Monday, February 25, 2013

The Penny Pinching NY Yankees - Final Off-season thoughts Part One

The Penny Pinching NY Yankees - Final Off-season thoughts
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-25-13)

Let's wrap up the MLB off-season with one final conversation about the NY Yankees. It was a rather uneventful winter for a team known to out bid and out maneuver its rivals. Something enormous has happened here and I want to touch on this development.  The NY Yankees are now the "thrifty" men in pinstripes.

It has been announced and essentially confirmed that the Yankees are going to cut salary for the 2014 season to get under the new luxury tax threshold. They signed multiple players this off-season for one year deals to accomplish this. They have also pinched pennies at starting positions as to not get tied down to anything long-term. Rumor has it, this will be a one year plan. After they get under the luxury tax, they will then immediately get back over it the following season, but pay a cheaper penalty because of the lack of multiple seasons over the tax.

At first, I looked on this development fondly. For too long have I been forced to explain my Yankees allegiance to people as they taunted me about payrolls and made excuses as for why the NY Yankees were always good. It was always the money, and never the team, despite the fact that other, highly bankrolled teams were having no where near the success.

Yet nevertheless, I was always looking forward to the time when some other team would trump the Yankees' payroll and make us "just another team who spends a lot." The time has finally arrived, but it is significantly less exciting than I was expecting. There are no young, hot prospects coming up to get lots of playing time this season; we are not cutting money at premium positions to give a young guy a chance and watch a new team develop. The NY Yankees are still old as mud but just richer for it. It is...unsatisfying. I pray the season will not be.

For someone who prides himself on being anything but a traditional fan, you've been completely played by the opinions of other fans. We Yankees fans don't care why we win, how we win, or what other fans think of our winning. Just win baby.  And now you're unsatisfied that a change in perception isn't living up to the hype. That's because its a show, a game to rile up the rivals.  By all means let us be the "Penny pinching" NY Yankees.

Thrifty is a fun word, but considering how much the Yankees are paying people, they're not actually being thrifty. They ARE in fact pinching pennies, counting every single one to miss the luxury tax in 2014. Since they are just working to avoid the multi-year penalty, I dislike this development a bit less now. They can just spend again in 2015. In principal I'm happy our team is thinking bigger picture, but reality is not nearly as squeaky clean.

I HATE this stupid idea. It only makes business sense and does next to nothing to help the actual team on the field. Our beloved NY Yankees can afford to pay the luxury tax. Lowering or removing it entirely is admirable, but it can't be a one to three year plan. That is asinine and leads me to believe the team will most certainly be sold in 2014 as rumored. The only way this works is if you actually start acquiring young talent for your big money guys, doing so when said players are worth something and not riding the bench because of injury, ahem Alex Rodriquez and Curtis Granderson and more to come I'm sure since our team is old as hell.

I'm sad, not because the team is old and we are stuck with old guys, but because Brian Cashman has always had a plan. He's filled holes with the best of them and made the Yankees a playoff contender for 17 years now. This current situation reeks of no team plan, no long term solution and the looming reality of no championship parade.

Friday, February 22, 2013

World Baseball Classic Breakdown - Part Two

World Baseball Classic Breakdown - Part Two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-22-13)

Yeah, that's right, you must respect team USA. It's a shame how many stars won't be playing, but there are honestly too many to have on the team in the first place. And let's not forget who this tournament is really for, other countries!

Like you said, the WBC isn't watched much. But that's a severely American perspective. I have a feeling that it will be well received and a big draw TV wise for all the Latin American countries and for Japan. Those are the two hot beds for baseball internationally and the two spots where MLB wants to grow its game. And what do you know, most all the stars from those locations are playing. That makes this WBC business a success in my book.

