Jason Day, #NFLPreseason and #TebowTime, Oh MY!

Jason Day did something, no one in Golf has ever done – finish -20 at a Major.  With a final round score of 67, Jason Day won the PGA Championship that was contested from start to finish.  So what did we learn?

We learned that Jason Day might have learned how to finish.  Before yesterday’s win, Day had been known as a really talented golfer that had yet to win.  He had come close on several occasions, with 9 top-10 finishes and three-runner ups, but struggled to get over the hump.  At the PGA, Day made the field chase him and still walked onto the 18th green with a three-stroke lead and the victory.cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

We also learned that Jordan Speith is having one helluva season.  Speith came within one shot of making it into the playoffs at the British Open last month and three strokes from catching Day at the PGA Championship.  Speith’s run ranks up there with Ben Hogan in ’53 and Tiger Woods in ’00, when both golfers won 3 Majors.  Jordan is only 22, so the future looks bright.

Finally, we learned that Tiger Woods may never “be back”.  Tiger missed the cut for the third time in a row and never really got into sync.  Even he acknowledged he is struggling making putts.  But from what used to carry the tour in Tiger Woods, it is comforting to know that there is till plenty of star-power and drama these days that gives Golf a shot to withstand the loss of Tiger.


#TebowTime

Eagles backup QB Tim Tebow (11) dives into the end

After a two-year absence Tim Tebow returned to a football field to a standing-ovation from Eagles fans.  In fact, twice Tim had to quiet the crowd.  In what is likely Tebow’s final shot at being a NFL quarterback – Tim finished his day going 6-for-12, for 69yds, no TD’s or INT’s, but did run 4 times for 15yds and touchdown.

He seems to have improved since the last time we saw him – but still made some of the same mistakes that can not happen at the position – he held onto the ball to long and struggled reading coverages.  Some of that could be the O-Line at Philly, but all Tim has to do is beat Matt Barkley for the third string.  Barkley, by comparison was 12-for-20 for 192yds, 0 TD’s and 1 interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

So maybe the issue for Tim is not necessarily that he wins the third-string job for the Eagles – it’s that he does enough improvement that he finds a different team he could join.  Either way #TebowTime is back and it’s fantastic, right Skip Bayless?!

2015-08-16-jameis-winston

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports

Here are some other #NFLPreseason tidbits from Tom Pelissero of USA Today:

Jameis Winston said he wasn’t nervous before his first NFL preseason game.

“No, not nervous. Anxious,” the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2015 said after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 26-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night. “Of course, I have butterflies, but it is just because I want to do the right thing.”

Winston did that in spurts, recording his first completion on a 40-yard strike to Vincent Jackson and later leading the Bucs’ no-huddle offense to a touchdown against the Vikings’ reserves.

But the former Heisman Trophy winner also did his fair share of, in Bucs coach Lovie Smith’s words, “typical things that a rookie will do” on his way to a 9-for-19 passing performance (131 yards) with an interception, two mishandled snaps and several misfires.

At least now the first live game action — albeit with no game planning, no real atmosphere and no starters on the other side of the ball after a few series — is now behind them.

“Oh, it’s going to be pivotal I think for all of us,” Mariota said after the Titans’ 31-24 loss against the Atlanta Falcons. “I think that we can learn from our mistakes and get better from them.”

Injuries adding up

St. Louis Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines (foot), Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt (Achilles) and Washington tight ends Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (turf toe) are out for the season. Chicago Bears receiver Kevin White might be, too, after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his shin that landed him on reserve/physically unable to perform. Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (fracture in hand) is out for the rest of the preseason. The list goes on, yet still almost a month before the real games begin.

Johnny Progress

The best sign for Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel: He seemed to be playing under control, using his feet to extend plays instead of just trying to run around. There was some vintage Johnny Football as he high-stepped away from oncoming rushers and scrambled for a 12-yard TD in the Browns’ loss to the Washington. Journeyman Josh McCown is entrenched as the starter for the time being, and that’s probably not a bad thing. Baby steps.

cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.pngNothing final

The two primary quarterback competitions will last at least one more week. Brian Hoyer got the starter treatment for the Houston Texans: one series, a 58-yard touchdown pass and then a seat on the bench while Ryan Mallett went to work (and did it well). But coach Bill O’Brien said Mallett will start next week. Ditto in Buffalo, where coach Rex Ryan said Tyrod Taylor will get his shot next week after Matt Cassel started the exhibition opener. Former first-round pick EJ Manuel threw a 51-yard touchdown in that game and hasn’t been ruled out, either (at least not publicly).

