Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I should be slapped…

I should be slapped and you all are going to rip me apart for saying what I am about to say.

I have no problem with how the Patriots are playing football.

Quick scroll down and leave a comment before I explain.

First off, I am not a Patriots fan. I rooted for them in 2001 and was partial to them during their other Super Bowl runs. I think Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but superstardom has taken away some of the qualities I used to like in him. I'm not a huge Belichick fan, but I will acknowledge that he is a good coach.

So anyway, back to my point. I don't see anything classless by what the Patriots did. Sure, throwing for a touchdown on 4th and 2 with a huge lead is probably the closest they came, but some of this blame should fall on the Redskins. I mean, isn't it the defense's job to stop the offense? So basically, if you can't stop the offense, you just want them to lay down and die? That's not going to happen. People's jobs are to score points. If they don't score the points, they aren't doing their job.

So hypothetically, Wes Welker catches a pass in the right flat, turns up field, breaks a tackle, and is in the clear. It's 28-0 in favor of the Patriots. What do you want him to do? Fall down after getting a first down? Run out of bounds at the one yard line? No, he's going to try to score. He's doing his job. If the defense did its job of trying to stop him, maybe it would be a different story.

Last week, Belichick had a 42-7 lead against a lethargic Dolphins offense and the next thing you know, he's down to a 14 point lead. Belichick probably did not want to make that mistake again with a more powerful Redskins offense. But again, some of the blame for the Patriots "running up the score" can be placed on the Redskins defense. Look at the length of the Patriots' possessions from the game:

Possession 1: 14 plays, 90 yards, 7:16 TOP, TOUCHDOWN
Possession 2: 5 plays, 15 yards, 2:12 TOP, Punt
Possession 3: 9 plays, 67 yards, 5:09 TOP, TOUCHDOWN
Possession 4: 4 plays, 3 yards, 0:57 TOP, FIELD GOAL
Possession 5: 1 play, 0 yards, 0:08 TOP, Fumble
Possession 6: 8 plays, 73 yards, 1:32 TOP, TOUCHDOWN
Possession 7: 13 plays, 85 yards, 7:46 TOP, TOUCHDOWN
Possession 8: 14 plays, 88 yards, 7:56 TOP, TOUCHDOWN
Possession 9: 6 plays, 45 yards, 2:37 TOP, TOUCHDOWN
Possession 10: 3 plays, -9 yards, 1:54 TOP, Punt
Possession 11: 1 play, -1 yards, 0:22 TOP, END OF GAME

My point is that the Patriots weren't just getting the ball and chucking it downfield for an easy touchdown. They were moving the ball and eating up clock while they were doing it. The Redskins just couldn't stop it. Some of you out there think that the backups should have just gotten the ball and taken knees. Well they aren't going to. The backups are trying to make the team. Even in a 52-7 win, if a backup misses a block or a tackle, that could be it for them. They are trying to stay on the team and if the only playing time they get is in garbage time, they are going to make the most of it.

The Patriots offense was just too good for the Redskins defense. The Patriots still have class. They were playing smashmouth football. They were not going to stop until they actually were stopped, which only happened three times the entire game. If you can only force a turnover or a punt on three occasions, you're going to lose. If your team goes 2-12 on third down conversions, you're going to lose. If you give up 486 yards of offense, you are most likely going to lose. If you let them have the ball for over thirty-seven minutes, you're going to lose. Get it?

See my point? The Redskins defense couldn't stop the Patriots offense.

And guess what happened?

The Patriots won.

By a lot.

So all you Colts fan you get your knickers in a twist after the Patriots score an insurmountable amount of points, think about your defense.

The Patriots are just playing football.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Top 10 Songs Over 9 Minutes Long

I haven't blogged lately, due to many, many distractions that I wish wouldn't distract me, so I decided to make my glorious comeback with something just a little bit different. This is a list I compiled of my Top 10 Songs that are over nine minutes in duration. Yes, Top 10 Songs Over 9 Minutes Long. Quite enticing, yes? Let the games begin.

We are all somewhat entranced by the "long song." It makes us ask ourselves questions like, "How could someone write this?" And other questions such as, "Where does their inspiration come from?" We mostly associate the long song with a drawn out live version of a song, but the following songs were all released on studio albums, adding to their mystique. They are all songs I get lost in. I start listening and then I see how far I'm in and I'll realize I'm only at the seven minute mark. It is such an amazing honor to listen to these songs, much less write one or perform one.

Without further adieu, my Top 10 Songs Over 9 Minutes Long:

10. The Meters – "It Ain't No Use"
What no other way to start off a list like this with a little funk? The wah-heavy rhythm guitar just makes you tap your foot and bob your head. The lead guitar cuts through with little blues fills while the bass is showcased on the chorus. The first guitar solo has a Clapton-like feel, melting in with the backing instruments. "It Ain't No Use" is the third longest song at 11:51 on the list. The hi-hats are barely brushed by the drummer, providing a very ambient sound interrupted by the snare and the requisite drum fill. Around the four minute mark, a keyboard solo breaks the rhythm, taking over the lead guitar which chimes in when it feels the need. This keyboard solo is the best addicting part of the song, in my opinion, as everything sounds like improv. The keyboard, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and drums all break their norm, while the bass hangs back before coming forward near the end of the whole break. Overall a really funky song making use of female backing vocalists. A smash from The Meters. If anyone has not checked this out, they are missing out on their necessary 1970s funk. Just give it a listen. You won't be disappointed.

