AP Top 10 Preseason … ALL HAIL THE SEC! Part 2

6) Texas A&M

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There is so much stuff going on with this team at that the moment that I do not now know where to begin. First, the signal caller needs to stop being Johnny “So College Bro” Manziel. This discussion is meant for another post, but for now I will say, “No Manziel equals no chance at the West title or even at a major bowl game.” Texas A&M has 6 starters both on offense and defense returning but this could change with a possible Manziel suspension. Their rushing game must pick it up in order for Manziel to have the heat taken off him (even if he plays). They have a strong schedule, but they will be “Roll-Tided” early on and knocked out of BCS chances if Manziel is not playing (Possible game of the year here). Whoever plays quarterback will have good protection again thanks to the depth of the line which is what the SEC is notorious for. Their secondary and defense looks good with some starters returning, but there is just so much in the air right now. You need Manziel, and if I were the coaching staff, I would sit this kid down and tell him he better shape up or the team has to take losses or even wins without him.

7) South Carolina

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I dont…I dont even know where to begin, but i will start in an obvious spot. I started following Clowney around the time I really got into college football and football in general. I remember him being the top prospect and wondering why he would go to South Carolina and not Alabama who had just won their first BCS National Championship or Florida who had Urban Meyer and were equally good. Ever since, this kid has been nothing but a menace. He is frightful and I have always thought of him as one of the best defensive ends even when he entered as a freshman. Now, South Carolina shares a similar schedule with Georgia in regards to having to play three top contending teams. The good thing is that South Carolina’s offense has matured, which means they can hopefully do a lot better this year. The defense has carried South Carolina for the past couple of years (as shown by Clowney’s murderous hit). If South Carolina’s offense puts up 30 points a game, then I would recant my comment about Georgia reaching the SEC Championship from before. The hard thing about this is which quarterback will take the snaps and the hopes of Davis filling in for Lattimore, who is a ‘Niner now, may be a long shot. I want Clowney to win this year so he can leave and start his NFL career, but that’s just me and the other SEC quarterbacks’ hopes.

8) Clemson

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Sorry, no glove … No love!

I will tell you why this team is going to be much better than the Florida State “powerhouses” we have seen in the past couple of years. Firstly, this team is going up against two SEC teams that are ranked in the top ten in two of their four out of conference games. That alone proves this team is willing to take on the best. Second, they quietly finished at 11-2 last year and they hit bad tides a couple years back when they got embarrassed by 70-35 in their bowl game. However, they can score and not many teams are going to be able to shut down their scoring efforts very well. They have defensive problems much like Georgia, and they look like the Mud Dogs defense without Bobby Bouche. There are 7 returning starters on each side, but the offense is more ready to go this year with Tajh Boyd and and Sammy Watkins. The hardest part is going to be the opener against Georgia (offensive powerhouse SEC) and the closer against South Carolina (defensive powerhouse SEC). If, however, this team rises up and beats both of them (even one of them), I can see them going to a major bowl game. Their schedule may be too weak to warrant a BCS national championship game, unless they are unbeaten and win the conference championship. However, I like this team and they can make a good run if the defense can find a rhythm.

9) Louisville

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Around a year ago in October to November, I text my brother telling him that Lousiville was third in the nation when it comes to the defense giving up points and I said their quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was a good player. I humbly stand corrected about this and say he is now an excellent player. Louisville is the underdog of this top 10 and I can see them climbing these polls as all these teams destroy their own seasons. The only way at this point for Louisville to make the Big Dance is to be the only team or one of the last two teams standing undefeated. With their schedule, they could be poised to go undefeated and should with all the talent returning. They have 17 returning starters and most of which are on that stingy defense. Their problem is running the ball and their offensive line. If those two big issues are fixed somehow, then Louisville’s fate is sealed and they can move “forward”. However, they showed they can play with the big boys when the thrashed Florida in the Sugar Bowl. That 33-23 win was not as close as many think. Louisville proved that day they can play with the big boys and teams better recognize. Teddy may end up being the Heisman trophy winner unless Clowney decides to start intercepting the ball and sacking the quarterbacks on every other play. Overall, this team can make a run and I am excited to watch them play. It is clear and simple Louisville and I will make it simple: “Win…Win…Win…Win.” You do this, and you will be in the dance or at least a major bowl game.

