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Alex Rodriguez has had a productive spring in 2011.
This is mainly because he appears to have gotten past the chronic hip problems of the last few years. He showed up to Spring Training lighter and far more flexible, prompting him to use his legs to drive the ball instead of just relying on his arms.
Last year, A-Rod hit 30 home runs and had an average of .270. Not great stats for him, probably why he said that they were “unacceptable.”
Even with the down year, A-Rod still hit 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s. He has done that every year since ’08, putting him as one of three players(Joe DiMaggio and Chick Hafey) do accomplish that feat while playing fewer than 140 games.
With his stats from the last few years, it almost guaranteed that A-Rod hits 30 HR and 100 RBI again. But with him looking and feeling good in spring training, there is a good chance he rises to a 40 HR this season if he were to stay fully healthy all year long.
He also appears more focused than year’s past. With a focused and healthy A-Rod, fantasy owners will love him and pitchers will hate him when he steps up to the plate this season.
They are still in a work stoppage, but the National Football League apparantely is still planning changes for the upcoming (hopefully) 2011 season.
They say this year they will start suspending players for illegal hits to the head and neck areas, as well as on defenseless players.
”Frankly, now that the notice has been given, players and coaches and clubs are very aware of what the emphasis is and we won’t have that hesitation,” Ray Anderson, Chief Disciplinarian said. ”Everyone will be very clearly on notice now that a suspension is very viable for us and we will exercise it when it comes to illegal hits to the head and neck area and to defenseless players.”
The league has looked back at two year’s worth of plays to scout out the repeat offenders and who to keep an eye out for while handing out the fines and suspensions.
Also, the rules for a defenseless player have been broken down into eight categories:
-A quarterback in the act of throwing
-A receiver trying to catch a pass
-A runner already in the grasp of tacklers and having his forward progress stopped
-A player fielding a punt or a kickoff
-A kicker or punter during the kick
-A quarterback at any time after change of possession
-A receiver who receives a blind-side block
-A player already on the ground
And with that, the owners will discuss new kickoff rules during the owners meeting next week. They propose moving the kickoff to the 35-yard-line and bringing the touchback out to the 25 yard-line. Touchbacks on any other plays will remain at the 20-yard line, however.
Also, no player besides the kicker will be allowed to line-up 5 yards behind the ball. They are also suggesting making any and all wedges illegal on returns. (They reduced the number of blockers in a wedge to 2 players in 2009.)
The NFL continues to get more strict on rules.
I agree with most of the defenseless categories, expect the quarterback after a change of possession. They are paid to play for cryin’ out loud, and if the ball is turned over and they are trying to make a tackle then they should be allowed to be blocked.
If a QB is trying to tackle a defender after a fumble or interception, they are trying to say he is defenseless and no one can even attempt to block him? Are you kidding me? That’s what I get out of that statement, but please feel free to correct me if I’m not understanding it in the comments below.
As for the proposed kickoff changes. I don’t really get why they need to move it up 5 yards. Apparently it is for safety reasons on the kickoffs. But really, whats moving it up 5 yards going to really do? Players are still going to hit their full speed before they hit any blockers.
The only thing I can understand would help is the eliminating of wedges. Again, if I’m mistaken, leave some comments people!
The suspensions were expected. They didn’t suspend any players last year, and Mr. Anderson explained why in the quote above. I just hope this doesn’t go too far, because some hits you just can’t stop, and Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL need to realize that.
*Information from a Foxsports article was used.
In the West, I feel like only one team can have a chance at making a Cinderalla run. That team is Missouri. I love how fast they play and the constant defensive pressure they put on the opposition, which could be key. However, they have to get by UConn in the second round, and I don’t see that happening.
First round(Teams marked in bold are my winner):
#1 Duke vs. #16 Hampton
#8 Michigan vs. #9 Tennessee
#5 Arizona vs. #12 Memphis
#4 Texas vs. #13 Oakland
#6 Cincy vs. #11 Missouri
#3 UConn vs. #14 Bucknell
#7 Temple vs. #10 Penn State
#2 SDSU vs. #15 Northern Colorado
#1 Duke vs. #9 Tennessee
#4 Texas vs. #5 Arizona
#3 UConn vs. #11 Missouri
#2 SDSU vs. #7 Temple
That leaves my Sweet 16 at #1 Duke vs. #4 Texas. I don’t feel Texas is as complete of a team than Duke. Duke lives and dies by the three, but it is rare when they are off on the perimeter. Nolan Smith is a true Player of the Year Candidate, Kyle Singler is the leader of the team who will make big shots, and then don’t forget Seth Curry, who is known for knocking down the long range shots. I believe the combination of Mason and Miles Plumlee will be enough to contain Tristan Thompson on the inside. I’ll take Duke.