9. The Doors – "When the Music's Over"
Ah, The Doors make their first appearance on the list. The beginning of the song has the signature addicting organ before a loud yell from Morrison and a mess of noise from the guitars. The song settles down a bit for Morrison to really work his lyrics. His voice on the first two lines (not to mention the entire song) is intensely amazing. The Doors are probably one of the best bands I have ever heard. They make it all work. I have yet to hear another band mix the guitar in with the keyboard, as evidenced by the solo at 2:55 where it appears to be keyboard and guitar in similar tones mixing together to make solo. "When the Music's Over" is regarded as an "up-and-down" song by myself, as the overall volume of music becomes very loud and intense before settling back down for Morrison's vocals. "When the Music's Over" weighs in as the sixth longest song out of the Top 10. In the middle of the song, probably my favorite part, the guitar and keyboard disappears all together as it is just Morrison, the bass, and the drums, providing an eerie sounds. A little ramble: Morrison's voice has to rank in the top three of the best I have ever heard, along with Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Every note comes through clean, as Morrison can either sing soft or out, low or high, anyway you want him to. The drums at the eight minute mark signal the start of an intense musical solo period where the keyboard and guitar are both going free with Morrison screaming vocals about the Earth out. Masterful. And this is only the first song of The Doors on the list.

8. Bauhaus – "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
A little background: for those of you who don't know, Bela Lugosi was the man who played Dracula in the early movies. Bauhaus captures the eeriness associated with Dracula perfectly in the first few minutes of the song. The song starts just with the drums before introducing a little bass. Finally, the guitar makes its entry at the 1:45 mark. With the season being around Halloween, I can totally associated the sporadic guitar sounds with vampires. Eventually, at the 2:20 mark, the guitar takes the shape of its riff and the echoing vocals enter at 2:50. This Bauhaus classic tips the scales at 9:34, tied for eighth out of ten. This song is perfect to listen to with the lights out, as even though it is rather creepy and goosebump-inducing, it provides an extremely peaceful feeling and the pick scrapes and harmonics provide an ambience for the lead guitar arpeggios to come in over. What a genius song.

7. The Stooges – "We Will Fall"
Compared to other songs by The Stooges, this 10:18 piece can be regarded as almost a slow burn and provides a break on their 1969 release, The Stooges. The signature Stooges wah is present in the guitar, but in a lower frequency. A single note of feedback that wavers occasionally is present in the background while Iggy Pop's short vocal lines cut through in a voice that almost resembles weeping. The backing vocals are almost systematic chants. The thing that really gets me about this song is that it remains basically the same until two minutes from the end of the song when the guitar and bass start to change in mini-solos. Around the 9:50 mark, a violin is added, creating a new dimension of the music that is powerful, no matter how short (about 30 seconds) it lasts. A masterpiece (I will have used this word a lot by the end of this) by The Stooges.

6. LCD Soundsystem – "Yr City's a Sucker"
Most musical experts would probably not put this song in the spot I am putting it in. Let's just say they would put it much, much lower on the list. For those of you who have not listened to LCD Soundsystem, this song is vintage. LCD Soundsystem consists of one man who has turned into a musical superstar. He still has a day job and the people he works with don't even know he is an international superstar. Singing about the wants of a normal person in society, "Yr City's a Sucker" incorporates an infinite amount of percussion in with bass and synth. The highlight of this song is the repeated line of "Yr city's a sucker/My city's a freak" mixed in with many "Hahas." LCD Soundsystem is probably looked over by most people looking for classic rock, but give this a listen. It's a genius at work. "Yr City's a Sucker" times in at 9:22, making it the shortest song on the list.

5. Sonic Youth – "Washing Machine"
You knew I would get some Sonic Youth on where eventually. Kim Gordon's vocals feel rather lackadaisical in the in the verse, but once she reaches the chorus chant of "Oh right now," the song is taken to a whole new level of intensity not yet seen on the list. Two and a half minutes into the song, the intensity melts away, as an extended musical interlude with occasional conversational vocals by Kim. The musical interlude is typical Sonic Youth with contrasting guitars and steady drums. Much to the chagrin of classic rock fans, however, the musical interlude turns into white noise near the end of the song before melting away on a high tremolo picking. The first of two Sonic Youth songs, "Washing Machine," from the album with the same name, ties with "Bela Lugosi's Dead" for eighth with a time of 9:34.

4. Thurston Moore – "Elegy for All the Dead Rock Stars"
"Elegy" is the longest song on the list at 19:49. I know people that can run 5Ks before this song would be over. From Thurston Moore's 1995 solo debut, Psychic Hearts, "Elegy for All the Dead Rock Stars" is an instrumental. Regarded by many as boring, I find this song to be very relaxing, as different riffs come in and out, and a certain ambience is created. The intensity of the song changes throughout, but around the six or seven minute mark, the drums, played by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, become more and more active in their fills before the song disintegrates after ten minutes into Moore's patented noise. The noise lasts for three or four minutes before the original riffs of the beginning of the song return and signal the end of the song. I applaud all who go out and listen to this. It is the perfect song to have going in the background while completing household chores. If you have a chore that you think will take an interminable amount of time, put this song on and try to finish the chore before the song ends.

3. The Doors – "The End"
Part of me just keeps coming back to this song. Morrison's vocals are just amazing, while tambourine totally enhances the experience. The first line by Morrison, "This is the end," is spoken so matter-of-factly that it is extremely powerful. After the first three or four lines, the song takes on a somber characteristic through the guitar and drums. This song makes me speechless that I feel like there is nothing to really write about it. If you want to compound the impact of the song, watch the intro to Apocalypse Now. The combination of this song and the videography (is that a word?) provide an intense feeling that I struggle to find anywhere else. The end of "The End" with seemingly random guitar and unintelligible lyrics before settling down to almost how it was at the beginning provides an eerie sense of closure. The final line of "This is the end" provides me with chills I almost never feel. Amazing song. Times in at 11:44. Fourth longest.

