Friday, September 12, 2008

Week 2 Cometh

Ah, Week 2 in the NFL is nigh upon us! I have completed watching many of the week 1 games finally, and am now ready for another fresh batch of games:

Tennessee at Cincinnati 1:00 PM CBS
Green Bay at Detroit 1:00 PM Fox
Oakland at Kansas City 1:00 PM CBS
NY Giants at St. Louis 1:00 PM Fox
Indianapolis at Minnesota 1:00 PM CBS
New Orleans at Washington 1:00 PM Fox
Chicago at Carolina 1:00 PM Fox
Buffalo at Jacksonville 1:00 PM CBS
San Francisco at Seattle 4:05 PM Fox
Atlanta at Tampa Bay 4:05 PM Fox
New England at NY Jets 4:15 PM CBS
Miami at Arizona 4:15 PM CBS
San Diego at Denver 4:15 PM CBS
Pittsburgh at Cleveland 8:15 PM NBC

Philadelphia at Dallas 8:30 PM ESPN
Baltimore at Houston 8:30 PM CBS

I did not watch New England, but I did see all of the other 11 teams I picked to be in the playoffs in 2008, and if there are two playoff teams that rocked my confidence in week 1, it would have to be Seattle and Jacksonville. I think Seattle is fine, because in their division, they may only need 9 wins to win it, but I am starting to wonder if I over-estimated the Jaguars in the AFC South. They have Buffalo on Sunday at home, and the Jags will have to show they can block a bit better – and with the injuries to that OL, I am not optimistic.

I still like Minnesota in the NFC North, but obviously Green Bay did well to hold serve on Monday, but I expect them to have their hands full at Detroit this week, given the Lions amazingly pathetic start in Atlanta. I am pretty sure at least 9 of the 11 Lions on defense had no interest in tackling anyone on the Falcons. Green Bay will be awfully confident, and I would imagine the Lions will show much better this week.

The best game for me on Sunday is the Jets-Patriots. How will Favre do in his home opener, and will the Jets be able to cause Matt Cassell problems? I think the Pats are still the big dog in that division, and 10-6 should win the divisional crown. Another fabulous matchup is the Colts – Vikes. Who is going 0-2? Because, whoever does faces the fact that only 13% of 0-2 teams make the playoffs.
Owens stirs up Philly ….

Asked to compare the 2008 Dallas Cowboys to the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles, Terrell Owens bascially said there was no comparison.

The former Eagles receiver said during a conference call with Philadelpia reporters today that this Cowboys team is "way more talented."

Owens may be right. This Cowboys team is bursting with talent, including the modest receiver himself. The Cowboys sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl last season, although not all 13 were deserving. It says here that Roy Williams was the least deserving because he has become such a coverage liability.

Anyway, the 2004 Eagles didn't have as many Pro Bowlers and probably didn't have as much talent as this Dallas team. What the 2004 Eagles did have was a bunch of players who knew how to win big games, which is something the Cowboys have routinely failed to do since Owens' arrival three seasons ago.

Although the Eagles had not won or reached a Super Bowl before T.O.'s arrival juiced things up in 2004, they had won five playoff games, which is five more than the Cowboys have won in the last 11 years. Owens, though still ultra-confident, admitted that the Cowboys have to be focused on winning that first playoff game before they give even think about winning the Super Bowl.

Of course, the key point here is whether the 2008 Cowboys are better than the 2008 Eagles. This Dallas team is more talented, but this Eagles team has a lot of good, young talent on defense, which could make them a better team by the end of the season.

While mostly subdued with Philadelphia reporters, T.O. still apparently gets his shots in at Donovan McNabb when he talks to reporters down in Texas.

“I think the fans and just the excitement of me coming there and being there, it became too overwhelming for Donovan,” Owens said in a Dallas Morning News blog. “Other than that, I think at one point in time I will say that we had a good relationship. I think I got too big for Philly, too big for (McNabb). But here, Tony ([Romo) and I have a great relationship.”