Then #2 SDSU vs. #3 UConn. UConn had lost seven of eleven games before making a very impressive run in the Big East tournament. The fact that they survived that tournament and won shows what they can go. If SDSU can contain Kemba Walker, than they would have a chance. However, I don’t see that happening. I like UConn to make it to the Elite Eight.
I believe it will come down between #1 Duke vs. #3 UConn. UConn is young and doesn’t have as much experience as Duke, and I feel that will be the difference. Coach K will figure out a way to slow Walker down enough to ground UConn all together. Duke’s 3-point shooting isn’t off often, and I don’t see any reason for it to slow down now. Duke wins the West region, making a second trip to the Final Four.
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They haven’t been playing great throughout the ACC tournament, but North Carolina is doing what good teams do; they are finding ways to win.
North Carolina has been behind for the most of the tournament thus far. They trailed Miami by 19 points at one point in their first game. Their only lead of the game was the 61-59 final score after a Tyler Zeller game-winning lay-up at the buzzer.
Then against Clemson, trailing for most of the game, finding themselves down 73-66 with four minutes left. UNC went on a 7-0 run to close out the game and force overtime, where Harrison Barnes scored 12 of his freshmen ACC Tournament record 40 points to lead UNC to a 92-87 victory.
Next up for UNC will be the winner of the Virginia Tech-Duke battle in the ACC Championship game. It won’t matter who they play, because if they fall behind like they have the last two games, they won’t make another comeback. Both of these comeback’s the Tar Heels have rallied are both physically and emotionally draining. Playing two games in a row, and with one going into overtime, the legs won’t be 100 percent. The Tar Heels won’t be able to rally a comeback, simply because they will most likely run out of the energy needed to do it. They use an 8 player rotation, barely.
UNC is guaranteed a bid even if they don’t win the tournament. But if they were to win, they could climb to a possible #2 seed in their respective region. There have even been talks of a #1 seed floating around, but that is not going to happen, even if they do win. If they fail to win the tournament, chances are that they will land a #3-6 seed, which, at the same time, isn’t anything to complain about either.
UNC has the tools to make a run with Kendell Marshall seeing the court the way he does and Harrison Barnes knocking down any and all big shots that float his way. John Henson is a defensive force, and Tyler Zeller has been key on the offensive end. You also can’t leave Dexter Strickland hanging around in the open space.
Come NCAA Tournament time, the Tar Heels of North Carolina could be that closet Final Four team that no one expects to make it.
The A.L. East is known for being one the powerhouse division’s of Major League Baseball. Consisting of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, the A.L. East is almost guaranteed to have a World Series favorite amongst it year in and year out.
The A.L. East has been around for 41 years dating back to it’s creation in 1969. Since then, 25 division winners have went on to play in the World Series, while winning the World Series 14 times. Since the inception of the Wild Card playoff birth, the A.L. East has produced 12 of the 16 wild card teams.
Enough history, let’s get on to the current status of teams and my prediction for the division winner. (Teams will be placed in the order I believe they will finish, starting with number five.)
5. Toronto Blue Jays
Not many people realize that the Blue Jays actually finished eight games above .500 last year. Probably because of the dominance of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays in the division. Jose Bautista and Vernon Wells were hitting so many home runs for this club that it was hard for the pitching relief to screw up all the games. Bautista hit 54 while Wells hit 31. However, the 31 Wells hit is now going to be hit in Los Angeles. Plus you can’t count on Bautista having as successful year as last year. As far as pitching goes, losing Jeremy Accardo and Kevin Gregg in the pitching rotation will really hurt this team, especially with them both going to Baltimore. The only plus side I see in their pitching staff is the rising star of Ricky Romero. I don’t see this club taking a huge step forward this season.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
This may be a shocker to some, but the Rays are going to be hurting this year. The Rays lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano. Reuniting Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez won’t be as successful as they hope it will. Evan Longeria will help in the middle of the lineup and that will help in the batting rotation, but not enough. David Price and Jeremy Hellickson will help the pitching rotation keep them in games, but that won’t hold all season. This team has too many losses and not enough gains, leading up to an ultimately dissappointing year.
3. Baltimore Orioles
Call me crazy, but the Orioles will be a lot better than people think. They have gained a lot this year, and adding to the losses of Tampa and Toronto, this team will vault right into the third slot in the East. I mean, this team has added to it’s roster in huge ways. They grabbed Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee to help with power hitting while also getting JJ Hardy and Mark Reynolds for more RBI’s. They also boosted their pitching staff tremendously with the additions of Accardo, Gregg and closer Justin Duchscherer. It won’t be enough to get them in wild card contention. . . yet. This team is headed in the right direction, though.
