Friday, March 11, 2011

Bandwagon fans...maybe they're on to something? Cough Cough Boston Red Sox fans...

Up until about a year ago I was the first person to hate on bandwagon fans. My general thinking was that you should support your team no matter what happens, if they stink it shouldn't matter, don't be a fan just because your team is winning...But I was listening to the radio a while back and heard something interesting that I decided I couldn't really disagree with...

The guy on the radio explained that bandwagon fans are actually the smartest type of fan there is...yes you read that right, they are GOOD fans...But how could that be? Isn't loyalty something important in sports? You love your team through thick and thin because they are yours. This guys argument took the loyalty idea and showed why you shouldn't support losing the Seattle Mainers for example. The idea is that organizations have no need to try to win if their fan base is going to stay loyal, go to games and buy merchandise. The owners and GMs are trying to make money, and if winning games helps then they will do that, but why worry about winning when you can make the same money, or more by being mediocre?

The other reason being over-faithful is a poor decision is that it allows the team to remain at the status quo. Why would they make changes when they are still loved? Think of it like this...You're married or dating someone and she loves you even though all you do is sit on the couch and watch TV. You don't have to put any work in, everything is great. Why would you ever want to change things?

Thats how it works with over-loyal fans. Bandwagon fans are more like this...You're in the relationship, everything is great and both people are working together and love is all around. But one day you think you can stop doing any work, you want to just sit on the couch and relax all day. But she is not going to let that happen, she gives you the choice, either improve or she's out. You need her so you will obviously make the changes needed for her. 

In both cases you are the GM and she is the what would you want? The GM who has no reason to improve or the one who has to either make changes or they're done?...I want the GM to change if he's a loser.

To be clear I am not saying that championship chasers are smart fans...those people are just losers at life. I used to be one of those though..When I was young I was a Chicago Bulls fan while they won all of their titles, then when Jordan left I became a Houston Rockets fan as they won a championship. Same thing happened with the Atlanta Braves in baseball and the Tennessee Titans in the NFL...But I was young and didn't know any better and eventually learned. 

There isn't much of a feedback area for fans who want to show their displeasure with a team, the only thing I can think of is with signs at the game, but then you've bought a ticket which gives more money to the money hungry GM. So why not ignore the team? Don't go to games, don't buy their products, just flat out don't support them. Eventually they will have to make a change in what they are doing or they will fall apart. Loyal fans fund their teams, but why would you pay for a failing product? Would you go to a movie you knew was going to be bad? NOPE, but you go to games and complain afterwards right?

I doubt many bandwagon fans are thinking about this when they jump on the bandwagon of a winning team...But it doesn't mean it is such a bad thing. My belief is that everyone has their favorite teams, mine are the M's, Hawks and Huskies...all teams who have had their ups and their downs...Especially the M's which has led me to not caring much about them. Are they still my favorite baseball team? Yes of course, and I will follow them, but I will not be buying any M's hats or shirts any time soon, and I won't be going to many games until they improve their organization. Same goes for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Huskies...I am going to root for them in every single game, when they win I'll be the first to say something good about the win, but it doesn't mean I have to show my support for them every day. 

When those teams are the talk of the town, I will be leading the charge there too, call me a bandwagon fan if you want to, but I will respond by calling you a ignorant fan of mediocrity.

The only fans I won't give this credit to are Boston Red Sox fans. Half of them never cared about baseball until the Sox won thw world series. The other half have legit reason's though to jump aboard the bandwagon, those who have lived in Boston forever and had their dreams crushed year in and year out.

Champion chacers are pansies, but bandwagon fans are geniuses...End of story.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baseball America Top 100 prospects team by team breakdown

Baseball America released their annual rankings for prospects 2 weeks ago here. In order to better compare teams I have gone through and listed the prospects by team along with their position and overall ranking. I take no credit for creating the rankings, just the division into teams alphabetically by city.

Team with top future: The Kansas City Royals are by far and away the team with the best looking prospects. They have the most players in the top 100, which includes 3 in the top 10, and 5 in the top 20. Also they expect 8/9 of these players to reach the majors in the next two years.
2nd place: Tampa Bay Rays: They have 7 in the top 100, many near the top 20.

Team without hope: The Milwaukee Brewers are the only team with zero players in the top 100. They have a solid young core of players at the Major League level, but if they can't win with what they have up there, it would be a very long rebuilding process.
2nd place: Florida Marlins, even though they have the young Michael Stanton already up, their only top prospect is outside of the top 100.

Major League Team # of pitchers/#of position players
Rank. Player, position. Age/Estimated arrival at Major League level

