Thursday, June 18, 2009

Extended Down Time

As you may have noticed, things have been quiet around here the last few days. That would be because I am moving soon. I had things to finish at my jobs, ghosts to bust, things to pack and an apartment to clean. After the move sometime this weekend (back to Sinking Spring, PA from West Lafayette, IN), my wedding is less than two weeks away. I'll try to pop in from time to time to add some Penn State football and/or Phillies content but, unfortunately, it may not be until mid-July when I can start posting 2-3 times per day. I apologize for my absence but there's a lot going on right now. See you on the flip side.

Let's Go Phillies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Already Questioning the Madden 10 Player Ratings

Pasta Padre has linked to an MS Excel file that contains all of Madden 10's player ratings. Now, EA has tweaked how players are rated hoping to create less superstars. But after looking over some of the ratings I am a bit baffled.

Chad Henne is a 66. A 66! I know he's thrown only 12 passes in the NFL, but a 66? Especially if rookie Pat White gets a 65! WTF. How is Pat White only 1 rating point worse than Chad Henne, who has all but been given the keys for the 2010 Dolphins?

Donald Thomas is a 67. Now, I know he's played only one game and can't stay healthy but, if he was a starter AS A ROOKIE in 2008, why is he rated worse than reserves Andy Alleman (73) and Brandon Frye (70)?

Randy Starks is listed as an OL according to Pasta Padre. Could be a mistake on his part. Or EA is just that stupid. Starks is a DE in Miami's 3-4 though he does fill in at NT from time to time.

Jason Taylor, who's a DE in a 4-3 scheme, is listed at DE for Miami despite them instituting a 3-4 for most of the last four seasons. He's also only a 79. I wonder how much that will drop when he's changed to an OLB?

Rookie CB Vontae Davis is a 77. OK, that's fine. But starter Will Allen is a 75. The same Will Allen who has routinely been underrated by some "experts" and fans and has been a starter for his entire career with the Giants or Dolphins. Fellow rookie CB Sean Smith gets the same rating as Allen. Again, nor problems with Davis or Smith but come one EA! Allen as a 75?

The specialists get a slap in the face, too. Second year kicker Dan Carpenter, who hit 84% of his field goals and made everything from inside 40 yards is only a 63. Punter Brandon Fields is a 60.

For the rest of the Dolphins ratings, or any player in the NFL, check out Pasta Padre's file here.

UPDATE: OK so now Pasta Padre's site says that EA has requested he take the file down. So no more ratings for any of you. I still have the file though. Email me if you'd like it.

Phillies in the All-Star Game, Update 3

When it comes to National League All-Stars its basically the Phillies, Mets and Cardinals. Then everyone else. The Phillies (Chase Utley, Raul Ibañez, Jimmy Rollins), as of the official June 15th results, have three players set to start for the N.L. in the 2009 All-Star Game. The Mets have two (David Wright, Carlos Beltran), as do the Cardinals (Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina). The final spot (excluding pitcher) would be Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Of course we're still about a month from the game; aything can happen until the teams are announced. Current results below.

2009 All-Star Game (National League) vote totals released June 15th, 2009 (MLB.com).

The most newsworthy item this week may be Utley taking over the #1 spot from Pujols, in terms of total votes. The Phillies second baseman, who had the most votes among N.L. players in 2008, now has 2,273,355 votes. Pujols is second overall with 2,158,036.

So obviously Ryan Howard still is lurking behind Pujols at first base. Don't expect Howard to pass him. However, Howard could become a reserve. Actually it's probably a forgone conclusion that Howard will indeed be in St. Louis this July.

Nothing else to say about Utley. The Dodgers Orlando Hudson is a distant second at second base with 904,648 votes.

The most undeserving starters is, unfortunately, Rollins at short stop. Jimmy has shown signs of improvement recently but should not be set to start in front of Hanley Ramirez (a close second) or Miguel Tejada (a distant fifth). J.J Hardy is third while Jose Reyes (why?) is 4th.

Third base has gone completely unchanged, order-wise. It goes Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Chipper Jones, Pedro Feliz, Bill Hall. I'd love to see Feliz make it as a reserve but doubt he'll get the nod over Zimmerman or Jones.

Carlos Ruiz is up to 4th! "Chooch" is having the best season of his MLB career and with the lack of big names behind the plate this season has a good a case as any to make the All-Star team for the N.L. Ruiz has 809,633 votes, about 6,000 behind 3rd place Jason Kendall and 85,000 behind 2nd place Brian McCann.

Ibañez, Braun and Beltran remain 1-2-3 in the outfield, though the Cubs Alfonso Soriano is approaching the Mets OF. Phillies OF Shane Victorino has jumped suspended Dodgers OF Manny Ramirez for 5th. Teammate Jayson Werth remains in 8th.

I'm expecting five Phillies to make the team - Utley, Ibañez, Rollins, Howard and either Ruiz or Hamels.

If I were choosing who should go, I'd tab Utley, Ibañez, Howard and Ruiz.

Sorry, J-Roll.

POLLS: Stay with the Young Guns

RECAP: So you guys think the Phillies should try to leg out the next month with Bastardo and Happ in the rotation. Still feeling that way after the weekend series versus the Red Sox? Well regardless of whether or not we want to stay with these young arms or find a proven veteran, we kind of have to stay the course. Most of the veteran targets are now off limits due to injuries (Jake Peavy, Erik Bedard) or their teams recent performance (Roy Hallady, Jason Marquis, Roy Oswalt). Who else out there would really be a huge improvement? One of these guys - probably Happ - will make it through the season. However, Bastardo may be in for another 4-6 starts because of the dearth of arms available. It's clear Kyle Kendrick isn't an option.

NEW: Despite their mediocre 5-5 record of late, how do you feel about the Phillies chance of repeating as World Champions of Baseball in 2009?

Voting ends June 22nd.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ibañez Stacks Up Well with Past NL MVPs

The Phillies won the rubber match versus the hated New York Mets last night thanks to a Raul Ibañez 3-run home run in the top of the 11th inning. The win pushed the Phillies to a 35-23 record, two wins better than their '08 pace, and a four game lead over the Mets in the N.L. East. The game winning home run was Ibañez's 21st of the season, second among N.L. players (Adrian Gonzalez, 22). RAAAAUUUUUUULLL now leads the league in RBIs, too. With his amazing start in Philadelphia, and since we're more than 1/3 of the way through the 2009 season, rumblings of a potential MVP are in the air for the newest Phillie. Through 58 games, how does Ibañez stack up to past award winners this far into the season?

