Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Football First

18 weeks to go. 128 days, 10 hours until the sport I love most returns. Are you ready for some football? I know I am. It's unfortunate that my favorite sport is also the shortest with the longest off-season. For seven months out of the year, I suffer from NFD – No Football Depression. Yes, I made that up. It's a thing. I watch, though. Every day I check the transactions, watching to see what moves teams will make, who they will trade, surprise cuts, contract extensions, how new players will fit with the scheme and the other players. But, it's never enough. It doesn't compare to the days I get to sit at my local Buffalo Wild Wings, my neck hurting from whipping my head around as I attempt to watch every player on my fantasy team on every play. Getting together with my friends to draft our teams, engage in smack talk, getting worked up because someone drafted my guy the pick before me, these are the things I love.

Now, I love hockey. My Blackhawks just defeated the St. Louis Blues in six games to advance to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. And I got to be there for their shutout in Game 3. They wait to take on either the Minnesota Wild (yes, please!) or the Colorado Avalanche (please, no.) And I will watch. I will scream if they win and I will shed tears if they lose. I am a Blackhawk.

As much as I say I don't, I love baseball, too. Remembering when I was a kid and my dad and I would go to (old) Comiskey Park to watch my White Sox are some of my greatest memories. Seeing Frank Thomas and Tim Raines and Robin Ventura play. That feeling of stepping out into the stadium and getting that feeling when you see the size and grandeur of the field below. Getting to watch the last game of my all-time favorite baseball player, Carlton Fisk. With memories like that, how could I not love it?

But I found something new three years ago. As many have in recent years, I watched The League on TV. I had always thought about trying fantasy football, but never made an attempt. And I was sure none of my friends would be interested, so I would have to join a league with people I didn't know. But, one night, I made a general announcement as we were talking about the show. I simply said I'd always wanted to try fantasy football. Suddenly, three of my friends told me that they wanted in! I was surprised, to say the least. But, I ran with it. I started the league that night and within two days, there were ten of us. And we all found something amazing. Our love for football could be turned into a competition amongst highly competitive friends.

I play in every major American fantasy sport. Football, hockey, baseball and basketball. I have two teams in both baseball and basketball and they are part of two 4-sport leagues. I am involved in three hockey leagues, two of which are in those same 4-sports. Football. In total, including two for the aforementioned leagues, I participate in eight football leagues and plan to join at least four more before the season starts. The current eight are all rollover leagues, dynasty or redraft, that will have most, if not all of the same managers from the previous year.

So, why the discrepancy? I love hockey and baseball, so why not join more of those leagues? Strangely enough, it's because their season's are too long. I know, I complain about football being too short, but won't join longer leagues. It doesn't make sense until you take the feeling each gives you into account. It's the anticipation. Hockey, baseball and basketball all have extended season, ranging for a majority of the year. They play either every day, in the case of baseball, or multiple times a week for hockey and basketball. It drags. I'm just switching out players because I have an open slot and need someone to play. If they suck today, they can make it up tomorrow or later in the week. There is still time to make it right.

In football, you get one chance. Each week, you play once. For the few days before the Thursday night game, I become a neurotic mess. Talking to myself, reading every report on each guy, second-guessing every move I make. It's tense and it's intense. And on Sundays, as I sit at B-Dubs with a few friends to watch the games, I rarely blink. I stand up and yell in the middle of a restaurant when a WR I have makes a catch. I slam my head against the table when a RB fumbles the ball. I make sarcastic comments about my own players and loudly proclaim how much Russell Wilson sucks each week. You might think that this doesn't sound fun. Or healthy. But I love it. I love the anticipation of the week to come and the payoff when you eek out a victory by a single catch in garbage time. I love the satisfaction I get when my sleeper pick goes off week after week. I love talking to the management of B-Dubs, who all love us, about their own fantasy teams, comparing players and complaining about the same teams.

I've always loved the Chicago Bears. Good or bad (mostly bad,) they are my team. But fantasy has made me a fan of football. All of it, every team, every week, every game, every down. I can't get enough. It makes my adrenaline surge and my blood boil. It brings out my competitiveness and humor. It gives me something to work toward, something to focus on, something to level me out. I love football, even if sometimes it doesn't love me back.

