Saturday, March 31, 2007

Meet the Final Four Expert

I only filled out one NCAA Tournament bracket this year and in it I correctly picked the Final Four. However, I did so poorly on the rest of the bracket that I only have a slim chance of actually winning the contest that I’m in. With that introduction here are my predictions as to what will happen Saturday evening in Atlanta.

In the early game Georgetown will beat Ohio State not because they have the best player but the more complete team. The main difference in the game will be Greg Oden, the Buckeyes leading scorer and rebounder, staying out of foul trouble. I don’t think he will and Ohio State’s championship hopes will go down with him.

Expect a great game in the nightcap between Florida and UCLA but also expect the defending champions to go down as well. Here’s a good question for Gators’ fans. Is Billy Donovan even in Atlanta? I realize physically he is but is his mind on the game or is it on Kentucky?

It has to be this way because my bracket says so and my bracket doesn’t lie. At least not about the Final Four.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Baseball Bloopers

The Major League Baseball season officially begins Sunday night so why not throw out a few bloopers to get us in the mood. After all it's not the drama of pennant races nor the agony of failure that the majority of the public really wants to see. They want to see a guy trip rounding the bases or a few guys collide trying to catch a foul ball.

It’s a sick society we live in!

More than Scraping By

A few months ago I signed up with PayPerPost in an effort to put a little more extra scratch in my pocket and greater capitalize on my advertising opportunities. If you're not familiar with PPP it provides opportunities for publishers of blogs to write a sponsored post for pay. While I wouldn’t call my experience with PPP a smashing success just yet I won’t call it a miserable failure either.

In all I’ve written nine post for a total of $74.61. That’s an average of $8.29 per post! My two biggest payouts were $15.00 and $15.50. Anyone who has tried to capitalize on their blog and make a little extra spending cash can will tell you that isn’t too bad.

As My Opinion on Sports continues to grow so will my opportunities for higher paying post will grow as well. I’ve seen offers posted for as much as $1,000.00 and for as $5.00. After a post has been written the process generally takes about a week to have the post approved and the money deposited into my PayPal account.

As far as the money goes it’s put into the pot with the rest of my advertising money. Last year I used my ad revenue to pay for my season tickets to OU football. This year I plan to use the money to pay for my families’ summer vacation. I started blogging almost two years ago as a hobby. While I still do it for that purpose it’s nice to be rewarded for my efforts.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Trent Green Starting to Make Rounds

The Kansas City Chiefs learned last season that they could live without Trent Green and now for some reason the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions feel as if they possibly can’t. With three teams trying to work out a deal with the Chiefs for Green’s services I guess you can officially say that the Trent Green sweepstakes is now in full bloom.

As for the Dolphins Green would fit in perfectly, then they would have one quarterback who can’t take a hit to the leg and then another who can’t take a hit to the head.

Other NFL Rumors
Another quarterback shopping for a new team is David Carr. As hard up as the Dolphins are for a quarterback I shocked they don’t have him already but it seems at this point that they aren’t even interested. Instead the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers are in the mix to land him. The Seahawks are supposedly set to meet with Carr this coming Tuesday.

If Carr does land in Seattle he may not have Darrell Jackson to throw to (that’s assuming Matt Hasselbeck misses some time) because Jackson is reportedly on the trading block. Of the teams expressing interest in acquiring Jackson Green Bay and New Orleans make the most sense. The other team interested is the San Francisco 49ers.

Have we ever seen a conference champion implode quicker than the Chicago Bears? The pride of the Windy City has been the defense but no people just look and scratch their head. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera has moved on to the prestigious position of linebackers coach in San Diego. Tank Johnson is going to jail and Lance Briggs wants nothing to do with the team anymore.

The rumors were that Briggs would get traded to the Washington Redskins but that is unlikely because Washington probably won’t be willing to part with their #6 overall pick for a guy who gets disgruntled and quits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Around the Empire

Take a stroll with me through the My Opinion on Sports Empire!