I doubt the WBC will ever eclipse the Olympics, mainly because its only one sport and it's in March when America watches college basketball. But I still find the whole thing totally fun! National pride is a powerful thing and team USA is going to bring it. They are by far the favorites, but let's take this one step further. Here are the four Pools of play. Tell me who wins, round by round:

Pool A

Pool B
Chinese Taipei

Pool C
Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic

Pool D

Each pool will have a winner and a runner-up that advances. Obviously being the pool winner offers you an easier ride to the subsequent rounds. Now I'm no big city foreign correspondent (audible gasps!) but I can take a crack at trying to predict games between countries where I have never heard of any of the players involved. I mean, I ain't no wuss.

Pool A seems pretty straight forward. Japan and Cuba will both advance. They have the talent, experience and pedigree to go far in a tournament like this. Give the Winner title to Japan and Cuba gets runner-up.

Who decided on how to break up these pools? Pool B seems like the JV league. Give Korea the win and the Netherlands gets runner-up but neither is one of the top eight teams in this competition.

Pool C is not for the faint of heart. Three perennial powerhouses from the Latin American countries reside in this pool (and also Spain is playing). However, one of them is a mark or two below the others. Puerto Rico does not have the arms on their pitching staff or in the bullpen to compete with either Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. DR will win this pool with Venezuela advancing as the runner-up.

No one in Pool D is on the USA's level. Someone has to advance as runner-up though. I'll give the nod to Mexico this spring because of their deep pitching staff. The USA team will win this pool rather easily though, like 3-0 easily.

Our second round is double elimination, with the teams from Pool A and B facing off (The A runner-up versus B winner and vice versa for the first set of games), and Pool C and D facing off.  

Pool 1 (Japan, Cuba, Korea and the Netherlands) will be playing their games in Tokyo, Japan. This seems like a huge advantage to the Japanese squad. They already had the leg up on both Korea and the Netherlands coming into round two, but home field advantage puts them over the top of Cuba as well. Japan will advance as the winner of Pool 1 with Cuba advancing as the runner-up.

Pool 2, being played in Miami, Florida, is absolutely stacked (Dominican Republic, Venezuela, USA, Mexico). Three of the best four teams in this competition will play in this pool. Mexico's pitching is strong, but the rest of their roster puts them a grade below the other triumvirate of Pool 2. The best all-around roster still belongs to USA. However, playing at home may be a detriment to them. Added pressure as well as a pitching staff missing arguably ALL their best pitchers means an early exit (by our standards) for team America. If David Price and Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia and some other big arms were on this team, why even hold the competition? America would steam through everyone. But here, USA will not be able to hang with their Latin counterparts.

In the battle for Pool 2 supremacy, I see the Dominican Republic winning but Venezuela still advancing as the pool runner-up. They may not have the history of international success that the Dominican Republic and America have, but Venezuela will have just enough this year to push through.

Finally, the Championship round! We see the Pool 2 runner-up face the Pool 1 winner and vice versa in game two, with these games being played in San Francisco's AT&T Park. Game one of the Championship round will have Venezuela taking on Japan. This is a tough draw for the Japanese squad as the Venezuelans have one of the best rosters out of any country in the WBC this year and perhaps the single best lineup this competition has ever seen. Japan will manage to scrape by them though with their savvy team of veterans.

In the second game, the Dominican Republic will take down the over-matched Cuban squad and advance to play Japan for the title.

For the WBC title, a lot may depend on how everyone's pitching shook out. (This is also true for the semi-final rounds as it is just one game to determine who advances.) If Wandy Rodriguez pitched against Cuba, he would not be available for the Dominicans in the final. This is where it helps to have a pretty deep bullpen of Major League players. Edinson Volquez, DR's probable number two, would get the call, thus relying heavily on those arms in relief. Behind those live arms and an all-around great lineup, the Dominican Republic wins the 2013 championship and celebrates with... no parades or trips to Disney World or anything of the sort because, let's be honest, who really cares? It's just the World Baseball Classic. When's Opening Day?? 

Its hard to argue with your predictions, but who am I kidding, I have to. Team USA is DEFINITELY making the WBC finals. Two of the three rounds are on home turf, assuming they advance. Let's assume your first round predictions are accurate, we'll just conveniently replace the Venezuelan squad with the US one, since without Felix Hernandez they are a one ship pony. That gives us USA versus Japan and the Dominican Republic versus Cuba.