2. The Cure – "Watching Me Fall"
This pick won't exactly make me the coolest kid on the block, but after hearing the song, it is totally worth it. When you listen to this song, you don't realize that it's 11:14 (fifth longest). Robert Smith (not the former Vikings running back) is a musical genius. The passionate vocals combine with the ever changing background to provide an amazing song. The more I like a song, the less I have to say about it. When the song hits the chorus, the high notes on the guitar stand out against the low notes in the background. Smith's vocals are ripe with imagery while the guitar changes with the mood. The chorus has to be one of the climaxes of the song with the beating drums. "Watching Me Fall" comes off of The Cure's 2000 release, Bloodflowers, which is widely viewed by many Cure fans as a disappointment. I, however, disagree with them by saying this is one of the best songs I have ever heard. Give it a listen and agree with me. The guitar solo at the eight-minute mark provides a not yet seen intensity before calming back down to how the song was before. The song collapses into a mess of noise and guitar solos, ending on Smith's descending note on the word "fall." Purely an amazing song. Another that many classic fans will most likely not like, but hey, give it a listen and see what you think.
Part 1 -

Part 2 -

1. Sonic Youth – "The Diamond Sea"
Sonic Youth makes its second appearance with another amazing song. "The Diamond Sea" comes off of Washing Machine, where, you guessed it, "Washing Machine" also comes from. Thurston Moore's vocals are passionate and low key while Steve Shelley's drumming shifts between the hi-hats and the ride cymbal. After the first few minutes of the song it disintegrates into noise before reverting back to the original theme at about the seven minute mark. "The Diamond Sea" times out at 19:35, second longest behind "Elegy for All the Dead Rock Stars." Overall, the song does not disintegrate as quickly other Sonic Youth songs, as it loses almost all its traditional music value at the fifteen minute mark. The end just sort of fades out. This song is a must listen for anyone who has even remotely listened to any Sonic Youth. I guarantee anyone that they will not be disappointed by the musical prowess the band has to offer. "The Diamond Sea." Number one song over nine minutes long. Give it, and all of the above a listen.
Five Minute Radio Edit -
Live at Rockpalast 04-07-96 Part 1 -
Live at Rockpalast 04-07-96 Part 2 -
Live at Rockpalast 04-07-96 Part 3 -

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Yankees-Indians: ALDS Game 4

October 8, 2007
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Cleveland leads series 2-1
Paul Byrd (0-0) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (0-1)

Starting Lineups/Batting Order
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore (CF)
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)
Travis Hafner (DH)
Victor Martinez (1B)
Jhonny Peralta (SS)
Kenny Lofton (LF)
Franklin Gutierrez (RF)
Casey Blake (3B)
Kelly Shoppach (C)
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon (LF)
Derek Jeter (SS)
Bobby Abreu (LF)
Alez Rodriguez (3B)
Jorge Posada (C)
Hideki Matsui (DH)
Robinson Cano (2B)
Melky Cabrera (CF)
Doug Mientkiewicz (1B)
a-Shelley Duncan (PH-1B)
b-Jason Giambi (PH-1B)

Cleveland Indians
Paul Byrd (W, 1-0): 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 3.60 ERA
Rafael Perez: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR, 1.50 ERA
Rafael Betancourt: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
Joe Borowski (S, 1): 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO, 1 HR, 4.50 ERA
New York Yankees
Chien-Ming Wang (L, 0-2): 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 HR, 19.06 ERA
Mike Mussina: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO, 3.86 ERA
Ron Villone: 0.1 IP, 0.00 ERA
Kyle Farnsworth: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
Jose Veras: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
Mariano Rivera: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA

Cleveland Indians 6, New York Yankees 4
Cleveland wins series 3-1
WP: Paul Byrd (1-0)
LP: Chien-Ming Wang (0-2)
S: Joe Borowski (1)

Notable Stats
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore: 2-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Travis Hafner: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB
Victor Martinez: 2-5, 2 RBI
Jhonny Peralta: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Kelly Shoppach: 2-3, 2 2B, 1 R
New York Yankees
Derek Jeter: 2-5, 1 RBI
Bobby Abreu: 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SO
Alex Rodriguez: 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 SO
Robinson Cano: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI

Some notes, and my opinion. I didn't watch it, so these are snippets of thoughts from the stats:
Yanks should not have started Wang, Mussina probably would have been a better option, and with the way the bullpen pitched last night, I would have start Mussina. A-Rod actually did something...Shoppach had an impressive postseason debut...Sizemore hit his first career postseason home run...Paul Byrd pitched well for the Tribe...that's about all.