With the Major League Baseball season just days away make sure you are caught up on our Q&A’s with the team blogs whom we have selected as division winners. Most recently was Amazin’ Avenue and the New York Mets.

Mets Q&A with Amazin’ Avenue

Los Angeles Angels Q&A

Minnesota Twins Q&A

New York Yankees Q&A

Giving Bonds His Juice Wasn’t Enough for Sweeney

It appears that the San Francisco Giants and Mark Sweeney are about to part ways. Known more recently for being involved in the Barry Bonds’ amphetamines circus than for his .251 batting average last season Sweeney has been in competition with Jason Ellison and Lance Niekro for an opening day roster spot.

NL Central Preview

Steve and I ran into a little snag working on our National League previews called time. Mostly it’s my fault because Steve can’t add to what I don’t send him. Anyway the result was us setting down at the computers and hammering out the NL Central on IM in PTI fashion. Here it is uncensored and fully edited of the typo's:

Chicago Cubs
Steve: Soriano and that’s it! You have Derrek Lee with a bum foot and I don’t see Prior and Woods being anywhere close to an ace
Matt: I'm hearing rumors that woods will be relief anyway.
Steve: Can't get 20 KO in relief. It’ll be good for the cubs, they don’t have a bullpen as is.
Matt: We definitely know that pitching is a weakness
Matt: I actually think that Lee will have a decent season
Steve: Cubs better hope so
Steve: And having Pinella as the manager, they might have a few shows of a dugout tossing.
Matt: Did they upgrade the manager position or get worse switching from Baker to Pinella?
Steve: Actually, better, Baker didn’t do much to help out the cubs and Pinella always has a way to win.
Matt: I would say their entire outfield is a strength. LF Matt Murton hit .297 with 62 RBI's last season.
Steve: I agree with you on that, who do they have in the infield?
Matt: We talked about Lee but 2B Mark DeRosa is solid as well, .296, 74 RBI's
Matt: The infield as a whole looks solid except for short stop.

A New #1
In five Nextell Cup Races Jeff Gordon has finished as low as 12th and as high as 2nd (twice). Despite starting out twice in first place Gordon has yet to finish in the top position this season.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mets Q&A with Amazin’ Avenue

After taking a week off for spring break we are back with baseball previews and interviews. The NL East preview has been posted at My Opinion on Baseball and we have the New York Mets tabbed to win the division.

With that, we’ve invited Eric Simon from the excellent Mets blog Amazin’ Avenue to chat with us about the Mets. Thanks for your time Eric and welcome to the My Opinion on Sports Empire.

If the Mets are going to win the pennant this year will it be because of hitting or pitching?

Eric: It depends on how you look at it. The Mets’ pitching staff is getting very little respect in baseball circles right now, but everyone knows what the offense is capable of. The hitting isn’t likely to disappoint, but if the Mets are going to take the National League crown this year I think their pitching will need to step it up. There is plenty of talent in the starting rotation, but plenty of question marks, too. There are inexperience and durability issues galore, but if the old guys can avoid the trainer’s room and the young guys can mature just a bit, I think they have a good chance to impress some folks.

With the ages of Glavine and Hernandez along with the health issues Martinez has experienced how much confidence do you have in the pitching staff?

Eric: Pedro Martinez is out until the All-Star break, so the Mets have to proceed as if he won’t be around for a while, if at all. I’m actually a bigger supported of El Duque than most, though even I’ll acknowledge concern over his age and probability of physical breakdown. If he can stay on the field I think he will be fine. Glavine never gets injured, and I think he has enough left in the tank to win fifteen games with a sub-4.00 ERA. Ultimately, it may be the development of the kids – John Maine, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey – that make or break this rotation. There is a lot of upside there, but to count on all three of them panning out this year may be wishful thinking.

We’ve got the Mets tabbed to win the division but if not New York then who?

Eric: The Phillies, who some actually consider the favorites right now. Their lineup isn’t as deep as the Mets’, but their rotation is much deeper and far more reliable. The Mets have a better bullpen, but the question may be, “Whose pitching staff will keep them in games long enough for their bats to knock in some runs”. It’s a toss-up right now.
Do Alou, Beltran and Green make up the most dangerous outfield in the National League?

Eric: Could be, though the Rockies (Holliday, Hawpe), Reds (Dunn, Griffey) and a couple of other teams are getting good production from their outfields as well. Shawn Green doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table right now, but if he can provide even average offense I think the Mets would be thrilled.

Give us the name of a Mets player who is really going to turn heads this season in a good or bad way.

Eric: Look for Joe Smith, a side winding reliever the Mets took in the third round last year, to turn some heads in a good way. He dominates righties and has developed a change-up that has been effective against lefties as well. He can get his fastball up around 90 and his off-speed stuff sits in the high-70s. GM Omar Minaya says he is farther along than Washington closer Chad Cordero – who Minaya drafted while in Montreal – was at this same point in his development.

Which player would hurt the team worst if put on the DL - Delgado, Alou, Beltran, or Green?

Eric: Beltran, and it isn’t even close. He’s the best player on the team and probably the best all-around player in baseball.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Nailed It! (Kinda)

I’ve got one of those NCAA Tournament brackets that you don’t know whether to show off or to burry where no one will ever see it again. It’s so good that I actually got all four of the Final Four teams correct. However, it’s so bad that despite the fact that I nailed the Final Four I am only ranked 7th out of the 10 participants in the My Opinion on Sports NCAA Tournament contest. The worst part of all that is that I am the only one in the contest who got the Final Four correct and I am still ranked that low.

Let’s Revisit the Post
Looking back at my post before the tournament there were a few other things I got right about the big dance as well.

Weakest of the #1 Seeds
I tabbed the Kansas Jayhawks as the weaker of the #1 Seeds and it turns out that I was right as the Jayhawks were the first #1 seed to get bounced.

This Year’s Cinderella
OK I was wrong here because I picked ORU to be Cinderella but I also called VCU beating Duke and the first round and then getting bounced by Pitt in the second.

Best Team to Not Get a #1 Seed
I gave this distinction to the UCLA Bruins and all they did was run all the way to the Final Four. By the way I also picked them to win the national championship.

First Big Name Coach to get Bounced
It gives me great pleasure to say that I called that Bobby Knight and the Texas Tech Red Raiders would get bounced in the first round.

Yes, of course I’m going to tell you what you should expect in the Final Four this weekend but you are going to have to wait until later for that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Around the Empire

First things first, if you haven't already done so sign up for the March Madness contest before the opening tip tomorrow.

National League East Preview (Complete Preview at My Opinion on Baseball)

Atlanta Braves – Last Year’s Record 79 – 83, 3rd in Division.
Infield hitting, the Braves infield hit 263 RBI’s last season.
Weakness: Pitching, the Braves Ace is an aging John Smoltz who had a 3.49 ERA last season. Behind him is Tim Hudson with an ERA of 4.86.
Keys to success: Braves need a third pitcher to have a solid starting rotation, offense needs to wake up and be a dominate force
What to watch for: Hudson leads the Braves with 19 wins and the Joneses
Red Flag: They no longer have the pitching of the Braves of the 90s
Projected Finish: 3rd 78-86

Where’s Junior? (Complete Story at My Opinion on NASCAR)

While Jimmie Johnson was winning his third race in a row in Las Vegas Dale Earnhardt Jr. was finishing his first Nextel Cup race in his third attempt.

"We're not happy about it, but we're keeping our heads up," Earnhardt said. "We've had some rough starts before and came back strong. We were 38th in the points after two races in 2003, and we came back to finish third.”

Sunday’s 11th place finish Sunday in Las Vegas moved Junior to 28th place from 40th after crashing at Daytona and blowing an engine in California. While the 11th place finish was a welcome relief for a team who hadn’t even finished yet it could have, and should have, been better.
Finally, we've got a little NASCAR talk
Doesn't matter that we're only in Spring Training it's Yankees/Red Sox

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sure They Can Play Basketball but Can they Spell?

A report released by Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports on Monday shed light that many teams in the NCAA’s field of 64 are graduating players at an alarmingly low rate.

For example, of the freshman classes at Ohio State from 1996 – 1999 only 10% actually received a degree from the school. These are athletes we are talking about and many of them move on to the lucrative dollars of professional sports or they transfer out to another program so that shouldn’t count against the school. After they were brought there to play basketball not earn a degree.

When you take into account players who transfer, enter from junior colleges and are graduated late, 38% of Buckeyes basketball players earned degrees during that period. So there you have it a 28% spike but the Buckeyes aren’t the only ones not graduating players. Check out these teams and their graduation rates.

Using the yardstick Graduation Success Rates -- which accounts for players who transfer to other schools and receive degrees -- players entering from junior colleges and those who receive degrees more than six years after enrollments, 9 percent of Florida A&M players, 19 percent of Eastern Kentucky, 40 percent of Kansas and 50 percent of Oregon players were graduated, according to the study, written by Lapchick and Maria Bustamante.

No basketball player from Florida A&M, Eastern Kentucky or Oregon received a degree from those four freshman classes and Florida A&M, New Mexico State, and Texas A&M could actually be subject to loss of basketball scholarships next year because of poor graduation rates.

Despite the fact that the NCAA is making some serious coin off the basketball players from these particular institutions they are going to bite the hand that feeds them and then punish the hand for the teeth marks. With the commercialization of college basketball and the television contracts putting every conference in the national spotlight competition has never been higher and Division I coaches have never been under more pressure.

Kevin Durant and Greg Oden are two of the best players in all of college basketball. There is no way they are going to graduate from their respective shools in four years. Instead, they’ll be bathing in the millions of dollars offered by the NBA and their other endorsement deals. Instead of being punished for bringing Durant to Texas Rick Barnes should be commended by both the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA for all the dollars Durant made them.

I shelled out $40.00 for a ticket to go see Durant play and I absolutely hate Texas. It wasn’t Texas I wanted to see it was the future NBA All-Star, and by future I mean next year, that was playing for them. Imagine how many people are buying Texas and Ohio State basketball jerseys because of these two guys. Imagine how many people turned on their televisions and boosted the ratings allowing the NCAA to capitalize on television revenue. This weekend’s NCAA tournament ratings could be the highest ever and the further these two freshmen advance the tournament the higher the ratings will go.

Who cares if they don’t graduate? They’ve done their job for the fans by giving us entertainment. They’ve done their job for the school and the NCAA by making outrageous amounts of money for them and they’ve even done right for themselves by financially securing their futures. School? That should be an afterthought!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lord's of the Dance

We are just days away from the start of the greatest sporting event of the year. That’s right I said it. The NCAA Tournament is better than opening day of MLB, better than the NBA, better that the college bowl season, better than the Super Bowl and certainly better than anything on ice. Here are a few tidbits of opinion regarding this year’s version of the Big Dance.

Weakest of the #1 Seeds
Kansas Jayhawks (West Bracket) – I’m not saying that they are not any good but the Jayhawks rolled through a watered down Big 12 Conference. Bill Self will break his streak of consecutive first round exits at Kansas but the Jayhawks could be done as early as the second round.

This Year’s Cinderella
VCU (West Bracket) - is a possibility because I think they will send Duke packing in the first round but could easily get bounced themselves in the second round by Pittsburgh. That makes ORU (East Bracket) my choice to wear the glass slipper this year. Led by Caleb Green, look for the Golden Eagles to upset Washington State in the first round which will put them on a collision course with Georgetown in the Sweet 16.

Best Team to Not Get a #1 Seed
UCLA (West Bracket) – Look for the Bruins and not the Kansas Jayhawks to represent the west bracket in the Final Four.