Arizona Diamondbacks 2/1
33. Jarrod Parker, rhp, 22/2012
82. Tyler Skaggs, lhp, 19/2013
99. Matt Davidson, 3b, 20/2013
Atlanta Braves 5/1
5. Julio Teheran, rhp, 19/2012
17. Freddie Freeman, 1b, 21/2011
35. Randall Delgado, rhp, 21/2012
37. Mike Minor, lhp, 23/2011
86. Craig Kimbrel, rhp, 22/2011
93. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, 20/2013
Baltimore Orioles 1/1
14. Manny Machado, ss, 18/2013
28. Zach Britton, lhp, 23/2011
Boston Red Sox 2/1
52. Jose Iglesias, ss, 21/2012
67. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, 21/2013
97. Drake Britton, lhp, 21/2013
Chicago Cubs 1/1
38. Brett Jackson, of, 22/2012
48. Trey McNutt, rhp, 21/2012
Chicago White Sox 2/1
20. Chris Sale, lhp, 22/2011
47. Alex White, rhp, 22/2011
85. Brent Morel, 3b/ss, 23/2011
Cincinnati Reds 1/3
7. Aroldis Chapman, lhp, 23/2011
50. Billy Hamilton, ss/2b, 20/2013
64. Devin Mesoraco, c, 22/2012
73. Yonder Alonso, 1b/of, 23/2011
Cleveland Indians 2/2
25. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b, 22/2011
47. Alex White, rhp, 22/2011
54. Jason Kipnis, 2b, 23/2011
61. Drew Pomeranz, lhp, 22/2012
Colorado Rockies 1/2
32. Tyler Matzek, lhp, 20/2013
49. Wilin Rosario, c, 22/2012
80. Nolan Arenado, 3b, 19/2013
Detroit Tigers 2/1
21. Jacob Turner, rhp, 19/2012
65. Nick Castellanos, 3b, 19/2013
87. Andy Oliver, lhp, 23/2011
Florida Marlins 0/1
81. Matt Dominguez, 3b, 21/2011
Houston Astros 1/1
42. Jordan Lyles, rhp, 20/2011
94. Jonathan Villar, ss, 19/2013
Kansas City Royals 5/4
8. Eric Hosmer, 1b, 21/2012
9. Mike Moustakas, 3b, 22/2011
10. Wil Myers, of/c, 20/2012
18. John Lamb, lhp, 20/2012
19. Mike Montgomery, lhp, 21/2012
51. Christian Colon, ss, 21/2012
68. Danny Duffy, lhp, 22/2012
69. Jake Odorizzi, rhp, 21/2013
83. Chris Dwyer, lhp, 22/2012
Los Angeles Angels 1/2
2. Mike Trout, of, 19/2012
57. Jean Segura, 2b, 21/2013
76. Tyler Chatwood, rhp, 21/2012
Los Angeles Dodgers 2/1
26. Dee Gordon, ss, 22/2012
89. Zach Lee, rhp, 19/2013
90. Rubby de la Rosa, rhp, 22/2011
Milwaukee Brewers 0/0
No Players on list
Minnesota Twins 1/3
34. Kyle Gibson, rhp, 23/2011
45. Aaron Hicks, of, 21/2013
60. Miguel Sano, 3b/ss, 17/2014
100. Joe Benson, of, 23/2012
New York Mets 1/2
44. Jenrry Mejia, rhp, 21/2011
59. Wilmer Flores, ss, 19/2013
77. Cesar Puello, of, 19/2013
New York Yankees 3/3
3. Jesus Montero, c, 21/2011
30. Gary Sanchez, c, 18/2014
41. Manny Banuelos, lhp, 20/2012
43. Dellin Betances, rhp, 23/2012
78. Andrew Brackman, rhp, 25/2011
98. Austin Romine, c, 22/2011
Oakland Athletics 0/2
63. Grant Green, ss, 23/2012
91. Chris Carter, 1b/of, 24/2011
Philadelphia Phillies 2/2
4. Domonic Brown, of, 23/2011
39. Jonathan Singleton, 1b/of, 19/2013
56. Brody Colvin, rhp, 20/2013
70. Jarred Cosart, rhp, 20, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates 2/1
11. Jameson Taillon, rhp, 19/2013
46. Tony Sanchez, c, 22/2012
79. Stetson Allie, rhp, 20/2013
San Diego Padres 2/1
31. Casey Kelly, rhp, 21/2012
58. Simon Castro, rhp, 22/2011
75. Anthony Rizzo, 1b, 21/2012
San Francisco Giants 1/1
23. Brandon Belt, 1b, 22/2011
55. Zack Wheeler, rhp, 20/2013
Seattle Mariners 1/2
12. Dustin Ackley, 2b, 23/2011
16. Michael Pineda, rhp, 22/2011
53. Nick Franklin, ss/2b, 20/2013
St. Louis Cardinals 1/1
13. Shelby Miller, rhp, 20/2012
62. Zack Cox, 3b, 21/2012
Tampa Bay Rays 4/3
6. Jeremy Hellickson, rhp, 23/2011
15. Matt Moore, lhp, 21/2013
22. Desmond Jennings, of, 24/2011
27. Chris Archer, rhp, 22/2012
71. Jake McGee, lhp, 24/2011
88. Josh Sale, of, 19/2013
92. Hak-Ju Lee, ss, 20/2013
Texas Rangers 2/1
24. Martin Perez, lhp, 19/2012
74. Jurickson Profar, ss, 18/2013
84. Tanner Scheppers, rhp, 24/2011
Toronto Blue Jays 2/2
29. Kyle Drabek, rhp, 23/2011
36. Travis d'Arnaud, c, 22/2012
40. Brett Lawrie, 2b, 21/2012
95. Deck McGuire, rhp, 21/2013
Washington Nationals 0/4
1. Bryce Harper, of, 18/2013
66. Danny Espinosa, ss/2b, 23/2011
72. Derek Norris, c, 22/2011
96. Wilson Ramos, c, 23/2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: Tampa Bay Rays

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton
It muse be a family thing, because Justin Upton was the Key to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the fear of turning into B.J. The older Upton came into the league with the hype that he would be hitting for power, stealing bases and have a good average. He was the number 2 prospect by Baseball America in 2004 at the age of 19! The problem is that he has never been able to live up to the hype, at least not for long stretches.

His first full season at the major league level was his best by far, he hit .300 with 24 home runs and 82 rbis, all highs for his career. He only stole 22 bases that season (has 40+ every year since), but the overall production has fallen substantially since that first season except for one small stretch when it looked like Upton was ready to take a leap into super-stardom.

That was the 2008 ALDS and ALCS, a stretch of 11 games where Upton carried the Rays into the World series by beating the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. In those 11 games Upton hit 7 home runs, had 15 rbis with a .304 batting average. The entire baseball world thought that he was finally going to live up to the hype as a legit power-speed-average player.

That wasn't the case, he followed up that season by posting consecutive averages of .241 and .237. He did hit 18 home runs last season, but because of his low average it was still a very underwhelming year.

The good news for Upton, he is still just 26 years old and has time to make something of his career, but another season like his last two may be the end of him. This season the Rays are expected to compete, and Upton is going to be hitting in the one or two hole, which means he needs to find a way to get on base.

The Rays lineup is not one that will scare opposing pitchers when other than Evan Longoria, there is no real difficult out. Upton apparently has the potential to be the guy who is feared by opposing pitchers, he has done it before, and with the loss of Carlos Pena, he will need to do it again this season. But I am unsure if  it will ever be possible to predict Upton, his trend is all or nothing.