Owens said he had a great relationship with the Philadelphia fans during his conference call and told the Dallas Morning News that his love affair with the city was too much for McNabb.

“I can remember being in (Texas Stadium) and hearing them chanting my name,” Owens said. “That couldn’t bode well for Donovan to hear that. It was an every-week thing.”
Owens said McNabb "made me a better receiver in Philly,” but added, “... I think it would be hard for him to admit that I made him a better quarterback.”

Back on draft day, I wanted DeSean Jackson in Dallas , but the Cowboys disagreed. Now he is an Eagle, and he admires Owens

Philly has the most unattractive people? …no way!

If you live in Miami, consider yourself among the most attractive people in the United States.

The Sunshine State's metropolis has the most beautiful people, according to an online survey of "America's Favorite Cities" by Travel + Leisure magazine, while Philadelphia came in last at No. 25.

"I'm not surprised at all, but I'm not in that group" joked Bill Talbert, president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, about the city's attractive people rating.

"When you're here, you kind of take it for granted. Then you travel, and when you come back you say, 'Oh my, look what we have here,"' he added.

Although Philadelphia placed last for the second consecutive year, a tourism official said the city was happy to be in the top 25.

The online survey of 125,000 people ranked 25 U.S. cities in 45 categories ranging from most affordable to friendliest people.

-house/> Romo’s House

Green Bay Packers – Youngest team in the NFL…3rd straight year!

The National Football League has confirmed what the Green Bay Packers have been saying all along. The Packers are the youngest team in the league for the third consecutive season.

Based on an analysis of NFL Kickoff Weekend rosters, the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs are tied for the youngest roster with an average age of 25.57 years.

Last season, Green Bay's average roster age of 25.72 years on Kickoff Weekend was the youngest in the NFL. Indianapolis placed second with an average roster age of 25.74 years.

The Packers also rank second in the NFL in average years of experience. The Chiefs have an average of 3.45 years per player and the Packers average 3.62 years per player.

Only the Buffalo Bills can match the Packers for fewest players 30 and over. Both have six, which is one less than Oakland and Indianapolis. The next fewest in the NFC is nine, by the Cowboys, Vikings and Seahawks.

Kansas City has by far the most rookie and first-year players with 17. The Packers have 10, which ranks tied with three other teams for second.

In 2006, the Packers' average roster age of 25.57 years was the youngest in the league. Tennessee, with an average roster age of 25.77 years, was second.

I know I have turned off 90% of my baseball thinking cap, but Mike Hindman and Evan Grant have not. Enjoy the war being waged at the DMN baseball blog:


Michael Young is arguably the worst defensive shortstop in baseball right now. He's already the third worst shorstop in MLB by Zone Rating, and it's abundantly clear that he's won't suddenly become any better at making plays on balls in his fielding zone. Clearly, his defense does not create that $16 million of value.

And, quite frankly, this club -- which ranks 29th in among MLB clubs in Defensive Efficiency -- can't afford to keep subjecting it's pitchers to a shortstop with range that makes one vaguely wistful for the Kevin Elster era.

So, let's say the Rangers move him to another position. Third base, as many seem to suggest. What sort of value does Young present as a third baseman?

First, let's acknowledge something extremely disturbing. Young's .735 OPS this year is the 120th in MLB among qualifiers and shows the following four-year trend:

2005 = .898
2006 = .815
2007 = .784
2008 = .735

But let's say that Young reverses or halts this now-obvious declining trend and repeats a .735 OPS as a third baseman next year (and / or the year after that). That OPS would rank 20th among 24 third basemen with at least 400 plate appearances this year.

How about DH? You don't want to know. Among players with at least 350 plate appearances as a DH this year, only one has delivered an OPS lower than Young's .735.
How about left field? Of the 26 players with at least 350 at-bats as left fielders this year, only three have posted an OPS lower than Young's number.