First Big Name Coach to get Bounced
Bobby Knight (East Bracket) – Don’t expect Texas Tech to play beyond the first weekend. In fact, I’m not expecting them to play beyond their opening round game with Boston College.

What to Expect in the Midwest Bracket
Expect the Florida Gators to advance all the way to the Final Four. The defending champions may not even be challenged until their Elite Eight match-up with Wisconsin.

What to Expect in the West Bracket
An early exit by Indiana. First of all I think the Big 10 got way too many teams in. Beyond that the Hoosiers have first round upset written all over them. Expect Gonzaga to once again be a story line after the first day of the dance.

What to Expect in the East Bracket
USC to send Texas packing in the second round. Unless this game draws Big 12 officials don’t expect Kevin Durant to receive the same star treatment he has enjoyed throughout the conference season.

What to Expect in the South Bracket
The winner of the Texas A&M/Memphis game in the regional semifinals to upset Ohio State in the Regional Finals and advance to the Final Four.

March Madness
If you haven't signed up for the March Madness Contest yet you have until the opening tip of the first game on Thursday to do so. Don't wait!

March Madness Contest

The NCAA Tournament field has been announced and will sure to be the talk around the water cooler today. Why not take your basketball knowledge and try to win something with it? A $25.00 gift card to a restaurant from your choice of Red Lobster, Chili’s, Outback, Olive Garden or Buffalo Wild Wings is on the line so head over to to register and then follow the instructions below to register.

Create Free Account
Go to user tools
Click “Join a Private League”
Click March Madness
Pool’s Log In Name: dolphinfan
Password: dolphinfan

Here’s How the Point System Works

Round Points
Round points are the number of points you get for each win in each round. For example, there are 32 games in round 1, 16 games in round 2, 8 games in round 3 etc. Each game in round 1 worth 1 point and each game in round 2 worth 2 points, each game in round 3 worth 4 points, etc. then each round will be worth 32 points. You can choose any round weighting you'd like.

Seed Bonus
The seed bonus uses the picked teams seed value to increase the points possible for each pick. For example, in round 1, if the Round points were set to 1 and if a player picks the 12 seed to beat the 5 seed, the player will be awarded 12 + 1 = 13 points.

The tournament field will be announced Sunday even and all brackets must be filled out before the tip of the first game on Thursday March 15. Good luck and have fun!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Fantasy Baseball Registration Closes Sunday

The My Opinion on Sports Fantasy Baseball League is now forming and this is your official invitation to join. Right now the league is set for 12 teams so don’t wait to sign-up or you might get left out.

Follow this link. Click the "Sign Up Now" button, Agree to terms, Click the "Join League" button, Click on “Join Custom” button and then enter the league ID# :130082 and Password: dolphinfan.

The league closes on Sunday so make sure to get in while there is still time.

Don’t forget to register for the March Madness contest while you are at it!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dangerous Sports – Motor Sports

In honor of our newest blog, My Opinion on NASCAR, this weekend’s dangerous sport video highlights motor sports accidents. Sure, they aren’t all NASCAR but any time you have a crash at a dangerously high rate of speed you know that it will be spectacular regardless of what you may be driving or riding.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

There’s Gold in Them There Blogs

Are you looking for an investment that will not only yield a solid return but also help preserve your wealth and increase your purchasing power? If so then you should consider investing in gold.

Gold has long been both sought after by those who don’t posses it and protected and cherished by those who do. Its value has held steady for centuries.

If gold is your desire then Monex may be something you want to check out. Monex provides you the opportunity to gold for personal delivery or if you so choose arrange for safe storage in an independent bank or depository.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Around the Empire

Its time to take our weekly stroll through the My Opinion on Sports Empire.

Time is running out to sign up for the My Opinion on Sports Fantasy Baseball League. The registration will close on Sunday. Sign-up here!

My Opinion on Baseball has the AL West Preview posted. Here's a sneak peek!

