Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tigers in '07!

Often times losing in a championship game or series is a crushing and long-lasting blow to the fan base. While seeing the Tigers generously hand over the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals wasn’t my idea of a good time, it took me all of three hours to get excited about next season. The Tigers defeat in the playoffs is not anything like the losses suffered by the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings in ‘06. Those teams were ripe for championship runs. It could be argued that each probably had the best team that they’re going to have for the next five years. Those losses marked the end of championship contention for the foreseeable future. The Pistons are trying to find a new identity without Ben Wallace. The Red Wings are slow and offensively challenged. Their losses were bad, not only because of the losses, but because of what the losses foreshadowed.

There is no question that the Tigers missed out on an excellent opportunity. It is so difficult to get to the World Series that a return is never a guarantee (ask the White Sox). That’s why it was so devastating to see the Tigers hand over the championship to the Cardinals. Fortunately, there is nothing gloomy about the Tigers future even with the World Series loss. With a few changes to the lineup, the Tigers could very well be the odds on favorite to win the World Series heading into next season.

As much as I liked the effort from role players like Brandon Inge and Craig Monroe, the Tigers need to make big changes to the lineup. The Tigers often won in spite of their offensive shortcomings. Dave Dombrowski needs to bring in a couple high impact hitters that have excellent plate discipline. The White Sox brought in Jim Thome after winning the World Series last year and he ended up being the perfect acquisition. The Tigers need someone like Thome. As it stands now the Tigers will have about $68 million accounted for next season. Their 2006 opening day roster was $82 million. If Mike Ilitch doesn’t add a cent to the payroll from last season, we’re looking at $14 million dollars to spend in free agency or through trade acquisitions. If Ilitch wants to increase payroll ten million dollars plus, we could be looking at $24 million to burn or more. That amount of money could bring in significant impact players.

I want to go over the projected lineup for next season without any significant off-season changes. Then, I’ll go over what I would do in the off-season if I were Dave Dombrowski (which I am not).

2007 Detroit Tigers (with no major off-season acquisitions)

Pitching staff:

1) Kenny Rogers
2) Jeremy Bonderman
3) Justin Verlander
4) Nate Robertson
5) Mike Maroth


Todd Jones
Joel Zumaya
Fernando Rodney
Jamie Walker
Wil Ledezma
Andrew Miller
Humberto Sanchez
Zach Miner
Jason Grilli


1) Curtis Granderson
2) Placido Polanco
3) Carlos Guillen
4) Magglio Ordonez
5) Craig Monroe
6) Pudge Rodriguez
7) Brandon Inge
8) Chris Shelton
9) Marcus Thames


Neifi Perez
Alexis Gomez
Brent Clevlen
Ramon Santiago
Omar Infante

That projected opening day roster would be essentially the same as the 2006 opening day roster with the exception of a couple young guys like Miller and Sanchez. With Robertson and Maroth likely being the #4 and #5 pitchers, the Tigers rotation should be even better next season. I expect Bonderman and Verlander to make big jumps next season with improved location and better secondary pitches. The Tigers jumped out to 40 games over .500 in 2006 with this roster. With improvements made by Bonderman and Verlander along with Granderson, the 2007 version would probably be more consistent. The bullpen would be lethal with a bevy of fireballers to go along with the Rodney-Zumaya-Jones combination. Dombrowski may have plans to start Miller and Sanchez in the minors next season but if Jim Leyland decides to take the best eleven pitchers like he did this season, then those guys might be on the opening day roster.

2007 Detroit Tigers (with potential acquisitions)

First Base Upgrade

If I were the GM of the Detroit Tigers, I would be extremely aggressive this winter. With close to $25 million to burn, the Tigers can throw a bunch of money at big-time players and hope some of it sticks. Although his contributions in the World Series can’t be argued, I still don’t think the Tigers are interested in re-signing Sean Casey. If that’s true, then the Tigers will need to sign or trade for a first basemen.

Bringing in a productive first baseman isn’t going to be easy. The free agent options are basically Frank Thomas and re-signing Casey. The trade options are infinitely more attractive with Derrick Lee, Mark Teixeira, Todd Helton, and Lance Berkman as players that may be on the market. I don’t know the availability of those players but the Tigers have pitching which usually makes teams listen to offers. I would offer the following package to each team.

Humberto Sanchez
Jordan Tata
Mike Maroth
Brent Clevlen

Whether this package is enough to complete a trade is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that this package would have to be in the ballpark. If it takes throwing in another prospect (not Cameron Maybin or Andrew Miller) then the deal could get done.
My order of preference for those four players would be:

1). Lance Berkman ($14.5 million in ’07)
2). Mark Teixeira ($9 million in ’07)
3). Derrick Lee ($13 million in ’07)
4). Todd Helton ($16.6 million in ’07)

To be honest, any of the four would be a godsend for the Tigers. With a bevy of young prospects, the Tigers should be able to put together a solid offer. What I would not consider is trading Jeremy Bonderman to bring in a power hitter. I can’t believe how much that has been talked about by fans and the local media. Why would the Tigers want to trade Bonderman? He is only 23 years old. He’s possibly on the verge of a Cy Young type season in 2007. Dave Dombrowski stocked the minor leagues full of pitching so he wouldn’t have to trade cornerstone pieces like Bonderman. The Tigers are dealing from a position of strength. You don’t ship off a 23 year-old on the verge of blowing up next year when you are dealing from a position of strength. That doesn’t make any sense. I would be shocked if Dombrowski traded Bonderman. That idea has been speculation fueled entirely by local media. Dombrowski knows better than to listen to that.

DH Upgrade

The options at DH are obviously more fruitful because it’s not position-specific. The free agent options here include Barry Bonds and Frank Thomas. If the Tigers could bring in one of the above four players via trade and then sign Thomas, they would have the same luxury that the Chicago White Sox had this year with Jim Thome and Paul Konerko splitting time at First Base and DH. The White Sox didn’t make the playoffs this year but that had nothing to do with their offense which was the best in MLB. As much controversy that would come to Detroit with Barry Bonds, I still think the Tigers have to entertain the idea at the very least. He would immediately change the potency of the lineup.

Bonds and Thomas would likely command similar salaries for 2007. Thomas was much more productive in ’06 while Bonds will put more fans in the seats due to his chase to pass Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list. Both would undoubtedly be seeking multi-year deals. My guess is that they would probably cost $8 million at a minimum. It’s possible that teams will offer much more than that (something like $10-$12). Trading for a DH is probably less likely so Bonds and Thomas are probably the top options if there is doing to be a new DH next season.

Third Base Upgrade

The Tigers also have the option of bringing in more production at third base. I like Brandon Inge’s power in the ninth spot and I like how much he has improved defensively at third. Nobody makes more spectacular plays at third than Inge. The problem is that you don’t necessarily want your third baseman to be hitting ninth and Inge makes way too many errors. For his salary and position in the order, Inge was a fantastic value in 2006. The Tigers have the money to upgrade and they should at least explore the option. Aramis Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra are options. They would likely cost at least $10 (base plus incentives).

Alfonso Soriano

The Tigers also have the option of going after Alfonso Soriano in free agency. He won’t play DH and his desire to play second base presents a problem since Placido Polanco isn’t going anywhere. However, he may take to playing left field again if it’s for a World Series contending team. Another possibility would be playing Polanco at shortstop and Guillen at third freeing up second base for Soriano. I don’t see the Tigers moving around the infield that much to accommodate one player but if it improves the team enough offensively, it would be a mistake to not consider the option.


The Tigers don’t “need” to upgrade their pitching but no team ever has too much pitching. There are two dominating, front of the rotation starters available in free agency in Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito. Both will probably sign for between $12 and $15 million per year. The teams that need pitching the most are always the teams that are willing to drive up the price. If for some reason teams aren’t willing to pay as much as usual, the Tigers should try to bring one of those two players to Detroit. Kenny Rogers probably doesn’t have much longer passed 2007. That would create a void in the rotation.

The 2007 Lineup “Could” Look Something like This

If everything goes right this winter the Tigers could bring in one of Barry Bonds/Frank Thomas/Alfonso Soriano and one of Lance Berkman/Mark Teixeira/Derrick Lee/Todd Helton. If the Tigers added Bonds and Berkman, that would add close to $25 million to the $68 million that the Tigers currently have allocated to 2007. That would bring the Tigers 2007 payroll to $93 million. That would still only be the 8th highest payroll in MLB. Mike Ilitch’s willingness to nourish a winning team (i.e. Detroit Red Wings) should make adding $10-$15 million to the payroll no problem.

The 2007 lineup would look like this:

1). Curtis Granderson CF
2). Placido Polanco 2B
3). Barry Bonds/Frank Thomas/Alfonso Soriano DH
4). Lance Berkman/Mark Teixeira, Derrick Lee/Todd Helton 1B
5). Magglio Ordonez RF
6). Carlos Guillen SS
7). Craig Monroe LF
8). Pudge Rodriguez C
9). Brandon Inge 3B

That lineup, combined with the rotation and bullpen, is a team that I would choose straight up over the Yankees. Bonds-Berkman-Ordonez-Guillen would be a devastating stretch for any pitcher to face. The rest of the lineup would be more than adequate considering the production in 2006.

There are hundreds of possibilities that Dave Dombrowski will have to explore this winter. The odds that he’ll do any of the things that I mentioned are probably remote at best. He undoubtedly has his own agenda for the off-season but his goal is the same as the goal of all Tigers fans. He wants to put together the best baseball team possible. He has money to spend and prospects to trade. If he makes the right moves in the off-season, the Tigers will no longer be overachievers. They will be the frontrunners. The only thing that could disappoint me heading into next season is if management drops the ball in the off-season. Judging from Dombrowski’s track record, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Punishing Big Mac Would be Hypocritical

When the Legislative Branch of our government decided to stop everything and conduct congressional hearings on “steroids in baseball”, millions (including me) watched as Rafael Palmeiro and Co. looked as honest and forthright as an over-the-phone medical insurance salesman. The images of bewildered baseball players lying and hiding the truth were burned into our psyche forever. For those who value honesty and integrity, that day was disappointing to say the least.

