Monday, April 29, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: We're all winners Here - Part one

NFL Draft 2013: We're all Winners Here - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-29-13)

You were right. The second round and into the weekend of the draft was exciting... perhaps more exciting than Thursday night. There were quarterbacks taken rapid fire, running backs not named Lacy kept getting picked, teams traded up for big names, and luckily all the offensive linemen were taken in round one so there were actually some skill position players coming off the board.

In the end, I think the Giants' draft turned out very well. They addressed every need other than linebacker. I enjoyed the Nassib pick as well. And, in my opinion, there is no better selection on draft day than taking a previously highly-touted player who's stock has dropped. Damontre Moore in round three might not pan out, but he was originally predicted as an early first round pick for a reason. It was worth the risk at pick 81 for sure.

Although things are looking good, the Giants certainly did not have the best draft out of anyone. That distinction belongs to the St. Louis Rams.

Of course, you better have a top tier draft when you have two first round picks. But not messing up with those two first round picks isn't always a given. (That was not a shot at the Jets even though it seems particularly obvious that it hints at such a diss.) The Rams came into this draft needing tons of help on offense and in the defensive backfield. They addressed need number one by trading up for Tavon Austin, the best wide receiver in the draft. To build on a strength, they also selected Austin's teammate Stedman Bailey. If Sam Bradford weren't happy enough, the Rams added Barrett Jones up front and a late-round running back.

On the other side of the ball, St. Louis nabbed Alec Ogletree, the best inside linebacker in this draft. And they got him way down at pick number 30. Safety TJ McDonald was then selected in round three to help sure up the defensive backs. This team is by no means a finished product, but with help on both sides of the ball, the NFC West is not guaranteed to be just a two team race anymore.

I also liked what Green Bay and Tennessee did during the draft. Who do you think had the best draft though? We know the answer is not the Jets.

I'm hesitant to name an out right winner when so much is unknown, but our New York teams definitely hit the mark in my opinion. I'm going to smoothly agree with your Giants and Rams analysis. Both teams filled major holes and should rebound nicely next season. But the meat of the draft and of today is my NewYork Jets. They may not have had the best draft, but they did a great job overall. Woo! More relevancy.

The Jets nailed this draft for me the fan. Not only did they fill two major defensive holes. They replaced Revis as best as anyone could hope for and added a pash rusher. Not only did they add depth to a paper thin offensive line and trade for a proven running back. Both moves are pretty sweet. The Jets stole top ten level talent in the second round by drafting Geno Smith at quarterback. I was shocked when he didn't go in the first round. I was nearly as surprised to see Geno fall to the Jets in round two as I was for Milliner to fall to them in round one. And today they cleared all the junk out of the trunk by releasing Tim Tebow. If Mark Sanchez gets released next week we'll have a clean sweep! Realistically the Jets will wait to see how David Garrard's health pans out, but this team is making moves.

I couldn't have asked for more. The Jets cleaned out the proverbial house of as much of last year's team as possible. Thank you!

The rest of the league mostly improved on paper, but not to poke a sleeping giant, did the Patriots forget to show up? This could prove to be the AFC East's biggest win of the weekend.

Friday, April 26, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: Part Four - Day one Gone Wrong

NFL Draft 2013: Part Four - Day one Gone Wrong
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-26-13)

[Part One - NY Jets, Revis and the Draft]
[Part Two - NY Jets picks and Giants preview]
[Part Three - NY Giants analysis & Draft day predictions]

Actual NY Jets and Giants picks:

NY Jets: Dee Milliner (DB, Alabama) and Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
NY Giants: Justin Pugh (OT, Syracuse)

Seesaw Sports Predictions:

- Jets select Dee Milliner with the ninth pick (Money in the bank!)
- Giants thin at offensive line but even thinner at linebacker
- Three quarterbacks chosen in first round (Umm.... excuse us a moment)
- Tebow gets traded during the draft (It could still happen!)
- Cleveland botches their first round pick (Barkevious Mingo, DE, practical)
- Linebackers plummet (Three were selected, hardly plummeting)
- Tight ends selected equals Wide receivers selected (Three WR to one TE)
- Mel Kiper's hair looks tremendous (Duh)

Well, we pretty much botched all our predictions but the more important point here is this: has the NFL draft gone the way of the NFL playoffs; is it even possible to predict this shit anymore?? Where most things in other sports are becoming more transparent and more sensible with all the information and statistics we now have at our disposal, it seems the NFL is somehow immune to this development.

I mean, right off the bat, the number one overall pick was a semi-surprise. Everyone knew Kansas City was going to select Luke Joeckel number one. I think they may have taken Fisher instead simply to stick it to mock drafters. Why else would they take someone who plays the same position but isn't quite as good?

From there, things were going okay, with some interesting trades sprinkled in, until Buffalo picked at 18. Everyone figured the Bills would take a quarterback in round one. We thought it would happen with the eighth pick. Instead, they traded back knowing they would still get their man and they were right because their man, EJ Manuel, was not expected to be taken by anybody until the weekend.