10) Florida

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Florida comes back with a lot of questions raised. The team did not perform well in their performance against Louisville, but that team was tough in respect to them. Florida’s secondary is somehow still good even though they have 3 returning starters. The team has to reload and begin figuring out how to pass the ball this year. In addition, the front seven must be addressed before they can step forward but this SEC team (like many) has good depth and they may only need to find the right chemistry to be okay. For the offense, Driskel must begin passing the ball more, means relying on his receivers to get open. For Florida, correcting the pass rush and getting a pass offense is what they lack from moving up further in the ranks, clearly the pattern is in the word pass. They must play Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina . They could also make a run for the title, but it will be a little more difficult as they are the last team in the top ten and would need to be all teams on their schedule.

BCS National Championship - Alabama v Texas

My choice for the championship realistically/idealistically:

Well, this is the breakdown from the top 10. This group seems to be heavily strong towards offensive prowess which is a nice change. Overall, Alabama is the more realistic choice here and it makes sense really. Three championships in the past four years. However, ideally I would pin them against the Lousville Cardinals. I love this team and everything they have achieved in the past year. They came from nowhere in the Big East and were probably underestimated by many teams and were expected to lose to Florida. Instead, Louisville came in and decided to K.O. Florida within three quarters and prove who the real team was. I hope it happens again and I hope the best for Bridgewater. This young man does not have the best line nor the best run game and he was able to produce an astounding 3,400 passing yards along with 25 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. Louisville v. Alabama, you heard it here first.

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Top 10 Preseason … ALL HAIL THE SEC! Part 1

The season opens tonight with #24 USC at Hawaii, but let’s delve into the top 10 as a preview for the college football fans. As expected, the SEC is the dominant force in the opening polls with half the top ten consisting of their powerhouses. Let’s breakdown each team and why they are ranked accordingly starting with the two time defending champions.

1) Alabama:

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To honestly say that the Rolltide would not be number 1 in the rankings I would have to smack you and say you know nothing about College Football. This is a dynasty in the making which is extremely rare to discover in the college world. Saban did lose a couple of studs last year like Dee Milliner on defense (possibly next Darrelle Revis) and offensive role players like Eddie Lacy, and D.J. FLuker. However, Saban made sure that plenty of players had experience last year and there are going to be a good amount of players for defense. 11 players have good enough experience for Saban and his defense wrecking which only gave up a stingy 10.9 points (1st in the country). A.J. Mccaron will be fine too. He has the explosive and powerful Amare cooper still along with T.J. Yeldon who has not yet tapped into his true potential. The only thing stopping Alabama from winning again is themselves. They have 18 freshmen, 28 sophomores, 30 juniors, and 18 seniors. Of the seniors, 12 are linemen and receivers which means almost nothing except that Saban will look for more of those two positions in the upcoming prospects. This team is young and experienced enough to win again. The only problem may be players on offense stepping up. Both Amare and T.J. had their parties last year and so the conference is ready for these studs. It is up to the senior unit to keep defenses guessing. They do this, they repeat. Expect ‘Bama to win again this year, or to have a 12-2 season, with that second loss coming in the last game of the college football season.

2) Ohio St.

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My friend told me about Braxton Miller, but I did not really look into him until the end of the season and oh boy I missed a lot. This guy put the team on his back and I am saying that he is indeed a Heisman candidate. Overall, Ohio State has a strong team and they also dictate whether they make the dance. Their secondary looks impenetrable as all the starters are returning, but they mostly reload in the front seven. If the team can put play-makers there, then they will have no hiccup and go meet ‘Bama in the national championship. They have 9 returning starters for offense which is going to take a load off Braxton. Urban Meyer returns in his second dream job season and quite frankly this should be a good year for Buckeyes fans. Good Buckeyes.