Click to enlarge statistics.

There are 19 statistics I looked at in my analysis. While a person's all around game is important to the team, when it comes to MVP voting it seems that two things standout as the "main criteria" for the award: leadership and offensive production. Now I'm a defensive man myself but, honestly, defensive metrics are used merely as a tie breaker when it comes to MVPs. It's clearly about the offense; remember, chicks dig the long ball. So all of the statistics listed above, save one, fall in the offensive category. The only outlier is team success.

Looking at the averages for the 19 major categories, Ibañez (or the Phillies) are better than the average 11 out of 19 times. Of the eight statistics Ibañez isn't better than your average N.L. MVP, two he's at the average. Of the remaining seven, walks, intentional walks and grounded into double plays are not "make or break" variables.

Through 58 games, Ibañez has 75 hits. Of the previous 10 N.L. MVPs, only Jeff Kent (2000 Giants) had more hits during the first 58 games of the season. The average is 64. Ibañez is also above average in the doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, batting average and slugging categories. Only 2001 Barry Bonds had more RBIs through 58 games.

Ibañez biggest "drawbacks" are walks, strikeouts and on-base percentage. He currently has 40 Ks, seven more than your average N.L. MVP. He also has drawn only 20 free passes, much less than average which in turn has affected his OBP. Despite his power surge and ability to hit for contact, Ibañez is not drawing walks. If he becomes more patient and opposing managers and pitchers become more leery of him, these categories won't be a concern. In reality, Ks and BBs are hardly big negatives for MVP candidates. Ryan Howard struck out a lot in 2006 (59 in first 58 games, 181 during overall) and still won the MVP award.

Basically, Ibañez has a nice lead in categories that are more important. In ones that carry less weight his a tad below average. So history says that, yes, at this juncture Raul Ibañez very much could be the 2009 N.L. MVP.

T-shirt available through Birdland & The Fightins store.

Of course one of the few drawbacks of analysis like this is that we're examining players through just over a third of the seasons. How you end the season is more fresh in the voters eyes and you also have a full 162 game slate to work with. Plus, this doesn't take in how others around the league are doing. Albert Pujols is right in the conversation as well. There are a handful of guys who have been as important as Raul has thus far. It's early, but it is encouraging to see that, statistically speaking, at this point Ibañez could become Philadelphia's third MVP in the last four years.

If he keeps up the pace he should give Pujols et al. a run for their money.

Football Outsiders Say Fear Poz in 2009

Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders wants you to know one thing: fear Posluszny. OK, he really wants you to know that there are five young players in the AFC that are going to become building blocks for their teams in 2009. Ravens LT Jared Gaither, Titans DT Jason Jones, Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons and Texans CB Fred Bennett should all rise up this upcoming season and become Pro Bowl-type players providing a stable foundation for their franchises. But who cares about them, really? Tell me more about Posluszny! (link for ESPN Insiders, sorry)

Another middle linebacker, Posluszny would likely already be one of the AFC East's building blocks had he not fractured his forearm three games into the 2007 season. In what effectively served as his rookie year in 2008, Posluszny showed signs of becoming an excellent middle linebacker. He made 14.7 percent of his team's plays on the ground, eighth among 4-3 middle linebackers; furthermore, he was making tackles in important places. He had a stop rate of 54 percent, meaning that 63 of his 116 plays prevented the opposition from achieving a "successful" outcome on the play (defined here as gaining 40 percent of the needed yardage for a first down on first down, 60 percent on second down, or 100 percent on third or fourth down); that figure was sixth among 4-3 middle linebackers.

Penn State fans know all about this -- and in 2009, the entire AFC may come to fear Paul Posluszny.

He has still some work to go as a pass defender and as a pass rusher, but the Bills count on him primarily to be an elite run-stopper at linebacker. If he's not quite there yet, he very well may be after this season.

Ya hear that haters? Poz means business and will be a household name in 2009.

Posluszny may be my favorite Nittany Lion of All-Time. He plays the position I love and was an excellent student and role model, which can not always be said for college athletes. Poz is a beast and it's nice to see him getting recognized but statistical gurus.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Highly Touted Buckeye RB Recruit Berry Arrested

Jamaal Berry, the #3 rated RB in the class of 2009 by ESPNs Scouts, Inc., has been arrested for possession of marijuana. Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg reports that Berry was arrested earlier today for having more than 20 grams of marijuana on him. Berry was expected to have a shot a playing time this season, his freshman year, after Chris Wells departed for the NFL. Dan Herron and Brandon Saine are the other two RBs attempting to replace Wells.

Father of Recent PSU Commit Backing His Sons Decision

Last week two WPIAL linemen committed to Penn State's 2010 recruiting class. Not a big deal, right? Verbal commitments are thrown out often by high school players getting ready to enter their senior seasons. Well it is a big deal when a local product considered a shoe-in for the nearby university spurns them. For their rival. What compounds the situation is their lineage and ties to said local university. After Miles Dieffenbach and Tom Ricketts committed to play for the Nittany Lions a week ago, Pitt fans were none too thrilled. Thankfully for Ricketts his father has his back, despite his status in Panthers territory.

The name Tom Ricketts is very familiar to Pitt alums. Mike White explains.

Ricketts' ties to Pitt might have been even stronger than Dieffenbach's. Ricketts is the son of Tom Ricketts II, a former standout lineman at Pitt in the 1980s and a former first-round draft choice of the Steelers. The elder Ricketts and his wife have season tickets to Pitt games. Sandy (Albright) Ricketts was a top swimmer at Pitt. Ricketts' great grandfather was Charles "Doc" Hartwig, who was a first-team All-American at Pitt in the 1930s.
The younger Ricketss decided to choose Penn State over Pitt because it was the best fit for him as a student and as a player. How did the elder Ricketts react? He says he was excited.
"Of coure, I would've loved to see him go to Pitt," said Ricketts, the father. "But, of course, I knew the situation he would've been going into. He would've been kind of walking in my shoes or my shadow, I guess. He would've had to deal with that. There are so many opportunities out there for him. He made his own decision."
It's always nice to know your dad has your back. Tom the Younger knows that.
"But he's happy for me and he doesn't hold anything against Pitt or Penn State."
Diffenbach's father is George Diffenbach, the Pitt Panthers women's tennis coach for the last 27 years. I have not tracked down reactions from him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

That's How You Got Here?