I'm fine with what the Giants did even though I was really hoping Jarvis Jones was going to fall to them; you must be very happy with how things played out for the Jets, especially getting their Revis-replacement. But overall, is the NFL draft about misinformation more than any other event in all of sports? Do teams purposely release info to confuse us (and opponents)? This seems to be the smartest thing a GM could do but it also seems to go against every reason that Twitter and the internet and Adam Schefter exist.

Our Jets and Giants breakdowns were solid across the board. We mixed in our desires with actual team needs and its actually refreshing that team needs won out mostly. I'm thrilled that Milliner fell to the Jets at nine. He is a solid defensive back and will be mentored by one of the best in the game, Cromartie. As for the defensive line selection, I can't argue with striving to increase the Jets poor sack and quarterback pressure numbers from last season. They got crushed up front all year long. If the team goes strong offense in rounds two and three I'm happy. Otherwise, ignoring one of the many offensive linemen in the first round could prove costly for the Jets.

On the Giants front you nailed the glaring need at offensive line, which they promptly filled. For your sake I hope they go linebacker in round two, but that might be a reach at this point.

Overall round one was a snooze fest. Teams are getting smart and with the linemen being the cream of this draft's crop, teams snatched them up. It made for bad television however. To your point, I think much of the misinformation we get leading up to the draft is designed to build buzz. The NFL is the king of buzz, king of headlines and king of the media. They turned their draft into a three day holiday practically, and the build up of buzz is integral to this. They must be licking their chops right now heading into the second round. The first round is always gold for television ratings, no matter who is selected. We got the EJ Manuel pick which was exciting and kind of surprising. After hearing him on ESPN this week I thought he was a true stud, smart and centered. But now day two is upon us and the treasure trove of stud players is enormous. All the 'name' talent who were reaches in round one are steals in round two and the NFL is left with a tremendously exciting second day of coverage. Manti and Geno are still around, not to mention all the running backs and tight ends on the board.

The NFL deserves some applause, orchestrating yet again another exciting day of draft coverage. Pause for a nice slow golf clap. Now throw in the young boy suffering with a terminal illness who came up and announced his favorite team's pick, the Saints, and we can up our applause to a full on clap. Thanks NFL for making April fun.

Now if only the Jets would make things fun and actually add some talent to our division three level offense. Thanks guys!

Monday, April 22, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: Part Three - NY Giants analysis & Draft day Predictions

NFL Draft 2013: Part Three - NY Giants analysis & Draft day Predictions
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-22-13)

[Part One - NY Jets preview, Revis trade & the Draft]
[Part Two - NY Jets picks & NY Giants preview]

The biggest gaping hole for Big Blue is probably defensive back. The linebacking corp is weaker as a unit but linebackers are easier to find and plug in. However, good DB's are scarce and so integral to a team's success. The Giants lost Kenny Phillips this off-season; Corey Webster, their best corner, has been awful for going on two years and it may be that he simply lost a step, meaning he will continue to be terrible; youngsters Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley may not be ready to start and there is little depth behind that trio. Especially with the way the defensive front took a step back in their rushing skills last season, the defensive backfield is as important and as weak as ever.

A trade at this point seems unlikely, although I hear you guys have a solid corner you are dangling to the trade sharks. Wouldn't that be fun? The Jets giving up one of their franchise's best players ever to their big brothers. But Revis is a Buccaneer now and the Giants are right up against the cap and have little room to make a big splash.

Rebuilding is certainly not an option with this team, but it is also not necessary at all. We are not that far away. Last year was a step back but a small one. Some things went wrong, some players underachieved while others got hurt; and the rest of the division is definitely tough. But with a rebound from the passing game and the pass rush (two areas that played well below expectations in 2012 but are strengths of the team), the Giants could be the cream of the NFC East again.

One player to keep an eye on is slot receiver Rueben Randle. He is taking over third receiver responsibilities for the departed Domenik Hixon and should get a ton of playing time this season. Randle may also get a shot at returning punts or kicks (or both). His quickness and speed will be a key compliment to the precise catching/route running of Cruz and the power and athleticism of Hakeem Nicks. At the end of the year, Rueben Randle may be the biggest reason New York's passing game came back to form in 2013.

The Giants better draft a speedy defensive end and a speedy defensive back or two, otherwise they will never catch RG3 of the Redskins or whomever the Eagles trot out at QB. You know that dude will be a runner with Chip Kelly at the helm. If the Giants were in any other city, then a trade with the Jets would be a possibility. But as long as they share a stadium, Revis will never be dealt to big blue. Fireman Ed already retired as the NY Jets super fan, but if Revis is a Giant the stadium may be empty week one out of protest. Now that he's a Buc we can lay that argument to bed.