3) Oregon

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This is an excellent surprise to see another conference stepping up to battle the SEC cause quite frankly they are tired of shutouts (Or at least I know ‘Bama is). The Ducks come back with 9 offensive returners and 7 defensive returners as well. Marcus Mariota comes back with basically the same guys at his disposal which means their scoring capability will remain the same. The big question, however, is not how much the Ducks are able to score, but how much they can put up with the presence of their fearless leader going to the Eagles. This is going to be interesting to see how the Ducks are going to fair without their most successful head coach in school history. Now, the Ducks also have injuries in the secondary which may or may not hurt them in the long run. At the moment, Oregon is poised to be the PAC-12 champions unless Stanford or another team (USC and UCLA) picks up their game. The team has a very tough schedule and you could see them playing a very talented Washington team and of course Stanford to boot. If they survive, Oregon could be heading to the BCS National Championship if Ohio State and/or Bama have a misstep.

4) Stanford

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Now we come to the next team on the list and I am shocked at how they are fourth. It makes sense to have ‘Bama at first but I find it difficult to place third only because they had a good season. This team has battled through losing Andrew Luck last year and many more starters. They ended 12-2 under coach David Shaw who also won them a bowl game. In addition, they have the toughest schedule with a strong and upcoming Pac-12 conference that could potentially rival the SEC in a couple of years. The key for Stanford is for Hogan (their new QB) to step and have an excellent year. They also need a lot of production out of Taylor in order for their team to go far and make a run for the title. The have 7 returning offenses and 10 returning defensive players. David Shaw has caught wind of what the SEC is doing and is manipulating it. He has recruited good linemen both defensively and offensively in the past couple of years. He is also recruiting good defensive players and this is why they could make a run soon.

5) Georgia

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This is a school I have grown to admire and really take notice of in the past couple of years. Georga comes off a bowl win and one play from beating Alabama in the SEC championship so I think I can say they will take things more personally this year if they play ‘Bama. Aaron Murray can go to work again since all but one of his wide receivers and linemen have graduated or gone to the draft. 10 returning starters on offense not only gives Georgia a strong unit, but also better chemistry and more maturity. Their schedule includes Clemson, South Carolina, and Florida . They have one of the toughest schedules out there thanks to the three teams above.  So, the question is how the teams will take Georgia down? Well, Georgia lost about 7 starters last year on defense which means reload time (including Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree)!!! They have to play with the pieces and see what will work for them. The nice thing is Georgia’s depth and if they beat Alabama in SEC championship (because I have both those teams returning to the ‘real’ Big Dance), then watch out for the BCS national championship no matter who is there. They are favorites for the SEC East, but I think this will be a tough year for them given their schedule..

To be continued shortly….

Go Play Outside Johnny!

Do I like Johnny Manziel? Yes. Do I think he deserved to be suspended and that he clearly needs to start thinking before he acts? Absolutely. Did I know that he would play in every game or merely miss one? Duh. There was no way in hell the NCAA would allow its most marketable asset to miss more than one game and not be on the field against the most anticipated face-off of the 2013 season, Texas A&M vs. Alabama. For those of you who aren’t aware, Johnny Manziel has been suspended for the first half for this Saturday’s game against Rice University. How did it come to this you ask? Let me explain.

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Reports surfaced, along with informants, that Johnny Manziel had signed memorabilia in hotel rooms and had received over $7,500 from brokers. Apparently there was sufficient information and backing to this, but this half game suspension might disprove that theory. On the other hand, it could prove how consistently inconsistent the NCAA is in their rulings and how ridiculous they will continue to look. The NCAA is that kid in the corner of the room with a dunce cap on his head. The half-game suspension was handed down because the NCAA claims Manziel did not take the proper steps to prevent this from happening. Texas A&M’s lawyers claim they accepted the penalty because they wanted to get Johnny back on the field.

UNCLE NATE!!!!

UNCLE NATE!!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong College Football is arguably my favorite sport, but its governing body needs a few slaps to the head. Let’s touch on some past head-scratchers:

  1. USC – Gets a three year bowl ban and loss of a ton of scholarships because Reggie Bush’s parents accepted some free stuff, Reggie was already in the NFL at this point for a couple of years, so let’s punish a school and the players that now have 0 to do with Reggie Bush?
  2. Penn State – Loss of  10 scholarships per year, a large amount of money ($60 million), loss of all victories from 1998-2011, basically attempting to destroy a program because of something that one man did an the reluctance of a few others to take extra steps, but let’s penalize the incoming athletes and the people replacing these other individuals, instead of the individuals.
  3. Miami – Reportedly a booster, Devin Shapiro, paid former and current Miami players, but the NCAA had to stop its investigation, to investigate its own employees and whether or not unethical practices had taken place. Miami is still waiting on a ruling regarding their case after nearly three months, Miami could reach the ACC Championship game and have it stripped away from it the day before. Ridiculous.

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College athletes have been accepting forms of payments since god knows when. In the late 80s with the SMU “Death Penalty” there were funds being provided under the table (BTW watch the “30 for 30” on this scandal). It has been over 25 years since that and athletes are still accepting payments, compensation and gifts. This will always be an issue, even if the NCAA allows players to be paid, other versions of this issue will arise. There are reports coming out now that these autograph brokers have “client lists” dating back to 2004 (YIKES!).  Johnny Manziel was trying to cash in on “Johnny Football” just like the the NCAA has. Yes, he is held to a higher standard and should hold himself in such as well now that he is a Heisman winner, but only time will tell if he makes smarter decisions.

-Anthony

Foot in Mouth

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I am a man of my word and I admit when I am wrong. It’s time to NOT leave Johnny alone, because now he has gone too far accepting money for his autographs.  This is some Terrell Pryor type idiocy (traded memorabilia for tattoos). Johnny Manziel doesn’t come from the hood and poverty stricken areas that he would need this money, instead he comes from Tyler, Texas. I still standby the fact that Johnny Manziel partying and such doesn’t mean hes a horrible person or takes away from his on-field performances. I know drinking is against the law, but every college student does it so ease up on that argument and focus on what is against the NCAA Laws, accepting payment for any reason. Joe Schad reported that it appeared Manziel and his assistant said they would not sign any more autographs without proper payment. If this all turns out to be true, Johnny Football could be looking at a suspension and we could be looking at the end of Johnny Football ( a bit extreme I know). Do I think it’s wrong how much revenue these kids produce for universities without seeing a dime? Yes, but most if not all, receive free educations from prestigious colleges that I couldn’t have gotten into. Don’t take it for granted guys, cherish these years while they last. Your money will come soon! But, I have changed my opinion on Manziel and this kid needs to be sat down and told to straighten up now because he’s walking down the wrong path.

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Leave Johnny Alone!

LEAVE JOHNNY ALONE!!!

LEAVE JOHNNY ALONE!!!

Johnny Manziel a.k.a Johnny Football has been the talk of the NCAA since last season’s performance, which led to him becoming the first ever Freshman to win the Heisman. Most of the news about Manziel since then has been worrisome relating to his off the field activities. Since last year it has been public knowledge that Manziel likes to have a good time and will definitely enjoy the sweet life of a college quarterback. Throughout this off season Manziel has been criticized and closely watched by the media waiting to pounce on his next move. Johnny Football has not let us down one beat. He has been photographed, Twitter snapped and even caught napping at the wrong time. It is my opinion that we are watching Johnny Football too close as if his life is a reality show.

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Now things have taken a turn for the worst as the NCAA is investigating Manziel for profiting off of signed memorabilia. Jay Bilas from ESPN, who is known for challenging the NCAA’s sanctions and actions taken into improper benefit cases, brought up an interesting point this morning; he said that last week Texas A&M made $20,000 of Manziel by auctioning him off for a day, but they will turn around and punish him for selling a few autographs. Listen, I know he broke the rules and that he should punished accordingly, but it is my belief that the rules should be altered. Let these kids make money, but put a cap on it or something along those lines.