As there is NO way team USA loses before the finals here, they are beating the Japanese handily. I see the DR squeaking past a spunky Cuban squad to face the US in the finals.

Now we've found some excitement, a little bit of intrigue. Two stacked teams face off for world supremacy. Or at least two really solid teams will play in San Francisco for a trophy. They get a trophy right? Someone better get some kind of tall metal thing resembling validation for their efforts damn it! Will it be the Dominican Republic as you say? Hell no. USA! USA!

Monday, February 18, 2013

10 days to The World Baseball Classic

10 Days to The World Baseball Classic
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-18-13)

If you do the math, the spring of 2013 can mean only one thing: the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is back baby!!

WBC (every four years): Official site for schedule and tickets

Alright, maybe the WBC hasn't caught up to the Olympics quite yet but it still beats a normal baseball spring training as far as interest and importance.

You and I were lucky enough to attend a WBC game last time it was held, a game at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. It was a fun time all around, rooting for your country, glimpsing stars from other countries who have yet to migrate to the Major Leagues and getting to see some less-than-household names from around the world as well.

This year's competition should be no different. Cuba and Japan will both be bringing very good teams full of people none of us have heard of. Some of the Latin American nations will be bringing heat this year as well, as always, filled with a plethora of MLB stars. USA will have a formidable roster; and countries like Canada and Australia will be playing for some reason too.

The first question that comes from a contest like this is always who has the best team. Without having much knowledge of teams like Cuba and Japan, I can't accurately throw them in this listing. But it seems that Venezuela may be the top dog this year, even without Felix Hernandez pitching. Their staff is anchored by Anibal Sanchez, a stud pitcher no matter the country of origin. Even with an all-star caliber starter on the mound and some effective bullpen arms, their pitching isn't even their strength. Here is a quick listing of their hitters with a parenthetical documentation following each name describing how good they are:

Catcher (C) Miguel Montero - (very underrated; a good, all-around hitter)
Infielder (IF) Marco Scutaro - (reigning NLCS MVP)
IF Pablo Sandoval - (reigning World Series MVP)
IF Elvis Andrus - (MLB All-Star)
IF Asdrubal Cabrera - (MLB All-Star)
IF Miguel Cabrera - (reigning AL Triple Crown winner and best hitter on the god damn planet)
Outfielder (OF) Martin Prado - (fantastic contact hitter)
OF Gerardo Parra - (one of the best fielders in the Majors)
OF Carlos Gonzalez - (one of the best players in the world)

Take a look around and tell me who is better than that team.

Love the WBC, if not for having a cool acronym then for making baseball relevant in March! Its fun to smash all-stars onto a team and watch them play for pride of country. The tournament means so much to each country outside the USA, that team USA must bring its A game or risk getting run over. Your Venezuelan team is full of studs, but come on, no way they are better than team USA!

Heath Bell
R.A. Dickey (knuckle balls!)
Chris Perez
Ryan Vogelsong
Craig Kimbrel (BEST closer in baseball)
Kris Medlan
Gio Gonzalez

Maybe only Dickey strikes fear in your heart, but this is a strong, young set of arms. A perfect compliment to team USA's other worldly lineup.

Ryan Braun OF (All star and former league MVP)
Adam Jones OF (Great)
Giancarlo Stanton OF (Great - possibly the best power hitter alive)
Shane Victorino OF (All star)
Joe Mauer C (All star)
Brandon Phillips IF (All star)
Jimmy Rollins IF (All star and amazing veteran presence)
Mark Teixeira IF (All star and all out Awesome Dude)
David Wright IF (Possibly the best at his position and an All star)
Ben Zobrist UTL
Willie Bloomquist UTL

Please, check my math, but I believe team USA has more All stars than team Venezuela. Hmm, I wonder who will win?

