Thursday, October 10, 2013

All-time College Football Top 15

Top 15 College football programs from my perspective - a bit biased and limited of a kid who grew up in Western PA, Catholic, and came of age (as a sports fan) in the 1970s, but still follows sports today - with renewed interest (thanks to sons?)after burning out on it a couple times earlier in my life, including after working for three-plus years as a sports writer:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. USC Trojans
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
7. Oklahoma Sooners
8. Texas Longhorns
9. LSU Tigers
10. Penn State Nittany Lions
11. Florida State Seminoles
12. Miami Hurricanes
13. Florida Gators
14. Clemson Tigers
15. Georgia Bulldogs

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jumping on Marrone

I really hate to do it before he loses his first game as a Buffalo Bills' head coach, but Doug Marrone really needs to be called out for the current QB situation in Buffalo. His decision not to bring in another QB, following presumptive starter and rookie E.J. Manuel's knee injury could prove to be really boneheaded. Yes, it appears the Bills are counting on Manuel to be recovered from his procedure in time to start Week 1, and, for Marrone's sake, I'm hoping this is a lock, because if Manuel is not ready, we're going to end up with either RFA Tim Tuel or a recently signed street free agent (Matt Leinart or Thaddeus Lewis) at QB. None of those three options are good, if you ask me.

Why Marrone didn't move sooner to sign another QB when Manuel went down, and presumably knowing Kolb's history of concussions, remains a mystery to me. I wasn't aware of Kolb's history when news of Manuel's surgery first broke, but I still thought it an odd/risky move not to bring in another veteran QB to at least hedge our bets. Marrone did not. Instead he went all in with who he had and then a week or so later found himself scrambling to find a back-up QB who now has only two weeks to learn the system before opening day. This could lead to disaster if Manuel can't go or re-injures knee during Week 1 game vs. Pats.

We really don't need a blowout loss at home vs. Pats to start season - as I fear our long-suffering fans would quickly become disgruntled. But, Pats have well publicized problems of their own, so at least we go that going for us.

Anyhow, good luck Bills and Doug Marrone heading into Week 1. Hope it all works out, although our margin for error is looking pretty thin at the moment.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Greek golds to Heroes

From the introduction to Robert Fagles' translation of the Illiad. Intro. was written by Bernard Knox "Such people the Greeks called "heroes;" they recognized the fact that they transcended the norms of humanity by according them worship at their tombs after death. Heroes might be, usually were, violent, antisocial, destructive, but they offered an assurance that in some chosen vessels  humanity is capable of superhuman greatness, that there are some human beings who can deny the imperatives which others obey in order to live."

This all reminded me Raskolnikov, the ax murder's thinking in Crime and Punishment.

Just thought I had to put that on the record somewhere.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Maybe Pineda Trade Will Work Out

With the news today the the Mariners have sent the potentially great Jesus Montero down the the minors, last year's preseason trade for Michael Pineda doesn't look so bad for the Yankees anymore. Montero is a catcher who can't catch, but had a great reputation as a slugger. Unfortunately for the Mariners he hasn't been slugging either. Maybe the Yankees knew something....

But, then again, you have to wonder what the Mariners knew when they gave up the 6'7" fireballer Pineda. If you remember, he reported to the Yankees camp overweight last year and then came down with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Over a year later, Pineda is finally throwing again and reports are that he's almost ready for a minor league rehab assignment. Whoopee!

Seriously though, he was fairly good in his first full season of big league pitching at age 22, posting 173 strikeouts vs. 55 walks with a Walks & Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) of a very solid 1.099, although as to be expected because he pitched for Seattle, his home numbers were slightly (although not that much) better than his road numbers. Another promising indicator is that his minor league strikeouts/walks/hits numbers were slightly better than his major league numbers - so it appears he's been fairly consistent.

Now all Pineda has to do is comeback fully from shoulder surgery, which is something that others have certainly done, but we shall see. At least it doesn't seem like we really missed out on anything by giving up Montero for him.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Allosourus vs. T-Rex - new dinosaur modeling

So, if you know me, I've always been a big fan of dinosaurs. It's even my belief that as the once dominant creates of the earth, dinosaurs represent the forebearers of the human race. But that's a conversation for another day.

It's also been my observation that Google News, which I try to peruse several times per week, if not daily, gives an inordinate amount of coverage/links to dinosaur stories in its science section. This another reason I like Google.

Today's featured dinosaur article discussed the eating habits of the Allosourus' vs. the Tyrannosourus Rex. For background, the Allosaurus lived 155 milion to 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic period, while the T-Rex roamed the earth during the late Cretaceous period, about 85 million to 65 million years ago. T-Rex was about 30% longer and weight about three times as much as the Allosourus.