Upton has played 8 seasons of professional baseball between Major and Minor League. He has three seasons with an average at or above .300. In those seasons he has 3 of his top 4 home run totals. Meaning when he is hitting for a low average, he isn't hitting home runs either, which is an unusual trend. Most players average goes down the more home runs they hit, but Upton is the opposite.

Looking at that trend it shows that Upton is either hitting the ball very well, or not at all; there is no in-between. That makes any projections of Upton a crap-shoot, but what it does show is that him having a good year will be key to the Rays. If trends continues, a good year for him is going to be a complete season with power and average as well.

While his bat is a question mark, one thing that is sure is that Upton will be a top tier fielder. He hasn't won a Gold Glove, but he has been towards the top of the league in advanced fielding stats for the majority of his career.

In a tough division, the Rays will need their lineup to hit well all year long if they expect to compete. They have solid pitching, but in the American League East, hitting is what wins ball-games.

This year is also important for Upton because he has Desmond Jennings nipping at his heels for playing time. Jennings is the number 22 rated prospect this year by Baseball America, and was actually ranked 6th before last season. If Upton struggles, he may be benched to give Jennings a shot in Center field and in the lead-off spot. Jennings has less power potential, but more speed and average upside than Upton. There is clearly a future for both, but the Rays have plenty of young talent that will eventually get their shot.

Also manager Joe Maddon has already benched Upton before for not hustling, so him being benched to look at young talent seems like a reasonable possibility.

Others considered: The Rays have 7 players in the top 100 of Baseball Americas prospects, which is one of the highest totals in the league. These players have some developing to do, but they are the future of the Rays, the question is whether they will become Upton-like and never develop. Or they could become like Longoria or David Price and become some of the best in baseball...Price and Jeremy Helickson: Price has done it before with a dominating 2010 season, Helickson will be in his first full year, but has done very well at every level. If they are able to put together strong seasons, the Rays will be able to match up with any team in the American league. Both are young and with an increased work-load they may struggle, but they both have Cy Young upside.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers New York Yankees Milwaukee Brewers Oakland Athletics Seattle Mariners New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies

Monday, March 7, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: Philadelphia Phillies

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley
On a team as loaded with star power it's nearly impossible to say one player will make or break their season. The Phillies have about as many superstars as any other team in baseball, but Utley is the one guy whose success is the key to them going from very good to the best team in baseball.

Last season, Utley sprained his thumb causing him to miss all of July and half of August. In the month of July the Phillies went 15-13, which is decent, but goes to show the importance of having Utley in the lineup. I won't put the injury prone tag on Utley because it was the first time he has missed such a substantial time during a season. That being said he is getting older and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the DL again this year.

Utley was considered the best second basemen in baseball going into 2010, not only because of his hitting, but his glove as well. While he has never won a Gold Glove, he did win the Fielding Bible award in 2010.

Since becoming a full-time player in 2005, Utley has three seasons with more than 30 home runs, four 100+ Rbi seasons, five seasons with 13+ stolen bases, and never batted below .275 including two years above .300. Plain and simple, Utley is GOOD...Not just good, but he has been the best second basemen in baseball over the last six years. Only last year did Robinson Cano surpass him at the top.

That was just one season though and 2011 is there for Utley to take back the top spot and carry the Phillies to the World Series. They have several power hitters, several base stealers, but Utley is the one guy who can do it all, which is key for their lineup to produce.

Assuming he hits second or third, Utley has Shane Victorino in front of him, as well as possibly Jimmy Rollins. Those two guys are going to be on base a lot, having Utley to drive them in is important to the team. Behind Utley is Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez; two guys with power, but not great averages. Having Utley on base in front of them will increase their run production as well as allow them to see better pitches.

You could argue that Utley isn't so important because Howard and Ibanez could just drive in the top two. That's true, but Utley is able to not only drive in the runs, but be one base for the sluggers to hit him in as well. If he can get back into his top form he would be a huge run producer for the Phillies.

The Phillies have one of the most amazing rotations I have ever seen. They have two guys who are Cy Young candidates every year in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, then they have two guys who would be aces on almost any other team. Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt will be over-shadowed, but they could end up with the best numbers of the bunch. Joe Blanton is the number 5, and he is the kind of pitcher that any team in baseball would love. He'll pitch lots of innings and have a solid era.

Because of this dominant rotation, the Phillies don't need to score tons of runs to be one of the best teams in baseball. But they do have a good lineup which can take a lot of pressure off of their rotation. If they can give early leads, the starters can limit their stress and keep their arm healthy for the playoffs.

Others Considered: Jimmy Rollins was considered, but I think he is pretty much done. Age has caught up with him and his bat is not what it used to be. That being said, they have Victorino who will fill in fine at the lead-off spot...I also considered the bull-pen, namely, Brad Lidge. He has been up and down for the last few years and he'll need to pitch well in order to assure the Phillies get all the wins they can. He may get a lot of action this season as the closer, but he'll need to be more consistent if he wants to keep the closer role.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: New York Mets

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

New York Mets: Mark Rogow/Jason Craig
For the second time, it's a non-player, but looking over the Mets, they are one heck of a mess. Rogow is the Coordinator of Medical Services and Craig is the Strength and Conditioning coordinator; two guys who look like they will have plenty of work this season.

The Mets the last few years have been one of the most injury riddled teams in the league. I don't blame these two men for that, but this year will likely be no different than the last few years because the same injury plagued players are coming back.

Carlos Beltran has had knee problems for the last two seasons, which has caused him to play in just 81 and 64 games in those seasons. Just a few years ago he was a 40 home rune 100 rbis batter, but injuries have derailed his career. He is still bothered by knee injuries, so chances are he will miss time again in 2011.

Jose Reyes had stolen 56+ bases in 4 seasons in a row up until the 2009 season. That was when injuries set in to slow him down. In 2009, Calf injuries kept him out of the majority of the season, then in 2010 he found out he had a thyroid problem which forced him to stop baseball activities. He eventually made it back, and played well for the Mets, but still he has question marks due to the recent injuries.