Monday, April 28, 2014

First Annual MHSM NFL Mock Draft - Part II

Hello all! Sorry I have been lax in posting the second part to this NFL Mock Draft. I had a very busy week with working eight days in a row and also with my son. So anyway, onto what you guys care to read about :)

#11 Tennessee Titans
Needs: CB, QB, DE, RB

The Titans sit in a curious position right now with their team. They cut running back Chris Johnson, lost cornerback Alterraun Verner, however, on the flip side they signed offensive tackle Michael Oher, wide receiver Dexter McCluster, and linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Do the Titans think they can win with Jake Locker or do they also dip into the quarterback pool and pick one of those guys? If they go some other position than quarterback in the first, they could possibly go with one in the second or third rounds or gamble with Locker for another year or two.

Pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

#12 New York Giants
Needs: TE, G/C, WR, DL, LB

Eli had a pathetic year in 2013, throwing for twenty-seven interceptions and eighteen touchdowns. They lost Hakeem Nicks to Indy and Brandon Myers to Tampa Bay, which puts a damper on their receiving core. Manning could use a eccentric pass catching tight end to help him out of jams, unlike last year.

Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

#13 St. Louis Rams
Needs: WR, S, RT, LB

After surprising a few people and selecting Sammy Watkins with their first pick of the draft, the Rams could still snag a solid quarterback in Bridgewater or they could build along the offensive line, especially with the sixth overall player sitting there and looking them in the face. They lost three offensive linemen this offseason (Chris Williams to Buffalo, Shelly Smith to Miami, Harvey Dahl). The Rams would have love to see Clinton-Dix fall to them with this pick, but I don't think they can complain.

Pick: Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan

#14 Chicago Bears
Needs: DT, S, CB, WR

The Bears added some much need pass rush with the addition of Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, however, the lost big man up the middle Henry Melton and  defensive end Julius Peppers. The Bears defense ranked dead last in the NFL last year allowing over 160 rushing yards per game.

Pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

#15 Pittsburgh Steelers
Needs: CB, WR, DL, OL

The Steelers lost two of their top three receivers from the 2013 season in which only Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell are their top three going into the 2014 season. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, this draft is chalk full of wide receivers. They could build along the defense with losing such big names as Lamarr Woodley, Ziggy Hood, and Ryan Clark, however I see a bigger need on the offense.

Pick: Odell Beckham Jr, WR, LSU

#16 Dallas Cowboys
Needs: DE, DT, S, G, WR

Dallas was quite awful on the defensive side of the fall in 2013. They finished 30th in opponent passing yards and 27th in opponent rushing yards and to make matter worse they lost defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and linebacker DeMarcus Ware. They did sign Henry Melton from Chicago, but that's one guy. They would have loved to seen Donald slip past Chicago at #14.

Pick: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

#17 Baltimore Ravens
Needs: FS, TE, LB, RT, WR

The Ravens have quite a few needs this draft. They lost Tackle Michael Oher, starting safety James Ihedigbo, tight ends Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark, and defensive end Arthur Jones. However on the other end, they re-signed Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones and made a huge splash in signed cut wide receiver Steve Smith. There isn't a big pool for safeties at this point and offensive line is a big need right now.

Pick: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

#18 New York Jets
Needs: WR, CB, TE, LB

Signing Eric Decker was very huge for this team that lacked playmakers last year. It didn't help that rookie quarterback Geno Smith didn't have the best year and only receiver Jeremy Kerley was able to eclipsed over 500 receiving yards. The Jets shocked some people signing Chris Johnson who was cut from the Titans, which will help Smith in the passing game. However, you cant have enough playmakers on a team with a young quarterback.

Pick: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

#19 Miami Dolphins
Needs: RT, G, S, CB

Mike Wallace's big contract didn't help out as much as the Dolphins would hoped it would have, however, Brian Hartline definitely made a big step in 2013. Miami helped themselves by signing former Chiefs offensive lineman Brandon Albert and Texans nose tackle Earl Mitchell. They did lose starting safety Chris Clemons and starting corner Dimitri Patterson, which put a big hit on their secondary.

Pick: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

#20 Arizona Cardinals
Needs: S, OLB, TE, WR

The Cardinals needs along the front line was addressed by signing tackle Jared Veldheer from Oakland, but they lost some big names on the defensive side of the ball. While Arizona was hoping at least Calvin Pryor to fall to them, there is not another safety they like in the first round anyway. They need more playmakers on both sides of the ball, but what do they plan to do when Palmer retires?

Pick: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

#21 Green Bay Packers
Needs: S, ILB, TE, DL

Picking all the way down here and expecting a big need to fall right into their laps wasn't what they planned. Their defense finished in the bottom half of the league in opponent passing and rushing yards and could use more help up the middle.

Pick: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Parity in the NBA?

