?

I may be the wrong guy to ask about Rose.  Truly an abhorrable (abhorrent?) individual, he bet on his own team while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.  He may have not been the only one doing it, but he was dumb enough to get caught.  And, not to mention, dumb enough to do it in the first place.  Some may point out that he may have been showing confidence in his own team that day.  But he also likely tanked other days to assure the team was at its best the day he threw money down on them.  Or something like that.  In any event, despite being a colossal scumbag, Rose should be in the Hall of Fame as a player.  Since he would be far from the only scumbag in the Hall.

But I digress.  As for Cora…I don’t even know the answer.  It would seem kind of obvious that he would get more than Hinch.  But life?

I can’t go there unless I hear more damning evidence against him.  Perhaps that comes when the Red Sox investigation is complete.

*What does MLB do from here?  I mean, video is everywhere.  Some dude can take video from the 6th row and get valuable information, can’t he?  The Astro dude that was standing in plain view and recording in games against the Red Sox, Indians and who knows who else…was that even necessary?

I know the teams have some sort of video rooms in the back and all.  But even if they were eliminated, would that make a difference?

I’ve actually been wondering for years how on an NFL telecast in any year someone like Tony Romo, Troy Aikman or Cris Collinsworth say stuff early on like, “when we spoke to the quarterback and coaches on Friday, they told us they were going to do (this) to (combat the other team)”.  I mean, no one listens to the telecast and communicates that to the opposing sideline?  Yeah, it isn’t the whole game plan.  And maybe what was said was kind of obvious.  But still…

Video and recording devices are all around us.  How do you stop it?  I don’t know.  And I am not sure MLB does either.

*What about player suspensions?  Will we see any of those?

My guess is no.  For several reasons.  Are any of the reports going to single out any of the players?  Are there really any players that took advantage more than others?  Did some players frown upon it, but had no choice to go along with the plan due to pressure from their teammates/coaches (reports are that Hinch didn’t love what was going on and broke two monitors at some point.  But ultimately did nothing to stop it, so of course he is paying the price),

And above all, how can you suspend 25-40 players?

Perhaps heavy manager/GM penalties may discourage players from engaging in this practice going forward.  But can we count on that?

*And if they are going after General Managers, why not the owners?  I guess the draft picks and the 5 mil takes care of that part.

However, Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner faced some personal penalties years ago.  So who is to say the owners shouldn’t pay some sort of personal price here as well?

We know for these guys 5 mil is pocket change.

More questions than answers, I know.  But MLB is undoubtedly in the same spot.

And one thing is for sure, cheating is never going away…in any sport.

If it’s not video, it’s Apple watches, it’s performance enhancing drugs, it’s deflating footballs, or it’s something else.  And then something new will inevitably come along.

Sign stealing has been happening for years, in fact.  We all know that.  It’s just a little more high tech now.

So as the world becomes more complicated, busy and distracting…good luck to every sport for figuring all THAT out…

Week Eleven…

…welp (Keo!!!), we cannot start talking about Week Eleven of the NFL season without referencing that ugly scene in Cleveland on Thursday Night.

Unless you live in a cave, by now you certainly have heard that Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett wound up and smashed Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet.  This after Garrett was twisting Rudolph’s head by his face mask a bunch of different ways before tearing the helmet off completely.

Now, yeah, Rudolph “started it”, by trying to rip Garrett’s helmet off after Garrett took him down after a pass attempt.  Apparently, Rudolph was also ummmmmm…making sure Garrett spoke in a high voice for at least a short period of time. when they both eventually got up from that particular part of the play.

That’s a lot of what I have been hearing anyway.

But wait…didn’t Garrett really “start it”, by hauling Rudolph down somewhat forcefully even though the Steelers QB had already long released the pass?  That’s how I saw it.  But not hearing a bunch of that since games end.

Either way, both of these guys were in the wrong.  Just so happens that one of the guys was waaaaaaay more in the wrong than the other.

Now, I have no idea what was said during any of this.  But does it matter?

The game was essentially over and Garrett was a little aggressive on the initial takedown.  And if Rudolph took exception to that, can we blame him?