The players involved in those hearings have received plenty of criticism. Palmeiro, who later tested positive for steroids, probably will never make the Hall of Fame. Sammy Sosa went from “larger than life” to a “where are they now?” feature in local newspapers. He can blame some of it on the lost credibility that resulted from pulling the “I don’t speak English” card at those hearings and some of it on the fact that he had the “cork” incident already on his rap sheet. While those players have undoubtedly paid the price for apparent deception, Mark McGwire probably infuriated baseball fans the most by refusing to “talk about the past.” He had a chance to come clean and didn't. As disappointing as it was to see them squirm in obvious embarrassment, those hearings were kind of a sham for everyone involved. Why didn’t congress ask the hundreds of NFL players that have taken steroids or tested positive for taking steroids to testify?

I don’t feel sorry for the players who were there. I just think that it cast a negative cloud on a small sample size of the likely enormous group of players who also took steroids. McGwire should be disappointed that he “cheated” but I also think he was exposed in a way that most steroid-users in professional sports never were. That resulted in a massive movement of public support against McGwire. I think that has resulted in a wide held belief that McGwire shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame. I disagree with that sentiment. Since Hall of Fame voters have never punished players that bent the rules in the past, it wouldn't be consistent to arbitrarily start with McGwire. As a result, he should be voted into the Hall of Fame just like Gaylord Perry (notorious for doctoring baseballs).

There’s no reason to sugarcoat what McGwire did. He basically admitted to taking steroids by not admitting anything at all. I’m not going to sit here and even attempt to make a case that he is innocent. I don't think there's any doubt that Barry Bonds is going to the Hall of Fame. Yet, I also don't think there's any doubt that Bonds took steroids too. In fact, there’s even more proof that Bonds took steroids than there is for McGwire. If Bonds’ Hall of Fame status doesn’t change, then McGwire’s shouldn’t either.

No player has been criticized more for what happened at those hearings than McGwire. Maybe it was because of how pathetic he looked. Maybe it was because every person watching in America knew he was hiding something. The fact remains that one man at those hearings blatantly lied (Palmeiro) and one man pretended to have problems speaking English (Sosa). McGwire was asked a question that he didn’t want to answer. I think it's important to remember that given the chance to lie (the same chance that Palmeiro took), McGwire chose not to. Somewhere along the way, lying and refusing to answer a question got confused with being one in the same. Thankfully for me, and everyone else who values the freedom to say "no comment", not answering is not the same as lying. Nonetheless, his failure to disclose his past indiscretions caused his image to take the biggest hit of the players at those hearings. McGwire hasn't been the only player to avoid the subject like the plague. But believe it or not, his handling of the issue was the least deceptive out of any of the accused including; Jason Giambi, Palmeiro, Sosa, and Bonds. When Giambi supposedly apologized for taking steroids, he did no such thing. He simply made a generalized apology. He didn’t say that he was sorry for taking steroids. He just said something to the effect of “I’m sorry for bringing negative attention to the Yankees and my family.” Why isn't Giambi ridiculed in the same way Big Mac is? Bonds has been even worse. He has allegedly lied under oath. If Bonds is going to the Hall of Fame, I don’t think there is any legitimate argument that McGwire should be kept out for off-the-field issues.

If there aren’t justifiable reasons to keep McGwire out of the Hall of Fame because of off-the-field issues, then no logical reasons exist. There is no question that his numbers merit selection. He is 7th on the all-time home run list at 583. He holds two of the top four single season home run totals in MLB history. He is 13th all-time in OPS. He is 11th all-time in OPS+. He was responsible for bringing vast media coverage back to baseball after the devastating strike of 1994. His 1998 home run barrage was one of the most fascinating sporting events of our time. He was the face of baseball when baseball needed it the most. The same goes for Sammy Sosa. If McGwire makes the Hall of Fame, you have to put Sosa in as well. They are essentially the exact same case. Sosa's career numbers are actually slightly more impressive than McGwire's. Since McGwire will be on the ballot as many as five years before Sosa, Slammin' Sammy's fate probably lies on whether McGwire gets in or not. Big Mac seemed like a lock to make the HOF when he was the center of the baseball universe; now it's a 50/50 proposition at best. The two players largely responsible (Big Mac and Sammy) for baseball's resurgence have been "thrown to the wolves" so to speak. I can understand the frustration by baseball fans. But, it is important to be consistent.

It almost seems like fans and some HOF voters want to make an example out of McGwire when the problem still exists in every sport. Should Shawn Merriman and Shaun Rogers no longer be eligible for the NFL Hall of Fame because they took steroids? Shouldn’t they have to be grilled in front of congress like McGwire was? It’s easy to lash out at McGwire because he put up a façade that suggested he was accomplishing everything on natural ability alone. I can understand the disappointment when that façade was ripped down. I was extremely disappointed myself. Why should the disappointment and backlash be any different for Merriman and Rogers, though? There are thousands of NFL players that have taken steroids. Nobody cares when they get caught. They get a four-game suspension and everyone pretends it didn’t happen.

It’s also important to remember that MLB never had rules against taking steroids. MLB actually has rules against putting foreign substances on baseballs but pitchers have made careers on that with little fanfare. MLB is largely responsible for allowing steroids to become such a big factor in the sport by not having consequences in place. They didn’t encourage it but they didn’t exactly discourage it either. The sport was ripe for steroid abuse and many players took advantage of that. Fans and media alike didn’t ask many questions so the players kept doing it. I’m not saying it’s the fans fault by any means. I’m just saying the players did it, in part, for the fans (and their own bank accounts).

The bottom line is that, while Mark McGwire probably took steroids disappointing millions of baseball fans worldwide in the process, his possible omission from the Hall of Fame would be hypocritical. There are countless pitchers in the Hall of Fame who notoriously made a living off of doctoring baseballs. There are droves of hitters in the Hall of Fame who used amphetamines to help them get through grueling seasons. Since none of those players had anything close to the media exposure that McGwire had, they never had to face the consequences. It’s almost as if McGwire is being punished for being too good. The other “cheaters” were not considered a big deal because they didn’t shatter records. Those players didn’t shatter records because they weren’t good enough.

I’m not here to say McGwire did the right thing by taking steroids. I’m not even saying that I think fondly of McGwire as a ballplayer. He used to be one of my favorite players but I can’t say I respect him much as a player now. Nobody has more disdain for players that took steroids than I do. It taints the record books and provides a terrible example to the youth of America. That said; McGwire “should” be in the Hall of Fame. It doesn’t make sense for fans to take out their frustrations on one player simply because that player happened to be the most high-profile steroid user of the bunch. Punishing McGwire by essentially blackballing him from the Hall of Fame would not be consistent with how other steroid-users have been treated. Either keep out every "cheater", or keep letting them in.

I’ll leave you with another article by a Hall of Fame voter addressing the subject. I agree with the article and hope that the popular belief that Mark McGwire shouldn’t and won’t make the Hall of Fame does not get perpetuated to the point of no return. Everyone has the right to their opinion but McGwire’s treatment should be consistent with that of other “cheaters” in MLB and other leagues like the NFL.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Michigan vs. Ohio State II?

The idea of an Ohio State/Michigan rematch in the BCS Championship game is starting to get more media attention. This is a possibility that started to pop up about three or four weeks ago. The odds of a rematch have increased each of the last few weeks. It’s still not likely to happen but the odds are probably better than most people think.

I don’t think Texas, Notre Dame, Tennessee and California can make the BCS Championship game over the loser of the OSU/UM game as long as The Game is fairly close. Ohio State smoked Texas this year and Michigan clobbered Notre Dame. California got blown out by Tennessee in its only loss. I don’t think USC could possibly make the Championship game with a loss to Oregon State. Tennessee is behind them all in the BCS standings. The computers won’t like any of those four teams.

The remaining contenders are; Auburn, Florida, West Virginia/Louisville winner, and Tennessee. If Auburn or Florida finishes the season with one loss, then it will have a good shot at the BCS Championship game over the OSU/UM loser. If both Auburn and Florida lose, the West Virginia/Louisville winner may have a higher BCS rating than the OSU/UM loser. It will be close.

I tried to calculate a ballpark figure on the chances of an OSU/UM rematch based on the events that need to occur. Those events are; Auburn losing, Florida losing, West Virginia/Louisville winner losing, Michigan wins its next two games, Ohio State wins its next two games, and the OSU/UM game being close.

The good news for people hoping for a rematch is that the odds of each of those events happening individually are at least 50%. The way I see things, there’s roughly a 24% chance of an OSU/UM rematch. There are other factors that I didn’t include in the calculation like Auburn/Tennessee finishing with one loss but not having to play in the SEC Championship game.

Another important thing to remember is that even if Auburn or Florida wins out, it is still possible for the OSU/UM loser to finish ahead of them in the BCS standings. That means the odds of a rematch are probably even higher because there might not need to be any teams to lose for a rematch to happen. The current gap between #2 Michigan and #3 West Virginia is huge. It’s even bigger between Michigan and #4 Florida. A lot will depend on how far the human voters drop the OSU/UM loser. If it appears evident that Ohio State and Michigan are the two best teams in college football (a strong possibility considering their body of work, BCS rating heading into The Game, and their 1-2 ranking heading into The Game) then voters may drop the loser to #2 knowing that would probably be enough to secure a rematch. The computers probably won’t drop the loser below #2 unless it’s a blowout.