Indians-Red Sox. Should be a good one.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Yankees-Indians: ALDS Game 3

October 7, 2004
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Cleveland leads series 2-0
Jake Westbrook vs. Roger Clemens

Starting Lineups/Batting Order
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore (CF)
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)
Travis Hafner (DH)
Victor Martinez (C)
Ryan Garko (1B)
Jhonny Peralta (SS)
Kenny Lofton (LF)
Trot Nixon (RF)
Casey Blake (3B)
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon (LF)
Derek Jeter (SS)
Bobby Abreu (LF)
Alex Rodriguez (3B)
Jorge Posada (C)
Jason Giambi (1B)
Hideki Matsui (DH)
Robinson Cano (2B)
Melky Cabrera (CF)

Cleveland Indians
Jake Westbrook (L, 0-1): 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 SO, 1 HR, 10.80 ERA
Aaron Fultz: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
Jensen Lewis: 1 IP, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
Joe Borowski: 1 IP, 2 BB, 0.00 ERA
New York Yankees
Roger Clemens: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR, 11.57 ERA
Phil Hughes (W, 1-0): 3.2 IP, 2 H, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
Joba Chamberlain: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 4.91 ERA
Mariano Rivera: 1 IP, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA

New York Yankees 8, Cleveland Indians 4
Cleveland leads series 2-1
WP: Phil Hughes (1-0)
LP: Jake Westbrook (0-1)

Notable Stats
Cleveland Indians
Jhonny Peralta: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 2B
Trot Nixon: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SO
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon: 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 SO
Alex Rodriguez: 2-4, 1 R
Hideki Matsui: 2-2, 2 BB, 3 R
Robinson Cano: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI

Again, I didn't see this one. The Yanks dominated Westbrook...probably the Rocket's last start...A-Rod had two hits...good game from Matsui...not much else to say since the Indians just won Game 4...

Game 4
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Paul Byrd (0-0) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (0-1)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

This is gonna be a good one...

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers. The Monsters of the Midway come to Titletown. Brett Favre vs. --oh wait--just don't go there.

Tonight's game is shaping up to be a good one. The 1-3 Bears come in reeling after giving up thirty-four points in the fourth quarter to the Detroit Lions while the Packers come in 4-0 after escaping with a 23-16 victory against Minnesota.

But let's throw the records out. Let's throw the players out. When it boils down to it, this is NFC North football. Bears-Packers. Butkus-Nitschke. Sayers-Hornung. No one knows how this game will turn out.

But we can get a pretty good idea of how this will end up.

Chicago comes to Lambeau for Green Bay's national television debut on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Da Bears are currently 1-3 and tied for third place in the division with the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers are in first place with a 4-0 record and a one-game lead on the 3-1 Detroit Lions. The Bears have lost to San Diego, Dallas, and Detroit so far this year, while beating Kansas City in Week 2. The Packers come in with victories over Philadelphia, the New York Giants, San Diego, and Minnesota. The Packers are one of four undefeated teams, joining New England, Indianapolis, and Dallas.

The last time these two teams what was a 26-7 Packers victory on December 31, 2006. The Packers dominated the Bears, holding Rex Grossman to a 0.0 passer rating in the first half before he was pulled. However, Nick Barnett won't be lining up across from Grossman this time. This time, it is Brian Griese, the ten-year vet. In the Detroit game, Griese's first start since joining the Bears before last season, Griese was less than impressive, going 34/52 for 286 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Favre comes into this game second in the league in passing yards with 1,205 and tied for fifth in touchdowns with eight.

Injuries have taken a toll on the Bears. Starting offensive tackle John Tait is listed as doubtful, along with starting cornerback Nathan Vasher. The other starting cornerback, Charles Tillman, is listed as questionable. Neither played last week against Detroit. If the Green Bay offensive line can protect, Favre is looking at a field day. Other members of the Chicago Bears defense joining Tillman and Vasher on the injury report are Lance Briggs (questionable, hamstring), Brian Urlacher (probable, back), Adam Archuleta (probable, hand), Tommie Harris (probable, knee), and Brandon McGowan (probable, shoulder). That's seven members of the Bears' defense. On the offensive side of the ball, running back Adrian Peterson (questionable, calf), guard Ruben Brown (probable, shoulder), and tackle Fred Miller (probable, knee) join Tait on the injury report.

As for the Packers, injuries have taken less of a toll, but are still evident. Cornerback Will Blackmon is out for the season after breaking his foot, while DE Mike Montgomery is out because of a knee injury. RB Brandon Jackson (shin) is questionable, while OT Chad Clifton (illness), DT Colin Cole (concussion), S Nick Collins (knee), CB Al Harris (back), DE Cullen Jenkins (ribs), DT Corey Williams (back), and CB Charles Woodson (foot) are all probable for the game.

Now, even with Favre playing like a magician, the Packers still need the running game to give them some help. The Packers' leading rusher, Brandon Jackson, has only 97 yards and is averaging a measely 2.6 yards-per-carry. DeShawn Wynn is not far from taking over the leading rusher spot, with 87 yards and 3.8 yards-per-carry. To really solidify themselves, one needs to have a huge game. However, the chances of any Packers running back having a big game is decreased by the return of Vernand Morency (one rush, two yards in his return last week) and the presence of Ryan Grant, who has six rushes for 27 yards on the season. Jackson was supposed to take the ball and run with it during Morency's absence, but he could not prove anything.

On the other side of the ball, Cedric Benson has been the leading rusher for the Bears, with 239 yards on 74 carries. Benson is currently twenty-fourth in the league in rushing yards and twenty-seventh in yards-per-game with 59.8. He is not producing how the Bears expected him to when they got rid of Thomas Jones at the end of last year.

Wide receiver-wise, the Packers have a clear advantage. Donald Driver comes in eleventh in the league in receiving yards with 323. Rookie James Jones is thirty-ninth with 232 yards, ahead of such names like Marvin Harrison and Javon Walker (hehe). Tight end Donald Lee has become a reliable option, with 176 yards receiving, while Greg Jennings has rebounded nicely from injury, snagging seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Driver and Bubba Franks also have two touchdowns through the air. Favre has thrown a pass to eleven different receivers this year.