Luis Castillo is old, but also injury prone as well. In the last 3 years, he has played in under 90 games twice. Some of that was due to lack of production, but he also spent time on the disabled list both years. He is getting up there in age, but the Mets expect him to start. I doubt that happens, and I think he will be out of the lineup sooner than later.

Jason Bay isn't exactly injury prone, he has had just one year since becoming a full-time player in which he played fewer than 145 games. That was last year when he missed the final 2 months from a concussion. Head injuries are unpredictable, and it is tough to tell what the impact could be on his play this season. The Mets will need him to step up because he is one of their better hitters that isn't a major injury risk.

Francisco Rodriguez isn't normally much of an injury plagued player. But he did miss a month and a half due to a torn ligament in his thumb suffered in an off-field altercation with his girlfriends dad. He has been able to throw and is expected to start the season in the closer role, but hand injuries are dangerous for pitchers, especially a closer who has a generally violent delivery.

2 years ago Johan Santana was the last person anyone would point to as injury prone; he had started 33+ games in 5 years in a row. Then in 2009 he was fine until late August when the injury questions showed up.

He missed the entire month of September because of surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow. 2010 was similar because he was healthy until the final month of the season. Then he got hurt and needed surgery to repair his shoulder. That injury is still a problem and Santana isn't expected to join the team until the second half of the season.

When he pitches, Santana is one of the best in baseball; his worst era since 2002 was 3.33. Also in that time he has posted 6 seasons with an era below 3. He may be the best pitcher over that time period, but injuries have put question marks on his future.

After naming these 6 players, there is only 1 star left on the team, David Wright, who is likely not to miss any games, and be the only player who is consistently producing for the Mets.

If everything were to go right, and none of these players went to the DL, the Mets would be a contender. They are some of the best players in baseball, but I see no way they can remain healthy for an entire season. They may not all get hurt, and likely it won't happen at the same time, but the loss of players of such a high caliber would be deadly...Again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Washington Huskies senior night, Thank you MBA, Holiday and Venoy

Tonight the Huskies face USC in their season finale. The game itself may end up being meaningless as far as standings go, but for Husky fans it will be a farewell to a senior class that has done some great things for the program.

This senior class was part of a Pac10 regular season championship, a Pac10 tournament championship, 2 NCAA tournament appearances, as well as a sweet 16 appearance. Thats without whatever they may do to finish off this season.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning is one of the most entertaining players I have ever watched, but at the same time the most frustrating. I will never forget the flying Tea-Bag against Stanford last season, it was magical. When there is a fast break, he automatically becomes the fastest player on the court, he wants the highlight dunk. When he gets it, he is going to bring the house down and light a fire under his teammates.

Then there are those times when I can't watch him play. The easy lay ins that bounce out all game long. Maybe it isn't because he misses easy ones, it is because he makes them look easier than they are. His athleticism and ball skills are tough to beat, and when he is on, he is tough to stop.

An unofficial nickname some friends and I have for him is the Bear. He just plays like a beast and you never know when he'll explode during the game. It's bound to happen, but his ferocity and beastliness are off the charts.

Justin Holiday is the kind of player who was unnoticed up until the end of last season. That doesn't mean he wasn't doing big things for the team, he just wasn't getting any attention. The lock down defender role Holiday has played at Washington has been huge for the Huskies. He can take away the opponents best scorers for long stretches in the game. He plays with a high motor and intensity that is impossible to coach.

He has gotten more credit this season as his offense has progressed. At times he may turn the ball over, but his presence on the offensive side has been a huge boost for the Huskies. He is the quiet third scorer for the team, but has also been able to keep his intensity on defense.

My fondest memory of Holiday will be what he does following every post-game press conference. As he walks out he says "You all have a good night," which doesn't seem like a big deal, but it just shows the kind of man he is off the court.

Venoy Overton is the one of these three that fans have loved for his entire career. Not that Matt or Justin weren't playing their roles, they just weren't on the level that V.O. was. When he comes into the game, the entire tempo changes. The opposing guards are know they are going to have him all over them all the way up the court. He will go after the ball and isn't afraid to foul. When he goes into a game he always has an impact, even as a 6th man, Venoy is able to be one of the leaders of the team.

Other than just defense, Overton runs the offense in a way that looks like it is out of control, but really is just based purely on quickness. He gets the ball into the front court in just seconds, and tries to make a drive right off of the bat. When he doesn't have it he slows it down and makes the smart play. He's also the Huskies closer, whether at the free throw line, or making a full court run to the hoop, he makes plays when it counts.

The first time I ever broke the no cheering as press was because of Venoy. Against WSU the steal at mid-court on the inbounds pass had be jumping up and down clapping. Oops I guess?

I came to UW the same time as these 3, and the legacy they will leave behind is a great one. The Washington program is near the top, and it is in large part to this senior class. We'll see how the season wraps up, but if the past tells us anything, the Huskies are bound to make a run.

The Huskies have some good recruits coming in to try to fill the shoes of the seniors. I doubt we'll have them all for their senior night in a few years, but ya never know. Tony Wroten Jr. may end up staying and dominating the conference for all 4 years.

Quick prediction: Washington-81 USC-64

MLB Preview, Key to success: Seattle Mariners

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Seattle Mariners: Justin Smoak
On a team full of young talent, Smoak is the guy who needs to step up this season more than anyone else. He was the number 13 rated prospect by Baseball America before the 2010 season, and was called up midway through April to join the Texas Rangers.

He was expected to make a splash as a power hitter with a high average as well. But he couldn't live up to the expectations and finished his first season hitting just .218 with 13 home runs in 100 games. While that was a disappointment, I think it may be the reality that Smoak was highly overrated.

The Rangers drafted him 11th overall in 2008 at 21 years old. He's played in 170 minor league games over the course of 3 seasons, which includes last years two stints in AAA. His average was solid, .288, but he did not have the power you'd expect. He hit just 24 home runs in his time in the minors. Granted he is still very young, the power may never develop and he could become similar to Billy Butler, a solid average, but mediocre power first basemen.