Kirk Herbstreit had been trying to downplay the possibility the last week on ESPN but I think he is starting to realize the chances are much better than he had thought. An OSU/Michigan match-up in the BCS Championship game is definitely in play. It won’t take a miracle or combination of unlikely events for it to happen either. It’ll only require a close game on November 18 to be a major possibility. I’m not necessarily an advocate of a rematch. I’ll have much more on my personal opinion in a future post. There is no question that a rematch would be a historical event never before seen in the history of The Game.

Odds of Going Undefeated Week Ten

Although I had a pretty good idea that USC would lose before the regular season ended, I had no idea that it would lose to Oregon State. I’m sure a lot of you remember that Oregon State got annihilated by Boise State earlier in the season 42-14. I don’t know what that says for a USC/Boise State match-up but I do know that Oregon State, albeit improved, isn’t a good football team. That loss likely leaves USC out of the BCS Championship game even if a one-loss team is one of the participants because USC has the worst loss out of the one-loss contenders. For the first time since the season began, the overall number of projected undefeated teams went down. You can blame that on USC although I doubt that people around these parts mind. I certainly don’t. My odds still show two undefeated teams but I think there will be three counting Boise State.

Top 6
(Odds of going undefeated)

1 Boise State-----60.75%
2 Ohio State-----58.81%
3 Michigan-------39.20%
4 W. Virginia-----17.23%
5 Louisville-------17.23%
6 Rutgers---------11.11%

Teams that dropped from last week’s list (along with pre-season rank in terms of odds): #2 USC

Biggest Jump (percentage): Rutgers +7.49%

Current overall chance of undefeated team(s) (100%=1 undefeated team, 200%=2 undefeated teams etc.): 194.20%

Odds that current one-loss teams will win out:

(If Arkansas wins the SEC West, then Auburn’s odds of winning out double to roughly 45%. If Florida and Tennessee win the rest of their SEC games, then Tennessee’s odds of winning out double to roughly 27%)

1 Texas------------45.94%
2 Notre Dame-----42.32%
3 Cal---------------29.17%
4 Wisconsin-------24.75%
5 Auburn----------24.75%
6 Florida-----------23.51%
7 BC----------------18.23%
8 USC-------------15.83%
9 Tennessee------13.50%
10 Arkansas-------1.25%
11 Texas A&M-----0.83%
12 Wake Forest---0.49%

Friday, October 27, 2006

To Sean Casey and Kenny Rogers


I'm glad that's over.

When your favorite team cruises into the World Series playing great baseball, you don’t exactly expect a collapse of historical proportions. But, that’s what fans of the Detroit Tigers were treated to over the last week. I have never seen a more pathetic display of baseball played in the World Series in my lifetime. The Tigers weren’t just bad, they were record-breaking bad. No team in MLB had three hitters go 0-10 to start a World Series until the 2006 Tigers. No team since 1979 recorded at least one error in five straight World Series games until the 2006 Tigers. The Tigers also shattered the record for most errors by pitchers in a World Series. This wasn’t a case of one or two players having an off series. They sucked as a team. The coaching was terrible. The pitching was atrocious. The hitting was even worse. The fielding was even worse than that. The only question is whether the Tigers played worse in their Division-losing failure against the Kansas City Royals to end the regular season or their World Series-losing choke job against the Cardinals.

It’s easy to call someone out with the luxury of hindsight so I won’t go too much into this but I bet Jim Leyland and Co. are singing a different tune about having a week off before the World Series. To a man, the players and coaches said that the layoff would not affect the Tigers. Clearly, that was not the case. No team has ever been more obviously unprepared to play in the World Series than the 2006 Tigers. The hitters had no plate discipline whatsoever. The pitchers fell behind in the count so often it was almost as if that was the game-plan. They played miserably in every game of the series including their lone victory in which they almost lost in the 9th inning.

Ironically, the two best players in the World Series (on either team) played for the Tigers. Kenny Rogers and Sean Casey were fantastic. Rogers won the Tigers only game of the series in dominating fashion. He pitched eight innings of no-run ball to baffle the Cardinals. Casey kept the Tigers from getting embarrassed in the other games. He was an amazing 9 for 17 in the series accounting for more than a quarter of the Tigers’ hits. He also drove in almost half of the Tigers runs in the series. I feel bad for Rogers and Casey. They showed up on the biggest stage when none of their teammates did. They deserve to be recognized by Tigers fans. I knew Casey would help this team considerably when Dave Dombrowski hijacked him from the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had no idea that he would be the only hitter worth paying in the World Series.

The Tigers were not supposed to reach the World Series this season. My anger and frustration is simply a result of knowing that the Tigers “could” have won the World Series had they not choked. The reality is that it was amazing that the Tigers made it this far with such a young and undisciplined team. Next year was always supposed to be the year that the Tigers would contend. The fact that they did it a year early isn’t a bad thing. The goal of this post is to get all of my aggravation out of the way so I can focus on next season which I assure you is worth focusing on. There couldn’t have been a more disappointing end to the season but there also could not be more hope for next season. I’ll tackle that subject in my next Tigers post.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Simulated Gambling Week Nine

Last week didn’t work out for me too well as I only mustered a 9-8 record. I thought I might have more success if I took the home team in favorable lines. Now I’m back to my “bread and butter” with 15 road teams. This is the largest collection of games that I’ve picked in any week thus far as I attempt to make up for all of my disappointment in just one day. My summary for each pick will be shorter due to time constraints.

Season record to date: 54-46-3

(Home team in CAPS; My picks in Bold)


Va. Tech is terrible. I made a rule to never pick another Thursday night game again but I had to come out of retirement for this one game. Clemson should roll.

TULSA -15 Utep

UTEP isn’t that bad.

Notre Dame -13 NAVY

I expect Notre Dame to dominate the line of scrimmage which means Navy won’t be able to run. That spells doom for the Midshipmen and so does their weak secondary.

Brigham Young University -8 AIR FORCE

BYU has been killing teams but I don’t foresee Air Force going down without a fight.

TULANE -5.5 Army

I’ve been on a roll picking against Army. Only Temple, Utah State and Texas A&M (see below) couldn’t cover at -5.5 against Army.

Texas A&M -4.5 BAYLOR

Texas A&M scares me because they barely beat Army. But, they are the better team. Odds are the better team will win by at least five points.


I could get burned by taking ASU this late in the season but I expect a letdown from Washington after barely losing to Cal last week.

KENT -7 Ohio

Kent is a very good MAC team but so is Ohio. This one should be close.

NEVADA -18 New Mexico State

New Mexico State can put points on the board. I expect many points from both sides which should keep this baby close.


This just comes down to my feeling that Kentucky is better than MSU.

SAN JOSE STATE -9 Louisiana Tech

San Jose State has a good record but they’ve had close wins over bad teams.


This is a vote for Miami’s pride. They’ll play hard.

MISSOURI -2.5 Oklahoma

I might live to regret this pick but I think OU’s defense will be too tough for a good Missouri team.

UCLA -1 Washington State

Home teams in the Pac-10 usually play well. This will be the last game UCLA game that I pick if I don’t get it right.

Vanderbilt -9 DUKE

Vandy isn’t bad. Duke is. I’m hoping that comes out to a ten point win for Vandy.

Auburn -18.5 MISSISSIPPI

In recent years, Auburn has crushed weaker SEC teams.

FLORIDA -14 Georgia

Georgia played Tennessee extremely tough for two quarters. They still have a good defense. I think they’ll keep it close (or get killed early).

Southern Cal -11.5 OREGON STATE

I decided not to pick any USC games this year because they’ve been so inconsistent. But, I saw Oregon State earlier in the year at Boise State and they looked atrocious. If they can’t whoop Oregon State, then USC is nowhere close to the second best team in the nation.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bonderman Deserved Better

I don’t know how the World Series is going to end. The Tigers could easily get wins from Jeremy Bonderman in game four and Kenny Rogers in game six to force a game seven. What I do know is that Jim Leyland “dropped the ball” big-time by limiting Bonderman to one start in the series. The Tigers have had two remarkable pitchers in the playoffs in Rogers and Bonderman. Justin Verlander wasn’t good in game one of the World Series and he wasn’t good in his previous two playoff starts either. In fact, Verlander hasn’t been consistent since July. Why would Leyland make him the starter for game one with two months of shady pitching to show for it?

Whether Verlander or Nate Robertson should have gotten slotted for two starts is a tough call. I could have understood either decision. Whether both should have been slotted for two starts is definitely not a tough call. In game one against the Cardinals, Verlander did exactly what he had done against the Yankees and A’s; he struggled. Now, the Tigers find themselves in a 2-1 hole with another start from Verlander and the potential for another Robertson/Carpenter match-up both of which are unappealing at best.

I don’t know how Bonderman is going to pitch tomorrow. I do know that over the last month, he has pitched considerably better than both Robertson and Verlander. Outside of Rogers, he gives the Tigers the best chance of winning by a long shot. I don’t know why he wasn’t put in a position to pitch two games. In fact, I don’t know why he wasn’t put in a position to pitch two games in the Oakland series. Had Bonderman pitched game one, he would have been slated to pitch against Anthony Reyes in a pivotal game five. He also would have had a chance at coming away with a win in game one at home where he has been fantastic in the playoffs. Not only would it have given the Tigers their best shot at winning the Series, Bonderman earned the chance to pitch twice based on his previous performances. Instead, Bonderman only gets one start in the series and it’s on the road.  I don’t know what Leyland could have gained by doing this but it irritated me a week ago and it irritates me now.