A few quotes from the engaging article:
  • "'People think of it as a smaller, earlier version of a T. rex, but it was successful in a very different way,' said Eric Snively, an Ohio University paleontologist."
  • “'Allosaurus really was better at certain things' than T. rex, Snively said. 'It was quicker at striking prey and more efficient.'"
  • "'T. rex was extremely powerful and had a very large head, huge teeth and large … muscles, which sounds great and is,' Witmer said. 'But that comes at a cost, meaning it was difficult for the T. rex to move its head around with great speed and control. Allosaurus had a much lighter head.'”
All great stuff. The information they came up with was based on computer-generated studies that take into account soft tissues and not just bone structure. The articles call these computer generated dinosaurs the "future of paleontology," replacing the old bone-centric models that have been used historically.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Hunter S. on Kentucky Derby

Great second look or whatever they call it on Grantland, on a 1970 Hunter Thompson story by Louisville native Hunter Thompson on the Kentucky Derby. There is some commentary from Hunter's sidekick and cartoonist Ralph Steadman. The story originally appeared in some counterculture publication, which I guess you had back them. Here's a link to the entire story.

To tease you, here is a quote from it (It's Thompson talking to Steadman, who is from England, about the sketches he keeps drawing and giving to people.): "Fuck England," I said. "This is Middle America. These people regard what you're doing to them as a brutal, bilious insult. Look what happened last night. I thought my brother was going to tear your head off."

And so forth....

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bills Draft 2013

Just want to go on record as saying that I am in favor of the Bills drafting E.J. Manuel of Florida State in the first round this weekend. Think his strong arm, good size, and mobility make him a project that new head coach Doug Marrone thinks he can build into an all-pro - or at least a Pro Bowler. Marrone obviously felt he had gone as far as he could with his college QB Ryan Nassib of Syracuse.

I read a scouting report (that unfortunately, I can't seem to find the link to) where a couple Florida State watchers were really questioning Manuel's football aptitude - not his intelligence or work ethic, just his feel and innate understanding of the game. Not sure how much of an issue this is, but obviously something Marrone feels he can work with. We'll see. Proverbial upside potential is huge. Downside is that Marrone swings and misses, and I don't know that he has a back-up plan in place at the moment, but if he's really a good coach I would expect him to develop one. Remember the  Cowboys drafted Steve Walsh and Troy Aikman early on in Jimmy Johnson's career. Only one worked out. (For more on playing the odds keep reading.)

Also, this signing of D'Rick Rogers could be huge. For those of you who didn't click on the link, or haven't heard of him, he was an all-SEC receiver as a sophomore, but has had some pretty serious off-the-field problems (drugs and fighting I think are two of them) and pretty much got kicked off the Tennessee team. He transferred to Tennessee Tech and had a pretty good year this year - don't know who his QB was - including one game in which he had over 300 yards receiving.

Now, Rogers may or may not work out - but the reason the move is great for the Bills is because it's so sound from the process standpoint. What am I saying? Well, if you know me, I am definitely a fan of the Moneyball approach (I was an early Bill James reader in junior high) of exploiting what I'll call "market opportunities." (Moneyball is mainly about market inefficiencies, but this is something a little different.) Basically, we all know the Bills have trouble attracting prime veteran free agents due to their history of losing and probably location - without overpaying them. So, it's going to be very tough to build a team that way - as I think we kind of saw in this offseason. The draft is one way they can build, and it is weighted toward losing teams, so that helps. But, where else can Buffalo gain an edge over more successful franchises? I would think in recruiting UFAs like Rogers, because they see a chance to gain valuable playing time in Buffalo that they might not get anywhere else. I mean, seriously, Rogers could theoretically step in and start opposite Stevie Johnson next year. At least, I'm thinkin' that's what he was thinkin'.

So, great move by Buffalo, and hopefully some of their other UFAs went through the same thought process. Because, as I said, Rogers might not work out, but the plan in our player development should be to assemble as many highly rated prospects as possible and assume some will work out and some won't. Obviously, the more you have, the better chance of developing more better players. And as the guy on the AT&T? commercials, more is better, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Kevin Kolb Sets Sights on Super Bowl

Really. You mean to tell me the erstwhile (love to use that word) Cardinals signal caller said he signed with the Bills because he wants to win a Super Bowl. This blogger blames multiple concussions Kolb has suffered throughout his career. Yes, that's what we've become...