The Mariners traded Cliff Lee for Smoak plus prospects last season, they were and are hoping he is able to become one of the better hitters in baseball. Scouts have so see something in him that points to some power in the future, but going into his 4th professional year, it has yet to be seen.

This season the Mariners don't look to be a contender, but after last seasons' offensive woes, they need someone to hit for power this year. Smoak appears the best option to do it for the M's, and he will need to for them to be any better than last season.

First base is the deepest position in baseball, the Mariners need to know what they have in Smoak. They would like him to be a .280+ hitter with 30 home runs, but will that ever happen? Who knows. What I do know is that he is the one Mariner youngster who has played some time at the Major League level and should be the most polished.

This is the year for him to break out and start the improvement of the Mariners. They may not be winning now, but if he can develop along with the others listed below, they could be competing in the next 2-5 years.

Others considered: Felic Hernandez: For a moment I thought it was the King, but he is going to be good, we know that, but this season isn't all that important for him to be the best...Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Adam Moore: Along with Smoak, these youngsters are the future of the Mariners lineup. This year is more of a developmental year, but they need these at bats in order to help them develop as they become the core of the Mariners...Michael Pineda: At just 22 years old, Pineda is looking to be in the Mariners rotation. He has dominated in the minor leagues, posting a 2.49 era over 404 innings. If he can develop into a second top tier starter behind Felix, the Mariners could be a force to be reckoned with down the road.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers New York Yankees Milwaukee Brewers Oakland Athletics

Friday, March 4, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: Oakland Athletics

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Oakland Athletics: Brett Anderson
In 2010, the A's were a .500 baseball team, but that was without their best pitcher for a third of the season. The 23 year old Anderson joined the team in 2009, and was brilliant, he posted a 4.06 era and struck out 150 batters in 175.1 innings. That was as a 21 year old too, which made the A's very excited to see what he could do in his sophomore season.

He was even better during his second season, posting a 2.80 era and a 1.19 whip. The only downside for Anderson, was he suffered two different elbow injuries that forced him to miss almost the entirety of May, June and July.

The A's have said the problem with Anderson is he throws his slider too much, which caused the injury. The slider is his best pitch, but he threw it more than 31% of the time last season. While he dominated opposing batters with it, the A's would rather he threw it less in order to pitch more innings.

The A's want to see him throw his change up more often, which he threw just 8.5% of the time last season. They hope that the less violent arm motion will preserve his arm. He is just 23 and the A's don't want to force him into an early injury like has been done to other young stars like Mark Prior or Stephen Strasburg.

Even though the Texas Rangers ran away with the AL West last season, that doesn't mean they are assured to repeat in 2011. They no longer have Cliff Lee who helped them down the stretch, they also are relying on some questionable pitchers of their own such as Brandon Webb. So why can't the A's make a run this year?

If they want to, it all starts at the top of their rotation with Anderson. He has shown that he has the stuff to dominate the league. He is a big strong power pitcher who is young and improving. If he stays healthy all season long, I would expect him to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Pitching will have to be the way the A's win this season. They have a very light hitting team, which may have Hideki Matsui as their biggest power hitter. I wouldn't be surprised if no one hit 20 home runs for the A's in 2011. Maybe someone steps up, but for them to win, they need to out pitch the rest of the weak AL West.

Others considered: Rich Harden: When healthy he is one of the best, but that is very rare. He is already hurt and won't start the season in the rotation. If he can get healthy and give the A's even a few starts, it would be a boost to their rotation...Entire lineup: As I mentioned, the A's have a bad lineup. They need someone to step up, but looking through I don't see anyone who looks primed for a big year. It could be Deric Barton, or maybe Josh Willingham, but someone needs to hit for them to win games.

Quick side note: I'm going to go one team at a time, but still put two up per day. This gives more space for each team, and easier for sort-ability.

MLB Preview, Key to success: Milwaukee Brewers

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo
The Brewers picked up Zack Greinke in the off-season to be the ace of their staff, but in reality they already had someone who has Ace abilities. That's Gallardo, who has had several seasons of very good pitching, and really hasn't had a bad year yet.

He's been in the league four years, but one of those years he only had 4 starts due to a torn ACL while covering first base on a ground ball. The 4 years he has pitched, have been not only dominant, but consistent, especially the last two seasons.

In those seasons he pitched 185.2 and 185 innings each, his era was 3.73 and 3.84, and he struck out 204 and 200 batters. Basically his two seasons were almost identical, which is one of the reasons he is so important this year.

Those numbers were as the Ace of the staff, except for a short time when CC Sabathia was on the team. A number one is a guy the team can lean on for a win every five days. Gallardo was close to that, but wasn't quite to the caliber of a guy like Greinke, but he still is just 25 years old.

Two factors lead me to believe this will be the year that Gallardo puts it all together and becomes a top level starter in the National League.

First is his age, he is coming into his prime, and is coming off of two seasons where he pitched a solid innings total, but wasn't overworked. His arm should be fresh, so combined with him being in the prime of his career, he should break out this season, and improve on already very good numbers.

The second reason is because the pressure will be off. He's the number two guy in town, which means that he will not only pitch against other teams two, but also won't be expected to carry the team. The Brewers brought in Greinke to be their go to guy, I imagine Gallardo wants that to be his role. He's out to prove he is the ace of the team, but won't have the pressure of having to win every single start.

Something very concerning about Gallardo is how he sometimes just doesn't have his stuff working and it leads to very bad starts. Last year he had six starts where he gave up 5 or more runs, including a stretch in August where he gave up 6+ runs in 3 straight starts.

An ace is the kind of guy who even when he doesn't have it, will still have a productive start. Last year Greinke struggled overall, but 2 years ago, he had just 2 starts all year where he gave up 5 or more runs. Gallardo improved last year in this aspect, but if he wants to make the jump to elite starting pitcher, he'll have to continue to lower his bad start numbers.