I don’t mind seeing the Tigers lose but when they aren’t going down with their best on the mound, it sucks to watch. This was the worst and most inexplicable decision Leyland made this year and it could very well cost the Tigers a shot at the WS. If the Tigers’ bats don’t get going, it’s a moot point but Verlander fell apart two months ago. Bonderman has been on fire.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Odds of Going Undefeated Week Nine

Nobody dropped out of the group of undefeated teams but Rutgers’ win over Pittsburgh sets up the possibility of a second battle of unbeaten teams in the Big East between the West Virginia/Louisville winner and Rutgers. Barring a big-time upset, Boise State will go undefeated. That’s good for Boise State but irrelevant for the rest of the college football world. I did change the game odds for some of Boise State’s remaining games because it appears as though it is considerably better than any team in its conference. Ohio State and Michigan will most certainly play for a spot in the BCS Championship on November 18. Right now, it looks as though USC, Auburn, Florida, West Virginia/Louisville winner, and the loser of the OSU/Michigan game have the best shot at being the second team in the BCS Championship game.

Top 7
(odds of going undefeated)

1 Ohio State-----55.87%
2 Boise State----50.63%
3 Michigan------38.81%
4 W. Virginia----21.53%
5 Louisville------21.53%
6 USC------------15.04%
7 Rutgers---------3.62%

Teams that dropped from last week’s list (along with pre-season rank in terms of odds): None

Biggest Jump (percentage): Boise State +17.82, Michigan + 12.94

Current overall chance of undefeated team(s) (100%=1 undefeated team, 200%=2 undefeated teams etc.): 207.03

Odds that current one-loss teams will win out:

(If Arkansas wins the SEC West, then Auburn’s odds of winning out double to roughly 45%.)

1 Notre Dame-----40.21%
2 Texas------------34.45%
3 Cal----------------29.17%
4 Auburn----------22.28%
5 Wisconsin-------22.28%
6 BC----------------18.04%
7 Clemson---------17.50%
8 Florida------------8.82%
9 Tennessee--------8.10%
10 Missouri---------1.74%
11 Arkansas---------1.19%
12 Texas A&M------0.75%
13 Wake Forest-----0.33%

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rogers Fiasco Overblown for Ratings

The Tigers had to win game two of the World Series last night to avoid a 0-2 hole and they did just that. Thanks to Tim McCarver and 21st century technology, the focus of the baseball world isn’t on the deadlocked series; rather it is on whether or not Kenny Rogers cheated. I have to admit that the abundance of subplots to this World Series has caught me off guard. If you’re a columnist covering the 2006 Series, you have any number of angles to cover. In fact, you could just blindfold yourself, and pick one of the following out of a hat and you’d have a “juicy” story:

A) Kenny Rogers’ 23 inning postseason scoreless streak
B) The mystery substance on Rogers’ hand
C) The Jim Leyland-Tony La Russa relationship
D) The Todd Jones-Jeff Weaver war of words

Chances are after last night, most people will be writing about “B” at least until game three, if not longer. Like most controversies, I don’t stand firmly on one side or the other. It’s not a black and white issue in my mind. If Rogers did cheat, he won’t ever admit to it, nor will any of his teammates if they knew about it. For the rest of time, whether Rogers cheated or not will be total speculation. Did Rogers purposefully put a substance on his hand to gain an advantage? I have no idea. But, let’s delve into the issue a little deeper.

Although nobody will ever know the whole story, the situation didn’t have to end with such uncertainty. After McCarver took it upon himself to interfere with the game and accuse Rogers of having an illegal substance on his hand in front of millions of TV sets, the St. Louis Cardinals organization was well aware of the issue. Without an appeal by the opposition, the umpires have no reason to inspect the players. The Cardinals had every reason to appeal and they only did so half-heartedly. Had they approached the umpires mid-inning, their likely would have been a George Brett-style inquisition but the Cardinals did no such thing. You can argue the merits of that decision all you want, but even if Rogers was cheating, there was no way for him to be caught without an appeal by the Cardinals which never happened.

Just how Rogers came to remove the substance is the source of massive confusion at this point but it apparently occurred after the first inning. After Rogers removed the substance, he proceeded to pitching seven more innings of one-hit ball. He stifled the Cardinals more in the next seven innings combined than he did in the first inning. That’s not to say that Rogers didn’t cheat. Like I said above, we’ll never know. The only reason why this is an issue in the first place is because an announcer decided to fancy himself an umpire from the announcer’s booth. The number of times in MLB history that pitchers and batters have cheated without being caught probably approaches the thousands at a minimum. Those players weren’t caught because the other team didn’t know it was happening and thus didn’t appeal. When players do get caught, it is because the other team notices something isn’t right and brings it to the attention of the umpires. Nobody has ever gotten caught (at least to my knowledge) by an announcer calling out a player on national television. It was reported that some St. Louis Cardinals hitters said that the ball was moving kind of funny during the first inning and brought it to the attention of Tony La Russa. I guess that was supposed to be evidence that Rogers was doctoring the ball. Since the Cardinals best inning of the night was the first inning, I can only imagine that the ball was even funnier over the next seven innings sans-substance.

My guess is that there weren’t any Cardinals that actually said that to La Russa. To the best of my knowledge, every Cardinals player denied having any suspicions of Rogers during the game. La Russa likely made that claim to bolster his argument to the umpires. The real way the Cardinals found out about the substance was undoubtedly when organization officials, having seen McCarver call out Rogers on national television, passed along the message to the dugout. La Russa was obviously unsure as to how to proceed after receiving secondhand information. I’m sure that he feels much more comfortable broaching the situation with firsthand suspicion rather than hearing through the “grapevine” that some guy on TV made the claims. If La Russa acts on that information and turns out to be wrong, he would have looked like a fool. Some will argue that the potential reward of having Rogers kicked out of the game far outweighs the possibility of looking like a fool. I can understand that but La Russa is the manager. He is in tune with what is going on. He probably cringed at the thought of acting on speculation.

La Russa’s decision to approach the issue with little fanfare aside, the umpires also had a chance to interrogate Rogers. All they did was ask Rogers to remove the substance. They even said after the game that the substance was viewed as dirt. Whether Rogers knew the substance was there or not, members of the Detroit Tigers organization, after seeing McCarver playing forensics examiner on TV, likely informed Rogers to remove the substance to avoid any controversy.

Here are just a few of the reasons why this issue should be put to rest:

-Tim McCarver’s job is to announce the game. His job is not to inspect the players on the field. I am 99.9% sure that McCarver did not see the substance himself. He was likely informed by a video technician or another Fox employee privy to replays.

-In a situation like this, the lynch-mob is almost always led by the opposing team. The Cardinals admitted to not suspecting anything. Even after being informed of the situation, they still didn’t have a problem with it. I can only assume that was because Rogers dominated for seven innings after the substance was removed.

-Regardless of how you feel about the way La Russa handled the situation, he did inform the umpires of the situation. He passed along his suspicions to the umpires. He obviously tried to get Rogers checked out. As far as I know, La Russa was perfectly content with how the situation was handled.

-The umpires, knowing MLB’s procedures on handling suspicious substances, had every opportunity to dissect the situation.

- Apparently, ESPN dug up footage from the first and second rounds of the 2006 playoffs which showed a similar substance on Rogers’ hand. That is supposed to “prove” that Rogers had cheated before. The problem being that the neither Yankees nor the A’s made appeals.

-As big of a story as this would be if Rogers had actually been kicked out of the game, that never even came close to happening. The media has a “juicy” story and they’re going to give it every chance to fly. “Juice” equals ratings. They are putting on the “full-court press” with hopes this becomes a huge storyline. Unfortunately for the media, nobody else is making an issue of it.

So, what we have is an opponent that doesn’t care, a crew of umpires that were informed of the situation and spoke to Rogers, a dominant pitching performance that became even more dominant after the substance was removed, and no conceivable way of proving the identity of the substance. How did we get to the point where the media cares more about the situation than any of the participants involved? I guess since it was a member of the media that made the story, it only makes sense for the media to be pushing a dead-end story.

A Performance of Historic Proportions

There have been great post-season pitching performances before. Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Jack Morris and Orel Hershisher are just a few of the players that have shined in the World Series. While all of those players were spectacular in leading their teams to World Series Championships, none of them accomplished what Kenny Rogers is accomplishing right now. Heading into the 2006 postseason, Rogers had given up 20 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings. That equates to an abysmal 8.85 ERA. In 23 innings in the 2006 postseason, Rogers has given up zero runs in 23 innings. In fact, he is only four scoreless innings from owning the postseason record for consecutive zeros. The current holder of that record only happens to be one of the five greatest pitchers in MLB history, Christy Mathewson.

Even more remarkable is the fact that Rogers had developed a reputation for being one of the worst second-half pitchers in baseball. Rogers pitched well enough during the first half of the season to be selected as the American League starter for the All Star game. What transpired after the All Star start can only be described as a disaster. In seven starts, Rogers lasted just 31 innings. In those starts, he produced an unfathomable ERA of 9.29. Tigers fans were wondering how the team could possibly survive the postseason with a staff ace performing that poorly. Rogers quieted most of those concerns by pitching well to end the season. He pitched so well, in fact, that his post-All Star game ERA was actually less than his pre-All Star game ERA. It was a nice way to end a successful regular season.