You know what? That USA roster IS pretty loaded. I might have jumped the gun here with Team Venezuela. The problem is, when these rosters come out, all we hear about is all the American guys who will NOT be playing. Sure, this team has some nice pitching, especially out of the bullpen. But there's no Justin Verlander, no David Price, no CC Sabathia, no Cliff Lee. None of the best American starters are playing in this thing. The lineup ain't bad, but other than the outfield, it is relying on a lot of aged, veteran presence; call it Yankee-ish if you want.

So USA might have the best overall team heading into this thing, but I can't bring myself to call them the favorite, not when I am fully aware of how many stars will not be participating. (I know this is flawed logic, to penalize a roster for who is not there; it is what it is though.)

We went through this a bit with the Olympics in the late 90's and early aughts for Team USA basketball. A lot of the best players were either told by their teams to pass on the invite to avoid injury, or they simply did not wish to exert themselves "for free." We seem to have passed that stage, for the most part. The Olympics has the added advantage of world pressure though. Everyone watches the Olympics. Nobody watches this WBC business, not yet at least.

So how long will it take for the World Baseball Classic to reach the front burner of popularity? Baseball as a sport is not as big as it used to be and this tournament is brand new, so it certainly won't happen overnight. But, until it does, I can't escape the feeling that Team USA will always look like this: pretty good, some studs there certainly, but where the hell is _____??

Round by Round Picks and Trash Talking on Friday

Friday, February 15, 2013

More "What ha... happened?" - Hockey style

More "What ha... happened?" - Hockey style
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-15-13)

I get it that football referees are tough but hockey players would never stand for that shit. Hatred of the officials can bring even the most bitter rivals together for a common cause.

Photo: Two hockey players, opponents, absolutely destroy the referee.

Title:  It's cold. Ice cold.

Description: "Penalty. I'll show you an f***ing penalty!"

What ha... happened?

Oh snap! You followed up a football one on one with a hockey two on one. The referee has no shot now. Since you went all logical for the football picture, let me tell you what "Really" happened. We always wax poetic about how professional athletes cheat on their wives/girlfriends etc. But what about the referees? My best guess is that the unnamed player of the St. Louis Rams and the NFL referee just found out they are sharing a mistress. I think we both know who won this fight.

As for the NHL photo, the two players vs. one referee beat down is comically unfair. At least in the football case the player and the referee are on equal ground when it comes to weaponry. Sure, the player has body armor on, but both men will be punching. The hockey players have freaking five foot long wooden clubs to fight with AND its two on one. Its no coincidence that the advertising behind this melee is for health insurance.

So what happened? Referee infidelity of course. This is actually a three on one, as honor is paramount in hockey. The hockey player on the left (we only see his head) bumped the referee hard along the lines of the old 'oops I've fallen' into the ref gag. Now he's down and the two main guys rush in to pummel him with their sticks.

Hockey justice is served. Served cold.


Monday, February 11, 2013

What ha... happened?

What ha... happened?
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-11-13)

The debut of a new running segment on Seesaw Sports aptly titled What ha... happened? One Salem scours the internet for a crazy sports photo while the other Salem is left to explain what in hell happened here. On Friday we flip it with a new photo and an opposing Salem's view.

Real photos. Real results. But what in the heck happened?

I present to you the following, with added flames because they look cool:

Photo: A referee blatantly punching a member of the St. Louis Rams football team

Title: NFL Sucker Punch

Description: "If the defense won't stop him, I will. Too much money riding on this game."

What ha... happened?

As is well documented in the history of sports, there are two and only two reasons why players get into fights: over a girl and over money.

I don't see why referees should be exempt from this. Your caption is spot on. So what happened?

There are two possible explanations for what happened here:

(1)  The St. Louis Rams' player mentioned to the referee, just before this photo was taken, something about the referee's wife and Honey Nut Cheerios (Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony anyone?)