Be like Barry?

New York Jets coach Todd Bowles is getting ahead of himself with the comparison to Barry Sanders’ quickness. But it’s easy to understand the sentiment after Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah carved up Bowles’ defense on a 45-yard run. Abdullah was a workhorse at Nebraska and is putting himself in position for a big role while starter Joique Bell keeps working his way back from knee and Achilles surgeries. Added explosion on offense might be Detroit’s best hope for making up for the loss of all-pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Down under

One of the NFL’s fascinating longshot stories got more interesting when former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne broke off a 53-yard run for the San Francisco 49ers. He has an unusual, upright running style and a lot to learn. But he figures to keep getting a long look on offense and in the return game.


Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers

via  Major League Baseball Trade Rumors

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

First, several notes are in order. For one, many players have and will clear waivers without public reports revealing that status. (Some of them have already been traded, such as Mike Napoli.) Remember, also, that players must be acquired by August 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. And bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers.

Last Updated: 8/14/2015

  • Jose Reyes, Rockies — The 32-year-old Reyes has struggled offensively since being dealt to the Rockies and has seen his defensive work take a hit over the past couple of seasons as well. He was still a very serviceable bat while playing with Toronto, though, and a departure from the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre could benefit his legs and back, perhaps even restoring some of his speed and range. Some have speculated on a potential move to second base for the former All-Star, who is owed about $54.37MM through the end of the 2017 season (as of Aug. 14).
  • Chase UtleyPhillies — Utley, 36, has produced at well below his typical rate for much of the year and just ended an extended DL stint. But he’s a highly-respected veteran, and the ankle issue could explain his struggles. Indeed, Utley has looked more like himself since returning to action. He’s owed about $4.5MM the rest of the way (as of Aug. 11), but the absence means that he won’t be a threat to trigger a vesting option for next year. For teams looking to bolster their options at second base down the stretch, Utley will surely hold appeal.
  • James Shields, Padres — The veteran hurler is in the first season of a four-year pact, making him an atypical trade candidate, but San Diego’s struggles and desire to clear payroll could see him dangled. There’s only about $2MM left to pay in 2015 (as of Aug. 11), but the deal is backloaded: it comes with $65MM in future guarantees (including the buyout on a $16MM option for 2019). The contract does have an opt-out after next season. Shields is already 33, and hasn’t been quite as good this season as in years past, but he’s still a durable and reliable arm who could help a lot of clubs.

Are You Ready 4some…

Hi, my name is still Logan Cartwright and I still drink rum with ER nurses at night – but in one particular way, I am a New Man, a different man, a more dangerous man than the last time we talked – and that was a few weeks ago, right?

It was sometime after midnight on the 4th, when we went outside the bunker to work on our own fireworks display, that could scare the snot out of the neighbors.  They all know us as gentle, fun-loving people with goofy timing, but would never in their wildest dreams expect to be blasted out of bed before sunrise for no good reason – maybe it was the Rum splashed with Jameson and ginger, maybe it was the idea that THIS is what John Adams meant by continuous celebration – they believed only a vicious idiot would do something like that – and they knew I was no idiot.

Summer is always a wild time for me and this summer has been and will be anything but calm and relaxing.  I’ll spending most of my time dealing with wild and interesting, but importantly huge things – and they will happen very soon – we are all in for an extremely fast season – Football is only 8 weeks away!

We all feel more comfortable in the fast lane and so today is no different – we are gonna break down some of the pre-season’s biggest off-season moves and what that might mean for your Fantasy Football team and what that might mean for your FD game.

SAINTS:

If you paid any attention to them last year you might have found yourself curiously confused as what you witnessed.  Was this the end of the Payton-Brees profilic offense?  Had time finally caught up?  Did they really just lose the division like that and lose to Atlanta twice?!  Yes!  It was painful – sure they scored points, gained yards like nothing was statistically different – but wins were choked away by unforced errors on offense.  The defense was horrible and it is hard to think it will improve more than 10 spots this year.  But the stunner was trading a basketball-playing-marshmallow, to gamble on a more dynamic running offense.  CJ Spiller, Max Unger should help Brees-us, but…

SEAHAWKS:

Yes the ‘Hawks get Jimmy Graham and already that is an upgrade at wide receiver – but it seems people are over-selling the importance a TE is going to bring.  Sure Jimmy can catch, but jimmy gets rubbed out often and no one confuses Jimmy with a real game-changing TE in Gronkowski.  If you keep drinking the kool-aid, you’ll find yourself going overboard thinking the Seahawks will resemble anything like the Patriots two TE sets.  Having said that, Russell Wilson was third overall in pts/game on FanDuel and adding Jimmy should help an offensive coordinator that has always wanted a tight end that can catch – now we wait and see.

Revis-Island pt.Deux:

The Jets’ issue was not defense and Revis decided that he could go home again – $$$ doesn’t hurt either.  Todd Bowles will be able to keep offenses guessing knowing that Cromartie and Revis can run with any WR – but time seems to against that idea in my opinion and didn’t Richardson get busted and miss 4 games?  To consider the Defense, you have to look at the other side of the ball and believe that it is in Geno’s hands.  If he plays well, so will the defense – if he has not evolved, then nothing changes for Jets fans.

RUNNING BACKS:

A lot of them moved around –

  • Shane Vereen to the Giants
  • CJ Spiller to the Saints
  • Lesean McCoy to the Bills
  • Demarco Murray and Ryan Mathews to the Eagles
  • Darren McFadden to the Cowboys

You know only a few of them are going to make any significant impact – the rest are just bargain-bin additions.  We know it was a foregone conclusion that Jerruh Jones was gonna sign a Razorback – and nothing in the past says that McFadden will be anything close to what DeMarco Murray was for Dallas – but I dare you to say that to a Cowboys fan – in fact do, just to see their face and listen to the logic that they won’t miss a beat.

SUH:

Is making a lot of scratch, so much that he might run the ball at the goal-line or throw a pass.  But if the Dolphins were 24th against the run and SUH is believed to be one of the best run-stoppers – then you have to believe that the Dolphins will finish higher.  I don’t see it.  You know my thoughts on SUH from the last article I wrote when he signed with Miami.  The Dolphins averaged 8.38pts/game last year – I see no change, ok, maybe Suh gets them another .5/game – is that worth 100+million?

 

 

We are all in for a wild ride the next few months – so good luck and drink all the cold beer you can get your hands on for as long as necessary to guarantee victory.  Send me your football questions and look for the new baseball DraftKings page on Tuesday in the RotoCanon tab – Shaka

Monday Dregs

This, and others like it sprung up around Detroit earlier last week as Suh approached NFL free-agency.  Not sure what they are trying to say.  By spelling his name with a dollar sign, are they trying to intimate that he values money more than loyalty?  I do not remember the Lions attempting to re-sign him or slap him with the franchise tag, and yet where is the outrage over dropping Reggie Bu$h to save $$$ – so where is the loyalty in that Detroit Fan?

If you believed that Detroit mismanaged this process two years ago, you can not fault Ndamukong Suh for leaving.  Word is, Suh has agreed in principle to take his talents to South Beach for $60m guaranteed.  That’s 6yrs @ $114m!  That’s QB money!!!  Florida has no state income tax!  We should all have Suh’s agent because if this contract is real, then it means that after the $40m guaranteed he got on his first contract – that totals a $100m guaranteed, in two contracts!  That’s baseball money and for a position that does not dominate the outcome of games played.

Ndamukong Suh is a good football player, but what games do you remember him dominating like he did at Nebraska?  Any idea on the Greatest DT of all time?  Any names jump out?  I’m not talking about guys that played inside and out, because Suh does not.  He does not play D-end because he is not fast enough, nor does he have the technique – let alone deserve JJ Watt money.  That’s the point tho – He is being paid like JJ Watt.  Do you remember Suh scoring touchdowns or making plays that had his name in MVP conversations?

The Dolphins made a splash that swims well with the fans, but this contract is going to end up as a financial noose, because Suh is more Haynesworth than Watt.  $uh is good, not great and in no way relevant to a team’s overall success – he is the 5th cheese in the 6-cheese pizza.  So to those that spent all that scratch on those billboards, be thankful.  Because here is a list of defensive players better than Suh, that deserved a $100m – notice how many played inside and out!

  • Deacon Jones
  • Reggie White
  • Mean Joe Green
  • Alan Page
  • Howie Long
  • Bruce Smith
  • Merlin Olsen
  • Randy White
  • John Randle
  • Jerome Brown

 

It has been a frenzied week for the NFL and potential free agents.  Peyton restructures, Marques Colston restructures, Jarius Byrd restructures, all so the Saints could resign Mark Ingram – 6 decent games his entire career and the Saints make him the priority and talk of trading Curtis Lofton – the only linebacker we’ve had since Vilma Fett!  Arm-chair general managing is the new normal and you have to wonder if more “actual” GM’s just need to sit back, pour a drink, eat some cherry nibs and cheetos – because there is no way Ingram over Lofton makes any sense.  Our defense isn’t good enough to want too mirror the Falcons.

But what also happened is there is a lot of movement, or rumors of movement, as usual this time of year.  Remember when Eagles fans went bonkers for signing CB Ngamdi Asou…Asug…Awsumwah…whatever his name was – and Vince Young (making a comeback because he’s broke) proclaimed the Eagles as the best team and winning the Superbowl.  Im not sure about you, but I remember Ngamdi leaving more WR’s open than a 5yr old does the front door.

So we have Reggie Wayne being the last Manning-Colt to turn the lights off on that chapter and hopefully getting another chance to contend.  Jeremy Maclin is rumored to be headed to the Chiefs – guess he’s used to dead-armed QB’s throwing him the ball and I’ll guarantee right now, he will score more touchdowns than all the 2014 Chiefs WR’s combined!!!  Randall Cobb is supposed to come back to the Pack.  LeSean might actually sign a contract extension to STAY in Buffalo – prompting us to look back at the end of that extension with thoughts of: “remember when Shady was….”  Of course Darrelle Revis is considering the offer from the Chiefs, because he won his ring and can get paid – plus, look who the QB’s are in that division – its about legacy – and the money – it’s really about the money – Revis Island has a high standard of living.

Obituary

San Francisco, we take the time to remember your past accomplishments back in the 80’s and early ’90’s.  Guided by the Legendary Bill Walsh you won Superbowls, you had iconic games and players.  Then after the George Seifert experiment, you had Steve Mariucci and then….um…..some other guys.  At one point, you had some ginger QB that ran around and threw the ball.  I’m not sure but there’s a fuzzy period in there where you guys weren’t very good.  You then hired Jim Harbaugh and became closer to your famed past glory (3 back-to-back-to-back NFC Championship games) – but hubris or arrogance allowed you to remove the coach responsible for that resurgence.

Well now you can relive those fuzzy/hazy-san francisco-bay-kinda days again with coach what’s-his-name: featuring players like – that guy, and some other dude.  The heart of the team, Frank Gore is leaving for Philly.  Management signed Jerome Simpson – seriously, Jerome Simpson.  Patrick Willis would rather retire and you are shopping for trade partners to take Xerxesone simply does not trade for Xerxes, Xerxes trades you.  Leaving coach what’s-his-name with so much talent that you’ll contend for a top 10 draft pick for the next five years.  the Forty-Whiners are going to be looking across the bay at Oakland (while they’re still there) with envy.  Fans will wish they were Raiders fans – solidifying the region as the most cross-dressing fan base in the country.  Seeing this house burn down makes you thankful that the worst thing your team has done is resign Mark Ingram and “consider” trading Lofton for cap room.  Every fan that used to share a division with those clowns-by-the-bay are smiling.


Are the Raptors falling off or is Westbrook having a legenwait for itdary stretch of games.  It could be both, and for Russell Westbrook securing his 5th triple-double in 6 games – this time by the 3rd quarter, has you thankful the season is so entertaining.  Just look at the MVP race with 4 worthy candidates: Steph Curry, Westbrook, Harden (with his own triple-double Friday night against Detroit) and Lebron – with Lebron the least likely to win, for validation on the kind of season we are witnessing down the stretch.  For perspective Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for an entire season in ’61-’62, for the Cincinnati Royals – averaging 30.8pts, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists – also setting the mark for most triple-doubles in a season with 41.  Wilt Chamberlain recorded the only double-triple-double – 22pts, 25 rebounds and 21 assists.  With all the attention on how well Westbrook is playing right now – keeping the Thunder ahead of the Pelicans for the 8th seed – you wonder if it makes sense for Durant to hurry back.  Considering his recent string of injuries and their frequency, is it better to make him sit instead of the risk versus the reward of the 8th seed?

Russell Westbrook

Steph Curry

James Harden


 

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Monday Dreg

On this day…

March 2nd, 1962

Today 53 years ago, Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks. It was the first time that a professional basketball player had scored 100 points in a single contest; the previous record, 78, had been set by Chamberlain earlier in the season. During the game, Chamberlain sank 36 field goals and 28 foul shots, both league records. — courtesy of the History Channel

NBA DiRTy Plays 3-2-15

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Today is Franchise Tag day and already we have learned that the Lions will not use the franchise tag on DT Ndamukong Suh, making him an unrestricted free agent.  That the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on OLB Justin Houston (league-leading 22 sacks) and the Broncos are expecting to tag Demaryius Thomas before the deadline expires at 4pm EST.  There are rumors that Lesean McCoy will be used as a bargaining chip to move up the draft to take Mariota and that Dallas is going to let Demarco Murray test free-agency, after using the franchise tag on Dez Bryant.

Both DeMarco(392) and LeSean(312) led the league in rushing attempts.  The danger for DeMarco and your fantasy team is the curse of 370.  The curse inflicts itself on RB’s who carry the ball 370+ times, and limiting their numbers from the previous year, due to injury or freak-o-nomics.  Considering the history DeMarco has staying healthy – you’d be wise to avoid him in 2015 regardless of where he goes.  I know of only 3 players in NFL history that equaled or outperformed their previous years stats and DeMarco is not LaDanian Tomlinson, Earl Campbell or WALTER PAYTON!.  As for the Eagles willing to part ways with LeSean, it signals louder that the position of running back is less relevant than it used to be.  More and more teams believe in divas like Dez, than guys who earn their yardage running the ball.

For those like Ndamukong Suh who are not tagged, the Lions (teams) have 7days to negotiate a contract or let them go via free agency.  There are several places that will bid heavy for a force like Suh.


 

Ty Lawson.  The only reason to watch the Nuggets.  Word is that now when breaking the huddle the Nuggets are counting down the end of the season – “1-2-3…6weeks!”  Good for them! When you look at what the front-office has done in just two short years – how do you blame the players for wanting this long-drawn-out-fiasco to last?  On Friday night, the Nuggets got blown-out by the Jazz 104-82.  The No-guts have not had a winning month since October when they were 1-0.

They sent Affalo to 1st place (in the division) Portland and Faried has done nothing offensively to earn his new contract.  So what’s the plan?  The No-guts have no off-the dribble threats nor do they have any reliable perimeter scorers.  So all that is left is Ty Lawson, the Todd Helton of the Nuggets during an extensive rebuilding project.  Do not expect him to be on the team next year, as Sacramento will do what they can to trade for him after the end of the season.

So with a top 10 pick looming in the June draft and cap space, do we really have faith in a front-office that blew up a team that won 57 games and was a number 3 seed two years ago?  As long as kroenke the younger continues to insert himself into the day to day, this franchise will never be good.  We’ve had past-glimpses, only to have us slapped awake by the reality of what it takes for championship basketball in Colorado.  First things first, maybe we get rid of the name Nuggets and go from there…


 

Considering the calendar has turned and conference tournaments are gearing up for their entrance to the Madness – we bring a few thoughts on recent games and what they might mean for our brackets – courtesy of Ryan Fagan

Resume potential

BYU 73, Gonzaga 70. This says more to me about Gonzaga than BYU but...the Cougars (23-8) knock off a potential No. 1 seed, and they did it on the road on Gonzaga’s senior night. BYU does have a couple of ugly losses on the season — swept by Pepperdine — and nothing is guaranteed, but an elite win like this one will go a long way with the selection committee.

St. John’s 81, Georgetown 70. This was a good win for the Red Storm, who lost to Georgetown by 22 the first time they met. Add to this a pair of season sweeps of Providence and Xavier — two at-large quality teams — and St. John’s should be OK when Selection Sunday rolls around.

Boise State 56, San Diego State 46. The Broncos already owned a record of 22-7 and had won 11 of their past 12 games. On Saturday, Boise State finished its sweep of the Aztecs and picked up what is easily its best win away from home. With other bubble teams struggling down the stretch, the red-hot Broncos offer the committee an alternate look.

Dayton 59, VCU 55. The Flyers (22-6) might have been OK, but beating a quality team like VCU on the road moves them toward the much more secure part of the bubble. At least, it helps make up for the loss at Duquesne last Saturday.

LSU 73, Ole Miss 63. Really, this one could go in the “Blowing Bubbles” category, too. It was a nice win for LSU (21-8), but it’s the second consecutive loss for Ole Miss (19-10). The Rebels can’t afford for this streak to get any longer.

Davidson 77, George Washington 66. Once upon a time, George Washington was in line to get an at-large bid. That’s no longer the case, but this is still a win that boost Davidson’s thin resume. And, it keeps the Wildcats (21-6) in a first-place tie atop the Atlantic 10 heading into Thursday’s game at home against VCU.

Blowing bubbles

Boston College 79, N.C. State 63. This was maybe the most confounding result of the day. Boston College was 1-14 in the ACC heading into this one, and the Eagles held at least a 20-point lead for much of the contest. The loss dropped N.C. State to 17-12. It doesn’t knock them out of contention — the committee will still love the Wolfpack’s wins at Louisville and at North Carolina — but it’s not a good look.

Villanova 78, Xavier 66. This isn’t a bad loss for Xavier (18-12) — Villanova is a potential No. 1 seed — but it was a missed opportunity for the Musketeers, who led by seven at halftime and could have used the boost that comes with beating an elite team.

Kansas 69, Texas 64. As with Xavier, this wasn’t a “bad loss” for Texas. But, unlike Xavier, the Longhorns really needed this victory to counteract a growing list of losses to solid teams. At some point, the resume needs a big win or two, and this is one that got away.

North Carolina 73, Miami 64. The Hurricanes really, really needed another win against an at-large caliber foe, and they let this one slip away. Now, they’re 18-11 and probably on the wrong side of the bubble, though they’ll have ACC Tournament opportunities.

Texas Tech 63, Oklahoma State 62. Oklahoma State, at this point, is in a bit of a free-fall. The Cowboys (17-11) have lost four in a row, and two of those losses (this one and at TCU) were to teams that aren’t making the NCAA Tournament. Travis Ford’s team is in big trouble right about now.

Taking care of business

Georgia 68, Missouri 44. The epitome of a don’t-screw-around game, and the Bulldogs (19-9) didn’t screw around with this one.

Rhode Island 59, La Salle 56. The Rams (20-7) led the host Explorers come back a bit but wound up holding on to keep hold of their share of first place in the Atlantic 10 at 12-4.

Cincinnati 63, Tulane 47. The Bearcats (20-9) lost their home game to Tulane, so there was zero chance they were taking this one for granted. They didn’t.

Iowa 81, Penn State 77 OT. The Hawkeyes have had an up-and-down season, and this was nearly one of those ugly downs. But Iowa (19-10) survived in overtime, which is what matters.

Illinois 86, Northwestern 60. The Illini (18-11) had lost three in a row, so this was key.


 

Rousey v Zingano Whole Fight GIF

This is Ronda Rousey and the fight took 14 seconds.  Here are a few things that take longer:

  1. NFL decision on Ray Rice
  2. Bathroom break
  3. Josh Hamilton relapse
  4. Derrick Rose comeback
  5. Nomar Garciaparra at bat
  6. Prius merging onto highway

 

It’s Spring Training and we already have freakish injuries and embarrassment.  The Phillies opened up Spring Training by losing to the number one team in Division II – the University of Tampa, 6-2!  It’s meaningless baseball but it sure doesn’t read well to begin this way if you’re a Phillies fan.  The Rockies play the University of Phoenix on Tuesday, so….lord help us all.

As for your typical ‘only in baseball‘ injuries we have a torn meniscus from stepping on a sprinkler head – Michael Saunders; a fractured shoulder from getting out of a swimming pool – Ronald Belisario; to Chris Sale fracturing his foot steeping off the back of his truck.  There needs to be a Federal inquiry into why baseball players seem to suffer, by order of magnitude, more freak injuries than other sports’ athletes.