What happened after the season ended has been nothing short of shocking. Rogers took his career 6.45 ERA into a first round match-up against the Yankees. Up to that point, Rogers had never lasted longer than 5 1/3 innings in the postseason. He promptly dominated the Yankees by giving up zero runs on only five hits over 7 2/3 innings. He then smoked the Oakland A’s by giving up zero runs and just two hits over 7 1/3 innings. Those performances were precursors for his dominances on the biggest of stages against the Cardinals in the World Series. Rogers baffled the Cardinals by giving up zero runs and two hits over eight innings. This postseason, Rogers has 19 strike outs in 23 innings. That amounts to 8.3 K/IP. His career mark is only 6.0. Just in case the enormity of Rogers’ accomplishments has gone unnoticed, here are his 2006 postseason stats compared to his career statistics:

Kenny Rogers------Innings--W/L----ERA----WHIP----K/IP

2006 Postseason-------23------3-0------0.00----.69-------8.3

What Rogers has done is, by far, the most unbelievably dominating performance I have ever seen in a MLB postseason. He is one start away from delivering the greatest statistical postseason in baseball history. He is four innings from owning the most dominating stretch of postseason pitching the history-rich sport has ever witnessed. The scale of his performance is going largely unnoticed by the baseball world. Sure, fans and media alike have noticed that Rogers has pitched well. But, there is a nationwide ignorance as to exactly what Rogers is accomplishing. In an ESPN poll of 52,000 respondents, 50.8% said that Rogers’ performance was “Outstanding but not quite legendary.” Only 31.7% said that Rogers’ performance was “Among the best in baseball history.” Not only has his performance been among the best in baseball history statistically speaking, the fact that Rogers’ had failed so miserably in past postseasons makes this even more remarkable. I have never seen an athlete transcend his/her game when the stakes were higher in my lifetime. In just one season, he has already done enough to go down as one of the Tigers all-time greats. Should the Tigers win the World Series as many have predicted, Rogers should be prepared to gain cult-like status in Detroit. I find this whole development fascinating and totally unexpected as this post that I wrote from last year probably indicates. What a difference a year makes!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Simulated Gambling Week Eight

Weak! My weekly picks post should be shut down and declared a hazard to the health of my readers. At this point in the season, I should be at least 20 games over .500. I am taking drastic action to remedy the situation. I have picked a season-high 17 games with the hope that I’ll shed the failed expectations for that of what I intended when the season began. Some of you may have noticed that my “moneymaker” tends to be road teams that have been undeservingly slighted by the odds-makers just by simply being a road team. However, the last few weeks haven’t helped much. So, I’ve actually picked nine home teams this week. Hopefully this diverse pool of picks will pay off. Wish me luck (unless you hate me)!

Season Record: 45-38-3

(Home team in CAPS; My picks in Bold)

West Virginia -21 CONNECTICUT

I might live to regret this pick. WVU seems to sleepwalk through games. But, I think it could beat Connecticut by 21 on “accident”.

Louisville -16.5 SYRACUSE

Syracuse deserves some “props” for being better than expected. However, I think Brian Brohm will be looking to establish Louisville’s explosive offense in the tune-up to the Big East game of the year against West Virginia.

ARKANSAS -15.5 Mississippi

Arkansas has undergone a makeover since its embarrassing home-loss to USC in the season-opener. This is a team that puts up big-time points. Mississippi stinks.

NOTRE DAME -12.5 Ucla

Notre Dame’s defense scares me a bit but UCLA won’t be able to stop Notre Dame at home. A fourth quarter score by UCLA may do me in but if that doesn’t happen, then I think I’ve got this one.

AUBURN -32 Tulane

This smells like a 50+ point game for Auburn.


Do you think Garrett Wolfe is going to be pissed after laying an egg against Western Michigan last week? Temple is far and away the worst team in D-1 football. This could be a 300 yard day for him.


Michigan usually switches to ball control mode with a two touchdown lead in the second half. That leads me to believe that Iowa may stick around just long enough to keep this one under 15 points.

Texas -6.5 NEBRASKA

Nebraska already proved that it can’t hang with the big boys when it was smoked by USC. Texas is a “big boy”. Texas is also in the unenviable position of having to impress the computers. It’ll try to score as many points as possible.

CLEMSON -8 Georgia Tech

Who would’ve thought that this would be the game of the year in the ACC? I certainly didn’t. To be honest, I’m actually glad to see some new blood after Florida State, Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech had been the dominant teams in their conference(s) (ACC and Big East). Georgia Tech is too good and Clemson is too flaky for this to be a blow out.


What’s up with the Cougars getting some love every week by the odds-makers? The lock of the century was last week when Cal was only a 7.5 point favorite over WSU. This is pretty close to a lock but I won’t go that far.

Texas Christian University -11 ARMY

Army played TCU tough two years ago. That doesn’t mean much to me. TCU should smoke the Black Knights.

Miami (FL) -17.5 DUKE

People need to remember that this is still Duke football! I don’t care how many players are suspended from Miami. Duke scored a combined ZERO points against Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Richmond. All three of those teams are terrible.

PITTSBURGH -6.5 Rutgers

This is just a pick for “Rutgers putting up a fight at the very least.” I don’t know who is going to win this game but I haven’t seen anything that tells me that Rutgers can’t play with Pittsburgh. I would love to see the Scarlet Knights win.

CALIFORNIA -23 Washington

I may pay for this pick and, really, you could make an argument for either team. However, the Pac-10 has more meaningless fourth quarter points scored than any conference. Even if Washington gets smoked, there is a decent chance that it’ll score a few points in the fourth quarter to cover. Plus, Washington isn’t terrible.

South Carolina-3 VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt is a decent, possibly bowl bound team. South Carolina is better. I’ll take the “better” team -3 in just about every match-up. If a team wins, odds are it’ll win by more than three.


Texas A&M beat a very good Missouri team last week. Oklahoma State showed some life last week too but still gave up 32 points to Kansas. Texas A&M “should” win this game.

FLORIDA STATE -9.5 Boston College

I’m pretty sure I know the three best teams in the ACC and none of them are Florida State. Ironically, one of those teams is BC who happens to be a 9.5 underdog to Florida State. Go figure. I’ll take BC.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Odds of Going Undefeated Week Eight

The SEC finished eliminating itself from any shot at an undefeated regular season on Saturday. Auburn took down Florida leaving the SEC with three highly ranked one-loss teams. Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida will have to take the back-door into the BCS Championship game if they want a shot at the National Title. The good news for the SEC is that it now appears possible for a one-loss SEC team to jump an undefeated Big East team. As long as USC loses, an SEC team could very well make it. I hadn’t thought about this option before today because I didn’t realize how weak Louisville and West Virginia’s BCS ratings were going to be. There are a lot of things that can happen before the end of the season but I’ll play out the most likely scenarios below.

Top 7
(odds of going undefeated)

1 Ohio State-----48.88%
2 Boise State----32.81%
3 Michigan-------25.87%
4 W. Virginia----18.70%
5 Louisville-------17.23%
6 USC-------------15.04%
7 Rutgers----------0.83%

Teams that dropped from last week’s list (along with pre-season rank in terms of odds): #21 Florida, #44 Missouri

Biggest Jump (percentage): Ohio State +12.22%, Michigan + 8.62%

Current overall chance of undefeated team(s) (100%=1 undefeated team, 200%=2 undefeated teams etc.): 159.37%

Pinpointing the National Title Game:

I am of the belief that there will be three undefeated teams at the end of the regular season (including Boise State). Boise State will not play a factor in the BCS Championship game, so I think there will be two relevant undefeated teams left at the end of the season. Those two teams will be the winners of the Ohio State/Michigan and West Virginia/Louisville games. Since BCS rating won’t be a problem for the Ohio State/Michigan winner, I think it’s safe to say that one of those teams will be in the Championship game. The questions that need to be answered are:

Will a one-loss team jump an undefeated Big East team in the BCS Standings?

How many one-loss teams will there be at the end of the regular season?

Can USC beat California, Oregon, and Notre Dame?

How far will USC (if it loses), and the loser of the Michigan/Ohio State game fall in the BCS standings?

Without having those answers, it’s impossible to narrow down the Championship game to two or three candidates. But, I am confident that the National Championship game will be one of the following match-ups:

Ohio State vs. USC
Michigan vs. USC

If USC doesn’t lose, it will play a Big Ten team in the BCS Championship game. Since I think it would take a miracle for USC to win-out, I don’t think the Trojans will play for the Championship in January. I would be shocked if USC beat California, Oregon, and Notre Dame.

Ohio State vs. West Virginia
Michigan vs. West Virginia

West Virginia needs to do one thing and hope for two others. First, West Virginia has to beat Louisville. Next, it needs USC to lose. Then, it needs to hope that its BCS rating stays ahead of the top one-loss teams (Auburn and Florida).

Ohio State vs. Louisville
Michigan vs. Louisville

See West Virginia

Ohio State vs. Auburn
Michigan vs. Auburn

Auburn’s best bet to the Championship game is having Arkansas win the conference which means Auburn wouldn’t have to play Florida again in the SEC Championship. At that point, Auburn would need USC to lose, and hope to have a higher BCS rating than the West Virginia/Louisville winner and Florida.

Ohio State vs. Florida
Michigan vs. Florida

If Florida is going to finish in the top two, it will have to win the SEC Championship game against Arkansas or Auburn and then hope USC loses and its BCS rating is ahead of the West Virginia/Louisville winner and Auburn.

Ohio State vs. Michigan

If Michigan and Ohio State play a classic, and USC loses, it is possible for a rematch in the BSC Championship game. There is precedent for a rematch of a late-season classic between the top two teams in the country. That occurred in 1996 when Florida and Florida State played again in the Sugar Bowl only a month after they played the first time. I don’t think it’s that improbable for that to happen again this year. Both teams will have stellar computer ratings even after this game. It will likely be up to the human polls. If the voters want a rematch, they will only drop the loser to #2.

I don’t think Texas, Tennessee, Notre Dame or California can make the BCS game unless Florida AND Auburn lose again and Michigan loses to Iowa and the winner of the West Virginia/Louisville loses a game. I would be tempted to bet my house that those things aren’t going to happen.

In my opinion, these are the top three possibilities:

1). Ohio State/Michigan winner vs. Auburn

2). Ohio State/Michigan winner vs. West Virginia

3). Ohio State vs. Michigan

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Marvelous Detroit

I’m at a loss for words regarding the Tigers as I’m sure most of you are. Just when I think that I can explain everything in its proper perspective, I realize that my words will fall embarrassingly short of properly capturing how unbelievable (and yes, magg-ical) the Tigers have been. We saw a team go from a frustrating disaster (season-ending sweep to the Royals) to a post-season juggernaut in just two weeks. For some inexplicable reason, everything fell into place at the most opportune time. The Tigers were so good over the last two weeks that the NLCS is still a minimum of two games from being over. Mags’ walk-off homerun will go down as one of the greatest moments in Detroit sports history. I can’t help but to think this season is like the Cleveland Indians from “Major League”. They beat the Yankees in the ALCS and the movie ended there. We didn’t find out until Major League II that the Indians lost in the World Series. It’s almost as if this “movie” should end right now. It’s hard to imagine that Mags’ homer wasn’t the climactic moment of the season. Whatever happens from here on out, the fact that the Tigers made the World Series at a minimum this season makes the future one of infinite hope.