2. New York Yankees
Because of the losses of Toronto and Tampa and the fact that I don’t think Baltimore is ready to take a huge step forward will help the Yanks finish second in the East. They had a horrible offseason for Yankee standards that started when Cliff Lee snubbed them and went to Philadelphia and then ended with Andy Pettitte calling it a career. The Yank’s pitching staff is just not going to be dependable this year. C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes will be the only dependable pitchers. A.J. Burnett is too up and down and the additions of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon won’t help much. The Yankees will really need their powerhouse lineup to carry them this year, but everyone knows you can’t win a World Series without a great pitching staff.
1. Boston Red Sox
While the Yanks were off trying to grab Lee, the Red Sox snuck in and grabbed another top free agent in Carl Crawford. He will be a huge addition in the bat’s category, not to mention Adrian Gonzalez. Getting those two in a lineup that already includes hitters like Dustin Pedroia, Jacob Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis is just insane. Hitting should not be a problem for this team. But then again, neither should pitching. Assuming Dice-K and Josh Beckett can have solid year’s, this team is primed for a run with a rotation with those two, Jon Lester, Jon Lackey and Clay Bucholz. Word just in though that Becket took a shot to the head and is having concussions symptoms, but it doesn’t seem too serious. It may not matter, though, because even if Beckett isn’t 100% to start the year, this team should still get by with hardly any trouble and become stronger when he would be 100%. But that’s just assuming the injury takes a turn for the worst. The Red Sox are a heavy favorite to win the American League Pennant, and rightfully so.
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The North Carolina Tar Heels fell to the Duke Blue Devils 79-73 at Cameron Inndoor Stadium.
Duke was the favored team, so really it shouldn’t be any surprise. What was surprising was how UNC dominated the first half. John Hensen and Tyler Zeller dominated down low, and Harrison Barnes was shooting well. Duke came out roaring and recieved two huges games from Nolan Smith and Seth Curry. UNC showed their youth in the final minutes trying to keep their poise from the Duke comeback.
Kendall Marshall was named the starting PG by Roy Williams six games ago. Larry Drew III apparently was very upset and decided to leave the team. Behind Marshall, UNC started playing like, well, like UNC again. Barnes started showing the skill everyone knew he had, Zeller and Hensen have become more dominant down low, and shooters such as Donald Strickland and Leslie McDonald have been making more shots. North Carolina won five in a row before falling to Duke, including dominating wins over teams like Florida State and Boston College.
UNC should be able to go at least 5-2 or 6-1(heck, maybe 7-0!) to finish the stretch of regular season games before tournament time arrives. They finish with a game versus Duke at home on March 5th. UNC will continue to get better playing behind Marshall, and will come together more as a team because of it. Their youth will be their weakpoint, but if this team comes together like a lot of people think they can, they can be a dangerous team come tourney time.
North Carolina is back, baby!
“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I never want to finish second again.”
Vince Lombardi has a big ol’ smile on his face up there right now, as the Packers have won Super Bowl XLV and are bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown with a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It didn’t come without adversity, however. Charles Woodson, the man who keeps the defense glued together, went down in the 2nd quarter and was inactive the rest of the game. Donald Driver, the veteran and leader of the wide reciever corps, went down and never returned. Sam Shields was injured in the 2nd, missed most of the third only to return in the 4th.
Green Bay took advantage of two rare interceptions by Ben Roethlisberger to take a 21-3 lead and appeared to be running away with the game. But the Steelers responded like the Steelers always do. Roethlisberger hit Antwaan Randle El for 37-yards, then finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, making the score 21-10 and giving Pittsburgh mometum going into halftime.
Pittsburgh continued the mometum in the third quarter. They controlled the time of possession battle, but had trouble finshing off drives. Pittsburgh controlled the ball most of the third quarter, only to put the ball in the endzone once, making the score 21-17 still in favor of Green Bay.
Green Bay stole back mometum when Clay Matthews III knocked the ball loose out of Rashard Mendenhall’s pass and Desmond Bishop recovered. Rodgers took the field and led a drive to capatilize on the third Pittsburgh turnover and threw an 8-yard strike to Greg Jennings to make the score 28-17, in favor of the Packers.
However, the Steelers struck back again. Pittsburgh carried the run game with Mendenhall, who ran it in from 8 yards out. It was then followed by an Antwaan Randle El two point conversion run, putting the Steelers within three, 28-25.
Green Bay then needed to answer with a time-consuming drive that would end with points. Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers delivered. Rodgers drove the ball down the field, and Mason Crosby finished with the field goal to extend the lead to 31-25.
Green Bay’s Tramon William’s knocked the ball out of Mike Wallace’s hands to force a turnover on downs and seal the championship for the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and 3 TD’s. He had a far more efficient day then Ben Roethlisberger, who had 263 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 costly INT’s.