So it seems you feel good about your Giants. If you personally aren't targeting anyone as a guy you hope they draft, then let's jump into the good stuff. Draft day predictions, and not the run of the mill, anyone can come up with selections of the other NFL teams on the board. That's like hitting the snooze button on this article. I'm talking BIG trades, major shockers and men sitting idly in the green room for hours being forced to answer the uncomfortable question of why they have yet to be drafted. For the uninformed, the green room is where the prospective top twenty talent sit and wait to be selected. This year in particular, every quarterback in that room will be on edge. Do they go early or fall back to the second round, forced to return to the green room yet again on day two?

Three Seesaw predictions for Draft Day 2013:

1. Three quarterbacks will be selected in the first round

Explanation - There are too many teams in desperate need of an upgrade at the game's most important position. I know the GM's are claiming they've gotten smarter, and this year's crop of quarterbacks is lacking, but owners want to sell tickets and the hope of a new franchise man under center does just that.

2. Tim Tebow gets dealt during the draft

Explanation - If the Jets have shown us anything, its that they will make the move that provides the splashiest headline. Dealing Tebow during the draft will be the ONLY headline on Friday morning, heading into day two, and the Jets will steal the nation's attention for off the field hijinks once again.

3. The Cleveland Browns botch their first round pick, number six overall

Explanation - None necessary. Its Cleveland.

Your quarterback prediction is sound and impossible to argue with. Zero quarterbacks deserve first round selections, but that seems to never matter. The position is just too important for teams not to take flyers on guys and hope they turn into something. I would rather see a team take a better player with their first pick and stab at a mid-round QB like Seattle did last year. The chances of hitting another Russell Wilson though seem remote. Tyler Bray and Mike Glennon are two guys to keep an eye on. They both have tremendous size and tangibles, but struggled with more acute aspects of their game in college... kind of like the anti-Russell Wilson to be honest. They should deliver great value to a team in the middle rounds even if a Wilson-like onslaught of the league is unlikely in year one.

I won't even address your second prediction since, to me at least, the trading of a backup is not newsworthy.

It is funny you threw in your third prediction since I believe it will be entirely linked to your first. The Browns will botch their first round pick because they will take a quarterback who is undeserving of that slot, kind of like they did last year.

My predictions for the 2013 NFL Draft:

1. Linebackers will plummet

Explanation - Jarvis Jones, one of the best half dozen defensive players in the nation during the 2012 season, is tumbling down draft boards because of his injury concerns and terrible combine numbers. Alec Ogletree is falling for off-field and character concerns. Manti Te'o is dropping for both of these reasons. According to Scouts Inc.'s Big Board, the three backers are all ranked between 13th and 24th overall. I see Ogletree dropping to the very end of that span, Jones dropping out of it and Te'o falling out of the first day completely. Not only are linebackers routinely passed over in drafts, but these three specifically have too many questions attached to them.

2. As many tight ends will be taken in the first round as wide receivers

Explanation - The wide receiver crop this year is solid even if there is no top tier, Calvin Johnson type available. This is more a declaration of how important the tight end position is becoming in the NFL. Teams need athletic guys who can create mismatches. This year's draft has two guys, Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz, who will most certainly be taken in the top 32 picks. I see only two wide receivers going in the same span.

3. Mel Kiper's hair will look tremendous

Explanation - It always does.

Friday, April 19, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: Part Two - NY Jets picks & Giants preview

NFL Draft 2013: Part Two - NY Jets picks & Giants preview
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-19-13)

[Part One - NY Jets preview & Darrelle Revis]

I don't need your pretend empathy. The Giants have won too much for you to ever understand what its like for your favorite football team to have never won a championship in your lifetime. The Jets won Superbowl III and I'm excited for the day when that no longer matters so much. Here's to the future and getting some good value for Revis!

Let's assume the Jets make the trade I proposed, they deal Revis and a pick for three pics and a player. Its better than letting him walk and could lead to some heavy hitters in the draft. The Bucs have high pics this year, so there 2013 second round pick is a good one. I'd venture to say that their first round pick next season will be top fifteen, so both are looking good. Here's who I want with the 9th pick in 2013 and the Jets and Bucs second rounders in 2013. I know Rex Ryan loves defense and could use some speed in the linebacking core, but the offense was hugely underwhelming last season and should be the focus heading into the draft, with one BIG exception.

9th pick: Mel Kiper has Dee Milliner, CB from Alabama, going at number five. If he's still available when the Jets are on the board, I want them to pick him with the 9th pick. This is not inconceivable and would provide a cornerback for the future to try and replace the loss of Revis. Plus they have Cromartie to teach the kid the ropes. If Milliner is gone, then I want Lane Johnson, OT from Oklahoma. Kiper has him at eleven, but the Jets couldn't protect a fly let alone Sanchez last season. They need to bolster their offensive line and Johnson is their man.