While it would’ve been nice to attend the series-clincher on Saturday, or be able to use my now-void game five tickets on Sunday, I did manage to attend game three on Friday night. Friday marked everything that is great about this post-season run. Downtown Detroit was hoppin’. Tigers fans admirably adjusted to MLB’s screw-job on the start time for the game. The weather was typical Michigan fall brilliance. The skyline was as majestic as it was intended to be when the stadium plans were finalized. On the way into the gates, I asked my brother what the odds were that Kenny Rogers could pitch as well as he did the last time we saw him in person (game three against the Yankees). We concluded that the odds were almost nil considering that was one of the best pitched games that either of us had ever seen. Well, Kenny was every bit as good and in some ways, he was even better.

Friday was a remarkable experience in ways that Auburn Hills could never be. The Silverdome and The Palace provided their fair share of memorable moments but those moments were confined to the space inside those venues. Whereas the time spent before and after games at those facilities were relegated to the time it took to walk to and from the parking lot, I was a guest in Detroit from 12:30pm to 10:00pm. When it was time to leave, I found myself looking for reasons to stay. The event wasn’t just the game, but rather the day as a whole which was in stark contrast to my initial expectations. Fishbone was a great pre-game warm-up. The tallest indoor waterfall in the world provided an excellent backdrop (and yes, they have contingency plans in case another restaurant steals the record). Also, the $3.75 for a 16 oz of Miller Light seems like a bargain compared to Comerica’s $8/20oz bank-breaker.

The day was surely more than complete once the last out was recorded from the Tigers glorious victory, but every Sundae needs a cherry on top (or extra hot fudge if you don’t like cherries). That turned out to be a post-game rendezvous at Pegasus. What was initially termed a “30-minute wait” turned into immediate seating before we could make the trek over to Pizza Papalis. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the food at Pegasus. It was such a contrast from my normal diet of pizza and burgers. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu. The dining was, indeed, fantastic but the true “icing on the cake” came when our waiter informed us that Lou Piniella and Thom Brennaman were eating just a few tables down. Yes, that is the same Thom Brennaman that I wrote about on Thursday regarding his creation of a fictitious wrestler named George “The Animal” Smith. I became giddy at the thought of actually being able to talk to Brennaman about the subject.

When we left our table, I could see Brennaman and Piniella clearly. Unfortunately, Brennaman was on the phone. I am almost certain that he was being informed that Steve Lyons (Piniella and Brennaman’s on-air partner for the ALCS) had been fired for insensitive remarks about the Spanish culture he made on-air during game three. It would have been rude to walk up to the table while he was obviously preoccupied (or at any time actually) but that didn’t stop me from shouting out “it’s George “The Animal” STEELE!” I can’t help but to blame everything on Steve Lyons. Had he taken Spanish in high school or taken an etiquette course in how not to offend foreign cultures, I may have had a chance to question Brennaman on the subject first hand. Instead, we were greeted by a warm wave (yes, while he was on the phone) which was an appropriate end to the night. There’s no doubt in my mind that Brennaman didn’t hear what I said which is probably the best way that could’ve ended.

Go Tigers!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

George "The Animal" Smith

Those of you that watched the Tigers game tonight know the significance of the post title. I wish I didn’t watch the game by myself so I could share in the hilarity that was Fox announcer Thom Brennaman. The Fox telecast features a “Player Profile” segment that digs into a player’s personal tastes. The 7th inning profile featured Oakland’s Jason Kendall. “Favorite Wrestler” came up and it listed Kendall’s favorite wrestler as Stone Cold Steve Austin. I can’t argue with that. Stone Cold was sweet. I had a giant life-size cardboard cut out of Austin in college. The bad news is that the Stone Cold pin up got more action than I did in college. Anyhow, what I can argue with was Brennaman’s choice for favorite wrestler. He said, “my favorite wrestler was George “The Animal” Smith….” At this point, I thought it was just an honest mistake and he meant George “The Animal” Steele. But, he followed that with “his son James Laurinaitis plays for the Ohio State Buckeyes.” LOL! I have nothing against Brennaman. I just think it’s awesome that he made up a wrestler. In wrestling history, there was George “The Animal” Steele born in Detroit, Michigan home of the Detroit Tigers!) and Animal (of the Road Warriors). Animal (of the Road Warriors) is James Laurinaitis’ dad and Brennamen’s intended answer. There has never been a George “The Animal” Smith. Brennaman was so enthusiastic about his answer that I’m almost saddened by the fact that it isn’t true.

Let’s see how Brennaman used various unrelated people to mix and match to come up with his made-up favorite wrestler (extracted words in bold). Notice that nothing from Brennaman’s intended answer was actually used.

George “The Animal” Steele

Animal (Joseph Laurinaitis)

Smith (most common last name in America)

Also, I'd like to give major props to the "Lost" writers for brilliantly weaving sports into their crazy-freaky storyline. It literally sent chills down my spine when Henry Gale (or Ben Linus) showed footage of the Red Sox winning the World Series to a disbelieving Jack to prove that "The Others" do have contact with the outside world.

The best part about this post is that the Tigers won which allowed me to write about something as trivial as this. Go Tigers and go Mark "the Bird" Ordonez!

Simulated Gambling Week Seven

I just found out over the weekend about a bill passed in congress that will essentially eliminate almost all forms of online gambling. So, if you’re planning on making money off of my picks, you’ll have to a) move to Las Vegas, or b) find yourself a bookie. I managed to claw through another week of college football with a decent 7-5-1 record. Hopefully my picks this week will be better than that. Despite being eight games over .500 for the season, I am disappointed with the results thus far. I expected to be a little better.

Season record to date: 40-32-2

(Home team in CAPS; My pick in Bold)

NAVY -2 Rutgers

If Rutgers is wondering whether it is being taken seriously across the country, this line says the answer is no. Navy isn’t bad. The Midshipmen run a difficult offense to defend. Rutgers comes in to this game with one of the top rushing attacks in college football. The over/under on total combined passing yards in this game should be around 200. But, Rutgers should be too much for Navy to handle.

TEXAS A&M PK Missouri

If Missouri is wondering whether it is being taken seriously cross the country, this line says the answer is no. Missouri is a good team. It proved that by smoking Texas Tech last week. I would be surprised if Mizzou doesn’t win this game.

AUBURN -2.5 Florida

If Florida is wondering whether it is being taken seriously across the country, this line says the answer is no. Florida is almost halfway through the most difficult schedule in college football. It has passed its first two tests against Tennessee and LSU. Auburn looked every bit as good as Florida until last week when the Tigers were pummeled at home by Arkansas. I’ll take Florida to win against the spread and straight up.

California -7.5 WASHINGTON STATE

If California is wondering whether it is being taken seriously across the country, this line says the answer is no. California should destroy Washington State. I don’t have much else to say about this game.

Boise State -21 NEW MEXICO STATE

I can finally use a different sentence to start one of these summaries. Boise State is undoubtedly a different team on the road but it still managed to crush Utah at Utah last week. By the way, that Utah +4 line should go down as the worst line in college football history. New Mexico State is very bad. I’ll take Boise to trounce on the road.

Maryland -2 VIRGINIA

I knew Virginia was bad this year but I didn’t know that it was ten points worse than East Carolina. Not knowing that cost me a game last week. If Virginia truly is that bad, then Maryland should take this game by at least two points. This isn’t a vote for Maryland rather a vote against Virginia.

CLEMSON -43 Temple

Temple is bad. If Clemson doesn’t show mercy, this line should be good for Clemson even at -50.

WISCONSIN -10.5 Minnesota

Wisconsin is a good team but Minnesota is almost a mirror image of Wisconsin. I can’t see this game being a blow out. With a win, Wisconsin will remain on pace for a surprising New Year’s Day bowl game.

Michigan -6.5 PENN STATE

I thought about taking this pick off the board when it was discovered that Mario Manningham would not play in this game. However, if Michigan’s defense shows up, it should win by more than 6.5 points. I expect PSU to play its best game of the year so this pick could come back to haunt me.

Virginia Tech -2.5 BOSTON COLLEGE

This pick just comes down to my belief that Va. Tech is better than BC. There isn’t much else to say about this game.


This is a pick against Army, not for Connecticut. I’ve been about 50/50 with Army picks this year. Let’s hope I have learned something.

OREGON -10.5 Ucla

Without Ben Olson, UCLA will have its hands full at Oregon. I wouldn’t have touched the initial line which was something like Oregon -7 with Olson healthy. Oregon should relish the chance to come home after getting embarrassed by California. The Ducks should bounce back with a bunch of points.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Top Odds of Going Undefeated Week Seven

The SEC has been reduced to a one-team horse in terms of producing an undefeated team. Since there is every reason to believe that the Big Ten and Big East will both produce an undefeated team, I think it’s safe to say that if Florida loses, the SEC is out of the National Title picture. I no longer expect USC to beat California. That game is a toss-up. My odds show just one undefeated team at this point but those odds have been increasing considerably each week. I still think there will be three undefeated teams. My odds will probably show two undefeated teams by the end of the weekend.

