Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Checking the Morning Mailbag

 Tuesday, and I thought I would check the mailbag on a number of various topics. However, I will warn you that much like the metroplex, the mailbag seems relatively baseball-intensive today.

But, with "Bob being Bob", I just had to start with a football note.

As many of you may or may not know (or care), I follow 2 NFL teams very carefully. The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Everyone in the media has a favorite team, but they generally don't tell anyone for fear that they will be outed and are concerned that the readers/listeners cannot handle the idea that you did not grow up in Dallas and cheer for the Cowboys as a kid. Well, I did not. I was born in Wisconsin, so while I cover the Cowboys for a living, I also follow the Packers as a life-long fan (who has a Packers tattoo and a son, named Brett).

Hopefully, that will explain why I watched every play of the Green Bay vs Cleveland exhibition game.

Anyway, one of the stories of the Packers camp mirrors one of the big stories from Cowboys camp. It is the emergence of a talented, young Tight End that both teams drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft from Texas. For the Cowboys, of course, it was Martellus Bennett who was taken in the 2nd round and showed flashes for the Cowboys last season after playing at Texas A & M.

Green Bay took Jermichael Finley from Texas in the 3rd Round, and he is all the rage up there. Much like Bennett with Jason Witten, the plan in Green Bay is to use plenty of 2-tight end offense and pair him with Donald Lee as a receiving threat.

My plan is to research this topic and find out the most productive tight end tandems to see where the ceiling is for production of two tight ends. Can two TE's be effective? You bet. But, is it a wrinkle or is it the base offense?

From the Sunday Milwaukee Journal :
Green Bay — Tight end Jermichael Finley looks as if he's going to be the biggest difference in the Green Bay Packers' offense this season.

That might be a bold statement to make after two weeks of practice and the opening exhibition game. But judging by the heavy workload coach Mike McCarthy dialed up for him Saturday night against the Cleveland Browns, Finley figures just as prominently as starter Donald Lee, if not more so.

"So far, so good," general manager Ted Thompson said during the Packers' 17-0 victory over the Browns in the 60th annual Upper Midwest Shrine Game. "I think he's a natural player. We think he's had a good camp."

Playing only in the first half, Finley didn't make any great one-handed catches before a crowd of 69,091 at Lambeau Field. He finished with two receptions for 18 yards.

Yet, Finley's presence as an athlete and as an integral part of the game plan was very much evident.

"I could feel him out there," a personnel director for another National Football League team said at halftime. "He's going to create some matchup problems. It's all about matchups at that position. Look at Dallas when they got (Martellus) Bennett to go with (Jason) Witten. Then they had two (threats)."

Finley was an immature player in every way, shape and form last season after being drafted in the third round out of Texas. He played just two seasons for the Longhorns before declaring for the draft two years early.

The reliable Lee wound up having to play 778 snaps a year ago. Finley made so many mistakes and was such a liability as a blocker that he played merely 98 behind No. 2 Tory Humphrey, who had 353. Humphrey was lost for the season with a broken arm.

Finley, however, took full advantage of the off-season conditioning and weight program. He buried himself in his playbook, made significant gains in the weight room and moved into the process of becoming a professional.

On the first play of the season, McCarthy sent out Finley and Lee in a double tight-end set. He was in for at least three plays of a seven-play drive that was culminated by Aaron Rodgers' 53-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver.

"It was a pretty good night for me and I took advantage of it," Finley said. "We were in a lot of double-set tight end. I gave my blocking a B-plus, A-minus."

I am not saying this is a trend breaking out across the NFL - because you have to have the personnel to do it. Many teams don't have one solid receiving TE - let alone 2 - but the Cowboys and Packers both are talking boldly about how they can't wait to cause plenty of stress amongst defenses by this dangerous "12" personnel package - 1RB and 2TE. This formation is so dangerous because as a defense you cannot assume anything from the personnel. If you lean run, they will kill you down the field with two tight ends who can run by linebackers or physically dominate your safety. And if you lean pass, then the team can grind you to powder by running the ball with a 7 man offensive line.