(2)  The St. Louis Rams' player wished to be put out of his misery, being on the Rams and all, and the referee happily obliged.  "I still get paid if I'm injured...  I'd like to thank my agent who got me this sick contract and my favorite ref, Micheal, for helping me to better enjoy the season."

In all seriousness, this photo is perplexing. My best guess for what ACTUALLY happened is that the running back came upon the referee suddenly and the man in stripes simply reached out an arm to brace for contact. A phantom punch, if you will. Either that or the ref really punched him and the angle makes it seem more severe than the situation actually warranted.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Playoffs!? Lakers and Celtics - In or Out

Playoffs!? Lakers and Celtics - In or Out
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-8-13)

Treading in the middle of the league every year does nothing for you, so bottoming out seems logical for Boston. However, the only way this is accomplished is by dismantling the roster further, i.e. trading Paul Pierce. I'm sorry but he will not be retiring as a Celtic if Boston wants any chance at a top pick this summer.

If trading Pierce is the only way to actually, legitimately bottom out and give yourself a chance at a top five pick, do you do it? Do you want the Celtics to trade the beloved Pierce for a young player or a first round pick (or both)? Or, would you rather Boston finish eighth or ninth in the east? Pretend you're Danny Ainge for a second here and actually make a decision that has some weight to it. "Sucking so bad" doesn't just happen on its own; people must be sacrificed.

Damn it, I'll put on my executive hat and pretend I'm Danny Ainge. Its so much more fun to be the fan and want the best of both worlds. As Ainge I most certainly trade Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce. Both if I can. Its time to stock up on draft picks and raise the likely hood of ping pong balls before the season is a total loss and the team is stuck with the eighth seed in the east. Making the playoffs is probably the worst case scenario for the Celtics right now. Their old guys just get older with extra minutes, games, travel, etc. And we all know they aren't good enough to beat Miami.

The problem is, who would want either player? If I'm Ainge I blow the team up, but my only viable trade asset is now getting reconstructive knee surgery. His predicament is approaching NY Jets territory. Its not like Pierce or Garnett puts anyone over the top, except MAYBE the Knicks but they already have Jason Kidd. There is one fail safe here. General Manager David Kahn of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I rest my case.

It's funny how the exact opposite is true of the Los Angeles Lakers. They HAVE to make the playoffs at all costs and the worst possible situation for them is to miss out on that coveted eighth seed in the west. I see them making a very sloppy move at the trade deadline to upgrade in the hopes of 'salvaging' their season. Not that they can win anything either, but with the Clippers playing out of their minds the Lakers have to keep pace. Now you're GM Mitch Kupchak What do you do?

Boston is infinitely more interesting here, but I'll be Kupchak in a minute. First though, I believe Kevin Garnett has a full no-trade clause, so moving him might prove difficult. There are certainly teams in the league who are one piece away and that piece is either a very good defensive and jump-shooting power forward or a solid, shot-creating, scoring small forward. Pierce and Garnett both have value left; it's just a matter of getting a young piece of value back to make it worth it to Boston. Watch as the phones start ringing.

As GM of the Lake Show, we have to make the playoffs, win at all costs. That may mean making a rather impulsive roster upheaval. However, the difference exists in June between these two teams. If the Lakers sneak in as the eighth seed in the west, they can win rounds in the playoffs. In most match-ups, they will have four of the best six players on the court. Assuming Nash and Howard and Gasol get healthy heading into the final weeks of the season, a Lakers squad come June would be a scary opponent to face. The problem is getting there.

If I am Mitch Kupchak, I trade Pau Gasol. I realize he is now injured, but that just makes letting him go even easier. They are not using him correctly anyways. He is a center and one of the best low-post scorers in the world. He eviscerated the American team in the Olympics playing for Spain. LA is not using him in that spot or allowing him to play to his strengths on offense. He is no 18-foot jump shooter and I am not sure why Lakers brass thinks he is.