Top 9
(odds of going undefeated)

1 Ohio State------36.66%
2 Boise State-----31.16%
3 W. Virginia-----17.77%
4 Michigan-------17.25%
5 Louisville-------15.07%
6 USC-------------12.03%
7 Florida-----------4.41%
8 Missouri---------0.83%
9 Rutgers----------0.56%

Teams that dropped from last week’s list (along with pre-season rank in terms of odds): #14 Georgia, #16 Auburn, #31 Oregon

Biggest Jump (percentage): Ohio State, Boise State, and Missouri all had significant increases due to adjusted game odds. No team had a particular big jump this week otherwise. USC actually went down considerably due to an adjustment in its game odds.

Current overall chance of undefeated team(s) (100%=1 undefeated team, 200%=2 undefeated teams etc.): 135.75%

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Just the Beginning

The Tigers certainly didn’t have a roster to envy entering the 2006 season. In fact, the Tigers probably didn’t have a roster to envy even after the 2006 regular season. A 95-67 record is nothing short of amazing considering the number of unproven rookies and previously unwanted journeymen that littered the roster over the course of the season. It would be easy to chalk this season up as a fluke with a return to previous form likely for next season. Although I can certainly respect that viewpoint, I just can’t agree with it.

While I respect Jim Leyland for taking over a gloomy situation in Detroit, he is by no means a miracle worker. Alan Trammell sure could’ve used Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones, Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, and the healthy versions of Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. The only miracle worker in the organization is Dave Dombrowski. For the Tigers to use ’06 as merely a stepping stone on the journey to greatness, Dombrowski has to be the man to get it done. The Tigers need an overhaul on the offensive side for this team regardless of how the rest of the playoffs unfold. Fortunately, Dombrowski planted the seeds for said overhaul a few years back when he re-tooled the organization’s pitching through stellar drafts and trades. Dombrowski learned in Florida that the quickest way to rebuild a dreadful franchise is through a surplus of pitching. If there’s one thing that you can be certain about, it’s that every team in baseball needs pitching. The Tigers have the most pitching depth of any organization in baseball. Pitchers are the accepted currency for acquiring good hitters. Dombrowski is no fool. He knows the Tigers used smoke and mirrors on offense this year. His only agenda in the off-season will be to load up on hitters. With Mike Ilitch suddenly interested in the Tigers again, Dombrowski not only has the players to trade but the money to spend. The Tigers may have won by “accident” this year but the upward swing of the organization that we have seen slowly change year by year has been no accident. There is a method to what Dombrowski has done. As a GM, he has put himself in the perfect position to set up the Detroit Tigers as a winning franchise for a long time.

I could write 10 pages on why the Tigers won’t succeed beyond this year. It wouldn’t take much to cite the miserable history of the organization. I could go into how terrible player development has been and how bad the drafts have been. I could even rip the hitters from this year’s team for their woeful lack of plate discipline But, I could write a 20 page paper on why the Tigers will succeed beyond this year. Luckily for you, I won’t make it 20 pages but I will give you the cliff notes version.

Jeremy Bonderman:

I think most Tiger fans don’t realize how young Bonderman actually is after four seasons in Detroit. Bonderman is only 23 years old. Do you know what Randy Johnson was doing when he was 23? He was pitching at AA Jacksonville sporting a 1.63 WHIP.

Here is Bonderman’s progression in Detroit:



How can you not be ecstatic about Bonderman’s potential? Here is a guy who is only 23 years old and has improved every season he’s been in the majors. He shaved a half a run off his ERA this season which is a huge improvement. He finished second in MLB in strikeouts. If this isn’t a guy who’s about to bust out big-time next season, then I don’t know of any. Nobody has been more disappointed with Bonderman’s in-game meltdowns than I have. But, that has been mostly a result of irrational expectations than a fair assessment of his progress. Not only has he improved every season but he has done it with two pitches. Nobody survives in the big leagues with two pitches. Bonderman has managed to make somewhat of a living off of it. There isn’t a team in MLB that wouldn’t jump at the chance to acquire Bonderman. “Bondo” has gone on record saying that his primary objective in the off-season is to develop a change-up. There is no reason, whatsoever, to think that he will not succeed in that endeavor. By definition, Bonderman is already close to being a number one pitcher. As far as I can tell, a “number one pitcher” should be defined as the average number one pitcher across MLB. Since Bonderman was 14th in the AL in ERA this season at 23, it’s no stretch to say that he is on the brink of becoming a number one if he isn’t one already.

Justin Verlander:

Verlander may in fact already be a number one. He was seventh in the AL in ERA which should put him solidly in as a number one pitcher by my definition. It remains to be seen whether Verlander will experience a sophomore slump but at the very least, this guy is a very good pitcher. The way things generally work in baseball is that good young pitchers get better from year to year. Bonderman has been proof. It’s only logical to think that Verlander will improve next season. His repertoire of pitchers is among baseball’s best.

Joel Zumaya:

I get the impression that Zumaya doesn’t want to be a starter. The Tigers would be crazy not to at least try Zumaya out as a starter. The effect that a great closer has on a baseball team is nowhere near the effect that a great starting pitcher has on a baseball team. If there’s any doubt to this assertion, one only needs to look at what Chris Carpenter and Johan Santana did for their teams this year or what Jonathan Paplebon didn’t bring to the Red Sox rotation. The decision becomes difficult if Zumaya proves to be merely an average starting pitcher but a great closer. At that point, it is probably best to let him close. Zumaya won’t be able to throw as hard over the course of an entire game as he can in 1-2 inning stints. Also, Zumaya has already had wrist problems due to the violent nature of his pitches. That would only be exacerbated with a bigger workload. Regardless of whether Zumaya ends up as a SP or a closer, he will be one of the most valuable weapons in baseball over the next decade.

Andrew Miller:

The Tigers stole Miller in the 2006 draft. He showed some control problems in limited action with the Tigers in ’06 but he throws 96 and has nasty off-speed stuff a la Barry Zito. With Robertson and Maroth still under contract for 2007, Miller may not start next season but I would not be surprised if he were better than both by mid 2007. Miller will have an impact in some way next season. At the very least, he will be a lethal lefty coming out of the pen. At the most, he’ll assume a spot in the rotation giving the Tigers one of the youngest and most fearsome rotations in MLB.

Humberto Sanchez:

I got a chance to see Sanchez pitch for one inning in the International League All-Star game this year. He carved up three of the best minor league hitters in baseball. While I would have liked to see him pitch more than once this year, I think Sanchez is the real deal. He will help the Tigers in 2007. The question remains whether he will help the Tigers as a Tiger, or act as trade bait to bring in a top notch hitter. If the Tigers can bring in hitters through free agency, there will be no need to trade Sanchez. With 2007 possibly being Kenny Rogers’ last season, the Tigers will have Verlander, Bonderman, Miller, Sanchez, and Robertson/Maroth in the rotation in 2008. If Dombrowski ships off Robertson or Maroth in the off-season, we could be looking at that rotation as early as next year.

Cameron Maybin:

Barring injury, Maybin will be a star in Detroit. There hasn’t been a player as good as Maybin that has fizzled out in the majors in quite some time. It used to happen all the time (see; Todd Zeile, Greg Anthony, and Jerome Walton). In this day and age, five tool guys are almost always good. The real question is whether Maybin can be good for the Tigers next year. While the Tigers may have a timeline that puts Maybin’s arrival in Detroit at 2008, he would have already been one of the best hitters in the 2006 lineup. He will arrive in Detroit with more plate discipline than half of the current team.

Free Agents:

The 2006 season proved just how little needs to be added to a team to make a significant impact. The Tigers added Todd Jones and Kenny Rogers in the off-season. Neither player is a superstar. In fact, neither player had a particular brilliant regular season. Each brought a reasonable amount of skill and leadership to the Tigers. That was enough to make a significant impact in the “wins” column. Dombrowski made it a point to address pitching in the off-season following 2005. There is no doubt that Dombrowski will address hitting this off-season. With a group of players that includes; Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield, the Tigers front office will put the “full court press” on those free agents. Detroit is no longer an undesirable place to play baseball. Just one of those players would likely have a tremendous affect on run production. Dombrowski will likely try to bring in at least two impact players which could come solely from free agency or through trades. I would love to see the Tigers talk to the Cubs about Derrick Lee. The Tigers have young, talented arms in the organization to pry away one of the best players in baseball. Lee would be the perfect addition to the Tigers.

Florida Marlins:

Dombrowksi knows what he’s doing. He did all of this before with the Marlins. While Dombrowski is in the process of taking the Tigers from last place misery to first place success, he literally took the Marlins from nothing (Marlins didn’t exist before 1993) to World Series Champions in just four seasons. That is one of the most phenomenal feats that any front office executive has done in MLB history. There is no reason to think that he won’t do the same with the Tigers. How can we not be convinced? It’s happening right in front of our eyes. The only difference is that Mike Ilitch won’t force Dombrowski to dump payroll after the Tigers win. That brings me too….

Mike Ilitch:

I went down to the Tigers pep rally last Monday. Detroit Mayer Kwame Kilpatrick thanked Ilitch for buying the Tigers because he was the reason why the Tigers won in 2006. I wanted to scream up to the stage in protest as that is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. Ilitch is the reason why the Tigers were doormats for the 13 years that he had owned the team before this season. That fact should always come before anyone ever credits Ilitch for the 2006 Tigers. The only move that Ilitch ever made to help the Tigers was hiring Dombrowski. Unfortunately, he didn’t make that decision until the Tigers had amassed a 609-783 record under his watch. The team was in such bad shape that Dombrowski’s first two years produced a 98-225 record. Former Tigers GM Randy Smith gets a lot of heat in Detroit and deservedly so. But there is no reason that Smith should get more heat than Ilitch. As anyone who watches “The Apprentice” knows, leaders are responsible for their people. Ilitch allowed Smith to cripple the franchise while refusing to invest the big-time dollars necessary to produce a winning ball club. Ilitch has always said that when the Tigers showed signs of life, he would spend the money to make them good. The ridiculous nature of that comment can’t be quantified as it is illogical at its root. In sports, money comes first, wins come second. Everybody knows that.