Both teams are going to try to do it this year, with the 2nd TE for both franchises are local college studs. I think the Aggie is a better player, but the Longhorn is a raw talent who can play (ask the Sooners). By the way, the Sooners have a TE this year - Jermaine Gresham - who may be better than both, and will really help a team next year in the NFL.

Anyway, let's see what is on your mind:

Hold on Just A Second Bob

Isn't Tiger, who by all accounts, has been the most clutch performer in sports allowed a bad round of golf without calling it a choke job? I mean it is possible for even Tiger to have a bad day. It doesn't automatically mean it's a choke job.


Tiger is the most clutch performer in sports. And sure, he is allowed a bad round. But he choked. I love the guy, but he choked. He coughed up a huge lead and missed putts that you must make. It seems harsh to call him a choker, because by my definition, a choker is someone who chokes (a lot). Tiger may not be a choker, but shooting a 75 on a Sunday and missing 8 putt inside 10 feet at a major is a choke if Sergio or Phil do it. So, I believe on the rarest of occasions, Tiger Woods choked.

I still love him. But, it is what it is.

Where would the Rangers be without - Scooter Feldman??

Who has the most quality starts on the Ranger staff with 14?

Who is ninth in the league in quality start percentage at .667 (quality starts divided by number of starts) (behind only Greinke, Halliday, Hernandez, Jackson, Washburn, Beckect, Lee and Burnett)

Who has a higher quality start percentage and as many or more quality starts than Sabathia, Verlander, Buehrle, Garza, Pettite, Weaver, and Chamberlain?

Who is fifth in the league in wins (with 3 fewer starts than most AL starting pitchers)

Where would the Rangers be without Scooter Feldman?

.500 and 8 games behind the Red Sox, at best

As someone who has no idea how long we can expect Scott Feldman to dominate, I cannot put into words how shocked I am with the play of the man. To me, you would certainly consider Tommy Hunter and Elvis Andrus as candidates for the best performance from a Ranger who you may not have expected, but Feldman takes the award.

He has a lot of people wondering how good he will be in 2011 or 2012. But the fact that he can become one of three 13 game winners tonight in all of baseball speaks to his hard work and the work of Mike Maddux. This whole pitching staff has stepped it up, but I think it is fair to wonder where this team would be without the consistently solid work of Scott Feldman.


I think this bit about the "transplant fans" is bs. The red sox just have a ton of bandwagon fans, in full violation of your own policy (that I agree with 100%) that you should only be allowed to be a fan
of the pro teams in the area you're from, or living in. I would guess 75% of those "loyal" red sox fans at the ball park have never lived outside of Texas, let alone lived anywhere near boston. This is a
relatively new phenomenon (the boston fans showing up in droves in Arlington), as I don't remember that many of them showing up back before they started winning. I don't understand why these local, new
to red sox fandom people can't get on the Ranger bandwagon, but it only makes beating them that much sweeter.

I love it when Grieve calls them out during the broadcast as well.


And then here is another one with a very similar tone:

I was at the game on Friday night and for drawing 40K+ aside from the 9th inning was a quiet crowd that may as well of been 20K. Throughout the entire game you heard more "Lets go Red Sox" chants than "Lets go Rangers". It was so annoying being a Rangers fan and feeling as if not only no playoff atmosphere but like an away game in our own ballpark.

The only thing is it doesn't pass the eye test. I am sitting next to a Red Sox fan wearing my Kinsler shirt (dark blue/red lettering) and he is wearing what looks to be an identical T-shirt in dark blue with red lettering sporting a Red Sox shirt so the crowd just blends together. I couldn't completely tell how many Red Sox fans were there but you could hear it.

And for all those so called Red Sox fans ... we both know 90% of them are not from Boston and have no affiliation to claim being a chowder head. Y asked every Red Sox fan I saw if they were even from Boston and after my sample poll of about 50 people you had about 5 that could represent. Bunch of bandwagoners . That is what is sad.