As I am writing this there are 49 seconds left to go in the Portland Houston game 2 (looks like Portland is about to go up 2-0 in the series), and I am asking myself are we starting to see Parity in the NBA?  I’m only 28 but have followed all things Basketball since I was a little kid (this is a prerequisite to live in the state of Kentucky). So, back to the “Parity” in question.  I’m going to start with my birth year (1985), in the 29 NBA season over this period there have been 8 different Champions. Of those champions the Dallas Mavericks are the only team that has not found a way to win another.

(Hey I was right Portland won)

Ok, so if you asking yourself if this guy has any idea what parity is I assure you it is coming, well actually here it is. Right now all series have completed 2 games, and we only have 3 series at a 2-0 mark.  Only one of those three teams is the favorite.  That team is the 2 time defending champion (that hurts to say) Miami Heat… and they had no easy task getting there against a team that is 2 years removed from a 7 win season (albeit a shortened season).

Let's look outside of the playoffs. Think back to the start of the season when everyone was criticizing teams for setting up to tank. Phoenix was on that list. They finished one game out of the 8th seed in the west. Who's the star on that team? No Dragic doesn't count (that's just a good player that got the ball a lot this season)! So how did they just barely miss the playoffs? Good players are closing the gap on the great players, and if you have several good players they don't have to be counted on every night.  Remember when those superstars Terrence Ross and Corey Brewer put up 51? How about when Aaron brooks dished out 17 dimes?  Maybe you can recall the face of the Denver Nuggets Timofey Mozgov grabbing 29 boards.

Last point I promise! Ultimately some ping pong balls will have a lot to say about how some of these teams fair next season. Regardless, this draft is deep, and filled with some big time talent. Not only are some of the teams that will get lottery picks almost playoff teams already, many of the teams well behind this season only appeared that way.  (Once those balls are picked and the underclassmen declare I will start working on a Mock draft and team outlook)

This is a small sample size, and I really doubt that the Wizards are going to be the 9th team to hang a banner in my lifetime this year. (I hope it’s the Thunder) 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Surprising Case for Matt Cooke

Let me start by saying that I am no fan of Matt Cooke. I think he's one of the dirtiest players in the NHL and is up there with the the dirtiest in NHL history. His elbow to the head of Ryan McDonough, the boarding against Fedor Tyutin, the elbow to the face of Artem Anisimov, the kick at Chris Osgood's head, and his numerous other cheap-shots all point to him viciously and intentionally taking out Tyson Barrie with a knee shot.

But, in my opinion, I think what happened in the 2nd period of Game 3 was unintentional.

At the 2 minute mark of the 2nd period between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild, Matt Cooke of the Wild ran into Tyson Barrie of the Avs, his knee slamming into the resurgent defenseman's knee. On the surface, it looked like yet another of Cooke's dirty cheap-shots, a play designed to knock a player out of the game. But, upon closer inspection, things aren't so clear. A look from the side shows that Cooke skates in with his left leg extended, making it look like he was intending to do exactly what happened. But look at it from a different angle. A shot from behind Cooke shows that Tyson Barrie saw the Wild winger (heh) coming. Cooke had him lined up and was preparing to deliver a powerful open ice check. Barrie scrambled to get out of the way, pushing off of his left skate and flinging his body to the right. Cooke reacted to finish his hit, meaning he leaned to his left to keep the angle. In order to adjust and keep his skates under him, he extended his right leg and supported his body with his left, forcing it to bend and lead the rest of his body. This caused his knee to be directly aimed at Barrie. When contact is made, Cooke is off to the left of Barrie's body. He doesn't throw an elbow, he only has one hand on his stick, showing he wasn't trying to cross-check him, and pushes his arm forward.

Then, there is the fact that Matt Cooke has not been suspended since his elbow on McDonough in 2011, due to him actively trying to change the way he makes a hit. And for a guy like him, 3 years without a suspension for a dirty hit is pretty darn good.

It's unfortunate that Tyson Barrie was injured on the play. But it's even more unfortunate that a guy who is trying to change the way he plays the game and stop the dirty tactics is going to be hammered for a hit that turned out worse than he intended. As I said, I don't like Matt Cooke. But I also don't like demonizing a guy for something that wasn't his fault.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Greg intro

     Hello everyone, I am Greg or at least that’s what my mother calls me. What all of you chose to call me is up to you. What I mean by that is I don’t have one specific direction. What I plan on doing is giving an opinion on whatever come to mind sports related, this will be my opinion and no one else’s. If you agree with me let me know if you don’t let me know. I am just looking to create an active discussion on whatever topic come to mind. I have done this before, and appeared to work fairly well, so when Eric asked, I thought why not try it again.  So let us have some fun with this and keep the talk clean.
      Here is a little about myself. I grew up on Chicago’s Westside and was there until 1975, when my family and I moved to the burbs. So I grew up a Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox fan. After High School I spent some time in the Air Force stationed in Europe. After I got out I moved to Wisconsin where I became a hardcore Badgers fan. I started welding structural steel mostly, was also an ironworker, but mostly worked in shop. I stayed in cheese land until I got married and now reside in Columbus Ohio. Now weather or not you believe in God or not is up to you, but I was brought to Ohio for a reason. That reason was made clear to me two years ago when I was diagnosed with Cancer. The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital is one of the best in the country, and today my cancer is in remission. I will however, have to fight the disease for the rest of my life.  The last thing I will say about this is get yourselves checked, because early detection gives you the best chance of survival.

                In closing I just want to say again let’s have some fun. May your favorite team win unless they are playing mine, and most important is THE ONLY OPINION THAT MATTERS IS YOURS.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First Annual MHSM NFL Mock Draft - Part I

It is getting to that time of the year when you will start to see many different mock drafts, and most us football nuts will look for as many as they can find to see what their favorite team will do come May. For me, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I have sat and watched every round, from pick #1 to Mr. Irrelevant. Obviously times have changed now that I have grown up and have a job ha! But this year I will be doing my own mock draft and hopefully predicting, what I hope, is a somewhat close draft. I will do this mock draft over next three weeks finishing up right before the NFL Draft in May.

#1 Houston Texans - 
Needs: QB, T, OLB/DE

Talk about starting this mock draft with a tough decision. Do you take arguably the best player in the draft in Clowney and pair him with Watt to form possibly the best defensive end combo in the league or do take a quarterback in a deep draft class? I would go with Clowney, pair him with Watt, and draft a QB in the second round.

Pick: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

#2 St. Louis Rams - 
Needs: WR, S, T, LB

With Jared Cook being the leading receiver last year for the Rams, they need another solid outside option for Bradford. Only two players had over 500 yds receiving last year (Cook, Givens) after departure on Danny Amendola and Bradon Gibson. The Rams could also use help along the offensive line, but it hard to pass up on a solid wide receiver with this pick.

Pick: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars -
Needs: QB, DE, T, WR

The Jaguars have done a lot this year to revamp their team. They signed two former Seahawks (Red Bryant/Chris Clemons), didnt resign MJD, signed Toby Gerhart, and help their offensive line with signing Broncos guard Zane Beadles. However, they still have Henne and Gabbert at the helm and Henne isnt getting any younger.

Pick: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

#4 Cleveland Browns - 
Needs: QB, CB, WR, OL

Here is another team that needs a quarterback and its like gold this year. Brandon Weeden is 31 years old this year and isnt getting any younger. Campbell is gone (Cincinnati). I feel really the only option is quarterback.

Pick: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

#5 Oakland Raiders -
Needs: WR, CB, DE, OL

Oakland will definitely have a different look next year. The Raiders took the plunge and signed big names such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Schaub, Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Carlos Rogers, and James Jones. While Mike Evans would be a solid pick at this point, Greg Robinson would basically be a steal at this point depsite he was a top three pick.

Pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

#6 Atlanta Falcons - 
Needs: OLB/DE, T, TE, S

The Falcons kind of fall into the same category as the Raiders. While they could take a tight end with Tony G, retiring, but with Mack falling all the way down to the sixth pick its kind of hard to pass on him. Atlanta has been in need of a top notch linebacker since the departure of Curtis Lofton

Pick: Khalil Mack, LB/DE, Buffalo

#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -
Needs: G, WR, OLB, DE

Tampa has been active this offseason in addressing a few big needs with adding Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner. However, they created a small hole when they traded away Mike Williams to Buffalo. Yes they still have Vincent Jackson, but he is 31 years old and will need another wide receiver to take Williams' slot.

Pick: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

#8 Minnesota Vikings -
Needs: QB, CB, WR, S

This slot puts the Vikings into a tough slot. I'm guessing they are hoping that Bortles/Manziel fall to them or maybe they do a trade with the Rams.However, with really no top cornerbacks or defensive ends in the top 10 they opt for other secondary help.

Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

#9 Buffalo Bills - 
Needs: T, WR, S, TE

Buffalo staffers might be happy with this thus far. They are able to draft a top tackle that is expected to be a top five pick and arguably the second overall tackle in the draft. They traded for Mike Williams from Tampa, which takes wide receiver out of the equation for now.