To the point: that's one really, really, really bad contract the Rangers are going to carry around for the next five seasons.

Evan Rebutts

Let's go point-by-point through some of MJH's argument (and you can bet we are going revisit this face-to-face over a bowl compuesto and baja tacos very shortly):

1. Young's annual salary ranks as one the 10 highest in baseball starting in 2009. That is a fact. Right now. And that's what makes it meaningless. We're about to engage in free agency season and there will be a number of contracts that leave Young in the dust. By the time, he gets to spring training, I'll bet his 2009 contact isn't in the top 15 annually. And by the time he gets to 2010, my guess, is it won't be in the top 25. It looks big now, but what looks big now, may look middle of the road by the time we actually get to those seasons.

2. MJH cits the stat zone rating to indicate that Young ranks in the bottom three in the majors. Yes. It does. But I'd also point out that the "inventor" of zone rating, John DeWan has since come up with a revised figure (RZR) in an attempt to be more accurate and comprehensive. According to the RZR, Young LEADS the AL at .846. Chicago's Orlando Cabrera, who is generally considered the best fielding shortstop in the AL, is second at .845. As part of revising zone rating (you can find a pretty in-depth article about the stat here) was to add a state called OOZ (Out of zone plays). Young currently ranks fourth in the AL, 13th in the majors in that stat. In other words, he's no worse than an average-fiedling shortstop, according to the most well-regarded statistical indices. Now, I've not been terribly fond of defensive statistical indices because I think they are more subjective (basing stats on plays that should have been made) than any index used for hitting or pitching. But these are the most modernized and most up-to-date and if I'm going to use any, I guess I'd use these.

3. Offensively his numbers don't play well at other positions. Maybe not this year. But who cares? It's meaningless since he's still among the best offensive shortstops in the AL. He currently ranks third in the league in OPS at shortstop behind Cleveland's Jhony Peralta (.795) and New York's Derek Jeter (.753). Put together RZR and OPS to get some kind of complete statistical profile and you know where he ranks in the AL? Third. Know who ranks eighth of the eight qualifying shortstops? Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett. And how much is Tampa Bay being hurt by the fact that Barlett's offensive and defensive numbers don't measure up to the rest of the league.

4. Young's offensive performance has declined. True again about this year, but at
the risk of sounding like I'm making excuses, let's not forget that he's played more than half the season with broken bones in two different figures. And despite it all, his .740 OPS at shortstop is still 28 points ahead of the league average. Speaking of the league average, it has declined in each of the past two years as have the league average for just about every position on the field. It was .740 in 2006, .738 last year and .712 this season.

My point, counselors, is this: Don't overanalyze Young's deficiencies. I stood guilty of that in 2001 and 2002 with Pudge Rodriguez. Worried he no longer fielded his position well. Worried about his durablity. Worried that as a hitter he might be on the verge of decline. Of course, the Rangers cut him loose, went with Einar Diaz, and Rodriguez went on to have at least three more outstanding seasons before modest decline set in.

I'll be the first to admit, Young is not a perfect player. But then again, there is no such thing. Would I like to see a little more range at short? Absolutely. But when I consider the statistical profile, the things he does with the bat and the complete player in the clubhouse, the answer is easy: Shortstop Michael Young remains an asset to this team.

As the Rangers get ready to constuct their 2009 roster, I can think of at least a half dozen issues that are more pressing than Michael Young at short. Begin with at least three spots in the starting rotation, a setup reliever and a closer. Then ponder what to do at catcher, what to do with Milton Bradley and what to do with the first base/third base alignment. And if you answer all those, I think I may have a few more things to tackle before getting to Young being an issue.

Back to Hindman!

Michael Young is a good dude and a good baseball player. He's not a great one, though he's being paid as if he were (and will continue to be so, which is highly unlikely). The Rangers are going to be paying a huge sum of money to a player who is currently average at best, and likely to continue to decline.