Over at Black Shoe Diaries, one of my favorite Penn State football blogs, user "ReadingRambler" (who's signature includes a quote from my high school football coach) occasionally does a piece called "You found us!" which details how users get to BSD through a keyword search. Over there the results are extremely humorous and ReadingRambler adds his own commentary. But that got me interested in how people were finding my site. What searches led them here? Is any of it noteworthy? Funny? Let's find out.

According Google's Analytics - which has been tracking site information for me since October 22, 2007 - here's the top searches over the last 597 days (or the time since Analytics has been tracking Sports Fountainhead hits).

  • 2008 nfl mock draft - This keyword search brought the must people to the site over the last ~600 days. In fact the top seven searches all have to do with my NFL mock drafts.
  • Justin Raffauf - Also should include "justin raffauf". My friend and occasional blogger here gets stalked by his students. When generalizing searches, his name brings the second most people here. Wow.
  • Sports Fountainhead - Apparently people can't remember the sites address. That's why you have bookmarks and autofill people.
  • SNL Notre Dame - Saturday Night Live did an awesome take on Notre Dame football in the fall of 2007. TAS posted about it here.
  • 2009 nit championship - WE ARE PENN STATE!
  • 2009 nfl predictions - People want these early. I obliged.
  • mark may penn state - He's such a douche. Why all the hate for Penn State? Oh, right. You're a (lowly) Pitt grad!
  • derrick williams pro day - He sure did have a good day.
  • ncaa 09 football simulations - Yep, I do this. Last year I did 1-sim and 10-sim posts. I hope to do the same again this year.
  • bcs fan poll - I am a voter. You can be too!
As expected, nothing funny. Well, anyone making fun of Notre Dame is funny. But we didn't get anything like this directing people to the site...

"skank ho"

"naked softball girl"

"fat woman in ripped pants"

"dirty sanchez"

"bikini butt pucker"

Those all will, somewhere, link to Black Shoe Diaries on Google. Ha ha!

A Night Out with Philly Bloggers

The fine folks over at Phinally Philly have decided to organize a "Phanatic's Night Out". The goal is to get as many Philly bloggers and readers together for a Phillies game this summer. Dates available are all Saturday's: July 25 vs St. Louis (4:05), August 8 vs Florida (7:05) and August 29 vs Atlanta (7:05). Whichever date gets the most votes wins! If you're free on any of those evenings and feel like mingling with some bloggers and fellow Phillies fans, sign up! Confirmed guests (dependent on final date) are Roman and Kieran from Phinally Philly (hosts), Chris from Long Drive, Kevin from Macho Row, R.C. from Phillies Nation and me! Here's some more info.

How it Works
- We’re going for a discounted group rate, so tickets shouldn’t be more than $25.
- Once the most popular date is selected, a deadline will be set.
- You can either buy tickets with us and sit as a group or get tickets yourself and hang with us pre and post game.
- If you’re buying with us, funds will be collected via PayPal or personal check before the deadline.
- Once the deadline is up, we’ll order the tickets and either ship them out or you guys can meet us at the game for pickup.

Check back periodically for updates!

Let’s go Phils!
- Roman & The Phinally Philly Team

So what are you waiting for? Join us at the ballpark!

I can make it for the two games in August but, sadly, the July 25th game is out for me. So let's make an August date win!

Steelers Get Their Rings

As you all know, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals this past February to win their sixth Super Bowl title. Well yesterday the players got their World Champions rings. Take a look.

(from Jostens via Steelers.com)

(from Jostens via Steelers.com)

(from Jostens via Steelers.com)

The top is a little busy but I like the sides, especially the one with Heinz Field, the six Lombardi's and the XLIII logo and score.

Not too shabby. Though I definitely like this one better.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Phillies in the 2009 All-Star Game, Update 2

Phillies fans have certainly spoken. Philadelphia players are all over the list, including three set to start. We're more than a month from the big game in St. Louis but let's take a look where the Home 9 stands as of Monday, June 8th.

2009 All-Star Game (National League) vote totals released June 8th, 2009 (MLB.com).

Starting at the top again we see that Ryan Howard remains behind Albert Pujols but has jumped Prince Fielder to take over second place. Howard is having a fantastic season in the field and has been on a tear of late with the bat. He deserves our votes.

It is safe to say that Chase Utley will be the starting second baseman. He has more than double the votes of the next closest player, the Dodgers' Orlando Hudson. People recognize the mad skillz of Chutley.

At the hot corner, David Wright remains on top with Ryan Zimmerman a distant second (separated by 245,000+ votes). Chipper Jones and Philadelphia's Pedro Feliz have jumped Milwaukee's Bill Hall to claim 3rd and 4th, respectively. Feliz is having his normally solid year at 3rd while also batting over .300 at the plate. An argument can be made that he stands to make the team, though the people in front of him now are deserving as well.

Jimmy Rollins is the only Phillies player I feel is being overvalued. Rollins, while still the standard in the field, has been deplorable at the dish hitting a meager .220 and recently being dropped to the six hole. If Rollins can pick it up offensively he may be more deserving. As of now he shouldn't be higher than 3rd, behind Hanley Ramirez (currently 2nd) and Miguel Tejada (currently 5th).

Brian McCann jumped to second at the catcher position while Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz makes an appearance in 5th. Ruiz should definitely be in consideration for a roster spot as he has been his usual self behind the plate defensively but has really matured with the bat and has done a tremendous job with the pitching staff. Let's try to bump him up to 2nd or 3rd!