Aside from that ... bounced back and took 2 out of 3. Just wish I could of been there for the 2 wins.

Take Care and can't wait to hear some Stars talk in the future.


This is a very good sign. Rangers fans are starting to get angry about the fact that the stadium is infiltrated with visiting fans. Then Rangers fans get even more angry when they find out that these "Die-Hard" Red Sox fans are actually born and raised in Carrolton or Mesquite.

It is one thing to have transplants who grown up following the Red Sox because they lived in Maine and now live in the metroplex. This is a huge transplant town so there is not much we can do about that when the Red Sox, Red Wings, Steelers, or Lakers roll in.

But, nothing drives me crazier than the legions of "fans" who were born here, but just found a nice band wagon to hop on. The Red Sox fan ranks grew big time when they were the team in the late 1990's and early 2000's who were battling the evil Yankees. Therefore, if you were "anti-Yankees" then you found yourself pulling for the Red Sox in those many battles.

At the same time, the Rangers were out of the race in their division a number of times by Memorial Day, and the young, impressionable kids of this city decided they were ready to pledge allegience to Manny, Papi, and Johnny Damon. So, we have what we have here, which is a number of our kids who are way more into the Red Sox than they are the Rangers.

I am not sure how we handle this moving forward, but the more the home team shows it is worthy of capturing the imagination of our area's youth, the fewer knuckleheads from Euless or Grand Prairie will be getting a "Let's Go Red Sox" cheer going at the Ballpark.
difference from 2008 to 2009: in the month after the all-star break (29 games):

Team gave up 5+ runs: 22 times
Starter gave up 4+ runs: 21 times

Team gave up 5+ runs: 9 times
Starter gave up 4+ runs: 6 times


In a season of amazing stats, here is another one...

Chris wants to know more about Neftali's big start:
Is there another guy who has struck out more in his first 6 innings of work? I cant remember ever seeing a guy strike out people like this guy.


Jayson Stark offered this last Friday morning on ESPN.com ...

• In the first four outings of his career (totaling 6 2/3 innings), Feliz has piled up 13 strikeouts and allowed precisely one baserunner. As the Elias Sports Bureau reported Friday in "Elias Says," he's the first pitcher in history to allow just one baserunner over his first four appearances while even accumulating as many as seven strikeouts.

• Feliz has faced only 22 hitters, but he already has more strikeouts (13) than eight different pitchers who have faced at least 100 hitters this year. Topping that list: Carlos Silva, who fanned only 10 of 132 before heading for the disabled list.

• And maybe the most amazing Neftali Feliz stat of all is this: This man has struck out more than half of the hitters he's faced. And if he can somehow keep this up, he would be the first pitcher in history to do that, among guys who pitched six innings or more in a season. Billy Wagner never did it. Rob Dibble never did it. Eric Gagne never did it. But nothing Neftali Feliz -- a fellow averaging nearly 99 miles an hour on every fastball he launches -- does would surprise anybody.

"I'll never forget the first time I ever saw him," one scout said. "It was during the Instructional League, when he was still with Atlanta. And one of our instructors called me over and said, 'You've got to see this guy. He's the best I've ever seen.' To be able to throw a baseball like that -- it's a gift."

And finally, a football email to close us down:
Hey Bob,

Here are the top 20 4th qtr QB’s based on rating. The site also has 4th quarter int leaders. I’m sure you already have it.

4th Quarter QB Ratings from 2008 .

Take care,

Wow. I knew Romo was pretty good in the 4th Quarters last season (at Pittsburgh not so much), but I didn't realize he was #1 in the NFL. Good work, Eric.

Ok, I am away for the rest of the week in Guatemala, taking my annual trip to run a sports camp for orphanages with my friends from Buckner International. Here is my summary of last year's trip if you have even the slightest interest. I will talk to you again next Tuesday and at that point, I can promise no more absences through the Super Bowl.

No comments: