Monday, October 28, 2013

NFL 2nd Quarter: The eight game Battle - Part one

NFL 2nd Quarter: The eight game Battle - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-28-13)

Eight games of the NFL season are in the books, the perfect time for us at Seesaw Sports to update our power rankings. Posers were exposed, studs fell off and the battle for NFL supremacy is anyone's to win. Yet the playoff picture has become crystal clear since our initial rankings in week four, so with half the season complete, how many teams are actually in the hunt?

2nd Quarter Power Rankings:
[Numbers in parentheses equal difference in rank from Todd: i.e (+1) equals one spot higher]

TODD                                DAN

32. Jacksonville                 Jacksonville (0)               
31. Minnesota                    Tampa Bay (-1)                 
30. Tampa Bay                   Minnesota (+1)             
29. Philadelphia                 Philadelphia (0)             
28. St. Louis                       New York Giants (-6)      
27. Oakland                       St. Louis (+1)                  
26. Houston                       Oakland (+1)                    
25. New York Jets              Houston (+1)                  
24. Buffalo                          Buffalo (0)                       
23. Miami                           Atlanta (-2)                       
22. New York Giants          Cleveland (-2)
21. Atlanta                          Washington (-2)
20. Cleveland                     Pittsburgh (-2)
19. Washington                  Arizona (-4)
18. Pittsburgh                     Miami (+5)
17. Tennessee                    New York Jets (+8)
16. Chicago                        San Diego (-3)
15. Arizona                         Baltimore (-3)
14. Dallas                           Tennessee (+3)
13. San Diego                    Carolina (-2)
12. Baltimore                      Chicago (+4)
11. Carolina                        Dallas (+3)
10. New England                Detroit (-1)
9. Detroit                             Green Bay (-5)
8. Indianapolis                    Cincinnati (-1)
7. Cincinnati                       New England (+3)
6. Kansas City                    New Orleans (-4)
5. San Francisco                Kansas City (+1)
4. Green Bay                      Indianapolis (+4)
3. Seattle                            San Francisco (+2)
2. New Orleans                  Seattle (+1)
1. Denver                           Denver (0)

Comments from the rankings:

We're halfway through the NFL season and a lot has changed in just four weeks. There are now three distinct groups in the rankings:

- The bottom, teams ranked 32-30, are clearly terrible. I wouldn't pick the Jaguars, Vikings, or Buccaneers to beat anyone else in the league under any circumstances. I know they won't all go winless but any wins they grab will be upsets.

- The top 10 is clearly established. I know the playoffs are 12 teams, so those final two spots are still up for grabs, but the top 10 teams seem set on making it. In related news, it took me a long while to decide who was the 11th best team in the NFL. I settled on Carolina, whose defense has been amazing all year, but now their offense is final clicking.

- The rest of the league, teams ranked 11-29, are pretty darn close, as funny as it sounds. There is certainly very little separating those teams at 29,28,27 from Tennessee or Pittsburgh at 18. We actually just saw this yesterday as Oakland toppled the Steelers.

 A couple extraneous thoughts, all seemingly related to quarterbacks:

- Poor LeSean McCoy; that Philly QB situation is a MESS.
- St. Louis would be higher if Bradford hadn't gone down; their ranking is not totally reflective of their performance thus far.
- The Giants are rolling!...with two of the worst wins I have ever seen in my lifetime; but they are two wins nonetheless and that division is still up for grabs.
- Chicago is in a similar boat to St. Louis; their ranking reflects the current Cutler injury, not how they've played this season
- If the New England Patriots had a quarterback who could throw an accurate pass, there's no telling how good they could be!

Even though Kansas City has the best record in the league, and the best defense according to the numbers, I still don't trust them against the other heavy hitters. I'd take the four big NFC teams over them and still like Denver a little more. Of course, if Seattle loses tonight...

I don't see much having changed at all in the last four weeks, besides the masses really separating themselves. The bottom of the barrel sunk lower and the top ten just punched their playoff tickets a little more firmly. Otherwise, I see four groups here. That middle pack you lumped together is actually two groups now after eight weeks, teams with hope and teams that suck.

The four groups in my rankings:

- The bottom, which extends all the way to team number 28 and your New York Giants. The teams ranked 32 to 28 all stink, are having horrific seasons, and can't be trusted to win, period. I know you are dumping on St. Louis because they lost their QB, but that's not a bad team. They belong in our next group.

- The ones that suck, these are teams ranked 27 to 21. None of these teams are making the playoffs. Their seasons are over. You placed Miami and the Jets in this area of your rankings, but both those teams still have a shot and are way better, when they are playing well, than the likes of Cleveland, Washington and Atlanta who aren't breaking .500 this season.