American League West Preview

Los Angeles Angels – Last Year’s Record 89 – 73, 2nd in Division.
Strength: DH, the Angels are deep with designated hitters and they went for a combined 70 home runs last season.
Weakness: Infield batting, the Angels infield only hit .242 last season.
What to watch for: Gary Matthews Jr career after the steroid investigation
Keys to success: Strong pitching and dependable offense, only team to have a winning record versus the Yankees since 1998.
Red Flag: Name changes to California Angels in the Anaheim section of Los Angelas, and fans stop attending games.
Predicted Finish: 1st 93-69

We are still looking for a writer but My Opinion on NASCAR has launched and here is a sample of the first post.

Time to Pimp Jarrett’s Ride

The UPS Store® is kicking off its third annual Toys for Tots campaign and celebrating NASCAR legend Dale Jarrett’s new racing team and car with the “Design Dale’s New Ride” coloring contest – inviting kids ages 5-12 to design the special paint scheme for The UPS Store /Toys for Tots #44 Camry.

If you are interested in writing for My Opinion on NASCAR please contact me for complete details.

On the Message Boards

Las Vegas Motor Speedway 3-11-2007
AL East Predictions
Yankees vs Red Sox, The Rivalry
Joey Porter

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ron Artest Beats Women!

Two months after being released from his probation stemming from the 2004 brawl at the Palace in Detroit Ron Artest is in trouble with the law. This time it’s because of an incident with another basketball player, fan, coach or anyone ever associated with the sport. Ron Artest is being accused of domestic violence. That’s right now he’s settled for beating women.

Placer County sheriff's authorities said the woman reported she and Artest were arguing inside the home Monday morning when he pushed her. The argument moved outside when Artest tried to leave in his Hummer, sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Scott said during a news conference.

"It resulted in some pushing," Scott said of the argument. "Mr. Artest had shoved the victim to the floor several times, then he attempted to leave."
Artest was booked into the Placer County Jail and released later on $50,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for March 22.

Sacramento Kings president of basketball operations, Geoff Petrie, announced on Monday that Artest had been removed from the team, pending a full investigation although he was still being paid.

Ron Artest seemed to have “turned over a new leaf” after arriving in Sacramento where he led the Kings to the play-offs and became a fan favorite last season. However, this season he has returned to the role of trouble maker. Whether its surprising team management with the announcement of a “knee injury” that won’t allow him to play, bashing teammate Mike Bibby’s defense or sitting out road trips for undisclosed personal reasons Artest is proving that he is almost a worse teammate than he is a person. The Kings just may discover that they are better without him because he has clearly lost focus on basketball right now.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Los Angeles Angels Q&A

We’ve finally made it to the AL West and have the preview posted at My Opinion on Basedall. As with every other AL division we’ve brought in an expert to give more insight on the team that we’ve picked to win the division. I’d like to introduce you to Reverend Halofan. He runs the outstanding Angels blog Halos Heaven.

When is comes to the Angels the good Reverend is beaming with confidence and quite candid with his answers. Welcome to My Opinion on Sports Rev. and thanks for your time.

How much trouble is Gary Matthews Jr. in over this steroid scandal?

Reverend Halofan: Hopefully lots. His contract is awful and his production can be pretty much replicated by minor league CF Reggie Willits. But, like everything else in this steroidal decade, he will probably walk. His silence tells me his lawyer is already working to ensure there are no perjury charges... talk about thinking down the road.

Give us a quick rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of the pitching staff?

Reverend Halofan: Two Aces (Lackey and Weaver), Two guys who would be the Aces of at least 15 Major League staffs (Santana, Escobar), a former Cy Young Ace due back in late May (Colon), and a 26 year old Lefty who is good (Joe Saunders). The bullpen upgraded big, adding free agents Justin Speier and Darren Oliver. Scot Shields and Frankie Rodriguez need no introduction. If there is a weakness, it may be that the glut of talent pushes the best pitcher to AAA - don't laugh, it happened last season). Also, Weaver has some bicep tendonitis that could force Hector Carrasco to spot start in April.