Back to Johnny now. I think we are keeping too close of an eye on a 20 year old kid who is trying to live a normal college life. Yes, many say that he should act responsibly because he is supposed to be a role model, but a 20 year old isn’t necessarily going to think that way. Walk a mile in his shoes before you start telling him how to act, Mark May (College Football Analyst from ESPN). Maybe he should watch what he does a little more closely, but maybe the media should get off his back for one day and stop watching every move he makes or every drink he takes. Let the kid develop on and off the football field and when he makes or doesn’t make the NFL then criticize him and judge him based on his “adult” actions.

FREE JOHNNY!

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-Anthony

NCAA in Atlanta

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So, it’s all said and done. Louisville, the number one overall seed has cut down the nets after beating Michigan, which hadn’t been to the Championship game since the Fab 5 played for the Wolverines.

Final Four and the ‘Ship

Wichita State and Syracuse deserve some serious props for their seasons. Wichita State had a typical Mountain Valley Conference season; they appeared in the top 25 a few times and lost in their conference final to the team everyone else thought was the better squad. Syracuse was looking like a championship favorite early in the season, but then they lost three straight games and didn’t look like the same team when James Southerland was injured. However, both teams were able to make dramatic runs through the tournament to fall just shy of the championship game. Syracuse looked awful in the first half against Michigan, but that defense nailed down in the second half as they made their run but came up just short as some questionable charge calls were made. Wichita State had built a large lead, but Rick Pitino called a key timeout and his team buckled down on their defense and made a run to take the lead. The last minute was an ugly minute with some tough jump balls and foul calls, but Louisville moved on to meet Michigan.

Last night Louisville captured its third National Championship in school history and first since 1986. Rick Pitino became the first coach to ever win two championships at two different schools. Let’s jump into the game. Michigan came out firing as most thought they would; however, nobody expected it to be Spike Albrecht tallying 17 points in the first half, including hit four straight three pointers, as Michigan built a double digit lead. However, Luke Hancock had something to say about it hitting four straight three pointers of his own and at half the Michigan lead was down to 1. I had the feeling, because of Louisville’s track record of second half surges, the game was already over. In second halves Louisville clamps down with their defense, pressing stamina and pressures opponents into mistakes.

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The second half was an unrelenting back and forth until Louisville went on a 9-2 run to drive the Cardinals’ faithful crazy in Atlanta, until Russ Smith decided it was a good idea to try and let Michigan back in the game. A few ill-advised shots and a stupid foul committed on Trey Burke when Michigan was already in the double bonus, had my brother jumping up and down screaming, “take him out!” Of course Pitino, couldn’t do that, but they were definitely punishable mistakes. It came down to foul shots, except John Beilein didn’t tell his guys to foul not realizing they had a couple of fouls to give. He later admitted that it was his mistake (at least he owned up to it). But the game was over and Louisville was cutting down the nets.

To review, the referees were awful, some of the worst calls I’ve seen in any basketball game ever. It went both ways too. A missed kick-ball here, strips or blocks that were called fouls, fouls that weren’t called, too quick or too slow on some jump balls. Bad calls were made both ways, but it seemed Michigan got hurt on a few more calls. However, as a Giant fan (I’m looking at you refs in the 2011 playoffs), you can’t blame the refs, you just have to beat the other team.

Louisville deserved this championship, they were a solid offensive team that boasted the best defensive side of the ball as well. Rick Pitino is easily a top 5 coach in the NCAA right now. Then there’s Kevin Ware, who is from Atlanta. His friends, his family were able to go out and win this one for him after his horrific injury. What a heart-warming story after such a heart-stopping moment last weekend. Louisville is now 3-0 in championship games and Michigan has fallen to 1-5 (OUCH!). The game was a classic though and the fans were into it, but the refs weren’t. A laughable moment is when Rick Pitino ducked after the fireworks went off inside the Georgia Dome. I guess this is how you react to loud booms when you’re born in NYC and raised in Bayville (that’s Long Island for all that don’t know)

Championship Moment

Championship Moment

The Champs

The Champs

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On the Mind

Let’s talk about some serious stuff first here:

Straight Class

Stay Classy, Louisville! 