The Bears receiving situation is much different, with Bernard Berrian fourteenth in the league in receiving yards with 320. However, after Berrian, production drops off almost entirely. Desmond Clark has 16 receptions for 169 yards and Muhsin Muhammad has nine catches for 85 yards. There is basically no production outside of Berrian, but that is not that far fetched, given the quarterback situation and the fact that the Bears running game is stronger than the Packers running game.

The Bears offensive line has given up fifteen sacks to opponents this year, while the Packers have only recorded ten. However, the Packers have given up only eight, while the Bears defense has sacked the opposing quarterback sixteen times. Earlier in the season, the Packers offensive line was giving up more hits on Favre, but as the season has progressed, it seems they have shored up their weaknesses.

Favre has become more of a game manager, only throwing two interceptions so far this season. The Bears defense only has three picks itself, while their quarterbacks have thrown nine already this season. The Packers defense needs to be on its toes for errant passes from Griese.

Tonight's game is going to have an almost college atmosphere, as the Packers add to their "G-Force" campaign. "G-Force" is "an extension of the Green Bay Packers that's 72,928 players strong every game at Lambeau." Tonight, fans are encouraged to wear white and white t-shirts that say "Fan Flurry" will be handed out. Lambeau will look almost like Happy Valley during Penn State's Whiteouts. My opinion on "G-Force" is that it is rather corny, but I like the idea. Green Bay has always had some of the best fans in the NFL, and this will solidify their claim. The white t-shirts will add an element of intimidation, not to mention it will look pretty cool.

I'll be sitting at home in my white Brett Favre jersey.

Anyway, time for my prediction. The injuries to Vasher and Tillman really hurt the Bears, so I think Favre will have a field day through the air with 250+ yards passing and two touchdowns. Packers in a substantial victory, 31-17.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Yankees-Indians: ALDS Game 2

October 5, 2007
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Indians lead series, 1-0

Starting Lineups/Batting Orders
New York Yankees

Johnny Damon (LF): 0-5, 1 SO (.111)
a-Bronson Sardinha (LF)
Derek Jeter (SS): 1-4, 2 SO (.125)
Bobby Abreu (RF): 1-4, 1 SB (.333)
Alex Rodriguez (3B): 0-4, 3 SO (.000)
Hideki Matsui (DH): 0-3, 1 BB (.000)
Jorge Posada (C): 0-3, 1 BB (.000)
Robinson Cano (2B): 0-4 (.143)
Melky Cabrera (CF): 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI (.125)
Doug Mientkiewicz (1B): 0-3 (.000)
b-Shelley Duncan (PH-1B): 0-1 (.333)
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore (CF): 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 BB, 1 SO (.375)
Asrubal Cabrera (2B): 0-4, 1 SO (.125)
Travis Hafner (DH): 2-6, 1 RBI, 2 SO (.300)
Victor Martinez (C): 0-3, 1 BB, 1 SO (.375)
Ryan Garko (1B): 0-3, 1 BB (.429)
Jhonny Peralta (SS): 1-4, 1 2B, 1 SB, 1 BB, 3 SO
Kenny Lofton (LF): 2-3, 1 R, 2 BB (.714)
Jason Michaels (RF): 1-1, 1 2B (1.000)
a-Franklin Gutierrez (RF): 1-3, 2 SO (.200)
Casey Blake (3B): 0-4 (.125)

New York Yankees
Andy Pettite: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
Joba Chamberlain: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 5.40 ERA
Mariano Rivera: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
Luis Vizcaino (L, 0-1): 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13.50 ERA
Cleveland Indians
Fausto Carmona: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR, 1.00 ERA
Rafael Perez (W, 1-0): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA

Cleveland Indians 2, New York Yankees 1 (11 innings)
WP: Rafael Perez (1-0)
LP: Luis Vizcaino (0-1)
Cleveland leads series, 2-0

Notable Stats
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon: 0-5, 1 SO
Alex Rodriguez: 0-4, 3 SO
Hideki Matsui: 0-3, 1 BB
Jorge Posada: 0-3, 1 BB
Robinson Cano: 0-4
Melky Cabrera: 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore: 2-4, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 SO
Kenny Lofton: 2-3, 1 R, 2 BB
Travis Hafner: 2-6, 1 RBI, 2 SO

Well, another game, another Yankees loss. Bug swarms aside, this is another good game I couldn't watch (I don't get TBS). Carmona was lights out in his first career postseason start, which is hopefully a sign of things to come for this young man. Nine innings, three hits, and one run. The mark on his near-perfect pitching line was a solo home run by Melky Cabrera in the third inning. Another unfortunance for Carmona is that Andy Pettite was lights out too, giving up no runs in six-and-one-third innings pitched. Pettite left in the seventh for Joba Chamberlain, and I guess you could say the rest is history. Overcome with bug swarms, Chamberlain allowed Grady Sizemore to score the tying run in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch to make it a 1-1 game.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the eleventh when, with Luis Vizcaino pitching, Kenny Lofton earned a lead-off walk. Franklin Gutierrez followed with a single to center that moved Lofton to second, before a Casey Blake sacrifice bunt moved both Gutierrez and Lofton up a base. Grady Sizemore was intentionally walked giving Asdrubal Cabrera the chance to be the hero. Cabrera popped out, passing the buck to Travis Hafner. Pronk stepped in and worked the count full. Hafner then immortalized himself in Indians history with a single to right field, scoring Kenny Lofton for the 2-1 victory.