2nd round pics: Lumping together the Jets own second round pick and the one from the Bucs, I go strong offense here. If Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama, drops to them in the early second round then the Jets should grab him faster than a kid on Christmas. Kiper has him at 26th in the first round, but we shall see. Then, with the Bucs pic I want to go quarterback. I think Landry Jones, QB from Oklahoma, is a great grab in the mid second round. His TD/INT ratio is solid, with a lot of yards to show for himself. Also, at 6'4" and 218 he can withstand the beating he's sure to get as quarterback of the Jets... We Jets fans are self deprecating okay? Geez.

I would love to tell you about next year's draft as well, but that's a little out there for me. What's your take on the situation and the Jets' draft needs? And more importantly, who are your Giants targeting? They underachieved last season too and have some holes to fill now.

I would agree that Milliner would be a very nice selection at ninth overall, especially with the circular nature of him replacing the star they just shipped out of town. However, I also agree it is (not inconceivable but) unlikely he will be there. There are so many talented pass rushers available at the top of this draft. Although you know better than me whether the Jets would sorely regret passing on some offensive line help instead of improving at defensive end. If o-line is the choice, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson or Jonathan Cooper seem like nice options. If the Jets can come away with either the best guard on the board or one of the top three tackles, they should be pleased.

As far as the second round goes, this is where I am no longer with you. I have seen too many teams make mistakes by grabbing a running back early. They are too volatile, too interchangeable and too dependent on the team around them. There are going to be backs drafted well after Eddie Lacy who have a better career than him, mark it down. And I understand the desire to grab a quarterback any chance you get. A team without a reliable QB might as well be taking the season off. But Landry Jones is not the answer. We may see half a dozen quarterbacks get taken in the second round, each with certain strengths and weaknesses. I feel like there are better upside plays than taking Jones and the Jets may even be better off helping the rest of their roster and waiting another season on finding that future behind center.

The Giants are certainly lucky in that respect. They do not have to worry about filling the quarterback position. What we do have to fill though, is almost everything else. Offensive line is thin, wide receiver is in dire straits if Victor Cruz does not return, defensive line lost a number of pieces, the linebacking shelf is as empty as ever and the defensive backfield could use some work. What else is left? Oh, we also might need a running back to split carries with David Wilson.

In recent years, the Giants have done very well for themselves drafting the best player available when their turn is up. I have confidence in the front office to continue this trend, especially with how many places are areas of need this off-season. The only thing I'll say is that I hope they finally draft a linebacker pretty early. Year after year the Giants choose to push linebacker to a secondary concern, as if it isn't an important spot. And while the position can be filled by players who are not elite athletes and a linebacker's success may hinge greatly on who is playing in front of him, it is still frustrating to see the Giants' list of starting linebackers week one of each new season. It never looks pretty.

I'd be thrilled if the Jets went o-line in the first round, but if Rex Ryan has a say about it they probably go the pass rushing route and grab a speedy defensive end. Your Giants could learn a thing or two in that respect as they definitely need to bolster the defense. Assuming Victor Cruz re-signs, then Eli Manning to Cruz can win you some games, but the defense will loose a bunch if something isn't done. You noted a ton of holes for the Giants. What's the biggest gaping hole and can it be filled via the draft? Is it the linebackers, and if the draft class won't cut it, do the Giants look to trade in order to return to form this season.

The Giants, unlike the Jets, are in the interesting position of having taken a step back while in their franchise quarterback's prime. Rebuilding is not an option here, yet no QB can compensate for all a team's shortfalls. The Giants front office is outstanding and has never let the fans down in Eli's career, so am I missing something? Any sneaky backup players to watch this season? A free agent you wish they'd grab? I'm fairly confident the Giants compete for the top spot in the NFC East again this season, yet I'm at a loss for how they start the year as a better team then the Redskins or Cowboys.

Monday, April 15, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: Part One - NY Jets, Revis & the Draft

NFL Draft 2013: Part One - NY Jets, Revis & the Draft
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-15-13)

Rumor has it, Darrelle Revis might get dealt this month during the NFL draft. As a New York Jets fan, how does this make you feel? This seems ten times worse than the Bears releasing Brian Urlacher or the Ravens letting Ed Reed walk. Darrelle Revis is still really good. In fact, (sportswriter caveat warning) if he is fully healthy, Revis is the very best defensive back in the league. The BEST.

Do the Jets not believe he will ever return to his old form? Is that why he's been so clearly available? Do they think he will be past his prime by the time the Jets are ready to compete, thus trading him for assets makes more sense? Or is it something else?

Reportedly, the Jets want Tampa Bay's first round pick (13th overall) for the DB. According to ESPN Rumor Central, the Bucs want to wait until draft day and see who goes in the top twelve. If one of their targets drops, they might balk on the deal. But if no one strikes their fancy, they would pull the trigger for Revis. Of course, they have also offered a first round pick for the following draft and would be willing to throw in additional pieces for the Jets to take that offer. If you're New York, wouldn't you just assume add as many picks as possible (thus taking the 2014 first rounder) if you are going to go this route anyway?