- The ones with hope, these are teams ranked 20 to 12. All of these teams are in the hunt and are one winning streak or losing streak away from keeping hope alive or falling into the 'suck' category. Pittsburgh may have closed their door by losing to Oakland, but something tells me not to count out the Steelers just yet. Every other team has show flashes of greatness and I still like Chicago even with Cutler side lined for several weeks.

- The top, teams in the top ten of my rankings.  And yes I realize I skipped over the Cowboys at number 11. They seem to have a hold on the NFC East by default, being better than everyone else in that division, but still managing to suck on a level that doesn't befit a top ten team.

We must both be NFL geniuses, or this season is such an open book its ridiculous, because our top ten contains the exact same teams.  We do disagree on where four teams fall. I don't like Green Bay nearly as much as you. Same goes for New Orleans, who is simply out scoring people more than the league wants to admit.  I'm also much higher on Indianapolis and New England, two teams with stellar QB play that has held things together. I think the Colts can withstand the loss of Reggie Wayne, but I do worry the Patriots have lost one too many players on defense.

Friday, October 25, 2013

MLB Fall Classic: Dang those Old folks & Ad Men - Part two

MLB Fall Classic: Dang those Old folks & Ad Men - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-25-13)

[Part one - Average event in a Golden package]

I think the problem is deeper for baseball. This league has stars, lots of them, perhaps more than at any point in our lifetimes. Miguel Cabrera (albeit injured during the ALCS), is the best hitter in the world. That type of player would draw a viewing audience in other sports. And what about Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw in LA? The most exciting young player in the NL and the best pitcher in the world are both on the same team, yet this doesn't tip the needle. I think the problem has more to do with baseball not being a great sport to watch on television. It is slow and deliberate and that cannot change unless you overhaul the fundamental aspects of the game. A team can score waves of runs at any time, but tuning in for action sequences is random and unpredictable. The game was meant for the radio or in-person, where it thrives. But in an increasingly digital and fast-paced society, there may be no room for it. This leads to exactly what you said; people only care about their own team. I believe that sentiment will grow as the years go on.

The juxtaposition is that baseball is actually easier to follow nowadays. While the culture may be moving past the sport in real-time, box scores and stats can be checked immediately after every game has concluded to see how the league is doing. It is much easier to keep up on the sport as a whole without actually tuning into any game play. I...don't know what this means for the future of the sport. Maybe you have some idea.

As for the '13 World Series itself, the Red Sox made an interesting improvement, going from last in their division to first and making the World Series. But last year's team shouldn't have been that bad; it really just came down to injuries. Jonah Keri did a great job of detailing this recently in a piece for Grantland, with stats that --

Let me interrupt you right there, because the stats you were about to lay down are mind blowing. Thanks in advance Jonah for making everything about the Red Sox quite clear. We'll talk injuries in early November. Its a big can of worms and I want to do it justice.

So we have baseball as both an inferior TV product and baseball as an incredible real time app update (iPhone, Android etc). Both are true, but I disagree about this being a problem. Baseball has always been an inferior TV product. The games are long and its completely unpredictable. Hence everyone only wanting to watch their home team. However, this technology boom that we are right in the middle of is huge for baseball and MLB. You are spot on, its so damn easy to check the score inning to inning, or go watch the thirty second recap of the entire game within five minutes of it ending. If videos aren't your thing, then you can read the game summary complete with inning by inning scoring plays and statistics. It goes one step further even. Go read the in game Twitter feed that ESPN posts on its Gamecast. Only one word comes to mind. Brilliant! Its so damn entertaining to read the feed from analysts, fans, etc. And I'm not sure if this is universal, but the Yankees' Twitter feed posts photos of the big plays and video of every run scoring play. So awesome. How is this bad for baseball?

The obvious answer is that its not bad at all. Its actually saving the game. I've never been more into regular season baseball for this reason alone. I just go click, click on my phone for thirty seconds and get all the juicy game details. Or I can read how the new young star you mentioned, Yasiel Puig, had yet another monster afternoon and is now batting over .400 in the postseason. Yes, he did that. This is beyond great for baseball. You get this with football as well, but not nearly as much with the NBA. It translates, just not to this level.

So what's baseball's problem, what is holding back MLB from bridging the generation gap and getting fans excited? Its the old folks I tell you. They are holding back the sport with their memories. They are constantly trying to recreate the "good old days" of when baseball was pure (Note to everybody: It never was). And when I say "they" I'm referring to the folks in charge of the league. I think the MLB Network is great and I love the show where it bounces around the entire league and shows you the big moments of all the games taking place. Brilliant! But does anyone actually know about this? Have you seen a single commercial on ESPN advertising this amazing new way to watch baseball? The answer is a resounding No. Its not that they lack good ideas, they lack the ability to tell anyone about them. Its ridiculous. I think this same idea can be applied to the postseason. Put a show together that combines the weirdness of live Twitter and in game analysis, with only the best parts of the actual game. Maybe you have to air this starting in the fifth inning, so that it will catch up with real time by the end of the game. But then you cut out all the boring filler that turns fans off.

Advertise your stars damn it! And embrace the new wave of technology that is making baseball fun to follow. I'm psyched for this World Series matchup, but I don't care to actually watch it. That's a very fixable problem. Better than with the NHL where I don't even care to begin with. Sorry hockey.

Your delayed telecast idea is rather brilliant. It will never happen because it would mean television networks lose five innings of advertising, but picking up the game late and having it pick and choose the important parts from the first two thirds of the game to show is perfect for baseball. It is an MLB DVR with a brain.

Oh, someone strikes out the side on only 12 pitches in the third? Okay, we'll show you that whole half inning. But there's one long double and nothing else happens in the fourth? We'll just show you the hit and a good defensive play if it occurs. This is so awesome it actually is upsetting me that I can't watch the World Series games like this.

Again, I know this is a TV rights issue and all that business bullshit, but MLB Network would be perfect for this. Let FOX run the whole World Series, all the innings of all the games. I'd rather tune in to the 'Series Shortener' on the other channel. While the live telecasts start at 8 pm EST, this one could chill out and wait until 930 or 10 and catch us all up before reacclimating with the live feed by the later innings. Alas, our brilliance goes to waste in the current world of advertising and network broadcast rights.

Monday, October 21, 2013

MLB Fall Classic: Average event in a Golden package - Part one

MLB Fall Classic: Average event in a Golden package - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-21-13)

Game One of the 2013 MLB World Series is Wednesday night. The Boston Red Sox will be facing the St. Louis Cardinals. Woo? Not quite a surprise match-up this season; no one really came out of nowhere. Even both LCS match-ups were between powerful franchises. Unless you count the Red Sox going from worst to first as surprising, this year's playoffs was pretty bland. And even Boston's uprising was semi-faulty. They shouldn't have been that bad last year. They had the same roster but with some of the Dodgers' players. And look how far LA got with Adrian Gonzalez being arguably their best hitter all year.

We all know MLB struggles for TV ratings. Is it better that they've gotten a World Series between two country-wide teams? Everyone says they love the underdog stories of the Rays and Athletics and Pirates but then the public doesn't show up to watch these teams when it counts. Baseball has, even without a salary cap, one of the most parity-filled sports in this country. The Red Sox going from worst to first in the regular season isn't even a story because it has happened multiple times before. Parity is not an issue here as far as fair and balanced play. But is parity an issue for league popularity?

The NBA gets ratings when the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, etc. are playing for a title. Luckily for them, this happens nearly every season. You know when the last time neither the Lakers, Celtics or LeBron were in the NBA Finals? It hasn't happened since 2006. And if you throw the Spurs in this group, 2006 doubles as the only NBA Finals since Jordan's Bulls that didn't have one of those teams.

Where are these teams for MLB? Instead of "boring" match-ups between the same teams every year, baseball gets new blood in the World Series nearly every season. And yet this ends up badly for their viewership.

What can be done to save the Fall Classic?

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but baseball became a sport where it is harder and harder to watch any old team compete for a championship. The NFL has parity, loves parity, and as a fan I'll watch most of the playoff games and certainly the Super Bowl, no matter who is playing. The NBA needs its powerhouses, has them, and I'll watch the finals when the powerhouses are in it. They usually are. MLB is different. It has parity, a lot of it, but I do NOT enjoy watching random teams play for a title. It was not fun for anyone outside of San Francisco to see the Giants win it all last season. MLB also has powerhouses, teams that are good year after year. But I did NOT enjoy watching them compete in the League Championship Series' this season. Its hard to watch and enjoy the Red Sox, as a Yankee fan, but the NLCS between the Dodgers and Cardinals should have been awesome. On paper it reads like two great franchises battling for a shot at the World Series, but you're spot on with your MLB analysis. The Fall Classic is broken and the Red Sox vs. Cardinals is lacking cache that would surely be there in both the NFL and NBA.

I actually think parity has hurt the popularity of MLB. I love watching my Yankees and will watch them in every playoff game if possible. But outside of my home team, I don't need to watch the games. Checking the scores is just as much fun. The games are long, so why not tune in for an hour? Well there's no guarantee anything at all will happen during those three innings. Watch one quarter of an NFL game or an NBA game and you're practically guaranteed scoring. Baseball doesn't work that way, so its needs matchups to make it exciting. A great hitter vs. a great pitcher. But outside of the Dodgers lineup, there's only a few hitters that make me take notice. The Red Sox have one in David Ortiz. The Tigers have one in Miguel Cabrera, but they're now out. The Cardinals don't have anyone who quite reaches this level. Where does this leave us? With a Fall Classic that's sorely lacking.

I like the NBA Finals because one of the teams you mentioned, or more importantly one of the Super Stars of the league, has been playing for the title nearly every season in the last decade. I love the Super Bowl because its always exciting and football never lacks for story lines. But I'm at a loss for the World Series. They usually get fresh blood in the Fall Classic, which is ultimately great for regular season baseball but kills October excitement once your team is out of the running. This year is different, or at least it should be with two classic franchises holding strong in October.

The Red Sox move from worst to first should be a huge story. I actually think its pretty amazing. They stunk last season, basically ran out the same roster with a new manager this year and are now the best of the American League. Sure, sure, they weren't bad in 2011. But they STUNK last year in 2012. I actually picked them to follow things up with a bleak 2013, barely squeaking into the playoffs. So I don't get why this isn't a bigger story. Probably because its the Red Sox, they've been great for a decade more or less and ho hum.

Ultimately it comes down to Star Power. Baseball doesn't have enough. Its lacking, missing, non existent for me outside of David Ortiz who doesn't even play in the field. Teams need stars to draw fans outside their home market. MLB has a marketing problem. We need more KIA car commercials with baseball players. Come on!

Friday, October 18, 2013

"If you thought bubble soccer looked stupid" - What ha... happened (October Part two)

"If you thought bubble soccer looked stupid" - What ha... happened (October Part two)
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-18-13)

"What ha... happened," where we scour the internet for a crazy sports photo or GIF and someone must try to explain it. Seesaw Sports asks what ha... happened? Monday: Opening statement. Friday: Rebuttal.

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

I win again young Skywalker, as my fake sport is more fake than yours.

I present to you the following:

Photo: Trampoline Dodgeball!

Title: "If you thought Bubble Soccer looked stupid..."

Description: For everyone who ever thought dodgeball didn't have enough leaping and jumping, it has officially been super-sized. What the bubble did for the game of soccer, the trampoline has now done for dodgeball. Tired of those boring dodgeball matches where no one pirouettes through the air? Not anymore!

Watch a trampoline dodgeball YouTube clip and then you tell me, is this terribly stupid or secretly awesome?

Where did this come from? What ha... happened?

Wow. Color me impressed because this is secretly awesome!!

I'm a closet dodgeball fan, as in I think its super fun to play even if I haven't played since high school. There are a ton of leagues in Los Angeles, but moving on. Dodgeball is cool, you get to bean people with giant rubber balls and this is the point! Throw in a trampoline and I'm sold. Can we make this a drinking game too, like softball?

But as to what happened, or how this absurd idea of a competition ever came to light, its rather simple. I credit this gloriously evil game to a fancy pants gym teacher in Texas. Why Texas? Because everything in Texas is big, crazy and wild! Yee Hah! Anyways, so there was dodgeball. You hit people, get hit and the world turns. Then there was the trampoline. Its for jumping. This man (its a man because no woman cares to make something stupid more challenging) found dodgeball too easy and the trampoline too lady like. He strapped on his Texas sized hat, grabbed a big rubber ball and started jumping. Several hours later and we had Trampoline Dodgeball!

Either that happened, or a bunch of drunk frat boys broke into the gymnasium and the rest was history.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"For some, this is Sport" - What ha... happened (October Part one)

"For some, this is Sport" - What ha... happened (October Part one)
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-14-13)

"What ha... happened," where we scour the internet for a crazy sports photo or GIF and someone must try to explain it. Seesaw Sports asks what ha... happened? Monday: Opening statement. Friday: Rebuttal.

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

This month I'm back with a vengeance and found something barely passable as sport. More than what happened, you tell me, what the hell is really going on.

I present to you the following:

Photo: Apparently this is 'Bubble Football' or 'Bubble Soccer' for us Americans

Title: "For some, this is Sport"

Description: I understand the name, I really do. But I refuse to call this a sport. It goes against the very fabric of sports. The players can not even see. WTF! Is this some bad joke? An American's idea to make soccer palpable? What the hell is this?

What ha... happened?

I am sorely disappointed in you my brother. Not only is bubble soccer (apparently) played in front of tens of hundreds of fans at whatever local middle school gymnasium that picture is from. It is also played regularly on a little show called Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Jimmy's played matches against Stephen Colbert and Gerard Butler. He's played with members of the Baltimore Ravens and members of the Wu Tang Clan. Bubble Soccer is a talk show phenomenon on the level of Headlines and the Masturbating Bear. It also seems pretty legit.

What better way to improve soccer than to make players lose their balance easier? It's not like you could use your hands in the first place; it's soccer! Bubble soccer is big time. I can only imagine what's in store next. Perhaps bubble wrestling or bubble karate. If we shrunk down the bubble size, we could even venture into bubble bowling and bubble volleyball territory, with ones' hands permanently stuck below the bubble in the former and above the bubble in the latter.

Friday, October 11, 2013

NFL 1st quarter, AFC vs NFC - Part two

NFL 1st quarter, AFC vs NFC - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-11-13)

[Part one - NFL 1st quarter Power Rankings]

Week five's games clearly changed some things, but at the quarter season mark there were some obvious trends forming. We both like Denver and New England as the favorites in the AFC. We both also like New Orleans and Seattle in the NFC, with Green Bay and Chicago right there as well. The big difference rests with how we feel about Indianapolis. You seem secure in their conference championship chances while I am not sure they are even a top dozen team, but am sure they will make the playoffs. The reason being, the AFC still stinks; I don't care what the numbers say!

We heard the record a week or so ago; it was everywhere. In games where AFC teams played NFC teams, the AFC was overwhelmingly crushing their peers. This went against what everyone expected prior to the year. But I say it is too soon to flip that story. The jury is still out on a number of the top AFC teams while some elites in the NFC are just getting their legs under themselves.

Seven of my top ten teams were from the NFC at the quarter mark, and that didn't even include San Francisco. Cincinnati, Miami, and the Colts...these teams still need to show me some things before I can go throw them in the top ten discussion. Indy may have done that week five with their convincing win over Seattle. That was certainly impressive. But the Dolphins and Bengals are still struggling mightily to get their respective offenses going. Perhaps I put too much stock in the high-powered offenses coming out of the NFC North, but I need a team to be able to score. What is really separating the Bengals from being the Carolina Panthers at this point other than fewer mistakes by their quarterback? They both have awesome defenses and offenses who are struggling to get the ball to their play makers. The only difference is Andy Dalton has eight total turnovers while Cam Newton has already turned the ball over... six times? Wait, so what the hell is the difference between the 3-2 Bengals and the 1-3 Panthers?

The Bengals won a close, low scoring game against an elite opponent in week five, 13-6 over New England. Carolina had that same game, but let Russell Wilson and Seattle slip away with a 12-7 victory. Both teams also lost a low scoring, close game. Cincinnati to Cleveland and Carolina to Arizona. In addition, both teams had impressive wins which ended up being less impressive after seeing how truly bad their opponent was: Cincy over Pittsburgh and Carolina over the Giants. Throw in Carolina's bye week and the only thing that separates these two teams is that late mess up against Buffalo that you touched on. Is that lone error really enough to garner Carolina terrible and Cincinnati awesome?

Of course that was one, single, cherry-picked example, but the NFC is on their way to rumbling by the AFC. I can see it now. Atlanta has been worse than people expected. So has San Fran. I expect both those teams to be around in December.

You're an AFC guy, but do you really think five of the ten best teams are from that conference? Kansas City is now 5-0 and I would STILL take a healthy Detroit Lions team over them, no question.

Offense may rule the day in September and October, but what wins in December and through the playoffs is crushing defense and a lack of mistakes (turnovers and penalties). The AFC is leagues ahead of the NFC this season for that very simple reason. Sure, sure the NFC has high powered offenses in New Orleans, in Green Bay, in Detroit and in Atlanta, but none of those teams are beating their AFC contemporaries. Its not a coincidence that New England, Miami and the Jets all made Atlanta look silly. They are done. They can't stop anyone. New Orleans is my exception, the NFC team that will continue to get better. Otherwise its top heavy. Beyond Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and New Orleans the rest of the conference is fresh meat for AFC opponents.

The AFC on the other hand is punching people in the face. Defense has brought Kansas City, Cleveland and the Jets back from the dead. Defense has completely masked New England's inability to move the ball on offense. And yes, Denver is putting up huge points, but its defense is why they are a juggernaut. After the Broncos, no one team stands out for me in the AFC anymore. I know its why you think they're all average. But that's where you're wrong! They are all damn good, better than anything the NFC has outside its top five.

Your Cincinnati and Carolina comparison is a bit of a joke. The Panthers consistently find ways to loose games. I don't care if they put up three great quarters week after week. They stink in the fourth and are average at best. The Bengals on the other hand have proven to be closers so far this season. They are a playoff team because the Ravens make too many mistakes and Cleveland is not quite there yet, but that's only an indication of the strength of the AFC. Our argument will come to a head this weekend when Cleveland faces Detroit. The numbers favor Detroit, it is still October and Cleveland lost its quarterback. But if Cleveland does win, can we both agree you're wrong?

There are a ton of AFC teams that are making waves, either winning with defense or offense depending on the week. I want to focus on the AFC East since its my home turf. By the way, I'm writing off the Bills now minus EJ Manuel. In the east there are three teams to be afraid of. New England, Miami and the Jets are all tough match ups for anyone in the NFC. Outside of facing the Saints, I fully expect all three teams to run the table on their NFC games this season. They are half way there. Moving beyond that division, you can't honestly tell me the Colts won't crush nine out of ten NFC opponents. They are looking more and more like a Super Bowl team now. Who is going to stop them? I'm not even sure Denver can. For me this AFC vs. NFC argument comes down to the 8-8 teams. We know both conferences have a strong top five, but take the teams ranked six through ten in the AFC and put them into the NFC... woah. The Giants wouldn't be the only winless team, that's all I'm saying.

So if Cleveland wins, we agree I'm wrong, but if Detroit wins I don't get to be right? Typical AFC thought process. If we keep it close, that means we're better because people didn't expect it to be close. And besides, Calvin Johnson may miss another game and if that happens, all bets are off. A healthy Lions team is the one I'd take over anyone in the AFC North.

But why are we only concerned with the middle of the pack? I don't have any confidence in my 9th and 10th ranked NFC teams. They were the Panthers and Cardinals. The AFC has a better middle; I will give you that. But the NFC has more playoff-caliber teams.That is what matters after all.

Take the 49ers for example, and let's compare them to one of your precious AFC elites: the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs. Thus far, the Chiefs have faced the Jaguars, Titans and 3/4 of the NFC East division. You're telling me San Fran wouldn't be 5-0 too with that schedule? Whereas the 49ers have already played the Packers, Seahawks, Colts, Texans and a division rival in the Rams. Through just a quarter of the season, most of a team's success comes down to their schedule and who they've played. You are too quick to react to that quarter in both directions: in favor of the AFC teams who've pounded weak opponents and against NFC teams who've struggled against tough competition.

Let's check back after week eight and see where everybody stands mid-season.

Agreed, through merely four weeks the AFC looks like a beast. I'm not so ignorant as to anoint the Chiefs over the 49ers, but I do believe the power rankings speak to just that.

I'm very very curious to see if the teams outside the NFC top five can hold it together. Dallas and Atlanta come to mind and I would throw Detroit and the Packers in that group as well. Are they just average teams that score a lot, or can they actually compete for a championship? The AFC doesn't have this issue. The Chiefs, Dolphins and Browns are not title contenders. There is no question.

Monday, October 7, 2013

NFL 1st Quarter review, the Four game story - Part one

NFL 1st Quarter review, the Four game story - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-7-13)

After four games of the NFL season we at Seesaw Sports lay down our power rankings and go to town on the posers and the studs. Four games don't tell you everything, but after a quarter of the NFL season everyone knows who's in first and who's in last.

1st Quarter Power Rankings

[Numbers in parentheses equal difference in rank from Todd: i.e (+1) equals one spot higher] 

TODD                                DAN

32. Jacksonville                 Jacksonville (0)
31. Oakland                       Tampa Bay (-6)
30. New York Giants          Arizona (-7)
29. Pittsburgh                    New York Giants (+1)
28. Washington                 Oakland (+3)
27. Philadelphia                Washington (+1)
26. St. Louis                      Philadelphia (+1)
25. Tampa Bay                  St. Louis (+1)
24. Minnesota                   Carolina (-10)
23. Arizona                        Pittsburgh (+6)
22. New York Jets             San Diego (-2)
21. Buffalo Bills                 Buffalo Bills (0)
20. San Diego                   Minnesota (+4)
19. Miami                          New York Jets (+3)
18. Tennessee                  Tennessee (0)
17. Cleveland                    Houston (-1)
16. Houston                       Dallas (-6)
15. Cincinnati                    Cleveland (+2)
14. Carolina                       Baltimore (-2)
13. San Francisco             Atlanta (-4)
12. Baltimore                     Miami (+7)
11. Indianapolis                 Detroit (-6)
10. Dallas                          San Francisco (+3)
9. Atlanta                           Cincinnati (+6)
8. Kansas City                   Kansas City (0)
7. Chicago                         Chicago (0)
6. Green Bay                     Green Bay (0)
5. Detroit                            New England (-3)
4. Seattle                           New Orleans (-1)
3. New Orleans                  Indianapolis (+8)
2. New England                 Seattle (+2)
1. Denver                           Denver (0)

Comments from the rankings:

- Oy, I was not expecting this from the Giants. Antrel Rolle thinks the G-Men can run the table and finish 12-4. I am...skeptical. This team cannot block anyone, can't run the ball, can't rush the passer. It's a perfect storm of suckitude. That being said, I still have confidence in Eli and that passing offense if he can get time.

- The Steelers are terrible on offense and cannot force a turnover on defense to save its life (or its season). Roethlisberger has no help and he is no Tom Brady.

- Two struggling teams, Washington and Philadelphia, with offensive issues for very different reasons. I trust Philly on offense a bit more even though I trust their defense a bit less.

- Neither the Bills nor Jets trusts their quarterback fully. I think that Buffalo likes EJ Manuel a tad bit more than New York likes Geno Smith.

- Sorry, I'm not a believer in Miami just yet. Call me old fashioned, but I am patient with my opinions. I like San Diego's offense and Miami's defense. If they could combine those two units, that squad would be in the top 10 easy.

- Tough news for Tennessee on Jake Locker. This team is going to tumble.

- There is something off with the 49ers. Kaepernick is getting no room to run around and Frank Gore got old too fast. The lack of receiving weapons is also blatantly obvious.

- We can't be fooled by that point differential for the Colts. Look who they have played so far.

- For Atlanta, 1-3 is 1-3. You can't take those games back. But this team is still supremely talented and needs a healthy Roddy White to prove it.

- I am all in on the NFC North with Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay. These guys are awesome. I wouldn't be surprised if all three make the playoffs and we have a preseason juggernaut like the Falcons or 49ers going home.

- Defense used to win championships. Nowadays though, I'd rather have the potent offense of the Saints to the potent defense of the Seahawks.

- I’m not nearly as high on Tampa Bay as you are. They were a mess in week one against the Jets and have been accumulating more junk ever since. The quarterback change was the end in my book.

- I don’t like the Cardinals either. Very weak.

- Similar to Tampa, I think Carolina has no idea how to win a game. I watched them blow it against Buffalo, a game they had no business losing. The announcer made a comment with four minutes to go and Carolina leading; he said now is when the Panthers find a way to lose. He was right.

- Something about the Steelers tells me they are not nearly as bad as they look. I see them as an 8-8 team when the season comes to a close.

- The opposite is true of the Cowboys. They will probably win their division, but not for lack of trying to lose it. I don’t trust them.

- Guess I like the Dolphins a lot more than you here. They managed to find swagger over the summer. I like what they are doing and each week they are moving closer to the AFC East crown as New England falls apart. As a Jets fan I hate this. Boo Dolphins.

- Much much higher on the Bengals and the Colts than you. We will get into this on Friday, but from everything I’ve seen this season, it’s the AFC with the strong teams and the NFC with only a top five and a bunch of jokes. The Colts and Bengals can beat anyone if they show up on time.


Friday, October 4, 2013

MLB season recap: Playoff prognostication & the Off season - Part two

MLB season recap: Playoff prognostication & the Off season - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (10-4-13)

[Part one - Gloating and Awards]

Let me get this out of the way up front. I'm pulling for the Dodgers this postseason, partially because I call LA home, but mainly because I want to be excited to watch some games throughout the month of October. The 2013 MLB playoffs is lining up to completely shoot its load early. Two of the most exciting match ups were the Wild Card single elimination games. I love the Reds vs. the Pirates. Two franchises struggling to find real success. And the Rays vs. the Indians is just fun. We got each for one game, with the Pirates and Rays prevailing. So we move on.

The true first round, the divisional round, is kind of amazing. The Red Sox vs. the Rays is awesome and the Dodgers vs. the Braves is just as awesome! But in the divisional round? Damn it. Those are my ideal Championship round match ups that we won't see. Detroit vs. Oakland and the Pirates vs. St. Louis are decent, but nothing to write home about. After this round, its not looking pretty.

As a fan I want the Red Sox and Dodgers to advance, but I'm sticking by my January 1st predictions. The Rays are hot and will take down the Red Sox. Same goes for the Braves, who will out hustle the Dodgers for the series win. I'm taking Detroit over an over matched Oakland squad and the Pirates to continue the magic just a little longer against an older St. Louis roster.

This pits the Rays vs. the Tigers in the AL Championship and the Braves vs. the Pirates for the NL crown. Ho hum. The Rays win a tough series while the Braves continue to make the opposition look silly, on their way to the World Series. With the Braves vs. the Rays for the championship of Major League Baseball, the Braves come out on top proving that by late October most of the country has already forgotten about baseball.

Your American League rationalization sounds accurate. The Rays and Red Sox seem like the two best teams and two most fun teams to see play for the pennant. Unfortunately, with them facing each other in the divisional round instead, things are not ideal. However, Oakland and Detroit are probably more talented overall than Tampa. I mean Detroit especially is loaded on all fronts when they're on. Really it's amazing how good all four of these teams' pitching staffs are. I know it sounds like I'm talking everyone up to make it harder for me to get a pick wrong, and I am, but I could easily see any of the four make the World Series.