The Indians pitching shut down the Yankees bats again, as Carmona and Perez combined on a two-hitter. Pettite pitched well, along with Chamberlain (until the attack of the bugs). Overall, the Indians have been dominating this series, holding the Yankees to four runs on eight hits in twenty innings. Can the Yankees complete a historic comeback?

Game 3
6:30 PN ET, Sunday, October 7, 2007
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Jake Westbrook (0-0) vs. Roger Clemens (0-0)

Could this be the Rocket's last game?

Yankees-Indians: ALDS Game 1

October 4, 2007
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Series tied 0-0
Chien-Ming Wang (0-0) vs. C.C. Sabathia (0-0)

Batting Order/Starting Lineups
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon (LF)
Derek Jeter (SS)
Bobby Abreu (RF)
Alex Rodriguez (3B)
Jorge Posada (C)
Hideki Matsui (DH)
Robinson Cano (2B)
Melky Cabrera (CF)
Doug Mientkiewicz (1B)
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore (CF)
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)
Travis Hafner (DH)
Victor Martinez (C)
Ryan Garko (1B)
Jhonney Peralta (SS)
Kenny Lofton (LF)
Franklin Gutierrez (RF)
Casey Blake (3B)

Cleveland Indians 12, New York Yankees 3
Cleveland leads series, 1-0
WP: C.C. Sabathia (1-0)
LP: Chien-Ming Wang (0-1)

Notable Stats
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon: 1-4, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO
Bobby Abreu: 1-2, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO
Alex Rodriguez: 0-2, 2 BB
Jorge Posada: 0-4, 2 SO
Hideki Matsui: 0-4, 2 SO
Cleveland Indians
Asrubal Cabrera: 1-4, HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Travis Hafner: 1-4, HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Victor Martinez: 3-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Ryan Garko: 3-4, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
Kenny Lofton: 3-4, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB
Casey Blake: 1-4, 2 RBI

New York Yankees
Chien-Ming Wang (L, 0-1): 4.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO, 2 HR, 15.43 ERA
Ross Ohlendorf: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR, 27.00 ERA
Jose Veras: 0.1 IP, 0.00 ERA
Phil Hughes: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 SO, 1 HR, 4.50 ERA
Cleveland Indians
C.C. Sabathia (W, 1-0): 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR, 5.40 ERA
Rafael Perez: 2 IP, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
Jensen Lewis: 1 IP, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
Rafael Betancourt: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA

Well, I didn't watch this one, but it is plain to the eye that Cleveland dominated the Yanks. Sabathia did not have his best stuff (6 BBs), but neither did Wang. That Indians offense was on. Lofton, the crafty old vet, had a four-RBI day, while Garko and Martinez had three-hit days. The Indians offense smashed four home runs off of the Yankees pitching staff. The real story of this game is the Indians' bullpen. After Sabathia left before the sixth inning, three Indians relievers combined for four innings of one hit relief.

The Yankees, well, weren't the Yankees in this one. The offense only managed five hits all game and was shut down by the Indians bullpen. Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, Matsui, and Cabrera all went hitless for the Indians offense. Foreshadowing? Wang just was horrible. Eight runs in four and two-thirds innings, just not much that can be said about that. The Yankees were outplayed.

Game 2
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Friday, October 5, 2007, 5:00 PM ET
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Andy Pettite (0-0) vs. Fausto Carmona (0-0)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cleveland Indians-New York Yankees ALDS Preview

For the American League Division Series, I will be covering the matchup of the Cleveland Indians versus the New York Yankees. This Cleveland's first playoff appearance since 2001. This is New York's first playoff appearance since last year. Let's take a look at this past season for both teams...

Cleveland Indians: Team Profile
Record: 96-66 (1st in AL Central)
Manager: Eric Wedge (415-395, career)
Team Average Age: 28.0
Runs Scored: 811
Runs Allowed: 704
Team Batting (Rank in AL in Parentheses)
Batting Average: .268 (7)
Home Runs: 178 (5)
On-Base Percentage: .343 (5)
Slugging: .428 (5)
Bases on Balls: 590 (4)
Strikeouts: 1202 (3)
Individual Batting Leaders (min 99 games)
Average: Victor Martinez (.301)
On-Base Percentage: Grady Sizemore (.390)
Slugging %: Victor Martinez (.505)
Runs: Grady Sizemore (118)
Hits: Grady Sizemore (174)
Doubles: Victor Martinez (40)
Triples: Grady Sizemore (5)
Home Runs: Victor Martinez (25)
RBIs: Victor Martinez (114)
Bases on Balls: Travis Hafner (102)
Strikeouts: Grady Sizemore (155)
Stolen Bases: Grady Sizemore (33)
Team Pitching (Rank in AL in Parentheses)
ERA: 4.05 (3)
Complete Games: 9 (2)
Shutouts: 9 (3)
Home Runs: 146 (2)
Walks: 410 (1)
Strikeouts: 1047 (1)
Individual Pitching Leaders
Wins: C.C. Sabathia/Fausto Carmona (19)
Losses: Jake Westbrook (9)
ERA (Min 100 innings): Fausto Carmona (3.06)
Complete Games: C.C. Sabathia (4)
Shutouts: Paul Byrd (2)
Innings Pitched: C.C. Sabathia (241.0)
Strikeouts: C.C. Sabathia (209)
Walks: Fausto Carmona (61)
Saves: Joe Borowski (45)
Key Player: Victor Martinez obviously seems to be the offensive juggarnaut of this team and Travis Hafner looms large in the middle of the order, but the catalyst of the Indians offense that is key to stopping them is Grady Sizemore. Sizemore, for the season, has walked 101 times out of the lead off spot and boosted his OBP to .390. His OBP is just out of the top ten while his walks are fifth in the American League, behind the likes of Ortiz, Cust, Pena, and Hafner. If Sizemore can be neutralized through the strikeout (second in the AL with 155), the Cleveland offense will have to depend on Martinez and Hafner even more. Hafner had an off-year with only 24 home runs in 152 games after hitting 42 in just 129 games last year. He will need to step it up in the playoffs for the Indians' offense to be successful.
Key Pitcher: Fausto Carmona. Some would say the back end of the Indians rotation would be more of a concern, but I think more of the pressure sets itself on Fausto. Carmona is only 23 years old and has had an outstanding season (19-8, 3.06) after a disastrous rookie season (1-10, 5.42). But will he be able to last into the postseason? He threw 215.0 innings this year, the most in a year for him at any level. Will he be able to respond to the pressures of October?