They have five young premium position prospects -- Taylor Teagarden (24), Max
Ramirez (23), Chris Davis (22), Elvis Andrus (20) and Justin Smoak (21), all off whom are probaby going to be ready to produce substantial results for the club over the next five years -- likely better than Michael Young over the next five years -- for the league minimum.

Michael Young's contract is untradable and will almost certainly lead to the Rangers getting rid of at least one of those guys. That $16mm salary slot that Michael Young occupies is money that would be much better spent elsewhere.

And the main event of the weekend! Manchester United comes to Anfield! …incidentally, I realize this never goes well for my boys…

Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have handed Liverpool a major boost and have been passed fit to play against Manchester United at Anfield on Saturday.

The key duo came through a training session on Friday in a bid to prove their fitness for the Premier League showdown.

"They are both much better," confirmed manager Rafa Benitez.

"They came through a full training session this morning. It wasn't a very hard session, but they will both be in the squad.

"It's important for us to have these two players of quality who can change a game.
I'm not surprised they are available because the medical staff have done a good job and the players have been working really hard with the physios to get fit."

Reds' skipper Gerrard recently underwent groin surgery, while striker Torres has been hampered by a hamstring strain picked up against Aston Villa a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano has warned his Liverpool team-mates that a win against Sir Alex Ferguson's reigning champions is essential in their bid to prove they have serious title credentials.

"This is a very important period, we have a lot of important games coming up after the international break - especially the first one against United," said Mascherano.
"More than three points ride on these games as it proved when we lost at home to United last season.

"It's a match we need to win if we want to compete for the title. We can do that and push for honours. The fans deserve it."

And now, a brief commercial for my friends at Buckner Missions: Please support if you can!

DALLAS, Texas — 91.7 The TRUTH (KVTT) and Shoes for Orphan Souls® will host a free concert and event featuring Jaci Velasquez on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 1-5 p.m. to collect shoes and raise awareness about the needs of more than 143 million orphans around the world.

The second annual ‘Sole-d Out’ concert will feature Christian music headliner Jaci Velasquez, along with artists Geoff Moore, Epic Press and Pure NRG.

“There are children everywhere who get by each day without a pair of shoes,” said Doug Price, 91.7 The TRUTH general manager. “It’s a simple thing, but having a pair or not having a pair could be the difference between having a disease or not having a disease; between getting a sore on your foot or not. A pair of shoes really can make a huge impact in a child’s life.”

‘Sole-d Out’ is a month-long collection on 91.7 The Truth which encourages listeners to collect new shoes for distribution to orphans and children living in poverty in more than 60 countries around the world, including the United States.

The ‘Sole-d Out’ concert is the final celebration, where those who have participated in the drive can deliver shoes and enjoy free, music, bounce houses, face painting and more.

This family-oriented concert and event is open to the entire Dallas/Fort Worth community and is located at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid, 5405 Shoe Drive (near Buckner Blvd. and Samuell).

Since 1999, Shoes for Orphan Souls has distributed more than 1.6 million pairs of shoes to orphans in more than 60 countries around the world, including the United States. Shoes for Orphan Souls is the largest humanitarian aid effort of Dallas-based Buckner International, a global non-profit organization that supports orphans, at-risk children and families.

91.7 The TRUTH (KVTT) has been a strong tower serving the D/FW area for over 30 years!

More information available at or

This is hard to describe – so just watch it for yourself….


P-Cat said...

It's interesting that Indy has such a young team. you always think of the vets, Harrison, Manning and maybe Freeney—but they've injected a lot of kids in on the fly. Interesting to see if this is the year that all that youth catches up with them.

Van Deusen said...


I agree I would think of them as a vet. team, but they arn't... But it almost seems as if their "mistakes" on the field (week 1 and 2) have been not just "rookie" mistakes, and "learning" mistakes, just lack of execution. Is Peyton getting old?