The Brewers have as good a shot as anyone to win the NL Central. With the loss of Wainwright, the St. Louis Cardinals are very beatable. The Cincinnati Reds are young, which could lead them to regress. If Gallardo steps up and gives the Brewers a top notch 1-2, they could be contending for the division title.

Others considered: Prince Fielder/Ryan Braun: There was talk before last season that these two could be the best combo in the middle of any lineup in the league. They had decent years, but neither one really played to their potential. The Brewers need these guys to be power hitters they once were in order to carry the lineup...Rickie Weeks: He is coming off an amazing season, but everyone knew he could hit, the question is, can he stay healthy all year long? If he can I expect another monster year from Weeks...Zack Greinke: I touched on it before, but he's coming off of a down year. The Brewers needs him to return to Cy Young form at the top of their rotation.

Quick side note: I'm going to go one team at a time, but still put two up per day. This gives more space for each team, and easier for sort-ability.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers New York Yankees

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Pac-10 predictions: UCLA @ UW, OSU @ Arizona, Oregon @ ASU, USC @ WSU

Big night for the Pac10 tonight with the champion still to be determined. UCLA has a tough test heading to Washington, but can they handle it and keep their hopes alive? Arizona hosts an Oregon State team that beat them at home, maybe that gives them confidence for another win?

My picks:
Washington-86 UCLA-79
Oregon State-58 Arizona-82
ASU-71 Oregon-64
WSU-71 USC-67

Quick added note about the upset prediction in Seattle: While the Bruins come in hot, I think Hec Ed will be too much to handle for the Bruins. Josh Smith returns home and will be the target of the Dawg Pack, that should be a major factor in the game tonight. If he can find a way to put the jeers out of his mind, I expect a big game from him, which should keep it close, but still won't be enough for UCLA to win. They are talented, but Washington comes in desperate and mad, that's how they play best. Nothing would surprise me tonight though, a blow out by either team is possible, but a good close game would be helpful for each team as they prep for the post-season.

MLB Preview, Key to success: New York Yankees

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

New York Yankees: Phil Hughes
There is no way a hitter in this lineup is going to make or break the season, they are just too good top to bottom, their pitching on the other hand looks set to be in the bottom half of the American League. Hughes though will be a key to whether the Yankees rotation is able to give the team a chance this year.

He is listed as the number two starter in the rotation, after CC Sabathia, and before A.J. Burnett. While Sabathia is a legit ace atop the rotation, Burnett is coming off a 5.26 era season, and looks as if his age has caught up with him in a hurry. This is why Hughes is such an important player this season.

At just 24 years of age, Hughes is coming off his first full season as a starter, where his pitched decent, finishing with a 4.19 era in 176 innings. Those numbers are what a contender would look for out of their number 3 starter, but would be disappointed if their second best pitcher couldn't post a sub 4 era.

Hughes began last season very strong, posting a 3.65 era before the all-star break. That is what the Yankees expected from him all season long, but then he fell apart. His second half era was 4.90, which is a reason the Yankees stumbled down the stretch.

If Hughes can pitch an entire season like his first half of 2010, the Yankees would have a solid 1-2 punch. He's capable of doing that for stretches, but he may just be better suited for the bullpen.

The Yankees hitting is good enough on its own to help carry the team to a solid season, but they need some pitching help if they want to win a championship. They went after several starters in the off-season, but couldn't get any help from the outside. When a team has guys like Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre in their rotation, it isn't a good sign.

But what Hughes can do it make sure that the top two win enough games to take some pressure from the bottom 2 starters. If that happens, the Yankees should be alright during the regular season, but I still see no chance of them winning a World Series without pitching help. Which could happen, in the form of Francisco Liriano...

Others considered: Nova/Mitre/Burnett: No one knows what to expect from these three, they have some upside, but the Yankees need them to succeed if they want any sort of a good season...Alex Rodriguez: He has been trending downward the last few seasons, but a down year for A-Rod is still pretty good. Because of the pitching problems, A-Rod will need to have a strong year to carry the team on his back...Robinson Cano: Coming off his best year ever, what will he do as an encore? I am a believer in Cano, he should be able to put even better numbers up this season. The Yankees will need him to be an MVP candidate once again this season.

Just one team today, headed out to the Washington UCLA game in just a bit.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano
Just a few years back, Liriano burst onto the scene for the Twins with some ridiculous numbers. In his first full season he struck out well over a batter an inning, had a WHIP of exactly 1, and his ERA was 2.16 over 121 innings. He was supposed to become one of the best in baseball, and supplant Johan Santana as the ace of the team.

Thats when his career took a turn for the worst after an elbow injury. He needed Tommy John surgery before the 2007 season, which forced him to miss the entire year. He started the 2009 season at the majors, but was awful, he was sent down after posting an 11.32 era in 3 starts. He dominated in the minors and came back up and pitched well in the end of the 2009 season.

Last season Liriano pitched well, but didn't dominate like he did when he first came into the league. He struck out over a batter per inning, but his ERA was 3.62 and his whip 1.26, good numbers but sabermetrics tell the whole story.

Liriano was the 8th best pitcher based on WAR. He was a 6 win player, just below Adam Wainwright, and ahead of stars such as Zack Greinke and CC Sabathia.

It is clear that Liriano has the stuff to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, but coming off the injury he has been wildly inconsistent. This season is his second full year at the Majors since the surgery and he should be one hundred percent, and pitching at his highest level. That is assuming that he can get back to his old form, something that may never happen.

The Twins have several innings eaters in their rotation, but no one who can win a game on his own, except for Liriano. He should be going out every 5 days and giving the twins a good shot to win the game. If he can do that, the Twins have a decent shot at winning the division.

Liriano has the upside of being the best pitcher in the division, last year he was second behind the Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander. While Verlander has a better history of being great, I see Liriano with more potential. These two could be difference makers in a wide open division race.

If Liriano can post numbers like last season, or better even, I think the Twins will be contending for the division. If he is hurt, or pitches poorly, the Twins have no show this year.