New York Yankees: Team Profile
Record: 94-68 (2nd in AL East)
Manager: Joe Torre (1173-767, career with Yankees)
Team Average Age: 30.6
Runs Scored: 968
Runs Allowed: 777
Team Batting (Rank in AL in Parentheses)
Batting Average: .290 (1)
Home Runs: 201 (1)
On-Base Percentage: .366 (1)
Slugging: .463 (1)
Bases on Balls: 637 (3)
Strikeouts: 991 (10)
Individual Batting Leaders (min 99 games)
Average: Jorge Posada (.338)
On-Base Percentage: Jorge Posada (.426)
Slugging %: Alex Rodriguez (.645)
Runs: Alex Rodriguez (143)
Hits: Derek Jeter (206)
Doubles: Jorge Posada (42)
Triples: Melky Cabrera (8)
Home Runs: Alex Rodriguez (54)
RBIs: Alex Rodriguez (156)
Bases on Balls: Alex Rodriguez (95)
Strikeouts: Alex Rodrigues (120)
Stolen Bases: Johnny Damon (27)
Team Pitching (Rank in AL in Parentheses)
ERA: 4.50 (7)
Complete Games: 1 (12)
Shutouts: 5 (13)
Home Runs: 150 (4)
Walks: 578 (12)
Strikeouts: 1009 (12)
Individual Pitching Leaders
Wins: Chien-Ming Wang (19)
Losses: Mike Mussina (10)
ERA (Min 100 innings): Chien-Ming Wang (3.70)
Complete Games: Chien-Ming Wang (1)
Shutouts: --
Innings Pitched: Andy Pettite (215.3)
Strikeouts: Andy Pettite (141)
Walks: Andy Pettite (69)
Saves: Mariano Rivera (30)
Key Player: Alex Rodriguez, hands down. A-Rod's postseason struggles have been well documented. Last year in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers, he batted .071 and the year before that in the ALDS against the Angels, he batted .133. In his last two posteseason series, A-Rod has only three hits and nine strikeouts. If the Yankees want to have a chance, they need Rodriguez to bring his MVP game into the postseason.
Key Pitcher: Roger Clemens. At 44, he is no longer what he once was, but he can still produce a bit. I think. In the regular season, Clemens went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 17 starts. He gave up 99 hits in 99.0 innings. The Yankees know they will get quality starts out of Pettite and Wang, but after them, with Clemens, Mussina, and Hughes, the picture gets quite fuzzy.

Cleveland Indians-New York Yankees: Head-to-Head
2003: Yankees won season series, 5-2
2004: Yankees won season series, 4-2
2005: Yankees won season series, 4-3
2006: Yankees won season series, 4-3
2007: Yankees won season series, 6-0
Since 2003, the Yankees lead season series 23-10.

Cleveland Indians-New York Yankees, 2007 Matchups at a Glance
April 17, 2007: New York 10, Cleveland 3 (WP: C. Wright, LP: J. Westbrook)
April 18, 2007: New York 9, Cleveland 2 (WP: K. Igawa, LP: J. Sowers)
April 19, 2007: New York 8, Cleveland 6 (WP: S. Henn, LP: J. Borowski)
August 10, 2007: New York 6, Cleveland 1 (WP: P. Hughes, LP: F. Carmona)
August 11, 2007: New York 11, Cleveland 2 (WP: M. Mussina, LP: P. Byrd)
August 12, 2007: New York 5, Cleveland 3 (WP: A. Pettite, LP: J. Westbrook)
Significance: New York outscored Cleveland 49-17 in 2007. The Yankees have outscored the Indians 190-154 since 2003, but the Tribe has 22-0 and 19-1 wins to its credit, which slightly skews the porportionality of runs scored and wins in the series, in my opinion.

The Series
Game 1: Thursday, October 4, 2007, 6:30 PM ET
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Chien-Ming Wang vs. C.C. Sabathia
Game 2: Friday, October 5, 2007, 5:00 PM ET
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Andy Pettite vs. Fausto Carmona
Game 3: Sunday, October 7, 2007, 6:30 PM ET
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Jake Westbrook vs. Roger Clemens
Game 4*: Monday, October 8, 2007, 6:00 PM ET
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Starters TBD
Game 5*: Wednesday, October 10, 2007, 5:00 PM ET
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Starters TBD
* - if necessary