All is right with the world. After placing 6th in votes just two weeks ago, Phillies LF Raul Ibanez now leads all NL outfielders. He sits in 1st with 1,415,493 votes, which is ~145,000 more than the Brewers' Ryan Braun. Carlos Beltran is rightfully 3rd but for some reason Alfonso Soriano and Manny Ramirez are 4 and 5. I don't want Ramirez anywhere near this game. Phillies CF Shane Victorino is 6th, about 5,500 behind Ramirez, and up one spot from last week. RF Jayson Werth currently sits in 8th place, three spots higher than last week.

So the Phillies are looking good. Three starters as of the most recent results, and there is plenty of time to elevate Ruiz and Feliz as well as The Flyin' Hawaiin and Werth.

SNT: Former PSU DT Ed Johnson's Second Chance

Ed Johnson had his share of problems at Penn State. The much maligned DT was temporarily expelled from Penn State in 2005 and was suspended from participating in the Outback Bowl following the 2006 season. During the 2007 draft the very talented player was undrafted because of character concerns. He landed a UDFA contract with the Colts and immediately became a force in the middle and Indianapolis' best run stuffer. He started all 16 games as a rookie and the first game in 2008. Then the bad stuff found him again. During a traffic stop for speeding, police found marijuana in Johnson's car. The next day he was released, despite the Colts huge hole at the position.

Sporting News Today has a more in depth look at the life of Johnson after the most recent incident in today's issue. Check it out below.

Click to enlarge.

Monday, June 8, 2009

POLLS: Bastardo the Right Choice

RECAP: Twelve people voted and everyone of them agreed with the Phillies move to insert Antonio Bastardo - who started the season as a reliever at AA Reading - as the temporary replacement for the injured Brett Myers. The poll started last Monday, a day before Bastardo made his first appearance in which he went six innings giving up only four hits and one run. The poll ended this morning, about 12 hours after Bastardo made his second appearance, earning his second win by going five innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. Not too shabby. The fans were right to believe in Bastardo and management for making this call.

NEW: Let's stay with Bastardo. Should the Phillies search for a long-term, big-name replacement, such as Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb or Roy Halladay? Or should they stick with young guns J.A. Happ and Antonio Bastardo for the time being? Let us know in the right panel.

Voting ends June 15th.

SNT: Dolphins Look to Expand Wildcat

Teams have latched on to the "wildcat" offense, introduced to the NFL by the Dolphins in 2008. Other teams, such as the Vikings and Ravens, are working with packages this offseason. The Dolphins, however, look to broaden the scheme in year two of the package. The addition of Pat White will help. Sporting News Today's Clifton Brown addresses the "wildcat" and Miami's plans for 2009 in his daily NFL feature, along with four other burning stories.

Also, I'm special. See for yourself.

Yeah, that's my name.

The Dolphins want me, me, to buy season tickets. And I'd get a personalized photo for free! Wow, I am truly honored. Wait, everyone on their mailing list gets this? Ah, shucks.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

JoePa Some Random Guy's Most Hated Opponent

Some guy with a blog decided to rank his most hated opponents (non-players) and decided that Penn State's Joe Paterno is his #1. This blogger lives in central New Jersey where, and I quote, "men are men", and is a Yankees, Devils, and Rutgers fan. Here are his reasons for saying Paterno is his most hated opponent.

  • He's spent 30 years picking on teams now in the Big East Conference.
  • Penn State fans whine about JoePa's undefeated 1969, 1970, 1973 and 1994 squads not being awarded the National Championship.
  • Paterno runs up the score on weaker opponents.
  • Poaching players from other territories.
Those are the four main criteria for why Joe Paterno is his most hated opponent. OK, this could take a while...
Ol' Ratface spent the better part of 30 years picking on the teams now in the Big East Conference...
OK, let's first start out by calling the greatest coach in college football names based on his appearance. Though "ratface" is a new one; can't say I've heard him called that before. Kudos for the originality. He "picked" on the teams now in the Big East Conference? How did he "pick" on them? By beating them consistently? How is that his fault? The schools agree on playing each other. It's not as if JoePa said "you will play us" and that was that. Plus, Penn State is an east coast team, of course as an independent (before joining the Big Ten) they're going to regionalize and play the same east coast teams as often as possible. That was why JoePa tried to create an eastern football league in the early- to mid-1980's. This statement by the blogger is just sour grapes. Boo hoo, JoePa and Penn State are picking on us.
Penn State fans whine about how, with undefeated teams in 1969, 1970, 1973 and 1994, the Nittany Lions were not awarded the National Championship.
I don't care what team you like but every fan base complains about how many national championships the school has. Why? Because of the way it is handled, now and in the past. First of all there is no true NCAA National Champion. That's why football "national championships" are called MNCs, or mythical national championships. The NCAA does not award an FBS title every year. That crystal football the team gets for winning the BCS Championship is their own National Championship trophy. Teams aren't getting this
which is the true NCAA Trophy. It is awarded to 44 teams over 18 men's sports and 47 times over 19 women's sports during an academic year. Some sports have multiple tiers, hence the multiple National Titles per sport. Football has four tiers - FBS, FCS (formerly known as Division I-AA), Division II and III. The FCS, II, and III divisions all have an official National Champion. The FBS division does not. Because of the way the FBS title is handed out, through the BCS (and other rankings), multiple teams can say they earned the title. Doesn't matter if it's the BCS one or some podunk newspaper. The NCAA doesn't officially recognize any of them. Before the BCS came around in 1998, the AP title was generally used as the official one (though not truly official). Some schools take advantage of the ambiguity in this, listing every year that anyone awarded them a championship. Alabama is notorious for this. Their titles have been dissected multiple times. Penn State doesn't do this. They list only 1982 and 1986 as National Championship seasons, as they finished #1 in the AP Poll that season. But getting back to the argument at hand, of course fans whine about their teams titles. It's completely subjective and ambiguous. That's why we need a playoff. But hating JoePa because fans believe Penn State earned more than two titles? No reason for it.
Maybe it's karma for Paterno running up the score on weaker Eastern opponents, thus inflating their records.
Yes, Penn State wasn't awarded titles in the past because he ran up the score. Right. JoePa's just a mean old man who does nothing for anyone. While I don't condone running up the score, in college football it had to be done at times. When you leave your programs fate in the hands of writers and/or coaches who may only look at the box score to determine a teams ability, a large margin of victory comes in handy. Is it bad sportsmanship? From a certain point of view, sure. But, again, this is subjective. Looking back at scores you can see Penn State has destroyed some programs. But whose to say that the second, third and even fourth teams weren't the ones scoring those points? How can the coach be blames if the opponent can't stop backups from running the ball? During the 2005 and 2006 seasons Penn State had sizable leads on many teams. And every time the backups and third stringers were on the field in the fourth (and sometime the third) quarters.

Now "Uncle Mike" says Paterno purposely ran up the score on Rutgers the last time the two teams played, in 1995 at the Meadowlands. Apparently Paterno had the QB throw a TD pass even though Penn State was up 52-34 "late in the game". Here's the whole story. #6 Penn State was beating Rutgers only 24-17 at the half and 38-27 at the end of the third quarter. The over matched Rutgers team was showing tremendous fight and the Nittany Lions had a hard time for almost the entire game. The final score was 59-34, a 25 point spread. That's not very big in college football. In the NFL, yes, that's embarrassing. College? Not so much. Penn State scored 21 points in the 4th, one of which was on a fumble recovery by safety Kim Herring. After QB Wally Richardson hit Bobby Engram to stretch the score to 52-27, PATERNO BENCHED HIS STARTERS. That was with ~ 7 minutes to go in the game. The final TD - the one "Uncle Mike" is so pissed about - was scored by backup QB Mike McQueary, who hit third string flanker Chris Campbell with 58 seconds to go for a 42 yard TD. BACKUPS AND THIRD STRINGERS. With an 18 point lead, not exactly a big margin considering other games that happen every year early in the season.

At this point in his post "Uncle Mike" also starts to refer to Joe Paterno as "Saint Joseph". OK, Penn State fans, how many of you have ever heard JoePa called that? Cause he claims that's what we fans call him. And yet, a simple Google web and image search for "Saint Joseph Paterno" yields nothing related to Penn State or Paterno. How odd.

This is perhaps the best part of "Uncle Mike's" piece. Paterno stealing recruits.
And also for and poaching players from other territories. Two of his best players -- Franco Harris of Mount Holly and Rancocas Valley High, and Kenny Jackson of South River -- were among the many he has poached from New Jersey, and whose first choice could have been Rutgers. He's taken New Yorkers away from Syracuse, New Englanders away from Boston College, and Cheseapeake Valley players away from Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Is this jealousy? I hope it is. He can't seriously be made and hate Paterno for being able to recruit, can he? Last I checked every recruit had an option to go to any school they choose, not just the one's close by. Players want to go to schools that give them a chance to play, make the NFL, be on TV, be part of tradition, and/or win games. Penn State offers all those things. Paterno has every right to take players from any state he wants; every team and coach does! Paterno stealing away recruits from outside of PA should not cause hate. Extreme jealousy and envy, surely, but not hate.

Besides these four main points, "Uncle Mike" also says some things (besides the Saint Joseph remark) that are very funny.
Now that Rutgers is a consistent winner, that cowardly old bastard won't play us. Come on, Ratface, you deserve one last lesson in manners before you head off to that great press box in the... core of the Earth.
Where do I even start? OK, let's go with the "consistent winner" thing. Rutgers went 7-5 in 2005, their first season over .500 since 1992 when they went 7-4. In 2006 they had a wonderful season, finishing 11-2 and ranked 12th. In 2007 and 2008 they were 8-5. OK, so they have four straight years of at least seven wins. Who cares? Does winning seven or eight games make you a force in college football? Hardly. A good season in college football is like 9-4 or 10-3. A great one is 11-2. 12 or 13 wins is amazing. 7 or 8 is above average I guess but hardly something to be amazingly proud of. It definitely doesn't make you a "consistent winner".

The "cowardly old bastard won't play" Rutgers? Oh that's right, he must have forgotten that schedules are made 5-10 years in advance. And the fact that Penn State and Rutgers are meeting again in 2014 and 2015. Now the odds of Paterno still coaching then are remote but you can hardly blame Paterno for that (and any scheduling for that matter).

Again, "ratface". Classic.

Yes, Paterno is headed to hell, as he alluded to. He's definitely on my list of people who deserve to be there. Right up there with the Pope (any of them) and these people.
Paterno is eternal. When he finally dies, the Shittany Lions will probably mummify him and turn the Beaver Stadium press box into their own version of Lenin’s Tomb. They already call the stadium “Saint Joe Paterno Cathedral.”
Shittany Lions. Man, this guy is on fire! But again, when has Beaver Stadium EVER been referred to as Saint Joe Paterno Cathedral. OMG. I can't believe it! There's a Google search result.

Click to enlarge.

Oops. Nevermind.

Let me leave you with the way he left his readers.
For longevity, for amount of defeats, for size of defeats, for style of defeats, for arrogance, and, yes, for ugliness (he really does look like a rat), Joe Paterno tops the list. Congratulations, Penn State: You are Number 1. You dirty bastards.
Yes, Joe Paterno certainly is an evil man. He definitely is someone you should focus your hate on.

Seriously, of all the assholes in sports he selected Joe Paterno to top his list. Congratulations, "Uncle Mike", you rate right up there with this clown.

Henne Will Be Ready

CHAD HENNE IS A JOKE
A MOTHERF*CKING JOKE
HIS WOLVERINES ARE GONNA F*CKING CROAK
THEY CALL HIM DOCTOR CHOKE
BET ON HIM, YOU'LL GO BROKE
CAUSE CHAD HENNE IS A MOTHERF*CKING JOKE

-- "Chad Henne is a motherf*cking joke" by the Dead Schembechler's
Former Michigan and current Miami Dolphins QB Chad Henne has taken a beating on and off the field. He was the QB for one of the most recognizable college program in the nation (for four years, too), where he faced pass rushers gunning for his head. More than once he became bruised and battered, but he got up to play again. Off the field, he's taken his fair share of heat, as any QB does. Not only have Michigan supporters and fans questioned Henne's ability in the past, but so have his hated rivals. An Ohio State Buckeyes punk rock band - the Dead Schembechler's - have an ode to the former Michigan QB, released during Henne's junior season as the Wolverines QB. A snippet of the song is listed above. He took all of the name-calling and ribbing in stride.

And he believes it actually makes him better at what he does.

Unlike many athletes who can't take the pressure, spotlight and never-ending evaluations, Henne chooses to ignore it all and is immune to all the hate. He lets the song(s?), images and articles that rip on him just roll off his back. Some may think this means he doesn't care. In fact, playing QB may be one of the only things he does care about.
The Michigan product has always taken that seriously, and never more than now. That's why he was at the Dolphins' Davie facility this offseason "probably six weeks before everybody else was here," according to his coach Tony Sparano, who has marveled at the improvement in the second-year player, in everything from physical strength to coverage identification.
...
If you're trying to project how he'll handle a role that requires far more than just making throws, it's worth reviewing how he handled four seasons as the Wolverines starting quarterback, where he was the subject of parody (from rivals) and scrutiny (from classmates). It's worth asking the person who knows him best.
Yes, that person would be fiancee Brittany Hartman, who says Henne has a very even temper and tends to not get stressed out. Those are great traits for a QB; the best thing for them to do after they screw up is to move on.

His current mentor has high praise for him as well. Chad Pennington, who will lose his job to Henne by 2010 (at the latest), believes Henne can and will succeed in the NFL. Pennington has been teaching Henne the nuances of NFL coverages and watching tape.
"I think I should be well-prepared for taking the stage and knowing how to handle myself on and off the field, and being in the community and learning to give back," Henne says. "We always talk about not being a celebrity quarterback. That's a big thing for us. I'm not that kind of person. I'm kind of a low-key, small-town guy."
Indeed. And I can't wait until this "joke", someone I've known since junior high, to be the starting QB for my team.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dolphins Team to Beat in AFC East, Says Porter

Joey Porter utilizes his mouth as much as he does his skills to plant a QB in the turf. He voices his opinion on everything, from guaranteeing wins to expressing his feelings about division rivals. He even can get under your skin on the field too, if you can believe that. Well today Porter had more to say, according to ESPN.com's Tim Graham.

"I don't understand how you can put somebody in front of us," said Porter, who would be the cleanup hitter on my all-interview team. "We won the championship. We were AFC East champions. I just don't think it's supposed to happen like that. You've got to beat somebody to be the champs. We had to beat somebody to be the champs."
This Porter sound bite is a lot less controversial than guaranteeing a win. How is what he says not the truth? He's speaking from a logic standpoint that a team won the division last year, why shouldn't they be the team everyone is gunning for? Of course everyone and their mother is crowning the Patriots, the reason Porter spoke the way he did to Graham.

I don't have a problem with what Porter said today. Nor do I have a problem with players guaranteeing wins. Why shouldn't they be? Shouldn't a team always expect to beat the other team they are playing? The media tries to use the "bulletin board" material angle but that's ridiculous. I wouldn't want players on my team that think they would lose. Porter is an incredibly cocky s.o.b but sometimes what comes out of his mouth is exactly what athletes should be saying.

And the Dolphins are the defending AFC East Champs, so every team should be looking to knock off them and not New England. Despite the return of OMG BEST QB EVAH Tom Brady, the Patriots still have questions on defense and the o-line. In my first predictions for the 2009 season I have New England performing reasonably well but no one should underestimated the Dolphins. See what happened when teams did that last year?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Former PSU OT Cadogan Earns Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award

Twenty-two student-athletes have earned Outstanding Sportsmanship Awards from the Big Ten Conference. Among the winners is former Nittany Lions (and current Carolina Panthers) OT Gerald Cadogan.

A pool of 276 student-athletes honored throughout the year were eligible for the awards. A male and female from each university in the conference earns the honor. Along with Cadogan, Penn State women's track and field member Gayle Hunter earned the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.

The full list of 276 Sportsmanship Honorees can be found here while the 22 players who earned the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award are listed here.

Congratulations to Cadogan, Hunter and the rest of the classy Big Ten athletes!

Penn State Starters Overall Ratings in NCAA Football 10

The new college football game from EA will hit video game stores everywhere Tuesday, July 14. In order to get a head start with one of the new features, EA released the "Team Builder" program online. With "Team Builder" you create a new school from the ground up to compete in the game. Obviously this includes creating players to man your squad with. One of the options to fill out your team is porting over guys from schools around the country. "Team Builder" went live on June 1st, allowing anyone to see the player ratings for this year's game more than a month in advance. Want to know what Penn State team will take the field this fall? Run Up the Score has you covered over at Black Shoe Diaries.

Here's a few of the "big name" players and their overall rating.

  • QB Daryll Clark - 94
  • RB Evan Royster - 93
  • RB Stephfon Green - 88
  • RG Stefen Wisniewski - 91 (will play center this year)
  • DT Jared Odrick - 90
  • LB Navorro Bowman - 93
  • LB Sean Lee - 95
  • FS Drew Astorino - 86
Not too shabby. The WRs and TEs are solid too so the offense - if the offensive line gels - shouldn't miss a beat in '09 on the real field and in 10 on the digital field. The EA guys did a good job of picking up on our weaknesses. The secondary sports the weakest group, the A.J. Wallace is ranked pretty high. They're not convinced that Larry Johnson will find suitable replacements for Josh Gaines, Maurice Evans and Aaron Maybin. They have Jerome Hayes at DE (and rated a very respectable 89) but he'll most likely be the hybrid DE/LB and not a starter. No mention of Jack Crawford, the redshirt freshman who has looked good all spring. Look for him to start at one of the DE spots and be vastly underrated in NCAA Football 10. The starter opposite Hayes in the game - Kevion Latham - checks in at an 80 overall.

Rittenberg's Top 30 Big Ten Players

ESPNs Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg has been chronicling the conference's top 30 players since May 8th. He's finally at #1, which will most likely be released this afternoon. I was going to wait until the entire list was finished but it's pretty easy to see that no Penn State player will be #1. No, that honor is going to Illinois WR Arrelious Benn who has not been listed yet.

Penn State had solid representation on Rittenberg's list, which ranked players based on "a combination of past accomplishments and future potential". Six Nittany Lions made his rankings, most in the conference. The rest of the conference stacked up as so: Iowa (4), Ohio State (3), Illinois (3 after Benn is listed), Minnesota (3), Michigan (2), Michigan State (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (2), Indiana (2) and Purdue (1). Four of the six Penn State players picked were ranked in the top 10. In fact, the defending Big Ten Champs have four of the top seven players in the conference for 2009, according to Rittenberg.

Leading the way is recently anointed #2 on the list Daryll Clark, who some other experts believe is the third best QB in the conference. Preposterous, I know. Coming in at #4 is RB Evan Royster. Both Royster and Clark could be candidates for the 2009 Heisman as well (Clark, at least). Coming in at 6 and 7, respectively, are the dynamic linebacker duo of Navarro Bowman and Sean Lee, who Rittenberg seems to think may be a tad underrated on his list.

If Lee comes back at or near the level he was before the injury, he should earn All-Big Ten accolades and rank as one of the league's top five players.
Penn State's first player outside the top 10 is DT Jared Odrick. The final player (and first one from the university mentioned on the list) is C Stefen Wisniewski.

Taking a look at that list you realize that each of those players is not only considered a great player (top 30 in the conference) but is actually the best at his position according to this list. Clark is the highest rated QB. Same for Royster at RB, Odrick at DT and Wisniewski at C. Only Lee isn't #1 at his position - but it's shared with his teammate! I know many people are picking the Buckeyes as Big Ten Champs for the upcoming season but there is no doubt that Penn State - not Ohio State - has the big name players. If the complementary and new pieces come together, this team may be better than last year's squad.

It's up to you, offensive line and secondary.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shaq Wants Kobe to Win 4th Ring

Twitter is a wonderful thing for bloggers. Celebrities and athletes have embraced Twitter quickly and the microblogging site allows them to voice everything - what they're doing, a teams schedule, inside news and their thoughts and opinions. One of the first athletes to Tweet was Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal. "The Real Shaq" had something nice to say about a foe he usually is spewing acid at.


OK, so he said he'd say it only today but still. I don't think that kind of sentiment was expected of the big man. The Lakers host the Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals, where Kobe Bryant will look for his fourth ring as O'Neal alluded to.

Steele, Lindy Release Preseason Picks; JoePa Overrated?

We are still 93 days away from meaningful Penn State football but recently some of the preview magazines have hit stands or released some of their rankings and opinions to the Internet crowd.

Phil Steele, highly recommended by Zombie Nation, had some of his stuff leak out late last week. Among the highlights were Penn State being his #1 surprise team for 2009 and having the Nittany Lions ranked 5th in his Top 25. Not too shabby. Then yesterday ESPNs Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg mentioned Steele's preseason All-Big Ten teams. Penn State netted six first team selections. They were RB Evan Royster, C Stefen Wisniewski, OT Dennis Landolt, DT Jared Odrick and LBs Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee. Notice anyone missing? How about 2008 first team All-Big Ten QB (both coaches and media) Daryll Clark? OK, so he must have been on the second team then. WRONG! Clark fell all the way to third, behind Illinois' Juice Williams (first) and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor (second). Wow. Punter Jeremy Boone made Steele's second team while OG Lou Eliades joined Clark on the third team. RB Stephfon Greene, DT Abe Koroma and CB A.J. Wallace were selected for his fourth team.

Steele's preseason All-American were released as well. No Nittany Lions made his first team. Two (Royster, Lee) were named to the second team and another two (Odrick, Bowman) appear on his third team.

Not to be outdone, Lindy's released their own take on the 2009 season. The Lindy's crew has Ohio State winning the conference with Penn State in second followed by Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin. Iowa - considered by many as a dark horse candidate for the conference - is sixth. That will ruffle some Hawkeye feathers, no doubt. Here's what Lindy's has to say about Penn State, who they ranked 11th in their preseason poll.

11. PENN STATE
JoePa has Lions Positioned for Pasadena
Ten wins a season has (again) become automatic for 83-year-old Joe Paterno. Penn State has 40 victories in the past four seasons and the Lions have the all-star candidates at critical positions — QB Daryll Clark, DT Jared Odrick and LB Sean Lee — to mop up in the non-conference season and scoot happily through the Big Ten before hosting Ohio State in November.

THE GOOD NEWS: Clark is in the running as the top QB in the league, and the Nittany Lions’ defensive quarterback — Lee — was most of the way back this spring from an ACL tear suffered prior to last season. With Lee and troubled LB Navorro Bowman expected to be on the field in September, the defense should take no more than a baby step backward.

THE BAD NEWS: Three multi-year starters at wide receiver — Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood — are gone. Arguably the top two O-linemen from last year’s group, including workaholic A.Q. Shipley in the pivot, have been replaced.

OUR CALL: Penn State faces a low degree of difficulty before carving into what appears to be a soft underbelly of the Big Ten. Then it’s beat the Buckeyes (not the simplest task) and pack for Pasadena.
Royster, Wisniewski, Odrick and Lee are all preseason All-Big Ten performers according to Lindy's. Landolt, Bowman and Boone made the second team. Lindy's follows Phil Steele as saying Daryll Clark is not a top two QB in the conference. This time around Pryor gets the first team nod while Williams heads to the second team. I'd really like to hear the reasoning for this.

In attempt to fill the offseason void (and drum up some hits), Heisman Pundit has released lists of the Top 10 Overrated and Underrated College Coaches. Joe Paterno makes the list. The overrated list. While I admit JoePa is past his prime, I still don't see how he is overrated. The criteria isn't listed by Heisman Pundit so there really is no context. They do make a point saying "this list does NOT mean these coaches all suck", but what's wrong with Paterno?
4. Joe Paterno, Penn State–He wouldn’t be here except for the fact that HE’S NOT REALLY COACHING THE TEAM ANYMORE. Great career, great program builder, but Tom Bradley basically runs this team now.
How is he not really coaching the team? Where is this proof that Joe does nothing? Did he coach from the press box last year? Absolutely. Does that mean he did less in 2008 than in 2007 (or earlier)? No. In fact, JoePa preferred the press box because of the advantages it gave him to coach the team. The one thing I'll give Heisman Pundit is Paterno not making the trip to the locker room at halftime. Sure, Bradley made the speech and game plan alterations. But during the game Joe was still there, voicing his opinion, suggesting plays and overriding his assistants if he felt something wasn't a good idea. How is that not coaching? It's ridiculous to expect head coaches to call offensive and/or defensive plays - that's what coordinators are for! JoePa still is the coach. Tom Bradley is definitely second in command but he still defers to Joe. Paterno's squads have put up 40 wins in the last four seasons. He's still got it.

Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect Heisman Pundit regardless of our conflicting views.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

JayPa Tweets On PSU Football Academic Success

We've all known that the term "student-athlete" gets thrown around a lot nowadays. At least at Penn State it still means something. Jay Paterno, via his Twitter account, has let his followers know that being a Nittany Lion football players doesn't mean you forget about academics.

Just left team Academic Mtg..44 guys over 3.0, 13 on Dean's list & 4 made 4.0. Next NCAA grad rate will be over 90%!!!
90%. Wow. That is almost unheard of at major university's that are respectable in sports. Congratulations to the coaching staff, university, and the players for such a great showing! For the glory!

UPDATE: Jay has more.
8 players have already graduated..by the end of December 18 more will graduate. At bowl time we'll be playing with 26 graduates on our team.
Not too shabby!

Phillies in the 2009 All-Star Game, Update 1

Every Monday Major League Baseball releases new voting figures for the All-Star Game. This weeks edition was much kinder to Phillies. Apparently Philadelphia fans were not happy with the status of Raul Ibanez (6th last week) and Pedro Feliz (not listed) last week. Let's take a look at where the Home 9 stand.

2009 All-Star Game (National League) vote totals released June 1st, 2009 (MLB.com).

OK, let's start at the top of the list and work our way down. At first base you can't really argue with Albert Pujols (Cardinals); he may be the best player in the game regardless of position. Howard should be 2 or 3. I definitely think we can jump him over Prince Fielder by the time the new totals are released. Howard needs 2,287 votes to overtake Fielder.

At second base it's Chase Utley and nobody else. Utley has the second highest total among NL players with 1,111,963. Pujols leads the way with 1,240,395. The second best second baseman, Orlando Hudson (Dodgers), has 486,359. Next!

At third we have a fight between David Wright (Mets) and Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals). Both should be there for sure. Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz - who is having a fine season - is currently in fifth. Let's try to get him up to third! If he's that high Charlie Manuel may decide to bring Feliz with him to the game. Manuel is the NL Manager for 2009. Feliz currently has 349,818 votes, 90,341 behind third place (Bill Hall, Brewers).

Jimmy Rollins sits a surprising second among short stops. While he certainly has the name recognition, he is not having a great year. Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) and Miguel Tejada (Astros) should be 1-2. Rollins currently has 569,639 votes, 16,661 behind first place Ramirez.

Catcher is kind of the Phillies weak spot, though I'd take Carlos Ruiz over some backstops in the Majors. He won't make an All-Star Game in his career but he controls the pitching staff well and is capable of above average defense. For the All-Star Game, Yadier Molina (Cardinals) leads the way.

Now comes the outfield. Last week our very own left fielder, Raul Ibanez, was a disappointing sixth. SIXTH! With his stats and play this year? Preposterous! What did the Philly Phaithful do? VOTED. Ibanez jumped all the way to second and in line for a starting spot. He currently has 817,849 votes, 90,896 behind leader Ryan Braun (Brewers). Milwauke sure likes stuffing the box, huh? Thankfully Manny Ramirez has fallen to fifth. It'd be a real shame if he actually got voted in. Now that we have Ibanez where he belongs, lets show some love for the Flyin' Hawaiin - currently in seventh with 517,760 votes - and Jayson Werth (11th; 389,275 votes)!

Make sure you vote! You can do so 25 times. Ibanez, Utley and Howard deserve our votes and a case can be made for Feliz too. Send multiple Phillies to the 2009 All-Star Game!

Phillies in 1st on June 1st, a Very Good Sign

We're two months into the baseball schedule. June just began. Apparently if your team is in first place in the division on June 1st, that's a very good sign. Doug Miller at MLB.com has more.

And by reading into recent history of teams' records on the first day of the third month of the season, some predictions can be made.

Of the 89 teams that have had outright or shared leads of divisions since 1995, the first year that had six divisions and a postseason, 59 of those teams have qualified for the playoffs, or 66.3 percent.

Going season by season, the only years since '95 in which every June 1 division winner made it to October were 1998 and 1999, and the '99 Red Sox had to do it via the Wild Card. But otherwise, 2001 was the only year in which fewer than half (two of six, or 33 percent) of the June 1 division leaders made it to the playoffs.

Last year, five of the six June 1 leaders made it, with the late-surging Phillies riding their September momentum all the way to their first World Series trophy since 1980.

Well that bodes well for the Phillies then. Basically a 66% chance of making the playoffs. I'll take that! But Miller has more to say about each division leader this year. Here's his take on Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Phillies: Nobody's closed ground in the late months of the season better than this club over the last two seasons. Just ask the New York Mets. And while some of those magical pieces from 2008 haven't quite materialized yet this season -- it turns out Brad Lidge really is a mortal closer, after all -- the Phils are right there where they want to be. In fact, they're the only team that was in first place last June 1 and is back in the driver's seat a year later. And after missing the postseason the two other times they led the NL East on June 1 (ultimately succumbing to the Atlanta juggernaut in 1995 and 2001), they finally got it done last year. That just might be one more good omen for all the phanatics out there.
So right now the Phillies are only 1 for 3 in holding on to a June 1st lead. Statistics say that the Phillies should be 2 for 3. In order to get to a more respectable percentage they have to win the N.L East in 2009 - which would be their third straight divisional crown. Do it! A list of how each division shaped up on June 1st from 1995 through 2009. The teams in bold ended up making the playoffs.

Division leaders on June 1st from 1995 through 2009. Teams in bold made the playoffs that season (MLB.com).

So the Phillies are eight games over .500 on June 1st, 2009 just as they were on June 1st, 2008. And I think we all remember how that season ended.

OK, so being in first on June 1st doesn't guarantee a playoff spot, let alone a World Series title. But it feels good to be there for a second straight year. Ya gotta like the Phillies chances of repeating at this time. Especially if they catch some of that fall magic again!

SNT: Q&A with Penn State's Talor Battle

In today's issue of Sporting News Today, Talor Battle tackles the daily Q&A posed by the online magazine.

Click to enlarge Q&A.