If they could get an athletic power forward or some outside shooting for Pau, I think they do it. To make this even more likely, Gasol still has value to other teams in the league who realize he is a center playing as a stretch forward. He will be itching to start fresh, coming off his rehab on a new team. With the Lakers selling low, they should still be able to gain a worthy piece in return for the Spaniard. Whether it would be enough to overcome their dreadfully slow start remains to be seen.

I agree that Pau is the Lakers best trade asset, but they would be CRAZY to trade him. With Pau now injured and Howard somewhat injured, they are in a tough spot. But in the games they've won over the last week its been Pau who led the team in scoring and rebounding. They need him whenever he returns. More important than this, I think its only 50/50 whether Dwight Howard signs with the team after the year. Pau is the better player, teammate and asset for the Lakers at this point. Unfortunately I think Dwight Howard is untradable. They are stuck with what they got.

I'm leaning towards the side of panic with the Lakers. My prediction, they seemingly figure things out but fail to make the playoffs. Cause meet effect. The team gets blown apart this summer.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Who dies first? Celtics or Lakers

Who dies first? Celtics or Lakers
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-4-13)

The NBA has been flipped on its head this season. We all thought the strike-shortened year of 2011-2012 would be weird but this is something completely different.

In a sport where the best (nearly) always climbs to the top and the lengthy playoff rounds (almost) always guarantee the best teams advance, we are witnessing something special this season. The two most successful franchises in NBA history, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, are both floundering. Both are bordering on the lottery with Boston currently sitting one game over .500 and the Lakers four below the .500 mark.

To make matters worse, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, making him out for the rest of the season. And, on the other side of the country, it seems as though LA is actually considering trading one of their All-Star centers. What should happen here?

Pick a team and go. Should things be blown up, do they bottom out to try to get the best lottery pick possible? Is it worth scrounging together replacements (in Rondo's case) to go for that 7th or 8th playoff spot? Is the NBA (ratings-wise) in big trouble if neither of these teams make the playoffs or would the triumphant return of playoffs in New York help cover this?

Asking to pick between the Celtics and Lakers isn't really fair; there's only one sane selection. As for the big picture, the NBA would be in trouble ratings-wise if it were any other point in its history, but there are SO many superstars in the league now. The Celtics and Lakers grab casual fans for sure, but last year's playoffs introduced the country to the OKC Thunder and crowned Miami. Those are the teams to watch. Throw in the Knicks and the Clippers and we have the two largest basketball markets with two excellent teams. If the Celtics OR the Lakers miss the playoffs the NBA is fine, but if both don't make it then there will be a ratings hit to the first round only. Neither team is getting any farther.

Now for my pick, which is obviously the Celtics. I adopted them as my basketball team way back when, living in Boston during college. Moving to Los Angeles solidified my disdain for their arch rival, the Lakers. Sure its fun out here when the Lakers are winning, but its vastly more fun when the Clippers are winning and the Lakers are losing. I'm proud to say I root for the Clippers too, so boo Lakers and yay Celtics. Here in the real world though, the Celtics suck. They were a floundering team who barely managed to show up on a nightly basis unless it was a nationally televised game. And this was BEFORE Rondo got hurt.

The Celtics have been playing a game of politics for a year or so now. They didn't want to alienate their fans by trading the "Big Three" who won them a title and yet they needed somebody to go. Ray Allen left last off season and no rebuilding happened, mainly because both Garnett and Pierce are still on the team. With Rondo going down they can officially throw in the towel on the season. They may have wanted to shoot for the lottery before, but now they have a legit excuse to be a worse team without being accused of tanking. Don't replace Rondo. Here's my ideal scenario. Pierce and Garnett both retire after the season with the Celtics sucking so bad they get a ton of balls in the lottery. High draft picks abound and with Rondo rehabilitated to a new-look Celtics team, they come back with a fury next year.

This season was over a month ago for the Celtics. Now they can put a bow on it.

One major flaw exists with your ideal scenario. Out of Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland, Orlando, Phoenix, New Orleans, Sacramento or Minnesota, who is Boston worse than even without Rondo? There is no possible way the Celtics end up with ping pong balls for anything higher than the ninth best chance at the top pick.