Others considered: Joe Mauer: He has had injury problems in the past, but when he is healthy he is the best hitting catcher in baseball. He is the key to this teams lineup which is evident by his 2009 MVP award...Justin Morneau: his balky back caused him to miss half of the 2010 season, and in previous years he's missed some time as well. When he is in the lineup he's a great asset, but I question his ability to come back and produce this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp
This time last year Kemp was being talked up as a potential 40-40 guy and someone who could turn into of the best hitters in baseball. He couldn't have been the complete opposite...

He hit 28 home runs, which was a career high, but his average was a pitiful .249. He also stole only 19 bases, getting caught 15 times, he also struck out 30 times more than in 2009. His struggles were a big reason that the Dodgers weren't able to compete in the NL west. They were just 2 games under .500, but finished in 4th place in their division.

Kemp put on a lot of weight going into last year, which was supposed to add to his power. Instead it took away his speed, killed his contact and added just 2 home runs. Not the results he or the Dodgers were hoping for.

This season he comes in and needs to focus on hitting for a better average, and let his natural power get the ball out of the park. He has the skill set to be a high average player, which is evident in his .342 average over 98 games in 2007. His power numbers weren't great, but he was just 22 years old at the time.

As a 26 year old, and the likely 3 hitter, this is the year where Kemp needs to shine for the Dodgers. They lack any other true power hitter in their lineup, yet they have several very good bats. Andre Ethier is a potential for more power, but he's only hit more than 23 home runs one time in his career.

The Dodgers are a solid team as a whole, but unless they have some star power they won't be winning any titles this year. Kemp is that possible superstar, he just needs to figure it all out.

Rumors swirled that he wasn't working hard last year and that he didn't seem to care too much. I wonder if that was Manny Ramirez rubbing off on him. Manny could do it, Matt apparently could not. This season Kemp is the big dog on the team, and he is the difference between the Dodgers being a decent team, or them challenging for the NL West crown.

Others considered: Jonathan Broxton: He was supposed to be a sure-thing, lock down closer last year. But he had problems all year long and was removed from the closer role several times. He is back in as the closer, but the question remains if he can be a top level closer...Rafael Furcal: He's battled injuries for the majority of the last 4 years, but when he has played he has been one of the best lead-off men in baseball. He looks to be healthy, but he is getting older and the chances of him being on the DL seem high, if that happens the Dodgers may struggle...Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw: The two young pitchers could become one of the better 1-2 punches in baseball. While Kershaw has developed into a true ace, Billingsley has taken a step back, he needs to rebound this year to help anchor the staff.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

Los Angeles Angels: Kendry Morales
A season ago he appeared well on his way to a second consecutive 30 home run, 100 rbi season. That was when one of the more bizzare sports moments ever happened. He hit a walk off home run against the Seattle Mariners in late May. He rounded the bases and when he got to home plate, he collapsed amidst a mob of teammates.

Morales broke his leg during the celebration, which sidelined him for the rest of the season. The Angels were already struggling at that point, but the loss of their best power hitter proved to be the nail in the coffin of their season.

With opening day a month away, there is a possibility Morales may not be ready, but Angels Manager Mike Scioscia is confident he will be ready to go. That may mean as the designated hitter, but his bat in the lineup is very important to the success of the team.

The Angels lack proven veteran hitters, and even if Morales only has one full season, the other veterans in the lineup are all well past their primes. Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells have had success at different times in their careers, but they are all over 32 years old.  Wells is coming off of a career year, but that was preceded by three years that he played very poorly. Abreu and Hunter are power speed guys who have lost a lot of both their power and speed, which takes away from their value in the middle of the lineup.

That leave Morales to be the teams big bat, something he is perfectly capable of doing. The Angels let Mark Teixiera leave for the New York Yankees in the belief that Morales would be able to be just as good. He has not disappointed, and I think the future is bright for the 27 year old.

He has really no downside as a hitter, his average is very good, he doesn't strike out much, and he has a decent eye as well. His health shouldn't be judged by last season, the injury was a freak thing that I doubt happens again. Maybe he is injury-prone, but it is too soon to make a judgement on that.

The key to Morales is whether he is able to get his timing back and be an anchor in their lineup. I expect that to happen, but it may take a month or so before he fully finds his stride again. Once he does so, expect him to become one of the premier hitters in the game, not just for power, but also his high average and on base percentages.

Others considered: Fernando Rodney: Last season he was dominant at times in the set-up role, but other times he struggled. He has the closer role as of now, but if he isn't able to keep the ball in the strike zone the Angels may be forced to replace him...Dan Haren: Which Haren will they get, the one they had last season who was dominant, or the one who started the year poorly for the Arizona Diamondbacks? He could be a second ace for the team, but there is the downside there that he is unable to pitch to his potential like the first half of 2010.

Houston Astros: J.A. Happ
Last season the Astros decided they were going to plan for the future. That involved dealing Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies, Happ was the top player the Astros got back. He stepped in quickly for the Astros by starting 13 games with a 3.75 ERA in 72 innings.

He went back and forth between reliever and starter for the Phillies, but he appears to be locked into the starting rotation in Houston. Happ is listed as the number 3 starter behind Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, two guys who have had some consistency problems in the past, but are a solid head of the rotation.

Happ is an important player for the Astros because while he doesn't have a lot of Major League experience, he is 28 years old, which is usually around when a pitcher hits his prime. His career has been an odd one, but considering he has pitched just 289 major league innings over four years of professional baseball, he should be set to put together a full season.

That could also be a down-side to Happ. The Astros would like to get 180+ innings from him, but he doesn't have the history of being able to do that. He has always had a good ERA, low walk totals, and low strike out totals. Those things should help him achieve a high inning season, but he could very easily hit a wall in the second half of the year.

The division is wide open at this point, especially because of the injury to Adam Wainwright. While the Cincinnati Reds may be the favorite, they have question marks in their rotation. I think Happ could be the determining factor in the Astros having the best 1-2-3 in the NL Central.