Here are some ‘might take the next step’ guys: — Courtesy of Dave Tobener

Brandon Belt, Giants: His breakout likely would’ve happened last year if not for a broken hand followed by a concussion. Belt had 9 home runs in early May and looked like he could easily reach 30 at the rate he was going. An on base machine, Belt has the potential to hit for both power and average and is also a sneaky stolen base threat. He’ll likely bat third for the Giants and could be due for that monster season everyone has been expecting ever since he tore through the minor leagues in 2010.

Zack Wheeler, Mets: Wheeler showed signs of being an ace last year and is poised to take a big leap in 2015. If he can cut down on his walks, he has the potential to be special. He averaged more than a strikeout per inning last year and had games where he looked absolutely unhittable. It’s a shame he won’t get much support from his offense, but he should still post good numbers.

Joc Pederson, Dodgers: Pederson’s path to playing time was cleared when the Dodgers unloaded Matt Kemp, and the rookie will get his chance to make people believe the hype. There’s nothing left for him to prove in the minors, and Pederson presents real 20-20 (maybe even 30-30) potential with regular at bats. He’s the most exciting outfield prospect to come around in a while and it’d be no surprise to see him make an impact early.

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 25:  George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on May 25, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

George Springer, Astros: If he ever finds plate discipline, watch out. He may have struck out a ton, but Springer was still very impressive last year and could make a huge leap in 2015 if he can figure out the strike zone. He’s a big, strong guy with 30-plus home run potential who also possesses uncanny athleticism. He could easily lead the league in homers if he figures things out; on the flip side, he might strike out 220 times, too. But a big year awaits.

Oswaldo Arcia, Twins: He’s hit 34 home runs in parts of two big league seasons but doesn’t get a lot of press (or any press) for a variety of reasons. The Twins may have bigger prospects in the pipeline, but Arcia has shown he’s ready for an every day role and should finally get the chance in 2015. He has definite 30 homer potential and his minor league numbers suggest his OPS should rise, too. Arcia is the definition of a sleeper.

Marcell Ozuna, Marlins: He had an excellent 2014 and should be ready to take a huge leap forward this season. Ozuna basically skipped two levels of minor league ball and went straight to the majors, yet he’s performed so well it’s clear he wasn’t rushed prematurely. With a better lineup around him in Miami, the time seems right for Ozuna to reach the next level.

Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays: Will he start? Will he close? No matter, since Sanchez has the pure stuff to succeed in either role. He was virtually untouchable in 33 innings last year, and if the Blue Jays don’t trade for a proven closer it’s easy to picture Sanchez putting up huge numbers there for an improved Jays team. He should have the same kind of success as a starter, but his innings will likely be limited if he’s in the rotation. Either way, he’s poised to make a lot of noise this season.

Gerrit Cole, Pirates: You can argue that he’s already broken out, but the potential is there for Cole to be a perennial Cy Young candidate. His third year should be the year he finally puts it all together and dominates for a Pirates team that expects to be in contention. He should get closer to 200 IP this year if he can stay healthy and it’ll be interesting to see how his numbers react. With as much talent as he has, those numbers should be big. This should be the year Cole proves everyone who named him one of the best pitching prospects in baseball right.

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: He didn’t live up to the hype in his rookie year, but asking any young guy to play shortstop in Boston and put up big numbers is a tall task. Now, removed from the hype and surrounded by a much better lineup, Bogaerts should be able to relax and let his natural ability shine through this year. He’s a shortstop with 20-plus home run potential, something that doesn’t come along every day. While the fans and media focus on all of Boston’s new acquisitions, Bogaerts can go about his business and show that everyone was right about his potential…just a year late.

Eric Hosmer, Royals: You’re forgiven if you feel like Hosmer has been around for 10 or so years, considering the immense hype and expectations that were pinned to him before he even debuted. But Hosmer is only 25, coming off a huge second half and postseason and poised to build on that success in 2015. He’s had a nice career up to this point, but nowhere near what many thought he was capable of when he debuted in Kansas City. This should finally be the year that Hosmer establishes himself as the dangerous middle-of-the-order hitter Royals fans have wanted him to be for years. A 25 home run season isn’t out of the question.