Hell, they might even stay in the playoffs without Rondo. With the return of Avery Bradley and the guard play of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee sure to improve with more minutes coming their way, the Celtics still may have the seventh best team in the eastern conference. This, of course, doesn't mean any playoff advancement is in their future and, as all NBA fans know, you want to be at the top or at the bottom. Treading in the middle of the league every year does nothing for you.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Superbowl? Heck no its Harbaugh Bowl !

Superbowl? Heck no its Harbaugh Bowl !
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (2-1-13)

With two full weeks to prepare for the big game, as a Harbaugh I would devote at least one full day of preparation to breaking down my sibling's tendencies, faults, habits and insecurities. My brother breakdown day would go something like this:

I'm Jim Harbaugh, since he was a favorite player of mine growing up. I loved watching him as QB of the Colts, with Marshall Faulk rolling out into the flat to catch a pass and scamper into the end zone. So, first hour, what are John's biggest fears? These must, MUST, be made into giant posters to be held at midfield by a bunch of crazy fans. John is afraid of spiders, well guess what is going on a monster piece of cardboard, a tarantula. John hates Bruce Springsteen, well guess what music I'm playing as my team runs out of the tunnel. This has endless possibilities! Hour two would focus on how and why John panics. We know he is a great coach, but during his teen years playing backyard football if you kicked him while he was down then he would totally freak out and do something irrational. Perhaps that celebration penalty after a touchdown is worth it after all. And kick it onside just to make it really sting.

Okay, now you're John. What do you do?

This is sounding like the plot of the movie Waterboy: the overbearing coach of the opponent striking fear into the heart and mind of the poor, lovable loser coach. Everyone agrees John is the "lovable" Harbaugh, right? And he is obviously the loser in this. All we need now is John going into the locker room at halftime and imagining Jim as a cuddly baby.

More important than even the brother battle is what will happen if the Ravens lose. They have been riding this Ray Lewis euphoria for weeks now, playing above their heads and getting a legitimate rich-man's-Eli-Manning performance out of Joe Flacco. So what happens if it fails to produce a title and Ray Lewis suddenly doesn't want to retire on slightly lower than top? If he comes back, how big of a scandal would this be? He played with the emotions of an entire team and city. He announced his retirement as a ploy to invigorate his over-matched mates to play at a level they hadn't approached this decade. If he wants to play another year, it sours his relationship with them, makes him a fraud in the eyes of the public and minimizes the effect he has on the rest of the league, which still pictured him as an elite-level middle linebacker even though he hasn't been one in years.

A Ravens loss would be catastrophic, leading to the free agency of their star quarterback and either the retirement of the franchise's best player or the return of the franchise's best player after he swore he would retire.

Meanwhile, the 49ers weren't even supposed to peak until Kaepernick got a few seasons under his belt. I'm not sure Jim even needs to go through the weaknesses of his brother to find an edge in this game. With the best defense and running game in the league, he has ownership of the future of the NFL at his fingertips.

You're right; a sequel to the Waterboy is long overdue. Get Adam Sandler on the phone.

A Ravens loss won't be catastrophic for one simple reason; they are NOT expected to win. The 49ers are heavy, heavy favorites in my book. The Vegas line has the two teams slightly more even with Ravens +3.5 (doubt it's moved much), but there's no way the Ravens are looked at as the better team by any reasonable football mind. As you say, they are playing way over their heads and Joe "Football is Fun" Flacco hasn't earned my trust ever. Yes, he's playing for a new contract, but that didn't stop him from being boringly average all year.

As to your other two points. Flacco is a free agent regardless of the outcome and Mr. Ray Lewis already has a deal in place to join ESPN after the season. Even more rare than someone un-retiring is someone turning down a job at ESPN.

My hope, the Ravens lose so Flacco hits the open market and the Jets have a shot at him. And Ray Lewis puts his money where his super huge mouth is and delights us all on ESPN next fall. Go 49ers!