Pick: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

#10 Detroit Lions -
Needs: CB, S, DE, WR, OLB

The Lions have several places they can go with this pick. They could go secondary with Justin Gilbert or in state product Darqueze Dennard. They also could go with pass rushing linebacker in Anthony Barr or middle man C.J Mosley. However, they face Rodgers and Cutler twice a year and possibly a solid rookie quarterback (such as Bortles/Manziel). This may be a reach with this pick, but with him being the best in the class and at a position of need.

Pick: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Geek of All Trades

When Eric asked me to contribute to this blog, I jumped at the chance.  I've always wanted to do something sports related that involved writing, so this presented a perfect opportunity for me.  He sent the invitation and I quickly accepted, forgetting that I had once - a long time ago - intended to do my own blog.  I had set everything up, but it had never come to fruition.  Which is why you see my name as "The Geek."  I thought about changing it, but soon realized that it still fits.  Being a geek is not exclusive to certain genres, such as science fiction, fantasy or anime - all three of which I love - but is merely a way of living out the things you are passionate about.  And I am passionate about sports.

My name is Josh.  I just recently turned 30, regrettably.  I was born and raised in and around Chicago, IL and am definitely a homer when it comes to my sports teams.  I love my Bears and Blackhawks, am a South Side fan, not a masochistic Cubs fan and I loved the Bulls when Jordan played.  I'm not a huge basketball fan, so I don't mind being called a fairweather Bulls fan.  It's true.  As far as college football, I bleed Maize and Blue!  Michigan Wolverines, the greatest college football program in history.  Football is definitely my top sport and I am most versed in that.  Hockey is a close second, so those are the two I will mostly focus on.  Here and there I may dabble in the others.

I got into fantasy sports 3 years ago and have never looked back.  It brings out my true geek.  The learning, the drafting, the competition, the smack talk, the statistics, I love it all.

As for me, personally, there isn't much to tell these days.  Working at Walgreens, albeit on an awesome midnight shift, and just trying to get by.  Sports offers me a release from the monotony of being an adult.  In my past, I did some acting, I played some sports, I served in the US Army, including a tour in Afghanistan.  That, as well as everything else, had its ups and downs, but I'm alive and I couldn't be more grateful to the men and women I served with.  They will never admit it, but they are heroes, every one of them.

I don't claim to be an expert on anything, but, at times, I can be mildly entertaining.  If you like rants about sports, I'm your guy!  Hope everyone enjoys what I have to say and I can't wait to talk to you all!  And a big thanks to Eric for the invite!  Here we go!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My Intro

Hello guys and gals and welcome to Mile High Sports Musings :)

I will start off my first post with just a simple introduction of who I am and what I am looking to accomplish in my newly formed blog.

First of all my name is Eric and I am 27 yrs old, married to my awesome and wonderful wife, and a new proud father of a handsome little boy. I was born in the great state of North Dakota. I graduated college in 2006 from Bismarck State College with an Associate Degree in Applied Science with a major in Process Plant Technology. After I graduated, I started to work at a pasta plant for approximately six months. In 2007, I moved to Colorado after accepting a job in research and development on alternative fuels. After almost five years there, I accepted a job in the natural gas industry where I am currently a gas plant operator.
I am a huge sports fan and occassionally dabble in fantasy sports. I have been a Carolina Panthers fan since their inception in 1995, just admiring their colors LOL. Boston Red Sox fan since right before the Pedro Martinez days. Colorado Avalanche/Rockies since 2007 (when I moved down to Colorado). Kansas Jayhawks since the Jeff Boschee days (fellow North Dakotan) and finally the North Dakota FIGHTING SIOUX and North Dakota State Bison. So that's a little about me in a nutshell!

On to the purpose of what I want to accomplish with this blog. I may have a few others joining me in writing about sports and occasionally fantasy sports as well. Within  the sports section you may see stuff like rankings, mock drafts, recaps, and game analysis.Within the fantasy sports category you may also see stuff like preseason rankings or stuff related to my fantasy league. I run a four-sport league called Fantasy Factory and will also be running a contract dynasty hockey league that will start up this upcoming fall if everything works out time wise. As for blogging, I will try and do one every week or two just depending on my schedule and how time allows. I am not Matthew Berry, so please bare with me LOL. I will try my best to keep you guys entertained and interested in my stuff. Please feel free to leave comments and agree or disagree with what I have to say.

Thank you very much and hope you guys enjoy :)