In a larger sense, this type of deal happens all the time, in all the major sports. A star player gets dealt for draft picks and teams are always delighted to get the picks. But how often is that selection, even a first rounder, anything close to the player the star is? I get the idea of rebuilding but how come no one is ever able to rebuild with younger talent who is already in the league? You're telling me there is not a single cornerback in the NFL right now who is younger, cheaper but not as good as Revis that the Jets could obtain? Why wouldn't a contender be looking for that skill upgrade?

Way to poke an open wound. Darrelle Revis is in my top three all time Jets I've had the pleasure to watch. He falls behind Curtis Martin and Ladainian Tomlinson. Martin is number one because we got him in his prime, while Tomlinson was singing his swan song. Both game changers, yet you could convince me Revis is number one and I wouldn't be upset about it. He is that dynamic, that powerful as a weapon and a shut down guy that he instantly makes the entire team better. Having BOTH Revis and Antonio Cromartie on the field was a dream that felt too good to be true and hasn't lasted.

Having said all that, it was agony the last time Revis held out for more money before the final year of his deal. This took place a mere two years ago and none of us, especially the Jets front office, have forgotten. Throw in the fact that the team was just awful last year, needs more new players than exist on the open market and have way too much long term money committed to junk, and you have a BIG problem. So what do you do? I don't want to see Revis leave, but I'm with the Jets on this one. I can't justify paying him what he wants and has definitely earned. The team needs too many other guys and one player on defense can't win anything. Let me stress however that I do not think the Jets made any effort to re-sign him, which pisses me off to no end.

I was reveling in the Rex Ryan era, having finally shook the stink of "The Same old Jets," but it seems that was short lived. The same old Jets do this. They make mistake after mistake and alienate their players it would seem. I'm going to speak with the assumption that the Jets have chosen not to re-sign Revis or play out the 2013 season with him on roster. This was apparent to me after they chose not to speak to him, stated publicly that no player was safe, and then stated publicly that Revis won't be traded. As we know, that means he will.

The Jets have to get as much as possible for the best defensive player of his generation. I don't think the ACL injury matters. With ample rehab time we've seen time and time again how players come back at equal or greater skill level. Most recently Adrian Peterson did just this. I'm going one step further and saying that getting draft picks is NOT enough. They need a player or two and two picks. I'm with you, get a young guy from the Bucs along with the pics. We all thought nothing could top the Butt Fumble, but this debacle is starting to. Here's my proposal for the trade:

Jets send Darrelle Revis and a fourth round pick in 2013 to the Bucs.
Tampa Bay sends their first round pick in 2014, their second round pick in 2013, their sixth round pick in 2013 and Player X to the Jets.

I don't know who Player X should be, but anyone is better than no one. Draft pics are like lottery tickets with a slightly better return. At least a player is a real human being. And we all know the Jets need real human beings playing for them. Conjecture and boasting won't catch and tackle for you. And neither will Mark Sanchez.... yeah I made the joke. Better I say it than you.

It does seem rather difficult being a Jets fan. I wouldn't know personally as my favorite team has won multiple Super Bowls in the last ten years. But I can imagine... kind of.

Let's say the Jets do make your proposed trade. They send away Revis and a mid-round pick for a first rounder next year, a couple mid-rounders this year and a contributing, young player. Most likely, the most productive 2013 player will be that guy who has already played a couple seasons. With that in mind, who would the second round pick, or even the first round pick next season, have to be in order for this to work out well for New York? Taking a look at the big board, is there anyone you hope they are targeting?

Friday, April 12, 2013

What ha... happened? - April edition Part Two

What ha... happened? - April edition Part Two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-12-13)

[Part One - The Eli Manning Face]

We scour the internet for crazy sports photo and someone must try to explain it. Seesaw Sports asks what ha... happened? Monday: opening statements. Friday: rebuttal.

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

I present to you the following:

Photo: The original Manning face, courtesy of Peyton.

Title: "The Original"

Description: While you claim Eli is famous for his reactionary shots, the original Manning Face belongs to older brother Peyton. Peyton Manning created, honed and perfected the Manning Face during his time in Indy. He has since brought it with him to Denver.

The question is, of course, which Manning makes better faces?

Is it Peyton's resigned, thin-lipped mouth with scrunched forehead that emotes just the correct amount of disappointment and disdain in his team's failings, or is it Eli's normal, dead-eyed, blank stare (the crazy eyes shot not withstanding) that gives off the impression that he has no idea why things didn't go his way or the impression that he is not fully aware of how things even transpired?

What ha... happened and which Manning face wins?