No…but he probably shouldn’t have “taken it to the next level”, so to speak.  That being said, Garrett shouldn’t have taken it a million levels further right after that.

Football is a violent game.  But what happened was a little over the top, for sure.

Garrett has already been suspended indefinitely by the league…for at least the rest of the season (including playoffs…as if the Browns are getting there.  But I guess it has to be said…in case a miracle happens and they do make it).  Kudos to the NFL for acting swiftly.  And one doesn’t hear the words “kudos to the NFL…” quite often.

If it were me, I’d also take him out for half a season next year.  Set some sort of huge precedent.

I know, some of the “real” criminals in the NFL have gotten lesser suspensions.  “Real” meaning, “done some serious stuff in real life off the field”.

But this one could have been catastrophic if the helmet hit Rudolph in the right place.  The NFL cannot control all of its players off of the field.  But sending a message here could hopefully help them control some things better on the field.

Then again, I’d take some of the more egregious criminals out of the league for life.  Like the domestic violence offenders for one.  A handful of others as well…drug dealers, weapons distributors, etc…but not someone who likes to smoke a little weed, that is.  But I digress…

Plus, though the popular narrative is that after the game, Garrett sounded contrite and all…I don’t know…not from what I saw.  He SAID all the right things.  But I wouldn’t say the way he carried himself during the interview showed a whole lot of contrition.  That’s my feeling anyway.

And whither Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers center who was last seen kicking Garrett in the helmet while Garrett laid on the ground?

Pouncey got suspended for 3 games, but I don’t believe enough has been made of this.  It’s ok to protect and support your quarterback.  But when is it ok to start kicking people in the head…even if the helmet was still on Garretts’ head?  I suppose we should also question what Pouncey was thinking when he initially tried to rain down haymakers…into a facemask…but we will leave that one alone.

In any event, I’d have tossed him for the season too.

Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi got one game for pushing Rudolph down for no real reason…seems about right.

But maybe Rudolph deserves a game too?

Worth talking about anyway.

As for criminal charges, threatened by Rudolph’s agent yesterday?  On one hand, if that happened on the street, there would absolutely be legal action.

But if they start doing that on the field of play?  What kind of can of worms will that then open?

I mean, most of us laughed almost a decade ago, where in the NHL, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara checked Montreal Canadien Max Pacioretty into a stanchion, resulting in a season ending injury for Pacioretty.  Well, we didn’t laugh at that specific play.  We laughed when there was a big uproar in Montreal, and Montreal law enforcement “took a look at it” and considered filing charges against Big Z.  Even though Chara was never suspended by the NHL.

No charges were filed, but we all thought the talk about that was kind of ridiculous.

I suppose that since that was a check and not something like someone waving a hockey stick around looking for blood makes it a different story.  And swinging a helmet around looking for blood may actually be that “different story”.

Just think about it though, the courts getting involved in stuff like that…stuff that happens on the field.  If it has happened somewhere at some point in the past, I am not sure I know about it.  So if it has, my bad.

But if it hasn’t, it’s not really something we all want.  To bring the justice system inside the playing field.  Speaking of “taking things to the next level”.  Not necessarily a good thing.  When boxers kill someone in the ring, they don’t go to jail, do they?  Ok, maybe not apples and oranges here, because boxers are SUPPOSED to be fighting.  But I think you get my point.

In any event, this situation was an eye-opener.  And hopefully, it actually did open some eyes.  Players past and present are saying the right things anyway.  That doesn’t hurt.

Let’s just hope those feelings last.

As for the rest of the games, short and sweet after that elongated opening:

Dallas (-3.5) at Detroit

I still don’t love the Cowboys.  But we are looking at Jeff Driskel instead of Matthew Stafford again this week.

Dallas 31, Detroit 13.  

Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-2.5)

Jacoby Brissett will be back, but so will Nick Foles.  Indy is still heading in the wrong direction.

Jacksonville 21, Indianapolis 17.  

Atlanta at Carolina (-5.5)

I’m not buying into any Falcon resurgence, despite the big win against New Orleans last week.

Carolina 27, Atlanta 21.

Buffalo (-5.5) at Miami

Look out for the Dolphins!!  Kind of…

Buffalo 23, Miami 20.  