Which player if would hurt the team the most if placed on the DL - Chone Figgins, Orlando Cabrera or Vladimir Guerrero?

Reverend Halofan: Vlad. Pretend it is 1996 and you are asking this question about the Chicago Bulls: Pippen, Rodman or Jordan. Nobody on Earth is picking Big-Nose or Panty-Hose. Guerrero is our Jordan.

Any weaknesses in the infield?

Reverend Halofan: Figgy's D is not stellar. I think Adam Kennedy had lost a step last season, so Howie Kendrick is not a downgrade. Orlando Cabrera at his worst is a league average shortstop and is the core chemistry guy who keeps the clubhouse loose and happy, so even if that isn't important you have a league average SS. I am more worried about the outfield with Garret Anderson aching, Juan Rivera out until July with a broken shin and Gary Matthews Junior existing at all.

We've got the Angels tabbed to win the West but if not L.A. then who?

Reverend Halofan: Iran or North Korea. The only way the Angels don't win the division this season is if one of them nukes Southern California during a home stand.

Are the Angels the right pick in the west? Voice your opinion on the forum!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dangerous Sports – Anything with a Board II

Let’s take the wheels off skate boards, polish them up and then jump them off mountains. This way if we fall we’ll land in snow and unlike concrete won’t hurt. Riiiiiight!

Free Agent Casualties

The NFL Free Agency period has officially begun and several veterans were shown the door as teams are making salary cap room. Among the notable names released were Ravens RB Jamal Lewis, Vikings QB Brad Johnson, Saints WR Joe Horn and Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe and Steelers LB Joey Porter.

As far as who and going where and what teams are looking for here’s the latest NFL rumors.

The Miami Dolphins are looking to add an outside linebacker and possibly pick up yet another veteran quarterback. Among the players the Dolphins would consider are the New England Patriots' Tully Banta-Cain, Cato June of the Indianapolis Colts and Carlos Polk of the San Diego Chargers.

The quarterback the Dolphins are interested in is Kansas City’s Trent Green who is rumored to be on the trading block. Miami will part ways with Joey Harrington and with Culpepper’s health still a big question mark Green could walk into the starting QB spot in Miami with little or no competition.

The hatred between Randy Moss and the Green Bay Packers could be subdued because the Packers are very interested in acquiring Moss from the Oakland Raiders.

The New York Giants are definitely going to be in the market for Bills cornerback Nate Clements.

The Detroit Lions picked up a new running back on Thursday when they traded cornerback Dre’ Bly to the Denver Broncos for Tatum Bell. Now offensive coordinator Mike Martz may go after one of his former receivers in St. Louis, Kevin Curtis.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Minnesota Twins Q&A

The AL Central Preview is up at My Opinion on Baseball and we’ve pegged the Minnesota Twins to win the division. That means once again we bring in an expert on our chosen team. I would like to introduce you to Jesse from the Minnesota Twins blog Twinkie Town.

Thanks for stopping by Jesse and welcome to the My Opinion on Sports Empire.

The Twins have a probable Cy Young winner in Johan Santana who gets a lot of publicity but tell us a little about the guys in the rotation behind him.

Jesse: The Twins picked up Carlos Silva's 2007 option which, after losing Liriano to injury, Radke to
retirement, and finding only highly replaceable parts in Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson on the free agent market, doesn't seem like the bad idea I once thought it would be. For all the talent in pitchers like Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins, there's something to be said for having a veteran in the rotation who can simply be relied on to give you innings and give your offense a chance. That's all the Twins need Silva to do. He has pinpoint control but strikes nobody out, so to bounce back from a disappointing 2006 he's going to need to get that nasty sinker back, and he's going to need to get back to being an extreme ground ball pitcher. Those two things alone should make him as effective as the Twins need him to be.

Behind him is Boof Bonser, who logged only 100 decent innings last season, but put up great numbers in September (4-1, 2.63 ERA). Bonser has a decent fastball, but it's his breaking ball that sets everything up. To take the next step this summer, cutting down on how many homers he allows would help a great deal, as would cutting down how many free passes he surrenders. Bonser is a good middle-of-the-rotation type of pitcher, and 200 innings isn't unrealistic.

