12.10.2004
 
Friday Juice (almost)

I'm not ready to put out my picks yet, but I can at least compile everyone else's. I also just have to note that Bill Simmons went with the three team, 10 point tease system last week and cleaned house too. He wrote half of this week's column about it. Too bad he wasn't nice enough to post it with his picks from last week though. He should get a lawn chair and spend some time in the sun, I think.


12.09.2004
 
Hockey News
  • An AP summary of the Players' proposal here. The official NHLPA version here.
  • Today's Lockout Log has some follow up quotes to that. Since I still can't find their archive, here are a couple of those quotes:

    Gary Bettman:

    The union presented us with a proposal today that, clearly, they worked on for a long time. We will not discuss any of the specifics until we formally respond to the union. ... However, I will acknowledge that one aspect of the proposal is very significant. That element is a recognition by the union of our economic condition - but it is a 'one-time' element.

    Bob Goodenow:

    The numbers speak for themselves. The proposal put forth by the players today addresses the owners' stated concerns and establishes a cooperative platform between players, the league and its teams that is unique to all of sport.
  • I posted this over in the Sports Frog's Forum, the Swamp:
    I think the owners will eventually say that the 24% cut is only a stop gap. That will be their way out if the lockout continues.

    And really, the salary cut is just that. Sure, it's a good faith gesture from the players side but since this is american business and not a lemonade stand, it wont last long.

    Immediately cutting salaries doesnt address the larger issue that is summed up by the following example: the two teams in Alberta have been scouting players over the last decade based not only on their talent and character, but also on their willingness to stay in northwestern canada. And even then, the poster boy for edmonton hockey, Mike Comrie, can still get into such a bitter financial battle with his GM that he's shipped off to Philadelphia because that's who's willing to pay him.

    It's a good step in the right direction. It shows the players are at the table. The NHL's counter will be the key in figuring out if they're gonna get this done soon.

    I'm dying to see that banner raised in Tampa for god's sake!!
    There is one thing that I didn't mention there and is something that I don't really see discussed along with the salary cap issue. Perhaps it's just an obvious thing that I'm four years behind the curve on but the two leagues that have a salary cap, the NBA and the NFL, also do not have an established minor league system. They also don't guarantee contracts- at least I'm certain the NFL doesn't by default, but my knowledge of the NBA is primitive. Baseball uses a luxury tax based system to share revenue between their rich and poor clubs. Is there something fundamental about a salary cap that doesn't work well in partner with a minor league system?

    Obviously, if the NHLPA were to agree to a cap, provisions would have to be written into the CBA and into individual player contracts in order to decide how much money goes where. The question is, why is a tax system not acceptable to the owners? Does it have to do with the fact that they don't want to have to be responsible for the future bad contracts they offer to players? When they talk about 'cost certainty' is it a plea for someone to save them from themselves? Cause if Glen Sather, George McPhee and the big spending GMs weren't giving all that money to players that aren't helping them win games, then Kevin Lowe, Jay Feaster, and the smaller market GMs wouldn't have to keep pace. Sure, a cap makes sense. But why can't the owners just police themselves? They want a cap for their own spending!! That's like a teenager asking for a curfew cause he knows that if he goes out partying with his friends, they will keep him out too late.

  • The magic of the web: today's edition. I got this from Bolts Mag who got is from Predators' Den who got it from someone named Colby Cosh. Basically, if there turns out to be no NHL this year, some guys in Edmonton want to reclaim the Stanley Cup and award it to Canada's best hockey team. A playoff will be needed. Um, guys? Better ask Torts first.
  • EJ Hradek is on tour with the World Stars. He's got an article up at ESPN, and included within is a somber note about the team's visit to Sergei Zholtok's grave.
  • Brendan Shanahan is conducting his own meetings. Here are some of their ideas.
  • Jes pointed me to that last link and also has some other NHL related ideas here.

 
Thursday Football
  • Quietly, Marvin Harrison was signed to a new 7 year deal. This probably means Edgerrin will be given 'franchise' tag.
  • The Playoff Race and Clinching Scenarios from ESPN.
  • Kevan Barlow sits this week after suffering a 'bad concussion.' Tim Rattay is also out for this week and probably the week after that.
  • Bills.com writer and former QB Alex Van Pelt on Lee Evans:
    I'm really impressed with the development of Lee Evans. I sometimes have to remind myself this guy is a rookie. He just continues to make big plays to help this team win. I think it's his mental toughness that really stands out the most. This guy is completely focused on the game and that was evident in Miami. Lee made a tremendous one-handed catch on a third down play over the middle that kept the drive going. It eventually led to his first touchdown of the day.
    Evans overcame a nasty knee injury at Wisconsin and wasn't drafted as high as his talent deserves because there was still some doubt about his health. But after seeing an interview with him and his mom (no, seriously) during his senior season, it was clear this guy had what it takes mentally to play in the NFL. He's a speed guy and reminds me a lot of Laveranues Coles on the field.

  • Are the Broncos falling apart? They are 2 games out and the words are starting to fly. Also, it was nice to see Tatum Bell showing everyone last week just how fast he is. That 16 yard touchdown run happened so quickly, if he gets the confidence of Coach Shanahan, he could be an excellent fit for that offense. That's assuming the Coach will be there after this season...
  • Luke McCown is officially getting his second start.
    While admitting that he was "kind of surprised" he was named the starter over Garcia and that "it's weird" being in this position, McCown is nonetheless excited and thinks he can improve after getting his feet wet last Sunday.
    Luke plays at 1 in Buffalo. Brother Josh goes at 4 in Arizona.