In the spirit of our photo series I'll first tell you what happened, then lay out the facts on which Manning makes the better face. As to 'The Original' and Peyton Manning's face, this particular iteration happened after a fruitless effort to converse with his former head coach Jim Caldwell. Its well known that Jim Caldwell may not in fact be alive. At the very least, speaking to him is like talking to a wax statue with the occasional mumble or grunt. Peyton Manning's stone face, meet Jim Caldwell's waxy goodness. Much like rubber and glue, nothing Manning could every say got through to his coach. A classic grimace resulted. That's what happened.

Now the real debate, Eli Manning's doe eyed deer face versus Peyton Manning's stink eyed face.

Although the original from Peyton came first and is unique in its own right, Eli wins HANDS DOWN. His ability to look lost amid both blunder and success is unparalleled in the sports world today. He looked the same in Monday's photo, getting sacked, as he did when he threw the infamous 'Helmet Catch' pass to David Tyree in the Superbowl that led to a touchdown and the defeat of the New England Patriots. That look, the Eli Manning face, is where fear meets shock and confusion in the perfect storm of eye's wide open. And yes Patriots fans, I just utilized a small scalpel to scrape apart the scar over the wound left by that defeat and a lost perfect season. Cue the evil laughter. Muahaha.

Eli Manning wins. Again.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What ha... happened? - April edition Part One

What ha... happened? - April edition Part One
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-8-13)

We scour the internet for crazy sports photo and someone must try to explain it. Seesaw Sports asks what ha... happened? Monday: opening statements. Friday: rebuttal.

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

I present to you the following:

Photo: Eli Manning showing the world he means business.

Title: "Happy? Sad? It's just Eli."

Description: Eli Manning is most famous for his faces, but this one takes the cake. Is that a cookie on your plate or are you just happy to see me?

I'm not sure I need to say anything, as the unbelievably hilarious look on your very own NY Giant's starting quarterback's face says it all. Never duplicated, always inexplicable, its Eli Manning.

So, what ha... happened?

It's funny you selected this photo. I actually know the exact date and time this was taken. Most people will assume it was taken during a Giants - Steelers game; this is, oddly enough, false. The photo was taken March 3, 2013 at 11:07 PM EST. This was when Eli Manning first heard about Joe Flacco's new contract.

ESPN posted an article detailing Flacco's new deal on March 3, around 10:30 PM. Eli, who had stepped away from his computer momentarily, ventured back to his screen to see the new headline. Upon clicking the article and reading through he thought "Hmmm, let's see, let's see, Flacco... new deal from Ravens... six years... 120 wait, HOW MUCH?"

Eli fell to the floor and the eyes got wide.

Little known fact: Eli spent the next 30 - 40 minutes skimming the pro football reference website, scanning Flacco's stats and career to make sure he was, in fact, basically an average QB and had, in fact, won just a single Super Bowl.

Then, around 12:02 AM EST, Manning placed a call to his agent.

Friday, April 5, 2013

MLB Opening Day Mash up now w/ Fantasy! - Part Two

MLB Opening Day Mash up now w/ Fantasy! - Part Two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-5-13)

[Part One of the MLB Mash up]

I'm not on board with your Red Sox and Mets hate. Obviously I don't want either team to succeed, but I am not sure they will both be terrible. The Red Sox have loads of talent still. Their lineup is actually looking better than what the Yankees are going to be forced to trot out. And the Mets have some great, young pitching. They may very well finish third in that division although that is more of a shot at the Phillies and Marlins than confidence in the Metropolitans.

In regards to money buying wins, I think everyone agrees that is not the case. The past success of the Twins and Athletics as well as the current run of the Rays proved that. However, money helps. It is easier to overcome roster mistakes. That is a given. Although if a money-laden team tries to reverse course and be thrifty, it makes it even harder to succeed since they already paid for so many terrible contracts before that decision was made!!...not thinking of any team in particular, just a general idea for the landscape of the sport; that's all.

Speaking of spending money, we recently had our fantasy baseball auction draft and a funny thing occurred. People are always nervous to spend too much right away in these things; I get that. However, what has happened more and more each subsequent season is that people have way too much money left over in later rounds. Solid players start to get bid up because owners were targeting them as cheaper options to a star player. Late round values don't become values at all as the money floods the market. The same thing happens in real life sports with a salary cap. NBA or NFL teams seem to offer more money for lesser players if they have the cap room. As odd as it sounds, has baseball, with its unlimited salaries and ultimate capitalism, become the smartest with its money?

Sure everyone hates Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria because he dismantled his entire team. But doesn't that seem smarter than overpaying for players who won't make a big enough difference?

Hate is a strong word. Neither the Red Sox or Mets will be playoff contenders this season, but I'm not saying they'll bottom out or anything. Its just exciting to see who can be worse! The Mets are taking a head start with the growing length of their Disabled List to start the year. And yes I know, the Yankees list of disabled players (how funny does that read) is much longer, but we aren't talking about the 27 time world champions right now.