Between Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz, chances are that at least one of them will start the year in the rotation. Barring a miracle by pitching coach Rick Anderson (hey, they've happened before), they will be replaced by June (I'd like to think May). Anderson has had success in recent years with Silva (pre-2006) and Dennys Reyes among others, turning what had been marginal and mediocre players into effective pitchers. Ponson at least has a tendency to induce ground balls, which, to the most optimistic among us, gives a ray of hope that there could be a shred of effectiveness in his arm yet. I'm not holding my breath since, y'know, technically he can't throw a pitch in the United States right now.

Behind those folks are a plethora of talented arms. Scott Baker, J.D. Durbin, Matt Garza, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey are all legitimate big league starting candidates, and by the end of the season at least two of them should running out every five days. (Here's a
link for a story I did, running down the young starting pitcher candidates:)

Rotation in April: Santana, Bonser, Silva, Ortiz, Garza
Rotation in September: Santana, Bonser, Garza, Baker, Perkins

Which is better as a whole the starters or the bullpen?

Jesse: The Bullpen, without a doubt. Minnesota has one of the strongest back-ends in all of baseball. Joe Nathan has saved 123 in three years, and blown only 10. K-Rod has blown 16, Rivera's blown 11 (last 2 years) and Billy Wagner's blown 12. There's no doubt that he's one of the premier closers in the game today.

Setting up in front of him are a trio of guys with a combination of heat and nasty stuff. Juan Rincon has been one of the league's most effective and consistent set-up men over the last four years, and carries a career K/9 of 8.74. Jesse Crain just signed a 3-year deal buying up his first two years of arbitration, and in his two plus years in the majors posts a sub-3.00 ERA. Finally, Pat Neshek emerged last year as a strikeout machine (53 K in 37 IP) with mechanics than can baffle hitters and fans alike.

Our lefty specialist is Dennys Reyes (50.2 IP, 49K, 0.89 ERA in '06), and the long relief guy is Matt Guerrier. The bullpen will likely add one of the stars from the farm system as well, with likely candidates being J.D. Durbin, Scott Baker and Rickey Barrett.

We’ve got the Twins pegged to win the Central but if not them then who?

Jesse: My money would be on Detroit to have another strong season. Cleveland and Chicago are still going to be tough opponents who will give anyone a run for their money, and Kansas City is actually improving, but if it isn't the Twins taking the AL Central in '07, the Tigers have to be the team to beat.

Will Torii Hunter put up MVP numbers this season?

Jesse: No, he never has and at this point in his career I'd be surprised if he did. The thing with Torii is that he's unbelievably steaky, and when he's hot he can carry a team just as well as Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau. But his foot needs to be healthy for him to be the defender we remember and a threat on the basepaths. Torii is my favorite Twin, and there's nothing more I'd like to see than for him to win the MVP, I just don't think it's realistic in 2007; a fellow blogger of mine on the Twins, SBG, said it best: Torii hasn't lived up to the expectations imposed upon him for what happened in the first half of 2002. My early prediction for Hunter this year: 157 Games, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 18 SB, .277/.332/.478.

Give us a quick rundown on new acquisitions and key players for the upcoming season.

Jesse: The biggest acquisitions for the Twins in the offseason were on players who were with us last year: picking up Hunter's 2007 option and resigning Rondell White. Hunter is central to the team's success for a number of reasons, while Rondell White is needed to lend stability to the LF and DH slots. Hopefully his 2007 is lightyears better than his 2006.

Otherwise, the signing of Jeff Cirillo is a typical Twins move. He's inexpensive, veteran, versatile and capable. Beyond the aforementioned signings of Ponson and Ortiz, the Twins were largely silent in the offseason, and there's nothing wrong with that...particularly when you consider what the market had to offer: crap at extortionist prices.