Packers reciever Jordy Nelson caught 9 passes for 140 YDS and a TD. Greg Jennings caught two TD catches. For the Steelers, Mike Wallace caught 9 passes for 89 pass and a TD.
Steeler’s RB Rashard Mendenhall ran the ball 14 times for 63 YDs and a TD. Packers rookie RB James Starks ran 11 times for 52 YDS.
In the end, it was the Packers who overcame all the adversity, injuries and huge mometum swings, to come out on top and be crowned the 2011 Super Bowl XLV Champions.
First off, I would like to apoligize to all EE Sports World fans for not having our famous Super Bowl preview show. We ran into many scheduling problems and some severe weather. Now for the preview.
This will be a higher scoring game than most people think. A lot of people feel that it will be defensive minded with a lower scoring game. I disagree.
Now don’t get me wrong, both defensives are outstanding. And it will come down to which defense can come up with the biggest stop. Here is a few situations that will decide the game.
How will Pittsburgh’s offensive line hold up? Pouncy is officially out and the back-up will be starting. They have a tough contest in the trenches with B.J Raji, Cullen Jenkens, and the Packers linebackers and holding them up. Granted they have a big QB in Roesthlisberger who can takes hits, but if he takes hit’s all game he will make that crucial mistake in the end. The O-line needs to hold up for Pittsburgh to have a chance.
Can Green Bay get the running game going? Now when we say get it going, that doesn’t mean over 100 yards necessarily. That’s almost impossible to against Pittsburgh’s defense. What Green Bay needs to do his try and get the running game going enough to make Pitt’s defense stay honest, which would set up the play-action, which Rodger’s excells in.
Which defense will make the big stop? Both defense’s key on the big stops. Pittsburgh’s relies on Polumalu and Harrison and the experience factor. Green Bay will key with young, speed guys with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. Both of those young cornerbacks are under great teaching in Charles Woodson. The game will depend on which defense can come up with that big stop.
Now that we have looked into some key factors, time for my pick. I think Green Bay can get the running game going enough to make the play action work. Coach McCarthy said himself it’s not so much about the yards but the carries, and he will stick to his gameplan. I also don’t think Pittsburgh’s offensive line can hold up all game, and Big Ben will be taking hits, which will be the deciding factor, as late in the game with the Steelers trying to get a game-winning drive going, Big Ben rushes the throw and Charles Woodson makes the game-clinching interception. I’ll take Green Bay 34-30. Woodson will win the MVP award.
Rampage owner Derrick Miller was asked about his feelings on being tagged the underdogs before the preseason even gets under way.
“It really doesn’t bother me. People can talk all they want. What matters is the performance on the field, and I’m confident our team can perform.”
Miller was also asked about all the trash-talking going on between other team. “Let them trash talk. Personally I get a good laugh from it. Hopefully the owners know what they are doing and maybe this is a route they use to help get their team pumped up and focused. As for me, I’ll stay out of the trash talk. For now. . .” Miller stated with a smile.
Ending the interview, Miller was questioned about his strategy against opponents going into the season. “No comment. As of now all i’m focused on is looking over the team and figuring out our definite strengths and weaknesses. I got a steal in the 3rd round with Terry Weber, and that’s huge. I’ll definitely use that to our advantage. There is still 60 some days left, so there is plenty of time to stratigize for opponents. Right now I am just focused on our team, Team Rampage, and trying to figure out what the best direction is for this team.”
Rampage is projected by experts to go as high as 5-3 and as low as 1-7.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been very inconsistent all year, and it is really time to start worrying.
“Is it the playoffs yet?” Phil Jackson asked. “No. It’s not the playoffs yet. We’re still playing regular-season games. We’ll get there in time.”
Well Mr. Jackson, you better pull out some of that Zen Master Magic, because the Lakers have been struggling against contenders this year. The Lakers have lost to the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics. Not to mention their struggles against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sacramento Kings.
Kobe Bryant tried to take control of the game against Boston. It was evident this game why the Lakers struggle. No one is sharing the ball. Kobe had 41 points, but no assists. The Lakers as a team totaled 10 assists all game, one more than Rajon Rondo had alone in the 4th quarter. Yes, I said just the fourth quarter. Boston’s defense took out most of the Laker’s key players, and Kobe was forced to take, (and make) tough shots. Kobe single-handily kept the Lakers in the game for as long as he could. But he needs his guys to step up and play harder. (Knock knock Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, etc.). Lamar Odom seemed to be the only one who was trying to go for the ball or calling for the ball. Everyone else was just going through the motions.
The Lakers can say all they want that it’s the postseason that really matters. But they are going to be at a big disadvantage if they don’t start playing basketball and find a way to capture the #1 seed in the Western Conference and most likely have to go through San Antonio in San Antonio. The Lakers need the playoffs to go through Staples again if they want a shot at a 3-peat, and it doesn’t seem very likely right now.