I think you may be on to something big hear, baseball has become much smarter with its money out of necessity. Since anyone can spend whatever they want on any player, over time everyone is either going to get smart or get burned. Now the biggest spenders of the last decade, the Yankees and Red Sox, both got burned and had some smart signings. But overall, the big money deals have burned both teams. The league overall, leaving out the Dodgers and Angels, have definitely learned from history. My feeling is that the Angels have been more or less smart with the money, but the Dodgers are acting like its 2003 and the A-rod deal hasn't happened yet. As a resident of Los Angeles, I hope they get lucky.

I want to touch on the Marlins for a moment before commenting on the wacky hijinks that ensued during our Fantasy Baseball draft. Your idea that selling off all the high priced talent is smart if those players can't make a big enough difference misses one huge asterisk of a point. You can't cross the line. Its smart to trade or release players who are under performing their contracts. But in doing so, you need to then sign new guys to be competitive and get better. I haven't taken a look at the Marlins farm system of late, but chances are this team will suck in 2013. If you're a Marlins fan, opening day has arrived and you can already start looking toward 2014. That is just awful. The Marlins re-branded themselves last year and now trot out this mess. Come on man!

Now the good stuff, fantasy baseball. I actually found that people were overpaying for just about everyone from the very beginning. Then, when something juicy was happening in an NCAA basketball game, you could sneak in and win a guy at auction for his actual retail price. Otherwise, it was bid up, bid up. I loved and hated this. Personally, bidding up players that I don't want is the most fun thing in the world. I must have done this at least six times and never once did I win the guy. It was awesome! But overall, the prices for drafted players were up there and no one will be keeper material because of it. Did you see the prices for catchers? Its a freaking catcher! How can you pay over five bucks at auction for Jesus Montero of the Mariners? He's a two dollar player at best. And then the relief pitchers, well, what the hell was that about? Every year the entire crop of successful relievers from the season before is cut in half and one side sucks while the other manages to be average. Then there is a whole group of unknown guys who manage to be awesome. Why the spending spree? Insanity and it was great!

I'm with you on the catcher front. I was perfectly happy waiting and waiting...and waiting for my starting catcher. I ended up nabbing Jonathan Lucroy for a few pennies. Okay, actually it was $4 because someone who already had a catcher bid him up to screw me.

But the relievers was an interesting development. I partook in this insanity of which I normally avoid. Never Pay For Saves: it is the epitome of fantasy baseball advice. Saves come into the league during the season at a higher rate than any other stat. So many closers get hurt/lose their job that paying for an elite closer is almost heresy. And yet I paid for saves...kind of.

When I became aware of the growing trend of the league (i.e. people were saving their money too much and the values later in the draft were going to be expensiveeeee), I realized I too would have too much money left over. If I knew this ahead of time, I would have bid more on the good players. Instead of bidding up replacement-level bats though, I decided to go ahead and pay for five starting closers who were below the elite level but have the job locked down for opening day. Our league allows for three RP slots and two P slots. To me, that means I can start five closers each and every day, so I paid for them. Will two, maybe three of these gentlemen lose their job before the end of June? Perhaps. Will I regret my decision? Almost certainly. Was there a better alternative after I got caught in the midst of the money save? Not that I can see. Should I stop asking myself questions and allow you to ask a few? I suppose.

I did my best to spend early on the available big bats while grabbing some pitching along the way. I held off on the relievers because they are nearly impossible to predict. I think May is a good time to snatch up or trade for relievers. Too bad we can't put a hold on their stats until Memorial Day. I'm now going to take this opportunity to "Raise the Roof" for my boy Yu Darvish. I used a keeper on him for a measly $17 and he rewarded me by starting the season with a near Perfect Game, twenty six outs on fourteen strikeouts. No complete game, but I'm not greedy. Go Yu!

The trends really surprised me in our fantasy baseball draft for two reasons. The first is that offseason ratings for baseball players, especially pitchers, is notoriously a poor indication of the upcoming season's success. Last year's stats carry over for mainly the top 15% of guys, the cream of the crop, and a quarter of those are keepers (all numbers approximate). So why spend money on risky business? I guess that's why auctions are so much fun! Bidding up the copper while you snatch some gold for the same price is oh so much fun. Here's hoping you do regret your decision and someone else, ahem, me, finally dethrones you as champion and wins the league.

One final thought on the actual games being played by real life people, how many MLB players do you think are playing fantasy baseball? I know quite a few football players play fantasy football, but this is much easier to accomplish. Fantasy baseball is a completely different game on a whole new level and playing fantasy while competing would be maddening. You definitely can't have yourself on your team. Unlike football, each at bat is so mental and each pitch a grudge match already that adding on the pressure of stat padding for fantasy purposes would crush even the best players. Maybe that's what happened to Tim Lincecum. And could you even have teammates on your fantasy team? You want to win your team's game, but if Player X works a walk instead of getting a hit do you applaud him getting on base or be pissed for lowering your fantasy team's overall statistics? I don't see this ending well.