Their one-two punch is pretty mediocre, especially compared to the other teams in the division. But the other number 3 starters in the Central are Bronson Arroyo, Shaun Marcum, Jake Westbrook, Carlos Zambrano, and Kevin Correia. I would put my trust in Happ before any of those five, but that's assuming he can remain healthy.

The Astros don't have the hitting to compete just yet, but Happ will help them be competitive this season and possibly into the future. He has the stuff to be a number 2 starter at some point down the road. This season he needs to build his innings tolerance and be reliable for the entirety of the season. If he can do that, and pitch to his potential, he could be a key player down the road as the Astros try to rebuild with young talent.

Others considered: Hunter Pence: I love this guy, he's going to hit about 25 home runs, steal about 15 bases, and hit about .280. Write it down and just watch him do it every year. I see him improving some this season, but a steady bat like his is very important to a young soft hitting team...Carlos Lee: El Caballo is on his last legs, last season was his first since 2004 without 100 rbi's, which is amazing. But he is a big guy and is 34 years old, he may have some left in the tank, but this year he needs to prove that.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals

Top Sports Memory: Number 1: 2005 Seattle Seahawks, NFC champions

If you have anything you want to add to my memory feel free to comment, if you want give me your top 5, I expect everyone's to be different. 
Honorable Mentions: David Tyree's Catch...Kevin Dyson comes up 1 yard short...Giants commit 11 False Starts...IMA Game of the Century
Number 5: 2001 Huskies beat the Canes in explosive Husky Stadium
Number 4: Antonio Freeman did WHAT?1?
Number 3: The BeastQuake in Seattle
Number 2: '95 Mariners; the Double

Number 1

2005 Seahawks; NFC Champions:
This isn't just one is the entire season. A season so amazing that it makes the list twice when you throw in the Giants game in my honorable mentions. That Seahakws team is one that I will remember forever, they weren't flashy, they weren't the best team to ever play, but man were they a great football team.

Mike Holmgren had the offensive philosophy that he would run a play, you would know it was coming, but you wouldn't stop it. That play was Shaun Alexander running over the Left Tackle behind Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. Alexander wasn't a back that made you say wow, he wasn't going to break many tackles, but he was going to find the holes and get to the end zone or first down, ever single time.

As a matter of fact, the Hawks converted every single 3rd and 1 play that season. My guess is that they ran the ball on 95 percent of those plays as well, but they couldn't be stopped.

I went to every single game that season, saw them dominate opponents at home and going 8-0 in Qwest. The Hawks started a measly 2-2 including an overtime loss in Washington. But they followed that up by winning their next 11 games. Their only loss was a meaningless game against the Packers that they probably could have won, but lost 23-17.

Alexander broke the NFL record for touch downs in a season that year, he scored 28 of them...a record that was broken not long after by LaDainam Tomlinson. 

The reason I put this number one on my list is because of all of my memories this is the one that is about a team that achieved just about everything they could have achieved. They fell short in the Super Bowl, which I will get to, but they ROLLED through the regular season, and the playoffs was even more of a breeze. They wont their playoff games by scores of 20-10 and 34-14...both games I was at.

I have heard from some people that the Hawks in 05 weren't that good of a team, they point to a down year in the NFL as the only reason the Hawks won 13 games and an NFC Championship. I will defend this team to my grave, they were good, very good, and to be honest they were hands down the best team in the league that season.

Their offense was methodical, they took their time driving down the field with Alexander, but they also had Hasslebeck under center who could make just about any throw needed. Their top 3 receivers, Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and Joe Jurevicius were not guys who were well known around the league, but they were somewhat reliable and made the big catches at the right times. The same could not be said for Stone Hands Jerramy Stevens, who I will never forgive for his drops.

The Hawks also had a good enough Defense to make sure games weren't shoot-outs. They weren't going to be record setters by any means, but they were a solid bunch that made plays when they needed to and gave the offense chances to win games.

Now on to the Super Bowl...I am torn on how to describe my feelings on this one...I don't want to blame the refs, and I won' least not in full, but because the head referee from the game Bill Leavy said he "Kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and impacted the game", I think I have to point out that the Hawks got the short end of the stick...

The Super Bowl was one that no one outside of Seattle or Pittsburgh probably cared much about, the Hawks play in South Alaska and the Steelers are a team not many people seem to like...Going into the game I thought the Hawks had a legit shot to beat the Steelers, and they did, but as Holmgren said, they couldn't beat the refs too...Here is a great video explaining the calls that were questionable at best:

The video shows the pass interference that was ticky tack. I think it is an OK call, but really how many times does something like that happen in an NFL game? There is more contact than that on almost every single pass...heck take a look at this video for comparison to another play in the game that drew no flags..even if it isn't PI, it's at least illegal contact of some sort...

The next call that comes to mind, that isn't in the video is the ILLEGAL BLOCK called on Hasslebeck while he made a tackle...wait what? Yes, it is true and makes no sense at all. Hasslebeck dove at the knees to make a tackle, and made the tackle, but somehow had an illegal block called on him. Anyone who can explain that one to me, be my guest!

The Touchdown for Big Ben is iffy..I still don't think he got in, but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call. The problem I do have with the call is that the line judge didn't signal TD until Ben put the ball over the line while laying on the turf clearly down. If he got in it was during the dive, but NOT when he was laying on the ground...One pretty big kicker on this was a THIRD Down play. The Steelers would've had to kick a field goal.

The holding call is mentioned in the video above, but what isn't said is that it is holding and offsides, therefor the penalties would offset and the pass to the 2 wouldn't count anyways. But it would have given the Hawks a better opportunity because they wouldn't have lost 10 yards. Although I think the holding flag wouldn't have been thrown had the offsides flag been thrown instead...but I really can't say.

That is my rant on the bad calls, but the Hawks still had their chances and lost the game. They didn't play well, didn't execute and it killed them. However this is supposed to be a good memory right? Which it is...This team was fun to watch, and they were the closest to a champion that I have ever seen in Seattle. I will remember this season for as long as I live, because it brought success to the city of Seattle, and even ended with plenty of controversy.