Probable Lineups (AVG, HR, RBI)
New York Yankees
Jorge Posada (S), C: .338, 20, 90
Doug Mientkiewicz (L), 1B: .277, 5, 24
Robinson Cano (L), 2B: .306, 19, 97
Alex Rodriguez (R), 3B: .314, 54, 156
Derek Jeter (R), SS: .322, 12, 73
Hideki Matsui (L), LF: .285, 25, 103
Melky Cabrera (S), CF: .273, 8, 73
Bobby Abreu (L), RF: .283, 16, 101
Jason Giambi (L), DH: .236, 14, 49
Cleveland Indians
Victor Martinez (S), C: .301, 25, 114
Ryan Garko (R), 1B: .289, 21, 61
Josh Barfield (R), 2B: .243, 3, 50
Casey Blake (R), 3B: .270, 18, 78
Jhonny Peralta (R), SS: .270, 21, 72
Jason Michaels (R), LF: .270, 7, 39
Grady Sizemore (L), CF: .277, 24, 78
Trot Nixon (L), RF: .251, 3, 31
Travis Hafner (L), DH: .266, 24, 100

Probable Pitching Staffs
New York Yankees
Chien-Ming Wang (R): 19-7, 3.70
Andy Pettite (L):
Roger Clemens (R):
Mike Mussina (R):
Phillip Hughes (R):
Mariano Rivera (R): 3-4, 3.15, 30 saves
Joba Chamberlain (R): 2-0, 0.38, 1 save

Cleveland Indians
C.C. Sabathia (L): 19-7, 3.21
Fausto Carmona (R): 19-8, 3.06
Paul Byrd (R): 15-8, 4.59
Jake Westbrook (R): 6-9, 4.32
Aaron Laffey (L): 4-2, 4.56
Joe Borowski (R): 4-5, 5.07, 45 saves
Rafael Betancourt (R): 5-1, 1.47, 3 saves

Analysis: This is what you have read all the above stuff to get to or what you just skipped to. The Indians surprised a lot of people and finished tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in Major League Baseball (96-66). The Yankees hung in the race even when they were down and out and hung on to nab the Wild-Card, six games in front of Detroit and Seattle. The Yankees overcame the seemingly insurmountable Boston Red Sox lead to finish two games out of first place. This matchup features the two hottest teams in the American League. Both are 21-9 over their last thirty games, 14-6 over their last twenty, and 6-4 over their last ten. Cleveland comes in boasting one of the best one-two pitching punches in C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, while the Yankees come in with Alex Rodriguez, who just completed one of the best seasons in recent memory. The Indians need their hitters to come through and the Yankees need their pitching to come through.

My Take: I jumped on, and seven of their ten so-called "experts" have picked the Indians in this series. I beg to differ. I take the Yankees in four. The one game I see the Indians winning is either of the matchups that Sabathia or Carmona pitch in. However, if both of them lose their matchups, I don't see Jake Westbrook saving the Tribe in Game 3. The Indians pitching is considered great, but once you get bast the top two, it is terribly mediocre. Not to mention the the Yankees averaged 8.2 runs per game in their season series against the Indians. It's great to see the Indians back in the playoffs, due to the fact that some of my earliest postseason memories involve them, but they will not stay this year. Yanks in four.


Wow! What a day in sports!

The Packers moved to 4-0 with a 23-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre threw his 421st career touchdown pass to Greg Jennings with five minutes left in the first quarter to give the Packers a 7-0 lead over the Vikings. Favre celebrated the record by running over to Jennings and picking him up, looking like a kid playing a man's game. Then, with six minutes left in the game, Favre threw his 422nd career touchdown pass to James Jones, giving the Pack a 23-16 lead. The game came down to the final minute, as Atari Bigby intercepted Kelly Holcomb after a costly Ryan Grant fumble to seal the game.

However, even with the win, the Packers weakness, their running game, was exposed more than ever. DeShawn Wynn had ten rushes for twenty yards. Grant had three rushes for seventeen yards. Jon Ryan, the punter(!) was third on the team with seven rushing yards. In his first game back, Vernand Morency had one rush for two yards. Brandon Jackson missed the game due to injury. However, the way Favre threw the ball (32/45, 344 yards, 2 TDs, 108.0 QB Rating), the running game is fine how it is. Some would say the Packers D struggles, giving up their first 100-yard rusher of the season in Adrian Peterson, who had twelve rushes for 112 yards. On the other hand, 55 of those yards came on one run, and Peterson only had two carries for four yards in the second half.

No receiver for the Packers had a very good game, as nine receivers had two or more catches. Tight end Donald Lee led the team with four catches for 66 yards. Donald Driver followed with seven catches for fifty-eight yards. Jennings had three receptions for 43 yards, catching number 421 after catching number 420 last week against San Diego. Jones had four receptions for 49 yards as his first career touchdown was Favre's 422nd. The future looks bright for these two wide receivers and the Packers have two of the rising star wide receivers.

Defensively, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk led the team with eight total tackles. Charles Woodson followed with seven tackles and one pass defense. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila continued his return to his former self as he tallied three tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. Also recording sacks were defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and defensive end Aaron Kampman.

Next week, the Packers take on the Chicago Bears who suffered one of the worst debacles in NFL history at the hands of the Detroit Lions. Leading 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, the Lions outscored the Bears 34-14 for a 37-27 victory. Brian Griese does not seem to be the answer over Rex Grossman right now either. Did you know Grossman finished second in the Heisman voting to Eric Crouch in 2001? I didn't. The Bears listed eight defensive players on the injury report for the game against the Lions, including both starting cornerbacks, Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman. If both are still hurt when the Packers come to town, look out! Jon Kitna had a field day, completing 20 of 24 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, earning a 137.3 QB Rating. The Bears have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season, much to the delight of Packers fans.

What a day! Favre throws numbers 421 and 422 while the Packers move to 4-0 for the first time since 1998.