  • Turns out the Bucs' Dwight Smith is close friends with Antonio Gates. More on this game later. I'm feeling an upset here.
  • Dennis Green is going with McCown again this week. But there's no guarantee who will have the job next week.
    I still have a lot of confidence in Josh. You're probably tired of my Drew Brees example, but it's a true one. Once it's there, hopefully it's there as far as our offense being able to go on the field and move the ball and give us a chance to be successful.
  • Some in-depth stats from the KC website. I don't see anywhere on there a prediction of how many plays Larry Johnson has in him before his wobbly legs and upright running style get him hurt.
  • Martin Gramatica is kicking off for the Colts now. Something just doesn't feel right there.
  • Tony Dungy, on the difference from this year's team to last year's:
    We’re probably a little more confident on offense. We haven’t had a game all year where we’ve been under 24 points. We’ve run the gamut of all the defenses. We’ve played a lot of different styles and people have played us different ways. We’re playing very efficiently. Defensively, I think we’re becoming a confident team. We feel like we’re going to have points on the board on our side and people are going to have to try to score with us. We can put pressure on people who play that type of game. We’re starting to hit our stride defensively and even in games like Sunday [against the Titans], where we’re not playing great, they’re still very confident. You can’t shake their mental toughness.
  • Travis Minor gets another start this week versus Denver. I like Travis. He's a good back. He's been up and down this season due to an injury and also because of the Dolphins' overall troubles. This will be a good test for him though. He's coming off a solid game against the Bills and can really impress with back to back 80+ yard games.
  • Some interesting notes on what Jets Defensive Coordinator Donnie Henderson is planning for the Steelers this week:
    I think [Bengal Head Coach] Marvin [Lewis] contained the pocket number one. And they stopped the run. Once they stopped them in the running game, the Steelers were forced to throw the ball a little bit more. And they moved some guys around. They took different angles.

    The one thing we have to do is keep [Roethlisberger] in the pocket. We don’t want him to be on the perimeter. But at the same time, he can run. If you don’t maintain the pressure on him, he’s going to come out there and run.
    I like that the Jets are looking at what the Bengals did to Pittsburgh. That was a game that the Steelers could have easily lost. The Jets have allowed the fewest number of points so far this season.

  • Coach John Fox doesn't expect to see a different Rams team this week just because Marc Bulger is out:
    He played quite a bit this last weekend. I don't think they are going to change their offense. They're definitely not going to curb it back because of his lack of experience. We just get another jersey number at quarterback.
  • Bulger is likely out until late December.
  • Piecing together what Mike Martz is saying about his running back situation:
    In the event that we start Arlen (Harris) at halfback, which I might suspect that we do, then you would like to have Aveion (Cason) returning kickoffs.

    You’re going to have to assume that you won’t have [Stephen Jackson] and get Arlen ready, then if you have him, you have him. I believe we will have Marshall (Faulk) too. I think we will have all three of those backs, but in the event that we don’t, you have Aveion and we will try to keep him up on the roster to return kickoffs.
    Jolly glad I looked into that.

  • Lots of quotes from both sides about the Pats - Bengals game this week. Most of it centers around how Cincinnati beat New England 31-3 in the preseason.
  • Brian Billick calls his team resilient. And that article goes on to indicate they will probably win this weeks game:
    Since 2001, the [Ravens] have had four different two-game losing streaks. In each of those instances, they rallied to win the following game. Further, that streak-breaking game was at home each time, as is this Sunday’s contest against the Giants.
    The line is currently at -10.

  • The Cowboys have had some really poor play from their defensive backs lately. That could be a problem when they face the Saints this week.
  • The Seahawks - Vikings game on Sunday is an interesting battle of two desperate teams.
UPDATE: It's finally official, Holmes went on the IR today.

12.07.2004
 
Tuesday Roundup

Catching up from a long weekend away from sports...

  • Monday columns: Peter King talks mostly about the Browns firing of Davis - Sporting News' Scouts recap - Len Pasquarelli focuses on Carson Palmer's big day and has his usual insider quotes - John Clayton discusses the Chargers - PFBW's Whispers - Clark Judge makes an interesting point:
    New England is 11-0 with Corey Dillon; San Diego is 6-0 with Keenan McCardell. Now Dillon meets Cincinnati, his old team, and McCardell meets Tampa Bay, his old team. "Who do we play next week?" McCardell asked after Sunday's game. He knows, and he knows what it means to him. "It ain't here yet," he said.
  • A quick bowl preview from SI's Stewart Mandel. And just as a passing note, even though I don't personally like the BCS, it was created to ensure that the two top rated teams face each other in a national championship game. So it's wrong to use this year's dilemma to point out that the BCS is broken. The 2004 season is actually an example of it doing exactly what it was designed to. Last year, it didn't. But the problem is with the the money-holders and policy makers, not the system.
  • By now, this Denny Neagle story has been everywhere, but have you seen a picture of the woman involved yet? The Sports Frog has it here.
  • The Frog also has some good links for quick baseball happenings.
  • Long, informative article from the Washington Post (subsc) about the circumstances leading up to and following Pat Tillman's death. You can also catch much discussion on this subject over at Off Wing here and here.
  • In anticipation of Thursday's NHL meetings, I recommend John over at Bolts Mag. Just keep scrolling.
UPDATE: You are invited to join a few Red Wings, Kid Rock, and some lovely ladies at a party in Michgan.


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