However, there is one thing that Ilitch is good for and fortunately the Tigers are in a position to reap the benefits. Since Ilitch has never shied away from spending the money on “good” teams, the Tigers now qualify. I expect Ilitch to spoil the Tigers the way he has the Detroit Red Wings. He will give Dombrowski as close to an unlimited payroll as possible without being the New York Yankees. Money talks and free agents will follow the trail of that money to Detroit. The Tigers have been handcuffed in free agency the last few years because the direction of the organization was a tough sell. Still, Dombrowski was able to bring in Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez. The quality of player that looks at Detroit as a viable option and the interest level of that player will be better than ever before. To think that the Tigers won’t add special talent over the next couple years is to ignore reality. Ilitch is all or nothing. He has been “nothing” for so long that he’ll jump at the chance to produce a winner.


While the Tigers are busy being good right now, Dombrowski will keep bringing in a bumper crop of draft picks each year. History has shown that Dombrowski brings in three or four legitimate prospects per draft at a minimum. While the big league team is winning ball games, the minors are being stuffed to the brim with talented players. Those players will either be the main cogs in high-profile trades or eventually reach the big league club as significant contributors.

The Central Division:

There is no question that the Central Division was by far the toughest division in baseball in 2006. I still can’t figure out how the Chicago White Sox missed the playoffs. They had four players with 30+ HR’s and three players with 100+ RBI’s. However, a closer look at the division reveals a much brighter picture for the Tigers. The Cleveland Indians will probably be better next season but Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore are the only impact players on the whole team. The pitching staff is nowhere near good enough to win the division. The Indians are capable of putting runs on the board but we found out this season just how far they are from having a playoff-caliber pitching staff.

The Kansas City Royals aren’t even worth talking about. Despite the drubbing that the Royals gave the Tigers to end the 2006 season, they are terrible and will be terrible for a long time. FYI—After the Tigers had a 29 game improvement during the 2004 season, ESPN’s Rob Neyer said that in three years, Detroit would have the worst team in MLB by a large margin. Yes, even worse than Neyer’s favorite team, the Kansas City Royals.

That leaves the Twins and White Sox. Don’t look now but the White Sox have an aging team. Jim Thome (36), Jermaine Dye (32), and Paul Konerko (31) will all be at least 31 years old by the beginning of next season. The pitching staff is OK but it isn’t anywhere near the “best pitching staff of all time” as ESPN’s Steve Phillips proclaimed at the beginning of the season. The White Sox will be good next season but with an aging ball club and an overworked pitching staff, I’m not sure they will be better.

The Twins are a different story. They will be around for a long time. Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano (assuming Liriano returns healthy) will battle each other for the Cy Young Award next year. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are the best young 1-2 punch in the AL. The Twins always have good role players and an effective bullpen. They will be around for a while. The Tigers just nearly won the Central despite having a very young and undisciplined team. There is no reason to think that with the maturation of the young pitchers and the addition of more disciplined hitters that this team will be worse than it was this year. Minnesota may have the best players of the two teams (that is certainly debatable) but Detroit has Minnesota beat in a number of important factors including pitching depth in both the big leagues and minors as well as a significant advantage in payroll potential.

The Role Players:

I have grown found of many of the Tigers hitters simply because a lot of them played well beyond their previous career bests. However, the reality is that most of the guys aren’t worth keeping. I love the fact that Marcus Thames had a productive year after all he has been through but his lack of discipline and inability to hit the other way makes him a liability in the order. The same can be said of Inge and Monroe. There isn’t a position player on the Tigers that the organization absolutely needs to keep. However, the players that do end up staying are good enough to be effective role players. When Inge becomes more consistent at third, he will be a fantastic defensive third basemen. He drove in 83 RBI’s as the #9 hitter which has to be one of the most productive seasons from the #9 spot in MLB history. Monroe would be an excellent end of the lineup hitter. He was one assist away from leading all outfielders in that category. Polanco and Guillen are valuable commodities. Mags would be so much better with another bat to protect him in the lineup. The Tigers won’t have to start over from scratch to put together a fantastic lineup. They will merely have to bring in a couple of solid bats to mesh with some solid role players who can already mash. The problem the Tigers had this year was that all of the guys who would make good role players had to be big-time contributors for the Tigers to win.

Other than having a $200 million payroll like the New York Yankees, there is no way that the future can look any brighter than that of the Detroit Tigers. Barring injuries, the Tigers will be one of the best franchises in baseball over the next decade. It would take something disastrous for that not to happen.

Here is an early look at some of the names the Tigers will likely take a look at over the off-season:

Free Agent hitters:

Gary Sheffield
Aramis Ramirez
Barry Bonds
Carlos Lee
Alfonso Soriano
Juan Pierre
Frank Thomas
Nomar Garciaparra

Free Agent pitchers:

Jason Schmidt
Barry Zito
Eric Gagne


Mark Teixeira
Derrick Lee

(On a side note--It’s a good thing I stepped away from my depressed state after the Tigers blew the Central Division Title just long enough to buy ALCS tickets!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So Happy to be Wrong

The Tigers pulled one out against the Yankees today which makes this a best of three series with the Tigers having homefield advantage. Not only were the Tigers not embarassed, they stifled the Yankees with a barrage of 100+ mph pitches and an equally impressive assortment of off-speed gems. Every pitcher that came into the game did an excellent job. Jamie Walker did exactly what the Tigers needed. Joel Zumaya was lethal. Jonesy threw strikes and forced the Yankees to try to beat him with their bats instead of on the base paths.

This sets up a surreal scene tomorrow night in Motown. The Tigers will have a chance to go up 2-1 in front of an electrifying crowd. The victory today also ensured that Jeremy Bonderman will make his debut on the biggest of stages on Saturday. If the Tigers are going down, they should go down with their best "guns" on the mound. "Bondo" certainly qualifies. The baseball world is seeing what kind of arms the Tigers have and they have to be impressed. I can't help but look ahead to a possible game five and hope that somehow, someway, Justin Verlander can be ready to go again. That could end up being the biggest affect from Yesterday's rainout. Go Tigers!

Simulated Gambling Week Six

After two miserable weeks of picking games, I bounced back pretty well last week (8-4-1). This week’s slate of games features some pretty favorable lines. All I can hope for is that the weather holds up where these games are being played and that the coaches of the teams I pick don’t all of a sudden show mercy for outmanned opponents. As tempted as I am to take Michigan to clobber Michigan State, I am unveiling a new rule this week; I will never pick a Michigan State game again. Those cats are just way too unpredictable. Plus, should Michigan State pull off the upset of the century this weekend, the last thing I need is to get a double whammy by losing one of my picks. That would be too much to take.

Season record to date: 33-27-1

(Home team in CAPS; My picks in Bold)

Louisville -29 MIDDLE TENNESSEE     

I thought Middle Tennessee was going to cover against Oklahoma earlier this year. Boy was I wrong. After a 59-0 drubbing by the Sooners, this line seems to favor Louisville.

Pittsburgh -6 SYRACUSE

Pittsburgh is the kind of team that either loses, or wins big. If you’re equal to or better than Pittsburgh, you will win. If you are worse than Pittsburgh, you will get smoked. Syracuse is worse than Pittsburgh.

TEXAS -3.5 Oklahoma     

I think Texas has more depth than Oklahoma and a more potent offense. I wouldn’t be shocked by anything that happens in this game but Oklahoma has struggled too much on “O” against good defenses so I’ll take Texas.

Virginia +6.5 EAST CAROLINA

Virginia pasted Duke last week. That doesn’t say too much but I think this team is getting better. It may not win this game but it’s difficult to think that Virginia will get blown out by ECU.

South Carolina -5.5 KENTUCKY

South Carolina is due for a blow out sooner or later. Kentucky gave up a million points to Central Michigan last week. SC’s defense should stifle Kentucky’s offense.      

Missouri +4.0 TEXAS TECH

From what I’ve seen thus far, Missouri is better than Texas Tech. So, it only makes sense to take the Tigers +4.


California hasn’t beaten Oregon by more than one point since 1991. It doesn’t seem like this is the year for that to change. Oregon is good. So is Cal. It should be close.

Tennessee -1 GEORGIA

In all likelihood, Tennessee has a better team than Georgia. The Bulldogs get this game at home and they get Joe Tereshinski back from injury. I don’t think either of those factors is enough to go with Georgia.

BOISE STATE -33 Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech just got slaughtered by Clemson. In fact, the Bulldogs have lost all three of its D-1 games this year by at least 31 points. None of those teams it lost to can hold a candle to Boise State at home. This one should get ugly early.

HAWAII -7 Nevada

I was all set to take Nevada in this game until I looked up the history. Check out the last three times Nevada has played at Hawaii:

2004 Hawaii 48 Nevada 26
2002 Hawaii 59 Nevada 34
2000 Hawaii 37 Nevada 17

Now check out the last three times they played at Nevada:

2005 Nevada 38 Hawaii 28
2003 Nevada 24 Hawaii 14
2001 Nevada 28 Hawaii 21

It seems to me that it doesn’t matter how good either team is rather where the game is played. They are at Hawaii this year. Let’s see if this trend continues.

AIR FORCE -2.5 Navy

If there’s a team that knows how to play Navy defensively, it’s probably Air Force. Also, I doubt Navy would’ve finished anywhere near one point of Tennessee in Knoxville.

AUBURN -15 Arkansas

When Auburn plays a weaker SEC team at home, things get ugly for the opposition. Auburn burned me last week but they were at South Carolina and got bamboozled when Steve Spurrier unveiled a new mobile quarterback.

West Virginia -20.5 MISSISSIPPI

I do not have a lot of confidence in Mississippi State’s ability to stop WVU’s spread running game. I fear that the Mountaineers might be getting bored of playing such inferior competition but they will get up for a road SEC game even it is just MSU.

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