Denver at Minnesota (-10.5)

Let down for the Vikes this week?  Broncos off a bye too.  But I don’t think so.

Minnesota 31, Denver 17.  

New York Jets at Washington (-1.5) 

Snooze.

Washington 17, New York Jets 13.  

Houston at Baltimore (-4.5) 

Texans off a bye, can they slow this Raven train down a bit?  Just a hunch.

Houston 34, Baltimore 31.  

New Orleans (-5.5) at Tampa Bay

Two weeks in a row for the Saints?  I doubt it.

New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 31.  

Arizona at San Francisco (-13.5)

The Niners’ schedule gets significantly tougher in the second half of the season.  Maybe not yet, but this one could be close as well.

San Francisco 27, Arizona 24.

New England (-3.5) at Philadelphia

Super Bowl rematch?  Seriously??  I love it when things are marketed like this.  Actually, this time hasn’t been as bad as what usually happens.  Either way, the Eagles will be missing some key guys.  The Pats are off a bye and likely have been stewing about their first loss that happened right before it.  The doubters have been starting to come out.  The Pats usually respond to that.

New England 31, Philadelphia 17.  

Cincinnati at Oakland (-10.5)

The Raiders are a double-digit favorite??!  Ummmm, yup, against the Bengals they are.  Isn’t every team a double-digit favorite against the Bengals?

Oakland 27, Cincinnati 13.  Lock of the week.  (Raiders the lock??  Scary!!)

Chicago at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)

The Bears have been muddling along all season.  But so haven’t the Rams.  Your guess is as good as mine here.

Los Angeles Rams 24, Chicago 23.  

Kansas City (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers

Not looking at much defense here.

Kansas City 38, San Diego 34.  

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-5  

Season (against the spread):  75-74

Season (straight up):  97-52

New England Patriots Roster Projection

It’s that time of year again…well, actually, I am a little late.  The first preseason game is tonight.  I guess I was just a little preoccupied with the Boston Red Sox’ collapse.  In any event, let’s dive right in:

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham

In:  Brian Hoyer

Out:  Danny Etling (WR??!)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Some reports in camp have suggested Stidham is has outplayed Hoyer and that could make Hoyer expendable.  While outplaying Hoyer may not be that difficult, I am not ready to push him off the roster quite yet…despite the silly 3 mil cap hit.  Etling all of a sudden is a wide receiver I guess.  So much for him making much noise.  And please, no more about Brady’s contract…or him selling his house in MA.  As much as we all love him, he SHOULD be year to year.  Going into next season he will be 43 years old for Chrissakes.  Despite how he has seemed to defy Father Time, one never knows when the end will come.  He has said it himself, he is in uncharted territory.  I’d love to have him as long as he is…well…Tom Brady.  But how much longer will that be?

RB (5):

Locks:  Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, James Develin (FB)

In:  Rex Burkhead

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson (FB)

Comments:  Have a funny feeling Rex is a little bit on the bubble here.  I like the guy when he is healthy.  A lot actually.  But sometimes that is a big “if”.  And 4 pure running backs sometimes can be a bit steep.  Especially when there are other question marks on the roster.  But, in the end, Michel can be a bit of a question mark with regard to injury as well.  And Harris is still unproven.  So I am not sure Rex is in any real danger.  Yet.  I don’t know who Brossette is.  And Johnson will end up on the practice squad as their one “international signing” or some crap like that.  In any event, he doesn’t count against any part of the roster I hear, so off to the practice squad you go.

WR (4):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry

In:  Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris

Out:  Jakobi Meyers, Dontrelle Inman, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson

Way Out:  Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski

PUP:  Demaryius Thomas, Cameron Meredith

Suspended:  Josh Gordon

Comments:  Your guess is as good as mine!!!  Edelman…yup.  And the first rounder Harry.  Then…I have no f’n idea!!  Dorsett would seem to have the inside track as someone that has been here for 2 years.  And seems to be liked by everyone, despite not doing much on the field.  Harris was an early camp favorite, so he would seem to be in the lead.  But now comes…Jakobi Meyers!!  An undrafted free agent (and you know the Pats need to keep one to four of those!), all of a sudden he is the receiver that “Brady is the most comfortable with”.  OK.  There have been no games yet.  So I am pumping the brakes on that.  Inman I don’t think has practiced, but I could be wrong.  Berrios seems to get some buzz all the time, but is it actually translating?  The club just signed Meredith (can anyone say “Malcolm Mitchell”?), but with his injury history, I am not giving him a spot yet either.  You can bet Gordon will have a spot if he gets cleared.  But that may be a ways away if it does actually happen.  There will be some moving parts around this position during the exhibition season, you can count on that much.