I think zero MLB baseball players play fantasy baseball. That number again, just to be clear, was zero.

I bet a ton of guys play fantasy football though. As you brought up, it seems counterproductive for players to participate in fantasy games involving their own sport. It might also be against league policy. I am not sure where you heard that football players are playing fantasy football, but I find that really hard to believe, no matter the ease of the game. Especially if it is for money, how is that different than gambling on your sport? Pete Rose got banned from baseball for life for essentially owning himself on all his fantasy teams. He never bet against the Reds. But he still bet.

Fantasy sports is more of an outsiders' activity. If athletes play, they play it in sports other than their own, where they would be outsiders.  Now let the games begin!

Monday, April 1, 2013

MLB Opening Day Mash up - Part One

MLB Opening Day Mash up - Part One
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (4-1-13)

Its opening day. Woo!!! The Yankees and the rest of the league are back. I kid. I kid. I'm really not that much of a biased baseball fan. Its just that the Yankees are infinitely more fun to watch because they are both my team and the New York Yankees. Let the games begin!

We broke down the AL East a few weeks ago in detail, nailed down this years Orioles and Pirates, the teams who both overachieve but one maintains it and makes the playoffs while the other peters out after the All Star break. What's left? You know what's coming...

AL MVP = ?
NL MVP = ?
Rookie of the Year = ?

I'll stop there as the impossible gets exceedingly impossible. But in all honesty, what's exciting you about the season? What's going to end up a boring news story? Are we in for a predictable year or one that takes the game to a new level?

Remember when Stewie Griffin found out he was going to Disney World? That's me when I realized Opening Day was at hand. Woo!

Guessing the MVP and ROY winners is kind of a pointless exercise though. What happened when we tried to pick the March Madness Final Four teams months ago? You picked Texas, who didn't even make the NIT, let alone the big one. Although your Syracuse pick to win it all does have validity.

What isn't pointless is naming what we should be excited for and pay attention to these first few weeks of the season. Such as: how does the Yankees lineup turn out; does the newly acquired Brennan Boesch make the team; will Granderson and Teixeira be ahead of schedule; how will Jeter and Rivera look... oh, oh, I misread what you wrote. We are ditching the biases for this post? My bad.

Here's what we should be on the edge of our seats about in each division:

NL East - Will the Braves have the greatest outfield unit since 2000? Will the Mets have the worst since 1900?

NL Central - Are the Reds a juggernaut ready to vanquish all other National League foes? When will the Cubs start going all Dodgers on us and spend big?

NL West - What type of season can Colorado's offense give us if Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can stay healthy?

AL East - it's been discussed

AL Central - Are people ready to move on from the Royals if their young hitters don't start off well?

AL West - Did the Astros actually move yet? Really, this already happened? Why has no one said anything? Oh, and Mike Trout.

My completely baseless Final Four picks from January aren't that bad... Waiting... Waiting... Fine. Predictions sure to go wrong can be left to Mike and Mike for the start of the MLB season. But I'm not promising a complete ditch of Yankees bias. That's too far.

The main storyline keeping me on the edge of my seat, besides all of the Yankees questions you mentioned (damn its hard to set them aside) is who will be worse, the Mets or Red Sox. Both teams are setting themselves up for complete failure. The Red Sox even went as far as to issue a media plea to their fans in order to rectify the ever growing gap between fan expectations and the overall suckiness of the team on the field. I LOVE this! Who's going to suck worse? That's what I'm excited for this season!

Running down the divisions, let me answer your edge of the seat questions and pose one more:

NL East - The Braves will definitely field a tremendous team, but you knew I'd say this. I picked them to win it all this year. As for the Mets, they won't be as bad as an early 1900s squad, mainly because steroids now exist. What's exciting me about the division? If the Marlins, who literally sold off their entire team in the off season, finish with a better record than the Mets, who still manage to have a ridiculous payroll even with such a poor lineup, can we finally end this stupid money buys success debate? Ownership is the key to success. Money spent poorly (the Mets) will prove to be no different than collecting money (the Marlins).

NL Central - I think the Reds will be good, but great is highly questionable. As for the Cubs, they won't start spending until the curse of the billy goat is lifted. Or the curse of that guy who caught the foul ball and 'ruined' their above average season, Bartman. So never. This division kind of waddles in obscurity and that's how I like it.

NL West - Can the Dodgers live up to the unwarranted expectations the LA fans now have for them? Can they stay above .500 with Hanley Ramirez out for two months?

AL Central - Since when did anyone jump on the Royals bandwagon? I'm intrigued to see whether Justin Verlander can maintain the ridiculous pitching dominance he's had of late. Pitching is so up and down, but not him. Interesting?

AL West - Mike freaking Trout. Also, I did not realize the Astros moved either. What was the point of this? Do the Astros have anyone good?

You can now discuss the Yankees or Fantasy Baseball. I'll allow it.