The match ups though, favor two. I think Boston desperately wanted to face either Texas or Cleveland. Tampa was their worst case scenario and they got it. With that pitching and wily, gutty roster, Tampa takes down Boston as you noted. I think Oakland also advances as a semi-upset. This has more to do with Detroit not having all their pieces in order really. Miguel Cabrera has been banged up for a month now; Justin Verlander hasn't been the same pitcher this season. In a five game series, Oakland hits their way to three wins.

It's anyone's guess who wins when Oakland faces Tampa. The pitching staff of each team is super deep, with the edge maybe to the Rays. I like the Athletics' lineup a bit more but only if Yoenis Cespedes gets over his lingering issues from the end of the regular season. Because of experience, I have to go with Tampa as well to make the World Series. After all, while you picked this team from the start of the year, I picked them to at least win the AL East. We both thought they'd be formidable.

As for the NL, you have your opinions backwards. The exciting series is the NL Central tilt between the Cards and Buccos. The Pirates are the best story in baseball and the Cardinals are the best team in baseball. This series should be a lot of fun, especially if that Pirates crowd is as rowdy as they were during the wild card match. Hearing them taunt poor Johnny Cueto so mercilessly was kind of refreshing to hear from a baseball crowd. St. Louis advances but not for lack of effort and pep by Pittsburgh.

The other match up upsets me. I understand you rooting for the Dodgers. It makes sense. But this team is not that good. They have three legitimate starting pitchers for sure but that's as far as their strengths go. Unless these hitters, who've been hitting way over their head all year long, keep it going, this might be a short series. And that's not because I am really high on Atlanta. Because I'm not.

Atlanta's offense is suspect and their pitching is not nearly as strong as it was earlier in the season. I like them to advance past the divisional round but fall to the superior Cardinals in the championship series.

In the World Series, we see two very familiar teams. St. Louis and Tampa Bay have both had tons of playoff experience in recent years. The Rays have David Price and Joe Maddon and Evan Longoria and Wil Myers and lots of good stuff all around, but this St. Louis team just seems better. They had the second best run differential in the majors during the regular season. Assuming Allen Craig makes it back from injury at some point during the playoffs, their lineup is really deep and really underrated. And that pitching staff is killer, both good and so young.

If the Cardinals do win another World Series this season, the National League better watch out because this team is not getting worse anytime soon. Between Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, and Michael Wacha, they may have the best young pitchers in the majors, and that's not even counting what they have at the minor league level (scary good) and their veterans (Adam Wainwright, anyone?).

Thinking of the Cardinals' bright future makes me sad and somber thinking of the Yankees dark and dreary midnight romp into the off season. Robinson Cano is asking for $305 million; the pitching staff is going to be decimated with hopes resting on Michael Pineda; and the lineup is older than George Burns and George Burns died like 18 years ago.

At least this Alex Rodriguez appeal hearing gives us something to the hopes that he is indeed suspended and it frees up $30 million for the Yankees to spend elsewhere in 2014.

I'm bored thinking of the Cardinals winning another World Series. I know they are a classic MLB franchise who let their best player walk in Albert Pujols only to become a better team, but they have no cache. And our off season prospects aren't much more fun.

Robinson Cano will most likely end up wearing a different uniform next season. He wants too much money and someone will pay it to him. More importantly, he wants a ten year deal which I HOPE the Yankees do not agree to. He is not young enough to warrant anything close to that long of a contract.

As for A-rod, sure freeing up his money is great and all, but I'm hoping he isn't suspended for very long. The Yankees desperately need some fire power in their ever aging lineup. He is an excellent DH still, not amazing, but very good. Any other big names you see moving, or trades going down, before we settle in for the post season action?

Of course Rodriguez would be a viable bat in our lineup. He was superior to any and all third base options we had this past season. But can't the Yankees rebuild for one year (since that is what is looking like will happen voluntarily or not)? So why not bottom out and use the A-Rod money on some young guys? I know this isn't basketball or even football. Teams don't bottom out for draft picks in baseball unless that is what Houston has been doing for four years now. But the Yankees are allowed to be bad for one year if it means a nice rebound the following season with a roster we like. 2014 seems like the perfect storm of roster crumbling, money drying up (by choice) and the like to put this in motion anyways.

I know it's New York and that probably won't happen but, on some level, I would rather a last place finish and a retooled roster of younger guys to another season like this where the playoffs is plausible but not likely.

As for other moves, the only thing that people are chatting about is David Price getting moved. Tampa won't be able to afford him after next season and they usually deal guys for something valuable before they hit free agency. Although a World Series title here might make it difficult to part with their ace pitcher. It will be interesting to follow what Price and Tampa do this off season.