TE (2):

Locks:  None

In:  Matt LaCosse, Lance Kendricks

Out:  Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, Andrew Beck

Way Out:  None

Suspended:  Benjamin Watson

Comments:  Speaking of moving parts…I have no idea here.  LaCosse would seem to be a lock because of the contract they gave him.  But you never know.  Kendricks is kind of here by default.  Izzo and Beck?  Who knows?  Anderson could make some noise too.  I.  Just.  Don’t.  Know.

OL (7):

Locks:  Isaiah Wynn (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT),

In:  Hjalte Froholdt (G), Ted Karras (G/C),

Out:  James Ferentz (C),

Way Out:  Tyler Gauthier (C), Martez Ivey (T), Cedrick Lang (T), Dan Skipper (T), Tyree St. Louis (T)

NFI:  Yodny Cajuste (T)

Comments:  Thin.  There will be some moves here at the end of camp.  I’d bet my house on that.  Well, I won’t do that.  But I feel pretty good about it.  No one knows if Wynn can do the job.  But I don’t think they are rushing out to get Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins.  Too much dough.  AND…he wants more.  So I guess it’s Wynn or Thuney at left tackle.  We will see what happens.  Dan Skipper has gotten some run at first team left tackle I guess.  Apparently, the guy is a monster (physically folks!).  But also apparently, he has been on like 10 teams in his career and also has been turnstiled in camp as well.  How’s that for confidence?  A couple of veterans have signed and immediately retired.  Seems weird.  Either way, I think we will see some waiver claims here at the end of camp.  Don’t they have to??

Defense:

DE (5):

Locks:  Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Chase Winovich

In:  Derek Rivers

Out: Keionta Davis

Way Out:  Nick Thurman

Comments:  Fairly cut and dried here, though Davis was a favorite at times last year.  Think Rivers gets one more year after one year of being hurt and one year of being nondescript.  But with some of the linebackers rushing, never know if he gets phased out like Davis.

DT (4):

Locks:  Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Mike Pennel

In:  Byron Cowart

Out:  Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry, Danny Shelton

Way Out:  Trent Harris

Comments:  I made a joke about Shelton still being available when I did the roster projection in the spring.  I guess the joke is on us that they did actually sign him.  He’s been kind of useless.  The bigger joke will be when he makes the squad over Cowart, who they will inevitably attempt to get on the practice squad.  I can see this happening.

LB (5):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts

In:  None

Out:  Christian Sam

Way Out:  Shilique Calhoun, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson

Comments:  Roberts won’t go away.  Pretty obvious the rest of them.  Well, I saw another dudes’ projection that had Calhoun making it.  So I guess I should watch his reps more closely during the preseason games.

CB (7):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams

In:  Keion Crossen

Out:  Ken Webster

Way Out:  D’Angelo Ross

Comments:  This is a lot to carry at corner.  Perhaps Jones plays some safety, as he did in the Super Bowl.  Or perhaps Crossen gets cut.  But hard to believe after the way they tried to integrate him at times last year.  Maybe one gets traded…but which one?  Have a feeling they go heavy here though.

S (3):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  None

Out:  Obi Melifonwu

Way Out:  Malik Gant, A.J. Howard

Comments:  I don’t see any other options here.  Again, think some of the corners and perhaps special teamers provide depth here, for better or worse.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Terrance Brooks (ST)

In:  None

Out:  Ryan Allen (P)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Drafting a punter in the fifth round seemed to make that decision easy.  Bill loves his special teamers.  I don’t think there is anything else to discuss here.

Let the games begin!!

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