Kevin Ware

I turned away at the “right” moment on Sunday when watching the Louisville-Duke game. I had to YouTube and Barstool the Kevin Ware injury and I can say I never felt worse for an individual athlete. The poor kid’s leg was hanging there and many of his teammates were surrounding him in tears and were in fear, but he has stayed positive since the horrific injury. Both coaches were torn you could visibly see, especially Rick Pitino who had to keep wiping away the tears from his eyes. Kevin Ware has been interviewed and photographed since then. I watched his interview with Rece Davis and the young man was brought to tears when speaking about his teammates and how they have handled his situation. The shirts and warm-up jerseys Louisville are going to wear in honor of Ware are pretty legit if you ask me, even though some are questioning the intention of Adidas and Louisville for selling such items. All I have to say is let them be, and watch out for Louisville even more now playing with this in their minds!

White on Rice

Rutgers coach Mike Rice has been fired over the revelation to all, he has some serious anger issues and takes it out on his players. If anybody had a pair of eyes and saw the guy at Robert Morris could have seen something like this coming. Rightfully so, the guy was fired. However, just like instances of PEDs in baseball and improper benefits in college sports, more of actions like this will come out of the shadows from coaches whom you would expect this from. Coaches jobs are hard as it is, and many can’t handle it without  succumbing to something as low as the actions that Mike Rice resorted to. I am positive this goes on more than many people not involved in sports understand, but wait till more stories come out.

You mad, bro?

You mad, bro?

Simply hilarious … courtesy of Barstool Sports:

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Aw-Burn-ed

Every since Cam Newton came into the spotlight at Auburn, the program has been under scrutiny and criticism from reporters and investigators, and rightfully so. Cam Newton was welcomed with open arms, and wallets after he’s been on record saying he couldn’t go to Mississippi State because the money was too good to pass up at Auburn, fishy. And the only reason they weren’t busted is the NCAA decided there wasn’t “sufficient” evidence. Now, it is being reported that Auburn changed the grades of at least nine players to keep them eligible, offered money to potential NFL draft picks so that they would return to school as well as violations related to recruiting. Former players are on record now saying that the Auburn coaches slid them some money to stay in school. Listen, I love college football, but it’s easily one of the most corrupt sports in the country because these athletes are unpaid and coaches do anything possible to get the recruits and keep the kids, because it ultimately means they keep their jobs. Don’t worry though the NCAA loves its precious S.E.C!

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Knicks on Fire and Nobody Talking About the Nuggets

The Knicks have won 10 straight now, without Amar’e and up until two nights ago, without Tyson Chandler. They have secured the number two spot behind championship-favorite Miami. The Knicks could be staring at a Eastern Conference Championship matchup with the Heat, which could be one for the ages, like they used to be. The Nuggets have been overlooked all year, including when they had their own 15 game win streak because the Heat were running off a small win streak of 27 games. The Nuggets are sitting pretty at the three seed and can run with or on any team in the NBA. Fear the Nuggets!

NHL Deadline 

As a Ranger fan I will touch on the deals made by the Rangers. Ryan Clowe? Brilliant move by getting somebody who was under-performing this year for not much and hoping to re-sign him to a deal now, especially since he scored two goals and an assist in his first game. Bad move, trading Gaborik. It seemed the struggles and the disappointment that the Rangers’ season has been was pinned on Gabby all along. If you take our finesse All-Star who is coming off a major shoulder surgery with no training camp and demote him to the “thrasher” line, what do you expect if he isn’t going to score or go out and throw his shoulder into someone? The first game it looked like a good trade, but Gaborik netted a goal and added an assist in his first game as a Blue Jacket. I still don’t like it, but I’m not running this team. His contract was up after next year anyway, and Richards isn’t scoring much either, shame.

Opening Week

Who’s ready for some baseball? Don’t look too much into opening week, there are after all over 150 games remaining after this week for each team. No worries Yankee faithful, we’ll be there come September and October!

Those are my two cents … cash ’em in!

Anthony